My 9 year old son has started his own blog, which features his favorite You Tube finds. You can check it out here.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
My oldest son has some friends at school that own and operate Black Mamba Production Studios. These kids have already won awards for their videos. My son is working on a Star Wars Lego movie with them these days. Until we have the finished product to she you, here are a few of our favorites that they did before we got to know them.
I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I am quite unsatisfied with Sonlight 3's choice of the book Classic Poetry. It's everything that children expect poetry to be--dreary, boring, and difficult to understand. I have no idea why Sonlight would choose this book.
So, we've been reading Shel Silverstein poetry, which they gobble up and beg for more. Of course.
And then we found something neat and I used it to do two poetry classes this week.
Over at Great Homeschool Videos they have three YouTube videos depicting Robert Frost's poem The Road Less Traveled. (though some called it The Road Not Taken...) First I found the poem online and read it to the kids and we talked about what it meant. Then we watched each of the videos and talked about what we did and didn't like about each, and how each one did or didn't convey what we felt the poem was saying.
Another day we did the same thing with Robert Frost's poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.
We did the same thing with that one.
What I really liked about this was the way we could dive into one simple poem, understand it, and then see how others saw it or told the story. It was fun for variety as well. I had never thought about You Tube as a possibility for poetry lessons, but I will be looking for more of this kind of stuff in the future. It looks like there is a lot more to choose from there.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I forgot to tell you that after seeing folks like Jessica over at Kerflop and others mentioning their newfound love and obsession for Stephenie Meyer's Twlight series, I decided to check it out. No surprise--I'm hooked. I read Twilight and New Moon within about a week, and then couldn't get ahold of the third book, Eclipse until today. Ah, bliss! Now I need to carve out some time to read it! ha.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Today I've hit the jackpot, with both of my little homeschoolers crying during school time. If things keep going like they have been, I might burst into tears myself, thereby achieving a homeschool hat trick.
Despite the good curriculum I have, my complete unwillingness to make my children to meaningless busy work, my good sense of humor, having things be totally quiet here from 10:15-2:45 every day....STILL somebody starts crying about something.
My son cried because of his math, spelling, and language arts. He's now acting like I've asked him to swim the English channel with one arm tied behind his back because I asked him to write his remaining spelling words three times each.
My daughter cried because she got one word wrong on her spelling test, and later because she did not like it that I was going over her mistakes with her from her Wordly Wise book. Last week she complained that I was not doing enough actual teaching. This week she is complaining because I dared to try to teach her something.
A few minutes ago she came down here, red-faced and teary-eyed, to read me the two essays she just wrote. The first was entitled "Why Homeschool Stinks" and the second was "Why I Miss School."
To contrast that, my preschooler is now on a campaign to drop out of school. Most little 4 year olds might say something like, "I don't want to go to school tomorrow" before they go to bed, and you get them to stop talking about it by saying something like, "Well, let's think about it and we can talk about it in the morning" and then by morning the kid has forgotten all about it. I don't have one of those kids. I have the kid who comes to me first thing in the morning, rubbing his sleepy little eyes, and says, "So. Did you think about letting me stay home today? Because I still don't want to go to school." And here I am doing one of the things I never wanted to do, which is basically coercing/forcing a 4 year old to go to school even if he doesn't want to. And WHY am I doing that? So that I can homeschool the kid that writes "Why Homeschool Stinks" essays. Yeah. Good times.
**Adding some more info now. My daughter's main complaints about homeschooling are directly related to the differences between the way she was taught at school as compared to the way we do things here. She is missing being graded (which proves she is smart and learning, or so she thinks), having her time regimented, and things like that. It's a normal thing for her to feel this way and I completely understand. But I have no intention of giving up on her or our homeschooling.
After she calmed down a bit I went to ask her what things we could adjust to make homeschooling better. Once she got past her initial answer that absolutely nothing could make homeschooling bearable for her, she had some very school-ish suggestions. (start school at 7:35 am, keep grades for everything, have specific class times and schedule, etc.) Then the phone rang and her best friend called. When she got off the phone she was looking kind of funny and said, "So. Guess what they studied in science today? Reproduction!! I am SO glad that I wasn't there for THAT!" hahahahahaaha I love it that she got that reminder of why the grass isn't always greener on the other side....
I just stumbled across this today and thought it was brilliant, beautiful, and something I needed to hear. (My husband has been telling me this for 16 years, but I don't think I entirely *got it* until now.) Follow this link to watch.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
This guy did an experiment for a year where he 9tried to) obey every rule in the Bible. Interesting!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So a week or two ago I told you about the inspiring concept of Addition by Subtraction. I've been doing a lot of thinking about what could stand to go in my life, and where the clutter is (both physical as well as emotional, mental, and schedule clutter) and trying to reduce it. So far I've managed to:
-arrange carpooling for picking up the elementary school kids: I now only pick up 2 days a week!
