Friday, November 30, 2007

I've Been Awarded!

A few days ago, one of my dear on-line friends gave me an award on her blog. I was so surprised and humbled and grateful to be considered a "blog friend forever" by my friend. I love my friend's blog! She is an awesome mom and homeschool teacher, going way more than the extra mile for her family. We share many of the same interests, and she takes wonderful photographs of her family's travels both near and far! She also does some pretty amazing Sew Crafty Friday projects. Thanks Laurie, for this kind award! (You can find it here). I don't know how to give awards on my blog or I'd give you one too!

Date Night!

My husband and I went out last night for the first time in a long time. It was sooooo wonderful! We went to see The Bourne Ultimatum at the cheap theater and then out to eat. The movie was great, we both loved it. And getting to talk over dinner without being interrupted even once was such a treat. We need to make dates happen more often!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A much better day

Things went much better today. Whew! Thank you Lord! There were a few "moments" but nothing like the all day thing yesterday.

In fact, our little kindergartner had a very successful school day today. He "officially" began learning how to read! Of course he's been in the process almost since birth, but today he wrote out sounds that I dictated to him, and then I helped him sound them out rapidly so he could hear that they actually spelled a word when put together. I helped him with c-a-t, and then he totally got it with p-a-t, m-a-t, and s-a-t. He was so excited!! So we made a simple sentence using these words and he read it for daddy when he got home.

It is so much nicer for the principal to be greeted this way than with the news that he has to give spankings to two students!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sent to the principal's office

Today was a day to forget. Truly awful. And I was a I have once and for all proven that yelling does not work. Now my kids certainly did their share of being awful, but I did not handle it well. So I decided to call in the big guns. I sent two boys to the principal's office. The principal was not *in* at the time mind you, so the actual sending had to happen a few hours later. Usually I try to deliver the consequence as soon after the offense as possible, but this time I really needed to pass the buck to the absent principal. My children needed me to pass the buck to the absent principal! I told them that if they were in classroom school, their teacher would have sent them to the principal's office long ago. I must admit to more than a bit of satisfaction when that got their attention.

So they each got spankings (like a principal would have given back in the day!) at 8:00 pm tonight and an appropriate lecture.

I am hoping and praying for a much better day tomorrow. And I am so thankful for a supportive principal.

Children and chores, part 2 - Personal chores

I have been asked to share more detail about our chores, so here is what we do for "personal" chores. As with so much of parenting, I truly believe it boils down to modeling. When I began to expect my children to make their beds, I had to be sure I was consistently making mine!! And then I had to make their bed many times, with their help, so they would know HOW to do it.

So, starting very young (age 1) I would fold up their pajamas after getting them dressed in the morning and ask them to pull open the drawer so I could put them away. I would fold up their blankie and then give it to them and say, "put this on your bed", then they would lay their pacy on top of the folded blankie. In this way they were beginning to learn how to care for their own personal things.

Then when they are around age 4 they get a checklist to hang in their room. Yay! A checklist! (I'm being slightly facetious here). I sit down with each child and make this together with them. It has both words and pictures on it, since at this age they are not yet reading. It is divided into morning and evening, with a sun beside the morning chores and a moon and stars beside the evening chores. We talk about each item as I draw the corresponding picture. This checklist slides into a page protector and then gets taped up somewhere at eye level in their room.
Here is one of our checklists up close:

This has helped them know what I expect them to do in the morning and evening. After they have become very proficient at completing their checklist on their own, we start working on doing it within a reasonable amount of time. I keep timers in all our children's bedrooms, and for their checklists I usually set it for 10 minutes. The older 2 boys no longer need to look at their checklists to know what to do (and in fact a couple items on their original checklist no longer apply), but I still say, "go do your checklist" and they know what I mean. If the checklist is not completed when the timer dings, some form of punishment follows. Right now it is the taking away of a nickel (remember they get 10 each morning?). I have taken away up to 5 nickels for this offense, depending on the circumstances, and I have to say that most of the time the children are pretty good about completing their checklists thoroughly and quickly.

