Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Not So Simple (Prairie Primer: Little House Week 1)

Welcome to another week of school with the Taulmans!

Whoa, doggy, things have really picked up around here! It seems as though we are just running from one thing to the next these days. A couple of days a week we are having to start school about an hour and a half earlier than the norm. I leave my house in a mess more often than I would like and find myself having to reconstruct it at night before I go to bed. I am having to really schedule our days so that we get everything done and somehow manage to have dinner before we run out for our nightly activities. It's the busy season! But things are good.

This week we started reading Little House on the Prairie and doing the Prairie Primer activities associated with Chapters 1-6.

Conestoga Wagons

We learned all about covered wagons, most particularly Conestoga wagons, by reading Conestoga Wagons by Richard Ammon and making covered wagons of our own. A couple of interesting facts: The modern day Teamsters Union for truck drivers comes from the "teamsters" who drove the conestoga wagons with their teams of horses. Also, the phrase "I'll be there with bells on" comes from the conestoga wagons because the horses wore bells around their necks to alert others that they were coming. (We are never too old to learn, folks!)


Learning about Wild Mustangs was interesting, as well. We read Mustangs by Pamela Dell and watched a couple of videos on Youtube: one where someone recorded wild mustangs running in New Mexico and one that showed stories of individuals who adopted mustangs needing to be saved from the wild because of over-population. They are beautiful creatures!

California Gold Rush

We read about the California Gold Rush with Gold Rush: Hands-on Projects About Mining the Riches of California. We didn't do any of the projects, just read about it. And then the kids watched a stop-motion video called Lego History: California Gold Rush.

Prairie Life

They also read Molasses Man by Kathy L. May and watched Molasses Making an Old Appalachian Tradition. I am hoping to get us some Lincoln Logs to build our own log cabins, but for now we watched a video called Alone in the Wilderness where we were able to see exactly how the logs were cut, notched and stacked to build a nice log home.

Blood Cells

Learning about blood cells was a lot of fun. We read the book A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers and all about plasma, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. We made a model of a drop of blood with karo syrup, lima beans, lentils, and cut up cherries (I didn't have any skittles, and they would have definitely worked better) and they also made playdoh models. We looked through a virtual microscope at a healthy drop of blood and then one of someone with cancer.

Simple Machines

Life on the Prairie was made much more easy with simple machines. Levers, pulleys, wedges and the like were easy to build with ordinary items found on the homestead. So, we made a few! We used the book Experiments with Simple Machines by Salvatore Tocci (really great hands-on book!) to learn the basics about simple machines. An activity we made from the book was a lever. First the kids tried to lift books with their pinkies. Then they used a pencil as a lever to help.

Later they used a pencil as a wedge to pry apart two books. Then we turned to Supercharged Science to make a catapult .. another lever.

The Everyday Subjects

In our everyday subjects things are moving along nicely. We are easily complete a full lesson in Math U See each week. This week we learned about averages. We studied Esther in our Bible studies. We completed Week 5 of Fix-It Grammar, and I will have a review coming on that product on Monday. Every day we make sure we start our day with CNN Student News (the present) and end our day with an episode of Little House on the Prairie (the past). The kids are reading for anywhere from 15-30 minutes a day out of books of their choice. Eli has started reading the Middle School books by James Patterson and Brynne is reading One White Dolphin by Gill Lewis.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Gardening class ended this week, but a new nutrition class starts in a couple of weeks. Brynne is also in the thick of volleyball. Like I said, we are crazy busy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

1. Fall t.v. is here! Parenthood, Criminal Minds, Survivor, Law and Order: SVU, Big Bang Theory and a few new ones I am trying out.

2. How do you handle a really poor coach in a sport that your child loves, especially when playing on that team is the only available option? It's trying at its best and excruciating at its worse.

3. I am so glad it's the weekend and there is nothing on our schedule until Sunday. I seriously might get into my pjs at about 4:00 this afternoon and not get out of them until Sunday morning. Extra responsibilities have made this week an exhausting one!

