Journey’s End with Primary Early American History

my crew with their favorite books

my crew with their favorite books

We finished our last book with Beautiful Feet Books’ Primary Early American History. For the last part of the course we studied George Washington, the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, Abraham Lincoln and Buffalo Bill. The study ends with the opening of West after the Civil War. I wanted to cover more of the American Revolution so I added several books by Jean Fritz: Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, Why Don’t You Get a Horse Sam Adams? And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, and Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?. I also added The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman  and If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days by Barbara Brenner. My crew also finished watching the American History episodes of Drive Thru History.

our last few pages

our last few pages

The guide did suggest an essay on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but because of our schedule I had my crew write only one essay on their favorite person at the end of the study. While learning about George Washington we enjoyed this website about Mount Vernon. We especially enjoyed the videos and picture tour of the house.

I found a few craft projects for my crew to work on and some historical based recipes to try. I didn’t plan as many activities as usual since the final part of this study fell during our busy summer season of

Oldest's work

Oldest’s work

swimming lessons, Lego Camps and Vacation Bible School. We made tea Colonial style…or tried anyway. We used a knife to scrape tea from a brick but quickly abandoned the knife to use a microplane…so much easier! You can read about our tea party here. The crew also crafted lavender sachets and learned a few basic hand sewing techniques from Mama Quilts. While studying the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s birthday the crew decorated bamboo flutes with leather and beads and tried to play a few simple songs. We made gingerbread cookies while reading about Abraham Lincoln. I was just going to make regular gingerbread (so much easier than cookies) until I read this post from The American Table and learned the significance of the cookies to Abraham Lincoln. We were going to finish up the study with a pot of buffalo chili and Navaho fry bread but our busy summer schedule just got in the way. The next time we study the history of the

Middle Boy decided George Washington was studying about clocks

Middle Boy decided George Washington was studying about clocks

American West I’ll make this chili for the kids.

Here is the buffalo chili recipe I learned to make in Oklahoma. I learned it from one of my professors while participating in the National Geographic Christmas bird count at the wildlife refuge. Christmas was not a big deal to my family growing up and this is how I spent three of my Christmas Day’s in my early university years. I guess proper cowboy chili should have beans in it but I truly detest beans in chili…

1 pound bison
2 tablespoons flour

Marinade:
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or more if you really like it)
2 tablespoons paprika (I like the smoked Hungarian)
1 cup tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons of powdered chili

Mix marinade.
Trim any fat (save for roux) from bison and cut it up into 1 inch or so pieces and soak in marinade over night.
Cook meat and marinade pot over low heat for a couple of hours. Give it a stir every now and then.
Cook the fat until it is a liquid in frying pan over low heat to use in a roux. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of fat. If you do not have enough just use some bacon grease.
After meat has stewed sufficiently (it should be starting to shred), remove 1 cup of liquid from pot. Add liquid to the roux and blend with a whisk. The liquid should start to thicken. Pour it back into the pot with the meat and stir up. Serve with fry bread. Pioneer Woman can tell you how to make fry bread way better than me so check out her link above for the recipe.

geography lessons

geography lessons

Final Thoughts:

Before using this guide from Beautiful Feet Books I knew nothing of literature based studies or Charlotte Mason. From day one my crew loved this study and they always asked for it first and to do just one more lesson. Because of their enthusiasm for the subject we finished it ahead of the expected schedule of two years. By the time we finished the first few lessons my oldest asked if we could use Beautiful Feet Books curriculum “for everything forever”. My entire crew love the book selections and even my very reluctant reader loved several of the books and read a few of them on his own time.

My crew had a lot of fun writing, drawing and coloring in their history notebook. I constantly encouraged them to work neatly but it wasn’t always the case. During the last few books they started to look back at their previous work and noticed the changes in their handwriting. They started talking about their work and judging it (a bit harshly) and reminiscing what they remembered the day they colored Leif Ericson or drew Grimalkin.

working on ancient history

working on ancient history

I nearly wept listening to them talk about their favorite books and their memories. I did not expect to witness such a spontaneous and mature discussion from my crew. Since that day they have all taken ownership of their new notebooks and made a conscious effort to work neatly (most of the time). They were very sad to reach the end of the guide and copy their final reports into the their notebooks. In all honesty I was sad too…I’ve enjoyed these book as much as my kids.

