Friday, February 18, 2011


I talked with a friend yesterday and was really surprised when she mentioned that , as a teacher, she had asked her students to write a creative writing assignment, in 3rd grade, and they had no imagination and struggled to do so. This made me feel so sad for what we are doing to our children in this society. If you know me well enough, you know how much I detest many of the ploys thrown at children and their parents today to distract them from creating and using their own mind. For the most part, I am anti branded anything....I even have a hard time with lego themes but typically, my boys get the set, it breaks and then end up taking the pieces and recreating something that their own mind thought of , not what the directions dictated for them to do.

Why are our kids asked to grow up so fast? Why must they move from toys to electronics at warp speed? I want to treasure and embrace this period in their lives where it is innocence, creative fun. My boys run around pretending to be " Lion Detective and Sally Sheep and Money Mongrel" They have this entire story line that they play EVERY single day, multiple times a day, in the backseat of the car, in our home, in bed. They draw pictures of aliens ( or how they picture them to look in their own minds), Lion Detective. One of the most prized possessions that all three of my kids wanted was a notebook of their own to simply spend the day coloring, drawing and creating. What more could a mama like me ask for?

I will round the corners of their bedrooms and find all three sitting, playing legos together ( including Riah), building things out of magnetic blocks, playmobil, pop art jewelry and solid, plastic animals from Target. I asked them one day, why don't you take your animals outside and play in our "Serengeti" and they spent two hours out there imagining and creating their own world.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why we would take this away from our children. Why do they need an ipod, electronic EVERYTHING, stimulation beyond control to entertain them. I saw a mom going on a walk around the block with her two year old watching a movie...for real, does a two year old really need to be entertained on a half hour walk....why not point out the animals you see, the sounds you hear, let them hold a stick or pick them a flower....or let them just sit and enjoy the quietness, the stillness.

My advice is please, before you jump on the toy band wagon of today- just as many of you question vaccinations and the research behind the product ( ie who is funding it), think of who is mass producing our toys and what their agenda is, you will be surprised. From fifty years ago to today, most of the local toy companies are now out of business and Mattel and Hasbro control the vast majority of any toy that hits our stores. Look at the research and the reason behind such toys. Yes, barbie has changed a lot since her beginning days- but did you know that she was modeled after a sex toy in Germany for men and the mom who created her liked how it gave women more sex appeal. I am NOT anti-barbie; I played with Barbie. My point is do your research and do not walk blindly down toy aisles and say , oh this must be the new "educational" toy of the year. Give your children some Lincoln blocks, some books, play dough and imaginary toys that do not say or do anything so they can create and recreate. You will be allowing for our future engineers, doctors, parents, pastors, architects, police officers, etc to think and create in new and innovative ways, and not with mass produced ideas.

Great Lakes wrap up

We finished up our study with the Great Lakes States by enjoying some cheese, making a lego assembly line, talking more about Henry T Ford and doing reports on three different kinds of cows. Jayden drew pictures of three of his favorite kinds of cows that he read about and wrote two sentences on each explaining their different characteristics: The Angus, New Jersey and cannot remember the third at this moment in the morning, forgive me.

yes, these were taken on a toliet as I have very LIMITED time to myself and Ben was sleeping, Hannah was sleeping and the kids were quietly playing in the living, I went into the only room in the house that was not occupied to turn on a light- the bathroom, your welcome.
This summer, when we actually visit the Great Lake state, we will enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan, rolling around on the sandy beaches, tromping their woods and eating apples all while spending time with our precious family whom we miss so much!

