Saturday, January 31, 2009

Words of Wisdom...

...from a 7 yr old....

Mother and daughter are out shopping for a birthday gift this morning. We limit "shopping" to the minimal, as in the grocery store once a week. A handful of stores accomplish this for us, simple and local mostly. My daughter has only been to a mall twice (we will leave that for a later post, lol). Being a larger family, our experience has led us to pick the 'off' hours to go to the supermarket. Being that it is Saturday, the rush of people out shopping was a bit hectic, which stimulated my daughter's awareness of the commercialism of Valentine Day....

"Hey Mom? It's kinda weird that they sell stuff for Valentine's day and call it Valentine's Day, they sell stuff for Halloween, and call it Halloween, then how come for Christmas they just say Happy Holiday??"

Anyone brave enough to attempt to share their answer to a 7 yr old??

Friday, January 30, 2009

Random thoughts of the day...

Today is just a simple day, I seem to be enjoying those more as I get older... maybe it's wisdom? Ya know? Like, to slow down enough to actually enjoy the here & now. I use to strive to be the multi-task, can-do-all-things, never-say-no-to-anyone, must win the mother-of-the-year award, perfectionist person... um, yeah, that was me... yikes! And I thought, in my young & naive years, THAT was living life; to go, go, go (I am tired just typing about it, lol). On the upside of all that, I DID enjoy life, I DID get lots of things done, I DID accomplish many things for many people, and that is all good. Yet, it also has a solemn side (here comes the get real moment) of never quite being enough, not quite measuring up to my own expectations so to speak.
I still have that can-do personality, but today I am more aware of my journey;
* to observe the beauty,
*to absorb every day blessings,
*to enjoy the scenery,
*to embrace and share kindness with others,
*the willingness to stop & smell the roses on the way,
*all with the realization that the destination comes at the end of my life time,
**an eternity with my Savior.


I had a peaceful morning w/ my daughter. She too, is a morning person, which is nice for our early morning routine, and the bonus is to have lovely chats with her while we drive to school.

I look forward to class time with the guys. Without sister there to distract (love her, but she does talk...a lot) we seem to get so much more done. As they share more input, I am even learning to talk less, and listen more...

What a pleasure to hear Andrew share his Alphabet book with Baby Bryson. "B says 'buh', b is for bubbles" etc...

Baby Bryson is quite humorous. He is into everything... toilets, plug ins, mystery drawers, stairs are currently a favorite, lol. Poor TJ gets a bit stressed out; me?, I just grin.

I adore my husband, I really do. He works hard all day, yet is always willing to come home and play. No down time, no feet up for a few moments, although I am sure he takes a deep breathe before entering our home...deep breathe in, slowly exhale, turn door nob, open the door, one foot in...DAD's HOME!!!!! (We pretty much all hollar that) Bryson grins his cheesy grin, bouncing in one place waiting for dad to pick him up; Katie & I give Dad big hugs; Andrew is already tugging on his shirt to go play; and the boys kick up conversation with their "Hey dad...." ; and oh yes, don't forget Asia (our dog), as she is rambunctiously in the mix. Our evening has now begun... Yep, gotta just love that man of mine! ;^D

Monday, January 26, 2009

Homeschool Memo~Our Curriculum

So I am thrilled to say that homeschooling is going great. Our routine and style is in place for the remaining part of this school year. I do have to admit I am a bit off kilter with the clutter in my home...can't seem to quite pull it together like I usually do. But I ease my conscience by insisting that a good education is much more important than an immaculate home, eh? ;^D

Our Style:
We learn most subjects together. The level of difficulty is based on my expectation of their current knowledge. The way I see it, if they are learning, they are moving forward; and hey, let's face it, most stuff we go over I am learning right along with them OR relearning what I refused to learn when I was in school. I love the interaction of conversation we have when discussing history, current events, biblical theories, etc...

