Thursday, December 17, 2009

Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare!

Finally, we're almost done with SOTW2!  I've taken 2.5 school years to get my rhythm for history and I'm finally ready to begin SOTW3. So much amazing stuff wrapped up in all this! Slow and steady is so much better than non-existent and halting.  You see, there are usually 2 or 3 segments to each chapter. We are now taking one segment, it's narration and it's activity guide questions along with a coloring page/ map page/ cut-paste memory cards as the first group activity each day (right after breakfix and Bible study).  I review each chapter with them on the 4th or 5th day from the SOTW test booklet.  I haven't done very well nailing art the past two weeks. We had such an awesome visit to Rome and looked at Michelangelo’s work that I just haven't done he and da Vinci justice.  I also realized that I may not be addressing enough of the music in history segments we cover.  So I googled Elizabethan composers. I will suggest more work on Medieval music and da Vinci science tomorrow because it looks like a light school day. 
Science was a hit with the introduction of NON-METALS! My kids are getting used to the notebook format from Elemental Science for Chemistry. They also enjoyed the experiement this week with yeast, sugar and a balloon-ed bottle to demonstrate Carbon's presence.  We showed the Daddy a video about Carbon and giggled through another about Helium.  Otherwise, it was a good week of Christmas preparations and Advent observations. G2 finished Math-U-See Beta and will move onto Gamma multiplication with her brothers.  G3 is reading Swiss Family Robinson and enjoying all the construction taking place on their island.  G1 is beginning the final book for our adventures through Explode the Code. And we're all getting used to Heelys which arrived from one of the grandmothers yesterday.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kids at Marshall Fields on State Street Chicago

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Take the Kids to Rome!

Yes, take the kids to Rome and do it during the off-season. While everyone else is rushing around in their black, gray or brown, you have a light sweater on and there are NO CROWDS! We walked right into the Colosseum and Forum with our Roma Pass (one adult per child under 11 years old for most things, but we did have to buy 3 kid passes in the Ancient area) and didn't elbow a soul to get around. The Pantheon was a bit more crowded (free). As was Trevi Fountain (free) and the Spanish Steps (free), but that's where everyone shops. We scooted right through the VATICAN (small cost) and SISTINE CHAPEL (NO LINES, NO SWEATING, CROWDED passageways!) and the guards weren't shushing to us under Michelangelo's masterpiece because my kids had free Rick Steves mp3 guides in their earbuds. St. Peter's was gigantic and we were HUNGRY, but we got there. Quirinal hill where the old Pope/new president's residence sits was interesting and Piazza del Popolo was fun to watch people. Found as many of the 7 hills that Rome is built on as possible with short legs and un-gelatoed brains. The Sant Angelo's castle was build for kids and we romped all over that place. By the way, the ROMA PASS covered our Metro and city bus travel too. No taxis for us in ROMA. The Catacombs were a necessity for the Daddy and we got a wonderful neighborhood tour on the city bus to get to the Apian Way. We saw flocks (do you call them flocks?) of bats at dusk just as I'd seen in Austin Texas years ago. We ate gelato and pizza and one expensive pasta meal with Chianti. We took the express train to and from the airport and got out on the first planes we tried. Take the kids, and the gramma for that matter. It was a blast for Thanksgiving abroad this year!
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Mommys should be able to read for their own growth. For me that means a book from the library or something from my Bible. I've been reading through the book of Acts because of our involvement in Community Bible Study. I've been so glad for this time through Acts of the Apostles because it's finally sinking into my brain and heart.

Yesterday I finished reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. I found it at one of the two local libraries I visit often. It was recommended on someones blog. Yes, by the way, I do read so many blogs, and I HAVE to be more focused and disciplined on teaching my kids and developing the projects that I'm preparing for our homeschool studies (i.e. Winter Olympics study and Oceanography study). But, WOW! this book about a boy in Malawi and is something I can't wait for my kids to be ready to read during the logic stage when they angst and debate EVERYTHING! This book discusses physics, general science, geography, economics, history, political science and in some little ways religion (both from a church teaching AND an ungodly perspective). I am exposing the children here to African countries, flags, basic geographic concepts. But someday, they will be ready for this one.

Finally, this is my view out the back door at the snapdragons. They continue to provide color even on the coldest day of the year (zero degrees Fahrenheit) with snow all around.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's a good thing it didn't rain on us in Rome.

