The bald eagles are back at the Minnesota Bound nest! I wrote this post last year about our fascination with the eagles and some resources and activities for studying them.
We had an impromptu nature study lesson last night. Jupiter was very bright and very close to the moon last night. You can see it to the left and slightly above the moon in this photo:
Buddy is interested in astronomy and received a telescope from his grandparents for Christmas. With a beautiful clear sky and warm weather last night, our family spent some time checking it out:
Jupiter is supposed to be bright and easy to see again tonight, so if you have clear skies go out and look. It was really beautiful. Here are some links about Jupiter:
We have been very busy around our house lately. This week marked our first week back to full school days and co-op! It has been nice to get back into a routine. Our daughter turns thirteen next week (how did that happen?) and for her gift we painted her room and dresser and got her a new bedding set. I painted the dresser all black except one drawer that I did in zebra print. It turned out so fun! Our house is showing the upheaval that always comes with painting. I’m not sure why painting one room means the whole house needs to turn into a mess!
I’ve also been busy with my duties for Home Educating Family Magazine. I have had a bunch of new reviews come out over the past few weeks. If you are interested, you can find the links below. I also have written a couple of articles for the magazine for the next issue as well as a blog post. I am so excited about being part of Home Educating Family! I also have a couple of new things in the works for my store at Crestview Heights Academy, but they are bigger projects than I usually take on and are taking some time. I can’t wait to show them to you!
Here are my newest reviews:
Some children seem to learn to read as naturally as they learn to crawl or talk. For others, a sequential phonetic approach is necessary to launch them as readers. This was the case for my son. We have used a combination of programs to help support his early reading, and Explode the Code is one of the best of these resources.
Explode the Code is a series of simple, sequential phonics workbooks that help children learn to use phonetic sounds for reading. The curriculum begins with a series of pre-reading workbooks entitled Get Ready for the Code, followed by eight Explode the Code workbooks that cover phonics instruction from short vowels through diphthongs, digraphs, and endings. You can also purchase a half book for Explode the Code books one through six that provide extra practice as well as several Beyond the Code books that work specifically with reading comprehension. Teacher’s guides are also available…. (Find the rest of the review at Home Educating Family)
Language arts is not a favorite subject at our house. I have teasingly said that I have “movers and shakers,” but it is true that my children do not enjoy subjects that require a great deal of sitting or writing. Creative Curriculum Extenders: Differentiated Projects for the Language Arts Classroom offers a wealth of activities that makes our language arts time more fun for everyone.
Creative Curriculum Extenders contains projects for ten different genre: autobiography, researching and informing, poetry, novels, and fairy tales as well as nonfiction, descriptive, narrative, persuasive, and expository communications. One of my favorites, under the autobiography genre, is writing a review of your life including pros, cons and a star rating! Other projects include composing songs, creating models, using power point, conducting interviews, plus many, many more…..
Discovering Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies revolutionized my homeschool teaching methods. Her common sense approach to education refreshed our curriculum. While many of her ideas were easy for me to implement, I floundered when attempting Charlotte Mason’s methods for teaching science. Simply Charlotte Mason came to my rescue with Hours in the Out of Doors. This title, available in both print and e-book, “held my hand” as I planned a Charlotte Mason style nature study curriculum….
“You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.” This familiar slogan aptly describes Did Adam Have a Bellybutton? Ken Ham adapted several of his Answers…with Ken Ham radio scripts into a book with a one page question-and-answer format.
Did Adam Have a Bellybutton? is divided into four sections: the book of Genesis, creation evangelism, evolution vs. creation, and the state of the world. The book of Genesis section includes questions about the garden of Eden, the fall, Noah’s flood, and flood legends in other cultures. Creation evangelism discusses biblical examples of evangelism, evangelistic methods, the mission field, and the new millennium. Evolution vs. creation has questions about compromising, evidences for creation, evidence of a young earth, evolutionary arguments, and the fossil record. The final section talks about death and disease, racism, families, and schools….
When it comes to drawing, my personal raw talent amounts to creating an excellent stick figure! As a homeschool mom, I simply cannot be an expert in every subject I need or want my children to learn. There are a variety of ways that I address this issue, including finding excellent resources for those subjects in which I am not proficient. The Draw Write Now Boxed Set is just such a resource.
