Monday, March 28, 2011

Places I've Been

My map is a little lopsided!  It's quite colorful on on the eastern side.  I hope to be able to get some of those other states colored in some day.  I love to travel!  In addition to some US states, I've also been to Canada and Cuba.  My family, as you may have guessed, is all located around the midwest.

How did I get to the western states?  Before marriage, I visited a friend in Las Vegas, Nevada and we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Then, a few years ago, our family travelled to Nevada on a business trip and we ventured into CA.

Other business trips have taken us to Louisanna, which allowed us to travel to and explore other states including Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.  The last business trip took us to Hollywood, FL (Ft. Lauderdale & Miami) where we explored Key Biscayne and toured a lighthouse.  Our next business trip is back out to California - to L.A. this time.  We try to take advantange of extended business trips when possible!

We have a travel trailer, so we've done some camping in the midwest and in the south.  We hope to take it out west some day, but with the cost of gas, who knows when that will happen!

Another blogger posted places she had been with her map.  If you would like to post yours, click here.  I'd love to see where you've been!

Halfway Through Homer

We have read through just about half of The Children's Homer.  Emily doesn't like all the war and killing.  Today, she said that she's tired of hearing about people being killed.  Can't say that I blame her!  So, I've been searching the internet for chapter summaries on this book, to no avail.  I suppose I will read it and summarize it myself.  Being halfway through, I hate to just stop.  But educationally speaking, I don't feel like much is gained by reading it.  In fact, I believe it has suppressed the desire on my part to read aloud as well as the desire on Emily's to be read to.  For this reason, I'm choosing to summarize the remainder of the book.  Sorry Homer!

Overwhelmed with E-mail

This weekend, I deleted over 1700 e-mails!!!  Seriously!  No, I'm not good at reading and deleting upon receiving.  I wish I was!  Maybe someday I will be.  Especially after this weekend.  Don't worry though, I most certainly did not read all 1700 before deleting them!  Ha!  Many were so old I figured they were irrelevent.  I might have worn out the delete key on my laptop!

I love the feeling of becoming more organized though.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Today turned out to be great for that.  The Holy Spirit must have moved something in me at church this morning because when I got home, I calmly, willingly, and successfully cleaned out some closets!  Wow, do we have a lot of stuff!  I could have a huge yard sale with all this stuff we no longer use. 

And somehow, I also managed to cook a meal and clean up after it today!  I love days like that.  It was actually relaxing to me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: Daddy's Home!!!

After spending four weeks working across the country, my husband is finally home!  It's great to have him home.  When we picked him up at the airport this morning, we saw him inside waiting for his luggage holding a red American Girl bag.  It was so funny to see and he said that many people commented and asked what was inside!  Our girls were particularly interested but he made them wait until we got home to open it!  He got them each an American Girl pet.

Meet Chocolate Chip...

And Honey...
They love them!

According to our scheduled lessons, you might think our school week was unsuccessful.  But, if you look at what we did off the schedule, it was productive.  Sometimes school has to happen in more practical ways.  And that's what this week was mostly about. 

We continued reading about David in our Bible lessons and skimmed through some history in Streams of Civilization finding ourselves deeply saddened by some things that took place.  I wrote about this in a previous post titled Disturbed by Ancient History and appreciate the comments left on it.

Using RightStart Math is still going well for both girls.  Emily is learning about check numbers.  I was tempted to skip these lessons, thinking that they are irrelevent.  But I'm glad I decided to go ahead with them because Emily enjoys (yes, enjoys!) working with them.  She likes charts and coded puzzles, so this is right up her alley!

The weather was great the first part of the week.  We spent some time outside and I finally went to the doctor for my back pain.  He believes it's muscular, which is what I suspected but dealing with it for over four weeks was beginning to concern me.  Of course, it has felt much better after my appointment.  My parents watched the girls while I was at the doctor's office and my dad, unknowingly, gave them a science lesson!  He took them around in his golf cart, showing them the trees the deer had rubbed their antlers on.  They couldn't stop talking about that.  So I asked them why deer would need antlers since they are herbivores.  Katie quickly answered "because they fight for the females!"  You gotta love her enthusiasm!  She has always loved animals.  And they love her.  Poor Emily didn't stand a chance to answer!

Wednesday brought us a huge hail storm.  I've never seen hail cover our yard the way it did this week.  It was an impressive storm.  It hailed steadily here for about five minutes, and then cleared up.  The girls collected some hail balls and put them in the freezer to show Daddy when he came home.  Some balls were pretty big but most were about the size of a dime or a nikel.

