Thursday, January 31, 2008
MORNING SKY ALERT:
Set your alarm for dawn. On Friday morning, February 1st, Venus and Jupiter converge in the southeastern sky less than 1 degree apart; they will beam through the rosy glow of dawn like a pair of celestial headlights. It's a spectacular view worth waking up early to see. The February 1st alignment kicks off four mornings of beautiful views as the crescent Moon moves in to join Venus and Jupiter over the weekend. Visit http://spaceweather.com for sky maps and photos.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
the same number of hours per day that were given to
Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, MotherTeresa,
Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson,
and Albert Einstein."
-- Said by H. Jackson Brown
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
LEWIS & CLARK: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.
(A film by Kevin Burns. 1997. The American Lives Film Project Inc. PBS)
I have seen this movie in catalogs and on Amazon's website. I was always curious but never took the plunge and ordered it. Then recently I saw it on the Netflix website and put it into our "choices". What a great decision !!
This movie brought so much life to the book we finished not long ago about Louis and Clark (their journals). This is a documentary and re-enactment rolled into one .... their beginnings, their coming together for this adventure, their travels, events, places ... and the scenery was incredible !!
We highly recommend this movie for anyone interested in their expedition and experiences. Or perhaps just watch it for fun !!
Friday, January 25, 2008
My eyes get tired with all of the reading and computer-use that I do on school days, so I can nearly set my watch by a "1 o'clock headache" Monday through Friday. When my eyes get tired, I can still see fairly well, however the edges of everything get "fuzzy" -- from letters in books to edges of furniture and even buildings. If I press on much past the fuzzy-edges point, my eyes just do not focus well at all and a distinctive headache begins. (and I hear rumor that I am grumpy when I have a headache, but I can neither confirm nor deny this. HA !)
Today was a school day (Friday) for us. We tried to hurry along today -- first to get to the eye doctors for Cherub 3's annual eye exam (during which I would also pick up my NEW glasses !!). After the eye doctor visit, the children and I were to run a few more in-town errands before dark. This was the plan !! So we managed to finish school by 1:00pm and then to get everyone dressed and ready to leave by 1:15p. At 1:30 everyone was in the car -- and I managed to walk out the door without the Tylenol but WITH my headache ... and I drove to the eye doctors. During nearly the entire drive I was mentally rescheduling the errands we had originally planned to do this afternoon. I thought it would be best to do them tomorrow instead (sans headache).
While driving Cherub 6 asked in his most sweet curious voice, "Mommy, am I going to get my eyes checked ?" To this I said "Yes, but not today. Your appointment is next week." He was quiet for a short while, and then piped up to ask "Why do you need glasses anyway ?" To which several children responded (while giggling) THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH MY DEAR. (from Little Red Riding Hood, in case someone forgot.)
Let me make a quick mention that I have worn glasses "as needed" for years (mostly for reading computer use, and maybe sewing), but have just not had the time to get them replaced after our fire last year. When I would THINK to call to make an appointment I had a headache and so did not want to call. When I felt fine, I did not think to call to make the appointment. And so I continued for nearly a year ..... until a desparate afternoon last week when I called to make an appointment, and the kind lady told me they had a cancellation for the following morning at 8am. YAHOOO !! (so of course I went to the appointment, and afterwards ordered my new glasses which would take a week to come in.)
Back to today -- I drove to the doctors with my eyes exhausted and a splitting headache (right behind my eyes, or so it felt). I picked up my glasses and tried them on - adjustments were made for the fit - I thanked the ladies and headed out of the office. I went out to the car to wait while Cherub 3 had his annual eye exam. While I was waiting, I was planning to read our Artist Study and Composer Study readings aloud to the other children. I thought "why not try it with glasses ?" After 30 minutes or so of reading my headache was GONE .... no tylenol .... I suppose the headache was resolved simply by not straining my eyes any more.
So, when this evening we have GOOD NEWS ALL AROUND. First good news --- my glasses are great, although I look a bit like a librarian (no offense intended to Librarians). Second good news --- Cherub 3 no longer needs glasses (he outgrew being far sighted). Third good news --- we even managed to get to the music store, grocery store, and Staples as we had originally planned (before dark too !).
And now I am off to read our bedtime story (with my glasses ON) ... and I think I might try to sleep in a bit tomorrow morning since my errands are finished.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Every day a new word is emailed (bright and early in the morning) ... and every day at breakfast we read the word aloud, along with the definition(s) and sample sentences. Then, the game begins.
