Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fishing for Volcano Creek Golden trout

Yesterday Scott woke up our two older boys at 4 a.m., loaded food, water, poles and tackle box into the car, and set off for the mountains to find a good fishing spot.

They came home after bedtime, exhausted and happy, each having caught (and released) at least one pretty little Volcano Creek Golden Trout.

I can't imagine a better way for a father and his sons to spend a Saturday. But if you have any ideas, feel free to share. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gen X -- middle aged??!

From the review of indie-rockers-cum-kids'-rockers The Terrible Twos:
"One of the more under-reported sociological trends of the new millennium -- thanks on one hand to the baby-boomer generation continuing to insist that the cultural zeitgeist is All About Them and on the other to the mainstream media's obsession with all things young 'n' kicky even when that only means coverage of whomever Paris Hilton is dating this week -- is that Generation X has started shifting quietly into middle age. Along with the increasing use of former signature slacker-era tunes in TV ads and the steadily escalating number of college radio and alternative rock mainstays hitting the reunion tour and remastered anniversary reissue (with bonus tracks!) circuit, the latest evidence comes from how many indie rockers have started making children's albums."
Ouch. Well, Happy 40th Birthday, Love! You look better than ever and I love you just as much!! (I'm a couple days late posting this -- we celebrated on Thursday.)

Half of our friends and I turned 35 this year (or last, or will next year). The other half turned 40-something (or will soon). If this is middle age, it's really not so bad! :)

Scott and our two older boys left this morning at 4 a.m. to spend the day fishing in the Southern Sierras -- his new "mid-life" hobby. His birthday gift of choice -- a new flyrod he's going to build himself. Isn't that way better than running out and buying a new red sportscar?! (I can't even imagine him doing such a thing.)

Littlest and I miss them already, but I know they're having a great time up by a creek somewhere. Scott took my camera, so hopefully I'll have some great photos to share with you tomorrow!

Friday, August 27, 2010

{this moment}

  {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit SouleMama and join in.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meet my boys

I've really been enjoying the Not Back to School blog hop at Heart of the Matter -- it's so fun to see how unique our homeschooling families are! I'm excited to welcome those of you who have found my blog in the last few weeks! I'd love for you to meet the three boys I am blessed to call my sons...

Eldest, age 9, fourth grade:

Our energetic, talkative firstborn, the scientist, who loves learning new things as much as he loves telling you about it. He's our champion chess player, Lego fanatic and kung fu green belt. He loves all of God's creatures, even the ones the rest of us would prefer never think about. He'll have his own classroom or Nat Geo TV show someday. But this year he's looking forward to taking cello lessons, learning more math, and studying the Ancient Romans.

Middlest, age 7, third grade:

Our secondborn is perfectly positioned between his brothers to be the team player that he is. Always available for a hug or a game of tag, he is happiest when surrounded by people who like to move as much as he does. He loves language, and is excited to study Latin and German this year. Some day he'll be a missionary, a mediator or an electric violin-wielding rock star.

Littlest, age 4:


Our youngest boy is the quiet one with the iron will. He'll either charm your socks off or bite your head off -- but he'll be sure to kiss it afterward! He loves dinosaurs, playing with his brothers, impressing us with his with Lego Bionicle creations, and being read to. At this point, his future is limitless!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Family Camp 2010

This weekend was our annual trip to the Sequoias for our church's Family Camp. It was beautiful, as always. The kids had a blast running from one activity to another, as always. And we got to share it with some of our best friends -- both camp regulars and first-timers -- which was awesome.

I'd planned to spend some time playing with my camera and taking portraits of the boys in the gorgeous landscape, but I ended up immobilized in the lodge with ice on my leg, after slipping down a sandy rock and pulling a muscle or two -- right after I took the above photo. (Fortunately, I had my knitting with me!)

Meanwhile, Scott chased the boys around making sure no one drowned, got eaten by a bear, or shot his eye out. They were kind enough to come and update me on their adventures every once in a while, like after tying for top score in pellet shooting...

