Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Life just keeps moving. There are a few rabbit/goat things we need to work on this week, I have a couple of reviews coming up, and I feel the end of lots of school things coming so the pressure is on to finish strong. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.....

What I'm reading: I have gotten through about 60 pages of Age of Opportunity. More reading to come.

What I'm listening to: I have the windows open right now to let the cool air in before it warms up later this afternoon, and there is this weird, scraping, mechanical sound I keep hearing. Someone must be doing something machine-like to the road, or their yard....not sure what but I am really curious what it is.

What we're learning: We finished Mystery of History Volume III! So for the next month we are doing a quick speed through of the 18th and 19th centuries to catch up with our new co-op, and this next week we are focusing on the Revolutionary War. We are all going to watch a PBS documentary called Liberty! The American Revolution, and I'll select some of our historical fiction books for the older ones to read.

What I'm watching: My garden grow. I need to do a garden post so you can see how things have been going; my beans found the wire thing to climb on and are sending their snakey arms twisting around them. The tomatoes are just sitting there; I am not sure if it is the soil or if there is really something wrong with the plants. But the lettuce and radishes are really coming up and looking happy.

What's cooking: This week I am making Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Indian Curry in the crock pot, and a ham from our pig with Japanese potato salad and asparagus.

What I'm buying: I am on the lookout for more planting containers to buy to put on our deck for my garden. 'Tis the season for garage-saling....

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for dear friends, who pray for me and encourage me in my parenting and marriage.

What I'm creating: Right now I am going to go back into the kitchen and make myself a second cup of tea. I found a bakery near our house that sells loose tea and they have a Black Currant Tea that is fabulous.

What I'm praying: I am praying for the future spouses for my children. I have no idea who they might be, but the Lord knows who they are, and I am praying that He would turn their hearts to himself and give them hearts that are filled with grace.

What I'm planning: We are moving the baby rabbits into our rabbitry this week; two each for Bookworm and Dasher and one for Mr. Lego. We have 4 weeks or so until the fair and we need to start fattening up the little fluff balls.

What we did this last weekend: The children went to a 4-H small animal master showmanship workshop; Mr. Lego loved working with the dog and Bookworm learned lots about showing poultry. We had a quick visit from the grandparents who spent the night, then church on Sunday. Then in the afternoon a family came over for fellowship, fun and California Rolls!

What I'm looking forward to: We have a field trip in our co-op this week, a 4-H leadership meeting, and a friend and I might get together for lunch. Our Saturday looks wide open on the calendar so a nice bike ride with the family should be in order.

Pictures to share:

 Bookworm working with poultry

Listening to Grandpa play Sunrise, Sunset on his ukelele

Sunday Lunch

Fun times with friends

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Fine Arts Finale

Through our co-op year we have met monthly for our fine arts day. We study a composer and an artist. (Loosely following Ambleside Online). We also have time for some fine art instruction, and through the year have studied pastels and watercolors. And this last month we met, for the last time, for a very special day with our friends.

Our spring fine arts finale.

When we all meet monthly there are 4 boys in our co-op and 10 girls, and of course the 4 moms, so femininity is going to we planned to have a tea party.

Incredibly delicious food.

Picking out yummies...

Here is my plate....

Our art history lesson was on the early cave drawings...some of the first artists. My friend Kate put together a fabulous presentation; you can read her notes and see photos here.

Then my friend Dawn was up with a wonderful lesson on John James Audobon. He drew incredible sketches of birds and flowers.

We passed around a book of his sketches as she told us about his life.

My friend Nancy did our music portion...since this was a spring party, she focused on spring type music; Vivaldi and Grieg were a couple of the composers we listened to.

Then I did my contribution to the time! We went outside and played elbow tag and then I taught them a new game....rock, paper, scissors tag. Totally the popular game now. (Sorry, I forgot to take photos...)

Finally, the children all went to the table, and on crushed paper bags-papers, made their own cave drawing with pastels.

My kids have so enjoyed art instruction this year!

The final works of art....

The day was bittersweet; this is the last time our co-op will be meeting together with all 4 families. And in just 4 short weeks our main co-op, Matres Magistres is ending. As time goes on our needs change; we also find that as teachers/moms sometimes our strengths change. There are times when, for the good of our families, we need to move on. Such heart wrenching decisions, but necessary ones. All of the families are moving on; to other co-ops, to bless other sisters in Christ and to contribute to their homeschooling efforts.

I am so thankful for these ladies, that God brought them into my life.

I am so thankful for these children, that God has blessed us with.

These are the reasons that I homeschool, the reasons I joined a co-op, and will continue my co-op journey next year.