Everyone tries to use the new world 3-5 times or more throughout the day, thus incorporating it into their current vocabulary simply by using it correctly and often. It is used in oral and written narrations, in creative writing, in writing letters, or simply just in conversation. Creativity is a must for this game.
This method of learning new vocabulary words seems to be working for our family, and so far is much better than dry Vocabulary workbooks and lists. We have checked out some SAT / ACT prep type vocabulary lists and programs, and have seen many of these same Word-Of-The-Day words there. Perhaps we are getting a jumpstart ?
None the less, it IS a fun part of our day. Give it a try ....
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Cherub 1 is going to begin THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C.S. Lewis this week. The description alone caught his interest (hooray !). Being "an ordinary young man", it is my hope that this book will make a lasting impression on him. It certainly made a lasting impression on me many (well, not TOO many - HA !) years ago.
Cherub 2 and Cherub 3 will begin reading THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS in late February - they have some other books to finish reading first.
Cherub 2 thought the excerpt sounded interesting - hopefully she will think it to be more than just "interesting" when she gets started.
Cherub 3 could have read this book some time ago, and begged to read it several times - his reading ability and comprehension would have allowed for it, but his maturity was more of a match for his age so I decided to hold off until this year. He is now very excited about this book on his reading list because he counts C.S. Lewis as one of his favorite authors.
MERE CHRISTIANITY has always been one of my favorite books. I read it again last fall and decided to add it to our schoolbook list for this year. And now it is next on our Morning Bible Time reading list. We are going to read it aloud as a family. (DadToCherubs even asked to join in when we begin this book.)
I do not believe we have ever before read so many books at the same time by the same author -- much less, such a great writer as C. S. Lewis. I hope that our dinnertable conversations will prove to be quite interesting in the coming weeks.
And now ... some older photos from my laptop files.Cherub 2 working on Christmas gifts (handmade) with Mom (November 2006).
Individual Christmas photo of Cherub 2 taken December 2006.
A Serious Case Of S-I-L-L-Y .... Cherub 2 while out to dinner in March13, 2007. (This photo was taken when we were out to dinner after just moving to our new house, following our housefire. It was our THANK GOD FOR HIS BLESSINGS & CELEBRATE OUR NEW BEGINNING dinner.)
It seems so difficult to believe that yesterday was Cherub 2's 12th birthday ----- it seems that only yesterday she was 5yo --- and a few days before that she was a tiny baby.
Cherub 2 started life in a tough spot - with pyloric stenosis, surgically corrected at 12days old. She has struggled with stomach issues ever since - reflux, and just being very prone to stomach "upset". But she is a champ -- and rarely lets it slow her down.
Cherub 2 is always busy -- She loves to read, to craft, to sew, to cook, and to play her keyboard (beginner). She also enjoys using the computer and playing the Wii with her brothers !!
Today she is a bouncing happy pre-teen (YIKES !!) with a heart of gold !! Cherub 2 has always had a heart for God -- she says she was inspired by Mother Teresa's view that one must see the image of Christ in all persons - she says "if you do that, you cannot help but to love everyone." Isn't that beautiful !?!??! (It still brings tears to my eyes when she says that !!) She is the second Mother in our house, and is always available for a hug, a word of encouragement, or help when someone needs it. Cherub 2 is FARRRR more patient than her mother, and has a dry sense of humor that is just TOO funny.
And after having tummy issues all through our vacation to Gatlinburg (and refusing to quit and come home) and through her birthday -- she is having a RE DO on her birthday next weekend -- with her "choice" meals, her birthday dinner, and a shopping trip. (Did I mention that she loves to shop ?? Eeeekkkk !!)
Last night as I hugged her goodnight, I reminded her that in my mind I still see her as just-turned-5yo .... pigtales, chubby dimpled cheeks, and a smile that could melt a glacier. She giggled and said that was ok with her because she promises to ALWAYS be my little girl.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
DadToCherubs got up early this morning and headed out to town. As afternoon neared he said that the streets were full of SNOW CRAZIES (masses of people running about preparing for the snow as if it were to be the Blizzard of the Century) --- and there was not a bit of milk, bread, or toilet paper to be found. HA HA HA !! (kidding about that last part)
On the news this evening, the newscasters seemed to finally settle on SNOW with SOME ICE ... and the main questions changed to "how much of EACH ?" and "what time ?" .
