Friday, July 23, 2010

What's Going On Around Here

1. We are busy prepping, preparing, planning, plotting - sorry got a "P" kick there for a minute: I am closely related to two Baptist pastors after all, and alliteration is our best friend - for the upcoming week of Junior Camp. By "week" I mean 4 fun-filled packed days. And by "Junior" I mean 40-50 members of the 7-12 year old age group, including our own Polly. (This is Polly's second or third year as an official camper. She's wanted to be a camper since she was, oh, 3 or so. Tigger, on the other hand, is not really interested. Her first official week will come next summer.)

2. The Bear earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do this morning. He's playing it pretty cool but we're all super proud and excited for him. We forgot the camera but my mom has a picture up on her blog if you'd like to check it out.

3. School planning is also pretty much complete. I'll still have to fill out the necessary forms and jump through the ridiculous bureaucratic hoops our state imposes but that's pretty much it. The plans are made, optimistic though they may be, considering I have two official students (Polly - 4th grade & Tigger - 1st grade), a preschool dynamo (that'd be the child formerly known as Sweet Pea) and a new baby due at the end of September. Should be an interesting school year, to say the least.

4. Amy asked when a picture of little ol' pregnant me would be posted. To which I answer: well, if we ever take one I'll let you know. I do not do the "belly shot" thing. And I pretty much avoid cameras whether I'm pregnant or not. And my ankles have returned to their natural shape (although they will most likely swell up during camp, again). So there will be no photo evidence of that particular phenomenon.

5. In other pregnancy news: we only have 9 weeks to go. It occurred to me just the other day that we actually have to get ready for a new human being to come live with us. I mean, I've enjoyed being pregnant and I love feeling the baby respond to me or her sisters' voices, but not long from now she will be out. We're definitely not ready for that yet. And no, she isn't named yet, not that we'd share the choice even if she were. Prince Charming and I have some serious pow-wowing to do on that subject, once camp is over.

Shaping Up Polly's School Year

Polly (currently 8, will be 9 in December, doing 4th grade work):

Bible: memorize 8 scripture passages I've chosen along with a few sundry lists of other things she needs to know.

Poetry: 5 poems from her grammar book (there would be 6 but she already knows one of them)

Grammar: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 4. We love FLL!

Cursive: Pentime Cursive 3. We've been lax in this area in the past and are hoping to improve this year. Polly is left handed and that always throws me a little bit. She has two pen-pals that live in France and that has helped some, but we're hoping for improvement this school year.

Math: Saxon 5/4. Math is not Polly's favorite subject. We play a lot of board games, card games, computer games, etc. in addition to our math curriculum so that math is not just "book work".

History: The Story of the World 4: The Modern Age. We plan to spend some extra time on the American Civil War and gloss over some of the end chapters of this book. This will complete a four year cycle on history so at the end of this year Polly will have studied (chronologically) the Ancients through our Modern Age. Hooray! We've loved these books and I highly recommend them, especially when used with the activity guides. We also keep a Book of Centuries (notebook type timeline).

Science: Physics Experiments for Children by Muriel Mandell. We've followed the recommendations from The Well-Trained Mind, so this will complete a four year cycle of science (Life Science, Earth Science & Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics) Polly will be keeping an experiment notebook.

Latin: We need to finish up Prima Latina before moving on to Latina Christiana 1. Polly and I enjoy doing Latin together but if a subject has to drop, this is always the one.

Art: Picture study a la Charlotte Mason (6 different artists - chosen by me, 6 works by each artist). Polly keeps a sketch book and her dad has promised to teach her some better techniques. Now she just has to hold him to it!

Music: Piano lessons and informal composer study. We listen to a lot of music in this house. We also sing both privately and publicly, so I don't worry about this as a "subject" very much.

Other: we have a French program now but we'll see if we add it or not. Polly is a voracious reader so I don't worry much about that. There are books she'll need to read along with our History curriculum and a few classics I want her to tackle this year (Heidi, Caddie Woodlawn, Just So Stories, for instance) but again, it's not a big concern. She also enjoys Dance Mat Typing (an online typing game offered by the BBC) but it's not on our official schedule. As far as P.E. goes, we have a Wii (that does count these days, right?), my kids play outside most days, and Polly is working on earning her purple belt in Tae Kwon Do.

This post is linked up over at Kris's Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. I just hope I'm not too tempted by what everyone else is doing!

