Thursday, August 30, 2007

How-To Videos

(this is the hobbies section, go to the main site for all of the categories)

Please keep in mind that I did NOT personally view all the videos on this website, but the 3 art ones that I did watch were appropriate for children. Here are just SOME of the listings found only in the HOBBIES, so you can get a quick sample...

Scarf Juggling Tricks, Techniques, and Patterns: Free Online Video Lessons(15 videos)
Juggling Tricks, Techniques, & Patterns: Learn Free! Online VideoLessons (15 videos)
Free Salsa Lessons: Advanced Dance Steps & Salsa Dancing Moves (14 videos)
Free Beginner Salsa Lessons: Dance Steps & Salsa Dancing Moves (15 videos)
Cha-Cha-Cha: Latin Dancing Video Lessons (15 videos)
Domino! Learn How to Play Dominoes : Tips and Techniques for Beginners (7videos)
How to Make Stop Motion Animation (9 videos)
Free Magic Card Trick Basics : mAgIc TrIcKs rEvEaLeD (15 videos)
How to Build a Campfire: Online Guide to Camping & Fire Safety (14 videos)
How to Set Up a Tent: Free Online Camping Guide (15 videos)
How to Skip Stones (3 videos)
Beginning the Art of Modern Dance : First Steps for the Novice (14 videos)
Beginning Tap Dancing Techniques (15 videos)
Neoclassical Ballet Steps & Positions : Dance Lesson for Beginners (15videos)
How To Tie Boating Knots (16 videos)
How to Tie Camping Knots (17 videos)
Campfire Safety Tips: How to Have a Safe Camping Trip (15 videos)
Drum Music for the Traditional Southern Chinese New Year Lion Dance (15videos)
The Traditional Southern Chinese New Year Lion Dance: Steps & Instruction(15 videos)
Ballroom Dance Class for Beginners : Tango, Foxtrot, Waltz Steps & More(15 videos)
About Hot Air Balloons : Basic Hot Air Ballooning and Ballooning Safety Tips(15 videos)
Fly Fishing Instruction Guide: Advanced Line Casting Tips & Techniques,Knots (17 videos)
Tying Fly Fishing Knots & More Pro Tips & Techniques: Fishing InstructionGuide (15 videos)
Fly Fishing Instruction Guide: Tackle & Equipment Tips: Rods, Reels & Line(18 videos)
The Art of Watercolor Painting: Free Online Lessons (25 videos)
Tango: Latin Dancing: Learn How to Tango! (15 videos)
How to Dance Merengue: Tips & Techniques (15 videos)
Performance Tips for Balloon Artists: Entertaining With Balloon Modeling(15 videos)
How to Make Balloon Hats: Intermediate Balloon Modeling (15 videos)
How to Make Balloon Animals & Characters: Intermediate Balloon Modeling(15 videos)
How To Make Wire Sculptures (15 videos)
How to Irish Step Dance (16 videos)
Irish Step Dancing: Intermediate Level (15 videos)
Basic Artistic Drawing Techniques: Pencil Sketching & Line Drawing (15videos)
How to Start Drawing (15 videos)
How to Build Electronic Circuits: Basic Electronics Instruction (41 videos)
How to Prepare for a Horse Show: Showmanship Preparation (15 videos)
Intermediate Bareback Riding Lessons: Horseback Riding Tips and Techniques(14 videos)
Bathing Your Horse : Best Methods for Safe & Thorough Washes (15 videos)
How to Prepare Your Horse Oats & Feed (14 videos)
Advanced Hula Dancing Tips (13 videos)
Hula Dancing Tips for Beginners (15 videos)
Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching: Backyard Birding Tips and Techniques(14 videos)
Best Bird Watching Equipment: Know what you Need to Get Started in Birding(14 videos)
Birding By Ear: How to Identify Birds by Songs, Calls & Mechanical Sounds(15 videos)
How to Identify Birds by Sight : Tips and Techniques for Birding by Sight(16 videos)

Identification of Birds

While reading the Burgess Bird Book aloud (again), we stumbled onto a FAMILY ADVENTURE (now included in our Nature Journals too !) ... for birds. There were more than a few that we already knew by sight and name (being avid bird-feeder watchers - at last count we have 8 feeders of varying style, size, adn content !) Others were new to us completely. This of course led to "Mom, what's that bird at the feeder now called ?" and so on.

First we went to our bookshelves for the answers ... we have a few Guides and a few good books, plus a few Dover coloring books that cover birds. And then we did some searching online together and VOILA ....

This site has GREAT photos of males and females, maps, nesting habits, food habits, sometimes even their footprints are included ... AND .... it has their SOUNDS !! So you can hear the song of a Robin or BlueJay ... and if you are reading the Burgess Bird book (as we are), when Peter (Rabbit) describes in detail how he "loves" to hear the songs of various friends (birds) ... well, you can listen too.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nine Years Ago Today

