Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

It's never too late to learn to do something you want to know how to do. I've always wanted to know how to sew.

Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Good deals on clothes. I love clothes and I love good deals even more. Oops. Read that question wrong the first time. I love to shop. I can't think of anything I don't like to shop for. Maybe bathing suits? Just because ick .... someone had that same one on without underwear before me. Thankfully, other than top size, I can pretty much just buy the same size bottoms these days without having to try them on first.

How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

Thanksgiving is still pretty much the same. We spend time with family and eat a lot. Now that I have my own family, though, we DVR the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade so that we don't have to get up early to watch it. Then we watch it later in the day. We also watch a Charlie Brown movie that evening, and sometimes a Christmas movie, too. We don't have to travel like we did when I was a kid because my parents just live a few blocks away, and their house is the only other place we will go. I will admit that in years past I have gone to Walmart for Black Friday deals in the evening, but this year I am not.

What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

Coffee mugs, items with birds on them, or pjs. These are a few of my favorite things.

If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would gladly be a victim to an unsub on Criminal Minds if it meant that Shamar Moore would save me (preferably with his shirt off).

Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop?

I grew up in the same small town where I currently live and we are surrounded by farms. I have never lived on one, but visited friends who did. We also have a large Amish community here and there are a couple of Amish stores that I frequent. I particularly like their eggs, jellies, spices, applesauce, and pickles. We also purchase all of our flowers from them in the Spring.

What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

I'm not going to say that I have experienced much awe and wonder in a good way here recently. In fact, with some of what I have seen going on I wonder what the heck is wrong with people! I mean, really, is Jesus coming back here pretty soon? He must be. The world has gone just bonkers. I am without words as to the cruelty, stupidity, and selfishness of people. It's just downright ridiculous!

Insert your own random thought here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat - This or That

I am thankful for a mindless Tuesday Coffee Chat this week. We have some heavy things going on in our family, so my brain cells are a little limited. Here we go ...

Heels or Sneakers ... Honestly, heels, but not dressy pumps, stilettos, etc. I have a high arch in my foot so a heeled boot feels so much better to me than a pair of tennis shoes. If I am wearing yoga pants or a hoodie and jeans and want to wear sneakers, I will wear them for a while. But once I get home I put on a pair of slippers instead. Sneakers are not comfortable to me long-term. But I can wear a pair of heeled boots all day, even shopping, without any problems.

Coke or Pepsi ... Makes no difference to me. I do like Diet Coke, but can drink a Diet Pepsi just as easily.

Instagram or Flickr ... Definitely IG, all day every day (@nikki_taulman).

Tomboy or Girlie Girl ... Neither. I am definitely somewhere right in the middle.

Nap or Read ... Now that one is not fair! If it is nap time, I might start out reading but the nap wins.

Karaoke or Bowling ... Bowling. I cannot stand to be up in front of somebody doing something I am not good at. Nobody is good at bowling so it's all good.

Pizza or Sushi ... I prefer my food cooked, so pizza.

Rain or shine ... Ahhh, a perfect rainy day. I love rainy days!!!

Single or Taken ... I am taken. It will be 15 years of marriage next summer.

Dress or Jeans ... Jeans.

Winter or Summer ... Winter. If it's not going to be a rainy day, I want it to be snowing.

Exercise or Couch ... I want it to be couch, but I make myself exercise.

Library or Cafe ... Ugh, another hard one. I love the library! I could spend hours in there! But I also love a Barnes and Noble with a Starbucks so I can look at books, grab one to take to read for a bit in the cafe.

Jock or Nerd ... Nerd.

Piano or Guitar ... Piano. I could listen to The Piano Guys all day long.

Marvel or DC ... My son will kill me, but I don't know the difference and I could care less. He loves Spiderman and I think he is Marvel, so I will say Marvel.

And that's it for this week.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Nothing Basic About It

You know how the last few weeks we have been home all the time and have really worked on the basics, those core subjects? Well, last week we were home pretty much all week, but nary a basic core subject was touched.

We took off for Thanksgiving Break starting last Friday. Since we were at a stopping point in several subjects and didn't want to start any new lessons with the upcoming break, we did more reading, lots more science, and delight-directed learning.

Plus, I have had some raging fall seasonal allergies going on and felt pretty cruddy all week. A constant sinus headache is so draining, so the kids doing lots of extra reading and primarily independent work was especially helpful last week.


One biggie was finishing Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury and then watching the movie. This was an excellent book that fit in perfectly with our studies of WWII. The movie was just as outstanding, and I will have a review of it on the blog next week. Also be looking for a giveaway!

