Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Giveaway: End of the Year Madness

Book Obsession is having a great book giveaway. This is a great time to check it out and find some fun reading for yourself to start the new year with. Just click the button below:


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Black Chasm Cavern

While visiting Volcano, California, we toured the Black Chasm Cavern which is a National Natural Landmark. The last time we toured here, Bode was a baby and had to stay back with grandma, so it was fun to have the whole family along. This was also my parents first tour, so that was an added treat. It is nestled in Amador County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This area is also surrounded by gold rush country, so there are many other historical landmarks to visit.

We went on the walking tour, which lasted a little less than an hour, and was the right amount of time for the kids. Our tour group consisted of the seven of us and another couple. Our tour guide was great and with our small group we felt like we were getting a personal tour.

The caverns are amazing (and very cold). They include stalactites, stalagmites, flow stones, "cave bacon", "cave straws", an underground pool, and the largest collection of helictite crystals in the world, which are what the caverns are famous for.

Heading down to the first room: It had stalactites, stalagmites, and a column, along with some other very cool crystals. Some of the larger stalactites and stalagmites had been cut out by previous explorers of the cave before it became a National Landmark, but we could still see how large they had been.


Heading further down: We were able to see down to the underground pool, which quite far down. The guide estimated that the pool was 60 feet deep. From the steps going down we were able to see all the way down to the pool and up to the ceiling of the cavern.

Zoomed-in view of the underground pool

Lastly we headed into the large Landmark Room. This room included a huge collection of helictite crystals, which is what the caverns are famous for. The helictite crystals are formed by pressure. Normally caverns don't have anywhere near this amount of helictite crystals. Helictite crystals are only found in 5% of all caves. This is the largest collection in the world. The collection was quite fascinating to see so close-up.

Part of the huge room

Flow stone - looks like ice cream

Look at all the helictites

Helictite close-up

Landmark room ceiling
We couldn't hang out in the cavern without some family pictures.

Family fun

Grampa & Gramma

The boys in front of the helictites.
Heading back out of the cavern we got a different view of how large the cavern was.

Black Chasm Cavern was a great visit for our family.

Christmas Countdown Chain

At the beginning of the month, the boys made a Christmas Countdown Chain. These ring chains are fairly common. But thanks to an idea in our Christmas Adventure series we're using, we added scriptures to each day. The kids enjoyed putting the scriptures on the rings. Then each day they cut a ring off (each boy has his own color) and read the scripture out loud. It just adds one more spiritual aspect to the month, keeping the focus on Jesus and God's word as they eagerly anticipate Christmas.

All we needed was: construction paper (3 colors for 3 boys) cut into strips, Bible scriptures printed and cut out (or you could handwrite them on each chain), glue sticks, and staples/stapler (we used green ones - more festive). Simple yet effective. The kids enjoy the scriptures on these rings everyday.

The boys are hard at work :)

Ta-Da! Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"F" is for Ferdinand Lapbook

Bode enjoyed reading The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf for the letter F. Being that Bode is typically like the other bulls in the story, being a rough and tumble kind of boy with his two big brothers, it was nice for him to read the gentler side of life.

Lapbook Activity Resources:
Homeschool Share: The Story of Ferdinand lapbook templates
Homeschool Creations: Cut and paste, Do-a-dot
Enchanted Learning: Circle the F words, I can color F words
Beginning Reading: Circle F and f
Confessions of a Homeschooler: Handwriting Worksheet, F patterns

I forgot to take pictures of Bode while we worked on the lapbook, but here's the finished product.
Finished Lapbook:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Krispy Christmas Trees

The evergreen tree is always green, always alive, the symbol of life, like our eternal life with Christ. Christmas trees point heavenward, reminding us of the love of God and Jesus, whose birth is the reason we are celebrating this season.

This idea was inspired by the Christmas Adventure study series we're doing this month, by Scripture Adventures (see here).

Oh the joys of sugar during the holidays. As if Rice Krispy Treats weren't sugary enough, we decided to upgrade their sugar content by adding frosting and M&Ms to make them into Christmas trees. Yummy! All we needed were rice krispy treats cut into triangles, green frosting, and M&Ms. Of course we could have used more to decorate with, but we were keeping it simple. Ian helped make the treats, and of course all the boys helped decorate them (including hubbie).

