Curriculum Excitement!

This morning Conman and I ventured back up to the closest homeschool supply store we have around here. After my major clean out last month I had left some boxes with the owner for her to go through and see if there was anything she was willing to give me credit for.

Well, there was!

After subtracting $10.00 for some books I had already brought home, I received about $80.00 credit from her to use in the store. Talk about exciting!

So, what did I come home with?

Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2-Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day-This is for Blakester. He only has a couple lessons left in his current book.

Queen Homeschool's Pictures in Cursive Book B-Again for Blakester. He's really enjoying his first book and asked to continue for more practice.

Queen Homeschool's Language Lessons for the Very Young-Book 2-This is for Conman. He'll finish up his book 1 in a few weeks, and we'll continue on with book 2.

I also came home with a new Geosafari card set. It's all about ocean creatures. I thought the kids would enjoy it as a supplement to their science.

It was a good morning, and I was very glad I had glanced at how far the kids were in some of their books so that I could prepare for future lessons!


What's Not in the Box Wednesday

A lot of bloggers who use workboxes will post a "What's in the Box Wednesday" on their blog. They show the contents of their workboxes and a short description of them. I enjoy seeing what others are using for their workbox system and gleaning ideas from them of what to put in our boxes.

Today I decided to let you know what was not in our boxes.

I did not put any copywork in the boxes. I did not put any math pages in the boxes. I did not put thinking skills workbooks in the boxes. I did not put grammar lessons in the boxes. I did put any science reading, notebooking or experiments in the boxes. I did not conduct group time and read our history or artist biography.

Here's what we did do today.

Lulu made pancakes for breakfast. (Measuring and cooking practice)

Conman and I had a long discussion over some behavioral issues. (Character building, bible)

The boys designed their own Lego creations on the computer using Lego Digital Designer. Conman designed a scene of the California gold rush. (Science, art, computer skills, history-narration)

Lulu swept and mopped the kitchen and vacuumed the house. (Homemaking skills)

The boys and I pulled weeds. While in the process, some spiders and bugs were discovered. (Science, Nature Study)

Lulu is working on some place cards for a spring tea at church next week. (Art, computer skills and language arts)

Conman made a sign for our upcoming yard sale. (Art, handwriting)

I'm also pretty sure some reading will get done today. Lulu has an orthodontist appointment and will most likely take a book along. Blakester and Conman will probably read before bed. They will also complete their daily bible study and Conman and I will read from Little Rebel Becomes a Saint for character building.

So, even though I declared today a no-school, get-housework-done day, learning was still accomplished. It's important to remember that it is not checking off the list and completing every workbook page that enables education to occur.

Enjoy your Wednesday!


The Simple Womans Daybook

FOR TODAY... March 22, 2010

Outside my window...it's sunny, but the wind is blowing. It doesn't feel like it will reach 70's today as promised.

I am thinking...that I missed posting my weekly wrap-up last week. Busy weekend.

I am thankful....that my kitty Dallas was found. Interesting story.

I am wearing...workout pants, t-shirt, tennies and a sweatshirt.

I am remembering...what it was like when my children couldn't yet talk.

I am going...to start watching my Simply Charlotte Mason all-day seminar DVD for some motivation.

Some plans for the rest of the week...Lulu has an orthodontist appointment on Wednesday. Thursday I'm going back to the used curriculum store to pick up any leftover items I had and get Blakester's next science book. Also, getting a haircut finally! Conducting our yard sale this weekend since we're supposed to have better weather.

I am currently reading... Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shafer, The Bible, The Original Homeschooling Series, Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont. And, yes, I did start another Jodi Picoult book-Change of Heart. I have no self-discipline!

I am hoping... to be able to take some trips for our California history studies.

On my mind...family.

From the learning room....started reading about the California gold rush. Working on the habit of attention, obedience and orderliness without nagging.

Noticing that...per our message at church this weekend, most of what we think are crises in our life are self-inflicted.

Pondering these words...prayer.

I am creating...more scrapbooking pages.

I am hearing...Blakester & Lulu goofing off at the table when they should be finishing lunch. Conman's gameboy music.

From the kitchen...Chicken with lemon & garlic, veggies-asparagus & tomatoes, and brown rice.

Around the house...things are somewhat in order. Still pulling items out from here and there for the yard sale. Still thinning things out for our upcoming (hopeful) move.

One of my favorite things...jeans.

From my picture journal... the results of our fabulous girls day out. Seven pairs of perfectly manicured toes.


Nature Study

Nope, it's not Wednesday, but we managed to squeeze in our nature study today.

