Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Getting the Hang Of This CVS'ing

Here's my latest CVS bargains. Granted, it's not as much as others who post a whole table full of finds, but I'm getting there. I had to go today because I hadn't been in about a month and my Extra Care Bucks expired today. I couldn't let free money go to waste!

My total out of pocket for everything here was a whopping .33! I know how it works, but I still can't believe it. It is so much fun! There's such a joy in knowing you're able to get things for your family without breaking the bank.

Now, I did come away with no ECB's to carry over to next week, but that's because Sweetie has been asking for those vitamins for a couple weeks now so I used ECBs to get them. If I would have been on the ball last week they were on sale. Oh well. And the lamp? Well, that was on clearance and our girl's desperately needed a lamp in their room and I really can't justify going out and spending anything extra on one right now, so I used the remainder of my ECB's to get it for them.

Overall I'm very happy with this trip. I learn a little more each time I go and it gets more and more fun all the time!

Our Surprising Spring Day!

This is what we woke up to this morning! It was beautiful and the kids had fun riding their bikes in it, but by this afternoon, you would have never known we had seen one snowflake.

I do love watching snow fall, but I must admit, I'm ready for Spring to come and STAY.

Easter Picture of The Kids

Here's a snapshot of the kiddos on Easter. After church we took them to Olan Mills and had their pictures taken by someone much more professional than mom in a hurry to get to church (LOL), and they looked GORGEOUS!! I can't wait to get them back! I'll try to take pictures of the pictures and share them with you as soon as we get them in a couple weeks.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Our Curriculum For Next Year

I think, after six years, I have finally found what works for our family for each subject, almost. We are very eclectic in our curriculum, meaning we don't use just one single curriculum for every subject. For each subject I feel we need to be covering I simply search until I find what works best. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes not so much.

The things that are a must-keep for our family are the following:
*Five in a Row
*Math U See
*Rod & Staff english
*Sequential Spelling
*Handwriting Without Tears
*Reading Made Easy

And a couple things that we are currently using that I'm not 100% sure we'll stick with forever, but are working for now are:
*Truthquest History
*Bible Study Guide for All Ages

And one thing I want to purchase for next year that we haven't tried before:
*Apologia General Science (for our soon-to-be 12 year old who will be in 7th grade)

So that's what we'll be using for next year. We'll have a 7th grader, 3rd grader, 2nd grader, and a 1st grader. What are some things that are absolute must-keeps for your family?

Summer School

Well, it's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about NEXT year.

I've been doing some thinking and evaluating and planning and here's the conclusion I've come to. We have to continue doing school right through the summer. GASP! I know! It's unheard of! Doing school in the SUMMER?!

But that's the great thing about homeschooling. WE get to decide what we feel is best for our children, not someone else. We have taken more days off this past school year than I like due to one thing or another, and I just don't feel comfortable with the amount of learning that has happened. Therefore, we will continue on through the summer months.

Now, lest you think I'm a cruel and unusual slave-driver (well, unusual might actually be an acurate description here), I really am not. If anything, I'm a very relaxed and laid-back homeschooler. But when you look at how much of the english book is left and how we are WAAAAY behind on ordering new math books, well, the only decision that is best for my children is to keep on keeping on.

But for all four of my children to do math, english, spelling, handwriting and reading, which is all we'll be doing through the summer, it only comes to about 2 hours a day. And everyone knows that 12 hours a day for four kids at home with nothing to do equals messes and bickering and one crazy mom! So I don't see the problem with continuing our learning for a mere 1/6 of the day during the summer. They'll still have at least 10 hours of driving me crazy looking for things to keep them busy.

Besides, I view homeschooling as 'life learning'. And life doesn't take 3 months off every summer. Life goes on no matter what. So, we'll just be continuing 'life'. We'll live, we'll have fun, we'll learn, we'll play, we'll swim, we'll take hikes, and whatever else we decide to do. And when August comes around we won't have to back up and refresh our memories of what we were 'learning' at the end of May!

So, how about you? What do your summers look like?

Oh Blogger, Where Art Thou?

Does the picture above tell you anything about where I've been for so long?

Yes, it's true. I haven't been blogging because I haven't had a chair to sit in. Honey's office chair broke, and of course we all know it's more important that HE actually be able to sit and work than it is for me to sit and blog, so he politely traded chairs with me. How sweet of him, aye?