Eli and Brynne are each taking a self-paced online course through UniversalClass. We are blessed that by having a library card through the Tulsa City-County Library System, we are able to enroll for courses for free. Eli chose Astronomy 101 and Brynne chose Dog Psychology 101. They each worked on their lessons for their courses this week. So far Brynne has only missed two questions on one quiz so has a very high score in her course. Eli has a 100% so far, and is waiting for the results of his first quiz.

I love these courses for the kids. It is the first time they have taken a content based online course, and it's not easy. They are having to read and learn materials, take notes, answer questions, and then take comprehension quizzes. In our homeschooling, we don't do a lot of that. It has been a stretch for them, but they are taking it right in stride. They are real life science courses, designed for children and adults ages 13 and older. Very proud mom here.

They also worked more on their inventions courses. Brynne learned about Steve Jobs in her Minecraft course and had to build an Apple Store in game. Eli watched a video from Mr. Wizard (remember him?) about magnetized motors and then one by Bill Nye, The Science Guy about inventions.

Eli finished How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse from the How to Train Your Dragon series, and Brynne is only a few pages away from finishing the next-to-the-last book in the original Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter. They did extra reading last week.

We did watch CNN Student News each day, especially in regard to the Paris terrorist attacks. We have been able to relate the attacks and the organization of ISIS to our studies of WWII. There are so many similarities, and I just have to wonder if the Obama Administration has ever studied any world history. Some eyes need to be opened, and in a hurry. That's all I'll say about that.

Another great science tool we use is the television show Brain Games. The kids watched a couple of episodes each day. The concepts are totally entertaining and teach a lot of interesting aspects of how our brains function. Crazy stuff, really.

The Victory Garden - Enrichment Class

In our enrichment class, we discussed the correlation between WWII and the current ISIS crisis just a tad bit in that American families and children were such a vital part of the war effort in WWII and we, as American families and children, still have the same responsibilities and power to help our country during unstable times. We discussed how helpless we can feel when things are going on outside our control, but there are things we can do, and that we should do them.

We watched the first half of the "We're All in this Together! How Students Like YOU Helped Win WWII", a virtual field trip sponsored by the WYES television station in conjunction with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

As a class we registered for the Museum's "Get in the Scrap" campaign, a service learning project. We will complete several different types of tasks and activities relating to recycling, energy, and the like, to earn points and prizes. As of now we are the only Missouri school, class, or other organization participating. We feel honored to represent Missouri in this campaign. My kids and their friends are really excited about it!

We also decided that we would participate in the Soldiers' Angels No-Sew Blanket Drive and make one blanket, as a group, to send to a serviceman/woman overseas. When I mentioned that they have an adopt-a-soldier program, where you commit to writing one letter per week to an active soldier and sending one care package per month, they jumped at the opportunity. They want us to adopt a soldier as a group and work together to make that soldier feel loved and remembered while on duty.

What a great group of kids! This little enrichment class started out as a chance for some of the kids' friends to come over once a week to read a couple of chapters out of "The Victory Garden" by Lee Kochenderfer and do some sort of activity, but has turned into so much more.

That's about all we accomplished this week, but it was all so good. The kids are really expanding their abilities to learn independently and about subjects of which they are interested. My goal for them was always that they have a desire to learn, and I can see that goal being reached. It's exciting!

Other Happenings

Kyndal turned 21 years old on Wednesday. All she wanted to do for her birthday was just go out to dinner as a family, so we went to Texas Roadhouse along with her in-laws, my parents, and her best friend and her boyfriend who is Collin's best friend. Of course she ordered a drink, just cause she could, but she's not a drinker so that was that. The restaurant made her climb on the saddle and do a little "Yee Haw!" She said the night was perfect. I agree. It was a lot of fun!

A Time of Giving

This week Cait at My Little Poppies posted about the recent cancer diagnosis of Carter, the little boy of one of her close friends. Cait is an Usborne Books and More representative and has graciously set up a party with all proceeds to go to Carter and his family. If you have plans to purchase books for anyone for Christmas gifts, or for any other reason, please consider going to THIS LINK and purchasing your books. Choose the party for "Victoria Parisi". I purchased books for my niece for Christmas and just had them shipped directly to her, letting my brother and sister-in-law know that the proceeds from my purchase were to help a child in need. Please consider helping their family. I know they would also appreciate your prayers.

The Weekend

We travelled to Oklahoma this past weekend for our annual Christmas trip. We usually stay at a hotel right next to Bass Pro Shops so that we have easy access to visiting the real Santa. We have given this Santa our Christmas lists for as long as I can remember. When we arrived, however, we learned that the hotel had all five of us booked in a single king-sized bed room. And they were out of others. So we had no hotel. We called around and around and around and ended up finding another hotel on the other side of town (that ended up costing us $100 more). It wasn't the greatest start to our weekend.

