Friday, August 20, 2010

In Which We Are Six

Wednesday was Jackson's sixth birthday.  He has been counting down the weeks and days for a while.
We usually start our birthday celebrations at breakfast, but Jeff has been going to work extremely early every day this week because of filming.  To compensate for this, we took Jackson by himself to Baskin Robbins Sunday night where he enjoyed a double dip cone.   So, Jackson had to wait until dinner time for his celebration.

Kaelan made a sign for his chair .

Last week we asked him what kind of cake he wanted and his reply was an Irish cake.  Devin has introduced him to the Celtic Woman and The High Kings, so he is on an all things Irish kick right now.
We tried to get him to tell us what an Irish cake was and all he told us was that it was four layers with chocolate cake and brownies!  So Devin, Kaelan and I brainstormed a little and decided to go with the chocolate cake and brownie layers and add a  couple of layers of chocolate mint ice cream.  He also wanted white icing.  He choose spaghetti, French bread and salad for dinner.  I tried to get him to choose a corned beef dinner in keeping with his Irish theme, but spaghetti it was!

Jordan googled "Happy birthday" in Gaelic and Devin wrote it on the cake and added in a few shamrocks and sprinkles.  It was delicious!

I have to throw in a picture of little brother Caedmon.  We do like our Gaelic names around here!!

Happy Birthday to you!

I am so thankful for this sweet boy who still climbs into my lap and loves to cuddle.  He still sneaks into bed with me occasionally in the early morning hours for a sweet snuggle.  I know this time will soon pass and try to enjoy it as much as I can.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I am a planner by nature.  I like to have everything planned out, if possible, before the school year starts.  I don't do well with last minute spontaneous events.  I have to prepare myself ahead of time to be away from home even for the evening.  I don't know if  it's a "getting older" thing or not, but it is what it is.

The other day I was filling in the calendar with our known activities for the year and had a brief moment of panic as I began to think about all the unknowns.  There are many things that I can plan for----what we will study in school, piano lesson times, field trips, vacations, birthdays, work days, etc, but it's the UNKNOWN events that can unravel me.  With a large family there is always a time of sickness--doctor's visits, time that a child just needs to be in the bed, and interrupted sleep because of needed breathing treatments.  We have had our share of broken bones (only Kaelan, but she has managed to break both arms and is still seeing the orthopedic surgeon bi-annually from her last break 3 years ago), emergency room visits, out-patient surgeries and even an ambulance ride and critical care stay.  It seems that God grants me more grace to get through the more major unknowns as I can remember not being panicked when my child wasn't breathing or when faced with Kaelan's obviously broken bones.  It's the little unknowns that get me frazzled;  that cause me to be irritated and annoyed.  I am a control-freak.

There, I said it.  Some of you probably already knew that. ; )  I am the oldest of four and had a good bit of responsibility put on me as a child.  I am a mom to many who homeschools as well.  I must have control over most things.   It's hard to step back and let others be in control.  It can even be hard to remember that ultimately God is in control.  No matter how many unknowns may be lurking to "shake me up", I need to rest assured that the all-knowing and all-seeing God is not surprised and He will not become unglued;  He will and does reign over all.  So Lord, here I am in the first few weeks of our school year, realizing that I cannot do it all;  I cannot see all that is coming up;  I cannot rest in my own strength;  so I give it all to you.  Your plans are much better than I can ever write;  You know what  each of my children needs to learn for this year;  You know what lessons I need to learn this year;  You have plans for our family that we cannot comprehend.  Please help me to step back and rest in Your plans.

Even now as I am typing here, I receive a phone call that sets me in panic and changes my morning plans.  Lord, calm my heart and set my path to just do the next thing that You have given to us to do.

Proverbs 16:  9  A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Jackson, age almost 6, ready for a hot afternoon of military manuevers

We have had the Lord's Supper twice during the last few weeks at church and apparently Jackson has been  paying SOME attention.  I recently bought a bottle of grape juice for a treat at home and Jackson asked me, "Do they really drink grape juice at Jesus' dinner?"

Lord's Supper, Communion or Jesus' dinner?  He's thinking about it and remembering.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On Waiting Rooms

I have had the privilege of spending a good bit of time in doctors' offices this year.  I say privilege, because I can call the office and set up an appointment and see a family doctor later in the day or a specialized doctor within a couple of weeks.  I fear that may change in the near future.  However, my observation is entirely of a different nature.  In our home we do not watch television.  Don't feel sorry for us.  This is a personal decision.  There is so much filth and garbage on television these days that we just don't watch it.  We do watch movies each week that we CHOSE to bring in to our home, but just watching something for the sake of watching it....doesn't happen.