Nine years ago today, Cherub 4 was born. Today is his birthday ... and he has been positively GIDDY about it all day. He was, just to note, our first child born in Tennessee .... our first Official Southerner.
His requested a special breakfast this morning ... a giant bowl of Chocolate Honeycombs (cereal) .... YUM !! (not !!). And we celebrated his Birthday Dinner a few evenings ago at the Steak House per his request - he had the "buffet" of fried chicken, fried fish, okra, corn bread, macaroni & cheese, creamed corn .... a good old fashioned Southern meal. Perhaps being SOUTHERN is truly in the water ?? (HA !)
Today is Tuesday, which means it is a school day. Cherub 4 completed his lessons without fail - he is a very dedicated student lately !! He especially enjoyed THE STORY OF THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER (from the Cornerstones of Freedom series), and then also enjoyed (even more) today's readings from OUR ISLAND STORY about both of Caesar's invasions of Britain long long ago. His notebook pages for each of his History readings were VERY creative.
This afternoon he will play outside (perhaps re-enacting Caesar's invasions - this was his idea for today IF there was no work to do on the farm),. However, what he REALLY wants to do today is to "work" on the farm if he is invited - he is really hoping to be invited to help out as this is his MOST FAVORITE activity right now, whether caring for cows or riding in tractors. (He "works" only with one of the men who own the farm OR with the Farm Manager - just to be safe.)
So this evening we will have cake and icecream - all chocolate - a boy after his mother's own heart ! And perhaps there will be a special gift to open too !!

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Soccer Practice Photos

Cherub 5 strikes a "pose" and is annoyed that Mom is taking photos rather than playing soccer.

Cherub 5 going to the goal - only after Mom promised "as soon as I am finished we will play".
This is Cherub 6's first season ever ... and he has waited YEARS to be old enough to play. He was "all business" when we got to the Soccer Complex .... "warming up" he said.
Cherub 6 again - VERY serious aboout his soccer.

We arrived for soccer practice a bit early today (15 minutes), so we thought it might be a good time to take some photos since we often forget to take very many throughout the season as we are busy coaching.

Update On DadToCherubs

Four weeks ago DadToCherubs went to the doctors for a check-up and with a few "minor" complaints (headaches, low energy level, difficultly sleeping, endless appetite, and headaches nearly daily).

And after the exam, he was diagnosed with difficultly sleeping, high blood pressure, and a weight issue. He weighed 234 lbs that morning. The doctor gave him blood pressure medicine, and appetite supressant, something to help him sleep (for "as needed" use only), and STRONG advice to quit drinking soda (completely) and to get his diet under control to lose some weight (quite a bit of weight actually).

After more than a few years of drinking NOTHING other than CocaCola (10-12 per day minimum !), he quit ... cold turkey as they say ... and bought a case bottled water on his way home from the appointment. He also agreed to limit his calories to 1200-1500 per day. And of course he agreed to begin the blood pressure medicine. He made "dietary" changes first until his blood pressure is under control - it did not seem a good idea to add exercise (beyond normal activity) until his blood pressure was stable as he has a history of strokes. So a low calorie diet, drinking water .... sleeping and eating on a "schedule" .... these were the first steps in his PLAN to get his health back.

So ... today was his 4-week checkup with the doctor. He weighed 218.5 pounds this morning ... which means he has lost 15.5 pounds in 4 weeks !! YAHOOOO !! He has been faithful to drinking NOTHING but water for the last 4 weeks. He has worked very hard to adhere to his 1200-1500 calories per day diet. His blood pressure is much better, but not yet completely in the "safe" range I suppose. The other good side-notes are that he has a bit more energy, is sleeping better (without meds other than maybe 2-3 nights of the last month so far), and that he has had only 1 headache in 4 weeks (after having had them nearly daily for quite a while). He feels great !!

Just wanted to brag a little about him ... he has worked VERY hard and his determination has not been shaken through this first month. (The goal is to get his weight down around 150 pounds, but this will take some time to accomplish.). One step at a time ....

Please pray that he remain strong in his determination to get his health under control, and in his commitment to continue forward with the plans for returning his body to GOOD health ..... and also pray for him as this week he will add in an exercise routine 2x per day with our BowFlex (now that his blood pressure is lower so it is safer) ....

We will keep you posted.
DadToCherubs weight is now down to 210 pounds ... he has lost 24 pounds in just a little over a month. YAHOOOO !!
UPDATE: September 7, 2007:
DadToCherubs got on the scale this morning ... he weighs 209.5 pounds .... he is under the 210 pound mark ... so he has officially lsot 25 pounds .... and he is SOOOO proud of this. YEAH !!!! WAY TO GO DAD-TO-CHERUBS !!

Soccer Begins Today

The Fall 2007 Soccer Season begins today. Today are the first practices, and the first games are scheduled for September 8th.
This season Cherub 5 will be playing on a U8 Girls team. And Cherub 6 is playing on a U6 team - he is so excited as this will be his first season, and he has waiting YEARS to be old enough to play.
DadToCherubs and I are coaching both teams.
Fall will definately be busy busy busy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Wedding Announcement

Candace, our dear young friend (and the oldest daughter of dear friends) , is getting married ... on November 10th ... and we are so excited for her.

There are some nice photos of the Engaged Couple on their family blog, along with the official announcement.