Our Curriculum:
Extreme Devotion (Voice of the Martyrs)
Here I take one sentence out of the story to write on our BIG white board, then have the boys break down the grammar parts of the sentence, including punctuation. Then we will read the devotion for the day, and
discuss the challenge that Christians can face in this world.
We are currently reading about Abraham's saga and his descendants. I wisely use this time to apply geography to our studies. It can be quite interesting to apply old world maps to the current ones. We have a huge laminated world map on our wall where we can label areas and track biblical journeys. Our goal is to start A Child's Geography-Explore the Holy Land by June. This is co-written by my dear friend Tonia ( It is well written, and I am eager to focus our studies on it for our summer months.
Current Events: We have a subscription to God's World News; I enjoy this because you can order by grade level. My 1st grade daughter, whom wants to save the world, would not cope with the more serious topics that my 10th grader needs to learn about as he prepares to face the real world.
Fine Arts: This is very new to our studies. We simply view a famous painting for the week, and learn the basic facts ie the artist, date, place. current location, value (if possible), type of technique used, and any interesting facts we can explore.
Math: Math-u-see Algebra (Nick); Saxon 65 (TJ)
Science: Chemistry intro; Periodic Table- One element per week, the structure of the atom, names, symbols, atomic number, fascinating facts, & occasionally a fun experiment.
Reading Comprehension: SRA/McGraw-Hill; Both boys have assigned books for their level. TJ's is a basic read-n-think style along with a grammar workbook. Nick, whom has recovered from being "lost in the system" of public school (public school just didn't work for his style of learning) advances much better with a corrective reading program geared toward his thought process; this program includes building vocabulary & reasoning skills, develops study skills while building general knowledge of cross-curricular studies.
P.E.: Nick is beginning weight lifting, runs, and enjoys soccer any chance he gets. TJ enjoys soccer also, and will be beginning a "fun run" program w/ me (a 2 mile steep hill walk).

That's our day in a nutshell, although we have fun adding elective courses into our day also. Nick is slowly gaining basic mechanics this quarter (oil changes, applying chains, fixing tires, charging batteries etc) as he studies for his driving permit. TJ is enjoying cooking 101 (How many ways to cook a steak, BBQ hamburgers, hotdogs on the grill, etc) at home is limitless, just bring willingness.

Side note:
Katie is doing lovely at school. We are blessed that the school is working around her skill levels, and are willing to challenge her. And being our only girl, she is enjoying chatting with her new friends.

Simple Sunday

Our Sunday went well, actually, our whole week end went well... I love low key week ends. TJ grilled up some steaks for us for Sunday supper. Yumm! It was served with mashed potatoes and jell-o w/ cool whip. I must say that was much more delicious than my and Katie's experience earlier in the day. Katie decided she wanted to bring out the Easy Bake Oven...*sigh* ok, some where in a long lost cupboard we find it, dust it off, wash it down, and low and behold we still have a "dinner package" to use with it. Mac n cheese and brownie mix. She enjoyed the cooking process, but that mac-n-cheese ended up a mushy mess, blech! The brownie snack was atleast edible, lol. So, does any one out there actually like any food "cooked" with the Easy Bake Oven??

It was Katie's day for digging out long lost stuff... next it was the microscope. She wasn't too thrilled at the idea of Dad poking his finger to draw some blood to look at. They also viewed a strand of her hair, and a bug of some sort.
Next, the Aggravation game was brought out to play. TJ joined in late, almost won, but Dad pulled ahead for the win... needless to say, Tj was aggravated ;^D
We played a bunch of card games also. Go fish, speed, and Rummy were the common ones. I love games where kids of all ages can play together, especially the adults, lol!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Late night weather news?
No precipitation??

We woke up to a beautiful site! Fluffy soft white snow! Andrew does not like to walk in it, but hey, atleast he has pants on this time! And we had all smiles on the way to church this morning! Today I am enjoying small blessings in simple things...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blessings of the week:
* Monday: Nick made it back safe from his ski retreat...although he is walking slowly as he slipped on ice while there. The tailbone isn't so happy.
* Tuesday: I loved seeing that my dear husband was playing Scrabble w/ TJ & Katie
* Wednesday: Andrew found his long lost hat! You woulda thought he won the lottery!
* Thursday: I go to a meeting, and TJ makes his famous hamburgers on that night. How fun it is to come home to dinner on the table!
* Friday: Taxes are done, and it wasn't that scary. ;^D
* The Week-End... yay, time with my family! No plans, no obligations, no expectations...just good old fashion hanging out with the family... priceless!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A 4 Day Week End...

