Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flat Friend: Amsterdam

I just posted about one of our Flat Friends going with my brother to Iraq. My husband also took one of Alexandra's Flat Friends with him to Amsterdam.

At the Amsterdam canal

On the rental car!

Watching a game of giant chess on the streets

With a Rembrandt - how cool is that?

We're digitally hosting a Flat Stanley from Iowa for about the next 2 weeks. The mom emailed a scanned image of the Flat Stanley and we'll print it out, take it around with us photographing it, and email reports periodically.

Flat Friend: Iraq

Yesterday I read several posts about Flat Friends because of the Unplug Your Kids "Flat" theme. This reminded me that I have some Flat Friend photos from over a year ago that I never posted. (We make our Flat Friends from the Making Friends site.)

My brother is not in the military, but he spent about a month on a military base in Iraq about a year and a half ago. He took along a Flat Friend. He didn't actually get the Flat Friend out while on base, but he did take a few photos while on the plane and at the beach (I think).

This is the tent where my brother (and Flat Friend) slept

And my brother's bunk

We were worried for my brother while he was gone and many prayers were said. Praise God that he returned safely. When we saw my brother after his return, he had put together a very neat slide show which we got to watch.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Unplug Your Kids - Flat

This week's theme at Unplug Your Kids was "flat." I had trouble coming up with an activity, and then ran across this neat art project which is done on paper... so it is FLAT.

I found the project at The Crafty Crow which is an incredibly great, crafty site for projects to do with kids. She links back to the site where she found the idea, at MollyCoddle. So, here is how we made our FLAT, watercolor blog drawings.

To do this project, you use watercolor paints and paint different colored "blobs" on your paper. You don't try to make them look like anything - just a strange blob. And, I wish we would have done more with 2 or more colors.

Then, you look at each blob, kind of like looking at clouds, and see what it looks like to you. You use a sharpie, and complete the drawing.

A's large-nosed man

A's helicopter
my butterfly

my lady with a bow
Please join us for next week's Unplug Your Kids' theme: ROUGH. We're having so much fun with these challenges!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Curriculum is in the Mail...

This week, I finished ordering our curriculum for next year. I can't believe we'll be starting our FOURTH year of homeschooling! We're planning on starting school on August 18th.

I have done lots of reading (especially about Classical Education) and research this summer, so it feels good to have it done. And, I just don't make decisions very easily, so this is a huge job for me. I thought I'd share our curriculum choices for the fall.
  • Bible Studies - Rod & Staff Grade 3 (it covers David & Solomon, the Kings & Prophets, God's people during & after captivity, and Luke) - Alexandra actually wanted to do ALL of the Rod & Staff Curriculum
  • Latin - Latin for Children A (this is our "big" Classical change - most of our studies will still be Charlotte Mason-style)
  • Math - Singapore - we are once again starting the year by backtracking and covering some "holes" from last year
  • Math - Hands On Equations - I will be teaching this to a class of 3rd-6th graders - it is a manipulative-based algebra curriculum for younger students to help them enjoy algebra
  • Grammar & other Language Arts - Rod & Staff Grade 3 Beginning Wisely - we actually got a little more than halfway through this last year, so we will start by reviewing those sections
  • Spelling - All About Spelling - I like that this is phonetic based
  • History - Winter Promise American Story 1 - we started this late last year, so we're about halfway through it
  • Science - Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures - a marine biology course I'll be teaching to 3rd-6th graders
  • Composition - Andrew Pudewa's Teaching Writing: Structure & Style - I've been to several of his lectures and can't wait to start teaching this! I've heard lots of great things about it.
  • Cursive - Rod & Staff Grade 3 - Alexandra's choice
  • Music - piano lessons (along with a music theory test) - we found a GREAT new teacher this summer

Besides the 2 classes I'm teaching, she will also probably take classes on music history & appreciation and a speech class. Also, our enrichment school will be adding clubs this year. I'm leading a nature/photography club and a board game club. Alexandra will also be in an American Girl club and a speech club. Most of these clubs (including mine) meet only twice a month.

For sports, she will probably continue with 2 days of gymnastics. And, we will continue with our once a month book club that I'll be leading out of my home with some help from the book, Deconstructing Penguins.

I hope I'm not stretching myself too thin by teaching 2 classes and leading 2 clubs, but this will keep me accountable and hopefully we'll have more fun doing these classes with other children. And, I'm just passionate and excited about these subjects, so I hope to inspire these kids!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello, Dolly

For the past 2 days, Texas has been dealing with Hurricane Dolly. Although we are on the "wet side" of it, we are far enough away that we haven't been hit very bad.

