Monday, April 28, 2008

The Family Virtues Guide, Week 2: Cleanliness

This week we talked about cleanliness. This was a rough one.

Ellie, who has always been a fairly clean kid (although she is a pack rat!), has recently had troubles remembering to clean up her own messes. She will do it if she's told, but she has been waiting until I point things out instead of taking the initiative to keep her room in order and her belongings in their places (instead of scattered throughout the house). The biggest offenders are clothes and books. She always has a book open somewhere - and she leaves trails of them all over the house :) She has voiced that she would like her chores listed out so that she can check them off, so that is in the works.

Kate has always been messy:) She just can't seem to help it. She has tried this week to keep herself and her stuff clean, but she really struggles with this. She is THE messiest eater I know. If you set her and Nick down at the table together, I would bet that Kate would make the bigger mess :) Part of the problem is that she does EVERYTHING at 100 mph. She just can't seem to slow down for anything. While moving at the speed of light, things tend to be dropped, tipped over, spilled, broken, or left behind. Stay out of Kate's way! Her intentions are good though and she is learning that she needs to clean up after herself.

Pablo Picasso

Petit Fleurs by Pablo Picasso
Petit Fleurs

Today we were studying Pablo Picasso. I can't say enough how much the kids disliked his artwork. They looked through an entire book of his work and were actually disgusted. They couldn't believe that he was a famous painter :) Part of their assignment was to reproduce one of his works of art to the best of their ability. The above is the picture that Kate chose to draw - she says it looks like a kid did it. If I could get my scanner to work, I would show the comparison of his to hers. We won't be dwelling too long on Picasso since no one seems to enjoy him....

Sleep Deprivation Has Set In

The Sleeping Spinner, 1853 by Gustave Courbet
The Sleeping Spinner, 1853

I have hit that point in pregnancy where I just can't seem to get to sleep. First of all, I'm a stomach sleeper - and I'm miserable trying to lie on my side comfortably. Then of course, I'm getting up every hour to go to the bathroom. I have heartburn every night starting at 10 p.m. - no matter what I eat. It's also starting to get very light outside in the evening now that we're getting closer to the summer solstice. I'm also nesting and I can't seem to get my mind to slow down - there are so many things that I just HAVE to get done before the baby is born :) On top of it all, one or two of the kids seem to be waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble getting back to sleep.

Add all of these things together and you get NO SLEEP!!! At least no restful sleep. I just keep reminding myself that it's God's way of preparing me for a newborn baby again. I just wish He'd prepare me with a month full of blissful sleep :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Almond Branches in Bloom, San Remy, c.1890 by Vincent van Gogh
Almond Branches in Bloom, San Remy, c.1890

Thank you Renae over at Life Nurturing Education for the post on how to add art to your blog. I am looking forward to using the links you have suggested :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Playing Catch-up

My friend Catherine posted something on her blog that I have been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks. I thought it was such a huge coincidence.

I was the oldest of 4 kids and my baby book is about as jam-packed full of stuff as possible. The "first" of everything is recorded. Haircuts and teeth are taped in it, as are napkins and invitations from birthday parties, pictures, drawings, etc. It won't even shut properly because it's so full. My sister was born a couple of years after me and while hers isn't nearly as full as mine, she does have some fun things to look back on in there. Then comes my brother with much less in his. Then my youngest brother - his book is sadly pretty empty. Maybe his birth stats and a couple of other things. I always wondered growing up why my mom didn't take the time to lovingly complete my siblings' baby books in the same fashion that mine was made. I never understood - until I had kids of my own that is!

When my first daughter was born, I decided that I would scrapbook a baby book for her first 3 yrs. She has TONS of pictures, all neatly scrapbooked along with her "firsts". She has a complete scrapbook of her first 3 years of life.

Then came daughter #2. I started her scrapbook and worked on it over the years, but I'm sad to say that it STILL is not done. Needless to say, I have not even begun to make books for daughter #3 and my son - and now I'm having another baby in a few weeks. I will NEVER catch up!!

