Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I am still having computer problems that make blogging much more trouble than it's worth. But I'm going to give a Wednesday Hodgepodge a try since it has been so long since I have participated. And I have missed it!

What would you say is the best and worst thing about moving house?

The best thing is definitely the purging that can occur. On our next move I am definitely only going to take with us what I really want! The worst part? All of the last little odds and ends that never seem to end ... those last bits in those last drawers and closets ... those final things you can't pack because you need to use them right up until the moment you move.

What's moved you recently?

Seeing all of the love our whole family has for Bennett warms my heart. He is just such a joy, and he lights up the faces of each of us when he comes into the room. He is a precious gift.

Do you feel your life is moving forward, backward, or is on hold? How so?

I feel like my life is moving forward at warp speed. How is it already the middle of October of 2016? This year has absolutely flown by, and each year seems to go by faster and faster.

On the move, move mountains, get a move on, it's your move, or bust a move ... which phrase best applies to some aspect of your life right now? Explain.

I would say I need to get a move on. I feel like I am in a bit of a slump right now ... in one of those "I don't care" kind of moods. I hate it when I feel like this. I just feel tired and worn down and don't have any energy to rise above it. It's not depression, really, but more apathy. I am not eating as well as I should, not exercising, not consistently having my daily quiet time. I feel inadequate as a wife, as a mother, as a friend. It seems most nights I say, "Tomorrow I am going to start __________." But then tomorrow arrives and I just don't feel like it. I need to get out of this funk.

What song makes you want to get up and move?

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

Your favorite snack to grab when you're on the move?

If we are running out of the house for an outing, I always throw some kind of protein bar into my purse. If we are traveling, I grab a bag of corn nuts.

What one accessory makes your house feel like home?

Probably our throw blankets. Nothing says home like curling up on the couch or in a big comfy chair and covering up with a plush throw.

Insert your own random thought here.

If you are on Instagram, and would like to keep up with my goings on there (because I am now a terrible blogger), and would like the added bonus of seeing daily photos of my adorable grandson, you can request to follow me. My username is nikki_taulman.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Missouri Monday ~ Ownership of Missouri

For the past few weeks we have been studying about all of the various countries who owned the Missouri Territory, about the Louisiana Purchase, the exploration of Lewis and Clark, and how Missouri actually became a state.

France and Spain tossed the Missouri Territory back and forth for quite some time. The United States only included those states East of the Mississippi River, so Missouri was not part of the original United States. It was as if Missouri was living in another world. They were not directly involved in the Revolutionary War against England, other than the French loaning their resources to the United States to help them fight against the Brits. (I always wondered how life on the Little House on the Prairie was "peacefully" moving along while the Revolutionary War was raging in the East. This is why.)

In the meantime, the Missouri Territory was becoming a strong fur trading area. The city of St. Louis was in its early stages and many towns were popping up along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. For the most part there was peaceful living between the Native Americans and the French.

When Spain took control of the territory, it pretty much ignored the area. But there were still strong French influences. Eventually Napoleon realized that he needed lots of money so he sold the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States for a mere $15 million. This doubled the size of the United States and consumed the Missouri Territory.

Missouri then worked at becoming a state and initiating its own government and constitution. With the completion of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri officially became a state. As we learned on our last field trip, the first capitol building was in St. Charles, Missouri, and Missouri's first governor was Alexander McNair. Once the city of Jefferson City was constructed, the capitol permanently moved there.

Lewis and Clark were dispatched from Missouri on their famous Corp of Discovery. During this time William Clark scouted out the area for a U.S. military post called Fort Osage. This post was to be a trading post for the United States government. Fort Osage is located in Sibley, Missouri, named after its trader George Sibley.

The kids and I spent an afternoon at Fort Osage recently during their Grand Festival of Chez Les Canses. This festival gave us a taste of the military fort itself, as well as the French influence at the time. It was a perfect way to conclude this portion of our studies.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Oh My Computer Woes

I have had such extreme computer issues lately that it has just been too much of a hassle to even attempt to blog. I think some things may finally be resolved so I'm going to give it a try. I am still having issues with photos, which completely irritates me, but I did manage to get some posted!

We have been so busy the past three weeks and have accomplished much! I continue to be very proud of the progress of our school year. The kids are working so hard, and we are enjoying our lessons.