My son loves to draw. As a younger child, he was content with his own work and my stick figure drawings, but at nine he craves better drawing instructions. The step-by-step instructions in the Draw Write Nowseries are ideal for him. Each book in the eight volume series contains more than twenty drawing lessons arranged according to three themes per book. Some of the themes include Americana, Christopher Columbus, animals, weather, and storybook characters….
My husband and I believe it is very important for our children to have a good understanding of the Bible. We use a variety of resources to accomplish this goal. One of my favorites is Betty Lukens Through the Bible in Felt Small Deluxe Set.
Through the Bible in Felt Small Deluxe Set includes more than 600 felt pieces, three backgrounds mounted on sturdy cardboard, four overlays, a teacher’s manual, and a cardboard box filing system. The figures and objects cover every Bible story that we have studied, including twelve separate figures of Jesus for various purposes. The largest of the people figures measure about 6 1/2 inches tall. The backgrounds include an indoor scene, a purple backdrop, and a water-and-sky scene. The overlays transform one of the backdrops into a hillside, shore, desert, or throne room. The filing box system is made up of a large, flat, sturdy cardboard box and several flat sheets with the numbered outlines of the felt pieces traced on them. The felt pieces are numbered to allow for an easy return to their proper location…
With so many books, magazines, and television programs that subscribe to an evolutionary worldview, information against the biblical account of creation is hard to avoid. As our children become teenagers and make more of their own choices, it is inevitable that they will encounter this type of information. Did Eve Really Have an Extra Rib? is a question-and-answer book from Ken Ham that gives practical, biblical, and scientific answers to questions about evolution in an easy-to-read style. It includes more than 160 answers to tough questions….
Can a parenting book originally written in the late 1800s be useful for parents in today’s society? Though written before television, video games, and the internet, Hints on Child Training is a common sense guide to parenting that is just as relevant for today’s families. According to the book’s introduction, H.C. Trumbull was one of America’s most prominent Christian authors, whose goal was to see peace and order in homes. As a parent, I am always looking for ways to create more peace and order in my home!
If you have read any of Charlotte Mason’s writings, you are likely to experience deja vu while reading Hints on Child Training. Mr. Trumbull’s approach to parenting has the same rational, practical, and attainable feel that Ms. Mason’s writings have for education. However, you do not need to be a Charlotte Mason educator in order to discover delightful nuggets of truth within the pages of Hints on Child Training…
Our family is always looking for resources to help make history more interesting. I especially enjoy finding items that help us make use of the time we spend driving to various activities. American History Stories is a collection of short stories, poems, and song lyrics originally part of a four volume series by Mara L. Pratt originally published in 1890. Jim Hodges reads all 199 chapters aloud and makes them available as one collection. American History Stories includes more than fourteen hours of MP3 files that can be purchased on CD or as digital downloads. The tales begin with the early Native Americans and continue with stories about the explorers, the early American colonies, the American Revolutionary War, and the American Civil War….
The title of Four Letter Words captured my attention immediately. Written by Bill Giovannetti, a pastor and theology professor, and subtitled “Conversations on Faith’s Beauty and Logic”, the title seems a bit out of place–until you begin reading. The two-fold explanation for the title is creative and logical. First, the title of each chapter is a “four letter word”, such as wait, pain, or word. Secondly, Giovannetti takes this idea further by discussing the fact that the world hears us speak about the absolute moral truth in the Bible and interprets it as if we are speaking in four letter words….
Happy New Year!
I have been reflecting on 2012. It has been a huge year around here in many ways. The kids have grown and changed so much. In a few days I will have a teenager! We’ve seen lots of increase over at my Crestview Heights store. We joined our local coop group classes on Thursdays. I started teaching classes about making photo montages and photo books for our local community college. And my review team published more the 500 reviews on the Home Educating Family review site, not to mention several other activities that I have been a part of, including writing some posts for their blog. And just at the end of the year I had the opportunity to write an article for the magazine coming out in January! It has been a busy, interesting, blessed year!
