Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Remember my last couple of weeks of actually getting things done and not complaining of lots of headaches? I do - fondly. Unfortunately, I appear to have crashed. I have had a headache since Saturday and I can't sleep right now because I feel yucky. On a happier note, though, I made Wild Man's Robin Hood tunic today - a one-hour pattern that took me five hours. Ah well, Grandma's coming in a couple of days so maybe she can help finish the sewing so I can sit and vegetate. I do hope I feel OK for trick-or-treat hours on Friday so I can give our candy to all our little neighborhood kids.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Costumes

Today is the day we start working on Halloween costumes! Yippee! (If I say it long enough, I'll believe it, right?) We are sewing parts of each of the kids' costumes, having purchased patterns and cloth last week in town. Wild Man is going to be Robin Hood, so we are making a tunic, cape, and hat, and he will wear brown pants. Ga'hoole Girl wants to be an elf. She chose a lovely midnight blue crushed velvet fabric (which was on sale) and a pattern for a cape.

Here's the big question, though. I don't want to spend anymore money, but I do want to dress up a little this year. Who should I try to be? Professor Sybil Trelawney or Molly Weasley? While Molly Weasley is my heroine, I might actually have enough sweaters and costume jewelry to be Professor Trelawney. The hair is hopeless for either one. So, leave a comment. Trelawney or Molly Weasley?

The other big question about Halloween is "Do we have enough candy?" We have lived in this neighborhood for two years and have run out of candy both years - this after 10 years of living in a neighborhood where we had very few kids come by and always had way more candy leftover than we should have had. But, I have two big grocery bags full right now. And it wasn't cheap - I don't believe in giving kids candy I don't like, so I give out lots of Reeses and Hersheys. I'm such a sap!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Date

Mr. Math Tutor and I went on a date yesterday.  It was definitely a married couple kind of date.  We started with lunch at Olive Garden, during which I started to feel a migraine coming on.  Bummer.  We then went to Wal-Mart where we picked up some shades to replace the old ones in the dining room and in Ga'hoole Girl's room.  I also got some spray glitter for Ga'hoole Girl's hair for Halloween.  (And we might have gotten some other stuff for some loved ones for a special occasion - but, maybe not.)  Then, we drove across the street to JoAnn's to pick up fabric so I can recover some pillows - probably will end up being after the first of the year, but I feel so much better having the fabric now.  We then stopped at Barnes and Noble for Mr. Math Tutor to buy some references for his tutoring business.  I got to just mill around a bookstore - downright heavenly.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day was marred by a full-blown migraine.  Despite that, it was really nice to actually go on a date and spend the day with my hubby without the kids.  We used to do this at least every two weeks.  It was easier because we had money to go to nice restaurants and hire babysitters, but also more necessary since I was working so much.  Getting around to dates is harder these days because of my headaches, but we try to make it a priority every month or so.  Many of our dates are just running errands together, but it's a great chance to talk without the kids.

Having dates with your spouse can be quite important for a marriage to thrive.  For some couples with small children, it may just be setting aside time alone after the kids are gone to bed.  Others might enjoy a particular hobby together, such as hiking or skiing.  Sometimes, just running errands or taking a drive together does the trick.

How often do you and your spouse get to go on dates?  What kinds of things do you do?  How important is it for you to do this?  What kinds of unusual ideas do you have for dates?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Week in Review - October 24, 2008


This week I was still a little hypomanic and was on a cleaning frenzy.  I had a couple of migraines, but was more energetic than usual between them.  So, I have gotten a fair bit of pre-holiday cleaning done so I don't stress about that over the next couple of months.  This is important because I'm surely not going to clean more than necessary around the holidays!

The kids are both cooking quite a bit.  Wild Man made pancakes early in the week.  Ga'hoole Girl made a lemon meringue pie which didn't turn out well, so she's going to try again today.  Our plan to make Irish Stew didn't turn out well because, even though I have a lamb bone to make the stock, the butcher shop won't have lamb for a few weeks.  We also watched several Food Network shows, including a couple on using puff pastry and making choux pastry.

