Thursday, January 31, 2008

I triple-dog-dare you

I've got a newsflash for y'all. My little guys are starting to grow up! Bit by bit and before I even realized it, they went from newborn baby blobs to crawling critters, from walkers to runners to riding their bikes, reading and even making me breakfast!

Perhaps you mommy's of teenagers would cringe a little, but this mommy of an 8yo, 6yo and 3yo is currently reveling in the delightful deliciousness of a breakfast that someone else prepared and served me! Canned biscuits with jelly and a big ole glass of milk never tasted so good! (Now if I could just trust them enough to make me a latte...)

Truth be told, I have not always been so apt at...

To read the rest, please visit me at HOTM...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The buzz about the Bee

Go on. You know you wanna *GROAN* about the title! I know I do. But I still couldn't resist.

Dash's big "Just for Fun" Bee was this past Saturday. I was nervous. And anxious.

The night before, he who never prays out loud was excited to pray before bed:

Dear God,
Please help me at the Spelling Bee tomorrow.
And most of all, help everyone to have fun!
In Jesus' name I pray,

Simple and sweet. And it really summed up his happy and joyful attitude! We were very proud of him all week long and at the Bee as well.

He got up to spell his first word-- the word I thought I wouldn't forget but have. Anyhoo, he spelled it correctly and he beamed all the way back to his seat. If he were to miss the next word, we would've been just fine... All the practice and getting there at 8:30AM was totally worth that one precious smile!

But he made it past the first, second, and third round. This was his word for the fourth round.

Aren't you impressed with that word? He did a great job and made it all the way to the FIFTH ROUND!

Unfortunately, he got stumped on the word "dwell"... a surprisingly easy word that he knew very well, but apparently not well enough. When the announcer said That is incorrect we held our breath for a moment. Would he cry? Would he be completely bummed? Would he argue?

Nope. He just looked a bit surprised for a second and then quietly went to his seat. Oh man, we were even more proud of him, especially since he usually wears his heart on his sleeve!

So I was the most anxious one of all leading up to the Bee, but he really took it for what it was-- a fun Bee!

Here are a couple more pics from this past Saturday. The first is killing time with paper-rock-scissors. The second is *our* winner!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday ramblings

I'm still here. Sorry for the disappearing act lately... and I was on such a good roll with posting!

We've been out of town and busy with things... things like...

- Root canals and speeding tickets (for the husband and not me-- for once!)

- The Spelling Bee is tomorrow. I don't need a champion but oh please let him make it past the first round! And this is "Just for Fun"?!

- Croupy coughing by my littlest man

- Dash needs to go to the dentist... but insurance won't cover the pediatric dentist and our dentist won't see him until he's 10! SO we will try a stranger dentist place on Monday. I hope it's clean. I hope they're nice. I hope it's a simple fix like His permanent tooth is pushing the old crown off. That would be a blessing (and not cost us dinero either)!

- We painted the boys' bathroom a bright blue. It's peppy and out of my comfort zone, but still nice. It is also Tank's favorito color. Dash has requested painting the vanity part of the bathroom his favorite color-- which is red. Not exactly stylin' or on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, but it's worth the smiles on their faces!

- I am really like the Downy fabric softener. Especially the Simple Pleasures one that has lavender in it. A lovely relaxing scent for sheets and towels.

I can't remember what else I was going to say. Oi. Anyhoo, I'll let y'all know how the Bee goes tomorrow. It does make me feel all academic-ish though. It would totally bring back childhood memories if somehow I could muster up the sights, sounds and smells of the cafetorium. Did any of y'all have a cafetorium in elementary school? Y'know, it's a cafeteria and auditorium combo? It also reminds me of the "P.E. Show" back in the day.

Mayhaps I shall force y'all to reminisce with me on another day. Good times, good times...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time to Take 5

All too often as a homeschooling mom, I am rushing about trying to get school done.

Likewise, it seems that some days my boys are not rushing about with their work, but trying to get school completely undone! I know y'all can relate-- even you mommy's of girls!

I'm ashamed to admit it, but this is what is heard a little too often from the mouth of yours truly:

-Hurry up!
-Come on, FOCUS!
-Okay, now do this and as soon as you are finished, move on to the next assignment.
-Quit dawdling! You are wasting time.
-That is a time waster. Why are you just sitting there? Get a move on! Your math is not sitting outside the window!

Yup, I'm a regular cheerleader. The leader of the pep squad.

I don't know about y'all, but if someone were telling me that all day long, it wouldn't exactly be the magical words that suddenly made me more productive or quicker or joyful!

One day I was talking to my friend who teaches at a small private school. We were discussing schedules and the inevitable ...


You can read the rest by visiting me at Heart of the Matter Online.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To spell or not to spell

I tried to avoid thinking about it-- the "Just for Fun" Bee that is coming up in two weeks.

