Saturday, March 22, 2008

Week 28 Report

I think I'm a week off in my counting, but oh, well. Don't sweat the small stuff.

I was mostly sick this week. I think it was a sinus infection, because my whole face and head hurt. It was hard for me to admit to needing to take a day off, but I finally decided that Wednesday needed to be a nap day more than anything else, so I took both a morning nap and an afternoon nap. My morning nap involved me curled up on the couch, Ben sitting down by my feet, Luke laying on top of me (really, I asked him to do this; it keeps me warm), and I spooned Levi laying in front of me. It was heaven really. Someday these boys will all be too big to fit on our love seat sized sofa and too big to keep me warm all at the same time. I'm thankful that they love to cuddle their mama and help her feel better.

Ben was really amazing this week and is getting very independent in completing his work. It's all kinda hazzy right now, but either Monday or Tuesday he finished breakfast, did his chores and started his schoolwork without any help from me. It was a huge blessing.

I don't honestly recall much of what we did this week. Ben did a Young Scientist Club experiment kit about weights and measures. We learned about different densities of liquids. He build a scale, too. I realized that I have an older version of SL's Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, which explains why my 2005 IG's page numbers do not match up with the page numbers I have in my book. We didn't make too much progress in Latin; I must admit, I am haven't found my groove for this book yet, so I need to make a better effort at getting it done, because what we have used I do indeed like.

Oh, Long division! Ben started doing this -- I love how the HIG visualizes and explains long division. I was so excited about it, I actually explained long division to Dave. We're from the educational background where they taught us the formula for how to do long division, but never explained the "why" behind it. So, I felt it was in Dave's best interests to now know the reasons why we do long division the way we do it. He was not nearly as excited about this discover as I was, but I liked explaining it again.

We're really enjoying Sign of the Beaver. Luke has decided to sit in with us and listen. (Poor Luke -- he finally got some school today, since I was feeling tons better. He's had a tough week himself. He's either not sleeping well at nigh, which is causing him to be very grumpy during the day, or he's in a growth spurt and is needing more sleep right now; either way, he's really had a lot of characater issues going on. Of course, me being sick and not feeling quite up to speed to correct him nor be able to stem off any eruptions didn't help either.)

That's about all I can remember from this week. That, and I used a lot of tissue. But that's probably TMI, right? (Too much information). Oh, and Tylenol has flavored their cold and sinus caplets with a refreshingly cool mint flavor that makes taking them not nearly so horrible as before.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Our Easter Traditions

Easter really crept up on me this year. I've been feeling pretty lousy all week, and now it is Good Friday. I'm thankful our church held a service and we could go -- it really put me in the mood for the incredible historical event that occurred 2000 years ago.

Last year for the first time, we made resurrection cookies. They worked OK, but I've got boys who do not like nuts. So, this year, we'll try the resurrection buns. I think these will go over much better. I might try to bake them on Saturday night, send the boys off to bed, and then on Sunday morning, they'll have their buscuits ready to eat with their breakfast. Hopefully, the empty "tomb" effect won't experience a cave in. Hmm, I might have to re-think that.

Usually, we begin using our Resurrection Eggs 12 days before Easter, opening one egg per night and reading from a Bible the passage that goes along with the egg. Again, because of sickness, we did a crash course with the eggs tonight, opening all but the last one (the empty one).

We've had these Eggs since Ben was about 3 or so -- and it is such a joy to see how even at 8, Ben enjoys guessing what is in them. I don't read the entire text that comes in the booklet with the eggs, because some of it I want to reveal to the boys as they get older and more mature. And, with a 5 year age span between oldest and youngest, I have to keep some "tricks" up my sleeve to keep everyone interested. Tomorrow night, we'll read Benjamin's Box, which is a story that goes along with the Resurrection Eggs. (Wow, I just did a search on Amazon for this book. It is apparently out of print. What a shame. I've thankful that I've got a copy to pass on to the boys for my grandchildren).