We may have reached the end of our journey with Primary Early American History but we are by no means finished with our adventure with Beautiful Feet Books. Over the summer we started their geography guide. We are at the half-way point in this course and I would recommend it as a great follow-up to the American history study. The guide has a list of several extra books and I hunted down as many of these as I could find and we are reading and mapping our way through the study. We also just started their science guide for our new academic year. For the first time since starting homeschooling we actually enjoy science time. Well, all of the experiments we’ve done in the past have been great fun but the reading has been really dry. I’m not sure we can ever go back to the elementary Apologia books again…

We’ll be using Beautiful Feet Books curriculum for the rest of our homeschooling years…that’s the highest praise I can give.

The company also keeps a very interesting and thought provoking blog and I encourage you to check it out here. Just so you know I am in no way affiliated with Beautiful Feet Books not did I receive any compensation for this review series. I originally decided to blog my way through this study simply because I could not find much information about it. When I first consider a curriculum I always search homeschool blogs for information. I want to know how other families used a curriculum and all the pros and cons. I’m not the only one who researches this way so I decided to blog my homeschools journey through the guide hoping our experience would bless someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Curriculum Edition

fun with friends

fun with friends

For a July in Kentucky we’ve enjoyed some near perfect weather…though we could do with a bit of rain. Despite it being our second week of school we’ve spent some time outside this week enjoying the mild weather and friends. So, naturally, we are not exactly on schedule. This time last year I would have been flipping out over the schedule. Not now though. I’ve learned to relax over the almighty schedule (sort of). Actually, I (hopefully) worked out a way to keep us on track by making allowances in the schedule for unexpected (and planned) interruptions. This year I am only planning for a

Sparkles and friend...they are nonconformist in their table usage

Sparkles and friend…they are nonconformist in their table usage

four-day school week with one light work day (usually Friday) reserved for enrichment projects, outings, or getting caught up.

Today, after a half day of school we joined some friends at the playground for birthday cupcakes and fun. We’ve also went swimming twice this week! Oldest has also gone blackberry picking a couple of times this week but the harvest is starting to slow without any rain. Blackberry season is about over.

"Catch me, Big E!"

“Catch me, Big E!”

On a sad note, Oldest learned this week his guitar teacher is moving away. His last lesson will be this coming Wednesday. My poor boy is truly heartbroken. I’m sad for my son and grateful for the time and mentoring his teacher invested in him.

Here are our curriculum choices for the 2014-15 year…

Group Subjects:

my convention purchases...note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

my convention purchases…note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

Music Appreciation from Zeezok Publishing. Wow! We are loving this curriculum. The kids especially enjoy the lapbooks and the music CD’s. This week we made German brown bread and started an oxidation experiment while learning about Bach.

Science: This year we are working through A History of Science from Beautiful Feet Books. We’ve only completed the first few lessons but I’ve already caught a couple of the kids looking through the books. Right now we are learning about Archimedes and will work through some buoyance and water displacement experiments tomorrow. This year will also be the first time they will keep proper scientific journals and will learn about the scientific method by performing the steps. To this study I added: Thames and Kosmos’s Milestones in Science kit, Isaac Newton by J. H. Tiner, A Piece of the Mountain by J. MacPherson, The Mystery of the Periodic Table by B. D. Walker, and Michael Faraday by C. Ludwig. Once a week we are watching the BBC six-week series called The Story of Science (on YouTube). I also found a program about Tesla on Netflix and am looking for a few other shows to add.

Bible: Right now we are working our way through Christian Light Education’s Bible 400. This is a continuation of the Gospels from last year. We’ll finish up by Christmas and will then begin Apologia’s Who Is God course and notebooking journals (I won this set on a blog giveaway last year!).

Spelling: The crew is using level 3 of the new SpellingYouSee curriculum. Oldest is a fantastic reader but his spelling is terrible. They all love the curriculum and never complain about spelling work anymore. I’ll love it if I see progress!

Art: We still have several Bible Stories DVD’s to work through from last year and they have ceramics from Art In History that ties in with their History studies. We are not doing much with art this year since we are working through music appreciation. Next year we will have a proper art curriculum.

