Friday, November 30, 2007


Don't waste the time you spend in the car. Lately I've been amazed at how much my kids are able to learn while we're out and about. The main way that they've learned is through tapes and CD's.
We've listened to the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I can't say enough about these books! What a peek inside the life of a farming family a century ago. You'll have to hear it to believe some of the things they knew how to do. It was a good look at what every day life was really like for average people back then.
We've listened to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman myths and legends and they're fascinating! There is a particular guy who narrates these really well. His name is Jim Weiss. Look for CD's by him in your library's books on tape for children. They're not to be missed!
I ordered a series of CD's about the lives of the great composers. Though not as fascinating and well done as the Jim Weiss series, (I wish he would do some of the composers!) these have certainly been educational and have introduced my kids to the beautiful music and the lives of these interesting men.
Lately we've been listening to the multiplication tables put to music. It's pretty painful to listen to, I must admit. But, maybe it will help them learn their multiplication facts!
I've also seen CD's about the state capitals, and tons of other educational subjects...give it a try!
Oh! And by the way, there is an added perk to listening to stories in the car...the kids fight a lot less!
Happy Homeschooling,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Floating Baby

Is the floating baby countdown at the bottom of my blog giving anyone else the creeps? It should kick or move or something.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Our Past Projects

This post was Jen's idea. She wanted me to post a list of the projects that my kids have enjoyed. Did you notice I don't have a picture for this post? That's because I'm a slacker mom when it comes to taking pictures. That's one of the best things about creating this blog; I'm taking more! So my one big piece of advice for homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) out there: TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY ARE HAVING FUN DOING A PROJECT! Most of the history projects come from The Story of the World Activity Book One: Ancent Times. The science projects come from various books about science experiments and from the Noeo Young Scientists Club and various science books from the library.

History Projects: (Throughout these history projects there are coloring pages and map work pages for every country and geographic area we studied. My kids love their map work!)

I took them to an abandoned field to do an "archaeology dig".
I sent them out in the back yard to make a hut or shelter using whatever they could find to simulate how the nomads lived.
We made a model of the Nile River complete with grass seed, dirt, and rocks. We "flooded" it every week or so over a period of a few weeks and watched the grass (crops) grow.
We made cuneiform tablets out of clay and they wrote their names in cuneiform.
Made a Heiroglyphic scroll.
Made pyramids out of sugar cubes.
Made stained glass windows to show how the Phoenicians made glass.
Made a Moses and the Ten Plagues sticker book.
Drew pictures of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Made an erupting volcano like the one that erupted on the island of Crete.
Made a greek charm bracelet out of Shrinky Dinks. Charms included the Parthenon, a greek olympic cup, grapes, and spartan warriors.
Made comic books about the Spartans.
Made a sculpture of the Parthenon out of blocks.
Made a roman Fasces.
Ran a roman restaurant.
Made a roman aqueduct.
Played the "Ransom Caesar Game". (Like Battleship)

Still to do:
Mint our own coins
Learn the Roman Numerals
Make a mosaic calendar.
Make pendants with secret pockets (the early Christians had to keep their identity a secret).
Make a Life of Jesus Puzzle.
Make a Shabbat sand art candle holder. (the end of the ancient Jewish Nation).
Make Nero's new crown.
Make a salt dough map of italy.
Make a secret symbol like the early Christian symbol of the fish.
Make Constantine's shield.
Have a Celtic Feast.
Reassemble a Roman pot.
Read the Cat in the Hat in Latin!!!????

Science projects:
We grew bacteria!
Made a weather station.
Grew plants.
Made models of the heart and lungs.
Tested our lung capacity using straws and 2-liter bottles.
Put Alka Seltzer and water in film canisters to demonstrate how rockets take off.
Made a model of the Solar system.
Made constellation viewers out of film canisters.
Demonstrated the magnetic pull of the moon on the ocean using magnets.
Compared the size of the sun and the earth using Cheerios.

I can't overstate how effective projects are at "cementing" information into kids' brains (at least my kids). It seems like once we've done a project or experiments for that subject, they just never forget it!

The Weekly Prediction

Our weekly menu:
Monday: Taco Salad
Tuesday: Spaghetti
Wednesday: White Chili
Thursday: Thanksgiving
Friday: Turkey Sandwiches
Saturday: Pizza or go out
Sunday: Turkey Sandwiches

My to do list:
Order James's Christmas gift
Order next week's library books
Make reminder cards for talks in primary
Order scriptures for Kell
Plan Keller's birthday party
Call mom about Christmas present ideas for the kids
Call Regan and plan Christmas Primary activity
Wrap Morgan's gift
Chop fruit and make dip for Co-op party
Make stuffing and cream cheese filling for pumpkin roll

Our library books this week:
Shakespeare: the animated tales (Julius Ceasar)
Julius Caesar: great dictator of Rome
Scat, Cat!
Mousekin's Thanksgiving
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Ancient Rome and Pompeii
Three Young Pilgrims
Miss Swiss
Hunk of Junk
Apollo 13: space emergency
The Celts
Roman numerals I to MM
Thanksgiving on Thursday
The Usborne first encyclopedia of space
Space Disasters
Cleopatra the queen of kings
Twister on Tuesday
Thanksgiving is...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Homeschooling; the Nuts and Bolts (Part 2)

I mentioned in the last post that we homeschool using the classical method. This post is a look at how we actually do it, for anyone who's curious.