-found a friend that is willing to swap childcare so that I can get some time off if needed (not entirely sure how well this will work since her kids are younger than mine and require more effort to watch)
-found a situation where I could have my preschoolers babysat in the mornings before school any time that I need that (like if I want to take the homeschooled kids on a field trip that needs more time than I have when I need to get the preschooler on the bus)
-worked through every item that I had previously mentioned here as being on my Plagues and Nuisances list plus some. (Don't worry, though. There are even MORE items on the list....but I'm getting there!)
-worked on having my marching band kid get rides home from some of his practices so that I don't have to pick him up every. single. time.
-I rejoined Flylady and am doing what I can to get those baby step routines going
-I've been faithfully working my Addition by Subtraction plan for my businesses as well, and am having a very profitable month!
-I'm now planning to see if I can find 4 other women in my town that are willing to set up a Supper Swapping arrangement with me. The idea behind Supper Swapping is that on one night of the week I make dinner for my own family plus the 4 other families in the group (in other words, make 5 of the same casserole or whatever), and on the other 4 nights, someone is making dinner for us. I do not like to cook or shop or anything that goes with making dinner. if I could hire a cook I would love it. If my business ever starts making a boatload of money, I'd hire a housekeeper and a cook. Definitely. For now, this seems like a good possibility. (and better than my previous idea of trying to do freezer cooking for myself, which would end up costing more and being more work, which doesn't seem all that appealing) You can learn more about Supper Swapping here and here.
-I have wished for a quiet retreat for myself for years, but what with life and family getting in the way ;) I haven't been able to make that happen. I decided that I definitely needed that break (seeing as how my husband worked about 250 hours over the past two weeks. Seriously.) and have now planned it for later in the fall.
-I have also lined up a quiet place I can go to work on writing my book. not sure when I'll have time to go....but I'm working on it. :)
And, now I've got to get back at it. I just went out to let the chickens out of their coop and found that one chicken has been injured and bleeding. Poor girl!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Just a quick hello to say that I've actually *made progress* accomplishing things from my Plagues and Nuisances list today and last night. I have been diligently beating back the paper monster from my To Do list also. Feels good! I'm going to keep at it and see how much I can get done today. Yay!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
So there's this man who lives right near the elementary school, and he has the most amazing landscaping/garden going on in the front of his house. His entire front yard from porch to street is probably no more than 10 feet, and he has managed to fill it with amazing, gorgeous plants. The big, luscious ground cover leaves spill right over the yard onto the street in a way that makes you feel like all that beauty is just trying to reach out and touch you. The whole place is just a breath of fresh air, and you can't help but be struck by how lovely it is when you drive by. (which in my case is about 4 times a day)
More interesting than the garden itself is the gardener. The man that tends to these plants so faithfully is probably at least 6'4", appears to have a shaved head, goes without a shirt most of the time. This reveals his very fuzzy red hair on back and front, and some pretty large and interesting tattoos. He is a rather fierce looking man, and his nose ring (a big hoop that goes through the middle of his nose, like a bull ring) and earrings and nipple rings add to the look.
And there he is in all his huge, fierce, tat-and-body pierced glory, living across from the elementary school in a small Kentucky town, tending to this magnificent garden decor, and sometimes walking his small doggie.
Really, he fascinates me. I enjoy it when I can manage to be a little bit of an enigma, but this guy seems to have really gotten into the spirit of it! I've been thinking for awhile that I would like to hop out of the car someday when I see him working in his yard and introduce myself and thank him for making his little spot in our town so beautiful. I've considered taking him a card or a gift certificate to a garden catalog or shop. What I think I've settled on, though, is a note and some homemade banana bread.
In the book Bless and Be Blessed the author talks about the importance of telling people how you feel about them while they're able to hear it. (rather than saving up all those nice things for saying once somebody's dead) There have been many times in my life that I've made a point of doing that, and I can't help but think that this intimidating-looking man who apparently loves small dogs and lovely plants is offering something really wonderful to the people of this community, and I want him to know that we appreciate it. I have to pick up some more wheat so I can make my bread the best way, so it may be a week before I get to it. (and then the trick is catching him at home and working outside while I have fresh bread with me in the car!) I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it won't be too awkward.