Our children are soooo excited for Candace (and Michael too) ... they said Michael is very blessed because Candace is such a VERY special young lady ... they took turns citing her "gifts" like her creativity, her ability to love, her kindness, her adventurous spirit, and her "have fun where ever you are" gift. And our girls have apparently admired her commitment to modesty and purity throughout her teen years (since we have known them). Our boys also noticed that as well (YEAH !!). At the end of the conversation, they said that they hope Michael is "just as special" as she is !! (no bias in this crowd - HA !) We will certainly be praying for them as they prepare for their wedding and as their lives become one in just a few monthes. In all of the talking this evening, Cherub 5 was uncharacteristicly quiet. Hummm ... so later I inquired as to what she thought .... well, she is a bit upset that her "evil twin" is getting married and will likely be moving away (to near Nashville) ... not to mention no longer babysitting here at Beck's Bounty. She cried quite a bit, but did eventually admit that she is happy for Candace but still sad too. I guess that might be normal when you are just 7yo. She wants to keep Candace "all to myself forever", she said. Awwww .... this was quite an expression of sentiment from this little Cherub (for those who know her atleast, because she is NOT exactly sentimental about much of anything). I suppose we will have to work on her a bit before the wedding, and before the rest of the "E" girls get married too ! (HA !)


** October 30, 2007 UPDATE:
Candace and Michael eloped last week.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Two Complete Weeks Of School

Well, we have just finished our first 2 weeks of school. There are lots of GOOD NEWS tidbits to report:

(1) THE BIGGEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: ........... (drum roll please) ......... Cherub 5 is TRULY reading on her own !! After a few years of phonics .... it CLICKED. She is rapidly going through chapter after chapter of McGuffey's Readers. (And she is soooo excited !)

(2) Our CM Organizer (planner) has worked amazingly well - what a major improvement this has made in our homeschool. The children are thrilled to have a detailed Daily To Do list every single day. And I am excited that the lesson plans are DONE ... and that even if a change is needed, it is simple and "finished" in minutes. This is the BEST homeschooling money I think I have ever spent, as the "planning" and "changing plans" were my biggest struggle ... actually it was a "GI-NORMOUS" struggle for me. So ... peace prevails. (and if you are using CM methods, watch the demos of this GREAT program at .)

(3) Cherub 1 is REALLY enjoying his Science focus so far - we are doing Apologia's Botany together as a family, and then he is working through Apologia's Physical Science solo. He has already learned quite a lot ... he says it really makes him THINK and WANT to find the answers.

(4) Cherub 2 and Cherub 3 have made great progress with their Penmanship. I know ... Penmanship is not considered a major deal, espicially with strong students who are motivated self-learners. Well, if you had SEEN their penmanship, you too would be thrilled with focused effort and improvement. It was pretty bad !

(5) All 6 children have reported independently that they are LOVING their books this year ... from History (Our Island Story, What Everyone Should Know About The 20th Century, Trial & Triumph, George Washington's World, Poor Richard) to Science (FairyLand of Science, Isaac Newton, Secrets of the Universe, Madam How Lady Why) to Literature (too many to list), to Nature Studies (Secrets of the Woods is a BIG favorite) .... I am sooooo thrilled to hear again and again (and again !) how much they are enjoying their books.

(6) Cherub 4 struggled for years with learning to read, and last year made great progress from barely reading to working through the first 2 books in the Little House series. He has nearly finished this series now. Daily he is practicing his Reading Skills with the McGuffey's series ... and just recently has begun to read Ralph Moody's Little Britches series ... he loves anything remotely related to Farm Life. He is also really enjoying James Herriott's stories.

(7) Cherub 6 is not truly ready for "FULL" school, as I suspected. So we do what he "wants" to do, in preparation for later learning. Skill building really is the focus, as he was not willing to NOT do school. So, of his own will, he works with much dedication daily on math (Singapore Math) and on his PreReading skills (letter sounds, sounding out small words with help, etc). He is also determined to learn to write his name ... the sooner, the better. He also listens with great attention (and great narrations too !) to all of the Read Alouds, no matter who is reading aloud and what the topic is. Too funny !!

(8) And lastly, on Friday we had an emergency visit from the Vet at 9am, and then an unexpected errand to run in Knoxville to do before lunchtime. The children BRAIN STORMED (completely on their own !!) and decided that to "save the day" they would each bring a few "independent" assignments to do in the car on the drive to and from Knoxville - they were thrilled to have a written Daily To Do list to work from. (I figured we had "lost" the morning and would just work through the afternoon and evening, and pick up anything we missed on Saturday. Boy was I wrong - the children had it under control !!). So after the Big Kids finalized their "well thought out plans" for the time in the car ... we listened to our Composer Study on the way up and back, and all of the children managed to complete their Math lessons, Math drills, and a few other subjects during the drive. They read a few stories aloud to the younger 3 cherubs, and then the big kids even took turns listening to the young kids Reading Lessons (Cherub 4 and Cherub 5 each read aloud from McGuffey's) and even reviewed previous lessons. WOW !! The car ride was unbelievably calm and relatively quiet as everyone was busy working ... so I stopped at Baskin Robins for some icecream as a surprise on our way home. HA !! They did not even notice I was stopping until I had parked !! HA !! Anyway, despite a very chaotic morning, the children managed to finish their WHOLE school day by 3pm without rushing through lessons or skipping anything. HOORAY !! When I asked later why they were so "dedicated" to their school work, Cherub 1 said "well, you worked so hard to put it all together for us, and it is working out so well this year ... we did not want to get behind just because we had a hectic morning." HOW SWEET !!


Message From Dad

We have gotten a few calls from Dad while he is in Bristol, and last night he sent us this photo that was taken with his phone. Not a bad photo for a cellular phone, is it ?!?!

