Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Night Away

Just what you need for the blahs of February.

Tomorrow I'll be on my way to the Apologia Live Homeschool Moms' Conference. A few moms from my church will be joining me. This is the first one of these... the speaker line-up looks great. I'll let you know.

Want to come?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seeds, Fruit, and Prayer

Yesterday, I was despairing about the lack of visible fruit in a little one's heart. Before turning off the lamp last night, my husband reads to me an excerpt from the book he was reading, Pia Desideria by Philip Jacob Spener (c. 1675),

Our fruit, like other fruit, must be borne in patience, and the fruit in others must be cultivated by us with perseverance. The work of the Lord is accomplished in wondrous ways, even as he is himself wonderful. For this very reason His work is done in complete secrecy, yet all the more surely, provided we do not relax our efforts. If God does not give you the pleasure of seeing the result of your work quickly, perhaps He intends to hide it from you, lest you become too proud of it. Seeds are there, and you may think they are unproductive, but do your part in watering them, and ears will surely sprout and in time become ripe.

In addition to continuing our work, then, let us commend the matter to our heavenly Father, pray fervently to Him, and be content with such success in our work as he may be pleased to have us see. With sincere devotion let us therefore help one another to wrestle with prayer and supplication, that here and there God may open up one door after another to his Word, that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ fruitfully, that we may do so cheerfully and speak in a befitting manner, that we may glorify His name with our teaching, our life, and our suffering.

emphasis mine

Learning the Little (important) Things

Will has been working on this skill for a few weeks now.
A proud moment at our house today.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Super Snack

Have I mentioned that I cannot do anything in the kitchen without Peter's help?

This may be his favorite thing to make. Peanut Butter Balls. I love these because they provide a yummy way to sneak quite a bit of Flaxseed Meal (easier to digest than whole flaxseed) in to my kids diet. I also add Flaxseed Meal to their smoothies.

Here's Peter showing you the ingredients... Peanut Butter Balls

  • Organic Peanut Butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • Flaxseed Meal (about 2 Tablespoons or more)
  • Raw Honey (as sweet as you like)
  • Toasted Wheat Germ (in a separate bowl - to coat the outside so they don't stick together)

I don't measure anything... so, I'm guessing here. Just mix the PB, Flaxseed Meal, and Raw Honey. Form balls. Coat in wheat germ. Keep in the fridge.

Sometimes I hide one chocolate chip (365-Whole Foods brand) in the middle of each ball. Because I'm always trying to incorporate more chocolate in to my diet. : )

Peter's so proud. Much more fun than playdough...

Friday, February 20, 2009


"Can I watch something?" comes out of Will's mouth every late afternoon.

I usually respond with a "Why don't you .... (anything but watch tv)." Which really just postpones the tv watching. The question returns. I give in. Making dinner is so much more pleasant without "help."

This is where I feel we are in a rut. We only watch about 3 different shows. I set the DVR to record the ones we like. We occasionally watch DVDs.

Hannah is not all that interested in tv, but she will sit and watch it if it's on. I recently discovered Word Girl and it's become Will and Hannah's favorite. Do you know this vocabulary super hero... from the planet Lexicon? It's pretty fun. When Will used the word tenacious correctly yesterday, I (amazed) asked where he learned it. "From Word Girl, Mom!"

Peter is a little like Hannah. He'll watch it, but he can take it or leave it. Handy Manny and Fireman Sam (puppet animation, set in Wales, firefighter adventures) are his favorites.

We have grown tired of Little Einsteins, Bob the Builder, and Clifford.

Our favorite DVDs...

Little House on the Prairie

Leap Frog Letter Factory

Leap Frog Talking Words Factory

Jana Alayra Live in Concert, #1 and #2 (LOVE this one!)

We are the Laurie Berkner Band

Real Wheels Truck Adventures

Please tell me...
What are your kids' favorites? What do you like them to watch?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Student in The Basement

My hard-working husband has been on study leave for the past week. In a dark corner of the basement, he can be found doing this every waking hour....Yes, that is a microfiche viewer. Doesn't everyone have one? It makes my eyes hurt just to see the very small, very faded, Latin print on the screen.

He used to spend his study weeks in the Reading Room at the Folger Library...

...but he tells me he prefers the basement. Hmm.

It must be because we bring him snacks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What does Peter do?

I get this question all the time from friends and neighbors...

"What does Peter do while you do school?"

I usually answer, "He's right there with us." Sometimes happy. Sometimes not.

This is what Tot School looked like at our house this past week...

He loves these linking cubes
(they came with Hannah's Saxon Math Kit).
Above they have just taken off...
can you hear Peter's blast-off sounds?

