Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Credit Report Dot Com . . .

ain't got nothin' on Tim Hawkins! (I apologize now if the jingle gets stuck in your head all day!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Government . . .

Just because I haven't posted anything political in awhile . . .

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian with lots of great videos! You can view them here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Which Book Next?

I have a stack of four books currently sitting in my bedroom waiting for me to devour. :) I have read small parts of each book, just enough to know I want to read them all! I've had some of them for quite some time, too!

I took a break from non-fiction (my fave!) this summer & focused on simple mysteries & thrillers. Deep, I know! But now it's time to get serious again and start reading some better material.

I'd love your vote for which one I should read first. I'll repay you with a review of the book when I've finished it. :) Each book is listed at the top right of my blog along with the author's name. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Here are the contenders:

Bringing Up Boys (you know, 'cause I have two of 'em!)

The Strong Willed Wife (uh, self explanatory if you know me in the least!)

Parenting by The Book (that's God's Book, ya know!)

And last but not least,
Cure for the Common Life ('cause I am working on being content)

Quack, Quack!

We had another good week of school with a fun field trip in the middle of our week! One of the things we most like about homeschooling is the flexibility it gives. We can take field trips almost any time, to nearly anywhere!

This week, we headed to Culver Duck Farm about 90 minutes away. Since this put us in the heart of Amish country, we made a day of it! We stopped at a cheese factory to see how cheese was made (and try many samples!), followed by lunch and shopping at Das Essenhaus (including their famous bakery!).

By far the best part of the day, however, was touring the duck farm. There are only seven duck farms in the U.S., and Culver is the second largest. We learned about how they receive their eggs, clean them, incubate them, hatch the ducks, and then raise them for their meat. Somehow our tour ended at the part just before they use them for their meat! :)

The eggs that are orange (under bright light) are eggs that for whatever reason, the embryo never developed.

The eggs stay in the incubator for 25 days . . .

After hatching . . . (everyone say "awwwww!")

We were able to hold ducks that had just hatched that day, too! The kids all got to hold one, and the ducks were so soft and warm. Enjoy the pictures from our tour!

And finally, they grow into these after just 5 weeks or so! Do you know how to tell the males and females apart? Females actually "quack," while the males do not! Who knew??

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Blog . . .

Create your own here!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Look Back . . .

(ADDRESS CORRECTED--SORRY!!) I started blogging several years ago at this site: Feel free to take a look around there if you haven't seen my old blog. There are also some cute (I'm totally biased) pictures of our kids there! :) I've completely moved over to this blog now, though, and I plan to be here for awhile!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prayer Warrior

We're blessed to have a sweet prayer warrior in our home! Quinn is always the first to want to pray at mealtime, or pray for others in times of need. At bedtime on Monday night (with a pretty decent thunderstorm rolling through), he told me he sure was glad that God gave us shelter and mentioned that he wanted to pray right then. He immediately thanked God for 'shelter,' and went on to ask God to protect him during the storm. I am so thankful for Quinn's big heart and for his big heart for others, as well! :) He's an awesome kid!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

School's Started!

We just started school and already I think we are all wiped out! We started all of our subjects at once (instead of easing into a few at a time like some homeschoolers do) and that, combined with all of us getting up earlier and back into a routine, has us wiped out! But in a good way!! :) I'm amazed at the kids' printing/cursive this school year - we didn't do any writing throughout the summer and yet somehow, they have both gotten markedly better!

The workboxes are working out great; they take about 20 minutes for me to prep at night (total for two kids) but have been soooo worth it during school time! The kids can easily tell what all is finished and what is left to do. They can also easily move onto another box if they see I am working with their sibling at the time.

We also started a new curriculum this year called "Sonlight." It is heavy on reading and read-alouds - which would be great if I hadn't lost (most of) my voice this week! Ugh! I've had a sore throat for about 5 days and now am losing my voice . . . which my kids seem to love! :) Thankfully, Brad has been helping with some of the reading for the first few days!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jesus Loves Me

Good Sunday mornin'! In case you can't make it to church this morning, here's Owen (2 years old) singing "Jesus Loves Me!" The last little giggle at the end is the best! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Workbox System for School . . .

