Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Words for Wednesday - On Time

Time is a created thing. To say, "I don't have time" is to say, "I don't want to." - Lao Tzu

What say you, Candid Reader? Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Which I Have Issues With Magazines (Pun Intended)

Ever pick up a fashion magazine? Or a fitness magazine? Or, Heaven help us, a "women's" magazine with a title like (Not So Much) Glamour? Sorry. My prejudices are showing.

Anyway, if you've ever read such a thing, or just browsed the covers while waiting for the teenaged cashier to finish looking up EVERY SINGLE PRODUCE CODE one-at-a-doggone-time (just me?) you'll see they like headlines like "7 Ways to Lose the Weight" or "53 Fashion Forward Ideas" or "15 Fun Fashion Finds for Fall" (magazines love alliteration almost as much as Baptist preachers) or "No, Seriously, 16 Ways to Really Lose the Weight, This Time We're Serious". (Kidding, sort of, about that last one).

Full of promises.

This time, it will work. These tips will change your life. If you just read this edition of our magazine (and, ok, let's be honest here, the other eleven we're going to produce this year, and it would be really nice if you would just subscribe and read every single issue until you die or we do) then your life will be straightened out.

You will be your perfect weight. You will have perfect  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge-esque hair. Your house will be tastefully decorated with mid-century modern classics and a few unpronounceable French antiques. You will know what to cook - and it will be perfectly nutritious yet tasty - at every meal. Your children will never grumble that they hate asparagus. You will be perfectly dressed and people on the street will stop you to ask your secret.

You will be happy.

Buy this, do this, wear this, own this and...You will be happy.

Only, not so much.

We all know this deep down, don't we? We all know that the weight stories will be some variation on:
1. eat more of [insert current nutritional superfood here]
2. eat less of [some food we all love]
3. exercise [better, faster, longer, smarter, earlier, more]

We all know the fashion magazine will recommend we buy some seriously awesome clothes at prices ("deals") for which we'd have to save a month's income. (Again, just me? Maybe a $500 t-shirt seems like a "steal" to you. If so, would you like to take me to lunch? Or buy me a t-shirt?)

We know this. We know happiness does not come from glossy pages with covers so beautiful they ought to be framed in an art museum.

So, if this blog post were a magazine article, it would be entitled "1 Way to Be Happier. Seriously. Right Now."

Stop thinking you're going to find happiness in a magazine. It isn't there. It's airbrushed, tweaked beyond recognition and no one really lives in that house as pictured (did you know they dump buckets of water to make the wood floors shine in the pictures? When buckets of water are spilled at my house, it's a disaster not a photo-op).

Join us next time [some day in the future, not the actual next blog post on this blog] when I have issues with Blogs. Seriously. I'm writing the post now. This may turn into a series. Meantime, if you have any magazines you're finished reading...pass them on to me. I told you I have issues. One of which is my love of magazines, obviously. Except for those so-called "women's issues" magazines, 'cause, seriously, Ew.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moments with Sweet Pea

We had a special meeting honoring our senior citizens at our church Friday night. Sweet Pea looked like this:
and her hair looked like this:
In other words, she was cute as a button. She always is, of course, but on this occasion she really dialed up the cuteness factor.

But you don't have to take my word for it. When the fellowship part of the meeting (hey, we're Baptists. We like our food!) was over and we were on our way out, Sweet Pea was already upstairs waiting for us.

"Where were you going without us?" We all asked her.

"Mom, someone wants to take me home with them," she told me. ("Because I'm just so cute.")

Not knowing which one of our older friends had been telling her this, I just took the opportunity to remind her, "Well, Sweet Pea, never get in a car with a stranger."

Sweet Pea was slightly indignant over this. "Mom, I'm trying not to!"

