Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Our Christmas lesson plans

My lesson plans are starting to come together for December.  We have about 20 children's books for Christmas, but I will only be concentrating on a few of them formally.  For the little ones, I will be doing four literature-based unit studies based on the theory of FIAR but only taking two or three days for each book.  We will be doing The legend of the Poinsettia by Tomi dePaola, Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, The Legend of the Candy Cane, by Lori Walburg, and The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.  I was able to find unit studies already prepared on the Internet for all of these books.  They are  here and here.

I also plan on concentrating on Sandra Claus by Douglas Clark Hollman.  Although we do not do Santa Claus in our family, this book does a nice job dealing with adoption issues and questions that my little ones might have.  I like to throw in an adoption book here and there into our regular reading to give them lots of opportunities to talk about their feelings openly.

Another book that I love is The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.  This book is wonderful, because it is about a little crippled lamb that can not keep up with the flock and must stay in the stable for the night.  He is very sad that he is left out and an old cow says, "Don't worry, Joshua, God has a special place for you."  Indeed, He does.  The crippled lamb lies next to the baby Jesus to keep him warm.  I love this book and then talking to my children about how they, as we all do, have a special place with God.  God does not make mistakes and my children's disabilities, as seen by us here on Earth, are just part of God's plan.

We will also concentrate on The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciehowski, which does a lovely job of explaining the miracle of doing for others.  As we do service for others, our own burdens are lifted.  Through Jonathan Toomey's work on making a nativity, his world is slowly opened and his burdens lifted.  We will read this several times during the month, including the night that we put up our nativity.  I find that this book helps decrease "the wanties" that commercialized America has bestowed upon our children.

In addition, we will be doing a mini one-day unit study on hot chocolate and making little one-serving jars for our elderly neighbors.  This is a great way for the kids to give to others and be able to deliver their gifts in person. 

We will also do lots of fun science and art projects about Christmas and winter in general. 

The big teen will take part in some of our science and art projects and be reading and writing a creative essay or book reviews on The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Shoemaker's Gift: A Russian Tale, and Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti. Hopefully I can find the CD of Amahl and the Night Visitors that is missing somewhere in my house.  He is also busy rehearsing for the church Christmas play.  He is the angel Gabriel this year.

Well, that is the general plan.  I am sure things will be added and subtracted as we go along.



I just received this award from westward and denisebp.  Thank you so much!  It was a wonderful morning surprise!

I am going to pass the award onto quietcajun, lahbluebonnets, and tiredmom.

I wish I could give all of you awards, because you are all great blog friends.  However, time does not allow for such fun today.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Anatomy of our Thanksgiving dinner ...

As you can probably guess, I did not plan on having formal school today.  After all, there were many demands in the kitchen and the Macy's parade to watch on TV.  HOWEVER, those silly homeschooled kids of mine wanted to do school!  In fact, Tom Sawyer (5) specifically wanted to do science experiments on the raw turkey blood, and was really surprised that I had not planned some projects to do.  LOL!!  Well, who am I to deny learning?  So, thinking quickly, I thought it would be fun to look at the turkey blood under the microscope.  Well, that lead to celery, onion, salt, and gravy all under the microscope.  Hence, the title of this entry!  As if that wasn't enough, the kids then wanted to look at the fingernail that fell off the big teen a month ago (why he kept it I just don't know)!

The girls were really helpful at making the cranberry bread from our FIAR book, Cranberry Thanksgiving.  It turned out really well and was gone before I could even take a picture of it.

After our lovely dinner, the kiddos reminded me that I had promised to make hand print turkeys with them.  Since we were doing art, we went ahead and did a silhouette of one of the kiddos for a Cranberry Thanksgiving book activity.  All and all, it was a fun, restful day and I got ART and BIOLOGY done!  Who would have thought it? 

Earlier in the week we did the starch experiment from our FIAR book.  We took a potato slice, apple, bread, celery, powdered sugar, egg, almonds and flour and put drops of iodine on each item.  If they had starch in them, then they turned bright blue.  This was really fun and a great way to learn about starchy foods.

I hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving ...



