August 27, 2008

Around the world...first stop: America

A few weeks ago, we began our world-wide voyage in North America, with a special focus on our patriotic homeland. I only sort of briefly touched on the geography of the grand ol' USA because I figured the kids, well, they live here and it's just not as exciting as learning about the unknown cultures of Asia and Australia, know what I mean? And I'm so eager to delve into the other countries of North America, especially those in Central America, that I sort of skimmed this great land of ours.

We hit the elementary highlights: the Rockies, the M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter...(you fill in the rest) River and the Great Lakes. As we located these places, I couldn't resist this particular map exercise: take four crayons, color each state a different color, but don't let any two touching states be the same color. My eight-year-old nailed it, can you?

And what's a study of America without mentioning the National Anthem? I had each of the girls copy the first stanza around the flag they colored. This patriotic poem is full of rich language that we simply take for granted. Oh, yeah, it'll give you chills of pride to hear it at the ballpark, and this anthem truly evokes intense patriotism for me. As an interpreter, I get nervous when I sign this song, because it portrays the fight for our freedom with great emotion. Try acting out the words sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Some Anthem Trivia:
Did you know that it's only been our nation's official anthem since 1931, though is was written in 1815?
The flag seen by Francis Scott Key at Fort McHenry in 1814 now hangs in the Smithsonian.
It was first sung at the 1917 Baseball World Series in honor of the men fighting in World War 1. It proved so moving, that it has been sung at every game since.
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August 26, 2008

My no good, horrible, very bad day

Yesterday was one of the worst days I had had in a long time. Partly because I woke up late and on the wrong side of the bed, and partly because my girls had equally rotten dispositions.

Math time turned into a downpour of pathetic tears; English and geography, which are typically the highlights of my girls' school days, were terrible disasters; and chore time...well, we won't even mention what happened with all the grumbling, complaining, seething and all other nonsense that transformed my pleasant home into a nasty, chaotic pit...all before 9am.

The girls were ugly to each other and I was simply frustrated with all of them and they knew it. By lunchtime, threats of doom and gloom and a big yellow school bus surfaced.

But, atlas, by late afternoon Matthew came home fully loaded with these:

and this:

Immediately all was well. :)

The kids even mustered enough initiative to clean up all their thousands of mini-messes, and I withdrew into a much-needed quiet evening with my Bible and some yummy mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Sadly, I wanted to blog about all the horrors my girls imposed upon each other and me; honestly, I'm responsible for some of it. If I don't spend some prayerful quiet time early each morning, my day is susceptible to all sorts of intruding evils. I must surround myself with the strength that only comes from God himself in order to even pretend to conquer the day. Because I am with them I also must pray for each of my children, instead idly sit beside them, hoping that they absorb the character lessons from our Bible and novel readings. My children need to be lifted up just as much as I need to, just to approach the beginning of each day.

Yesterday wasn't just horrible because I had missed a single prayer time. It was horrible because I missed many prayer times. Every once in while, the monotony of my life seems to give me the confidence to control everything, even my children. Then God himself wastes no time in letting my children wage war on me, pushing every one of my buttons at the same time. And since I'm unprepared for this battle, the day quickly spins out of control.

Today, has been so much better. After my attitude adjustment and some prayer time, we've all done well today. Praise God that his mercies are new every morning, right before math lessons begin. :)
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August 25, 2008

Newest Toothless Wonder

Well M finally lost her first tooth. Both twins have had loose teeth for years, but one bite of corn on the cob took out M's. So the Tooth Fairy herself brought M a shiney new presidential coin for her collection. M also gets the special distinction of being the first twin to reach this milestone. Though I suspect that K will outdo her, because I'm positive the both K's bottom teeth will fall out at the same time.
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August 21, 2008

I've been tagged! Six Quirky Things About Me...

My friend Heather at Blog, She Wrote tagged me for this fun meme. Here are the rules. First, link back to the person who tagged you. List the rules in your post and tell about your six quirks. Then tag six more people. :)

Now I have a number of quirks, so I'm going to try to keep them to the top six:

1. I am not the most observant person. I'm forever losing my keys, even though they are right on the table by the door. I've even walked up to a friend to ask about another friend, only to be told that the person that I was inquiring about was only two people over from where I was standing. So, yes, I tend to miss the obvious...unless I'm looking through the narrow viewfinder in a camera or living in the electronic world of graphic design. I get very picky when looking at a proof of an ad or brochure and can tell you if the type is slightly uncentered or the color is a shade off.

