Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Preparing for the 2014/2015 Homeschool Year


I'm a homeschooling mom.  As a homeschooling mom, summer brings thoughts of a new school year, new books, new lessons......and I'm in charge of it all.  LOL  It can be overwhelming.  When I was homeschooling Lee and Greg, every June I would empty all my homeschooling "stuff" out of my homeschooling "closet" and decide what our focus for the year would be, what we would be using that we already had and what would need to be purchased.  I would organize the closet again according to those decisions and purchase what was needed.  We frequently started the year up in July.  Hopefully that will be the case this year as well.

The problem with this plan is that as the years went on all the "homeschooling stuff" aka BOOKS didn't fit in the homeschooling "closet". So I used bookshelves, then rubbermaid totes to contain our "learning materials"  aka BOOKS.  When we moved to town I was in heaven because there were built-in bookshelves in 2 of the downstairs rooms.  All of our "stuff" (aka BOOKS) had a home and I organized according to category (history, children's, science, art, etc).  It was wonderful.

Here, there are no built-in bookshelves.  Anywhere.  There isn't really room to put bookshelves except in a hallway upstairs outside of  Lee's bedroom.  Currently, that is where the boxes, and boxes, and boxes of school "stuff" aka BOOKS reside....also there are some in the upstairs linen closet, upstairs landing and one shelf of Abby's bookshelves and 2 shelves (and some creative stacking) of a downstairs bookcase I snuck into a dining room corner and on 2 shelves of the dining room hutch and a small stack of current stuff on the air conditioner.....there are also children's books in Abby's room, Bear's room and on the living room coffee table.  (((sigh)))  Did I mention that I have a stack (ok, 3 stacks) of books on the floor beside my bed?  And antique books in the china cabinet?  And cookbooks in the kitchen?  If there is a 12 step program for book hoarders, I don't want to know about it.  I. Just. Don't.

I went to a homeschooling convention in Cincinnati Ohio with a friend in April.  If you've never been to a homeschool convention, the seminars are wonderful but the reason everyone goes is for the vendor hall.  Think, shopping mall for book lovers.  Yep.  So I go and on the first pass through the vendor hall the first day I picked up all the free magazines and catalogs.  I went with very little shopping money and managed to come home with my free stuff and a very nice planner.  Hooray!

I also hashed out multiple ideas for how our upcoming school year would go.  I think I ended up with 3 different plans before the weekend was over.  I've since made up 2 more plans and then reverted back to one of the ones I made in Cincinnati.

Here is an overview of the plans:
Plan 1:  My Father's World.....1st grade stuff for Bear (would just need to buy worksheets from MFW, handwriting and Singapore 1) and then some cheap workbooky things for Abby.  Relatively in-expensive. (I haven't figured up exact cost of that yet, probably around $150.) Would require me to dig for the necessary books in the boxes upstairs.

Plan 2:  Sonlight.....I'm looking at P4/5 for both, adding in LA 1, Singapore 1 and handwriting for Bear.  Using as is with Abby.  Approximately $600.  Like I have that kind of money laying around (maybe I'll look under the chickens).

Plan 3: A compilation of various things including language arts from Queens homeschool, Singapore 1, unit studies/lapbooks for history and science, handwriting and workbooky stuff for Abby.  Cost around $100 but I would have to do all the legwork.

Plan 4: I briefly looked at Heart of Dakota.  I don't really think it is in the running.

I've been back to Sonlight twice.  I love Sonlight.  I used it some with Lee and Greg (core 3 and 4 - now labeled C and D spread over 3 years).  I think if we started with P4/5 that I would be able to keep the kids together, spreading each core over 1.5 years or so supplementing with free lapbooks to really dig in to the material.  The cost would be substantial over the next 3 years or so but then I would be using something that I already have.  I just don't have $600 and honestly, I don't have the bookcase space that Sonlight requires.

I like My Father's World.  I've used MFW Grade 1 and Adventures (2nd).  It is similar to Sonlight.  I like the Language arts.  The cost would be very small this year and next year.  I could roll Abby in with Bear whenever I want.  I already have MFW K (that is what Bear used over 2 years, when he was almost 5 and 6 - he has a late birthday).  I would need to dig for the books but the teacher's manual is right here next to me.  I don't know why I don't like it as much.  There is no logical reason as the programs are very, very similar.  We can supplement units with free lapbooks or could even buy lapbook kits because honestly I would have very little output of money.