I think we are all ready to start school! It's been a whirlwind week of last-minute preparations for me, and I am still waiting for a few books I purchased at the last minute, but I think we are all set! The kids are ready to get back to school, too. Well, Riley is and Owen wants to 'do school,' but I think Quinn could care less! I am looking forward to using Sonlight curriculum this year for the first time, as well.

One of the things we implemented at the last minute are workboxes. I have been thinking about using these for awhile, but with trying to sell our house, I didn't know if I wanted any more large things taking up room in our school room. Brad encouraged me and said he thought it was fine to go ahead and use them, so we are! (Thanks, babe!) You can read a lot more about using workboxes for homeschooling here, or simply by googling "homeschool workboxes." I learned a lot about them just by reading other homeschoolers' blogs and viewing their photos. I especially liked Heather's boxes, so I copied her great look for ours! :) (Thanks, Heather!)

We are using these this year for several reasons: to help encourage independence for Riley & Quinn's work, to help them 'see' what they have done & what's left to be done, and to help keep them motivated! Here are our boxes before I filled them for the first day.

(You can always click on any of my photos to make them larger.)

Riley's are green and Quinn's are blue. Owen has a small separate set on the right that are red so he can play along. :) The basic premise is that all of their work for the day is in the boxes. So, box #1 might contain Bible, followed my math flashcards in #2, reading assignment in #3, and so on. Everything needed for each activity should be right in the box (pencils, paper, books, etc.). As they complete the activity in the box, they move the number to their check-in sheet which looks like this:

Each number is backed with velcro and can stick on the boxes to start with, and then adhere to the check-in sheet as they go along. When all of the boxes are complete, they are done for the day! I included things in my kids' boxes (along with their regular lessons) like: work with Owen on his colors for 10 minutes, practice your piano lesson, have a snack, read a book to mommy, etc. My hope is that these workboxes will really help us get to the fun extras we never seem to have time for, as well (like logic puzzles, art projects, playing a game, etc.).

And honestly, I think the system is originally set up to be a lot more rigid than what I have. I am just using the basics. I haven't read the workboxes book from Sue Patrick, so I'm just using what I've gathered from other homeschoolers for now. We are using it primarily to make sure we don't miss anything and to keep the kids motivated about "what comes next." Last but not least, here is a photo of the boxes filled (mostly, not done yet!) and ready for the first day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to Bloggin'!

I'm trying to get back to blogging, especially as the school year is quickly approaching! We have had a very full and fabulous summer! This picture was taken on just one of our many bike rides this summer; it's been so nice to all ride together! We've biked some of the River Greenway, and throughout lots of nearby neighborhoods with the kids!

We are starting school on August 17th this year, and I still have a lot to do to get ready. We are looking forward to trying a new curriculum this year, as well as some new activities. But it also means a lot of prep work ahead of time! We also just listed our home for sale a few weeks ago (anyone want to buy it??), so life is hectic!

Hectic, but good. We are so blessed with where we are in life right now, and especially with our good health and jobs in a time when so many people are struggling. We are in the middle of a great series at church right now called "Stories of the Kingdom." We have had a lot of good teachings lately, but one of the best was by Suze Fair, our communications director at church. She is a very enthusiastic teacher and her lesson was very encouraging and motivating! You can hear the full lesson here if you are interested!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Riley! Today is our precious daughter, Riley's 9th birthday! We had a great day celebrating with donuts for breakfast (complete with nine candles in one donut!) and opening presents, followed by church, lunch with family, more presents and time with family, dinner at Pizza King (Riley's choice!), and lots of games with mom and dad!

Nine things Riley loves at age nine: playing with her brothers, spending time with her friends, playing the piano, reading chapter books, cooking/helping mommy cook, playing cards, making art projects (jewelry, paper crafts, etc.), shopping with her mom, and hanging out with her extended family!

The past nine years have flown by, and I can't believe she has already been in our lives for so long. In some ways, it seems like she was just born, and in others, it seems like I've known her MY whole life! Riley, your daddy and I are truly blessed to have you as our daughter! You are a joy to have in our lives and such a blessing to our family. We love you!