Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our School Room

Over the course of two weeks,
we have been working on our school room ---
planning, reorganizing supplies,
sorting and shelving books, and more.
We have worked hard, getting ready for the
new school year that is quickly approaching.
Only 2 weeks to go !

We touched up holes and repaired cracks.
Then I primed and painted the whole room.
This is the last room in the house
that had not been painted,
and it was really in need of a fresh coat.
Something cheery and bright, warm and cozy.
Creative. Inspiring.

The first 4 photos (above) are BEFORE photos
of our school room -- one photo taken from
each corner of the room.
The room "worked" but was not very "inspiring" --
shelves, maps, books, chairs. A place to do school --
but not a place we "chose" to be unless
we HAD something to do in there.
* * * * * *
The next 4 photos (below) are AFTER photos --
after the cleaning, reorganizing, priming, painting,
and rearranging. What a difference !
The school room is bright, cozy, and warm.
It is now set up to work better for our family.
It's funny -- we keep finding ourselves
"hanging out" in the new and improved
school room now. HA !
(The 6 cork boards above the couch will be for tacking up Nature Finds
-- leaves, flowers, etc -- but obviously they are empty right now.)
DadToCherubs has yets to remove the ceiling fan
to install a better
(aka brighter) light fixture.
He promised to do it today.
(new light fixture sitting on hearth)

Check It Out !

The latest edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling has been posted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Camping Trip

Master B jumping off the concrete platform into the deep deep water. This platform was a Pirate Hideaway for most of the day -- a great game enjoyed by all of the children ! (The concrete platform is actually part of the Earth Dam built by the Army Corps of Engineers some years ago.)
Our silly girls, full of giggles.
Cherub 6 waiting to fish.
Cherub 3 enjoying a snack.
All of this fun, and more, was when DadToCherubs took all of the Cherubs and Master B (neighbor's son) camping.
They decided to camp across the road by the Big Lake, rather than heading into the mountains to a campground.
They fished.
There was a campfire with hotdogs and s'mores, and to keep everyone warm during the unseasonably cool evenings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Plans

Bible - various Vision Forum CDs, followed by Vision Forum's Theological Bootcamp CD set. Spiritual Disciplines For Christian Life (book).

Scripture Study - What's The Bible All About ? (H. Mears) along with corresponding bible readings.

Scripture Memory - one verse per week concerning character.

Grammar - Our Mother Tongue, Serl's Primary and Secondary books. Mad libs.

Phonics - Abeka's A Handbook For Reading. McGuffey''s Readers.

Penmanship - Handwriting Without Tears (printing and cursive). Calligraphy (library books). Copywork.

Composition - Jensen's Format Writing, Writing A Five Paragraph Essay, copywork.

Reading Instruction & Improvement - McGuffey's Readers.

Spelling - Spelling Wisdom.

Math - Math U See (Beta, Gamma, Delta, Zeta). Teaching Textbooks (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2). Quarter Mile Math program (for math drill and practice).

Vocabulary - Vocabulary Vine, Rummy Roots (game), More Rummy Roots (game), Jensen's Vocabulary.

Science - Apologia Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Zoology.

Natural Science Reading - A Walk Through The Year (Teale), The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Woman (Holden), Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers 1-2-3-4.

Nature Study & Nature Journal - to be done with a group of families once each week.

Foreign Language - The Easy Spanish 1.

History (Spine book) - A Patriot's History Of The United States.

History - Reading & Literature - a chronological list of historical fiction, biographies, non-fiction, and informational books has been assembled for each child / grade level for various time periods and events in American History. Some of the authors of these books include George, Sorrensen, Hesse, Yates, Crane, Irving, Daugherty, Bulla, Shaara, Hawthorne, Steinbeck, Stowe, Collier, ten Boom, Frank, Marshall, Foster, Twain, Henry, Lowry, Dalgliesh, D'Aulaire, Caudill, Wilder, and Moody.