Ga'hoole Girl got me to buy her a pomegranate at the grocery store.  When we got home, she looked up how to clean the pomegranate and get the seeds ready to eat.  Then, she came to me to tell me all about the wonders of pomegranates that she learned online.  She's still doing research on her project to get me to eat more veggies.  I'm anticipating a yummy salad tonight.

The kids and I watched a History Channel show on the universe.  The show presented the history of astronomy and cosmology and then, at the end of the show, presented the most commonly accepted version of the Big Bang theory.  Last night, we watched a really cool show about some pits that have been found in the Gobi Desert that contain dinosaur skeletons in three dimensions.  Wild Man was enthralled by it.

Wild Man (at my request) did a Google search on Teddy Roosevelt since he was rather interested in him from the movie, "Night at the Museum".  Wild Man was a little frustrated by not being able to read the entries as well as he would have liked, but he was surprised to hear that teddy bears are named after Teddy Roosevelt.

Another interesting show we watched this week was on a huge cave found in a Mexican mine that is filled with huge gypsum crystals.  It was amazing.  Apparently, it is well over 100 degrees in the cave, so the scientists have to wear special suits.  Anyway, Ga'hoole Girl is now rather interested in crystals, but she started with asking questions that are really basic chemistry.  So, I have ordered several books about the periodic table from the library to get her going.

Wild Man has been reading a little in his Mythbusters book, so he and Ga'hoole Girl decided that they wanted to replicate the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment (if you aren't sure what this is, search YouTube for it).  So, they made a little set-up in the backyard and did two runs of putting Mentos in Diet Coke.  The first was pretty spectacular, but, for the second, they put a tornado tube on the top of the Diet Coke bottle, so the eruption had to go 10 feet or more!  I'll try to post video in a day or two.

We listened to the book City of Ember on CD this week and then went to see the movie on Wednesday.  Great book and movie!!  The kids and I highly recommend both!

Last night was spent carving pumpkins.  Ga'hoole Girl did her pumpkin completely by herself this year.  I'll post some pictures later.

To end this entry, I'd like to include two pieces of writing.  This is from an "anonymous" 13 year old:

A Halloween Poem

A sharp knife, a shiny knife

A pumpkin’s fate decided.

In pencil light, in marker dark

Angles and curves form a mask.

In a hole, a dark hole

A slimy, pulpy mass.

But in the slime, a treasure hides

Needing only to be found.

This is a short paper by Wild Man (dictated to Mom):


I'm writing about "The City of Ember".  This week, we listened to the book and watched the movie.  I liked the book better than the movie because the movie made the animals too big.  In one part of the movie, Doon was walking and he saw a moth.  That is not unusual for Doon, but the moth was huge!  It was almost as big as Doon.  Then, there was a rat in the pipeworks that is something that was not in the book.  The rat was even bigger than the moth: it was huge!  It was bigger than Doon and could break most anything.

One of the characters was Clary.  In the book, she was very shy and slow to speak, and the movie hade her energetic and normal, which isn't Clary.  I liked the movie, but I prefer the book, even if the book is longer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 Timely Facts - October 23, 2008

hm10 A new Meme!  This one is hosted at Homeschool Awards and is Homeschool Memoirs.  Today's challenge is to list ten timely facts about myself.  Here goes:


1. I love homeschooling (borderline unschooling) my kids!

2. I started knitting three years ago when I was on a three month leave from work because of my headaches.

3. I had my appendix out the weekend before Mardi Gras when I was a third year medical student at Tulane (in New Orleans).

4. I don't like very many vegetables, so my daughter has started a project to develop veggie recipes that I will enjoy.

5. I went to a private, Christian school through fifth grade then public schools - hence my strong belief in homeschooling.

6. My favorite candy is dark chocolate mint meltaways - from Van de Walle candies or Godiva.

7. My mother graduated from college a week before I did, a state away.  We had a huge party!

8. My husband is an elder and we are part of the Evangelical Free Church of America

9. I have been an Evangelical most of my life, except for a short stint in a PCA Church (which is Reformed) and an even shorter stint in an Assemblies of God Church.