This has eliminated so much frustration for me, because I don't have to stand there telling them each little thing to do, and the checklist can be the bad guy. If I notice that something on the checklist is not done and the child is already downstairs, I will find them and ask, "do you have the freedom to be downstairs?". This forces them to go upstairs and look for themselves to see what was left undone. Hopefully it is training them to be more OBSERVANT!! (I cannot tell you how many times I have said, "pick up your socks" and they cannot find said socks even though they are practically standing on them!).

This has worked very well for personal chores in our home. I would still love to hear more ideas about what has worked well in yours!

New section added

I've added a new section to my sidebar. It's called "Books I have recently read before assigning them in school". Much of the reading I do during the school year is pre-reading my children's literature books. Therefore those titles change frequently. The "Books I am currently reading" section will remain, these are the books I am reading for myself. :-)

I started a new book this past weekend called "The Out of Sync Child" which describes Sensory Integration Dysfunction and how to treat it. I began reading this book with our 2 year old in mind, since he has so many food texture issues, hates getting his hands messy, and has problems with some of his clothes (the way they fit, the way they feel, and the tags bothering him). But as I have been reading I am having huge bells and whistles going off in my brain about our 7 year old. Enough bells and whistles that I am going to pursue evaluation with an occupational therapist (starting with our pediatrician). Grandparents (and anyone else who feels led!), please pray that we will have wisdom and discernment in this process.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My 5 little helpers....and thoughts on children doing chores

Training our children to help out around the house (ie, do chores) is a huge value to me. And by "doing chores" I mean knowing both how to physically do a chore well, and doing it with a cheerful attitude. We have personal chores and family chores in our home. Personal chores include getting dressed, putting pajamas away, making beds, brushing teeth, and brushing hair. Family chores are done to bless the family.

I have often pondered the best way to accomplish chore training, and have looked around me to see how other families train in this way. When I saw someone (with 15 children!) doing chores with all her children at the same time I thought, "that must be the way to do it". So I tried it that way and felt terribly guilty for the high level of frustration and impatience I felt. Then I tried to do chore training with just one child at a time. This was much easier on my patience and frustration levels, but I struggled with feeling that I *should* be able to have them all present to learn a specific chore and doing it individually meant that I would have to repeat myself 5 times.

As with many areas of parenting, I have come to the realization that there is no "right" way to do chore training, but just what works best for our family. I have only been a parent for 10 years, but already I have passed through many different stages, and my degree of patience has fluctuated alot depending on what stage we happen to be in. When I am potty training someone that requires all my patience, so I am not really good for lots of other chore training. When I am nursing a baby I am more physically tired and not able to handle lots of other things. I have learned to give myself grace in this area. And to keep praying about it, asking the Lord to fill up what I am lacking. And I am seeing that some of these things get a lot easier as our children get older!

So what does chore training look like in our family? Sometimes we all do chores together. And sometimes I train one child at a time. Sometimes we are really good and do them daily. Sometimes we play catch up on Saturday. Holidays have lent themselves really well to additional chore training, and this Thanksgiving was no exception. I had a talk with the children on Tuesday evening, explaining that Wed was our prep day for our Thanksgiving Feast (we hosted my husband's family) and work would be required from everyone. On Wed morning we woke up and I assigned jobs. We all worked together on cleaning and baking. It was really fun to work alongside my children! (Note: I am not currently nursing a baby or potty training anyone!!).

First, our resident indians A and L washed the stairwell wall with baby wipes. This is visible from our front door and was pretty covered with dirty fingerprints.
Two of the other children picked up toys while I began dusting and vacuuming. Our oldest son washed the downstairs toilet and wiped down the sink. Then daughter G and I began working on a new recipe we tried for cranberry relish. My father in law loves cranberries, so I was thrilled to find a new recipe to try for him that was easy enough for my kids to help with. G actually did this virtually by herself (recipe is: one bag of cranberries, one cup of sugar, one orange (we used a tangarine) and one cored apple. Blend together in blender or food processor and chill. That's it! Recipe courtesy of Rebecca on the Tapestry of Grace yahoo group I am part of).

Next we worked on the pies. We made a pumpkin pie.....