History - Supplements - Various dvds will be used to supplement our study of US History including Liberty ! (revolution), Gettysburg (civil war), Liberty's Kids, Colonial House, and others. (Netflix has a great collection of movies, documentaries, and special interest "films" for these purposes !) Also we have purchased several board and card games to work along with our studies: All American Trivia Game, Professor Noggins United States History, Made For Trade, and Chronology. And finally we have a cardstack type tool (fandex ?) that covers military leaders of the Revolutionary War and another one that covers military leaders of the Civil War. We have plans to make visits to several places this year as field trips including Cades Cove, The Pioneer Festival, Chickmagua Battlefield, Fort Loudon, The Cherokee Homecoming, and other historical sites.

Government Studies - UNDECIDED. We are considering (for the older children) One Nation Under God, Atlas Shrugged (I need to reread it first to be sure it is ok), Whatever Happened To Justice, along with several titles from Vision Forum and another online resource. We will also need something for the younger children that will assist with learning the Constitution, Political Process, and general government knowledge. Any ideas or recommendations are welcome ! We do have a game coming about presidents and the election process called Hail To The Chief.

Literature - How To Read A Book (Adler). Watch Great American Authors dvd series. Read 1 work per each major artist (I am still assembling list of actual literature). Various Ambleside Online selections (library).

- Book of the United States (Dover), United States map puzzles (1 by National Geographic, and a variety of others).

Art Instruction - Studies will include 1/3 watercolor, 1/3 charcoal, 1/3 pastels. There are various books at the library and also are instructional CDs available through the library and through Netflix for these mediums.

Artist Study - 36 American paintings studied 1 per week, Where Art Thou ? (game). We will visit several local museums to view various works by American Artists.

Composer Study - History of American Classical Music (includes 18 track CD). We hope to attend at least one "fine arts" concert this year -- a symphony, an opera, etc.

Poetry - Mentor Book of American Poets.

Shakespeare - (1 play per quarter) - Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and the Tempest. We will read Lamb's Shakespeare, then will read the actual play, and finally will view a dvd. We also hope to attend a Shakespearian Dinner Theater in Atlanta next spring.

PE - hikes, bike rides, running/training for 1k and 5k races, various activities (under consideration: joining the YMCA ?).

Health - The History of Medicine, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader 5. Also we have two games for health - Somebody and the Professor Noggins Health. Cherub 1 will take the official Red Cross CPR and First Aid course this year when it is offered.

Typing / Keyboarding - Mavis Beacon.

Computer - Learning to use Word, Excel. Learning more about using the internet.

Electives - Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts (under consideration) or Keepers At Home (if available this year), Sewing (repairing and making clothing, plus various other projects), Woodworking & basic furniture construction (picnic table, outdoor benches, etc), Alternative Energy (solar, wind, geothermal, etc), Farm & Large Animal skills (cow care, handmilking, horse care, horseback riding, fence construction, etc), Cooking & Nutrition, The History of the Horse (literature guide), Draw ____ (a series available through the local library that focuses on drawing horses, cars, planes, trains, flowers, dogs, people, etc), and more to be decided. Each child will choose 2 elective studies per quarter or semester this year for his or her own study. These electives will focus on lifeskills, survival skills, handicrafts, possible career interests, general learning, skill building, etc ....

* * * * * * * * * *
Almost all of the "exact plans" have been entered into the Charlotte Mason Planner, with a few exceptions.

Our school supplies (notebooks, pencils, etc) have been purchased and are "ready and waiting" on the shelves. (MamaLion, I also have a good collection of Sharpie markers with a new HUGE one too. Thank you !! I don't know what I would do without my Sharpie's ! HA !)

An order was placed with Dick Blick for nature journals, prisma pencils, and watercolors - it arrived yesterday.

