Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sunny, but Cold!

It's a gorgeous day today! The sun is shining, which is very nice. :) However, it is about 20 degrees right now, and according to http://www.weather.com/, feels like 4 degrees. Thankfully the wind is not blowing today; that makes it really unbearable out there. We are expecting a 'winter storm' tomorrow, so the kids and I went out this morning to get some groceries we needed. Now, we're fully stocked on fruits and vegetables and milk, along with the other things we already had. I shouldn't need anything else until next week.

While checking out at the grocery store, the cashier commented on how many kids I had with me. I wasn't sure if she was wondering why they weren't in school, or what. She went on to ask if they were all mine and if that was all the kids I had. She said she'd like to have 4 but doesn't have any yet. Her final comment was that I have great kids; so well-behaved in the store she didn't even know they were there. Some kids are so loud, apparently, that you hear them before you see them! Actually, I've been there more than once with my own children screaming at the top of their lungs. However, now that they're older they know better, and we often get compliments on their behavior. It makes a mommy feel good; thanks kids!

Since we were at the store this morning, we did not get any school work done yet. So, we are having lunch as I 'speak' and will begin our school day this afternoon. We picked up our 3rd book in 'The American Adventure' series today at the library, so I expect we'll have to start reading that tonight. I actually can't wait to get started, and I know the kids are excited. Maybe we'll have time to read a little before we start our Math and English.....

Hailey is a very crafty girl; she loves to draw, paint, work with clay, etc. She's always coming up with some new toy she's made for the cats, or making beds (or crowns) for her stuffed animals. So, we have lots of art 'stuff' in the house to accomodate her need to create. She has face painting pencils, and got those out yesterday to paint Corbin's face. He loves it when she does that, and they ended up putting it on arms, legs and tummies, as "war paint" I was told. What war?
Anyway, Hailey then wanted me to paint a wolf on her face. I am NOT an artist. I can sing, I spell very well, but I do not draw. However, how can I deny my daughter? So, she brought me the instructions, and I was actually able to follow them. I was happy with my work and she liked it too. I took a picture to document my success!

This is one of the things I love about homeschooling. We have the time to draw, read, play with face paint, sing or dance, and play games. And we still get our work done. Some days are better than others, but I am so happy we are home together. I did not have time or the inclination when I worked to do any of those things. Nor did we really have the money for extra activities like baseball, swimming, or dance. Now, we still have to be sensible, but we have both the time and the resources to do some of those things. Logan and Hailey will be playing baseball beginning in April with a home school team. Corbin will play t-ball with 5-7 year olds. They will also be taking swim lessons again in a few weeks at the YMCA.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Busy Weekend

We had a very busy weekend! I spent the day schooling the kids on Friday, but had to be ready for my 'date' with Karl by 5:00p.m. Our neighbors have 2 girls who share the job of keeping our kids. So we went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, called 'The Bonefish Grill'. We shared an appetizer of lump crab cakes(scrumptious!) and also our meal, which was one of their signature dishes, 'Lily's Chicken'. This came with a side of pasta with marinara and some spaghetti squash. The food was delicious, and we had some nice alone time for conversation. Then, we went across the street to see 'The Bucket List', which was a really good movie. The whole audience laughed a lot; it was fun.

Saturday, we went out to Walmart because we needed to get a few things. We also had a scheduled eye appointment for Logan. It turns out he is near sighted and needs glasses. He will get them this week, and surprisingly, seems very excited about it. Hailey, since she has had glasses for a year now, was really excited to hear that Logan needs them, too. Now she's not alone, and she can share with Logan what it is like to have them. This makes her feel like a big girl! :) Of course, now Corbin thinks he should have glasses, too. He doesn't seem to get that it's not really a good thing to have a vision problem!

And Sunday, we visited a different church in our county. We like the one we have been attending, but we had heard some speakers on the radio from the other one and wanted to give it a try. The Pastor there was very good; we really enjoyed his message. The kids had a good time, though they prefer the one we usually attend be cause it's 'familiar'. I think we'll go there again next weekend so we can gather more information about whether we want to make the switch.