2. Because I'm terribly oblivious to the obvious, I'm also the Queen of Klutz. I possess absolutely no grace and have never had any poise. I'm about clumsy as they come, especially in front of a group of people. I can be walking down the hall and quickly find myself on the floor. And if I go out to eat with friends, I'm guaranteed to wear some of my food by the end of the meal.

3. I think with a pencil in my hand. I'm always writing something whether it's a to-do list or a grocery list or school planning or what I want to accomplish in my life. Even this blog post was written in pencil before it was published. If a pencil isn't in my hand, it's probably in my hair for quick retrieval.

4. Though I'm not opposed to writing with ink, I am a pen snob. Bics just don't do anything for me; I prefer Parker ballpoints in shades of green or purple but will settle for the traditional blue or black. And I really love my fountain pens, especially my Lamy aluminum.

5. I'm a fairly even-keel. On personality tests my introvert/extravert scores are the same. On spiritual gifts tests, my top 3 rank about the same. On right brain/left brain tests my scores are as equal as can be. I guess that's why I can be somewhat logical and organized with a bit of creative flightiness thrown in.

6. I never, never, ever, no never let my arms or legs dangle off the sides of my bed, especially at night. You just never know who or what is underneath.

So here's who's it:
Tracie at SAHM I AM
Ashley at Lindler5
Emily at More Precious
Mrs. Darling at Dishpan Dribble
Tricia in TX
Tricia at Lamplight Christian Academy

Enjoy! :)

August 14, 2008

Last Child Standing

CG wins the award for being the healthiest kid in our home. At least for today, she has kept her jovial spirit and creativity. She has also kept all of her food in her tummy. While everyone else was napping, CG and I enjoyed her favorite game, Cadoo.

Micah also got sick--but that was probably because he used all of his Herculean powers to split the world into two pieces.

Matthew thinks we should start calling him Atlas. Since geography is our primary focus for the year, the girls are always looking at some sort of map or globe. Micah obviously likes exploring the earth too.

And here he is...fierce conqueror of the world!
And here's what a homeschooling mom's stash of books look like when the kids are sick:
They just sort of piled up as I tended to the various needs. And you know what else is sick? My dishwasher--thanks to a recent lightning storm. The applicance doc will be by next week with replacements parts. So, if you think that picture of tossled books is bad, you should see the stack of dishes waiting to be washed. How in the world did past generations live without a dishwasher? With a family of 6, the dishes are never all clean, especially with sick kids.
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August 13, 2008

Our Timeline

As some fellow homeschool moms and teachers have requested, here is our timeline from last year when we studied American history. I pulled this picts from early in the year, but by the end of the year we had filled most of the slots.
At some point in my children's education they will complete a full timeline, whether on a wall (which we just don't have the space for now) or in a book (so that each of them can have their own as a reference). I like the options from Five in a Row and Hold That Thought. And I like the notebook variety, such as History Scribe.
For now, this works for us. My kids are on the younger elementary age, so a detailed timeline isn't as important as a simple grasp of basic chronology is fine.
Hanging on our wall is a postcard display, purchased from Oriental Trading. Instead of postcards, we use colorful 4x6 index cards.

The display rests on three easy-to-remove sticky hooks by 3M.

Each card is made by one of the kids so that they all contribute to the overall timeline.

In Word, I created a 2-column 4x6 paper, with 1/2" margins. On one column I place the picture, chosen by the child, from Google Images (though pre-printed characters, such as those from Homeschool In the Woods, would work well, too). One the other column, I type what the child tells me about the historical event.

We print the Word document, cut and glue it onto the index card. The child then draws and illustrates a 4x6 picture regarding the historic event or person. We glue that on the back.