It was beautiful and sunny, so we decided to go for a short walk. The boys took their nature sketch books with them, but Lulu chose to stay home. She said she wanted to sketch grass. What? Was she trying to get off easy?

Well, she surprised me. She sketched a great picture of up-close blades of grass, using different pencils to shade them in.
The boys sketched some flowers & weeds we found along our walk.

Blakester's California poppy:

Conman's flower:

I snapped a few photos, but I haven't had the time to look them up and identify them. I really need to get a California flower field guide to keep handy.

Some kind of thistle.California poppy

Not sure.....

This fat, little guy sat in a tree in our front yard for the longest time. I believe he's a chickadee.

Now that they sun is showing it's face once more we'll be able to take in more of God's beautiful creations.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Had I really been on my game I would have planned some fun stuff for us to do in honor of St. Patrick's Day. However, with the whole idea of simplifying our school routine, instead of cutting out a bunch of shamrocks & pots of gold to glue together, I stuck with our regularly scheduled program.

Every Wednesday we read a short bio from Trial and Triumph. We had read about St. Patrick a few months ago, so in order to elaborate more on him, I downloaded and printed off a free biography of him from Living Books Curriculum through the currclick site and read that to the kiddos. It was very interesting. Did you know that St. Patrick wasn't Irish? I didn't! Did you know he used a 3-leaf clover to demonstrate the tie between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? I didn't! When you were in school were you taught the Christian background behind St. Patrick's Day? I wasn't! Who says you're too old to learn something new! I had the kids follow up with some sharing & narrating at dinner tonight with Dad and Grandma. They did not know these little tid-bits either.

I also took the plunge & made (for the very first time) Corned Beef & Cabbage for dinner. As I was scrolling through the net this morning I came upon a recipe that was linked from an email I received to this site. Here's the recipe:
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned beef is brisket, topside or silverside which has been pickled in brine. It is especially popular around Dublin. It is best to soak a

joint overnight to remove excess salt.

5 lb/ 2 kg joint of corned beef

1 large cabbage

bay leaf

2 large


cold water to cover

2 large carrots

ground black pepper

4 potatoes (I used red)

(serves four to six)

Quarter the cabbage and put aside. Peel and slice the other vegetables. Cover the meat with the water and bring to the boil.

Skim the surface, add the vegetables (except the cabbage), the bay leaf and the pepper and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for a further 30 minutes. Serve the meat surrounded by the vegetables with additional mashed potatoes.
I'm going to admit I did not eat it. It smelled really good, but I've never cared for the look of corned beef. My family seemed to enjoy it, and they said it tasted delicious. I'll just have to take their word for it!


Cheap Finds

I had a cheap find today that I feel obligated to report upon!

After checking out some books at the library, we, of course, stopped in at the library bookstore. Lo and behold, on the shelf was the Harry Potter book #7. We own books 1-6 and just last week Lulu tried to talk me into buying #7 at Barnes & Noble. At $15.00, I said, "No way." I'm pretty sure I made her day when I was able to get it used for $1.00!!! She is feverishly reading through it as I type. This is actually her second go-round of reading the series. The first time we had to borrow #7 from a cousin. Blakester is hot on her heels, as he's about half-way through book #5.

I also count the following as some of my "cheap finds":
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien ($.50 at Goodwill)
  • Homeward Bound movie ($1.50 at Goodwill)
  • Great American Nature Writing by Joseph Wood Krutch ($1.00 at library book store) This looked very interesting. It's an anthology of nature stories. I recognized a few of the authors included: John Muir, Thoreau, Ernest Thompson Seton.
  • Sounder movie ($1.00 at library book store)
That's it for now. I haven't really been out looking, but am always happy when I do find some treasures!


The Simple Womans Daybook

FOR TODAY... March 15, 2010

Outside my window...it's dark. It's only 8:30 but I'm ready for bed! This time change is throwing me off.

I am thinking...that I need a haircut and color. I see some gray peeking out.

I am thankful for....my house in Texas. Something to look forward to.

I am wearing...blue plaid flannel pj pants & a t-shirt.

I am remembering...MOPS times.

I am going...to try to get serious about my eating healthy & exercising regularly. I think that's what I was going to do last week, too.

Some plans for the rest of the week...Conman's gymnastics tomorrow and stop by his eye Dr. to pick up his repaired glasses. Another library stop. Getting a pedicure with my daughter, sisters, niece, aunt & mom on Saturday, having lunch & doing whatever Miss Delaney Grace wants to! Then church Saturday night.

I am currently reading... Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shafer, The Bible, The Original Homeschooling Series, Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont. I'm going to make myself finish at least the two easiest of these before I pick up another Jodi Picoult book.