Today we went to the library to pick up some books we had on hold. Logan likes to read about Bionicles, a Lego creature he enjoys building. He knows more facts about those Bionicles! And Hailey and Corbin picked up some Learn to Draw books on dinosaurs, puppies, and sea creatures. Corbin has a hard time trying to follow the directions since he can't read yet and his fine motor skills are not as developed, but he is determined to do the things the older two do. So, he started his drawing as soon as we got home. Maybe he'll have taught himself to draw (as they did) by the time he's six. Logan and Hailey didn't really start this until we began homeschooling because they did not have time when they were in school all day. So, they've taught themselves to draw within the last 1.5 year. I think that's pretty impressive, because I can't draw worth anything. :) Maybe I'll put some photos up of some of their work.

Well, we have lots more schooling to do. 'Bye for now!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Snow

It's snowing outside again today, and has been since mid-morning. I absolutely love to watch it falling. This Southern girl will never get used to seeing such a miraculous event! Swirling around as it falls, everything is pure white. The trees here are bare, and make a beautiful sight with the snow sitting on their branches. We like to watch the squirrels jump from tree to tree, scavenging for food. When Fall ended, we took the pumpkins from our doorstep (we had 10 of them!) and put them in our back yard for the squirrels. They had already begun eating them, raccoons too I suspect, anyway. They've feasted on them every day since. How is it that their little feet don't freeze? And how do they keep warm, anyway? These are questions we've asked ourselves, as we bury ourselves under blankets in our home when it's just 68 degrees. As much as I hate to drive under these conditions, and absolutely won't do it, I am in awe of days like this. I am so glad we came here, even though we miss everyone so much. We would have missed out on a wonderful experience and many blessings, too. Maybe we can find a place to sled this weekend.

I am excited today about some information I found on the Internet. I know there is a wealth of information out there about everything you could imagine, but I am still amazed when I find so much. In New York, as in many other states, Health is a required subject in school. So, I have been trying to cover various subjects that I feel are relevant to our family. We are constantly reminding the kids to wash their hands, so I thought that would be our next study for Health. When I began looking on-line today for worksheets, coloring sheets, procedures, etc., I was blown away! I think I went through about 1.5 packages of printer paper-I am NOT kidding. I even found a free curriculum that I plan to use. We are also going to incorporate a study on germs in general, and I have not looked for info. specifically about that yet. Anyway, we will begin our hand washing study today, and I can't wait. I never knew I would get so pumped up about teaching about how to wash your hands! :) Oh well, I guess that's the teacher in me. I've always wanted to be one. I just didn't know I would be doing it in my home instead of a classroom. We will begin with an experiment. Maybe I will get Karl to help, and we can post pictures of our experiment as it progresses. It should be pretty interesting.

When I checked my mail today, I squealed with delight to see that we had a package. We love to receive mail! (hint, hint) I had ordered some items, for homeschooling of course, through Hands and Hearts, a web site I visit occasionally. (To see all of their products, visit the link under Favorite Sites on this Blog.) We have been using the Color and Learn coloring books made by Edupress. They make numerous coloring books about different subjects. We've used the ones on Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and now Rocks and Minerals. The kids adore them; they really like to color, and each page has a short description of the picture. Plus, the package included another resource I ordered. I've been researching 'lapbooking' and came across this book on the Hands and Hearts site: Easy File Folder Reports. These are just reports done using reproducibles from the book, on various subjects, and placing (gluing) them in file folders to finish. That's what I'm so excited about. We will be able to do reports on Famous Americans, Holidays, Animals, Explorers, Native Americans, The United States and Presidents, National Monuments and Memorials, Minerals, Plants, Inventions, and more. It's all laid out for you, and that's what I want. I like to find things on my own , too, but it's often hard to find the time. These won't actually be lapbooks, but I thought it might be a way of transitioning to that for some of our subjects. Our kids love arts and crafts; hands-on activities. So, I look forward to getting started with our new 'stuff'.

