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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life in the midst

Our Tuesdays and Thursdays are busy.  Chaotic.  Loud.  Full.  And yet we get it done.  These are the days that we have three extra kiddos over for school.  These are the days I am most organized and we get the most done!  They are also the days that I am most tired.

Tuesday nights Steven and the kids have BSF and it is a late night.  Mondays we have our homeschool group and play practice.  Wednesdays we have youth group for the two older ones, gymnastics for the 8yo, and Steven has a mentoring meeting.  At the moment Thursdays and Fridays evenings are clear but soccer will start very soon...

School seems to be the main focus of our lives but that isn't the whole truth.  Life is our main focus.  Life within our family and life for each individual.  Growing adults that love to learn and love others because they love Jesus is the main focus. 

But that seems to get lost in and among Math, Science, History, and all the other subjects we have to get done.  School takes over everything and becomes our everything.

I don't like that.  I want something more than just academics for our kids.  I just haven't figured out how to do that on a regular basis.  I guess I will settle for living life in the midst of all the other stuff that happens!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another play...

Just like last year our homeschool group is doing a play. We held auditions in September, I think, and have practiced on Mondays after our group since. The practices have been a little rough becuase the play is longer and more everything than last years. We are using costumes and lighting this year.

The play is super funny and I am excited for the kids to perform. If they would only learn their lines! It has been a little scary the last few weeks and we perform the 7th and 8th of February.

We are not ready.

There are some parts that are absolutely dead on and hilarious. But there are parts that are so not ready and terrifying.

They will get there. I know they will. They love to perform and want it to be the best it can be so they will get it done.

I love this group of kids and am honored to be working with them. But this year we had so much sickness and kids gone for various reasons that we haven't had very many practices with everyone there. And that is frustrating.

But it will okay. It will be okay. It will...

Oh, I forgot we are doing Cinderella Redux by Mike Noland from Big Dog Publishing and we love it. There were a few spots we had to change to make it appropriate for our kids and audience but on the whole we have really enjoyed using it.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homeschool Mosaics

I keep forgetting to post about Homeschool Mosaics.  I have mentioned it but I want to really focus on it today.  Homeschool Mosaics is a medley of many different writers with personalities just as varied.  We are a mish-mash of opinions, ideas, and methods and we all come together to offer our wisdom, advice, and friendship to whoever reads it.  Homeschoolers and the reasons they chose to homeschool are as different as the cars we drive.  They are all cars and get us from one place to another but they look different, we use them differently, and they go at different speeds. 

But they all get us there.

Homeschool Mosaics offers so many articles that I have no doubt you will find something to encourage you or make you laugh. 

From the website:
Our goal here at Homeschool Mosaics is to support homeschoolers – we want to reach you where you are, and encourage you on your journey.  Because we know that each homeschool is different and unique, we’ve put together a group of authors here who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.  Boxed curriculum, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical, relaxed, eclectic . . . you name it, we’ve got it.
We hope that you will find some writers that you can relate to.  Maybe you will also “meet” some new people with new ideas who will inspire you.  We know that sometimes the road seems long and hard, but the end result is so worth it.  And we believe in you . . . YOU CAN DO IT!
Please take the time to get to know us!  And be sure to leave comments and share your thoughts and opinions. Questions are welcome also!
If you like what you see here, we hope you’ll share with your friends.  Feel free to grab one of our buttons to post on your blog.  We’d also love to have you follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  Sign up via e-mail to be notified of new posts too!

Here is a list of the articles I have posted.  My column A Day in the Life is nothing dramatic or earth shattering.  It is just a place I share a little about our lives.  It is sometimes gritty or laughable but it is always real.   If you read my articles you will find out just how crazy life can be in a house of six females!  My poor husband might achieve saint status before this journey is through. 

There are forty contributing writers on our site including Todd Wilson, Lee Binz, Davis & Rachael Carman, Leah Nieman, to name a few! 

Head over to our website and poke around a while; I'm sure you will find something that speaks to you.  Don't forget to leave some comment love on any article you enjoy!

Our Week

School has been happening.  And it's actually been going pretty well! lol  We are plugging away every day and getting things done. 

We could do better.  We could always do better.  But, the kids are learning and remembering so something is going well.  ;-) 

Math is continuing to work for us.  Math U See has saved me more times than I can count!  I love it.  The kids love it too and isn't that the main thing?  If they don't like the curriculum then they won't do it. 

Tapestry of Grace is still the perfect fit for our family. We are studying Year 4-20th Century this year. We are a history loving family and TOG fills our desire to study all things history.  We have lively discussions about what we are learning and find things we know and remember from the past that we get excited to share!

Apologia is our go to science for the older kids and it is still working well.  Our homeschool group is doing Biology with the high schoolers and we are doing General Science here at home.  The youngers are doing Christian Kids Explore and Considering God's Creation.  We are really liking both of those too.