Then I ran across this post by Rocks in My Dryer.

Dash is uber excited about the Bee and absolutely loves spelling! Why? Because it comes naturally to him and is by far the easiest subject for him in our homeschool.

In fact, we usually do one word list a week (including the more difficult alternate words). Most weeks he gets 100% the first time around and, on a rare occasion, he might miss one word. Then the next day he spells that one word correctly. No problemo, easy-schmeasy.

So I worry about two things:

1. The disappointment he will feel if he does not make it past the first round.

2. The total anxiety and nervousness I will feel during the Bee-- as well as the time spent thinking about the Bee, preparing for it (like I have all the time in the world) and the actual event itself. It turns my stomach, y'all!


It makes me think back to my spelling bee days.

The spelling gene runs in the family... my DAD even won the spelling bee at his work! I know, who knew they had those things? He works in budgeting/finance at Lockheed, won the company Bee and then went on to the regional competition. Yup, you heard me right-- he moved on to the next level (it may have been called something different). It was essentially other companies sending their best spellers to compete. Just thinking about it totally makes me laugh! I love my daddy!

Anyhow, this "just for fun bee" makes me nervous. *I* really really really want to back out. My mom still quizzes me on "television"... the dreaded word that *I* missed in my school spelling bee in 2nd grade.

I got a really big second place trophy but have been haunted by that word ever since!

Oh, and in the 5th grade I missed "doornail." But I'm telling ya, I spelled it right!!! I just happen to mumble and go very quickly when I'm nervous and the judge did not hear me say the "i". Come on, who would ever spell doornail without the "i"?! Give me some credit here. The humiliation. The agony of defeat. Oi.

So, have any of you won the big tamale of spelling bees? I know y'all have spelling bee stories to share-- both good and bad. I want to hear them! Why? Because it's fun.

And I don't want to feel alone in my anxiety of the dreaded "just for fun" bee. See how I'm putting the "just for fun" in the :quote: :unquote:? Yup. I have no idea WHO it could possibly be fun for! Ack!

Oh and a couple of words that are on the list for this K-3rd grade "Just for Fun" Bee are minuend and docile. I hope he gets a couple of the other words on this same list... words like in and gut!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A (school) day in the life

We never have two of the same days in a row!

For example, Monday was horrid.

As in completely and totally beyond terrible to the point where I had to leave the house because I had daydreams about a particular child and that bright yellow bus that drives past our house in the wee hours of the morning.

There were tears by that certain him and tears from moi.

Those are the days that you just have to stop, take a break (or the day off) and start over again the next day. It WILL pass, I promise! Just try really really hard to not say things you will regret. Maybe even put yourself in a time out. So remember that next time, okay?

We were going to have lessons on Tuesday, but it just didn't happen y'all. I did, however, manage to get the house semi-clean and we had company stay the night.

Wednesday and today (Thursday) were beyond WONDERFUL!!! Can you believe it? Two days in a row of not just okay but almost ideallic!

So can I just put down for the record what a fantastic homeschool day looks like for us?

Trust me, I will need this written reminder for those inevitable days that were like this past Monday.

-I woke up around 8:30am. Drat. I like to be up at 7am so I can have my quiet time, coffee, and be ready for the kids when they wake up. And so we have a good chance of starting our lessons on time-- our goal being 9:00am. Oh well. It can still be done.

-The kids were already awake. All of them. But that's okay. They weren't fighting or wreaking utter destruction upon the house. In fact, they were already eating breakfast-- toaster waffles for one and cereal for the other two. I'm telling you, putting those bowls and cereal boxes in the bottom cabinet was one of the most brilliant ideas I've ever had! (Sad, but true!)

-The boys brushed their teeth, changed their clothes and waited in the schoolroom for me. While I was getting my morning cup of coffee, they completed an assignment from this book.

I copied a page and put it on their desks the night before. They are finally starting to understand that you can't always do things your own way. Those instructions are important-- and if you don't follow them, the results don't come out like they are supposed to!

-It is 9:45-ish by the time I join them.

-Our daily schedule is not broken down in tiny increments. If I did, something would inevitably come up or someone would dawdle and I would just get really upset about being SO off-schedule. Instead, we have goals and a general direction to our day.

-The general direction of our subjects is as follows:

  • Math-U-See

  • one page of handwriting (Italic Writing by Getty & Dubay)

  • individual language arts assignments (usually a few workbook pages and a chapter to read in their personal readers-- which, by the way, tie in to the period in time we are studying in history courtesy of WinterPromise.

  • review individual spelling words- either a new weekly list or any words they missed previously. either spell it out-loud or on the whiteboard per child's preference (or mood!).

  • WinterPromise American Story 1 - We do this together as a group and do the assigned reading and discussion for that particular day (they schedule it all out for you!).

