Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cool Way To Stop Cup-Mix-Ups

I just wanted to share with you what the kids and I made this week. I read about this idea somewhere... sometime... can't remember where or when, but decided to try it out this week. With four kiddo's who think they live in the Sahara and drink like camels, this has become a life-saver. We were forever asking, 'Who's cup is this? Where's YOUR cup? No, don't get a new cup!'

Anyway, these are quick and easy to make, just make sure to get the thicker gold elastic cording. I didn't and uh, well, as I was putting one on yesterday it broke and the beads went flying across the kitchen, including into my plate of lasagna!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Have You Checked Out 'A Child's Geography'?

I love that 'Random Blog' button, don't you? (This is referring to a button option at A while back, simply by clicking on that little button, I found the most wonderful Geography for our family. We have been doing it ever since and we all LOVE it!! We're all learning SO much, and best of all, it's written from a Christian point of view. It's not just about countries and continents, our adventure began waaaayyyy out in outer space looking down on God's amazing creation! We are currently in the middle of the atmosphere! This is so much better than anything I ever learned in school.

Up until now, A Child's Geography has only been available in ebook format, but now you can purchase it in book form. And get this. You can get it any way you'd like! Black and white pictures with either spiral bound or perfect bound, or color pictures with either spiral or perfect bound! Now how cool is that?

Here's where I first found Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography, and here's where you can order the new book versions (you can also still purchase the ebook format here if you'd like).

Check it out, I believe you'll like it. You can even check out the first three chapters for free to see how wonderful this really is for yourself! I'm not even getting anything in return for this review...LOL. I just love it that much!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm So Excited!

In the four years we have been a home schooling family I have yet to read any home school magazines, unless you count the O~L~D back issues someone was kind enough to give me several years ago that were so full of advertisements and pictures of kids that looked like they were from the Pioneer days that I eventually just tossed them all.

But yesterday I received my very first issue of The Old Schoolhouse magazine and all I can say is WOWZER! It's like, a REAL magazine! The cover is all shiny with a beautiful picture that makes me think of a simpler time... sigh... and it's actually full of entertaining and informative articles, not page after page after page of advertisements. And the advertisements it does has me looking up websites and reading about things I never knew were out there! Wow! It's like having my very own experienced homeschool friend right here with me showing me new things I wasn't aware of.

This magazine is so full of articles that it will provide me with reading material for many days to come, which is good since I had just finished my latest read and was wondering what to pick up next! And these articles are actually about something I'm interested in, not something that will never pertain to me. AND! This whole issue has a 'blog' theme, so it's like taking HSB with me wherever I'm reading!

Funny thing... I have started from the very first page and being my first issue ever, I have read EVERYTHING there is to read, from the list of everyone involved in creating the magazine (gotta see who I 'know') to Copyright info at the bottom of the Business Rules page (which I also read every word of).

There's also a page with pictures and brief descriptions of TOS faculty members and I've read all of them too, including looking up each of their blogs and/or websites! I gotta get to know these people since I'll be reading this magazine for the remainder of our homeschooling journey. (Well, not exactly THIS magazine, although it could possibly last me that long if my little rugrats don't stop bickering and pestering me while I'm reading, but I meant The Old Schoolhouse magazine in general).

Anyway, more thoughts to come as I get more read! Thank you, TOS staff, for putting together a magazine that truly feels like an old trusted friend, even from the very first issue.

Wanna get your own copy? Just click here... and if you subscribe now you'll receive 19 FREE HOMESCHOOLING GIFTS!! I love that word! FREE!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My Review of Reading Made Easy

I have had it on my heart to give my own personal reveiws on the different things we use for school so as to maybe help out some other fellow home schooler. That's how I came about choosing the things we have now, so it's only right that I do the same in return.

The first thing I've chosen is Reading Made Easy by Valerie Bendt.

From a very early age I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but my biggest fear was teaching children to read. I always planned on teaching 2nd or 3rd grade so I wouldn't have that burden. I just simply could NOT imagine teaching something as complicated as reading. I didn't have a CLUE how to do that! Never mind that somehow I myself had learned, along with millions of other school kids, so there MUST be a way to do it!

Little did I know that in fact I would one day be a teacher, but not in the way I had always invisioned. Needless to say, when it came time to find a way to teach my children to read, I was a bit scared. I needed something that was already proven and not too difficult, because I already doubted myself big time. I read message boards and curriculum review boards, I asked questions, questions, and more questions.

The one book that seemed to come up repeatedly on the Five In A Row message boards (where I am a frequent visitor and poster) was Reading Made Easy. (The Lamberts now even endorse RME and have a link to it on their website). So, after reading everything I could about it, I ordered it, praying it would be what worked for our family.

Guess what? It has worked, and worked beautifully! I can't imagine using anything else. It is written in such an easy way and in fact, everything the parent/teacher is supposed to say is written right there for you. The sounds/blends etc. that are learned are constantly repeated while also learning new things and each lesson has a little something for the student to read using what they just learned so they really feel like they're reading, which they are! There are extra activities that are suggested, such as making a 'Sight Word Worm' to keep all their sight words in view, but we've not done any of the extra's and it still has worked beautifully for us.

Our RME lessons take us about 5 minutes a day and that's it. It is suggested to do three lessons per week with having a day of review in between, and at first we did do that, but now we don't even need to. We just do a new lesson each day because they are getting it so well. There are 108 lessons and our 6-year-old is on lesson 96 and our 5-year-old is on lesson 70. Our 6-year-old really doesn't even need to finish the last 12 lessons, but just for the sake of saying he finished it, we press on. But I don't even have to tell him any new sounds, he says them before I can even get it out of my mouth! LOL.