An order from Rainbow Resource, an order from Barnes and Noble, and an order from Teaching Textbooks have been placed. Each should arrive next week.
DadToCherubs is working to set up a computer for the Cherubs -- he has promised it will be done in plenty of time for our first day of school.
The last 2 "to do's" are used books and ink/paper -- our local library will have it's annual used book sale this weekend, and we will be making a trip to the used bookstore in "the big city" this weekend or early next week. (I love to buy used books - at stores and events !) And the ink and paper will be picked up from the big box office store in town next time we are there.
So -- we are nearly "READY" for school to begin in just a few more weeks. It's hard to believe that summer vacation is nearly finished for another year. Where did the time go ?
We will begin our new school year on Tuesday, August 18th.
Today we are picking and preserving vegetables from our garden, and late next week we will be prepping and hopefully painting the school room (the last "unpainted" room in this big old house). Then the corn should be ripe (we will prep it for the freezer), more greenbeans, and our tomatoes might be getting ripe too. After that, our company will arrive, and then we will be starting school shortly after that. We will continue working in the garden in the afternoons, storing veggies and fruits for this winter.
We are busy busy .... how are your school plans coming along ?

(P.S. -- Blogger is really beginning to frustrate me with all of it's issues --- spacing issues, photo issues, etc. ARGGGGGGGGGG !! Sorry for the jumbled entry -- I simply could not get this post to turn out correctly despite my best efforts.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time's Flyin' & The Pressure's On !

When I glanced at the calendar this morning, I thought "My goodness, it's July 13th already ?". It seems that the old saying is true, again .... time flies when you're havin' fun ! Summer vacation is almost over ... and we have had a lot of fun ... but how did summer vacation pass so quickly ??? (It seems I have been wondering that very thing for over 30 years now, around this time every year.)

So, it's time to get ready for school again.

I have several lists to fine tune. The first is a list of titles (or book topics) to buy (hopefully) from the used book store in the "big city". And then I have a list of things to buy at the Homeschool Expo coming up in two weeks. I try to buy most of our materials at the Expo so as not to have to pay shipping, worry about minimum orders for free shipping, and without having to find the best deal in a stack of a gazillion catalogs or websites which makes my head swim miserably. I hate to shop, so I try to keep it as simple as possible. HA !

I have yet to make a list of supplies we will need this year -- notebooks, pencils, paper, and more. So I'll need to do that too. Or maybe one of the Cherubs will handle assembling that list instead ?? And perhaps a Cherub can handle shopping for those items as well. It would be a good "life skill" experience --- shopping for school supplies in the crowded stores with all of the back-to-school-crazies who need very specific school supplies listed on a very specific list. Well, I'm just sayin' .......

I have been assembling firm plans for each of the Cherubs for this upcoming school year off and on all summer, and will soon begin entering them into my MOST FAVORITE school tool, the Simply Charlotte Mason Organizer . If you have not checked into this wonderful organizer, I highly highly recommend it. There is a wonderful video tour that shows how it works step by step, and a free 30-day trial so you can see how it works first hand for your homeschool. For the last two years, this Organizer has made a 500% improvement in our schooling and in my own homeschool-mom-sanity. (HA !) And no, I am not employed by Simply Charlotte Mason. For the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Carnival's Planning Bash last year, I did a very detailed post called Planning At Beck's Bounty, and described how we use the SCM Organizer.

The deadlines are set -- July 24 & 25 is the Homeschool Expo, and August 1st our cousins (the "M" family) will arrive for a visit (Hooray !! We are really excited about this because we did not think they were going to get to come down this year !). The pressure is ON to be completely ready for school no later than July 31st -- books bought and ready for use, final plans made and entered into the Organizer, notebooks set up, supplies "at the ready", and the freshly-painted-and-reorganized school room finished. After the M family's visit, we hope to plan to paint the school room (which requires disassembling it completely, and then reassembly -- and it is in desparate need of a fresh coat of paint !) August 4th and 5th. So, having all of this "pressure" should be helpful .... perhaps I will be able to remain focused instead of wandering to the garden and playing in the yard instead of working on school plans and prepping the walls. HA ! And there is quote a stash of good coffee and some yummy chocolate on the pantry shelves ... those never hurt when one needs motivation. HA !