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Early Christian Burial Sites near Rome

It is probably best that Gramma decided not to go to the Catacombs. It was definitely a tight squeeze and a few stairs. It was austere for me to see this sight. I look forward to taking the kids and Daddy to sites underground in central Turkey, and then I can complete the comparison for early Christians.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Many Highlights of Rome, but one stood out

We often found ourselves trekking from one site to the next around dusk and observed large swarms of flying creatures in the skies. I had seen similar sites in Austin Texas during my four years there. I believe the swarms were bats. This you tube sketch shows what I saw in the sky over Rome at dusk each day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving feast

Turkish in Rome for Thanksgiving
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At the Colleseum

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Time for the Mommy's pursuits

I'm reading Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. I'm considering the book Take your best shot by Austin Gutwein. It's a far cry from the Roman Mysteries or The Blood of Caesar that I finished in the past few months.

The Apologia book about swimming things should come in the mail and I can pair that with the Hands of a Child Oceans lapbook for a habitat series on Oceanography. It will followup the study on Deserts that will be complete after Christmas. Maybe we'll get to the ocean next summer for a good long visit. We've done deserts in Utah.

I wonder what it'll be like to compare forests and grasslands someday to all this study on deserts and oceans. But for the next few days I may get to compare fiction and ancient history study with my kids to the real thing in Rome (if we can get onto the plane next week).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baby steps

All three tie their own shoes! We can move past the velcro strap runners. AND they will tie their own cleats during a soccer match!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chemistry of Main Earth Metals with 2nd and 3rd Graders

We love the way that the Elemental Science Chemistry lessons are coming together by using Fizz, Bubble and Flash. The experiments for demonstrating Main Earth Metals like Calcium with hard water bubbles were easy once I found the plaster of paris at the hardware store (I've plenty PofP left for our next project). Our Bismuth used as an anti-acid lesson developed a knowledge of acid and bases is not pictured, but I was a little worried about the staining power of that vegetable. I actually had the support through this lesson to make my own indicator with red cabbage and conduct the lesson. The lesson came off well showing a pink glass of lemon water and blue glass of baking soda water. I still have a quart jar of red cabbage indicator if anyone is needing it. Maybe I'll use it in a spray bottle to decorate snow someday. HA!



Gs Do Oil Pastels

G3 sketches a boat & arms while G2 draws a man mowing his lawn

G1 sketched "The Amazon Day"

I decided to take pictures of these pieces because scanning oil pastels onto the machine gets messy. The work was done so willingly and with so much creativity. I'm thrilled that art didn't loose out again!

Friday, October 30, 2009


I don't even care if their chemistry notebks get colored, its a blast to see what sugar & CO2 can do to catchup week chemistry

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soccer Season Complete

Soccer season done! Celebrating with a Kansas friend's visit and afternoon trip to Shedd Aquarium

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Corn mazes and Farm Visits

" Mom, you really want us to go into that corn field that is the largest corn maze in the world? I'm not sure it's a good idea Mom." So, I led these two all through 14 of 24 spots in this maze without getting lost. They forget so easily my geographic positioning system brain. It helps that I've gotten lost so many times in the past on Midwest gravel & dirt roads. They were much happier when they looked at how many more spots we visited versus how few spots their sister and the Daddy visited.
So, of course we had to experience the pedal go-carts and the thrill of going as fast as these legs could pedal. What a wonderful autumn Sunday afternoon family outing all the way up to McHenry County Illinois where the trees were BEAUTIFUL colors and the smell of homemade donuts wafted from the vendor sites near the corn maze.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Devotion, Conviction, A Goal

WOW, what a week!

Tennis lessons and soccer practice at the park district; piano and violin lessons were awesome; Columbus is history along with names like De Gama, Vespucci, Magellan and Diaz. We got to apply 9volts to water in order to examine electrolysis and said "see ya'll later" to the Alkali Metal group. Next week we will become aware of Alkali Earth metal group. There were a few tears shed when the countries of Africa were more challenging to learn than we'd like. Sheppard Software provided us with tools to practice country outline maps of Africa along with geomorphology and rivers of the continent. We are reading some stories about Mansa Musa along with a book called, Castle Diary. The Middle Ages were not just in Europe, but also occurred in Africa and influenced history there too. I took someones advice and started listening to the Secret Garden on I've never heard the story or seen the movie. I'm intrigued. I've also checked out another turn of the millennium mystery story that sites Pliny the younger as the main character during Domitian's time. My G1 did two MathUSee chapters this week and will do 2 more next week because, as I pointed out, he really didn't need more time to do skip count by five and ten in order to learn those multiplication facts. He did GREAT! All did well with spelling and working all their consonant blends like champion spellers. Grammar lessons were flying and individual reading flourished, well at least until someone left their book at the tennis court.