After all the Christmas snow and freeway floodings that followed, we finally made it up north to visit family. I was hoping for photos to share, but my lovely sister-in-law broke her camera at the end of our visit. She took our TJ for a 5 mile walk the last day, and with camera in hand, slipped on some ice... Chanelle, I hope your bum is not too bruised ;^)

Anyways, we had a great time...

Faith~ Thanks for coloring and cutting my was much needed! Loved shopping with you (as always, lol) Thanks for helping set up my facebook account...still need to figure out how to download photos there...and YIKES, tons of our cousins and some of our beauty school friends have found me already (Can you believe that was 25 years ago??, yeah, we started when we were 3, right? ;^) And I am amazed at all the house remodeling you and John are getting done, it is going to be fantastic! Love you girl!

Mom/G'ma Michele~ We had a lovely time at your house! TJ loved the ribs (as did Asia, lol), Katie enjoyed making those cookies, Andrew made himself at home ;^), and Bryson loved his new found freedom of mobility there! I enjoyed the rummy games even if some folks kept bailing out early ;^)

Chanelle~ Thanks for the comfy bed ;^) to sleep on...but mostly, Thanks for hanging out with us, playing with the kids, chatting w/ me...thank you for your time.... We love you!

G'ma Dee & G'pa Paul~ Thanks for going out of your way to meet us at Michele's to make it easier on us. Smooches & loves to you both!!

Jim & Julie Orr~ I just adore you two! It is always so wonderful to see you both...always so peaceful and pleasant to chat with! (((HUGS)))

G'ma Hollinger & the Hollinger clan (Kim, Ronnie, Jim, Bonnie)~ We are thankful to be able to crash your home with all our little troops. We always feel welcomed there, and we loved seeing all of your wonderful faces! We had a great visit with Grandma, and are grateful that she is in good care! Love & Blessings to you ALL!

Joe~ thanks for keeping an eye on our house, hanging out w/ Nick, and feeding our turtle!

Nick~ Missed having you with us, but I am sure you enjoyed your ski retreat! ;^D

To my darling husband Fred~ With it being so busy, thanks for managing time off of work. It was very much appreciated and enjoyable to spend some free time with you. Kids aren't always a relaxing reality, but they sure are a blessing eh? Love you always!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Mania

For Today...

This weeks goal > to stay on task with our school schedule. Last week we eased back into our normal routine after our more creative and fun lessons of Dec.
I plan > to stay focused on our home this week. organizing, going through paperwork, sorting toys, and evaluating how our children's current curriculum is being effective.
I see > leggos and big soft foam blocks all over the room...Andrew is the culprit, Baby Bryson is enjoying it.
I hear > two TV's on in the same room...yes, 2! One is playing a dvd for the littles as the other children are observing an animal show of some sort. No, this is not the norm, lol???
I smell > lysol... haha, TJ de-fumed the room after I changed Bryson's that TMI?
I taste > orange sherbert ice cream... our afterschool snack.... shhh...don't tell my Friday fitness friends. ;^D
I feel > a bit muddled... ha ha, is that a word? Yeah, I keep thinking of all the things I need to get done:
*go through bills
*prepare to pack for a trip at the end of the week
*which brings me to how much laundry I need to get done
*rearrange our library to run more efficiently.
*plan Katie's wardrobe around her school attire
...just to name a few...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fitness Friday

Here is my first attempt at Fitness Friday. Brenda at hosts this gathering as an opportunity for gals to support each other in their individual fitness goals... need encouragement with your fitness? Go check out her blog. This weeks assignment?

Things that make me feel good:

*moving ;^) as in my body. There is something about a good walk daily that seems refreshing.

*water... does anyone else feel sluggish when they avoid water all day?

*sleep... ok, so I am not the average bear. I function best on about 6 hours, and I am very much that annoying morning person everyone seems to dislike ;^D ...I only prefer if I could get those 6 hours of rest all in a row instead of constant cat naps.

*a good hair day... ever notice that when one has nothing planned the hair is looking fine, but if there is a something rolling along that day (church, holiday, dinner out...) my hair seems to have a mind of it's own??

*the toothless grin of a baby... so precious!