Our new writing curriculum is IEW's Student Writing Intensive.  We are struggling through it but I think we are figuring it out.  I think it is a great course I just wish I was a better writer so I could teach it better.  ;-)

Visual Latin just might my favorite (apart from TOG).  We love, love, love Duane and how he presents Latin.  They are super fun to watch and you don't realize you are learning. 

Growing with Grammar is another hit for us.  The younger two are still using it this year and our 8th grader keeps commenting that she would like to do it again!  Unfortunately they only go up through 8th grade. 

Our schedule is a work in progress.  As always.  It seems to be a fluid thing that morphs and changes with the changing moment!  We did away with the 30 min. increment schedule and now just schedule what needs done for the day/week.  I keep my Ultimate Homeschool Planner (which is completely fabulous and I ADORE it! Now it comes in another cover option that I must have!) right beside me to mark off subjects and assignments as they are done.  Planning is done on Sunday nights or Monday afternoons and then they bring their planners to me.  At the end of the day all subjects need to be marked off by me or the day isn't done. 

So that is kind of our week and how school is going.  No, we are not the family on the cover of a magazine but we are squeaking by!!  (We could, however, have our own reality show!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Homeschool Happenings-TPA

We are blessed to have a local homeschool organization that coordinates graduations, conventions, field trips, and intercedes for us with the government.  Most of us take it for granted because it is always there. 

No longer. 

For the last few years I have had a building passion for the local homeschool convention.  The big conventions have bells and whistles and have advertising budgets that seemingly never end but let me tell you-they are cold and impersonal.  I have been to one of the 'big' ones and left with a lonely feeling.  There were tons of speakers-too many in my opinion-and a thousand vendors to roam through and still I felt lonely.  It wasn't personal to my area or people I knew. 

I guess what I'm saying is that it was sterile.  A cookie cutter homeschool idea that chaffed a bit.  I probably would go back to one if I knew some people that were going but I wouldn't seek it out.

Our local convention on the other hand is entirely different.  It is put on by our local Teaching Parents Association and they are involved in the homeschooling community here.  They are involved with the families the serve.  It shows in the convention.  They work hard to bring us vendors and speakers that will speak to where we are as a community and as families.  No, it isn't as big as the flashy conventions but it supports our community and our families in a way that those big ones can't. 

Another thought is that if we don't support our local conventions they will eventually go away.  Most of us are nowhere near a hub city that hosts a big convention so consequently we might never get to attend one.  And that's a shame.  There is something to be said for the camaraderie that is found on the vendor floor!

Teaching Parents Association (TPA) is a wonderful organization that supports our local homeschoolers in a variety of ways.  They have a monthly newsletter with articles and the latest happenings around the area.  They also have a website and Facebook page.  Check them out.  Like the FB page and show them your support.  Even if you are not local to the TPA, support them so that those that are local can hang on to them.  I am going to be working with them on their social media side to get the word out and help homeschoolers connect with each other and the resources out there.

Here is a bit of an article from the latest newsletter.  To read the full article head on over here on the TPA website and sign up for email delivery to come directly to you every month.

If You Ask About My Child
Carol Barnier
2013 TPA Convention Speaker

 At your homeschool support group you run into an old friend you haven’t seen in quite some time. You do a bit of catch-up, the chit chat goes on for awhile, and then, here it comes—the question you’ve been dreading—“So, how’s that daughter [or son] of yours doing?”     

 Paste on that smile. Take in a quick breath, but inside, die . . . just a bit. Of course, you know precisely which child she’s talking about—the one who surprised you all by turning her back on God, then the family, then all that you value, finally stepping solidly into the world and away from faith. Yeah. That kid.     

You are now at a crossroads in this conversation.
How will you respond?     
Well, you could choose Path A—tell the truth.     

My kid is in deep spiritual trouble. Her father and I are heartbroken. It’s been incredibly painful to watch her make so many poor choices. It’s even possible that we will not see the face of our child in heaven. And what’s more, we’re worried it might be our fault. Thanks for asking.     

Or, you could try Path B and do that little church-speak dance.     

Well, she’s finding herself, trying to determine what it is God wants of her at this point in her life. We’re still hoping she’ll become a surgeon on the mission field, but that may be more our wishes than God’s. [Insert quick laugh.] We’ll just have to wait and see. [Quick redirect.] So how’s your little Bobby doing? Is he still sending all his money to that orphanage in the Sudan? [Raise eyebrows, indicating eager anticipation. Wait for listener to launch into a Bobby-Praise report.]     

 I completely understand if the truth model makes your palms sweat. Frankly, hesitation is justified. There’s a good chance that if you open your heart and share your pain transparently with this sister in Christ, you may get whacked for it. By that I mean , she may be very quick to let you know that you must have screwed up somehow, or your child would have been faithful to the God of her youth.     

