Friday, November 30, 2012

This Week At Our House

I have been taking a bit of a break from blogging...with The Crew being on our review break, I have enjoyed giving my hands and brain a rest. But the grandparents have been asking for a picture update of our happenings, and so her is our last week or so, mostly in photos.

First off, we went a couple of days before Thanksgiving to help out with a local food bank passing out food.

Here is Mr. Lego, helping to sort potatoes and onions.

We also had a goat meeting for 4-H another morning....we learned about all the goat breeds and how to milk a goat.

We have friends that have dairy goats and every time we go, Bookworm likes to help them with their milking. My farm girl.....

Next thing up? Thanksgiving.

My two helpers making the stuffing....

I had to stick this photo in here....this is one of two dishes we make with Cool Whip (I am grossed out by the stuff). It's ambrosia, without the coconut. And my family relishes it.

Our feast.

 (I need to figure out how to work the timer on my camera....)

The next day was Apple Hill day.

The best Apple Donuts are at Rainbow Orchards.

Then we went to the Kid's Inc. farm for our picnic lunch.....

...and a walk through the orchards by the stream.

Me and two of my girlies.

We were very happy to have Obachan (Grandma) with us for a couple of days.

Then back home to decorate the tree.

 This last Wednesday we met for co-op... my friend Kate is talking about the Japanese internment camps. (My kids found it interesting that if we would have been alive 60 years ago they themselves would have had to move there, being a quarter Japanese themselves.) She also talked about D-Day and the strategy the Allies used to attack.

Good friends.

And a busy, yet profitable week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That the Fall colors are so beautiful right now. We have a lovely tree in the front yard that is dropping yellow leaves, and a fiery orange one in the backyard. So pretty.

What I'm reading: I picked up a book at the library over the weekend that I am loving, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. (What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch - Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods) This is such a fun book....did you know it is not cost effective to collect your own eggs and make your own baguettes, but salad dressings, yogurt, and cured meats are much better done at home. Interesting stuff....

What I'm listening to: Christmas music is playing when music is on....I'm sure I'll be sick of it in 5 weeks, but for now I appreciate our local Christian radio station playing all Christmas music.

What we're learning: It's back to school this week. I am having the older two watch a couple of videos about World War II and writing paragraphs about it. The younger two are continuing in an Autumn unit study we started a couple of weeks ago (It IS still technically Autumn, even though it's almost December), and we are all going to start going through Apologia's Astronomy book in our Together School.

What I'm watching: Hidden in the non-fiction DVD section of our library, I found lots of Globe Trekker episodes. These are super fun, 45 minute videos of a traveler going to a far off place, and appropriate for the kids to watch too.

What's cooking: This week I am making Lentil Vegetable Curry, Chile Verde with Pork and Rice, and Chicken, Mushroom and Kale Soup. The Chile Verde is my make a lovely sauce from tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, and onions and then simmer shredded pork in it.

What I'm buying: We put our tree up over the weekend, or I should say the kids did it all; and out of the 5 strands of lights that were in the box, only three work. The tree is looking a bit sad, so we are off to Wal Mart to buy more lights.

What I'm creating: When we went to Apple Hill a couple of weeks ago I bought 40 pounds of apples. Then when we went back on Friday with my mother-in-law, I found 20 pounds of tomatoes for only $13. So this week I plan to make lots of applesauce and apple pie filling, and turn those tomatoes into my Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Sauce.

What I'm planning: I am planning out the choral portion of our co-op; maybe we'll sing a couple of Christmas songs this month. Then we have a poultry meeting next week and I'm trying to think of some fun ways to teach the kids about the different breeds and classes.

What we did this last weekend: Friday we went to Apple Hill and went on a nice nature walk with my mother-in-law. Then the kids dragged out our boxes of Christmas decor and put everything up. Saturday evening my Sweetie and I went to a friend's housewarming party, then Sunday we went to church. That afternoon we came home and relaxed, then made a delicious Japanese dinner.

What I'm looking forward to: A pretty quiet week....we have co-op and just our normal school stuff. This Saturday we are having our friends over for a quiet dinner, and Sunday we have our assisted living ministry.