We do some other more traditional/ secular celebratory things: coloring eggs (tomorrow night), usually an egg hunt (will have to be inside this year, since we still have far too much snow to make an outdoor hunt possible). Grandma usually fills some eggs with candy, some with coins -- not sure if we'll be so lavish in furnishing our eggs here this year :)

I'd be interested in learning other's Easter Traditions -- we're first generation Christians trying to share all the wonderful Good News with our kids and always interested in learning other fun ways to share the Good News with our kids! If you've posted your own fun traditions, leave me a comment so I can some "borrow" some ideas from you!

Hallelujah! He has risen indeed!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Levi (and Ben before him) has a thing with keeping his toes impeccably clean of toe jam. I don't know where this comes from. If I am changing his diaper and see a big piece of blue fuzz hanging from his big toe, I'll pull it off, only to be scolded by him, "I DO MOM!"

Monday, March 17, 2008


I just had to post this. My aunt sent it to me last week. Oh, if only it were all that easy!

How to clean THE HOUSE

1. Open a new file in your PC
2. Name it "Housework."
3. Send it to the RECYCLE BIN.
4. Empty the RECYCLE BIN.
5. Your PC will ask you, "Are you sure you want to delete Housework permanently?"
6. Calmly answer, "Yes," and press mouse button firmly
7. Feel better?

Actually, I like to clean house when it isn't totally trashed and when I know I'm not ignoring my family to accomplish it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

School Room Re-DONE!

The school room is done. The faux-paint/ wallpaper treatment is gone. It was covering up the unstrippable hideous wallpaper that was underneath it (I think this whole house was once decorated in pink and green on the first floor. BLECH!). We wetted, stripped, scraped, sanded and patched the walls. They look better.

First a warning about the paint colors: they didn't turn out like we had planned. The green needs a second coat to not be so -- Irish lookin'. The yellow is much warmer in natural light. These compact flourescent bulbs make the yellowlook like a highlighter!

Here's a tour of our school room:

When you enter our school room, you see this blank wall to the right of the window. I'll be mounting a magnetic bar here (from Ikea), and our black line maps of the world and the US will be up here. LEvi's little table will be below it:

To your left when you walk in is the closet (door removed) with lots of shelves in it for storage of our science supplies, puzzles, CDs, and other school supplies. Next come our bookshelves. We're only in thrid grade, and we're busting out of these two cases--and they don't hold all our stuff, either! The boys have books in their room, there are all our currciulun SL books in the shelf in the living room, and I've got unused curriculum in the basement! (The basket next to the shelves is for library books. You can see my grad. school diploma on the floor, ready to be hung tomorrow. )

On the right wall when you come in is the new dry erase board --4 feet by 8 feet long!. This is the tile board kind ($10.97 at Home Depot) that Dave put a wood top and bottom plate on. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!!! He also framed out the wall to make it look barn-ish. (If you had three boys and a barn, isn't that where you'd want them?) I think he's planning on doing this same treament on the oposite wall and putting faux-joists on the ceiling, too.

Kiddie-corner from the door is my desk. The boys' desks get moved around in the middle of the room for now; I love that they are small and mobile so that we can use them in lots of places and for lots of purposes (top on the list is sitting on them while they draw on the dry erase board -- Star Wars battle scenes are their favorite).

Next up is finding fabric for some curtains or shades (haven't decided whichyet). I want to have Dave install a central light fixture in the celing someday. I also will switch my desk and the bookshelfs, so we can add more shelves in an L shape in the corner.

My CBD Finds

There is nothing like a Christian Book Distributors warehouse sale. It is absolutely the best for book lovers like me. If money were no object, I would cart around the biggest suitcase ever found (hmm, or maybe a rolling trunk. Yeah, that's it.) and just wander the stacks. While it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to the placement of books, CDs, movies, etc. in the stacks (meaning very tall shelves) of new inventory, it is incredible what you can find. I've gone looking for a particular book, and found amazing Bible studies or DVDs or manipulatives -- things I never would've found looking at the online or paper catalog. SIGH. It is just so fun to see what you can find.