Littlest preferred to keep me company while building robots, while Scott was on full-time Dad duty.


My mom kept my tea mug filled and my spirits up -- and made sure I didn't fall again! She probably has lots more photos, too, which I'm sure she'll post on her blog soon.

I'm walking again, although with a little limp, so hopefully I can catch those boys of mine long enough to take some better pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A good reminder

"If God is the one who called you to homeschool, then He has the plan and the right to be the director of it! Be still for awhile and know that He is God, and you will begin to hear His quiet voice directing you. He will not lay it all out for you. He will tell you one or two things to begin working on now. As you obey He will give you another step. This is called dying to self, becoming still, empty, and willing to be broken of your own ideas, methods, agendas, beliefs, etc."
--"The Heart of True Education," by Marilyn Howshall

Monday, August 09, 2010

The world has always been our classroom...

But now we have one at home, too!

It was time. We've been a mostly unschooling, on-the-go, field trip/play date/learn-as-we-go bunch for a long time. Last year we were suddenly ready to be home more, lounging about for some book learnin' (well, sometimes).

We don't have an eat-in kitchen, and all three boys share a small bedroom, so the living room, my bedroom and the dining table have been the center of homeschool mess-making. Dinner, and Mom's sanity, often suffer.

But after a year of dreaming and scheming (and praying and begging), my vision finally materialized just in time for School Room Week at the Not Back to School Blog Hop. (It does help to have an important deadline!) I put the last coat of paint on the bench this afternoon. Doesn't it look fabulous?!

This is what it looked like a few months ago, when the room was transitioning from Dad's workshop/junkroom, before we got rid of a bunch of stuff that didn't fit in in his new workshop in the garage...

Besides being a mess and incredibly dusty, the walls had only been primed, not painted, when we bought the house. The 100-year-old floors had no finish left on them, and were covered in stains.

Scott filled in a few of the windows with plywood for insulation and more room to hang maps (!), refinished the floors to make them shiny and new, and built this fabulous bench under the chalkboard I painted, where we'll store books and toys.

I found the cushion foam at the last minute for half-price, and made the cover out of a shower curtain from Target ($1.50/yd). This is what the desks and chairs looked like when I bought them at a yard sale down the street (for $15 total!) a few weeks ago...

I painted the tops of the desks with chalkboard paint, and sprayed the legs white. The legs are adjustable for my growing boys. Our youngest still fits at the big Pottery Barn table my mother gave us a few years ago, so he has lots of room to spread out.

We were trying desperately to get everything finished this weekend before our older boys got back from camping with my dad -- so my mom hopped in and sewed up the curtains yesterday. We made a great team!

My mom helped me shop for everything, too -- we found the curtain fabric for $2/yard at Ikea. The colorful rug was also from Ikea, for only $30. I splurged on those chairs at a vintage show a few months ago, and couldn't resist the green storage ottomans from Target. The game table was a last minute find on Saturday -- $6 at the Goodwill!  It was unpainted, but I had a $4 can of black paint.

This project was such a huge blessing. I'm pretty sure I have a shopping angel, because I don't know how else it would have come together. Most of the budget went to paint, floor finish, the rugs ($60 for all 3) and wood for the bench. Scott spent a good chunk of his summer break with his back bent over the floor sander (borrowed from a friend) and table saw (hand-me-down from his dad).

I am so glad it's finished and ready for the boys to enjoy. And as proud as I am of what we accomplished, I am also reminded of how much more each of us can do to make the world a better place for someone else...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Fall is for beginnings

I knew our big road trip would make for a busy season, but here it is August, and my hubby has only one more week off before he heads back to the classroom -- and we're back to the schoolyear routine. (No more breakfast in bed for Mommy!)

We've been working really hard to get the new play/schoolroom finished so we can surprise the big boys when they get home from camping with my dad. (And so I can share the results in next week's Not Back to School Blog Hop about homeschool rooms!)

