Saturday, November 30, 2013


Today I sat and watched my baby girl play "hair salon".

No, wait, that was real.

Today my baby girl stood at her station in her salon at school and highlighted my hair, then cut her little sister's hair, and then cut her stepdad's hair. It was so surreal to see her being a big girl, a grown woman, pursuing her dream of being a hair stylist. And she did GOOD! My hair was done perfectly and professionally. We all walked out of the salon happy with what she had done for us. Kyndal is going to be so successful in her chosen career. And I am VERY proud of her!

And on a couple of completely unrelated notes, I am so saddened by the death of Paul Walker. The Fast and Furious movies are some of my absolute favorites and it just won't be the same without him. RIP Paul.

And, way to go Mizzou! Our Missouri Tigers are going to the SEC championship game against Auburn! And what a turn of events in the Alabama vs. Auburn game. Wow! What a crazy day of football!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Thanksgiving

I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving day with your families! We had a perfect day! The kids popped up at 7:50 a.m. because Thanksgiving is one of their favorite holidays. I, however, needed some more sleep. So they played in their room until I got up at 9:00 a.m.

While Rick and the kids watched the DVR'd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I made some biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Then I got to cooking our Thanksgiving dinner. I have to say, each year I improve on our meal. This year's meal was delish!

Of course we had turkey. I use Uncle Bill's recipe for roasted turkey and it turns out perfectly! (My dad's name is Bill, but it's not his recipe, and Uncle Bill is not my uncle.)

My dad had the honor of cutting the turkey this year. Usually it's just Rick, myself, and the little two kids on Thanksgiving. But this year the older kids came and my parents.

Along with turkey we had crockpot stuffing (thank you, Lora, it is the best stuffing EVER!), mashed potatoes with homemade giblet gravy, green bean casserole, homemade noodles by my dad, corn, rolls, and our new favorite …. stuffed mushrooms! (Those mushrooms were to die for!) For dessert we had pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake.

After posing for some pics, Rick and the kids settled in to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and The Nightmare Before Christmas. My mom and I cleaned up the kitchen and then went to Walmart for Black Friday shopping. Yes, I am one that enjoys snagging a good deal. We didn't have any big ticket items to get, in fact my mom didn't even have anything to buy. But, I happen to think it's fun. I got some great deals on things I had on my list, saving $60 in just two items that I was going to buy anyway, and now, going into December, I only have a couple of items left to buy.

I got home at about 1:00 a.m., ate some cheesecake, and hit the sack. Today we are taking it very easy and are going to get out and decorate the outside of our house for Christmas in a bit.

We had a photo bomber .. do you see her?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Feeling Bored and What I Plan to Do About it

Homeschooling has become boring. It's not because the actual act of teaching my children bores me, it's because we have slipped into a schedule of feeling rushed so we only do the absolute basics. Then I unleash them to spend the rest of their time on their Minecraft class (which I love) because it frees me up to get other things done. This is not how I want our homeschool environment to be. If I am not excited about homeschooling then the kids are certainly not going to be. We need to make some changes and I have been thinking of a plan to implement.


I have said on many occasions how much we love doing literature studies! I love planning them, reading the books, doing related and fun activities. We have not done one literature study this entire year.

I have had the book Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling on my bookshelf for over a year with plans to do it as a study, but something always seems to push it away. Ohio University through the Ohio Sea Grant has a great companion guide (very lengthy) to go along with the book so I don't really even have to do any of the hard planning except to put together supplies. We need to do this study. It's time. And we are starting on Monday.


The Minecraft classes have seemed to take over our time for our Road Trip USA studies. And we really enjoy learning about the United States! So although Minecraft will still be an important part of our day, we will get back to learning about two states per week. Since Paddle to the Sea happens around the Great Lakes, we will be skipping ahead a couple of units to cover the Midwest. I would like to keep us in the same region for some scaffolding learning.


Science is one area where we are lacking, and always have. Why? Because it's not in my wheelhouse. But the kids love science! I am going to actively look for a good science program that will provide fun activities for us to do once a week, probably on Mondays. (Mondays will be the day that I need to get grading done for my class I will be teaching, and we eat lunch at my mom's, so our Monday schedule will be changing to be a day of the 3Rs and our extras.) I am thinking of relying heavily on Science notebooking . Again, scaffolding learning. And I am leaning toward using Moving Beyond the Page unit studies. We did Life Cycles this past summer and they have great studies!! I am thinking of doing The Water Cycle to start.


It's not so much changing our schedule as getting back to one that we know works! Ever since I injured my knee this summer, I have not gotten up to exercise in the morning. That leaves me vulnerable to sleeping in just a little later which then gets us behind for the day before we even start.

We have seemed to start school later and later and later every day and then are just rushed to get everything done. So we don't spend time soaking in what we are learning. Instead we are just doing work to get it checked off our list.

We are off this week for Thanksgiving break, and desperately need the break. So starting next Monday, we will be getting back to a better schedule.

What the Schedule will look like

Starting my morning with my devotional and accountability with my friend Jodi is so important to me! I will start getting up at 5:30 a.m. to make sure this gets done first thing.

From 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., I will be devoting my time to "office hours" for my class I will be teaching. I have to do this before the kids wake up or I won't be able to find uninterrupted time.

At 7:30 a.m., I am off to exercise. It may just be at home, in the living room, back to doing my Gilad workouts. On nicer mornings I will get out and walk or run or ride my bike. Kyndal has an exercise dvd she wants for Christmas, so maybe I will be able to convince her to get up and exercise with me!

Once this is done, I will grab a cup of coffee and get in some computer time. Gotta check those e-mails and blog posts!

