Friday, February 25, 2011

Quick Takes


We had a big wind storm blow through Nashville last night. We lost our big, very old plum tree. I'll miss the blossoms in spring, the plums in the summer and the kids climbing in it and swinging on it, but I sure am glad it didn't fall when we were outside playing around it. Judging by the roots, it wasn't as sturdy as we had thought.

We also lost our small patio table, but it was pretty inadequate for a family of eight, so I'm not lamenting it too much.

My eleven year old is so torn up about his climbing tree and that his chance at a tree house is now gone, that if he doesn't stop wailing soon, I'm going to start calling him "Dogmatix."

At least this is a good time of year to get new trees. I'm thinking of a couple of new plum trees and maybe a few apple trees for good measure. Perhaps we will even consider a playhouse or something for climbing purposes.


My eight and six year old girls are off on an adventure with their grandmother, great aunt and my younger brother in Atlanta. They sound like they are enjoying the trip.  I miss them. Who knew it could be quiet in a house with only four children?

He tries to keep it from being too quiet and dull though.  Can you believe he's over seven months old? His current accomplishments include: crawling, sticking everything he can find in his mouth, pulling up, falling down and babbling.

I've been busy thinking about next year's school curriculum.  I've been pretty happy with how things are going this year and with the books we have been using, so thinking about next year hasn't been as involved and overwhelming as last year. Even though I'm pretty content with most of my choices this year, looking forward towards next year is always more exciting and interesting.

I can't believe I'll have kids doing sixth, fourth, second and pre-K work. Yikes. We'll be combining a lot of subjects -- as many as I possibly can. I'm also looking at several things that come with DVD or computer lessons.

Sometimes, I wish I could be happy with a prewritten schedule and a preselected curriculum. It would make my life a lot easier, but I never have found something that uses all the books I want to use, so I'm on my own.


Lent is almost upon us. Have you figured out what you will be doing? Last year I turned off the computer during the day, allowing myself computer time only at night. It helped me focus on my family and remind my children that my face wasn't a computer screen. I've never quite gone back to the previous bad habits, but I could use a refresher, so I'll probably do that again. Our family usually gives up meat, as well.

The kids track the days of Lent on a calendar and do special tasks to earn money for the poor. We don't do a lot of lapbooks around here, but I won a CD of Lapbooks for Catholics last year at a homeschooling conference, so we may try to do the Lent lapbook.


My six year has learned to ride her bike. A little over a week ago, my husband go her out in the back yard and started teaching her. At first, he tried the drill sergeant tactics which worked to teach my oldest (a boy). They didn't go over well with my dramatic, grumpy daughter. She claimed he was "murdering her" and she started a flailing, kicking, screaming fit.

New methods were required. Putting her on a slightly undersized bike and offering a bribe of extra Wii time for feet traveled on the bike, she was suddenly much more motivated.  A week later, she is zooming all over the place and learning tricks like riding "side saddle" and pedaling with one foot.

It's cool to see them learn something.


My two year old the nipple nazi. When I sit down to feed her brother, she likes to bring a doll over and tell me she's "noorsing" her baby too.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I Like

Some things I like and am using these days. Note that nothing is a paid endorsement, since I don't take remuneration for anything around here.

  1. My iPod Touch.
    Especially useful to me (which shows what a dorky housewife I really am) I really love the free OurGroceries app. I can create separate lists for Aldi, Kroger, Costco, and (belying the name) Home Depot, etc. It remembers things I have put on the list before and makes adding things, transferring things between lists and such other necessities very easy. It also has a recipe feature that I have never used, but I could imagine being a good tool for some people.

    I also am rather fond of e-readers. I haven't tried out the Nook, but I have the Kindle app, Overdrive (which lets me check books out from my library) and Stanza (probably my favorite of the three in terms of looks -- I'm a sucker for the pages "flipping" when you tap them.)

  2. Goody Hair Styling thingies (I believe that's the technical term). I was bemoaning the fact that I am hair incompetent (barely even managing a decent ponytail to keep my hair out of the mouth of my grabby baby) to an acquaintance, and she told me about the "spin pin" and the "updo maker." The other day when I was at Target I remembered to look for them. I'm still not managing the spin pins quit right, but it didn't take long to manage a perfectly decent updo with the other thing, which is sort of like a bobby pin on steroids. Cool!

  3. Leap Frog videos. My friend Meredith recommended these to me years ago, and I was skeptical. I saw them recommended again on Wildflowers and Marbles, and remembering Meredith's recommendation, I put the Letter Factory video on my four year old's Christmas list. He loved it and within a few watchings had memorized most of the letter sounds.  Another friend lent us the sequels -- Code Word Caper and Talking Words Factory and my four year old started quickly to grasp sounding words out. Now I'm using them as a bribe -- one video after one reading lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and he's making quicker and easier progress than any of my other children (though he's also older than most of the others were when we started doing reading lessons).

  4. Amazon's Subscribe and Save and as a subset a free trial subscription to Amazon Mom. So far, I have subscriptions for pull-ups for my children who still wet the bed and diapers for the little ones, which at a 30% discount are a very good price (15% off for the subscription and 15% off for Amazon Mom). I also have signed up for a subscription for coffee and maple syrup. You can tell where my priorities lie. Keep the kids dry, the coffee cup full and the pancakes sweetened.

  5. Teaching Textbooks. I love having removed myself from math battles with my 8 year old. It's made a world of difference.

  6. Michael Clay Thompson's Language Arts Curriculum.When I read about this last year, it sounded like a great program for my 11 year old, who has always found such programs rather boring. He's excelling with this curriculum -- getting a great grasp of grammar, expanding his vocabulary and writing some funny poems.

What kinds of things have you found lately that are useful and interesting?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Out of the Fog?

I feel as though I have been floating through a fog of busy-ness recently. First came the great stomach bug, then I spent a crazy week getting ready to go across town to Blissdom and then spending parts of two fun days chatting with a bunch of interesting women at the conference (which involved getting the kids to a very kind friend's house early-ish in the morning), and then for the past week and a half I have been madly writing my third quarter lesson plans and printing all the million sheets of paper my kids need for various lessons.

The plans are now written and I have linked them to my lesson plan page. Most, though not all of the papers are printed.

It feels as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can't believe I'm in the second half of the school year finally.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Just because some parts break, doesn't mean one should have to do without the morning brew.
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