Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2010-2011 School Year Recap

We are nearing the end of our school year. I used to go all year and then take off a week here and there as needed. We would finish a level in history and immediately start the next one, regardless of where we were in the school year. But then one year we took a month off during the summer. And I realized that it really helped me to have a beginning and an end. At least with most of our subjects we do it that way....but if a child does finish a math book they do start the next one, except during our shortened summer break. (My kids go into math brain freeze if we don't do it for longer than a month.)

So since we are getting towards the end, I thought I would share how our year has gone.

Bible - Training Hearts and Teaching Minds and Balancing the Sword

This year we read a chapter of the Bible every school morning and also during family worship. I looked back at this blog post and we have come all the way from Joshua to 2 Chronicles this year. We are also continuing to go through the Westminster Shorter Catechism and absolutely LOVE the Training Hearts book. The two older children now know 50 of the catechism questions by heart.

History - Mystery of History Vol. 2 The Early Church and Middle Ages

I loved this history curriculum. Linda Hobar does a great job of opening history up and touching on so many different stories. The activities could be a little dry and so I am thinking of adding some things for the younger two for history next year.

Vocabulary - English From the Roots Up

This was another good one; but we went super slow. We only got through the first 30 cards or so, but the kids know them pretty well. Even Nutsy can tell me what skopeo means in Greek.

Logic - Red Herring Mysteries

These were lots of fun. We worked on 1 or 2 a week and when the kids would get really stumped we would try to figure them out during dinner with dad. I did skip a few of the lessons; some I knew would be over their heads and a couple of them had some inappropriate content. But it sure did make them think outside the box. Towards the end of the year I found this book You Be the Judge, at a thrift store for $2. This was another fun way to teach the children to become more observant.

Grammar/Spelling - Language Arts by Christian Light Publications and First Language Lessons

That first one was one of my flops this year. For years I taught my older two children Shurley Grammar. If you are familiar with that type of grammar instruction you know that they don't teach you to diagram, but to 'classify' sentences. So my two older ones never learned traditional diagramming, and CLP Language Arts assumed that 6th and 8th graders knew how to diagram already. So about a month into school last year we switched to Spelling Power for spelling and the two older ones did Daily Grams for their grammar practice. I chugged along in First Language Lessons with Dasher and will continue through to next year too.

Writing - Writing With Ease and Writing Skills

Writing with Ease was a huge hit with Dasher this year. I really enjoyed the literature selections and the exercises. So she will be moving up a level and I'll be starting Nutsy in level 1 next year. The two older ones did Writing Skills. This was a good book and built through the whole year up to essays, which they are working on for the next two weeks. Next year my friend is going to be teaching a writing/grammar course in our co-op for them.

Math - Math U See

Math U See is great. We kept on track this child had some trouble so we slowed way down and this is when I was thankful for Math U See's online worksheet generator and drill pages.

Science - Apologia Land Animals of the Sixth Day

The two older ones read through this book all year, and they also answered the thought questions at the end of each chapter. Science was pretty low key this year, but hold onto your pants for next year. I am going to be teaching Apologia Flying Creatures in co-op and we are going to do notebooking pages, experiments, sketches and lots of hands-on learning.

Phonics - Explode the Code and Phonics Pathways

This was the bulk of Dasher's school this year. And she made huge strides in her reading with these two great phonics courses and workbooks. 

Co-op - Matres Magistres

I know I linked to our co-op's blog above, but no one has updated it since last summer. Hey, we have our priorities. Co-op went well this year. We did a full year of California History using His California History. Each of the moms rotated the teaching responsibilities as we worked through the book. We did a few field trips and went to an old Indian village, saw where gold was discovered, and learned about the animals in our area. We continued with our hymn study and went through 4 hymns, and went once a month to a friends house for art history. The other weekly lessons were a nature study, poem/scripture memorization and composers study. We have plans for next year with a more 'meatier', writing, literature and geography.