I am hoping... that my fluffy kitty Dallas turns up. He's been missing since Friday morning.

On my mind...sleep.

From the learning room....started timing shorter lessons today with Conman. It appeared to be his idea, so it went well. Set the timer for 15 minutes, he worked on a box, if there was time left when he completed it, he got to play. Going to start implementing it with the other two also, following Charlotte Mason's short lesson recommendations. More attention is paid to the lesson at hand and less dawdling if they know it's either earn a few minutes break or have to continue the lesson later while everyone else plays. Brilliant!

Noticing that...the pictures I scrapbooked this weekend showed a much thinner me.

Pondering these words...Proverbs 31 Woman.

I am creating...scrapbooking pages. Yay!!

I am hearing...Absolutely nothing. Kiddos are tucked in for the night.

From the kitchen...Balsamic chicken, big green salad with tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, feta cheese & toasted pine nuts, and cute little slices of Tuscan bread dipped in olive oil. Yum. Tomorrow is taco soup and cornbread casserole.

Around the house... Husband sprayed the weeds so they are dying. Plants and trees are blooming. Silvy, the inside cat, has become obsessed with the crickets hopping around in the lizard's aquarium. She sits and stares at it for long periods of time.

One of my favorite things...the t.v. show Hoarders.

From my picture journal... our Cherry-Plum tree in bloom.

Til tomorrow~


Weekly Wrap-Up #2

I like the idea of a Weekly Wrap-Up so I plan on continuing with it. It's also a lot of fun to see how other homeschoolers have spent their weeks. If you click here, you can read about other Weekly Wrap-Ups as well.

I posted last Monday about Bob the lizard moving into his new abode. Here is a photo of his fancy new home. Unfortunately, Bob likes to hide in the sand, so we don't see a lot of him. Every now and then Blakester will dig him out so he can watch him run around for a while. I also had to purchase 24 more crickets on Monday. Apparently Bob has a large appetite.

Tuesday, Conman attended his gymnastics class. A little more attention was paid this week to his coach.

Our picture study this week was on Audubon's print, The Large-Billed Puffin. The kids are doing well at narrating. I leave the prior weeks pictures up and they are even noticing similarities between the prints.

We wrapped our reading of The Bible Story by Arthur S. Maxwell. This is a 10 volume set of wonderfully illustrated bible stories that came from my grandparent's house. There are 409 stories and we started reading them when we began homeschooling. Arthur Maxwell is the same author who wrote Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories. We have some of the audio cassettes of these and the kids really enjoy them.

We started Conman's 106 Days of Creation study by reading about the days of creation and starting on Day 1, light. Here is his rendition of each days topic. I somehow managed to create the notebooking page with all the little circles myself! You can download the template here if you'd like one.

We also started reading about California Missions all together using California Missions History and Model Building Ideas for Children. This was the best book I could find at our library that gave a summary of each mission's history. We worked on narration this week, and mapped the missions on a blank California map. Next week the kids will be sketching one of the missions and we're going to attempt to build one. We also plan on visiting a couple of them in a few weeks so the kids can get a first hand glimpse at the history they've been reading about.

Thursday was the sunniest day weather wise this week, so after a morning of schoolwork we headed to the park. I know spring is coming because plants and trees are in full bloom around here.

The kids hung out on the twirly things eating their PB&J sandwiches while I soaked up some short-lived sun. It's raining again today.

I even managed to pull out some creativity and start on my Texas scrapbook. (More on my Texas obsession later.) I completed two pages this afternoon and just left the mess on the craft table so I'll be sure to go back to it.

That's all for this week. Enjoy your weekend~


More on Creation....

I find it interesting that with the issue floating around concerning the Apologia textbooks and creation vs. evolution that Conman and I started on his new science program Monday entitled 106 Days of Creation. I decided to continue with him on his own program right now and wait on combining him and Blakester for at least another year.

Anyways, this is a comprehensive lesson plan that covers the 7 days of creation, breaking them up into the 7 individual topics of creation. It's published by Simply Charlotte Mason and can be purchased either as a bound book or a downloadable e-book. It relies on some experiments, books, videos and the bible to present the subject matter.

Today our schedule was to read and narrate the book Yellow and Pink by William Steig. I didn't link to it, as the copies I found on Amazon were ridiculously expensive. I was able to find this book at one of the small (very small) branches of our county library. What a surprise & relief!

This is a great little book that enables you to discuss creation vs. evolution in terms the little ones can understand. The story entails two wooden puppets who wake up and wonder how they came to be. One puppet decides they must have been created by someone for they are very intricately made. The other argues the point that if they were created they would have known it, and he believed they just happened. He tells a story of millions of years passing by and the piece of wood he's made from being shaped by time, until it became a puppet. In the end, the creator comes back and takes them home. (Pretty good analogy there.)

