Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Time for Learning Review...

We recently did a review of Time for Learning for a month. In this post I will post both my opinions and those of my kids.

The five year old: He loved it! The learning games were engaging and he couldn't get enough.

Me, I liked the resources that go along with it that you can print off to reinforce what they learned. It was not an overwhelming amount either. We would continue to use it for our five year old.

The 8th graders:

Girl really enjoyed the format and the paperwork that went along with it.

Boy did not like reading online, and zipped through it without really reading it all.

Me, I think it is a great resource for a child you can trust to use it correctly. For a child such as my son who just kept hitting the "next" button, there is no accountability. Only being extremely supervised would this work for him, so I might as well sit down and teach him the material rather than using the computer. Also, there was a LOT of material to print out for the older kids as enrichment activities, and that is a drain on the printer. Having these available to purchase separately as a workbook would be highly preferable.

My favorite go to item...

Is these wonderful little cloths, known as Bird-E towels. You can find them over at my friend's shop, on etsy. This is her description of them from her site:

"Bird-E Towels™ are simply fabulous, a wonderful way to cut the paper towel habit. They are a washable, reusable paper towel alternative made from ORGANIC fabric! My ORGANIC Bird-E Towels™ towels feel and act more like a paper towel (only better!) vs any of the alternatives out there! "

I use these for everything, and just placed another order today. I keep them for things such as regular cleaning, a dishcloth, wiping up spills, drying hands, and many many other things.

This is also a note on uses from my friend's site:

"Whatever you might use a paper towel for, you can use these cloths. Dry your hands, wipe up spills, clean the dining room table, dinner napkins, etc, etc. Even better then paper towels, you can actually clean glass and mirrors without leaving linty bits like paper towels and other cloths can do."

I just fold them in half and keep them in a bin in my kitchen corner. Makes them handy. My new ones, I will keep in the bathrooms for wiping down things and such.



PIoneer Woman's Cinnamon rolls, my attempt and tweaks

I can not take any credit for this dish of pure heaven. No, I cannot. I got it from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drumond. You can find a much more entertaining and thorough walk through of this here, on her site.

Okay. You're still with me? Really, Ree is a lot funnier, but okay...if you insist.

Step one...(can you see the love that is baked in right from the beginning?)


Step two...after one hour added yeast



then flour and stirred it all together


Let rise for an hour...and added the other ingredients


Took half of dough and put it in my floured counter


rolled it out


added butter (yum!)


and sugar


and cinnamon


rolled, and made a MAJOR mess...then cut


Place in pans...some pretty


some not so pretty


But enough to share


Then I made the icing


and I drenched them like she said. At first, it looked like too much. But then...


it began to soak in


and in the end, they looked (and tasted) amazing!


Pulled Pork

This is blog one of three today...this is about my pulled pork, which is TO DIE FOR YUMMY!!!

Last night I placed a pork roast (shoulder) in my crock pot. I sliced two onions and layered the slices of one on bottom, placed roast, and another layer of onions on top. I then emptied a packet of italian dressing (dry) on the top, and poured one can of giner ale on that. I let it cook on low for 12.5 hours. I then drained the liquid reserving the onions and meat. I let it sit in the colander in the sink to cool. This is what it looked like at that point.


After this, I pulled it apart and threw it all back in the crock pot.


I then added two bottles of yummy BBQ sauce


But, it was still dry. After burning some in my crock pot last week, I was NOT risking that again, so I added a can of ginger ale.


I then cooked it on low for 4 hours. The recipe called for 6, but at 4 it was evident it had had enough, and further cooking would leave me with a nasty mess like the last time. (I didn't even know you could scorch food on low in a crock pot...apparently you can!)



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The "other" blog

I started fresh with a new blog, this one, this year. I do still have my other blog there for reference if you are interested in any of it. You can find it http://crazyheifer.blogspot.com/ there.

I just thought it important to start fresh, like we were doing. Probably more of a mental thing than a reality, but whatever. Makes me feel better, so I did it.

Now, an update on us. We are getting back on track. I am feeling so much better after my surgery, and I am finally at the point of being pleased with having the procedure. I think it was the smartest move I have made in a long time as I feel years younger, even with the pain remaining.