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Friday Morning

It's not noon yet but Miss Lili has already been to the doctor this morning. (ominous music here)

And the verdict is...non specified eye trouble - not necessarily what we all know as Pink Eye (ominous music ends). For which she now has an eye salve. (11 month old baby with a mind of her own + prescription eye salve = lots of fun for Mom and Dad)

In other news, she weighs 16 pounds now, according to the doctor's scale. This is good because we're supposed to be working on her weight gain. I now have a secret weapon in this fight: rice pudding. The girl ate every last bit of rice pudding I offered her and some I didn't last night!)

In further news, I think I like the doctor she saw today more than our regular doctor. The doctor she (and Philip because I did not actually go to this visit. I stayed home with Sweet Pea and Fen) saw this morning is the same one who treated her poor little toes (remember the hair tourniquet?) and he's great. He gives us his contact numbers and tells us to call him if we need him which I do not think our regular pediatrician (much as I like her) has ever done. Dr. M's theory is that if he gives us his numbers we will not need to use them, whereas, if he doesn't, we will.

That's how I think and, consequently, I like this guy.

Now, back to regularly scheduled Friday programming. (You know, after a non-scheduled doctor's appointment and $16.62 worth of baby torture eye salve we're all ready for business as usual.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life With Fen - Toy Edition

Approximately several hundred dollars worth of Brio train tracks, bridges, and whatnot but he's not interested. He is driving his train through a paper towel roll over and over again.

Grandparents take note: paper tubes and cardboard boxes for this boy for Christmas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Words for Wednesday - On Procrastination

It's the job that's never started that takes longest to finish. - J.R.R. Tolkien

And a bonus quote:

Every successful person I have heard of has done the best he could with the conditions as he found them. - E.W. Howe

So on this Wednesday, let's get started with the jobs we have to do with the conditions as we find them and if that doesn't work, we can always go back to procrastinating tomorrow. Right?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - Science Edition

Science is one subject I have not been pleased with in Polly's first 4 years of school. I like the idea of a four year cycle (it works amazingly well for History). I followed the recommendations from The Well Trained Mind as to which books to use.

And it just didn't work for us. Sometimes homeschooling is like that. Good plans just don't work out for one reason or another. I even put Philip in charge of Polly's science last year. Small improvement but still, not stellar.

I think this is the year all of that changes. We're still going to follow a four year cycle (Life Science, Earth Science / Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics) only for now and most likely in the future, we're using Apologia materials. This year we're using this textbook:
Exploring Creation Human AnatomyExploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (part of the Young Explorer series) along with these notebooks:
Exploring Creation with Anatomy & Physiology Notebooking Journal (Apologia) - PaperbackNotebooking Journal (for Polly) and
Exploring Creation Human Anatomy JUNIOR Notebooking JournalJunior Notebooking Journal (for Tigger)

Granted, the school year just started (we're in week 3) but we already love this curriculum. The text is fantastic but it also includes narration prompts (popular with Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschooling methods), copywork (ditto), experiments, and all those little cut and paste activities so popular with the unit study / notebooking crowd.

We read the text together and the girls keep up with their notebooks (Polly's has more writing than Tigger's and some of the activities are simplified in the Junior notebook). We "do" science two or three times a week but the girls have been asking for it almost every day. Even Sweet Pea is listening in and enjoying it.

Have I mentioned we love it? And when I say we, I mean the girls ("I love science this year," is an actual quote from Polly) and their parents (although maybe Philip is just relieved he doesn't have to be in charge of this subject this year).

Links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Morning Moments with Fen

Today, at a celebratory lunch, Fen had decided to order french fries. He excitedly ordered these for himself (I asked the waitress to include some chicken tenders with his order). The waitress moved on to the next person in our (rather large) party.

The little emperor must not have seen the need of this (other people need lunch, too?!) because he piped up:

"Hey, go make my fries!"

Let's just say patience is a character trait we're still working on around here.

I am happy to report that some things are starting to rub off on the lad. As he watched his cousins begin their Taekwondo lesson this morning he said (much perturbed), "Hey, we didn't pray yet!"

That's our boy.