The traffic here has increased tremendously this year as well and I found it interesting to look back at which posts got the most views. The home page by far got the most, which means that many of you viewed the newest post. After that, these were the top ten posts starting with the most viewed:
What a fun mix of topics and posts!
I am looking forward to whatever 2013 has in store. Thank you so much for taking the time to read here, and for your business at the store.
We are making a nativity ornament at Co-op this week. I made a sample tonight and thought it turned out cute, so I decided to share.
If you’d like to make your own nativity ornaments, here are the directions:
You will need:
- (2) round doll pins
- (1) 1/4” shank axle peg
- (1) 1” pointed star
- about 18” of 18 gauge gold wire cut into six inch and twelve inch pieces
- jute rope or twine
- acrylic paints (I used Anita’s Acrylics in antique gold, oatmeal, hunter green, and rust red)
- a hot glue gun and glue sticks
1. Paint the star and the bottom portions of the doll pins and shank axle peg and allow to dry.
2. Wrap the longer piece of gold wire around the star, leaving a four to five inch tail
3. Glue the two doll pins together at the side.
4. Put a layer of hot glue in between the two doll pins and lay the tail end of the star into it so that the star stands up above the heads of the doll pins.
5. Form a loop with the smaller section of gold wire. Add a little more hot glue to the back of the ornament and lay the loop into the glue. Allow to cool.
6. Turn the ornament over. Put a line of hot glue on the middle parts of the two doll pins. Lay the shank across both doll pins and push lightly. Allow to cool.
7. Cut a 6 to 8” piece of twine and wrap around the ornament. Tie in a knot and cut the ends.
Since this is a homeschool blog rather than an adoption blog, I don’t really talk about our family’s story here, but adoption is near and dear to my heart. Today is National Adoption Day, though, so I thought it would be fun to take a quick trip down memory lane and share how God blessed my husband and I with our two children. It is (at least to me) an amazing story of how God worked in our lives.
After my mother firmly told me that I would be having no more siblings, I longed for children of my own. When I was a junior in high school I discovered the book, The Family Nobody Wanted, in our school library. It is about a couple that adopt twelve children domestically. At the time that they adopted children of other races or with disabilities were considered unadoptable. The Doss’ chose to adopt eleven of these “unadoptable” children. I read it and reread it over the next two years. I began to feel called to adopt when I grew up.
In college a friend of mine described her missionary trip to me. While most people might take away a strong desire to go on a missions trip from such a conversation, I walked away from that conversation knowing I was going to adopt children from another country. I began researching international adoption and writing away to international adoption organizations. When I met and eventually married my husband, it was something we talked in length about before deciding to marry. We decided to have four children, two born to us and two through adoption from another country. Yes, on this day we were pretty sure of the future:
Only, things didn’t quite work out the way we had planned. After several infertility treatments we realized we simply weren’t interested in spending money on more procedures. Instead, we chose to look into adoption. Our state has a wonderful donations-only adoption agency that we used for our homestudy. When we were first married the finances for an international adoption seemed insurmountable. God used a generous family member and some adoption resources to allow us to proceed with an international adoption. Because I speak Spanish we were really planning to adopt from a Spanish-speaking country. Except that I went to the mall.
In late 1999 I went to the mall in a city two hours away from us. At one of those booths in the middle of the mall there was an Indian man selling items from India. He had two photo books with pictures from India, including many people. At that moment I fell in love with India and I just knew I needed to look into adopting from there. I went home and searched on the internet and found an agency that was actively recruiting families for infants from India. We sent in our application and as soon as our homestudy was updated we were matched with a one month old, absolutely beautiful baby girl. The first time I looked at her photo I was in love.
The rest of the process seemed to take forever (little did I know!), but on June 22, 2000 a miraculous event took place at LAX. We became a family.
Boo has been an absolute blessing to our family. I can’t imagine our life without her. God knew exactly what He was doing when He chose her for us (of course!)
About a year after we brought Boo home we began thinking about adopting another child.
As is frequently the case in international adoption, the process changed dramatically. New laws and procedures in India, as well as the Hague Treaty, caused Buddy’s adoption process to be a long, rather bumpy one. We had been in the process nearly two years when we finally received his referral and saw his beautiful face for the first time.
