Monday, April 30, 2012

Record Keeping ... Blech!

I love to plan.

I don't like to keep records.

But, it's necessary in homeschooling. Thankfully in Oklahoma there are no laws regarding homeschooling other than on the number of days and/or hours you have to have "school" when providing an "alternative education".

But, I want to keep records. I like to have them "just in case". And, I always feel like we haven't done much until I look back and see exactly what we have done.

I keep records in three ways:

1. My Planner. I do a lesson plan page for each of the kids for each day we do "book school". It is a simple page that my husband created for me. It basically just has a place for the date and a slot for each subject so I can write down our plans for the day. It keeps us on track. It is simple but very effective. I even write the "scores" next to the assignments after I have graded them to make my gradebook-inputting more efficient.

2. My Gradebook. I don't take grades for Brynne. But since Dawson is in high school, and I will need/want to prepare a transcript one day in the future, I do assign scores for all of his work, even reading or watching a video. I input grades on a free gradebook site called Engrade. I am behind in inputting grades and need to get on it! We only have three weeks of school left.

3. My Blog. The greatest record-keeping tool I have is my blog, Journey to Excellence. I post on it at least a few times a week, and always do a Weekly Wrap-up on Fridays. If I ever want to remember what we did each week, I can go back and read my wrap-ups. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all we have accomplished. And, since field trips are usually blogged about, even those school days are recorded.

Between these three things, I have a full record of all we have done in a school year.

The TOS Cruisers are weighing in on the topic of record-keeping. I am excited to read about the others' techniques. Maybe I'll pick up some tips! The post goes live tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Connections

What a GLORIOUS WEEK! It wasn't because everybody's attitudes were perfect at every moment. It wasn't because we got everything done that we had planned.

It was because I saw some Connections being made. I felt like all we have worked toward this year came to fruition in this one week.

MANY times this week, Brynne would be reading one book and making connections from what she has read and learned in other books. She drew things out of picture books that she had learned in studying The Secret Garden and things she had learned in non-fiction books about plants. I smiled more times than I can count this week. YES!

On that note, there is SO MUCH READING going on in this house all the time! Brynne has read three shy of 100 BOOKS this year! Many days, she reads two to three books, both non-fiction and fiction, and a chapter of her current Puppy Place chapter book. She is connecting to the stories like I have always dreamed she would. She has also read at least three unassigned books just because she wanted to.

Even Dawson is doing more and more reading. He is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, as an assigned piece of literature. We read, together, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and finished it this week. He bought eight books at the library used book sale on Wednesday night, from the Halo and Star Wars series. He was also very excited to get the new Brian Selznick book, Wonderstruck. He has begun to connect with subject matters and authors and do his own personal reading. I have dreamed of this day!

Another huge moment this week was when I noticed how Dawson now spends the most of his time "learning" instead of being "taught". With the exception of our read-a-louds, a little bit of history and/or science, and some help with Driver's Ed (it is a Parent-taught course!), Dawson is doing all of his work independently. I provide him with his materials, and he uses those to learn what he is needing to learn. Sometimes he even branches out and does his own thing. This week he wrote his own math problem based on what he has been learning in Algebra.

A really fun thing that we found this week, thanks to my comrade from The Usual Mayhem, is Sparklebox! I now have it on my Bookmarks Bar because there are just so many things on there to be used! One such really cool thing is the Playdough Mats.There are so many themes to choose from. Brynne loved them! I love connecting to new tools. This was my Favorite Resource this week! (I can't wait to dig into the Olympics materials for our first unit study of the next school year.)

1. On Monday we did a little mini-unit on The Great Kapok Tree by Cooperative Learning 365 to learn about the Kapok tree in the rainforest. Brynne learned about the different levels of the rainforest and what animals live there. Then she used one of the free printables and did an animal sort.

2. To finish up our Earth Day activities, Brynne graded our green activities in our home with an Earth Day Report Card. What we found was that we have improved in 10 areas over the past year and we have about 10 areas where we could improve more. Brynne vowed to work on shutting off her bedroom light when she is not in her room.