At this point, the predictions STILL range quite a bit .... the average forecast seems to be "a bit of sleet mix PLUS 1/2" - 3" accumulation" ... and all of this depends on the speed of the storm, the temperature, and the elevation.
All we know right now (9p) is that IT IS SNOWING, and there has been a bit of sleet mixed in. (Did I mention that it is SNOWING right now ?? YAHOOO !!)
We do not care how much snow, just as long as we get at least a dusting. We could do without the ice -- it just seems to make a mess of the power and the roads. But snow ----- I am setting my alarm for 12midnight, 2am, and 4am ... and if there is enough snow (or even ice) on the ground to play in when I get up and look out the windows, I will wake the whole family for SNOW PLAY TIME. A dusting is enough for us - we are thrilled for ANY snow at all here in SE Tennessee !!
In the mean while, we are getting ready for bed ... while singing LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW !! Our snow pants, coats, hats, and gloves are by the door ... and the teapot is full of water to be boiled, and the kitchen counter is lined with mugs and the ingredients for a fast batch of hot chocolate.
So .... time will tell how it all works out ....
THURSDAY UPDATE: Well, it snowed and we had a little sleet mixed in for a few hours last evening ... and just as soon as the grass was covered with a slight dusting, we got RAIN which washed it all away. So .... no snow to play in this time. The children are disappointed, but keep saying MAYBE NEXT TIME .....
When we got in the car Cherub 6 insisted that he was not tired .... we had been driving for 10 minutes when he AGAIN said I'M NOT TIRED ... and 2 minutes later we took this picture of him.
The end of a "race" .... Cherub 5 racing with Pris (her VERY BEST friend, so she tells us) and shrieking and WHOO-HOOing the whole way down ... and Cherub 5 is in the lead. (Thanks Pris for being so gracious and loving with her !!)
Cherub 5 and her BEST friend Priscilla --- what a cute photo !! I hope Pris had as grand-a-time as Cherub 5 did while they were skiing together !!
I am emailing photos to Shadybrook Acres today - perhaps she will post some photos of her family skiing too. http://shadybrookacres.blogspot.com/ We got LOTS of great pictures this weekend.
In the center of this photo is Cherub 6 skiing with his instructor down the Intermediate slope. He skis VERY well -- until he has to stop !! He is not quite strong enough to work his skis into a STOP position. (Toward the middle of the day we bought him an hour private lesson in hopes that his teacher could show him some other ways to stop - and she did. He will just have to practice more and get a little stronger.) He almost never falls while skiing - and he TRIES earnestly to stop, and finally just falls over when he knows he HAS to stop. Yet he smiles the whole time - he gets back up and tries again and again and again. A few times he dumped himself over, and got tangled up and was unable to right himself (and Mom was not quite to him yet, but she was coming) -- and some snowboarders who were watching him as they passed stopped to help him out of his "pickle" - they picked him up by the shoulders, noticed the "tangle" and shook him out like a piece of laundry to get his legs and skis untangled. It was so funny !! Then they would put him back on his feet with a big smile and some encouraging words. A few of these guys commented that he was the COOLEST LITTLE GUY they had ever seen on skis, and said they admired his determination and his constant smile. Cherub 6 thought it was pretty neat to be admired by the "cool guys". HA !!
DadToCherubs trying to spray me with snow after coming off the slopes -- while I was trying to get photos of all the children skiing. HA !! What a funny guy !!
The resort was beautiful !! It had an indoor pool and hottubs, and a heated outdoor pool with more hottubs. Our children were so impressed to be swimming "Outside In January". HA !! There was also a ncie game room with pool tables, a ping pong table, and arcade games. All of the children (big and little) had a grand time the first evening playing together.
The rooms themselves were beautiful too. Ours had 2 large bedrooms, 2 HUGE bathrooms, a living room area, and a kitchen / dining room area. It was very comfortable, and with a kitchen we were able to bring some of our food with us (instead of eating out for the whoel trip).
After playing at the Game Center, we settled in for a long rest the first night -- to prepare for skiing.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Saturday, January 05, 2008
and a little volume would be helpful (for the music) ...
it IS online afterall. But OH BOY will it make you think ...
and think ... and think some more.
