Sunday, July 31, 2005

Favorite Summer Meal

Writing about my freezer finds lead me to thinking about my favorite summer meal growing up. I grew up in a coastal community that was part farming/part fishing in industry. The meal I always liked best was boiled shrimp and corn-on-the-cob. The actual cooking for this meal was easy, but you had to start planning it very early in the day.

The important part was to go out fairly early in the morning and find the pick-up trucks on the side of the road. One would be selling fresh catch seafood that he/she had gotten from the boats at 4:30 am. The other truck would be selling the produce that they had just picked that morning.

The shrimp would be cooked in a big pot of water with only Old Bay Seasoning and the corn in another large pot. While they boiled away a good layer of newspaper would be laid on the table instead of a tablecloth. Then the food was dumped in the middle of the table. Bowls of various dipping sauces and butter would be on hand, along with lots of napkins. No plates, no silverware. Grab and eat and talk.

When dinner was over the bowls were taken off the table and all the remains were rolled-up in the newspapers and trashed. If any shrimp were left, they were made into a shrimp salad for the next day.

I can almost see my family sitting around the table...

Does anyone else have any favorite summer meals?



Freezer Clean Out

One of the chores that I got to today was cleaning out our storage freezer. Earlier this week I brought home my "good-buy" ice cream at $3.00 off per and could barely fit it into the freezer. Since I have such a hard time finding anything to cook in my house I figured it was about time to find out what I was actually storing. It stunned me the amount of food I have squirrled away. I shouldn't be too surprised, as this tends to be one of my habits. When I find something we eat on sale for a good price I tend to overbuy. You never know, they may not ever put food on sale again, right :).

I cleaned out and inventoried what we had. And we will not be going to the grocery store for anything more than milk and cheese this month.

2 bgs shrimp, 5 lbs bacon, 9 bkfst sausage links, 2 baggies diced ham, 2 ham bones, 1 lb grd turkey, 1lb cube steak, 8 chicken thighs, 9 pork chops, 1 bag flounder fillets, 4lbs grd beef, 1 lb round steak, 5 lbs italian sweet sausage, 1 box fried popcorn shrimp, 1 bag breaded fish fillets, 3 pkgs turkey hot dogs, 1 box hamburger patties, 4 lbs chicken breasts, 2 boxes corn dogs, 1 lrg bag fish sticks, 5 1/2gal ice cream, 1 container homemade ice cream, 3 boxes popsicles, 1 box ice cream sandwhiches, 3 baggies diced green peppers, 4 baggies of assorted sweet peppers, 2 baggies yellow squash, 2 bags stir fry veggies, 1 bag grated zuchinni, 2 bags broccoli, 1 bag strawberries, 2 bags of 'fresh' picked blueberries, 1 bag stuffed shells, 1 bag cheese tortellinis, 1/2 box waffles, 3 frozen lasagnas, 1 chicken tetrazinni, 4 containers ham&bean soup, 4 pizzas, 5 pie crusts.

I really and truly am embarrased by this amount of food that I have on a whole just forgotten about. This list doesn't include the food I did have to trash because it was so old and had already turned.

Then there is our pantry, I have not done an inventory there yet, but considering how much falls on my head when I open it, I figure we are good there also. So our goal this month is to live entirely on what we have in the house already and see how much $ we can save this month.



Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday filler

I have gotten the last of my current project finished and after one final proofing check sometime tomorrow when I might have a chance for a little quiet, I will email that one out and have a couple of days off before the next one. Just enough time for me to hit the stores and find new suitcase for MB. I have realized that clothes for MB for nearly two weeks, and all other traveling stuff will not fit into her child-sized rolling suitcase. I will also spend the time getting her packed and organized, and of course washing her favorite clothes for the trip. Two weeks, as far across the continental US as she can go. I believe it is just starting to hit me what a big deal this is. We have been so busy this summer that it just has not seemed real, but now it does. I know that she will be as safe with my mom as she would with me but it is scary putting a little girl like that on an airplane without me. It was only last summer that she went out of town without me, and that was only 3 hours away.

Tomorrow evening I have the last session of my bible study. I have to say that I really enjoyed the research, and when I could actually concentrate on it the creation of the presentation. The part I have really not enjoyed has been the very lackluster attendance. I did not have very high expectations as I was asked to do this in the middle of the summer, but last week there were 2 attendees besides myself. It made it really hard this week for me to actually gear-up and spend any amount of time preparing. The good thing is that those who attended said that they liked it and learned something, and I think if that is the case I have been successful. I would do it again, just not right away. Too many irons in the fire between now and Christmas.

I really have ideas for blogs about personal choices and another on intimacy of blogs, but have been way too scattered brain to put anything together. Maybe later this week once I don't have to think about the bible study anymore and will have more time without my spirited child home. And to those who might have dirty or dingy minds and are going "mhhm, that sounds, well interesting." Don't get too excited.



Friday, July 29, 2005

HI !

I feel so bad that I have not been on-line very much often. I have taken the majority of my computer time to do the projects that I have for my job. It is going well and the more I can turn around the more I can make. I try not to stay on the computer much longer than I did in the past so that my schedule with the girls and house remains the same. And there are just not enough hours to do everything, no matter how much I imagine it in my mind.

I do miss the goof-off time, but the exchange in the long-term plan will be well worth it. And at this point it is temporary, I don't know how long but I know that I am not in it forever.

Also there just has not been very much exciting happening around here. The girls are still learning and MB and I still focus for about on hour a day on certain subjects. But we have been wrapping up this week in preparation for MB's trip. We will not resume 'school' again until August 29.

