Thursday, April 30, 2009


In 1609, Galileo became first person to use a telescope to look at the heavens. He discovered sunspots, and craters and peaks in Earth's moon. (taken from this site)

As part of the International Year of Astronomy (2009 - the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope discoveries), you can buy a Galileoscope for just $15 plus shipping & handling.

To enable more people in more places to personally experience the wonders of the universe, we've developed a remarkably inexpensive, very-high-quality, easy-to-use refractor. With this new instrument, called the Galileoscope, children and adults can learn how telescopes work and repeat for themselves the spectacular observations made by Galileo beginning in 1609.

I love that this is actually a kit so we can learn more about the inner workings of a refractor telescope. And, you can donate a telescope (or telescopes), too. The kits are expected to arrive in mid-June and there are educational guides available. I can't wait to get ours!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Raining... It's Flooding

In the Houston area we have gotten a LOT of rain in the past 24 hours with someplaces receiving over 11 inches in 3 to 4 hours! Thankfully, we got to stay home though my husband had some problems getting to work. Later, we went to the library and saw some flooding at one of our parks.

In the picture below, you can see the gazebo that has picnic tables under it - which are completely under water. There is also a picnic table closer to the front that is almost underwater. And the "log" lying in the foreground is usually up in the air a few feet and is used as a balance beam.
Here's another picture of the gazebo where you can't see the picnic tables. The red toy in the middle of the photo is a slide for little kids. there is also a rocking toy next to it that is underwater.

Thankfully, we're doing just fine here. We think we got between 7 & 9 inches and the creeks in our area are flooded. We are praying for no more rain! We have a fair chance of more rain almost every day this week!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


We're at my mom's this weekend and the neighborhood kids found this incredibly beautiful caterpillar. It was getting dark and I didn't have enough light to get a good photo. So, my brother helped out by taking these GORGEOUS photos! Hopefully, you can enlarge it - he is so colorful and my brother took a great photo! We all decided he looks like a Navajo blanket.

I went online to identify the caterpillar and found out it is a forest tent caterpillar. OK... tent caterpillars are one of the few insects that kind of gross me out. Could this really be a tent caterpillar??? Actually, he behaves a little different than most tent caterpillars and doesn't make a large tent, though he can still be quite destructive. (And, my mom wasn't happy to hear we'd put this caterpillar on her tree!) They are also called "armyworms" because sometimes, after they have completely defoliated a tree (yikes!), they will "march" single file looking for a suitable site.

Thankfully, we only found one and hopefully he doesn't have a lot of brothers & sisters around!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Weekend in Our Backyard

We spent some time in the backyard this weekend and found a few surprises...

a ladybug larva -I finally got a photo!
(By the way, I didn't crop it so you can enlarge it. For some reason, after I crop it, you can't enlarge it. He's got some pretty neat spikes so you might have a closer look!)

Our bush beans have lavender flowers!!! This is our first experience growing any veggies, and we're so excited!!!

And, we had to thin out our radishes and pulled this little radish up. I am really just amazed that God can create a seed with all of the knowledge necessary to turn dirt into something edible!!! No man or computer can do that, but God gave this little seed the knowledge. Amazing!

And, Alexandra found this teeny snail on the radish leaves. Isn't he cute???

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Little Late... Easter Photots

Some photos from our Easter weekend...

our bunny hutch

decorated eggs

an Easter egg hunt at a nature park

a large spider we found at the nature park

cascarones - do you have these where you live? I never saw them before we moved to Texas.

a confetti-covered Alexandra from the cascarones

And, my first attempt at pysanky! It was a little harder than I thought, but I'll keep trying! I followed the tutorial at That Artist Woman.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Houston's Children's Museum - Newly Expanded

Last week, we went and visited Houston's Children's Museum. When Alexandra was little, we used to go there all the time and we had SO much fun. But, we kind of got burned out...

BUT.... they just expanded and redid most (all?) of the museum and it is INCREDIBLE!!! We went ahead and got a membership and hope to visit often. If you live in the area, or will visit someday, here is some of what you can see at the museum...

A large part of the museum is called KidTopia - where kids "work" to earn money that you can deposit in the bank. If your parent is good, you can even give them an allowance! The above photo is of the stock market exchange. I think we're going to have to do a little study... :-)

The veternarian's office... this is SO cute! They even have a bunch of cages which are filled with animals for you to work with. Unfortunately, we went on Good Friday and it was CROWDED!!!

The Diner - there are menus, cool ovens & deep fryers, and plenty of tables where you can wait on your mom... or your friend.

The climbing area - it is 3 stories tall!!!

The new outdoor "wet" area -looks like great fun on a hot sunny day!