10. My kids and I are Food Network Junkies!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No More Window Cleaning!!

So, I'm in the middle of house-cleaning mania. I don't know when I'm going to crash, but I'm hoping it will be after I clean the bathroom. Monday, I decided to clean some windows, which was a great idea because any more light in this house in the winter time is a good thing. We had a window on the landing of the stairs that I suspect was supposed to be for emergency exit as well as ventilation originally, but now is painted shut and has a storm window over it. Nonetheless, the kitty cats sit in the sill and look down at the bird and kids in the backyard. And, they press their little noses to the window. This is cute until you have to clean all the kitty cat mucus off the window. But, after two good cleanings, the window looked good as new. Until this morning. There were three kitty cat nose prints on the glass. Then, so I didn't feel so bad toward the cats, Mr. Math Tutor put a thumb print on the window. When I hit a cleaning mania phase again in a few years, I'll clean the window again, I suppose. In the meantime, NO MORE WINDOW CLEANING!!

A Quote from the Library Trip . . .

Going in to the Appleton Library yesterday, I told Wild Man he had to check out at least one book (he likes DVDs) and I told Ga'hoole Girl that she couldn't check out more books than she could carry. It takes all kinds . . . .

Works for Me Wednesday - October 21, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, a person in our house (who always tries to be helpful, never wants to make trouble, is sorry she's a klutz - OK, it's me!) dropped a small pyrex cup into our porcelain sink.  Of course it broke into a zillion pieces.  I picked up what I could, but didn't stick my hand down into the garbage disposal because I'm a complete wimp and can't handle the sight of my own blood (although I'm fine with other people's blood).  I figured that Mr. Math Tutor, who is way smarter than I and has a toolbox and other manly items, was a better person for the job.  Amazingly, he didn't complain a bit about being requested for such a delightful job.  But, he didn't go for the toolbox.  No, he used his noggin (exceedingly useful thing to do).  Not literally, of course!  He took a butter knife and dipped it into peanut butter.  Then he stuck this down the disposal and picked up all the little bits of glass.  A couple of passes with the peanut butter, and our disposal is good as new and no blood was shed!

Check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer for more great ideas!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - October 21, 2008


TMTT Today's "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" recipe is homemade french bread.  Now, quit hyperventilating - you can do this!  Yes, it has yeast in it, but that doesn't mean that special spells or incantations are required to make a delicious loaf of bread.  The picture here is of two loaves made by Wild Man, age 10!

Important info: I make bread using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which means that I don't have to knead by hand.  I can only make two loaves at a time, though.  If you aspire to become a "real" bread baker and do 5 or 6 loaves at a time, you will need a bigger machine. 

I use the Bread Machine yeast that comes in a jar.  I keep it in the fridge, but let the amount needed for the recipe come to room temperature before mixing.  Because of this, I don't have to mix the yeast with the water first.  I can add it in with the dry ingredients (and the water has to be a little warmer than recipes using other kindSANY0824s of yeast).  You may also purchase envelopes of Rapid Rise yeast which is the same thing.

I don't use flour on my hands to keep the dough from sticking since this can make the bread tough.  I spray my hands with non-stick spray for whenever I handle the dough.


  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Rapid Rise or Bread Machine yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 - 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - actual amount depends on humidity, temperature, etc.
  • 1/4 cup gluten (optional, but I think it helps keep the bread a little softer)
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  • Heat water to 120-130 degrees.  Pour into bowl of mixer and add oil and salt.
  • Add 1 cup of flour, gluten, and yeast.  Mix until combined.
  • Add flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until the mixture forms a soft dough that no longer sticks to the edge of the bowl.
  • Allow to knead in the machine for about 6 minutes.
  • With hands greased, form the dough into a smooth bowl and place in a greased bowl.  Turn to coat dough.  Cover.  Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, generally 30-45 minutes.
  • When dough is doubled, don't punch down, but gently turn ball of dough inside out several times to redistribute the pockets of carbon dioxide.  Divide dough in half.  On a greased surface (with greased hands), roll each half to about 15x10 inches then roll into loaf.  Pinch seams and ends.
  • Place loaves, seam-sides down on large baking sheet liberally sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover with clean dishcloth and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
  • Brush top of loaves with egg white mixture.  Make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes on the tops of the loaves using a serrated (bread) knife.
  • Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove to cooling rack and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Then, enjoy with butter or olive oil!!

