Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where Has the Time Gone?

I don't know about you, but sometimes I tend to lose track of what day it is. Not so much whether it is Monday or Tuesday, but what day of the month it is. For instance, it just hit me that today is June 25th. The 25th! What in the world happened to June? It seems that the older I get, the faster time flies. But the real problem is that if today is June 25th, then I only have about six weeks of summer left. That may sound like a lot, but I know from experience that it will be gone in a blink of an eye. I'm sitting here with a "to-do before school" list staring me in the face and it does not have enough items crossed off. So, my current projects are: finish entering all of my lesson plans into Homeschool Tracker Plus (I cannot recommend this product highly enough!) and start putting together some activity boxes for Mr. Busy Toddler. Currently, his favorite thing to do during school or any read-aloud time is to grab his own book and read it at the same time, out loud. No, he's not a child prodigy who learned to read at the age of two. He's just making up a story to go with the pictures. But how to you explain to a two-year-old how to read in their head? It's very cute but very distracting, so I've decided to put together his own "school box" just like his brothers have that will contain special activities that will only be used during school time. I have found some wonderful ideas on Paula's Archive and Linda Coyle's page. I love the idea of having a small plastic pool for them to sit in and keep all of the water or rice or other messy activities contained. I may try to find one on clearance at the end of summer. I would love to hear how others have handled teaching with toddlers present. Please share your wisdom! I'm off to make activity bags!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's up

This weekend was a blur. Friday I suffered through a long, slow death garage sale. I think we had about six people come by all day. But, you see, God had different plans for all of our stuff. Under normal circumstances, we would just donate all of our unused items to Goodwill. This time, however, we had a ton of furniture that we brought up from my mother-in-law's apartment when she passed away. There was too much to take to Goodwill in one truckload, so we figured we'd try the garage sale route. That was obviously not happenin'. But just before it was time to shut it down, my best friend called. She had a friend of a friend whose house had just burned to the ground and wanted to know if I had anything that I could donate. Hallelujah! As usual, God was working to orchestrate everything to turn out perfectly for everyone involved.

Saturday was spent repairing the damage inside the house that occured while I was outside all day Friday. It pretty much looked like a tornado hit it. We had a bunch of other little projects that needed to be done around the house as well, so Saturday was a busy work day.

Ah, then the Lord's Day. What a relief to just relax and focus on worship. We just ordered some new books from Reformation Heritage that were delivered on Saturday, so Sunday afternoon was spent reading and napping before returning to church for evening worship. It doesn't get much better than that!

Now the weekend is over and it's time to get "back to business". I'm still waiting to hear from "the publisher" about an offer to do their lapbooks, but in the meantime I've started writing the next "habits training" lapbook. This one is going to be on obedience. Hopefully it will go together quickly so I can get it done before I've got to continue with the history books. Whew, the fun never ends!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Attitude of Gratitude is complete and ready for download! I think I got all of the errors corrected (thank you to all of my proof readers!), but I'm still human and may have missed something. Please let me know if you find anything that needs to be corrected.

You can find the lapbook here. I hope that it will be a blessing and I would love to hear how you have used it in your family.

Happy lapbooking!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's Finished!

My first "real" lapbook is finally finished and has been sent out for proofreading. I'm very excited and relieved that it is finally finished. This is the first lapbook that I have put together to share with others. It is called The Attitude of Gratitude and is the first in a series that I have planned to create to go along with our efforts in habits training. (If you are unfamiliar with the Charlotte Mason method and her teaching on habits training, there are some excellent articles by Catherine Levison on her website. Also, you can check out Sonya Shaffer's book, Laying Down the Rails. She has a sample to download here.) I have created other lapbooks for my children, but they have just been simple mini-books pieced together as we've studied a subject. This lapbook is an entire project pack with lesson plans and study suggestions and is more cohesive than anything that I have previously done. I can't wait for everyone to see it! I plan to have it available for download sometime next week.

Also, if you feel so moved, please be in prayer for Andrew and me as we are expecting an offer from "the publisher" to do the American History lapbook. This is all new to us and we really have no idea what to expect. I don't know if they will have a deadline in mind or how much control they will have over content, etc. We're just praying for wisdom and discernment, that we will clearly hear God's voice in the matter and that Andrew and I will be of one accord in our decision.

It has certainly been an exciting couple of months and I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weekend Warriors

I just have to brag a bit about all that Andrew and I accomplished on Saturday. We got up early and got outside to finish some projects around the house. Here's our list of accomplishments:

Finished installing edgers in front flower bed
Weeded under trees in front yard
Edged front lawn
Mowed lawn
Swept walkway
Stained back deck

I have to admit that I found myself mentally cursing the Georgia heat on more than one occasion. It was well over 80 degrees at 9:00 in the morning. However, I then reminded myself that it could be worse. I could be in Oregon where I would be inside huddled under a blanket trying to stay warm and dry. (Sorry guys). I'll take sweat running down my back any day!