3. Here are the fun plant unit playdough mats I printed from Sparklebox. Loads of fun and so many units to choose from! We will be using these VERY VERY often. In fact, I need to buy more fresh playdough just for this reason.

4. More dissections! This week Dawson dissected a female frog (thousands of eggs to dig through) and a perch. With the perch, I really just gave Dawson the diagram and let him explore. Several times I heard him say, "Cool" or "That's interesting." He wasn't talking to me. He was just thinking out loud.

5. Trees! We counted the rings on this tree stump in our yard and determined that this tree would have been "born" about the same time Brynne's Great Grandma Alice was. We learned about stems and leaves this week, and Brynne made a paper plate tree trunk parts diagram with a paper plate. I got this from Sue's Free Plant Unit Study from Funtastic Unit Studies. Stay tuned because Sue contacted me to see if I would like to review the ENTIRE BOOK this unit came from. Of course I gladly accepted because this unit has been incredible! I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us!

Now we are taking off for a few days. My brother is visiting from Portland, Oregon, so me and the kids are heading to Missouri to stay with my parents for a few days and to visit with him. My sister's baby shower is also this Saturday. So we will be celebrating the upcoming birth of my sweet niece, and there will be lots of family to see, as well. Lastly, but certainly not leastly, we will get to spend some much-needed time with my Kyndal. I have been missing her.

Linking up this week with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Susan at Learning ALL the Time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HSV Garden Challenge #2 ~ Not Much Progress

I don't know what it is with me this year, but I haven't attacked my garden with gusto like I usually do! I have done it in bits and pieces, but it's not all complete like I would like. I am planning on having everything in the ground by Mother's Day. Hope that's not too late.

Here's what's going on so far ...

To read the rest of this post, click here and head over to Taulman Times. I am posting my Garden Challenges there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I is for "Ice Age 4: The Continental Drift"

 This weeks letter at Blogging Through the Alphabet is "I". In a timely fashion, I is for "Ice Age".

Ice Age is one of our favorite family movies. When we went on a Yellowstone trip a few years ago (60 hours in the car, for 9 days, through 7 states, with 4 kids, thank you very much), I think we watched that movie at least 20 times. It's one of our favorite quotable movies.

On July 13th, our family will be front and center, with our large box of popcorn and contraband candy, watching Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. And because there is no way to turn off my teacher brain (yes, I have tried), I thought I would do a unit study the week before the movie to prepare us for it. That way, when the characters are throwing around terms like "continental drift", "plate tectonics", and "Pangaea", my kids will have some background information, instead of just watching the movie to see what kind of trouble Sid the Sloth is in this time.

(If you are wondering how I feel about teaching on the topic of creationism vs. evolution, because the Ice Age movies do address evolution, I will weigh in on that topic at the end of this post. If you don't really care, and want to see what I have come up with for our unit study, read on! Honestly, I hope you don't care.)

The first thing I always do when I am planning a unit study is to do a library search on appropriate topics and themes. I did a search of "continental drift", "plate tectonics", and "Pangaea", and came up with the following books and videos to use. Although I like non-fiction books, I like Living Books, fictional picture books, even more.

The Island that Moved, written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Lucia DeLeiris
Take one small island. Beautiful. Remote. Explorable. Then follow it on a journey through millions of years. Where did the island come from? Where is it heading? And what does it tell us about Earth's history? Award-winning science writer Meredith Hooper joins illustrator Lucia deLeiris as they use the story of a single island to introduce the fascinating science of plate tectonics&150the shifting plates that form Earth's surface. It's the story of how the forces that formed the island, of the plants and animals that inhabited the island through time, and of how the island travelled through the ages to its current position by the Antarctic peninsula. With a compelling text and striking illustrations, The Island that Moved provides an intriguing introduction to an amazing science.

