Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Story of Ketchup

As narrated by A, 4 years old:

Ketchup is tomatoes. They open the top of the tomato. They get the liquid out. They stir the liquid up and mix it, too. And then they put flour in and pour it into the ketchup bottle and then it's done. That's how ketchup goes.

Didn't you always wonder?
For more Tiny Talk, go visit Mary's place!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy 12th Birthday!

You were the wiggliest of all babies when you were in my tummy. You were the tallest newborn we had, measuring 21 long inches when you were born. Your precious hair was so fine and white, it was almost invisible. You were loaded with personality from the very beginning.
It warms my heart to see you growing into a compassionate, generous, curious young man.
So happy birthday to my Creative, Observant, Loving, Intelligent, and Noble son of my heart!
I love you!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008-2009 Curriculum Plan, part 1

For those who are interested, I'm going to post my curriculum plans in several stages, to make it easier on both the writer and the reader. If you are not interested in curriculum in the least, I won't be offended if you skip this post altogether!

I'm still ironing out much of this and expect a few things will change (other than math & science) through the year. Budget has been a big issue in planning this year, so I'm hoping to add some things second semester that I just couldn't afford right now.

First up, Big Brother, S (almost 14):

8th Grade

Bible - finishing Old Testament Survey from Logos School Materials

Catechism - memorizing Shorter Catechism

Spelling - Apples 2

Grammar - S is still finishing some random lessons we missed in A Beka's Grammar and Comp. I from 7th grade. He's doing this because 1. I want him to focus more on writing than grammar this semester; and 2. I'm still thinking about/saving $$ for grammar for him. I'm considering A Beka G & C II and also Mother Tongue.

Writing - Writing Strands, Write Source 2000, and Imitation in Writing Poetry Primer
These are resources we're using, but I'm really making it up as I go along. He's a reluctant writer and I'm focusing on improving his work ethic along with his writing skills. :)
I've just this week heard about a writing program from Peace Hill Press (thanks, Kate!) and I'm VERY interested in that. The middle grades book is not out until next year, but I may explore the Year Four exercises in the first book for some fine-tuning...we'll see.

Vocabulary - Vocabulary from Classical Roots

Literature - various, incl. Fellowship of the Ring, The Once and Future King by T.H.White (or another version of King Arthur), and Beowulf.

Math - Saxon Algebra I

History - Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation - Veritas Press History Cards, Story of the World vol. 2, Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and lots of library books; narrations; essays; outlines.

Government - Electoral Process - outside class based on a Konos unit. Great class discussions, research project on a President, and participation in national mock election

Science - Apologia Physical Science - * I purchased daily lesson plans for this from Rainbow Resource. We don't do science every single day, but the plans help know how much of each module to do per lesson.

Nature Study - various books, field guides, internet and lots and lots and lots of observation and journaling.

Latin & Logic - I own Prima Latina, but have never used it. Even though it's way below his level, I'm hoping to work through it with all 3 kids. Something is better than nothing! For Logic, I hope to use various things like the Ridgewood Analogies and Fallacy Detective until I can afford a formal logic text. (When I do, I'm seriously considering Introductory Logic.)

Art - Picture studies for Middle Ages artists; using books from library to fine-tuning drawing and sketching skills

Music - composer study; beginning piano with Mom; beginning group guitar class

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Random Thought #452: Our obsession with "More"

What is the deal with the modern American obsession with more? I give you, as evidence, the Milky Way bar. I'm not a big candy person. I'm not a big chocolate lover. But I do occasionally enjoy a good Milky Way. Today, however, I noticed that it wasn't as good as usual. Hard to eat, even. I looked at the package and knew instantly what the problem was:
"more caramel in every bite!"
Why more? The original had the perfect ratio of chocolate, nougat, and caramel. Now -- it's a sticky, overly sugared mess. (Don't even get me started on how hard it is to find a regular sized bar, rather than "king size!") Thanks a lot, Mars! Thanks for ruining a small island of happiness in a busy mother's day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What she said...

A childhood friend of mine has a blog about her homeschool. She recently posted her reasons for homeschooling and they summed up my own heart so well, I just had to link to the post. Go visit her here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


"When I grow up, I want to be a Barbarian!" - 4yo A. announced one day at dinner. We all laughed and told him he pretty much already is.

"Mom, I want to know all the things about electricity and wires. Can you tell me about wires?" - A showing his insatiable curiosity about the world around him

"oh, no! wah happen?" (tr. what happened?) a favorite exclamation of 2yo K, heard many times a day.