And even though I am ending this post on a sad note, I will remember the joy, and the laughter.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I finally figured everything out and we are registered for our county fair. We are entered in 21 things from rabbits to goats, to cake decorating and produce will be a busy fair but a fun and I am sure, memorable one.

What I'm reading: I did not have much reading time at all last week, so I only got into the second chapter of the Age of Opportunity. So I'm still reading that book this week.

What I'm listening to: Yesterday we put on Israel Kamakawawiwo'ole on the CD player while we had company over. And if I closed my eyes, I could have been in Hawaii.

What we're learning: I think we are finishing our history curriculum this week! We'll do the final lessons in Mystery of History Vol III which are The Salem Witch Trials, Peter I, and Isaac Watts. Dasher is getting close to finishing her spelling book, and we will all read about praying mantises, dragonflies, and grasshoppers in science.

What I'm watching: The temperature going up. We hit the 90's over the weekend, which I secretly loved; everyone else thought I was crazy. It is supposed to be a bit milder this week, with a couple of days of rain mixed in too.

What's cooking: I am making Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) in the crockpot this week, split pea soup another day, and another day roasting a chicken. I love making homemade chicken broth from the carcass and freezing it for soups and broths.

What I'm buying: I ran out of dirt over the weekend, so I might head out later this week to get a couple of more bags which should do it for our garden.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for those dear people in my life who talk to my children, have relationships with them, give them advice, and encourage them.

What I'm creating: Over the weekend we planted beans, lettuce, chives, cucumber, basil, calendula, and  lavender. The only thing that I haven't gotten in yet are the zucchini and a few more bean plants.

What I'm praying: That the Lord would continue to bless our family with good health this year. No one has really gotten sick and it has been such a blessing.

What I'm planning: To drench our goat. We weighed her on Saturday and she is not gaining weight like we want, so my friend said I should drench her. I stupidly thought that meant dumping some concoction on her food and drenching it; actually it means we get to force feed her a high calorie substance with a big ol' syringe. Fun.

What we did this last weekend: We worked in the garden for a while Saturday morning, then we went wine tasting with some friends that afternoon. Sunday we went to church, then we had our final Supper for Six with some special people.

What I'm looking forward to: We have co-op this week, and then an evening with old friends who are visiting the area. Next weekend we have a 4-H event on Saturday, then good friends coming over for Maki on Sunday.

Two pictures to share:

~My Sweetie took me out to The Squeeze Inn for dinner one night last week; as you can see you split the cheese burger. And the cheese skirt was delish.

~Our Supper For Six group.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I always need to be re-evaluating where I am at and where I should be going. My husband wisely had the children come up with some goals for themselves a couple of weeks ago and it made me think how important it is to have an objective. It might be a little one like cleaning off the computer desk, or larger ones ones like learning a skill, but it is important to know where you are going. So this week my kids are going to refine their goals and come up with some kind of schedule for them, while I am going to think about where our homeschooling is going, 4-H, and the schedules we have in the home.

What I'm reading: I am starting to read Paul Tripp's Age of Opportunity. I will be the mother of two teenagers later this year and want to read through this book.

What I'm listening to: Piano practicing behind me, room cleaning upstairs, clean up in the kitchen.

What we're learning: This week in history we are learning about the Slave Trade, William and Mary, John Locke, and The Salem Witch Trials. In science we are learning about beetles and flies. And Dasher finished one of her math units last week so she is excited to start another one.

What I'm watching: Last week my Sweetie and I watched a documentary called Alone in the Wilderness. Dick Proenneke moved to Alaska when he was 52 and constructed a wood cabin to live in. He used a tripod and filmed the entire thing. It is a fascinating video and the kids love watching it.

What's cooking: This week I am making Pesto Chicken, Chalupa, and Cream Cheese Chicken in the crock pot. Asparagus is still in season so I am planning to make an asparagus-garlic stir fry to go with the Pesto.

What I'm buying: Today is my big shopping day. So after we are done with school we will hit Target, Winco and Trader Joe's. Our family braved Costco on Saturday.....what a zoo, but it was nice to check it off the list.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful that I can homeschool. Not just that I am legally able to do it, but that God is giving me the strength and wisdom to teach my children.

What I'm creating: I would like to make some yogurt today. The problem is that it needs to sit for 8-10 hours as the last step. I really like doing this part overnight since it won't be disturbed, but then I always forget to add the starter at around 10 pm. Maybe I should set an alarm or something...

What I'm praying: I am praying for grace and mercy for those friends of mine that have teenagers. It is such a fragile age....young minds that want to know so much and be independent; may God give us wisdom as we guide and help them.