...........and a cranberry/raspberry pie that is to die for!!!! (I can say this because it's not original) :-)

On Thanksgiving morning we set the table with our fine china, and then daughter G made place cards using small apples (this idea is also not original, I got it from Country Living magazine - are you getting the realization that I am not very original??!)

I am so thankful for the opportunity to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house each year, and for the extra opportunity this is for our children to learn to serve their extended family.
I am still working on ways to adequately train our children in chores. My goal is for them to someday be able to do daily chores completely independent of me, and to do them WELL without reminding. I want my boys to know how to clean house and do their own laundry, and how to cook a meal without mom if they had to. Of course I want my daughter to know these things as well, but it comes a little more naturally for her. I would love to hear your thoughts on chore training. Please feel free to share what has worked well for your family!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday's Thankful Things

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

"Give Thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." ~ Psalm 100:4-5

Some of the many things I am thankful for......

Jesus. He loves me, died for me, and gives daily grace. I cannot imagine my life without Him, nor do I want to try.

The truth, accuracy, faithfulness, power and permanence of God's Word. How precious it is!

Football. Seriously!

My hubby, who loves me no matter what.

Brotherly Love.
My in-laws.

Family, both near and far. My two sisters who continually motivate, challenge, comfort and encourage me, even though they are both thousands of miles away.

The beautiful colors of fall!

Plenty to eat.

Safety and freedom. In our studies this fall as we have learned about colonial times, I have been reminded over and over how God is the common thread throughout history and how He so often orchestrated events "just so" during the founding days of our country. I am amazed and grateful.

The opportunity to homeschool our children. How I love learning with them!

The privilege of being a mother. Who would have thought back in the days of our struggle with infertility that I would be the happy mother of 5 children??! Indeed we are very blessed.

My good health, and that of my family.

My friends - they are jewels in the strand of my life!

Books, and the gift of being able to read well. Thanks mom and dad!


The godly heritage that is my past. What incredible people I come from!

The promise of heaven.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


On the way home from church last Sunday we were commenting on all the trees that had lost leaves since the previous Sunday. My husband asked, "does anyone know what trees are called that lose all their leaves?" and our 10 year old daughter piped up....."bare trees?" !!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Weekend in Pictures

In the leaves!

A holding up his special letter.

Showing off the model of the solar system that son G received in his solar system class on our last day of co-op. Proudly hanging in the room he now shares with A! Yes, the planets glow in the dark. They are very cool.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Co-op and Closing Program

Friday was our final day of co-op until January. I'm always relieved when it's over, and yet happy when it starts again! My drawing class students finished a project where they learned about complementary colors. They scratched off one color of oil pastel revealing a different color of wax crayon underneath. They turned out really fabulous!

In my colonial america class we dressed up as pilgrims and indians and had a Thanksgiving feast. We ate turkey, corn, pumpkin bread (which the children made last week!) and venison. The venison was pretty popular!

Later that evening we had our co-op closing program, where the students can display their work and classes have the opportunity to go on stage and tell what they learned. Here are some of my colonial america students talking about their favorite aspect of class.

I was so proud to display the artwork of my drawing students. They worked so hard!! Here is one of the scratch off projects that was just completed that day (can you tell it is a set of 3 insects?), and the next picture shows their first project which was a teddy bear picture done in charcoal.

Here is our display table for colonial america.

It was a fun day and I was very thankful that all of our children were well enough to participate! We are so thankful for co-op!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

It's Sew Crafty Friday again, and this week I actually have something to share!! If you would like to know more about Sew Crafty Friday, please click on the button in my right sidebar. This week both my daughter and I made things. G wanted to use some leftover felt from Halloween costumes to make a new quiver for her arrows. She planned the project and cut it out herself. I showed her how to pin the trim on, and showed her how to use the machine, and she did the rest! In the second picture she is wearing her brother's indian costume, but the quiver is hers. She thought it would "display" better if she were in full regalia. :-)

When the crud hit our house on Monday night I was hopeful I would still be able to sew the colonial dress I had planned on making for co-op today, and for our unit celebration in December. When the crud continued through Wed night/Thursday morning I realized there simply would be no time, since it wasn't even cut out yet! So I modified the pattern and sewed just a long skirt. It isn't as authentic, but it's something. After encouraging my students in colonial america class to dress up, I couldn't show up in modern clothes.
I picked up the pattern from my local JoAnn's when they were selling Butterick patterns for $1.99 each, and the fabric is actually an old sheet that I bought at Salvation Army thrift store for $2.00. So for $4 I now have a long skirt that can be used for a variety of costumes!

