Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Today we had a wonderful day!  We got up and fed the kids and then my husband and I had breakfast together while the children watched one of the Liberty's Kids videos (very appropriate for the day).  I love having that quiet time with my husband.  We are not tired (perhaps not awake, but not tired) and can talk about things over a bit of food and some coffee.  Since this was the middle of the week, it was a special treat.  I usually only get this time with him on Sat. mornings.

I put out the big flag and the children set out all the little ones along the sidewalk.  We are very patriotic here.  In another post, I will share a list of some of the books we read!  They were great - then it was backed up with a couple of Liberty's Kids shows.  The children got a kick out of that.

Anyway, after we had our time, we cleaned up the kitchen (so we could mess it up again, LOL!).  M had a fun little recipe that she wanted to make.  She did most of it herself (with a wee bit of cooking guidance from Mom).  For those who would like to try it they are called Mini-cinnibites.  Very tasty!  We took some to our upstairs neighbors (2 single men - Uncle & Nephew - we know the family).  They loved them.  In fact, I am not certain that C. breathed in between bites, LOL!

We were invited for dinner to a very good friends house. They are like family to me.  I love them dearly.  They have been there for us in times of trouble.  We celebrate holidays with them often.  We love having them over - they are so laid back and love our children.  The children refer to them as Aunt C. and Uncle D (they are often more like grandparents than Aunt & Uncle - they love to spoil the children and spend lots of time with them).  They have 2 grown children who have been very involved in our lives over the last decade as well.  They, like myself, do not have any family locally and we have "adopted" each other.  Their kids, during the time period when their parents both had cancer, told their parents they would rather live with us than go to relatives that they only barely know. They had also invited over several families that we used to go to church with, so we had a wonderful time fellowshipping with them.  We enjoy spending time with other members of the "Family of God". 

Our friends son (in college now - he'll be a Jr. in the Fall!! And he passed his LSAT with flying colors - but I diverge from the topic), B we will call him, he has a favorite food that I make every so often. And since he goes back to school in a few weeks and I did not make it for him over the Holidays, well, I knew it would make him happy to have this special treat.  I make a mean German Chocolate Cake (from scratch, thank you very much) with a fabulous cooked topping that has coconut and pecans in it. Yummmm!  It takes a lot of time (in comparison to just dumping a mix for that flavor of cake into a bowl), but it is so worth it.  Makes mixes taste horrid!  So, I got to work. (I have received many, many compliments on this cake, so I know it is as good as it tastes to me.  It is one of my father's favorites as well).

While I was working on that M wanted to make the cheap cake mix that I had bought for them.  You know, the one with the red and blue speckles in it for Independence Day and has matching frosting...  Anyway, she did that one with a little guidance from Dad (mom was very involved with her cake).  Then after it cooled M & G each frosted half and put the little sprinkles on the top.  However, while it was baking, they were busy cutting out some flags and attaching them to straws - they had plans of their own to stick them in the cake.  I told them they had to wait until we get to Aunt C.'s to do that since I had to put foil on top for transportation.

Eventually, we got out of the house and were on our way.  We got there, only to find out that B (the young man I made the cake for) had left earlier than expected to drive down to see his girlfriend and watch the fireworks with her and her family.  He is sooo grounded, LOL!  Naw - I understand and left him 2 big pieces of cake. 

The children got to play in the sprinkler for a while and then they went out back to play in the yard, climb trees and swing (on the swingset - not the trees, ).  Then, we lit some "black snakes".  The kids ooo'd and ahh'd.  Very fascinating stuff, those little black pellets - they were favorites of mine when I was a girl. Earlier in the day, I had given each of the children a baggie of those little snap things that you throw on the ground and they "snap" (no idea what they are really called).  G was all over that - coolest thing ever, as far as he was concerned.  M liked them too, but was not thrilled when G would throw them too close to her.  Both of the children have always had sensitive ears, but I think G is getting better about it.  We did a few sparklers in the daylight while we were there as well (Not as cool as at night, but whatever - they were happy about it). 

One of the other families there, their daughter (now college age – I sooo cannot believe she is 18!!) went out back and played with M & G for a while.  She was so good with the kids.  She is an only child (not by her parents choice – similar situation as ours), but you would not know it.  Her parents say she just loves children.  I hope God blesses her with a Godly husband and a full quiver of children – if for no other reason than for her parents to enjoy!

Anyway, I digress.  After dinner and more conversation, we finally had to gather things up so we could make it to the fireworks.  We missed the parade that we wanted to go to, but we were not missing fireworks – the rain had held off all day and evening for us!  We had a wonderful spot to watch the fireworks and the children (along with us) totally enjoyed them.  G did not even cover his ears – he was very pleased with himself.  I should probably check his ears for wax, LOL!  M, well, she covered her ears, but she still watched.  They had a really neat kind this year.  Sort of like a giant weeping willow in the sky – best way I can explain it.

Anyway, because of our choice of viewing spot and parking accommodations, we were home within 30 min.  Not bad, considering we were only about 8-10 min. from home.  Well, I had best wrap this up – it has gotten really long! 