(picture credit: I took this one earlier this summer. You can tell because later the boy's mama took him and got almost all his hair cut off for the warm weather.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Words for Wednesday - On The Right Track

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top10 Tuesday - 10 Ways to Change Up PB&J

We're back to a school routine here at Chez Charming. Being back to a "normal" (ha!) routine makes me more aware that yes, round about noon, my children need a meal.

I may have mentioned this before but our dining room table moonlights as a school table, work table, project table, catch-all table when we don't put our things away get the idea. Anyway, all this is leading up to one point: a hot lunch around here is usually not going to happen.

Which means we reach for that good old Peanut Butter jar quite often. We love Peanut Butter around here. The only one who isn't a full fledged PB&J aficionado is the baby and that's just because she hasn't had any yet. Here are some ways we keep our PB&J sandwiches from getting stale (see what I did there? I don't mean literally. I'd rather skip lunch than eat an actually stale sandwich):

1. Change the bread: Wheat, white, cinnamon-raisin, banana bread...possibilities here are almost endless.

2. Skip the bread: crackers, homemade biscuits, bagels, apple slices...
3. Make a wrap: PB&J rolled up in a tortilla is just cute. It also helps contain the mess, if, as I do, you have a child prone to dropping her sandwich (coughSweetPeacough)
4. Switch up the jelly: go from grape (our usual choice) to strawberry preserves (homemade if possible!) or peach or blackberry. Have you seen the jellies, jams and preserves at the Farmer's Market? Try a new one. (Side note: some children will be loyal to their jelly of choice to the end. And that's fine. Just don't ever run out of grape jelly and all will be well. Or that might just be us.)
Ferrero Nutella - 26.5 oz
5. One word: Nutella. OK, it's not health food. Combined with peanut butter it's actually more of a dessert. But my girls love a PB & Nutella sandwich every once in awhile. (I can just imagine all the food purists out there howling at me. I'm sure it's bad enough I let, nay, encourage my children to eat Peanut Butter but adding another chocolate-nutty spread on top?!)
6. Add fruit: the aforementioned apple slices, sliced banana, raisins or dried cranberries.
7. Mix in some extras: coconut, or dare I suggest mini-marshmallows or chocolate chips? Yes, I dare.

8. Cut the sandwich in new shapes: use a cookie cutter (we like a nice big heart) or have an impromptu fractions lesson by cutting into thirds or quarters instead of the usual halves.
9. Eat on fancy(-er) plates.
10. Change location: sitting outside your own house on a big quilt counts as a picnic. Just a warning: eating outside tends to increase appetites. Better make an extra sandwich or two.

Don't worry, I promise we don't eat PB&J every day. If you have a favorite stand-by lunch feel free to share it in the comments - I'm always looking for quick, easy lunches.

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at Oh Amanda.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trying to Keep Cool?

Then I recommend you run to your local Kroger store and pick up some Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle ice cream.

Yes, it is as good as it sounds. You can thank me later.

Just leave some for me because we're going to need another carton (or two or...)

This is not an affiliate post and Kroger isn't giving me anything - I wish they were! - but I'm telling you this because I like you and want you to be happy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Look Worthy Links - 8/6/11 Edition

I am (obviously) way behind on my links posts. I haven't stopped bookmarking or pinning things, I just haven't had time to compose posts on Saturday. Here goes!

We're looking to sell our house next Spring, have I mentioned that? And when (if?) we do, I think we'll need these beds in our next house. Just look at that! All four girls in one room? Not a problem.

2. More than four children? Still not a problem for the amazing, stupendous bunk room:

And now, reaching way back into July for some links:
3. Why Children Need Traditional Fairy Tales (via Mommy Life). The G.K. Chesterton quote is always appropriate in this discussion: "Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."
Each family draws the line in a different spot, of course. I don't read Hansel and Gretel (even the Little Golden Book version) to a toddler. Bedtime stories (as opposed to stories read throughout the day) ought, in my opinion, not to be frightening. A parent has to use discernment as to what constitutes frightening to each child.