4-H is tons of learning so it really does count towards school. This year we did the rabbit and historical tours project. The kids learned so much more about rabbits and went to fair with all of them. The two older ones prepared presentations on rabbits and went all the way to the state level with their speeches. We visited 6 different historical sites through the year in our other project and learned lots about our local history. And we were able to participate in some community service opportunities at local food banks. Next year we will continue with the rabbits, the two older children will pursue leadership in being club officers (Mr. Lego is secretary and Bookworm is Sergeant-at-Arms), and possible look into taking a public speaking project. 

So that was our year; we had our good moments, bad ones.....but the Lord was gracious and we made it through. And in 2 weeks, it's summer break!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: I love the summer. I love wearing skirts, being warm, sitting in the sun (with sunscreen), swimming in the pool, Sweetie always says I would do well in Africa.

What I'm reading: I need to finish up Age of Opportunity, but in my fun reading time this last week I was reading a bit of James Herriot's The Lord God Made Them All. He is hilarious.

What I'm listening to: Right now, Nutsy singing upstairs and the other kids playing a card game at the dining room table.

What we're learning: We have a couple more weeks left of school...the 4-H record books are finally done and I think the older two will finish up their writing books this week too. This week I am going to try to focus on fun math games as sort of a review.

What I'm watching: A fly keeps buzzing around the computer screen. The rabbits in the backyard are a huge fly-magnet, so we spray the grass and have traps set out for them. And inside the house we started Fly Wars; where we keep track of who kills the most flies and every couple weeks give out a small reward. The one flying around right now has its minutes numbered....

What's cooking: Tonight I am making Chicken Pad Thai with Peanut Sauce.  For some reason I love Asian noodle dishes when it is hot.

What I'm buying: The first thing that popped into my head was water balloons. We are having our annual 4th of July crazy slumber party, and the next day we usually have an anything-goes, all out water fight.

What I'm thankful for: That I am counted as one who was born in Zion. We heard an encouraging sermon yesterday on Psalm 87 and the glorious things of the city of God. My permanent address is not here, but in heaven.

What I'm creating: Science lesson plans. My science curriculum order came and now I am going to attempt to plan out the entire year of teaching. We'll see if this works and I can do it this way.

What I'm praying: Continuing to pray for the N family, as they make plans for the future and adjust to life without their mom.

What I'm planning: To make more yogurt this week! The homemade yogurt was a huge hit with all the kids last week and super easy to make. I followed the recipe from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow which can be found here.

What we did this last weekend: Saturday I pulled off something I didn't think I could do....a surprise birthday party for my Sweetie. He went to help a friend move his piano and while he was gone about 35 people descended on our house. They hid up the stairs and in the kitchen and then when he got home, they shocked my poor husband. Then Sunday after church we had our first church picnic of the summer and we spent the afternoon playing soccer, football and fellowshipping.

What I'm looking forward to: Bookworm has her sewing class again tomorrow, which she is really looking forward to. Then this weekend we are going to a 4th of July party at our friends house which will be lots of fun.

A picture to share:

~Some of the party goers. Our house was packed.

~My Sweetie and I. I still have a mischievous look on my face.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Week At Our House

This last week was a busier one. We had a day of joy, a day of sadness and other days mixed in between.

Last week we headed to a neighboring county for their county fair and to watch good friends of ours show their sheep.

It was pretty intense to watch, but my friend's son did win senior showmanship.

After that we headed to the midway for rides. We only got ten ride tickets for each child; which equals out to about 4 minutes of thrills.

All of the girls chose the Ferris Wheel....

...and then Bookworm's second choice was the Tornado.

My fearless 5 year-old chose this crazy ride to go on; after going on it 4 times at our fair she says it is her favorite.

Mr. Lego went on the Zipper and some other ride that kept doing flips...I didn't get any photos.

We had a joyful day, seeing two lovely people from our church begin their life together,

...and then a bittersweet day; my friend lost her earthly battle with cancer, but has run the race and is now eternally healed.

Bookworm had her sewing class on Tuesday....the girls made doll sleeping bags and a pillow that day.