The house got cleaned for a visit that didn't happen due to full planes and hunting season. And G2 managed well with a bout of puking on Thursday evening. She has caught up with much of the work she missed on Friday even the painting from our art chapter about the Limbourg brothers. Latin lessons with the Daddy were much less rammy than usual. Finally, I got to participate in a discussion about Macaulay's book, For the Children's Sake. I've read the book several times and continue to wrestle with the choice to home school these children. Is it for me or for them that I should have so much less time to myself? Should I stop spending so much money on their private, classical education? Should I let an expert take over and do this because they know more about elementary education than I do? God is in charge of all this, so why can't I give up the control and just let Him take over in the classroom? And, I'm continuing to be convicted by this decision to devote my energy and my development as a teacher to this goal this year. To re-evaluate why I do what I do and how I do it so that it is truly for their sake.

The latest art work as follows is G1's portrayal of a kangaroo; G2's music note; and G3's turtle.

Our Indian Princess: Purple Feather

She climbed a 25 foot rock wall. She climbed the stairs and more stairs to the, get this, zip/zap line tower. AND got down by the appropriate lines VERY FAST and shrieking quite loud. Then she took a peaceful canoe ride with her friend and the Daddy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We do more than music and art, but...

G3 has finished 100 songs in his book and G1&2 are enjoying lessons with a new teacher (I'm thrilled with this woman's style of teaching!). We've discussed The War of the Roses in History and the Princes in the Tower. Columbus is ready for Monday which is perfect since it's his day. Isabella and Ferdinand plus the Portuguese Henry were this week's subject and did well to teach us where the origin of knots in identifying a boat's speed came from in history. MathUSee is progressing to the stage where Saxon2 lessons are interspersed without problems for anyone. Art is wonderful as our clay projects dry and we paint them with tempra on Friday. Chemistry is dwelling on Alkali Metals and Hydrogen. The desert habitat is fun when we get to identify and describe plants from that landscape. Spelling is regular as well as FLL reading, but G2 finished a mystery book from the American Girl series without problems and has started Eager Star from Tyndale House. Both boys are enjoying Kidsboro books for individual reading and don't want to pass those books along when they are done. Bible study with Acts in CBS is very helpful. So, all in all, we are enjoying the onset of Fall and the matching smiles as seen in the next picture.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Views

As my soccer kids (G#1 & G#2) work diligently 3x a week on the pitch, I watch my third ride his bike or hit a bucket of balls with Dad at the courts. But there is a new view from the tennis court sideline (as tennis lessons began for G#3):

New views from the back door to the house (as each of the junior gardeners used a shovel to help me remove a 30 year old juniper stump from in front of a basement window):

It's amazing what directed digging can bring about for dedicated diggers.
I may be viewing the sanctuary different in the future as I serve at church.
PS. Sunday sailing for Daddy and G#3 found them viewing the sail boat from the water. The gusting storm blew in and blew them over. Both are well, but learned many lessons and had new stories to tell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday with Community Bible Study

CBS is a hit! I'm looking forward to this outlet for my kids to visit with other home schooled kids in a lesson setting. I've been reluctant to do co-ops because they usually cost so much and really didn't cover materials that I couldn't already do myself or with the Daddy's help. But, this group of kids made such a fun time that we went on a picnic afterwards at a nearby park. Where, my kids met a Turkish lady and her child playing on the slides. I wasn't bothered when my little girl was talking away with a strange lady in a brightly colored scarf covering her head because I knew that she was familiar with people who lived that way. But then one of the boys mentioned that the lady was from Istanbul and G#2 was telling her about the summer trip to Turkiye. I had to meet her and tell her how wonderful it was to meet her. I spoke Turkish just about as well has her little boy, but I had a few words that I remembered. I hope we find more Turkish people in the area again soon.

She looked hot in the sunshine and I remembered that it was Ramadan and she wasn't allowed water or lunch. She excused herself and said that she needed to get the little son to his lunch, but I prayed for her that we didn't keep her too long in the sunshine and she didn't get sick later in the day.

Speaking of sick today, my oldest got to wondering around in a little woodsy place and found some bees. His cohort got many stings and my son only the one, but you'd have thought he was going to croak! Well, we learned many lessons today including some about life and the Bible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What a wonderful holiday!