4. Dawson told me that, after some thought, he has decided that he might go to school to be a teacher. He is particularly interested in history. Knowing his personality .... how he loves to dig into subjects and also how great he is with kids, especially special needs kids, I think he would be a great teacher. I have always secretly hoped he would come to that conclusion on his own. I am excited to see him planning his future.

5. I am not even sure I should dare to say it but my sticky child support case with my ex-husband is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday. I would appreciate your prayers for a just order for my children.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

This week's theme for Wednesday Hodgepodge is all about Fall! It is most definitely my favorite season!

It's fall, Y'all. My favorite season of the year! What's something you love to do this time of year that makes you feel it's officially fall? And unrelated to that, do you ever say "ya'll"?

I burn those pumpkin spice candles and make lots of pumpkin muffins, breads and cookies. I also break out the boots. I love to wear boots!! We aren't big "ya'll" speakers here in Missouri, but I do catch myself saying it every once in a while. Must be all those years of living in Oklahoma.

When did you last have a "falling out" with someone? Has it been resolved?

In 2009 I had a falling out with my best friend in Oklahoma. I felt betrayed by her during one of the most difficult times of my life. We parted ways. I ran into her a year or so later and she wanted to pick back up with our friendship. But I just didn't think our friendship could ever be the same. I just knew I could never trust her again. We haven't talked since that conversation.

A song you love with the word 'fall' in its title.

I love the song "Falling Slowly", especially the version sung by Kris Allen from American Idol. It gives me chills.

What's something you've recently let 'fall by the wayside'?

Definitely exercise. I am having the hardest time getting up any earlier than I already do. And we are so busy in the evenings that we don't get any exercise done then, either. And, if I don't have anything to do on some evening, all I want to do is relax. My body is feeling it, too.

When did you last attend an event, read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, or visit a shop-town-tourist attraction that fell short of your expectations? In what way?

This happens to me most often when reading books. I will hear several people say how great a book is and then when I read it I just feel let down. That recently happened with the book If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. And then Dawson and Taylar went to see it at the movies and said it was so horrible they almost left about 30 minutes into the movie.

Describe a time you said or thought, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

I don't know that I actually say that phrase or think it specifically, but I do look at parents and children and can't believe that anyone wonders why children behave the way that they do.

Was today better than yesterday? Why or why not?

I would say no. Yesterday was good, just different than today. I was going non-stop all day long yesterday and today was spent mostly at home. But both days were fulfilling and full of good stuff. The only real difference is that last night I was going until bedtime and tonight I am getting to sit and watch some Once Upon a Time and Revenge on Netflix.

Insert your own random thought here.

We are having fun with wedding planning and are right on schedule! We met with the photographer last night to discuss engagement pictures and show her the wedding venue, and today we made arrangements for the cake and cupcakes. We have the dress, bridesmaids dresses picked out, and other minor decisions made. Save-the-dates should be happening soon and invitations ordered. Like I said, having fun!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Celebrating Laura Ingalls Wilder

This past Saturday my mom and I took the kids to Mansfield, Missouri, to Rocky Ridge Farm and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum to celebrate Wilder Days. Brynne wore her new prairie dress and bonnet and Eli wore a straw hat. (I couldn't talk him into wearing overalls.)

We got to go through the museum and tour the home where Almanzo, Laura, and Rose lived when Rose was a baby until Almanzo and Laura's deaths. This home was where Laura wrote the Little House books.

I was so surprised at how interested Brynne was in all of the facts surrounding Laura Ingalls Wilder. She read every single thing in the museum that she could and just soaked it all in. She was truly in awe. We learned a lot of things about Rose Wilder Lane, also, that we did not know. She was a fascinating woman!

The home that Almanzo and Laura shared in Mansfield was adorable. I wish that we were allowed to take pictures inside it, but we were not. I would move into that house in a heartbeat! We even got to see the actual desk where Laura wrote the books. Even some of her pencils were sitting on the desk.