But I'm happy to say that my sweet father-in-law felt sorry for me and I now have a chair to sit in so, it's back to doing what I love, BLOGGING!

Hope you didn't miss me too much!

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Love This Song

I love the guitar in this song, and the singer's smooth voice, and the sweet words of the song. I guess I just love everything about it. We are a very music-loving family, so I'm happy to add another song to our iTunes list!

Just thought I'd share. No particular reason why. You may now return to your much more exciting life! LOL.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

About California Ruling From A Christian Lawyer

I just read this over at Crystal's blog, Biblical Womanhood. Her husband is an attorney and this is his take on the whole California situation. I thought it was very good, the best information and advice I've seen about this yet.

"Much ink has been spilled over the last few days over the California Court of Appeal's recent decision over homeschooling. Some of it has been hype, some measured warning. In light of all the attention and potential broad affects of the ruling, I decided to read it for myself and present my own call to action."

Read the rest of what he had to say here.

Found A Website For Discounts

If there is one thing I absolutely LOVE it's a good deal. Yard sales, black Friday sales, clearance sales, coupons, shopping at CVS... you name it, I LOVE it! I actually get a kind of high from finding awesome deals.

That's why I was excited to find When you visit this site you receive coupon codes to use for instant online purchases. Occasionally you can even download and print coupons for in-store purchases. The site also contains discounts offered by direct producers, online stores and discount online marketplaces.

So if you're into deals and discounts like I am, be sure to check out WebbyPlanet.

Yes, Homeschooling Is Still Legal in California

With so much going around about the ruling in California and the fear that homeschooling is now illegal in the state, I thought I would help ease your fears.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced today that the California Department of Education has completed a legal review of the February 28 California Court of Appeal ruling regarding home schooling. O'Connell issued the
following statement:

"I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state. (You can read the entire statement here).

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger released this statement:

"Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide
what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of
their children's education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the
courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

When new updates on this situation arrise, you can find them here. If you don't know the details of what all the fuss is about or you would like to sign HSLDA's petition, go here.

Shhh...He Doesn't Know He's Learning

I have found a way to give Handsome his spelling words, teach Reece Cup to read and spell bigger words, and obtain a few free minutes all at the same time! My secret? I let Reece Cup read off his brother's spelling list for him. After big brother has spelled them on his paper he reads it back to little brother who follows along in my book and tells big brother whether he's right or not, then tells him his next word. (Don't worry, I'm always right beside him making sure he says the words correctly, which he usually does).

It's great! I'm accomplishing teaching two kids at once, and one doesn't even realize it! In fact, it was actually little brother's idea. One I didn't agree to at first, but once I realized how badly he wanted to do this and how it would actually help him too, well, who am I to stop the educational process?

We've always heard of the benefits of older kids helping teach younger ones, but in this case it's the other way around!

Now, if I could just get them to teach each other math!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Your Chores for Mine

While I was at the doctor yesterday with Baby Girl (she has tonsilitis, by the way), I was reading through a magazine and I came across a very interesting article. Anything that mentions how to get kids to do their chores easier I'm all for!

This mom said that one day as she was getting ready to leave she asked her 16-year-old son to bring the garbage cans up from the curb. She had him look her in the eye and repeat to her what he was to do.

However, upon returning home she saw that the cans were still where they were when she left. Needless to say, she was upset. She dragged them up to the house herself, mumbling under her breath the entire time. But before she barged into her son's room to get onto him she had this wonderful idea. Since she had done HIS job, he could now do one of HER jobs.

When she told him this there was nothing he could say because he knew she was right. He had been told to do something, and had even repeated what he was to do so there was no excuse for not doing it.

So he traded five minutes of bringing the garbage cans in for 20 minutes of folding laundry.

Chores had been done much more willingly in her home ever since.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to test this out for myself!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Great Way To Look At Illegal Immigration

I am not racist at all. Not one little tiny bit. Every single one of us is a child of God and like it or not, we're all brothers and sisters. I'm proud to live in a country that so many people are (literally) dying to get into.

However, I do believe that those coming into our great country should do so LEGALLY. I read this today and really liked the correlation, so I wanted to share it here.

Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely.

Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests. Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave.

But I say, "No! I like it here. It's better than my house. I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors. I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).

According to the protesters:

You are Required to let me stay in your house.
You are Required to feed me.
You are Required to add me to your family's insurance plan.
You are Required to Educate my kids.
You are Required to Provide other benefits to me & to my family.
(my husband will do all of your yard work because he is also hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part).