At 8:30 a.m. I will get the little kids up, get Kyndal's breakfast and lunch made, and then jump in the shower and get ready for the day.

We will start school promptly at 9:30 a.m., not 9:45 or 10:15 or even, gads, 11:00 a.m.! No, we will start at 9:30 a.m. I will put my computer away in another room while we are working. We will do schoolwork until noon, going back to drawing our sticks to determine which subject is next.

We will break for lunch at noon each day for one hour.

We will resume schoolwork at 1:00 p.m. on the dot and work until 3:30 p.m. (or after, depending on how much work we have left to do).

We know this schedule works for us, so we just need to get back to doing it!


With these changes I think we can get our mojo back. We have always loved homeschooling! I don't want to get in a rut and see that end. I am already feeling more inspired just putting it all down on "paper".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 26

I was in the worst mood today! You wanna know why? My house has been disorderly for far too long. With my class, and homeschooling the kiddos all day, and then Kyndal being sick, my house has been desperately neglected. There were just those little piles everywhere, you know? I spent the better part of today taking care of some of those piles. Just cleaning out the clutter in the basket on my microwave provided me with a sense of peace! I know I don't like disorder. But I sometimes don't realize how much. I feel much more calm this evening as I go to bed. I still have some things I want to accomplish tomorrow, but I am over the hump and very thankful for it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 25

As of midnight, my faculty orientation course will be completed. I submitted my final project yesterday, which was a big Group project worth lots of points. Now all I have to do is wait for my final grade. Going into this week I had a 97%, only missing points on the very first assignment because of some APA formatting issues. The class has been a challenge, both physically and spiritually, and things got sticky when Kyndal got sick. But, I persevered and finished strong. I am so thankful it is over, however, so I can concentrate on getting my neglected house back in order and enjoying the Thanksgiving break.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 24

Boy, Dawson was such a turkey as a young boy. I never dreamed he would become the young man he is today. There are so many things I love about him … his devotion to his job as a dietary aide at our local nursing home, how responsible he is about school and his job, how great he is with his younger brother and sister. With Rick working in Oklahoma during the week, I can always count on Dawson to step up and help me out.

With Kyndal being sick this week, all I had to do was say the word and Dawson was right there to help take care of Eli and Brynne, making sure they were fed, taking Brynne to and from basketball practice, making sure they got to bed at night. They rely on him so much, and so do I.

I think it really shook him up to see Kyndal so sick. And then he just wanted to do anything for her that he could. He went out in the freezing cold to get her some Gatorade. Then he came home and helped Eli and Brynne with something on their computer game. He offered to help me unload the dishwasher.

Dawson is a great young man and a great friend, always there to bring humor to a situation, and I am so thankful that he is my son. I am one lucky mom.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 23

The medical saga with Kyndal continued through today. She woke up in the night with throbbing pain in her left arm. I gave her some ibuprofen and sent her back to bed. She got up this morning, hoping to go to school because she had a full day of clients in the salon. But, she was in severe pain in her left arm. She decided to stay home. Within a few hours she was running a 101 degree fever. I was pretty sure she was having a reaction to some flu and pneumonia vaccines she received before we left the hospital, but was fearful of some kind of infection because her fever was higher than low-grade. So, we called our doctor and he advised that we go back to the hospital. After a couple of hours and a new chest x-ray, they determined that it was, in fact, a reaction to the vaccines. So they sent her home. We were certainly happy to be able to come home and that she wasn't having any continued lung issues. We snuggled up in the living room to watch some Mizzou football and treat her fever. Wow, it's been a long few days. But, I am thankful that she appears to be on the mend.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 22

I am thankful that Kyndal and I are home sleeping in our own beds tonight. It was an exhausting couple of days and we need a good night's sleep.

Weekly Wrap-up ~ A Break

In our regular life this week…

On Wednesday night, Kyndal's lung broke. Well, excess air was surrounding her lung and built up between her chest wall and lung which caused 40% of her lung to collapse. As there was no apparent reason why this happened, it was called a Spontaneous Pneumothorax. She was admitted into the hospital last night where they inserted a catheter between her ribs, removed the excess air, and gave her oxygen to get her lung to re-inflate. We spent the night in the hospital for observation and she received an all-clear after her x-ray this morning.

In our homeschool this week…

This week we were wrapping things up in anticipation of our Thanksgiving week OFF! It's BREAK TIME! (Again, the benefits of doing summer school!) We mostly stuck to the basics.

Spelling - We did our first week of homophones in both Spelling and Grammar.

Reading - We didn't get any reading aloud done this week. But the kids continued to read their books.

Writing - Or writing.

Math - We completed Lesson 16 in Math U See.

Handwriting - The kids completed five more lessons in Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success

Geography - We watched an episode of Liberty's Kids every day. We are on Episode 30 of 40. Almost done!

Extra - This was the last week of the kids' Castles and Cannons Minecraft class. So, they spent the majority of their time finishing up their work, building with their new friends. Brynne is very sad that the class is almost over and that many of her friends are not joining the Holiday class. She will lose access to multiplay with them.

Homeschool Tricks and Tips ...

Spend your last week before a break just wrapping things up so that you can start fresh and new after your break, and so you won't feel behind before you even get started.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Eli and Brynne are seeing Grandma today while I am at the hospital with Kyndal. Although the circumstances are stinky, they are excited to see Grandma since she has been in Florida for 5 weeks! The only people I have seen this week are doctors and nurses. Brynne is still deep into basketball practice and both her and Eli are enjoying bowling!

