Follow our family as we journey through life.

Friday, March 29, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I didn't post the Day 2 of the remodel yesterday because of science co-op and touring facilities for LMCA. So here is the remodel at the end of Wednesday, which was Day 2:

The framing got put in.
And here it is at the end of Thursday, which was Day 3:

So it's not looking anything like what I thought it would, but that's fine because it is one thing to see it on a blueprint, but quite another to actually see it in your house. And several friends have had work done by this guy, and so I know in the end it'll be amazing.
I have been cleaning like a mad woman. We just have so much stuff, it is absolutely ridiculous. I have taken at least three car loads to the thrift store. I have come across some treasures, like this cute skirt I sewed and then stuck away in the closet. It fits Margie almost perfectly!
Check out this set up from Malcolm:
And just because the older kids are a little under represented on the blog lately:

Both are from science co-op yesterday.
Jen is taking the week off in honor of Good Friday, so these Quick Takes are hosted just by me!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Baking Day

Remodel: Day 1

Day 1 of our remodel has left us with huge holes in the walls. Doesn't look like much now, but bigger and better things are on the way!

What is amazing to me is that they have been up there for over an hour this morning drilling and hammering and sawing and Malcolm is still sleeping in his bedroom directly below the noise.
Another neat thing is that the workers found what appears to be an old civics journal, probably from a high school student. It has hand written notes and newspaper clippings from the 1930s. What a find!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Remodeling the Boy's Room

After many months of anticipation the remodel of the boys room has finally begun! I will try to post progress photos, but I am trying to keep the kids out from underfoot of the workers and so I will probably only get end-of-day photos. For those who don't know, the boys occupy the top floor of the house, a finished attic that contains one large room, a bathroom, and a guest room. We are remodeling the large room to better accommodate all four boys.
Here are some before photos:
A bunk bed, a loft bed, four dressers, a dozen bins of toys, toys shelves, and bookcases. The room was filled to capacity.

We were able to get it all cleaned out in time. The echo in the room was amazing! This view is looking towards the front of the house.

This view is towards the back of the house. That door leads to the bathroom and guest room.

The boys are currently sleeping in the guest room. This is the total size of the room. Just big enough for three twin mattresses. Their dressers were moved into the guest bathroom or Margaret's room.

Monday, March 25, 2013

(Another) Snow Day

I haven't posted much on snow days, but believe me: we have had our fill. Here are some photos of the cutest kids with snow shovels on what is hopefully the last snowy day of the season.

Did you notice his coat was on backwards? Yeah, we're cool like that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Product Review: The Art of Poetry

It is no secret to my readers that I adore products from Classical Academic Press. Not only have I already reviewed some of their amazing language products, but I have also made several non-review related purchases for our homeschool curriculum. This company has proven to me time and time again that their products offer a solid foundation for a classical education.
I was so excited to get to review The Art of Poetry. Funny story: when I was at the Great Homeschool Convention last April, I coveted The Art of Poetry program. It was the first booth I visited and I really wanted this program for James, my poetry enthusiast. I didn't end up purchasing it because I purchased The Art of Argument instead. I figured I would get the poetry program for this coming year. We happened to join a recitation group this year and James' interest in poems completely took off! Oh how I regretted my decision not to purchase the poetry program! But alas, the stars aligned and I received the program for review purposes.

One of the reasons I was so attached to this program is that it states clearly and right from the beginning that there is no "one" or "best" way to teach poetry using this curriculum. That appealed to me because I know very little about the mechanics of poetry and a program in which I have to teach things I am not comfortable teaching makes me paranoid that I am going to teach it incorrectly. This was a program that I could see myself teaching successfully. The lessons are clearly outlined in the Teacher's Edition, and the emphasis is on exposure and not on mastery. The Student Book follows the lessons perfectly and focuses the student's attention on the aspect or characteristic of poetry being taught. The DVD lessons bring the teaching to a whole other level, keep reading to find out how they changed our poetry lessons.
Designed for middle or high school students, this course will teach elements of poems, encourage slow and thoughtful reading of poems, and introduce students to a wide variety of poems from all the ages. The website contains samples of the product for you to explore as well as suggested lesson plans that you can download. The books are both softcover, which is a good thing because they are HUGE.
James already completed poetry work each day, however, his regular poetry curriculum was a memorization-based program, and doesn't offer any insight into the components of poetry. For the review period James and I worked together to study the first few poems in the text. First I would have him study the poem alone, and take a day or so to memorize the poem. I quickly found that this wasn't really necessary, and so we read the poem together each day and discussed different aspects of it.
I found the Teacher's Manual to be absolutely vital for this program. The Teacher's Manual contains everything the student book has, but it also includes explanations and answers to the questions about the poem. I would have seriously been lost without it. Metaphor and rhythm in a poem is as foreign to me as the Chinese language. The Teacher's Manual helped me to understand these aspects of the program in order to better explain it to James.
I am not going to lie to you. I struggled to teach this program. In many cases James understand the material better than I did and would explain it to me. We worked slowly through the book, often reviewing material more for my sake than for his.
That being said, I think this is one of the strongest poetry programs out there. I recently shared it with some local homeschool moms and one of the moms was so impressed that she is going to purchase the program to use with her 7th and 10th grade children. She has been researching programs and after seeing this program she knew she had found the best one.
Something that is a huge help to teaching the program are the DVD lessons. I received Disc 1 of the 15 hour series to review. After reviewing the disc I knew this DVD was the answer to my struggle and I ordered the set to use with James. I found the DVD taught in a depth and level that I was not able to achieve due to my lack of knowledge of poetry. Although teaching advanced concepts, they are taught in a student-friendly format that will appeal to you and your middle or high school student.
Yeah, this program was great! Unlike the one where I just memorize the poems, this gave me a more meaningful understanding of what I was learning.
There are four different ways to purchase the Art of Poetry. You can purchase the bundle package that includes both the Student and Teacher Manual and the DVD lessons for $99.95. Or the Student Book and the Teacher book and the DVD's can be purchased separately for $24.95, $29.95 and $69.95 respectively. The bundle and the DVD prices listed here will be valid beginning April 1, 2013.
Many other folks over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew used products from Classical Academic Press. Click here to read their reviews, or click the banner below:
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Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Adoption Edition