We met our friends from Oklahoma there because they are also using Prairie Primer this year. It was great to the spend the day with them!

The girls made yarn dolls.

We had the pleasure of meeting Lucy Lee Flippin who was the actress who played Eliza Jane Wilder, Almanzo's sister, in the Little House television series. She did an oral reading of a selection from a journal written by the real Eliza Jane.

We attended the parade in town. (It wasn't too exciting.)

We went back out to the museum to go through the gift shop (Brynne got some paper dolls and Eli got a coon skinned hat.) Then we went and toured the modern rock home that Rose built for her parents. It was okay but not as neat as the clapboard house. Almanzo and Laura didn't think so, either, because they moved back into their original home immediately after Rose moved away.

Before we left town we stopped by the cemetery in Mansfield where Almanzo, Laura, and Rose are all buried. That was a surreal moment. Brynne couldn't believe that there wasn't a more elaborate burial site for someone so famous. I explained to her that I don't believe Laura thought she was famous. She was just an ordinary woman sharing her life's stories. She was an amazing woman and one we are falling in love with more and more each day.

This was an incredible field trip and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Missouri. We are blessed to be so close to the heritage of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Scribbles

That's what my planner looked like this week. Scribbles. Prairie Primer was set up so that this would be a catch-up week, which was perfect. That's a really nice touch to the curriculum because, of course, we got behind but still wanted to complete more of the fun lessons. And we did some of that. But every day past Monday seemed to have a life interruption of some kind.

Tuesday: Oh, we have Kyndal's graduation in the afternoon. We can't do that or that. **Scribble**
Wednesday: Kyndal and Brynne aren't going to be back as early as they thought from their out-of-town errand they had to run. We can't get to that or that. We'll do it Thursday. **Scribble**
Thursday: We still have things to get done from Tuesday, and we need to get to gardening class, but we can't pull ourselves away from watching Winter on the Webcam. We'll just put that and that off until Friday. **Scribble**
Friday: Art class is cancelled and the kids are so disappointed, so I better come up with something to do. Bring out the paints. I think they could paint all day! I guess we are just not going to get to that and that. **Scribble**

We had a very good week, despite the interruptions. It was just certainly not one where we were sitting doing bookwork, and certainly not doing what I had written down in the planner. We did manage to get in all of our basics every day ... Bible (Esther), reading (Eli: Zeke Meeks vs. the Gruesome Girls; Brynne: One White Dolphin; Read aloud: Finished Liar and Spy), current events (CNN Student News), math (averages), grammar (pronouns). Otherwise we learned whenever and wherever an opportunity arose.

Moon Phases

We read the book The Moon by Melanie Chrismer and watched the Youtube video Phases of the Moon Explanation for Kids - Animation Lesson Unit to learn about the moon's phases. Then we did the ever-fun Oreo Moon Phases activity. Even big sister wanted in on the fun!

Fresh vs. Salt Water

We observed our lima beans soaking in fresh and salt water all week and compared the changes. We were looking to see if salt water affects the growth of some plants. We completed our science notebook for this experiment.


In honor of the release of Dolphin Tale 2, we took advantage of the FREE curriculum provided by Homeschool Movie Club. We watched videos and completed provided activity pages. On Wednesday we celebrated Macie's 5th birthday by watching Dolphin Tale and eating dolphin-themed snacks. We plan to go see Dolphin Tale 2 the next time daddy is home for the weekend.

A real treat was watching the Live WebCam of Winter and Hope at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. We spent lots of time doing that! We even decided that we need to make a trip to Clearwater on one of our next trips to Florida. They have an overnight package that you can purchase that allows you to do some behind-the-scenes stuff and spend the night. What an amazing field trip that would be!!!

Brynne checked out some books from the library about dolphins: One White Dolphin by Gill Lewis (a novel), Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff, and Swimming with Dolphins by Miriam Coleman. Dolphins are her new obsession. We also watched the Discovery Channel video "Dolphins: The Ultimate Guide" on Netflix. Eli really enjoyed it. He loves facts. Did you know that Orca Whales are actually dolphins? I had no idea.