Time For Learning

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"The" Magazine

I cannot tell you how excited I get when this magazine comes in the mail. It is like a gift every-time one shows up, full of all the wonderful tid-bits of knowledge, advice, laughter, and fun that one magazine can contain!

Well, today was *that* day! It is finally here!!! I am far too excited when it arrives to just sit down and start reading. Noooooooo, I have to flip through scanning it, picking out bits and pieces that interest me but never dwelling. I cannot contain my enthusiasm long enough to read it in order. So, I take time scanning and flipping, smiling and anticipating all the things I am going to get out of this issue. Then, I go back and I savor each page. Not always in order, but always in entirety before a few days have past. But, it does not end there. I never give an issue away, though I have leant them out so other's can benefit from an article that has made me think of them. I keep every issue. I believe that every homeschooling family should have a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse. It has proven invaluable to our family in our homeschool journey.

Just today it arrived, and already I had a need "met". I had been looking for a devotional or unit study to take my children through the beginning of December all the way to Christmas. I wanted something to tie in the reasons we do some of what we do to the REAL reason for the season. Right there on page 65 it was..."Christmas is all about Jesus", a 24 day devotional explaining how things like snowflakes and candles can help a family focus on Jesus. I ordered it straight away (further review to come after we use it). Their website is http://www.kovescove.com if you'd also like to look into it.

Now, to my plug...if you are a homeschooling parent, you need to subscribe to TOS magazine. If you know a homeschooling parent who does not, it would make an excellent gift. If you plan to homeschool but your children are not there yet (or maybe not even HERE yet), I still suggest subscribing. I wish I owned every issue ever!!! LOL Maybe I will make that a goal?

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is certainly a smart purchase and an excellent resource. I will spend time at a later date talking about their wonderful on-line conferences and so on.

To subscribe, just click here

Back in the Saddle

Time to get back in the saddle. I had to take time off in order to have surgery. I thought we would only miss a little bit of schoolwork, but we ended up missing a LOT. However, I have learned so much in the interim that it may have helped our homeschooling journey more than hurt it. I have learned that when not faced with a structured school day, my children still seek out plenty of opportunities to grow and learn. For the first time, I have seen the benefit of "unschooling". I have watched them pursue so many varied things that they have learned from. Another thing that astounded me was my daughter writing a 5 page book report on a Biography she checked out from the library. I did not assign it, she just did it. Tucker, the child who I have to fight to get to write, has taken to writing letters. Troy I sometimes have to almost sit on to get to listen to me read a book, but lately he'll bring me a stack just to read to him.

I have been stressing science, art, and music curriculum and feeling I am somehow short changing my kids by not having something in stone. However, I have learned in the last few weeks that they really do delve deeply into subjects when they are pursuing their own loves, and they learn a LOT on their own. So, I think I shall try to do a lot more delight centered learning.

So, this week they are each reading biographies. They are writing a lot. Math? They have been doing shopping for me and I actually let them watch me pay bills and help balance our account. I also allowed them to budget some things out and go buy them. They were amazed to see how fast our paycheck went to the most basic of things, and exactly how much it costs to live and support a family. I thought it was sweet that they felt guilty taking their allowances after they saw what it takes to keep our family afloat.

They have also gotten better at chores. There are many things I have been reluctant to do in teaching my children about housework. I don't know why, but I have. I just *know* that when they do the work, it will not be good enough and I'll have to re-do it or want it redone. However, since I am on restriction post surgery, it has forced me to change this.

At first, I was just resigned that the house would not be cleaned "right" until I got better. But, yesterday morning I SNAPPED! I cannot do it, and by golly my 12 & 14 year old are old enough to clean and clean RIGHT. So, yesterday I had them clean and re-clean all morning. They only got a pass to another area when their current area is right. I also had them keep track in a note book of everything they do, that way they can "reference" it later if they "forget" how to do it right. Since they have not been doing their chores right, and have not been helping me much while I have been down, they will not get their last two weeks allowance until this work is done. I sit here writing you proud to say the house is almost in spic & span condition, except my room and bathroom. I will pay them extra to do it as I think our own areas are ALWAYS our own responsibility.