A favorite thing this week was…

Snagging the Disney Infinity game for the Xbox 360, for Eli's birthday, for $37 at Walmart's Pre-Black Friday price matching sale. That was the only benefit of Kyndal being in the hospital … I was in the same town as a Walmart when the sale started! It was a savings of $40, which is much-needed with Kyndal's upcoming medical bills.

What's in the kitchen this week ...

I made some soothing homemade vegetable soup and some pumpkin bread.

What we're reading ...

Mom:  I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins. It's a good one, so far.

Eli: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.

Brynne: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney.

Read-aloud: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Things we're working on…

Enjoying a nice Thanksgiving break! We need a break and are really looking forward to this one. I am also one group assignment away from completing my class, and I am relieved it is almost over! Now it's turkey time!

I’m grateful for …

Kyndal's quick recovery and that we get to leave the hospital today.

What's coming up this week ...

Thanksgiving! And, we may be switching our bedroom with Eli's bedroom now that Brynne has moved downstairs with Kyndal. He doesn't need the bigger bedroom anymore. This will require some painting, however, so hopefully we will be able to get it done. Then again, I may want to just sit and do absolutely nothing for a full week!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 21

Kyndal is resting well in her hospital room. Her right lung was 40% collapsed and surrounded with excess air. The surgeon was able to expel the excess air through a catheter inserted between her ribs. Then her lung recovered. The procedure was done in the ER and she was moved to a room for observation overnight. She will be on oxygen and taking pain meds. If her x-ray is good in the morning, they will remove the catheter and she will be released. Very thankful that a chest tube was not necessary and that she is breathing more easily tonight.

A Little Prayer Request

As Kyndal's lung did not cooperate overnight, we are going to have to admit her into the hospital to remove the excess air built up between her lung and chest wall. They will be inserting a chest tube, removing the excess air, and then re-inflating the lung. We would covet your prayers for an uncomplicated procedure and quick healing.

Thankful ~ Day 21

My mom is coming home today! She has been doing a "Snow Bird" trial run these past five weeks at their house in Pensacola, Florida. But, today she returns … and just in time for the snow!! Glad to have her back!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 20

This morning Kyndal woke up with a very stiff back and upper chest area and was having trouble breathing regularly. I convinced her that she had probably just strained her back and should go ahead and go to school. She texted me later in the morning and told me that she thought that maybe she had bronchitis or something and should go to the doctor. I thought she should wait it out, but she insisted that she needed to go.

This afternoon she and I went to her doctor's appointment. Her lungs sounded fairly clear, but the doctor decided to take an x-ray just in case. He was puzzled why she was having so much trouble taking a deep breath, and having pain when she tried, if her lungs sounded so clear. After the x-ray he determined that she might have a touch of pneumonia so put her on an antibiotic and an inhaler.

When we were walking out of the pharmacy, the doctor's office called. The radiologist had reviewed her x-rays and found that she had a partial collapsed lung. As it was not caused by injury or illness, so they called it a spontaneous pneumothorax. We decided that since it was just in a small part of her lung that she should just spend the evening resting and hope that the lung will absorb the excess air between her lung and chest wall and that the lung with re-inflate on its own. She has another x-ray tomorrow afternoon. If it doesn't get any better on its own, she will have to be admitted into the hospital to have a chest tube put in to drain the excess air and inflate the lung. We are certainly praying that it is not necessary.

Why is this a thankful post? I am thankful that she listened to her body and followed her instincts that she should go to the doctor. Had we waited, it could have been much, much worse.

Christmas Comes to America ~ Homeschool Legacy (Review)

Are you looking for a delightful and simple way to celebrate Christmas in your homeschool? If so, then Christmas Comes to America would be a good choice. For the past month the kids and I have had the pleasure of reviewing this product from Homeschool Legacy.

Homeschool Legacy's unit studies are based on a Once-a-Week schedule. They recommend doing all of your other studies four days a week and then devoting your unit study to one day. We typically do this on Fridays. So, each Friday we took a week of the four-week study and devoted it to learning about Christmas in Denmark, England, Germany and America.

Although you can go to the Homeschool Legacy website for their Scheduling Tips, the unit study is easily adaptable to any schedule. We typically do our unit studies each afternoon of the week. But, in using this one as an additional seasonal study, I was able to dedicate it to Fridays.

What I liked:
  • Each week's lessons start with the Library Reading/Video Choices. And the best part ... the Call Numbers are included!! No more going to the library to look up the books to get the call numbers for the great book search. If our library didn't have the exact book (we have a small library), I was, at least, in the right area to find a comparable one. Our library didn't have a lot of the suggested books, but there are so many to choose from that there were plenty there for the study.
  • Each week the Supply List is provided at the beginning of the lesson.
  • The lessons meet some merit badge requirements for Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls. All you have to do is look for the fleur-de-lis. or AHG hexagon symbol.
  • There are lots of daily activities!
    • Independent Reading
    • Family Read-Aloud
    • Family Devotional
    • History/Music/Fun Activities
    • History/Art/Language
    • Life Skills
    • Music
    • Recommended Family Movie Nights
    • Field Trips
Each week we chose books from the list. For instance, for studying Denmark, we used Christmas in Denmark as our spine (this was a great series of books to use, and there was one for each country). We took a picture walk through the book since it was so hefty. We stopped and discussed photos, traditions, and read passages that interested us.

Then we moved on to read Sister Bear: A Norse Tale by Jane Yolen.

Of course we read all of the recommended Bible passages and devotionals. For Denmark we made some hot cocoa with marshmallows. Although we didn't make the homemade marshmallows, we are excited to make them on our first "snow day". 