There is much talk these days in homeschool circles about a Morning Basket, which is basically a way to start your day together in a special way. Although we don't literally use a basket filled with those items, we do have our "Morning Basket" time each day. The kids start with a simple spelling worksheet that gets their brains moving. Then they copy a verse from Proverbs in cursive handwriting. We are using a free printable. It only has about 30 verses so when they have completed them they will just start over. I figure if they write those verses several times this year they will be hiding them in their hearts.

After Proverbs copywork we get our daily dose of current events with Carl Azuz and CNN Student News. We conclude our Morning Basket time with a read aloud. So far this year we have read Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein.

It's then time to jump into Pre-Algebra and Grammar. These tend to be our most tedious subjects requiring the most brain power, so we get them done early in the day with the promise of lunch break coming soon.

Before we break for lunch we read aloud together out of McGuffey's and copy a paragraph or stanza from our reading. Then the kids get about 15-30 minutes of personal reading time.

After lunch we tackle Missouri History, Literature, Greek Mythology, and Astronomy.

In Missouri History we read a chapter out of Missouri: Then and Now and typically answer some review questions. On Fridays we watch a corresponding video and do some additional activities at the end of the chapter. Tomorrow I will share about our latest field trip.

Astronomy and Greek Mythology have been a little weird for us. We are using curriculum from Memoria Press, and we have found that it's just too classical for us. Our way is just not the memorization kind of way without seeing it used in some tangible way in real life. We just need to read about these things and see them in action. Memorization just bores us.

So, we are changing things up a big with the book Signs and Seasons by Jay Ryan. This is a living book that tells more of a story of astronomy and how it relates to God's creation and the world in which we live. We are going to supplement with the Memoria Press materials when those topics are discussed in Signs and Seasons and then will study the Greek myths when the Memoria Press materials refer to them.

So we have now been sitting at the table together right after lunch with a cup of green tea to read together out of Signs and Seasons. We have no specific pages scheduled to read. Instead we read aloud for a while and discuss. It allows us to follow rabbit trails and seek out answers. We want to do more hands on projects (there are some in the back of the book) and some art. So this past week we did some pastel art projects of the sun and the moon as we were discussing luminaries.

Brynne continues to work through Module 1 of Apologia's Exploring Creation Through General Science in her extra time to additionally prepare her for 7th grade public school next year. In the past couple of weeks she has done a few experiments.

This past week we finished The Lightning Thief from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. We are really enjoying this series so far! This week we will start Sea of Monsters.

Our weekly enrichment class with our friends has the girls doing some creative writing each week. They are having fun. The boys have been doing some STEM activities. Honestly, they don't seem to be enjoying it as much as I had hoped. The girls actually jump in on their activities and seem to have more fun with it. Both boys have expressed an interest in geography and history. So I am looking to change things up with the use of an old favorite, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? We'll see if that garners some interest.

I also have something else fun planned for us to do starting this week using the new television show Timeless.

I am hoping I can get back into a regular routine of blogging about our schooling and our regular life's activities. It's now fall and we have some fun things planned!

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 189.5 hours, including 31.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Just Get it Posted Already

(I have had this post typed and ready since last Friday, but for some reason getting photos recognized by Blogger off my computer has been a problem the last several months. It just so happened to coincide with the the change from iPhoto to just Photo, which I hate, by the way. I am just now dragging photos into this post, and am going ahead and posting it 'as is' because I still can't get them all here. Annoying!)

We had another great, steady week last week. I don't want to give the impression that we never have icky days, because we do. Sometimes one of us is tired or just not feeling it or has a negative attitude. Sometimes we just don't want to do our grammar or math or copywork.

Thursday was kind of one of those days because we were up late on Wednesday night and it was rainy on Thursday morning. But I have found that if we just stick to our planner and do "just one more thing" we seem to find ourselves at the end of the day with most of our planned tasks accomplished.

Some days we don't get everything done we have planned. Again, there are those days that we have just had enough so we finish our day with some extra reading or a relevant movie. And if we don't get everything done we always have Freedom Friday to complete tasks. It just leaves us with a little less freedom to do some delight-directed learning, which is the purpose of Freedom Friday.

This week we moved right along with our basic studies. We did a spelling unit, did copywork from Proverbs each morning, watched CNN Student News, studied real numbers in Pre-Algebra, completed another week's lessons in grammar, read out of McGuffey's and did some copywork, finished Because of Winn Dixie, read out of our personal books, and read aloud from The Lightning Thief. All of these subjects are moving along nicely and steadily.

In Astronomy and Greek Mythology we continued learning about Hercules. The kids continued to practice memorizing the 15 brightest stars with their corresponding constellations. At the end of the week they did a marshmallow/toothpick Summer Triangle. We also watched the Disney film Hercules.