Series of books I want to remember

You Wouldn't Want to Be A......
Covered Wagons by Quasha Jennifer
Abraham Lincoln for kids: 21 activities ( whole series)
Celebrate The USA: Hands on activities
Ancient Israelites and their Neighbors

One Small Square Mile-Donald Silver
A Who Eats What Food Chain
Oobleck, slime & dancing spaghetti

Leonardo DiVinci for kids: 21 activities
Picture This
Monet for Kids
Author : Sandi Henry ( books by her)
Great Artists- MaryAnn Kohl
Express Yourself Raimondo, Joyce

Library search- "Hands on activities" to get more than enough tangents of fun learning ideas for the rest of MY life!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Midwest States

Today, we dived into our midwest states. I went to the library and pulled a plethora of books relating to covered wagons, out west expansion, farming, buffalo, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, N and S Dakota and Missouri. I am really, REALLY looking forward to all that we have planned for this upcoming week. Some of the things that will be covered is singing Home on the Range, reading about traveling in a covered wagon and what that was like, pretending to be cowboys and cooking a cowboy dinner of beans, bacon and cornbread. Making whole wheat pancakes and discussing where the majority of our wheat and corn are grown as well as soy beans. We will also be making soybean bean bag and playing some games to go along with that.

Ben and I also watched a very interesting National Geographic on the American Serengeti that I will play for the kids. It is all about protecting and bringing back the plains with the buffalo, prairie dogs, bears, ferrets, wolves, etc. in North Dakota. We will be listening to Little House on the Prairie as they make their migration to Kansas. Jayden will be doing a report / diary entry of what life is like on the prairie as a child. I will be adding a few more ideas but I think this will be enough to get us started. I am really looking forward to heading west and all the sights, sounds, smells and adventures that lay ahead. Happy Travels!

Valentines Day

We had a great valentines day. The kids created homemade valentines for each other using doilies, markers, glitter and stickers. We talked about the Victorian Age and how they created fancy valentines to express their love. We read 1 Corinthians 13, made homemade valentines cupcakes and our own chocolate mold cupcake sticks, homemade ( including the crust ( which reminded me of a very moist pizza hut crust)) pizza. The kids passed out their valentines to each other and we focused on blessing and showing love to one another. They also enjoyed a sticker book from their Grandma. We were a little rushed for breakfast time since we had Riah's dance class but for lunch each sandwich was cut into sweet little hearts....oh how I love  LOVE! I kept reading different verses that pertained to love.....we only have the capacity to love because Christ first loved us....He is the originator of our love and I cannot help but fall more in love with Him. WE also read a few books on love, valentines day, etc. One book, Koala Lou, a friend of mine gave me a few years back and I must have been having a moment because I just started tearing matter how many children I have , I will always have the time and love for each one individually.

Lipgloss Has Many Functions

Are your cheek feeling chapped or raw from the wind, does your neck need some much needed moisture? Are your hands craving that smooth, slippery, raw fish feeling, does your skin need a much needed boost- then please, by all means, go out and buy an all in one lip gloss- not only will your skin feel smooth, "glossy", shiny and sticky but you will cure many common skin ailments at one time. Enjoy! I know my daughter did while in her carseat and her youthful glow convinced me that, yes this is the one cure all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Where are my KEYS???!

Soo, today started off cold and slow. I woke up, the heat had not been turned on the previous evening so our home was a chilly 64 degrees with the windows wide open. I came out into the living room to see Austen dancing in his big boy pants, Moriah without a diaper, in her big girl pants and a tank top and Jayden reading about budgies and cockatoo birds. I was bombarded with " can we have a vitamin c?" " What type of bird would you like as a pet?" " Momma, I'm hungry" within 10 seconds of opening the door.

