Monday, August 30, 2010

9 years and still learning

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
-- Mark Twain

I grew up with two younger sisters. We were pretty good kids. Seriously. We loved to read, and could play My Little Ponies or Barbies with our friends for hours. We could sit through entire church services, and walk through art galleries for hours, just taking in the beauty.
Without touching anything.
Then I grew up. Got married. Had a beautiful baby girl.
And three little boys.
Ha! God has such a great sense of humor!

After nine years, I'm still discovering what "normal" means for a boy.

I've learned that
Boys MUST get their energy out.
If at all possible (even if you have to sell a car!) invest in a trampoline with a safety net.
I cannot stress how significant this is!! If you cannot get a trampoline, at least buy balls, skateboards, bikes, and anything else that helps them MOVE.
#2- Dirt is not dirty, but only something in the wrong place.
-- Lord Palmerston

Exactly. Don't worry about messes. In fact, give your boy a specific place to get messy!
Create a water hole, digging area, or mud pit. You won't be sorry.
Boys are easy enough to wash off: hose them down and carry them to the tub!
As soon as they can crawl, let them head for the puddles.
It's okay. Relax. Smile. Take pictures. Savor it.
When you look back, you'll care a lot more about those special memories
than about the pants that got stained.
Focus on the things that matter.

#3 If you must stay inside, you must still move.
Play fun music and jump, clap and stomp, dance.
Do an exercise video with them, play Wii fit, or play "boot camp."
Just move.

#4 What one boy doesn't think of, another one will.
Be prepared.
I keep band aids everywhere!-- in my camera bag, van and car, both bathrooms, all of my purses, nature bags, and even stuck in my bedside table.
I also keep "bug catchers" everywhere.
Pill bottles work great for impromptu bug-catching.

#5 Anything can become a weapon.
If you have a boy, I won't need to elaborate.
I'm still learning. These boys are great teachers. ;)
What have you learned from your boys?

A kindergarten sundial

Last week we made a simple sundial, with a piece of wood, some modeling clay, and a stick.

You can tell the time by looking at the shadow cast by the Sun as it shines on the pointer (gnomon) of a sundial.

This was for a kindergarten project, and we did it according to their book. It does NOT take latitude and direction into account at all. Which means that it's not going to be super accurate or even explain WHY those things would be important. At this stage, the only point is to show that shadows get longer and shorter, and you can see time by which way the shadow is cast. This work was done by Dash and LittleLad, not the two older kiddos.

Every hour, on the hour, we'd go outside and mark the correct spot. The sun is highest in the sky at midday and casts a short shadow. In the afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky, the shadow is longer. Wish I'd taken pictures when we got to 6pm and on...

The length of the shadow is also affected by the seasons. Winter shadows are longer than summer shadows.

Now, as you can clearly see, my shortest shadow should be at noon, but our board was on a slant and, again, I did not take other (important) factors into consideration.

Still works, but I had some explaining to do with the older kids who decided to check it out. We'll be doing their version soon. I usually try to do all of these lessons at the same time, and just go more in-depth with the older kids, but I was off my plan. Rough week. You can see that it was SO hot when we did this, that our clay is just gooey and melting. I am thankful that my air conditioner went out this weekend, rather than last.

Tip: look closely at the picture above. I marked where the corners of the board need to go because, inevitably, the board will be moved or shifted when the kids go out to play. Mark the sidewalk, so you can move it back to the "correct spot"-- which wasn't really correct, but OH WELL.

So, yeah, sundials work. Kinda.
And I learned more about them
(again-- I did this a few years ago!)
Ah, someday I'll have all this down, right? After going back through elementary school four times??

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beside Quiet Waters

We've had some shocks and trauma in the family this week.

We're all physically safe and well, but my sister's world has changed suddenly and dramatically.

The heart ache is substantial. The burden is heavy. The pain is great.

My children endured the sorrow and confusion yesterday.

They played together, while I was on the phone.

They watched a movie while I cried, and tried to regain composure.

They prayed with me while I sought peace and guidance.

I love them so much.

Today I needed to enjoy them.

We did a 1/2 day of "official" school, and then took a field trip to a creek, with friends.

Not to talk or sort through anything.

We needed the quiet waters of the 23rd Psalm.

We needed sunshine and water,



We needed the kind of discoveries that little boys find.

They caught butterflies.

They awed in wonder at little treasures,
like tadpoles and frogs.

The river seemed to wash a little of the sadness away.

Please just keep covering my sister in prayer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


John 3
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Pray for the light to shine brightly.

Pray for protection and peace in the light.

Hope is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.

