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Archive for October, 2009

Some of you may have been following my saga about homeschooling. Last year was semi-disastrous, ending with one frustrated Momma, and 3 kids bored out of their minds…(quite literally! LOL). So we began this school year, and I was full of hopes and dreams about the HOW Teaching  Approach and SOS math, and our new spelling plans. A few weeks into all that, and I realized that even with buying the premade unit studies from HOW, I still had a lot of work to do, especially since we don’t have the money to buy all the recommended books, so I had to search the library to see whether or not they had those books, and attempt to find suitable replacements for the ones not found. I then had to encourage the kids to do their assignments and make sure they didn’t pick drawing a picture every time. I tried skipping over somethings, as their eyes would glaze over the second I started the lesson. We started out with the Creation unit, and I felt it was slow moving, as it is pretty detailed (its hard to describe) and technically you are supposed to finish the creation unit in a few weeks, but the rate we were going it would take a few months. I know homeschooling is supposed to be at your own pace, but I quickly got frustrated. It became quickly apparent that this was not a fit for our family! I am not saying HOW is bad, the whole basis is great, and I really liked the HOWTA book, and some of the history behind education. My problem is mainly with myself, and to a lesser degree our children 🙂 I am not a patient person. I am not a super homeschool Momma that likes to plan all these super fun activities. Which is why I have chosen not to follow tags of homeschooling on here. I get so discouraged and think I am failing some how, because I am not having all the fun that those moms and kids are.Oh, and  I have issues finishing what I started, LOL 🙂

Here are some other things I have tried : Unit studies, which were more successful, but I had issues with the boys saying they were done, and they were not. I basically had to modify or create the studies, and it was a lot of work! We also tried some worksheets to brush up on Language arts, which worked, but again, there was quite a bit of work …mainly making copies and grading (and using up a lot of paper and printer ink!!!) The kids did well, but it seemed really easy for them, which isn’t bad, but they would bore of it quickly!

Now what IS working:

Our spelling plan is working great! (Read more from where I got the idea : Using McGuffey’s Spelling Book Part 1 at Mrs. Happy Housewife). I set some goals based on each child’s ability, and approximately how many lessons we could get through in a school year. Presently, Brendan has almost met his goal for the year, and Abby and James are about 1/2 way there! We will not stop when we reach the goals, but will keep going 🙂  I choose to look up some of the words, and if they are not in our big dictionary here at home, then I do not give them to the kids. They are learning to spell some words that I have no clue what they are, but hopefully it will expand their vocabularies (since they are looking up parts of speech and definitions).

Switched on Schoolhouse Math has been awesome! I was a little concerned at first based on the reviews I have read online. Most of the complaints were that the program would count stuff wrong that wasn’t (usually due to misspelling, or grammar issues). I personally don’t mind checking the missed problems and doing the necessary adjustments on the grading. I also had to go into the administrative stuff to adjust the grading scale, because it was all funky, not very traditional at all. I also learned that I needed to disable the “show correct answers” setting, so the kids wouldn’t try to cheat (which I had at least 1 child that figured out that the answers were available!).  I also let the kids correct the problems on their lessons, until they get a 100%, but not on the quizzes and tests, so I can see whether or not they are “getting it”. I have been able to see that they are struggling on things, for example, measurement conversions like pints to quarts to gallons, etc. I can see that they had issues so I had hubby try to explain it to them or I could find some extra worksheets for practice).

So after a couple of weeks of prayin’ and thinkin’ on it all, I asked hubby what he thought about getting some additional subjects. He gave the “ok”, and I purchased SOS Language Arts and History/Geography this week. After 1 week, I can already see that this is a far better fit! I have actually been a little less stressed, and have had the mental energy to get up and do stuff around here! LOL. I don’t have to worry about lesson plans, or grading. Each night or afternoon after they are done, I go over their work, adjust the points where needed or reassign missed problems.  If I see that they are having issues, then I can talk to them individually and see what’s going on. The lessons are fun, reading, games, slideshows, videos, links to websites (for stuff like games or more info on what ever the topic is). There are some written lessons in there some where, but we haven’t got to them yet. If things continue to go well, then we might go ahead and get the Science curriculum.