A picture to share:

~My plate last night....Teriyaki Chicken, Kimchi, Gobo, California Maki, and Miso. Yummy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thankgiving
From Our Family
To Yours


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apple Hill & Grandparents

Last week we enjoyed a visit from the grandparents. And what a fun time we had.

First off was our town's Veteran's Day Parade...

We were all bundled up and ready to watch.

Of course my camera battery had died, but I snagged these off my dad's camera.

Then we were headed up to our most favorite place this time of year.....Apple Hill.

We enjoyed a picnic in the apple orchard....

....and then the kids played on the hay bales.

I am so thankful we have grandparents close by!

 Our favorite things at Apple Hill?

Orange pumpkins....

So, so many apples...

 Apple cider (which tastes just like you are drinking an apple)...

Apple Fritters....

My portion, which was still nice and warm.

And we even got an apple pie for dessert later that evening.

It was perfect weather.

We had fun visiting...

Playing games....

 ...and being thankful to have grandparents to come for a visit!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That this time next week our house will look like Christmas. It all happens in a flurry, the day after Thanksgiving, courtesy of my children.

What I'm reading: I'm still reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; with her interesting writing style I am having to read through it slow.

What we're learning: We are taking this week off of school....yay! I need the break and I am sure the kids do too.

What I'm watching: The sun peek through the clouds today. We had a rainy last few days, with chances of rain here and there in the coming days. Fire/hot tea/warm socks weather for sure.

What's cooking: Aside from having turkey, sausage and cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes this week, we are also having Enchiladas and Cumin Fish Curry.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for the beauty of creation. The Autumn trees, big white clouds, and leaves on the ground remind me of our incredible God.

What I'm planning: To go later this morning and pass out food at a nearby food bank with our 4H group. The children really enjoy being able to serve this way.

What we did this last weekend: We did some cleaning around the house on Saturday. Sunday we went to church and heard a convicting Sunday school class on marriage and grace. Then we had 36 people over in our 1450 square foot house to celebrate a couple of birthdays. A very fun afternoon. Then back for evening service and a message on Daniel.

What I'm looking forward to: Later this afternoon I am meeting up with a friend for coffee, then tomorrow morning we have a fun goat meeting. Then My Sweetie is home for the rest of the week, and my mother-in-law is coming for Thanksgiving.

A picture to share:

My kitchen yesterday....everyone lining up for the taco bar.

Some of the 26 kiddos, eating in the garage.

I think this is a record...we fit all 11 adults around our table.

Celebrating 50 years for two geezers men.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: We are taking off a day of school today (our first day off in 11 weeks), then 4 more days of school before taking off all of Thanksgiving week. I am looking forward to the break.

What I'm reading: At our library last week I found Ann Voskamps' One Thousand Gifts. A lot of people I know have read this book and liked it, and so I want to see what I think of it.

What I'm listening to: The heater running! Yes, it was a cold week here so we finally turned it on.

What we're learning: This week we are finishing the Apologia Bible curriculum we started way back in July. I am not quite sure what to do next...any ideas about a Reformed Bible curriculum for middle school-age children?

What's cooking: This week I am planning to make Cheesy Chicken Chowder (perfect for a cold day), an Indian feast another night (with Butter Chicken, Avial, Samosas, and chutneys), and Baked Potato Soup another. I am totally in winter cooking mode with all the soups!

What I'm buying: Our kids clean off the table, wash/load the dishes, and put everything away each night. One of my helpers accidentally dropped my 8x11 glass pan on our tile floor, so I need to go out and get another one. One of the very few teeny-tiny downsides to having my children help out in the kitchen.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for music. So many times during the week I am comforted, cheered, and sobered by beautiful songs.

What I'm creating: My Thanksgiving menu. Every year I think I am going to change things up a bit but then I realize how much I love the traditional foods I serve every year and chicken out.

What I'm praying: That I would remember Christ's unconditional love for me, and give that same kind of love to those around me.

What we did this last weekend: We did little things around the house on Saturday. Sunday morning one of our OPC missionaries gave a convicting sermon, then shared about his ministry in Uganda. One of the many things I love about our church - every now and then we get to meet the missionaries in our denomination, see what they are doing, and how we can pray for them. After church we had a restful afternoon, then the grandparents came in time for dinner. We spent the evening playing Cocktails, Up The River, and talking.

