Friday, February 28, 2014

OOF! What a Week!

This has been one of "those" week's in our homeschool. Yes, lessons were completed but only through sheer force of will on us parents part. These campers are going through some winter cabin fever due to the cold temps being back and just were not interested in doing lessons this week (for the most part).
Some of our binders, textbooks, and workbooks.

Monday we woke up and it was cold cold COLD in our house! The thermostat said it was 55 degrees F! Daddy thought the furnace had simply blown out, due to the high winds the night before, but it turned out to be a $15 part had burned out. While Daddy was figuring this out we were layered in a few layers of clothing, the two electric heaters were brought into the living room, bedroom doors were shut, and the oven got turned on. There was no point in not doing our lessons because we needed something to keep our mind's occupied. About halfway through our lessons the furnace was fixed and the heat was working again. Thank God for those electric heaters though because during our earlier lessons we were pretty comfy.

ECJ still doing those
exercises for Health.
On Tuesday every single camper was in a crabby mood. They drug their feet on their lessons, pouted when they didn't get their way, and generally were simply "off". ECJ was even assigned homework because he didn't complete his lessons on time, even AFTER we'd given him an extra hour to do it! It was one of those days where everyone felt like throwing in the towel. Of course we didn't do that but I knew something the campers didn't know, Noni would be coming out the next day to visit so they'd get the day off of lessons.

Noni came out around noon on Wednesday. The kids had been told around 9:30, after Bible studies, that she was coming out and they'd be excused from lessons for the rest of the day. They promptly asked to watch Netflix and pretty much only visited with Noni part of the time she was here due to being allowed cartoon time during the day. This was fine with Noni as she mainly felt like visiting with the adults though she loves the children dearly.
Moragon hoping someone
drops a cheesy poof.
Thursday and Friday pretty much blurred together. Lessons were completed amongst many grumbles and complaints. Yet it was all completed without too much hastle and headache and was finished on time. ECJ even managed to sneak in doing his homework during this time, and he did it correctly. The only thing of note that really happened is that Thursday evening ECJ let Peanut cut his hair! Daddy had to shave it, ECJ's normal summer cut, to "fix" the problem. I will never cease to wonder what goes through kids heads.

We've tried one new thing this week for Peanut (prek/K), we're having YCJ work with her on her phonics work. This serves as review for YCJ and helps Peanut in the process (it also frees Mommy up for a few minutes each day). Peanut is still happily working on her "new" program for school (review in a few weeks) and listening to anyone who'll read her favorite books to her. Most of her PreK workbooks now only have a few letters left to finish off.
There was a lot of progress, through much protest in some areas, for YCJ (Third grade) this week. She did a lot of work with the dictionary and is finally beginning to understand how she needs to use it. And, possibly most important of all, she's begun reading a small series that she loves that are short chapter books!! She's familiar with the Disney Princesses and these books are about things that didn't happen in the movies. We borrowed these from the library and she's very content with them. She's also progressing nicely with her cursive work.

Other than the incident with ECJ (sixth grade) allowing his baby sister to take a whack at him (literally) with the scissors, it has been a pretty normal week for him. Some lessons were more interesting and challenging than others and obviously he was rather bored with the lesson he was working on Monday. He did decide that Pet Cemetery wasn't a good choice for him to read right now, not good bedtime reading at the very least (that's my copy of the book that lost it's cover in storage last year). He's happily reading one of his Warrior Cat books that seems to keep him entertained enough to where he can nearly narrate the whole book for you.

As for me I've been reading a wide variety of books for the past two weeks. The books on the left are all by the same Christian author and I found each one of them a wonderful read. They were the kind of books that I personally find hard to put down. On the right are two books on Anne Frank and a memoir of one of the ladies who was on Schindler's List during that dark period of our history. I read both of them in less than three days. I haven't shared too many of the books I've been reading lately only because I'm nearly always reading if I'm not doing something else. Reading is part of my every day life and I hardly ever stick to one subject or author for very long. I once dreamed as a child of living in a library.

These are some of the books we'll be reading in the next two weeks as part of History lessons.