4. This natural weed killer is worth trying if you're leery (like I am) of constantly dousing your yard in chemicals.

5. I admire the ingenuity involved in creating this homemade pull-out pantry. I wonder if I could get Philip to build one for me?  I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.

6. Homemade English Muffins. Brilliant!

7. These DIY printed candles are beautiful. I really want to try this sometime but I suspect mine would look more like I just smeared ink all over them.

8. For obvious reasons, this post of 6 Ways to Make More Time for Blogging & Writing While Homeschooling really jumped out at me. Wait a minute! Did I actually write that post? Nope. The author must have been stealing my brain waves. (I kid, I kid.)

And now, 3 S'More Recipes:
9. S'more Dip
10. S'More Popcorn
11. Inside Out S'Mores (Amazing!)

I need all three of these A.S.A.P. Thanks!

Found anything thought provoking, funny, or yummy recently? Fire away in the comments.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - Math Edition

For Polly:
Math 6 / 5: Homeschool SetSaxon 65

For Tigger:
Math 2: Home Study Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 2)Saxon 2

Yes, as you may have gathered, we use Saxon Math around here. Here are some reasons:
  • it's thorough, which may be another way of saying:
  • it's repetitive (when it's too repetitive for the student, we skip)
  • it's affordable. (Probably because there are no color illustrations and whatnot)
  • it's basic. Which is to say: 
  • it's just Math problems. Math problems instead of Politics, Social Studies or other subjects that have no business being in a Mathematics textbook.
  • it works. Saxon didn't exist in the early years when my mom was homeschooling me. It came later - as in highschool - and I dearly wish I would have had Saxon earlier in my education.
My educational philosophy obviously tends more to the classical model and "unschooling" as a way of life is anathema to me.

However (did you see that coming?), I try to keep "formal" lessons short (I suppose this is the Charlotte Mason influence on my homeschool style). We skip a lot. All that written out dialog in the Saxon teacher's books? Yeah, I don't use that. Ever.

Keeping formal lessons short means we have more time for (and this will sound suspiciously like unschooling) fun or real-life math like:
  • cooking
  • shopping (grocery or thrift stores, of course)
  • game playing (you knew that was coming!)
Here are some favorite games that can help with Math skills:
Monopoly1. Monopoly.  I personally would rather have an OB/GYN appointment than play this game but hey, some folks love it. And there's no denying that math skills are involved. (Just don't buy the version with a computer and credit cards. Yuck!)

Yahtzee2. Yahtzee. Philip hates this one because it's "just chance" but there is some math involved. Plus it's really fun to shake that cupful of dice, am I right?

3. Tiger Stripes. Polly - this game's creator - suggested I add this one. You have to add up your score but even small children can play it.

4. Any card game where you have to add up your score (I'm thinking particularly of Rummy here. That's how I learned about negative numbers. My mamaw plays a great game of Rummy.)

Dutch Blitz5. Dutch Blitz. A favorite card game. (Also with the possibility of a negative number score).

Classic Wood Chess Set6. Chess. Philip has always started teaching our girls chess when they are very young. I probably should have suggested this one under Logic but, well, I didn't so I'm listing it now.

Wood Expressions 12" Wood GO Set w/Drwrs7. Go. Another one that could be listed under Logic and another one that Philip teaches our girls to play when they are very small. (Side note: I have also used our Go stones as a pre-school activity by having the preschooler sort the black stones from the white.) This one is easier than chess to learn but possibly as challenging, depending on the skill levels of the players.

To make an already long post even longer let me add that every homeschool family should have some tangrams, some pattern blocks, flashcards (homemade or purchased), attribute blocks, whatever you like for counters (beans, rocks, purchased plastic cubes), and play money (as realistic looking as possible. We have this set as well as some "training" money that a bank teller gave us). There are other math manipulatives that are nice to have but those are my personal "must haves".

So, fellow homeschoolers - what did I miss? What do you use for teaching math?

All links are Amazon Affiliate links. Opinions are my own.