It was a crazy day yesterday, though. When a hurricane comes (for those of you outside of hurricane territory), you get bands of rain. Usually, it'll rain for an hour or so, then let up, then rain some more. Well, yesterday, we were litterally getting "bands" of rain that lasted only a minute or two! In between, we'd have up to a couple of hours of sunshine or clouds and then another short rain. It was strange.

Today, Alexandra and I had fun by taking one of her friends to see a wonderful movie, Kit Kittridge. During about the last hour of the movie, we started hearing thunder and rain. The skies had been clear when we had arrived, so I hadn't even brought in my umbrella. (Silly me!) So, when the movie was over, we looked outside. It was pouring and there was water standing everywhere - on the sidewalk, in the parking lot... And, the car was a LONG walk away.

I had on brand new sandals (again, silly me!) so I took them off and we set off. Of course, we got soaked. And, the streets had a lot of standing water so traffic was slow. But, we made it home OK, though a little later than expected.

I think we've seen the end of Dolly, and we really got off lightly. We are praying for the people down near South Padre, though! It's been a rough ride for them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Skunk Sat in a Courtroom

I was reading in Family Fun magazine about Jack Prelutsky, the first Children's Poet Laureate of the United States. I had never heard of him, and really enjoyed the few poems printed in the article. Alexandra thought this poem about a skunk in court was hilarious! She couldn't stop laughing. Tomorrow, I plan on going to the library and checking out some of his books!

Here is his poem, A Skunk Sat in a Courtroom (By the way, Alexandra's aunt is a judge and she is hoping her aunt enjoys this poem is much as she does!) Oh, and it helps to use silly voices when you read this aloud! :-)

A skunk sat in a courtroom.
A judge was on the bench.
He held his nose and shouted,
"What is that dreadful stench?"

"It's only me, Your Honor,"
the skunk said in retort.
"I thought I heard you calling
for odor in the court."

P.S. After my sister-in-law saw this post, she said that it is even funnier to her because while she was a judge at her last court, there were skunks living under the courthouse!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Look

I just wanted to try out a "new look." Hope you like it! I've found that some of the links now don't show up (they blend into the background), but they still work. I'm fixing these as I find them.

Also, I remember someone telling me that you can increase the width of your sidebar on blogger. Does anyone know how to do this? Thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unplug Your Kids: Stones (or rocks)

For this week's challenge on Unplug Your Kids, the theme was STONES (or rocks). I found this idea for Hot Rocks at Wise Craft.

To make Hot Rocks, you put some rocks in the oven (we used a toaster oven) for 15 minutes at 350 degrees on a foil lined cookie sheet. Then carefully remove the rocks with oven mitts and place on a work surface - we used a cutting board. Using peeled crayons, you just touch the crayon to the surface and the crayon melts and "paints" the rock.

Though we liked how the rocks turned out, I think we enjoyed the process even more. It was so neat to watch the crayons melt! And, the finished product feels very waxy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Nature Photos from Last Week's Trip

I took lots of photos on our trip last week - including LOTS of nature photos. So, I've had to narrow them down and just post a few of my favorites.

This is a male house finch - my mom started feeding/watching birds after going on a birding trip with us last year.
Mourning Dove at my mom's.
Our sweet chihuahua.
It stormed the night of Great American Backyard Campout. But we made s'mores anyway - in the broiler and they were delicious!!! The next night, Alexandra and I camped in my mom's living room in my brother's tent. (Whoops! I guess this isn't nature, though it WAS supposed to be an outdoor adventure.) (The photo is hard to see, but it is of Alexandra pushing her face in the mesh door of the tent.)
Baby Carolina Wrens at my sister-in-law's. They were in one of her planters. I believe there were 5 babies - you can see one yellow beak.
This was a day or two later. I took more photos, but they were really hard to photograph. The nest was very deep.
I went on a walk down my sister-in-law's hill by myself on the fourth. I love these shelf fungi.

I played around photographing flowers.

Isn't this a cool plant?

These tiny mayflies were all over my sister-in-law's house in the morning.

Her "yard" has LOTS of hummingbirds. She put up 2 new feeders while we were there and the hummingbird activity was amazing! I took almost 100 photos in less than half an hour. I love the silhouette of this hummingbird and feeder.

If you enlarge this photo, you'll see the hummingbird's tounge sticking out!!!

My only good photo of the male ruby throated hummingbird. My sister-in-law has 2 types of hummingbirds. I'm not sure what kind the others are.

An indigo bunting!!! I also took some photos of the male summer tanager (beautiful! and he sat and sang every night), but the sun was at a bad angle and he always came out looking really dark.