We did go immediately to see Santa. The lists have been delivered so we are now ready for Christmas!

The kids got to do some swimming in the hotel pool while Kyndal and I went to An Affair of the Heart where my niece was doing her first showing of her hand-made pottery. We did a little Christmas shopping there, went out to dinner with Rick and the little kids, and then Kyndal took off to spend some time with one of her friends from Oklahoma while Rick and I and the little kids went to see the Peanuts movie.

Here is where things went further downhill. We had a family member undergo a health crisis, and one of my kids was dealt the blow of cruelty and betrayal. We are still reeling from both of these things and undergoing sadness, fear, and exhaustion.

And so, now, it's Thanksgiving week. We are back home. I have a dirty house, laundry to do, and a grocery list and Thanksgiving preparations to make.

Sometimes life runs along swimmingly, and sometimes it is just yucky. These tough times put things into perspective for me. Family is all that matters. It is all that matters. I am thankful for my family. Hug yours tight today.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 331 3/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (90 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

Not much surprises me, unfortunately. But I guess the lack of care that people have of their own environment does baffle me. I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to have a well-kept home and yard, children who are truly loved and disciplined, pets that are cared for, a nurtured personal appearance. It's just a lack of care.

Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year ... awesome sauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fat berg, fat shame, angry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable. Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find the most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say outloud? Which word would you most likely to use in a conversation?

I am not saying I will not ever use one of these words in conversation, or even that I haven't. But just because we say a word doesn't mean it should be one. Good grief.

Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy ... which one on the list is your favorite?

Gravy is amazing. I love gravy on biscuits, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, even scrambled eggs. When I think of gravy, I think of my Grandma Alice and her friend chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was so good! I always make my gravy from scratch, in the way taught to me by my dad. Gravy making is an art form. It takes patience and care. I have to admit that I make a pretty good gravy.

Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces?

I always have a plan. My plans have plans. Of course I have plans fall apart, but my backup plan always steps right in to help.

November 19th is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

We do own Monopoly, but I don't like to play it because it takes too much commitment. I like short games. I doubt we'll be playing the game tomorrow. I have never been to Atlantic City, and I have no desire to go there. The kids and I have taken the train in St. Louis, just for fun, but I haven't gone on any long rides. We do have free parking in our town. It's only a population of about 2,900 so no parking enterprising going on here. I am not one for taking a chance. Refer to the "plan" question above.

A song that has the word (or some form of the word) "thanks" in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

Give Thanks (with a grateful heart) by Don Moen.

In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude ... what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

Peace. If you look next door, across the street, in another town or state or country or continent, you don't see much of it. Heck, most people don't even have peace in their own hearts. I do have an incredible amount of peace in my life, and I definitely take that gift from God for granted.

Insert your own random thought here.

Today my first baby girl turns 21 years old. I look at her now and just feel immense love and pride for the young woman she is. She has such intense hopes and dreams of being a good wife and, someday, a mom. She has grown so much as a woman, especially in the past year, and I beam with adoration. Her faith is strong and her tenacity is stronger. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. She's pretty darn amazing. And I love her! Happy birthday, Kyndal Jamison Werths!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

In the wake of the Paris tragedy, today's Tuesday Coffee Chat prompt is timely ...

What do you hope to be remembered for?

As I get older I realize how unimportant so many things are in this world. And one of those things is what other people think of me. I have just come to a place in my life where I don't sit and worry about it. I mean, I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others, bringing light and joy to their lives. I guess I hope that others see me as someone who has a strong faith and tries to live it out to her fullest, who has successes in that endeavor and who pushes through the failures. Chances are others will focus more on the failures. But, that's okay. Because, I think, in the end they will come to the conclusion that I am a fighter who never gives up.

The things I am willing to die on a mountain for have decreased over the years. Maybe I don't have the stamina and energy, maybe I have become calloused, or maybe I really do live by the saying that, "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff."

Really I just try to stay in my little house with my little family and love on all of them. It's not that I don't care about the outside world, it's that I care about them most.

So what do I hope to be remembered for?

That I was a devoted wife ...

That I was a fiercely protective and loving mother ...

That I was an active and involved grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother to the babies that will be born into this amazing family...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Basically Home

There weren't a lot of exciting things going on here this week, in a collage photo kind of way. But we were hunkered down doing some learning.

Don't you just love when all of your subject matter goes naturally cross-curricular? That happened several times this week and it made me smile.

Our studies of The Chronicles of Narnia and WWII have had several cross-overs. We are reading a great book called Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury. It is about the attack on Pearl Harbor through the eyes of Japanese boy living in Hawaii. We are also reading the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia Series: The Horse and His Boy. These are two completely unrelated books. However, their subject matter have criss-crossed with each other and some other resources.