*Hugs! comforting hugs, loving hugs, hello hugs, just because hugs... I love to give them, I love to get them.

*A bed that is made. Like really, there seems to be a sense of calm in the room when the covers aren't all mangled up.

*I love hearing the background noise of the family interacting together. Like when I go off to rest with Baby Bryson, I can't help but grin (most times, ha ha) listening to the idle chatter in our home.

*appreciating my husband, and having my attitude show it. Being home with our children is a priceless gift, one that my hard working husband gives me (w/ the blessing of the good Lord above).

*and last, but most importantly....knowing that God will always love me just where I am, and to love the little life gifts he blesses me with on a daily basis...even on difficult days, there is always something I can praise Him for.... Amen!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The shifting tides of schooling...

Don't you just love it when God breezes drift by? Trying to slow down enough to feel them...yep, that's the goal.
Obviously, I have been sharing about our homeschooling scenario...
I love homeschooling, I love being home with my kids, I love learning most things right along side them, I love the challenge of keeping things interesting and exciting, I love the exploration of educational styles that best suit their individual personalities... yep... then the breeze blows by, the gentle reminder of following God's purpose and plan for our family... after much thought (2 yrs really), prayer, discussion, and revelation...
our Katie-girl started school today! A Christian School that is. The girl has been doing "school" since about 18 months...she thrives on learning!
*She does best on a good solid schedule, complete with routines and rules. The school can provide this, our 'littles' currently distract our schedule on a regular basis.
*She loves to read. This is unlimited at home, and still will be; but it is refreshing to know that this school will work with her also, enabling her to go two grades up in a reading group.
*She loves friends. She loves family. Her class has a total of 5 students (now including her)! They are polite and caring and love God, she is thrilled!
*She wants to learn about God. That was her ultimate reason to homeschool (yes, my kids get to choose) her eyes are wide open in amazement..."why didn't you tell me there was a "Christian" school?"
*She likes familiar settings...this school is part of our church facilities; she knows the ground settings and many friends of all grade levels, so she is comfortable and feels safe.
Me? I still love homeschooling! I look forward to quality loving chats together with my daughter... she will share, question, wonder, and embrace all things discussed...and I will listen to the whisper of God, follow His direction, and nurture that learning spirit.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Keeping It Real, homeschool style...

Random thoughts about organizing homeschool life:

Don't fix what works. Yeah, I am always looking for a better way to do something, even when it is not necessary. My kids do better with consistancy rather than changing it up.

Don't compare. This would be with other families, along with not comparing our own children. Every person has there own learning curve, bent, style...go with it.

Don't do too much at once. Unit Studies are fantastic for us. It is adaptable to any age or learning style or grade requirements. School subject titles are an endless opportunity here. You can request more from an older student, and simplifiy for the younger ones. Example: for my highschool student transcript on Henry Ford I could list ... economics, basic mechanics, American History, sketch artistry, etc... For my 2nd grader I would only list reading, writing, spelling, science, and art.

-have fun
-be creative
-enjoy the moment

-implement daily life into a learning atmosphere...

Chores for us are pretty simple. We have four areas downstairs that I call "jurisdictions"; kitchen, dining, living, family rooms. We (me, and the 3 homeschooled kids, 15, 11, 7) are assigned 1 jurisdiction for one week (we rotate clockwise each week). Twice in a day we are required to clean our area which mainly means clear the floor; before daddy gets home ;^), and before we go to bed. Whatever is overseen (as in not picked up) is put in a Goodwill box. When someone is kind, etc they can pull something out of the Goodwill box for someone else-thus the name, lol. This avoids the excess dumping of one's stuff in anothers area (again, I don't listen to "that's not mine")

Routines (as requested by a viewer)-
Rise n Shine: dressed to shoes (this includes clean undies, lol), bed made (comforter straightened), dirty clothes to laundry, and a good attitude...reward: breakfast.
Light's Out (done atleast 1 hour before bed): Our jurisdictions, clean clothes put away, '29' Boogie Time (exlain next), shower/bath as needed... reward: snack with TV and/or family game time.