Bode's creations

Cole's treats

Ian's masterpieces
And daddy all sugared-up

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Signing Fun

October 6, 2011

I had such a great time a book signing for Moira Young, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Elizabeth Miles. The only other book signing I've attended was for Christopher Paolini a few years ago with Ian. This one was all for me. I loved listening to the authors speak about themselves, their books, their writing process, etc. The ladies were so personable and engaging.

Elizabeth Miles, Becca Fitzpatrick, Moira Young

Becca Fitzpatrick was very sweet. I commented to her that I just started reading her books this week since I was unsure about the fallen angel bit. But I really like them so far. She and I spoke about how we both don't like scary books. She mentioned during her talk that the fallen angels in her book are more like mortals because she wanted them to have struggles like us and be able to redeem themselves. I like that.

Moira Young was such a confident presence. I loved her demeanor. I told her that Blood Red Road was one of my favorite books (what I meant was one of my favorite books this year but I was a little starstruck and left that out). She looked at me and said thank you and then said, "Haven't you read Wuthering Heights?" LOL, I felt a little silly and joked with her about that.

I felt a little bad that I didn't get Miles' book "Fury," but she described it as scary, and I'm a big wuss. Since it's going to be a trilogy, I think I'm safe to borrow it later or at least get some more reviews on it to see if it is nightmare material or not. If I read it later and like it, then I can buy the books later and attend her next signing.

October 13, 2011

I went to a book signing for Claudia Gray, Kiersten White, Anna Carey, and Amy Garvey. Ian accompanied me and we made a date of it. Ian read in the car on the way there. I thought he would read during the panel discussion, but he actually enjoyed listening to the authors speak about their books and answer questions from the audience. We had a great talk on the drive home about the writing process, outlining, etc. Ian said he enjoyed himself and would attend a book signing with me again. It was really great listening to the authors and meeting them, but Ian's response to the experience made the night even better. I wish I had a picture of Ian at the event, but he didn't want his picture taken with the authors. Oh well, maybe next time :)
Amy Garvey, Anna Carey, Claudia Gray, Kiersten White
Claudia Gray was a wealth of information and inspiration. I've not read her Evernight series, but after listening to her speak, I really want to. Plus, her Fateful book sounds so interesting, and it's not a series, which really appeals to me right now.
Claudia Gray

Kiersten White was super spunky, and came across close to how I imagine her character Evie comes across. She was full of energy, and makes her writing style sound like lots of fun.

Kiersten White

Amy Garvey is also an editor in addition to a writer, so she really brought a great additional perspective to the panel. It was interesting to hear her speak about her writing process, and how she came from writing Adult Romance to Young Adult books.

Anna Carey was really sweet and said she watched me during the discussion because I was encouraging (plus I was sitting right in the middle). Well, my goal while in the audience is to be encouraging to the speaker, so I'm glad I accomplished that. She was very sweet and brought a youthful energy to the discussion.

I've read a few of these books (White's, Fitzpatrick's, and Young's), and am looking very much forward to reading the other books from these fascinating authors. I also look forward to attending more of these signings. It is not only fun getting books signed, but truly the education is during the panel discussions. Hopefully Ian will be able to attend more events as well. Perhaps it will inspire his inner-author :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tween Book Club

Ian had a great book club meeting last night with his tween friends (ages 10-12 years, biys and girls). The book they discussed this month was: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.

Ian really enjoyed reading this book. Our friend Renee was a great hostess who guided the discussion, but the great thing is that all the kids participated. The kids had a great time discussing the book and spending time with each other. It is quite refreshing to see kids this age enjoying literature and literary discussion. And, of course, at the end of the night, they ate ice cream and ran around the cul-de-sac, proving that they really are tweens.

One of the questions they discussed was whether or not they would bring their siblings along with them if they ran away like the kids in the book. Ian said he wouldn't bring either of his brothers - "Cole would panic and Bode would whine too much." One of Ian's friends said he would bring his sister because "she has all the cash." You can't really argue with honesty like that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, Aug 26

In my life this week…

This week we celebrated our middle son Cole's 8th birthday. We had a great time celebrating with his friends. Since I'm not a big party planner, I was able to gather his friends together with a few days notice to have a party for Cole with a movie (Kung Fu Panda 2), pizza, playtime, and cupcakes. It's so exciting to watch the kids grow up.