A friend and I organized a fundraiser luncheon held after our Bible study Thursday morning.  We had a great turn out and raised over $200!  The money went to the American Cancer Society to support our Relay For Life team.  Emily couldn't wait to count the money in the bucket!  Any opportunity to use math in real life thrills me.

Friday came quickly this week...and early!  We started the day at 5:00 a.m. since Hubby had an early flight.  It was an all-nighter for him, so I didn't complain about leaving so early to pick him up.  We all enjoyed a nice breakfast together but were too tired to do much of anything else.  The cold and gloomy weather provided a perfect day to rest.

It's good to have my hubby home!

Linked with Weekly Wrap-Up and Weekly Homeschool Highlights

Monday, March 21, 2011

Disturbed by Ancient History

I know these ancient civilizations did some awful things, but what we read today just breaks my heart.  I'm hesitant to share it for fear it will break yours too.  However, it is a part of history and you probably already know it.  Here's what the text says from Streams of Civilization, Vol. 1:
The most terrible god the Phoenicians worshiped was named Moloch.  He supposedly demanded human sacrifices, so parents offered their children to show their devotion.  Trumpets and flutes played loudly to drown out the cries of the babies as they burned in the blazing fire in the god's lap.
How terrible!  We did not read that last sentence in our lesson time because my girls would have nightmares over it!  I'm nearly in tears as I write about it.  I hope that this is a myth, but know in my heart that if it's not, those babies are in the arms of Jesus.

Does anyone else have trouble reading about these and other terrible events in history?  Those people had to have been brainwashed to sacrifice their children to a god whose statue "viciously awaits the sacrifice of a living child in his flaming, hollow stomach." (Streams of Civilization, Vol. 1)  The really sad thing is knowing that civilizations exist today that sacrifice their children in a number of ways, including war training/fighting and sex slavery.  I'm so thankful that we serve the one true God who loves us so much that He gave the ultimate sacrifice of His son.  It's by His grace that we are saved and by His sacrifice that we live.  I praise God for my freedoms as I pray for those in bondage.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: The Week that Barely Happened

Once again, it's kind of a blur.  No, really!  I'm thinking deeply about what I might write, knowing that it will not be anything substantial! 

Since Katie has been a little upset about my decision to drop out of co-op, I thought it would be a nice surprise to visit the co-op during lunch on Monday. She was very happy! ...until it was time to go. Then, she began questioning my decision and practically begged to go back. Some may think we are cruel for keeping our kids from something they love. But, it was a decision that Hubs and I made together and still feel it is best for our family at this time. There's plenty of really great things I'd like to do, but I must choose the best out of all the good! 

The depressed state that Katie was in vanished when we walked through the library doors. Nice save! Both girls brought many great books home and the rest of the day was enjoyable.

We are plugging through The Children's Homer although I admit that we are getting a little bored with it. I pre-read and summarized a couple chapters to ease the boredom. And the 'Greeks vs. Trojans' chart we made helps us keep track of who's who. I'm still not giving up on it.

We are reading about David, "the man after God's own heart." What a great example of the kind of person I want to be - a great friend, slow to anger, non-judgmental, forgiving, and passionate.... a woman after God's own heart is who I want to be! And I pray that for my girls as well.

We had quite a lot to do this week, outside of schooling. For this reason, we didn't complete everything on our schedule. We will, in time. Hubs is still gone. His work got delayed since their parent company is located in Tokyo. They are doing their best to carry on as usual, but getting people and shipments here from Japan is tough right now. Parts of Japan is rationing electricity now as well, so production has slowed tremendously after being shut down for a while. He's been gone for three weeks and now has one more to go. I hope that plan pans out. We miss him!

Thursday was gorgeous! I planned on making green eggs for breakfast, or lunch, but St. Patrick's Day nibbles were provided for us at Bible study in the morning, so I sat my plans aside and absorbed the creativity of others! We ran some errands in the warm sunshine and then came home and played outside. Later on, we went to the Upward Award Program. We thoroughly enjoyed the Christian comedian/vantriloquest/magician. He brought me to tears when he extended an invitation for children and adults to accept the Lord into their lives. Hear the prayers of the children and some adults gave me chills from head to toe as tears welled up in my eyes and streamed down my cheeks. I pray I never forget that moment.

Friday didn't really happen. Or, did it? We read some, and decided that the chirping birds needed to be fed.  We made some pinecone bird feeders.

First, we spread peanut butter on the pinecone, and then rolled it in bird seed.  Voila!