Oh, and for those of you that are worried that he may think I'm flirting with him, I'm pretty sure he's gay, so no worries. (NO, I don't think he's gay because he likes to take care of plants! I'm pretty sure he lives with another man. That's all.)
Monday, September 17, 2007
Marilyn Rockett is the encouraging big sister that every homeschool mom
Whether you're new to homeschooling, or just need some fresh inspiration,
Marilyn brings it to you in her new book Homeschooling At The Speed of Life.
With an encouraging, accepting, and inspirational style, Marilyn shares from
her ups and downs raising four sons and homeschooling. She's so great at
respecting that each family really needs to find what works for them, while
also offering up tricks and tips that have worked for her through the years.
I started homeschooling 10 years ago, so have pretty much "read it all."
However, Marilyn's book had the combination of ideas, reminders, and
inspiration that I needed to refresh my journey as a wife, mom, and home
educator. The complimentary CD-rom that comes with the book is super-easy to use and has a ton of helpful forms to help you get organized, stay organized, and keep your focus.
I highly recommend this book to every homeschool mom, whether you need help getting off to the right start, or if you're a veteran homeschooler that would appreciate some encouragement and a breath of fresh air!
You can check out Marilyn's web site and book here.
I came across this quote this morning, and it confirmed my belief that I need some time alone and away from my regular duties in life:
have a little relaxation,
for when you come back to your work
your judgment will be surer;
since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment.
Go some distance away
because the work appears smaller
and more of it can be taken in at a glance,
and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen."
~Leonardo da Vinci
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I've been struggling with a crisis of faith for some time now. Here's some things that I don't get:
Why is it that if God is all-powerful, that He turns His back on His children? The Bible asks the question, If a child asks his father for bread, will he give him a stone? Sure looks to me like a whole lotta God's children get stones for supper....
Why is it that the Bible says God will heal us, and people believe this through cancer or other disease, and they still die, leaving behind young children and spouses that needed them? Before the person dies everyone involved claims that they've heard from God that they will be healed....and after the person is dead, we're told that they go their "ultimate healing" instead. Well, um, no.....dead people aren't healed. They're DEAD, for cryin' out loud.
The more I live and read and hear and see, the more I feel like the whole God thing is set up to make excuses so that God can always come out on top. God didn't use His love and power to heal your cancer......do God has a "better" plan and gave you "ultimate healing." God doesn't step in and save his children from poverty, sickness, crime, or torture very often. So, then those people are supposed to thank God for withholding all that power from them and leaving them to suffer. Right.
As I teach my children about Native Americans and early Indian people and we read about the "myths" that they used to explain how and why the world works as it does, I find myself thinking that many of their explanations are just as good, if not better, than what we've got for God.
In the book Blue Like Jazz the author talks about his former perception that Christianity was a bunch of falling apart pieces that the Sunday School teacher tried to hide behind her back with one hand, while doing a felt story board presentation with the other. That's exactly how I feel.
In reading the Bible I see liars, cheaters, and schemers rewarded by God (Sarah and Jacob for two examples), and others left in dire circumstances (Hagar and Ishmael, Esau) even though they did nothing wrong. We see men considered good hosts for offering their virgin daughters to would-be gang rapists. We see God-honoring people left bereft and despondent while God looks the other way for a time, seeming to take for granted the devotion of His followers.
Does this seem loving? Does this seem like a religion you'd really want to sign up for? Does this seem like a situation you really want to get on board with?
I still believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. I still believe that the example of the life of Jesus is one worth following. I've got no beef with Jesus. What I can't reconcile is why would I want to worship a God that I constantly have to make excuses for?
Friday, September 14, 2007
It's been a very busy, intense week here, so there hasn't been much time for blogging. My husband worked an unusually high amount this week, so I've been flying solo. Doing that even with one kid would be enough.....but six kids, band competition and practices and pick ups, business issues arising left and right, homeschooling, and the house hitting rock bottom in the disaster area category have made it far more exciting than is desirable. Still, I made it through in one piece, and all the kids are alive. And that ain't nothin', as they say.
I rejoined Flylady and my house is already happy about that. (I started getting the digest version, so now I just scan one day's worth of emails, make a list, and go and do. No more inbox clutter!) Some days my brain is so fried that just having someone else tell me Do This really helps. And, as I always say when I get back with the Flylady, it's amazing how much you can get done in 2, 5, or 15 minutes.
I have had some good business things happening, and some other interesting possibilities coming along as well. It's nice to see things on the upswing.
My husband surprised me with a very nice new all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax machine the other day, because he had seen me struggling with my former printer. Very sweet! He said it was important for me to have good equipment to run my business. :) He also bought a digital camcorder, which I've been too busy to even take out of the box. Maybe he can figure out how to use it over the weekend.