'29' Boogie Time: A fast scramble to put away 29 things... we do this upstairs often to help Andrew with his gigantic mess.
For the littles: It's in the Hat~ list all the stuff that needs to be put away (or draw a picture if needed). Then cut each job into a strip of paper, fold, put in hat... then pick a paper out to do. Great for children that get overwhelmed with a random 'clean your room'. My kids work as a team (aka family), but could be done for one child also.
A great family lesson in this: Learning to help others out also makes you realize that those others will always be there for you too!

In general, we don't spank. Yes, I have before, twice to be exact, when all else did not work for a very strongwilled child with an out-of-control behavior... not particularly proud to have resorted to it, yet it was a quick fix. NO, I am not judging anyone else, nor saying spanking is wrong; I do know several good families (most really) that do spank as punishment. I do believe it can be biblically based, as in Spare the rod, spoil the child, but I believe the rod (Sheppard's staff) can be used to guide our sheep also, thus our style of discipline:
*the thoughtful spot: Listed on a previous post. A place to sit by one's self when having a particularly difficult mood. To read, pray, write apology letters, draw, or just think, etc.

*A revoked public pass: one needs to behave in public if one wants to be seen in public. In general, the terrible 3's seem to bring this one on the most.
Curb appeal: Scream, yell, fight in car
...I will pull over and let you sit on the curb (within safety ofcourse) until one can choose to behave. Yes, this does include in the rain. (note: stay calm and matter-of-fact, this one is very effective at any age. I do give one warning, and have had to only apply this once per needed child).
*Military Style:
We have 5 boys ;^) that being said, we expect them to horse around, as in rough playing. All in fun is ok... in anger is not. If someone gets hurt randomly, then they just have to stop, period. But if there is an angry attitude or teasing (or the like), then it will require push-ups or wall sits. If they have enough energy to pick on each other, then they have enough energy for physical punishment. ;^)
Admittedly, we do not have to punish our children very often. We are blessed with children that seem to be reflective of how to treat others, which is how one would want to be treated.

So, those are just a few How to's that go on in our house... feel free to take what is useful to heart, and toss what is not... every family is unique, and you will know what is best for yours!

Keeping it Real, continued...

The first 3 photos listed are of our "classroom" aka "the library" aka family room/office. We were gifted a large couch at Christmas, so this blue couch has been thrown in the mix just recently, so I am in need of rearranging wall stuff, etc. (photos listed left to right in room) For others who have shared there lived in school spaces, note that my globe is atop everything also, lol. That list above the water cooler is actually our daily schedule, not for exact science, but to keep us on track time wise.

That big thing on the wall is suppose to be for "word" cards, etc, but currently is holding pre-school crafts. Yes, there again is our laundry baskets in need of going upstairs

Yes, this is usually a tidy spot (except for dust that is). I am currently brainstorming where to move my white board now that the bookcase is in my way...I may move it to our dining area where we have "table time". ?? I use that board for many things! (lessons, to do list, phone messages, etc) There is another school bookcase with 9 squares in it; it provides a school cubby per each child, plus teacher books, and some learning gadgets also (you can barely see the edge of it on right, along with that random math book on the floor?). It is just sitting there, as it was where the couch now is?? hmmm, gotta plan something.

This is the "lounge" aka living room. Here is where we do our math videos, watch learning programs, read alouds, family meetings, snuggle times (for the littles, lol), and family movie nights.

Andrew at the end of the couch. Note: baseball hat, yes; pants, no. Our dinner table is in the background. We do "table time" at lunch while I still have their attention. This is for subjects that we all do together such as science, devotions, and current events.

Ah,yes...last but not least... Our play room aka...the boys room, the big room , the back room. This would be Andrew's morning mess. This is only 1/3 of the room, and it all looks like this spot! The up side: Andrew stays busy for several hours in his own creativeness, thus I get plenty of quality school time in for the older children. The down side: this IS a daily occurance. I am a bit organized, so all items have their own bin to go in at the end of the day. Current view would be of the following emptied bins: dishes, peoples, cars, and shapes. But not limited to: leggos, lincoln logs, marbles, Mr. Potato head, puzzles, etc... This damage is done before lunch time, lol.
My husband is baffled that I am showing this messy picture! haha... yeah, well, I usually request we have a company-welcomed environment in our home aka a somewhat tidy home.

