Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 4 Wrap Up

We are wrapping up our study of the United States and get to go to Mexico next week. We spent all last year studying the U.S., so I for one am looking forward to moving down the road a bit. We added a couple things in this week and fine tuned some other things. I am feeling a bit relieved that we seam to be fitting in most everything during the week. I think we are getting in a groove, but I am well aware that grooves change, constantly.

Exploring Countries and Cultures

Bible: We read about the Navajo people in Windows on the World and learned some of the ways we can pray for them. We also started our study of Matthew reading about the genealogy of Jesus and discussing our family tree. We read and discussed Jesus' birth and the wise men's visit to Jesus. Zachary's weekly Bible verse is Matthew 1:23, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - Which means, "God with us." We Israel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Iran on the map. We also read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in Hero Tales. Zachary has been writing the different character traits learned in Hero Tales in his notebook.

Language Arts: Zachary finished practicing his letters last week and started this week in language arts by copying his new Bible verse. On Tuesday he wrote his Bible verse by dictation. On Friday he will add two more words to his Vocabulary Notebook. Each Friday he gets two additional geography words that he illustrates and defines. Each week we go over the words from the previous weeks and add two more.

Spelling: We added in our new spelling curriculum this week. I have high hopes for it. We have chosen to use Spelling Power. I have been reading the teacher's manual and watching the DVD that comes with the program and had started to feel comfortable with the many steps involved. I kept hearing that it all sounds like a lot to absorb, but once you get started it is very simple. My Father's World suggests waiting until the third week of school to start up spelling. It gives you a chance to fold in everything more slowly, which I think is a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, the night before we were to start, I noticed something I had overlooked regarding doing this program differently if you are doing it with a student that is 8 years old or younger. It threw me in a bit of a tale spin (although it shouldn't have). I asked some questions about this on a couple homeschool boards I am on and got a few suggestions. After going over them I decided to proceed with the regular program knowing that I could always "tweak" it if something was not working out right. (Here in-lies one of the most beautiful things about educating you children at home!)

English: Continued in Primary Language Lessons. Zachary learned about ('s) which answers the question, "whose."

Math Drill: We have started a new way of drilling. I have purchased a great computer program for Zachary called Mad Dog Math. I had the pleasure of sitting in one of Julie Kotoff's workshops at the CHEA convention in July and her enthusiasm for math was contagious. She impressed on us how important math drilling is for mastering math facts. I had some trouble downloading her program and she kindly called me and helped me through the process. Zachary enjoys working on the computer, and doing math drills on the computer makes them fun. I think this program will be well worth it.

Geography: This week we worked hard on learning the states. Zachary surprised me by the end of the week with how many states he could name. We also did an exercise coloring in the states using only four colors and not having and bordering states the same color. We started at the four corners and worked out from there. It was fun and Zach got it with only one mistake that was easily corrected. We also studied our flag and the symbols behind the stars and stripes.

Science: We continued learning about forests and what kind of animals live in different areas of the forest. We worked on some tree identification using a tree guide from the library.

Read-Aloud: We have been reading Kingdom Tales. Our whole family has been enjoying it and the discussions it provokes after each chapter. The stories are fun, and they all point to our King.

I could go on and on... we have had a very full week indeed. I think I will share some photos of some additional activities this past week.

Zach and Emma working on labeling and coloring in North America on the world map.

Our World Cake!

Zach doing Rosetta Stone.

Emma working on some sorting in math for 1st grade.

Emma's completed scroll. She work several days on her printing and got to put all the pages together in a scroll.

Read other homeschoolers weekly wrap ups at Discover Their Gifts

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Right Now

I haven't done this for awhile, and I think it is good sometimes to pause and see just where you are every once in awhile. So here it goes...

Outside my window... there are three kids and a daddy throwing the football around.

I am thinking... I am glad those screams are from outside and not inside the house right now.

I am thankful for... my mom coming to play with the kids today!

From the learning room... school is almost done for the day, and I feel as if I am keeping up (so far) this year.

