Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I kind of wonder what I would do with my day if I didn't homeschool my kids

I think I might go out for coffee or tea with friends.

I would get a pedicure more than once a year.

I know I would work out at a gym and be really fit.

It would be fun to stroll through antique stores.

Or maybe join a Bible Study.

I would even consider going back to school.

It would be neat to volunteer somewhere.

I am sure I would have a fantastic garden.

My house would be cleaner.

I can even imagine working for a paycheck. =)

But...I know I would be thinking about all that I would be missing out on if I didn't homeschool.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sneak peak at sewing

This is what our Mondays have been full of. Lots of sewing. The girls are taking a sewing class that my friend is teaching. They are each making a small (crib size) quilt. Here is Tally with her first block. I am so proud of these girls. They have each worked so hard and learned a lot. I will have to post pictures when they are done with their projects.

There is much more to post, but for now...we have had our ups and downs. Tally is borrowing this beautiful old machine and she loves using it. Tissy is also borrowing a machine that has speed control that works well for her. Hopefully we will be back at it next week and get even more accomplished. It is really neat to see the girls gain confidence at this skill.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bird Banding Day

We visited a local nature center today for a wonderful up close opportunity to observe bird banding. I saw a note in a parenting magazine that mentioned that today was bird banding day. Since we are studying birds for school, I thought I would take a chance and take the kids to this nature center and investigate bird banding. You never know when you chase this kind of activity down...not sure if it is worth the drive and the sacrifice of your "typical" school day. Well...this day was well worth the drive. It was one of our best school days ever. A day that the kids will not forget for a long time.

When we first got to the nature center we found a carolina wren nest with 3 baby birds in it. We also found a snake that was interested in these birds as a meal. No worries...the snaked moved on and let them be.

When we got to the park, we first learned about how the naturalists catch the birds in different traps. Today they were using the mist net trap.This park has a great bird viewing area with different feeders that attract different kinds of birds. We saw american goldfinches, wood peckers and even chipmunks at the feeders.
The park was full of school groups and we were able to listen in on what they were learning at the banding table. The naturalists let us follow them to the traps and look for birds. Here they are getting a bird out of the net.

After taking the bird back to the table they first weigh the bird and start to record their findings. The bird is in a mesh bag while they weigh it.

The next step is to look to see if the bird has been banded before. They are hoping to find birds that have bands. It helps with the research to find banded birds again. Different size birds use different bands. Here they are measuring the birds wing. This helps determine the age of the bird and the sex of the bird.

This is also when they are recording the specific coloring. Here is a female cardinal. The top picture is a white throated sparrow. While we were there they trapped 7 of these.Notice all the different bans on the table (they look like necklaces). This day they banded about 10-15 different kinds of birds, plus trapped many more birds that already had bands.
After all their info is gathered they let the bird go. Tristen was able release a red eyed vireo bird.We finally started nature journals and brought them and recorded some great info. We listed all the birds they banded that day along with lots of different things the girls learned. This was a great nature center (different post...different time). I am so glad we took the chance to check it out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Organizing the Basement

When we moved in we just piled our extra stuff in the basement with the intent to get to it when time allowed. Well, we were sitting down there when storms were going through our area the other week and it was a good motivation to get that place tidy.

I find the best way to organize is to group like things together. Christmas, memories, china, old taxes, craft items...what ever categories work for you. Here we have some before shots.
After we group it, we decided to assemble some sturdy shelves (look for these at yard sales or make your own). Shelves in storage areas is worth the investment.

I am using these inexpensive book cases to store craft items. Our basement is a great space for projects and such. We even are keeping some old tables out for crafting and projects. The tables were pretty shabby looking so I recovered them with my contact paper (that post will come later).

Here are our utilitarian looking shelves. I label the shelves with a little map so everyone can find what we are looking for. Then I post the "map" on each shelf. You can tell that these things wouldn't be as accessible without the shelves. Boxes stacked too high just aren't user friendly.This is all "deep storage" kind of stuff. Once a year kind of stuff. And believe me, I am wondering why I still have most of it. I am getting to that tossing and sorting one box at a time.