We have used Saxon Math ( http://saxonpublishers.harcourtachieve.com/en-US/saxonmath_home ) since we began homeschooling. And I believe it has served us well. Five of our six children seem to have a solid understanding of Math. We have one student who truly struggles every day with math. Otherwise, it is actually the strongest subject area for most of our children (unlike their mother - HA !). But it could stand some improvement, and in some cases some excitement. (Can Math BE exciting ?? Cherub 1 says it can, but I am secretly doubtful. HA !)
All things considered, as our children are getting older, we are becoming increasingly aware of the growing limitations (current and potential) on our teaching ability here at home, in the area of Math specifically.
As Cherub 1 prepares to begin high school next fall, we decided a different type of math program might be in good order. And we decided to try this new program before he begins Algebra, so that "new" math and a "new" program do not cause confusion at the same time. Currently, his Math skills are quite strong (he works almost completely independently in Math) so we thought this was a perfect time to learn to work with a new type of Math program. This program, we hope, will make his advanced math a better expereince for him. And should he encounter issues with this type of program (now) OR with Algebra (next year) we will know where the "true" trouble is ....
Cherub 2 really struggles with Math. She is a very strong student (our most-dedicated actually), but for some reason she struggles with Math constantly. So we think that perhaps a "teacher" other than Mom and Dad, and this step-by-step format may be a beneficial change for her too. We also think that it will be extremely beneficial to her to have the ability to see the "actual" problems she has worked incorrectly then solved step by step, rather than just seeing the answer list and not knowing how to work the problem correctly (or just where she went wrong).
Cherub 3 has always been a solid Math student. He is actually quite strong in Math, but it is not his "favorite" subject to say the least. It seemed to us that he may also benefit from this new approach - and perhaps spark some NEW excitement in this area because he loves multi-media approach tools, and adores using the computer for anything and everything.
So -- we are switching our 3 older children (grades, 5, 6, and 8) from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks ( http://www.teachingtextbooks.com/) . Initially, there were several things that made this program appeal to DadToCherubs and I - we will name just a few. One component we liked is the "teacher" giving each lesson (verbal with the use of a "chalkboard" style) rather than just dear ole' Mom or Dad and some paper / pencils. Also we really like the ability to see every specific problem (problems from the workbooks, rather than just more examples !) solved step by step (via computer) if desired, rather than just the sample problems shown in the book, followed by a listing of answers. Time and time again we have heard -- "After trying over and over again, HOW did they get to that answer ??" or "What step did I miss that prevented me from getting to THAT answer ?" or even "I still do not understand how to do these problems - I need to see MORE of them worked.". We, of course, like the "independent" quality of this program - it is our dream to raise THINKERS and LIFE-LONG LEARNERS, who can be INDEPENDENT (of course we are always available to help too !). And finally, DadToCherubs was thrilled with the multi-media approach - he feels computer skills are critical to all students in these modern times.
So, on Monday when we start back-to-school, Cherub 1 will be using Teaching Textbooks. And just as soon as the grade 5 and grade 6 packages arrive (just available for shipping Jan 5th so it might take a few days to arrive) we will begin using Teaching Textbooks with our 5th and 6th grade students as well.
As for our younger three students (grades K, 2, and 3 - who are all VERY strong in Math) - they will continue with their Saxon programs for a few more years.
Friday, January 04, 2008
The children would finish their chores, and then would prepare for bed (baths, PJs, etc). While they were getting ready, I would prepare some hot herbal tea -- everyone had their own special tea cup or mug.
Sometimes we would have Peppermint or Spearmint. Occassionally it would be Chamomile. And other times we would each choose our favorite tea - like Mixed Berry, Blueberry, Lavendar, or maybe Sleepytime. (no milk, lemon,honey or sugar - just plain herbal tea. We were trying to CALM everyone - HA !)
Finally, we would turn out nearly all of the lights in the house (we are preparing to go to bed, of course) and would gather in the Family Room. The children would all gather 'round Mom (or sometimes Dad - he read all of Robinson Crusoe once and no one will ever forget it ! He did a great job !!) .... cups of hot herbal tea in hand. First we would say our evening prayers, and then we would settle in for the Bedtime Story.
This routine continued even when the children began getting older - well past the toddler and young "active" years.
However, this "routine" got lost following our housefire last spring. And it somehow was forgotten completely until just recently when Cherub 5 remembered out-of-the-blue .... immediately everyone agreed that we needed to begin anew.