Check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for more great recipes.


Menu Plan Monday - October 20, 2008


It's time to plan the menus for the week.  As I've done before, I will just list the meals and wait to see what the week brings to decide when to make what.  On Mondays, the kids go to dance then AWANA, so it's a sandwich day.  Tuesdays are pretty simple meals because we go grocery shopping in the afternoon after Ga'hoole Girl's piano lesson.  This week, the kids have a lot of input into the menus because they both want to help cook - which is fine with me!

1. Red Beans and Rice - Mr. Math Tutor and Ga'hoole Girl cook this because I don't like it.  I'll have a sandwich that night.

2. Tacos - Wild Man's request.  Besides, we have tons of ground beef and venison in the freezer.

3. Irish Stew - We have the lamb bone left over from leg of lamb a few months ago, so we'll make our own stock and then make stew.

4. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - I like to add spinach to my sandwiches and Wild Man likes to cook them.

5. Pasta with Garlic, Herbs, and Parmesan cheese - Easy and cheap.

6. Leftovers - at least one meal's worth!

Wild Man also wants to make a chocolate pound cake this week, and I want to make some whole wheat bread.  We won't be bored in the kitchen this week!.  Check out orgjunkie.com for more great menu plans.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Steps Toward Unschooling

Unschooling scares me.  How will my children learn everything they need to know if I'm not intimately involved in every detail?  Never mind, of course, that I'm already not overseeing every moment of their day.  They do read things they choose.  They play outside with friends.  They even (gasp) sit and think without me.

Now, I don't accept the radical unschooling idea that children should be left completely to their own devices and that they will learn and develop best with little adult "interference".  No, I tend to agree with the Scripture that says that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15).  And we have been known to use the "rod of correction" a time or two, as well!  Children need discipline to learn right and wrong, as well as to learn healthy habits.  I think it's perfectly OK to require my children to do chores and to encourage healthy eating, etc.  I'm interested in some form of unschooling, not unparenting!

SANY0486I'm coming to see, though, that my children are naturally curious and will learn quite a bit on their own.  For example, Ga'hoole Girl has been collecting prisms and making an optics kit.  She plays up in her room with her prisms, learning on her own (and from some books) about the properties of light.  They like to do exSANY0253periments, like making sugar candy as well as play games.  Wild Man and Ga'hoole Girl both have been building domino towers and learning what properties help them stay standing. 

I believe that they do need some guidance, especially if they are planning on education past the high school level.  I've been reading a blog called Yarns of the Heart which encourages me that unschooling high school is a viable option.  Jena's son is a freshman at University of Chicago, and her daughters seem to be learning quite well without the structure I cling to.  (Prior to this, I've heard mostly about unschoolers whose kids are really young or who don't believe in higher education.)

So, how do I mesh these ideas of being a good parent without being completely conIMG_6305_editedtrolling?  I've explored some of this before in a post about how much structure we need to have in our homeschool  .  Now that Wild Man is reading independently, I am more comfortable with loosening the reins even more.

What I'm going to try now is to use Sonlight Core 7 as a guide for reading about History and then exploring interesting other subjects as they come up.  Ga'hoole Girl is pretty happy with her Earth Science book, so I'm asking her to read 15-20 pages per week of her choosing.  This week, she'll be reading about glaciers.  Wild Man got a book about the Mythbusters from a museum in Chicago, so I'll have him read that for science.  I want them each to write something each week.  For Wild Man that will involve dictating to me still.

In terms of regular, disciplined work, I want them both to continue ALEKS math and Power-Glide Spanish, partly because they work, and partly because I've paid for them!!  I'll also work with Wild Man on some reading and spelling to help get him further with independent reading.