Have returned from time with the extended family and heavenly weather in Iowa. We are yet to pick up G#1 from the airport as it was way to full to get him and Gramma back from SLC via the stand-by mechanism. We'll try it tomorrow, but are anxious to hear all about his trip to Utah and Disneyland (CA). I thoroughly enjoyed my reading time with books like The Mystery of the Periodic Table, The Prophet from Ephesus, and The Man From Pomegranate Street. I was able to prepare 3 gallons of fresh tomatoes for the salsa effort (canning is best done in the later Fall here) and found a gallon of fresh jalapenos for that effort also. I enjoyed my nieces high school band performance during the half time at her small Iowa town. And we got to hear/see my sister perform in the pre-game activities with the University of Iowa Marching Band. Fantastic!

Friday, September 4, 2009

From the Daddy:

Today I am very thankful for the freedom to homeschool. I don't have to submit my children to a government-sponsored indoctrination. I heard that the White House teaching aid for President Obama's speech to schoolchildren originally was going to ask your children to write about how they could help the President! Why is it that conservatives are pilloried for resisting this when, if President Bush had done this, there would have been a media uproar? I'd be ok if the request was about how to participate in the process--that's a civics lesson. I resent the presumption that our kids should necessarily think about helping the president (remember checks and balances). That cannot help but have partisan overtones, and I resent it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ketchup week is very stressfree for me

While my oldest is field tripping all over Utah (pictures of copper mines to come) and Orange County CA, my younger two are practicing violin, finishing a math chapter, working on telling time and counting money, and writing sentence answers to the Veritas Press discussion questions for The Magician's Nephew. We've done Bible study and devotions and just taken it easy this week during our catch-up week. And tomorrow, we drive to Iowa for a family gathering. I'm looking forward to gallons of tomatoes to prepare for salsa and time to read the final sections of the Roman Mysteries. I get to soak up time from my nieces and nephews with our kids too. Precious...

Friday, August 28, 2009

20 days completed? Are you serious?

Artistic pursuits instructed us to etch in oil pastels. So, that's what we did. G#1 etched a second picture of an apple with a worm in it.

G#3 etched a green tree with a bike and a doghouse.

G#2 drew a self portrait and she was pleased with that.

So, we have indeed finished 20 days of school. August has almost vanished. G#1 heads to Utah and Disneyland next week and he'll work on analog clocks in his math notebook as well as money exercises on the websites I found. The twins will also practice practical math and write the answers to Veritas Press's questions about Magician's Nephew. That's what G#1 did in 2nd grade, but now he is writing up the answers to The Horse and His Boy for 3rd grade. We'll keep schooling through the holiday weekend and get back together with the brother in a week.

Meanwhile, I'm going to practice some slow cooker recipes from Sound enticing, join me and tell me what you tried and if you liked it. Better yet, did your kids like it?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rainy Thursday

Vivaldi, Phil Collins Big Band in French, and now Bagdad Kemper on the mp3 player just to keep the morning filled with variety. We've all got new library books to read and our checklists to complete for the day, but music makes it go smoother. I'm reading Mr. Wiker's The Mystery of the Periodic Table. I need a good primer on chemistry to lead these three along in their science study too. I'm keeping the last 2 installments of the Roman Mysteries that I received from Amazon for the long Labor Day weekend drive.

Rain and the soccer practice for tonite is canceled. But, a comfy weekend of activity promises plenty of outside time and maybe another trip to the lake for sailing before the season ends and we rig the boat to the ceiling of the garage (somehow?).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Almost, but not yet... salsa soon!

"You are loved with an everlasting love..."

I recently found a website & *.org that is called Homemakers by Choice. It is spearheaded by Donna Otto. I am familiar with her because of her interviews with Elisabeth Elliot (Gren) on Gateway to Joy several years ago. The title of this post is the phrase that Mrs. Gren (her legal name) would say each day as the radio show opened. I was able to see Mrs. Gren in Omaha at Westside Church in the days before children. Sadly, Gateway to Joy isn't available on radio anymore and only transcripts are found at the Back to the Bible website. However, I enjoy Donna Otto's podcast these days from her format at Homemakers by Choice.

And these messages I hear or read remind me of my quiet time each morning after I listen to Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Revive Our Hearts podcast. I try to do a Bible study each day while reading the verses she attaches to her lesson. However, I wasn't directing my children to a sincere Bible study for their school day though. So, I found a format somewhere in one of the note booking websites that fit the level of my children and made it work for them to read through a chapter of the Bible every morning since we started school. Now, I'm starting them in Proverbs, which for 2nd and 3rd graders is a stretch, but we will soon move to reading a chapter each day in a book of the Gospels and work through a crossword puzzle. That is, once G#1 returns from his expedition with the paternal grandparents and family to California and Utah..

The form I've tweeked a bit to use for my kids was titled "Prayer Organizer" and found on the notebooking pages at Homeschooling With Index Cards. It is clear and concise for these three children and their mommy. I've found many helpful guides from Molly at this site and the greatest of which is the tool we use to study world flags. Her materials are found by using the button to the side.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

I will not unschool!

