Sunday, November 30, 2008

SNOW before December

Well, you non-Arkansans may not know that we just don't get much snow here. We're lucky to get two or three flurries a year, plus maybe one good (but short) snowman-building day. And, even then, it might be a 2-foot tall midget, and 50% mud.

Snow "Days" aren't really accurate either. It's more like snow moments.

This is yet another reason that I'm thankful for homeschooling. The school kids often miss the snow entirely. They get the slushy cold aftermath, following a day of watching big white flakes fall on the other side of the glass. But, regardless of the day or time, we can run out and snap some pictures, catch a few flakes on our tongues, or make some snow (muddy) angels on the ground.

(Yes, laundry is fair trade for joy of this kind.)

At 8am this morning I called my parents to make sure they would see it. Dad initially disputed this...then he squinted and caught a glimpse of the small flurrying flakes. "ahhh....well, yes, it is actually snowing."

The kids started dancing around. Mannheim Steamroller was started to enhance the mood.

I tried to get photos of the flakes falling, but they didn't show up. You'll have to do with a picture of where the flakes landed. LOOK--SNOW!**update**
It actually snowed ALL day. Wow. I can't stand dreary weather (!!!) , but I can handle it if we get some snow. :-) So I walked around outside, went to the store, and ran some other errands. Actually, I didn't have much of a choice since we were out of milk and diapers. Still, I enjoyed the outings. :-) Hope you did, too.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thank You, God, for the family I've got

Oh, what a nice day!!

We made Indian and turkey hats, read books, played games, and did some lessons before heading to my parents' house for the big meal. What a feast! My mom made a huge amount of food as usual, including five pies and two cakes for dessert. My youngest sister tackled the turkeys this go around!! I'm impressed. They turned out perfect, moist, delicious. I love turkey. Apparently something happened with the ham. My mom claims that it "disintegrated." I didn't ask for details.

When we got home this evening, The kids and I conquered Daddy at a game of Sequence, and then Isabelle beat us all at Apples to Apples.

What a nice relaxing day!! I love my family.

I am thankful for:

My Lord who sustains me through all trails, leads me on His paths, renews me and gives me joy.

My husband, who loves me, and enjoys spending time with me and the kids.

My children, unique, loving, intelligent, kind... and perfectly placed in our family. I'm extremely grateful that I live in a country where I can home educate them.

My parents, sisters, grandparents and all of my childhood memories. I took so many things for granted growing up. I was raised in family that spent A LOT of time together taking walks, camping, hiking, going to the beach, playing games. We've always just enjoyed being together, talking, or reading for hours in silence. I just assumed that most families were like this. Until I married into a family that is not like this in the least. Every gathering is a trial by fire.

Amazing friends, near and far, who pray for me, encourage me, laugh with (and at) me, and give me honest, godly advice when I need it.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Love you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Virtual Tour of the Schoolroom

The homeschool home tour was last Friday. I'm still not exactly sure why they asked me to be a part of it. I'm not a "typical homeschooler," if there is such a thing. In fact, I think I'm rather unorthodox in the way I do things. Perhaps I was a good one to throw in for an eclectic mix. ;-)

There were roughly 25 or 30 women who toured the five homes. The idea was to gain some understanding and insight into how this works for different families. There is no cookie cutter homeschool recipe that works for every family. One mother had a single child, another had 8. Some of us use schoolrooms, and others use the kitchen table. Some, like me, work outside whenever possible, and others stay in one room until all schoolwork is completed. No two of us are just alike, yet we have success in our homes, and with the children that God has given us. Isn't it awesome to know that God designed my children just for me; they are my perfect fit.

So, without further ado, here we enter the schoolroom/ playroom/ boys' room (also pantry/ laundry room/ converted garage):

Here is the entrance area to hang coats and put shoes away. It looks all neat & tidy in this picture, and I try to keep it like that...but the boys often just throw shoes towards the general area.

Above the coats, there is a board to pin all of our insect finds. We had a huge moth pinned up, but it was destroyed when we rearranged the room several weeks ago. :-(

Next to our entrance area, are the toddler/ science shelves.
The bottom shelf just holds toddler toys, balls.The middle shelf has board books and a softie nativity scene. For years, I had wanted one the kids could play with, and I found this at a yard sale for a quarter this past summer!!

The top shelf holds our new lockboard and the geoboard, wooden shapes.

Above that is puzzle/ science touchable area. They can touch, measure, weigh, examine anything on this tray, as long as it is put back.

The stuff on here rotates, whenever I think of rotating it...usually when The Nature Boy reminds me that he's been studying the same pinecone for a week.

Next to that bookcase is my new Mimi-made nature flap quilt!

Each square is a tent that opens to reveal adorable bug material!

The boys adore it!!

Around the corner, is our L-shaped reading area.

The books are sorted according to type. Yes, I may be slightly OCD, but it's really the only way I can find what I need when I need it. The kids are fairly good about returning each book after they look through it. We also keep our library tub of books in this area.