I set about getting cereal ready for them as it was going to be a light breakfast due to a fun Valentine's Party we would be attending at 10 am. Well, we slowly ate breakfast, slowly played and at around 830am I decided, " hmm, I should get ready." The kids were already dressed so that was half the battle and quietly watching a movie. So I meandered into the bathroom and slowly set about my face and make routine. Lalalalala, twiddle dee twiddle do. Oh, I think I will half curl my hair this morning, oh, wow, it's 9:15 am and I umm, have no juice and I have not started making my 2 dozen eggs and none of the 72 valentines cards that I bought LAST YEAR have been cut out, signed, stickers inserted....and oh wow, I am not going to have time to finish curling my hair, and Hannah is not up yet and I haven't dressed her or nursed her and the kids have no shoes on, and the pen is not working so I can quickly sign Austen's name and the stickers are not sticking and the eggs are slopping all over the stove because I did not put them in the larger skillet and the smoke is billowing from the burner and the noise in our house is getting LOUDER and Hannah has a dirty diaper, and it is now 9:50 am and it'll take me at least 15 minutes to get there and I forgot about buying the kids bingo game prize contributions and how am I going to quickly load up, unload 4 kids into Target and rush find the juice, find the prizes, pay, rush out and rush to the party????! And OHMIGOSH! We have got to go and my hands are not able to fold the valentines quickly enough and my hands are fumbling and valentines are dropping on the ground and WHERE ARE SOME BAGS TO PUT THE VALENTINES IN???!!!! Quick, found some gift bags...calmly stated, " Kids please get in the car" ( as none of this is their fault).....kissed and said goodbye to Ben and OHMIGOSH! I am below E on my gas gauge, I am so far below E that I am surprised my van even started....AHHHH now I have to stop at the gas station...quick, drive to the gas station, fill up a 1/2 tank of gas, pull up to the front....have the kids count to 50 with the doors locked, grabbed a gallon of water, ran out ( oh yeah, paid for it )...jumped in the car, drove umm, "quickly" down the road and there is a DETOUR! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We arrived, 30 minutes late, with 14 eggs, not 24 eggs scrambled, excited children and a slightly frazzled mama..... I called Ben and said, " I cannot believe I do this to myself" I am no longer in the stage of life where I can just wing it and expect it all to fall together. I have so many more details and people relying on me and my planning that when I neglect it all "hades" comes loose. I felt really convicted by the Holy Spirit to start to be more meaningful with my time management. I felt awful being late for the kids' party not because of them, but me. Hannah was fed at the party and we arrived...however, next time, my goal is no stress, planning and setting about the tasks the night before so that we can get up and handle a detour with ease as I would have left 25 minutes before the party and been able to "slowly" steer the van in its circular fashion around the flashing orange lights. Wow, kids thank you for your grace.

Hey Shorty its Your Birthday!

Yes, it was my birthday this week! It was a great week and my family made it so special, those near and far. The kids, on their own accord found ribbon, cut it all up and taped it all over our home. It was precious. THey kept saying to me all day, " happy birthday Momma" They are the best! On Wed, a couple of days after my birthday, my husband displayed a hidden talent, that of cheesecake making. Does that surprise you? He has many hidden talents. I asked him for a completly from scratch cheesecake from his Grandma's cookbook....the boys helped a little , but mainly this creations is from the man- and what an amazing man he is. I am blessed!

Great Lakes

Desert Botanical Gardens

tilt your head to the left and you'll see the state of MI

This week we are focusing on the Great Lakes, mainly MI right now. I realized after I had all my plans for the week that Konos only set aside 1 week for the Great Lake region....sooo, we will spending LONGER than a week :) We checked a bunch of books out of the library yesterday on cows and then of course on other pets. Jay will be doing a report on three different kinds of cows , what are their differences, similarities, etc. He is pretty excited about them. My children end up being resident specialists when learning about animals because they absorb themselves into that particular topic full force.

Jayden molded homemade tortillas into the shape of Michigan and we drew out the lakes surrounding Michigan. Here is to tell you how pathetic I am. I kept saying to myself, " Where does Erie fit?" Umm, yes, lived in Michigan for 23 years and didn't even realize that ONLY four of the Great Lakes surround our blessed state...not all five. WOW! Thankfully, I kept that thought to myself and did not confuse Jayden.

We will be making an assembly line out of legos today, after our Valentine's party, as we learn about Henry T Ford and his contributions to the automotive industry ( or lack thereof now) of Michigan. In March, we will be doing our dairy farm visit. The kids, at that time, will be going on a hay ride, drinking flavored milk, seeing how milk is produced from cows, watching a sheep shearer, etc. Should be a lot of fun. The books we are reading this week are all on lakes, ponds and swamps, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, Henry T Ford and cows.