For instance, Further Up and Further In (The Chronicles of Narnia unit study) raised the topic of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World because The Horse and His Boy referred to one of the "wonders" of Narnia. Then on CNN Student News there was a current story about the Great Pyramid of Giza. We watched that episode and then watched a couple of Youtube videos about the 7 Ancient Wonders and the current 7 Wonders.

Further Up and Further In also asked us to do an artist study of Winslow Homer, which we did based on his "High Cliff" painting. Then in preparing lessons for Veterans Day, one of Homer's paintings was a topic of discussion. That always amazes me because I had never even heard of Winslow Homer and then two separate lessons this week directed us to him.

Then, of course, in reading our text, WWII for Kids, we have come across many separate discussions  there and in our other books on The Battle of Midway, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Japanese Internment Camps. The imprisonment of the Japanese in America after the attack on Pearl Harbor was a big topic for us. We watched a video called "Japanese Relocation", which was total propaganda produced by the U.S. Government to convince the American people how happy the Japanese were to do their part for the war effort by moving into the camps. It was really disturbing to watch, and the kids were pretty frustrated by it.

The last subject we learned in our unit studies was about horses. We watched a video about Parts of a Horse and then the kids took an online quiz. We also watched a video about the history of war horses.

We actually spent all week at home again. Hallelujah! It gave us the opportunity to get those basics done and explore some of our WWII topics more deeply.

Veteran's Day didn't turn out as we had hoped. I had plans for us to do some things that we just didn't get to, which was a real bummer. Dawson wanted me to go with him to his college advisor appointment to help him with enrollment for next semester, so that took me out of the house for a couple of hours in the morning. (Thankfully my kids are rockstars and they were able to stay home and do their clipboard lessons and read alone without supervision.)

Eli had speech therapy in the afternoon, and then we had our The Victory Garden enrichment class scheduled for that afternoon for an hour before basketball practice. Some of our Veteran's Day activities were planned for during that time. But Brynne ended up not feeling well so we had to cancel the class, and she needed to skip basketball practice.

We do still have one activity we are planning on doing next week for one U.S. military active duty member. We are going to make a no-sew blanket as part of Soldiers' Angels. I am going to have all six of the kids in our class tie some of the ties and prepare a card to send.

The Basics

We moved right through our core subjects this week. We watched CNN Student News each day, read out of McGuffey's and copied one paragraph from each selection, finished Lesson 8 of Soaring with Spelling learning the exceptions to the ie/ei rules, completed another week of lessons from Fix It Grammar: Robin Hood, finished our final lesson in Volume 2 of Mastering 5th Grade Math doing subtraction word problems, and each of the kids read out of their personal books.

The kids love having daddy home during school days.
Eli said, "Daddy just makes school more fun."

Freedom Friday

We had a big day on Friday! Lots got accomplished!

Brynne started her new Minecraft class called Einstein's Space. She learned about electrons and electricity with magnetic forces and designed her own inventor's home and lab in game. Eli, at the same time, read the book I am Albert Einstein by Brad Meltzer. He will be working the next few weeks with a kit called Inventions by ScienceWiz. This week he did the lessons on Coils, Coils, Coils, built a motor and learned how the motor works.

Both kids also started their new self-paced online classes from UniversalClass. Brynne is taking Dog Psychology 101 and Eli is taking Astronomy 101. Each of them got into their programs and started their lessons. Brynne learned about why we would want to study the minds of dogs. She did her introduction assignment, lesson 1, and took a quiz. So far she has received 30 out of 30 points. Eli's assignment had him locating the moon and a pole star. Lucky for him, I gave Rick one of his Christmas presents early, a telescope, so the two of them spent some time looking at the waxing crescent the last two nights. He will submit his lesson answers tomorrow based on his observations.

Finally, we snuggled up in the living room with popcorn and watched "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

On an unrelated note, this little girl had to deal withs some tough stuff
this week. She is an absolute rockstar and words cannot describe how
proud I am of her or how much I love her.

Other Stuff

I mentioned earlier that Dawson went to enroll for the spring semester at his junior college. He has expressed that he does not plan to go onto college after he receives his associate degree. He has just really had a hard time deciding what he might want to do with his future. At one time he thought he might want to be a history teacher, but he feels that he could not work under the constraints of the federal government in teaching school.

We had discussed that I thought it would be a good idea for him to move more into a direction of a tech degree so that when he completes his two years of college that he would, at least, have something that he could take with him and actually get a job in that field. He talked with his advisor and learned that they have an associate degree in computer programming, which is something of which he is very interested.