This week MB had her cooking day camp and had a lot of fun at it. I think it was neat for her, although most of the kid-friendly foods they made contained peanut butter, and while she is not allergic to it she has never liked it. So she did a lot of cooking and not alot of eating. K, EM and I enjoyed the hours together.

Still spending sometime trying to decide on next years activities. This week I registered MB and K for gymnastics. This will be MB's 3rd year and K's first. I signed up for the homeschool class which offered me two benefits: less cost, and K and MB can take it at the same time!! I have also found swim lessons in October for the girls that they can each take a class at the same time! I have been very, very lucky so far.

I am also waiting on information about Daisy Scouts and a Magic Schoolbus science class. And next month I will be able to talk to our friend about introduction to music and piano lessons. That I believe is about enough for MB to start the year off.

I will be checking in off and on, and when anything interesting actually happens I might write about it :)



Wednesday, July 27, 2005

*News Flash: Cool Down Expected*

Yes, we are excited it will only be 95 degrees tomorrow with 80% humidity tomorrow!!

It has been miserable around here the last few days. It has not stopped my girls' desire to be outside, but too bad, I am not going to hang out roasting in the heat to watch them play. They have free reign in the backyard, but no, "That is boring."

Today, when I dropped MB off at her day camp the only spot I could find was in the sun. When I turned on the car to leave, my temperature gauge would not even register. After driving a little while it finally showed 107 degrees.

And yet I was surprised when my hubby was not excited when I called him today to tell him that we would having a cookout with his sister and nephews this evening. Yes, my husband does the grilling.



Monday, July 25, 2005

In which the day got much better...

I will admit that this morning I was not in a real positive place about the upcoming day. But it ended up being a wonderful day!!

1. The girls all slept in this morning allowing me to get all my necessary morning chores and reading done in peace and quiet!! I was ready for them when they did wake up.

2. Arrived at the service station for my car inspection and there were no cars in line, and no cars in the bay. The girls were able to watch the inspection from the waiting room window. I was out the door in less than 10 minutes. While I was there, 5 cars lined up for service!

3. Checking my wallet when leaving the service station I realized that instead of $7 I had $12, so I decided to treat us all to lunch at the McDonalds with a playground. We got there at 11 am so there was no crowd. The girls ate and played for about an hour, while I was able to read and just veg out a little in the air conditioning.

4. Found that the park that MB's day camp is at is a hidden gem for the Raleigh parks. It is a true park, not a playground. It has two old houses that serve as the buildings and the grounds had some of the most spectacular gardens for this time of year. One of their 'elephant ear' plants has leaves as big as K.

5. The daycamp leaders were kind enough to let us in the building 30 minutes before her camp started so we did not have to hang out in the heat outside. I had packed a traveling checkers game in my bag so MB, K and I sat down and tried to figure out how many games we could make out of the checker set. No squabbling.

6. When camp started, MB shooed us out. No problems with no wanting to stay.

7. At the used book store I managed to find 22 books for less than $45. Four of which were some 4th grade science unit textbooks for $1 each. I figured they would be great to pull some science materials out of. I also bought every Magic School Bus book I could find. I figured if MB loves the program so much that I am up an hour early on Mondays just to tape them, I might as well have some of the books for us to read. I found various other books for this year; a book on mummies, a book on ancient rome, a bug book, two Abeka readers (similar to the old Ginn readers I have now).

8. After the bookstore we still had 2 hours to go, so I decided that the mall would be the best place for loitering. I generally do not go to malls, not much there that I can't buy cheaper some where else, but it was over 100 outside. K did so well. She always surprises me when Mb is not along with how well she listens and behaves. We only went into 3 stores, first the Disney store because if any store is child friendly it is that one. I found some great deals and ended up buying a cute stuffed Nemo puppet for K that actually speaks about 5 different Nemo lines, a pair of shorts for K and pajamas for the girls, all were 60%-75% off. After that we went to the Discovery store because I wanted to look goggle at their expensive science kits. Then we went to a large clothing store to use their elevator to go back up to the 2nd floor. As we walked through that store K was naming color after color for me.

9. Picked MB up at camp, which she really, really enjoyed!

10. After cooling off in the wading pool, MB came in, voluntarily, to do her schoolwork that we had not gotten to in the morning rush and which I was already planning to combine with tomorrow's work. Then she helped me put all of the dinner together while K helped by playing with some of our salt dough. It was one of those 'picture' scenes: We are all wearing aprons because MB insisted, MB is peeling carrots while I stir the rice, K is 'making cookies' at the table and EM is swinging and laughing at all of us.

So the day I was dreading really turned out to be a very blessed day!!



Monday Musings

I am up early this morning recording episodes of The Magic SchoolBus for MB. I found out that they only show it on Monday mornings from 6-9. Since this isn't the best time for the girls to catch the show, I am taping it for MB to use during her downtime later. Also to use with some of our science lessons this year.

While it is taping I figure I would jump on an try to catch up on blog world that I have missed for the last few days while I have been musing over my daily life. My day-to-day schedule is still pretty good, but in order to keep up with all my real-life responsibilities I am going to have to become more disciplined in my cyber-time. It is the biggest time eater and I have been using it in some ways as an escape from the pressure I sometimes feel in my life as mom, teacher, household manager. It is a continuation of my escapism through reading that I have practiced for as long as I can imagine. Only now it is real-life people, many whom I can relate with on so many levels, which makes it so much more interesting.