We also read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and are finishing up The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.

We really enjoyed reading about all of the Christmas traditions from Denmark, England, and Germany, and how they have been brought to America. It also got us in the spirit for Christmas, which is sometimes difficult for us because of all of the activity in which we always find ourselves.

This was a great study for us. I recommend it highly, especially at the price of $17.95 for the complete product. If you would like to preview a sample week of Christmas Comes to America, you can go HERE.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 19

Tonight I had my monthly meeting with my Methodist Circle girls. I love this group of ladies! We are reading What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst and discussing the questions at the end of the chapters. Then we just spend some time talking and fellowshipping. We are also now in charge of the W. Children's Christmas Fund whereby we will be coordinating Christmas gifts and food baskets for 183 children in our town. These ladies have become some of my best friends and I always enjoy our time together. I am thankful for their friendship and hearts to serve God.

A Moment to Vent

I am frustrated. Some days I just have a hard time understanding why people don't just do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it. If I have an obligation, I will do almost anything I can do to make sure I meet it as it is expected of me. I will lose sleep, sacrifice financially, give up my personal time. It doesn't matter. If it is supposed to be done, it gets done. Sometimes it's at the last minute. But it's done, none-the-less. I do everything I can do not to let people down.

I am so tired of doing my part and not getting the same courtesy from others. I do my part and then wait, wait, wait. I am weary. And I am frustrated. And I am angry. I just don't understand why people don't do what they are supposed to do.

What a different world we would live in if people did.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 18

Today is Kyndal's 19th birthday. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am for her. We went through a rough patch a couple of years ago … a typical teenager and a parent scared out of her wits to be raising a typical teenager. I am so thankful that we decided to let that struggle strengthen our relationship rather than destroy it. Kyndal is a blessing to my life and is so helpful to me while Rick is working out of state. I typically don't have to even ask for her help .. she just jumps in and fills any gaps that are there. She's even managed to keep from destroying my house, now that she's all grown up! Eli and Brynne absolutely adore her and she is an amazing big sister to them .. more like a second mother. There isn't a thing in the world that she wouldn't do for them. I know that in such a short period of time Kyndal will be on her own, married, with her own family. She knows what she wants with her life and I know that she will prosper at it. She is loving cosmetology school and doing such a great job and I am so proud of her! She is a joy to my life and I am so thankful to get to be spending this time with her.

Happy 19th birthday, Kyndal!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Headaches

In our regular life this week…

The first headache this week was, well, a headache. A sinus headache, that is! Dawson had a really bad sinus infection this past week and passed his crud along to me. I had a terrible sinus headache for a couple of days. But I religiously take my vitamins and drink gallons of green tea, so I was able to fight it off.

The second headache involved my second week in a row of car repairs. Last week it was a dead alternator. This week it was a dead throttle box and battery. The cost of those repairs made it impossible for us to afford for Rick to come home this weekend or next! We won't get to see him again until Thanksgiving. That, folks, is tough on all of us.

The third headache involved a disgruntled parent in how I am organizing the church children's Christmas program. Yes, you read that right … a dispute at church! It was difficult for me to navigate the waters of that problem, but I decided to take the high road. It was a situation I could have done without.

And the last headache will be over this week … I just finished up the second of three weeks of the online faculty orientation course I am taking. This course has stretched and pulled me in directions I didn't know existed. I have learned so much!

In our homeschool this week…

We didn't have any homeschool headaches, and that is good. I will admit that we are struggling to push through our studies this week and next as we are anxiously awaiting a week-long break for Thanksgiving!

Bible - We studied II Samuel and II Chronicles and David serving as King and his involvement in the design of the Temple. We ended with the appointing of Solomon as King and the death of David.

Grammar - This was a review week in Logic of English.

Spelling - And it was also a review week in Soaring with Spelling.

Reading - We are still reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I can't say the kids are really enjoying it very much. It's a difficult read aloud for their ages. But, we just stop often and summarize and discuss, which helps. I have also explained to them how important it is to stretch our minds with difficult language every once in a while. (Plus, I have promised we'll watch the Mickey Mouse version of A Christmas Carol when we are done!) Eli and Brynne are still reading through the Diary of a Wimpy Kids books. I have some in my Amazon cart to purchase for Christmas, and they both want the Do-it-Yourself books so they can make their own Diaries.

Writing - This week in our Write Shop Primary lessons, the kids learned about Fairy Tales. We spent some time watching some Fairy Tales on Youtube. Then yesterday I had Brynne watch The Ugly Duckling and Eli watch The Shoemaker and the Elves. After they watched the reading of the book, they each prepared a story web of the different events in the story. Then they took their story webs and wrote summarizing paragraphs about their Fairy Tales. They both worked really hard and were so proud of their end product! And I was proud of them, too! Their confidence in writing has increase so much!

Math - This week we completed Lesson 15 in Math U See which involved multiplying by 4's and converting quarts to gallons. They also continued to work on area and perimeter and word problems.

Handwriting - The kids completed five more lessons in Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success

Geography - No actual geography. We are still watching an episode of Liberty's Kids every day. We are on Episode 25 of 40.

Extra - The kids have one more week left of their Minecraft Castles and Cannons class. Then on November 25th they will be taking another four-week class that covers many different eras. Really, it's mostly just for fun so that they have an opportunity to continue to build with their new online friends until their new classes start in January.

And yesterday they just had to pull out the chess board. It was a perfect day for chess because we were pretty caught up on most of our schoolwork but still needed to log some hours.

Homeschool Tricks and Tips ...