Earlier this week, we met up with a few families in our co op and went to the Desert Botanical Gardens. That was fun as we have been loosely going to a botany class. Admission was free which I was thankful for. I am not into spending $50 for my family to look at cactus when we can just hike for free and find them. Nevertheless, it was a little bit of a drive so we listened to Little House in the Big Woods. It was very fitting because the setting is in Wisconsin. Out of the four cds, we listened to three on our trip to and from alone! I actually got really into them and kept commenting how much fun it would have been and simpler, to live during that time period.

I love books on cd as there are so many I want to read to my kids, quality book let me say, but don't have all that time, so we read some and listen to some. Overall, we are having a great week. Austen worked on patterns yesterday which is more a game to him than anything. He also worked on some mazes and played. Kindergarten is so fun! :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Math Games

I found this book at the library " Games For Math" by Peggy Kaye. I have to say, this is a really cool book. I believe that repition helps solidfy math concepts, but I"m sorry- sometimes those concepts are taught in a really monontous manner.  I feel that , if I am home schooling, then I am able to make it as boring or fun as possible. Yesterday,the boys and I played two games. The first was  place value game where you make three columns of , for example, red, blue and purple. You cut out 30 red, 30 blue and 1 purple. Then using a deck of cards, you draw a " 4" and add 4 to the red ( ones) column, then continue until there are 10 in the red- exchange that 10 for 1 blue ( tens) column and continue drawing and adding cards until the final person to be able to trade in 10 blue for 1 purple wins. IT's a fun way to reinforce place value without the being redundant. Also, we played a game with 3 bins ( same type of idea) but we had to throw rings into whatever bin we could so for example out of my 9 rings, if I had 2 in the hundreds, 1 in the tens and 5 in the ones my answer was 215. We played about 6 rounds of that game. This particular book, has ideas for math games up until 3rd grade. Finally, There was a bunch of multiplication games but I didn't use them, as Austen was playing with us.

Seasons of Love, Beauty and the Beast and Hair

We finally finished up our study of the Atlantic States: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Above, is not only our resident teacher assistant Hannah eating her brain building sweet potatoes, but also, a pile of the books we used for the Atlantic states series. To the right, is a Kids Broadway CD that we borrowed from the library. That was a lot of fun! I put it on in the morning and we did our school to the background of Rent, Lion King, Hair, etc. The above books that states, " G is for Garden State...." are awesome books to accompany any state study as it goes through and lists things specific to that state and gives very interesting information as well. We talked about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I would love to go and visit these places soon, even without the kids but take pictures of them to bring back. To wrap it up, we discussed the Amish and their presence in Pennsylvania and Jay took a sharp nail and made a design out of a tin loaf pan. We are moving on to the Great Lake States- my home territory and I am excited about incorporating lake studies, cherry pie, apple butter and Henry Ford to our studies!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Romans 14:19 and other feminist ramblings

" So let us pursue the things which make for peace, and the building up of one another"- Rom. 14:19. This has been the verse we have been working on as a family that coincides with our cooperation study of Konos. The funny thing is- when we are confronted with this verse, so are we confronted with our effort or lack thereof of cooperation. My prayer is that my children grow up with a deep love for the Lord as well as a love for family. I have to say, 90% of the time my kids play wonderfully together, they share, are selfless, etc. It's the 10% of the time that makes me continually pray and ask God how to teach and train them. It's the 10% of the time, that I find myself asking God for more patience and wisdom than I know I personally possess. I was called a "saint" yesterday at my fitness center after I put a bloody murder, screaming toddler into her car seat while remaining calm and level headed- Saint no, holy spirit filled yes- that patience and calm is from the Holy Spirit- never myself otherwise the muscles in my neck would have felt relaxed, not tight as a tension filled rubber band.

