Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breakin' Out the Big Guns

Today, we broke out what the kids call "Big Pink."

Yes, it's a ginormous eraser.  I won it as a door prize at one of my Home Educators' League meetings.  I wasn't sure we would ever use it.

However, it seems as if TheBoy is a violent eraser user.  At least when the erasers are little and on the ends of a pencil.  They seem to just tear right off.  Maybe it's in the form -- a user error.

What I know is that "Big Pink" fits well in small hands.  And, to my pleasant surprise, it works quite well too.

I'm just interested to see if, as the year progresses, if "Big Pink" will be erased down to simply read "BIG," or some other partial-ness...

We can sort of measure the amount of mistakes that way, right?
Maybe I can make that into some sort of Math project.  Measuring?

If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems.  And that's a big mistake.  ~F. Wikzek

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another perk... homeschooling:

Hearing the "sound of freedom", running outside, head thrown back, mouth agape, and gasping as six Blue Angel jets roar overhead practicing their demonstration show.  

And staying that way until the jets cease to roar.


Admit it.  You're the teensiest bit envious.  Aren't you?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Workboxes Part 3 -- The Schedule-Strip-Block-Thingie

Today's post will be quick.  Short and sweet.  Judy. (If you're military, you get it.  If not, just keep on reading.  You life will not change because you don't understand the military lingo!)

The schedule strip.  Or in our case, the schedule-strip-block-thingie.  
Yeah, me too.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here:

There.  That's two thousand words.  You should know it all now about the schedule-strip-block-thingie now.
Told ya it'd be a shorty today!
Good bye.

I jest.  I jest! 

As you can see, both children have a schedule strip.  (I know, I know.  It's not a strip!  But that's what we call it.  So that's what I'm calling it here.  Unless you like the excessive use of adjectives then I can stick with calling it the schedule-strip-block-thingie...)  Maybe I'll abbreviate -- shall well call it the SSBT?  Shall we just move on?  Yes, good idea.  Maybe my first this week...

When we begin workboxes, the kids look at their schedules.  If there is an extra activity (The 'Fluff') then they do that.  If there is a blank square, they work on a box.   And they continue on this way through their entire school day.

(Don't let the arrows, flowers, and cars on the SSBT confuse you.  I only did that on the photos to camouflage the names of my kiddos.  They are not on the actual SSBT.)

Each time that a workbox is completed, the number tag off the workbox is stuck onto the schedule strip.  The kids may work on a box or two and then realize that they have something extra on their schedule.  Puzzles, for instance.  They'll go to that "center" and work on whatever I have for them:  Scripture Puzzles, Phonics puzzles, Pattern Blocks, or a "free choice" puzzle which usually has some over-rated Disney character on it.

Basically, the schedule strip keeps them on task.  And, it's a big hit.  The kids will run into the office/classroom each morning and say to each other, "Yeah!  I have computers today."  Or something very similar.  They are both very excited to see what is ahead.

And being the type that likes to plan and likes to know what lies ahead, I totally get it.
Like, totally.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

I have found a wealth of free printables on another blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler, including the schedule boxes featured here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Workboxes Part 2 -- The Setup

As I promised and without further ado, here's the setup for workboxes.  Or at least the way I went about prepping my workboxes.

I'll admit that it took me the better part of a day to prepare my workboxes.
But that's because I'm anal, a perfectionist, wanted to make it interesting for my children.

If you choose to buy Sue Patrick's Workbox System ebook, then you have access to all of her downloads including many of the things I've used.

However, if you don't want to spend the money, or want something a little more tailored to your child's likes, then simply Google "Workboxes" and you'll find a wealth of information.  And most of it, pray tell, is free!

You'll first need to determine the size of your workboxes and the number of boxes you'll need to accomplish your daily goals.  Some people use plastic shoe boxes and a shoe rack, others use pretty (but very spendy) rolling carts from various sources.  Me, I bought mine at Big Lots.  It has 7 drawers (all wide enough that pages lay flat and don't get folded/curled/bent in the box) and it was a good price:  $19.99.  Times two.

Once you choose your boxes and their location (I chose to put my right next to each child's desk) then you'll need to tag them with numbers.  I chose number tags with Disney Princesses on them for CraftyGirl and Toy Story themed number tags for TheBoy.  Both seem to have been good decisions.