In Missouri History we learned all about the first explorers from Spain and France. The kids finally completed their salt dough maps of Missouri identifying the four geological regions, major cities, and major waterways. (No photos ... ugh!)

In our enrichment class the boys attempted to build the tallest structure using spaghetti, tape, string, and a marshmallow. This proved to be very difficult for them. Eli gave up after one attempt due to frustration and Nolan got his very high but it wouldn't support the marshmallow. At the end I put together a basic idea. We also discussed how engineers and/or scientists cannot give up after their first idea fails. If that happened then we wouldn't have any new inventions.

Nolan is amazed it's standing!

The girls and I went to the park to choose playground equipment that we could use in a metaphor paragraph. Brynne chose a slide that she thinks looks like an elephant. Riley chose a train and train car play structure that she thinks looks like a giant's shoe and sock. And I chose a jungle gym that I think looks like a spider web. I am going to write my metaphor this week for an example and we will complete theirs next week. Then I think we are going to switch programs. The one we are doing is just not fun. They are trying their best to enjoy it, but I just don't think the program we chose is working for them. I have some other ideas.

Outside activities this week included Eli going to archery one day and Brynne having a couple of nights of volleyball practice.

The greatest part of my week was on Friday when I left the kids at home alone with a list of schoolwork to complete while I went grocery shopping. This list included making their marshmallow constellation, finishing their Missouri History questions from our weekly chapter, painting their salt dough maps, playing a number classification math game, finishing up their astronomy worksheets, and reading. I was so pleased to come home and find all those tasks completed and completed well.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 97.5 hours, including 15 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Looking out my window ... it's a little too warm and sunny for my taste, especially since we are into September. Bring on the morning chilly temps!

I am thinking ... about how blessed I am as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I am thankful ... for a husband who works hard to make all my dreams come true.

One of my favorite things ... is a day where I actually get out of bed and do all those things that make my day better: exercise, Bible study, shower and get ready. It makes for a successful and productive day.

I am creating ... healthier menus for my family.

I am watching ... Gilmore Girls hoping to get through all of the seasons before the release of the new feature series on Netflix. I have a lot to watch.

I am wearing ... black burnout t-shirt, Miss Me Jeans, black Coach flip flops, FitBit, Rustic Cuff bracelet.

I am reading ... The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. I'm absorbing it, really. A fascinating read for an introverted homeschooling woman.

I am listening to ... podcasts while I run. Can anyone recommend a good series? I am not very good at locating podcasts. I need them to be about 30 minutes each.

I am hoping ... for a super quiet weekend where I can just get some rest, read, and watch some t.v. It's been a pretty busy couple of weeks so I am declaring this a non-people weekend. This introvert needs some down time!

I am learning ... how to be a better baker.

In the kitchen ... I have been trying to make healthier, homemade versions of some of the kids' favorite, everyday foods. So far I have come up with great recipes for homemade pizza rolls (Brynne's daily lunch staple) and 100% whole wheat bread (for Eli's sandwiches everyday at lunch). The whole wheat bread needed to be soft, like sandwich bread, and I finally found a perfect recipe! Next up? Homemade waffles that can be frozen and then popped into the toaster. Eli has eaten waffles every single morning since he was about 2 years old. I also have a recipe for homemade poptarts. I might try those, too!

In the schoolroom ... We are just doing so well. I couldn't be happier with the progress of our days so far.

In the garden ... I actually pulled out one tomato and some raspberries. My garden has been a disaster this year. However, the sweet potatoes are coming along nicely!!

Board Room ... It's time to start thinking about an election unit!

Post Script ... Literary Analysis is not a High School Requirement by Lee Binz. I want my kids to love reading! That's all.

Shared Quote ...

A Moment from my Day ... That Nana life. It's pretty awesome!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Missouri Monday

Welcome to the first post in my Missouri Monday series! The kids and I are doing a year long study of Missouri this year, all prompted by the spontaneous purchase of this book at my favorite consignment store for $5.

When I purchased this book I had no idea that it would serve as a launching pad for a full year of very exciting studies, activities, and field trips, and quickly become our very favorite subject.

