Monday, October 27, 2008


Goodness, I haven't blogged in forever. Life has just gotten in the way.

I've been tweaking our homeschool day again and I think I have finally gotten it the way I want it.

I've made some changes to Robert's history program. AO 5 has been a bit much for him this year, so I've cut out a few things. I've also found that I really prefer that each week have a specific topic to center things around, so I'm using an adapation of the Truthquest American History II schedule I found at Ambleside Classical (look in her sidebar).

One thing that is encouraging is that Robert is very enthusiastic about his history studies this year. I think a big part of that is the AO books. They are wonderful!

I've also changed Ruth's Sonlight schedule to more closely follow Higher Up and Further In's Year 5 schedule. Lindafay has British history scheduled with this. I have replaced it with Robert's spine reading. This way, they will be at the same point in history next year, when I plan on combining them again. Ruthie's main focus is still the Eastern Hemisphere study, but she is learning the American History that Robert is, too.

We have changed from CLE Reading to a Total Language Plus study of The Cricket in Times Square. A childhood friend of mine is a rep for them and she was able to answer all my questions. It's going very well. I like the time we spend together working on it. Also, it includes vocabulary, spelling, and dictation, so those are finally getting done.

Our Art Project Friday has not happened for a couple of weeks. It seems that something always comes up. One Friday a friend called up unexpectedly to ask us to go to lunch with them. Then we had eye appointments. Our conflict today is a rescheduled cello lesson. I'm going to have to get control of this, but I can't quite figure it out.

In other news...

I had to share Robert's Halloween costume. He was Mario and it turned out great! (Can you guess why he's in that pose?) Ruthie doesn't like Halloween (she scares easily), so she chose to skip dressing up and trick-or-treating this year. She stayed home and passed out candy, instead.

Ruthie got braces this week. She has adjusted to them well. She chose blue rubber bands, but wants to change the colors for different seasons/holidays. Braces were not this fun when I had them.

You can click on any picture to make it larger. Please excuse the red-eye. I had to choose between fixing the red-eye and getting this post done. Posting won.

This school year is going by so quickly. Is anybody else shocked that Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away. How did that happen?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Art

One of the changes I made to our schedule was to add art projects to Friday. I found this project through a link at Hearts and Trees. The original instructions called for Art Stix, but said that pastels would work as well. When I compared the prices (and Amazon is much cheaper than Michael's!) , I decided pastels would work just fine for us.

I wanted to share Ruth's final picture. The picture doesn't do it justice, however. It is really very pretty. She wanted the hills to glow from the sunlight, so she added orange and yellow. I never would have thought of doing that, but it gave just the effect she wanted. I think it's lovely, and shows that my daughter is much more artistic than I am. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Math Fun

I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel here.

Head over to Let's Play Math and Homeschool Math Blog for some great ideas for having fun with math.

A couple of recent favorite posts.

Free math resources (Check out the logic problems. I just love those!)

Coffee Shop (Ruth and I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on this game.)

Spend plenty of time at these blogs. They are so rich in information and fun. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Won!

I don't usually enter contests. I'm very much of the "somebody's gotta win, but it's probably not going to be me" mindset. Ever the pessimist, that's me!

However, when I saw that Half Pint House was giving away copies of God's World News, and that there could be multiple winners, I held my breath and jumped in. I've wanted to get subscription to this magazine, but having never seen it before, I was hesitant.

I was thrilled when I found out I was one of the winners. I even won two copies! The magazine is divided into age groups and I won News Current (4th - 5th grade) and Top Story (6th - 9th). I was very happy with what I saw and now plan to subscribe.

Thank you, Megan, for having this contest!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Put Title Here

I could not think of a single good title, but wanted to give an update, so there you go.

We've had a bit of a hard time getting back in the swing of things since the hurricane. We took a week off (I was feeling whiny about having no power) and I think we're paying for it.

One thing I did was move us to a definite time schedule. As in, 8:30, 9:00, etc. You get the idea. It's had mixed results. Ruthie loves it. It keeps her moving and she has consistently gotten her schoolwork done. Robert fought it, but actually has gotten more work done. The big drawback with him is if we start school late for some reason. He cannot be convinced that we can just move everything back. We'll work on that.

Even with the new schedule, though, we've been lagging this week. One thing the new schedule showed me is that there is no way we can be done before 2:30 pm. That is not what I want for our school days. So, I'm making more changes.

The biggest change is to our Friday schedule. I dropped math. That was difficult to do because we haven't caught up to grade level since we switched to CLE. I also took science out of the daily schedule and put it in a block of time on Friday. I'll see if that works better. Overall, our Friday is now more of a project day (science, notebooking, art, etc.).

I also took out our read aloud time in the morning. We've been reading Inkheart. It's a good book, but it's not school related. It also means I haven't been doing Ruthie's Sonlight read-aloud like I should. So, it's been moved to a different time of day. Book Basket and instrument practice have also been moved off the schedule. I still expect them to do it, but as long as it's done sometime during the day, I'm okay with that.