Music: My crew will continue piano lessons with the fabulous Mrs. Melody!!!

Math: We will be working through the first four books of Life of Fred.

Geography: We did not finish our geography study from Beautiful Feet Books over the summer break (life got kinda busy) so we will work through the rest of it on Friday’s until finished. We should be done before Christmas break.

Curriculum for third grade:

working oh history notebooks

working on history notebooks

History and Writing: The Story of the World Volume 3.   Sparkles and Middle Boy are using notebooks for keeping their maps and coloring images. I reduced the size of the images to fit in their notebooks. For writing I just combined the techniques from Writing With Ease 3 into their history work. Right now they are narrating (they dictate their narrations to me) one section of the chapter each week. After our second term they will begin narrating all of the sections in the chapter each week. During our last two terms I will transition them to writing their own narrations into the notebook. They also have to read through some history encyclopedias and write down interesting facts.

Math, Language Arts and Reading are all from Christian Light Education. The kids love these workbooks. We switched to their math over the summer. I just wasn’t happy with MathUSee. It just wasn’t challenging enough for them. I had to drop everyone a grade level in their math but they should be caught up by Christmas time. By the end of the school year they will have completed two years worth of math! They will also be keeping reading response journals that I mentioned two weeks ago.

Curriculum for fifth grade:

working on ancient history

working on ancient history

History: Oldest is using the Intermediate Ancients guide from Beautiful Feet Books. He absolutely loves this study but it is currently kicking his behind! He is a lesson behind at the moment. He isn’t crazy about the Streams of Civilization history book and chose to add The Story of the World to his reading schedule. I also tracked down every extra book mentioned in the guide that I could find. I plan to get the Drive Thru History DVD’s on ancient history to go with this study and watch some old movies like Ben Hur. He is also starting a timeline this year and is using the beautiful book from Homeschool in the Woods.

Writing: He is working through the first level of Writing With Skill by Susan Wise Bauer. Writing is his least favorite subject and I can tell after these first two weeks that I am going to have to really work with him. I learned at the convention that some consider this book a bit too tough for fifth grade and to only expect him to get through half of the text. Well, I didn’t tell Oldest that or he would use it as an excuse to slack off. I know I will need to coach and push him through the work. He did flip through the book and learn that if he completes the course he can receive a signed certificate from Dr. Bauer. For some reason Oldest really wants that certificate…I call it motivation!

Language Arts, Reading, and Math: All of these subjects are from Christian Light Education.

Pre-Logic: Building Thinking Skills from The Critical Thinking Co. This book was recommended in The Well Trained Mind. He thinks it is fun.

Typing: He is using Typing Master Typing Tutor. I found it on Amazon.

I think that is everything…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Review and Giveaway: Persecuted

Persecuted by Robin Parrish is a novel based on the upcoming film of the same name by Daniel Lasko. The film opens in theaters this Friday. After reading the book I am excited to see the movie.

I enjoyed reading the book and found it to be a rather quick and easy read. The story centers around a famous TV evangelist named John Luther. He is framed for the murder of a young girl because he will not give his support to a government bill that infringes upon religious freedom. I’ll have to stop there because to share anything else would be…spoilers!

The theme of the book explores potential Christian persecution in American. In the past five years I’ve heard several sermons on this very topic. I think many Christians feel that our country is not only slipping away from its religious foundation but gradually growing hostile to religious freedom. For Christian readers (or viewers of the movie) this book will be chilling and a somber reminder to remain true to the Gospel message of Jesus despite the personal cost.

The book is written for a Christian audience who expects a coming persecution. Without that particular perspective the reader will have a few unanswered questions. The main question is why is it so important for this bill to be passed that certain powerful individuals will risk their careers and lives. Why are they trying to undermine the message of Christianity? I think the book could have been greatly improved by answering this question directly. Despite my criticism the book was enjoyable to read and very thought-provoking. I recommend it as a good read.

As always the good folks at Flyby have provide me a copy to give away!

Official rules:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

 

Also, the giveaway is good in the United States and Canada only.

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment below by July 22nd! Good Luck!!