When it's late at night and the project needs to be D.O.N.E. I am all about finding shortcuts. So instead of a zipper, here's my method of closing the skirt:

Not a good picture of the skirt, but a cute picture of me with our 2 year old, don't you think? :-) This was taken during his Thanksgiving feast at co-op this morning. He was an indian in case you can't tell!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This week in review

The vomit monster visited our house again last night. And at the same time the extreme bloody nose monster visited also. Fortunately both the affected boys share a room, so we only had to disrupt one roomful of children at 2:00 a.m. instead of two. Another two of the children have fevers today. Our initial theory of food poisoning is now in question. And there is another mountain of laundry (why do these types of things always happen at night?). We're on our third day of the brat diet - banana, rice, applesauce, toast.

In spite of the illness, here is what we have learned about this week:

Separately: Each child continued in their appropriate math books. Daughter G got 100% on her multiplication test! And son G also got 100% on his addition/subtraction test. We love, love, love Math U See and only wish we had discovered it earlier. We began using this curriculum last March and have found it easy to use, easy to understand, and oftentimes fun to boot! It teaches for mastery, so you cover the same topics in depth for a long period of time rather than a huge mixture of new material/review material every week.

The 3 middle boys also worked in their phonics workbooks, and each child worked in their age appropriate copybooks. Daughter G learned more about limiting and descriptive adjectives. Sons G and L learned "nk" and "ng" words in spelling. Son C began learning about the letter "t" and wrote a page about corn in his book about fall (he dictated to me and I wrote what he said except for the word "corn" which he wrote himself).

Daughter G began learning about speech writing and picked a topic. She will be writing her first speech and presenting it at our unit celebration sometime before Christmas. She also had a sewing lesson this week (with the machine), more on that tomorrow for Sew Crafty Friday.

Son A learned that "A" is his special letter! It's so cute, he really knows it now. Whenever he sees an "A" anywhere he will say excitedly, "that's my special letter!"

The middle 3 boys worked on memorizing verses from their Awana books.

Together: We went on a nature walk and collected leaves. We learned about the Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Colonies (I learned so much!! This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling, I get to learn together with my kids!!). We worked on our history lapbooks, including a color coded map showing which of the 13 colonies were northern colonies, which were middle colonies, and which were southern colonies. We finished "Sign of the Beaver" for our literature selection (having sick kids is very conducive to reading aloud!). Great book! We took the week off from Science.

G putting leaves in her flower/leaf press.

The middle boys doing pizza math!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I took a shower. Yay!!

Worked on the mountain of laundry our day of sickness created.

Cleaned the kitchen. Mostly.

Scrubbed both toilets thoroughly.

Supervised school lite.

Read 6 chapters of "Sign of the Beaver" outloud. It's too good to put down!

Worked more on the mountain of laundry.

Realized I would not get my colonial dress sewn in time for our Thanksgiving feast at co-op this Friday.

Dispensed numerous cups of juice.

Rocked a feverish 2 year old (I don't think this is the same thing we all had).

Took a nap.

And now I'm off to bed! Good night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Change of plans

Four of our five children got sick in the night last night, which is a record for us. The first one at midnight, the second one at 2:00, then at 6:00 and the last one at 7:30. Three of them required complete bedding changes, and one "lucky" boy even got a bath in the middle of the night! I succumbed about 8:30 this morning. My husband is not feeling great, but he has been ably taking care of the rest of us. The only one completely untouched is our 2 year old. Needless to say it was a long night.

So, no school today!

I remember when I was pregnant with our third child (in three years) being worried about how I'd handle it if they all got sick at the same time. And you know what? God's grace covers that WHEN it happens. It's not easy or fun, but we get through it one hour at a time, by God's grace. And the silver lining is that maybe I can lose a few pounds this way??