That evening I went out and harvested some veggies. I had enough lettuce to make a big salad for dinner and then the zucchini I sauteed with garlic in olive oil.

Yesterday it was over 100 degrees so we hit the pool with friends.

Literally, hit the pool.

It was so refreshing to swim on such a hot day!

Later that afternoon I made homemade yogurt in my crock pot.

I was so pleased with how easy it was and look forward to breakfast smoothies with creamy yogurt.

And finally, just a couple of hours ago, the children captured this in our garage.

I have a whole blog post I am thinking to write about that adventure later.

Another week.....where I am reminded of the fragility of life, the joy of love, laughter, learning, adventure, and the hope of heaven.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is Growing In My Garden

I went out a couple weeks ago to look at the garden and take pictures. Then I completely forgot that I even did that, until yesterday when I downloaded photos off my camera.

And this is what I saw.

My roses, still covered in raindrops from the late May rain we had. (Such a distant memory is 101 degrees right now...)

Lots and lots of these. I am salivating right now, thinking about bright, red tomatoes.

I am so happy with the Earth Box this year; I put the fertilizer in properly this time and the two zucchini plants in it are going nuts.

I planted flowers and lettuce in the planter box; all of my lettuce in the ground boxes succumbed to the slug army. They are too dumb to climb up into this planter box on the all-wood deck, so I am going to fill this one to the brim with lettuce the next time I plant.

Yes, there are little girls growing in my garden; I still haven't figured out how to slow them down, either.



Blooming lavender.

Gardening note: the slugs don't like the herbs.

And the strawberries; most of which fed the slug army this year, are in the perennial box so I am hoping they will come back next year.

Slowly but surely, my garden is growing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: I have mounds of laundry to do, I lost a receipt that I need to find, we need to run out and buy more food for the money-sucking rabbits, and in my free time today I'd like to make some homemade granola. Just another Monday.

What I'm reading: This last week I did a lot of reading of a couple of children's books I plan to use next year in literature....I am skimming through them and jotting down vocabulary words and thought questions.

What I'm listening to: Vivaldi's Summer is coming through the CD player speakers right now....the kids really enjoyed learning about Vivaldi during our composer study in co-op last year and put it on this morning. And tomorrow is the first day of summer....

What we're learning: We are continuing in school this week....the older ones are working like mad on their record books for 4-H also. I am also planning to have a fun review with gummy bears for their catechism work later this week.

What I'm watching: my Sweetie and I watched Star Trek 2 over the weekend....I am sort of a Trekkie and enjoying watching a few of the movies.

What's cooking: This week I am making Ham and Gruyere Potato Gratin from one of my trusty Cooking Light cookbooks. I also am planning to go out and pick some baby lettuce for a salad one night. The weather is going to be over 100 degrees here and I don't know if the lettuce will survive.

What I'm buying: I need to go with Bookworm and get some supplies for her sewing class tomorrow. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. :-) She needs some material and thread to make a doll sleeping bag.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the hope of heaven. And that is where my friend is now; she lost her battle to cancer and is now in the presence of our Savior. My heart breaks for her husband and her children, who are close to the ages of my own, but I know God is sovereign and is being glorified even through her death.

What I'm creating: Science teaching plans. I have the privilege of teaching the co-op children all about flying creatures next year and want to get started on the lesson planning so I can enjoy my August and not be bogged down with school planning.

What I'm praying: That I would remember how awesome our God is. How he knows about my every thought, every word I am going to say, and every step I am taking. And He plans it! How comforting, to know that He cares so much for me.

What I'm planning: To stake my tomatoes. When I planted them I only staked every other plant; I thought that the ones not staked would just lean on the staked ones. Yeah, right. I went out over the weekend and I have beautiful green tomatoes laying in the dirt, waiting for the slug army that I am battling to come and get them. The big question now is how....they are mature plants and won't be wanting to bend or change their posture easily.