I'm not very good at putting my own stuff together.  It never ends well.  I know that is a weakness I have so even though it might save a little money and it would be fun, I know that I just won't get it done.  And then there we are.  lol

Ok.  So, now that I've hashed that all out (wasn't it fun???) I think that we are looking at My Father's World first grade for Bear.  I will get Singapore math 1 and handwriting (either a Reason for Handwriting or Handwriting without Tears.....comments???).  I already have All About Spelling Level 1 and we will finish working through our Alphaphonics book.  Abby will continue doing the preschool workbooks that I already have her working through and I will get tot packs to supplement as she gets bored.  Maybe mid-year I will evaluate her and possibly begin MFW K with her....we will see how it is going.

I've written out plans to get us started in July working on some life skills.  We will start the actual curriculum in August.  Probably around the time the boys start public school.  We will see how the harvesting/preserving of the garden is going.

Chicks, Chores and VBS

We have chickens, a very nice borrowed incubator and eggs (and a rooster) so my husband loves to incubate eggs.  We put 71 eggs in a month ago and this past weekend had 55 hatch :)  It's always exciting to have new babies around.  They stayed until Monday when we sold 50 of them.  Hopefully at least one or two of the 5 we kept will be hens.

A friend of my husband's gave him some fertilized duck eggs so they are resting peacefully in the incubator now.  We've never hatched ducks before but are hopeful that a few make it.

The part I detest the most about gardening has arrived.  Weeding.  I spent a couple hours out there this morning.  Finished weeding the lettuce and got most of the onions done.  We could really use a small rain shower, the ground is like hoeing into cement.  I'll try not to complain though.  Interestingly we still haven't gotten our sweet corn or green beans in the ground.  Maybe this weekend.  All of our zucchini and many of our tomatoes are blooming :)  I found a little zucchini on one plant, about the size of my ring finger.  Very exciting.  Makes the weeding worth it :)  Norman tilled around almost all the tomatoes before he ran out of gas.  So it is coming along.  If we could get some mulch down that would help with the weeding also.  I just need to plan on spending a couple hours out there every morning when it is cooler.

I used some of last year's shredded zucchini and made zucchini bread for today's snack. Ham steaks and au gratin potatoes with corn for lunch.  Swept through the house and brought my laundry off the line.  My clothes line holds 2 loads of laundry and that is usually what I need to do each day so that works out well.  No complaints from me.  There is nothing better than warm, sun dried laundry.  So that is all folded and everything but the boy's stuff put away.  I weeded most of the flower beds around the house until I got into a nest of fire ants.  I escaped mostly unscathed.  Need to figure out what to use on those little buggers.

Bear and I are going to work on one of his 4H projects here in a bit then I will get the kids ready for VBS.  This is the first VBS of the year, at Falmouth Methodist Church and the kids are loving it.  Everyone there is great and the kids always have the best time.  Next week is VBS at Central Christian then a week off before VBS at our church (Hidalgo Independent Christian).  I take my kids to every VBS I hear about that they are able to attend.  It's good for them to go and gives me a little break.

The big boys worked until after 8 last night.  Norman just left for work tonight, will come home and sleep a few hours then is working a 16 hour shift tomorrow.  I'm not sure what we have planned for the weekend but I'm sure it involves gardening.  :)  I'll let you know how that first zucchini tastes!  Oh and one of the cherry tomato plants has a cluster of green tomatoes and Norman said he saw a little one on the regular plants also.  I love fresh produce!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hello Saturday :)

It's been a good day!  I recovered from my itty bitty pity party and am optimistic and joyful again :)

We started our day with our 4H club at a local cemetery placing American flags on the graves of those who served in our military.  While there we met my sister-in-law and took possession of my nephew Brennan.

I had managed to get 2 loads of laundry on the line before we left this morning so when we got home I finished my house picking-up, brought in the clothes and hung out my sheets and quilt.  There is nothing in this world that compares to bedsheets and quilts after they have soaked up some sunshine.