He learned that the courses he has taken so far fit in that degree, that he will not have to take College Algebra but can take Business Math instead, and that he does not have to take Public Speaking because he took a bridge course this semester of Comp I and Comp II. He can also complete the degree within the time constraints of his A+ Scholarship. So next semester he enrolled for four courses, two of which are online. He only has to be on campus on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and again on Thursday night. He is pumped!! And I am really excited for him!

Next Year

How early do you start making plans for next year? I always try to have a general idea of what we will study for the next few years. Last night, for some reason, I got inspired to plan our history and science topic areas for next year. I am thinking that we will do a full year study of Greek Mythology using D'Aulaire's Greek Myths and Green Myths study books from Memoria Press. For science we will focus on Astronomy using The Book of Astronomy from Memoria Press and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth and Space. We always enjoy spending a whole year reading a related literature series (last year Little House on the Prairie, this year The Chronicles of Narnia), so we are going to read aloud the five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

If anyone has any suggestions for additional resources, please pass them along! Or if you own any of these resources that you would be willing to sell for cheap, let me know!!

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 317 1/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (90 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?

The kids and I have been doing an exhaustive study of World War II this year for our history studies. Veteran's Day has taken on a whole new meaning during this study. To me, on Veteran's Day we need to be letting a Veteran, or many, know how much they are loved, that they are not forgotten, that we are grateful for the horror he or she endured for our freedom. We are definitely doing something tangible for some WWII veterans and for one person currently in the military this Veteran's Day. We can't do a lot, but we can do what we can.

What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

In the 80's my dad loved the movie "Uncommon Valor". We watched it many, many times together. It ranks up there as one of my favorites.

Flu shot - yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

No flu shots for us. We have all had the flu in years past. In fact, the sickest I have ever been has been while having the flu. But the flu shot is a crap shoot guess at which of a gazillion strains it might be this year, and I don't see the sense in putting my kids through a traumatic shot on the very off chance there might be a prevention against the flu.

Plus, the flu is a virus that needs to be cared for like any other virus, and with proper care it can be. I know when someone in my family has the flu the second he or she wakes up on that first morning and looks at me. It's the flu eyes. It's undeniable. When it happens, the sick one hits the couch and that becomes his or her bed for the duration. I immediately put on some chicken breasts to make homemade chicken and noodles. Green tea, tons and tons and tons of water, are poured down that person. I buy the "flu foods". I put the vaporizer right next to the sick bed with eucalyptus essential oil diffusing directly onto the sicky. The sick one takes lot of baths with eucalyptus oil. We call off school and sleep, sleep, sleep. Thieves oil is placed on the feet bottoms with socks. Soft tissues are purchased. And the over-the-counter meds are given routinely. I have a regimen that I always give. And the pour little sick person covers his or her face several times a day when I spray the heck out of their sick area with Lysol.

We always try to be on the defensive to the flu, but this year are taking it more seriously. We are running Thieves in our diffuser all day in the living room and then I move it to the kids' room at night. The kids religiously take their vitamins and Immune C gummies. Every day while doing schoolwork the kids and I all drink a cup of green tea. We are keeping the house clean, keeping ourselves clean, and getting lots of rest. We get to bed at a reasonable hour each night, and I let the kids sleep in a bit in the morning so they are well rested.

I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?

I absolutely refuse to put up our Christmas tree, or any Christmas decorations, until the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. It's all about family. And I don't want us to be distracted with the hoopla of Christmas.

On the topic of the Starbucks cups, I read this quote: "I think Starbucks has gotten the message that the Christian majority in this country has awakened and are demanding that our voice be heard." ~ Joshua Feuerstein (ignorant former pastor who calls himself a "social media personality" and makes Christians look stupid.)

Really? The Christian majority doesn't give a poo what color cup they are drinking out of at Starbucks or whether or not it has a Christmas symbol on it. I would gather that the Christian majority is more concerned about how much is being spent at Starbucks on over-priced drinks when that money could be used to help someone in need, especially this holiday season.

Of course we will decorate for Christmas. Of course we will enjoy each and every moment of the holiday season, and we'll enjoy it big! But we will first give each holiday its due, including Eli's birthday that is three days before Christmas. We will concentrate on family and giving and loving. I have pared down our decorations dramatically over the years! I just don't want the focus to be on decorating (Plus it's a lot of work that I end up doing the majority of myself and cleaning up the majority of myself, and there's more important things on my list of things to do.)

What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

Snakes. Because, snakes.

Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

Um, I don't really have an opinion about building things. I don't have a problem doing it, necessarily, if I need to, but I just don't find the need to very often. The thing that stands out was an adirondak chair I put together way back when Kyndal was a baby. I am sure I have put some other things together over the years, but that one stands out for some reason.

In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude ... what you are most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

My house. Every day when I run I always make sure I finish by coming up the street toward the front of my house so that I can see it calling me back to it. Home is where the heart is ...