Our official "First Day Of School" will be Tuesday, August 18th. Our school schedule is going to be a bit different this year; our school days will be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We decided to keep this schedule because DadToCherubs is "off" from work on Sundays and Mondays, and so we hope to continue spending more time together as family because our schedules will match. We will go to church on Sunday and then will continue with our "family activities" on Monday. We actually tried to keep this "schedule" all summer, and have all really enjoyed spending more time with DadToCherubs on his days off. I don't know why I never thought to match our schedule to his before, but it just never occurred to me until this summer.

It's time for me to get back to work ... it rained a lot last night, it's a cloudy morning, and the green beans are not quite ready for picking and canning ... so "outside" is not calling to me quite so loudly as usual ... yet. HA ! Perhaps I can get a lot finished before the sun begins to shine ..... perhaps ....

Have you started on your homeschool plans for this year ?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Answered Prayers !

Cherub 2's left leg, outer calf area.

First, we want to say thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. WOW - we are all in awe again of the power of prayer !! Our God is an awesome God !

What started Wednesday as a suspected poisonous spider bite resulted in a trip to our local ER. After a few medications and some lab work, the doctors in the local ER collectively agreed that they did not know what was causing the necrotic (dead) tissue, and were getting more and more concerned as time passed. So after 2 hours at the local hospital, they transferred Cherub 2 by ambulance to a larger hospital in the city late Wednesday afternoon.

Upon our arrival at the "big city" hospital, many many doctors, residents, and medical students (we stopped counting at 20) came in to examine the blackened tissue and the surrounding red hot area on Cherub 2's calf. Everyone seemed to say the same thing -- "I've never seen anything quite like that" or "I have never seen that before". No one seemed to know exactly what the original cause was --- we discussed black widow bites, brown recluse bites, various snake bites, and at one point even discussed scorpion stings – all of these "ideas" were discussed because no one knew when the initial bite occurred. In the 7 previous days our family had been up in the higher elevation mountains fishing and swimming, and we had been all over the farm and our local area too fishing and swimming and hiking. We talked about chemicals and toxins, injuries, infections, and our family medical history. And after every conversation, we found ourselves again and again discussing spider bites and snake bites. Finally, the "show and tell" slowed, and a collection of doctors gathered. The game plan was formulated – the doctors were going to keep researching and making calls to other doctors armed with photos of our daughter’s leg, and in the mean while they wanted to let the medications from the initial hospital ER completely run their course so as to start working on her with a clean slate. They drew a lot of lab work, and then drew more blood an hour later, and then again an hour later, and so on. They said that when the labs showed "the right time" , the new game plan would begin. Of the new game plan, the doctor in charge only said, very seriously, “we’re going to hit her really hard and really fast with everything appropriate for either type of bite. We are assuming the worst case scenario to be true”. YIKES ! The doctors were worried of course about the three blackened (confirmed necrotic tissue) areas that everyone had been observing all day (shown in the photo above). But now there was an even greater concern -- that some of the swollen red tissue in the general area was possibly going to die too, and that perhaps within a short time the entire 8x12” red swollen hot area could/would die and turn black as well (which would extend from just over her knee to down just above her ankle). It was very frightening !!

Cherub 2 was admitted to the hospital and taken to her room.

And we waited … and waited …. and we prayed … and prayed. And the lab techs came faithfully every hour to collect more blood samples. A rainbow of tubes in every size, it seemed. Cherub 2 and I giggled that next time they came to draw blood, she might be without any left to give. HA !