Random picture of the week:

Posts you may have missed this week:  
Last Menu Plan for February
Igloos and Birdfeeders
Winter Bucket List Link Up #? (kindly co-hosted by Learning Life with 3 Sons )
5 Meaningful Ways I'll Simplify my Life
What's Working for All of Us (this one is part rant)

Who I'm linking up with this week:      
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Faithful Mom of 9
Homegrown Learners
Great Peace Academy

Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What's Working for Us All

I have spent the last few days thinking about what I could write that's working for all of us since I've covered each camper individually this month. Finally today it came to be, just about an hour ago. 

Taking deep breaths and thinking things through is working for us. It's been an interesting month, the furnace has had issues, pipes have had issues, there's been several doctor's appointments, and due to paying some unexpected bills we've been really tight in our funding. But all of these things we made it through without much issue because we've taken them one thing at a time. Been quiet without yelling, prayed for guidance, taken baby steps, and made due.

This afternoon, however, my husband came home from talking with a friend of his to tell me an awful (but true) story. There is a counceler near our home who told a local mother that if she withdrew her child from public school (they can't afford private school) to homeschool the child, they'd see her in three months to remove the child from the home. On charges of child neglect, failure to educate, and some other legal jargon. The concealer then proceeded to say they'd get custody of the child until the child was at least 17 and if they had their way they'd take every child away from all homeschool families. Homeschooling should be illegal and if it were up to them it would be. Homeschool children are socially retarded and unable to cope in the real world. That homeschool parents simply want an excuse to not have to get up in the morning and not to have to bathe their children.

I was LIVID!

I am still angry. I am calming down but I am very very upset that such an attitude was thrown at a poor woman looking to do the best for her child. I think it reprehensible that a "professional" would threaten a mother like this. 

Daddy and I, however angry that we were, decided to do as many homeschoolers out there would have done and turned this into a learning experience for the children.

One of the councilor's question to this mother was, "Name me just five famous, or accomplished, people who were homeschooled."

Well, of course we all know that the information is easy to find. In less than one minute and a google search later we came up with a list of 18 and over twenty more Internet search pages with links to more. 

We spoke about discrimination of any group of people by any who are ill informed and how wrong this is.

We spoke about the negative connotations of the word "retarded" in any context.

And we prayed. We prayed not only for the mother who had been told this, not only for her child she was trying to do right by, not only for all homeschool families faced with similar situations, not only for all homeschoolers out there... We also prayed for the councilor who spewed this hatred and ill will out there.

I am glad that I live in this country and that I'm freely able to educate my children as I choose. I am glad that I have the backbone and the knowledge to stand up for people like this councilor. I am glad that I am able to teach my children the truth of the world. And I am grateful to GOD for all of this and so much more.

Linking up today with Our Busy Homeschool for Sharing What Works!!

Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 Meaningful Ways I'll Simplify My Life

Last month sometime I began simplifying my life a bit. Sometimes a shelf at a time, sometimes a bigger project. In all honesty organization can be the key to life more simplified. I haven't gotten around yet to finishing that organization project (though I'll be taking the next thirty days and doing just that). 

I'd set a goal to loose some weight this year. To finally (it's been a goal for a couple years) get down to that long ago size 8. Well, I have a lot of pounds left to go until I'm at that point but I have managed to loose two pounds since January 1st! OK, nope, that's not a big weight loss but I'm proud of it. I did it in healthy ways and without much exercise because I prefer to exercise outside and it's just too darned cold for that.

There are a few other things I'll be doing this year to help simplify my life and I thought I'd share them with you now.

1. I will put it in God's hands. This is easier said than done for me. I mean it. I'm a bit OCD (OK those of you who know me personally the gales of laughter can die down now) and somewhat of a control freak (again with the laughter?). I worry a subject to death all the time, every day, all day. If I'm not talking about it I'm journal about it. Or I'm thinking about it. From this day forth instead of praying: "God I need You to help me with the pros and cons of this and that" my prayers will be: "God, I know You know what this family and I need. I trust in your judgement always and believe that when the time comes the needs will be fulfilled in the best way for us." 

He knows what it is I'm in need of right now. The things my children need versus the things I think they may need. He knows my concerns over my husband's health and all the things that go along with that. When, in the past, I've handed things over to Him because I didn't feel strong enough or smart enough to decide on subject or act on it He's always been there to guide and protect us. He's always made sure that one way or another we've never had to do something drastic. And for that I am thankful and to Him I hand all of my worries and concerns and await his guidance.