Well, I should probably get us started with the rest of our schooling. It will be time to begin dinner preparations before long. We'll be having Cheesy Ham & Potato Casserole and a Salad. I'll try to post my recipes later tonight or tomorrow. Take care, and enjoy the evening!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Where ya been?

I’m so glad Wendy decided to set this up. I wish we had been doing this since we moved to Florida 8 years ago. I always thought it would be a good way for family and friends to keep up with us, but alas, laziness prevails. Wendy to the rescue. I know she’ll diligently keep it up from here (I’ll also try to add random thoughts as they occur to me), but just in case any long lost friends stumble across this site I’ll add, for posterity, a brief history of what we’ve been up to since graduation. (Demonstrates a mastery of the run-on sentence: check) Honestly, this is just an excuse to put up some pictures of the family.

April 99: Karl, Wendy, and Logan move from central Alabama to sunny Florida to get back to the coast...

And to spend more time at Disney World.
September 2005: Florida is getting a little old and a lot hot so we pack up (now with younger siblings Hailey and Corbin in tow) to Ashburn, VA, a suburb of Washington DC. Most weekends were spent touring the city, a good time was had by all, but no matter how many architectural wonders or marvels of modern democracy to which we exposed the kids...
...nothing really excited them more than riding the metro.

November 2005: 8 weeks!? Are you kidding me!?!? I packed up the whole house and moved halfway up the eastern seaboard for 8 weeks? The job was cut short so we moved back home from what basically amounted to a two month paid vacation in our capital city with a new appreciation for the friends and family that we missed while away from Florida.

November 2006-May 2007: Karl took a 6 month assignment in Annapolis, MD… alone. We made do by video conferencing each night via webcams on our PCs. I also flew back every two weekends for some hugs, but if I ever missed one you didn’t want to be around me on that third week. The happiest time of the whole excursion was when Wendy made it up for the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Good times.
July 2007: Time again for a change. Packed up the family once again for another interstate move, this time leaving the Hurricane Alley that is coastal Florida for the lake effect snow bands of Western NY. Because we don’t know that we will be here past 12 months, we are trying to take in as much of the area as possible. Of course one of our first excursions was to Niagara Falls.

We also did some apple picking at one of the local farms.
Our most recent outing was to an indoor water park in Erie, PA. I must say that it was very strange stepping onto a waterslide, while it’s snowing outside and I could see icicles hanging from the tubes as they passed from inside to outside before dumping you back indoors.

So now that we’re all caught up, we’ll try to keep you up to date on all our future adventures.

Ramblings

It snowed overnight and there is maybe an inch of snow on the ground. This doesn't bother Karl, but it is enough to keep me OFF the roads. So, no Camp Arrowhead for the kids today. We are instead concentrating on our school work and will be eating lunch soon. Then we'll do our Unit Study 'stuff' and maybe I can coax the kids outside to play after that. There's new snow on the ground, so they'll probably want to get out and play in it.

I'm having fun setting things up on the site. I've never been very technical, but I'm finding much enjoyment in this. :)

The book list will be expanding; as we (or I) finish each one I will add it to the list. I had begun a list in Word just so I would know how many books I read this year. But now, I'm just going to list them here. I may keep a separate list of those the kids read on their own, but I'm not sure yet.

You will find a list of my favorite links on the Web. This too will increase as I come across more 'favorites'.

A 'Menu' section may appear in the future. It would be an easier way for me to organize my weekly menus, rather than trying to keep track of whatever sheet of paper I've written it on! This would probably include recipes for the menu items so others could use my menu, too.

And, I will be adding a section for Bible readings/prayer requests, etc. So, each time you visit us here you'll probably find something new to explore.

Well, lunch is ready to be served. I hope you all have a great day. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Our Homeschool Day

For those of you who may be interested in what our home school day is like, I will tell you what we typically do. This is only my second full year doing this, so we are still adjusting to suit our family. I'm beginning to think it is a constant state of adjustment!