From the kitchen... today was yogurt making day, I have a pork roast smelling heavenly in the crock pot, and a cake just came out of the oven ;-)

I am wearing... an elastic waisted skirt and a t-shirt (summer outfit of choice!)

I am creating... in the process of planning an art project for school tomorrow which involves sand art. Wondering if will be cool enough tomorrow to do it outside?

I am going... No where today or tomorrow, and that's how this homeschool mom likes it every once in awhile.

I am reading... the Spelling Power teacher's manual. I think the "just jump in and go" advise was very wise.

I am hoping... my oldest continues his enthusiasm for this new spelling curriculum.

I am hearing... my daughter ask for help from her brother, and him helping with a happy heart (music to my ears).

Around the house... completely enjoying our newly re-organized living areas. Love that it is giving us more room to live and to school.

One of my favorite things... listening to my son share his school work with his Nana and listening to his enthusiasm.

A few plans for the rest of the week... grinding grain and making bread tomorrow, planning a date night for this weekend to celebrate my hubby and my 13th anniversary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beautiful Cloudy Morning

We're enjoying a cool cloudy morning. The boys are riding their scooters and Emma and I are doing school. I know the summer weather is not gone for good, yet... but I am enjoying this glimpse into fall.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What We Did With Them Apples

Well, we ate them, of course. Luke has been asking for them all day everyday this week. He loves walking around the house with one in hand. I do have to be careful though because he starts at one end of the apple and eats his way through to the other - core, stem, and all.

Being that these are fresh apples, organic even, I thought we should get them cooked up before some of them bruised and got mushy. So I got out the handy dandy apple corer/peeler/slicer that my wonderful husband bought me last year and went to work. We decided that a big apple crisp and some apple sauce was in order.

This is where we started. (Notice mom's iced coffee in the background, it's never far away!!)

Apple peeling is so fun and easy with this gadget! (Iced coffee strikes again!)

Not to mention you get these great peel ribbons that the kids love to eat (and drape around their bodies).

At the end of it we had enough cinnamon apple sauce for a couple days.

And a wonderful dish of simple apple crisp! We're out of ice cream, but I bet it will be great tonight after the kids go to bed... with an iced coffee ;-)

I'm thinking we may need to plan another apple picking trip before it gets too late.... yum!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011 Apple Picking

September has flown by here. It is a month my oldest has been looking forward to. We used to look forward to October, but we have learned that October may be a little late. Late for what, you ask? Late for apple picking.

So while apple picking may bring to mind a picture of things cooling off, the color of leaves changing, and a different smell in the air, here it is summer as usual. We are still getting 100 degree days and staying indoors as much as possible. Although we were very lucky to experience a little break in the weather last week. Friday being the coolest day. And, also lucky, Oak Glen is always a little cooler than it is in our town. So with Danny having Friday off of work we ate some yogurt for breakfast and told the kids to get in the car. It wasn't long before the older two were guessing where we were headed. And it didn't take long for Zach to guess right.

Oak Glen has gotten to be a tradition in our family. We start the trip at Snow-Line to sample apple cider and the apple varieties they have out. Then (the important part) we purchase fresh apple cider donuts. We've done this in the rain in years past, but this year the day was picture perfect and we ate our donuts under the Chestnut tree while watching the kids play tag with very cinnamon-y sticky fingers. Someday I might actually have a photo of this, but so far mama is also with sticky fingers and in the excitement of getting my hands on some of those yummy donuts, the camera usually gets left in the car... but not for long.

I do love the donuts, and I love picking apples with my family, I love the walking (running for some) around the orchards, and I love the raspberries, but one of my favorite things are the photos that come from this day each year. It is seriously difficult to take a bad picture in that gorgeous scenery. There is something about that fresh air and the trees and the kids too I suppose that just make my camera work in a way I can't make it work the rest of the year.