I may have had an easier time if I had not chosen to scrapbook their baby books. I am not a scrapbooker - although looking through the drawers of paper, stickers, and tools you wouldn't believe it :) I just never feel like I have a big enough block of time to myself where it would be worth it for me to pull the stuff out. And if it is pulled out, the kids are all over it. Besides that, there is the monumental task of arranging it all in order first -and before that, ordering the pictures!! Now that all we use are digital cameras, I rarely even order pictures anymore.
All of this being said, I have decided what I am going to do to try to catch up. I will try to finish Kate's scrapbook since it is nearly done. Then I will get on, choose the pictures I want and ORDER the scrapbooks already bound. I figure this will not only save me time (and probably some money) but it will make me feel better as a mom. Lexie (#3) sometimes looks through her sister's scrapbook and wonders why she doesn't have one of her when she was a baby :(

Just another thing to add to my growing to-do list for this summer :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

End of the School Year

Our school year is almost at a close. This is a good thing since the baby will be coming soon. Looking back, we have accomplished a lot. I feel okay about taking the summer off.

Ellie (3rd grade, 8) :
*She started out with Saxon Math 54 with the DIVE CD (and got about 20-30 lessons into it). This did not work for her. She was really discouraged by its textbook layout. She didn't like all of the extra time it took her to write the problems out on her own piece of paper. Math has never been a subject that she enjoys, so I didn't want to discourage her further. We switched to Horizons 3 (Horizons seems to be about a year ahead of Saxon). She finished it this past week and is happy to be taking a break from Math! (Although I have to add that she IS good at it - she just doesn't like it!)
*She finished Easy Grammar Grades 3 AND 4 this year. Yeah Ellie!!
*She has been working on Spelling Power and is almost done with Level F.
*She has worked on her cursive handwriting.
*She has been working through Rosetta Stone French, but is losing interest. We have an old version of the program (and not the homeschoolers version). We don't have any accompanying text or workbooks as I believe they now have. While she has learned a lot, I think she definitely needs work on writing and forming sentences in French on her own. We may look into the new version 3 for next year. I am hoping that it may fill some of the gaps we have felt this year.
*Her writing has been intertwined with our history studies. We do "notebooking" and she makes pages for every event/famous person we come across. She also does various assignments using the "Writer's Express" writing handbooks depending on what we're studying.
*We are almost done with our history studies. This week we finished studying the Panama Canal, Teddy Roosevelt, and Hawaii. I'm hoping to at least get up through the Great Depression before the baby comes. I think that wherever we stop, we'll just call it good and start over in ancient times next year with Tapestry of Grace Year 1 Redesigned.
*We are also almost done with our Life Science studies. I did not use a packaged curriculum for this, but made up my own course of studies this year. We started out the school year with plants and we're now almost done studying animals. We're working our way through various mammals. *Her PE classes are coming to and end in the next few weeks. She has been in gymnastics, acting, lyrical dance, ballet, Highland dance (which I just love to watch!), jazz, tap, and at various times swimming and bowling. We've been busy!! It is amazing how much more tone the muscles are in her arms and legs since fall. I am very proud of her :)

Kate (Kindergarten, 6):
*She completed 2 math programs this year - Saxon Math 1 and Horizons Math 1. She LOVES math and it shows. It just seems like fun to her :) We will be moving on to Horizons 2 next year.
*She did Explode the Code books 1, 1 1/2, 2, 3, 3 1/2, 4 and is now finishing up book 4 1/2. Her reading and writing skills have improved so much this year. She has not enjoyed reading as much as Ellie did, but now that she is doing it with more fluency, it doesn't seem like such a chore to her. I think we will move on to Explode the Code 5 for next year.
*We have also worked through quite a few lessons in "First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind" She really enjoys the poetry memorization. I am thinking about coming up with a list of poetry to memorize for next year.
*She is at the same place in history and science as Ellie.
*We started out with Muzzy French for her, but we didn't enjoy this program. They liked watching the movie, but I didn't feel that they were actually learning much French from it. She sometimes works on some Rosetta Stone lessons,but we pretty much dropped French for this year. *Kate has been in gymnastics, pre-ballet, tap/jazz, and swimming. She has become more focused during her lessons and is getting better at listening to instructions and paying attention during class (she is my wiggle-worm!)