What I'm planning: Our co-op this year is coming to an end, but the co-op I am joining in June goes through the first half of the summer. (This is no problem; we do school up until the third week of July and take off until after Labor Day.) But this is throwing me for a loop; I do have a teaching component and I need to get going with my planning.

What we did this last weekend: We ran a couple errands on Saturday and went to a park in the evening, then Sunday went to church. I taught the cutest 5 and 6 year olds during Sunday School and then we went to our friends with a couple other families for yummy sausages, salads and cake. Then back for the evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to a nice sunny week with temperatures in the mid to high 70's. I'm waiting for summer.

Pictures to share:

~All my favorite people, at the park on Saturday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Write With World

Writing is one of the most important tools you can give your child in their formal schooling. And it is true, to do something well, you really do need to enjoy doing it. So how do we get our kids to love writing? Writing can easily become a process shaped by rules and regulations, which can become a tedious assignment for students. And this is where Write With World is different. Students are encouraged to express themselves through critical thinking and writing as they examine models of professional journalists, complete thought provoking assignments, and a learn about writing through a godly approach.


This writing curriculum from the publishers of God’s World News and WORLD magazine is meant for middle school aged children in grades 6th through 8th. It is a 2-year program, of which I reviewed the first year. The course is divided into 4 units. Each unit has four lessons, with each lesson having 5 chapters, or ‘capsules’. Unit 1 guides the student to examine images from photo journalism and to practice observing and describing them. In Unit 2 the course emphasizes well defined subjects; strong verbs and other parts of speech are taught and reviewed. Unit 3 addresses paragraphs, with an emphasis on evaluation writing with logical order and transition. And in Unit 4, the student is taught that through effective narratives, strong paragraphs create compelling essays.

Throughout the course, students write in a journal, called a Conversations Writers Journal, or CWJ. In later units they refer back to earlier entries to see their progress and improve their work. For example, in unit 2 lesson 2, the student is learning about composing and linking sentences. In capsule 4 the text describes how to construct a compound complex sentence and gives examples of dependent clauses and independent clauses. There is then a quote from an editor of WORLD magazine for the student to read, which gives advice about writing interesting and informative sentences. In the exercise portion are 5 assignments, which include creating a compound-complex sentence and then combining it with another simple sentence that the student previously wrote in their CWJ.


My kids enjoyed doing these lessons a lot. The curriculum really made them think about what they were going to be writing, and the ideas they were trying to convey to the readier. They also enjoyed the exercises where they were asked to "read" images in media, and trying to see what message was being conveyed through the image.  I liked the methodical yet fun way that writing with proper grammar was taught. I especially liked some of the writing samples they gave in the book.  For example, in the section on linking sentences the students reads a paragraph written in mostly simple sentences, which tends to be choppy and disconnected. Then they read the same paragraph, but instead with the sentences linked by conjunctions. Seeing the better written paragraph strengthened the point in the lesson. 


Each year of this program is $95, which includes the student book, teacher manual, and online access; you also have the options of purchasing both years together for $165. The books are non-consumable, which makes this is a great price for a writing program. Access to the website will include updated examples, writing prompts, and a helpful teacher forum. I was not able to review the website but the site will be active by the fall. The teacher manual is a copy of the student book but also includes bits of teaching advice, convenient definitions, and assignment ideas in the outside margins. 

Check out here where other members of The Crew are talking about this product too.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thoughts and Family

A couple of weeks ago we had a special visitor.

My almost 95 year-old grandpa.

He flew down from Oregon, which is a feat in itself, to spend some time with my dad and eventually a day with us.

And what a fun day it was with all of us together.

My grandpa is tired a lot of the time, not much of a conversationalist now, but enjoyed watching the kids play with their grandpa. (a.k.a. my dad)

He played a game he used to play with me when I was little; he would put his palms on the back of my hands and I would try my hardest to get my hands on top of his. Nearly impossible for a young one.

I love this photo. Nutsy and my dad have such joy on their faces.

Dasher had a turn too.

Of course games were played.....

...lots of laughter too.

All the while, my grandpa just sat.

95 years of life.

He was born in 1917, when World War I was in full swing. A postage stamp was 2 cents, dial phones were still 2 years away from being used, and the average family made $750 a year. No television, jet engines, frozen food, band aides, traffic signals, or bubble gum. (Bubble gum I could live without but band aides?)

What incredible things has he witnessed?

The depression, World War II, computers, rockets to outer space, the internet....we have advanced so much in the last 95 years and he saw so much.

He saw death, life, joy and sadness...yet through it all his faith was and still is, strong.