BTW - he is having a GRAND time at the Nascar Races. But after 3 days away, he said tonight that he is getting a bit Home Sick. Awwwwwwwwwww ....
Our children watched the first half of the race tonight on ESPN. And they enjoyed the race, but were a bit disappointed that they were unable to see Dad ... I think they were quite surprised to see ALL of those people in the stands !!
Update 11:28pm - CARL EDWARDS won the race tonight at Bristol. DadToCherubs is likely thrilled !!

Praise The Lord !!

I was sitting at my desk working on a few things ... when I heard a noise. It was a little TAP TAP TAP on the roof .... maybe leaves blowing from our parched trees ... maybe some little sticks dropping from the dry dry dry trees ... no, that's not it .... what is that noise ?!?!?


Yes yes, after nearly 6 weeks of 90-100+ degree temperatures and NO RAIN to speak of .... IT'S RAINING !!

Praise the Lord. I can hear all the plants, flowers, and trees singing together His Praises ... and there might even be some "Night Owl" persons like me who are still awake and hear it too.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Nature Journal vs. Nightmare

We have seen more than a few Praying Mantis' here lately, so the children thought it would be a great NATURE JOURNAL subject this week. They sketched them and read about them a bit. Actually we learned a lot of really interesting information about them.
So, as the project progressed the children also wanted to include some "photos" of Mantis' on their Nature Journal pages. Being a GOOD Mom (and teacher), I helped them do internet search .... Praying Mantis' are FASCINATING creatures and there are many many many images available .... until ... well, until I found THIS photo (above).

This is the stuff that makes nightmares. HA !! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww (yuck).

Our Summer Heat and Drought





Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nascar Trip

DadToCherubs has a special trip coming up ... one that has been planned since early this Spring. He is sooooo excited.

He is going, with a few friends from TLH, to the NASCAR races this weekend in Bristol, TN. He has PROMISED to stick to his diet. They are going to camp in an RV for the weekend .... and other than hearing loss, I am sure they are going to have a GRAND TIME.
Please pray for DadToCherubs and his friends on this trip - the traffic is always awful and it is SOOO hot here in Tennessee.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nature Study: Butterflies and Bumblebees

Note: All photos are from our gardens.
We are beginning our Nature Studies this year with a study of Butterflies and Bumblebees - merely because they are VERY interesting AND because there are so many here at our house lately.
When we "spy" a butterfly, we try to either take a photo or make a GOOD observation - then we use our Peterson Guide to butterflies to local a picture that matches "exactly" - thus discovering it's name, region, habits, and such. We also sketch (or use a copy of a coloring page) and color the butterfly exactly, and then write (in our own words) what we KNOW about the lovely creature we just studied.
When we spied a great big Bumblebee a few days ago (in our Sunflower patch), we used our books to learn about Bumblebees, and then sketch (or used a coloring page - for the younger ones) and color a Bumblebee, then including a "narration" of what we learned.
Nature Journals - this is probably one of our MOST FAVORITE "school" activities. We encourage everyone to try it if they have never before kept a Nature Journal. Sometimes we work around a theme, and other times the children work on ideas and interests of their very own. In the end, it is a wonderful experience and a fantastic addition to "science" as it studies God's Wonderful "ArtWork".

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Garden Harvest Time

Our children (and Little Mr. B - the Farm Manager's son) were busy this afternoon harvesting green beans and tomatoes to have with dinner tonight ... we are really enjoying our garden.

Well, I should have said that the Quality Control Team ASSESSED the quality of the garden harvest BEFORE it was inspected thoroughly and approved for Table Distribution.

HA HA !!

All Hands Needed On The Farm

Photo 1: Cherub 3 driving the tractor with Mr. Charles, one of the brothers who own the farm we live on.

Photo 2: Cherub 4 riding with Mr. Charles. Later he got a turn "driving" with Mr. Bill, the Farm Manager.

Apparently MUCH help is needed on the farm right now. And apparently they are quite short-handed at the moment. So after church this morning, Cherub 3 and Cherub 4 were INVITED to help out this afternoon.

They worked hard (so we were told afterwards). We were also told that both boys were "very good at minding", and also were "the most polite boys we have ever had 'ta work for us".

And for Cherub 3 and Cherub 4 .... they got to ride on the BIG tractors, and even got a chance to drive them (with help of course). They had a grand time .... who said it was WORK ?!?! Well, maybe it was work afterall because they were certainly FILTHY and STARVING afterwards !

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What Better Place ?!?!?

When a person sees a farm and signs of children (bikes, toys, etc) ... and they want to be rid of a pet .... they think "what better place ?!?!" Well, there must be quite a few people lately that have had just this thought exactly.

In the past 4 weeks, we have adopted 1 adult female cat (Rose) AND 1 severely malnourished kitten (King Alfred) ... who by the way is doing much better now that he is well hydrated and well fed ... he even has a bit of a rounded tummy now. Both cats were dumped here by passing cars.

And just this morning, this little girl (photos above - and now named Hobo) was found not far from our vegetable garden ... YIKES !! She was dumped as well - how awful, esp in this heat !! She looks to be just barely over 8weeks old. The poor little dear !!