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cooking away!

Well, we got a lot of cooking done this weekend.  Hopefully, this will help us avoid eating out during the busy beginning part of the week.  Also, I got some of the prep work for Thanksgiving done.  HURRAY!!!

I got 3 quarts of cranberry sauce, a gallon of granola for breakfast, and simple syrup made.  We use simple syrup in place of corn syrup in recipes, since two family members are allergic to corn syrup.

I also made 4 dozen sugar cookies, 2 dozen frozen yogurt cups for snacks and breakfast, and 1 dozen deviled eggs.  Also not shown is the HUGE pot of Grandma's homemade vegetable soup.  It is sooo good and should last about 5 meals.

The kids finished their thankful wreath.  They had a lot of fun studying leaves in the past 2 weeks.  We made a fun book about leaves, and the kids had fun making leaf people.  We are working on the character trait, thankfulness, for the next few weeks. 

I can't wait until tomorrow, because we will be starting the FIAR book, Cranberry Thanksgiving.  It looks like a wonderful story, and the science projects are going to be really fun.  Can you tell I love school as much as the kids do?

The big teen did 8 hours of community service with our church youth group this weekend.  He worked at the food bank, preparing for Thanksgiving and helping build a disaster kitchen so that they would know how to make one in an emergency.  Then on Sunday after service, the teens sold food they made in the disaster kitchen to church members to help raise money for relief organizations in New Orleans.  He thought it was a really cool experience.

I have been asked how to make simple syrup ~ Combine 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of water.  Cook on low heat, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear.  Store whatever you don't use in the refrigerator.  I often make soda out of it, since all non-organic sodas have corn syrup and the organic ones are expensive.  Our fave soda is lemon-lime soda.  To make, mix 1/4 cup simple syrup to 12 oz of seltzer water and then add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice.  Yummy!!!

While I was posting the simple syrup recipe, Duckygirl asked about the granola recipe!  LOL.  So here we go.

Combine ~

  • 8 cups of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 1 cup maple syrup
Mix well and spread on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour.  Sometimes after an hour it doesn't seem clumpy enough ~ probably because I have too many little helpers so the ingredients aren't exact.  If this is the case, I add some more honey and stir it around in the pan and bake for 20 more minutes.  Place in big bowl and add nuts and raisins to taste.  I used 2 cups of raisins and 2 cups sliced almonds.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Seven weird things about me!

I was tagged by icecastle and 2girlsand2boys for this really funny tag.  Well, at least it is funny if you tag a crazy person like me.  So, here's what you do.

The rules are as follows:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here we go: 

  1. I love to eat french fries dipped in ice cream.
  2. I also love to eat turkey slices with rice and pickles rolled up on the inside ~ my form of sushi!  LOL!
  3. When I am really exhausted, my teeth chatter and I get very giddy.  My dh thinks it is very funny but sends me right off to bed.
  4. Sometimes when I laugh, I sound like a guinea pig!
  5. I once dragged my then only son out into the eye of a hurricane, because it was a family tradition. My Grandma let her kiddos play outside during the eye of hurricanes.
  6. On very rare occasions, I have been known to start ice cube fights, water fights, party streamer fights, packing peanut fights and even food fights (outdoors).
  7. I once performed CPR on a toad that my day care kids found in the trash can.  After he was revived, we named him Oscar and kept him as a pet.  (Unfortunately, he was retarded from lack of oxygen and truly difficult to feed!)
Well, that's probably enough revealing for today.  I don't want to lose any of my lovely blogging friends!  LOL!  I have no idea who to tag so if you want to do it, let me know you did it.



Monday, November 12, 2007

Making time for Mother Culture ...

Westward is hosting the most recent Charlotte Mason Carnival.  If you wish to see more entries, go here.