Life's Celebrations

On Tuesday afternoon Kyndal graduated from cosmetology school! We went to her graduation and took her to lunch afterward. It was a special day! She is now a working gal at her dream salon. It has been an awesome week for her!

Gardening Class Yummies

We had gardening class on Thursday and made some yummy fruity spread. They also tried pumpkin and sunflower seeds and peanuts.

Extra, Extra

Some of our learning this week came in the form of happenstance. Our own Charlotte made herself quite a nice web outside our back door this week. We just happened to be letting the dogs out to potty when we saw her spinning her silk around her latest prey. We all stood and watched her. In this picture she had just gone over to her second caught prey and had surrounded herself around it waiting for us to go away so she could resume spinning. It was so fascinating to watch!

Brynne had her first volleyball game of the season. Her serving was a little off, but she had some great saves. She has improved so much since last year! It's fun to watch her play!

On Friday our art class was cancelled again and the kids were really disappointed. So I pulled out some paint and scrapbook paper, scissors, glue sticks, and the like, and we got to work on a little bit of dolphin art. Like I said, the kiddos are obsessed with dolphins right now. It was a fun project. Then Macie painted ... and painted ... and painted ...

Crazy week, but fun. Our weeks are getting ready to get crazier. I'll share why in a few weeks.

Tomorrow we are going on a fantastic field trip!! Can't wait to tell you all about it! Even Grandma is going on this one. It's going to be a great day!

Random 5 on Friday

This week I have found myself being obsessed with some things ...

Obsession #1: The cool spider webs popping up around our house.

Obsession #2: Revenge. Trying to get caught up before the new season starts on the 28th.

Obsession #3: Watching Winter on the live webcam at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Here she is doing physical therapy with her prosthetic fin.

Obsession #4: I have had chili for lunch every day this week .. with shredded cheese and sour cream, on hot dogs, wrapped by a tortilla.

Obsession #5: The cool temps at night make sleeping fantastic! I snuggle up in my warm pjs and pile on an extra blanket. It's been amazing!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Student Logbook (Schoolhouse Review)

My Student Logbook Review

I love to plan. It's in my blood. I love a good checklist where I can mark off each thing as we get it accomplished. I am not, however, a digital planner kind of girl! I need good ol' paper and pencil. When it was time to plan homeschool lessons I had my husband create for me a blank printable lesson plan page that I can fill in each week as I plan lessons. It's simple and effective. Brynne is also a planner and loves a list. So when we had the opportunity to review My Student Logbook, I knew she would love it! And she did! She chose the undated My Student Logbook with the horse cover art.

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook is a paper planner that can be customized to your child's specific needs. It is extremely easy to set up. Basically you just tear out one of the list pages and tape it around the week you are working on. That way you do not have to rewrite the list each week.

Although the kids are not to the point where they receive their work to do independently, I still knew that Brynne would appreciate the accountability of the checklist fashion of My Student Logbook. There are several other things that she is keeping track of each day, such as whether or not she exercises, eats healthy, and takes her vitamins. We all know that habits are formed after 21 consecutive days, and My Student Logbook is the perfect accountability partner for achieving a 21 consecutive day streak of doing something.

When Brynne received My Student Planner (she requested the horse cover ... there are many to choose from), she sat down and made a list of all of the things she wanted to accomplish on any given day. She included specific times for doing some things, like getting up in the mornings, eating her breakfast, getting dressed, eating lunch, and going to bed. She included required minutes for some things, like reading for 30 minutes and exercising. Some things she knew that she did not do on the weekend, such as doing her schoolwork, but she included it in her general list anyway. A couple of times each day she would go through her list and put an "x" next to each things she had accomplished. If she hadn't done it like she was supposed to she just left it blank. And if it was something she did not have to do that day, like do schoolwork on Sunday, she would mark it with
a "-".