I read a book, a total feminist book, entitled " The Feminine Mistake" . I borrowed it from the library thinking it was a book in defense of the nuclear family. Yeah, not even close. Instead the author exhorts moms who pay for nannies, go back to work full time and use their brains for something more sensible. i'm sorry, last time I checked EVERY neuron on my brain was connecting at warp speed to constantly manage, create and maintain the learning, functioning and multi level environment I call my family.

I had to laugh, she has a chapter stated, " The 15 year paradigm" where a stressed out friend, whose husband worked on teh west coast, she on the east and their 3 and 5 year olds were being taken care of by a nanny asked the author if she should cut back and work part time to help pick up the slack of their family. The author stated that this would be a very grave mistake and that it is what she calls the 15 year paradigm. That if mothers can just make it through the 15 years with their children, with their full time career intact , then when their children are high school age, because Lord knows NO high schooler needs their parents, they will stay have their career going and will not have "wasted" that precious time at home. Can I strangle this hypocritical and ignorant woman!

Last I checked, being a mama, NEVER ENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, how hypocritical can you be? ! To state that moms are wasting precious resources and brain power staying at home....YET you will go to GREAT lengths to find the most qualified and high priced nanny or day care for your children. Now tell me, do you consider those nannies who care for, cuddle, and enrich your children's lives brain dead or under qualified? Because if so, you are the fool who is wasting your money and putting your child into dangers way. No, you took the time to interview and strategically select that person to care for your child in your absence.

However, I guarantee you there is NO ONE OUT THERE who will love your tantrum throwing toddler, your vomiting preschooler, your constant knowledge sharing 6 year old or your feverish baby the way YOU will. I could careless how many people state, " I will love them like my own" WRONG! They will love them, yes, but NEVER like their own- they are not their own they are someone else's and, in the back of their head, that at the end of the day- someone else will go home with them.

You must understand, I was "institutionalized" at my university to believe that feminism has come too far to allow ourselves the stupidity of going back to staying at home. Yet, when I research and find statistical data of families and the lack thereof, the deteriorating of the nuclear family that started coming about in the 50s, 60s, etc I find broken relationships, displaced children, cold and fragmented lives that must live very independently from one another. No one has made me stay at home. PLEASE keep your pity party to yourself, this was a conscience choice that I have never once regretted. I treasure my time with my children, regardless of the good or bad day....please, you hypocritical feminists out there- do not EVER downplay the role I have in my children or families lives, do not EVER state that this role can be so stupid for the woman that not only cared for and carried her child for 9 months and gave birth to can be so easily payed off on a nanny.

I will defend the millions of HAPPY, WELL EDUCATED, WELL ADJUSTED stay at home mamas out there until the day I die. There is nothing wrong with a career....however, I passionately feel that if you and your husband, in a healthy relationship, decide to pursue a family that someone needs to be there for their children that is a loving parent. Money, is money- quality time can never be bought, it can never be stolen and will never be replaced. Get rid of your stuff- it doesn't impress us any ways, and love on your children, bake cupcakes or cookies with them, listen to them, play with them, and pray for them. Wow, I could go on and on with this subject, but I will save that for a later time.

A hardcore, former feminist.

First Feeding

Hannah, now being 6 months, was finally given the opportunity to try some "real" food. Oatmeal at first, and then as of a couple of days ago , Avocado. The kids love helping her eat and Riah actually fed her all by herself last night so that was so precious. Especially since nursing, I have been pretty much the only one to feed her the past 6 months. Hanns sputters, razzes and spits her food in and out but overall I think atleast 1 tsp makes it in her little mouth. The messes begin! Which, I actually don't mind. I think we will do avocado for awhile, then peas, and then sweet potato. That should take us through March and then probably beans. I make all my own baby food, its easy, it's inexpensive and its healthy. All you relaly need are ice cube trays, a good blender and the a little water to add. Much, much less expensive than buying gerber.