Monday, July 19, 2010

And We're Back!

We had a wonderful week of camp. I know the classes, chapel services, reflection times, etc. were beneficial to me and I'm sure many of the campers (and other counselors) would say the same thing.

I managed to avoid the cuts, scrapes, wasp stings, sunburns, bug bites and other typical injuries that seemed far too common this year. The only effect of the extreme heat noticeable on yours truly was some not-so-lovely ankle swelling. (One of the girls in my group: "I can't even see your ankles!") So I did a lot of putting my feet up, water drinking and yes, I took a nap every day but one.

That's a nice perk of going to camp while hugely pregnant: everyone takes pity on you and excuses your slacking off.

Then it was back home for a few hours sleep. We got up Saturday morning to go pick up our girls. Once we had them back where they belonged (In our van! With us!) we stopped at the home of some friends. A "quick visit" turned into a six hour playing, talking, eating and encouragement session. We hadn't seen these friends since January and at one point, after playing nicely together for about an hour or so, Sweet Pea came to me and whispered, "I don't know my friends' names so can you tell me?"

Sunday was the usual (church, lunch with family, choir practice, more church...) and we just came home and dumped everything. Which is what we had done Friday night and Saturday night as well.

So you can imagine the state our house is in just now. I've been doing laundry since I got up this morning and there's no end in sight. There's no kitchen table in sight either. And that goes for the kitchen floor, the living room floor, the girls bedroom floor, and oh, never mind. Just listing it all out is making me tired.

And have I mentioned that Prince Charming has been kind of grouchy today? It could be because of the 1,236,781 things he has to have ready before our next week of camp. Also, Fen is here. He brings the cuteness but also another layer of complication (seeing as helping pick up is not really in his skill set, yet).

And I haven't even mentioned the professional baseball game we're supposed to go to tonight...

Better get back at it. (And yes, once I'm home camp does seem like a breeze compared to real life).

Monday, July 12, 2010

We've...

Church campin', to be more exact. And while there will be some fishing, you can be sure that I will not be one of those pursuing that activity. Nor will I, technically, be camping. There are dormitories. And a very nice cafeteria. And running water. And, in some buildings, air-conditioning. I know, I know. We have it so rough.

Pray for the teenagers and adults involved this week: for physical health (sunburns, spider bites, ankle sprains, etc. all being not much fun and have happened in recent camp years) and for spiritual growth in everyone involved (the real reason our church does this).

Be back soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From the Commonplace Book

The greatest thing is a life of obedience in the routine things of every day life. No amount of fine feeling can take the place of faithful doing. - William Barclay
There must be a hundred people who know what needs to be done for every one who is prepared to do it. - Thomas Sowell
Obedience in the routine things? Does that sound like motherhood or what?!

I'm thankful for the message in the book "Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung (see the books read in June post for more). We Christians like to rationalize our inactivity (usually with some variation of "I'm waiting to see God's will in this matter...") but the Bible is already full of things we are supposed to be doing, things like loving God with all our heart, spending time in His word, praying, gathering together with other Christians, singing, encouraging others...obviously I could go on. And on.

My point is, we really already know what we ought to be doing, we just so often choose not to do it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Frugal Fridays - Sell Some Stuff

Have you ever heard Dave Ramsey when advising people how to get out of debt? He often says, "Sell so much stuff the kids think they're next." Sometimes he throws in, "And the dog starts hiding".

Occasionally, whether to get out of debt, build some savings, or just simplify our homes, we have to actually, you know, get rid of stuff. Here are a few ways we've done that:

1. eBay. Prince Charming likes this option. Yes, there are fees associated with it. However it can still be worth the trouble, depending on what you're selling.

2. Craigslist. I like this option for selling larger items or housewares. Free listing is a plus, along with the whole "no fees" thing. Depending on how active your area is, your listing can quickly be buried by other things but there's no penalty for re-listing so you may want to try, try again before you give up.

3. Half-Price Books. We're a homeschool family. We buy a lot of books. We also sell a lot of books. You don't make top dollar but every bit helps. This place is great because they also take magazines. Watch for those free magazine subscriptions, read the mag and then sell them to Half Price Books and you've actually made money on the deal. (They also take movies, cds, computer software, sheet music, and pretty much any printed material)

4. Half.com. For books that I consider to be worth more than Half Price Books will give me, I've used this option. I don't love it but we've made a few dollars here and there.