When we need more science stuff, I've decided to go with biographies of scientists if the kids don't have any other ideas.  Ga'hoole Girl often checks out science books from the library just for fun, but Wild Man may need some guidance.  They both love stories, and I imagine that the biographies will spark interest and get them doing more research.

Another reason that I want to loosen things up is that both kids are interested in learning to cook all kinds of things.  Ga'hoole Girl has made it her goal in life to make vegetables that I will enjoy eating.  We are also consideringSANY0536 starting a garden in the spring.  For the holiday season, Ga'hoole Girl and I are going to make a gingerbread church from a pattern that I have had for ages, but never took the time to make.  If I quit stressing about doing "school", then we might have time for all these fun (and, of course, completely uneducational!) activities.

What do you think?  How have you loosened up in your homeschool?  Or does it scare the living daylights out of you, too?  How can we balance the responsibility of parenting children without controlling them too much?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Being Political

This afternoon, State Representative Kevin Peterson came by the house as part of his pre-election canvassing. I was happy to take his literature and was also happy to let him put a sign in front of our house. Actually, I asked if he had a McCain/Palin sign as well, since I haven't gotten around to going to the Republican Party headquarters to get one. That's probably as political as I'll get this season. I have lots and lots of opinions, but not enough time to add politics to everything else on my plate. But, now, everyone who drives by our little house will know that we are Republicans!!

P.S. One of the joys of small town life is that I have actually met Mr. Peterson before when I was working as a physician. He was interested to hear that we homeschool and said he would be happy to discuss government for a homeschool group or set up a tour of the state capitol in Madison.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Week in Review - October 17, 2008

This week was definitely out of the ordinary for our family (whatever the heck ordinary is!). We took the train to Chicago on Monday afternoon and spend Tuesday through Thursday taking in the sites.SANY0834

Here are the kids waiting for the train: one reading and one playing video games - pretty typical. For our trip, I purchased the Chicago CityPass which allows admission to four different museums and either the Hancock Observatory or the Sears Tower.

The Seneca Hotel is a vintage hotel - which means old. But, it was incredibly clean, if a bit small. In fact, the bathroom was tiny. It all worked out, though, because Wild Man decided that it would be fun to sleep in the closet. Whatever.

SANY0836 Monday started with a trip to Shedd Aquarium. We really enjoyed it, but found that some of the school groups were quite disruptive. We also watched a 4-D Imax show. The show was really cool, and the spritzes of water weren't bothersome, but being poked in the back and having something wave against our ankles when the screen showed snakes was really weird. I wish we had thought to make sure to hit the Great Lakes exhibit, but we didn't. By the time, I thought about it, the kids were ready to move on - so move on, we did.

At lunchtime, we headed over to the Adler Planetarium (just a short walk away). We really enjoyed the star show and all the exhibits. I ended upSANY0874 not going to the time and space show that the kids thought was the best because I was feeling a headache coming on. We decided to go back to the hotel afterwards so I could take a nice long nap. Dinner was at the California Pizza Factory in Water Tower Place - delicious!

SANY0883 I figured we'd spend most of Wednesday at the Field Museum, but it turns out I was wrong. We enjoyed the exhibit about soil and bugs (although the models of bugs larger than humans was pretty creepy). The kids also enjoyed the Ancient Egypt exhibit. After the gems and minerals, though, the kids were pretty much done.

So, after some consulting with museum officials and a phone call to the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), we figured out howSANY0893 to get to the Museum of Science and Industry (which is not on the main museum campus). This was SANY0891the best choice of the trip. The kids absolutely loved the museum. There was an exhibit of ships, including the ships of Columbus (which we've been recently studying). We saw a totally cool Omnimax film about South African wildlife, including sharks and seals. There was also great stuff about genetics.

I was skeptical that we would use everything that the CityPass had to offer, but it turned out that we did! Thursday morning, we got all packed up, trekked 6 blocks to get Dunkin Donuts (which we don't have here in our little town), and trekked back to the Hancock Observatory. SANY0903On the way, we stopped to see the Water Tower that survived the Chicago fire. (BTW, our first night in the hotel, the Weather Channel showed a special on the Chicago fire - very timely).