From The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer:
"What is classical education? It is language-intensive, not image-focused. It demands that students use and understand words, not video images. It is history-intensive, providing students with a comprehensive view of human endeavor from the beginning until now. It trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions. It demands self-discipline. It produces literate, curious, intelligent students who have a wide range of interests and the ability to follow up on them."
There are four periods of history repeated three times that we will study. The ancients are studied in grades 1, 5, and 9. The Medieval-Early Renaissance is studied in grades 2, 6, and 10; Late Renaissance-early modern in grades 3, 7, and 11. And the Modern period is studied in grades 4, 8, and 12. By the time they reach twelfth grade, they will have studied each period three times delving a little deeper in the middle grades until in the upper grades, they are studying from unabridged primary documents and books. Clear as mud?
There are three stages of a student's classical education: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Grammar is grades 1-4, and the students in this stage are eager to learn, curious, and love to memorize things! It is the time to gather knowledge. In the Logic stage, students start to question why things are done the way they are, and supposedly, kids in this stage love to "trick" adults, and be know-it-alls. They learn to recognize fallacies and false statements. Formal logic is introduced in this stage. Rhetoric is the stage where the student learns to express thoughts with "fluency, grace, elegance, and persuasiveness". Rhetoric stands on the shoulders of the first two stages. To make a clear argument about anything, a student needs to have knowledge and the ability to weigh the value of any statement.
So how we do school on a daily basis? This is our daily checklist:
Scripture Pictures
Memory Work (a video of Keller memorizing a scripture).
History (Mon, Wed, and Friday) Science Tues. and Thurs.

At the beginning of every week, I put all of Keller's work into the folders labeled with the day of the week (in latin! That way he will have to learn the days of the week in latin!). On the right of the picture above, you can see our checklist. He just has to look at each subject, read what pages to do, and do it! This way, he knows when he's done, or how much further he has to go.

We start school at about 8:30 am and we rarely go past lunchtime, unless we have a project or something. After school, the kids are free to read, play with kids in the neighborhood, build forts, dig up worms...the sky's the limit. This is also when we do extra things like field trips, group activities (like homeschool co-op), ballet lessons and scouts. I told my sis-in-law Lindsay a few weeks ago that my kids aren't allowed to watch tv. The truth is, my kids don't ask to watch it! I put a cost of one ticket for one half hour of tv, and they always choose to do something else with their ticket. I occasionally put in a science or history video, if it ties in with the lesson. Sometimes you just have to get a visual of how big the solar system is to really understand it!

So that's pretty much how our days and weeks go by. With science and history, we do the reading on Monday through Wednesday, then on Thursday and Friday afternoons we do our projects and experiments. If anyone has any questions about what books or programs we use for specific subjects, post a comment! I love homeschooling. My kids tell me they do too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Homeschooling; the Nuts and Bolts (Part 1)

This post comes from an email I sent to someone requesting more information about homeschooling. A lot of people have questions about the details of homeschooling. I'll try to answer some of those questions in this post, and in part 2.
Although I think homeschooling is wonderful and we have a great time doing it, it isn't for everybody. So don't feel bad if after you've researched the idea you feel it's not for you. There is so much to ask about homeschooling, isn't there? There are tons of different ways to do it. Here are a few that I know of:
1. First, is distance learning. I think this is what most people picture when they imagine homeschooling. You sign up for a complete curriculum and an accredited school (like Calvert) will send you the materials in the mail, and you do what it says. Like I said, it's a complete curriculum. You don't prepare any of the work and you don't choose what materials your children learn from. There is a program here in Utah called k12. Basically, it's public school done at home through the computer and various books. They even send you science materials! It's also free! I think there are only certain times of the year that you can sign up for this though.
2. The Classical approach. This is what we do. This method is best described as the education that our founding fathers had. It's the study of great books through the ages from ancient to modern using a system called the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric). It's academically rigorous. If this sounds interesting to you, a wonderful book to read is called The Well Trained Mind. It will guide you from 1st grade to 12th and tell you exactly how to do it.
3. Unschooling. Unschooling is the polar opposite of the Classical approach. Unschooling is child led education. As I understand it, the child sort of decides what they will learn about and how much they will learn. They are free to follow their interests, talents, and passions.
4. Charlotte Mason. The Charlotte Mason sounds similar to the classical approach with more of an emphasis on narrating what you've read and encouraging students to spend lots of time in nature.
5. Eclectic. Eclectic is a little of every approach. I guess this is us too.
I think all of the methods have truth and merit to them. There are more approaches that I've barely even heard of!
If homeschooling sounds like something you'd like to try you should read a book called Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started Homeschooling. She outlines the legal requirements for homeschooling, answers basic questions, and gives you a few things you need to know before you start. Then she goes into each approach in more detail than I did and directs you to different resources for each approach.
The most important things to know or think about before homeschooling in my opinion are:
1. Choose a method that speaks to you and seems to fit your family and parenting style. Don't try to do it the way someone else does. You've got to do what works for you .
2. If you're going to homeschool, you need to enjoy being with your child/children.
3. Homeschooling won't solve discipline problems. However, homeschooling provides you with time to get to know your child better, and you are more aware of what is causing the trouble.
4. It's a sacrifice of time on the part of mom (or whoever is responsible for the teaching). Your hobbies will have to wait (at least until the kids are in bed for the night).
In the next part of the post, I'll get into the classical approach in a little more detail and show you what our typical day looks like.
Good luck,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dinner's Back!