Baby chicks are hatching!  We have 4 new arrivals so far so I helped Norman set up the brooder.  We gathered eggs (19!), fed and watered chickens.  Brennan loved the chickens!  He held a chick and a big chicken.  He has no fear of them at all :)  I just love that little guy!

I baked some cookie bars this afternoon, folded laundry and remade my bed with my nice, warm, sun-shiny sheets and quilt.  After my brother picked up Brennan, the littles, Thor and I walked down the lane for the mail.  Supper is in the oven now.

Norman and Greg worked on the hog pen again all afternoon.  I think its almost done (which is good because the pigs are ready to move!).  They fed the cows for me and then Norman ran Greg into town to the swimming pool.  I think we are being gifted a tiller so he went to check on that also.  What a blessing!

I can smell the herb potatoes in the oven and am feeling so blessed.  I'm so very, very blessed!  Have a wonderful enjoyable weekend friends!

Friday, May 23, 2014

REVIEW: A Nation Under Judgement: One Nation Apart from God

***This product was received for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.***

A Nation Under Judgement: One Nation Apart from God by Richard Capriola explores the history of the United States from a Christian perspective, effectively exposing our Christian roots and heritage.  Building on that he takes a look at the rise and fall of other countries throughout history.  Finally Mr. Capriola explores several aspects of current culture in our country and makes a terrifying case for why God might choose to remove His hand of protection from our country.

I consider myself a learned person and have for years discussed the downfall of the United States with anyone who would listen.  Even considering my rather "educated" background, I was horrified as I read through the chapters of this book.  Although I had considered many of these aspects of our culture and their implications biblically before, I hadn't ever considered them as a whole.  To read of them together and see how our personal and national sins have led us down this path is sickening.  Honestly, I'm not sure how God has refrained from wiping us off the face of the earth!  He is truly a merciful and patient God.

Mr. Capriola gives opportunities or suggestions for repentance and change throughout the book.  I hope that enough people wake up to the truth of their personal sins and begin the guide our country along the path that God set it on.

This book is truly a wake-up call for Christians.  If you haven't realized that there is a problem in our country I hope that this books opens your eyes to the truth of God's word and helps you realize that his mercy and patience does have an end.  How far are we going to push those limits before he punishes us? (although I believe the punishments have begun)

This book is available from       for  

Living the Life We've Been Given

For those that don't know me in real life, we live on a farm.  It isn't ours, but we have the most wonderful landlord.  We live in a quaint farmhouse, raise chickens for meat and eggs, 3 steers for beef (1 is ours) and pigs for pork.  We have duck eggs and chicken eggs in an incubator right now and a huge garden is mostly planted.  We are able to hunt deer, squirrel and rabbit on this property and fish in the pond that is here.  It is a dream.

I was raised on a farm.  I knew going in that I was walking straight into a life of hard work and much responsibility.  Cows, pigs and chickens need fed and watered regularly.  Their pens need tending and maintenance.  Gardens need planted, cared for and then harvested.  The harvest will need to be preserved.  The cows, pigs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, fish and chickens need to be caught or butchered and then preserved.

Although my husband is a state employee, we are not rolling in money.  I am a stay at home mom.  I homeschool 2 of our children on a shoe-string budget.  Currently, most of our grocery budget is going to feed future groceries :)  It is what it is.  We manage.  No, we more than manage.  We are living.

Memorial day weekend is upon us.  I tend to get a little depressed around this time of year.  My husband frequently works holidays and we rarely get invited to cookouts.  We don't have a camper or RV so we rarely camp.  Even if we wanted to and were able to we wouldn't be able to go anywhere because someone must care for the animals twice a day.  We are tethered here.

As I am sad we don't have a typical middle class life (financially or socially) I remember that many in this world would love to have what we have.  This week I managed to sell just enough eggs to buy chicken feed.  I cleaned my moms house and earned enough to buy some needed groceries.  The tiller broke (again).  God will provide.  He always does.  How can I be sad about that?  I am placed in a position of watching God work in our lives over and over and over again.  That is wonderful!!!!

So middle class typical isn't working for us.  We need to make our very own typical :)  Maybe your typical isn't exactly as you imagined it would be.  That's ok.  Embrace it.  Trust me, it is much more enjoyable to embrace life rather than wish for someone else's.  You never know when someone else would wish to be living your life :)