Happy organizing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


... is celebrating a birthday.
... is losing their job.
... is going to Disney for the first time.
... is moving across the country.
... is having a baby.
... is hearing terrible news from their doctor.
... is reuniting with a loved one.
... is getting a contract on a house.
... is catching a flight.
... is getting their referral.
... is being denied.
... is beginning homeschooling.
... is registering their child for kindergarten.
... is spending their last few dollars on groceries.
... is getting a new job.
... is finishing a book.
... is beginning a new life in Christ.
... is learning to read.
... is closing on a house.
... is getting a new car.
... is getting married today.
... is bringing home a new pet.
... is getting deployed today.
... is coming home.
... is preparing to graduate.
... is losing a loved one.
... is getting in a car accident.

When you think about it. Somewhere...a life is being changed...either good or bad. When you think about it, we have no idea what that person next to us in line at the grocery store is going through. It is good reminder to give grace to others. We don't always know what the day will hold for us. Some things that we plan and prepare for...and other things that we don't. Around our home these were the early morning conversations.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our Bird Study

I have been gathering info for this post so it has taken me a little longer to get to it. I mentioned awhile back on a friends blog about a bird coloring book that I printed (a freebie from online) that spurred us on into a whole bird study. My friend Ginny asked for me to post about that bird coloring book (sorry it took so long). It is interesting how homeschooling works sometimes, one thing leads to another and all of the sudden, you find yourself knee deep into a unit study. That is how it turned out for us in our bird study.

During our transition into our new home here, a lot of our school books were packed up and unreachable so we had to improvise on our curriculum. I found a free bird coloring book online (HERE) and thought I would print it and use it for science. I took my printed copy to the print store to make another copy and had it spiral bound for safe keeping.

Each day the girls look up the bird online (HERE) and learn about that particular bird. We look at different pictures, listen to the call/song, notice it's field markings, that kind of stuff. At first, we were doing 2 birds a day, but we weren't retaining much info on each bird. We also save an image of the bird as our desktop background to help reinforce identifying it. This is teaching the girls how to do their own research, how to use google (don't worry, I am right there), and other computer skills.

We have a great yard for bird watching. A few large trees and our home backs up to a big wooded area. It seems to be a wonderful habitat for lots of birds. We wanted to make sure we were well prepared for bird watching right here at home. We always have a our new "kid friendly" field guide, binoculars and log sitting on the window sill waiting to be used.
We are keeping a log of the different birds that we are able to identify in our own yard. Just this morning we saw a tufted titmouse on the deck (HERE). If we hadn't been learning about birds, we would not have been able to identify it so quickly and accurately.

We have also gone on bird watching hikes in the yard and surrounding woods. That was a great outing (just out the back door). The girls loved gathering their supplies for the hike and we spent a beautiful spring afternoon soaking up God's creation.

We work as a team to identify a bird while we are watching. One is observing and describing and the other one is looking it up in the field guide.I love this kind of hands on learning. It is amazing how much info that the kids can learn when we aren't busy doing workbooks for school. Soon I will post all about our owl pellet dissection.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I am so very grateful for God's protection

Just a quick praise to our amazing heavenly Father for His protection on my family today. We were busy working out in the front yard planting trees on this fantastic spring day and a freak odd almost accident happened. We heard a bump and a scrape and a car jumped the curb and was headed right toward Tally, who was sitting on the grass reading a book. This driver drove right through our yard with no awareness of what was going on, not realizing that she was just a few feet from running over our child. Now mind you, our neighborhood's speed limit is 20 miles an hour, so it is a quiet area, but slow speed limit or not, it doesn't take much for accidents to happen.

After chasing down the driver, we discovered that she fell asleep at the wheel and was totally unaware of what was happening. Thankfully everyone was safe and no harm was done. I have been thanking God all afternoon for His protection. We pray every day that God would keep our children safe and today, I was able to see His power in action.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What are your 5 things?