I have ended up with a reading list of well over 50 blogs. With more that I visit irregularly or through 'rabbit holes.' This is way too overwhelming. And I am going to have to figure out some way to handle the list.

This week I will be limited with my time on the 'puter. MB has a day camp all week that runs in the afternoon. We will be doing chores and abbreviated school in the morning, then taking her to her daycamp. It is in the "big" city, about 30 minutes away so instead of driving back and forth, I am trying to figure out what to do with the other two while MB is at camp. The weather is not cooperating for any outdoor activities. It is supposed to be 100+ degrees for the next 3 days, with an awful heat index of 115-120.

Today I have to take the car for its annual inspection. It was due last month and I absolutely forgot. Then I figure while MB is at camp we will head up to a huge used book store I have been wanting to visit, but it was way over on the otherside of Raleigh. But I will be half-way there with MB's camp. Also on my list this week is to visit a homeschool book store and school supply store.

One of the reasons why I believe Mondays are so awful is that I look forward and see all the things I need to do. Where all the other days I can look back also and see all the things I have actually done. I just don't like 'A Monday Perspective."



Saturday, July 23, 2005


I have been very home-centered the last few days.

Thursday I completed my first project. Everything went really well until I realized that I had overlooked one minor thing on the first half, which had me going back and re-doing 3 hours of work. So I got it all done :) and sent in. Then I just wanted a break from the computer for a little while.

Since MB will be leaving on her two-week trip soon, I have narrowed her summer school work back to writing, phonics and math (money). She completes her sit down work in less than an hour and we spend the rest of the day, until 3:30 with her pursuing whatever interests her for the day. Lately it has been enjoying some of her Kindergarten CD-Rom games and magnet science. I am treating this like kind of her vacation because when she returns we will be starting our organized, approached purposeful homeschooling. I have a lot of organizing to finish up while she is gone.

Friday we completed schoolwork and the rest of the morning was spent in domestic education. I had MB work with me in giving the bathrooms a good cleaning, while also showing her how I expect them to be cleaned weekly. When she comes back, her newest chore will be to wipe down the girls' bathroom (clean sinks, counter, brush toilet, clean mirror, and sweep). She enjoyed it, but we will see when I start expecting in from her several times a week.

I was in the mode, so after the bathroom lesson was over I continued cleaning. All bedding got a wash and I attacked our disorganized kitchen. I also pulled back out of the garage an old desk we had and set up the laptop in the family room. This gets it off the kitchen table where I was working, while also keeping me in a place that I can keep an eye on the girls no matter where in the house they are. It is also available to MB to use if she needs it for her school work. The drawer space is going to be nice to have. I now have a drawer to store my work, and a drawer for MB's weekly school work.

Last night I was so tired that I crashed. I woke this morning feeling better than I have for several weeks. Today, DH had a golf date, so I took the girls grocery shopping, which I have been putting off, but we were out of way too many fresh things. I kept wanting to do something with potatoes and haven't had any.

I found through Candy a wonderful website about homeschooling with preschoolers, Preschoolers and Peace. Very useful read for me as I prepare to embark with a preschooler and crawler/toddler in tow.

Enjoy your weekend!



Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Warning - Boring Post Ahead!!

We are busy, but with nothing very interesting. School is finally becoming 'normal' for MB we have not had any moments over it recently. We also have finished up the Oregon Study. We still have a few books to read if we feel like it, but basically the study is over until MB leaves for her trip (in less than 2 weeks). As filler we are just picking up a few science books and projects until the trip. Reading books about puppies and dogs and going to visit the puppies across the street every couple of days. As of last night two had their eyes open!! They are so cute at this stage, you almost want to take all of them :)

Today MB 'caught' a new pet. She got one of the Katydids that is decimating our garden. She is keeping it in a glass jar and watching it eat. It is pretty neat watching those jaws work, and they can tear through some leaves. She is feeding it the broccoli leaves because those are pretty much a lost cause.

By the way, if anyone out there is having a little too much rain for their liking, you can send some of it this way. It is much to hot/humid and dry for my liking. Although last night we had a very neat lightning storm. The way the lightning was going off, it reminded me of the cheesy, fake lightning bits in movies.

Tonight we went to a swim party for church. It was a lot of fun, although I never did make it into the water. Hubby did the Daddy thing and took them all swimming, including little EM for a bit. I blew up one of those riding floats for K, which made her happy and freed up hubby's arms. I along with 5 other mothers sat on the deck chairs and read Harry Potter. They all had older children and told me that the only time they can read the book is when their kids are otherwise entertained. My only excuse is that mine just arrived today!!

I did take the job, and have started it. It is the perfect one for me. No phone calls, no set hours. Here is the work, wordprocess and return by a specified time/day. The guy told me today that there could be more down the road if I want it. So we will have to see, it would be nice to set some money away with all the birthdays we have in December. The only drawback is I have to watch my lazy time more and really try to concentrate on what I am doing the days I have work. It is an adjustment, but we made a household adjustment with homeschooling and we will make one for this too.

That is about it.



Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I do not generally pray outloud. This isn't normally a big issue for me, as I feel very comfortable in my method(s) of prayer. There are so many ways that one can speak to our Lord, that I feel like everyone should find the way they feel most comfortable and do it. But leading a bible study one of my responsibilities is an opening and closing prayer. It is more uncomfortable to me than even getting up and leading the group, and that is outside of my comfort zone.

Praying for me is such and awesome thing. I always feel different when I go to prayer and the feelings and silent words tend to flow from me. So, when I have to pray outloud I become self-concious about it. I stumble over words and fall silent for periods of time so that I can find the words to explain my thoughts (so to speak). Last week when I did this I know that some people were a little taken aback with the shortness of the prayers, but I just couldn't do it, not in words.