I think we are rapidly approaching NOAH'S ARK status.
HAPPY NEWS UPDATE Aug 22: This little pup has found a home that is NOT ours. There is a 90yo gentleman that lives across the street, and he spoke to the Farm Manager about his wanting a puppy. So last evening, Cherub 1 and I took this little pup over to meet him ... it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT !! She will undoubtedly be in great hands and in a loving home .... HAPPY NEWS ! HAPPY NEWS !

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Our Latest Trip To The Lake

This afternoon after school (1:30p - isn't homeschooling grand ?!?!), we went with some friends (the E family - well, atleast part of the E family went) to Fort Loudoun to swim. The children had a grand time and I tried to "click" photos but they kept moving too fast. Lots of blurs !! (HA !) The first photo above was actually taken after we were finished swimming - everyone needs a snack after an afternoon to spashing, right ??

It was hot !! REALLY hot !! REALLY REALLY REALLY HOT !! (actually, watching the news tonight, the weather man said it was 104 today in that area - and I believe him !!) It was hot - did I mention that yet ??

So - the children splashed and played, thoroughly enjoying an afternoon together AND playing in the water.

The park was immaculate as always, and we had the place nearly to ourselves I assume because the public schools began earlier this week.

We did not tour the fort or museum today - it was just TOO HOT to walk around a whole lot. Maybe next time, when it is a bit cooler. We did however get information and a schedule about the Reenactments that happen every so often during the fall and early winter monthes - those should be really neat !!

First Science Experiment Of The Year

Cherub 1 is doing Apologia's PHYSICAL SCIENCE all by himself this year as part of his schooling. And today was his first science experiment.

Needless to say, he LOVES science.

Our Little Friend

A very kind young man created this very special website for our little friend, Lily. She LOVES elephants, in case you can not tell from the site.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Our First Day Of School

We prepared and worked all spring & summer to get ready ... and today was our First Day of School (and first school day in our new house).
We started the day with a yummy Breakfast Casserole (crockpot recipe !) .... then we completed our "Family" subjects (Bible & Science this morning) ... and then everyone went straight to "work" on their individual assignments (with Mom helping of course as needed).
Everyone made a great effort, and it seemed by the end of the day that everyone had "claimed" their favorite "SPOT" to do their schoolwork. (HA !) Overall, things today went VERY smoothly, and we got a great start to what is going to be a VERY busy year.
Tomorrow is another school day - and we are having Fruit Cobbler (another crockpot recipe) for breakfast. YUMMY !!


Cherub 5 cried and cried for her favorite stuffed toy, Bob the Tomato (but she used it as a pillow) after our fire. Of all she had lost, THIS was the only thing she truly wanted with all her heart (esp late at night). She had been using "Bob" as a pillow since her 2nd birthday ... and that's a long time when you are nearly 8yo.

So, of course, being good parents, I called and wrote to every store and manufacturer known to mankind (or nearly) ... and DadToCherubs scoured the internet nearly daily ... and still we came up empty. We had just nearly given up hope of finding a giant FLANNEL "Bob The Tomato" pillow (stuffed toy). The company still makes them, but they have changed to a plush fuzzy fabric. It was NOT the same, so it just would not do (we asked Cherub 5).

Well, in July I found an IDENTICAL item on ebay - FINALLY !!

So - we placed our bid IN SECRET, without telling Cherub 5 or anyone else - and of course that brought on a bidding war. YIKES !!

In the end ... we won ... and since it was a complete surprise to her ... Cherub 5 was sooooooooo excited ... WILD would be a more appropriate word to describe her reaction when she opened the box. (and MomToCherubs and DadToCherubs got tears of joy).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The "Tail" of King Alfred

This little guy was dumped here on the farm (we think). He found his way to our house (aka Cat Utopia - HA !).

He seems to be maybe 8w old or less, and is a beautiful gray with golden eyes. However, he is TERRIBLY thin and malnourished, and so was also VERY weak the first few days after his arrival.

So, with some Starkist daily (for 3 days so far) along with Kitten Chow and lots of fresh water ... he seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Of course the LOVE he has gotten is also probably making him stronger too. Just this morning he is beginning to play a little bit.

King Alfed is the name Cherub 1 chose for him. Alfred is VERY personable .... quite a lap cat, with a LOUD motor running whenever a person is near. And considering the kind of treatment he has received, he is certainly living the life of a King.
August 22 UPDATE: King Alfred is doing SO much better. He is playing and running, eating well, and of course he is napping. His coat looks better and his overall energy level has improved greatly. He even has a little "round-ness" to his tummy.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Prayer Request

This below email was sent out to the HEO email loop. Lynn Bruce is a moderator for Ambleside Online and House of Education, both of which are curriculum that focus on Charlotte Mason's methods. We use these programs with our own children, and have benefited much over the past several years from Lynn's wisdom and encouragement. Please join us in praying for this wonderful woman.
Your Sister In Christ,

Dear AO friends,
We have some very important news to share with you concerning ourfellow Advisory member Lynn Bruce. We encourage you to take a moment to read Lynn's personal letter (to you):
Dear Friends,
As we begin a new school year, I ask a special interest in your prayers and support. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last Friday. I have three malignancies (involving two different types of cancer) and will soon be facing the long journey of surgery, treatment and, God willing, full recovery.
God reigns sovereign over every cell in my body, and in this blessed assurance I find immeasurable peace. He is good all the time, even when we don't understand Him. I praise Him for where He has led me thus far in my life, and I trust Him to lead me from here forward.
This coming school year will present many challenges for my sweet family. We covet your prayers, not only for my health and my spirit, but for my suffering family as well.
Grace & peace,
Lynn Bruce