I tied a string around each one and hung them in our tree.

Half our weekend is busy, so I'm glad to have tonight to just chill out.  I've got my feet up and a pillow behind my back (it's hurting again), and the kids are next door playing.  This could be a good evening!

*** Be sure to participate in my new poll:  "My favorite season is..." to the right of my latest post. ***

Linked with Weekly Wrap-Ups and Weekly Homeschool Highlights.

St. Patrick's Day

I'm usually all about making fun treats on special days.  But since a couple ladies in our Bible study provided such a nice St. Patrick's Day spread, I didn't feel compelled to at home.  The table was complete with mint flavored brownies and pineapple pistacio pudding.  The kids appreciated it as much as the adults.  And to top it all off, we were blessed with warmth and sunshine, so we spent the afternoon running errands and playing outside.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Springing Forward

I know it's only one hour, but springing forward always makes me tired!  We barely made it to church this morning and we've all been tired all day.  Even so, Emily went to her gymnastics practice while Katie and I went for a swim.  At least I got a little exercise. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Little Girl's Purse

My cousin had a birthday party for his 2 year old daughter and said she loves purses.  So I made her one!  After sewing & ripping out a number of seems, I finally got it!  She loved it.  I'm going to make another one since I have some material left.  Maybe I'll get it right the first time!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: When Change is a Good Thing!

Another week down in the books.  I grew tired of schooling in the "classroom" and felt like we needed a change.  Since the big comfy chair in the living provides a great resting place for my back, this room served as our classroom pretty much all week.  And my back is thanking me!  It feels so much better.

Some schooling was done in the kitchen, which was of great benefit to me.  I was able to cook and clean while watching over the kids doing their work.  This might be the new norm for us.  Don't get me wrong, it's great to have a dedicated room for school.  But it often feels confined and boring.  It's good to have options.

I'm pleased with what we did this week, although we haven't gotten ahead like I wanted.  The Bible study I'm in is very time-consuming.  I love it, but it takes a lot of time and meets on Thursday mornings.  That, combined with flying this ship solo while Hubby is away, makes for very busy days.

We spent Monday mostly doing life skills.  Some book work did get done in the morning, but after that, we got moving with our household chores.  The dishes had piled up and the dining table was a bit messy.  There was barely a place to sit in the living room.  So, we cleaned it all up.  We even took it a step further by polishing the stainless appliances in the kitchen & thoroughly cleaning the glass cooktop!  Um, yeah, I was having company!!!  Usually a small crowd of guests doesn't warrant a massive clean-up.  But I was in the mood and it felt good to get all that done!  The kids didn't complain about helping either.

We haven't had a chance to work on our picture frame project.  But don't worry, I'm not giving up on it!  Maybe we'll have time for it this weekend.  Or not.  We have games, practices, and a birthday party...all on Saturday!

Does anyone know where I could get bamboo poles - cheap or even free?  We would like to use bamboo to make some decorations for our Relay campsite.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Letter Writing

Surely this counts for classroom writing:
Mar. 10, 2011

Dear Mommy,

I would love it if you could please make me a sheep lap book to work on at Bible steady and when i am bord.

I don't realy have mouch more to say so, I love you and can we go to wally world today because their is a Squinkie thing i want!  Please!!!

Love, Emily!

Oh yes, there are mistakes.  But look at the format!!!  I love it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Making Writing More Fun

Katie is now writing a short summary of each Bible story.  So I thought it would be more enjoyable to do it on fun paper.  I found the sheep shape on Google images and inserted the lines myself.  She loved it!  I'll have to come up with more designs!

The Children's Homer

Against my judgment of this book and despite a few adverse reviews, I decided to go ahead and start reading The Children's Homer with Emily, to give it a fair chance.  Surprisingly, we kinda like it.  Well, I do.  Emily grumbles when I pull it out.  But we always have a fun conversation about the chapters after we read them and I believe she is secretly fascinated.  And even more surprising, she wants to read some of it to me!  You just have to know how this makes my heart sing and my feet jump for joy!