Again, you can find all sorts of free workbox tags online.  Or, if you've copious amounts of time on your hands and want to create some of your own, have at it. 

You'll also need tags that say "Work with Mom" or "Help" for the boxes that might need a little assistance or if you need to teach a lesson. 

Print yer tags up on cardstock and laminate them.   Then begins the fun of velcroing the backs of them.  Of course you'll be smart enough to realize that you need opposing velcro tabs on the workbox drawer and on the back of each tag.  (Things that make you go hmmmm....  Use hook and loop side of velcro on drawer, and the softer velcro on the tag.  Wah-lah!)

You'll want to put a button of velcro on each side of the drawer -- one to allow for the drawer's number, and one to allow for any extras like the "Work With Mom" tag.

That's all for now...
Next, we'll cover the schedule strip... (or, in our case, the schedule box-ish thingie on which you place number tags once you've worked on that box...)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whassa Workbox?

So I've mentioned using workboxes as our organization technique.  I know you've been waiting on tenterhooks to find out what that means.  Or, if you're more of an impatient type (like Mwa), then you might have just Googled it.  And found a wealth of info.

I found out about workboxes from a friend who was also looking her first year of homeschooing in the face.  She found Sue Patrick's Workbox System site and told me about it.  I thought it would work for us.  (Read: me.  Type A and all...)

Workboxes are an organization technique -- a way to keep your child working in an organized, responsible manner.  They are not a curriculum.  They do not teach your child math.  Or grammar.  Or teach the dog to let himself out when he needs to go.   But they do organize the daily school work my children complete.  And I love being organized.  Being anal -- uh, having it all together.  And it's something I will pass along to my children.  I will organize myself to organize my children.  Huh?!?!

Instead of telling you everything I did to create these workboxes, I'm going to just give you an overview of what the workboxes are and how we use them.  Then, I'll do a few follow up posts about preparing the workboxes and all that goes with that.  
In case you're interested in using this type of organizational system.  
Which I highly suggest you might want to be.
And so I'll tell you about them.  Because I think they rock. 
Yes, I'd do that for you.  
I'm nice like that.  
You're welcome.

Like I previously mentioned (ahem, several times) workboxes are simply an organization system.  To organize the kids' work.  To organize our daily schedule.  To organize my pantry.  Uh, wait.  Not the pantry.  Just the kids' daily school work and schedule.

Again, I will break this down further, but here's what it is, in bulleted fashion (organized me, remember!) because this post is already longer than I wanted it to be...
  • You'll need some sort of drawer/cart/shoebox shelving system that you can put your child's school work into.
  • You'll need some way to number the workboxes -- we use number tags with a cartoon character of the child's choice velcroed onto each box. (Is velcroed even a word?? Spell Check says no. If not, it should be.  Especially with all the velcroing I did on this project.  "Velcroing" = another Spell Check no-no!)
  • Using your lesson plans, fill each box with some type of work (i.e. the Spelling Lesson for the day)
  • If the lesson requires Mom to sit with and/or work with the child, add a "Work With Mom" label to the outside of the workbox.
  • Kids work through their boxes in numerical order.  No skipping around.  No missing a box.  No forgotten, misplaced work.  Everything they need to complete the work in the box is IN the box.  No searching around for a pencil, crayons, etc!!  
  • Very visual in that a child can see how much work she has already completed.  And how much more needs to be done.
  • While Sue Patrick uses 12 workboxes for her middle and high school students, I've found that our 7 work great for the amount of work we have with our current curriculum.
  • Some boxes contain curricula, while other contain games, small crafts, snacks, and whatever else I think will interest the student.  All, of course, are purely educational.  Of course!

I'll break this down for you more in the days to come, but for now that's a brief overview.  

If I had to sum up the workbox system in one word, it would be: life changing.  
Ummm... that's two words.  

 Okay, lemme try again:  bliss inducing.  
Again, two words.  And not exactly the feeling I was going for.  
One more try:  organized.  Yes.  Organized.  
That's my final answer.  
And I'm sticking to it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One thing...

One of the things I have come to love about homeschooling is the opportunities it affords us to do "off the beaten path" type learning.  Stuff that isn't necessarily planned for that day.  Or week.  Or even planned for this year.

I think they're called "teachable moments."
We had one today. 