Insert your own random thought here.

I think I am one of six people who love the end of Daylight Savings. I enjoy it being light when I wake up in the morning so I can drink my coffee and read my Bible in the sunlight. And I absolutely LOVE that it gets dark at 5:00 p.m. If you are a true homebody, you get it. I like that my people are all home and ready to stay home early in the evening.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

This morning's Tuesday Coffee Chat is a simple one ... Do you volunteer?

I used to volunteer for everything, especially at church, especially if it involved planning something (cause I love to plan!). But through the years I have realized what a toll it takes on me to do so. When I do something I do it all the way so I found myself making my volunteering activities a priority over my family.

I have scaled way back.

I only volunteer to do two things:

I teach the 4th-6th grade Sunday school class at church. We attend a small Methodist church in our small town (the same Methodist church where I grew up) and I only have a class of about 4-8 kids. Two of those are my own.

But they are a great group of kids, and I enjoy teaching them. Teaching is my spiritual gift, and I feel as if I am disappointing God if I don't use it for His glory.

My other volunteering activity involves teaching, also. On Wednesday afternoons the kids and I host an enrichment class with four of their friends. We have all the kids over for a couple of hours to learn about WWII. We do activities, have snacks, read aloud out of our book, and then they play. When this class is over, we are thinking of dividing up the boys and girls for two separate classes: a Lego class for the boys and a creative writing class for the girls using their Beanie Boos as their muses. We are still thinking about that one.

And that's pretty much it.

And for now that's enough.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ HOMEschooling

What a great and much-needed week! Why so great? We spent it at HOME actually HOMEschooling!

See us there? We are at HOME! (And I look horrid
because I was recovering from the time change AND
extra innings that brought home the crown for our
KC Royals the night before!)

This pretty much sums up my Monday.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in running around and seeing and experiencing all because we are homeschoolers and we can! And if you read my wrap-ups regularly, you have seen that we have been out and about a great deal during the last month. Although that is lots of fun and very educational, I find that we need these weeks where we stay snuggled up in comfy clothes with books and clipboards in hand getting some of those 3R's accomplished. Sometimes you just gotta do your math!

And this week we did just that. And it felt good!


Sometimes I feel like all we do is read. We read out loud, we read together, we read alone, we read history, we read literature, and we read fluff just for fun. We read and we learn.

The Chronicles of Narnia. This week we completed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Next week we move on to The Horse and His Boy. Such a great series. So great. And the Biblical applications. Talk about some great discussions.

Under the Blood Red Sun. In our study of WWII we are reading this piece of historical fiction. Another great selection. We also have the newly released movie to watch when we have finished the book, and I will be writing a review on it. Today's reading left us with the attack on Pearl Harbor from the perspective of the main character, a young Japanese boy residing in Hawaii. Heavy.

McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader. Oh, I am still so glad that I decided to have us read a piece out of McGuffey's each day. It has exposed my kids to such great writing, schools of thought, and grammar. The kids have asked why we read it, and all I can say to them is that someday they will look back and be so glad that we did.

Personal Reading. Eli is still reading from the series of How to Train Your Dragon. He is on the fourth book of eleven. Brynne has almost completed the fifth book in the Warrior Cats series (Erin Hunter) and will be reading the last book in the next week or so. They both love these series! It is so great to watch your children enjoy reading! Somedays they say, "Can't we just read the rest of the day?"


It was nice this week to take our time with our spelling lessons (ie/ei rules from Soaring with Spelling), daily grammar with Fix-It Grammar, Robin Hood, and copywork out of McGuffey's (again, the kids may not notice the benefit in copying out of this, but the consistency in copying excellent writing will be a great benefit to them in the coming years).


We have successfully moved through our lessons on adding fractions from word problems. I have been so proud of the improvement in their abilities to accomplish this concept. Fractions is not easy work, but they are doing so well. We only have two more lessons left in Mastering Fifth Grade Math Volume 2, and I need to get Volume 3 ordered asap. They will be learning multiplying and dividing fractions in the next volume.


We had some fun with science this week in doing some lessons on Light.

We learned about reflection, refraction, and absorption with some videos (Bill Nye and Study Jams) and with cool activities. The rainbow paper was especially awesome!

The old reverse arrow, bending pencil, and which rock is hotter activities.

And we learned about phosphorescence and bioluminescence doing another cool activity.


The decision to study WWII this year was a good one! This week we began learning about the Japanese role in the war, and introduced the attack on Pearl Harbor. We watched the Infamy speech by FDR on Youtube. Short and sweet. They were lying to us. They ambushed us. It's on.