I only voluntarily pray aloud when I pray over my girls. I didn't even used to do this, but started when MB asked how does one talk to God. I had always prayed over the girls from the first time they were placed in my arms, to praying for their safety as they slept peacefully in their cribs. But the only prayers MB had ever heard aloud were those that I had read from those wonderful poetry/prayer books. Those are beautiful, poetic prayers but they do not really teach a child how easy it is to just sit and talk to the Father. So I began praying over them aloud. Showing her how easy it was and how you don't always have to have the right words and that it is just like talking to her father and myself.

I pray a lot, sometimes catching myself almost doing it unconciously. But always silently. My favorite method of prayer is writing. I write in my journal almost every night. And most nights it is really a prayer concerning something that is going on in my life. It is the place where I can feel, more easily, the Holy Spirit moving in my life. I do a lot of freeflow writing there, and boy can things pop up out of that. Sometimes I ask questions and even get directions or answers or comfort back. Praying is comfortable for me, except when I have to do it front of people I only generally know.

So I am trying to figure out how to make the outloud prayer thing easier for me to do. And, easier for others to listen to.



Monday, July 18, 2005

I've Been Quiet

There really has not been much to write about these past few days. We have stayed busy doing much of nothing. School with MB and K have continued going well. This morning MB even asked when we were going to start. K has been living in her princess dress recently and having tea parties. It has been very cute to watch her play.

MB's attitude has improved so much recently that it has been wonderful to watch. The arguing has not totally stopped, she doesn't do it nearly as often and when she does it doesn't last. She is helping me do just about everything and at this moment is making cheese sandwhiches for her and K.

The doctor was correct about EM's teeth. Last night she did not sleep well and keep wanting to chew on a teether. I expect we will see something in the next few days.

I rewrote the second week presentation for my Holy Spirit bible study, but then we ended up postponing it when most of the people who wanted to attend already had previous engagements. So we will continue that next week.

I guess the biggest news is that I have picked up a short-term work-at-home gig. When I left my job a couple years ago it was with the intention of working for my company part-time from home. But after nine months the market had not picked up enough and I was basically laid off. At that time I was pregnant with EM and not really interested in pursuing anything else. So we tightened our belts and focused on trying to make it on hubby's recently reduced salary.

We have done okay, but over the last few months it has become apparent that with gas prices and food prices steadily going up we were basically in reverse. So I have been looking and we began doing work on the house in case we did absolutely need to move.

I knew exactly what type of work I wanted to do and have been very picky in pursuing leads. This weekend I got a call back and after discussions with hubby and the company, I took the project. It should only last about a month to six weeks right now, with possibly more in the future. It is also something that I can do during nap times and free play time, and a little in the evening. Today I did the very first piece and it went very well. We still had time to do our school work and to get down and play.

The money is good enough that we should be able to pay off a few bills and start re-nesting our egg. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it continues to go well, as it is a decent opportunity.

Other than all that we have been trying to stay cool, watching the many birds and waiting for our copy of HP that we ordered on-line and will be delivered sometime this week. While I wait I am re-reading book 5. I am most excited about the book on CD that I ordered also (birthday present). I love the other two that I have on CD. Jim Daly does a very good job.



Friday, July 15, 2005


I almost fell over today when I realized that we needed gas in the van. I am lucky that our van is pretty reasonable on gas mileage and that most of the places we need or want to go are within 5 miles of our house. I generally don't have to put gas in the van but every 2 1/2 weeks or so. This time I haven't had to put gas in my van for over a month because hubby did it for me last time.

$2.29/gallon!! The last time I filled up it was around $1.70. I know that in other areas of the country it is much worse, but :cough:cough: that was really, really hard to absorb. Now I know why we keep struggling month after month, even with hubby's overtime. All of his paycheck is going into his car.

I turned off the air conditioning and drove across town to my warehouse store, with the gas tank beeping at me the entire way, just so I could get gas for 10 cents cheaper. And we will be going out in the car even less for the foreseeable future, which means in the car-burbs where I live we will be staying home. At least until the temperature drops back to a comfortable range to walk in.



Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gratuitous Picture Post

Since I am a mother and believe that my girls are the cutiest things, I had to share these pictures.

The first is EM. We will soon be missing her toothless grin that we have fallen in love with over the past 7 months. I took her for her 6 mos visit (1 month late) and the doctor noticed that she has two teeth about ready to break through.

Here is K, she is going through a princess, dress-up kick right now.

And finally, a really good picture of all three girls. I haven't had one of these since EM was a month old.



Oregon Trail Map

I wanted to share pictures from this weeks project for the Oregon Trail. We made a relief map of the western states using salt dough. Then MB painted the map showing the different habitats that the pioneers moved through. It turned out better than I imagined. We had a lot of fun reading about the trail itself while we worked on this project.

MB building the map

Painting the map

Finished map

The project was really very easy. I am so glad that I went ahead with it even though I had my doubts about how successful it would be.



Wednesday, July 13, 2005

White Board

Christine at Routon Homeschool asked me about my white board and how we use it for organization. I have to begin by explaining that we do not tend to be organized, scheduled people here. We are very much spur-of-the-moment, how do we feel type of decision-makers about our days. I have tried various schedules and daily plans, yet they always seem to stress us out. So I have developed a plan around how things normally flow in the house, not planning how the household should flow. This works for us, but I am sure not for everyone.

I have one master cleaning schedule, very simple and broken up by days of the week.