5. Resale shops. You're not going to get rich taking your stuff to consignment shops, but if you have a kid resale shop you could make a few dollars and get rid of some clothes / toys / games / all that other stuff kids accumulate. The same holds true for adult things, if you find a shop you can work with. Be warned that the standards are usually very high.

Of course there are many other options: Etsy, Kijiji, or the love 'em or hate 'em yard sale (also known as garage sale, tag sale or rummage sale, depending on where you live). I like buying things at yard sales but I do not like selling in a yard sale, unless someone else is doing the set-up work. And getting up early on a weekend? Not for me.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays on Life as Mom.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Books of 2010 - June

Much reading took place in June, including the polishing off of not one but two Dickens novels. That's just as well because July, with two weeks of church camp, will most assuredly not be a good reading month.

1. Bleak House. Fiction by Charles Dickens. Most of this was read in May. I almost cheated and listed it in my May list but I didn't finish it until June 2 so it would have been a lie. I loved this one. The story sucked me in and the characters are great. Highly recommend. (I also recommend the recent miniseries. It's not perfect but it seems to be trying to be faithful, which is all I ask of a book adaptation)

2. Beautiful People. Fiction by Wendy Holden. Ms. Holden is a British writer. Her work is frothy, yes, but her characters are well drawn and funny.

3. The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the 14th Century. Non-fiction by Ian Mortimer. Winner of the "longest title" award for June. Fascinating stuff and well written. Mortimer does his best to acquaint the reader with this time period without too much transposition of modern thoughts and views.

4. Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves. Non-fiction by Alison McKee. Not what I expected. This book was hard to get into and I disagreed with the author's philosophy of education. I don't intend to start a fight about it but I have to say, we do not "unschool". Unless you count all that free time my children have when school is over.

5. Nanny State: How Food Fascists...are Turning America Into a Nation of Children. Non-fiction by David Harsanyi. This would have been the "longest title" winner except for I forgot to write down the entire title. I agreed with many points of this book but Mr. Harsanyi is far more libertarian than I. I found his arguments about drunk driving laws particularly unpersuasive. Worth your time if you like the mental exercise of arguing with the author (which I do, naturally).

6. Vittoria Cottage. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Delightful period British fiction. Part of a trilogy but I haven't been able to find the other books yet.

7. Hard Times. Fiction by Charles Dickens. Has the distinction of being the shortest Dickens novel. Biting satire and commentary without his usual swollen cast of characters.

8. Bringing Up Girls. Non-fiction by James Dobson. Pastor Dad dropped this by for us to read. Dobson's books are practical and encouraging (though I do not find his writing style particularly polished). Prince Charming is reading this now and we've enjoyed talking about it with each other. (Must point out here that Dr. Meg Meeker's book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is a must read for fathers of daughters, even more than Dr. Dobson's book and he recommends Meeker's book in one of the early chapters of Bringing Up Girls)

9. Labor of Love: A Midwife's Memoir. Non-fiction by Cara Muhlhahn. I picked this up at the library because, duh, I have babies and labor and whatnot on the brain. This was entertaining but that's about it.

10. A Little Folly. Fiction by Jude Morgan. Prince Charming gave me this British novel for my birthday. Austen-esque (the highest compliment I can give a novel!) and I, of course, liked it very much.

11. Life Management for Busy Women. Non-fiction by Elizabeth George. Less of a "how-to" than a "why God must be first and always". A bit repetitive of A Woman After God's Own Heart but perhaps that is useful.

12. Have Fun. Learn Stuff. Grow. Non-fiction by David Albert. A collection of essays about homeschooling. Another unschooling advocate. (No, I am still not convinced)

13. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will. Non-fiction by Kevin DeYoung. If you are inspired to read any book from this list, let this be the one. Excellent work and not at all difficult to understand or read. As they say in the vernacular, "Made of win". I started to write down quotes from this book but it turned out I was copying entire paragraphs or passages. It's good.

14. A Voice in the Wind. Fiction by Francine Rivers. First book in the Mark of the Lion series. I couldn't remember if I had read this so I picked it up at the library. Ms. Rivers is somewhat controversial in Christian circles so use your own discretion.

Totals for June:
Fiction: 6
Non-fiction: 8
Dickens completed: 2 !!