The marching band has another big competition this weekend. Not sure if I'll be able to attend or not.
Homeschooling is marching right along. We're finally reading a book that I really like (Sign of the Beaver) and I decided to give the kids come poetry that speaks to the heart of a child a little better than their stinkin Classic Poetry book does. (most of those poems *I* don't even understand, nor do I see how they help children think anything positive about poetry!) So, we're now reading Shel Silverstein's book of poetry Where the Sidewalk Ends, and they are always begging for more. He's been a favorite of mine for over 25 years.
I had an idea to start accumulating the books for Sonlight 4 via Paperback Swap, and already have probably half of them in a stack on my shelf now. A nice way to homeschool inexpensively!
That's about the size of it for now. How are YOU?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I had a really happy moment in our small town tonite.
Today our marching band had their first competition of the season. They won first place for their division, their color guard won whatever the top honor was for that group, plus they won Grand Champion of the event! The buses were escorted back into town by 8-10 police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks--all flashing their lights and running their sirens.
I was so thrilled for those kids. It must feel pretty cool to have all that teenage energy and excitement after working hard as a team and then experiencing an achievement like that. To get that kind of support and enthusiasm from your community has to be a major bonus.
A lot of people wouldn't want to live in this town. We don't have a shopping mall or any cool restaurants. A lot of our downtown store spaces are empty. It's not what you'd call "economically thriving." Most of the kids in our schools qualify for free or reduced lunches. Up until just before we moved here 7 years ago, the high school drop out rate was right around 50%, or so I've been told. But the schools and the community have worked hard to give these small town, rural kids vision and purpose, and a whole lot more of them are graduating now.
In the middle school every student is required to be in a club. If they don't have a club you want, they'll help you make up your own. But every student has to be a part of something. The marching band has been gaining momentum for several years now, improving every year. It was interesting to see how many of the other bands were from MUCH larger schools, but had much smaller bands.
There might be more perks at bigger schools, or better funding. I wouldn't know too much about that. I graduated from a small Christian school. My graduating class consisted of a whopping 36 students. Including me. Being in a small pond can be really nice, though. Without a ton of competition for every team and activity, there's room for every kid to be able to try out the things they're interested in, without getting set aside if they aren't the best of the best.
That's how I feel about our town. It feels like wide open possibilities for the kids, with a community full of people that will get off their easy chairs to drive fire trucks through the town square on a Saturday night to celebrate their their children. It's a good place.
Friday, September 07, 2007
I just found out that you can get $300 worth of ebooks when you sign up for Living on a Dime's newsletter. They have lots of great money-saving ideas there, so it would be well worth your while to get in on this deal and spread the word. Check it out here.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
(I thought this was so clever it had to be shared)
The recent hurricanes and gasoline issues are proof of the
existence of a new chemical element. A major research institution has
recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to
The new element has been named Governmentium. Governmentium (Gv)
has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198
assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons,
which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles
Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can
be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes
into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction
that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to
Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; It does not decay,
but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the
assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact,
Governmentium's Mass will actually increase over time, since each
reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to
believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical
concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical
morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes
Administratium...an element that radiates just as much energy as
Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Today marks three years that I've been blogging here! Woohoo! It seems like we should have some sort of party......
So I've got music!
And you can drop off your presents over at Zoe Children's Homes, where they work hard every day to rescue children from the evil practice of human trafficking. These people are literally waiting for your donations to be able to take in one more child. A child that will be loved, cared for, fed, given medical care, educated, and in a family environment permanently. They keep these kids til adulthood and continue to be their family even after they have gotten old enough to graduate from the program. So, save a child's life today. What could make a party more worthwhile?
What I didn't tell you last week, while I was sick and hoping not to get sent to jail, was that my husband was out of town on a business trip for 6 days. So, lots of excitement there.
To celebrate being home, he came up with the idea of taking us to Cumberland Falls on Saturday. Being a good sport, I said yes.
On the way we passed a decent-sized Flea Market. Seeing as how I now want to grow up and be like the gal over at Eyes of Wonder, I got all inspired and said OOH! OOH! Can we stop?! So he turned around and took us back to the Flea Market.
Let's just say this. A rural Kentucky flea market doesn't seem to have *quite* the same type of goodies as Mrs. Eyes of Wonder has in New England. Which is not surprising.