Anyway, the best part of the warehouse sale are the tables upon which are dumped scratch-n-dent, returns, and small inventory items that CBD wants out of its inventory. They have about 3 table sections full of homeschooling stuff, sections for movies, fiction, bibles, references, kids stuff, CDs and music. It is so much fun to see what you can find on the tables.

A couple Saturdays ago my friend Susan and I went, and I picked up an Easter gift for each boy:

Ben is getting the NIV Boy's Bible. He's been using my NIV to complete his CBS lesson, and I thought it was time to get him his own. It is a hard cover (mental note: boys should not have soft cover Bibles), and I hope it will last him for many, many years.

Luke is getting the Armor of God game. He is really getting into games, but many of our preK/ K games were ruined in one of our basement floods at the old house, and I just haven't gotten around to replacing them. I think Luke will love this game, though, because it has armour in it's title. And, I hope he'll learn so much about the tools the Lord's given him for his life.

Levi is getting a board book about the legend of the Easter Egg. It was $0.99. I had to get it.

So, the communal Easter basket is done.

For School I purchased:

LifePac's Drawing Basics with Thomas Kinkade for Ben for next year. It will go over many of the principles we're working our way through using How To Teach Art To Children but in a DVD format. Originally $49. I purchased it for $17.

Singapore Math's 1B Home Instructor Guide. Originally $15. I got it for $4

Singapore Math's 4A workbook and 4B worktext. Originally $8.50 each. I paid $2ish each.

Next year we'll do Wordly Wise 3000 Book 4. I picked up the Test Booklet (originally $8.50. Paid $1.99) and Answer Key (Originally $3.10. Paid $0.69). I know I wouldn't have purchased either of these if I hadn't gotten them super cheap.

I'll begin adding in Stories of the Great Composers book 1 with CD in the next few weeks to re-start our music appreciation. The book has a short unit on each of 12 different composers. Each unit has a short biographical story, another historical fiction story about the composer's life (Bach, for example, includes a story about all the musicians in his family), a short summary of some important compositions by each composer, and a page with either a matching activity, word search, or some other short way pen-and-pencil activity to help the students review information about each composer. The CD has a composition from each artist for listening. We will probably do one unit each week for 12 weeks. I just noticed on the back that the age range for this book (and a book 2, which I don't have yet) is considered late-elementary and junior-high aged students. However, after looking it over, I can't imagine this being difficult for Ben or Luke. Originally, it was $12.95. I purchased it for $2.69!

I also picked up a couple random Key to Fraction workbooks. I could only find student workbook 1 and 4, but that is OK. They were each originally $3.45, but I paid $0.79 for each.

Finally, I picked up a My Weekly Health Journal from Essential Learning Products (Regularly $2.95; I paid $0.59). It has the students write down what they ate each day, the type of physical activity they did, and encourages them to think about ways they could've been more healthy that week. Since we just went on a field trip to the grocery store (focus was on healthy eating choices) and are working on the President's Physical Fitness Challenge, this is something I'm looking forward to incorporating into our schooling.

Yea! I love finding bargains like this!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Week 27 Report

We were all sick this week. Thankfully, just colds and coughs, no fevers or ear infections (though I am tempted to take Levi to the dr. tomorrow to check out his ears, because he's pulled on them a bit today). We still did school, but it was less exciting than in weeks past.

Kindergarten: I have done only a little school with Luke this week, but what I did accomplish with him is giving me hope that 100EZ will help him cross the blending bridge successfully. And, he's been learning the phonograms from step 1 of our All About Spelling program. Today, Levi sat next to him on the steps as we reviewed them, and he did his best to repeat their sounds. I wish I could've recorded that. It is priceless to see him so earnestly sit there saying his sounds, smiling and thinking, "This is the best." Makes me want to eat him up. Luke is doing a great job recognizing his numbers better -- less confusion with 6 and 9 this week -- and he is writing them with more ease than before. We didn't read Winnie this Week. I've actually swapped it out and decided to read through the Little House books with the boys. Both Ben and Luke are enjoying Little House in the Big Woods.