2 am dances

I am so excited for today! Moriah begins her first dance class and she is thrilled! This girl has spirit. Every day, I have to hold her face in my hands, stare into her eyes and tell her- You are a gracious daughter of God, He loves you, He will give you a gentle spirit because there are days, when I am just not feeling it. She is an amazing bundle of energy that kangaroo jumps from one side of hte house to the other, repeatedly. She looks at you with her beautiful, blue almond shaped eyes only to start throwing her doll Beulah and screaming for the simple fact that she cannot remove her 5th outfit of the day! I am learning a lot of patience and unconditional love right now for my little Moriah whose name means " Jehovah is your instructor"- Why, yes, yes He is :)

Anyways, the other night, I hear this rustling out in front of our bedroom door. Having Ben next to me, nothing really freaks me out in the middle of the night anymore so I go and open the door. There, standing there with a grass skirt, no shirt, head wrap and tap shoes on is my little Miss Moriah at 2 am! ALL the lights in the living room and kitchen are on, ALL of the times in Ben's nightstand are out and being tampered with. As I come out I realize that she was " tap, tap, tapping" her way around our home for goodness knows how long. I follow her into her bedroom, stumbling and blurry eyed as I went from deep sleep to "you must now function" mode in about 2 seconds. Her bedroom light and hallway light are on, her fan is off, her books and toys are strewn every where and the girl is still tapping like it is the middle of the day!

Moriah, you must remove your tap shoes, turn your fan on, all the lights off and get back into bed. How do you explain time to a two year old? They get up when it's dark so what is the difference between 2 am and 6 am? For me, a huge difference, for her- not so much. After tucking her back in, closing the door, I couldn't help smile to myself. Her excitement and charisma for life never ends, it begins and flows fluidly through her every waking moment. Oh, Moriah- Bless You Child.

Lobsters, Lighthouses and Vomit- Oh My!

Yes, I have not been posting for a bit. Two weeks ago, as we were wrapping up our New England study, little Miss Hanns caught a virus which successfully spread to each and EVERY one of us- Ben being the last. There was a lot of bodily fluids going on up in here and it was a joyous time to be had by all. Never fear- we home school and the show can go on regardless of who is sick or not. While The three younger ones were laying low, watching movies, the other three of us were healthy and needing some stimulation so we continued on with our study of lighthouses. In the picture above, the challenge for Jayden was to build a lighthouse- no direction or directions just his pure creativity and ingenuity and I was very pleased with the outcome! Notice his stunning pajamas- best part about homeschooling sometimes! We also continued on with math. We are literally 3 weeks away from completing 2nd grade so I am making mental notes of what to pursue and solidify more before moving on to 3rd grade; ie: telling time, times tables and writing dates. 

The picture you see below was pre sickness. The kids dressed up as lobsters- notice their impeccable taste of colorful feelers and Riah's "claws" ahem, tongs. Jayden was the shark and they enjoyed running around the driveway being captured by the shark. We learned about lobster habitats, how they walk and swim and how important they are to Maine's fishing industry. Have I mentioned how much I love Konos!

Atlantic States- Pennsylvania

What have we been up to lately? We are on the Atlantic States in our Cooperation Unit with Konos. The many books floating around our home are about Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and of course Milton S. Hershey! Yesterday, the kids and I had a lot of fun making Hershey Chocolate Fudge. We've learned a lot about Mr. Hershey from the two biographies we have been reading. Did you know he started out as an apprentice for a printer and hated it! Then, started apprenticing for a candy maker, loved it, started on his own and failed miserably over and over again only to finally perfect his first delight- caramels! From there, his business skyrocketed he focused on the now famous Hershey chocolate bar and became a philanthropist. It was a very good example to the boys, especially, about what happens when we keep trying and are passionate about something. The kids, below, adorned with make shift chef's hats and aprons measured out the milk, sugar, cocoa ( which we all tasted to see how bitter it was), butter and almond extract. We used a candy thermometer and waited until it read 234 degrees and followed the remainder of the recipe. I found, while they were napping, that a spoonful of peanut butter and fudge was the most perfect of treats. Mmmm!