And at 9pm they came in to draw more labs. Then promptly 10pm the medicines began – steroids of several varieties, allergy medications, and heavy antibiotics. These doses continued, coming roughly every 2 hours all night and well into this morning, along with drawing more labs. Cherub 2’s poor little hand and arm hurt, her whole body turned fire-truck red in response to the steroids, and her veins actually hurt a lot from all of the harsh medications. Her little arms looked like pin cushions. Her leg was very carefully checked every 30 minutes or so; they were watching carefully the pen-line that had been carefully drawn around the entire area shortly after our arrival at the "big city" hospital. It was heartbreaking to sit by and watch Cherub 2 go through everything --- she was very brave. The nurses would say very sweetly that they were so sorry over and over, knowing she was in pain from the treatments and the needles and the lab draws. And Cherub 2 would simply say “I know you are just trying to help me" with a smile on her sweet little face, and tears in her big blue eyes. She was soooo uncomfortable.

We understood from the doctor that the goal for the night, best case, was that nothing would get worse -- that the redness and swelling would not pass the marked pen lines, and that the black tissue would not increase. The docs said that if nothing improved overnight, it would be good news. We thought that was a bit strange. But we understood that if the reddness or blackness spread even a tiny bit, that would mean big trouble. We were a little confused that they weren’t aiming for it to be improved – but we understood that getting the situation under control had to come first.

Quietly we prayed ... for complete healing, rather than just "no change". We know Our God is a healer ... and that even this situation could be resolved with His touch. And we knew that, all the while, the heavens were being stormed on Cherub 2's behalf. And we were so thankful !

After a very long nearly-sleepness night, bright and early onThursday morning the doctor-in-charge returned. She pulled back the blankets and said WOW ! (and I was afraid to even look, wondering if that was a good "wow" or a bad "wow") First, she showed us that the black spots looked worse (much darker - and exactly what was expected) but were the exact same size and shape as the day before. But she said WOW because instead of the whole situation being “the same” as they had set their high hopes to be … 80% of the red swollen area had totally returned to normal. YAHOOOO !! That was sooooooo much more of an improvement than the doctor said she even considered possible, even with the high doses of medication given for the past many hours. With close inspection of the now-normal skin, finally there was a visible pattern to the injuries …. three other long scratches (not bloody, but just scratches like one sees with dry skin vs tall grass). She hurried off without explaination to call another doctor … and after a specialty (dermatology) consultation was arranged with a very wise dermatologist, the actual “cause” was named …. Cherub 2 had a very severe (but not uncommon !) reaction to Poison Sumac !! The dermatologist said that the areas that received the highest concentration of the sumac oil swelled so quickly and began to be infected so fast that the tissue in those select (now black) areas died completely for lack of circulation, which resulted in those strange black markings and the dead tissue.

We now know that the "game plan" of high doses of steroids reduced the swelling rapidly and the heavy antibiotics limited the power of the infection … thus preventing further tissue death. And the doctors know that in this case, assuming the worst was the BEST plan of all !

Poison Sumac – grows in most woods and tree lines at creeksides and riversides and edges of ponds – it is a very common plant that prefers damp soil. There are several varieties of Sumac, only one of which is actually poisonous. We suspect Cherub 2 came into contact with the Poison Sumac while hiking and fishing near our home on Tuesday evening – we are going to work on finding it and the farm has promised to do what they can to get rid of it asap.

The dermatologist did say that although this reaction to Poison Sumac is severe, it is not at all uncommon, happening to adults and children alike despite various immunities and non-reactions to Poison Ivy. She went on to say that this problem seems to be more common this year in our area perhaps because of a very wet spring making the plants stronger and able to produce either more oil or a more potent oil ?!?! So please be careful ! Necrotic tissue, whether from a bite or a plant toxin, is VERY serious !!