I love to ask questions to learn more about you. So, I had come up with a good question to ask and then forgot it before I could blog it. As I was trying to remember it, I came up with this question.

What are 5 things that you almost always have with you when you leave the house?

After some thought, I came up with these.

  1. cell phone
  2. Tristen's special gator-ade drink and medicine
  3. my list (of errands that we are running or things to get at the store)
  4. camera (you never know when you need to snap a shot for blogging)
  5. my planner (calendar)
Since my car is a bit of a rolling pharmacy and snack stand (I am the overly prepared mother) those 5 things are about all we need when we are out. What are your 5 things that you almost always have with you when you leave the house?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Starting a new Precepts study

For anyone interested, I am starting a new Precepts study. It just started this week and it doesn't look like it will be longer than a month. The study is called "Count it All Joy", a study in Philippians. If you want to join me, find me over at my other blog. HERE

Another new favorite - contact paper

On my quest to get organized and my desire to use what I have (you know the old reduce, reuse, recycle - green way of life), I have renewed my love of contact paper. That wonderful sticky paper that covers a multitude of "stuff". Rather than buying a bunch of plastic containers, I am trying to use the ones lying around the house. I got a large roll of contact paper for less than $6 (you can hardly buy 2 storage bins for that). I have been using contact paper to make cute containers. I found some sweet printed contact paper at Target the other day and have had fun making some containers.
Turning this veggie can into this cute pencil can (or May Day basket, or pony tail holder, or catch all on your desk).Turning this laundry soap box into a use-able container for holding cereal boxes that are broken down and ready for the recycling bin (or a magazine holder, or book box, or to hold the mail on your counter, or to catch miss matched socks in the laundry room...let your imagination run wild).

Here are my finished projects. The box on the left we use to hold our recycling boxes (cereal or granola bar style). The can is being used to hold pencils in the school room. The box on the right is being used to store misc. papers in the school room to keep it tidy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

thrifty finds at a library sale

We went to a used book sale at a local library not long ago and picked up some good deals. I encouraged the girls to bring their own money and see if there was anything that looked good to them. Tally picked out these books. They have kept her busy for a while. She loves stories about animals.We have always been the kind of family that hits the library every week and brought home a big stack to read. Each time we moved, the library was an adventure as we found new books that we hadn't found before. Our local library in our small town is pretty small and it is making me miss our old library. So creating our own library might be worth investing in.These are the ones that Tristen found. She loved the one on the bottom, "Mr. Popper's Penguins". My girls love reading the same books over and over. Familiarity seems to be a comfort for them. These are the ones that I picked out. Or at least these are the ones that I paid for. The girls have enjoyed these too. Not a bad way to increase your home library. Thrifty finds for sure.

Next I will have to share how I organize all of our books. I am on a huge organizing kick around here. With my trusty label maker in hand...all these books will find a place on the book shelf in the school room...stay tuned.

Monday, April 13, 2009

mule after mule after mule

Not long ago we went to a nearby town to watch a parade. This wasn't your typical parade, no marching bands, no clowns, no tossing candy to the crowds, no fancy floats. Nope. This parade was all about MULES.

We lined the streets will lots of local type folks and watched as mule after mule after mule walked by. Some pulling old mule wagons.
Most working as a mule team.
A few pony mules pulling mule carts.

To mix it up a bit...a sheep herding dog herding sheep down the middle of the street.
Then, back to more mules.

I had never seen so many mules before. It was easy to spot the mules from the horses. Those big ears gave it away every time. Now I have been educated on mules. Not horses. Not donkeys. But mules.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Easter afternoon in pictures.

What a sweet pair of girls. It is a blessing to be their mom and fill eggs for them and load their Easter baskets with treats.
Hunting for eggs. There are still 4 that haven't been found. Maybe Chuck will mow over them this afternoon when he cuts the grass.It is really fun to watch these girls interact with each other. They wanted to make sure that they each had a fair amount of eggs to find.

They don't get to dress a like much anymore. This year I found these skirts on sale at Land's End and we choose to use them for Easter. I like when they will really use their Easter outfits. I found t-shirts at Target to coordinate with the skirts.