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: Really Slow and Steady

My thoughts while exercising

My thoughts while exercising

We started our new school year so this week flew by in a flash. I’ve spent most of my time working with my crew and getting our school year off to a positive start. In other words…we enjoyed some good, delicious terribly unhealthy food last weekend. I dreaded getting on the scale this evening but it reported that I had lost another pound. I do not feel like I’ve lost any weight. I cannot fit into my smaller (not smallest) jeans yet. The one pair I can wear comfortably now has a whole in the seams. I really do not want to buy any new clothes since I have some clothes just one size down. Frustrating! Other than our Promotion Party day I managed to eat decently and tried out a new healthy recipe. You can find the recipe at the end of the post. My daughter was the only one willing to try it. She said it was ok.

I’m really excited to let you know that my husband has joined us in our efforts to get healthier! I’m really happy! He walks for about thirty minutes every night after we get the kids tucked into bed. While he’s walking I hop on the…er…not sure what the contraption is called…basically a bicycle that doesn’t go anywhere…stationary bike? Anyway, I’ve used it five times this week and danced with the kids on the Wii two or three times. Tonight he showed me the bike thing will even monitor my heart rate! Of course, now I have to find another place to pile my clothes.

My husband also asked me to look into a diabetic diet. Two of his older siblings have developed diabetes recently. He wants to get ahead of this family trend. He even talked to the kids about eating healthier today. I’ll be looking into this over the next few weeks and working it into our family meals. I did just a tiny amount of reading on managing arthritis with diet. For the most part stick to lots of vegetables and fruit and stay far, far away from processed and deep-fried foods. Every article I’ve read says the best way to manage arthritis pain/discomfort is to exercise. Basically, I need to get off my butt and move.

Today was the first day I realized my knuckles and knees haven’t bothered me as much. I did not take any medicine this week for my knuckles!!! They still ache a little and my grip still isn’t as strong as it used to be but I am thrilled. I tested my wedding band this morning and it still doesn’t quite fit. However, it does fit further down my finger!

I spent most of my day in the kitchen turning blackberries and blueberries into syrup, muffins, juice and cakes. I forgot all about writing up a Wibbly Wobbly post until my husband reminded me before his walk. I thought about letting it slide until tomorrow but chose to follow through on my commitment to each of you. This team, across the miles and oceans matters to me. You are all in my prayers and thoughts every day.

Tuna Cucumber Salad: Chop up two cucumbers (half-moon shape) and three stalks of celery and place in bowl. Add a can (10 ounce) of water packed tuna (drained) to the bowl.  Add two tablespoons of vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir and refrigerate. Eat within a day or so. I piled about a cup over a piece of toast. My boys refused to try it because it was “too green”. Next time I am going to use Italian dressing to add a bit more flavor and color.

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Promotion Day and Pythagoras

first day of school

first day of school

We celebrated the beginning of our new academic year with our second annual promotion party. I officially now have a fifth grader, two third graders, and a little preschooler. Over the long weekend we went to the park, a family July fourth cookout, to Dairy Queen for ice-cream and a Chinese restaurant. We made tie-dyed t-shirts and blackberry syllabubs. The crew also enjoyed double video game time which is a big deal to them.

Littlest asleep in his hiding place

Littlest asleep in his hiding place

Littlest likes to amuse himself these days by hiding our shoes or even himself! I could not find my favorite flip-flops for two days! We really have to watch him outside because if you do not have your eye on him he will hide. The first time he hid while we were outside really frightened me! We know where most of his hiding spots are now and can find our missing shoes. One of his hiding spots is in the master bathroom. My husband is often amused by the variety of items he finds in there when he gets home from work. On a few occasions I’ve even found Littlest asleep in his hiding places.

Doctor Who craziness...

Doctor Who craziness…

A couple of weeks ago I removed all of last years art work from around the room. Sparkles thought an empty art display board was a very sad sight to see. She filled the emptiness with drawings from Doctor Who. Our wall is covered with images of the 10th Doctor, Donna Noble (my favorite companion), Martha Jones, Daleks and Weeping Angels.  Middle Boy also wanted to get in on the fun and covered his math lesson with alien space craft, explosions and an Ood…yeah, that’s from Dr. Who as well.