I was mistaken yesterday when I posted that all my children knew what evolution was. Conman told me he did not. Probably because all he's been taught is creation. That's what we believe and so that is what he knows. So this was great timing to explain the difference to him. He did comment that those people who think we appeared by accident are idiots. Oops! That's just as bad as the hateful posts on the article I referred to yesterday. I will have to clear that one up with him.

Anyways, a wonderful resource to use. But do try to find it at a library. If I ever run across a used one I'm going to be sure to snatch it up!


On My Soapbox

This might be classified as a Random Rant instead of a Random Rambling....It's long, and if you don't want to read my opinion, don't go any further.

If you are a homeschooler, you have probably seen the article released by MSNBC and Fox News entitled, "Top Homeschool Texts Dismiss Darwin, Evolution." Even if you don't homeschool or haven't read it, please do so. The article is scary enough, but what really disturbed me were the comments on the poll that MSNBC posted "Is it OK for Homeschool Textbooks to Dismiss the Theory of Evolution?"

I spent some time reading through these and was absolutely shocked, horrified, surprised....at what these people were saying not only about Christians, but about homeschoolers in general. I'm not sure why I was so shocked, horrified, surprised....I'm not naive and I know there are people who believe other than I do, but there were some very hateful comments posted.

I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's fine. I have mine and they have theirs. However, that said, if the posters wanted to share their opinion they should have at least some knowledge of what they are commenting on. I always hesitate to comment on things I have no knowledge of.

I'm guessing from the quantity and type of comments that most of these people have no idea what homeschooling entails. Nor are they Christians. The posts I did find that were made by homeschoolers were few and far between and mostly in rebuttal to a topic that was already started.

Some of the comments read like this:

"And we wonder why our children are so behind the rest of the world in terms of math and science. Now I know one reason."

Huh?? What does the personal choice of Christian homeschoolers dismissing evolution have to do with the state of our educational system as a whole? Homeschoolers make up a small percent of the total educational system. And we are not all Christians, and we don't all teach creationism. Maybe the poster should take a look at what the public school system is churning out. Two of my kids did attend public school, so I'm aware of what they learn or don't learn there. My niece who is currently in 8th grade (public school) has repeatedly said she's learned nothing in her history class. They tend to watch a lot of movies.

Another poster said:

"how can you teach someone that the earth is only 2000 years old..how do they explain king tut and other mummies that have been found."

No one ever said we believe the earth is only 2000 years old. If she had done her research, she would have found out that we believe the earth to be at least 5000 years old. We are in 2010 A.D. There were a few years before Jesus was born that the earth existed. And what does King Tut and mummies have anything to do with it? Joseph became ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. There were pharaohs ruling long before Moses came along. My daughter, in fact, just finished a study on Ancient Egypt and learned all about pharaohs and mummies.

Some comments stated that not teaching evolution was equal to "child abuse" and "neglectful."
Others stated that homeschoolers are ignorant, going to end up working at a fast food place and likened teaching creation to teaching fantasy or mythology. All because of what we believe?

I'm sorry, but I think these posters have all missed the point of the article and the poll. The question deals with our rights as homeschoolers, and the rights of the curriculum publisher. Isn't this more about freedom of speech than how the general public feels our children are going to turn out? One of the reasons I'm homeschooling is so I can ground my children in our beliefs. Do I want the government or the state education system regulating that? No way!

If my daughter was attending our local public school this year, she would be taught in her science class that evolution was the way we came to be. And I would have no say so, whatsoever, in this. So why is it OK for the public schools to not give us a choice in what our kids are taught, but not OK for us to choose in our home what to teach? Makes no sense.

I purposely chose to use a Christian curriculum, Apologia to be exact, so my children would learn about the earth that God created. If the mom in the article didn't want to teach her children in that way, that is her free choice and she should not have chosen a book entitled "Exploring Creation with...." Duh! (OK, that was a little childish, but it's how I feel.)

My children know what evolution is. They also know what adaptation and survival of the fittest is and how it all fits into creation. Now, I've not yet personally reviewed the Apologia Biology book that was being referred to in the article, but my understanding is the book talks about Darwin and evolution, it just doesn't promote it as the absolute truth. This is the biology book my children will use when they hit 9th grade, no doubt about it.

OK, that's it. Off my soapbox. For now. It's time to go teach my children some mythology~


The Simple Womans Daybook

FOR TODAY... March 8, 2010

Outside my window...overcast. Cold. Lots of weeds and a couple red wagons sitting on the back patio.