What I'm looking forward to: Our town's Veteran's day parade is later this morning, and then we are going to take grandpa and grandma to Apple Hill today. The fall color is spectacular right now...

A picture to share:

~So I don't sew too much, but before last Friday I had never seen an empty spool of thread. I wouldn't have minded so much, but as you can see by the twisted laundry on the had gone through the dryer with a load and knotted everything together. Just another Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

IEW - Primary Arts of Language

I am teaching reading to my last little one. Reading is kind of like learning how to walk; you can't push them too hard - children are ready when they are ready. For that reason I send out my feelers with my young children, gauging when I feel they are ready to start, instead of pushing them to start too early. For a couple of my kids that meant teaching reading at age five. For another it was a bit later, around age nine. Nutsy is proving to be about right in the middle, and at the age of seven I am seeing the signs that she is ready to read. And so when this Phonics/Reading/Writing program came up for review from Institute for Excellence in Writing I was hoping it would be a good fit for her.


What It Is:

 Jill Pike created Primary Arts of Language (PAL) after researching Anna Ingram's approach to language, which focuses on a Blended Sound-Sight System.

(PAL) consists of two components; PAL: Reading, and PAL: Writing.

PAL: Writing moves through three different levels:

  1. Printing and Story Summaries
  2. Copy Work and Style with All About Spelling
  3. Composition with Style

All About Spelling Level 1 is included with the writing program; this spelling curriculum is a multi-sensory approach using hearing, visual, and hands-on methods to teach beginning students how to spell.


PAL: Reading has four stages:

  1. Foundations (Learning the phonograms and introducing the games)
  2. Activity Time (Playing the games as a form of review; continuing to teach new material)
  3. Discovery (Working through Discovery Cards, using their knowledge of phonics)
  4. The Library (Reading real books at an easy reading level)


There is a webinar that I would encourage you to watch by Jill Pike; this was very helpful to me as I explored the program.

What You Get:

You can purchase the complete PAL: Writing program for $89.00. This includes the Teacher Manual, a DVD-ROM with instructions and printable worksheets, All About Spelling Level 1, and five helpful audio downloads to listen to. These include audios on writing, narration, comprehension, and teaching helps.

The PAL: Reading program is $69.00 and includes the Teacher Manual, PAL Phonetic Games, the DVD-ROM with instructions and printable worksheets, readers, and four audio downloads. These downloads include an introduction to the Blended Sound-Sight System by Anna Ingram, and communication, poetry, and the Four Language Arts by Andrew Pudewa.

The Phonetic Games book has tear out pages and assembly instruction for the games; these are conveniently printed on heavy cardstock and assembled using file folders and glue.

How We Used This:

I have done informal letter recognition with Nutsy for the last couple of years so she did know some of the sounds before we started PAL. I did start at the beginning with lesson 1; we just moved through the first 10 lessons or so pretty quickly. This is what a typical lesson looks like:

Each lesson begins with a short poem to read. There are one or two suggestions of things to point out in the poem. Then it is time for Writing. Each day you create a short journal entry (2-3 sentences) with your child. This simple exercise models for your child how writing can be used everyday. In the first 20 lessons each capital and lowercase letter is introduced; usually with a short letter story that helps the child remember the letter sound. In the following lessons words and then sentences are introduced. For each lesson there is a printing practice page to do. After this there is time for a short story and narration practice.

Now it is time for the Reading portion of the curriculum. In each lesson 1-3 sight words are introduced. They are added to the games and then reviewed through the reading pages. The reading pages are 4-7 sentences for your child to read; eventually they can begin to read short stories in a Reader that is available on the DVD. There are suggested games to play; the games ranged from identifying the vowel sound, consonant/vowel recognition, action words, match-it....the list goes on and on. Each time a new phonogram is introduced you add a sticker to the big Phonetic Farm; this is a fold-out colorful farm scene where the spelling rules and sounds are organized and reviewed.


In the agenda portion there is a cut-and-paste work page to do, and then finally there are a couple of suggested things to do later in the day.

