Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

I am not one to do a thankful post, like a lot of people. Just me. I am thankful every day for my family and friends and my life and I make the time to tell God that. But there have been some really great points since my last post.

The kids are doing an amazing job with their school work. The baby is adding like a fiend. I have started to reinforce the basic facts, starting with 0, 1, and 2. She knows that any number added to 0 is that number. She has gotten the fact that adding 1 goes one number up. She has even started skip counting by 5s. We are going to work on skip counting by 2s and 3s. She reads amazingly. She sits with us through bible, history, and science. We do shared reading, which is where everybody reads a little. She struggles with some really big words, but some she just reels off like she's been reading them for years.

The big girl is starting to have more confidence in her math skills. She is very good at math, but has not had the best self confidence. The thing I like about her math curriculum this year is that it explains things very simply. She needs that. She doesn't need to be bogged down in complexities that will undermine her. There is a book that I have requested from the library for her that hopefully will help her as well. She has started reading her next book for her language arts. She will start that after our Thanksgiving break. She loves to read, but doesn't really like her grammar workbook. Me, too. Grammar seems to me to be a waste of time. Most of it is so convulted and hard to follow, but we do it anyway.

The boy. That should be all I need to say about him. He loves his curriculum. I realized I hadn't been doing the spelling test like I needed to. So now he takes a practice test, practices his words in cursive, and then he has a spelling test on Fridays. Like many boys I know, he is a great reader, but a not so great speller. I don't understand how you can read a word, but not know how to spell it, but that's me. I was the sixth grade spelling champ. I know, that was me, this is him. His math skills have improved so much. He has even started doing three digit addition in his head. Hubby said something to him the other day and he added 360+360 and got 720. I was so proud.

Hubby and I were supposed to have a date the other night. The girls had a birthday party, the boy was going to my in laws. Long story short, the boy ended up not going. So I got to go out with two handsome men. We went to see Planet 51, and went to dinner. It was nice to be able to spend quality time with my men. My kids don't get much one on one time with us, so this was a huge blessing to us all. Now the girls want their turn. I think they just want dinner and a movie, but I'll take that excuse for a date night with them.

Hubby got his missing paycheck. That was fantastic. We were able to pay some bills that had been waiting, and got to them in the nick of time. It still irritates me that it took so long, but it was a lesson in patience and humility. I don't really like those lessons, but sometimes they are necessary. It has still thrown us off our schedule, but we'll get back to it.

God has still been blessing us with overtime and extra shifts or oncalls. He has been faithful and true to us and we are doing our best to honor him. We are continuing to pay off debt that has been haunting us, and have been able to do some little projects around the house that needed to be done. We have been able to lower some of our utility bills as well, which has helped with the financial situation. He has led and guided us through every step. There were some things that I wasn't sure we were doing the right way, but He has shown us that we are following the right path for our family. I am thankful for that.

That is just a quick run down on how we're doing. I know, you want more kid info and what we've been doing lately. I'll get to that later. For now, that's what you get and you need to be thankful.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Catchin' Up

Last week was a busy week. I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but here we are, thank goodness. Here's the skinny.

We have a new dinner book. We are reading Roald Dahl's BFG. We had read his James and the Giant Peach and loved it. We love his creativity and imagery. He creates these fantastic worlds that make you want to be there. We love the way he puts his characters together. We love pretty much everything about him. And we are really enjoying this book. He makes us laugh, and think, and get a little teary. I'll give you the full run down when we're done.

Today was co-op. Love co-op. We had a little change in venue due to a back injury. My friend C was trying to open a window to enjoy our beautiful weather and there it went. I know exactly how she felt. So today was countries. I picked up C's daughter and off we went. Germany was on the agenda. We talked about food, and geography, and the culture and customs. During our co-op, we try to stay away from anything that may be too political. We feel like it's something that should be left up to the parents to discuss, so Hitler was left out. I am very OK with that. That is a topic that I will discuss with my kids when the time comes, when we study history that is a little more current. I did order a free K-12 history curriculum today. I could have sworn I already downloaded it, but I'll be darned if I can find it on my computer.

Friday was a spectacular day at the park. We talk about so many things. One of the things we talked about in depth was health and wellness. There are so many things that are horrible for us, yet we continue to use or do whatever it is. My advice is to find one thing that is important to you and work from there. One of the moms was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information that is out there, but mostly the information that came out of our mouths. The most important phrase: baby steps. One thing at a time.

The park ranger came by last week. You could feel the tension level at the table shoot straight thru the roof. We do not have the best relationship with her and felt like she was going to yell at us about something else. She didn't and that wasn't the purpose of her visit. She was wondering if we would be interested in some nature classes. Well, yeah. Any opportunity to learn that is outside of the home or the class room is alright with me. It is yet another avenue to widening our horizons. The classes will be every two weeks and cover some really cool topics. We get to build a terrarium, talk about trees and what products are made from trees, and look at life from the view point of a shrew. Very cool stuff. We are at the park anyway, so why not take advantage.