You would not be the first parent bludgeoned with the famous but misused “Train up a child . . .” passage from Proverbs. I know that many people still buy into the oft- believed but yet unscriptural interpretation that your child can not go wrong if you have parented right. But think about it …this interpretation would require God to become your vending machine.  Plug in just the right mix of coins and God is obligated to produce the snack treat of your choice.

To finish this article and read the rest of the TPA Newsletter head over to their website and sign up.  While you're there poke around and see what else they have to offer!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My New Glasses

I have been needing new glasses for a while now but I didn't want to shell out the $$. For the last few years our eye doc has said that I could get bi-focals or not; it was up to me. But, I would know when I would need them.

I know.

I have been sliding my glasses down the bridge of my nose for the better part of a year and I'm tired of it. The kids continually think I'm angry bc I'm looking down my nose at them! lol And now I'm getting crick in my neck from bending my head to look over my glasses.

Yeah, my life is hard!

But no longer. Steven and I went tonight and chose new glasses. The girls were a little scared to let us go on our own-we evidently couldn't be trusted to get glasses that would look good on us! In their defense, I don't look good in too many styles so it was a little scary. We left them home anyway and went for it.

We found some glasses for Steven pretty quickly and finally found some for me. I really like them. A lot.

And, they aren't like every other pair I have ever had. Wanna see them?

I love them. Steven loves them. The girls love them.

Whatcha think?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Church Meetings

Tonight we went to a church meeting/family meeting.  It started out with a traditional German Mennonite snack-New Year's Cookies.  They are a donut type things with either apples or raisins in them and glaze on the outside.  They are yummy! 

I won't tell you how many we ate!! 

But anyway, at this meeting we were deciding a few things like what to do with the overage of money from last year.  Yes, you read that right.  Our church had extra money from the budgeted items.  That included over and above giving and moneys saved from not spending as much as was budgeted. 

I won't tell you the amount but let me say that it is six figures.  I know, right?  We belong to a very generous church that is very much willing to give more than required.  We decided to give a chunk of the extra money away to fund many missions projects we support as well as multiple other things our church supports through out the year.

I am floored by the amount of money our church didn't spend last year.  They are conservative with their spending-really seeking God how to wisely use their money.  I also appreciated the fact that the recommendations were put to the church body and we got to help decide how to spend the money.  Our thoughts were listened to and discussion was encouraged to work through the decisions.

I really felt like I had a hand in making the decisions in our church.  

Have I mentioned that I really love our church? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our Pantry Door

A while ago I painted the inside and outside of our pantry door with chalkboard paint. It was a spur of the moment decision and usually I regret those after about 10 minutes! I'm thinking about a certain green paint I found, bought, and used in our bedroom years ago. When Steven saw it he said it looked like someone threw up on the wall. Yeah, not a good impulsive decision maker here.

But, this time I have not regretted it one bit. I have loved it so much. So has the rest of the family.

We use the inside of the door for our menus for the upcoming two week pay period and the outside we use for notes to each other, medicine schedules, phone numbers, etc. It is super handy and oh so fun.

Here is the latest drawings/notes left by one of the kiddos:

And here is the inside of the door:

Pretty cool, huh? Well, we love it anyway!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Homemade Pretzel Yumminess

Tonight Steven got together with his brothers to celebrate one of their birthdays so it was just the girlies at home. 

Party anyone?!

We got some snack food but decided to make our own pretzels too.  It is super easy and oh so stinkin' yummy we have a hard time eating just one.  Or two...

Here is the recipe so you can make them yourself.

Easy Pretzel Recipe

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 t.)
1/8 cup warm water (105 degrees)
1 & 1/3 cups warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/8 cup warm water.  Stir in 1 & 1/3 cups warm water, 1/3 cup brown sugar and flour.

Beat until smooth.  Knead dough until smooth and elastic.  Heat oven to 475 degrees.

In a saucepan, measure 2 T baking soda to each cup of water.  Place enough to fill saucepan.  Boil soda and water.

Tear off some dough and roll a pencil shape with hands.  Form into pretzel shape.

Place twisted pretzel in water for 15 seconds until dough is golden or yellow in color.  (ours never turn yellow or golden and if you leave them too long they ruin.)  Remove from boiling water and place onto SALTED cookie sheet.  **very important or they will stick**

Salt top of pretzel with coarse salt.  Place cookie sheet with pretzels into oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until pretzel is golden brown.  (ours did not take more than 6 minutes)

That's all there is.  Easy, huh?  Here's what they look like:

I think I might have to have another one if I can get there before the kids!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Home Improvements and Vomit

Yeah, I know those two things should have nothing in common but alas in my house they do.