Both boys are reading on their own, besides just what they read with RME. It is the most beautiful sound I've ever heard and my heart just sings when I hear them in their room reading outloud (on their own) 'I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere'.

And guess what? It has been the easiest thing I've done with them! It truly, truly is... Reading Made Easy!

Friday, January 20, 2006


Overheard from backseat of van while two oldest were figuring out what their code names would be for the 2-way radios while we were hiking...

6-year-old boy to his 9-year-old sister:

"I know! I'll be Pain-In-The-Head and you be Pain In The Neck!"

Also overheard:

All four kids in one bedroom. Oldest girl teaching youngest girl her Upward cheers. Two boys, well, just being boys...

"SIS! Stop teaching her cheers! She's a Ninja Turtle!"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Disciplining our Children

I've talked with two different friends this week who are having some discipline issues with their children and it got me to thinking.

Naturally with four children of our own, we have our fair share of discipline issues, but it seems we are often told how well-mannered our children are. Now, before you throw any tomatoes at me, let me explain.

The Bible tells us in Job that man is born but few days and full of trouble and Proverbs tells us that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. When a new, precious, beautiful baby is born into this world he or she is like a piece of clay put upon a potter's wheel. They have to be formed and shaped into what they will become. Without the forming and shaping and constant spinning and wetting by the potter to form them into what they were created to be they will remain 'full of trouble'and 'foolish'.

My motto that I find myself constantly saying, wether it be to others or to myself under my own breath as I count to ten once again, is 'train their hearts, train their hearts, train their hearts'. I've been known to say this, very lovingly of course, to my dear sisters-in-law when we're together and one of my little neices or nephews gets into trouble. I'm sure they'd probably like to smack ME instead, but it's true. Discipline is all for nothing if we're not, at the same time, striving to train the hearts of our children. They have only been on this earth for a very short time. They don't know how to act. All they know is their own childish, 'foolish', flesh-fed inclinations. It is up to US to gently guide them and train them in the way they should go. Don't just tell them not to do something, get down on their level, literally, and explain to them WHY they shouldn't do something. Help them to see things from another point of view other than just their own. "Honey, you can't hit your little brother. How would you feel if someone bigger than you hit you? That's right, it would hurt, wouldn't it. And that would probably make you mad too, wouldn't it? Well, guess what? That's exactly how Johnny feels when you hit him. If you wouldn't want someone hitting you, then you shouldn't hit someone else because they don't like it and it hurts them. Jesus wants you to love little Johnny and help protect him and take care of him because you're his big brother and that's what big brothers do". THAT'S training their hearts instead of just disciplining them.

And I'll leave you with this... we drill into our children daily the Golden Rule. It is our goal that treating others the way they would want others to treat them becomes second nature to them, something they do without even thinking. And you know what, it's working. We see the fruit of our labors coming forth in our little ones and it's so wonderful to see.

No, our children are not perfect. Far from it. But we are doing the best we know how to train their hearts with the love that our Heavenly Father has for us, HIS disobedient children who also need guidance and training.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

They ARE listening after all...

Thanks to the 'Random Blog' button at the top of the page (at, I found the most wonderful geography curriculum ever. It's called A Child's Geography and we are all really loving it.

However, today as I was reading about walking up into the troposphere (see, I'm learning something too... I remembered that without even looking!), I had to continuously get on to my 6 year old son. First, for interupting me when I was saying that we were going to 'walk up through the troposhere, well, really nobody can do that...' "Uh huh! God can!" (He does this often and while we're very thankful that he realizes that God can do anything, it gets a bit annoying after a while when everything you say he comes back with a comment about all the great and wonderful and silly and funny and impossible and hard and easy and big and little, etc. etc. etc. things that God can do). Then when we were prentending to walk up further I said, "Ooo, it's getting cold! Got your hat on?" So what does he do but starts to run off to put his hat and gloves on for real. No son, come back here. Finally, we were having fun, being a bit silly and getting our 'oxygen tanks' on when he began making, um, well, 'boy noises' which consisted of his right hand under his left armpit. Needless to say, his 5 year old brother thought this was halariously funny. His sisters and I, however, did not. I don't mind getting a bit silly and having fun with our lessons, but I am not a fan of rude and disgusting body noises while we are trying to learn something.

Anyway, we finished the lesson and I wondered if they're really learning anything or if I was just fooling myself for actually thinking that I'm doing them any good with this home schooling business.

Well, tonight, after putting everyone to bed I was standing in the hallway outside our boy's door folding clothes and my 5 year old said...

'Mom, why did God give us just a little bit of oxygen'? (We learned that the atmosphere is made up of only 21% oxygen).

'Well honey, he gave us just exactly enough because He knows just how much we need to live'.


'But if we breathe it all in, won't we run out'?

'Nope, cause guess what? Guess what helps make more oxygen all the time"?

(Both boys) 'What'?



Guess I know what we'll be talking about tomorrow.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Free Wallpaper For Your Computer

Just thought I'd share this really cool website with you in case you hadn't seen it before.

At you can download just about any kind of wallpaper you like, and it's completely free. My favorites are the many different seasonal nature ones, but I also have some of cute babies and animals too.

So, check it out and see what you think.