What Came First?, written and illustrated by Sandro Natalini
"What came first? The chicken? The egg? Lots of stories begin with 'once upon a time' and so does this one; close to fourteen billion years ago, according to scientists. . ." When was the Earth created and how? And the most pressing question of all -- how did humans come to be?What Came First'is a funny but scientifically sound introduction to evolution. Learn about the Big Bang, where it all started, and read vivid descriptions of a melting pot full of microscopic organisms -- the very beginnings of life -- to the first oceanic life forms and, with the formation of the continents, the first land mammals, all the way through to the evolution of the plant, animal, and human life that surrounds us today. Natalini expertly guides young readers to examine the science behind the creation of life, all the while nudging them forward to find the answers that lie behind existence. Complemented by an assortment of rich and colorful illustrations as well as detailed timelines and charts,What Came First? is a welcome resource for the child who is seeking his or her own explanations the origins or our world.

See what was on Earth for those billions of years that we weren't here. Narrated by Martin Sheen.

I have reviewed the book Geology Crafts for Kids, and found some great crafts and activities we can use.

What better way to understand how something works than to see it and do it, by watching an animation and doing a puzzle.

Field trips are the absolute most interesting and fun way to nail down a topic. I have contacted the Tulsa Geoscience Center to see if they would be interested in preparing  a fact-specific presentation on the topics addressed in the movie. Even if they won't do that (and it doesn't hurt to ask, by the way), we will still make a trip there. Everyday of the week, the public is invited to go through many different Activity rooms. There is a room that covers seismic acticity and plate tectonics. We have been there before, and it's definitely worth a specific fact-seeking trip again.

Over the years, our dinosaur toy stash has dwindled. So, I think I will buy us a new bucket of dinosaurs for a little play acting. Maybe something along these lines.

And, since we have all of these dinosaurs now, we might as well do a unit on dinosaurs, too!

Now on to the heavy topic: Creationism vs. Evolution. Should this be taught to our children? I won't begin to address your children. I will only address how I feel about teaching mine. You can agree or disagree. It doesn't really matter to me. I won't judge you, so don't judge me.

This topic is is a heated one whereby Creationists and Evolutionists alike think they have all the answers. But, they don't. Our family believes in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We are a Christian Family. But we also know that science is real. We also know that our children will be confronted with scientific theories, and they should be informed. There is scientific proof that dinosaurs exist. I don't know how it happened in the scheme of Creationist beliefs. Creationists believe that the earth can't be more than 6,000 years old; Evolutionists throw around terms like millions and billions of years ago. We like to believe that we know how God thinks: that his day was 24 hours. There is no question that God is the creator of all. But how long did his seven days to create the Earth really take? If you know this answer, you are God. We don't know exactly how things happened, and we need to quit pretending that we do. God designed it that way.

This year Dawson and I used an evolution-based Biology book as our spine. God was not mentioned, except by us. Every time we got to a place in the book where it said, "and we don't know why this happens ...", Dawson and I would look at each other and say, "God happened."

I want my children to be informed, not confused. I also don't want them to assume that they have all the answers to life's questions. At times they just need to have faith in God and His creation and plan.

** To counter-balance the evolutionist side, I have also reviewed and planned to check out some great creationist picture books for us to read. We will read God Made it for You! by Charles Lehmann, One Day in Paradise by Helme Heine, and The Seven Days of Creation by Leonard Everett Fisher.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Study America Saturday .. to be continued until next Saturday

I just spent so much time enjoying my weekend that I couldn't bring myself to stop and post the next installment of the America: Story of Us lesson plans. So, I will resume next Saturday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! I still have a few hours left of mine.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Parts

Well after a pretty quiet and sickly kind of week last week, we hit it hard this week!

Brynne started the next phase of her The Secret Garden unit by studying plants. We did an overview of the parts of a plant, learned more deeply about seeds and roots, and then ended our week with a study of The Lorax in honor of Earth Day.

The basis to our study is "Sue's Free Plant Unit Study" (under Science Freebies) by Funtastic Unit Studies. It is a free download and is excellent for Brynne's age group (probably age 5-9 or so). It was definitely my Favorite Resource this week.

To learn the general parts of a plant, we relied on the book Parts of Plants by Wiley Blevins. It is simple, has great illustrations, and was something that Brynne could read in one short setting.