It was hard, sweaty work but it was worth it all to be able to sit out on our porch, sipping our drinks and enjoying the fruit of our labor!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Humbled Again

Today was yet another humbling day of parenting. I think my children have taught me far more than I have taught them. Andrew was working at home this morning and we had a bit of a "disagreement". Neither one of us handled it in a very godly way and we ended up having to beg each other's forgiveness. During the course of the discussion I got very frustrated and started to yell and cry. (Gasp! Things are not always sweetness and light?! Most of the time, but not always.) The boys came in shortly afterward and gave me hugs and tried to make me feel better. I was so blessed and yet so convicted by that simple gesture. I thought of all the times that they have acted just as I was acting; frustrated, angry, crying, yelling, pouting, out of control. Do I come alongside and hug and comfort them? I wish I could say that was my normal response. More often than not it just sparks anger and frustration in my own heart and I sternly tell them to remove themselves from the room until they change their attitudes. Granted, they have just as much responsibility as I do to guard their hearts and to weed out any sinful attitudes and actions. I'm not suggesting that I should just pat them on their heads and send them on their way. But I should be much more sympathetic to their struggles and point them to the One that will settle their hearts and set them on the path to righteousness. So as I end my day, my prayer is that, by the grace of God, He will grow me into His likeness and help me share His grace and mercy with my children.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My First Librivox Recording

The boys and I have been dowloading and enjoying books from for a while now. It is a wonderful project and I highly recommend that you check it out. Their goal is to record every book that is in the public domain and offer them as free mp3 downloads. Their catalog is extensive and we have found many books to keep us entertained. I have wanted to help them record and today I uploaded my first reading. I have signed up to read two chapters in The Fairy Ring by Kate Douglas Wiggin. I just finished Chapter One-East O'the Sun and West O'the Moon last night and uploaded it this morning. If you want to listen, click here. As soon as the MC gets it, he'll put a "Listen" link in the Magic Window (halfway down the screen).

Recording is so much fun! If you like to read, you should consider volunteering to read a chapter or twenty. If you aren't comfortable having your voice broadcast all over the world, you can volunteer to be a proof listener. Each chapter has to be proof-listened before it can be posted as complete.

Go check out today!

Monday, June 2, 2008

School...To Go

I've put a couple of things together in the last few weeks that I am really excited about. The first is our "Homeschool to Go" bag. We occasionally have days where we are forced to be out and about for one reason or another. Those days have always tended to derail our learning. So I decided to get organized and prepare in advance for those days. Thus, the "Homeschool to Go" bag was born. I took a canvas bag that I had on hand and filled it with learning activities that could be done in the car, doctor's office, whatever. Here's what my bag contains:

  • Write on/wipe off math cards (1 addition, 1 multiplication, purchased at WalMart)
  • Kleen-slate Kwik-check paddle
  • Ziplock bag with baby wipes
  • Homemade game in a tin (explanation to follow in future post)
  • Game cards in a 3x5 card binder
  • CD's downloaded from (Some of our favorites: Wildlife in Woods & Fields, Burgess Bird Book, Just David, Our Island Story, Awakening of Europe, This Country of Ours)
  • Workbooks (Explode the Code, math, etc.)
  • Rush Hour Jr.

We've already had opportunities to use our new bag and it has been a hit with me and the boys. Not to mention the positive response we have received from the places we have visited, whose employees have commented on how nice it is to see children who will sit quietly and work or play a game together.

I carried the same concept over to our nature study days. We have been terribly inconsistent lately and I realized that it is simply due to lack of organization on my part. So I found an old backpack and filled it with everything we would need for an impromptu nature study. I was also inspired by Karen Andreola's chapter on picnics in A Charlotte Mason Companion, so I prepared a picnic basket that would be ready to go when we are. All it needs is some food and drink! Here's our list of items in our backpack:

  • Our field journals (see here for downloads and instructions to make your own)
  • Pocket field guides
  • Binoculars
  • Pencils (colored & regular) and sharpener
  • Plastic tweezers (for picking up bugs and other creepies)
  • Collection jar
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock
  • Band-aids & antiseptic wipes
  • Baby wipes for cleaning dirty hands

Our picnic basket contains:

  • Paper plates
  • Fabric napkins
  • Plastic utensils
  • Plastic tumblers
  • Blanket (or table cloth)

I usually put the plastic utensils in a napkin, roll it up and tie with a ribbon. After the picnic, I bring them home, wash them and retie them for the next outing. We tested out our new "system" last Friday with smashing success! I just put together a few turkey sandwiches, a quick Italian pasta salad and cut up pieces of banana snack cake that I had made the day before. Water and tea was poured into mason jars and we were ready to roll.

I feel such a sense of satisfaction and peace knowing that two of our biggest school challenges have been dealt with. I hope that these ideas can be a blessing to someone and afford that same sense of peace. I would love to hear how others have implemented this type of system and what you might put in your bag!