Remember when I said that Steven mounted our t.v. on the wall? Well, he and our oldest dd worked on it most of the day before I came down to watch. Just watch, mind you. I was enjoying some time off to just sit and read my book. Plus, I was enjoying watching the interaction of thse two as they read directions and tried to figure things out. heehee

As I was sitting there watching them and listening to the choruses of "It says..." "What did that say?" and "Now, how did I do that again?" I had to giggle to myself. I am usually the one to read the directions and direct Steven but this time he was trying to teach Sunshine as he went. This was their second project of the week and I'm pretty sure it won't be their last. ;-)

Anyway, I was reading my book when I happened to look up and saw the dog strolling over to Steven and Sunshine. She was looking around like she wanted to sit somewhere but she just stood in front of the sub-woofer in between Steven and Sunshine. Maggie, the dog, looked at me then at Sunshine and proceeded to throw up right in front of Sunshine.

I take that back. Maggie threw up all over Sunshine's foot!!! Oh yeah, you read that right. It was warm, chunky, and oozing between her toes. bwahahahaha! It was soo disgusting. We immediately started getting towels, oxyclean, bags, and a spatula. The spatula is for scouping up the chunks, btw. TMI? Probably so but hey, if I was gagging smelling it and scouping it up I'm gonna share with you!

We got Sunshine's foot out from under the um, vomit pile she cleaned up while gagging the whole time. I asked for help from the girls but Sweet Pea ran the other way dry heaving. heehee The two youngers got towels and took the trash bag outside for me.

Steven and I cleaned up the carpet, sent the dog outside, and laughed until we couldn't talk. Sunshine moaned for quite a while afterwards complaining that she coudl still feel it between her toes! EEwww!

Home improvement projects never cease to be spectacular in our house! Kinda makes me scared for the next one...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I did it! I got in!

I am going to be part of another review team!  I am so excited because Homeschool Mosaics is starting a review team and I am on it!!  Mosaics Review will be starting soon and they will have not only homeschool reviews, but products for you home and all kinds of other great products.  Be on the lookout for these awesome reviews and the fantastic group of reviewers coming up.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Catching up and Cmas vacation

The month of December has been a bit of a roller coaster. We had school the first two weeks and then took the third week as Sabbath Week. It has been glorious!

Kind of.

I decided to do some deep cleaning during our time off. It has been interesting to say the least. In Bean's and Peanut's room we took out 10 bags of trash and 8 bags of give away. I was pretty brutal with what they were required to give up. I am done with the clutter.

The next day we moved on to the next bedroom. We covered all the bedrooms the first week. Three trips to Goodwill later and the bedrooms were done. The trash was overflowing so we had to store it in the garage until trash day. Hubby wasn't completely thrilled with that!

The next week we moved on to the rest of the upstairs. The reading room, the kitchen, the dining room/living room, the main bathroom...they were all deep cleaned. More trash and more give bags away were accumulated. The garage was overflowing but the house looked great!

It has been a busy break but a good one. Steven took vacation from the 22nd through Jan 6th so we have been tackling some home improvement projects together. I really love doing projects with him. We work really well together and can get a lot done in a short amount of time.

This time he chosee to take out the sink in the laundry room. I have been wanting it gone for a while because we don't use it and it's just in the way. the room is small enough anyway and the sink just sucked up more space than I wanted to give it. Steven got our oldest involved and they took the sink out with out any problems.


Sunshine ran through the living room calling out, "We need help!" I got up and hustled into the laundry room to see water gushing, and I mean gushing, out of a pipe and my wonderful husband shouting, "It's bad, shut the water off."

Yeah, not the words you want to hear! So, I ran through the house, down the stairs, and when I was about four steps from the bottom I thought I was two steps from the bottom and fell the rest of the way down. Yeah, it was awesome. I rolled my ankle but thankfully didn't hurt any small children or animals in the process. I hobbled up and made it to the water shut off vavle despite the messy room I had to run through to get to it. (the children belongingg to that room got into some trouble being that I had just spent several hours cleaning it the week before.)

Anyway, we put up some fans to dry the carpet and Steven headed out to get new hardware to fix the pipes that had broken, thus allowing water to gush out onto our carpet. They were fixed, we went to bed, we woke up, the carpet was still wet.

Since the carpet was still wet we decided to just pull it and replace it. We chose some peel and stick tile as a way to 'fix it' until we can save up enough for hardwood in the kitchen, laundry room, and reading room.

It took all of one day and a little of another to get the flooring laid down and the washer and dryer hooked back up but we did it. And it looks great.

We have also put the t.v. up on the wall(which is a story in and of itself), fixed a bathroom light fixture, and have another light fixture and shower fixture to fix before the vacation is over.

During all of this we have been making Christmas presents getting ready for our home-made Christmas with my family. It has been a full few weeks but they have been great. We love having Steven home; we don't want him to go back to work!