I do try to sit down on Saturday and make up our weekly menu based on what we have in the pantry for the week and have some general idea of the weather for the coming week (this is to schedule what nights we might want to cook out or in the winter, what night would be good for a stew). I keep that list in a notebook. I generally go grocery shopping on Thursday morning and shop according to sales fliers, I have also found at the grocery store I go to, I can find meat marked down at this time.

The white board is our daily To Do list. At the top of it is the week's verse for the household. Then I list the day's schoolwork for MB. Then is my to do list, incorporating the daily cleaning schedule and whatever else I see that needs to be done. Then is our menu for the day. At the bottom is the running list of home projects that we are working on. Our board is fairly small, maybe 12"X24".

I use the whiteboard for 2 purposes. First it is a reminder, because I am incapable of walking from one room to another without forgetting where I am going and why I am there. Secondly it gives both MB and I a sense of accomplishment to see our list gradually marked off as we move through the day. I normally take a few minutes the night before to do the next day's board. It generally doesn't take me any more than 5 minutes.

The most important thing for me is to remember that if I don't get something done one day my world is not going to stop spinning. I just put it at the top of the list for the next day.



Joining up

I admit, I am a lurker. Whether on-line or in real-life I tend to lurk around the edges. I am not a joiner. I am extremely shy and not very comfortable with my interpersonal communication to make sure that I don't break any etiquette rules. I don't lurk for any strange or negative reasons, just because I tend not to have anything to add.

I have, in general learned to live with this particular quirk. But, now I am homeschooling and I know it is becoming much more important that I reach out and contact others that maybe in the same position I am. In real life I have joined our local hs group to be able to participate in coops and playgroups, but as of yet have not made any real personal connections with anyone. Co-ops have come up that I thought would be interesting, but I am frozen when it comes to actually contacting the leader to sign up. This is not good for MB and K, but I just can't seem to gather up my courage to do it.

I also need to join the state organization so that I can receive my hs card, which will save me $$ on museums, activities and at stores in the area. But, I have not done it yet. This maybe more procrastination than being shy.

On-line, it is also a problem. I love to read through the WTM board, and have posted a couple of times, but I don't feel comfortable posting that much. Homeschoolers there have such wonderful insight and experience, that I learn a lot. I am kind of scared of being yelled off the board for doing something wrong. Instead, I read through, often finding others with similar experiences and then hunt up resources or books that are recommended to others. If I am faced with a problem I generally head off for research, rather than ask another person.

I also love to read blogs. I rarely comment. It never bothered me that I did that until I started my own blog and realized how strange it feels to watch the counter go up, yet never hear from someone else that is reading my thoughts. And, yet I still rarely comment because I feel like my comments come out making me seem like a total turd.

Anyway I need to start joining-up and coming out in the open. It is no longer just me, but now it is my own children's education that is affected. I hereby make a committment to join the state homeschool group by the end of the week. I will also comment on at least 2 blogs a day. So watch out someone may get a run-by Hi! soon. The connections I make could be wonderful.

And, as far as WTM board, well I think I will just keep reading for now. Some of those homeschoolers are tuff :)



Monday, July 11, 2005

Marking Things Off

In an attempt to regain a better grip on our daily life, I have re-inacted my cleaning schedule and have put the whiteboard back to its original use. At the end of today I was able to step back and feel very good about the day because everything had a mark through it!!

MB is continuing with her willingness to do her schoolwork while I continue to try to understand her learning style and incorporate that into our day. It has been difficult picking up on her learning style as, like most things with her, it flitters around so much.

Today I was not expecting things to go very well as it is the first day of school for year-round children that she plays with. I was really expecting some type of discussion, foot-stomping reaction from her over this. But, she seems resigned to homeschooling for right now. She even went so far as to mention to her friends this afternoon her trip to Oregon that she will be taking while they are in school. This would have been her first day of school, probably (or within the next few weeks) if we had sent her to school. I like the year-round idea better than traditional for organized group education.

Our homeschool today, was very close to my imagination, barring the whole we would sit cuddled up together reading wonderful stories that would perk imaginations (I am learning that this will never happen with my two active learners). I spent time last night and developed our week's goals and lesson plans. I also pulled together all the materials we would need so that everything was ready to go this morning. When MB and K woke up the list for the school day was up on the board. This allowed me to move so much more smoothly from one activity to another, while also allowing me to quickly assess and determine if we were done for the day an the girls could go on to their 'elective' activities.

K's elective was to actually play some of our computer games. She is amazing with what she can do by herself on the computer at almost three. She mostly played the Dora Animal Adventures game, playing pieces of it that I have never seen MB do, and doing them correctly and appropriately. She even had MB asking her how she did something.

While K contented herself with the desktop computer I ended up setting the laptop up in the office also for MB to use. She switched back and forth between DK Amazing Animals CD-ROM and playing spider solitare (counts as math and critical thinking).

After computer time we made a "telephone" out of old icing containers and some string. MB had been wanting to do this for awhile, since she saw it in one of those How things work books. I actually never made one of these as a child and had some doubts about it actually working. But, MB found the containers and the string and asked to make it. It actually works!! MB and K had great fun talking to each other via the 'phone.' I had a lot of laughs watching them figure out when the container needed to be at their mouth or ear.

It was a nice day, one that we only had a few glitches in attitudes. And I guess for right now as we continue to work on some of those we will have them. And to be really honest I expect that since they are human creatures, I will always experience some attitude problems from time to time. But it was one of those days that when we came back from running a couple quick errands I asked myself why I don't take them out more, but then I had flashbacks and received my answer for the time being.