After our busy year, I think we're all ready for a break!



I have a feeling that we are never going to truly see spring here in Alaska. For a few days I thought that it was here. I saw a few birds and bugs in our yard. The snow was almost completely melted. We were making plans for yardwork and spending more time outdoors. Then we woke up to snow this morning. Not much, but enough to be depressing. It is supposed to turn into rain later and hopefully it will all melt quickly. I just miss spring - the rain, leaves on the trees, flowers, birds. By the time spring comes to us, it will almost be summer!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our new favorite family game!

The kids got the game Take Off! for Christmas and for some reason or another, it ended up on the game shelf in the closet without being played - until last week that is. We have now discovered that this is such a great game for us to all play together! The game play is easy and the kids are learning geography as we go along - where places are and even the flags. My husband and I actually enjoyed playing it with the kids (and I can't say that about all of the games we own). The only complaint that I have is that some of the dots on the map are SO close together that it's hard to keep your plane on the correct dot (this is usually only when you're making your way through Europe and some other heavily populated areas). Of course it would be much easier to keep it in the correct spot without a wiggly 4 yr old playing :)
We plan on getting lots of use out of this game in the future!

Added 4/25: I added the pic of us playing the game today. After a little frustration with the kids bumping the map around we finally solved the problem and taped it to the table. This made it much easier to play!

Flashback to Monterey

We were stationed in Monterey, CA for the 4 years before moving to Alaska. Don't get me wrong - Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful, but having grown up on an island and having lived in Monterey for years, I really miss the water and we happen to be in the middle of the state now! We have so many happy memories of Monterey - the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel beach, Asilomar beach, the Farmer's market, 17-mile drive and the view from our living room window :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Hi, my name is Jennifer and I'm a bookaholic. These aren't even all of the bookshelves in our house - there is another in the hall, one in our bedroom, and 2 in the kids' bedrooms. Yes, the movers hate us. We of course are constantly adding to our collection, because you can never have too many books, can you?
They of course are categorized (history, science, art etc.) - and then categorized within the categories. The history books are put in chronological order. The science books are grouped by subject, etc. We would never find anything otherwise....

The Family Virtues Guide, Week 1: Caring

I just received this book in the mail last week and we started using it today. I just love the discussions the kids are having with eachother. Today we talked about caring and ways that we can show we care. They are busy drawing pictures and talking about how they can care for eachother. It's wonderful!!

This book covers 52 different virtues (1 a week for the year) to work on as a family. Some of the other ones covered are: compassion, consideration, helpfulness, justice, kindness, modesty, respect, self-discipline, tact, tolerance, unity, trust, generosity, cleanliness, courage, determination, forgiveness, and faithfulness.

I will post an update each week with what the kids have learned and how they are practicing their newly found virtues:)
Here is the picture that Ellie drew about caring.

Here is the affirmation for the week:
I care for others and myself. I pay loving attention to people and things I care about. I give my best to every job.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Break up = Mud

Break up has come to Alaska! The snow from our yard is almost completely melted. This has resulted in some major puddles and mud pits. The kids ran outside today (excited about the warm weather) and Lexie got stuck in the mud. Her sisters went in to rescue her and then they also got stuck. I of course was carrying a 30 lb. 2 yr old (and am almost 9 months pregnant) so I didn't even consider stepping in there after them. (I envisioned the fire department coming to extract me!) The kids finally had to just leave their boots in the mud and make their way to the back porch to derobe for a much needed bath. Daddy got the job of pulling the boots out (and hosing them off) when he got home. When I saw how hard it was for him to pull them out (they were REALLY suctioned in there), I felt bad that I had barked at the kids for not being able to just grab them :) Needless to say, we have made this area of our yard off limits until everything dries up a bit. I wish I had some orange cones to mark off the area to remind them!

