Monday, January 31, 2011

Home Schooling Family

The little ones are wanting more and more to be included in home schooling.

Gabby wants to write and read like Kate.

Even Nate wants to be at the table during our sessions.

This is fun and challenging. Gabby wants so badly to read like Kate, but she doesn't quite have every letter and sound down just yet, but we are taking a little time to work on that each day. She is also drawing and writing on many pages o scrap paper every day.

Nate, has combined his two favorite activities--climbing and bugging his sister into one grand task--climbing up to the table and grabbing at whatever Kate is working on! I tried letting him color for awhile, but he was mostly interested in irritating Kate. Hopefully this little phase will pass before he and she get too frustrated.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Man

The little one is changing so quickly these days. The other day when I picked him up I realized how solid and sturdy he had become--not really heavier, just less of the mushy baby. He is quickly changing from baby to a little man.

I've noticed that while he never really toddled like many small children, he is now able to run.

"Good, good, good," is gone and we're hearing a few more words from time to time. He's not quite as verbal as his oldest sister was at this age, but he is very vocal. He loves to play with his voice.

Where Kate is outgoing and Gabby is a bit of a diva, he is laid back. I am grateful for this little baby boy and all the things he is sharing with us these days.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Purely Kate or Is It?

We were talking about names and how we shorten them. Our children all have shortened names. My dad goes by a shortened version of his middle name. Just as an aside, as we were talking, I said that Elizabeth could be shortened to Beth. Elizabeth is Kate's middle name. She announced, "I will be called Katie Beth." We laughed, it wasn't mentioned again. At least not for awhile. Later that evening Kate told Justin, "I have a mick [sic] name. My name is, my name is... What is my name?"

We'll ignore it and it will go away right? This is the child who named herself Kate before she was two when we called her Katie. We get ready to go to church on Sunday morning. "What is my name, Mama?"

Not only does the dear girl want to change her name...she doesn't even know her name! I asked if she would be putting that on her school papers and she told me, "I don't know how to spell it, so I'll keep writing my name as Kate, K-a-t-i-e." You know, because she likes to write the 'i', even though she wanted to be Kate.

I often wonder who my children will be as they grow, now I suppose I can add, what will her name be to the list of things to consider about our Katie-Girl.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow, Again?!?

I am amused. We moved to 'the south,' but we are getting regular snow accumulation this year. We've not had quite as much as we had last year in Kansas and it surely doesn't stick around as long, but it has competed with our first two years out there in volume and frequency. I grew up a bit north of here, so I know there are years like this from time to time. Global warming, global cooling, a new ice age...I dunno, but the kids sure like to play in the white stuff.

I wonder how much we'll get this time?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yours Truly, Goldilocks

The kiddos and I check out books at the library regularly, and I wish I could claim that I sought this one out, but I didn't. It was one that they picked out somewhat randomly. It's one that we read for fun recently, but I plan to file it in my list of books for teaching a lesson later.

This is a book of letters. Lots of letters. It would be a fun way to teach children how to write what my fifth grade teacher called bread and butter and friendly letters.

Anyway, if you are teaching that concept, I recommend this book. It has letters between Peter Rabbit, Goldilocks and Baby Bear (or the Three Bears) and also between two wolf cousins. So it is fun for the children, with several models for writing letters using the appropriate headings, addressing, and closings.

* * *

Not a paid review, just a book we ran across at the library!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Gabby sobs that Kate said something to her, but I can't understand. The oldest stands there with a guilty look and a hint of a smirk. "What did you tell your sister?"

"I said she was born in a poop pot."

Looking skyward in an attempt not to laugh, "What?! What is that?!"

"I dunno."

* * * * *

As we're picking out a take and bake pizza, we chose a pizza with Canadian Bacon, Kate smiles and says, "I'm supposed to try something new every day!"

Not exactly stepping out on a limb on this one though...

Friday, January 21, 2011


As we are driving...

Gabby: It's da po-weis (police).
Me: Yes, it is.
Gabby: Wook out or dey get us.
Me: What do you mean?
Gabby: He would take us in his big stwong hands and eat us.