Rather than finding homey items that would enhance my life I saw
old baskets (not cool ones, just junk ones)
die cast cars
guns and weaponry
apple head chihuahuas (real ones)
produce (which never goes out of style)
and many, many tables of odds and ends that were nothing like what I'd been hoping to see
I will admit that it was a pretty well organized flea market. Even booths that sold stuff I didn't care about did a very god job of grouping like items together and trying to make a good presentation. So, it's not really that it was all lousy stuff, it just wasn't the vintage loveliness that I had hoped to find.
I did luck out by wearing my sunglasses while touring the flea market pavilion. Normally when I go to things like flea markets or farmer's markets, because I am a person who makes eye contact, I get suckered into talking to people or feeling like I should buy things that I don't want. If you just want to look and not feel bad, wear your shades, don't get too close to the tables, and keep moving. (If you can bring six kids along they help deflect people's attention away from you. So try that too, ok?)
The people watching at places like this is pretty interesting. Lots of smoking, tattoos, dogs on leashes, obvious health problems, etc.
The one small adventure I had at the flea market was when I went to the bathroom. Oh. My. Goodness. I kid you not, when I say that in the potty stall the door was no more than 10 inches from the toilet. It required some interesting finagling for me to get in the stall, close the door, and try to high-step around the toilet in order to cover the seat, then sit (knees akimbo) on the potty which was wobbly... At least it was relatively clean. They even had a bar of soap (not pump soap) for every one of us to share with each other. Yay.
Thankfully, Cumberland Falls was nicer than the flea market. Here are some photos that I found online:
CUMBERLAND FALLS, KY
Since we've had so little rain this year, we were able to walk through the riverbed on exposed rocks. It wasn't too hot of a day, so it was pleasant enough to do a little hiking around to see the falls and the amazing huge rocks and caves in the area.
Overall a good day. :)
In the September issue of Body + Soul magazine there was an interesting article in the Life Coach column about being able to add to your life (make your life better/more of the things you want for your life) by subtracting the things that are cluttering it up.
I've been doing some thinking about this issue, and trying to figure out what needless clutter is in my life. I have a lot of physical clutter, which I'm taking out of here one bag and box at a time. But I'm also thinking through reducing activity clutter and mental/emotional clutter (my Plagues and Nuisances list, for one).
This morning I found out about a conference call that was recorded by an online business contact of mine, and many of the things she talks about on this recording dovetail nicely with this Addition by Subtraction concept. Although some of what she talks about has to do with being an entrepreneur, there is MUCH to be gained for anyone looking for more balance in their life, particularly if you have children or homeschool. You can go here to listen. Just scroll down a short way until you see where it says Click Play to Hear Mary Jo's
Call About the Course. It's probably 30-40 minutes long, but you can pause it and come back to it if you don't have a chunk of time to devote to listening. I got a whole page of notes and a bunch of ideas that I think will be a big help to me!
Another recent organization inspiration came to me here. I am a list maker, but I also lose my lists. Constantly. In the past I set up one of Flylady's Control Journals, and it quickly became a big, heavy thing to carry around, which was not user friendly. This simple idea of having a 3-ring binder with my menu list, places to jot down what I need to get next time I go to the store, errands to do, calls to be made, things to mention to my husband, etc. has encouraged me so much!
I already have a spot on my desk where our huge Sonlight binder lives, so that I can see what needs to be done next. So, I think it's realistic that I could also have a place for a home organization binder to live as well.
Now the trick is to find time (and paper....anybody have any loose leaf paper???) and put it together. I'll get there....eventually.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
I SO badly want to write a post that weaves a fictitious tale of how I was arrested for failure to appear at jury duty orientation. I have thought through how fun it would be to get people all riled up and having the word spread around the internet. What a great publicity stunt it would be!
But, you know, I don't know enough about being arrested, going to jail, or the legal process to keep it up for very long. (though I guess I could have called a family member or three to ask for details....hahahaha) So, instead, you continue to get the truth from me. It ain't glamorous, but that's what I've got.
After spending almost 24 hours worrying about the cops showing up at my house, I finally got ahold of the proper person to apologize for and explain my absence. She was very nice. I even got to tell her why I had been asking to be excused (even though I sent them a full page letter weeks ago!). After I got through Phase One of my excuse (the kids, and homeschooling, and not having any local relatives that could help me out) she said, "HOW many kids did you say you have?!" "Six." "That's what I thought you said. Wow." And with that she let me off the hook, easy as can be. It was too late for me to officially be excused, so instead I was put "On Call" which, she told me technically means they can call me in if they run out of other jurors, but she says that's never happened here.
I thanked her for being so nice, apologized again, and then said that although I had been a little worried about going to jail, I figured it might have been a good break for me. She laughed quite a bit at that.