So we took a trip to the Grocery to buy a few teas for the beginning of our new Tea Collection -- we started with the old favorites. Peppermint and Spearmint. Mixed Berry and Blueberry. Vanilla Chamomile, Sleepytime, and Apple Cinnamon.
We are planning a trip to the Antique Stores in town (soon) to get new TeaCups for everyone - each is to select his or her own special teacup. In the mean while everyone agreed that our regular coffee mugs would suffice.
And we agreed that we would "officially" begin this new (old) routine just after New Years - as a Family Resolution.
On Tuesday evening (January 1st) we began with our chores after dinner. Then everyone got themselves ready for bed, while I made the tea and brought it to the Family Room.
After everyone was ready, we gathered together to sip our tea. We first said our evening prayers. And then we began with Chapter 1 of Arthur Ransome's SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS. This book is a favorite of our family, probably because we have spent much of our last two summers going to visit Lake Oconee in Georgia with my parents -- and exploring islands, boating, and "adventure-seeking" nearly like the Walker Family in the book. We do not use sailboats - but we intend to try it someday soon !
After the book and tea are finished, everyone heads off to bed after putting their cups in the sink and then brushing their teeth .... relaxed, warm & toasty, and with adventures enough to inspire the best of dreams.
Now - what will we read NEXT ?
Does anyone write Thank You notes anymore ??? And if not, did this habit get lost with the advent of telephones ? Living closer to one another ? The invention of computers, and eventually email ? Or is this "loss" just another thing to add to the list of things lost by our society, most of which seem to have been in the areas of "manners" and "propriety" ??
Or perhaps I am a Victorian caught in Modern Times ??
Thursday, January 03, 2008
All of our children have expressed MANY times an interest in learning to sew, crochet, and other such crafts.
This term we are going to learn to sew and crochet. We will learn to sew first by hand (stitches), mending clothing, zippers, buttons, adjusting hems, reading patterns, making basic garments (and crafts). We will also cover basic sewing machine use. These "lessons" will work nicely with the chilly days left until spring (and hopefully LOTS of rainy "inside" days too !).
SEWING: After we have learned our handstitching, and when we begin using the sewing machine, our first craft will be to make aprons from this FREE pattern that I found online. http://www.jcarolinecreative.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=JC&Screen=APRONINST I think they will prove to be MOST useful with our other (below) Home Economics endeavors.
CROCHETING: A dear friend began teaching Cherub 2 and I to crochet (Thank You MamaLion and Miss H.E.), but we were so busy during the holidays that we did not get a chance to practice ... and now we will need a refresher. Then when we are a bit more accomplished, we plan to teach the other Cherubs to crochet too.
It is my hope that each of the children will be better prepared for adult life and family life than I was ... I did not know how to cook (or sew) AT ALL when I was married, so DadToCherubs had to endure more than a few awful meals (but politely always continued to encourage me, even asking for seconds. What a great guy !!). Did you know that if you hardboil eggs too long, that they will actually EXPLODE and make a terrible mess in the kitchen ?!?!? OH MY - I have "been there, done that". DadToCherubs also is quite talented when it comes to sewing because his mother was a very talented seamstress (hobby) - he used to hem my clothing and was completely in charge of mending. Hummm ....
And after each child has mastered at least a few dishes in each category, they will be assigned a certain day / meal to prepare -- from the planning, the shopping (budgeting included !), the preparation, the serving, and the cleaning up. Then we will hopefully move on to assigning a whole day so that there is a bit more planning, nutritional consideration, and overall preparation involved, thus giving the opportunity for them to have the near-full experience of "meals for a family".
It is amazing what seemingly "little things" have been missed in our HOME education,
even though we are home all day together.
... Home Economics ... that is what we shall call this "course".
Last but not least .... Cherub 1 has asked for an acoustic guitar for the last 5+ years. Actually, "asked" is an understatement - he has begged and begged and begged. Cherub 1 does seem to have a real musical ability and picks up most anything quickly. So, needless to say, he was VERY pleased with his new Fender acoustic guitar and is really learning a lot from the Learn & Master Guitar instructional set (which we HIGHLY recommend). After only a week he could already play a few songs. HOORAY !!
The children did ask that their Music Lesson Time and Music Practice Time be scheduled with their school work. So we worked it out in a way that allows everyone some quiet time alone (which is RARE in our house) to learn and practice - this will begin Monday when we start our next school term.