I think I better have a talk with her about what the police really do!

* * * * *

Our vocal oldest, about her more quiet younger sister...
(heavy sigh) She keeps talking and talking. She just jabbers and jabbers.

* * * * *

And so as not to leave the little guy out, things he's been saying lately: Wha' dat, sistas (sisters), and go, go, go!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The House that Jack Built

We're looking at some possibilities for housing. We have been renting since we arrived here in July, and though in many ways the one year lease has a long way before it is completed, but in other ways it will be gone in a blink.

We could stay here month to month. We could ask for a new lease. We could buy a house. We could have a house built.

I never dreamed that we could have a house built, but we are considering that possibility. It would be a 'preplanned' house, not something novel, but brand new and something we can make some specifications on. We're not going to get our hopes up too terribly high, but we did visit a model over the weekend. It was beautiful. For now we're waiting on Justin's PhD adviser to get back to us on his dissertation. If we can get that taken care of, then we'll feel more confident in making a big (giant) purchase.

We'll see what God has in store for us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Schooling on a Dime

Like many people who are homeschooling, we're on a budget. Since homeschooling families are often giving up one salary and need to buy all their own curriculum, it is important to wisely use the resources we have. That can take many forms, including purchasing materials that grant families permission to make copies (so if you have several children you only have to buy one workbook). That's always a good thing, but here's my favorite amount of money to spend--$0.00

If you go hunting, you might find some great activities that only cost you the gas money to get there.

There is the fairly obvious library story time. This is great, since if you're like us, you are already making a trip there weekly. Our local library offers many different story times for various ages through out the week, but best for us is that they offer a special story time for home schoolers. It helps Kate to know there are other kids like her, who are being educated at home.

While we can't check out books at the library in the big city, we do drive there about once a month to enjoy great marionette shows, so look around and see what you might find nearby. I have to tell you, walking through their children's stacks gives me library card envy. I think moving will be worth it to gain access to all those wonderful books, but for now we're grateful for the really neat shows.

Next up, check local museums. For some activities, you might need to pay admissions fees (though often a membership is cheaper if your family will go somewhere twice), but we have found that some of these activities truly are free. Justin took Kate to an astronomy night hosted by a local science museum and we have taken her to art classes at a local art museum, neither activity required admissions fees.

Onto those memberships...they aren't free, but between family memberships and educator memberships (I have been able to get the educator discount everywhere I have asked when I take my papers from the district stating that we are home schooling--from museums to bookstores), you will likely find that it pays for itself in 2-3 visits, so every visit after that is free. We opted for memberships to a science museum and art museum for this year. As we plan to study biology next year, we will likely pick up the zoo in place of the science museum. I'm hoping to cycle through a few places, so we get to spend some time in each and truly get our use out of our memberships.

We can't wait until the children are older to take a trip to D.C., when they can really get a lot out of all those great (free!) museums too. I have a plan for studying U.S. history with Kate in 4th grade, maybe then...

Do you have any great free (or cheap) tips for home schooling or raising a family?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peas Poridge Hot

After refusing to finish her lunch we served Gabby her left overs for snack yesterday. I offered to reheat her food, but she didn't answer.

Ten minutes later I hear, "I don't wike da peas cold."

I zap the food.

"Da peas are hot!"

Um, yeah.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

100th Day Projects

Since nothing says 100th day like counting to 100, we've made a couple of projects to that end.

We made 100 rings of paper in a wall of paper links.

We created a trail mix, with 100 pieces of this and 100 pieces of that. Kate chose nuts, and Gabby chose M&M's.

It turns out 100 M&M's isn't very many.

I had her add cheerios and raisens to make it a little more healthy. (And yes there is still snow on the ground, somehow she decided to wear that tank under a sweater, but the sweater never made it on. I guess it's like me and shoes...)

She counted by tens, by fives, and by ones. Then I counted a second 100 cheerios by two's for her.