Expect the unexpected. Through homeschooling, I learned of an opportunity for Dawson to work for the Minecraft Homeschool business that conducts the Minecraft classes. He is going to get PAID to play Minecraft with kids as a Head Game Master four hours per week. And the pay is great for a 17 year old. And did I mention he is getting paid for playing a video game??

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Basketball is in full swing! Brynne even had practice at 8:00 a.m. yesterday! Yuck!! As soon as we were done we were off to bowling league.

A favorite thing this week was…

Dawson receiving the award of 'Employee of the Month' at the nursing home where he works. He received a small bonus, a certificate, and a cup filled with candy. He was honored at the staff meeting this week. It makes me proud for him to be so loved by the employees and residents of the home.

What's in the kitchen this week ...

We have been taking it easy in the kitchen this week, especially this weekend. This weekend we had some of our favorite easy foods of mini pizzas and hot/chili dogs. Kyndal's birthday is tomorrow, but she is going out with Collin for dinner. We're going to have pizza and brownies with my Aunt Rhonda at lunch on tomorrow to celebrate her birthday. The rest of the week? Looks like some open faced roast beef sandwiches, tacos and fajitas, and probably some easy Hamburger Helper on a busy night.

What we're reading ...

Mom:  I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins. It's a good one, so far.

Eli: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.

Brynne: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney.

Read-aloud: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Things we're working on…

Kyndal is now out of the instructional classroom at cosmetology school and in the salon taking appointments!!! She is so excited! She is already booked up next Saturday and found out a couple of days ago that she had enough hours to go ahead and start taking appointments yesterday. She had a girl from her old high school text her about doing a hair color. And she did her first haircut! She did great!

I’m grateful for …

the fact that I am not currently in labor at this moment. Nineteen year ago this minute, I was.

What's coming up this week ...

more schoolwork for me and all the kids, basketball practice, catching up on some DVR'd shows, and lunch with my aunt. And my mom is coming home from her 5-week trip to Florida!! We have missed her!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

My oldest baby has a birthday tomorrow.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 16

I was thankful to wake up to a much-warmer, albeit windy, day today. The temps have started to plummet now that winter is almost here. But we had a reprieve from the cold today with temperatures close to 70 degrees. It was nice to give our heaters a break for a couple of days. I love winter! But, I don't love paying for it in the form of heating bills.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 15


Being in the midst of some difficult and annoying situations, I will just say that I am thankful today that God has my attention and is keeping my mind and heart strong and steadfast through them. He has provided me with calm and clarity, for which I am grateful. Without it, my head might explode.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 14

Today I am thankful for kind, helpful kids. I had a bad sinus headache today and the little kids and I muddled through morning schoolwork. At lunch time I rested in the sitting room while they were having lunch. When lunch was over they told me to just keep resting and they worked together on some of their assignments, helping each other when they were stuck. As I rested I just smiled at what I was hearing from the adjoining room. They are good kids, and I am glad they are mine!

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole {Schoolhouse Review}

In today's volatile economy, I think there is a great many of us who would like to sell it all, downsize, and relocate to an area where we can practice more sustainable living. We long for the simpler life of Ma and Pa Ingalls where our greatest concerns involve our daily care and the care of our neighbors (who actually lived a couple miles down the dirt road). Many years ago Franklin Sanders and his family decided to do just that. In the wake of Y2K, and the fear associated with it, Sanders packed up his family and moved to Dogwood Mudhole to pursue their dream of owning their own farm, taking care of their own needs, and focusing on the family unit. He has written his journey in a 3-part series of books called At Home in Dogwood Mudhole. At the Crew, we were given the opportunity to review either the paperback or digital format of Volume 1 in the Series: Nothing That Eats.

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Mr. Sanders' book is written in a diary format, taken from letters to subscribers of his long-running monthly newsletter The Moneychanger. The entries of Nothing That Eats follow his family through the first seven years of their journey to sustainability and authentic living. The family has a great passion for the Civil War era and many of the members participate in re-enactments. The journal entries cover the lessons learned in the re-enactments as well as the lessons learned in real life. Sanders gives many pearls of wisdom from their journey.

Many of Mr. Sanders' thoughts throughout the book gave me pause, such as: "I realized 'busy' is usually a smokescreen for my own procrastination, or my real priorities, usually misplaced" (page 10). And the lessons from his dogs, Jack, Scruffy, and Sparky, about unconditional love, made me look at my pups and myself just a little differently. I love them, but I don't often enough consider how much they love me, and without my deserving it. Sanders also included a strong reference to his faith throughout the book.

Another cool aspect of the book is that Mr. Sanders includes addresses and telephone numbers of much-loved businesses of which he and his family have been patrons. There are restaurants, markets, museums and more located through his local area.

Although the premise behind the book was enticing, and the tidbits throughout where thought-provoking and, oftentimes, sweet, I actually had a little trouble reading it. As it was written in the form of journal entries, and they didn't appear to be edited for ease in reading, they felt a little disjointed and all over the place. The book didn't flow from entry-to-entry. The book didn't turn out to be what I was expecting, so I had trouble following along. I didn't really enjoy all of the Civil War re-enactment emphasis, even though I do enjoy some good stories about the Civil War. As the book is the first volume in a 3-volume series, it didn't "end". It just "stopped". But, I didn't enjoy it enough to move on to purchase the next volume.

I hate writing reviews where I don't give a "two thumbs up", especially when it's because I just didn't care for the content of the story or the style of writing. Because, many more people would love the content of the story, especially if interested in the Civil War era, and the style of writing might be exactly what engages another reader. For that reason, I encourage you to read the other review of fellow Crew members at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


You can also read a sample chapter of Nothing That Eats called "Pig Persuader" by going to THIS link.