As I was putting away my groceries this afternoon, I read this on the grocery bags:
"How to prevent underage drinking:
Buy Groceries
Make Dinner
Eat Together
Studies show children and teens who eat dinner with their families at least five times per week are 35% less likely to use alcohol. To learn more, visit"

When I don't cook dinner, I find that our evenings are so disjointed. The kids wander off somewhere, ( I usually feed them kid food on the nights I don't cook, like mac n cheese) bored and lost. James hops on the computer to check and recheck football scores. I guess he figures if there's not going to be any dinner, he's off the hook for hanging out with the family. And me? I'm slinking off into a corner somewhere reading a book, but not enjoying it because I know that sooner or later, one or all of us is going to get hungry and I'm going to have to do something about it. The kids end up staying up later which ends up making me irritable. I usually do cook. I hate it when I don't. So, in honor of dinner, I'm going to post our weekly dinner menu. What's everybody else having for dinner this week? If you've read this post, consider yourself "tagged"! You have to post your dinner plans this week on your blog for me to read! So without further ado, here is our menu for the week. (Drumroll).
Friday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Saturday: Tomato Bisque (I'm bringing it to the ward dinner).
Sunday: Pork Roast, potatoes, and broccoli
Monday: I'm going to try to recreate the Cafe Rio Pork Salad, wish me luck!
Tuesday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Wednesday: Pork Burritos
Thursday: Barbeque Chicken, cole slaw, biscuits (and no, we're not going to KFC)!
Can you tell pork was on sale for .99 cents/lb?
Well, I'm off to make dinner!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Let the kids make a mess!

Picture a kitchen sometime in the 50's. There is a mother in the kitchen putting cherry pie filling into a pressure cooker. She loads up the cooker and intentionally sets the pressure too high and doesn't latch the lid tightly. On purpose! She turns on the pressure cooker. The pressure builds up and soon the lid flies off and, like a miniature volcano, the cherry pie filling is launched all over the kitchen, covering the ceiling and cupboards with thick dripping oozing red gunk. Later she will clean it up. She'll scrub down the ceiling, the counters, the floor, and the cupboards. She willfully exploded the cherries so that her 8 year old son could indulge his passion for filming movies. He wanted something that looked like blood dripping from the cupboards.
At the age of 13, her son is still shooting movies, charging 25 cents for the kids in the neighborhood to come see his movies while his sister sells popcorn. At 16, the boy writes and directs his first independent film and it is shown at the local movie theater and makes a profit of $100. A writer for the local newspaper expected great things to come from the young filmmaker.
Later in life he creates films called:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Indiana Jones Series
Back To the Future
The Land Before Time
Jurassic Park
Schindler's List
Minority Report
Saving Private Ryan

Yes, the boy shooting horror films in the kitchen was Steven Spielberg. What a nice mom he must have had. I remember this story every time my kids ask me to do something messy. Who knows what great things they will do someday if they're able to follow their passions, however messy. I would have made him clean up the cherries, though!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Women and their guilt!

Moroni 10:8 "And again, I exhort you, my sisters, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many;and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto women, to profit them."