Hubby and I started volunteering with the youth. Our associate pastor is leaving and she was the youth leader. Although we are not "leading" the group, we will have pretty heavy involvement with it. We do have child care for our other two, so the big girl and none of the other teens has to worry about them. They don't really like having their time and space infiltrated by youngsters. I don't blame them, and they shouldn't have to. It has been interesting to say the least. I know I have enjoyed the times I have spent with them and I hope hubby is too.

This Saturday is jampacked with activity. It started out with just two things, but we had to add an extra. The kids are going to be in the Christmas parade of a nearby town with their dance school. There is practice this weekend for the dancers, which includes the big girl. If I know the boy, he will finagle his way in there somehow. Spot light hog, he is. We also had planned to go to a farm not too far from the house Saturday morning. They are having a free day with pony rides, hay rides, tours, animals, food and lots of fun. Another thing that will look good in the portfolio. We are also going to a get together at the house of some friends that we go to church with. It's a small group for the ministry that has come in to help our church. That is a topic for the other blog. There is something we could also do Sunday, but church is it for us. We're going to need the down time. Not really down time, though, since there is so much work to do around the house.

I have finally incorporated Spanish into our day. I knew if I didn't add it to the lesson plan, we would never get to it. We only started Monday, but so far, so good. We have been working on the numbers and can count to thirty. The kids are really enjoying it so far, but it's only been a couple of days. I just need to keep it up. I also need to figure out when the heck I am going to add the typing curriculum in. What was that phrase from earlier? Baby steps.

The crockpot is my favorite thing right now. There has been some really good food in our home and we love it. I made a dish called College Crockpot Favorite. 1-2 pounds of stew meat, 1 can cream of chicken, 1 can cream of mushroom and garlic, 1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. I used some beef I had and cubed it up. I didn't have the mushroom and garlic soup, but I had the mushroom soup. I cut up four cloves of garlic and added that. I also sliced some onion and added a pound of fresh green beans that I had. I let it cook for about 7 hours on low, made a pot of rice before we left and dinner was ready when we got home. It was so yummy. There are so many easy recipes on the web, it makes things easy.

I guess that's enough to keep you interested and caught up. I'm sure there are a couple of other things that I'm missing. I'll just blog again later.

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seminole Indians

This is more pictures from our field trip. I love field trips. The top picture is the kids listening to the storyteller. She told stories about how the red fox got his color and why the raccoon's tail looks like it does. She had skins of foxes and coyotes and rabbits and a couple more. They all had heads and feet still attached. It was a little creepy, but the kids liked it.

We also learned about how they made their clothes and sewed to make a living. As the settlers pushed the Indians farther and farther south, the Indians realized that they could sell and trade with the settlers. At one point, they even got pedal sewing machines. My grandmother had one. It is definitely not as easy as it looks.

This is the baby holding a cup of corn mush stuff. The Indians would keep this on the fire all day to eat. The sophisticated taste buds of my 21st century kids didn't really care for it. Neither did mine. But it was fun to watch them take a bite.

Another stop was pottery. We learned that the Indians would go to the St. Johns River and gather clay to make pots with. They would also gather shells, leaves, and whatever else they could find to decorate their pots with. I though that was neat. The kids got to make their own pinch pots and decorate them.

The kids got to pick a clan. The Seminole Indians are actually many tribes that came together. The word "seminole" means running. They were running from settlers, and pioneers, and were kidnapped and sold as slaves. You can actually find artifacts in Cuba from some tribes of the Seminole Nation from the time that they were shipped as slaves to work the sugar cane plantations. It wasn't until 1957 or so that the Seminole Tribe came into existence on paper. When I told hubby, he said he alredy knew all that. Smarty pants. The big girl was a member of the bear clan, the boy and I were snakes, and the baby was a panther. The symbols that are being glued to the purple paper are the symbols of the respective clans.

The kids had a really great time. It was very interesting to see the way of life of a people that helped form this state and this nation. We also roamed all over the property and got to see the animals at the farm and the pioneer settlement that they have built. Most of the building have been moved from a different area and put together as a town. There were 16 people in our group that drove together, but 76 in the entire home school group. Quite impressive if you ask me. I'll let you know what happens on our next field trip.

Have a great day!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seminole Indian Field Trip

Just some picture of our happy group at the field trip. I'll post a few more of the activities the kids participated in and a great group picture by the train. Most of our co-op was there, as well as a large number of homeschoolers from our chat group. There were 76 participants all together. Pretty good showing if you ask me. I'll give you the details later.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trick or Treat