-The kids go outside and play while I make lunch. It is around 1:00pm.

-Science is after lunch. We are studying God's Design for Life: The Human Body by Answers in Genesis.

-It is 2:15pm and we are DONE!!! Well, we still have our current read-aloud which is The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. I am flexible as to when we do this-- during breakfast, during lunch, after lunch or even right before bed-- it totally depends on the day.

The kids spend the rest of the day playing with their Magnetix, rowing around the pond, hitting tennis balls (all over the place!) in the driveway and playing on the dirt pile. Talk about boy heaven!

I wonder if they even realize how blessed they are. They may not realize it right now, but one day they will... Man, sometimes *I* don't even realize how blessed I am! But today and yesterday, I see very clearly how beyond blessed I am and how I don't deserve a bit of it. God is very gracious indeed!

Sometimes our homeschool day actually ends with every assignment being completed. Other days have glitches both major and minor-- like waking up 1.5 hours later than planned (although some may see that as a really good thing!); or like the one math page taking 3 HOURS to complete due to intense dawdling; or fighting, crying, and just plain old complaining that reduces everyone to tears.

What defines a good day vs. a bad day is not necessarily the number of subjects that get completed but the state of the heart. When a day is full of discussion, doing your best, good attitudes and happy hearts-- well, that is what makes it a great school day (the math will still be there tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

An awesome post

Jacque wrote an amazing post that you must read! It is so very true and dear to my heart.

That's all. This is my shortest post EVER (almost). Hmmm... it seems a shame to just end it like this but well, I don't really have anything else to say right now that could be finished saying before I have to make dinner! But at least I've said this much before the information totally slipped my gray matter.

Okay, I'm going now...

Man, this is awkward. I feel like I should say more!

Vanilla syrup from Starbucks is yummy. The gray shirt I'm wearing has holes in it. I played Clue Jr. with the boys today. I won. I don't like that game very much but the boys did. I thought it was too slow. BBQ ribs has become my go-to easy meal to make. Weird, isn't it? It was a good school day. We did science for the first time in over 6 months (it's my back-burner subject when things get hectic-- which is always. Apparently.)

Okay, that's better. Much better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's finally here!

The very new and very awesome online magazine The Heart of the Matter has debuted!!!

THOM Magazine

Not only will you find insightful, encouraging and just plain old useful monthly articles, but there will also be fun things like Giveaways, Homeschooler of the Week (maybe the next one will be you?), FORUMS, and even bi-monthly posts from various contributors (including yours truly and two of my fav mom's of boys-- Tiany and Amy).

So please stop by THOM to read the great articles, browse the Forums, and be sure to say Howdy! to The Amies who have worked so hard on this venture.


In This Issue:

A Tale of Two Home Schools by Darnelle / Fill In the Blanks
Darnelle discusses learning difficulties that children can have and the struggles that homeschooling parents face. She invites you to give your input.

How Did That Happen? by Lee / HomeScholar High School
Lee talks about graduation and how to prepare for college.

Why Bother? by Christine / The Finer Things
In this article, Christine addresses a common concern with home schoolers about the involvement of the fine arts in day to day lessons.

Diagnosis and Bringing Them Home by Sallie / A Square Peg
Diagnosis and treatment of disabilities in children. Focus: Asperger Syndrome

Just What is Co-Schooling by Stacey / Standing In the Gap
Stacey brings to light another rapidly growing form of home education in this article about co-schooling.

Learning Is What Happens, Naturally by MandyMom / The Natural Noggin
Myths are dispelled and creativity emerges in this article from MandyMom about their decision to unschool their children.

How To Make It To High School by Gina / Reaching High
20 years worth of homeschooling brings Gina to this place in their journey. Learn how you can make it there too.

So, Why Do You Do What You Do? by Kristine / Ducks In A Row
With this question in the forefront of you mind, Kristine will offer some sound biblical principles to help you decide.

Garden of the Heart by Heather (Sprittibee) / Heartstrings for Homeschoolers
This is a timely message about God's love and the heart of the family. Heather brings it home with this heart tugging lesson about the true heart of homeschooling.

The Daily Balancing Act by Dianne / Blueprint for Balance
Let Dianne help with a new perspective on the balancing act of motherhood, homemaker, and homeschool mom. Printables included.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons by Heather H / Practical Penny Pincher
Heather knows what it is like to have a want to save money. Learn from her experience with these tips on using coupons.

Of Public Education, Politics & Homeschooling by Dana / Homeschool In the News
Dana gives an objective point of view on Mike Huckabee and the effects of appointing Kristin Maguire, a homeschool mom, to the Board of Education.

Let's Start At the Very Beginning by Lori / Raise Your Hands
WooHoo! If you need a homeschooling pick-me-up then start here. Lori will inspire you to homeschool while feeding you the Word of God.