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Cool Toy (To Make)

This was sent to me by a friend. THANK YOU FRIEND FOR THIS GREAT IDEA !!
(Photos can be found at the web address below)

Instructions to Build the Cotton-Spool Tank Introduction
This toy is made from a wooden spool and is powered by a rubber band. I used to make these as a kid and they are great fun. When you wind it up it will creep forward and climb over small obstacles like pencils, erasers and electrical power leads. It goes for quite a long time on a single wind up of the rubber band. As a small kid I also liked to place the tank on its end and imagine that the turning pencil was the tank's turret. Cotton-spool tanks are easy to build if you have the right parts. No special tools are required and you can probably build one in an hour.

What You Will Need
* Diagram of a cotton spool An old cotton-thread spool like the one shown in the figure. You are going to cut notches in the flanges so old wooden spools that have large flanges are the best but you can get by with a more modern spool that has small flanges. If you have a spool with small flanges you can choose to glue 40 mm diameter discs of 3-ply plywood or stiff cardboard onto the ends of the spool. If you do have to use a modern spool try for a wooden one because you will need to put nails into it.
* A rubber band that is a fraction shorter than the cotton spool, or a long rubber band doubled over.
* A pencil.
* Two small nails (10 mm long).
* A match
* 12 mm off the end of an ordinary candle stick.
To build this you will need a triangular file, a hammer, some string and a pointed knife (pocket knife is ideal).

How To Build It
1. View of the flange Start with the wooden cotton spool. With the triangular file cut V-shaped notches all the way round the circumferences of the flanges. Viewed from the end, the spool will look something like the one in the figure. The notches make teeth in the spool that allow it to climb over obstacles. Take the candle stub and rub a layer of wax onto one end of the spool. At the same time the candle stub should be given a smooth end surface. Note: if you don't have a triangular file and if the wooden spool is soft enough you can use a sharp Stanley knife to cut the notches. You will have to apply a lot of pressure to cut the spool with a knife and it is easy to slip and cut yourself so be very careful.
2. Take the two small nails and hammer them into the end of the spool opposite where you have rubbed the wax. Put the nails on either side of the hole in the middle of the spool. The nail heads must poke up about three or four millimetres and be about 15 mm apart.
3. Get a pointed knife and gently drill a hole through the centre of the piece of candle. You can remove the wick in the process. The candle stub has a habit of breaking so drill the hole slowly. One or two rubber bands must pass through this hole.
4. Diagram of the cutcandle stub Using the knife cut a V-shaped groove across the face of the candle stub that was not smoothed down in step one. The pencil will lie in this groove and the groove needs to be deep enough only so that the pencil does not spin over the surface of the candle.
5. The tank is now ready to be assembled. Pass a rubber band through the hole in the candle stub and put the pencil, sharpened end first, into the loop of the rubber band. Pull the rubber band back and make sure that the pencil rests in the groove in the candle stub. The candle should be at one end of the pencil.
6. Tank assembly Pass a piece of string through the cotton spool and tie it to the loose end of the rubber band. Pull the rubber band back through the spool so that the candle stub lies against the layer of wax that you put onto the spool. Pass the match through the rubber band on the nail end of the spool, so that the rubber band is held by the pencil on one side of the spool and the match on the other.

The tank is complete! Wind it up by some amount and put it on the floor. The pencil will rotate around till it also touches the floor and then the tank will roll forward. Put a small obstacle in its path and watch the tank climb over it. It should move quite slowly - if it unwinds rapidly you need more wax on the end of the spool or a smoother contact between the candle stub and the spool. If the tank does not roll forward well enough use two rubber bands instead of one. If the rubber bands keep breaking and it still rolls forward too slowly, chamfer the face of the candle stub that rubs against the spool. That is, reduce the area of the candle where it contacts the spool to give it less friction.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Homeschool Open House

Please be sure to check out the link below - and join the HOMESCHOOL OPEN HOUSE, or see what more-than-a-few homeschooling families are doing.

This wonderful "event" has so many neat ideas (given by generous HS families who are sharing their "schools"), and a seemingly never-ending supply of encouragement for this upcoming school year. This is also possibly a great resource for new homeschoolers, or potential homeschoolers - so please pass the word !!

As for our "entry" ... I have been busy with lesson plans, methods, and other studies in preparation for our next school year. We use a modified version of Ambleside Online, and mostly Charlotte Mason-style methods. We are preparing for some Character and Habit studies this year as well. Please feel free to browse though posts from late July and early August - to see our focused attentions, our School Plans for each of our 6 children, and much more. (The posts are far too much to consolidate into one entry.) ENJOY !!

On Habit

Of course, our study of Character Traits will bring us quite naturally to Habit ... we pray.

This is an interesting quote from Charlotte Mason regarding Habit (and just to note, she has MUCH more to say regarding habit, so this quote is just a tiny tidbit. Please read her books, available online for free or they can be purchased.)

“...the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions - a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.”
** By: Charlotte Mason

On Character Training

After our enormous difficulties this spring and after a rather emotional and chaotic summer, things have gotten a bit "out-of-order" in our home with regard to Character.