Here are the kids in all their Halloween glory. The big girl looks happy, doesn't she? Not real sure what her problem was, but I have an idea. Her cousin, who is a year older, didn't trick or treat last year or this year. He even brought his best friend over this year. They stayed at the house and handed out candy. The big girl asked if she could stay and I told her yes. She's growing up too fast.
We did hit a couple of the grocery stores we said we were going to. The kids had a great time and so did we. The first store had stations set up and you went from station to station. The second store was a little more fun. You had to look for the employees that had the candy baskets. It was like treasure hunt trick or treating. I had to run into the mall really quick to use a free coupon at Bath and Body Works. They were trick or treating in the mall. I called hubby and told him. He took a vote with the kids to see if they wanted to come in. They did. So we went through most of the mall and had to boogie to hubby's parent's house.
At least half of the houses were dark this year. They were either empty, or not participating. Even the number of candy seekers was low this year. Normally the streets are pretty crowded. Not this year. There were also more fall festivals going on on Halloween in this area. That also cut the number of candy seekers. I had one of our church members ask why we didn't do our trunk or treat on Halloween. I told him we held it on a date when the four volunteers could be there. He said we need more volunteers. Honey, that's why we cancelled JAM. You work on that and get back to me.
Monday, I woke up with a headache and a stuffy nose. So during my stuffy headed day of trying to get the kids schooled and everything else, I forgot about the dentist. We were going to exchange our candy for money and an entry into a drawing for an iPod nano. What are we going to do? Give away as much candy as I can is what I'm going to do. We sure don't need all that we got.
Have a great day!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Busy, AGAIN!

This was not the best week when I was making plans. Apparently, I decided that we weren't going to be running crazy enough and needed something to spice up our life. I don't always make the best decisions. We do have cool stuff happening, though.

Today is our only down day. The big girl has dance, but other than that, nothing. I do have several errands to run on our way. Mostly they add up to about five minute stops, but you get too many of those and an hour has gone by. I almost planned a "play date" for this morning, but hubby was the voice of reason. I didn't necessarily want to hear what he said, but he made too much sense to ignore him. Thanks, Hubby.

Tomorrow is co-op. No need to say more, really. We are going to be learning about differences in people. Some we can see and some we can't. It should be quite interesting really. I am looking forward to the lesson. I do know that we are going to be spending quite a bit of time outside. Tennis shoes for everyone, the email said. OK.

Pizza soup is in the crockpot. I sat down this weekend and got the menu put together. We also have some old favorites on the menu as well. With all the new stuff, I think the kids need something familiar. I included a little something for everyone. One of the activities that goes with our history is to make a monk's dinner, which consists of lentils. I have a great recipe for a lentil stew. So that will go in the crockpot bright and early on Wednesday.

Bright and early because we have a field trip Wednesay. We are going to learn about the Seminole Indians. We are caravanning and carpooling with some people from our co-op and we get to see some friends we haven't seen in a while. We are really looking forward to it, but I will miss my dance class. I'm not sure about the boy and the baby. It will depend on when we get back and how tired they are if they miss theirs. We're taking a lunch, but will be ready for lentil stew when we get home. If it comes out well, I'll post the recipe. If it doesn't, I'll let you know that, too.

Thursday we have a birthday party in the morning. Yet another great advantage to homechooling. Parties whenever you want. We have another birthday party on Saturday for a friend of the big girl. Her friend recently started going to private school, and they haven't seen each other in quite some time. It will be good to see my friend, too. Her mom is super funny and I love being around her.

That's all for now, but isn't that enough? So much for unsocialized homeschoolers. This is an unusual week, and we will get through it. I'm going to go take a nap for just a little while. That always helps during a busy week, too.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

My favorite part of carving is scooping all the guts out. Hubby does the carving and does a bang up job. The kids normally help and we make it a family fun event. This year was a little different.

Hubby actually did most of the scooping. I'm not real sure how that happened. The boy sat outside with me while I did my part. He also helped me separate the seeds from the strings. I had grand plans of roasting the seeds this year. The big girl came out holding her nose, being a general pain in the butt. I sent her back in and told her not to come out until her attitude was better. You would think that was a good thing for her. She could sit inside and do what she wanted and not be sweating with us. No, not her. She sat at the windows watching for awhile. I told her if she could come out without the dramatics, she was welcome. She didn't come out.

I couldn't help but sing "Great big globs of greasy, grimy, pumpkin guts" while I played. It was kind of freaking out the boy, so I had to quit. A couple of minutes later, he said, "Mama! Thanks". He had it stuck in his head. I couldn't help it. Then we sang it together for awhile. He's so cute.

Hubby took the pumpkins out front to carve. It was shady out front. We should have scooped them out there, too. I was inside washing seeds and trying to remove excess pumpkin. That was not as big a chore as I thought it was going to be. It took a little while, but it wasn't bad. We put the seeds on to soak in salty water while we went trick or treating. I got them cooked last night and hubby and I snacked away. They were really good. I did make some notations on the recipe as to what I will do differently next year. For great recipes I like to go here. That's where I get some of my crockpot recipes as well. Very handy.

We didn't realize until we were snacking and playing Wii that I didn't get pictures of hubby carving. I was washing seeds while he was hacking away and I missed it all. Oh, well. We do have pics of the final product. We took them over to where we trick or treat and lit them. They looked really cool. Hubby was a little worried you wouldn't be able to tell what they were when they were lit. I'll post those pics, too. But later. It took two rounds of We Love Golf to get the last two posts done. 9 pictures is alot for my computer on a dial up line. I'll also post pics of the kids in their costumes.

Have a great day!

Pumpkin Carving, In Pictures, Part 2