Most schools around here have been out for snow, so Happy 100th Day to everyone when it arrives!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Real Mail

I got mail!!! When I made my way to the mailbox yesterday, yes in my flip flops, there were several things out there. Statements from our insurance company, a notice from when I had Gabby's speech evaluation done that they were going to contact my insurance company, ubber exciting stuff. But there in the pile was a real addressed letter.

I love those, don't you? They often come unexpectedly and they are so very fun to get. If I had looked more closely before I opened it, I would have been even more excited. I knew the stamps were different and there were two, but I still didn't put it together until I opened the envelope.

Can you see the card?

There are little Danish flags all over it!

When I was a senior in high school, my family hosted an exchange student from Denmark. We loved her so much. My sister and I had a wonderful time running around with her. We learned to say things like "Is boutique" for ice cream shop, "Hjælpe mig!" (Help me!) and "Glædelig jul" for Merry Christmas. She learned that you don't borrow a bathroom, you ask to use it. At the end of her trip her whole family came to stay with us for a couple of weeks, so we got to meet her parents and younger sister too.

Our Danish sister had a baby this past year, so I sent her some baby blankets for her little boy and I received this thank you card. I couldn't have been happier!

100th Day

We've passed the halfway point of our first year on this adventure of home schooling! It's hard to believe in some ways and in others it seems like we've been doing this forever. As we reach this point, I'm looking back on what we've accomplished and ahead to what we hope to do next year, and how to prepare for it!

Kate is a bright kiddo, so really in that respect I got a real head start. But then, of course, she's a stubborn kiddo too, so I've had some trials with that hard little head of hers. Perhaps that's the greatest thing that has come of this whole adventure. We have made our way through some tough little patches and she has learned that she can do it and I learned that I can teach her.

From time to time, when Kate complains that she can't learn, I'll pull out the McGuffey Reader that we started with that very first day and flip to the first lesson. Now it is so simple to read those four words. Those four words that took so much hard work on that first day. It's a nice little reminder of what we have done so far this year--and we're just over halfway there!

I'm working on choosing the last bits of our curriculum for next year, so that if there are any foundational things we need to have for the coming year we'll be prepared. In doing that, I pulled out a pretest for one of the first grade math texts I am considering and she was able to pass the pretest last week. I was proud of her for that too. She started with very little math skills and she is quickly becoming capable in that too. By the fall, I think she should be able to start just about any first grade math program I choose.

Congrats Miss Kate on reaching the 100th day of school!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Create: Curtains

(and a lesson in seam ripping)

Do you sew?

If you've ever sewed, I'm going to guess you know precisely what this is.

It's a seam ripper. Oddly enough, it's used to rip out seams--um, yeah.

I have a love hate relationship with my seam ripper. I get it out when ever I start a sewing project, because if I can't find it, I'll definitely need it. I often need it, even if I know where it is.

Sometimes I need it because the thread on my sewing machine works it's way out of one of the hooks, messing up the tension, but more often, it's because I made an error. I measured incorrectly or missed a step in the project.

I've been making some curtains for a friend and I made an error in the sheer for her door. She let me know about my error gracefully and now I have the opportunity to fix it, but first I have to rip up that which was made.

It's not pretty when you rip a seam. The thread falls out in little pieces, there are needle pricks in the fabric, but once you pull all that away, you can turn the seam again, the fabric recovers, and you can have what you intended in the first place.

Isn't that how our life is sometimes? It's not what it should be, so we have to be remade.

Oh, and Miss Ann, the curtains for the windows are made, and I plan be ripping up the seams of the door panel today!

Monday, January 10, 2011


It snowed here.

So we took a 90 minute delay to play in the white stuff.

Miss Kate didn't have snow pants, who knew we'd need them here?! She had fun anyway.

Gabriella, again not wanting her picture taken, but she did have fun.

The little fellow fell over and wasn't thrilled with the initial shock.

He decided it was fun after he got over the surprise.

The girlies warmed up with hot cocoa.

Kate and I did a little science experiment.

She got to hypothesis the depth of the snow and the measure it.

During the afternoon measure, I tested to see how cold it is outside.

