Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's In Our Read Aloud Basket

I've been getting some homeschooling questions lately and I thought it might be helpful to post pictures of what is in our read aloud basket right now. We don't read from all of these every day but we usually read from three or four of them each day.

The kids each have their own personal reading from different books in addition to our read alouds. The personal reading is also from a variety of subjects such as geography, history, science and literature. Most of the kids read from two separate books a day.

I have a basket next to my chair that contains the following books:

Using real books instead of dry, boring textbooks is one of the reasons I love homeschooling!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two New Hobbies

I figure with each child that leaves home I should come up with a new hobby. This year it's medicinal herbs. So far The Complete Book of Herbs has been the most helpful along with this medicinal herb course from Sweet Hollow Farm.

I'm not growing any vegetables this year because of last year's bug invasion. The squash bugs annihilated anything that grew on a vine and the Mexican bean beetles destroyed my bean crop. So, I'm hope that by not planting the foods they like they will all starve to death and I'll sick my chickens on the ones that insist on living.

Instead, I'm adding more herbs to the garden, specifically medicinal herbs. We've added horehound, English thyme, bee balm, catnip, purple sage, purple coneflower, quite a bit of lavender and also some stevia. We'll also be watching the fields for passionflower, muellin, red clover and honeysuckle. I have lots of little brown bottles, 1/2 gallon mason jars, various tins, bees wax, and vodka (for tinctures) all ready for the summer harvest. Already some horehound was gathered, made into a syrup and used for Annalise's cough.

The other fun project around here is artisan bread. With this great book, it's so easy and fun. So far we've tried the boule, light whole wheat, 100% whole wheat and olive oil dough. This morning I made the sundried-tomato and parmesan bread with the light whole wheat dough and I'm taking it to the church potluck. This kids are constantly oohing and aahing. And it really does just take 5 minutes.

So next time you come for a visit, expect to smell some earthy herbal potions along with the fresh baked bread!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Meet our new Great Pyrenees puppy, Jack. His name on the papers will be Stonewall Jackson because we are hoping he will be a stone wall around the property, keeping stray dogs away from our chickens. He's already a moose at eight weeks!

The first day, Pal would not let him come near but now they sleep close together. I can not find Pal's papers but I know we got him when Luke was about four years old. Luke will be sixteen this summer so Pal has got to be about twelve years old. We figured it was time to get a new protector raised up because Pal has not been up to his job lately. He has been such an awesome dog for so many years that we wanted our new dog to meet him and hopefully Jack will realize that he has big shoes to fill.

We have only had Jack a week but he is already so attached to us. He sticks very close to the front porch and sometimes whines at the door for us to come out and be with him. The boys sleep with him every night. When I go out and sit down on the porch, he climbs up in my lap like a little lap dog. This ought to be interesting in a few more weeks when he is quite a bit bigger!

Picture Problems

Sorry about the pictures below...I don't know how to fix it. If you click on each one you will see the whole photo.

A Few Photos from Priscilla's Wedding

The new Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Bell

And her new family....the Marines...
All of us from left to right: Annalise, Kezzi, Hope, Abel, Nathan, Priscilla, me, Ford, Candace and Luke.
And the hardest moment of all...saying goodbye. They will live about nine hours away near Camp LeJeune, NC.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Priscilla's Shower

Just a few shots from Priscilla's bridal shower. We had over 50 people here!

She was blessed with many nice gifts...and some that were a little too embarrassing to post pictures of.

Candace passed out toilet paper and divided everyone into teams. The goal was to make a wedding dress. Immediately there was lots of talking and laughing. It was Priscilla's job to choose the winner. Here's the final dresses:
And the winner....

Pris was also thrilled to see some of her college friends, whom she will miss very much.

Coffee Shop School

When Kezzi was still in school, I used to take Hope and Kezzi to the coffee shop once a week. I would buy them a drink of their choice and we would work on writing and grammar there. I have recently resurrected the practice with Luke and Abel. It's something special I like to do with the older kids just to change the environment and hopefully find some new inspiration. This past week we had to take Annalise with us because no one else was home, but normally it will just be the boys and me.

Luke prefers to use the computer for his writing and most of the time Abel still likes his good ol' composition notebook.
Their favorite drinks are the frappes...caramel with lots of whipped cream.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Meditations in Psalms

Recently I have begun reading through Psalms in my personal morning time. As I read I am looking for a verse or two to carry with me through the day, giving me something good to dwell on. I'm looking for ways to fulfill Philippians 4:8, which is about dwelling on things that are true, lovely, pure, etc.

Today's verse is Psalm 13:5-6:

"But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me."

Today I will not focus on the hard things I have been through or the things I may be worried about. Instead I will think about all of the ways He has dealt bountifully with me. This may not be too difficult today because things are going relatively well at the moment. But I will store this up for the harder days, which I know are bound to come back around in the endless cycle of life on earth.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Other Studies

The time of day I enjoy most is our Morning Time studies. I have drawn the inspiration to spend this extended time together from Cindy at Morning Time Moms. It's the first thing we do every morning.