At this point, the 2 doctors decided it was best to discharge Cherub 2 from the hospital --- they said there was some concern that her immune system has been through a lot, had a long battle ahead, and then had had a lot of steroids and medications to deal with. They felt that Cherub 2 may be more vulnerable to other germs and bacteria present in the hospital in her current situation. So they felt she would be safer at home (surrounded by "normal germs" - ha !) … with a course of steroids and antibiotics, wound care, and close contact with the doctor until everything is resolved.

Praise God ! We are back at home. And we believe that the worst is over !! We will check in with the doctor every few days, will continue treatments as we were directed, and then will wait to see what happens next.

I will admit that there were many moments through this ordeal that were rather frightening to say the least – discussions of large amounts of necrotic tissue, debridement care, and all of the other very drastic things that “might” have come to pass. YIKES !! I know now that the doctors were trying to prepare us for the worst case scenario, which they apparently were more concerned was likely to come to pass that we even realized. At every scary moment though we were all comforted to know that prayers were heaven-bound, and never for a moment did we doubt that God would see us through this.

If you could have seen the look of surprise on the doctors face when she saw the dramatic improvement - when she said WOW - after she had just hoped for “stable and unchanged” overnight --- well, it would tell you what it told us --- Our God is near and He heals !!

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Trouble In Neopet Land ...

... or rather Neopia, as it is commonly called ...

If your children use the Neopets website, you should definately read this article.



Isn't it ironic that it was eating our parsley ?
Well, not really. thankfully we found him in time
and relocated him to better plants, so that
our parsley can be harvested for
our tummies instead of his tummy.
HA !

Papilio polyxenes; parsleyworm -- These creatures feed on plants in the carrot stage and have many common names -- carrotworm, dillworm, laceworm. They are quite spectacular to see -- green and black bands with bright neon yellow spots.

The best part is that they grow into Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, of which we have plenty.

For more information on Parsleyworms
and Easter Black Swallowtail butterflies,
click here .

This yellow bug was found to be munching on the leaves of our greenbeans. YIKES !! So we will have to deal with it. Fortunately, there were only a few ... and we have removed them (the chickens were happy to "meet" them) ... and so far we have not found any more.

Epilachna varivestis; Mexican Bean Beetle -- Beetles in the genus Epilachna are the 'black sheep' of the ladybird beetle family, munching on vegetable plants rather than on the aphids attacking the plants. For more information on the Mexican Bean Beetle, click here .

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What's Happening Here ?

DadToCherub's brother Uncle B and

his friend Miss C came to visit for the

July 4th weekend.
(Uncle B's shirt is black & DadToCherubs's shirt is red.)
We took Uncle B and his friend to
BR Falls to swim one afternoon.
He and DadToCherubs helped
our Cherubs shoot off fireworks
and firecrackers.
And we attended the "big" fireworks show
at the park on the 4th.
We camped out here at home one weekend
with our dear friends, The H family.

Good friends, delicious hamburgers, s'mores,

playing, swimming ....

Truly, a wonderful time was had by all !

Thank you H family for coming !!
Let's camp again soon !!
Cherub 6 helped bring in many bales of hay.
There are so many bales spread all over the farm.
It's quite a sight !
If you did not already know,
Cherub 6 has a deep love of tractors !!

Cherub 1, Cherub 3, and Cherub 4
went to a Boy Scout meeting for the first time.
They has a grand time meeting new friends,
learning about Scouts, and learning to play
Ultimate Frisbee.
They are looking forward to attending
more meetings, and to possibly
joining the troop.
They tell me that they are getting acquainted,
and are praying for guidance about Scouts.
In between all of the visitors and adventures,
we have been busy swimming, playing,
picking blackberries, shooting baskets,
baking cookies and bread,
visiting with friends, reading good books,
catching and releasing fire flies,
identifying new nature finds,
hiking, fishing, and many other
"summertime" activities.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Independence Day

"Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses"
(by Peter Frederick Rothermel)
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world."

"Washington Crossing the Deleware"
(by Emanuel Leutze)

May God Bless you this Independence Day.
And may God Bless America.