It's chilly--what can I say? I'm from Kentucky...

The joys of winter!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Princess Band-Aids Return

Justin had a cut on his finger that kept getting caught on his glove while he was working today. He came in for a band-aid, but we have little girls, and the only ones he could find was the pack of princess band-aids.

As Gabby was sitting with him later, she noticed the pink band-aid. "Daddy has a pwincess ban'-aid! Daddy, you need to have a han'some pwince ban'-aid!!"

"Why, Gabby?"

"Because you a han'some pwince, not a bootaful pwincess!"

So there you have it, I married Prince Charming,

And we can't all be as bootaful as Gabriella.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You Create: Snow Men

Since this kind of snow man is hard to come by in these parts (this one was made on our trip to Ohio), we've been saving baby food jars around here for awhile. I did make some baby food, but those little jars are nice to have sometimes!

The girls painted some jars white (Kate did stage three and Gabby did stage two). I painted the lids various colors and also painted a meat jar black--in the second set we did I painted the lid of the meat jar red, so he had a nice red ribbon on his hat.

The faces are simply Sharpies and paint pens and hot glued googly eyes. Then a quick gluing of the jars together.

A gift from our whole family--Justin's paycheck bought the food, Nate emptied the jars, and the girls and I painted!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

You're so Handsome

Justin and I were discussing at what point in time we could/should start showing certain movies to the children. As we were discussing certain parts of movies that we felt we needed to take in to consideration before viewing, we were talking about the Uruk-hai in The Lord of the Rings. Kate looks up and says, "If I saw them, I would say, 'You're so handsome!'"

A face only a mother could love...(You'll have to take my word for it, or click here, since I don't have the rights to publish any).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Shopping We Will Go

Back to the store we went, after yesterday's fun filled trip.

The kids did well--great behavior all around. I'm standing in a slightly longer than normal line, but we're okay. Then one of the managers asked me to move to the express checkout. My cart clearly has more than 20 items, but those lanes are empty, so she evidently wanted to make better use of their cashiers.

I got out of my line and headed that way. Someone popped in front of me, so we're back in line. The cashier was chatty and not moving quickly. Then there is the complication that there's not enough space to put all my groceries, while she tries to bag things. The line is building behind me. Then she has to call over a manager.

I can feel that people are asking themselves if I can count. I want to tell them I was sent there, but I don't. At least I've got cute kids to keep them entertained while they waited on me. Maybe the next time I get caught behind the person with 52 items in the 20 or less lane, I'll consider that they were sent there. Next time I'm sent there though, I think I'll stay put!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shop 'Til She Drops

I've not had a normal grocery shopping trip since mid-December with our comings and goings and left over turkey and all, but today I needed to restock. We made a trip to the library this morning, so we waited until this afternoon to run our little errand.

The baby had his nice long nap, everyone had a snack before we left, no one needed to use the facilities, and I had my detailed list in order from the back of the store to the front.

There was just one problem with my nice, neat little plan. Gabriella. As I was getting Nate out of his car seat, she was supposed to be sitting with her cute little legs dangling out of the side of the van. Unfortunately she decided this 30 second break was the perfect time to take a nap. We slowly made our way to the store. Here she decided she didn't want to walk. Not again.

She did better than some trips. We got our first two items, but then true disaster struck, I let her sister choose a box of crackers. Wailing ensued. I persisted, calmly making my way through the store, well at least to the next aisle. One woman had to tell the person on the other end of her phone conversation that nothing was horribly wrong. I had another woman stop me and say that she hoped she would be as calm as I was when her little boy (now in an infant carrier) acted like that in the store. I smiled as I debated what to do. I grabbed the milk and a couple of cans of soup that we really needed to make it through the morning (so Justin could take lunch), and I called it quits. So I suppose I'll be back at the store again tomorrow. If you hear a great wailing from the direction of central Tennessee tomorrow, no worries, I just made Gabby walk through the store.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Kate (running to the living room from her room): Is the house falling apart?!

Me: No, Kate, those are fire crackers.

Kate: Fire nackers? What are fire nackers?