Sunday, December 30, 2007

100th Post and One Year Blog Anniversary

Wow!  It has been a year since I started my little blog here at homeschoolblogger!  Since this is a special day, I thought I would give you a sneak peek into the next two or three months of our homeschooling.  As I said in an earlier post, we are hoping to homeschool for free for awhile using what we already own.  This does not mean it is going to get boring around here.  I found a lot of stuff that we were not using.  So with the new year fast approaching, here is a look at the new stuff and new ways we will be doing some things.

We will be concentrating more on some fine motor activities.  I realized that my 4 year old is not very good at buttons and zippers and that all the little ones could use more control in their fine motor tasks.  In addition, my ds (5) has very weak muscles in his thumbs due to cerebral palsy.  For a child who wants to draw and write as much as he does, this is frustrating for him.  I went searching through my OT shelves and found these treasures below that had never been used.  We will have lots of fun with these new items.

I also collected all of the books in the house that are FIAR books.  Here is enough to cover the next 2 to 3 months.  Yippie!

I also saw this math set on a Montessori site and really liked it, but it was so expensive.  I made my own using stuff around the house and I think it came out great.  My dear son is already begging to "play with it".  I think it will go well with our Miquon math lessons.

I also found these in my homeschool stuff.  They are safety story cards that help children look at pictures of dangerous situations and figure out what they should do to remain safe.  My dd (7) really needs to think through things like this, because her "If Then" skills do not come naturally.  I am sure it will be useful for all the little ones.  I also like the nice guided questions on the back.

There are a few new things for the big teen, as well.  Our two new literature books are below.  I think he will really enjoy them.  We are working our way through a list of books that really had an impact on my dh or myself.

Also, here are the last two things I have for us to dissect.  I still want to get a fetal pig to dissect with him but this will hold us for the next month or so.  He is almost done with his biology book so this will be a reward at the end.  OK, I hear some of you saying dissecting those things is the reward?  LOL -- he really likes this stuff.  I do need to get my hands on more prepared slides for our microscope, but these can also wait a month or so.

Here are the artists that we still have to complete in our Meet the Masters Program

Since we have many doctor and OT/Sensory appointments this coming month, I decided to revamp how we do school on the road.  In my best estimate, in the month of January, I will have some combination of children in waiting rooms for about 24 hours, barring illness.  In the past, I have lugged our school books to doctor office waiting rooms, but I always think the quality that we get in a waiting room is poorer than at home.  Also, curious people always want to ask questions about homeschooling, and then my lessons go down the drain.  So I am going to make our time in waiting rooms more fun and less teacher directed.  The portable DVD player which we got for Christmas will serve well for watching educational DVDs.  I found some great math and art history DVDs at Blockbusters Online for the big teen.  I have a long lineup of good educational videos for the little ones through Blockbuster Online, as well.  The other items will help the girls with phonics.

Well, that is my sneak peek into what we will be doing for the next few months.   I think I found enough stuff in my home to homeschool for free for several months.  That is very exciting to me.  So what are your plans for the New Year?  Are you making any changes?


Friday, December 28, 2007

Goldilocks is 7 years old!!

I can't believe it but my little girl is seven years old today.  We had a nice at-home party with Disney princess plates and accessories.  She had a blast!  She wanted chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and heart candies.  Yum ~ a girl after my own heart!  Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Highlights from Christmas!

Christmas went better than we could have imagined.  It was by far the best we have had in 5 years.  As I mentioned before, holidays can be a tense time for my dd who has attachment problems but things are so much better!!  Everything was under the tree unwrapped and fully assembled.  The kids came out and saw what they got and all started saying "thank you!" right away.  They were very pleased to see that they had filled the creche with enough "good deed ribbons" to earn a new doll (representing Jesus and his love of all children). Dh and I opened our gifts the night before so that we could focus on the children.

We counted up the ribbons from the creche and traded them in for quarters.  The kids had earned enough money to buy a week's worth of baby food/formula for a starving baby from the Samaritan's Purse Foundation. 