Brynne made a flower with all it's parts using tissue paper for the flowers and seeds, a brown pipe cleaner for the stem, green construction paper for the leaves, and tan yarn for the roots.

Then we dissected one of our Easter Lilies to see all of the parts up close.

We are using a really great series of books by Kristin Sterling for our plant study. Her "Exploring" series, again, is perfect for Brynne.

To learn about seeds, we read Exploring Seeds by Kristin Sterling. Then we filled a ziplock bag with lima beans and added as much water to it as we could to still get it zipped. We left it outside overnight. When we checked it the next morning, the seeds had absorbed as much of the water as they could and had swelled so much that they busted the bag. Then we took one of the absorbed seeds and dissected it to see it's parts.

We talked about different foods that are seeds, and then used peanuts and water to make homemade peanut butter.

And, of course, we talked about dispersement. The great book we read was Flip, Float, Fly: seeds on the move by JoAnn Early Macken. Brynne was quite surprised that seeds can be dispersed by animals who eat them and then *ahem* poop them out in another place.

For roots, we started with the book Exploring Roots by Kristin Sterling. We went outside and saw how some roots can actually grow above the ground, and then pulled out some weeds from the ground to inspect their roots.

We planted one of our lima beans from the previous day in a clear glass, close to the side, so that we can see the roots grow.

We talked about foods that are roots. We read the GREAT book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens and then planted our potatoes and carrots in our garden.

We just couldn't stand not being outside on Wednesday. So, we did some jump rope activities. First, I read some poems from A Brighter Garden, poems by Emily Dickenson. Brynne jumped to the rhythm of the poems.

Then I used her math worksheet to call out math problems to her. She worked them out in her head and then jumped the answer.

On Thursday and today we stopped to do our The Lorax study in honor of Earth Day. You can read about our activities by going here.

Of course Brynne also continued to work on grammar, handwriting, math, and reading.

Dawson learned about the parts of things, as well, this week. However, his were of the animal variety. He started his Biology unit on dissection.

He dissected a worm and a crawfish (that he named Zoidberg). We used a really great site called Massengale's Biology Junction for our dissections. It takes you through it step-by-step, with great descriptions. It contains both printed diagrams and photographs of what should be seen during the dissection. Then it has a worksheet that can be printed for reinforcement. This happens to be a second Favorite Resource this week.

Other than science, Dawson continued to work on the Roaring 20's by reading more of The Great Gatsby, doing some notebooking pages for Henry Ford and a photo analysis of the Model T. He also did a Roaring 20's timeline project.

A lot of his time right now is being spent doing the reading and written portion of his Driver's Ed course. Doing a chapter a day of that takes quite a bit of time. He should be ready to take his written test for his permit in a week or so.

He is also working hard to complete his algebra, grammar, and critical thinking workbooks, as well as continuing to ready Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

And THAT was our very busy week!

Go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to check in with your other favorite homeschool families.

The Lorax Lesson Plan

I mentioned last week that I came across a great FREE Earth Day inspired lesson plan based on Dr. Suess' book The Lorax. Yesterday Brynne and I did some of the activities in the download.

We started our morning by making a marble Earth. We cut out a circle and taped it into a shoe box lid (to keep it stationary). We added a glop of blue paint and a glop of green paint and four marbles. She rolled them and shook them to make the Earth.

Then we read The Lorax by Dr. Suess. When we were done, we answered the Discussion Questions posed in the download and wrote adjectives to describe the Lorax.

I took a picture of Brynne and attached a Lorax mustache to her printed picture. Then she completed the sentence: "If I had the last Truffula seed I would ... plant it then it would drop other seeds and the seeds will grow into other truffula trees."

We attached those items to her Earth to make a cute story sheet!

Don't mind the dark orange on the mustache in the picture. I accidentally threw it away and yogurt got on it. I was too lazy to trace and cut out another one.