He was four months old. Based on the way things had been going we expected to have him home around the time he was eight months old. It didn’t happen. A judge in India refused to sign ANY adoption papers (both domestic and international) and we had to wait while our agency, and others, joined together in a lawsuit in order to get the papers signed. I learned a lot about trusting God and faith during that period. Finally, though, we were cleared to pick him up! My husband stayed home with Boo so my mother went with me on this trip of a lifetime.
We were able to meet the caretakers and see the orphanage where my son had lived. My daughter was from the same orphanage, but they moved buildings in between the two kids time there. It was incredible to actually be in the city where they were born.
The ups and downs of Buddy’s adoption were difficult, but that moment that I held him in my arms for the first time all of that didn’t matter anymore. His funny wit and busy personality keep us on our toes. I can’t imagine our life without him.
Today is National Adoption Day. I know that not everyone is called to adopt, but if you think you might be, I ask you to sincerely pray about it. There are so many children out there that need homes. It isn’t easy at times, but it is SO WORTH IT! If you aren’t called to adopt, consider ways that you can support families you know that are. Certainly helping out financially would be a huge blessing. Many families that adopt could use that type of help. However, there are many other ways to help as well.
- Organized a yard sale or fundraiser for the adopting family.
- Host an adoption shower
- Bring meals or help with cleaning to allow the family bonding time after the child comes home
- LISTEN! Just as it is with childbirth, the adoption process is often not what we expected it to be, both before and after the child comes home. Be willing to listen, without offering unsolicited advice.
- Most importantly, pray!
Also, if you were adopted or have adopted there are events going on all over the country today. Check them out!
Here are a few more photos from our journey:
In 2007, we moved to our current city from the small town I was raised in. Boo was seven and Buddy turned four a few days after our move. Our current city has a growing number of homeschooling families, and living here has given us opportunities to join in with the local homeschooling group for activities such as group field trips, homeschool choir, first aid classes, sports activities, and now co-op. This is our first year attending co-op and we all enjoy it so much I wonder why we waited. (Well, I know why we waited. Until this year I was babysitting for my nephews and didn’t want to take along someone else’s baby…) I had to practically drag the kids there the first day, but now they can’t wait for Thursday to come around. It has been really good for me, too, to have some time with like-minded ladies-for fellowship and to bounce around ideas. I have been teaching two separate classes on government and the elections. It was so much fun to teach the kids about our government from a Christian perspective. And they were very interested in elections and politics. I had several say that GOVERNMENT was their favorite class at the co-op! On Thursday we had our own elections. The advanced group voted for their favorite soda after having a primary election, a debate, and creating their own ads and posters. The younger group just had a simple election between two types of candy.
Yesterday many of us went as a group on a field trip to a fossil bed a couple of hours away. It was a fantastic trip. The guide at the fossil bed did a wonderful job explaining things to the kids. It was yet another opportunity to discuss “60,000,000 years ago” with our children. We don’t shy away from museums or historical locations because of the evolutionary content. It makes for great teachable moments with our children. I consider it to be “inoculating” them. If they get a little of it with mom or dad nearby to explain the truth, when they hear it alone later one they will remember what we have discussed with them. My kids point out the signs and talk about how silly it is.
After the fossil beds and a rather chilly picnic we went to a fish hatchery, too. The kids had a blast feeding the fish and watching them come in droves to the surface for the meal.
I believe wholeheartedly that homeschooling is right for our family. I also know that my children are way more social than I was (even though I was public schooled) and they have been spared some of the sad situations that kids encounter. However, I was noticing that, while they had MANY friends, then were missing out on being able to have close friendships. They had their AWANA friends, their Tae Kwon Do friends, their Sunday School friends, their ball friends…and there was very little overlap. The co-op has given them a group that they see regularly and they are starting to really develop some close friendships. If you are considering joining in with a homeschooling group for activities or for a local co-op, I encourage you to at least try it out.
Here are some photos of our trip yesterday:
We had a co-op field trip today (which I hope to post about later this weekend!) and so I am just now getting to the winner of last weeks blog hop! Congratulations to Tracy, who will receive a Well-Planned Day Planner. I will be contacting you for the email and mailing address you want me to send in to Home Educating Family. Congratulations!