The Victory Garden - Enrichment Class

This week we read a couple more chapters out of our book and then they worked on a Pearl Harbor crossword puzzle together. They worked on teams again, boys and girls, and had to research the answers. I am not sure how much the public school kids get to work in teams at school, but that is something that is difficult to do in homeschooling. It has been great to see my two working on a team project in our enrichment class.

Freedom Friday

We have settled into a good routine on Fridays. In the morning we finish up anything we didn't get completed during the week, the kids do some extra reading out of their personal books, and then they spend time working on their Minecraft and Roller Coaster Tycoon assignments. Starting next week they will also be working on their Dog Psychology 101 and Astronomy 101 self-paced online classes. This week Brynne started a new Minecraft class all about Albert Einstein. Eli finished up some activities in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and next week will also move onto some assignments about Albert Einstein, doing more hands-on activities from a fun kit I purchased. It's nice to be able to leave them home alone to do their work while Kyndal and I go to do our grocery shopping. They have truly upped their game in the area of responsibility this year.

Extra Activities

Basketball season has begun for Brynne. I am really excited about this season because I think the coaching is going to be excellent! To me, good coaching is so much better than good players. I am looking forward to the season.

Eli and Brynne have also started their third bowling season. The Cobras bowl for two hours each Saturday morning preparing for one of our favorite weekends of the year: state bowling tournament. That is always a lot of fun! We get to travel, stay in a hotel, do some shopping, go out to dinner, swim in the hotel pool, and do lots of bowling! Again, I am looking forward to a great year!

And I was a BAD blogging mom and never got our Halloween post up! So, here are some pics of our costumes on Halloween night. We had a great time collecting candy up and down Main Street in our town and at the Baptist Church trunk-or-treat, going door-to-door, and eating hot dogs at the Methodist Church. I like the way our town does Halloween. It's safe, short and sweet, and provides just enough candy to make everyone happy. It was a great night!

Eli was James Bond. Brynne was a Pokemon trainer. Kyndal was a sexy Bambi, and Collin hunted her down.

We also had family portraits taken, for the first time since 2008! And it was raining the whole time. The previews are amazing! I can't wait to see the rest and get the photos up on the wall.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 284 1/2 hours out of 1,000 required hours (84 1/2 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?

Kyndal turns 21 on November 18th, so that's an exciting milestone. But the event I always look forward to is our yearly Christmas trip back to Tulsa. We usually go in December, but our niece is showcasing her pottery at An Affair of the Heart, which is a pretty big deal, so we are going back that weekend, instead. We always stay in the kids' favorite hotel, go out to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant, visit Santa (the real Santa) at Bass Pro Shops, walk through the amazing Rhema Bible College Christmas lights (although I think we will miss those this year since we are going so early in the season), and visit with family and friends.

If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

I would send it to Dawson's employer and her son. Last week they ordered and presented to him as a gift a brand new laptop computer for him to use not only at work but also for his schooling. He is very grateful to them for caring for him, and so am I.

Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite ... bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

I love bread. I love any kind of bread. Choosing one of these breads as my favorite is hard for me to do. I guess I would have to say cinnamon bread. In fact, I don't have any at home right now, but I can make some cinnamon toast with wheat bread and I think I'll go have some for a snack right now!

What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

Comfy clothes. Heck yeah it's a good thing! Being comfortable is important, especially being home all day every day. "Comfy clothes" doesn't have to equal being a slob. You can be well put together and still be comfortable. I love my yoga pants, hoodies, workout shirts and tanks, cardigans, and comfortable shoes. Wearing comfy clothes most of the time also makes dressing up extra special and fun.

November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who is your favorite redhead?

We don't have any redheads in our family. And I don't really even know any redheads. I guess I will just choose Emma Stone. I think she's cute (if her real hair color is even red).

The travel website Busbud ( recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go to to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA, answer it as it relates to your state, city or province.

I am a little surprised that Lake of the Ozarks is the most Instragrammed location in Missouri, although I love it there. My parents have a house on the lake, so I do have multiple photos taken there. I would have thought that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis would have taken the top spot. I do have photos taken there over the years, as well.

I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question ... What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

I have learned that I am an introvert. But with that I have also learned that some members of my family are not. It's hard for me not to expect everyone else to accept me the way I am and to adapt to my needs. But they have needs, as well, and I cannot be selfish all of the time. I'm not going to lie, it's pretty hard at times. But being aware of it makes me more conscious to other's needs. I am hoping to find a balance of taking care of my introverted needs while improving in taking care of the extroverted needs of those in my family who are made that way.

Insert your own random thought here.

What a fun ride!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Okay, first this ...

Do you know that I set my alarm to get up extra early so that I can have enough time to drink enough coffee before I start my day? I really do that.