Laundry is another area where I have remained vigilant, and have not shared. I am VERY picky about my laundry. How it is sorted, what temperatures are used, what cycle, the softener, detergent...all of it, including how it is folded/hung. Of course, laundry is WAY behind. So much so that Katie insisted on doing some on her own. She has paid attention (I have allowed them to "help", but with me there directing never on their own) and she did it exactly as I would have. I am very proud. Even more so, I realize, I don't have to take so much on even when well. The kids are capable of doing housework, and doing it correctly.

So, even though we have not been formally schooling, we certainly have had a lot of learning going on around here. I am grateful for this time of growth in our family. I think it well help us all to do better in the future.

The picture at the top is a picture of Tucker's soufflés he made the other day from scratch. They rose nicely and turned out perfect. They were hot chocolate soufflés, using a Hershey's cookbook recipe. BRAVO Tucker...he is well on his way to his goal of being a chef.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally, a day that went as planned

Well, it went as planned as far as "homeschooling" went. The kids didn't complain about doing their work. Wait. Troy did, but when I instituted a system of instant "sticker rewards" instead of the one sticker a day, he changed his tune right quick. He was more enthusiastic and engaged than he ever has been. Should have figured out the sticker thing before now, sure would have made things easier. (See, if he get's 100 stickers, he gets to go to Chuck E Cheese.) He can earn up to 4 stickers a day. Today he got three because he acted up when doing calender time. Silly kid.

Today was our first day of doing "Character Quality Language Arts". It is a learning curve for the big kids and for myself, but it went well. I think it is going to work for us better than I thought.

I am reading "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton to the big kids. Troy came in and sat for a while, but it just didn't keep his attention and he was gone again. I remember loving this book as a kid, and I am hoping mine love it too. It feels weird reading to the big kids, but they seem to be enjoying it. They begged me to read more, but my voice couldn't handle anymore after 40 pages or so. Maybe I'll read more this evening.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

4H Bunny #2

Troy now his 4H bunny. He is a mini Rex, ad Troy has named him "P.D."...not to be confused with "Peti" (which is what we thought it was, but no...).

He is so tiny and cute.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rough month, sheesh

Well, you can mark off our plans for apple picking and the corn maze tomorrow. Troy seems to be getting really sick, and quick. He was fine earlier, just whiney. Then, he was more whiney. I just thought him to be overly tired, we had a big day at the sand dunes today. He fell asleep in the recliner, and when I went to carry him in here, he felt hot but I wasn't too worried. Well, he woke up about an hour later crying with head pain. I got him some tylenol and Chris told me to take his temperature. Well, it is 101.9. So, yeah, he's sick. Bummer. Poor guy.

The picture is from the sand dunes today...enjoy

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TWO field trips, two days...

We had planned to go to the corn maze in Lubbock on the 5th, but that fell through. So, I decided to plan it for another day. We also wanted to pick apples, so we needed to plan that too. I decided we'd go this Friday.

First, we'll go apple picking at Apple Country. Then we may find something to do like the science museum. AT 5, the corn maze opens and we'll go there and do the maze and pumpkin patch. Then we'll make the two hour drive home.

BUT, I said TWO field trips, right? Well, I guess this could be considered "two", but I am only counting it as one.

Tomorrow we are headed to Monahans State Park (The Sandhills). We will hang out for the day, play in the sand, have a picnic, etc. So exciting!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I always loved Mardel...but

I went to Mardel the other day to get my daughter a fiction novel that was appropriate. The things at Borders had me clawing my eyes out, so I figured Mardel was a logical alternative. It is a Christian store, right? Well, yes, it is. However, "Christian" being in a store label does not insure that the material will be appropriate for our beliefs.

Every book she pulled out of the teen fiction section was either about dating and angst with boys, or about something super-natural/science fiction. Really? How about a good book with good Christian characters that are not so worldly? If we wanted books about all that jazz, we could have gotten one at Borders or any other book store.

I tried to guide her to historical fiction, but apparently she judges books by their covers and none of those were as cool as the books with turquoise and hot pink covers.

I do want my kids to be able to read modern fiction, but I am disappointed at what we have found thus far. I am reverting back to classics for now.