On Monday we jumped into our new school books and schedule. Our days have been a bit long as we adjust to the new workload and subjects. Oldest is working on his own for history this year while the younger two continue with The Story of the World. He also  has typing and a critical thinking/pre-logic

first day of school

first day of school

workbook added to his studies. Oldest struggled this week under the weight of his studies and the heavy reading schedule and is already behind. I’m sure he’ll adjust and thrive very soon. The logic stage has hit him hard. Despite the volume of work he told me he liked everything.

We’ve only completed two lessons in science so far but I can tell my little scholars are going to really love the study. We spent an hour discussing the ancient Greeks and Archimedes’ inventions. They made their own scrolls in Greek, hand drew a map of the known world (to the Greeks around 500 BC). We spent our next lesson time discussing Pythagoras

Pythagorean Theorem notes

Pythagorean Theorem notes

and his theorem. The science guide does not give me the answers so I actually had to know the theorem or where to find it. I couldn’t believe that I was actually able to remember “a squared plus b squared equals c squared”! I remembered the formula but had no clue what it meant! The really wonky part is that my husband was thinking about the theorem on his nightly walk the evening before. If I had to guess what he was thinking about on his walks I never would have imagined calculating the hypotenuse of triangles…

Oldest tending the flowers

Oldest tending the flowers

Every morning we’ve been outside watering the garden and picking blackberries. I juiced the first batch of blackberries to make blackberry fizz and syllabubs. The next quart (all ready in the fridge) I’ll use to make honey-blackberry syrup for waffles and make a batch or two of muffins. The garden is still growing and I hope to harvest a tomato or two by this weekend’s end. Due to the continuous spring rains and then sudden dry spell the tomatoes ended up with flower end rot. The same thing happened last year. If

We like to wear tie-dye's on our first day of school

We like to wear tie-dye’s on our first day of school

we have a really rainy spring season next year then I am going to pick off all of the flowers. The rot is so discouraging. The jalapeno and bell pepper harvest is starting to pick up and hopefully I’ll be able to make some roasted tomato salsa soon…yum! I’m waiting for my cucumber plant to produce more fruit. We had some high winds a week or so ago and the plant has had a hard time recovering. It is covered in blooms now so hopefully I’ll have cucumbers again soon.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Next week the some of the participating blogs in the Weekly Wrap-up will be sharing our curriculum choices for the year. I’ll post mine as well and I look forward to learning what everyone else will be using in their homeschools.

 

 

 

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: Surprised by Success

My thoughts while exercising

My thoughts while exercising

I really thought I was going to report that I had gained weight this week. On Monday I twisted my foot a bit while going down the stairs. I iced it when it started swelling and wore my good shoes instead of flip-flops for a few days. My foot is still a little sore but nothing too bad. I did not exercise much the rest of the week to let it heal.

My husband also left town on a business trip. I always feel down when he leaves and cannot sleep. The kids and I consoled ourselves with swiss rolls and chocolate milk during his absence…

I did manage to increase my water intake and met my goal most days this week (except the days my husband was gone). I had started playing the Wii Dance games with my kids until my injury. The dance games are fun and do not feel like exercising. Even the little three year old gets in on the fun and will dance with us. I think we will substitute the dance game for our physical education curriculum and couple of times a week. I stopped dancing with the kids when I hurt myself but I think I can join in with them again this coming week.

Anyway, despite how awful my week was health wise…I lost another pound! So my week really wasn’t all that terrible. I weighed myself again to make sure the scale wasn’t broken because I was sure that I had regained my lost pound.

I’m not so sure that losing weight is the answer to being able to wear my wedding band again. Some days I cannot get my ring past my knuckle. For the past few months my knees and knuckles have had a stiff and uncomfortable feeling. I’ve also noticed my grip isn’t as strong. The stiffness came and went  most of the time but is constant now. I recently realized after spending some time in my friend’s pool than the discomfort and swelling lessons considerably. Arthritis maybe?

I’m not fond of the side-effects of age…

I have read that anti-inflammatory foods can help with some arthritis symptoms so I will be researching the issue this week.

Claire’s post for the week is up and I felt very encouraged after reading about everyone’s success. I too am really bad to send my kids to fetch things for me. So this week I’ll get up off my rear and get things myself…even if my knees protest on the stairs.