I hope your celebration of Independence Day was as nice as ours!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


We decided about 3 years ago that we would buy Playmobil toys for our children.  That can be a real investment, but with their imaginations, well, we decided that it was worthwhile.  I used to work in the specialty toy industry and knew that the Playmobil items were a quality toy.  3 years later, we know it a worthwhile investment.

The children set up things and can play for days on whatever scenario they have come up with.  It cracks me up to hear them explain the dialog to each other that they need to make things happen in their storyline.  I have to say that there are sometimes arguments that break out because one does not like what the other one wants their character to say.  That and the gajillion little pieces that come with it, well, it can be rather overwhelming at times – especially when I declare that it has been out long enough and it is time for a clean up.

However, there are good things to – I have heard our history stories being retold during this playtime.  The division between the royals and the peasants is well drawn (I am often asked which group would do which thing).  I know the history is well stuck in their heads when I hear them playing along those lines.  Although, I think for my own sanity’s sake, I need to buy another covered wagon (yes, I know people in the middle ages in Europe did not have covered wagons, but it is a coveted piece…..).  Just a few minutes ago, the “characters” broke into song – they were singing “If You are Happy and You Know It”.  Too funny.

We have not bought any of the big buildings (although, I know the kids would like us to), but we do own the horse ranch and a barn.  However, with their Daddy, they have built a castle out of various cardboard boxes, etc.  Normally, that is a hot commodity (along with the covered wagon), but this time, M has come up with her own house.  Mind you, they are still in the middle ages, but this “house” because it has 2 levels and is flat on the top, has been deemed a dugout – ala On the Banks of Plum Creek.  There is a request for the log cabin.  We shall see…  Just a couple of minutes ago, it apparently was training time at the old coral for the horses, LOL!

Something else that gets some very diverse play, play that I would have never expected is the pattern blocks and the counting bears.  Yes, I expected lots of play from the pattern blocks and they do get some traditional play.  However, they also apparently serve well in building furniture for the counting bears to live with.  I have learned to turn on a light when going to cover the children before I go to sleep.  Otherwise, I can easily end up howling in pain – rather like stepping on Lego’s that were hidden in the shag carpet way back in the 70’s & 80’s – Ouch!!

Soon we are off to the park to play with some other homeschoolers.  I love it when we can do that.  The kids are so imaginative there even.  We go to one specific park, all the older children are found in the pine trees…literally.  Is there a way to harvest and use pine sap??  Because it certainly does stain and stick to ones skin quite nicely, LOL!

Independence Day - We remember!

Have you been helping your children get ready to celebrate Independence Day?  Are you celebrating Summer?  July 4th?

In our house, we remember exactly why we celebrate Independence Day.  In our house, we remember those who have fought the battles to give us the freedoms that we have had and that are now being systematically taken away from us.  We remember those who have died in those battles.  Maybe you do not know anyone personally who has died.  I know my brother lost a good friend during Desert Storm – well technically not Desert Storm at that point, it was Operation Provide Comfort - he watched him die.  Although I only knew him from chatting with him on the phone, half a world away in Italy, he was my brother’s friend – somebody’s son, brother, grandson, nephew……  My husband served his country during that time period as well.  I know in other entries, I have listed numerous family members who have served our country at various points in history.

This Independence Day, celebrate our country’s freedom.  Go to a parade, sing our National Anthem. (You do know the words don’t you??  Have a good look at the 4th stanza – you might be surprised at the words there – funny how we do not sing anything but the 1st stanza these days - only the 1st is listed at the White House's site), wave the flag and remember those that are serving our country.  You may not like why they are there, you may think we should not be there, but those soldiers are there and we need to remember and take care of them.  Greet them with a smile and maybe a hug.  A huge Thank-you would not hurt either.

Need a jumping off point to get started teaching the kids?  Go here and get the Amanda Bennett Unit Study for it - I have used it the last couple of years and G love the books and M loves all of the Lower Level Activities.  I suggest, at this late a date, you kind of pick and choose what to do out of it.  I actually love the whole Patriotic Unit Study that she does - it includes the Independence Day unit as well.  Annie's Page is a good place for information as well.  I sort of pick & choose things out of it since it is not CM style, but important events like this lend themselves well to a small unit study that includes some fabulous living books.

 Oh, and in case you forgot what those nameless, faceless soldiers look like – go watch this - and have a box of tissues handy:

Everybody in the U.S. should see this. Please watch it.

The following is the hottest thing on the internet and on Fox News today.
Lizzie Palmer who put this YouTube program together is 15 years old.  There have
been over 3,000,000 hits as of this morning.  In case you missed it, here it is.

Has some music....turn on sound.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Memorial Day - Not just another day to cook out

Does anyone actually remember exactly WHY we have Memorial Day?  Do you hang up your flag at least on this day? You can get them fairly cheap right now as most stores have them on sale this week!