Over the last few years I have noticed that just like restaurants, doctors' waiting rooms are being equipped with televisions.  I ALWAYS take a book to read for myself or if my children are with me, books for them to read.  However the TV is a magnet and it is so difficult to keep eyes from straying.  One day at our family doctor a talk show was discussing the v**pire series phenomenon and how grown women were attracted to the teenaged young men in the movies.   Words used were pretty graphic as were the pictures.  I tried to engage my children in conversation and talked loud so they couldn't hear what was being said, but it was extremely difficult.

This week it was another doctor's office with another TV show.  Dr. Phil was on interviewing young men who do dangerously stupid stunts like playing with fire on their private areas, jumping from high places while on fire, skateboarding while holding on to a moving vehicle, etc.  Dr. Phil was trying to find out why they did this and kept showing the utube clips that are making these poor souls money!  My eyes kept wandering from the Jane Austin book I was reading back to the tv.  Every eye in the place was glued to the screen.  I kept wondering where the fathers of these young men were.  No mention of them did I hear.  I wish we could go to the doctor without having the TV to deal with.  Can't we just spread a few books and magazines around for those who don't come prepared for a wait?

Another observation I had:  I was filling out a new patient form and was asked to check one:  employed, retired, disabled, active military or XXXX (I am sure the letters stood for something, but I suppose you must have been that to have known what it meant?)  I didn't check anything.  I felt slightly discriminated against.  LOL!  Jeff says I should have just checked EMPLOYED, but that would make it seem that I am employed and earn a paycheck.  Puzzling!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aaron's Curriculum for 2010-2011

Aaron is our second son who will turn 14 in just a couple of weeks.  Last year we switched from Math U See to Teaching Textbooks and he has been doing double duty to catch up to where he wants to be.  If he were in government school he would be in the 8th grade.  Here is Aaron's  curriculum for the year.

-Teaching Textbooks 7--he is doing 2-3 lessons per day  He should finish by Thanksgiving at this rate.  Jeff is looking at  Video Text Algebra for Aaron to use after this course.    Jeff is exposed to TONS of curricula and is meeting many homeschool curriculum writers and speakers since starting up The Homeschool Channel.  He likes the Video Text sample that the creator sent to him although it is extremely pricey.  We'll see!  If any of you have used it, I would love a review!

-Typing-Typing Instructor

-Quarter Mile Math

-Learning Language Arts through Literature-green

-Daily Grams- 8

-Apologia Physical Science--This will be a first.  We are extremely textbook phobic around here and prefer to read living books and study nature.  We watch lots of science videos and listen to creation based cds.  Aaron is interesting in becoming a medical missionary, so I need to buckle down on the science.  My older three children gave up on Apologia Biology after the fifth module, so I am hoping that by starting with physical science (actually all the topics covered have already been covered by us in KONOS) he will be used to the format before high school credits start.  We'll see how it goes!

-All-American History--used as a spine and discussion starter.  We fill in with lots of biographies, historical fiction, mapwork, Geosafari card packs,  and movies.

-Geography-Around the World in 180 Days--we are studying Africa this semester.    We will read several missionary biographies and the children will also read some independently.  Aaron also loves to read the Ballyntine books that cover geography as well.  Geosafari card packs are also used.

-Spanish--Powerglide--I have had this curriculum for several years.  I am not sure how thorough it is and promised him that if he was diligent with it we would get his coveted Rosetta Stone.

--Music-A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers and piano lessons

-Art- Feed My Sheep by Barry Stebbing

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Eleven Year Old Daughter's Plans for the Year

Well, I guess they are really not HER plans, but they are the lesson plans that we have decided upon for this year.  Kaelan is my only female student these days.  Our homeschooling journey began with only girls.  Now we have only one girl homeschooling in the midst of four boys.  It does change the dynamics of our school!!

-Bible-All of our reading children begin their day with a time of Bible reading and prayer.  I mentioned in a previous post that during our group time we go over Bible verse memorization and read through the Proverbs of the day.  Most evenings Jeff leads our family in worship and Bible study.  Right now we are studying the Psalms using Kevin Swanson's study guide.

-Language-Learning Language Arts through Literature- purple and Daily Grams--I am thinking about buying the newer version of LLATL that has a student activity book which will cover grammar more thoroughly than the older version that I have.  If not, I will add in Easy Grammar.  We also cover the Latin and Greek roots using English from the Roots Up.