Lots of folks have asked about our adoption process. We are currently in the "waiting stage." We have contracted with Caring Adoptions in Texas and everything is in on our end. So now we wait.
Why did we choose Caring Adoptions? Well, we originally contracted with International Family Services (IFS) for an international adoption. After struggling to find our footing there for a few years, we realized that our family size and financial situation has closed many doors for us in the world of international adoption. Pennsylvania and Texas have an interstate compact agreement for domestic adoption and IFS recommended Caring Adoptions and could "hold our hand" through this process. So we signed up. And now we wait.
The process is both extremely exciting and terribly nerve-wracking. After a birth mother has contracted with the agency we are able to view a profile of the woman that may contain details of the baby such as race and sex. We can decide if we would like the gal to view our profile, which is a detailed album about our family. If she likes what she sees, then she will select our family. So we wait for a birth mother to like us enough to gift us with her precious baby.
A factor that is not working in our favor is that fact that we desperately want to adopt a girl. I would love for Margaret to have a sister. It seems like only half of the gals know what they are having, and of that half, only half are having girls. So we may wait longer than a family who just wants a healthy baby.
My wait, however, is not that bad. I have five beautiful children already, the youngest is not yet two. I am kept very busy with homeschooling and keeping house, and sometimes our adoption is just a little twinge in my heart. I can only imagine how hard it would be to wait if adoption was my only way to grow my family. I am not strong enough for that.
So do I sometimes feel that I may be taking away a baby from someone who can't have any? The thought has crossed my mind, but I do not think it is a real issue. As far as I can tell, there are many available babies. Some gals want their baby to be the one shining star in the family, some gals came from large families and want that for their baby as well. There seems to be an infinite number of adoption circumstances and my family will play into them one way or another.
So why are we still waiting? Well, although it seems like forever because of our little stink with international adoption, we really haven't been contracted for domestic adoption that long. Barely two months with this agency. And like many of my biological children, this adoption is not going to happen when I think it's a good time. We are going to get the perfect girl on God's timing, not ours.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Recitation Thursday

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Game Night

Michael teaching late turned into a night of fun for the boys and I. We played two long board games at the same time, ordered pizza, and acted silly.

I didn't know it was going to be this kind of party!

Michael arrived home and provided us with live music.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Building a Fort

Because they can.

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Not that I was that much of a party animal, but still!
I realized recently that I have done my kids a big disservice by not requiring them to memorize their basic math facts. Like really know them, in the same way they know how to spell their names. I just figured that they were getting enough practice from their math curriculum, but I was wrong. Way wrong.
So we have started some good old fashioned drilling of those facts. And now I have won the award for "Worst Mother of the Year." But hey, they'll thank me later.
What clued me into the whole need to drill some facts is that it was taking my seven year old ten to fifteen seconds to tell me what seven minus six was. Seriously? And my nine year old could spend five minutes trying to figure out how many time eight went into seventy-two.
One of the most exhausting parts of internet for me are all the darn updates on the sites I use like Internet Explorer and Hotmail. Why can't they make a "Using Internet for Dummies" version and leave my outdated, easy-to-use internet alone?
Still working out details for Laurel Mountain Classical Academy. Important ones like finding a location.
I have yet to mention anything on this blog about the Pope and all that. And I am going to make a reference once. Argentina seems like a cool place. Okay. Check that one off my list.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bass in the House

Homeschool Skate Day

Giving up your stuff

I didn't participate in any of the '40 Days/ 40 Bags' type things this year because I feel like I am always getting rid of stuff and I don't need the motivation of Lent to help me purge. My goal is to get rid of more than I am bringing into this house. It's not always easy.
Just last night I was laying in bed thinking about the six bags I had just dropped off at the thrift store when I was hit with sadness over one of the items that I choose to part with. This item had sat in my closet, unused for over four years, and yet it was a gift and I suddenly felt like I was betraying the person who gave it to me by sending it to a new home. I thought about running down to the thrift store when it opened today to reclaim the item. Then I could bring it come and... Put it back in my closet? Leave it out where it would be in the way? Store it in a different place?
I panic I felt over losing this item was immediately replaced with the disgust of having the item unused for so many years. Another family could be blessed by my unused items. This item could have been being used every day for the last four years and yet here it sat in my closet gathering dust amongst the sheets and boxes.
Our extra items could benefit those who have less than us. But it is difficult to part with stuff because our culture values what you can see. It's like a consumer plague that sweeps the nation. Get it, store it, get it, store it. Even if you don't need it, who cares? It's the right price and you may need it someday. Tuck it away for later.
Here I was holding onto physical proof of a friend. Somehow keeping the item made our relationship, although distant, more real. I was valuing the material object over the things that truly make our relationship real: memories and love. I don't need physical proof of a relationship, or of a shared experience, or of love. That item is staying at the thrift store and hopefully it will find a new home outside of a closet. An uncluttered life is filled with things you can not see: love and friendship and experiences.
With the way this baby rocks a snowsuit, he is definitely a keeper!