We have double windows right here, too, which I love. Our Noni-made monster dolls hold the curtains back for us.

There's nothing like sitting in a comfy chair, with sunlight streaming through the windows, while reading a good book!

On top of the reading bookcase is our science storage. This is where I keep my rotatable science stuff. If I gave it to them all at once, it would quickly be destroyed or they would lose interest. By rotating it, they cherish the time with "special stuff." In addition to our hiking-finds, I store some of the seashells from our Washington/ Canada trip here.

We also keep our butterfly house, net, small creature cage and ball, aquarium, flashlights, headlights, magnifying glasses, etc in this area. And I have a new book for this area, called Pets in Jars. Woo-hoo!!

Adjacent to this, we have the schoolroom table. I think it's self explanatory. We do keep our worksheets tubs underneath, and our most-used books on a small black shelf on the other side. Next to that shelf is a game cupboard, and next to that is the big art cabinet.

Okay, the art cabinet looks disorganized, but it's actually completely arranged & labeled, and took a lot of work!!
Some of our many games. When I took that picture, we still had Sequence, Apples to Apples, and a few others out on the kitchen table. Yes, this cupboard needs some help.

From there, the laundry area is straight ahead. Yep, this is a multi-use room!! I did a curtain mistreatment, by hanging a black sheet in front of the washer and dryer. I got sick of (and distracted by) the waiting laundry.
The Artist has a room across the hall from ours, and the baby's nursery is down the hall, but the middle boys share the schoolroom. The bunkbeds divide the room in half. I found awesome discarded signs, that I made into "Thing1" and "Thing2" labels for the boys' bunks. Heh heh. How appropriate.

We love Dr. Seuss, so I couldn't resist.

It gets rather cluttery looking against the back wall. That really can't be helped. I have too much stuff, but I refuse to get rid of most of it. This is good stuff!! We store our videos, toys, manipulatives, trucks, you-name-it on the shelves and in the tubs over here. There is also a table and chair against the back door. I keep it locked at all times, but it's still accessible as an emergency exit.

I have a bulletin board hanging on the bookcase (hiding videos and other cluttery stuff,) which has our chore chart, color chart, etc.

We've hung our Word Wall on the back door. The maps & weather signs are on the other wall, but I didn't get a picture of that.

So there you have it. This is where we do school every day. Dash works with the big kids at the table off and on, and then does his stations. Little Lad is put into stations, but doesn't always stay. He usually wanders between three, and joins us at the table when he wants extra attention.

During read alouds, I sit on the floor and the kids draw at the table. For their independent reading and chapter summaries, they are usually sprawled on the couch, on their beds, or in a closet. There's no telling. :-) We spend afternoons, after book work, doing art and correspondence... or playing with friends, or spending time outside.

So, now I need some brave people to tell me about their schedule, crafts, field trips, schoolroom. The great thing about most homeschool families I know is that they rarely critique lifestyle or methods. :-) Generally, they just want to gain insight, and they come forth with respect and geniuine interest in how things work for others.

By the way, it's late and I'm tired, but decided to finish up this post...since I just get to work occasionally on the computer, I work rather quickly. Forgive any typos or other mistakes! Heh.

Also, here is some recommended reading, if you are interested in how different schooling methods work for various families:

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling.... by Lisa Welchel

*EDIT* Thanks for this suggestion, Suzanne...
Take a look at these Heart of the Matter School Room links, to see how other homeschool families work!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A plethora of precious goodies

Sorry for the lapse, guys. Too much going on.

Oh, and I'm having issues posting pictures. My beloved program is giving me fits, and I've resorted to Shutterfly. Phooey.

I have many things I want to write about. Many things to say. So much going on.

Last night was the homeschool home tour! What a blessing. There were five of us who opened our homes. That was a very scary thing for me, to just put my life "out there" and talk about my schedule, methods, curriculum. It was great to see how others manage their homeschool life! I got some much-needed-encouragement (as well as decorating/ schoolroom inspiration.)

I'll save the pictures of my schoolroom for later in the week. Frankly I only have time to mess with a few pictures at the moment.

Right now I've gotta blog about an amazing blessing that we received today. A friend of mine, who I haven't been able to keep in contact with well over the years, came by this afternoon to drop off "a few things" from their old homeschool days. She blessed us with TUBS of resources: wonderful books for me and the kids, curriculum, workbooks, wipe-offs, games, a scale, brainteasers.... busybooks, organization name it and it was there!!! Some of my favorite finds so far: The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson, Home Sweet Home-School, Spelling Power, Easy Grammar 2 & 3, handwriting with George (Washington, that is.) Dash was thrilled to find a new Go Fish game included. The Nature Man discovered books on mud, geology, astronomy. The Artist is already hard at work on some Draw Write Now books. Oh, and the middle boys also did some great little puzzles with words.

Tomorrow we'll use this scale. I had one like this years ago, when we did K12 with The Artist, but I had to return it. I'm so glad to have one again!!

