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Friday, August 31, 2012

What's in Our Workboxes? Week 1

After much contemplating I finally decided to do the workbox system with Margaret. I never wanted to do it before because it just seemed like a lot of work, and it is a LOT of work. But I think it'll end up being the type of work that is worth it.
It took me almost a whole month to get this ready for Margie. I researched and read about how others are doing this. I organized my materials by subject and I am keeping a binder with lists of the materials for easy reference. I am also keeping a weekly schedule that shows what was in the bins. My main objective is to have as many materials as possible that she can complete on her own.
 So instead of buying some kind of expensive box system, I just picked up these plastic bins with lids at Walmart and stacked them on a low shelf. She does struggle a bit to get the bins and in and out, but she has it pretty well figured out. She has eight shallow bins and two deep ones. Fewer than they recommend, but plenty for Margaret.

So what am I filling these wonderful and inexpensive bins with? For starters, I downloaded the K4 curriculum over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. It is an amazing amount of material. I sent about a third of it to the copy place and had it color copied and then brought it home and laminated it. Please note that I am not following as a 34 week program. I went through and found items I thought would be good in the workboxes. Some of the items from this week included the Dot-to-Number wheels, Color Squares, and handwriting sheets. There is always one and sometimes two boxes with materials from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Some boxes always have the same item. I have a box with a craft sheet from All About Reading~ Pre-Level, a Kuman Workbook cutting page, and the Handwriting without Tears Workbook for her level.

There are paints, markers, glitter glue, crayons, etc., all inside the bin with the activity. It make it so much easier to have her open it and everything is ready. When she is done she has learned to put everything back into the bin and place the bin back on the shelf.

I have also watched for sales for maniplulatives that would be good. JoAnn Fabrics has a wonderful little educational section now. Using a coupon you can get good quality wooden materials for low cost. In the picture above, Margaret is using a pattern set that is in a flower theme. I got it for just over $10 (reg $40) at JoAnn Fabrics.
I have also discovered that Homeschool Share has a Workbox section that is filled with links to print up workbook activities for free. I think I will be checking that out for next week.
I won't deny that there is a fair amount of extra work involved in this program. I am spending 20 to 30 minutes a night filling the boxes. I am hoping that as I get more used to it, I can fill them more quickly. Margaret has done really well with this so far, and it has bought me quite a bit of time with the older boys. I really like that she can complete the work by herself. I really don't like that I have to fill the bins every day.

7 Quick Takes

Siding. It's a noisy procedure.
Yes, back in the day our house was apparently an orange-pink color. Extremely good choice from a previous owner.
Soccer is in full swing for us now. I love that the weather is great and the place we play is gorgeous. A month from now I may not be feeling this positive about it.
It's Margaret's first season playing soccer. And yes, I signed her up because she wanted to play (25%) and I wanted to fill up on my cuteness factor for the year (75%).
Just try and tell me that this isn't totally cute and worth $60.
She told me when she came over for water, "I'm going to win!"
We officially started school this week. Kind of a rough start, but I think it might get better as we get more into it. Having the never-ending pounding and hammering and drilling and sawing didn't help us very much. But regardless of all these minor inconveniences, sixth grade is a whole new ballgame and I feel like we are entering uncharted waters.
Although it doesn't currently look this nice due to old siding and wood and tools and ladders, this is what Michael finished in the backyard last weekend. Looks pretty awesome to me. I'll have to post some before and after shots so you can really appreciated the beauty of our closet-sized yard.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sunday Snaphots

Sunday Snapshots are up again over at Clan Donaldson. It's so fun to see what the rest of the blogging world is doing at the same time as you. Here are some of my photos that didn't make the cut for Snapshots:

Head over to Clan Donaldson to see the real deal.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of Home School

We officially started back to homeschool today.
Class of 2020

Class of 2022

Class of 2024

Class of 2026
I have decided that I am no longer going to pray for a good school year and all of that. Instead I am going to ask for the grace to accept it for what it is.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Stone Camp and a Funny Story

Our homeschooling group took a field trip to The Stone Camp which is this guy's house way out in the middle of Nowhere-ville, PA This guy, Ted, lives completely off the grid. He makes his own fuel, electricity, food, and everything. It is a pretty awesome place to visit.

So we take the tour and then we are all kind of just wandering around looking at things and gathering children to head to the cars. During this time I get a bit distracted and Margaret decides that it would be a good idea to feed this guy's rooster. Well, said rooster apparently doesn't like little girls in rainbow skirts because he attacks Margaret and pecks her right in the head. Hard enough to puncture the skin and she is bleeding and crying and the boys who witnessed the attack are excited and animated and describing it to several adults and about 15 of the kids.
I am trying to get my kids to the car and deal with Margaret who is still bleeding from her head when Ted appears and is very concerned about what happened. Since I didn't see the event, I am very apologetic and state how I am sure she is fine and just scared, and I should have been watching her, etc. Ted looks at her wound and states, "That's it for the rooster." He then picks up a large stick and goes to deal with his rooster.
I decide it is now a great time to get to the car and I push my children in that direction. A few minutes later one of my friends appear who didn't know about the attack and she says, "I think Ted has had it with his rooster. I just saw the rooster run by and Ted was chasing it with a club."
That, my friends, is how folks who live off the grid deal with unruly roosters.
Ted has written a book about his experience living off the grid. I don't own it, but several folks on the field trip purchased it.
Off On Our Own: Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence: One Couple's "Learn as We Go" Journey to Self-Reliance
It probably neglects to mention anything about rooster management.