Karen Andreola talks about Mother Culture in her book, A Charlotte Mason Companion.  I decided that I wanted to talk about Mother Culture, because as homeschooling mothers, it is so important that we take time to implement this habit into our lives.  Mother Culture is taking time for ourselves ~ to follow our own interests and find inner peace, so that we can grow and expand ourselves.  In this way, we become better mothers.  John Ruskin said, "Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts, bright fancies, faithful sayings: treasure-houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb nor poverty take away from you, houses built without hands for your souls to live in."  It is especially important for us, as homeschooling mothers, to fill ourselves with new knowledge and pleasant experiences, so that we can have much to offer our children.  What we sow, we will later reap in our children. 
 Karen Andreola suggests that we keep three books that we are reading at any given time.  One should be stiff, one easy to read, and one that is a novel.  I admit I am not great at this task.  My stiff book at the moment is Ourselves Vol. 4 by Charlotte Mason.  I only get through 5 or 6 chapters a year and read it like a college textbook with lots of note taking.  I will be reading this series forever.  LOL!  Can I count the latest Homeschooling Today magazine as my easy reading?  As for a novel, I need to pick out a new one.  It has been a while.  I have been reading classics with my big teen that I never read in school.  We just finished the Old Man and the Sea.

Besides quiet time and expanding our minds through reading, we are encouraged to follow our own personal interests.  My interests are scrapbooking, listening/singing to music, teaching myself a few simple songs on the piano and maintaining this blog.  I find all of these rewarding and they help fill me up, so that I can in turn give generously to my family.  I never thought that I would get so much out of blogging.  I have found that you, my sister bloggers, have a vast wealth of knowledge to share and help me stretch myself so I do not become stagnant in one way of teaching or thinking.  It also has provided a diary of sorts of my family history.  I do hope someday to take up needlepoint and quilting but have found that thus far these do not fit into this season in my life.  I've thought about starting something on a much smaller scale.

I will leave you with this last quote by Billy Graham, "Mothers should cultivate their souls, that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children." 

She also suggests that we find time in the day for quiet meditation or prayer ... if only for a few minutes.  That is very challenging since my house is rarely quiet, but it is much calmer at night.  Although I have to work on this, I understand its importance.  I was raised a Quaker, so I love this quote from William Penn, "In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, be still.  Wait upon God and feel his good presence."   I love thunderstorms, and find sitting on the back porch watching God's Glory to be very fulfilling and a tender reminder that there is far more going on in this world than my sometimes hectic life would suggest.  My children are welcome to join me on the porch --if they will sit quietly. 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Scattered Update ...

We are in the middle of a very busy two weeks!  My Goldilocks (6) has started an intensive therapy called Tomatis for auditory processing, sensory integration and occupational and physical therapy.  She has to go every day for 15 days in a row except Sundays.  Then she will be going every other month for 8 days for a few months.  The boys started this process a few months ago, so now we practically live at this office.  I told the office staff the other day that I really need my own room and parking space.  LOL!  Anyway, the improvements in the boys are really dramatic, so I hope we will see the same in Goldilocks.  Unfortunately, her brain is damaged in a different way than my boys' brains, so it is hard to know how much improvement we will see.  Unfortunately, her behavior is nosediving because of all of the one on one attention from the therapists.  They are giving her too many choices, too much praise, and letting her get away with too much.  The therapists really want to do their best by her and have done an awesome job with my boys, but it is totally different dealing with a RAD child.  It's a learning curve, of course, for everyone.  Hopefully, they will tighten up so she will not be spinning out so much. 

Tom Sawyer (5) is really enjoying the piano more, since I started putting a spoon handle under his palm to provide support.  The spoon helps his hand curve more naturally and allows his fingers to play separately.  The hardest thing for him is remembering to lift one finger before pressing the next one down. 

Tom Sawyer is also doing awesome in reading.  I am so pleased with his progress in 100 Easy Lessons.  He is zipping through it and has started using phonics to sound out words he wants to spell.

Little Red Ridinghood (4) is really loving her ballet, and I can't believe her first recital is just a few weeks away!  She has so many little dance moves.  Also, Goldilocks is doing well in Homeschool Choir and holding her own.  I wasn't sure she would be able to deal with the memorization of songs (since she can't read) but is starting to learn them.  Her first concert is right around the corner, too.

The boys ended up doing the same art lesson on Toulouse-Lautrec the other day.  I am amazed at how well Tom Sawyer stuck with it. This is what they were copying.