While Brynne had her lunch, she watched the Deluxe Edition of Dr. Suess' The Lorax, which was really good. The added songs made the story even more appealing! Then we watched a Special Feature on the dvd called "The Lorax: The Trees! The Trees! The Voice of the Trees!". It covered all that we have learned so far in our plant study about seeds and roots, and then went on to talk about leaves and the importance of trees. We will be studying those at length starting on Tuesday.

That got me thinking about the Arbor Day Foundation and how they used to provide each student with a baby tree on May 1st when I was in elementary school. By the time my parents sold that house, when I was in my 30's, the trees were HUGE! Brynne and I talked about the Arbor Day Foundation and how SHE could plant 10 tiny trees that would change the world. So today we paid our $10.00 membership fee and our 10 Wild Bird Trees should be here in a week or so. (For our region, they are only taking orders through 4/23. So, order quickly if you want any!) I just felt like this was a great way to help her work out the theme of the story. SHE is that one person who can make a difference. We all are.

Today after Co-op we are going to see the new The Lorax movie at the theatre. This was a GREAT one-day lesson that will last a lifetime!

And there is still time for you to get in on the fun. Earth Day is Sunday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Amazing Science! Vol. 1 - TOS Review


When we received the Amazing Science! Volume 1 dvd, I was very excited! I have some budding scientists in my home, and I knew they would love them. I also knew that I would love having some guidance in this area that is not my passion. Little did I know how great the dvd series would be!

Volume 1 contains two dvds. The first experiment we chose was Experiment 13 - Floating Eggs. I just wanted to get a feel for the dvds and to gauge my children's response to watching the videos.

My first observation was that the video was short, concise, informative, clear, and had a "wow" factor!

The experiment is introduced and a materials list is provided. The materials were simple and were items we already had at home. Then Jason Gibson (the scientist behind the series) proceeded to conduct the experiment. It was easy to follow and fun to watch. And something happened that doesn't normally happen here: The experiment actually worked! (That is usually a major problem with our experiments at home.) Both of the kids were very vocally excited about what happened in the experiment.

Then Mr. Gibson proceeded to give a scientific explanation as to what happened in the experiment. This was where I had a negative observation. To me, he seemed a little dry and technical in his explanations. I felt like he was losing the kids pretty quickly. I remember thinking, "This might be better if he had some drawings, or graphics, or animation to go along with the explanation." At least it would have been for my kids who are ages 6 and 8.

All-in-all, however, both kids said they really liked watching it.

A week later we decided to approach the series a bit differently. I watched Experiment 16 - Balloon in a Candle Flame before I gathered the kids together. I saw precisely how the experiment worked (it was SO easy to follow), gathered my materials (that were ALL things I had on hand at home), and brought the kiddos in. I conducted the experiment for them before they watched the video.

I told the kids that I was going to hold the blown-up balloon over the candle, and had them hypothesize what would happen. They were wrong. When the first balloon exploded (like it was supposed to do), my kids squealed with excitement! They were thrilled! They saw that the air from the balloon exploding had actually blown out the candle. Then we filled the second balloon with a few teaspoons of water and conducted the experiment a second time. Again, they hypothesized (and, again, they were wrong). This time they anxiously waited for the balloon to explode, but it didn't. Then I even put the balloon down over the top of the candle, extinguishing the flame, without exploding the balloon. They were astonished! (And I was astonished because the experiment actually worked just like Mr. Gibson said it would!)

After we finished our experiment, I put on the dvd and they watched the experiment conducted by Mr. Gibson. It was great to hear them talking about what was coming next.

But then it happened. The scientific explanation began. At first they were intensely listening. And then I noticed them both looking away. He had pretty much lost their interest.

When the video was over, I summarized what they had just learned. And, they even understood the basic scientific principle they had been taught (in this case, heat conduction).

I asked them if they liked the videos. They responded with a resounding, "Yes!" One said, "It was so cool when the balloon exploded and blew out the candle!"

Then I asked if there was anything about it that they didn't like. They said the part where he talked was "kind of boring." Brynne confirmed what I had thought while watching the first video. She said, "I wish he would show us some pictures or something or show videos of it."

It's possible that they are just too young for his explanations. Or they might just be more visual learners. But, maybe it would have had more of a FUN factor with some animation or something to go along with it.