The whole idea for studying Missouri History came as we made a tentative decision to send Brynne back to public school next year starting in 7th grade. (This is a very difficult decision for us, but if she is going to be able to play sports in middle and high school she will have to attend a public school. The decision is still up in the air, but we need to be prepared.) Students in our public school study Missouri History in 4th grade. I didn't want this to be an issue when I went to enroll her next year, so I decided we would study it this year. I have recently learned from other kids her age that they really only spent a few weeks on the subject. With our way of learning, that's just not possible. If we are going to study it, we are going to study it! In fact, we are practically going to wear it for this entire school year.

Missouri: Then and Now is broken up into short chapters. We are able to read about three to five pages a day to get a chapter finished in a week. At the end of each chapter is a New Words list, Matching Partners activity and/or Fill-in-the-Blank, Testing Yourself questions, Things to Do, Things to Talk About, and Research resources. At this time we are answering the Testing Yourself questions each day that correspond with what we have read, and then at the end of the week the kids do the Matching Partners or Fill-in-the-Blank activity. Our plan is for them to also choose a Things to Do activity to complete on Fridays, but we haven't gotten into a good groove with that yet.

On Fridays we also watch a short video from the Finding Missouri: Our History and Heritage series. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has a full website with resources for studying Missouri History using Missouri: Then and Now, including links to the videos that correspond with each chapter. It's a nice way to wrap up what we have read and studied that week.

We are also planning to go on field trips twice a month. I have field trips planned through April of 2017. I tried to schedule trips around what we are learning in the chapters from Missouri: Then and Now, but there are some special days planned at some of the sites that have us a little off track. That's okay, though.

So what has our first two weeks of studying Missouri History with Missouri: Then and Now looked like?

Chapter 1 - The First Missourians

We learned about Early Hunters, Woodland Indians, Hopewell People, Mississippi People, and Osage Indians. We learned about the Bering Strait, the transition from Hunters to Hunter-Gatherers to Farmers. And we learned about the changes to indian life after the Europeans came to Missouri.

Our focus was on the crossing of the Bering Strait land bridge so we watched a Youtube video and conducted a hands-on demonstration.

Photo Credit

Eli chose to make a wigwam and Brynne chose to do a poster highlighting the life of Big Soldier. We are still working on those.

Chapter 2 - A Rich Land

This week focused primarily on Missouri's Four Geographic Regions: The Northern Plains, The Western Plains, The Ozark Highland, and The Southeast Highland. We also talked about Missouri's largest cities, its rivers and lakes, and its climate.

The kids each made a salt dough map of Missouri, including labels for the largest cities and the geographic regions. Then they painted them to reflect those regions and the major waterways in the state.

Field Trip

We traveled the 3 hours to Defiance, Missouri, to Homeschool Day at the Daniel Boone home. This is the home that was built by Daniel's son, Nathan, where Daniel and his wife Rebecca lived until Daniel's death in 1820. The home was quite extravagant for the day. The main floor had a parlor, large main entertainment room, and Daniel and Rebecca's bedroom. Upstairs were two very large bedrooms for Nathan, his wife and their many children. The basement housed the kitchen and family dining area.

The historic site is now home to Lindenwood Village. We went on a self-guided tour of the village seeing demonstrations such as fiddle playing, weaving, spinning, musket shooting, ax throwing, pottery, candle dipping, etc. The kids played some period games.

After our time at the Daniel Boone home, we drove the 30ish miles to St. Charles, Missouri. The historic section of St. Charles is astonishingly charming! The roads are brick, it's one block from the Missouri River and the railroad, and there are tons of shops and restaurants. I'd love to go back there for a weekend with my hubby.

We had lunch at Bradden's Restaurant. And then we went to Missouri's First State Capitol building. This was the most fascinating tour, and I am so glad that we decided to do it. In fact, all I could think while we were there is how deprived our public school kids are in their education. I wish I could take small groups of kids on trips to St. Charles for this tour. I learned so much, and so did the kids!

We sat in the exact room where the Missouri Compromises and Missouri Constitution were negotiated! It was overwhelming! We learned a lot of fun facts.

We walked through the office that housed four Missouri governors in just 5 1/2 years. The first Missouri governor actually beat out William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame in the first election. Clark's wife had become ill and he had to go to care for her and wasn't able to be on the campaign trail. Also, Alexander McNair was wealthy and was able to spend $10,000 on his campaign.

The capitol rooms were on the second floor of the Peck brothers' property. We also toured the grounds and saw the gardens and the wells. It has all been beautifully restored! In fact, it took 10 years to restore the property because the team did all of the restoration with period techniques and materials.

The first two weeks have been a lot of fun. Join us next Monday as we talk about Chapter 3 in Missouri: Then and Now.