I think it's time to put to rest the myth of the woman who "has it all". No woman has it all or does it all. No woman. I think one of the dangers of reading fashion or celebrity magazines, watching tv shows, or even reading other people's blogs is this tendency women have of looking at an image or reading a short message and thinking, "Wow, that woman really has it all together!" A woman's next thought will surely be "I really need to get my act together." What we don't realize when we read magazines or blogs is that they are a snapshot. One moment. A few minutes in another woman's brain, or one look at the way another woman cleans, cooks, raises her children, or decorates her house. What we don't see is the real life that goes on behind and beyond that image. We don't see the dirty dishes in the sink, the baby crying in mom's arms and the toddler smelling like she needs a diaper change while the older two are bickering over a toy.
Now don't get me wrong. I love blogging and I love to read other blogs. I read home decorating and sometimes even fashion magazines. I like to see what other women are doing, and I like to steal their ideas for cleaning schedules, homeschool ideas, and meal plans, and outfits! But we women need to remember: It's only one small moment in her day, her life. She has faults! We all do. She has talents you wish you had. We all do. It's so easy to get on someone else's website and melt into a puddle of inadequacy. After all, there is Superwoman, dispensing wisdom and tips and so clearly more talented and hard working than you. But that's the problem. None of us live in cyberspace and not one of us is Superwoman. She never existed, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can go about our lives, taking information and ideas when they are helpful, and having a healthy respect for the gifts of others.
If my children were perfect and I had no challenges at home or in my life, I would have nothing to blog about. I try to choose to write my blog when I'm upbeat and when I feel like I have something to offer others. I've always felt that there is enough written about how difficult motherhood and family life is. I like to look at the flip side and celebrate how wonderful it is too.
Homemaking is not about showing off or "having it all together". There are so many different gifts and talents from woman to woman. Let's thank God for the gifts He has given us (if you don't know what they are, pray for Heavenly Father to reveal them to you), cultivate the ones we find within us, respect and praise those who have other gifts, and not berate ourselves for not having the same ones. It will never benefit us to slink into despondency over a sister who has an eye for photography, just make sure you have her name and number when it's time for a family portrait! Some women cook gourmet meals, some take beautiful pictures of their families, some have such an artists eye for scrapbooking and crafts, others are wonderfully organized and their homes are a haven, still others design or sew beautiful clothes for their girls. You have talents! Don't ever doubt it.
If I've ever come across as perfection please forgive me and remember that electrons on a screen cannot compare with a personal heart-to-heart. If you start to feel like you're not measuring up to a cyberspace or glossy yard stick, feel free to come back, read this again, and refresh your memory. Now, if I can just practice what I'm preaching!
With love,

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pumpkin Roll!

This was the dessert we had at book club last week. It was soooo good. Give it a try!

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (could probably be cut down)

1 tsp. lemon juice

2/3 cup pumpkin

¾ cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

Beat eggs, then add sugar, lemon juice and pumpkin; mix. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Line a jelly roll pan (large cookie sheet) with greased waxed paper, and grease the sides of the pan. Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle a towel with powdered sugar and lay hot cake on towel, remove wax paper and roll. Cool in rolled position.


1 ½ cups powdered sugar

6 oz. cream cheese

2 Tbsp. margarine (soft)

½ tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar and cream cheese, then add margarine and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Unroll cooled cake and spread frosting. Roll up again. Wrap in foil and freeze. Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to serving and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 1 inch slices.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Maisie Dobbs, A Ladylike Detective!

A good mystery is so fun to read, but up until lately, most of the mystery books were kind of shallow, more focused on the story than the characters. The content in lots of the mystery series too has been nasty, graphic, or peppered with the sexual exploits of the female detective solving the case.
I'm happy to recommend a wonderful alternative. The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is a mystery series that is thoughtful, compassionate, and clean. Maisie Dobbs is a young woman living in post WWI London. She calls herself a "psychologist and investigator". She grew up as a working class servant and through her intelligence and work ethic, is rewarded with an unusual education that has provided her with the career that she enjoys so much. This mystery series features good writing, interesting characters, and great stories.
One of the first things I want to buy when I get this baby out of me is a little navy blue skirt suit, like the one Maisie wears. If you give this series a read I know you'll like it!
Happy reading,

Fear vs. Faith

I've been living in fear a lot lately. Have you ever immersed yourself in a sorrow that doesn't exist? For example, James left for Denver early this morning. Instead of going back to sleep like a reasonable person, I laid awake thinking "What if his plane goes down?" Then I thought about the sorrow I would go through if he died. I would look at his whiskers in the sink and think "He's never coming back..." Same goes for the clothes in his closet, his grey sweatpants he always puts on at the end of the day. I don't know why I do this. I've done it with each of my children and other members of my family. Does anyone else do this? Why?
With this pregnancy, I can't stop dwelling on the fear that something will go wrong again. What if the baby dies? What if I die? I've even started writing instructions for James in case something happens to me.
Should I try to stop thinking this way? Or does this kind of imagined fear serve some kind of purpose?
Faith is the opposite of fear, so do you just have faith that nothing will happen and refuse to entertain the possibility that something might happen? Hmmm...what a weird post for me.