I wanted to show this amazing Elm tree in our backyard. You can kind of tell how large it really is by clicking on the picture. The girls are at the base of it hunting for eggs.

Trying to find those last few eggs. Even with Chuck's help they are missing some. I love watching Chuck interact with the girls. He is such a good Daddy.

Time to bring Clover out for some Easter fun. A perfect day to have a bunny. It makes for some great pictures.

It is fun to have so many friends who have rabbits. I still have to think that ours is a beautiful bunny. I love her coloring. And she is as sweet as they come.
The girls love to take her picture with the colored eggs. She kind of wanted to hop away.

Hope your Easter afternoon is wonderful too.

He is risen !!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How do you celebrate?

Looking for new ideas on how to celebrate Easter. We have often done the same things and I am always looking for some new ideas, either on food or something special you do with your family.

We often try to go to the early service for church (haven't done a sunrise service since kids) and then I make brunch for our meal. Usually ham, fruit salad, cinnamon rolls, egg strata, juice and coffee. The kids get a little Easter basket before church, and we do an egg hunt in the afternoon. I have always filled the plastic eggs with non-traditional goodies. Instead of candy and chocolates I use crackers, animal cookies, nuts, dry cereal, money, stickers and trinkets. That way the kids can eat as many as they want. I have also veered away from fluffy fancy dresses. We do get something new, but I make it something they are likely to wear a lot. share your creative ideas for food and fun.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Celebrating the Lamb of God - a Seder meal

As part of our Holy week celebrations, we decided to try something new. I have always wanted to learn more about the significance of the foods prepared and served at a Seder (a traditional Passover meal) , so last night we hosted one. As I have shared before, I desire to be very purposeful in how we raise our children and this was another opportunity to learn some new things.Of course this was my idea but that meant that Chuck also had to do some preparing too. He had to learn what the different foods were called and explain what they represent. We both spent some time reading and learning about the Passover and the Seder meal. This was a first for me to prepare lamb and roasted egg and bitter herb. Here is a picture of our Seder plate.We had invited some friends over who were also interested in learning more. This sweet Christian family is part of the Kidmo team (where Chuck works). I have really enjoyed getting to know them and I am grateful for the friendship. We look forward to being an encouragement and support to them as they bring their new daughter home from Africa this year.
It was a neat time of focusing on God's faithfulness and how He saved His people and remembering the night that the angel passed over those homes with the lamb's blood. And without the sacrifice of the lamb they were not saved. What a special night to be reminded that Christ is the Lamb of God. We remember how His body was broken and His blood was shed in order to save. During this Good Friday, I long to focus on God's amazing love.

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you my King would die for me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter lapbook

As I was checking in on my friend Tiffany (HERE), I was once again challenged to do another lapbook. She is the one who got me started with lapbooks in the first place. She had found a link for a free Easter lapbook that looked pretty good. And let's be honest, it was the fact that it was free and ready to print that got me to do it. So if you are looking for a quick download project for the rest of the week, go check it out HERE.

I had spotted decorated file folders at Ross the other day and thought they would be the perfect compliment to this lapbook. The look is vintage, and that goes with the old vintage art on the verse cards in the last picture.
This lapbook was kind of like a blank card, you can do what ever you want on the inside of the mini books. I did read the "story" that was also downloaded which was the re-telling of Easter. Then the girls journaled for each mini-book. This is the shutter fold of a file folder. If you are new to lapbooking go to this post to learn more about how to make a lapbook HERE.Here is the lapbook opened up. I always like when the mini-books fit in the small spaces on the flaps.This was a short lapbook (took us 3 short afternoons to make it). We didn't need much more than the extra half flap that I taped to the top of the center area. Again, got that great idea from Tiffany.

We also printed out the verse cards and the girls colored those while I was reading to them. I love the sweet old vintage art on these cards. We decided just to attach them to the back of the lapbook.

This whole lapbook has also helped prepare our hearts for Easter as part of our Lenten activities.