The kids enjoyed making this sort of timeline. We could take the pictures out at anytime for review and then the girls could put them back in, testing their chronological knowledge. During the course of study a child may have an interest in another person or event, so we'd add that in too. Even though we focused on US history, K had some questions about Napoleon, so she did a bit of research on him and made a card just for him. M enjoyed learning about artists of the time, so she contributed a cards on Audobon and Serat.
One thing that bothered me about even attempting this sort of timeline was: what would I do if I needed to add an event between two well-placed cards? And you know what? It was never an issue. The girls and I enjoyed taking the cards out to review and rearrange to include the new date. My excited girls were very motivated to keep this timeline because, for the most part, it was their own work with their own interesting historical tidbits on it. So a little ownership goes a long way with the wall hanging.

This year, however, history isn't our main focus, but geography is. I had thought about making cards for each country we study, but we're doing that in our notebooks already. One of my goals this year was to begin going through the Veritas Bible cards. So I now place those cards in the holder as a perfect and useable display.

So many companies offer a great variety for the use of timelines. And so many creative moms have made exceptional uses of wall space and notebooks. I'll post a few other links as soon as I remember where I saved them. But please share what your doing (or what you'd like to do) with your kids in you schoolroom. :)

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August 12, 2008


Need I say more?
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August 9, 2008

New Habits

Slowly we are slinking into our rhythm of the new school year. The study of world geography excites the children, though math tends to bit a bit mundane for them.
One of my goals for the year is to teach each of the girls the basics of playing the piano. I figure that I can get them through the primer levels (thanks to the million years of lessons I took) and if they show any sort of talent and desire, then I can pay a professional. So to give each girl her special piano time, each child has her very own lesson day. K started first last Monday and has declared that she LOVES piano. She has diligently practiced every day. Which is amazing for this highly distractable child. Taking a picture of her playing was easy, because she sits on the stool for lengths of time and studies the music. The other children...well, they LIKE piano, but twirling/staging plays/playing with BB seems to be more fun.

So here's K, my dedicated little virtuoso:

And Micah has a least one new habit (other than playing in the trash can and drowing little people in the dog's water dish). He likes slurping his sister's cherry dr. pepper from Sonic (surely I'm not the only mom who seizes the opportunity to buy drinks during Sonic's happy hour, am I?):

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August 4, 2008

True or False: A platypus is a mammal.

This week we are continuing a study of mammals. You all know that my kids are animal lovers, so this study was hand-picked for them. Science is definitely not drudgery around here. Especially when we allow the finer educational qualities of Beanie Babies and Webkinz in our schoolroom.

For starters, mammals have hair and nurse their young. Most mammals birth live babies, but not all. Monotremes are a type of mammal that lay eggs. A duck-billed playpus comes to mind:

Marsupials are also mammals, but they have a pouch for their babies to safely nurse as they continue to develop. Kangaroos fall into this category and so do Webkinz koala bears.
Australia has the monopoly on these unique mammals. So now add this island continent to the places my safari-loving K wants to visit...after petting the leopards in Botswana (really...she wants to live there thanks to National Geographic).

Even my tiniest student has a favorite, unique animal: Clifford, the biggest, reddest mammal of all!

August 2, 2008

Micah, the Messy Muffin Munchkin

There's never been any doubt that Micah loves his food. He eats anything and he eats it all. He started with real bananas at 5 months and hasn't stopped since. Today he devoured a chocoloate chip muffin.

By the way, I don't think I'll be getting any Mother of the Year awards in '08; but my kids think I'm a winner because, not only did I serve a healthy dose of chocolate in the shape of breakfast muffins, I also let them eat ice-cream for their morning meal at least once this week (maybe twice, but I'm not going to admit to that. [rationalization]And before you call the breakfast police, we have a wonderfully wholesome menu lined up for this week to account for my shotty meal preparation last week. Besides, really what is the nutritional difference between yummy chocolate ice cream and doughnuts or frosted flakes? And really, who wants toasted pop tarts when they wake up and the temp outside is already a humid and blazing 95 degrees? [/rationalization]). Amazingly, I ate none of these sugary treats. But I did notice that my kids were a bit more energetic during schooltime.

Now whether Micah is on a sugar-high or not, he's into mischief. Today he stole my phone. I caught him trying to cram it into his shape sorter. If you peep through the holes, you'll notice all the other things this little thief was trying to hide: his sister's newly created potholders, clean pacifiers and a few of the girls' hair pieces. Now that he's perfected pounding loose articles into these shapes, we know where to look for our missing items.