Seriously, I cried.

You know who you are... Thank you for blessing my family in this way!!!

Thank you, thank you!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dashing in a New Direction!

Dash turned 4 yesterday!!!

Here's my background on my little man:

Dash was a big surprise to us.

We had two toddlers at the time. The Artist went to preschool and my mom watched the Nature Man while I was at school. Yep, I was at JBU full-time on an academic scholarship. The pressure was on.

I spent a great deal of my time studying and doing assignments, trying to maintain my high GPA, and fitting in some housework here and there when I could (which was extremely difficult, so I lived in constant disorganization.) Looking back, I missed so much of that toddler time with my kids.

We thought we had it all figured out. I'd finish school with a nice degree, get a nice job, and move into a nicer house. You know, the American Dream thing. The kids would do preschool until they were old enough to be full-time in public school. Simply because that's what people do.

But God had other plans. I got pregnant with Mr.T/ Dash when it should not have been possible. I didn't even tell hubby at first because I was in shock. And then I waited even longer to tell others. I just had to get used to the idea of it.
And, don't get me wrong, I LOVE being pregnant. I love feeling the baby move, finding out the sex, picking out names, and wearing maternity clothes. But, at that stage in my life, I had other plans.
Besides, I have high risk pregnancies, as aforementioned, and this was going to take a lot of emotional strength. I didn't think I could deal with anyone else's feelings on the matter.

(A couple weeks before he was born.)

To make a long story shorter, Dash changed the course of our life. God had far better plans than I could have imagined. It was his birth that brought me back home with my three little ones. And then I couldn't possibly part with them again. It was his birth that brought the whole idea of homeschooling into my mind. Don't ask me why I hadn't seriously considered it before, even though I myself was homeschooled off and on. I have no answer.

Obviously this is a picture of pictures, which is not usually a good thing to do. But I just needed to post my little man's newborn pictures. This is the day we brought him home. Notice we're both still wearing hospital bracelets.
Big brother and big sister hold him for the first time.

And this is Dash yesterday. Look at that delighted face!!

His brothers, sister, and three little friends hid and jumped out. "Surprise!"
Dash withdraws in very large groups, so we decided to keep it rather simple and small. :-)
I think all of the kids had a great time!
Little Lad has an icing face.

After playdough/balloon/ cupcake time, the kids just ran around and wore themselves out.
Isn't this AWESOME?? Dash loves locks, so Mrs. Smiley and little boys blue made him his own lock board!!!

It was just such a fun day! We had great weather, sweet friends, and just a wonderful time remembering what the Lord does for those He loves. His plans are always far better than ours. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Day to Pray for the Future

Here is Little Lad with his buddy, a Little Boy Blue.

Pray For God’s Perfect and Loving Will to Be Accomplished in This Year’s Elections

Monday, November 3, 2008

My take on annexing

I've had a couple of people ask me what I think about the city vote on annexation.

Some friends of mine have already addressed this, and I share their sentiments:

My general philosophy of government is that
"less is always better than
I'm not convinced the city has demonstrated good stewardship with current resources, so see no need for providing more for them tosquander. Whether you live inside the city or outside (like me), I'm convinced that from an economic viewpoint alone, this is a bad idea. I say VOTE NO! on annexation!


From what I understand, Gentry annexes only by request, not by vote
unless it's a large neighborhood with differing opinions. A homeowner
or neighborhood can request to become part of Gentry. I've heard of
this happening around Rogers & Bentonville too.

As far as fire protection, we pay a yearly due so we have fire
protection ...

Still, the higher property taxes wouldn't be worth living in the city
limits to me. There wouldn't be enough difference in that & lower
insurance. Also, having a little land, the higher restrictions on what
we could do with it would really be hard. The additional paper-work
when we make changes to our house are another reason for me to stay
out of town
I agree, and I already voted no. Besides, I do NOT want higher utility bills. And I have yet to meet a single person outside of city limits who wants to be annexed in. It's not right for us to vote on this, when it primarily affects them.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

workety work and Monster Gloves

This has been an unusual weekend. Fred started a second job, working 10-12 hours (plus the hour round trip drive) on Saturday and Sunday.

And I've realized that I'm spoiled.


My dear husband always lets me sleep in on weekends. And he always helps me bathe the kids. And reads to them and helps me put them to bed. He gets the drinks ready for dinner. And has the kids clear their plates.

Now I'm on my own for the weekends. It's brutal. (Actually, it's not that bad, I just miss my man!!)

The kids miss Daddy terribly, but he explained to them that one of us needs to bring in some extra income right now, and he wants it to be him. Gotta admire that. He doesn't mind me working, if I want to, but he doesn't want it to be out of necessity.

So, anyway, the kids and I have been doing some extra post-Halloween crafts. Monster gloves:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Our Tax System Explained

Source Unknown (if you wrote it, claim it).

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’ Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too.

It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I got’ ‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.