We are using Amanda Bennett's Patriotic Holiday's Unit Study right now to teach all of us the Why behind it and remind us of where our country has been. (www.unitstudy.com).  Did you know that it was originally called Decoration Day or that it did not even become a national holiday until 1971 (although it was already celebrated prior to that)?

A link for some neat videos:

Crafts for Memorial Day - show your patriotism:
www.enchantedlearning.com (well worth the $20 a year) - Section for Memorial Day on the Left side of the screen

Memorial Day is near and dear to me - My husband, brother, cousin are all Veteran's of Foreign Wars.  My late FIL and my Uncle on my mom's side (Green Beret) served our country in
Vietnam. My grandpa was at Pearl Harbor and I have 2 Great Great Grandfathers on my Dad's side that were in the Civil War. My dad's brother served his country during the Korean War (wait that was a conflict....).  Apparently due to ages/timing, no one on either side of my family served during WWI.  Now to check with my husband's side.

We attend the Memorial Day Parade in
Sussex that is put on each year by the local VFW.  They usually have a Memorial Service in front of the VFW hall.  I am willing to bet many of your small towns VFW chapters do the same.  It is worth checking into.  I know last year it brought it home to my daughter.

We also like to go out to Oconomowoc and see the Baby Bison at Kumrow Farm!  http://www.beefandbison.com/events.htm  Well, it is not  exactly Patriotic, but our country's heritage had Farming as the #2 occupation (being a housewife was #1 - and how many of those women lived on working farms?? - a bunch, you can bet).  So, we go see the baby bison and the cows and have a tasty Bison burger!

Then, we go onto the church picnic.  We cook out and have great fellowship with our church family.

We remember that the Lord our God is in charge of all that goes on around us.  I hope all of you have a great Memorial Day.  Don't forget to hang up your flag!

May God Bless

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Understood Betsy and homeschooling

As we are reading Understood Betsy, we have been able to identify with Betsy in her transition from a big city, divided grade school to a small, 1-room schoolhouse in the country.  She was surprised to go from 3rd grade in everything to being put exactly where her skill levels are.  2nd grade math, 3rd grade spelling and 7th grade reading! How like homeschooling! 

We are not pigeon-holed into one learning level with our homeschooling endeavors. I love that we are not.  We are able to progress as slowly or quickly through our lessons as needed - mastery over keeping everyone in a large class in the same place whether they are ready or not.  Amazing how we as homeschoolers have been able to  recapture this lost art of teaching/learning for our children to some extent.

Without sounding like I am bragging, I know my own children have thrived on not having to stick with what ever assigned skill level they would have been told to stick to.

My 5 year old who would have only been in K5 this year is already reading things on his own.  Mind you they are simple and, like his sister, he will tell you that he cannot read yet (what a way to make mommy nutty, read mommy  a full story out loud, but tell Grandma that you do not know how to read - argh!).  But he is well on his way to independent reading. He was very excited to do his first Language Arts lesson this week.  It entailed learning that there were 5 vowels, a bit of handwriting practice and identifying the vowel sounds in a few words.  But that was big stuff to him (means he is more like big sister now - he has 3 lesson books each day now, LOL).

My 8 year old is half way through 3rd grade math, but would have only been allowed to be in 2nd grade due to her  birthday and we will not even go into her reading level - let’s just say she follows in her mommy’s footsteps.  One interesting skill that she has picked  up from our Charlotte Mason style learning is to take her books that she reads on her own in small bites.  However, that means she often has 5-6 books going at once, LOL!  Hmmm - sounds like someone else I know who shall remain nameless {snicker}!  But she develops such a wonderful relationship with her books and the information in the really sticks with her.

Anyway, I am rambling now - time to wrap it up!  Thanks for putting up with me!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Okay – how many of you have actually read Marco Polo by Manuel Komroff, illustrated by Edgard Cirlin?  I know, I know – those of you who have done and surpassed Year 2 in Ambleside Online’s curriculum have done it already, LOL! 

However, as I am reading it with the children I am totally fascinated – enough so that I have pulled out my “grown-up” antique version to read a little ahead for more details.

I intrigued with the person telling about the fountain up north in Georgia that, by my guess from the description, is actually a fountain of oil!  And the fire worshipers – how that relates to the Magi and their visit to see Jesus – isn’t that extraordinary?!  I think, even greater still was hearing another person relate their local story about Noah’s Ark and the tall mountain peak that the locals said it came to rest upon!

It is just wonderful to read this story.  For some reason, I do not remember learning much at all about Marco Polo in school – perhaps a small blurb of some sort.  Nothing that inspired me to go read more about him, that is for certain.  And I was/am a history goober who if someone was interesting enough to me, yes, I would go find books to learn more about that person (thanks Dad & Mom!).  I have some other stories & websites from the AO website that we will be using in the next few days.  The children love tracking his journey on their maps and I think just reading 1 chapter a week of it makes them feel a bit like they are on this long journey with him.

At least they are learning more about Marco Polo than I did:  Marco!...........Polo!  (Splash!)