"No Dahdoo!" another phrase uttered many times a day by little K, screaming her brother's name in her own wild animal voice

"kugga kugga KYOO KYOO!" (tr. chugga chugga choo choo)- 2yo K, playing with the Thomas Trains.

"That sure is one pretty governor!" - not-quite-12 yo C, while watching Sarah Palin at the RNC.

"Yes, I am a fairy princess." 9yo M, adorned in gossamer wings and a cape, while playing with The Littles -with just enough pre-teen irony in her voice to be sure no one thought she was enjoying it too much.

"Mom, I sent you a piece of flair." almost-14 yo S, while on his page of a social networking site - further proof that I am, indeed, the parent of a teenager

That's what was overheard at the Next Thing house. Go visit Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Somebody stop me, I'm on a roll!

I promise this is not turning into a book blog! But I do love books and I want to post about things I love, so...

Bear with me as I share another book discovery. I've been taking the Littles to weekly preschool storytime at the library. Last week, the librarian read a funny book entitled Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I liked the simple illustrations that had an almost retro feel. I liked how author used speech balloons to convey the plucky pigeon's personality. It made an amusing read-aloud, since every page presented the children in the audience an opportunity to shout, "No!" (when the pigeon begs and pleads to drive.) I admit to laughing out loud during storytime and enjoying the book as much as the 4-year-olds!

I had seen the book at the bookstore (on date night, of course!) and noticed there were others in the series. But when I went to the library the other night (to pick up school books I had put on hold,) I couldn't for the life of me remember the author's last name. The library was closing, and I didn't have time to look it up, so I decided to research it at home for a later visit.

Here's what I found out:

-the author's name is Mo Willems and he has a fun website, too! guess that's what all good children's authors do these days
-yes, there are more Pigeon books - four, actually. The latest of which is The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
-in addition to the Pigeon books, Willems has authored several other children's titles
-Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was a 2004 Caldecott Honor Book
-Mo Willems was head writer for the first four seasons of the cartoon Codename: Kids Next Door--one of our family's all time favorite kids' shows! Cool!

I'm hoping at least one of the Pigeon books is on the shelf next time we visit. We always love a good laugh around here!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Because every rocketeer needs a jetpack...

...why not use a grocery bag? A (4) came up with this one all on his own.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another book surprise

Well, I just can't contain myself. I have to tell you about another serendipitous find at the local library. As I was browsing last week for "B" books, I saw Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Bat starts with B. We love libraries. Illustrations look cute. Let's check it out.

Turns out I picked another winner. Before we even had a chance to read it, My Sweetie and I spotted it on a display at a bookstore on our date night. I thought to myself, "hmmm...maybe it's actually a decent book."

When I finally sat down to read it to the kids we had a blast. The story is a funny one about some mischievous bats who discover an open window at the library and let themselves in. They make all kinds of silly fun, such as photocopying themselves and "swimming" in the water fountain. What captivated the Big 3, however, were the scenes of the little bats imagining themselves in all the stories they read. Mr. Lies puts a clever twist on many classic stories - like a literary inside joke. There is Alice talking to the Cheshire Bat; a familiar scene from McClosky's Make Way for Bat-lings, and many more. If you look carefully, you might even spot a Hobbit hole!

To top it all off, the paintings are done in chiaroscuro style (sharply contrasting light and dark,) which is a good tie-in to some Renaissance art we'll study later this year.

I tend to know more about older children's books - I own children's bibliographies like The Book Tree and Honey for a Child's Heart. It's harder for me sometimes to determine if a more recently published book is one we want to spend our time on. But with Bats at the Library, I think we found a keeper.

Apparently our batty friends have had a previous adventure in Bats at the Beach. We'll have to track that one down and check it out. You can discover both books for yourself at the author's website. Happy Reading!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A is for Awesome

I wasn't planning to compose anything today, simply to post the book reviews I wrote over the weekend. (scroll down or click here to find those) But I just had to tell ya'll about this book.

It's called simply Apples and it's written by Jacqueline Farmer. It was a random find at the library last week. For my little pre-K "program" with A (4) I am doing a "Letter of the Week" theme. We're on our 3rd official week of school, but we're still doing fun "A" things, because I keep finding fun things to study and do! (Plus it's the first letter of his name and therefore kind of a pet.)

Naturally this book caught my eye as it lay on the shelf, discarded by some previous library visitor. Apples not only start with "A," but are a fun topic for this time of year. I liked the cover art; I picked it up and thumbed through a couple of pages. Looks good - let's get it.

We finally got around to reading it today and I have to say it is a very good example of what Charlotte Mason would call a "living book." The illustrations are excellent and beautiful. It is written by one author who loves - or at least has thoroughly researched - her subject. It is very narrative in its writing style, making it a good read aloud for all ages. Best of all - it is very detailed in its information, but presents that information in a very accessible way for children.