One of my fondest memories of him is that every time we left from visiting my grandparents house, he would lead us in prayer.

Where have these feet walked?

From Texas, to Nebraska, to Colorado, to Southern and Northern California, to Oregon.....a life well lived.

What have these hands done?

They have pushed the lawn mower, taken out the trash, held a worn Bible, burped a baby, and helped little grandchildren into his big chair.

What does he think about?

Over the years conversations have gotten harder to have with him but of this I am sure; he knows that he is saved from his sins by the blood of the lamb, and that wherever God has taken him or will lead him to, he is secure in grace.

And though his days on earth may be few, I know that he is comforted in knowing where he will be spending eternity. Such a blessed comfort.

And such joy, being with family.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am really ready for summer. I love short sleeve shirts, homemade ice cream, bare feet, and the sun shining on my face.

What I'm reading: I am not sure which book to pick up next. I don't really have any new ones around, which might be a good thing since I am not quite sure I'll have much reading time this week.

What I'm listening to: It's pretty quiet here right now. Some kiddos are starting their schoolwork, others are upstairs finishing their morning chores.

What we're learning: This week we are learning about Isaac Newton, John Bunyan, and William Penn in history. I have a couple of biographies on these men that the older children will read. Dasher is plugging her way through The Wizard of Oz, and Nutsy is almost done with her phonics book on consonants and short vowels.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we all watched The Return of the King. So now all the kids have seen the whole Lord of the Rings; the two older ones had read the books and it was interesting to hear what things they would have liked to have seen in the movie. But it is already 3 hours long; we'll have to borrow the extended version from someone and see what we missed.

What's cooking: This week I am making Cumin-Pepper Curry, Tostadas, and Split Pea Soup. We usually have dessert on Fridays, and this week I am planning to pull out a bag of frozen apple slices from last fall to make an apple crisp.

What I'm buying: When I was just writing above that we are having Split Pea Soup, I remembered that the last time we made it we had company over, and so I used 2 packages of ham shanks from the freezer. Which means I have none in there now. Which means I need to make a special trip to the store. I hate it when that happens.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for our house. It is the perfect size for us; it keeps me from getting too many things and is easy to clean. And our neighborhood is nice and quiet too.

What I'm creating: Our garden! Instead of getting out there and planting everything in a day, we are doing it a bit slower this year. So I now have 5 tomato plants in, the snap peas, and a couple rows of lettuce and onions. My comfrey is coming back, there are some strawberries that survived from last year, and I was surprised to find that the oregano survived by growing almost right underneath the giant rosemary bush in the herb garden. So this week we will plant more lettuce and get the containers on the deck ready for planting.

What I'm praying: That I would see my children as individuals, with different needs and strengths. They are not cookie cutters of me, but have their own personalities and character, and I want to encourage them to love the Lord with all their heart and to glorify Him in all they do.

What I'm planning: I still have that review that I need to write, I have some photos from this weekend I want to edit, and I still want to post pictures from my grandpa's visit.

What we did this last weekend: We had a relaxing Saturday and took a nice bike ride with all the kids. For dinner we had PW's yummy Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas. We went to church yesterday morning, and then up to our friends house with a couple other families for a ham and turkey dinner. We all played volleyball for a while and also played 2 games of kids (those under 21) against adults (older and wiser). And I am happy to say that we beat those little whippersnappers. We adults can still run around the court and spike the ball.....for now....

What I'm looking forward to: We have a break from our co-op this week so the school week is a slower one. Our 4H club meeting is tomorrow night and is our 'fun' meeting; the officers are putting on a carnival for the rest of the club.

A picture to share:

The volleyball game....

 Kiddos on the trampoline....

 Everyone letting Jesse who is at boot camp know we are missing him.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Flower Fruits

In honor of the change in season, I thought I would share this easy and fun way to cheer up spring.

Like it actually really needs any cheering, with all the flowers and trees in bloom right now. But I like to eat and I know you do too, and I couldn't resist sharing how to make these.

First, assemble your fruit and supplies.



Yummy cantaloupe.

Fun, festive toothpicks.

And 2 smallish, flower-shaped cookie cutters.

Slice rather thin slices from the fruit with a sharp knife.

Take your cutters and get to work.

The cantaloupe was the smaller flower....

....and I used the larger flower cutter for the pineapple.

The pineapple was a bit hard to push down through; so we used our big knife to give our hands a rest.

Assemble all the pieces, put a grape on top, and skewer to hold all with a toothpick.

The perfect job for little hands.

And these pretty flower fruits were a nice addition to the tea we had at our Spring Fine Arts day at co-op this week.

Happy Spring!