My friend Ellie has some great posts on staying hydrated that I have found motivating.

Stay Hydrated this Summer

Stay Hydrated, Stay Happy

Every time I drink a glass of water I pray for the Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss team!

Weekly Wrap-up: Doctor Angry and Final Preparations

Littlest and Sprite enjoying some cuddle time

Littlest and Sprite enjoying some cuddle time

Last Friday we played in the pool with Mrs. Cuddle-me and boys. Later Makrothumia and kids also joined in the fun. A day with friends is always so very uplifting. After an entire year, Littlest finally accepted Sprite and played with her in the pool. He also let her cuddle him in a towel after swimming. He always wants cuddle time after getting out of the pool or even the bathtub. After a year of effort and possibly some hurt feelings, Sprite was rather pleased to have won over Littlest and he seems quite content with his new friend. He talked as much about her as Big E the past few days.

lunch with friends

lunch with friends

Sunday was a rough day at church. I usually have a pretty good time with my two-year Sunday School class. However, on this particular day I was vomited on by a sad little fellow who only wanted his mommy. Later, I was peed on twice! I was so glad to go home. Thankfully, I have July off from nursery duty but my group will graduate to their new classes by the time I return. I’ll miss them. I took a really nice long nap that day…after getting cleaned up.

decorating binders and organizing for the new academic year

decorating binders and organizing for the new academic year

We did very little school work this week. Most of our time was spent working in the school room getting ready for our new academic year…which begins on Monday. We did go shopping on Tuesday morning to get the rest of our school supplies. The crew decorated various folders and made little posters for the first day of school pictures. I printed out papers, ripped apart workbooks, and prepped the workboxes for the first day of school.

Oldest's and Sparkles' workboxes

Oldest’s and Sparkles’ workboxes

Our year begins the first Monday in July (unless it happens to be the fourth of July, then we start on the first Tuesday). First I fill in our yearly calendar and mark off non-school days, holidays, vacations and my husband’s time off from work. Then I count off five sets of nine week terms and see that our year ends on June fifth. We are going with a four-day school week (mostly) this year which is why our year is forty-five weeks. Most curriculum doesn’t last forty-five weeks even with a four-day schedule so by the time nice spring days arrive we will begin finishing up our various curriculums. We will also take a week or so off when my mom visits sometime in April.

yearly overview sheets

yearly overview sheets

After getting our basic year figured out I then made yearly overviews for most of our courses. On these sheets I can see all five terms on one page and make very basic lesson plans. I will then journal our daily work into my lesson planner as it is completed. This year I am using A Simple Plan planner. I think this system will give me plenty of flexibility without a rigid schedule that makes me bonkers when I can’t keep up…and something always messes up the schedule.

Once the yearly overviews were completed I made folders for each week and placed them in my daily basket. Each folder contains all of the pintables and worksheets that need to be completed. I printed out all of them for the entire year. Last year I printed papers and

my daily basket

my daily basket

tore out worksheets on Sunday evenings. Now all I’ll have to do is fill the workboxes and I can even do that job on Friday mornings. Middle Boy didn’t want to use the workbox system this year. He hated the workboxes and just wanted to put all of his things in a crate. I like the workboxes (everything in its own drawer!) but not everything has to be done my way. I like my world “nice and tidy” and in its proper place. He needs to see everything at once which looks like a chaotic mess to me. He even plays the same way…Legos and such spread out all around him. He practices his piano the same way. He plays bits and pieces throughout the day and then experiments with the melody and changes things around. Every week I get frustrated and just want him to play the piece from

Middle Boy's crate

Middle Boy’s crate

beginning to end…Maybe I am wrong but it seems creative people do not see messes. Perhaps they thrive in disorder. Anyway, I am doing my best to see how he views the world and accommodate him. My daily basket also contains my attendance sheet, course of study sheets, answer keys, grade keepers, and books for the week. My year is planned and we are ready to begin on Monday.