Next stop was the Hancock Observatory. Ga'hoole Girl and I had been SANY0922 several years ago when we went to Chicago to go to the American Girl's store. This time was waaaaay better, though. When we got upstairs, we each got an Ipod-SANY0923 type device with headphones for a Multimedia Sky Tour. We entered the number on the wall/window where we were in the observation deck and listened to information about the history and characteristics of Chicago. We all had a blast, even though Mr. Math Tutor and I are mildly acrophobic. It was just amazing how much we could see of Chicago from that high up.

After the Hancock Observatory, we made our way to Union Station (despite losing one of our CTA passes and having to pay cash for a couple of fares). The waiting room in Union Station was probably the least pleasant part of the trip, but once we were on the train, we were happy again.

The trip was a rousing success!! I highly recommend visiting the Chicago museums if you get a chance. Next time we go, I think we'll check out the art museums and some different attractions. Nonetheless, it was a great four days. We're all glad to be home, though. My feet and legs are going to take days to recover, I'm afraid. Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others have spent their week!

Homeschool Creativity - Heart of the Matter Online

Today's Heart of the Matter Meme is ideas for non-creative homeschooling moms. The problem is that I'm one of those non-creative types!! What I have learned, though, is that my kids will be incredibly creative if I just give them the time to do so. When we studied Medieval History, I didn't plan any cool creative ideas, but Wild Man made a Lego castle and played knights for weeks. Ga'Hoole Girl has used her own money to purchase prisms and has made up her own optics kit. In our situation, the best idea for creativity is to give the kids lots of time and little media and let their own creativity shine through.

Check out Heart of the Matter Online for lots of other great ideas!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And, We're Home!

We just got back from our Chicago trip about 30 minutes ago. I'll blogging with pictures over the weekend, but I figured I'd give you a quick hi's and low's for the trip. (FYI, hi's and low's are telling the good and bad about the trip - we do it on Sunday nights with the teenage small group we lead.)

  • Monday through Thursday away from home with NO MIGRAINES!!!!
  • Managing Chicago public transportation.
  • All the nice people who helped us get where we needed to without getting lost.
  • Seeing all four museums PLUS the Hancock tower.
  • The self-guided audio tour of the Hancock tower - new since the last time we were there.
  • The yummy food - from Dunkin Donuts (not gourmet, but yummy nonetheless) to delicious soup at the food court in Water Tower Place.
  • Staying in a "vintage" hotel with very nice staff and a fridge and microwave to have leftovers for dinner one night.
  • Happy children for the vast majority of the trip.


  • Buying seven day transit passes when we would have been better off paying cash.
  • Losing one of the transit passes on Wednesday.
  • Rain on Wednesday
  • The kids didn't like the Field Museum, but that gave us lots of time at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  • An absolutely tiny bathroom in our hotel room.
  • My incredibly sore feet, legs, and back.

Monday, October 13, 2008

And We're Off!!

Well, all my bloggy friends, I will be offline for a few days as our family takes a little trip to the Windy City to check out the museums. Try to hold on till my return. If withdrawal takes over, you can self-medicate by reading some old posts. In the meantime, I'll be back with more witty repartee (can you have repartee by yourself? I suppose if you talk to yourself.) on Thursday or Friday. TTFN!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And We Have A Winner!!!

The Lucky Winner of the drawing for churched is . . . . . (drum roll, please)
Mari Fontana!!!
Congratulations, Mari. Your book will be on the way soon.
The rest of you can purchase a copy of the book here.

Our Week In Review - October 11, 2008

Our-Week-In-Review-3 Another week, another adventure here in our little educational home! First of all, we did not quite finish Core 6. We have about 20 pages left in the Columbus book and a couple of chapters left in Story of the World. The big problem is that I can't find the last CD to Story of the World, so I'll have to read that out loud. We did watch part of a DVD series on the Tower of London which was really interesting. In addition, last night, we watched "Much Ado About Nothing" on Netflix. The kids were a little confused, but they hung in there with the whole thing. They laughed a lot, so it was clear that the humor was not completely lost on them. And, they loved that they got to see Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in roles besides Gilderoy Lockhart and Professor Trelawney (from Harry Potter)!