This year we picked both apples and raspberries at Los Rios Rancho. The big kids had so much fun running around and looking for the perfect apples. We all had a lot of fun watching Luke maneuver around the natural obstacles and look for an apple growing at his height. Of course he got some help from Danny reaching some that were higher up, but when he would find one at his height he was so proud of being able to get it all by himself. Once he got his teeth into one of those apples, we didn't see him again for the rest of the day without one in his mouth. Occasionally he would pick up a stick for awhile and walk around with it, but there was always an apple in the other hand being chewed on.

When we had filled our bag of apples, we went back for the raspberries. Again, I think Luke may have eaten more than he put in the box, but he was having so much fun no one dared stop him. And I don't think anyone could have if they had wanted too. My kids love their apples and berries and to pick them off the plant and eat them is quite the thrill.

So without further ado, here are the winning photos from this year.

Luke eating one of his many apples. See, who would tell him no?

One of the few times I caught up with him.

It's a little easier to catch up with this guy. Isn't he cute ;-)

One, Two, Three

The Boys

I love this one of my two older kiddos. And you can't hear the bickering from this distance ;-).

This one pretty much sums Ms. Emma up.

I'm sure that's not a raspberry in his mouth (ahem)... This kid is truly amazing in so many ways.

Tell me how I got this blessed!!! Seriously, who would have thought having a daughter would be so much fun?

And Mr. Bonus... he is just the cherry on top.

Yes, blessed is what I would call it.

And, by the way, I believe the next post will be, "What we did with them apples" - Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We are starting our third week of school, and I feel we are well underway now. This week we add in Zachary's spelling curriculum as well as a few new read-alouds and we start our country study right here in the good old USA.

But first... here's a snap shot of what these two (three) have been doing the past two weeks.

Zachary, ECC - 3rd grade

Bible: Learning about why God made different languages, that the Good News of Jesus is for all mankind, we will worship with people from all parts of the world in heaven.

Language Arts: Handwriting review and geography vocabulary

English: We are continuing in Primary Language Lessons (from last year). It is a very Charlotte Mason type of lesson, which we all seem to enjoy. We are doing 3 lessons per week with some dictation sprinkled in there too.

Math: We are working on more drilling this year which I think will help with simple math facts and make math easier in the long run. We work addition math drills on Monday, subtraction on Tuesday, multiplication on Wednesday, and division on Thursday. These drills only last about 10 minutes and can be anything from flashcards to math games. We have just started a new math book with Singapore Math. We have used Singapore from the start and it seems to be working for us. Zach started level 2B last week.

Geography: The past two weeks have concentrated on learning how to read maps, what types of maps there are, and how maps differ from globes. We have learned about latitude and longitude, physical and political maps, northern and southern hemisphere, distance and scale... lets just say I've learned a lot too!!

Science: We are learning about environments and ecosystems. We've read about niches and biomes. We have also touched on the water and oxygen cycles. We started our Nature Notebooks for the year. Zach is also working in The Complete Book of Animals which has given him some simple research type worksheets so far. Zachary has also started his Astronomy class, which is out of the house on Monday afternoons. We decided this week to sign Emma up to, and we think she is going to love it (almost) as much as Zach. I will have to write more on this later. We are so blessed to be part of this group.

Music/Art: We have been listening to Wee Sing: Hello to All the Children of the World, which has introduced us to several countries. We also made paper dolls last week and decorated them from different countries.

Reading: Zachary is still in love with the Magic Tree House Books. He will read a while book in one sitting if I allow him to sit that long. I have tried to get him to branch out a bit, but have not been successful yet.

Spanish: Zachary is continuing to do Rosetta Stone. He does a very good job at it and enjoys working on the computer alone with his headset.

Read-Aloud: We started Kingdom Tales last week. At first I though it would be a bit deep for us, but we got through the first couple chapters and now I think our whole family is getting something out of the readings every night. It really is turning out to be a very good book and the discussion question at the end of each chapter gets us all talking about what we thought the chapter was about.