During our snack time, the kids were looking out the window enjoying the birds at the feeder.  The Boy yells, "MOMMA!!  Look up there!  TWO dragonflies."

And there were two dragonflies.  Large ones.  Right next to our window.  And in looking at them, my mind began to race with an explanation --I knew what was coming:

"Why are they stuck together?  What are they doing?"

And so we spend a little time talking about God's great big world and the amazing wonders all around us.

And finish our goldfish.

I love homeschooling.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How's it going?

Homeschooling is going well.
Really well.
So well, in fact, that I'm sure I'm doing something wrong.

Just kidding.
I think.

We've been at it for three full weeks now.  And while there have been some bumps that required a bit of tweaking, and some attitudes that needed adjusting (not always the kiddos'!) it is going really well.

God blesses those things that He leads us to.

We've been using workboxes as an organization system and we're loving it.  So much so that I have a whole separate post on our workboxes. 

Lemme just say that if I could "workbox" everything in our life, I'd be happy.  And way organized.  And probably a little bit of a hermit since it does take time to organize.  But I'd be organized.   Not to say that I'm not organized.  I love organization.   I thrive on it.  Maybe that's one reason these workboxes are working so well for us -- pun intended...

Uh, organizing my thoughts and staying on topic not working so well right now...

Like I said, some tweaking has been done and there are a few tweaks yet to occur, but all in all, it's going great!

And one of the many things we've all come to love about it?
Time to do those things that always seemed to slip by the wayside because we "don't have the time."

Like the essential back yard spot of tea while discussing God's creation.  And giggling.  A lot.
We are homeschoolers.
We are blessed!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lonely, But Not Alone

I confess.

I have become lonely.

I know that sounds weird coming from a homeschoolin' Momma of two.  Whose kids are always around.  Whose husband has been home more in the last year than in any of the previous seven (Praise God!).  Things can get loud and crazy and really, really silly around here.

And don't get me wrong.  I enjoy the company of my family.  I love being with my kiddos, and without a doubt, MotorMan is my best friend.  

But something has been missing and I've been lonely.
But not alone.

Moving to a new location has been difficult.  Not for the physical, heavy labor reasons.  (That was a quick difficulty!)  But for the emotional, psychological, longer lasting reasons.  Plainly put, I miss my friends.  I miss having any local friends to talk to, socialize with, pray/worship/learn with. 

I've become lonely.
But I'm not alone.

There is a difference between lonely and alone. 


adjective, -li·er, -li·est.
1.  affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome
2.  destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship
Yep, that's me.  Both of those definitions fit.  


–adjective (used predicatively)  
1. separate, apart, or isolated from others
Like I said, there's craziness all around me.  I am definitely not separate from others.  But most importantly, I am not separated from God.  
I am lonely. 
But not alone.

Right now, I miss specific people from our previous home.  I miss my neighbors, our church family, my friends.  Specifically, I am lonely for my girlfriends.  You know, those friends who know you -- really know you, and love you anyway.  My Sister Chicks...

I am lonely.
But not alone. 

In my loneliness, I've sought solace.
In the One who has been here.  The One who called Abraham "friend," is also the same God who is here with me.  Here.  Now. 

Lonely, but not alone.

And maybe that's the way He planned it.  For my focus and dependence to be totally, and completely, on Him.  For a time such as this...

I have been lonely,
I've not been alone.

Never alone.

"Never will I leave you;
      never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5

 (Image of Greg Olsen Artwork)
"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  Matthew 28:20b

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Father, We Thank Thee

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee,
For tender grass so fresh and sweet,
Father, we thank Thee,
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee,
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee,
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee,
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lip Goo Giveaway Winner!!

After running the number of comments through the most scientific source I could find late at night,, the Random Number Generator gave us a winner.  And the winner is commenter #2!!

Congrats to Lauren Wooten!! 

Lauren, if you would either email me or send me a message on FB with your mailing address and which type of the goo you'd like, I will get it right into the mail to you!  (Your goo choices are Violet Mint, Pink Mint, or Mentha, which is clear.)

And come back again, friends.  There will be more giveaways!!

Praying you are having a blessed day...

Encourage each other and remember Love wins!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Love it #2 -- & A GIVEAWAY!!