The kiddos were really hoping for a white Christmas, but no such luck.  So we put "snow" shredded coconut and snowman peeps on Jesus' birthday cake.  The silly snowmen wouldn't stay up so I held them up with toothpicks and told the kids they were skiing.  LOL!  Overall, I think we ended up with a really nice balance between receiving gifts and giving to others.  The kids really got the meaning of the season this year and we managed to shield them from the over-commercialization of Christmas in our country.  YIPPIE!

And now for the crazy part of the post.  Yes, here in Blogdom I will blog about anything, apparently.  One relative gave us some money for Christmas so we bought ourselves a new toilet.  The old one was very unreliable!!  My dh was very proud that he was able to install it himself!  Isn't is lovely?  LOL!!

Anyway, we are really enjoying our break from school, and I am cleaning and re-organizing like a crazy woman.  I am also planning out our next two months of school.  Lots of fun to come!  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

School's out!! Almost ...

Well, just three more hours for the big teen, and we are done until January.  The little ones are done.  We had a good week filled with fun and cooking, but now it is time for me to clean my house and rest.  I also look forward to curling up in a chair with a hot cup of tea and planning our next month of school.  I am going to do something a little different this go around.  I am going to try to homeschool for free the whole month of January.  I will keep paying for my big teen's world history course but otherwise FREE!  I don't think this will be very difficult.  I have been reorganizing our school stuff and toys all week.  I found lots of stuff that I forgot I had.  If it all goes well, I will continue homeschooling for free or with a limited allowance for the rest of the school year.

My big goal for the next year is to be a really good steward of everything that we have: money, belongings, resources and, of course, ourselves.  I have been doing a pretty good job, but there is more that I could do.  I will be talking more about this as I think it out and form a plan.  But the first goal is to homeschool for free in January.  I was raised with the saying, "Live simply so others may simply live".  I would like to get closer to that belief.  This does not mean that I feel we can't have new things or healthy food.  But I want us (my dh and I) to think about and decide if we really need something and if there is an alternative to adding something that I must maintain. 

For example, for the time being, I am no longer checking any books out of the library.  We were getting lots of late charges, and quite honestly, our library system has lost a few books themselves and charged us for them over the last six years.  I am tired of struggling every time something goes missing.  What an energy drain!  We will be going to the library two times a week and we can read while we are there.  Most of the research my big teen does is on the Internet or in the books we already have at home.  If he needs more info, he can copy it at the library.  I have found out that I can order the books from the library and then read them there and leave them there.  No charge for me, but I can still access a particular book for the kiddos.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Question ~ Does anyone know how to put a slideshow in my entry?  I have a  new slideshow in the sidebar, but I wanted it in this entry.  I can't figure out how to get it here.  If you know how, would you please leave a comment.

Thanks and have a Very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hot Chocolate and Tomato Staking!

We really had fun with our hot chocolate mini-unit study.  The kids had a blast watching videos on how Hershey makes chocolate and the history of chocolate on the Internet.  They each got to eat a few Hershey kisses while watching, of course.  Then we took baby food jars and but a serving of hot chocolate mix in the jar.  The kids then added marshmallows and closed the jar.  On top they put a Hershey kiss and glued a packaged candy cane to the side.  We gave them to all their medical specialists.  They came out really cute.

Then we made chocolate play dough! Yummy, it smelled so good!  That kept them busy for about an hour.  You can find the recipe here.

Here is Tomato Staking at its best.  If you want to know more about tomato staking, read here.  It was so warm earlier this week that I decided to whitewash the fence.  This went much faster with all my helpers.  Amazingly, no one got covered in paint.  Although Goldilocks did forget that she was holding a paint brush when she decided to itch her face.  LOL

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Busy Week

Little Red Ridinghood had her first dance recital yesterday.  She did a great job of watching her teacher and following the dance moves.  They performed in a nursing home.  I am so pleased with the dance school that we found, because they consider themselves a dance ministry.  They concentrate on teaching the children how to dance for joy and to glorify God.  They don't push them toward perfection, and all of the dance moves and dance attire is kept modest.  I love their motto ~ "Let them praise His name with dancing..." Psalm 149:3.