And, Invention Convention. This place was SOOOOOOO neat!!! You can make all kinds of things - from rockets to launch to flying "space ships." I could have stayed here for hours... oh, except for the crowd. :-)
There was also a CyberChase area that was fun. And, we didn't go to some parts of the museum. I know they've redone the TV room - where you can operate cameras, etc.
Anyway, I was really impressed and had to share about our "new" museum!

Health Update

A year ago today, I ended up in a hospital room in Missouri (the link goes to the post) while returning home from a vacation. I had blood clots in both lungs and spent a week in the hospital. My blood was "thinned out" and I went home on blood thinners.

In November, the doctor let me temporarily go off the thinners so I could be tested to see if I was at a high risk for getting more blood clots. The day after Christmas, I called the doctor and got the results - everything looked great and I could stay off of the blood thinners!

I still need to take aspirin anytime I travel, but that's about it. And, though there is a 50% chance of another blood clot within 24 months for anyone who has has had clots, I'm halfway through my 24 months and doing great! Plus, with all of the tests and since I stopped taking the oral contraceptives (which they think might have been my leading cause for clots), I am prayerfully hopeful that I will not get any more clots.

I also experienced sudden hearing loss earlier this year while having some upper respiratory problems. I went to several doctors and was told that both the hearing loss and constant ringing in my ears would be permanent (by one doctor) or it MIGHT get better (by another doctor). Well, my hearing HAS improved to the point where it isn't even techinically called "hearing loss" now! And, though the ringing in both ears is still constant, it is much quiter and I don't even notice it most of the time. In fact, sometimes I have to think about it and kind of ask myself "Is it ringing?"

I wanted to update you all and give God praise for seeing me through these difficulties the past year. He is so good and His hand has led me through these tough times. I know many of you have been through much worse, but I did want to share my story and thank you for all of your prayers. To God be the glory!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Day with Workboxes

I thought I'd share more about the workboxes as I've gotten several comments about them. First of all, I would again suggest that you check out Sue Patrick's site as she came up with the idea of workboxes. I bought her ebook and it has more in it than what I'm sharing with you.

Here's a phoot of our 12 boxes (they are see-through shoeboxes bought at WalMart for less than $1 each). I actually bought my shelves too big but I like having the bottom shelf for storage. I need to get some kind of crates for it, though. This picture shows the boxes set up for today. As the day goes on, each box is emptied and stacked up so it really shows visually how much we've done and how much is left.
I thought I'd show a sample day of what I put in our boxes. I really feel its a little like setting out Easter baskets! I always put a couple of things that I know Alexandra will get excited about. Anyway, we do the boxes left to right.
#1 - Our current read-aloud (for our Gold Rush study) - "By the Great Horn Spoon" - it's a great book and we finished it today!
#2 - We are participating in an 8 week co-op right now and one of Alexandra's classes is a math facts class. We do 4, 5-minute drills EVERY DAY for 8 weeks! She is working on mastering her addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. I print off her worksheets from this site.
#3 - Jonathan Park study guide. If you aren't familiar with Jonathan Park, we HIGHLY recommend it. It is a great series of audio stories that teach creation in a wonderful, entertaining, in-depth, scientific way. We're using this as our Bible study right now, too.
#4 - Our memory book. I will write more about this later as this is the other thing that is totally changing our homeschool!

#5 - Cool "Fact Monster" worksheets I found this week. Each worksheet has 10 questions about various subjects that you use to look up online at the Fact Monster site. It's fun and educational!
#6 - Lapbook parts to the Invention class I'm teaching. I'm using a free lapbook from A Journey Through Learning and adding my own acitivies.
#7 - Another part of my Invention class -making our own example of the Gutenberg Bible. (I'll try to share it tomorrow)
#8 - Our Greek workbook -Greek for Children. We're studying Greek and Westward Expansion with another family.

#9 - Grammar workbook - Rod & Staff.

#10 - We have used these "Which Way USA?" workbooks off & on for years. We bought them for $1 each at Half Price books, I think.

#11 - One of the classes at our co-op is a science class and Alexandra is growing some seeds. The green booklet is where she is to record the growth of her plants (they haven't sprouted yet). And, there is also a seed packet of sunflowers. This is from The Great Sunflower Project. We just got our seeds and will plant them and then, this summer, observe them and count the bees several times. It is a research project based on the fact that bees have been dying off.

#12 - A math game. One of the classes I'm teaching is a math class for 1st & 2nd graders. A mom loaned me several games so this is one we needed to try out!

Sometimes, I place little notecards in the front of some of the boxes - like "go outside and play for 10 minutes before doing this box" or "you can have a snack while doing this box."

And, I need to make a list of what things we need to cover every day (math, Bible, read-aloud) and those I need to do several times a week, etc. I also want to make a list of fun things I can include, like the games, etc.

Hope this helps! And, let me know if you decide to try out these workboxes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Soma Cubes

We had a museum class today about shapes. One of the main activities we did was to "play" with Soma Cubes. I didn't recognize the name, but I had seen these cubes before. Basically, there are 27 individual cubes which are connected into 7 puzzle pieces. You then put the blocks together to form different shapes.