2. I will speak to my husband more about the things that are bothering me. I have a tendency to bottle things up. Nightmares, bad feelings, worries, stress... You name it and I bottle it up. Things that on their own matter little in the grand scheme of things but when you add them all together tend to build to an exploding point. This causes me to loose my temper and snap or yell when it's not necessary. When I speak to my husband about these things as they crop up I always feel better, I always know that he's there to share the burden of my worries or the pain of recurring nightmares. I've neglected this for many years and sometimes I make the effort to do it only to back off because it seems so "silly" to me to talk about these things.

My husband is a wonderful man, a loving husband, and a devoted father. He's my partner on this planet and it's time I start allowing him to protect me as we both vowed to allow him to do on our wedding day. He is the only man I've ever been able to speak to candidly about my feelings, my relationship with God, my worries, and my nightmares. I know all of this and I'm glad to have such a good man in my life.

3. I will yell less and eventually on in emergency. I know I've been talking about this on and off for several months but I always back slide. Someone will do something silly on accident and out will pop that tone of voice that makes me cringe. I may not be able to stop completely yelling all at once but by the end of this year I will no longer yell unless need requires it. And I'm talking a need like a child running into the street or some other emergency. Yelling does not fix the issue it only compounds it.

4. I will combine as much as possible curriculum wise for my girls. Having Peanut study one subject and YCJ study another for History or Science is simply too distracting. I cannot combine these subjects for all three children (due to age differences) but I already have a plan in the works for next year for the girls concerning both of these subjects. I've also started having YCJ review phonics with Peanut as a way to help reinforce what YCJ already knows.

5. I will spend more time enjoying life instead of rushing through it. One would think that I, having been raised for half of my life in the relaxing climate of Kentucky away from the cities, would know the value of this and wouldn't ever allow myself to be rushed through life. But when you place me back in Michigan it seems as though life moves at a pace that I can't help but try to keep up with. There's a line from a song that goes: "rush and rush until life's no fun, all I really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why." That seems to be me lately. On the days I remember to slow down I see the benefits of it and long for every day to be as relaxing as possible. 

Who says that every page in every lesson book must be completed by x date? Who says that just because you were invited to 7 different functions in as many days that you must attend them all, or even one of them? Who ever said that if you didn't keep up with the Jones' life wouldn't ever be good?

I'm ready to garden and get my hands dirty, teaching my children the satisfaction of eating something you've helped grow with your own two hands. I'm ready to watch the look of wonder come over their faces as they watch a butterfly come out of it's cocoon. I'm ready to simply sit by a stream and watch the water flow by without worrying that I have something I have to get to. And I'm ready to enjoy life again.

None of these things will happen overnight. None of these things will happen without my conscious effort to make them so. But, I'm willing to work at it to make my life more simple and my children's lives more enjoyable.

Here's hoping and praying that you're week's are off to a good start everyone. Here's to a life more simplified.

My other posts on simplifying my life:   
Making Things Simple
More Organization Please!
Organization = Simplified Life

I'm linking up today with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for List It {Tuesday}

Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter Bucket List Link Up #?

Igloos and Bird Feeders

Well, we accomplished another two items from our winter bucket list this past week. And if you read last week's day in the life post you probably already know one of them.

We finally built an igloo! (# 3) OK, we made two actually. One we built and one we sort of just hollowed out. And today, almost a week later, my back is still out of whack from all the snow I lifted and moved with the shovel. When I'd take a break from using the shovel I'd snap a few pictures of the kids in action...

First we cleared the center and stacked the snow to build the walls. Between the shovel work and hands those walls went up rather well...

We made it kind of long instead of tall and round because Peanut wanted a "front porch" where they could play out in the sunshine. When we thought that the walls were high enough we put a roof over about half of it.

YCJ volunteered to go inside under the roof and smooth everything out...

Peanut even got into the shoveling a little...

 ECJ took a break while his sisters were working hard to pose for a picture with the sled that I'd finally remembered was hidden under the snow behind the house. It'd been sitting there since this past summer and while I was looking for materials for the base of the roof I stumbled over it. He spent a good portion of the rest of the day using that sled to surf down the snow "mountain" at the end of our street.