MB actually prayed aloud tonight, totally voluntarily. This is big as she has always refused to pray aloud, chosing instead to have me continue to pray over her then joining me for The Lord's Prayer. But tonight she started the prayer for us with her thanksgivings for the day!!

It seems I have many thanksgivings to go give for the day also.



Saturday, July 09, 2005

Saturday Rambling

I will say that I was correct that the peace, tranquility and productiveness of my household would change. But it didn't go too badly downhill. My body hit the tired part of my cycle and I just did not have the energy to invest in being involved the 95% of the time that such days require. I needed some down time.

I also finally ordered and received Creative Homeschooling:A Resource Guide for Smart Families and wanted to dig into it. So like Kim described in a recent post, I spent my time reading trying to figure out what to do, instead of jumping into the midst of the kiddos. The book did help me in thinking through how I might be able to use various approaches better considering MB's learning style(s).

Here is the main issue for me - I love the material listed/covered in a Classical Approach and I really like the four year rotation of history/science/literature. I think it is a wonderful approach and would really give the type of education I want for my children. But right now in MB's development I am not sure that she could handle a classical, rote learning style. She balks at too much 'teaching' and is very much I want to figure it out on my own type of gal. I think unit studies where I can guide, and we can stay on a topic for longer to let her "experience" it would be a better fit for where she is developmentally now. So I believe that I am going to try to combine the two and see how it works.

The Oregon Trail study we have been doing is going really, really well. We do not necessarily do something on the trail each day, but see how it flows. I have been able to do a lot of craft type things with this study.We do one thing each week, for example this week we are going to talk in more detail about the route of the trail. I have a chapter from a book that is written for 5th graders I am going to read. The chapter discusses the various routes in detail and talks about why some chose the various routes, all while using language that I am sure MB will be able to comprehend. Then we are going to map the trail on a blank map of the US. Then using salt dough, we are going to build a relief map of the trail and paint it. All while talking about differences in the vegetation along the trail and new animals the settlers would have seen on the trail.

It sounds very ambitious, but I have tried to take the things she enjoys and incoperate it into the plan. MB loves maps, so she will enjoy coloring in maps. She loves playdough and sculpting things, so with a lot of guidence (the relief map is just as much a project for me as for her) we can make the 3-D map. Painting is a highlight of her week. And anything about wildlife is enjoyed.

Next week we will talk about family life on the trail, and I have a couple of Oregon Trail cookbooks I plan on using and we will be doing some cooking for that week. I also hope to have the shawl finished for MB.

So why am I doing an Oregon Trail study with a 5 1/2 yr old? She is going to Oregon with my mother to visit my sister and neice. While she is out there they are taking her to the Oregon Trail Interactive Museum, and I want her to know what the Oregon Trail was, where it was and to have some sense of how difficult it was (because I am sure that it will be pointed out at the museum). More or less I want her to have a sense of the trail, not necessarily the details of it. Otherwise the museum visit would mean little or nothing to her.

Tomorrow evening I have the first installment of the Holy Spirit study I am presenting at church. This is the first time I have ever been in a 'teacher' type role at church and am nervous about it. Mainly because I just become nervous when I am in front of a group of people. This is going to run for the next three Sunday evenings and we are going to be examining the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and New Testament. It is not anything in-depth, but more of to give more of a background or reference for the Holy Spirit when it comes up in other situations. Basically that the Holy Spirit is more than the bearer of spiritual gifts.

Have a great Sunday all.



Thursday, July 07, 2005

Experiencing a miracle

Today MB and I were able to experience a natural miracle. We were able to watch our neighbor's golden retriever give birth to nine beautiful puppies, one of which my husband has decided that we need. Before the birth the neighbors had already offered a puppy to us for free. The great thing is that our neighbor is a vet tech and was able to teach both MB and I while she helped out her dog. It only took 3 hours for the entire litter - pretty quick according to the neighbor.

Here is mama waiting on numbers 5 -9.

Very fun and interesting!!

A little picture of the magical moving baby. The most I have ever still seen her actually do is roll from her back to her stomach. Nothing else - yet we are aware that she transports herself from one place to another. Here is something new:

I had placed her on the sheet to go find a few of her toys to play with, when I came back she had managed to roll herself up like a mummy. I just thought it was too cute.



Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Awesome Days

Warning - Gloat Post

A good fairy must have waved her wand over my house this weekend. I have been walking around wondering if I am even in the right house. The girls are getting along resonably well, and are not even trying to push my buttons for the last two days. MB has been willing and cooperative in helping me do the chores and K is not screaming "No" at me when I ask her to do something, instead is replying in this too cute little voice "No, thank you." She has even started putting her pants back on by herself when finished with the potty. Which is big as she would rather run around bare.

MB is continuing with the self-led kick, and I am just sitting back and enjoying it right now. We started off the day today with toe nail painting while listening to the phonics cd. Then the two big girls pulled out every wooden puzzle we own and actually took turns doing the puzzles. My heart twittered watching MB help K with them.

Then MB came to me and asked me what her school work was today, and I had planned nothing since I have been enjoying her play so much, so I gave her the assignment to copy the memory verse for the week. I am working with her on writing in lower case letters since preschools only seem to teach upper case. She pleasantly wrote the verse and then recited it for me. While MB was doing that K was in the bedroom listening to a story from her LeapPad.

When MB was done she went back to the bedroom to play with K. Together they built a huge train track around their room and down the hallway. They continued playing like that for most of the morning.