Third Grade: Phew! Ski lessons are over. Report has it that Ben did a great job! On their last day, Dave took him to a black diamond run (no moguls though), and he did very well. I am pleased to hear that he can parallel turn and doesn't get out of control on the mountain. I'm equally pleased to hear that he loves the sport! Dave talked with his instructor, who classified him as having level "5" skills. We honestly don't know what that means, but considering he started his lessons in a level "1" class, I should think he did well!

  • Read Aloud: Sign of the Beaver (I can tell Ben really likes this one)

  • History: Finishing up our Incas, Aztecs & Mayas

  • FLL 3: Working on prepositions

  • Math: Multiplication of 2-3 digit number by a single number. Ben is having no trouble with this right now. Next week, we'll introduce the traditional algorithm for division and long division. I read ahead in the HIG to see how they encourage you to teach it with manipulatives, and I really, really loved it. I wish they would've taught us the "why" behind long division when I was a kid. Ben did a little drill this week at the MUS website; I've asked him to start drilling division facts 2-6. I also need to start re-incorporating the Flashmaster. I think I'll do three days per week on MUS and two days per week on Flashmaster.

  • Spelling: We actually haven't done spelling in about two weeks. But not for a good reason, just running out of time in our condensed 3 day school week. We'll be back up and running next week.
  • Bible verse memorization: We're working on Psalm 121. I am totally amazed at how easy it is for him to memorize Bible verses!
  • Science: We finished three different phase change experiments today. We talked about doing Noeo Physics II next year for 4th grade and Ben said, "I'm all about physics."

Ben did finish his mini-report on Christopher Columbus. I was very proud of him. This is what he wrote:

Christopher Columbus was born into a family of Genoese wool weavers. Columbus told John II of Portugal that he was going to go to India by sailing west instead of east. He hoped the King would lend him some ships, but the King refused. Columbus went to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and asked them to give him ships. They refused. Later the Queen changed her mind. Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. Christopher Columbus took four voyages.

He completed a drawing, too: He turned blank when I told him to illustrate it, and when I gave him the idea of showing Columbus standing on the beach for the first time ever, he drew exactly what I said: a boat and a man. I had to encourage him bit-by-bit to embellish his drawing. Now, what is up with this? On his own, he'll draw rebel fighters blasting away at the bad guys (storm troopers, I guess) and death stars, but ask him to draw anything else, and he looks at me as if I'm speaking a foreign language. Perhaps he's inherited my artistic creativity -- none. nil. nada.

So, that was our week. I meant all week to write about the deals I got at the CBD warehouse sale, but just never got around to it. Once I start bringing them in and shelving them, I'll go ahead and share some of the new things we'll be adding in this spring/ summer/ fall. Some are things we'll use soon (finally, back to music appreciation) and others will be for 4th grade studies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week 26 Report

Lots going on this week!

Ben: We're slowly working our way through history. I'm looking forward to when ski lessons are over (next week is the last one) so that we can find a routine, a rut even! Math continues to chug away. Ben is using the MUS drill (online) for his fact practice, We're working through the times table and he is doing 20 x6 problems in 40 seconds. I'm pretty happy with this and just am so thankful that math is clicking now. We learning the algorithm to complete problems such as 23x4. He seems to understand it and we'll practice a lot next week.

Ben whizzed through 2 weeks worth of science experiments on Tuesday; I love when he does this, when he "messes" up my schedule!

He's also working on his mini-report about Christopher Columbus for his history study. I was uncertain if I was going to include these activities from the Sonlight IG, but after reading about them, I realized that these mini-reports are not unlike the narrations we've been doing since 1st grade with our Story of the World study. I've asked him to read a section from the encyclopedia about Columbus. Then, for each section, I asked him to write out two important things (in SOTW, I'd ask him to tell me two things, so I am asking him to do more writing now). Next week, we'll order his items and put them in paragraph form. We'll be using History Scribe's biography pages to make this look all pretty for our notebook.