What we did this last weekend: Friday we went to another county fair to watch our friends in sheep and swine showmanship. That was lots of fun. We did stuff around the house on Saturday, then went to the wedding of two families from our church that evening. Yesterday we heard a good sermon on Psalm 139 then went home where we made Tostadas for my love in celebration of Father's Day.

What I'm looking forward to: It is going to be a hot week, so I am looking forward to spending some time in the pool. We might be having some friends come a couple afternoons with us which makes it all the more fun. The three older kiddos can swim, so I have only one more munchkin in the shallow end.

A picture to share:

~A few beautiful girls at the wedding Saturday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: About the dentist. I can't tell if this was a crazy decision I made or smart one, but all six of us are going in for our cleanings in three days. I guess we'll get to know the receptionist pretty well...

What I'm reading: I divide the blogs I read into 5 groups and read one group a day (that way I don't spend too much time on the computer), and this morning 3 of the blogs I read were doing something called 10 on 10....on the 10th of the month you take a photo an hour...for 10 hours or so.... just a snapshot of your day. Hmmm, maybe I'll start that in July....

What I'm listening to: Piano lessons and mumbling upstairs. The dishwasher is also humming since I forgot to start it last night.

What we're learning: We are going to squeeze a few school days in this week; we'll be mainly working on math, grammar, reading and writing. Bookworm is starting her summer sewing class that is being taught by a young lady in our church, and we are going to a nearby county fair with friends another day.

What I'm watching: The cupboards getting bare. On top of a day at the fair and dental appointments, I have my monthly shopping this week. I still need to sit down and get my meals planned and lists made.

What's cooking: Tonight I am experimenting with a Cumin-Pepper Curry recipe. I am tweaking it to make it vegetarian....we'll see how it turns out.

What I'm buying: There are all sorts of little things I need to remember to buy this week....we are out of salt, the crayon box has all broken pieces in it, we ran out of carpet spot cleaner, and I think we are on our last bar of soap in the bathtub.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for good friends. We had such a lovely time visiting with our old friends whom I briefly describe here; the time was just too short with them.

What I'm creating: Sometimes I have trouble filling this line in so I get a little creative....Today I am creating a found library book. Or to say it better, today we are finding a lost library book. And notice I didn't say we were just going to look for it, I said we are finding it. Enough said.

What I'm praying: For my friend with is looking like she will be meeting our Savior sooner than we would like. But in all things, even during the trials and teary times, the mercies of God are evident and the glory is His.

What I'm planning: I am trying to think ahead for next year and am beginning to plan out some of my lessons for co-op. The plan is that I will work on bits and pieces through the summer and then the school year will be smoother. That's the plan....

What we did this last weekend: We had such a good time with our friends. We took walks, watched the kids play Nation Ball in the street, ate yummy food and had such encouraging fellowship. Sunday we were at church, then went to a friends house for a BBQ.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to the day after my dental cleaning, and then to the day we will be at another fair with friends. Saturday we are going to a wedding in our church...I love weddings....

A picture to share:

~Our good friends, the G's.....Along with 2 children we were watching and a neighborhood child that was playing with them in the street. :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old Things in the Garage

A couple weeks ago I was looking for something in our garage and went through some of the boxes up on the high shelves. I have 4 or 5 large boxes labeled 'Keepsakes' and I thought then, that the next time we took some time off of school that I wanted to go through a couple of the boxes with the children.

Think about it. You put your old school yearbooks, letters, favorite toys and old photos into a box and store it away for years. And forget all about it. I did exactly that. Why do I keep it all if I never look at it, or periodically remind myself of my childhood?

So last week, the boxes came out and opened up in our living room. Out came the treasures.

First off were some of my momma's tea cups. 

Wrapped up amongst the cups were a few giraffes. My grandmother had collected them and I remember playing with them when I was a child.

And wrapped up in that box was a crocheted afghan, probably made by one of my grandma's.

She really was happy to be going through this stuff....I think I just caught her when she was blinking.