Like I said above, Nutsy flew through the first couple weeks doing a lesson per day. Then we began to catch up to where she really was; currently she is on lesson 21. My philosophy in our schooling is to not move on to the next lesson until it has been mastered, and so now we are averaging about two lessons a week. I usually introduce the new concept the first day, play a game, and do a reading page. ( I keep all the previous reading pages for review.) The next day we review the concept, play another couple of games and do the work page. Every day we read the poem, visit the Phonetic Farm, and practice writing. When I feel she understands the concept we move on; with all the fun games to play and reading pages we could feasibly spend a whole week on a lesson and still have lots to do.

What I Thought:

There was so much I loved about this program. It used my favorite education philosophies: Classical with narration, copywork, and jingles; and Montessori with so many hands-on components. The games in the Reading Program were a huge hit with Nutsy. When she got into the second stage of the reading program, she was able to choose a couple of games every day to play; she loved being in charge and would always choose her favorites. There is a Games Check Sheet in the Phonetic Games book where I would keep track and some days choose one of the games for her if I felt she was only picking certain ones.

I loved the Writing Program and the printing sheets she completed. They were just the right amount of work for her age; we would usually spend about an hour to an hour and a half a day doing the entire program. I also loved working with All About Spelling and the hand-on letter tiles. I was very impressed with how quickly she was retaining the spelling words; six weeks ago she had a whopping six words she could spell (Mom, Dad and her siblings' names) and this morning I gave her a spelling test with short "i" words (big, hit, pig) and she got 100%. I am interested to see how they begin to teach sentence structure and composition later on in the curriculum.

So I really did like this product. I plan on continuing to use this with Nutsy; the only sad thing is that I don't have another little person to teach after her. The program does take some time setting up; I spent about a week watching the webinar, listening to some of the audio downloads, and creating the games. I was also given the DVD to use to print out all of the worksheets; you could purchase them in a hardcopy Student Book already printed out for $39.00. I don't like having all these copies to keep track of so I am seriously thinking of purchasing this book as we continue through the curriculum.

There are other reviews of PAL to read at The Crew blog; check them out by clicking below.


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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: I can't believe it is already November. Thanksgiving is only 2 1/2 weeks away, people!

What I'm reading: This week I am reading Hiding to Survive by Maxine B Rosenberg during our Together School Time. These stories of Jewish children that were hidden and escaped the holocaust are very sobering.

What we're learning: This week the older children's history presentations are due for co-op; Mr. Lego is doing his on the secret spy ideas from World War II, and Bookworm's is talking about a Christian family who hid Jews during the war. The younger two are just plugging along with their studies....Nutsy is really enjoying her phonics/spelling program from IEW.

What I'm watching: The season change. Here in California, we are finally getting some fall color. Usually it is strongest around Thanksgiving....I need to get outside with my camera and get some photos.

What's cooking: This week I am making Spaghetti and Meatballs one night, Chicken in Mustard Sauce (which is not what it sounds like and very mild) another, plus our normal Friday pizza night. I also have Bookworm slated to cook one night; she'll be making a Beef, Cheese, Noodle Bake with steamed vegetables.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the freedom we have to homeschool. I couldn't imagine not being with my kids all day and (most of the time) love teaching them.

What I'm creating: I am trying to think of some fun Thanksgiving crafts my kids can do in the next couple of weeks. Any ideas?

What I'm planning: I am planning out our new venture in 4H - the poultry project. We are meeting this week and there are a couple of last minute things I want to do.

What we did this last weekend: We did some deep cleaning in our house on know, the things you don't normally clean, like the baseboards, walls, door jams....of course no one will notice it but me. Then on Sunday we went to church and Sunday school. We had our monthly fellowship meal and then headed to the assisted living center. It was very encouraging; we had the most people come we have ever had. The kids enjoyed walking around afterwards and talking to the residents.

What I'm looking forward to: We have a couple of 4H meetings this week, co-op will meet also, and a friend and her children are coming for lunch today. And next weekend we have the grandparents coming for a visit, and we plan to head out to Apple Hill.

A picture to share:

~I'm also thinking of fun things I can do with apples....Apple Crisp, Dutch Apple Pie, Applesauce....