One major issue has been general bickering and complaining, and an overall lack of kindness by our children. Our servant's hearts somehow got lost, and our compassion (most especially for one another) seems to have gone with it.

It was decided by the whole family in a heartwrenching Family Meeting - we ARE going to do a focused study on Character Traits - and we are ALL going to work on improving our own "character" so that we might be happier with regard to God, to ourselves, to our family, and even to our friends and aquaintances. We are going to focus on those traits that God "spelled out" in His Holy Word. And we are going to intensely look for the practical ways we can LIVE His Instructions for us every minute of every day.

So as we tackle this GIANT project and very intense heart-matter, and as we try to RIGHT these issues this school year (and most especially this fall as we are beginning this difficult journey together, and as we straive for NEW habits), please pray for us.

Side Note: On my journey to find materials (online and through borrowed library books) with which to truly STUDY such character traits, I stumbled upon this quote which we are going to use as our "launch" point for our Character Studies.

“It’s human nature to be self-occupied...When we continually think only of ourselves, it’s stamped on our face and heart, the way a coin is minted. It’s the print of God I see on the face of the child who is learning to care for others.”
* Said By: Ms. Leistner, visitor to a Charlotte Mason school.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

10 Ways To Entertain Young Children For $1 Or Less


I found this "news" article today and just HAD to post it here .... we are in the process of making an I'M BORED box (details later) and these are JUST the sorts of ideas we were looking for. So, since we know that our children are not the only ones that occassionally are at a loss for something FUN to do ... we thought it might be nice to share. ENJOY !

"Are you sick of paying hundreds of dollars for toys your children don't play with? Tired of the latest toy catching your child's attention and having it turn out to be something you consider offensive (Bratz) or impossible to acquire (break dancing Elmo)?

Never fear. These classic toys and activities can be created with stuff you probably already have lying around your house. Plus, they will entertain your kids for hours and when they are done, you can chuck 'em without feeling bad you spent your Christmas bonus to get them. Plus, studies show a child will remember a toy you both created far longer than a store bought toy.
Here are the top 10 ways to entertain your young child for $1 or less:

(1) Large cardboard boxes - Perfect for making houses and small castles, rocketships, racecars, and so much more. A large cardboard box can entertain an imaginative child for hours. Make sure you are nearby to take pictures and plenty of door knocking. Hint: look for an appliance store in your area. They often have many of the large boxes they are willing to give you as opposed to putting in the trash. Maybe some crayons or paints, and IMAGINATION does the rest.

(2) Rubber band and pencil crazy bot - A simple toy you probably remember from elementary school. Take two unsharpened pencils and wrap a rubber band around the center. Twist the pencils lengthwise against each other (as you would wind a propeller on a toy plane). Set down flat on a table and let the jumping begin. Teach your child not to twist the rubber band too tightly or it will break. Make sure to have plenty of extra rubber bands handy just in case.

(3) Make a paper popper - What do children like more than birthday cake? Noise of course. Here's a little noisemaker you may remember from grade school.
Fold a sheet of copier paper lengthwise down the middle - open the sheet back up and lay flat
Fold all four corners of the paper inward toward the center crease
Fold the sheet of paper in half the other way keeping all four corners folded inward - you will end up what looks vaguely like a stealth aircraft
With the point facing away from you, grab the right side and fold it upward so the bottom is parallel with the crease
Do the same with the left side
Unfold so you are back to the stealth fighter
Using the crease as a reference, tuck the upper right hand corner into the popper.
Repeat with the other side. It will look like a diamond.
Lastly, Fold it one more time so it looks like a triangle.
Hold from the bottom and as if you were pitching a baseball, flip the popper rapidly through the air. The inward folded corner will "POP" out making a fun and satisfying sound.

(4) Home Depot Kids Workshop - The huge hardware conglomerate is a great refuge for Dads everywhere, but now they offer kids workshops one Saturday per month (check your local Home Depot for time and location). At the workshop kids learn how to build birdhouses, bat houses, stock car racers, airplanes, wooden flowerpot holders and more. It's a great Saturday morning activity where your kids can learn the skills necessary to fix your roof when you get too old to climb up there.

(5) Plant something - A simple way to teach young children how to take care of a living organism is to plant something. You can use containers made of old plastic cups with holes in the bottom or you can plant outdoors depending on the season. Digging in dirt is great fun for a child. They are also thrilled when the little baby plant awakens from the soil. Suddenly, they have something fragile to take care of. Hint: I find that planting green beans provides the quickest results. Bean plants begin to poke their heads through the soil in just a few short days.

(6) Water sprinkler - While watering the lawn, water your kids too. On a hot summer day, your grass needs 30 minutes of water. Send your kid out in a bathing suit and you'll kill two birds with one stone.

(7) Bubbles bubbles everywhere - Kids and adults alike love to blow bubbles. Mix up your own batch by pouring a teaspoon or so of dish soap into a cup and adding approximately 3 teaspoons of water. Stir and then test. You can make a free bubble wand by unbending a large paperclip and folding it back into a triangle with a small handle. You may need to add a little more soap or water to get the perfect bubble. Hint: pour the bubble solution into a small plate so it's easier to get the bubble film onto the bubble wand.