The surest way to know a book has impacted its readers is the discussion that follows. All of us - from myself to an almost 14-year-old boy to the Littles - have been chatting about the amazing things we learned from one simple reading of this book. Here are some of our favorites (as narrated to Daddy at dinnertime):
-M (9) learned that apples were given as part of a marriage proposal in ancient Greece - if the girl caught the apple, the answer was "yes!"
-C (11) was impressed to learn that 50% of an apple's vitamin C is contained just under the skin. He was also proud to remind all of us that he eats the discarded peel when I make apples for the Little ones.
-S (13) took an interest in the propagation of apple trees by grafting - not seeds.
-A (4) kept telling Daddy that the farmer picks the good apples before they fall off the tree.
-Mommy learned several things, but perhaps the most interesting was that planting an apple orchard was required by law when homesteading.

The real joy of this book is that the facts listed above (plus a lot more) were not tedious to read about. We didn't even realize how much we were learning as we listened to the story of Apples. Among the lovely illustrations were a couple of diagrams that we plan to incorporate into our nature journals. All in all a very good read. I think M summed it up when she proclaimed, "I never knew you could learn so much from a picture book!"

Book Reviews in Six Words or Less

I've been doing a lot of reading, but not a lot of writing about what I'm reading. I keep putting it off and now it's overwhelming. So I decided to play a fun game and see if I can share my thoughts on each book in six words or less. Here goes:Mitford. Bliss. Saved best for last.


Everyone must read this book. Now.


Gut-wrenching story. Beautifully told. Bit graphic.


All truth is God's truth. Paideia.


Convicting. Enlightening. Biblical. Very useful book.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's just not going to happen...

Ok, so I promised weekly school reports. It's not going to happen. Disappointed? As The Man in Black said to Vizzini in the Princess Bride, "Get used to disappointment." (grin)

In all seriousness, the same issues that troubled me last year when I gave up the reports are still on my mind. Mainly that it's hard to find the time to write the reports. I enjoy blogging and that's not how I want to spend my blog time. I also have a hard time making them interesting to read - I'm just not that good a writer and I don't want to burden the poor readers.

That being the case, there were a couple of folks who said they actually enjoyed the reports. For you, I offer this: I will post an overall 2008-2009 curriculum plan (eventually) and provide a permalink in my sidebar. I will keep the fun stuff - nature walks, history, great book finds - updated in the sidebar as well. And yes, I will occasionally be so excited about something school-related that I write a post about it.

Thanks for understanding. ya'll are the best!

What can you do in 40 years?

- travel to Pluto and back

- if you're a rhinoceros, complete one life cycle

- watch 14,610 sunsets

- blink 168million times

- grow a white oak that is over 40 feet tall

- enjoy several "generations" of Star Trek

- almost build the Temple in Jerusalem

- if you're a glacier, grow by 13 miles

-- build a godly marriage!

Forty years ago today, two young kids got married and started a family. Those "kids" were my parents. They met on a blind date, fell in love, and were both still in college when they wed. Neither of them was a Christian then, but God, who is rich in mercy, drew them both to Himself in the course of time.

Now 40 years, 4 children, and 11 grandchildren later, they continue to build a legacy of faith that will be passed down for generations. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being faithful to each other, faithful to the Lord, and setting a good example for us.

Happy Anniversary, Mimi & Grandpa! We love you!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another Random Thought

Hmmm... now where is the Winde*x? Oh, I remember - in the fridge next to the milk!
(orange roughy disaster - trust me, you don't want to know!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sweet September

Things that made today sweet:

-some good finds at the library
-some awesome deals at Good*will: bike $8; boots $3; kids on bike and in boots-priceless
-finding three of these that call our garden home
-fresh air on a pretty day
-ending the day, thanks to a Star Wars cookbook found at the library, with yummy "Darth Malts."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Two Kids Enter! One Kid Leaves!

Random Thought of the Day:
Is it wrong to call my basement playroom "Thunderdome" and just close the door, hoping the screams die down on their own?

Monday, September 1, 2008

I am resigned

that there will always be a stack of books on my kitchen table. I've put adorable bamboo magazine files from Ikea on the counter, in the hopes that the books would drift and land there. But alas, my table looks more like a library than a place to serve a meal. Perhaps it is because I tend to read to the kiddos while they're eating breakfast and lunch. Perhaps it is because the kitchen is the heart of the home and books are dear to the hearts of its inhabitants. Whatever the case, we move the pile to a chair, or the piano - a temporary resting place during family meals - and they soon wander back to their adopted home.