And, as we stopped for lunch on the way home, I found this large, incredible beetle at a Sonic in Oklahoma. It's a type of longhorn beetle called a Cottonwood Borer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Meme: My Life in Six Words

Jimmie over at One Child Policy tagged me for this meme. You are supposed to write a six word memoir of your life. I actually thought of one almost immediately, but it's taken me a little while to get it posted. Here's mine:

During my life as a grown up, I tend to get strong passions that I follow for a period of time and then I move on.
In my mid to late 20's, I went CRAZY over genealogy. I was working temp jobs at the time and in between jobs, I would sometimes spend up to 8 hours a day at our genealogy library! And, I'd often stay up until early in the morning doing research. I went to a genealogy retreat during this time, and I'm sure I brought the average age way down. Most of the others were in their 60's, 70's and 80's. I think there were a few in their 40's or so. I still LOVE genealogy and would love to do more research, but I'm afraid I couldn't just do it lightly and it would consume my life. I plan to take it up again when I'm "old." Or, maybe in a few years. ;-)
At the end of that time, I went through about a year of being obsessed with the stock market. I did lots of research on stocks we should buy, etc. Thankfully, I have now left that part of our lives in my husbands hands. He's much better at it than I was.
After Alexandra was born, I got into scrapbooking. Oh, how I loved to scrapbook! The fancier the page, the better. I would spend hours on each layout. I even was one of the winners for a contest at a scrapbooking store once and got to display a different scrapbooking page every month for 6 months. It was a thrill!
Then, when Alexandra was about 3.5, I started getting passionate about her education. That is where I still am! I spend hour after hour reading blogs, reading books, researching curriculum. Again, I'm just poring myself into my passion.
Then, when I started homeschooling about 3 years ago, I got into blogging. Of course you know I'm still into that!
Then, I got into nature and photography. This is an incredible passion for me right now and I'm looking forward to sharing this with other youngsters as I start a nature/photography club this fall.
Lastly, I'm wondering if I'm developing a new passion - educating myself. I am currently reading about 6 books (and am actually getting quite frustrated as it is hard to finish a book when you start so many). I've started working out again. (I know this isn't exactly educating myself, but it is doing something for ME.) And, I re-started piano lessons YESTERDAY. Yippee! And, I can hardly tear myself away from the piano. I'm even taking a theory/ear training camp next week!

I actually have played the piano for about 30 years, so I am in no way new to this. But, I haven't played much in the past 15 years. Piano was definitely my passion as a child! I would play for hours.

I'm hoping my new teacher hasn't given me something more than I can handle. She is having me learn the First Arabesque by Debussy. It's beautiful!!! And, it's a lot harder than anything I've ever played before. I posted a YouTube video of someone else playing it. Hopefully, several months down the road (maybe even half a year down the road) I can post a video of ME playing it! I will be thrilled if I can learn it. And, I love that my teacher tells me about the composer, etc. Did you know Debussy was an Impressionist composer? I didn't even know Impressionist music existed! So, I'm off to do some research... Well, after I practice a little bit more.

Oh, and I'm supposed to tag 5 other people. If you don't do memes, just disregard. And, take as long as you like, but please leave me a comment when you're done so I can read about your life!

  1. Robin over at Martin Zoo
  2. Rhonda at Alston Academy
  3. Melissa at In the Sparrow's Nest
  4. Barb at Handbook of Nature Study
  5. Teacher of One at Boys+ Academy

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nature Walk with My Sister and Brother

While visiting my mom and family last week, I went on a nature walk with my sister and brother while my mom took Alexandra and my niece to American Girl Place. Unfortunately, we didn't realize how early they closed and we had to walk quickly on our hike and didn't get to see near as much as we would have liked to see.
A cool bug on a flower

We saw several of these trees with thorns growing out of the bark - neat!

A green dragonfly
A blue dragonfly
A black & white dragonfly - yes, there were a LOT of dragonflies out!
A dandelionA great egret
And, our best "find" of the day - a red-headed woodpecker. I got this shot off QUICK when we saw him/her and then it flew away. I walked around to the front of the tree and heard some kind of chirping...And saw this baby's beak sticking out from the woodpecker's cavity!!!

What a fun hike and I'm so glad my siblings enjoy being out in nature, too.

Happy Blog-versary to ME!!!

It's hard to believe, but I started blogging 3 YEARS ago today with this post about some of our flat friends going to Ireland. This brings back wonderful memories of my all-time favorite curriculum, Galloping the Globe. If you have young children, I'd highly recommend this!

It wasn't until a month later that I posted my first photo of Alexandra (or Alex, as she went by then) doing a science experiment about the states of matter.