I should have known better after I bought a book at Mardel for teens on the "other gender" (half was for girls, half for boys) that encouraged them to "date around" as teenagers so they really know what they like in a person. This goes directly against what we believe. We don't believe in serial dating, we believe in courting only to find a life mate, and only doing so when ready to take one.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Well well well

I am sick. This has been a VERY rough week (to say the least) and now to top it off I have tested positive not only for the flu, but also for strep.

Michaela did Troy's schooling with him and I will double up with her tomorrow (I hope).

I do not like feeling bad. I am blessed to have a beautiful daughter that doesn't mind playing nurse to Mom, and helping out with the house and her little brother.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I realize & the love of flexibility

I realize there is a great reason why public schools fail, and even though I knew it before, it hits home. Public schools can not adjust to meet the needs of the individual child, period.

Troy is NOT ready for kindergarten in many ways, and in others he is. He is ready to learn reading, but not writing. His fine motor skills are just not developed enough to write. His attention span...well, let's just say it needs attention. LOL

At first we were doing all of his activities right together, but it was causing him to be frustrated and more distractible. In light of this I have done the following:

<------Troy with his beads,
(he did dress himself, by the way)

  • removed science and art and penmanship (for now)
  • reduced Bible down a LOT, we will do short Bible stories and a memory verse
  • Moved his story time to bed time
  • Removed his geography rhymes

We are focusing on numbers, phonics, and fine motor skills. Today he worked hard (and had a GREAT time) stringing beads. He loved it.

I love that I can meet his needs at his level, and allow him to excel where he is ready, and work harder on what needs more work. I am blessed that I can educate my children at home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We had...

We have had a snag in our plans. Got put a little behind on our homeschooling already. DH grandma passed away, and we had two days out of town at her funeral. Then we had an incident here that has detracted from what we are trying to do. Should be back on track tomorrow though. All is good. :D

Monday, September 20, 2010


This is what the big kiddos are doing this year. By the time we are finished, we will have done both 7th and 8th grade.

For language arts we are doing the Character Quality Language Arts-Red series (level B). This language arts series works on many things, but most notably character traits. I feel like this is an area the kids really need some work in, so I pray it works out the way I think it will.


For Math/Biology we are doing Life of Fred Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology (he says the two intertwine). I love Life of Fred. The kids think he is hilarious (he is). I would not have learned college algebra myself had it not been for Fred.


Veterinary Assistant (our science/ag). The kids really wanted to do science they would enjoy, so we are going to work through the veterinary assistant program handbook. This satisfies both a science credit for high school and an AG credit.


Civics/Government...I found this until study (a 200+ hour unit study) to do for government. They really need to understand our government to understand elections and the positions which we take on issues. After we finish this, we will do smaller studies on politics, since they are interested in them.


Spanish...we went with the old stand-by, tried and proven software, Rosetta Stone.


Bible...they will complete this book in just a few weeks and we will do the other books in the series.


Critical Thinking...We will do this as a family. Troy does not understand yet, but he will. This is only once a week.


Handwriting...Michaela's is decent but can use some work.. Tucker's, well...it is almost illegible so he will work on it until it is neat.


Plus we're doing an online writing course. It is for the whole family, despite saying it is for ladies.


We will do various art and science projects, and the kids will be in music lessons at some point.

For Troy, he is following this curriculum:

I will be reviewing these different curriculums throughout the year.

First day back to "Homeschooling"

So, this is where I am supposed to say "Today was our first day back to homeschooling and everything was great, boy isn't homeschooling FUN?!". Nope, not going to say it. Today was our first day, and we got through it, but it was certainly not easy. The kids are pushing to see how much they can get away with. The big kids want to see how little they can do and get by, and Troy thinks it's all fun and games. I mean, why listen to a story when you can just go in the living room and watch TV with Daddy? I know it will get better. We are starting a routine. The kids will learn not only what they need to be academically, but what they need to be doing on personal levels too.

Chris said "Wow, you are being really tough on them". Well, yes I am. If I am not, they will keep pushing. I can let up when they get serious. Right? Well, I know that is the right thing.

I dream of a day when we can "school" in a dedicated school room. Right now, we are schooling in the master bedroom. Master bedroom? Yes, master bedroom. The dining area is too small. The living room is full of distractions. So, our bedroom is co-existing as our schoolroom. Not the best thing for a marriage, but you do what you have to do. Did I mention that the master is also Troy's room?