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes

I am trying to make some changes to my blog. So please be patient if you come to visit and it looks like something has thrown up on your computer screen. I am not a computer person, but I am determined to improve this blog!
Yesterday we had our annual Back-to-School lunch. It looked a little like this:
And a little like this:
Have the kiddies started back to school yet for you? Mine start back on Monday. I am so excited that I am all giddy and stuff.
Another important event for Monday is that our house is scheduled to get a face lift as we are getting new siding. I am not all that excited because the colors in are price range were SUPER boring. But it will definitely move the house out of the 'ghetto' look and more into the 'weird religious homeschoolers' look and that is what we have been going for all along.
I thought we were going down to four days a week of soccer because I was thinking that some of the practices would overlap. But the boy's team was switched to another day and long story short: we are still at five days a week of soccer. We did get our Friday nights back; at least until winter season. So our soccer schedule is: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And we now have four kids in soccer. I love things that almost everyone can do!
Soccer starts Monday for James, but I haven't heard from his coach yet and now I am a little worried that maybe I didn't fill out the forms for him or something. That would be just like me, and would also totally suck.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Product Review: Christian Liberty


Looking for a unique way to spice up your history reading this school year? Look no further than Christian Liberty Press. For over 25 years, Christian Liberty Press has been providing top quality educational materials to homeschoolers and Christian schools.

Christian Liberty Press has many products to meet your needs. They offer affordable full preschool to 12 curriculum with a Christ-centered and Biblical viewpoint. Many states require standardized testing, and Christian Liberty Press can help you administer the C.A.T. test to your children. They even have a placement test service if you are unsure about standardized testing procedures.

In addition to curriculum and testing services, Christian Liberty Press also offers an essay writing service that has step-by-step support from the very beginning. I know from a personal standpoint that essay writing is something that I always struggle to teach effectively. I am always second-guessing myself and wishing that I have a 'second opinion' on my children's writing. This is definitely something I will look into as my children get older.


I was able to review an e-copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers. This text is recommended for grades 7 to 10, but James (entering sixth grade) had no problem reading it. It is the story of two teenagers who travel to England and befriend a elderly gentleman. Through this friendship they learn about famous British Hymns as well as prayer and worship.


Since we are not currently studying British History, James just read this as part of his summer reading list. It was nice for him (and me!) to have a review item that we could leisurely go through and discuss. Since it was summer reading, we didn't go into greater depth in the text, although there are plenty of opportunities to study more based on the themes within. We both thought the book had a bit of a slow start, but were pleased to see it pick up and hold our interest. This is definitely a book that we are going to revisit when we study British History next year.


Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers can be purchased from the Christian Liberty Press website for $9.89. All inquires about Christian Liberty Press and their products and services can be addressed through their website's contact page, by calling 1-800-348-0899 (option 1), or by email at:

Many other review members took at look at 'Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers' as well. You can read their reviews HERE or by clicking the box below.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a free e-book copy of the above named product in exchange for an honest review on my site. I received no other compensation.

Friday, August 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes ~ Quick Facts

This week I offer little facts that you've never wanted to know about my family.


On average, we spend $125 to $150 a week on food. This does not include the purchase of any milk, eggs, pork; or beef, all of which we buy from local farms.


We go through four dozen eggs a week.


Sometimes the quantities at those super-sized stores aren't big enough for my crew and I have to purchase two.


We own four freezers to store said super-sized quantities.


The piano gets practiced for a total of 325 minutes a week at my house.


My oldest child often stays up later than Michael or myself.


Strangers, or people I may know but not well, will sometimes ask if I plan to homeschool all the way through and I will answer that we plan to homeschool college as well as highschool, when really I don't know if we will be homeschooling six months from today. One day at a time people, one day at a time.

Head over to Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Let's get to it!

You know how you get to the point where you just stop nagging asking your kids to do something and you just go ahead and do it yourself? Like the laundry basket that I have been stepping over all day. Took five hours of talking about it, and a minute for me to just put it away myself.

How about the "pack the bag" situation? This previous weekend we planned a picnic/ballgame outing with some friends and it required several bags to be packed. Summer is full of bag filling and emptying and putting away. This summer seems to be especially full of bags. My neighbor put it rather boldly when it was time to pack up for the outing and she stated, "Time to go pack another f---ing bag." Exactly what I was thinking, but didn't dare say. Well said, my friend, well said.

What it boils down to, dear readers, is that it is time for the kiddies to go back to school. Or back to homeschool, as the case may be at this house. I love summer and all the lazy, freedom filled days that it entails. But all good things must come to an end. And sometimes the end of one good thing just means the beginning of another good thing.

Don't get me wrong. My kids are an absolute joy. But our summers are usually a frantic, busy, sleepless jolt from one event to another. And we love it. Our school years are equally busy, but less hectic and more structured and calm. My kids thrive under this type of routine. They desire it. It's like we all breathe a collective "Ahhhhhhh" when we realize the school year is about to start again.
At least, that's what I want to believe. When I told the kids there were only two weeks left of summer break, this is the reaction I got:

When in my mind I saw flowers and sunshine and pictured them like this:

Well, they better live it up and cover their ears when it's time for me to pack yet another bag to leave this house.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Trip

This past week we were able to get away with some friends to a beautiful lake in Northern PA. We stayed in these fantastic cabins that were lake-front, clean, and totally affordable. The fact that they a dishwasher made them even more marvelous to us.

Morning kayaking with the boys.

James is looking down from a sleeping loft as Henry tries to get up the ladder.

One afternoon we drove north to Lake Erie to play on the beach.

Our whole crew.

Using the paddleboat.

Relaxing with a movie at the end of a busy day.

Out on the lake with a rental boat.

Jumping off the top of the boat.

At a minor league baseball game.

Feeding the ducks some cereal.

A final group photo before heading home

We arrived home and had a carpet picnic to end the trip!