I found this candy dish made by my great-grandmother; and now it's time for a funny story:

My parents had this candy dish on a shelf in our hallway with candy in it. When I was 9 or 10 I got into the dish and ate a couple pieces of candy. They tasted weird and I felt guilty so I confessed to my parents and they told me that the candy in the dish had been in there since my great-grandma had given it to my mom which was when she was in junior high.....and if you're wondering I did not get sick....

And my kids got a kick out of seeing old schoolwork of mine...

I made sure to get down a box of my Sweetie's keepsakes; here is my husband's favorite pajamas.

And here is my high school graduation cap:

Another story: 

I obviously wore it for my high school graduation. Because I was homeschooled I got to pick the color of my cap and gown and picked purple. When my Sweetie and I were engaged he graduated from college and was going to wear the black cap that 5,000 other students were going to wear,. My mom thought of the brilliant idea to have him wear my purple one, so we could pick him out in the crowd. He did and we got to wear the same cap for our graduations! 

Can you see him?

Who knows, maybe one of my children will choose to wear it too!

He had his old yearbooks in the box which were fun to look at....

And if you knew my Sweetie in his younger years you will recognize this:

 We saw my birth announcement, baby book, some letters between my Sweetie and I before we were married, a couple crafts my Sweetie had made as a many memories. 

This was a good afternoon. And it reminded me that I need to do this more often. Why do I keep all this stuff if not to share it with my children and give them a glimpse of my childhood? And what a blessing, to have some items to share with them. 

And I didn't put it all back; the girls cleared a shelf in our living room bookshelf where we displayed some of the tea cups and the candy bowl. To see, enjoy, and use.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Of what is on my list of things to do today.....laundry, exercising (if I put that in this post then I really have to do it), school, organizing papers, changing my kefir and getting a couple letters into the mail.

What I'm reading: I am reading Age of Opportunity again. I read about a third of the book before I took a reading break, and now I feel like I need to re-read the beginning part.

What I'm listening to: We are back into the swing of our morning schedule so right now I am listening to Bookworm playing the piano.

What we're learning: Back into formal learning this week: we are finishing up 2 subjects, history and science. In history we will learn about the Ottoman Turks and then Gutenberg and the printing press. Then in science the older children will finish reading the last chapter on gastropods and worms. Both Dasher and Nutsy got their new math books in the mail last week and have been begging me to let them do math so we will watch Mr. Demme on video together and then do the worksheets.

What I'm watching: My poor confused vegetables. The tomatoes haven't grown much in the last couple weeks and the cucumber plants are still only about 4 inches tall. And with all the rain the last few days the snails had a field day....we went out yesterday afternoon and they ate ALL of the carrot tops and some lettuce....I need to figure out a plan of attack later today. Does anyone have any organic snail-control ideas?

What's cooking: Over the weekend I experimented and tried to copy a recipe we had at this restaurant during our recent trip to Carmel: Grilled Vegetable Chiabatta Sandwiches. I made them with grilled eggplant, zucchini, and onions; topped with tomato, fresh basil and provolone. Next time I want to add grilled asparagus and maybe roast a bell pepper too.

What I'm buying: School books for next year. I am keeping some curriculum, changing others....I'll blog about our decisions when we have bought all the books and I have a rough lesson plan together.

What I'm thankful for: Right now I am thankful for my washer and dryer. I could not imagine doing laundry by hand for 6 people, (We would definitely wear our clothes for a few days before washing) and drying things when it is rainy....I am so thankful that God has given us the technology to create these wonderful machines.

What I'm creating: 200 blog posts. Yes, this Monday Musing is my 200th post. I wouldn't have guessed it, if blogger didn't keep track of it for me.

What I'm praying:That I would not get caught up in obtaining more theological knowledge, but remember what is most important: Fearing God and keeping His commandments. (Ecc. 12:12-13) Learning theology has its place but can easily distract us.

What I'm planning: I'm getting our State Fair forms filled out....we need to decide what rabbits to bring and which to leave home next month.