The only other negative I had was that I wish the dvd would have come with a booklet with a WRITTEN list of the experiments and the materials needed. That way, it would have been a little easier to decide which one we could do, without having to watch the video first.

Will we use this dvd series again? ABSOLUTELY! In fact, I plan for us to use every single experiment in the next year or so. My husband will also enjoy doing these with the kids.

Some other experiments that immediately caught my eye were: Color Changing Milk, Build a Lemon Battery, Unburnable Money, Matchstick Speedboat, Reversing an Image with Water, Keeping Paper Dry Under Water, and Simple Lava Lamp.


If you would like to purchase this series, it is offered at for the price of $19.95. There is also a downloadable version for $17.95. It is something you will be very glad to have in your library of resources.

You can go see what the other Crew Reviewers thought about the dvd series by going here.

{Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Phone Call of Encouragement

My husband called me today in the middle of the day. He said he had been listening to a radio program and the guy was talking about the creativity of children. He said that 95% of second graders, when asked, say that they are creative. By 5th grade, only 50% say that they are creative. And by high school, only 2% of students say they are creative.

He told me that he believes that bringing Eli home to homeschool will be one of those things we look back and see how it completely changed his life for the better. The same holds true for Brynne, and even Dawson who is already in high school.

He told me that if and when I ever feel discouraged from others about our decision to homeschool, that he wants me to remember how important our homeschooling decision is and our desire to allow our children to be creative.

What a great moment of encouragement!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

It's that time of year to get all fancied up and climb into your limo to head over to the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5MinutesforMom.

I am Nicole, Lead Teacher at Pursuit Academy (we have a new name!) I blog here at Journey to Excellence about the schooling experiences of my children: Dawson, age 15 in the 9th grade (homeschool), Eli, age 8 in the 2nd grade (public school), and Brynne, age 6 in the 2nd grade (homeschool). I also have a 17 year old daughter, Kyndal, who lives in another state with her dad. She is a junior in high school. My husband, Rick, is an engineer and supports our schooling endeavors. Starting next year, he will be taking on a more active role by leading our children in Science Saturdays.

Our homeschooling journey started two years ago when Dawson, a then 7th grader, begged to come home. God had already been speaking to me about this, so we jumped right in the next year. Eli and Brynne were in public school ... Eli in 1st grade, Brynne starting kindergarten. After about four weeks, Brynne started having problems in school (they were the problem, not her). So, we brought her home and started schooling her as a 1st grader. Eli remained in public school for 1st grade and this year, 2nd grade, to continue to receive the speech therapy, occupational therapy, and extra help with his reading resource teacher. He had progressed so much, however, that we have decided that he will be homeschooling with us starting next year. Yayyyyy!!!!

What goes on here at Pursuit Academy? What will you find on Journey to Excellence?

* Every week I summarize our week on Friday, telling specifically what we have studied that week.

* I love unit studies, particularly ones based on literature, or a local event occurring, or an upcoming movie or play, so I post lots of my unit study lesson plan ideas. Some of our favorites have been:

Ice Age 4 (coming up .. don't miss it!)

* Just this year I was chosen to be part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew! I will have my first review this week!!!

* I also chime in on the TOS Blog Cruising topics weekly (usually).

* Some other weekly linkys I participate in are Collage Friday, Favorite Resource this Week, and Blogging Through the Alphabet.

I also sometimes get opinionated about how I feel about home education versus public school, and society as a whole.

What started out as homeschooling out of necessity has become something that my husband and I are passionate about! We believe in it as a theory, and truly believe that if you have the means and family lifestyle to do it, that YOU SHOULD! I do not judge you if you choose public or private school. But, I feel bad for you that you are missing out on some AMAZING opportunities with your kids. I love my kids and actually ENJOY this Journey we are on. I only wish I would have homeschooled right from the start with all my kids.