Littlest woke me early Wednesday morning. I should say Doctor Angry (imagine Angry Birds combined with Doctor Who) woke me with his sonic screwdriver (made by Middle Boy out of Legos)! Littlest was saying, “Doctor Angry is sonicing you to wake up and make me chocolate milk and a peanut butter sandwich!” An Angry Bird stuffed animal was bouncing on my chest and the Lego sonic screwdriver was pressed into my cheek. What a fun way to start the day! After breakfast we prepared for another morning of swimming with friends at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s.

reading response binder by Sparkles

reading response binder by Sparkles

By Thursday we finished up all of our work in the school room. I put together their Reading Response binders. I wanted my crew to start keeping a reading log this year but I wanted more than a list of books. I happened to read this post on Scholastic and loved the idea! I adapted it for our needs and am looking forward to reading their entries. They will list the books they read during free reading time, graph them each month by genre, and then write up a short response (from a list of choices) for me. I plan to read through

log from reading binder

log from reading binder

their responses and write a note back. Even though I will not be grading their responses I will be watching for improvement in spelling and grammar or areas that need extra instruction. All of the forms I used in their binders can be found on the Scholastic post shared above from Beth Newingham.

Friday is July the fourth, my nation’s birthday. The day we are supposed to celebrate our freedom. We usually spend the day at home and just enjoy being together. For the past few years we have sat on our porch and watched the neighbors fireworks. This year we will spend the evening at one of my sister-in-law’s home for a cookout. The kids were really excited when we told them.

Saturday is our promotion party, the day we promote the crew to their new grade level. We’ll have a fifth grader, two third graders and a preschooler. The kids have chosen to go out to a Chinese buffet for lunch. They will also enjoy double game time and we’ll make tie-dye t-shirts. We are ready for our new school year and a return to the much-needed routine!

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

 

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: Everything Is Awesome!

everythingisawesome-legomovie-lonelyisland-teganandsara-585x327I watched The Lego movie with my crew last night. So naturally my head is filled with…Everything is awesome!
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream!

I didn’t expect much from the movie. I really thought it would bore me to tears. I found the film hilarious and the anti-establishment, soft-hearted anarchist/Constitutional Libertarian in me was totally dumbstruck that something like that came out of Hollywood! Well…I’m sure that particular combination of words put me on someone’s naughty list…

Anyway…

Claire has a really lovely post this week for the Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss journey we are on together (everything is cool when you’re part of a team). She reminded us about what is really beautiful. I cried…especially when she wrote about how her husband sees her.

My first week on this adventure turned out pretty good. I actually managed to drink the proper amount of water each day! Yeah! I watched my portions sizes most days. We went swimming at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s on Friday and I had too much of her pasta salad. The salad did have plenty of vegetables though so it wasn’t all bad. I lost one whole pound this week. Not the most glorious beginning but I’m happy…’cuz everything is awesome!

 

Weekly Wrap-up: New Endeavors and Endings

summer fun

summer fun

My husband and I enjoyed a nice weekend. Mrs. Melody came over Saturday afternoon to stay with the kids so my husband and I could go to a company cookout on the lake. I was certain we would not be able to go since he daughter was past her due date with her first child and I just knew labor would begin on Saturday. Well, I was quite wrong and the stubborn fellow didn’t arrive until late last night. I saw the most beautiful picture of them on Facebook this morning… Mrs. Melody was holding the hand of her daughter as she labored. I wept…the captured moment was so very…lovely and painful to witness. I am struggling to find the proper word that captures the tearful

the lake

the lake

emotions that overwhelmed me as I gazed upon the dramatic tableau vivant.

I love birth stories…I really do.

On Sunday I happened to see an amazing ant before heading to church. This creature was stealing a piece of cat food from our grumpy feline. I found the strength of the ant captivating and I really wanted to skip church and watch this stunning creatures. How far was he going to drag this morsel? The crew gathered

the hard working ant

the hard-working ant

around and we all watched him drag his prize for a bit then we left for church. I’ll never know how far he dragged that bit of cat food…I was humbled by that ant. Then my Sunday School teacher’s lesson had me wondering if I take my faith for granted…do I even realize and fully cherish my faith in Jesus. So I left class in tears and humbled again…

I’m a failure as a Christian. My Oldest is trying so hard to be a follower of Christ. He asked our teacher (he goes to

Oldest watering the flowers

Oldest watering the flowers

adult Sunday School with me) about how to forgive the boy who tormented and bullied him when he attended public school…the same boy who drove us away from our former church family. Oldest wanted to know how to forgive this boy. I must confess that I still want to stomp this mean-hearted kid into the dirt. I am humbled by my son…he is a finer Christian than I shall ever be. I am humbled and convicted but couldn’t be more proud.