What we did this last weekend: We did stuff around the house on Saturday.....mainly I went through the school room. Then we heard a great sermon yesterday and watched Nutsy and Dasher do their Sunday school presentations. After our church's monthly fellowship meal, we came home, played games with the kids, and ate the apple cake that should have come with us to the fellowship meal but was accidentally left in the kitchen.

What I'm looking forward to: We have school this week and I am meeting a good friend for coffee. We also have our end of the year party for 4-H. Then we are going for a short trip to the foothills to meet up with some good friends. It has been three years since we have seen them and we are looking forward to catching up and hanging out.

A picture to share:

~Dasher, at her Sunday School Presentation yesterday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fair 2011

This year's fair was pretty good. We had a couple of disappointments (just like in life) and some victories (again, just like in life). That is one of the reasons we do 4-H; to give our children a taste of real life. Of the unfair moments, the unexpected problems, the joyous celebrations when ribbons are handed out, and the fact that the harder you work the better you do.

First off was the market competition at the bright and happy hour of 8am. If you remember, we knew we had a very low chance in doing well in this competition - our little rabbit Uno had no tail.

You can barely see Bookworm below, and Uno is the one rabbit in the cages that does not have a black nose. (He is a New Zealand rabbit, and the rest were Californian's.)

The judge didn't miss a thing and disqualified our rabbit right off the bat; but he did say that the mother probably bit the tail off when she was delivering her and that it was not a genetic issue. This is good news, because now we can either sell her or use her as a breeding rabbit.

The next competition that day was showmanship. FFA (Future Farmer's of America) members go first, and we waited for all 47 of them.


Patience is definitely a virtue during rabbit showmanship.

7 hours later, the Junior 4-H members were up.

Here is Mr. Lego on the left, with Dasher and Bookworm a little further down.

 The children did their showmanship routine under the watchful eye of the judge.

Next came the questions. Another life lesson: staying calm under pressure. This judge was nice, but had some hard questions to ask them.

There were about 25 Juniors that went up, and after the last table they did callback. Both Mr. Lego and Bookworm got called.

Another lesson learned: how to handle disappointment. Dasher did okay with it and vowed to study hard for next year. Sitting with Grandpa always makes things better.

After going over the showmanship routine again with another round of hard questions the ribbons were passed out, and Mr. Lego got 6th place in Juniors!

This was only the first day; and we didn't leave until 8:30pm.

The second day was the breed show. I didn't get my camera out that morning but the two older children were busy on the ramrod committee -  they brought each and every rabbit up to the table so the judge can see which rabbit in each breed is the best.

Our Thelma Lou was judged the best in the New Zealand breed. Then the judge looks at the top rabbit in each breed and picks the very best.....and Thelma Lou got reserve in show! Basically this is second place in the entire fair.....a very special award.

After all that excitement it was time to hit the rides.

I think the bumper cars was everyone's favorite. It was pretty dead during the day and so the kids would get off, run around to the front, and make it on for the next ride.

Here is Mr. Lego with his friend.

A great thing about our fair is that you can bring in outside food so later that day, my Sweetie brought pizzas in for us and all our friends.

This was another late night.....we were on the rides until 10pm.

The next day was not a fair day for us but still a 4-H day as we attended State Field Day. Mr. Lego and Bookworm had qualified to give their presentations at the state level so we went out to UC Davis that morning, they gave their presentations, we all headed back home, and I took a nap.

The next day at fair was Rabbit Bowl. For this competition the kids are on teams and play a rabbit knowledge game.

Here is Bookworm's team; these girls did really good and ended up in 4th place.

Mr. Lego had a harder time getting a team together, but at the last minute found a primary (4-Her under age 9) to be on a team with him.

They did very well and got 2nd place.

In between our rabbit obligations, the children would get their rabbits out and bring them to the table for people to pet and ask questions about. Another life lesson: speaking to strangers.

Our last day at fair we went to the awards ceremony and then Mr. Lego helped check all the rabbits out.

I am thankful that no one got hurt, that we had wonderful family and friends that came and shared the time with us, but especially for all the many life lessons that were learned.