(8) Catch Fireflies - As a child, I remember fond days of catching fireflies and putting them into a mayo jar with holes punched in the lid. Your kids will love it too. If you don't have wooded areas in your yard, you can find a park. The fireflies should begin to light the sky around dusk. Teach your kids how to gently catch them by letting them land in their hand. You can collect them into a jar, but please be sure to let them go at the end of the evening so they don't die. (This teaches responsibility and respecting nature.)

(9) Paper airplanes - Up in the air with the greatest of ease. Teaching your child how to make and fly a paper airplane is one of the childhood rights of passage. It can foster a love of origami as well as a Lifehacker mindset of building your own toys. Simple airplane instructions can be found online for free, or in library books too. But try this one:

Fold a piece of copier paper in half lengthwise
With the crease closest to you, fold the top right corner down so that it lines up with the bottom crease.
Do the same thing on the other side.
Grab the top corner on one side and bend it downward so the crease on top of the paper is lined up with the crease at the bottom.
Turn the plane over and fold the other side the same way.
Fold it in the same manner one more time, by taking the top crease and lining it up with the bottom crease and folding.
Lather rinse, repeat on the other side.
Then fold the last two creases outward perpendicular to the bottom of the plane.
Fly away!

(10) Tin can and string telephone - You don't necessarily need tin cans for this project. Two plastic or styrofoam cups and some twine will do.
Using a tack or the end of a pin, punch a hole into the center of the bottom of each cup.
Cut a piece of light string 25 feet or longer.
Feed one end of the string through the hole of one of the cups
Tie a large knot on the string so it doesn't fall back through the hole.
Feed the other end of the string through the other cup and tie a knot like you did for the first cup.
Now give the cup to your child and walk away from each other until the string is tight.
Now you can whisper back and forth into your child's new telephone.This project gets your child's physics education off to a great start by teaching vibration and harmonics. Hint: Try the phone under doors and around corners of your house. If you keep the string taut it will still work.

How do you keep your children happy and occupied this summer? We would certainly love more ideas to add to this list !!

The Good Ole Days

Check out this site - it is literally a walk down memory lane - to the GOOD ole days. And while you are there, see if you can guess (at the bottom) how old Grandpa is too !

Enjoy !! (and THANKS to Ken for sending this to me first !)


We use more-than-a-few sets of flashcards as part of our schooling. And today I was looking for math flashcards for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I was hoping to click-and-print rather than to write them all by hand. Well, ask and you shall receive ... (a really neat flashcard website)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Prayer Request

Together, our family coaches a soccer team for Special Needs Children through AYSO. We have met several wonderful families and have had the priviledge of coaching some of soccer's finest players through this program.

One of our first players, named Taylor, was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy just before he began 3rd grade. Our team purchased a special guard to fit on his power chair so that he could play soccer. He seemed to really enjoy playing, and we enjoyed playing with him as well.

Taylor passed away after a long battle with Muscular Dystrophy last evening - he would have entered the 6th grade in jsut a few days. He is at last free of pain and suffering, and instead is with the Lord. What a glorious ending to a sad story.

Please pray for his family during this very difficult time.

A Trip To The Duck Pond

On Monday after dinner, we picked up some icecream (YUMMY !) and headed to the duckpond. We ate our icecream FAST because it was 95 degrees out. Then we unpacked some grain and bread. The ducks (and geese) we happy to see us - and their tummies were quite full when it was time for us to leave. (Oh - and the children and DadToCherubs had a grand time too !)

Spider's Web

In front of our house we found this HUGE spider and it's web - and what a neat photo it is ! It

seems our "flash" made the spider glow in the photo. (It was really brown with some small black markings).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

County Championship Swim Meet

Today (Saturday) 5 of our children (everyone except Cherub 6) raced in their last swim meet for the Summer Swim Team - the Dolphins. They raced against 2 other teams from our county for the County Championship.

Today started bright and early - everyone got up at 6am this morning, to be at the pool for Warm-Ups at 750am, followed by Preliminary Races which lasted until just before noon. Then we came home for lunch and a quiet restful afternoon. And at 3p we left for the pool again - and Warm-Ups were scheduled to begin at 350p. The Final Races began at 5p sharp and lasted until 10p. WHAT A VERY LONG DAY !!

Everyone had a grand time and is now EXHAUSTED. They are having a quick snack (swimming makes you VERY hungry), and then we are headed to bed.

And the end result of the day .... by A LOT of points .... the Dolphins WON .... for the 6th year in a row. HOORAY !!
And just to mention: when the winning team (ours) was announced, the WHOLE TEAM pushed their coaches (Molly & Bob) into the pool, and then all of the team members jumped in as well. This apparently is a Team Tradition, although we did not learn of it until after it happened. HA ! Of course, there was a lot of clapping, whistling, and cheering too. It was quite a sight to see !

Friday, August 03, 2007

Daddy - Daughter Moments

Cherub 5 was assembling this puzzle - it is 100 pieces. She had been working on it patiently for almost an hour, when DadToCherubs asked if she would like some help. After making a few faces and pondering heavily, she finally (reluctantly) agreed to "LET" DadToCherubs help. (I am sure you can imagine the joy that brought - esp if you KNOW Cherub 5. HA !)
So they worked for 20 more minutes, and the puzzle was finished.
Then they assembled 2 more puzzles together. And seemed to enjoy a little bit of time just to be together.