If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my RIGHT to be there.

It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just
trying to better myself. I'm a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know, I did break into your house. And what a deal it is for me!!!

I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of cold, uncaring, selfish, prejudiced, and bigoted behavior.

Oh yeah, I DEMAND that you learn MY LANGUAGE!!! so you can communicate with me."

Why can't people see how ridiculous this is?!
-Author unknown

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Your Invitation To The Ultimate Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Have you heard about the Ultimate Blog Party being hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom? Obviously it's something pretty big since there are already 971 blogs listed who have joined the party! HOW did I miss this last year?

Come on and join in the fun. Just go here to find out how ('s very simple).

So, this is my 'ticket' into the party. Let me tell you a little about myself and my blog.

First of all, as most of you know, I'm Christy and I stay home with our four wonderful, beautiful children whom you can 'meet' over <---there on my left-hand sidebar. My husband has his own Voice-over-IP phone business (which is simply using your high-speed internet line for your home or business phone service) and works from home.

We've been homeschooling for six years now and hope to continue all the way through high school. If I have my way it'll be on through college too! LOL! I love, love, LOVE being home with my babies and can't imagine life any other way.

I started this blog kind of on a whim after reading about someone else having one. I had NO idea what a blog was. Sounded kinda like a bad cold or something. But, being one that has turned into a follow-the-homeschool mommy-crowd (cause they're all just so darn smart!), my blog was born. Here I share things we do in school, reviews of curriculum we use or have used, what's going on with our family, recipes, and my thoughts on just about anything under the sun.

I love blogging and I love getting comments. I'd love to increase my traffic and readers, so I'm trying to blog a bit more than I use to, which isn't hard since so often throughout the day I think, 'Oh! That would make a great blog entry!' Now if I could just get that portable computer that can be inserted into my brain so I can just THINK up my blog entries and they automatically post instead of having to try to remember them WHEN I find the time to sit down and type them up.

I'd love to share some pictures with you, but my computer is ancient and not cooperating with me right now. So I'll leave you with this one. Looks like Reece Cup is ready to have some fun!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Not My Proudest Parenting Moment

Last Saturday the girls and I went Easter dress shopping with my mom and while we were in JC Penney I had one of those shocking, embarrassing, yet not-really-funny-but-I'm-so-shocked-I-have-to-laugh moments.

Princess was looking at some shirts about 10 feet away from me that looked like girl's jerseys. I guess she didn't like them because I heard her say, "Well, what the h*ll did they make these for?"!!! WHAT?!? Instantly the scene from A Christmas Story comes to mind. I couldn't believe I had just heard those words come out of my little girl's mouth. Surely I'd heard her wrong, but when I looked her way and saw two other moms trying to hide their snickers I knew I had heard right.

I went over to her and said, "What did you just say?" and sure enough, she polietly answered my question with what I didn't want to hear her say again. Talk about a drop-everything-and-train-the-heart moment! We had us a gentle little talk right there in JC Penney. She was genuinely sorry and couldn't tell me where she had heard those words, although I have a pretty good idea. (Note to self: the TV doesn't get turned on until after the kids are in bed. It's so bad anymore that even normal shows during the day are full of profanity!)

Anyway, so we go on with our shopping and as we walk into the men's department she notices a very sharply dressed gentleman and blurts out, "WHOA! Look at HIM!" while pointing. I guess she was very impressed with him. LOL! I must say, she does have good taste, but we might need to work on her tact. But I think it made this man's day. He just smiled real big and said, "Well, I've heard worse!"

Out of the mouths of babes, aye? She definitely kept us tickled all day.

Here Comes the Snow...Buy All the Groceries You Can Find!

Being originally from Illinois, an hour south of Chicago to be exact, it never ceases to amaze me how people around here freak out at just the mention of snow in the forecast.

If there's even a trace of snow on the ground every school in the state closes down. Now this I do understand a bit. The roads here are hilly and curvy. Better to be safe rather than sorry.

But my goodness. You'd think we were expecting an arctic blizzard if the forecast calls for anything more than 1/2 inch of snow as far as the grocery stores are concerned. We are under a winter storm warning for tonight and tomorrow with expected accumulation of 3-6 inches of snow. But then it's supposed to be in the 40's on Sunday. The snow will melt people! The roads will be clear!