After lunch MB and K began to play pirate, making a huge treasure map using the brown paper inside gift wrap rolls. Which led them to playing outside for awhile.

During rest time MB came to me with the "Dressie Bessie" that K had been given and she wante me to help her tie the shoe. After a few demonstrations, MB then told me to go away while she did it. Shortly there after I heard her yell for me. She was jumping up and down celebrating, she had done it. For the next hour she ran arounf the house trying to find all the tie-up shoes she could to practice on, which are not many this time of year.

The other exciting thing, for me, is that MB is doing her nightly reading again. On her own, after our conversation last week about when she would read she picked back up the pre-primers (from the 1950's). She has already read through the first two and is working on the third. It is like she never even stopped reading for a month or so. She doesn't drag out every single word in the sounding out stage, instead she is taking her time and trying to figure out the word before she says it, using the picture clues and just all in all having a much better and positive performance. I don't know what to do next because all I have are the pre-primers and up till now the readers from the library have been overwhelming to her. I guess I shouldn't worry about it, as MB has been pretty good at telling me what I need to know recently.

I just had the share how much fun and how exciting it has been recently. Of course I am putting this down in words it will change, but hopefully I can hang on to this memory when things start getting tough again.



Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Flower, a book about flowers, and other really uninteresting things

I will start off with a picture of a glad that bloomed today. I think it is one of the prettiest of the 5 I have gotten this out of how many bulbs. I ran out to take the picture right before we had a thunderstorm, not knowing how well it would survive.

Last night MB and I finished reading The Secret Garden. She made me read all of the last three chapters last night because she had to find out what happened when his father came home. I was really surprised how much MB got into this book. I started reaing this book when I was young no less than 3 times and never really could get into it. But it is totally different reading it out loud and answering the questions MB had. This was a Children's Illustrated Classic, so it was abridged and it had pictures on every other page. A very enjoyable read for all of us.

I don't know what we will begin reading tonight, yet. It is a toss up between Ramona the Pest, The Wizard of Oz, and Treasure Island. Since Ramona the Pest is actually a library book I will probably push for us to read that one. My mom is planning to take MB to the Beverly Cleary landmarks around Portland while they are out there next month, so I thought MB would enjoy hearing at least one of her books. At one point in my life I had all of the Ramona books, and I imagined myself as a 1980's Ramona. I guess my mom sent those books out to my neice, because I have not been able to find any of them in my storage boxes.

DH finished the shower last night, it looks great and I can't wait to try it out. We have to wait a few more days for it to finish 'curing.'

School today has been child-led, and adult hindered. Today was errand and chore day. MB and I started off the day curled up watching the Tour de France together and talking about the scenery. Then she found a cooking show and dug into that, asking me about all types of meat and about the fresh meat market the chef was shopping at. Then it was magnets, I had to pull down the magnet box and she happily played with that for awhile so I coul start chores.

Then I dragged her away from this spontaneous learning so I could got to the bank and go buy us some food. After we returned I had to clean the frig and then re-portion the food and put it away before it warmed up too much, I almost laughed when I found myself saying, "I can't teach you that right now, go play." So much of the time I feel like I am pushing and pulling, then on days like this she just goes.

She has invented her own game for learning sight words. We take the sight word cards then she stands at some starting point on our vinyl tiles, or brick tiles outside an for each word she knows she can move forward. I added that when she misses a word she has to spell it before we move on to the next word. She has enjoyed playing it so much that she has asked for it every day this weekend.

Better go, the natives are getting restless.



Sunday, July 03, 2005

Starting to see a trend

Wait seven years, then try to get it all done in a few months. I wonder if my husband is pg, because he sure is nesting a lot lately. I bet these last two sentences are very, very confusing...

I am talking about all the home improvments that we knew we needed to do 7 years ago, but have just started on recently and everything seems to be such a rush. Two weeks ago we painted the house (had it painted I should say), last weekend hubby decided that it was a good day to lay our new vinyl floors, and this weekend: my new shower.

The shower in the master bath had this horrible wallboard that was desinigrating off the wall. It was NASTY. He has spent today tiling the shower. He will not be done until tomorrow, but it looks wonderful. We have been truly blessed in that by using 6" square tiles, we will only have to actually cut the tiles around the shower hardware. We have not had to make any cuts on the wall to fit :)

Picture of the shower so far - one more wall to go.

This is wonderful hubby, sweating to death in the totally airless room that is our master bath and doing a wonderful job.

Next week I will lay the new vinyl floor in the bathroom, and then we will be on to our kitchen.

The kitchen will take more time and scheduling. My dad has to come up and disconnect our drop-in stove and put in an outlet. Buy a new stove and have it here when my dad comes up. Then have contractors come to measure our countertop, order countertop, wait on countertop. Once the countertop is installed then paint. Not a weekend job...

And all of this is just so we could put the house on the market if we find something we really like. Of course by the time we are done (1) I am going to like the house too much to want to move (gas prices, who cares about gas prices) and (2) we will be too broke to move (what do you mean the only house we can afford looks just like ours before we spent all that money to fix it up).



Up way too late

I am up way too late tonight. I pulled out my knitting this afternoon and evening when I unexpetedly found myself at home with just EM. DH had a 4th of July picnic this afternoon/evening at a coworkers house, and by the time he was back from doing some other work and ready to go I had a pounding headache and really did not feel like going anywhere and being nice to 50 people I don't know, while at the same time trying to keep K from drowning. So the honey-that-he-is offered to take K and MB by himself and let me just stay home with EM. Truthfully MB and I needed the time apart today as I did not feel well and she woke up alternating between whining and hyperactivity over the party.