A few weeks ago, I purchased the Mavis Beacon Typing program and a Jumpstart game that is for grades 4-6 for the 3 older children. I figured they would have fun while doing something educational. They are picking up on their typing quickly, and I can see that with some practice, that their SOS lessons will go faster! 🙂 The Jumpstart program is a little bit more challenging, because of the level. (Our 3 kids are on similar levels, grade 4 for language and history/geography, grade 3 for math. James is supposed to be on the 5th grade level…but  with the issues with public schools a couple of years ago, he kept falling behind because he wouldn’t do his work, I know he will be okay. I have a feeling that in the next year or so, he will be closer on level to his peers…so its no big deal to me 🙂 )

So that’s a bit of what’s going on around here with our schoolin’ 🙂

 

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This time of year always brings stress to me. Today I have been so crabby, so I will blame it on Halloween. For the past couple of years, we have not “celebrated” it, all because of my reservations on the holiday. But every time it comes around, I get questions from the older 3 children, along with them making it clear, that “Momma won’t let us dress up” , and of course having a stepdaughter who is allowed, things get pretty stressful for me.  So, here it is. We do not celebrate Halloween. I could go into all the reasons and history, and blah blah blah, but its the same ol’ stuff that other Christians who don’t celebrate it say, so why say it again? lol To be honest, hubby and I don’t fully agree on this subject, but he does understand why I am so uncomfortable, and doesn’t press the issue. Last year, I did make some creepy foods, as that is something I can live with (mummy dogs, “bones” breadsticks, etc) at this point. We stay home watched the Peanuts Halloween special (I know it doesn’t make much sense, since we don’t celebrate, but remember I am doing some compromising with my hubby on this)

Here are some other things we don’t bother with:

The tooth fairy (this is as ridiculous as the easter bunny in my opinion)

The easter bunny and other easter “traditions (We do read the story of the Resurrection, and go to church, etc)

and Santa Claus. ( We do have a Christmas tree, and do the whole gift giving bit, but every year we are choosing to spend less and less, since the kids tear up the stuff anyway.  I have some reservations on Christmas, but over all its not as strong as a conviction as over Halloween).

I really don’t like identifying all the stuff we “don’t do”. But I know that there are some people we know who read my blog and may be curious. Please don’t give me the 3rd degree over all of this. I assure you our children are happy and well adjusted, and are not having a horrible childhood. On of my peeves is when people try to make something out of all of it and I end up feeling like I have to defend my beliefs.  And I couldn’t give any solid answers, as these are still topics I am studying on (plus the info can change depending on where I get it from! one site says one thing, one book says another) When people ask me questions, I try not to make anything of it, but its really hard when people persist on asking questions. lol I am also stating this here: I am not insisting that anyone believe the way I or we believe. (so please don’t insist that I celebrate just like everyone else….)

 

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Fall around here…

Here are some pics of our fall 🙂 First a couple of around the house, and last some of the ones from the pumpkin patch on Saturday.

picture of our backyard during fall

picture of our backyard during fall

View of trees from our backyard

View of trees from our backyard

L petting a calf

L petting a calf

heading into the corn maze

heading into the corn maze

J,A, and B, going on hayride

J,A, and B, going on hayride

Li, Nani (J and A's g-ma), A

Li, Nani (J and A's g-ma), A

J on hayride

J on hayride

B on hayride

B on hayride

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This recipe is just an adapted recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I save up my bread heels (white and wheat) in the freezer for recipes like this 🙂

8 cups dried bread cubes
4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups of milk
1 can pumpkin
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Optional : 2/3 cup of raisins or dried cranberries or other dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter or nonstick spray.

Place bread cubes in pan (if adding dried fruit, mix it in with the bread).

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Pour over bread cubes. (I let this soak in for a few minutes, and I press any bread that did not get covered with the egg mixture down).

Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes, or until puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. If desired, drizzle with icing.


Cinnamon Icing

This is just another modified recipe from the same cook book.

1 cup of powdered sugar
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cinnamon (to your preference, we like a lot of cinnamon around here!)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp milk
additional milk as needed

Mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add the vanilla and 1 Tbsp of milk. Mix well. Keep adding milk, a teaspoon at a time, until its a drizzling consistency.

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Crockpot recipes Hillbilly Housewife.