San Francisco Earthquake

Here is Kate's rendition of the famous 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Notice the huge crack in the ground.

So much for schoolwork

All of the kids woke up sick this morning - to varying degrees. It's nothing horrible, but we will be going through lots of Kleenex and hearing lots of coughs. We will have to cancel gymnastics today. They are all watching "The Magic School Bus" right now instead of doing bookwork. What can you do? I just hope it passes quickly...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Father-Daughter Ball

Every little girl dreams of getting all dressed up in a ballgown, painting her nails, and going to a ball with the handsomest man alive, don't they? Well, all three of my girls had their wishes come true. Their dad took them to a military father-daughter ball this past week and they literally "had a ball". There was music and dancing, crafts, and desserts. At one point in time Andy couldn't find Kate anywhere - she tends to move around a lot. She was soon found, parked in front of the chocolate fountain with a napkin full of chocolate covered strawberries in her hand (and all over her dress!). It was a night to remember :)

Taking the Summer Off

Generally, we school year round, taking breaks as needed for holidays, vacations, or general burn-out. This year we're doing things differently though for a number of reasons:

1. We are expecting a new baby at the end of May (which is why I want to be completely done with school at least a week before my due date).
2. My DH is deploying overseas in the fall and we want to make sure that we get as much family time in while he is here. He will be taking leave and we'll be making day trips and hanging out together as much as possible.
3. We just made it through our first winter in Alaska (the snow just started really melting yesterday!) After being stuck inside for so many months because of the cold and darkness, I just want to turn the kids loose in the backyard for the entire summer. I know that they will appreciate summer much more this year, knowing that when October comes we will be covered in snow again.

Although we're taking the summer off from bookwork, I do have some goals for what I'd like the kids to be doing:

1. Each one of them is going to a week-long camp (and they are SO excited!!)
2. I would like them to keep nature journals this summer, drawing pictures of what they see and maybe accompanying them with poems or stories of their own.
3. I am going to sign them all up in the local library's reading program to encourage them to keep reading through the summer (maybe in a hammock outside?)
4. I am making chore cards this summer to get a handle on the household mess. I have decided that they are plenty old enough to help out more around the house, but they don't know what is to be expected of them. I am hoping that this summer while we have the extra time, I can get them all trained up in their chores so that I won't have to do this along with schoolwork in the fall.
5. I will have them (with my help) set up their notebooks for each subject and decorate the covers.
6. I am hoping to work on the geography assignment for TOG Yr 1, Week 1. I would like them to work on knowing the major landforms of the world, basic map terms etc. before we get started.

How are you spending your summer??

Adventures in Blogging

I have been blogging for a couple of years now to keep family and friends up-to-date while we're living so far from "home". I have now decided to start another blog to chronicle our homeschooling adventures and to connect with other like-minded families.

We have been homeschooling for about 4 years now. My oldest daughter has almost completed a full "round" of history using a mixture of SOTW and TOG. We will be finishing off the year in the next few weeks with World War II. We will then start again with Tapestry of Grace 1 Redesigned in the fall. We are finishing Life Science this year and will be moving on to Earth and Space Science for next year.

I would say that our homeschooling philosophy is an eclectic mixture of classical and Charlotte Mason methods. I am looking foward to "meeting" other homeschoolers online to share ideas and experiences!

I know that from our school name it sounds like we're living on some exotic island, but sadly that is not the case. We are currently in North Pole, Alaska (about as far as you could get from an island paradise). When my husband retires from the Army, we will be retiring to an island in the Puget Sound of Washington state. Not tropical, but still beautiful :)