Wild Man continues reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but he also picked up a graphic novel from the library. What's funny is that Mr. Math Tutor and Ga'hoole Girl have also been reading the graphic novel. Wild Man did a little spelling and Explode the Code. His language skills are coming along quite well. He is also learning about angles in math.

Ga'hoole Girl is reading Lord of the Rings as well as other interesting things that she finds. We talked about the Big Bang and early history of the solar system from her science book. Now, she's reading about glaciers - because she loves the pictures! Ga'hoole Girl bought some prisms for her room and has been playing with light and how it refracts. She has also been working on a quilt. When Grandma comes later this month, the two of them will put the backing on and do the top-stitching together. Ga'hoole Girl did finally finish her paper that was due. She has also updated both of her blogs this week. All this despite being sick nigh unto death.

No one has done much cooking this week. We're getting ready to go to Chicago next week and I've had a couple of headaches. In addition, I'm doing some reading and outlining of a few books for our pastor (who's doing a seminary program). When we get back from Chicago, we'll start Core 7, but Ga'hoole Girl also wants to make a gingerbread house with a pattern from a book I purchased a very long time ago. Sounds like fun!

We have been reading through Genesis as a family. Not only are the kids learning about Bible, but they're getting some reinforcement of their sex ed!! Last night we read about Tamar and Judah. People who don't want their kids to know anything about sex better make sure they avoid the Bible! Anyway, we are enjoying the reading together at night and we're learning a lot.

Next week is our museum trip to Chicago. The plan is to go to the aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Planetarium, and maybe the Field Museum. Mr. Math Tutor and the kids will also go to the Hancock building. I'm not sure if we'll get to everything in the time we're there, but we hope to have fun.

Check out Weekly Wrap-Up from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others have been up to in their educational endeavors.

p.s. I somehow wrote this post over last week's post, so the comment here doesn't actually fit this post. Sorry. You'd think I'd understand this whole blogging thing by now!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Educational Freebie Sites - Heart of the Matter Meme October 10, 2008

Now that ya'll have all calmed down about seeing my article on the Homeschool Classroom blog, it's time for the weekly Heart of the Matter Online meme. Today's theme is about our favorite homeschool freebie sites. This one is a little tough for me. My kids are past the ages of reading help sites like Starfall. They do their math online at ALEKS, but it's not free. But, I did come up with several site that I find helpful in our studies.

1. Wikipedia - I don't let the kids cite Wikipedia as a source in papers, but it is a great place to start to find information on a topic.

2. Dictionary.com - When we are reading out loud, this is an invaluable resource.

3. The Met Museum Online Timeline of Art - We use this to look at artworks from various time periods.

4. National Gallery of Art Kids - Ga'hoole Girl just loves this site. Kids get to explore art as well as create their own masterpieces.

5. National Geographic Online - Always a good resource for science stuff.

6. Discovery Channel Online - The home of Mythbusters!! Need I say more?

7. Hyperhistory - A site with lots of timelines. It can be overwhelming and I mostly use it to get myself oriented to what we are studying.

Check out Heart of the Matter Online for more great ideas from other homeschooling families!

I'm Published!!!

Somewhere besides here, I mean. Check out The Homeschool Classroom for Part 1 of my article, "To Textbook or Not to Textbook". Then, spend a little time reading all the other great homeschooling articles on the site. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More Reviews

Here's some reviews of some books I've been reading lately.

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh - No, this is not a book about preparing for the supposed "Rapture" of the Church. Actually, it is a book by a non-Christian about his investigation into Christian subculture. He starts with a trip to to a Christian music festival and explored Christian bookstores, The Holy Land Experience, passion plays, Christian children's activities, and even Christian wrestling.