When it was all done they posed for a few pictures for me before deciding that they wanted to go sledding and snow ball fighting while the sun was still out. I think the girls were tuckered out a little from all the hard work building the igloo (yeah, I know more fort looking) was.
While I took a couple of shots of the completed igloo to remember it by... It was supposed to rain the next day (and it did) so I wasn't sure how long it would last.

We also made a small igloo type shelter in the "mountain" just by shoveling out a nice cavity that they could all fit into while sitting...

 The other thing we got around to (on Sunday) was to make our outside bird feeders. (# 20) I went for simple here and was only spurred into action because there had been some wild feathered friends hanging out on our porch early in the afternoon.
Single serving Pringle container with yarn to hold the food.
We filled them with a mixture of wild bird seed, stale bread crumbs, and millet pieces. Each of them held about a half cup of the mixture and we topped them off a bit with more wild bird seed. As you can see in the picture we were eating our snack right before we started this (Peanut's still not sure she likes celery).

Then the campers went out by the ditch to hang them. I was very careful to let them know exactly how far they could go because you can barely see where the ditch is with the snow still on the ground and when there's no snow it's higher than my waist! It took over half an hour for Peanut to find just the right spot to hang her feeder. They kind of look like bleached Easter eggs hanging out there but I've already seen a bird or two investigating.

I'm still confident that we'll complete our list before the first day of spring!

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Last Menu for February!

February is drawing to a close and I for one am very happy for it. Spring is on it's way now it's just a matter of time. 

This week for my menu that I'm linking up to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Mondays I have the following planned:

Sunday - Thin boneless pork chops, buttered noodles, and green beans
Monday - Beef roast (in rotisserie), cheddar broccoli rice, and lettuce salad
Tuesday - Oven baked chicken legs, corn, and roasted potatoes
Wednesday - Kielbasa, chicken noodles, and green beans
Thursday - Pork roast with mushroom gravy, noodles, and asparagus 
Friday - Fish and rice for Mom and Dad, soup and sandwiches for campers/kids
Saturday - leftover buffet

Nothing fancy or special, not even any turkey this week. We're keeping it simple and relaxed.

Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Snow Surfing and Science Experiments

Boy, this week has been different for us. Not because we didn't have lessons, because we did. Not because we spent too little time outside, because we didn't. And not because we had an unschooling day, because we've done that before. But because we've been more relaxed than ever, done more hands on things than before, and involved some interesting science things that we haven't done before.

Monday was a typical day here, even if we did do last Thursday's lesson plans instead of ones I might have made for this week (if I'd been on top of my lesson plans like I usually try to be). I made some mini taco bowls (inspired by a post over at Our Busy Homeschool where Tristan walks you through how to make them), we omitted the guacamole and re fried beans and instead of regular taco meat ours was turkey taco meat. The children really enjoyed having a mini taco bowl buffet set up and ate really well. Next time I think I'll use flour tortillas instead of corn as that was the only drawback for the campers.
Yup, celery stalks in a jar as a centerpiece to prick the campers interest.
Celery added to water with food dye
I wrote a post describing our entire day on Tuesday which you can check out here . Every time I write one of these I notice that although lesson time may officially be over at 4 PM we're still learning and doing all the way until we're asleep most days. Tuesday we did start the celery experiment, you can find a simple explanation of it here and in many other places on the Internet including YouTube. I remember doing this as a child and figured that it would go over pretty well with the campers. (I included the link above for the celery experiment because that one links to another experiment that we'll probably be doing soon.) We also did some experimentation with "expanding pills" but for photos and details on that one you'll have to check out the post about Tuesday.