Nothing That Eats from the At Home in Dogwood Mudhole series, by Franklin Sanders, can be purchased in paperback format for $22.95 and in Kindle/ePub/PDF format for $16.95. The book is 379 pages and would be good for any older teenager or adult. The next book in the series, Best Thing We Ever Did is also available for purchase. Paperback formats are available for shipping beginning November 15th. The PDF version is available for immediate download. The Kindle and ePub versions will be available at the end of November. Want to continue to follow these entries from Franklin Sanders? Then you can subscribe to The Moneychanger, his monthly newsletter, and read the "Dear Reader" column. (I have not read The Moneychanger so am not in a position to endorse it.)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 13

When today has been a bad day, I am thankful for a new tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 12

Every Monday my Aunt Rhonda drives through our town on her way to work to stop and visit with my grandma (her mom) who is in the nursing home and to have lunch with my mom. We started joining them when we moved here last year. My sister is in town on Mondays, too, with my one-year old niece. And now Kyndal is out of school on Mondays, so she's around, as well. We always get as much schoolwork done on Monday mornings as possible and then head to my mom's for an extended lunch break and to visit with the women in our family.

Since my mom has been in Florida for the past month, I have had my aunt over for lunch here at our house on Mondays, to keep up the tradition. Kyndal has been babysitting my niece while my sister works, so she brings Ashtyn over and we all have lunch together.

I cherish these times with my Aunt Rhonda. She is that perfect aunt. She never had any children of her own, so we have been her children. She is amazingly loving and sweet and we love her so much. And I am so thankful I get to spend this time with her.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 11

Weekly Wrap-up ~ More Minecraft

In our regular life this week…

This week has been extremely busy and stressful as I entered the life of a college student. In order to teach an upcoming online college course, I am having to complete a three-week faculty orientation. But, it is actually a class with papers, discussion, assignments, group projects, and the like. It is seriously more labor-intensive than many of my previous law school classes! I am getting up at 6:00 a.m. every morning to put in two hours of schoolwork before the kids get up for the day. Then I am finishing up on work at night before I go to bed. My brain is absolute mush.

In our homeschool this week…

Grammar - We focused our attention on possessives.

Spelling - Our spelling words consisted of words with ir, ur and ear.

Reading - We are reading A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens as part of a Christmas unit study review we are doing. Eli and Brynne are still reading through the Diary of a Wimpy Kids books.

Math - This week we completed Lesson 14 in Math U See which involved multiplying by 6. They are doing really well with their multiplication lessons!

Handwriting - The kids completed five more lessons in Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success

Geography - We did manage to study Vermont one day, which wraps up our study of the Northeastern states. With all of the other unit studies we have going on right now, we are probably going to continue to take a break from moving onto another region. I think we will camp at the revolutionary period for a bit longer so the kids can finish up Liberty's Kids. They absolutely love that series!

Science - We made some homemade electrical circuits using a unit study by Susan Kilbride. I will finally be posting my review about it this week!

Extra - The Minecraft class continues to take up a good chunk of time during the week. Seriously my wrap-up posts may consist mostly of reports on the kids' Minecraft class, at least for the next couple of weeks. Much to their chagrin, they will be "kicked off" the portal in the month of December until the next class that starts in January. It will be a long month for me!

The class they are taking through Minecraft Homeschool is nothing short of amazing! They are taking the Castles and Cannons class and learning about the Middle Ages. They started learning about the peasants and built a peasant village. This week they moved onto the castle. We have been watching a really GREAT video by David MacCauley called "Castle" that is based on one of his books. We actually checked out Castle: How it Works by him from our local library that explains the ins and outs of a Middle Ages castle and it's villages. It's awesome! We are really enjoying what we are learning and the kids are building some crazy things on Minecraft! I would like to send a HUGE shout-out to Ms. Jody for all her hard work and sweet care of my kiddos while they are on her portal.

And lest you think Minecraft is not "school" … think again. I was making a list of the new classes we would sign up for next year and was adding up the cost. I asked Brynne: "What is 32 x 2?" She very quickly said, "64". I was astounded! She said, "Mom! We calculate that all the time when we are buying our materials." They are doing math, and lots of it, on Minecraft.

And the engineering and technology is so educational! They are building contraptions with "redstone". And they are complicated! They have to build them in such a way as to make them actually work. If they don't work, they have to go back in and figure out why. It can be frustrating at times, but when they finally figure it out they have such a feeling of accomplishment!

The quizzes they have to take each week to earn their money to buy their supplies are HARD! They are required to watch videos about the age and answer multiple choice and short essay questions. And the questions are not obvious. You really have to listen to the videos in order to catch some of the answers. We have had to go back and re-watch complete sections because they couldn't come up with an answer.

And the teamwork. Wow! They are put on teams with other kids their age and they have to work together to build certain things. Right now they are all working together to build the castle. They loan each other materials, help each other out, give opinions, hang out, give each other food, search for materials together, and more. I have loved the camaraderie they have formed with their teammates. I know the kids will miss their new friends in December.

Now, they might be a wee bit obsessed at this point, especially Brynne, but I guess I am okay with my child being obsessed with something so educational. She is getting the rest of her work done. She is just choosing to spend her free time learning and building. Believe me, we are racking up the school hours!

Homeschool Tricks and Tips ...

Look for hours to log in the unexpected. Brynne announced that she wanted to cook with her Easy Bake Oven this week. I got out all of the supplies for her and then left her on her own to do it. It required measurement, reading and following instructions, and home economics. You can bet we counted that as school time!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Basketball season has started for Brynne! She started practice on Thursday night. She is really going to love it, and seems to really grasp it so far. I am looking forward to the season. We also had bowling league on Saturday morning which continues to be a highlight of our week. And, Brynne's volleyball team had a swimming party. The kids got to spend a lot of time with friends this week!