Deciding to Homeschool a Preschooler - Where To Start? by Mandy Z / Knee High Homeschool
If you are contemplating a decision to homeschool your little ones then Mandy's article is for you!

Discover the Biggest Mistake Made by Homeschoolers by Robin / Sowing Seeds
Robin reveals the mistakes that can be made unintentionally and she will tell you how to overcome them.

Through the Microscope by Amy S
Science at it's most magnificent is God's handiwork. Amy will provide you with a biblical lesson alongside experiments using common household items.

We Are All Different by Amy B / The Open & Closed Book Education
Amy gives you a look inside the home and heart of an eclectic homeschooling family.

Thanksgiving Project
School Ideas
Paint Cans, Loose Leaf Binders, & Index Cards

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My non-resolution

After many previous half-hearted (and failed) New Year's resolutions, I have finally learned my lesson-- don't make resolutions!

Why is it that we decide in November or December certain things we need to fix, change or improve... but instead of doing it right away we wait until January 1st? If it's not important enough for you to do it rightthissecond, then it's probably not something that you will truly be resolved about.

One of the things that I've been meaning to do is allow Dash to be responsible for a meal every now and then. After all, he is a whopping 8 years old and he loves to eat. The other day it dawned on me that he is always the first one up in the morning.

**Enter my bright idea.**

Let him be the one to make breakfast-- and a hot breakfast at that! I know, I know... it's bordering on *genius*.

Yesterday morning he tiptoed to my bed and whispered "Mommy? Mommy! Can I make breakfast? In the OVEN?!"

In my half conscious stupor I said "Okay. You remember how to use the oven and turn it off, right?" He said he did and then I went back to sleep.

I woke up an hour later and as my brain became more coherent, I remembered our conversation from earlier. Man, did I ever hustle it to the kitchen!

Whew! It was still there.

And not on fire.

And the kids were all up and in a non-charcoaled state. Then I glanced over and saw these super-crispy looking rocks on a cookie sheet.

Me: Uhhh... Dash? How long did you put these in the oven?

Dash: For ten plus thirteen.

Me: Huh?

Dash: For ten plus thirteen!

Then it hit me.

Me: Hey, sweetie... when the directions say 10 dash 13, it means 10 minutes OR 11 minutes OR 12 minutes OR 13 minutes. NOT 10 plus 13 equals 23 minutes!

He got this look of Oooohhhh... Now I get it. Poor kid. But at least he tried and the kids didn't starve. They all had their fill of toaster waffles, cereal and a few tops off of the baked hockey pucks. :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My first day of 2008

The first few seconds of 2008 were spent kissing two very special people-- Dash and Tank. I had planned to send them to bed with Dozer at around 9pm. But they were so happy and awake and David was in Panama so why not let them stay up and ring in the new year with mommy?

We had nachos and hot fudge sundaes, watched TV and played on the computer (okay, *I* was the one on the computer). They were wired until about 11:55pm. Then they had to force themselves to stay awake for the countdown! Quick kisses, a couple of phone calls and then they pretty much passed out.

On to this morning, where I started my day with this unexpected accident:

Yes, that is my bottle of perfume nestled into a half a cup of coffee (too bad to ruin that cup, it was perfectly sweetened and creamed!). Weird, huh? I can honestly say that I've never done that before.

The rest of my day was spent finishing a fiction book that I started on a quick jaunt to Seattle with hubs yesterday. We had a great time together, even if it was for only 24 hours... but it was 24 hours sans kidlets! There are definitely perks to being in the airline industry. Yup, I'm a spoiled brat. And I like it. (Of course, the drawback is hubs working most weekends and most major holidays... so you can either boohoo a little for me or just hit me over the head when I do complain... It's an odd life, huh?)

Anyhoo, the kids rotted their brains watching TV for a while and then they played outside in their pajamas and mud boots. They had fun with their remote controlled boats (courtesy of crazy Uncle Stephen and Aunt T) in the pond and then ran back in to watch more TV. Yup, total brain rot was impending. But it's a rare treat so they took advantage-- they know all too well that our lessons start up again tomorrow.

Since it is the New Year and all, I would like to mention that this uptight and fearful mommy did let the kids enjoy fireworks in the backyard for two nights in a row! David being home helped their pyro cause greatly. It is amazing how my laid back husband completely balances me out. I think the kids would have zero amazing fun without him... if it were just me, they would only have mediocre fun, with him it is amazing fun. Come on, y'all know what I'm talking about.

The boys wanted me to take pics of them like there were explosions behind them... What do you think? Does the danger seem real?

Needless to say, the days leading up to 2008 were a BLAST!

(I know you didn't just *groan*... you knew it was coming... you knew I couldn't resist!)