Who am I? I am a Homebody Extraordinaire! I love my home. I love the people and animals in my home. I love my back porch. I love the birds that call my home "home". I love coffee. I love my pj's and robe. I love slippers. I love my bed. I love to watch t.v. I love to read. Planning school days makes me giddy. I love to experience learning in EVERY opportunity we have. I recycle, try to garden, try to feed my family healthy meals. I do everything in moderation with healthy balance. Because of all this, I shut down by early evening every night. I don't particularly like to go out and socialize, unless it's just my husband and I having dinner together. I prefer a grocery store date with him to just about anything. Although, I love and CHERISH the vacations we take together. I love to spend time with my mom and sister, and my parents' house in Pensacola is my retreat of choice. I love that my husband plays golf and loves it. He is brilliant at what he does for a living, and I am immensely proud of the man he is in his industry. He is full of integrity, takes excellent care of our family, and just wants to be with me as much as possible. I don't deserve him and often taken him for granted, I am afraid. We just want to live simply, and to be happy as a family.

And this is us. I also blog at Taulman Times where I get even more opinionated! It's my place to be completely narcissistic. You can stop by there if you'd like.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will visit often. I look forward to getting to know many more at the Blog Party.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Time to Visit and Get Inspired

The TOS Blog Cruise topic this week is "Who Inspires You?"

As I relate this to homeschooling, I realize that other blogging homeschoolers inspire me most. I could spend hours (and sometimes do) reading what other homeschoolers are doing with their children. I gain so many ideas that I couldn't possibly do them all! It so happens that a few of them are participating in a 10 Days series hosted by iHomeschool Network, starting today. When a post comes up from one of these ladies, I always read it because it is sure to contain something useful or inspirational.

Take some time to see what these amazing homeschool moms have to say on a wide range of topics:

Mary at Homegrown Learners
Jamie at See Jamie Blog
Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Jimmie at Jimmie's Collage

Have a wonderful day being a home educator!! And go to the Blog Cruise on Tuesday to see what inspires other Cruisers!

Earth Day is Coming!

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd. Do you have any lessons prepared to celebrate this very important day?

If you don't, you need look no further than TEACHERS Pay TEACHERS (TpT), an open marketplace for educators.

Each week I receive an e-mail notifying me of 10 Free Downloads. This week, there are some great Earth Day downloads! Brynne and I will be incorporating:

The Great Kapok Tree ~ Celebrating Earth Day by Cooperative Learning 365
Earth Day Report Card by Runde's Room
Lorax Earth Day Craftivity by Mel D

On Friday afternoon, after we get home from Co-op, we are going to watch the movie, The Lorax.

We will also be going to the zoo on Saturday because our local zoo is having an Earth Day celebration.

If you want to do different activities, TpT has 789 Earth Day Materials you can choose from. Some are free, some are at a minimal cost.

I encourage you to stop by the site, look it over, download some great materials and SIGN UP FOR THE WEEKLY E-MAILS! Scroll to the bottom of this link to sign up. I get some great free lesson plans from this weekly e-mail.

Celebrate Earth Day with your students! It's a great thing to do!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

H is for "Humdrum Days"

At Ben and Me's Blogging Through the Alphabet, this week's letter is "H". The only word that kept popping up in my mind was "Humdrum".

You have those days, right? Or those weeks?

We had one of those weeks this past week. Dawson had oral surgery on Monday, Eli was home Tuesday with a cold, I was feeling bad because I am, well, a woman and it happens to us (if you know what I mean), and it's been rainy and dreary.

Hum. Drum.

What do you do when you have a humdrum day?

We spent the week pretty much doing the basics and resting. But on Thursday, we had a movie day. We bundled up on the couch with blankets, hot green tea, and the dogs. We watched "The Secret Garden", because Brynne is finishing up our unit study on the book.

Then we watched "Journey to the Center of the Earth" because Dawson is reading the book with the same title by Jules Verne.

The other thing we concentrated on was reading. Brynne finished her second chapter book in the Puppy Place series, and I read more of The Great Gatsby to Dawson.

Most importantly, when we are having humdrum days, we just accept that they happen and remember to be GRATEFUL that we have the freedom to lesson our load.

How do you handle the Humdrums??