A favorite thing this week was…

Family time. We had a full house this weekend and spent lots of time laughing and hanging out. We shared some good meals and some good times.

What's in the kitchen this week ...

We had to have some homemade chicken and noodles on Thursday night because Dawson was sick with a sinus infection and viral crud. Nothing cures a yucky virus like chicken soup! On Saturday night I made a homemade lasagna for the family. Then last night it was baked salisbury steak and homemade macaroni and cheese. We have a busy week coming up so we are making some easy meals. Kyndal did request some fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes, so I will be cooking a big meal one night. As I am still hosting Monday lunch for my aunt and sister until my mom gets back from Florida, we are having turkey burgers, fries and salad today for lunch.

What we're reading ...

Mom:  I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins. It's a good one, so far.

Eli: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.

Brynne: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney.

Read-aloud: A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens.

Things we're working on…

Finishing up our final review for the year for TOS, wrapping up the Minecraft class, planning Thanksgiving, working hard for another month so we can take an extended Christmas break, our Christmas lists, the W. Children Christmas Fund, finishing my class so I can start teaching, enjoying the remainder of fall as winter quickly approaches.

I’m grateful for …

the generosity of so many with our W. Children's Christmas Fund. My little ladies church group has decided to take on a huge project in our town. The W. Children's Christmas Fund is an organization that provides Christmas for needy children in our town. We found out a couple of weeks ago that the group that has done it for years had decided not to do it anymore. We decided to take it on … that it was just too important to discontinue. I have been amazed at the generosity of our community toward this project. There will be some happy children on Christmas morning because of them.

What's coming up this week ...

more schoolwork for me and all the kids, basketball practice, an evening hangout time with one of my friends from high school, church and handbell choir practice, catching up on some DVR'd shows, and lunch with my aunt.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

My 4th-6th graders doing a skit on The Parable of the Talents. I was so proud of them!!!

We are happily linking up this week at the following sites:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 10

This afternoon the whole family pitched in on cleaning the house. We kicked it all out in about an hour. Collin even cleaned Kyndal's car in that amount of time. It was so nice to have everybody's help on a job I typically do alone. Then we were able to enjoy a nice dinner and watch some t.v. together. And it opened up some extra time for me to actually get all our clean laundry put away! I was certainly thankful for the help!

Thankful ~ Day 9

My house on the weekends is crazy, crazy! Rick is home, Kyndal and Collin are both here, Taylar comes to spend time with Dawson, and then the little kids and me. Everybody is running in and out, going hunting, going to/from work and school, going to activities. The house is a wreck most of the weekend, and the living room is piled with people in the evenings. The main topic of conversation is what we are having for dinner. Because they all want to be fed! But how thankful I am for it all! It's so great to have everybody here, and the cleanup after the weekend is completely worth it! Thankful!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 8

I am extremely thankful I am no longer a college student. Yikes! Times have sure changed since I was a college student some, um, 20 or so years ago. I am just taking a little three-week online faculty orientation course and it's about as labor intensive as my former law school classes! I am actually stressed! I am certainly glad I am not taking a full course load of classes. I'm not sure you could pay me to go back to school.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IXL {Schoolhouse Review}

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We have been reviewing IXL for the past few weeks. IXL provides an online math program for Pre-K through 12th grade and an online language arts program for 2nd through 4th grade.

It's funny to me how our homeschooling tastes have changed over the years. About a year and a half ago, the kids seemed to need a lot of variety in their learning. So, we turned to some computer-based programs to supplement our worksheets. Just a short time later, we seem to have changed our needs and wants when it comes to schooling. We reviewed IXL in June of 2012. For my two second graders, it was a fun way to reinforce concepts. We loved it! Although the features are basically the same, I found that our desire to use it this time around had waned. Was that the fault of IXL's program? Absolutely not. The program is still excellent and high-quality. Our tastes have just changed.

I think that's the point I want to get across this time around in my review. If you have a child who needs some reinforcement in the areas of math and/or language arts, and he or she enjoys computer-based learning, then IXL is definitely for you! If your child learns better in a workbook situation, and enjoys it more, then you might not want to spend the extra money on IXL to supplement your work. What we would have purchased a year and a half ago is not something we would purchase now.

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Let's review the features. We exclusively used the math program, although there is also a language arts program. These are all things that we really like about the program.

IXL approaches "each math concept from all angles, offering visual representations, word problems, interactive activities, and more. With an abundance of math problems for every learning style, students can't help but build lasting skills and confidence" (from the website)

When the kids are ready to play, they just go to the website and log in. I love the little icons I was able to put together for them and myself. All we have to do is click on our own icon and it takes us to the welcome screen.

After they click on their icon, they choose their grade level. They have both been working on Fourth Grade this time around. And we are exclusively working on multiplication, so they just started with the next lesson they were on. There were 20 different lessons for multiplication alone!

I like that I can choose reinforcement activities to supplement our current math lessons. The kids just like to choose a set of lessons and get started. But what they like most of all is the chance to win Awards and Certificates of Achievement. The program also keeps them informed of what they need to accomplish to earn the next award.

What I like best is that the kids can work completely independent on the concepts. The program keeps working with them until they master the concepts. If they get the concept early, they only do a few problems. But, if they are having trouble with a concept, the program has them continue to do problems until they get it. And then I can view progress reports. Their work is at my fingertips.