Awww!  I think 4 year olds are so cute (at least when they are dancing)!  I don't think 4 year old attitudes are cute, but we will train that out of her.

In other news, we babysat one of my friend's children last week.  We decided to make a birthday present for my friend, his Mom.  The kids had a so much fun making bath salts.  We mixed Epsom salts, food coloring and perfume together.  It was really easy and quick.

We also had fun doing The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomi dePoala.  The kids made lots of pictures of poinsettias, and we finished the day off with a Mexican dinner.  We had homemade tortillas with cheese, black beans and salsa.  The kids loved all of it, so it was gone really quickly.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Just want to remember ...

My dh is really good when it comes to giving me compliments.  I really appreciate that.  But this morning's compliment really touched me.

As soon as my dh woke up this morning before he had even opened his eyes he said to me, "Honey, you make a really nice home to live in.  Even when you think it is a real mess, it is a nice home, filled with love." 

Thank you, Dear Husband!  I am so blessed to have you in my life.

OK, I am done being mushy!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lessons in giving at Christmastime ...

I love Christmas and it is important to me that it be kept simple and free from commercialism as much as possible.  We enjoy the simple pleasures, such as riding around looking at Christmas lights and making lots of cookies!  We like to make a cake to eat on Christmas day to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  The kids really enjoy this tradition in particular and have already begun making gifts for Jesus.  They love to set up our nativity and pore over the Christmas books and videos when they come out of storage.  All of these are wonderful, but what we truly want to impart to our children is the love of giving to others.

We want our children to concentrate on giving to others and Jesus' teachings, not what will be under the tree for them.  Our children receive one gift per child from us and a stocking filled with undergarments, special candy and fancy toothbrushes.  They also receive gifts from relatives, but we encourage group gifts whenever possible.  Because we have a child who suffers from RAD, Christmas can be a tense time of year.  (RAD children tend to sabotage special events because of their attachment problems.)  We have worked very hard to make Christmas as simple and old-fashioned as possible.  For example, all of the gifts go under the tree unwrapped.  The "What you see is what you get!"  theory has helped our RAD child get through Christmas much more calmly.  As it turns out, the rest of the kids love it, too; and there is no wrapping paper for me to clean up!

Throughout the month of December, we talk a lot about how to serve others with our time, skills and resources.  The children pick several charities, and we concentrate on how to help them.  One charity we do every year is Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.  To see how we did it this year go here

Another service project that the kids really enjoy is making a creche for baby Jesus.  Then when I catch them doing something good for another in the family, they get a ribbon to put in the creche.  Throughout the month, the creche gets well cushioned, and on Christmas morning a doll representing Jesus is waiting for them in the creche under the tree.  Later in the day, we will count up how many ribbons are in the creche and they will be traded in for money.  (Each ribbon will be worth a quarter.)  The money that the kids have earned through the month with their good deeds will go to feed a hungry baby.  Through Samaritan's Purse Christmas catalog, a baby can be fed for a week for only $9.  This catalog has many wonderful and unique ways to help people all over the world.  If you are interested in more info, call 1-800-353-5957.

(Our homemade creche for baby Jesus.)

The kids have been saving money for months to purchase an animal through Heifer International.  They are hoping to buy a trio of rabbits, but looking at the jar of mostly pennies, I think they have probably only saved enough for a flock of chicks.  The cool thing about Heifer International is that the program gives a needy family an animal that helps them establish a sustainable lifestyle.  Once the family is sustainable, they pass on the offspring of their animal to another family.  In this way your one small donation ends up helping an entire village. To find out more go here

On the local front, our adoption support group is buying Christmas gifts for a foster child, and we will be donating socks to the homeless through our church.  We will also be decorating a tree this year for the birds.  The kids will string popcorn and make bird seed creations and then hang them on a tree outdoors.  The kids will get to experience these things more directly than when I call a 1-800 number to a charity.

We will be schooling through the month, and if you want to see our lesson plans and book list, you can go here.

I hope you have a wonderful season filled with wonder and joy!