Sweetie went to Wal-Mart this evening to pick up a few things and there was no hamburger, no macaroni, no potatoes, and no cheese... and these were just the few things he noticed. I swear, people are funnier than anybody. What in the world would they do if for some reason we had to go back to living like they did during the pioneer or prairie days? Heaven help us all, we'd starve to death.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ideas For Additional Income

I've been enjoying finding a lot of other blogs that I never knew were out there and when I saw this post I knew there would be some stay-home moms like myself out there that would like looking over these ideas.

Alternative Income Ideas and Resources

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Teach About Real Life

I read this blog entry today and found it very interesting. It's by a 19-year-old former student of, I'm assuming, public school. It's interesting because of what she says and what she's asking public schools to do.

Her words are exactly why this blog is called what it is... TRAINING Hearts At Home. Book knowledge is all well and good, but if we don't TRAIN our children to live independent lives, they're going to end up just like this young lady and so many others out there that can't function in the 'real world' when they get out of school.

It's never too early to start. Here's what this young lady has to say...

"I am 19 and I didn't even know how to take the bus until 6 months ago. About one month later, I learned how to take the train. I still have no idea how to use a bank account; I can't drive; I don't know how to do the laundry; I have no charisma for retail (aka, the only real job I've ever had); I can't cook much; I don't know how to fix a computer (and my father's a computer nerd).
Academically however, I am amazing. Whether it be math, or english, or history, or even woodshop, I've done very well. It isn't a lack of intelligence-it's a lack of parenting."

Read the rest of her thoughts here.

I Hate Cleaning the Bathroom!

Next to washing dishes, my most dreaded household chore is cleaning the bathroom. ICK! I know it needs it more than any other room in the house, but the thought of what lurks in there at any given time is enough to make me gag and run the other way!

However, since I just finished scrubbing my tub and sink, I thought I would pass on the easiest way I have found to do so for any others out there that may hate this task as much as myself.

First, I spray the entire area with Scrubbing Bubbles and let it sit for a few minutes to soak in. Then, I simply wipe everything down with a Magic Eraser, or the cheaper equivalent from the dollar store, and rinse it off.

Wala! A quick and easy way to get those tubs clean. Now I'm off to...gag... clean that nasty toilet...gag. I'm thinking that this is a great time to train my children in bathroom scrubbing and sanitation! What would I do if we had more than one bathroom?! Oh just kill me now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Review of Sequential Spelling

The only spelling program we have ever used in our six years of homeschooling has been Sequential Spelling by Don McCabe. I'm really not even sure how I first heard about it, but I'm SO glad I did. That's why I'm telling you about it now!

Instead of giving children a list of unrelated words to memorize and then forget, the spelling lists from Sequential Spelling builds from easy to advanced words such as from all, tall, stall, install, installment, and finally installation. This helps the student learn the patterns and rules of the English language simply by repetition. Believe me, if I had to explain why some words are spelled the way they are my children would be doomed.

But with Sequential Spelling I hardly get asked why words are spelled a certain way. Because the words they are spelling are built from easier words they've already spelled, it simply makes sense to them.

The way our lessons go is this...

We take one sheet of regular notebook paper and fold it in half long-ways. We do lesson 1 for the week on one side of the folded paper then flip it over to do lesson 2. Then we unfold the paper, flip it over, and fold it in half long-ways again. (Lessons 1 and 2 are now folded inside.) We do lesson 3 on the first folded side and lesson 4 on the other. This way we can do all four weekly lessons on one sheet of paper. (Or, you can purchase a Student Response Book for only $3.95)

I say the word they are to spell, hence they 'hear' it first. Then they write it (or 'see' it). Once they have written it down they spell it outloud to me, or 'say' it. If they are right, we move on to the next word. If they are wrong, they correct it and respell it to me (until they have it correct), then we move on to the next word. Our daily lessons take a total of no more than 10 minutes.

Before we started Sequential Spelling with Baby Girl a few years ago I was afraid she was going to continue to be an atrocious speller. (Did I spell that correctly? LOL!) I had no idea how to teach her to spell, but I knew if I didn't find a way that this is one thing that would embarass her and hold her back in so many areas her entire life. Thank God, literally, for Sequential Spelling. Baby Girl now loves spelling and in fact, says that it's her favorite subject. It has given her such a confidence boost and she is so proud of herself when she correctly spells big, difficult words with little trouble.

You can purchase Sequential Spelling here for only $12.95.