A feature that I particularly appreciate (that I do not think was an available feature a couple of years ago) is that I receive an e-mail once a week providing me with a report on what the kids have accomplished that previous week on IXL.

The IXL math program is recommended for grades Pre-K through 12, and the language arts program is exclusively for grades 2-4. The cost of the program is completely reasonable, as well, at just $79 a year for home educators.

To read other reviews on IXL, you can go to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.



Thankful ~ Day 7

Today I am thankful for a warm home. It's been cold outside, especially at night! But our little 100 year old house is well-built and well-insulated and has a tendency to stay extra cool in the summer and extra warm in the winter. We are without central heat this winter and relying on an infrared quartz heater and ceramic heaters to warm us. They are set on thermostats so run only enough to keep the house comfortable. But when you have been outside in the frigid cold, watching your breath rise up into the night, it's so wonderful to step back inside to a warm and comfortable home. Or when you step outside first thing in the morning to take the dogs potty, you walk back into a cozy and warm home and smile. We are blessed and thankful.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 6

I am so thankful for jobs for me and my family.

Rick, thankfully, has maintained a secure job throughout these tough economic times. It requires our family to be separated for a season, but we are thankful for the provision it provides us. Kyndal started her new part-time job at The Buckle today, a fun clothing store. Dawson received a worrisome text from his boss at the nursing home this afternoon and he was fearful that maybe his job was being eliminated due to downsizing. But, he was assured it is not. His job is secure. **UPDATE: Not only is Dawson's job secure, but he was told that he is "Employee of the Month". He will receive a plaque and a 35 cent per hour raise for a month!

And for me? Working outside the home is impossible due to our homeschooling and the fact that Rick is not here during the week. I have to be 100% available to my children at all times. But, I have been given an amazing opportunity!

The online course I recently developed for a Christian university contacted me to see if I would like to teach it! It's a 5-week course that starts next month, and I can do it all from home. I am hopeful that this is a course that will be offered at least a few times a year. I don't think the pay is going to be all that great, but anything extra is helpful! For the next three weeks I am actually acting as the student, taking an online faculty orientation course. Man, times have changes since I was last in school 20-some year ago! I am feeling a tad overwhelmed.

But, thankful.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

College Bound Reading List

Lee from The HomeScholar posted a pdf printable list of recommended books for college bound students. My students are only 9 and 8 right now, but the list of books is long so it's not too late to get started on some of them in the next few years. A couple of them would even be appropriate very soon, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and A Wrinkle in Time. You can print the list by going HERE.

Thankful ~ Day 5

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful ~ Day 4

I love Providence. No, I'm not talking about Providence, Rhode Island, although I would imagine that it is absolutely breathtaking this time of year with the changing leaves.

I am talking about the Providence of God. We just think we know it all, don't we? We definitely think we know the best plan, or at least know how we would like the plan to go. And then God steps in and redirects the situation to the path He knows is best, and things happen pretty much out of our control.

It is during these times that we can stop and look back and see where our actions have brought us to this particular set of circumstances and we see God's hand in it all, even in those things that were so insignificant along the way.

I love those moments. It's when I feel closest to God and know of His power in my life. I am thankful for His Providence, and that He doesn't let me have my own way all the time.

Carole P. Roman (Away We Go Media) ~ If You Were Me … {Schoolhouse Review}

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Geography is a BIG deal in our house! Eli and Brynne love anything having to do with Geography. Away We Go Media has a great product of books for young children celebrating the countries of Norway, South Korea, Mexico, and France. The books are written by Carole P. Roman and are titled:

My plan was to take these books and focus on one each Friday during the review period. I asked Eli and Brynne to each choose one book to read. I wanted them to each read their book and then tell us five things they learned. I went into the kitchen to fix lunch, but before I got to the kitchen one of the kids said, "Hey mom, did you know …?" Then I was called back out of the kitchen seconds later by the other kid saying, "Hey mom, did you know …?" This went on a few more times before I finally just went and sat down in one of the chairs in the living room where they were reading and nodded back and forth as they took turns announcing to me what they were reading.

When they were done with their books, they wanted to read each other's. Then they wanted to read the other two books right then and there. They finished all four books in about 20 minutes and LOVED them!

As they were reading them and reciting facts to me, I kept thinking of all of the extended learning we could do with the books. As we are currently in the middle of a U.S. Geography study, we didn't really have the time to focus on international geography. But, you can be absolutely sure that we will be holding onto these books to use at any time we study any of the countries covered in the books.

For the review we received all four paperback books, a passport and stickers, pencils, and an inflatable globe. The books are perfectly illustrated for kids. They were bright, engaging, interesting and fun.

The books are all organized exactly the same way, which I thought was a great concept. Doing it this way gave the kids the idea to compare the countries. They knew what to expect in each book and would find themselves saying, "I wonder what the kids names are in France?" or "They call their daddy 'Papa' in France and Mexico" all because they had just read about it in their first two books and realized that they would find answers to the same questions in the next book they would read.

Each book contains a map of the country, shows where it is on the globe, identifies the capital city and other important places, tells some typical names of boys and girls in the country, tells what the mother and father would be called, identifies the type of money they use in that country, covers famous landmarks, shares their favorite sport and important holidays. The final page of the book has a pronunciation guide.

I was very impressed with this series of books and hope that they come out with more soon.

The books are recommended for any children under the age of 10, but even older children and adults will enjoy them. They are very economical at a cost ranging from about the $8-$10 range for the paperback and around 99 cents for a Kindle version. You can follow the links at the Carole P. Roman website to purchase the books.

To read more reviews on these books. stop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.