10 AM 
7 PM

Wednesday showed up to our lightened lesson work for the rest of the week. Only Language Arts and Arithmetic from our lesson books. ECJ took his spelling test on Tuesday (only 2 wrong out of 25) and YCJ will take her's on Friday but by then she'll have had two weeks with the same spelling words. We also went to Daddy's afternoon doctor's appointment with him and learned the ABC's of Asthma (yes, there is a book with that title) and found out that Mommy had lost a little weight. After we got back home, ate a snack, and completed our math lessons we went for a long long walk. Campers splashed in melted snow puddles, climbed snow mountains, and generally burned off excess energy. We also checked our celery experiment a couple of times. 
Celery @ 11 AM Thursday
Carefully cutting bottom of celery
Showing the xylem to the campers 
I woke up Thursday morning with a massive migraine. This doesn't happen to this extent very often anymore, even with a migraine I can usually function pretty well because I've dealt with them for so very long (around half my life). This morning was different. My head hurt so bad I felt dizzy. None of the children wanted to do their "official" lessons so we called an unschooling day. We've done these before and although some of these unschooling days don't look like much has gotten done I've found that the campers learn one heck of a lot on most of them. We observed the celery and then (much later) in the afternoon I sliced the end off of the celery and showed them the xylem (the little tubes in the celery that help draw water up to the leaves). The campers were also quick to point out how much dye drained out of the celery when it was cut and how happy they were that we're dye limited (love when I don't have to bring that limitation up).

There was a lot of crafting done. YCJ even broke out her bracelet craft to do with Peanut without any prompting on our part. Which is a big deal for a girl who constantly says that her baby sister is driving her bonkers.

All three children worked with tools with Daddy (mainly I didn't help because my head hurt so badly but I did do a bit) who was taking some junk back to the scrap yard today. ECJ went with Daddy and really enjoyed it. All three campers like doing anything they can with any scrap we do, they've learned over the years that if they help they can earn a dollar or two of spending money by doing this. Although this is the first time that either girl was able to do much with the tools (some of those wires are hard to cut!).
They exercised and stretched a lot in the attempt to be able to do the splits (mostly YCJ here as Peanut can still do them and ECJ doesn't think splits are too comfortable to do). Building with Legos went on and imaginative play. Contests on how far paper planes would go and much much more. Lots of reading happened, thanks to the 42 books we took out at the library, and by early evening my head was feeling well enough to read some more about Medieval Life to the campers (what we're currently working on for History). They're super interested in this time frame and even though we're going to skip through this time period rather quickly right now it's only because we'll be doing a more in depth study of it during our summer months. Peanut just couldn't wait to learn more about it and picked this book out at the library, I grabbed several books leading into the colonization of America while we were at the library and we'll be looking at those the first few weeks in March (we may have to extend their return dates).

That brings us to Friday. I could wait until tonight to post about today and add some more pictures but I'd like to concentrate on just working with the kids today. Daddy is going to be gone most of the day running errands with the neighbor (Daddy's friend) so we'll be all alone and busy! Lessons getting finished up, we'll be beginning a rather in depth study of the weather with figuring our how much water is in a few inches of snow when it melts (the campers are wondering why all the adults are worried about flooding when there's snow on the ground), and as much other things as they figure they can handle doing. We might even get some more outside time because the forecast is calling for almost 40 degree weather with possible light snow showers (unlike our rain/snow/sleet mix we got yesterday). 

Peanut (prek/kindergarten) has been a deciding factor in our planning for future weeks. Although she can do five straight days worth of lessons she much prefers to only do 3 or 4. After looking back over my records of our unschooling days, and talking with Daddy about how they might get worked into our scheduling, it's been decided that Wednesdays (the day that most of the campers don't like doing lessons) will typically be unschooling days from here on out. Within a few weeks Peanut will have finished several more workbooks and be down to only a couple that she works on consistently. I really enjoy when she tells us that she'd like to have more of "x" and we're able to accommodate her.

YCJ (third grade) is now ahead of schedule with her Arithmetic and is catching up with her Language Arts. The "discovery" that she can read has made her more willing to do her English lessons. She is very excited about the regular unschooling days being scheduled now because as she puts it, "It gives me more time to craft and make stories up." I'm all for working with art supplies and creativity, not to mention using our imaginations to write fiction works.

As for ECJ (sixth grade) he's still working at his Language Arts and Arithmetic at an accelerated pace and really enjoying it. It really takes him only a few minutes more each day than his original work load. He's also enjoying reading Pet Cemetery surprisingly. Though he is still reading it during daylight hours and not right before bed. He's done OK this week chore and lesson wise, even voluntarily explaining some science information with Peanut and leading our Bible lessons on Thursday. 

Posts that you may have missed this week:  
Tired of February Menu
We Did Something!
Things are Different Now
One Day in February
What's Working for ECJ

Who I'm linking this post up with:   
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Homegrown Learners
Faithful Mom of 9
Great Peace Academy

Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!