We sort colors.

Play with magnetic shapes.Learn letters. Lace beads. (He's not a big fan of this.) More letters. Lots of puzzles.

He's working on his laptop. I'm not sure what these are called, but he loves them. Toothpicks and little balls of model magic... a big hit. Cutting and pasting. We are learning about the five senses with Hannah and Will. And he helps in the kitchen all. the. time. Here he is teaching Hannah how to make Granola. Grin.And we spend a lot of time reading together... our favorite.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Active Kids

Look what we got over the weekend.
They have not stopped bouncing.
I'm feeling great about this purchase.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

the kids opening their mail...
And yummy pancakes...

About the pancakes... I use a condiment squirt bottle (that's my batter drained one below) to write and draw with the pancake batter. All you do is add a little more milk to the batter, fill, and squirt... the possibilities are endless. A few of our favorite designs.... snowflakes (with powdered sugar on top), crowns, castles, cars, trucks, airplanes, names, flowers, Christmas trees, candy canes, stars.... really, anything is possible. Also, it's fun to learn numbers and letters by eating them. Oh, and since the first cooked side of a pancake tends to be the prettiest, I usually write backwards. : )

Thursday, February 12, 2009

First Grade : Books

I needed to create a list of all the books we use for our homeschool review last month. I know "numerous library books" is not very informative, but I thought the rest might me helpful for someone...

Hannah, first grade, 2008-2009


Saxon Math 2
Primary Mathematics Workbook 1A-1B, Singapore Math

Language Arts
First Language Lessons
Explode the Code, Books 2-5
Spelling Workout A
The Harp and the Laurel Wreath (poetry)
Copywork for Young Ones, Pleasant Verses and Rhymes
Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 2

History / Geography
Story of the World, Volume I - Ancient Times
Story of the World Activity Guide
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
Usborne Book of World History
Numerous library books
Map Work
Online Geography games
Online Election Maps and tutorials

Life Science
The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia
Christian Liberty Nature Reader, Book 1
Ranger Rick Magazine
My Body, Carratello
Head to Toe Science, Weise
The Burgess Animal Book for Children
How it Works: The Human Body, Barnes and Weston
Handbook of Nature Study, Comstock
What Your First Grader Needs to Know, Hirsch
Numerous library books

Discovering Great Artists, Kohl and Solga
The Story of Painting, Beckett
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists (series)
Drawing with Children, Brookes

The Story of the Orchestra, Levine
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers (series)
Classical Kids CD’s (series)
Classical Music CD's – various composers

Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne
Chocolate Fever, Smith
Homer Price, McCloskey
Ramona, Age 8, Cleary
The Adventures of Reddy Fox, Burgess
All-of-a-Kind-Family, Taylor
Emily’s Runaway Imagination, Cleary
Aesop’s Fables
The Child’s Story Bible, Vos

Independent Reading - in date completed order
(these are usually picked by Hannah at the library)
Ruby the Red Fairy, Meadows
Amber the Orange Fairy, Meadows
Sunny the Yellow Fairy, Meadows
Fern the Green Fairy, Meadows
Sky the Blue Fairy, Meadows
Inky, the Indigo Fairy, Meadows
Heather, the Violet Fairy
In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen, Rylant
A Little Shopping, Rylant
Crystal the Snow Fairy, Meadows
Soccer Sam, Marzollo
Dinosaurs Before Dark, Osborne
Abigail the Breeze Fairy, Meadows
Special Gifts, Rylant
Mummies in the Morning, Osborne
Stella the Star Fairy, Meadows
Busybody Nora, Hurwitz
Some Good News, Rylant
Elisa Michaels, Bigger and Better, Hurwitz
The Knight at Dawn, Osborne
Pirates Past Noon, Osborne
Hannah of Fairfield, VanLeeuwen
B is for Betsy, Haywood
Betsy and Billy, Haywood
Afternoon in the Amazon, Osborne
Betsy and the Boys, Haywood
Betsy-Tacy, Lovelace
Pony Pals: Too Many Ponies, Betancourt
Blizzard of the Blue Moon, Osborne
Betsy, Tacy and Tib, Lovelace
The Littles, Peterson
Summer Party, Rylant
Ramona the Brave, Cleary
Little House on the Prairie, Wilder
Farmer Boy, Wilder

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Winter Wednesday...

... disguised as Spring.

We breezed through our lessons...
(Do you love my children's "laptops" made from file folders? They are so funny.)

packed a lunch... and got outside as fast as we could. Our favorite park.