Here are their renderings:

The big teen's

Tom Sawyer's

Lastly, the big teen starts rehearsals for our church Christmas play on top of his Internship at the Nature Center, so we are about to become even busier.  In fact, I have to leave the house for 59 appointments/co-op/classes this month!  YIKES!  Talk about crazy busy.


Friday, November 9, 2007

The Big Teen's Geography ...

So I am adding this completed course to my big teen's online transcript.  If you want to see all the courses I have posted so far, click on high school transcripts.  The big teen will have completed 28 different courses by the time he graduates, so this list will grow longer.  For today ~ GEOGRAPHY.

In Geography, the big teen took a 16 week class with other homeschoolers, attended a Geography Club once a month for 1 year and attended a homeschool International Night once a year for three years.  Each weekly class, monthly club, and homeschool International Night presentation required an in-depth oral/written report.  (I have all the written reports in his records.)  Also, the yearly event usually takes him about 15 hours of prep work and a large display/exhibit, and he dresses in the appropriate country's costume.

Countries studied in depth ~

  • Chile
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Italy  
  • Kenya
  • Haiti
  • Paraguay
  • Norway
  • Egypt
  • England
  • Easter Island
  • Mongolia
  • Antarctica (not really a country)
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Colombia
He also studied North Carolina and Alaska in depth.  He did 11 written reports and oral reports on almost all the countries, as well.  He played games, such as Borderline Middle East and USA and online geography terms games.  He also studied the Middle East in an attempt to understand what is going on in that part of the world.  He received an A for this course.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Operation Christmas Child ...

It's that time of year again.  If you are looking for a fun hands-on charity for your little ones to get into, I highly recommend this one.  My kids have enjoyed making shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child for several years now.  They each decorate a shoebox with wrapping paper (with help from Mom), pick an age/boy/girl and then we go shopping for lots of fun goodies for their "child".  I try really hard to think about what it is like to live in an impoverished Third World country and avoid anything that needs batteries or is trendy.  We try to stick to the fun basics, such as art supplies, balls, dolls, stickers, puzzles, as well as soap and toothpaste.  It's been a great experience for my kids for several reasons.  I take this opportunity to talk with them about how many, many children live without the basics and how we as Americans (generally speaking) are way too wrapped up in our stuff.  We have the Material World book and go through it and look at the poorer countries.  We don't do Santa Claus and we discuss again that he is not a real person, but he symbolizes doing good to others.  Then my kids get to "play" Santa Claus and give these shoeboxes to a child in need. This year went peacefully, but in years past it has been hard for my little ones to part with the treasure boxes.  They had to dig down into themselves and show a little sacrifice.  Anyway, if you are interested in knowing more, Operation Christmas Child is the week of November 12 this year and you can find out more HERE.

writing their letters to their "child"

Choosing for their "child" from the loot

Finishing up their boxes

Little Red Ridinghood wanted to do a baby girl so we made her box for a 2-4 year old.  The doll took up a lot of space in the box, but it will probably be well loved.  I was pleased that Little Red Ridinghood gave up the pretty new doll without trying to claim it for her own.

Goldilocks squeezed everything in for her 5 to 8 year old girl.  (The camera is a toy not real, as the child would have no way to get film or processing.)  I had to laugh because she liked how the box came out so much that she said, "I wish I had nothing so someone would give me a shoebox like this."  LOL!


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Our dirty laundry!

My kids love to do SOME of their chores.  Moving the laundry from the upstairs bathroom to the laundry room is their favorite chore.  Of course, it gets a little crazy when they are moving it. 

Step 1 ~ Dump the laundry out in the bathroom!

I love dd's face! She's thinking, "Is there nothing my Mom won't blog?!"

Step 2 ~ Throw it down the stairs and slide down the stairs on it.

Sometimes the laundry wins for a moment or two!

Step 3 ~ Get it to the laundry room any way you can!

Mommy's waiting ~ Where is that laundry?

This was not staged! This really is the way my kiddos do the laundry.  If you thought that was scary, you should see the way they mop floors.  LOL!