I'd love it if everyone who reads this special anniversary post would leave a comment. I'm just wondering how many of you out there are reading my blog. ;-)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Unplug Your Kids: Garden

This is my 3rd post today as I'm trying to play "catch up" after our trip. I missed posting last week's "unplug your kids" challenge, though we did part of it before we left. So, here is last week's theme: garden.
We made the above origami flower which I found online. It uses 20 pieces of paper (actually 10 cut in half), so it turns out pretty large. You can find the instructions by googling for "simple 20 unit origami flower."

I'd also picked up a pack of 4 "friendship pin" kits for a dollar at Michaels. There were 2 dragonflies and 2 butterflies. You can find all of those in your garden, right? While I was at my mom's, I sat outside with Alexandra and 3 other kids in the driveway (ages 5, 7, 9 and 10) and we worked until 9 pm when it got too dark and we were getting too bit up. It was a wonderful way to spend a summer evening!

Unplug Your Kids: Clouds (or Sky)

This week's theme at Unplug Your Kids was "clouds." We got home last night from our 10 day trip, so I had to think fast. I think shaving cream looks a lot like clouds, so I thought I'd find something to do with shaving cream.

This was a fun and easy project. I found LOTS of versions on this craft and found this one at ZOOM today.
You basically squeeze some shaving cream onto a baking sheet (or piece of cardboard). Then you flatten it out and add a few drops of food coloring and mix them slightly. I like ZOOM's idea of using a plastic fork, but we used toothpicks, popsicle sticks, and a spatula.
Then you kind of squish a piece of cardstock on the shaving cream/food coloring mixture. Then, take a flat spatula and scrape off the excess.

I think I'm going to use this marbelized paper to make cards and/or bookmarks. I was disappointed how it curled up, but LOVE the effect!!! I think I made about 15 pieces of paper while Alexandra only made 3.

I think this looks best using only 2 colors or possibly 3. And, when it got too "mixed up", I would finish mixing it (like I mixed all of my yellow and green together to get a new base color) and then added another color (like blue).

I also wanted to point out that this project dries really quickly and you could easily use the pieces of paper for another project. I was using scrap pieces of cardstock, so they're pretty small. But, you could use this to make stationary. Let me know if you try this out!

Please join us for next week's theme: STONE

P.S. Oops! I just checked out Unplug Your Kids to submit my post and realized it was supposed to be "sky", not "clouds." Well, I guess my post is a stretch - about the clouds in the sky represented by shaving cream. :-)

Prayers for My Sister

My sister was diagnosed with skin cancer a few weeks ago and will undergo surgery on Wednesday to have it removed. My family and I would appreciate your prayers.

Could you pray that the doctor removes all of the cancer, that it has not spread, that the scar will not be bad, that there will be no more cancer in her future, and for peace for my sister and our family.

And, I go in mid-August to have 3 spots looked at. Could you pray that none of those are cancer, too? I thank God for the blog-world and my blog-friends who are so willing to pray for each other.

Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Twinkling Star's Friday Freebie

Makita over at Twinkling Stars has started a new weekly contest. This week's contest is this: "Share your best lesson you have learned about homeschooling. And do it in 13 words or less."

What I've learned in 13 words or less:

Have fun.
Modify curriculum.
Read inspirational blogs.
Educate yourself.
Don't compare to others.

I think most of your learning day should be fun, though there are some things the child just "has to" do. I am always researching ways to make learning more fun.

I never follow a curriculum as written. In math, we skip a lot of the problems. In history, I only do projects that I think we'll enjoy, learn from, and that won't overwhelm me. If we get halfway through a book, and we are both hating it, we put it away.

I really enjoying reading blogs and getting excited about what others are doing. I often find new ideas I "have to" try!

I'm just learning to educate myself first. Besides trying to read the classical books I mentioned earlier, I'm getting ready to re-start piano lessons!

And, most importantly (and probably hardest), is don't compare your school or your family to others. Do your best and know that each family and each school is different and God didn't make us all the same!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ticks and Centipedes and Scorpions! Oh, my!

We've been in the hill country of Oklahoma for a few days now. Within the first 24 hours, I found a tick crawling on Alexandra during dinner, found 2 "almost" dead centipedes which were about 2.5 or 3 inches long (the house had been bug-sprayed), and I opened the door and let a scorpion in! (I don't think I've ever seen a scorpion "in the wild" before.)

We're also having lots of fun with my new baby nephew (he's now about 7 weeks old) and the rest of our family. I really am enjoying our time in the country and hope to capture some better photos of the hummingbirds and 2 new birds I'd never seen before: a summer tanager (beautiful red bird) and an indigo bunting.
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