There is a notes section that is underneath the list of things to do. I just use this to write words of encouragement to Brynne, or a scripture, or a reminder.

I love the vision behind My Student Logbook. "The pursuit of excellence for the Glory of God is not just a mindset. It's hard work that manifests itself by the things we do every day. Through training in character development (i.e. chores), academics, relationships, and God's bountiful grace, our children will be changing the world." Isn't that beautiful?? It is also intended to place some of the parents' responsibilities back on the children so that the parents' can be freed up to work on continuing to point their children back to Jesus.

There are different options for purchase: a dated 2014/2015 school year spiral bound physical logbook ($15 with cover art of your choice), a 2015 calendar year spiral bound physical logbook ($15 with cover art of your choice), a printable pdf logbook of either the school year or calendar year logbook (single license $10, family license $20, no cover art), or an undated spiral bound physical logbook ($15 with cover art of your choice.) All of the logbooks can be purchased at the new site store. It is there that you can also see all of the cover selections.

We received the undated spiral bound physical logbook with the horses cover art for the purposes of this review. The planner was very easy to use, very effective, and cost efficient.

My Student Logbook is intended for children from grades 2nd and up. Brynne is in the 4th grade and it was perfect for her age.

Click to read Crew Reviews

To read other reviews about My Student Logbook, you can visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. You can also visit My Student Logbook on Facebook and Youtube.

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From This Side of the Pond had these questions to ponder this week on Wednesday Hodgepodge:

I'm celebrating a birthday this week so a question relating to aging feels appropriate. Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, "You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair." Would you agree? If not, why not?

Doubt, fear and despair weigh you down. Those emotions suck so much energy and make you feel so tired and old! Faith, self-confidence, and hope lift you up and make you feel light and young, like you can conquer anything.

What remarkable feat, interesting piece of trivia, or historical event, occurred on your birth day and month? Not necessarily in your birth year, just the same date/same month.

It was a musical day on August 1, 1960 .... Aretha Franklin had her first recording session and Chubby Checker released "The Twist". (But let's be clear ... I was not born in 1960! In fact, my mother was only 9 years old on that date!)

Describe a time or circumstance where you wanted to 'have your cake and eat it too'.

After law school I was working full time, married, and trying to be a mother to Kyndal and Dawson. I wanted the professional life and the family life. The problem was I just couldn't pull it off. I was miserable. I was miserable in my professional life and miserable in my marriage. I wanted to be home with my kids full time but have the financial security of working full time. And it was my income that gave us a secure lifestyle. I was stuck. There might be women who can do it all, but I was not one of those women.

What's something you do to make you feel young? Something that makes you feel old?

Being a mom does both to me. And it varies from day to day, sometimes from minute to minute. They keep me moving and shaking and feeling like I need to take a nap, all at the same time.

When did you last do something that was a 'piece of cake'?

Is anything a piece of cake these days? I will say that ever since we moved to Missouri and began small town living things sure seem easier. There aren't a lot of life's complications. Day-to-day living is just a piece of cake.

Beef, wine, and cheese all improve with age. What's something else you'd add to that list? (not necessarily food or beverage)

A good pair of shoes. You know the ones ... we all have them. They are the shoes that you cherish and take care of and that have been worn in perfectly and fit like a glove. They are the ones that you just feel at home in when your feet slip into them. They are the ones you plan whole outfits around.

If I were to have a giveaway when we hit Volume 200, what should I give away? By my calculations we'll hit Volume 200 on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which means whoever wins would have whatever it is in time for Christmas.

How about a $200 Amazon gift card? (not asking for too much, huh?) I already have Christmas gifts sitting in my cart!

Insert your own random thought here.

I am back to binge watching Revenge on Netflix. Kyndal and I started it last winter during some snow days and I haven't watched any more since then. I am on Episode 15 of Season 2. I officially have to watch 30 more episodes before Season 4's premiere on September 26th. You will know where to find me over the next two weeks.