Final mention is that Ben presented a Robert Frost poem to Dave -- A Time to Talk. I'm trying to get him more comfortable with illustrating and drawing, so I had him illustrate the poem. This is the second draft; in the first one the stone wall was over the horseman's head and appeared to be made of concrete and the farmer had a rake instead of a hoe; he also appeared to only have stirrup leggings on without a shirt. We had a good chuckle at this (and at rawing of pants, which Ben and Luke said looked more like a sack), and then Ben presented me with this picture:

Luke: Lukie is working on lesson 16 of 100EZ lessons. At the beginning of the week, he was having trouble sounding out words slowly (i.e: eat sounds like "eeeeett"). But by the end of the week he was getting it easier. We're also working on recognizing the numbers 0-10 and writing them. Oh! He finished his first Explode the Code book, Get Ready for the Code. He was really, really excited.

We went to our local grocery store for a nutrition field trip -- it was fantastic. The got to try some strange fruits, see where the cakes are decorated, see them slice cheese, go into the huge freezer and the mild/ butter/ juice cooler. We're using this as a jumping off point for a nutrition log that Ben will begin to keep on himself.

On a more personal note, my grandmother has had a hemorrhagic stroke. This happened early in the week, and she seems to be doing OK; she's lost the vision in her right eye because of the bleed and is having word finding trouble, but is apparently stable now. I'm thankful to God for answering my prayers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Encouragement for Myself

Charles Spurgeon once said, "You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God's fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Week 25 Report

Our catch up week is over. It was a great mix of school and friends:

Monday: Afternoon sledding birthday party and dinner afterwards
Tuesday: Another friend is going to homeschool! She and 3 of her 4 kids came over to talk homeschool and so the older boys could re-aquaint.
Wednesday: Ben skiied with Daddy and friends
Thursday: More sledding with friends from church
Friday: No CBS, but we did have gym.

So, I think Ben's had 7 straight days of hanging out with friends for one activity or another -- and they say homeschoolers don't get socialization, huh?

Our days - except Wednesday - have been filled with half days of school. We've doubled up on History and Science readings. We advanced through 1 1/2 weeks of science and are now in week 20 -- right on track for finishing Chemistry by the first week in July. The last 4 weeks or so are rocks and geology, which means the snow should have melted by then :) so we can go outside and be rock hounds. Next week, we'll break into our first Young Scientist Club kit. These kits are always a hit here.

We also scooted ahead in our history reading. are are now in Week 6, according to the SL IG. This is really not bad, considering we've got a very short school week when Ben is skiing. We started SL 8 weeks ago, so I think we're doing great. I really have been appreciating the worldview notes in John Holzman's Incans, Aztecs & Mayans. It helped to understanding these pagan cultures in light of God's Word. In SL's IG, the students are supposed to do a mini-report during the 6th week. I will assign this to Ben next week when we've totally finished reading Pocahontas and the Strangers. Once he picks his topic, we'll use our 1985 set of free encyclopedias for him to use to look up information. Then, we'll look at our CD encyclopedia to gain experience with different research methods.

Despite our break from Latin and most of our language arts subjects, Ben did have to continue to learn and review his Latin vocabulary. LL uses some Quia games to reinforce vocabulary learning, and I'm really pleased with his progress in this area. He's even learned his chants by heart, too!

I love the MUS drill site and copywork to help Ben learn his math facts. He's learning x6 and by Friday -- after a week of copywork -- he achieved 100% accuracy in 70-ish seconds for this table. Next week, we'll continue to use the MUS drill to increase his recall. I'll also start adding back in a quick addition or subtraction drill into his math program using Flashmaster.

The only bummer/ blunder this week was that I forgot to do art. We're supposed to be learning about color. I think I'll just shelve it until skiing is over in two weeks, so I don't have to feel guilty about it.

Kindergarten: Luke is on lesson 13 of 100EZ lessons. We'll be repeating this lesson next week, because he tends to sound out each phoneme separately rather than blending them together in a slow manner. I won't let him go further until he gets this down. If he has trouble with it for more than a few days this week, then we'll put 100EZ lessons away for a little while and just work on learning AAS's phonograms. We also are working on "reading" the numbers 1-10 and recognizing them better, so we made a set of cards that we can use to play Go Fish, Concentration, etc. with. The best part was --- using stickers; boy, did I earn some Mom Points with that idea.