FREEBIE GIVEAWAY:  Enter to win one tube o' goo (as featured below) in your choice of colors:  Metha Lip Shine (no color), Violet Mint, or Pink Mint.

HOW TO ENTER:  Leave a comment at the bottom of the post telling me what your favorite Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It item is -- something you are diggin' right now.

EARN AN EXTRA CHANCE TO WIN:  If you become a follower of the blog, you will be given an extra "name in the hat" chance to win.  After you've become a follower, just post that in the comments so I can count you twice!

Depending on the number of entries, I will either use a random number generator or have one of the kiddos pick a number out of a hat.  I'll let you know if you've won!!

GIVEAWAY will end at 9pm CST on Monday, September 6th!

And back to the newsroom:

I do not intend for the title of this post to be misleading.

Yes, this is a post in my Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It (LI, LI, GHI) series. (Really, is this going to be a series?  Or just a few random posts?  No decision has been made on that quite yet.  We'll see how the masses take to these first few posts.)

Uh, yeah.  Go off on tangents much?

Where was I?
Where was I?
Oh yes.
I am not attempting to mislead you.  Like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by the voices in my head, this is one of the LI, LI, GHI posts -- this is actually post #2.  HOWEVER, this is the first "Love it."  So, should it have been titled Love It #1?  Then I could just number each item under each rating?  For example:  "Love It #1"  and "Gotta Have It #1"  Or should I just leave it?

Does anybody really care?

Back to a new-ish Love It item...

I found this little tube o' lip goo when I was shopping with one of my Cackalacky buddies.  We had stepped into the over-scented, olfactory overloading (yet really fun and ultimately irresistible) Bath and Body Works.

Let me set the scene here a bit:  I really like B&BW.  I used to love it.  Matter of fact, before Dave Ramsey came into the picture, I spent a lot of time and money there.  Oh, there I go again on a tangent...

Blah, blah, blah.... Used to love B&BW... Oh yeah!  Then they had the audacity to come out with so many different scents that just walking into the place made my nose, which was apparently designed for a Blood Hound, go crazy.  I mean, seriously, all you have to do is walk past the joint and you're bombarded with floral-y, fruit-y, outdoors-y, tree huggin' redolence.   This drives my doggy nose crazy.  Alas I have not done much shopping at B&BW.

But, my Cackalacy girl headed that way and I followed.  I wandered straight to the sale tables and promptly filled my arms with pump soaps that were going for $3 each.  (Dave would have liked that -- on sale AND in the budget!)  While my friend was sniffing every container she could get her hands on, I walked to the front to check out.  And there... there is where I found this little tub o' goo...

It's called Mentha Lip Tint and though B&BW carries it, it is by C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.  (I love that word:  Apothecaries.  Apothecaries.  Fun!)  I believe that there were about 4 different colors to choose from.  I chose Violet Mint

The gloss has a minty smell to delight your nose, a tingly feeling to delight your lips, and a sheer shiny finish to delight your eye.

The tag on my tube says $7.50, but I believe I paid something more like $5 for it.  I'm not really a lipstick kinda girl (it makes my throat hurt -- yeah, figure that one out) and though I LOVE Carmex chap sticks (can you call another brand of lip stuff "chap stick" even if it isn't the Chap Stick brand?) this little beauty not only slicks my lips, but also gives a sheer hint of color.  And, as you only need a tiny bit to cover your lips, it will last a long time.  I've already had mine about 3 months and the tube feels as full as it did when I bought it.

Could I do without this?  Yes.
Do I want to do without it?  No.

I love this stuff.  Love It!
Now maybe I should see if the Apothecary carries anything to make my close-one-eye-while-taking-a-self-portrait-of-shiny-lips wrinkly eye squint lines less apparent...

Go pick you up some the next time you's hangin' at the mall.  Y'ant to? 

(B&BW and C.O. Bigelow do not know who I am and have not paid me for this shameless plug for their tubes of lip goo.  However, if they were to shower me with lots of tubes of this stuff, I , of course, would share with all of you!)

(Oooh, oooh, oooh!  I just went to the B&BW website and these little tubes of goo are on sale:  Buy two at $7.50 each and get the 3rd free.  There are about 15 different tubes to choose from.  Some colored, some not.  Go forth and shop!)

(And sorry for all the parenthesis this evening.  The voices in my head were on overdrive, I guess!)