  • We are using a Unit Study approach/curriculum for History, Science, Literature, & Fine Arts. Health is also covered in Science. Logan and Hailey (& Corbin) do all of these subjects together. We studied Egypt our first 6 weeks; Corbin can even point out and name the Pharaoh, a mummy, Egyptians, and a pyramid. He and the older two have built block cities based on Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and now Ancient Rome. We always locate the country on our world map. They have hand-drawn maps of the countries, labeling and colored each. We created a diorama of Egypt/The Nile with clay, dirt, sticks, etc. As a side, we have also begun reading The American Adventure series. This is a wonderful series of historical fiction, written from a Christian perspective! The kids absolutely adore them, and always groan when we have to end for the day. We read these before bed, so they aren't actually 'school', but they are still learning a lot about our early history as a country. One of my loves is History, so I'm having a blast with them too. We will be doing some book reports and possibly a Lapbook for some of these books as we read them.
  • In Science/Health we've studied deserts and desert life, the body and its systems, first aid, nutrition, teeth, and are focusing on rocks; minerals; volcanoes; fossils in our current unit.
  • We have read some excellent literature this year. We read The Golden Goblet, The Bible, and are now reading The Bronze Bow. So far, they seem to enjoy all of it. The selections are meant for 4-8 grade students, so Hailey doesn't always understand what answer is wanted for the questions asked, but she remembers events from the stories pretty well. And all of them have learned to sit longer and listen for enjoyment. Picture books used to be a BIG thing with Hailey, especially. We all still love the picture books, don't get me wrong, but now Hailey says, "I like to close my eyes while you read so I can imagine." Just what reading is all about! :)
  • We've done various art projects: the diorama I mentioned, a frieze, gold medals and olive wreaths for the 'Olympics', clay animals just for fun, etc.
  • In Math, Logan and Hailey are using different curricula. We were given a copy of Saxon 54 from a dear friend in Florida before we left for New York. This is what Logan is using, as it is for his 4th grade level. He is doing well with it. He is learning multiplication and division, as well as reviewing his addition, subtraction, word problems, and working with money. Hailey is excelling with Horizons Math 2, which is the 2nd grade level. She has also been working on solidifying her addition and subtraction facts, and has begun learning her 0, 1, 10, and 5 multiplication facts. This curriculum requires more hands-on from me, but she is doing so well with it I don't mind. She is beginning to work with money, as well. Corbin is working on counting to 20; he always wants to count everything from green beans on his plate, to the number of worksheets for his 'school work', to how many cars he is playing with. We are beginning to ask him questions, using objects such as grapes during snack, like what is 2 + 3 while pointing to the groups of 2 and 3. He is catching on very well!
  • Both of the older children have their own Language Arts programs. These include spelling, reading aloud, writing, reading comprehension, grammar, etc. Logan has always been a stong reader. We are working on improving his handwriting, writing skills, and spelling. He has a good grasp on comprehension, grammar, and reading aloud. He also keeps a book list of books that he has read on his own this year. He's read 15 books since we began school in August! :) Hailey has improved greatly in her reading skills. We still make sure she reads aloud every day. We are focusing more on her spelling now, as well as her reading comprehension. She's learning about punctuation and such in her program. Both kids occasionally write in their journals, either something of their choice or something I assign.

So, this is our typical day! Our older kids have a 'camp' for homeschoolers that they do on Wednesdays, so those days are usually shortened. And of course if we have to run errands or if Daddy is home we do less academics and more creative learning on those days. I hope you've enjoyed reading about our day; I've certainly enjoyed writing it all down!

We're starting our own blog!

Hi, everybody! Just wanted to let everyone who visits this site know that we are now officially on-line. We will be posting various comments or narratives about what we are doing. This might entail what we are studying in our homeschool, trips that we take, activities we've enjoyed, journal entries, prayer requests, etc. We may even include photos of ourselves or artwork that the kids have done. I hope you all enjoy reading about our adventures. This is just another way for us to feel connected with all of you who are so far away but still so near to our hearts!