Zachary labeling a map for geography

Emma, 1st Grade

Bible: We have gone over how the Bible was first written in scrolls. We have started handwriting practice on sheets that we will put together as a scroll when we are done with them. Emma also made a small piece of pottery as an example of the pots they used to store scrolls in. We have been discussing the book of Proverbs and that it is a book full of wise verses written by King Solomon. We have started memorizing Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. One other thing we did last week was make a Jewish calender. It coincides with our calender so we will be able to follow both through the year.

Reading: We are reviewing three letters a day by writing them and review their sounds and what words start with their sounds. We are doing dictation where Emma will write the first letter of the words I say to her. She is also blending short vowels with the letters we are reviewing.

Math: Last week we worked on sequences and patterns. We read some books that we checked out from the library, which is something I love about our curriculum. There are so many children's books that have real life math in them and make learning math fun, and our curriculum lists the books that go along with what we are studying so we can check them out of the library when we need them. Emma also got to "play" with her pattern blocks, which she enjoys doing with Luke.

Emma has joined Zach and I for several of his geography lessons. She has also started her Nature Notebook and will be doing Astronomy for science along with some life science from 1st grade.

Emma working on patterns for math.

Luke, Pre-Pre-Pre-School ;-)

Luke is being kept very busy by his big sister who I think will have him reading way before I would. She practices his animal sounds with him and fort building. He pays more attention to her than he ever would to me, and I LOVE IT!! She is such a blessing taking care of him while I teach Zach. The two of them are fostering a relationship that is so precious and special, and I love to listen to it from our school table.

Emma including Luke in playing with her pattern blocks.

My "class", working on labeling the continents and oceans.

These first two weeks have been very full and exciting, and yet I know we are just barely getting started on this very busy year that is ahead of us. I am so excited for what is to come this year while studying our Father's World!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yes, He Listens...

My husband, that is.

You see I mentioned last winter that I might enjoy having a grain mill to grind our own grain to make bread. I enjoy the process of making bread, especially in the winter time when the weather is cooler. I also enjoy having some kitchen storage, but that is rather slim. I have already fashioned our coat closet into a pantry (because who needs a coat closet in Southern California, really). And most of the dishes I have inherited from my grandmother live in the garage (something I will remedy someday). Anyway, he wasn't thinking about storage. You see my husband has MANY gifts, but one of his best is searching Craigslist for a great deal. It's a hobby of sorts I guess you can say. One must be very careful what they say in front of him because more times than not within minutes he's on his phone finding that item for the person. I wonder if there are other husbands with this gift....

So Tuesday he called from work and said he had a surprise for me. I always love his surprises. 85% of the time they have to do with food, and the rest of the time they are something he heard me say in passing and has acquired and brought home for me. So lucky I am : ). I guess he has been looking for a grain mill for quite some time and finally found one for a terrific deal right in the town he works in. It's circa 1976... but it was a great deal...

I had a homeschool mom's night out that night, but left a bit early to run by Sprouts and buy some Red Winter Wheat Berries. Unfortunately this machine is so large and heavy I could not clean it up myself. I had to wait until Friday when he could help me. So we cleaned it out and ran some wheat through and it worked beautifully.

My beautiful new-to-me Magic Mill

Freshly milled flour and my Kitchen Aid kneading my dough

Finishing up the kneading process, because it feels so good this way!!

After rising in the pans, ready to go in the oven.

Now, was it worth it? A resounding YES!!!! There was so much more flavor in this bread than any I've made before. My family loved it and I loved making it for them. My oldest son even said it was the BEST bread ever.

And I think I agree!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 2

We just finished another day of ECC and so far everything is going really well. Just a couple fun things to share today. We are studying John 3:16 to start the year off and today we were to make a poster with pictures of people from around the world and John 3:16 on it. I decided to change things up a bit and decorate a box with the pictures instead, turning it into a piggy bank for donations to a Bible translation ministry. Our curriculum donates to God's Word for the Nations and after learning a little more about the ministry, I think it is something the kids and I will enjoy giving to.