next post... homeschooling ideas...what works for us.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Keeping It Real

First photo is of our kitchen, and on the right is our "business station". A place for bills, and adult office supplies (ie stamps, permanent markers, packaging tape, staplers, etc)
Here is a closer look at this chaos... *blush*, this has been a dumping spot through Christmas wrapping. The bag on the left is full of pinecones we used for birdfeeders. The "mail slots" at the top are assigned to (left to right) Nick, Joe, Fred, and me. This is suppose to be for keys, mail, and important small items...notice that I have items falling out of my slot.

ok, so now I am standing at our business station facing where I was standing for the last picture. This is our "landing pad" for shoes and coats. Now my kids are laughing at me cuz they do not think this is messy, but those extra coats hanging everywhere are there cuz we have a leak in our front door closet (discovered when all our snow melted).

Our "thoughtful spot" is on the flip side of our business station wall. Now with homeschooling it is common to change things (curriculum, schedules, ideas) to adapt to the changes of families. I originally called our "thoughtful spot" Australia, named after the book called Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in which a little boy having a very bad day wishes he lived in Australia. This idea worked well when I ran a childcare in my home, and my children were little... for meltdowns, poutiness, and the like, they were sent to "Australia" with books and stuffed animals on a bed like setting. Now that my children are getting older, I utilize the "thoughtful spot"... for meltdowns, not being co-operative, for any behavior correction needed. This is a place to take quiet time by oneself. Reading, praying, and writing apology letters are only some of the activities that can take place here.
So, in this photo, the table is suppose to be clear, lol, but lets take a look at what is lurking...
4 white mini laundry baskets stacked~ these are used daily. There is one to every child, and they go up every night with clean folded clothes in them (YES, usually done by me) that are suppose to be put away (part of our LIGHTS OUT routine) and then brought back down the next morning with their dirty clothes in them for the laundry room (part of our RISE N SHINE routine).
Now to explain what is going on in the photo, lol. Laundry has been brought down, so the baskets were empty, but here is another useful tool for that basket... ;^)
A REVERSE SCAVENGER HUNT hahaha, yeah, my kids dislike this one, lol. This is when meaningless tidbits of everything are lying about driving me crazy, so I place everything in the basket. Once full it is their job as a team to scramble to put things away (5 min). There is no "that's not mine" to stutter or the whole job goes to the one child who claimed that...Ah yes, team work, gotta love it!
next post... our actual "school" areas...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Homeschool Mayhem

A group of homeschool moms are Keeping It Real by sharing their mid-school year messes (or lack of, if possible). Brenda at is leading this reality. I love her upfront style, and look forward to sharing with the group.

So, for those friends and family of ours who wonder 'how we do it', feel free to peak in at our world for the next few days....

For the next few posts, I will share our school areas, ideas, messes, etc... these pictures are "pre" clean-up, thus "keeping it real". please tolerate the low grade picture, as I use my phone as a camera.

more to come...

Thursdays thoughts...

HAPPY NEW YEARS! yay, I love new beginnings! A whole 'nother year of love, laughter, and learning! Ofcourse, in my world, that includes but is not limited to homeschooling. Isn't life a learning journey? in parenting, in marriage, in our walk w/ Christ (if we so choose), in career choices, in hobbies, the list is full of endless possibilities...

random thoughts of the week:
New Years Eve was lovely. We invited a delightful family over to spend the evening w/ us. Food, fun, and fellowship...gotta love it. We played some game called The Last Word...apparently I am not as good at having the last word as I thought I was, lol, as I lost (as in last place).

Joe's is 20! We had a simple, yet meaningful gathering. We all went to a Mexican restaurant... uh, yeah, that would be ALL 6 children, Miss Sara (Joe's girl), Grandpa & Nana, and Kevin (Joe's co-worker). Andrew is still working on his 'public pass' per se, so he made himself at home by hanging up his baseball hat and taking off his pants before hopping up to the chair. I did manage to convince him that we all needed to wear clothes while at the restaurant. TJ, Katie, and Andrew had fries for dinner. Joe dined down at the 'adult' end of the table while mom (me) oversaw the littles at the other end. It was great to have all of us together! Love ya JOE!

May love, laughter, and learning be thine in 2009! ;^D