There are over 65 recipes on the above website! I absolutely love the other recipes on the site too 🙂

I am not sure why I didn’t think to start utilizing my crockpot more…I am so sick of eating out, (not like we really should be with the lack of funds!). What a great way to save time and money…if I get the stuff on sale, I would guess most of these dishes would be well under $10 to feed our family of 7!  Not to mention less pots and pans to clean on most nights. 😉 I am in the process of writing some of these on recipe cards (so I don’t waste printer ink or printing paper), and then I will organize by type of meat or entree (like main dish or soups).

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All is well here! YAY! No one got sick after James and that is GREAT news! *doing happy dance* anyway…

I am actually up early today, so I have a little bit of time to blog in peace before the children arise. 🙂

I finally finished Jesus for President, and I do believe the info contained got better even towards the end. I found myself pushing through some thick stuff. I am talking about stuff that really made me rethink all my “standard” beliefs. I kept reading stuff to hubby (honestly, I could have probably read the whole thing to him, but I want him to eventually read the book for himself! lol) Its been a long long time since I have been excited about my faith. I know that sounds kind of sad, but its true…I guess its a renewing. I am hoping I can keep studying and prayin’  to keep the spark going. I want to have more of an active faith, showing love to those I meet…but it will be difficult, as I am a shy and quiet person for the most part (especially around those I don’t know). I don’t know for sure what God will lead me to do, and that’s an exciting and scary thing at times! lol

One of the other things I have been pondering, is our future move (don’t worry folks this is one of those things that could happen within the year or several years, depending on what God says). I get this feeling that where we end up will be one of those things that may make a huge influence in my spiritual life. I have no clue what that means, but I’m cool with that. One of the things that God has impressed upon me,(while doing dishes one day about a month or 2 ago) was that Hubby and I needed to start preparing ourselves spiritually for the move, because it will challenge us both in our faith and emotionally. He was saying while we are excited about all of this, it will be a challenge, and we are going to have to really on Him to help us. I know that is true in my case, I will be leaving my home state! That’s HUGE for me. If you asked me 10 yrs ago, I would have said, “I’m never leaving. I like it here”  Now its not about liking it, but its about doing something new. Leaving my past behind and looking forward (no, I am not running away from anything, just moving on). Its only in the past few years I have become ok with putting God first in this situation. Its easy to sit around and say, “I can’t because of this” or ” I can’t because of so-and-so” and make all these excuses. I don’t want to hinder God like that. He may have a very good reason to be suggesting to move. 🙂 Lately I admit I have been doing some daydreaming…I get these desires to be where I think God is leading us. I just want to BE there. I am trying to be cautious because I don’t want it to be my wants pulling us toward something, where God is saying  “No! Over here!” while pointing somewhere else! But on the other hand, God MAY be using these feelings and thoughts because that is where we are supposed to go. All I know is I need to pray some more. Hubby and I both agree, that when the time comes, we will know, and God will make it clear…but like we have noticed its always on God’s timing, and He has this habit of waiting till the last millisecond 😉 lol

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Sometimes I feel frustrated…There are so many things I want to blog about, but I know not all the things would be acceptable. Sometimes I wonder if I should care, but when it deals with family and some of the things I struggled with, I feel it could help others who feel alone. But then I have to remember that there are people out there that have been involved in my life that probably read this blog at times (like my parents). Here I am 30 yrs old and worrying about what my parents think! ugh. I guess it comes down to that I don’t want to come off as blabbing about all the stuff that happened, and make them out to be horrible (because they weren’t /aren’t). I want my blog to be a good witness to my family too. I also don’t want to write something that may be controversial and get attacked (ugh, I hate those kind of blog comments). Recently I decided that if I was feeling even the littlest urge not to write something, then I was going not do it (unless God makes it clear to me that I should).

Maybe I could just make a statement like this : To all that went through__________, you are NOT alone. To all those who felt like they had to hide who their family was because the people you were around didn’t understand, you are not alone. I only wished that I had spoken up and screamed out the truth, and figured out who truly was my friend.

Am I harboring all those things in my past? I hope not. But I know that there are plenty out there who are struggling NOW, who need to know there is hope. I know, that without God, I would not be healing from those hurts.

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