In geography today we talked about how hard it is to transfer what is on the globe onto a flat map. To demonstrate this we drew the world on a tangerine with a permanent marker. Then we pealed the tangerine and tried to put it together into a map. Did you know that map makers usually distort the top and bottom of the world so that it is much larger than it really is. For example, on a map Greenland can look as big as South America. If you look at it on a globe, you see that it is really far smaller. So mom is learning right along with the kiddos again today!

So here is Zachary showing our tangerine with the world drawn on it.

And here the kids are trying to piece together the peel into a flat map.

I love when things are hands on, which is just another reason I love this curriculum so much. Plus it's always nice when you get to eat school when your done learning :-).

One other thing I wanted to mention. We have made a change to the way we are doing the Bible portion of our day. We have been doing it the night before with daddy. It gives him a chance to be involved in a very important part of our school day and it also gives us a set time to study together every evening (which is something that doesn't happen enough). So far it has worked out beautifully.

Monday, September 5, 2011

1st Day of School

Our 1st day of school is now behind us. I think we made a good choice starting on Labor Day, when daddy was home to help with Luke. It made the day a lot less stressful for me. Zachary did great with the added workload of being a 3rd grader. There are a couple more subjects that will be added on as the weeks progress. Emma joined us for geography and science, and she was a real trooper.

The kids did a geography pre-test to see how many countries they knew. I let them know this test was going to be given again at the end of the year so we could see how many countries we have learned about. I told them that I didn't expect them to know many countries, and truthfully I figured they would get the United States and maybe Mexico. Zachary surprised me by getting 13 countries, including the United States, Canada, Greenland, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Russia, and Italy. I can not take any credit for this. He loves to read and loves maps, so I think he is really going to enjoy this year and learn so much.

We had a slow start to our day and enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We also took back-to-school photos out in the front yard like we do every year.

Zachary - 3rd Grade - Exploring Countries and Cultures
BMXer and Big Brother Extraordinaire

Emma - 1st Grade
Fashionista and Pre-Pre-Pre-School Teacher (see below)

Luke - Pre-Pre-Pre-School
Lover of all things cars and in charge of keeping mommy on her toes

Class Photo :)

Filling out Passport Applications (and coloring)

The kids filled out their passport applications today and submitted them to the passport office (mom and dad). They are being processed and the kids are expecting their passports back in a few weeks so they can start to travel to different counties and learn all about them.

We are so excited to start this exploration together in our Father's World!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Twas the Night Before School Began

Tomorrow we start our 4th year of homeschooling.

Did I just say that?

I still have a hard time believing that we are a homeschooling family.... better yet, that I am a homeschooling mama. After 4 years you would have thought that would have sunk in by now.

Tomorrow Zachary starts 3rd grade. We finally get to do My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC). This is a year I have been looking forward to since we started kindergarten with My Father's World. This year we will be taking "...a trip around the world and exploring diverse cultures while learning geography and being challenged by true stories of missionaries." (from the MFW teacher's manual)

On Thursday Emma will start MFW - 1st grade. "...a complete first grade curriculum with a phonics-based reading program. Focusing on Genesis to Revelation, key Bible stories are used to develop reading and writing skills." (again from the MFW teachers manual)

Emma will be joining Zachary for quite a bit of ECC, which I think will work quite well. I hope to blog more about our school days this year.

Tonight I start by praying. Praying for me. Praying for the patience it takes to teach two children in two different grades, all while a toddler is wanting my attention. Praying for wisdom to teach what should be taught and let go of the things that will not matter in the long run. Praying for grace to be a teacher, a mom, and a wife to my husband.

I look forward to praying over each of my little students tonight while they are sleeping snugly in their beds. Praying that they have patience with me and the interruptions that happen throughout the day. Praying that they put forth their best effort. Praying that they take to heart the information that the Lord has set in this curriculum for us.

Tonight I ask that you pray with me. Because we can use all the prayer we can get ;-).