-Math-Teaching Textbooks 6 and Quarter Mile Math

-Typing-Typing Instructor

-History--All American History--Geosafari card packs relating to American history, games, reading lots of biographies and historical fiction

-Geography-Around the World in 180 Days-Geosafari geography card packs, games, missionary biographies, adventure stories and cooking

-science--tying in with Aaron's studies we will be focusing on weather, simple machines and other physical science topics using KONOS, KNEX kits and Geosafari card packs

-Polished Cornerstones--Kaelan has chosen to work on becoming a self-disciplined woman this semester.  After reading over the activities and studies from Polished Cornerstones, I decided to focus on this character trait for all of us this semester.  Our Bible studies will reflect this topic and we will work on developing good habits in grooming, exercise, nutrition, Bible reading and cleaning not to mention controlling our tempers and our tongues.  Kaelan will also do a little study on nutrition using Sue Gregg's Lunches and Snacks cookbook.

-Music--in addition to our composers study this year, Kaelan also takes piano and violin lessons.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let's Get Together! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Can't you just hear Hayley Mills singing this little ditty?  Most school mornings I gather my children for what I call "group time".  So original, isn't it?  This is the time that I do most of my "bulk" teaching.  Just like bulk cooking I like to teach as much as possible to all my children at the same time. We usually gather around 9 o'clock in the den/school room.  Before this time the children have done some chores and independent school work.

During our group time we read from the Proverbs for the day taking turns reading out loud and go over our memory verses in our memory box found here at Scripture Memory System.  If we are studying  a particular hymn we also sing it  and then have a time of prayer.

We had a couple of chapters to complete in Mr. Pipes Comes to America so this week and next we are finishing that book and singing the corresponding hymns.  After that our group music studies will come from A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers.  We then read and discuss one chapter from Fallacy Detective.  We have done this book before and will continue our logic studies with The Thinking Toolbox when we complete Fallacy Detective.

We are also studying Latin and Greek roots.  We take one root per week and go over it every day.  Aaron and Kaelan make a page for their notebooks of the root on Monday.  Jordan has already done this, so he just gets the review time.  Our source for this study is English from the Roots Up.  I keep the roots cards in our scripture memory system box.

The children are working independently through Around the World in 180 Days for our geography studies.  I have decided to take a continent per semester which would have us completing our world tour every 3 1/2 years.  Much more doable for me and the little boys should have completed three world tours before their homeschooling days are over.  Our group study of geography includes reading from a missionary biography, reading from a Ballentyne adventure book and from ABeka and/or Bob Jones text book.  We do NOT do each of these every day!

Our group history study includes reading from All-American History, answering the accompanying questions and doing map work.  We are also currently reading together from the Landmark The American Revolution and Charles Coffin's The Boys of '76.  Again, we don't do all  of this every day.  Just reading from one book per day.  The children do read MANY other historical books on their own and we watch a good many historical DVDs.

All of my children who are at home participate in this time.  My 22 year old daughter is dismissed after our Bible and prayer time.  She then does some chores, some reading assigned by her dad or takes 22 month old Caedmon for some play time.  In a couple of weeks she will only be home two days a week. So Caedmon will be with us much more during this time.  I am thinking of making him a special box of toys to play with only during our group time.

 I will admit that this time together is not all sweet, calm and productive.  There are times when I have to stop and adjust some attitudes, give direction, pull out additional resources or just nurse the little one.  We try to continue amidst the disturbances!  I sit in my glider/rocker with my stack of books sitting on the footstool.  The older children are scattered on other chairs and on the couch.  The little boys generally have puzzles and duplos scattered across the floor and Jackson usually has some drawing paper or a coloring page related to our history study.   By the time we are finished with group time, my den looks like a train wreck.  I sometimes wonder if they are learning anything, but they are!!  One day Jackson came to me and said, "Mom, you know when we are all together in the den and you read to us about history?  Well, that's my favorite time!"  Not only are they learning, but we are creating memories!

I do try to always ask the younger children questions first before letting the older children reply.  Even Jackson can answer questions from our history readings.   A good bit of his one-on-one reading time with either Jeff or I or one of the older children is spent on biographies.  His face lights up when I pause to let him answer a question about Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin or his current favorite, Ethan Allan.

Our group time takes us about 2 hours more or less.  After this time the children continue with their independent studies which I will post about later.  Two afternoons a week I gather Aaron, Kaelan and Jackson for KONOS activities related to our geography studies.  Two other afternoons we gather for science activities.  I devote 45  minutes to one hour for this time.  Tuesday afternoons we have piano lessons and errands that keep us out from the noon hour until late afternoon.

Yes, it would be much easier to let the children study everything on their own.  Jeff and I have discussed this issue MANY times throughout our 23 years of homeschooling,  However, being able to have a family discussion about our studies, planning family trips relating to our studies, reading good books together and just SPENDING time together as we learn are all factors that make our family a family who learns together.

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