Anyway, with the house quiet I decided to pull back out my knitting bag that I had put away about 7 months ago when EM was born. I put it away mainly because K could not keep her hands off the yarn while I was trying to knit (kind of like a little kitten jumping at the moving string). My hands are so out of practice, especially considering that I had never reached any sort of proficiency with it prior. So now my ring finger on my left hand is killing me. That is the finger that the arthritis has decided to settle in for me and boy is it screaming tonight.

I am making a shoulder shawl for MB to use with her dress up stuff. She wanted a prairie costume with a bonnet, but I am just not that talented. So she will have to make do with a shawl over one of her own dresses. I am using some really soft purple acrylic for the shawl, that way it will be washable. If it doesn't come out looking like a total disaster I will post, but don't hold thy breath as my knitting bag has been known to be put away suddenly for long periods of time.

By the way if anyone is reading my blog using Internet Explorer, please let me know if you are noticing any problems with reading the entries, like cutting off suddenly and refusing to scroll down. I have tried to fix it and it looks okay to me, but I never know.

Have a blessed Sunday,


Friday, July 01, 2005

The breeze is blowing and it only feels about 90

I am relaxing on my deck as I write this, watching the flame of the bug candle dance in the breeze. It is a comfortable 90 degrees, compared to the 100 (had to be) earlier today. Yes, it is July.

For days I have been writing little posts in my head as I walk around the house. But have been so caught up in the day-to-day stuff have not had a moment to sit down and unload. The week has been very nice. We have been busy, but it has been a good type of busy. We are finding a rhythm again to our homeschooling, one that has been missing with MB going out of town so much. My attempts to make things fun and hands-on have been met, well not exactly joy but at least not with groans and arguments.

I believe I am finding my way through the whole phonics thing. After torturing both MB and I with the various sit-down programs such as 100 Easy Lessons and then just throwing aside phonics for awhile, I have finally found something that seems to work for us. Since sitting still and listening closely frustrate MB's learning style, I decided that I would be sneaky and play some phonics music CDs in the background. She caught on to the sneakiness almost immediately, "This could help me learn to read." Said as she dances, off beat, around the room singing along to the songs. That is being mixed with some worksheets, since they involve writing and coloring, and with various computer games. She is learning and no longer seems frustrated by the whole phonics, breaking down words into sounds thing. K is even enjoying the songs and I catch her (my musically intelligent child) b-bopping along as she plays.

We worked on counting by 5's this week, along with grouping and breaking larger numbers down into sets of five. I had that tingly feeling about it today, when waiting to check out at a local bookstore, MB and I overheard a boy counting $5.00 toys to see how many he could buy after his mom told him he had $20.00 to spend on presents. She turned to me and said "he is counting by 5."

We also worked on a Geography lesson teaching MB how to find the USA on a world map, find NC on a US map and find our town on a NC map. It was fun and we also branched off in finding and talking about Oregon, a trip with her Mamaw that she is very excited about.

And of course we did the Prairie Schooners (below) and read some more books on the Oregon Trail.

I am learning to keep lessons short and put as much hands-on into as possible. I am finding when I drop a topic when she is obviously tired of it, there stands a much better chance of coming back to it at a later time than if I just keep pushing at it to get it done. The short spurts are actually resulting in better retention.

In my ongoing mission to have MB read, I asked her today how I could help her learn to read. What does she want me to do? She looked at me and said, "I will teach myself, like I taught myself to ride a bike." Struggling not to smile, because this is so true of MB's personality, I asked her when and thoughtfully she replied, "Oh, at about 10." Then I did inform her that it was likely that if she waited that long K will be reading before she is (K is very much interested in the letter sounds and words on the page of a book now). She replied, "well maybe before then."

The whole conversation was a bit funny, and kind of scary for me. Because first of all, when MB says she is going to do something, she will do it when she says. When she was 15 months she informed me that she no longer wanted to wear a diaper. Although she had shown no interest in training up to that point, she immediately potty trained and from that day forward did not wear a diaper. She has never had an accident that I remember. Then, with the bike it was nearly the same thing. I had been mentioning trying without the training wheels for a few months, and she would just say "No." One day she came to me, asked that the training wheels come off, and within a few hours of trying by herself, she rode. So, it worries me that she doesn't want to read until she is 10. Secondly, I realize now that there will be nothing I can do to help MB read any sooner. I am doing my best to teach her the rules and skills, but she will not read until she chooses to. That does not mean that she is a non-reader. She writes very well for her age, spelling most words by herself. I have also caught glimpses of her reading ability, especially when she is trying to get my attention, she will read something to me, then stop and tell me that she cannot read.

So basically my 5 1/2 year old is telling me what I have been reading all along. I have taught and can continue teaching her the basics, but until she is ready to let go and read on her own, she won't, so "Stop Bugging Her." I am just finding it very hard to let go of my dreams of a reader. Another person, who loves as much as I do, to just curl up with a good book. Also I just worry about handicapping her enthusiasm to learn. She loves to learn things, but unless I am free and available to stop everything and read, it goes un rewarded. I want her to be able to walk over to the shelf and pick up a book and read, be fascinated, be transported.

I did tell her today at the bookstore that while I will continue buying her books for school, I will no longer buy her fiction books to read unless she is prepared to read them. Before anyone thinks I am cruel, we have so many early reader and short chapter books that I have to alternate shelving and storing them. I am not keeping her away from any reading material.

It no longer feels comfortable out here, and my battery is starting to flash.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.