The kids come upstairs with sleepy faces and grab their favorite blanket while they snuggle down in their spot. I begin with Bible reading. Right now we are reading through the life of David with occasional diversions into topical studies such as this past week's lesson on love and "walking in the manner worthy of our calling". After Bible we read a poem a day from Poetry For a Lifetime. At this point everyone jumps up to grab a quick breakfast and then they bring their food back into the living room and settle in for the next reading. Usually we read some historical fiction or something from the time period we are studying, which happens to be World War I right now. Our current read aloud is Falcons of France. Other weekly and bi-weekly additions are History readings (20th Century) and Picture Study (Winslow Homer's prints have been gracing our refrigerator lately).

After Morning Time everyone dives into their own work in math, writing and various readings.

I'm going to list the things that I feel have been worth while pursuits this year.

Write Shop. I had my doubts about this since I've never been a fan of formal writing programs but I really felt the boys needed some direction. It's been just the thing they needed. They often embark on the assignments with gusto and have been very proud of their work. I see their confidence in writing improving. The other day Abel drew some imaginary creature and decided to write his own "field guide" entry to go along with it, all on his own free time. He said, "Mom, since I've been doing Write Shop I'm not afraid of writing! I know just how I want to do this!" I think it's helped that we've been co-oping with my sister and her boys. Even though it may try our patience to get through the week's initial lesson due to unnecessary silliness, it's worth the results. Hope has decided to join in too so I just ordered her own student notebook.

Hands On Equations. I'm calling this pre-algebra. Annalise and Abel have been doing this along with other math work. Doing algebra with 'things' is awesome. I hope it will help them when they get to a regular algebra course.

Key to...series. This is a great set of workbooks that save us tons of time by not having to copy the problems down. We've used the fraction, decimals and percents books and I actually think I finally have a handle on these topics.

TruthQuest History. I have been a long-time fan of TruthQuest, even raising money and buying guides for our local library. This year we have been using the guide for 1865-Present. I am resisting the pressure to hurry through and instead we will most likely take two years to go through it all. This is one time period I really want the kids to have a good grasp on since it merges right into current events. I always make notes in mine of other resources I find, especially films.

Introduction to philosophy through Sophie's World. Hope read this this year. It has sparked a lot of thinking and led to an interest in philosophy. She even wrote a monologue based on this book, which she performed at the AMTC competition this year.

Focus on biographies. Each of the kids has read quite a few biographies this year. I tried to give them each books on their level and that has contributed greatly to our history discussions. They have read biographies on Stonewall Jackson, Lee, Lincoln, Booker T. Washington (autobiography), George Washington Carver, Geronimo, Teddy Roosevelt, Louisa May Alcott, Helen Keller and Joseph Stalin so far. Authors/series we like are Albert Marrin, the Sower series, Landmark series and Childhood of Famous Americans (for Annalise).

Graphic Forensic Science. To complement our human body study, I bought these comic-style books. They looked gross enough to tempt my boys into reading and I was right. They also had fun with the Human Body model. We used Apologia's General Science book and read through the sections on the body and they drew illustrations of the different organs and systems. I don't feel like they really absorbed the technical information in that textbook but I definitely think they will benefit from the drawings they did. Our next book we will be reading is Exploring The History of Medicine and I already know that is a keeper because all of my older girls read it and still remember stories from it.

I'll try to add to this as we progress through the year.

Our Latest Art Project

Last week we did a project out of our Usborne's Art Treasury. This is inspired by and artist name Kadinsky. This first one is mine. I wasn't too happy with how light my backgrounds turned out. But it was fun and that's the important thing.

This one was done by 8 year old cousin John, who came over to do the project with us.

This is Hope's.

And this one was done by Candace. She was visiting and we talked her into joining us. We knew hers would take an unusual twist.

And last but not least, here's the one done by Annalise, who is 9 years old now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hope's Songs

Here's what Hope's been up to: Hope's Music Myspace

My Eye of the Hurricane

It's been a mighty long time since I have written anything here, or written much of anything anywhere. Even my journals have been untouched. I don't know why. Family members and a few friends whined and complained and I still couldn't make myself blog. Then so much time went by, I wondered how I could catch up with all that has gone on. It all started when blogger was giving me trouble with my pictures. I became so disgusted I gave up. So tonight I came to give it another try. And it worked. So, I figured now was as good a time as any to jump back in.

Here's the first picture I was able to upload. It was taken just last week on the Big Island of Hawaii.
My sister, her husband, Ford and I were able to take a dream trip and get away all by ourselves. I took this picture when we were driving back to the resort one evening. The sun was shining on the water and it looked like liquid gold. Absolutely a stunning place!

I call it the eye of the hurricane trip because so much has gone on and is scheduled to go on, but that made this time all the more sweet. Kezzi got married November 20th, the next week was Thanksgiving, then Hope's dress rehersal for AMTC (a talent competition organization she is working with) then the trip to Hawaii. On this side of the eye there is Christmas, a trip to Orlando January third for the talent competition which lasts eight days and then home to plan Priscilla's wedding, which at first looked like it might be February 6th but now looks like I will get a little more breathing room as it is being planned for March 6th. Whew!

Soon I'll have three daughters married. Three son-in-laws. In just over two years so much has changed. I've decided I like it and I think I've finally learned to go with the flow.

So hopefully, if I can rouse myself from this long slumber, I'll start catching up on the recent events and some current ones too.