Now while I enjoy said coffee, onto today's Tuesday Coffee Chat:

If you could teleport, where would you go?

I have never been here, but right now I can't think of anyplace I would rather be ... A cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Doesn't that look like Heaven?

I would love to rent a huge cabin in the mountains and take my whole family for a week of pjs, coffee, hot cocoa, board games, food, hikes, reading, and movie watching.

Maybe someday.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Field Trips Aren't Just for Kids

It was another abnormal and fun week in our homeschool. For the biggest homebody family in the world, we have been anywhere but home the past few weeks.

Bothwell Lodge

We had a school day on Sunday when we tagged along with Dawson on a field trip. For Dawson's college History Before 1877 class he had to tour a historic site. He chose a place we have wanted to visit for several years: Bothwell Lodge in Sedalia, Missouri.

Bothwell Lodge is a mansion that was built by John Homer Bothwell between the years of 1897 and 1928. Mr. Bothwell, in Dawson's opinion, was the Gatsby of Missouri in the late 1800's. And I think he was right. He was an eccentric guy who created a retreat for himself, some family members, and about 30 of his closest friends. It was always a party at Bothwell Lodge. The furniture in the lodge all belonged to Mr. Bothwell, and his personal library contains an exquisite collection of first edition books. I cannot even imagine the valuation of his library.

The little kids and I approached the lodge from the perspective of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, since we are currently reading that book. We imagined that this was the country home that the children were sent to in the evacuation of World War II. It would have been very similar.

Midweek Schooling

Because of our long day on Sunday and the crazy previous couple of weeks, we took Monday as a Life Skills day. I did laundry and cleaned house, and the kids and I organized their bedroom. Tuesday and Wednesday we spent a lot of time reading and then reviewing some complicated math concepts. We want to be sure that we completely understand the concept of subtracting mixed and improper fractions. This has been difficult, but after this week I am confident we are ready to continue to the next concept.

I want to pause here to express, which I have done before, how grateful I am for the opportunity to homeschool my children. I cringe at the thought of my kids sitting in a classroom where they have had one day to master a difficult math concept and then being forced to move on whether or not they have it mastered. We took three weeks on this one fraction concept because I wanted to make sure the kids really had it before we moved onto another concept. In public school, they would not have that luxury.

Wednesday afternoon Eli had speech therapy. I am seeing a breakthrough with him where he is actually starting to recognize that he might stutter and using his techniques to help him through those instances. I am so proud of his progress!

The Victory Garden

We also hosted our weekly enrichment class on Wednesday. This week we read a couple of chapters out of The Victory Garden and then discussed propaganda posters created to entice American citizens to do their part in the war effort, such as collecting scrap metal and bacon grease, purchasing war bonds, and making personal gardens. Then I grouped the kids into girls and boys and had them work to create their own propaganda poster. The boys went right to work and completed their poster. I was very impressed with how they worked together to come up with their concept and then got right to work on it. They finished it very quickly and did a great job!

The girls took quite a bit more time coming up with their ideas and each started on their portion of the poster. They didn't get it completed so are going to come an extra hour early next week to get it done. I was really happy with the kids' interest level this week.

Warm Springs Ranch - Clydesdales

Yesterday we took another field trip. (This will be our last field trip for a while. Whew!) Kyndal has been wanting to tour the breeding facility of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. And we are getting ready to move onto the third book in the Chronicles of Narnia series: The Horse and His Boy. Our Further Up and Further In study based on the series suggested that we go on a field trip to a horse farm, so this was the perfect opportunity to do it. (Plus it was a nice birthday gift for Kyndal.)

We had a great day! We learned so much about the horses and the process of breeding them and getting them ready for hitching training. We saw Andrew who is in the Budweiser commercials, Duke who is a very large and very sweet retired hitching horse, and a few of the babies, including Moose who was named after Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals.

Go Royals! Take the Crown!

Today and the Weekend

This evening we have family photos (if it doesn't rain ... please don't rain). We haven't had a formal portrait of our family taken since 2008.

So today the kids are working on their Minecraft and Roller Coaster Tycoon classwork, watching some Brain Games and doing some more reading. We will be finishing the day early today for our photos. I've got chicken in the crockpot for BBQ chicken sandwiches when we get home and then we will be settling in for Game 3 of the World Series.

Of course tomorrow is Halloween and we are ready with our costumes. Brynne is being a Pokemon trainer, Eli is going to be James Bond, and I'm even going to dress up a little bit this year.

Next week, God willing, we will be home each and every day. We are going to do a full at-home school week hitting all of our subjects. As much fun as we have had the past few weeks, I am really looking forward to a week actually HOMEschooling.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 253 1/2 hours out of 1,000 required hours (81 1/2 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.