Speaking of JOY... Emily came to me today telling me that she knows what it means.  Huh?  Yes, that was my response.  She was very excited to tell me:  "JOY - Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last."  I had that written on a little piece of paper on my desk and Emily found it.  I love how God used my child to remind me that in everything I do, I should do it first for Him. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Did another week really just pass by?  It was a good week, at least I think I remember it that way! :)

Nothing new in our studies except that we started reading The Children's Homer this week.  I debated about whether or not we would read it.  I figured it wouldn't be fair if we didn't at least try it, since it's scheduled in our curriculum.  So, we did.  And I'm glad we did.  Yes, some names are hard to pronounce, and some words require a dictionary.  But, I decided to read the chapters first myself, on my Nook, which makes looking words up way too easy!  All I have to do is put my finger on the unknown word & tap on "look up" and it gives me the definition and pronunciation instantly!  Even some of the names are listed, with pronunciation!  If it's not in the dictionary, then we make up a reasonable pronunciation or give that character a nickname.  We are only on chapter 5, so we'll see how this goes.

Since I mentioned the Nook, I have to share more about it.  I love it for the the purpose it serves but it has been a challenge for me to understand how to properly use it... to the point of driving me nuts!  Thank goodness for Google!  I tried borrowing books from the free library but couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to get it on my Nook properly.  Finally, after searching a solution on Google, I learned how to do it.  And I know that one blog follower in particular will be thrilled to hear that my first successful attempt to borrow just happens to be the first Twilight book!  My first (failed) attempt was for Water for Elephants, which I tried twice and failed.  I'll get that one after I read Twilight.  Has anyone read The Hunger Games?  Someone recommended it to me and I started reading a sample of it.  Just wondering if it's worth continuing.

On the home front - hubs has been working all the way across the country, which leaves me alone with the kids for a three week span.  Call me a wimp, but I don't like it.  My BFF arranged for her teenage daughter to watch my children Friday night so that a group of us moms could go to Panera for dinner and enjoy a little shopping.  Even though her babysitting service was a gift to me, I was compelled to pay her a little something when I came home to a clean house and no dishes in the sink!  She even did the dirty ones I left out from lunch!  God bless her!

I've been a little bummed lately because I didn't think I'd be able to attend our local homeschool convention that is soon approaching.  Our plans have changed a bit, and now I get to go!  I'm particularly excited to get to meet a blogging buddy (hopefully!!!).  You know who you are, Scrapingirl!!!

On a personal note, I've been experiencing a great deal of lower back pain for over a week now.  It has improved a little and I keep putting off a visit to my doctor.  But, I think I might break down on Monday and give him a call.  Enough is enough.

Another exciting thing is that I met a wonderful, Christian photographer today who is willing to be my mentor!  A couple weeks ago, I was asked to fill in for him during some Upward basketball games, and I was a little nervous about that because I haven't photographed sports, other than during my kids' games.  I've done weddings and portraits, and love scenics & still shots.  But sports photography is something I've never really delved into but want to learn more about.  This man already gave me a few good tips today, and said I could join him, as a learning experience, when he starts baseball season.  I'm excited!!!

One last thing that is worth mentioning is that I am a participant, Team Captain, and Team Development Chair for our local Relay For Life.  If anyone would like to help the American Cancer Society to raise much needed funds for research and advocacy, that may one day lead to a cure, please visit my Relay Page to make a donation.  Any amount is appreciated.  I am a cancer survivor and have an incredible story, but I'll save that for another post.  So, Relay For Life is a passion and I hope that my readers will at least visit our site to read more about it!

Have a blessed weekend!

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fun Day

I think the sunshine was good for us today.  After school, I took the kids out for a late lunch and used our free meal coupons (gotta love that!).  It was around 1:30 when we went so we were all pretty hungry.  After that, we went to the YMCA to swim.  I've had terrible back pain since Friday and thought that being in the water would help.  It was bonus for the kids!  They didn't care why we were there, they were just happy to swim!  We hadn't been swimming since last summer and Katie still hadn't mastered floating on her back.  Well, she got it today!  Yay!!!

I did "torture" them, according to Katie, by making them sit on the bench for a little while so that I could soak in the hot tub.  Now that felt really good on my back.  To make up for the torture, I let them get in the warm water pool where they got to go down the slides.  This was the first time Katie went down the big slide and she came down so fast, I thought I'd have to jump in to scoop her off the bottom of the pool!  But, she did fine.  She didn't do again though!  Because of that, I was surprised that Emily went down.  She came down even faster and kind of sideways with her body almost completely straight.  She looked like a torpedo!  She didn't do it again either!

By the time we left, I realized that we had been there for three hours!  And we still needed to go to the grocery store for a few essentials!  But, no one complained.  Not even me, with my painful back.  We knew what we had to do and we did it.

On the way home, Emily said with much excitement, "this was a really fun day!"  And Katie so kindly thanked me for doing so many fun things with them today.  They were wiped out and were easy to get into bed and asleep tonight. :)