This book was often entertaining, but at times disturbing. I wasn't always proud to be a part of this subculture. As Christians, we often put up with poor quality entertainment just because it's Christian. We even accept questionable theology because it is, overall, Christian. Radosh was open about things that bothered him - and they often bothered me, too. For example, a pro-life booth at a Christian music festival had pamphlets that stated that children born by in-vitro fertilization are just commodities. Radosh's children were conceived using this method, and he, quite understandably, took offense at the pamphlet. This is a very helpful book for those of us in the Christian subculture. We sometimes need to see from another perspective. I hope it will also give us an idea of how we can better impact the world around us. I highly recommend this book. A

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory - Ms. Gregory's newest book deals with the years that Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book is told from the points of view of Queen Mary, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Countess Bess Shrewsbury. I very much enjoyed the book, but I do have to say that I've been reading lots of historical novels about the Tudor family. The book, though, did motivate me to do some further reading on the houses of Bess Shrewsbury and the circumstances surrounding the execution of Queen Mary. I recommend this book if you are interested in historical fiction. B


A couple of weeks ago, I received my copy of churched by Matthew Paul Turner to read and review. What an honor to be an "official" reviewer! This has really been fun, though. Turner's book is a memoir of growing up in a Fundamentalist Baptist church and includes the good, the bad, and the funny.

I grew up Southern Baptist, but attended a pretty Fundamentalist Christian school until fifth grade, so I can relate to much of what he has written. I understand the dubious joys of dressing up for church (although I can't say that I've every had a necktie lick my neck). I also remember asking Jesus into my heart multiple times "just in case". And, he does a great job of describing the guilt associated with "evangelism" - and how we were never doing enough of it.

Most of the book describes, without anger or resentment, the foibles of American Fundamentalism. Turner is honest about what it is like to grow up with rules about every part of life, from hair length to music choice. But, he's not bitter about it, so the book is pleasant and fun to read. Turner ends with a description of where he has gone since Fundamentalism, and he's still on a journey with Jesus.

Read this book, it's funny, poignant, and true. For those of us who grew up in the church, it is a trip down memory lane. For those who didn't, it's a peek inside part of the Christian subculture. In any case, you will be entertained and enlightened.

Since I only got one response to my previous giveaway announcement, I'll give ya'll one more shot to win a copy of this book! (You know you want it!!) Leave a comment and I'll do the drawing on Saturday, October 11. (I'll include the person who commented on the previous post, don't worry.) If you aren't fortunate enough to win the drawing, you can pick up the book at Amazon. Also, check out Matthew's blog for some entertaining reading.

Works for Me Wednesday - Meat in the Freezer

One of the things that has helped simplify life around here has been finding ways to always have meat in the freezer. First, we bought 1/4 of a steer from a local farm. The cost was a little higher than it would have been at the grocery store, but it is grass fed beef, so it tastes wonderful! We also have lots of friends who hunt and end up with extra meat. Right now, we have venison and some wild turkey breasts in our freezer. My grocery trips are generally for vegetables, sides, and other stuff. If Mr. Math Tutor starts hunting, like he's interested in doing, then the venison will become even more plentiful. Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more great Works for Me Wednesday ideas!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - October 7, 2008

This is my first time posting on Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, but I just love the concept!! (I was going to do a Tightwad Tuesday meme, but the concept of me giving advice on saving money was too ludicrous to think about.) Last week, Ga'hoole Girl and I made turkey and andouille gumbo, so I decided to share that recipe. Of course, it's not actually my recipe, but Emeril Lagasse's, so here's the link. The gumbo was absolutely delicious and even Wild Man enjoyed it.
Check out more great posts at Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Being Pitiful

Ga'hoole Girl is too sick for dance class because of her sinus infection and I have a migraine. So, no Menu Plan Monday today (I'm sure you're disappointed). We're sitting on the sofa being pitiful together while Mr. Math Tutor and Wild Man are off to dance.

On a brighter note, Wild Man changed dance classes into the Theater Dance class with his sister, so they now have time to go to AWANA. He's really happy about that.