Here is my area (this was here since I established an "office" in my room. You can see Tucker's desk there to the right.

This is Michaela's desk. You can see a little bit of Troy's work area to the right of her desk.

Here is Michaela at Tucker's desk working...no clue why she is there. She just jumped there right before I snapped the pic.

This is our whiteboard & calendar area. (yes, that is Troy's bed to the right, lol)

This is Troy's little desk and work area.

Tucker doing spanish at my desk...

Michaela decided the room was "too loud" and relocated herself to the shower to read.

Tomorrow will be better, and it will continue to get better. I expect a near mutiny when I implement the big kids language arts program which is extensive, but they will get over it and be better in the end.

I am still optimistic and excited. I know that this is God's plan for our family, and with his help we will make it work.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

4-H Project, Rabbits...

The first of the 4-H projects, show rabbits, has arrived at our house. This one is Michaela's Flemish Giant, his name is "Tiny"...ahem, I was corrected. His full name is "Tiny Elmer Fudd Brown". He is 8 weeks old, and already the size of a "normal" rabbit. He will be HUGE when fully grown.

Troy will be getting a mini-rex to show, and Tucker is getting a Jersey Wooly to show.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One week and one day of public school, plus a lifetime

I am going to give a short backstory. We were homeschoolers, and we moved to a new place. Chris, being the leader of our home thought the kids should try public school. Thought troy would benefit from the socialization and the older kids would enjoy sports. He reasoned that this is "West Texas" and schools were just better here. After all, that is what we heard from the public around here. So, off to school they went.

First day: bus didn't come for older kids, I was not available immediately because I was 30 miles away, so I called and the bus dispatched a new bus for them. I called the school to insure they got there, they inform me "there is no way to find out if they are here or not". So, I made a trip up there and let them know they *better* know where my children are at all times. Troy got picked on, came home in tears.

Subsequent days: It was something everyday. I *knew* the kids needed to be back home, but I respected Chris' position. Troy's K teacher became increasingly frustrated with him being "needy". M's schedule got all messed up, and because she had been homeschooled they tried to put her in remedial classes (I did get that fixed and she went to gifted instead). I could go on and on, but Tucker was the only one doing "okay".

There was an immediate change in our home. Everyone was cranky. The older kids were picking up things unGodly at rapid speed. Their attitudes reflected as such. Troy would cry, a lot. I had a hard time getting cooperation with *anything* here at home. Troy became more clingy and would cry for his sister. We had seen a setback to wetting the bed, talking babytalk, and so forth.

That next Monday, Six days into the new school year, Chris called me to have lunch and told me he felt in his spirit that it was wrong for our children to be in school, and to go pull them out. He did have one thing he would allow, if they really honestly wanted to stay, they could. Only Tucker wanted to stay. We really struggled with this, but allowed him to stay with a "three strike" condition. Meaning, three things go wrong at home or at school, and we will pull him anyhow. He is on strike one, and has been beat up at school. Not good. But yet we allow him to stay, because we feel like his spirit will not be in the right place if we don't keep our end or if he doesn't make the decision to come home himself.

I can honestly say that we now know that it is 100% God's plan for us to homeschool. I know that this little experiment with public school has introduced things we never meant to open the doors to.

Welcome to our Homeschooling Blog

Okay, so maybe not just "homeschool". We will use this as our family blog. There may be posts from the kids, from Chris (yeah right, but it could happen), and who knows who else. Mostly, it will just be me (Mom) posting various happenings, musings, and updates.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Once again

I have fallen off of the blogging bandwagon.

It is time to share again. I had a crazy summer, but it is all coming to a close.

Be back soon...


Sunday, July 25, 2010

I have been away

I have been at my mother's house for two weeks having check ups from my specialists and so on. I have fallen behind not only in my blogging, but also in everything else. Particularly distressing is the fact that I fell WAY behind in my Bible reading. Like, 2 weeks behind. In an attempt to catch up, I will be doing 2 days at a time. :D Starting tomorrow that is. Maybe I will do three some days and get caught up quicker.

So, I will be catching up here and everywhere else this week. Then it is back to Houston for more testing and such for a few days.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Desk progression

Okay, just posting pics of the desk as it progressed. The black area is a leather insert. :D