In an effort to make sure they do things like reading and practice, and in an effort to work on attitudes around here, I'm creating a "nobility record" for the kids. I got the idea from Trivium Academy. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out. It's a marvelous idea.

In other news, Ruthie and I went camping with her Girl Scout troop this past weekend. As the camp-trained person, I was in charge of the whole event. I do not like being in charge of things, so it was very stressful for me. We had a great time, though, and are already planning another trip for April.

Robert had a friend over for a late birthday celebration. They were originally going to see the new Star Wars animated movie, but it was no longer in theaters by the time the power came back on. So, Griff took them to play laser tag instead. We also took them out to lunch and had cake and ice cream at home. It was very low-key, but Robert enjoyed it. I'm thankful that both of my kids prefer smaller parties.

If I get it together, I'll post some pictures later. I make no promises, though.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Our Ike Experience

I'm late, but I really want to record these memories, so I'm sharing our experience with Hurricane Ike.

I lived in the Houston area when Hurricane Alicia hit back in 1983. I was 16 years old. I remember my mom waking me up to go down the street to a neighbor's house. They had a central room with no windows. We spent the night sitting on their kitchen floor with a transistor radio. We watched debris fly down the street at times, but my biggest memory of it is being bored. Our power came back on the next day and it was pretty much a non-event for this teenager. However, viewing a hurricane as a teenager and as an adult are two very different things!

After Rita completely missed us three years ago, I wasn't really expecting Ike to hit us, either. And, since we live about 70 miles inland, I wasn't particularly worried about if it did hit. We did prepare, though. I bought water. We filled up our cars. I convinced my brother (who still lives in that closer-to-the-coast area) to come stay with us. We watched the news all evening, and we went to bed.

Our power went out at 12:18 AM that Saturday morning. I looked out the windows at that point, but couldn't see much because it was so dark. The wind was certainly howling, though. When we got up that morning, the hurricane was still going through, but it wasn't as strong as during the night. We didn't get out to see the damage until that afternoon.

We were very lucky. We lost our back fence and some bushes. Our next door neighbor had a pine tree that broke in half, but thankfully it broke towards the street rather than their home. Other neighbors were not so lucky. We suspect a tornado went through the neighborhood because certain sections were definitely hit harder than others. I've included some pictures in the slideshow at the end.

We got power back on Sunday for 5 minutes, then we heard transformers blowing everywhere. Parts of the neighborhood kept power, but we didn't. We were out of power for 13 days and 12 hours! Let me tell you, people, that is not something you want to experience.

I don't know that people outside of our area really understand what the lack of power meant. My sister told me she read a blog comment somewhere of some guy in Colorado. His response was, "Big deal! So they don't have power. They're a bunch of whiners." He, my friends, didn't have a clue what was going on. Here's just some of what no power, city wide (93% outage!), meant.

- Airports were closed.
- Gas stations were closed. When they did open, many could only take cash. Lines for gas were absolutely incredible!
- Street lights were out. Not flashing. Out!! This caused many accidents. I, myself, drove through several intersections, not seeing the light. I was lucky to not crash into someone else.
- Grocery stores had no power. When our local grocery store opened after 5 days, they had minimal power. We had to shop with a store employee and a flashlight!

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head. I'm not even talking about the minor inconveniences of no A/C and cooking on a camp stove for two weeks.

This story will give you an idea of what things were like. I was in Target a few days after the storm. An employee was unboxing batteries. A very well dressed lady with her young daughter walked up to him and said, "Do you have C batteries?" He said, "Yes, ma'am". She grabbed her daughter by the shoulder and said, almost giddily, "We're going to be able to listen to the radio!" Folks, when somebody gets so excited about listening to the radio, things are definitely redefined.

I thought I would share what I learned and blessings we had during this time.

Things I Learned

1. Before the storm, buy as many bags of ice as the freezer will hold. I bought none. That was not smart.
2. Make sure the grease container in the freezer is sealed properly and not laying on it's side. Yuk.
3. Bake all refrigerated bread products before the storm.
4. Run the dishwasher one last time before the storm, even if it's not full. You will be thankful for every dish you don't have to wash by hand.
5. Buy your son's birthday present before the storm. Bake the cake, too, even if you're worried it will be a bit stale. Otherwise you will end up sticking a candle in a Ding Dong.

Our Blessings

1. We were all safe, with no damage to our home.
2. We never lost water.
3. We have a gas water heater, so we had hot water.
4. We had a corded phone. Those with only cordless phones did not have phones until their power came on. Cell phone reception was spotty at best.
5. We homeschool, so we don't have to worry about making up 6 (or more!) school days.
6. We have a battery-operated television. Small, black and white, with poor picture quality, but it kept us in touch with the outside world.
7. With fewer outside distractions, we spent much more time together as a family.

There are still many people recovering from Hurricane Ike. It's going to take Galveston months, at the least, to recover. People lost their homes. People lost their lives. After 25 years without a major hurricane, many of us did not take the warning seriously. I don't believe that will happen again.