So, I'm going to go read a few chapters of "Sign of the Beaver" to the kiddos and then put EVERYONE down for naps!

Monday, November 12, 2007


2 year old A: booty is a kind of treasure, you know.

5 year old C: Zorro is way better than Wesley! (at swordsmanship - Mommy disclaimer: none of the children has even seen Zorro, this comparison exists in their imagination only)

2 year old A: Mawage is what brings us togethah today. (quoting from "Princess Bride")

10 year old daughter G: My brothers are a mystery.

The Weekend in Pictures

Clean cage!!

See the horse head? This is a horse pulling a cart. It looks like a jail, but it's not. :-) It's actually quite comfortable inside that cart!

Snuggling in daddy's arms. What could be better?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mommy Force Field

A couple weeks ago I had a moment of brilliance (yes! I do still have some brain cells to rub together!!). I was sitting at the computer doing some administrative tasks, when 5 year old C rushed up to me being chased by one of his older brothers. Without skipping a beat or lifting my right hand off the mouse, I held up my left hand and said, "Mommy force field!". The boys LOVED this of course, and immediately began playing along. The chaser bounced off my imaginary force field, unable to penetrate it and get the chasee, while both the chaser and chasee erupted into gales of excited laughter.

Since then, mommy force field has been used frequently around here. One of the beautiful things about mommy force field is that it can be activated with only one hand, and sometimes in a pinch, with just the spoken words. I have activated it while browning hamburger, changing a diaper, helping someone brush their teeth, and while sitting at the piano.

So I just want to inform you all that I. Am. That. Hero!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wonderful Hymn!

This will be a treat for those of you who love traditional hymns. I love all kinds of "songs, hymns, and spiritual songs" but seldom get to hear traditional hymns sung by a large choir with a large orchestra backing them up. I listened to this with tears streaming down my face today. It's long but well worth it.

Co-op and other stuff

Next week is the last co-op day of fall session, so today in my classes we spent a majority of the time preparing for our last day. In my colonial america class we will be having a thanksgiving feast. We made paper costumes today and baked pumpkin bread. Two of the eggs ended up inside the mixing bowl, and two of them ended up on the table. :-)

In my drawing class we began a "scratch off" project we hope to display next week. A's preschool class is also having a thanksgiving feast next week, and they made indian headbands today.

L made this styrofoam and feather turkey in his art class.

In other news from this week, our daughter G spent a good bit of time creating these edible insects by mixing two kinds of tootsie rolls from her Halloween stash. She will *find* art to create where none existed before. I love that about her!

Playing horse and warrior!

C got a cool new bike helmet this week, and he wanted me to show you all that it is a space helmet. During the past month 3 of our bike helmets bit the dust.

I'm so glad it's Friday! It's been an exceptionally busy week. Though this weekend will have its share of chores and errands, I'm planning on some quiet time too. Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Can you help me find this?

I'm looking for a tape player with a microphone, the type that looks like a toy but is a fully functioning tape player. I've googled and came up with a CD player but no tape players. Ebay currently has two "hello kitty" tape players that are pink. Not what I'm looking for. I found one at Target that had songs pre-programmed into it. Also not what I'm looking for.

Can anyone help me find this?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Operation Christmas Child

Have you heard of this? Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, a relief agency run by Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham. This "operation" sends literally thousands and thousands of shoe boxes filled with small toys and personal hygiene items to children allover the world who would not have any Christmas gifts otherwise. It's a fabulous ministry that has touched millions of lives. Next week, Nov 12-19, is collection week, where shoesboxes will be collected at regional centers all over the U.S. If you'd like to participate there's still time! Click on the Samaritan's Purse link above to find out specific info about the shoe boxes and what to put in them. Click here to find out where the closest drop off center is to your location.

Yesterday we went shopping for things to pack our boxes. We had such a fun time and the children were really into it. Our boys packed a box for a boy (naturally!), while our daughter packed a box for a girl. This year we bought shoe box sized plastic tubs so the children who received them would have a durable place to keep their special things after opening. Please consider getting involved in this wonderful ministry!