I am thinking...about babies.

I am thankful for... my God.

I am wearing... tennies, blue workout pants and a hot-pink t-shirt. Notice a pattern?

I am remembering...our dating years.

I am going... to really try to eat better this week.

Some plans for the rest of the week...Conman's gymnastics tomorrow and stop by his eye Dr. because his glasses broke, again. Quick library stop for one science book. Baby shower on Saturday, special church presentation on Sunday.

I am currently reading... Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shafer, The Bible, The Original Homeschooling Series, Tenth Circle by Jodi Piccoult, Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont, More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison.

I am hoping... for that sun again. Yucky weather makes me feel yucky.

On my mind...my brother.

From the learning room....starting Conman's new science today. I decided against combining him and Blakester with Apologia for right now. Blakester really enjoys doing it on his own and I'm not sure it will appeal to Conman at this age. This year, 4Th grade, was a really good time to start with Blakester, so I'm going to hold off another year or so for Conman. We're going to start 106 Days of Creation from Simply Charlotte Mason. It will give him a good overview for upcoming studies.

Noticing that...I've not taken very good care of myself lately.

Pondering these words... I try to teach the children to think.

I am creating...a simple home.

I am hearing...Conman chomping on gum while watching cartoons.

From the kitchen... Lulu is cooking eggs and sausage for her and her brother. Country-fried steak with mashed potatoes and cooked carrots for dinner. Maybe a dessert, I'm not sure yet..

Around the house... Bob the lizard has been moved into a new home. Blakester spent time yesterday cleaning out an aquarium we inherited and settled Bob into it. I had to go buy itty, bitty crickets from the pet store for him.

One of my favorite things...Disneyland.

From my picture journal... another random picture from my computer stash.

This is my lovely niece Delaney Grace. She's about 4 1/2 in this picture. Her 7Th birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Delaney!!! Love ya!!

Have a wonderful day~


Weekly Wrap Up

This week I decided to participate in a Weekly-Wrap Up post sponsored by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. You can read her week's happenings here.

The creative juices were flowing around here this week. Warning-this post is long and picture heavy!

Conman completed his science study of the human body. He finished coloring and pasting the internal organs on his paper guy. We used an older version of My Body for reading and the patterns for the organs and bones.

He also learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. We've tried to convince him in the past to let us remove the wheels, but he would have nothing to do with it. With some coaxing from big brother, he was off and wheeling.....

The boys are always snapping pictures of their Lego creations, so when we found some special Lego brand scrapbook paper a few weeks ago, we had to get it. Conman chose his favorite photos and designed a scrapbook page.

Lulu modeled a strand of DNA using pipe cleaners and colored beads.

She also is working on a couple of experiments from her Apologia General Science book. One has to do with detecting the starch in leaves, and the other is to observe a plant for 30 days to discover how it produces its own food.

Blakester adopted a lizard from outside today. He had just been wondering if he should have a King Snake or a Chameleon for a pet. This stemmed from his science reading this week on reptiles from Apologia's Exploring Creation Zoology 3. Grandma happened upon the lizard while pulling weeds. Since it's still pretty cold outside, he wasn't moving very quickly and was easy to catch. Blakester has him in a makeshift home right now, but I promised we could find something more permanent for him. He did some research on the net and figured the lizard's a Western Fence Lizard. I think he said his name is Bob.

If you are on a diet you may not want to read any further-Inspired by a post from Ree over at The Pioneer Woman I decided to try making her Apple Fritters. I followed her recipe exactly, with the exception of frying mine in a light buttery olive oil, rather than canola oil. Hers are definitely prettier than mine, but I was happy with the results. They are really yummy! Thanks, Ree, for sharing your recipes!

We also managed to pull some weeds while the sun was out, load and haul wood up to the house in case it rains this weekend (we had to cancel our garage sale) and the kiddos sorted and bagged up some bottles and cans for recycling.

A pretty good week~


Wednesday Nature Study

Our regularly scheduled nature study was cancelled today due to rain. At this rate we'll never make it through our outdoor hour challenges. Blake did spot a Yellow-Billed Magpie who was enjoying the drops this morning.

Charlotte Mason believed in taking her students out for a nature walk in every kind of weather. In England they were used to the drizzly days. I prefer to stay in by my fire!

So instead of braving the weather, we read about the red-tailed hawk from our Handbook of Nature Study. I chose this bird because he was the subject of our picture study this week.

When viewing this picture, we didn't realize the Red-Tailed Buzzard was also called the Red-Tailed Hawk. After searching through our handbook I came across a photo of this and realized they were one in the same. Something new learned!

I hope the forecast is calling for some sun next week~


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