Since the class wasn't full, the moms got to get involved and I WAS THRILLED to complete the cube! I've never been able to do this before! (And, I didn't have any hints... we just started with simpler puzzles and I figured it out. I really felt as excited as a kid to figure this out!)

I also completed some other neat puzzles - I think this was called the chair.

The snake.

The bed.

And the crystal palace.
You can either make your own puzzle pieces using small wooden blocks, or you can buy a set. There are lots of sites online where you can find photos of puzzles to put together, like at this site. So, now I'm planning on making a set... or finding a set so we can play at home.

Dragonfly Nymph

Today, we had 2 classes at our museum. One of the classes was about life in a pond -and we were they ONLY ones who showed up! I was glad the teacher was fine with this and went ahead and did the class for us. We really had fun!
She talked about the parts of a pond and what lives in the different areas. But, we had the most fun actually LOOKING in pond water. We used microscopes and saw some incredible creatures.
Alexandra's favorite "critter" was this dragonfly nymph. Isn't he great? And, he was about an inch and a half long! I enjoyed reading about the dragonfly nymph at this Dragonfly Site.
"Once the dragonfly eggs hatch, the life cycle of a dragonfly larva begins as a nymph. A nymph looks like a little alien creature. It hasn’t grown its wings yet and has what looks like a crusty hump hanging onto its back. Dragonfly nymphs live in the water while they grow and develop into dragonflies. This portion of the dragonfly life cycle can take up to four years to complete, and if the nymph cycle is completed in the beginning of the wintertime, it will remain in the water until spring when it is warm enough to come out."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Besides Classical Conversations, we've had 2 other big changes to our homeschool this semester. One of them is something we call "workboxes." I first read about them in March on Blog, She Wrote. The workboxes are from a system developed by Sue Patrick.

When I took these photos, I didn't have my shelves yet (and I don't know why the photos are sideways!!!). Anyway, you basically use 12 boxes per child and the boxes sit on a shelf. You put one item in each box and that is school for the day!

Some of the benefits I've found:

  • I plan ahead - each box is filled the night before and so I make copies, etc.
  • Alexandra and I enjoy seeing exactly how much work we have left to do
  • I use some of the "fun" items that have been sitting in the closet
  • We are probably finishing earlier as Alexandra wants to get to the "fun" 12th box (usually a game or a video)
  • It helps me visually see how things are laid out and spread out the more active subjects from the quieter activities

I'm really excited about this system and am still learning how to use it most effectively. Blog, She Wrote links to some other blogs and how they are using the workboxes, too.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


We have been seeing lots of ladybugs here in Texas. Last week, we were with some kids and one girl caught 8 ladybugs! And, I was excited to see some larval ladybugs crossing the sidewalk! I found 2 last week and 2 this week.

I was saving this post until I could get a photo of a larval ladybug, but I still haven't got one. So, I decided to go ahead and post. On Saturday, we found the above ladybug - it was getting ready to pupate! It is secreting some kind of yellow goo and it was attached to the side of our pool. (I just read and this is actually called a pre-pupa since it is starting to change!) (Oh, and I hope you can see the spikes on this ladybug - very cool! Usually when I crop, I can't enlarge it on my computer-but you might give it a try!)

This is what the pupa looks like now. I haven't been able to find out how many days he will stay a pupa, but we're checking him several times a day. He is supposed to stay as a pupa for about 7 days, so we'll have to keep a good eye on him on Saturday! Usually, they won't have spots when they emerge, so if you find a spotless ladybug, you might have a newly emerged one! It takes about 24 hours for them to get their spots. (I haven't been able to get a great photo, because I'd really need to get IN the pool - and it is just too cold for me.)
As someone mentioned at this site , the pupa wiggles (or does pushups) every once in awhile. I'm not sure why! And, here are some great photos of each stage of the ladybug's life cycle.

We found this ladybug near our pupa today and at first I thought he "was" our ladybug.... but, he wasn't.

And, I just LOVED this shot of another yellow ladybug we found today. He's on our lawn chair. If you enlarge it, he looks really neat, too!
Hopefully, I'll have a new post to share with you this weekend about our new ladybug! And, I'll take my camera with me next week and I hope to take some photos of ladybug larva!!!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jesus Death, Burial & Resurrection Lapbook

Next week, we will be doing a lapbook by A Journey Through Learning called Jesus Death, Burial & Resurrection. I have not used any of their products yet, but I am very excited about this study. I actually went ahead and bought 3 of their studies as they are having a great sale over at CurrClick. You might want to check it out!

Over at their site, they have a free Greatest Inventors study (click on "Free Products" and you can download either the lapbook or unit study version) that you can download. We have it and I plan on doing it soon!
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