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yours truly and Middle Boy

After church Middle boy and I went out for lunch…just the two of us. He chose to go to McDonald’s because he wanted to play in the “play place”. He had the play area to himself that Sunday afternoon and I enjoyed watching him have a good time. I should take each kid out with me more often. I have very little one-on-one time with my children.

my crew with their pile of work

my crew with their pile of work

On Monday we cleaned up the downstairs and started cleaning out the school room. I set up our science and art supplies in the downstairs kitchen…yep…two full kitchens in this house. We spent the entire day cleaning the downstairs. I took the crew’s picture by the final stack of schoolwork for the year. We ended up throwing away six garbage bags of academic work. The crew picked through some of it and we filed favorite pieces into their portfolios. I worked on weekly folders for the upcoming year while they finished up their final papers for Early American History. We officially wrap-up the school year tomorrow. I just want to cry. Oldest begins the logic years next week…and I don’t want to let go…

Sparkles watering flowers

Sparkles watering flowers

This week I joined with Claire and friends on an adventure to begin a healthier lifestyle. I’m really excited about this new endeavor. I’m not letting the momentum slip away this time. I need to take care of this old body…to appreciate and celebrate being alive…I’m so blessed.

Our Promotion Party is next week and I have some fun planned for my crew next week. We’ll make tie-dye t-shirts and decorate some folders and composition books. We’ll take pictures

Littlest watering

Littlest watering

and get the school room all prepared. They will write-up their final copies of their essay’s for Early American History…and then they will be all ready for third and fifth grade. Littlest will be leaving us for preschool with Mrs. Vivian soon ( in September).

But mama’s heart isn’t ready. Not at all…

Friday morning we will enjoy pool time with Mrs. Cuddle-me and friends. I need the time with my friends. I need to hold onto today…it is slipping away too quickly…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss

My thoughts while exercising

My thoughts while exercising

I’ll be joining with Claire and friends at angelicscalliwags on a healthy living and weight loss lifestyle change. When it comes to exercise I feel a lot like the kitty in the picture…bored and dreaming of a yummy egg, extra-sharp cheddar cheese and bacon biscuit!

Several times this year I have started an exercise program and watched my portions only to lose interest…I’ll fess-up and say they were half-hearted attempts. Lately, however, I’ve gained enough weight that my wedding band is painful to wear. I feel uncomfortable leaving home with a naked ring finger…

My first short-term goal is to be able to wear my wedding band without risk of losing my finger. For the first two weeks or so I plan will drink a proper amount of water…this one will be the hardest for me.  I will stick to proper portions and no snacks after dinner. I have a journal (plain composition book) for tracking my weight, measurements, and meals. I also plan to exercise at least four days a week if not more…which means I have to exercise everyday for the rest of this week.

I’ve used exercise videos off and on (mostly off) for years and they get so boring. Recently I discovered there are several free workouts on YouTube! My two favorites are FitnessBlender and Jessica Smith TV. There is enough variety between these two pages that I never get bored. Ellie at New Creations Ministries is always a source of encouragement and nutrition knowledge. She even promised to personally pray for me as I struggle to make these healthier changes. I need the prayers and feel motivated since I know she will be checking in on my progress.

I couldn't resist the Dr. Who quote!

I couldn’t resist the Dr. Who quote!

In her Wibbly-Wobbly post, Claire mentioned we should celebrate these healthier changes:  “So let’s celebrate that first jog,  the new healthy recipe you’ve discovered or tasting sprouts for the first time (erk!) or even painting your nails.  Silly, I know, but let’s celebrate being alive and being well enough to do all these things!”   I never considered pursuing the healthy lifestyle something to celebrate. Honestly, it has always been more like drudgery and self-imposed punishment. I’d wager that attitude had something to do with my lack of perseverance. So I’m embracing this new attitude and holding on with all I’ve got. Celebrate with me (but not with a bacon sandwich)!

I plan to post Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss up-dates on Saturday evenings since that is the day Claire chose. Hop on over and join the celebration if you feel so inclined!