See those cute little heads up there? Will and Peter are pretty well matched. Hannah and me... not so much.Beautiful Day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Loving One Another

This week we will be taking extra care to love one another with our words.

Each child has a "mailbox" (microwave popcorn boxes). All this week, the kids will be secretly writing each other sweet notes on the heart cards and dropping them in the right box. (I'll write out Peter and Will's messages for them.)


Dear Hannah,
Thanks for playing with me so much.
Love, Will

Dear Will,
Thanks for playing trucks with me.
Love, Peter

Dear Peter,
Thanks for playing trucks with me.
Love, Will

(let's hope the boys have more to say to each other tomorrow. Grin.)

Dear Hannah,
You are pretty.
Love, Peter

I peeked at Hannah's messages...

Dear Will,
You sang really well this morning.
Love, Hannah

Dear Peter,
I love to play with you.
Love, Hannah

I'll be adding a few goodies, too. They will open their "mail" on Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Schedule Changes

Just when I think I have figured out an order to our day, I decide to turn it upside down. Our homeschool has basically followed this schedule since August, but I decided to switch things around after our vacation.

My hope in doing this was for us to be together more (I know, sounds crazy) instead of me moving from kid to kid and working/playing with them separately (and being constantly interrupted by the others). I wanted to have more reading time all together. Also, I sensed Hannah (and I) needed quieter surroundings for Math.

This week has looked very different. We all love it... and it is surprisingly more productive! I love that Peter is more involved and content sitting at the table with us doing his own "school."

Hannah has said each day, "I love doing school like this."

We have a firm starting time of 8:15, but other than that I'm not really watching the clock. That's a big change for me. We're all better for it. Grin.

Three days in, here are the changes...

After Family Huddle, we all stay at the table for Morning Meeting (my kids love calling meetings). I have all of our materials organized and ready to go, so we can get right to it.

at the table
All of us: calendar, weather

Hannah: First part of Math (Saxon Math "Meeting") which is done all on her own, math drills, copywork, spelling, Mind Benders, and First Language Lessons at the end of our table time (when the boys have left).

Will: Handwriting, Math - Singapore (Earlybird Kindergarten) worksheets and manipulatives.

Peter: sorting, counting, shapes, coloring, letters, cut and paste... he gets most of my attention.

Will's Handwriting Practice - "Rainbow Letters"
He traces my letters with layers of colors.

move to the couch
Read-aloud, Story of the World, Phonics (with Will)

more active lessons
Science (The Body), Music, or Art

outside play for all three

We chat and really work on table manners.

after lunch
I read to Peter and Will. Hannah practices piano (in another room).

during Peter's nap and Will's quiet time
Math with Hannah. This has been a great change! Before, I was married to the idea that Math needed to be finished first for some reason.

Hannah heads up to her room for independent reading. And I have a bit of time by myself!

After nap/quiet times we do crafts, bake, go outside, etc...

Dinner, chores, get ready for bed

Nightly Family Read-alouds

Hannah reads independently in her room before bed.

Bedtime! Glorious Bedtime!

Sewing Kit

A couple people have asked me if this adorable dog that Hannah made Peter for his birthday is from a kit. Yes, it's My First Sewing Kit from Alex Toys. Hannah received it as a gift (great gift idea!). It's full of projects - a few stuffed animals, a pouch, a bookcover. The directions are simple to follow with bright, clear drawings. Hannah needed little assistance. And that's a good thing... she may have surpassed me in sewing ability already.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Totally Tots

totally tots

Carisa (from 1+1+1=1) has started a new blog dedicated to parenting little ones, ages 1-3. Totally Tots is ALL about tots, written by Christian moms of tots (or who have kids who were recently tots). It's sure to be a fabulous resource to all of us with a tot at home.

Categories include:

Get Real with God... inspirations for moms of tots

Bible Bites...teaching tots the Bible one bite at a time

Did You Know?... health/nutrition for tots

Simply Made... tools to make for your tot

Crafty Corner... simple crafts for tots

TOTally Working for Me... tips from real moms for real moms

Giggle Time...funny stories to give us a smile

Cute Tots... weekly featured tots

The Youngest

Now that my baby is three, it's as if I can actually see time passing. Too quickly. I want more.

I want more hours in my day to read picture books to him. Spend hours at the playground. Make homemade playdough. Sit and color. I want Peter to have the same early years that Hannah had. More of me.

If Hannah and Will were in school, he would have that.

I was cleaning up the kitchen after lunch today when I noticed the quiet... too much of it. Where are they? Upstairs... no sign of them. Then I see the power cord tucked under the closet door,

and I find this sweet moment...

I needed that. To be reminded... Peter has Hannah and Will and me. All the time.


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