I understand that many people unschool their children, but I'm not one of them. It also is against all the professional training I received in teacher's college. Every fiber of my being demands that this world belongs to morning people. Why? Well, that's when the sun is rising and it has risen for those in the East and so the rest of the world is moving and grooving by the time I lift my head off the pillow - in the morning. That's when the Daddy goes to work and keeps the house paid for and the bills paid. Morning is when most people go to work as will those people I brought into this world in a very short time from now (everyone says that the kids always grow so fast and then they are gone- promises promises).

There are responsibilities that we face each day that we'd rather not, but in unschooling it would seem that children come to that reality on their own and are not forced into it. I am unable to abide by that reality, because as it is, I'm not backing down on what I expect from my 2nd and 3rd graders. Too bad if they get bored in a couple of years, start building or creating things that have never been thought of, or are just not that good until they fix them. I want them schooled according to my calendar and time schedule, not theirs.

So, as the children came to that reality this morning, I wasn't going to let the day just slip away and I made my sister's-in-law recipe for peanut butter cookies. I enjoyed two before anyone chose to inquire if they could have any. Then, I plainly said that we do school in our clothes and after we put away our pajamas. We will do the entire school day today as well as insert Chemistry and finish the art assignment that didn't get done last week. Each came and did what I asked for even though it took until the Daddy came home from work. We are not behind and we will keep on the schedule because, "I know the plans I have for you" says the mommy. And that's that. Ultimatums and requirements, you bet ya!

Friday, August 7, 2009

First week of 2009-10 complete!

Well, most of it. I need to finish the painting activity with the kids from Artistic Pursuits about Cimabue and Gothic art craftsman's guilds, but we can do that on the floor with water colors in the morning while Dad makes donuts. We actually got to art which is more than last year. I didn't get to include Chemistry study this past week though. I'm bummed about that. I loved high school Chemistry probably because of my teacher. My husband loved high school chemistry too. We'll get to it next week. And desert habitat and more information on Disneyland for G#1.

The kids did their Bible study on their own and prayed through the entire thing individually both Thursday and Friday. They are doing more tasks on their checklists on their own. I was able to have the web pages ready for them to use in finding the African country of the day and the information about Ontario this week. But with 3 computers, and each one ready with one page that is used on some task, each child is able to accomplish what they are "willing" from their checklist. My goal is to have independent learners by the time they are in 4th and 5th grades. While they worked independently, I made wheat bread with freshly ground rosemary. Everyone appreciated it :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

All for want of the wine

Maybe you've heard the poem "For want of a nail." If not it goes like this:
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost:
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a nail. (Ferriers are quite important, you know)

Well, once upon a time, I traveled to Texas to learn Arabic and I flunked that language because I'd no clue how to learn another language especially one with another alphabet. I got a C, but that's the same as flunking in grad school. So, I wondered along one day in search of another language to learn and passed by the Arabic class as I'd already lost touch with that crowd. I scurried past the Hebrew class because I'd no business going to war-torn Palestine. I slowly considered Farsi for a nano-second and barring the different alphabet problem again, I knew I had no absolutely NO Business in Iran. SO, the only room left was the Turkish classroom with less than 10 students for a comfy small learning environment of normal looking characters AND the Latin alphabet.

I studied Turkish for many years along side an Air Force pilot on his master's degree assignment who happened later to visit me while I took classes in Istanbul at Bogazici Universitesi. He found many bottles of Turkish wine in my icebox there and decided that was a good habit to have after sampling the wine. As years went by and his program ended and mine led me back up north to Omaha, he suggested I meet up with his college roommate who was taking shore leave from an Atlantic Ocean fleet submarine. So, I agreed only to meeting this sailor on the grounds that the guy bring along a bottle of Turkish wine. Well, I'd met some of this pilot's other friends and had some reason to be weary.

That meeting led to other meetings which turned into dates and that turned into a wedding and marriage and now, 3 kids later, a need for even more Turkish wine. AND I've found the origin of the wine I seek. While in Ankara, that same Air Force pilot, now on assignment in the American Embassy, arranged for a tour of the winery for our family. I was overjoyed and thrilled to be in the place where my wine was made and the same wine that brought us together in the first place. Kavaklidere is a wonderful stop while visiting in Ankara or the Anatolian Region when you get there some day. But it was all for want of the wine on my travel this time and nothing was lost - yippeee!
Baseball gameBold, breezy cool August evening & fireworks with the daddy