It's all I can write today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

birthday, the boy way

Our NatureMan wanted to do his own little family birthday celebration this time around, for the Big Ole 9.

Happy Birthday, my Oldest Son!
He helped make, bake & decorate his own cupcakes....
Mmmmm....spray frosting!! ;)
Full of messy, gooey sugar and chocolate, just the way he planned it.
And thank you, Mom, for making angel food cake with strawberries for those of us who can't handle too much sugar!
Love having my folks right here in town, to celebrate all of the kids' birthdays with us.

Below, my dear Man makes sure that the little monkeys don't inadvertently eat the wrapping. They would, too.
Then it was Bubble Time on the porch. No one outgrows bubbles!

Have you seen the new bubble bottles, that have little plastic-y slits at the top, to make them "spill-resistant"? Very neat!! We should ONLY buy that kind from here on out.

Dash ended up wearing most of his bubble solution. Not surprising.

We just chilled (yeah, really, it was in the 80s--praise God-- a break from the record-breaking-heat!) and chatted on the porch while the craziness ensued.

Plus, check out another awesome picture that my Dad brought home from India.
Gotta love it!
NatureMan, you are my fabulous, mild-mannered, introspective, inquisitive first-born son.
What would I do without you?
I thank God for you, kid!!
I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all the sand on the beaches!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

India Unit Study

My Dad ("Poppy," as the kids call him) just returned from a business trip in India.
He brought us all kinds of souvenirs: t-shirts for the little boys, an Indian outfit for NatureMan, beautiful embroidered,embellished shirt for TheArtist, and a sari (also spelled "saree") for me. I haven't figured out how to put it on yet. You would not believe how much silk fabric is here!!

We've been looking at pictures, hearing the stories about the culture, cuisine, dress, and travel.

I've decided to spend a few evenings creating a unit study that we can go through. Started by checking these books out from the library. I'll go back in a few days for the others I'm interested in.
And I made this for myself with some zucchini that Papaw brought over from his garden. Yum.

And will follow this plan again, from Heart of Wisdom, to create the unit study:

Phase 1: Pray and seek God's wisdom and guidance.

Phase 2: Decide on a topic.

Phase 3: Decide on a schedule.
(I plan to study India for two weeks)

Phase 4: Create the list of lessons. (current culture, animals, food, government-- and a lot of mini lesssons within these)
Phase 5: Make a list of resources. (My Dad, internet, library books, a video I checked out, the clothes and other souveniers)
Phase 6: Create vocabulary lists. (I'll compile a list from our library books, and Wikepedia's info on India)

Phase 7: Create four steps for each lesson.
~~Step 1: Make it interesting!
(start with a field trip, video, interview...)
~~Step 2: Examine. Find out the facts. (internet, reference books, historical fiction and/or biographies...)
~~Step 3: Do something with what was learned. (make a book or a game, cook a dish, create a photo journal, design a costume, make a travel brochure, write a book review, or s song or news report...)
~~Step 4: Excel. Put it all together. (Add corrected work, map, illustrations to portfolio, use each word or term in a sentence, add to your vocab notebook any new words or terms used during the lesson, along with definitions...)

If you've already created or used a unit study on India, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The First Ten Days

We've been into our 2010/2011 homeschool year for over 2 weeks now!

The older kids started back up on Teaching Textbooks, Spectrum Writing, handwriting (handwriting with George for NatureMan,) and all of their regularly scheduled activities. Same as last year. :-)
I was worried about "officially" adding another one to the mix. So far, it's going smoothly. As far as school goes, that is. We did have a hard day today with some crazy brother-roughness between the two middles. Those boys are opposites and don't always play great together.
Soooooo, anyway...
My little people are enjoying My Father's World. For the first ten days of the curriculum you focus on creation and re-introducing #'s, letters, shapes and other basics. Working on Creation Pages...
so many skills: narration, drawing, cutting and gluing, designing.
Below, Dash's handwriting page. And here, you can see one of Little Lad's shape pages. We gathered things together that had the same shape (CD case, board book and so forth, for Squares.) We also made a number book,

...and added days to the calendar...

...straws to the Hundreds Jar (and rubber band them together whenever you have 10)... ...birds to the "bird jar." Yeah, I came up with that one...

I made Little Lad a station for Opening and Closing, with various containers:

Some have twist tops, others are flip, or push, or spouts. Helps to give the kid a few beans or something to pour, shake and rattle.

Other station areas at the table, next to us, to keep him occupied when we're working past his lesson time. It feels Right to have a 5th grader, 3rd grader, kindergartner,
and preschooler in our little School!