Since I browsed the posts from last August's Not Back to School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week numerous times during the last year, I thought I should actually participate this time. I'm a little late, but you can find the rest of this year's curriculum posts at Heart of the Matter.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

 I see my educator role mainly as setting an example and spreading a feast. So, these resources are as much for me as for my boys. We're unlikely to consume everything I've stocked in the pantry -- especially if I forget to cook it before it goes bad. Then again, these kids do seem to be always hungry! (Enough with the food metaphor, sheesh!)


We'll continue our study of the Old Testament using Christian Studies II and/or the free Journeys With God: Third Grade, and hopefully begin the New Testament by Christmas.


Our chronological history study will take us to Ancient Rome this year. We'll also do some American History through a co-op with friends once a month.

We used SOTW and Mystery of History last year, and we'll supplement with those as appropriate. We also have Streams of Civilization, which I like better than MoH, because it doesn't feel like someone else is trying to homeschool my kids.

Eldest (who's 9) and I are excited to start Lively Latin, which includes history from Famous Men of Rome alongside Latin grammar, vocab, picture study, and hands-on projects. Middlest (8 in Oct) is very interested in foreign language, so hopefully he'll want to follow along, too.

We'll use the commentary from TruthQuest to give our studies of Ancient Rome some Biblical perspective, and read about ancient Church history in "Peril and Peace". Also: “Jotham’s Journey," “Detectives in Togas,” and “Mystery of the Roman Ransom.”

Language Arts and Lit
Lively Latin
Simply Grammar
Startwrite 5.0 (found this used!)
Scribblenauts (for Christmas)
The Last Battle
The Bronze Bow (possibly, as it's pretty heavy material)
Lots and lots of books from our shelves and the library


Science is such a favorite subject around here that I simply could not narrow things down to one area of study. Instead, I just keep collecting resources that we can learn from whenever we want to, including...

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy
The Earth Science Book: Activities for Kids

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Botany
Handbook of Nature Study

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style
Library books gleaned from Noeo Chem I, including Super Science Concoctions


This gets its own heading, even though I think it also falls under earth science, because it's one of the few things I'm buying new this year, and I think it's worth some solid attention: A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth


We're trying the Math Mammoth worktexts. Blue series, grades 3 and 4. We haven't done much formal math up to this point, but they're on grade level. I think they're ready for more, and I like how this program explains concepts with words, not much jargon, and not just pictures, for my verbal learners.

Foreign Language

Besides Latin, the boys have a long list of languages they want to learn to speak. We want to start with German this year, but I may just have to rely on the library and my own memory (which is not very reliable).


Middlest is taking violin lessons, and I'm searching for a cello teacher for Eldest. I'd love to do some composer study, too, but we'll probably just listen to Pandora.


Littlest gets his own stuff, of course, mainly because I don't want to forget about him. He will happily occupy himself with Legos and Bionicles and his brothers for hours at a time, but he appreciates a half hour of focused attention from Mommy every once in a while. So, I'm going to get a used copy of My Father's World: Kindergarten A to Z, and use their wonderfully organized ideas for stories and Bible and science, etc.

Well, that's it. I hope we manage to follow through on some of this, because my budget is small, and I'm spending every penny. :)  Go see what everyone else is piling on their homeschool tables this year!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sending my boys off

Oh, they are getting too big, too fast!

Tonight we sent off our older two boys on their first camping trip alone with my dad, their Papa. They've been looking forward to this for weeks, and I had to promise our littlest boy lots of ice cream to keep him from stealing away in the back of the truck.

After lots and lots of goodbye hugs, the boys climbed in and started to buckle up, and they both got funny looks on their faces -- "Mom, I miss you already!" my firstborn said. Then his brother climbed back out for another hug. "I'm going to miss your mole," he said to my neck.

Funny boy, I'm going to miss you both terribly.
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