In our homeschool this week…

We start school in a little over a week, so I'm trying to put the final touches on our school plan. This week I finished organizing our History and Bible/Character plan. I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys do with our new school plan.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Soccer season is underway. Ian and Cole's soccer practices have officially started. Tonight my husband goes in for Bode's team meeting. This will be Bode's first year with AYSO. I love soccer, so this is very exciting. It's also going to be a bit crazy with three soccer team games to balance every Saturday. And my husband will be coaching two of the three teams. Fun Fun Fun!

My favorite thing this week was…

Cole's birthday, of course :)

I’m reading…

In my Bible: the book of 1 Samuel
For Parenting: Mom's Notes
For Fun I finished: Die For Me by Amy Plum
                                Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
                                Supernaturally by Kiersten White

I’m grateful for…

My incredible family, extended family, and friends.

I’m praying for…

We are continuing to pray for my grandmother and father-in-law who are suffering with cancer. We have another friend (only 40 years old) with a recent diagnosis of cancer. And I have a friend in her last trimester of pregnancy whose midwife is expressing some concerns.

A photo to share…

Happy Birthday Cole!

Our School Plan: Bible Study, Virtues, and Character Training

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

I'm looking forward to having more structure in the boys' Bible study, virtues, and character training this year. These things are more important than scholastic training, so I've tried to really evaluate our schedule and see how to more effectively implement multiple things. It is important for them to read stories in the Bible and understand the Old and New Testament. It is also important for them to fill their moral warehouse with godly character and virtues, so they can grow to become godly men. So I've chosen books and activities from various sources.

Our Books

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (as a group)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (as a group)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Child's Bible Reader (read aloud with Mom)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Building Christian Character by Teacher Creater Materials (activity as a group)
The Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett (read aloud with Mom)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Building Christian Character by Teacher Creater Materials (as a group)
Gracious Living copywork

I've organized folders for the older boys that contain their copywork pages, Peacemaker activity pages, and Christian Character activity pages, already printed and ready to go. Plus I'll be adding some crafts or fun things along the way. I'll also sit wth my youngest and read his Bible stories to him, since he won't be ready for all the independent work yet. Last year I found myself scrambling a lot, so this year I'm trying to stay ahead of the game. Prayerfully this will increase our success.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our School Plan: History, Term1

After much research and deliberation (and prayer), I've finally come up with our history plan for our first term. Term 1 will be the Renaissance, which we were unable to get to last year. As eager as I am to move forward into American History, I don't want to completely abandon Europe, especially with so many great explorers to explore. Ian and Cole will be doing similar things, with the exception that their individual readings (and writings) will be more appropriate for their grade and reading level. I don't know how eager the boys are, but I am looking forward to this term and hoping for a smoother ride than last year. Of course, the schedule will be modified as needed, but it is nice to have a plan in place to start.

The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
* Mom read-aloud
* Oral narration

History Pockets: Explorers of North America
* Hands-on activities

Boys read on their own (see list below)
* Oral narration
* Copywork

Boys read on their own (see list below)
* Written narration

The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
* Ian reads aloud to Cole
* Timeline or Book of Centures (Ian)
* History DVD

Independent Reading Choices:

Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz
Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz
I, Columbus by Peter and Connie Roop (ed.)
Who was Magellan? by Sydelle Kramer
Who was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Mannis
Fine Print by Joann Burch
Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley
Christopher Columbus by Minna Lacey
A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David Adler
Da Vinci by Mike Venezia

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Cole is 8 Today!

Eight years ago we were blessed with the birth of our second son, Cole. Cole has been keeping us on our toes since he was born. On my last day of work before my maternity leave (6 days before my due date), I was experiencing contractions on and off all day. That evening we went to dinner with my parents, during which I continued to time my contrations. Casually I announced that we'd have to go to the hospital after dinner. We dropped Ian off at my aunt and uncle's house and then headed to the hospital where my parents (and aunt and cousin) later met us. I was only dilated a few centimeters and the nurse was going to send me home, but I asked if I could walk around instead. The next day was going to be my mother-in-law's birthday and I didn't want Cole to have to share his birthday. So after walking around for an hour, I was much further dilated and they admitted me. I also declined any medications or epidurals because I didn't want anything to slow my contractions. I even told the doctor he had to be born before midnight. Time was ticking away. I got stuck at 9 centimeters and they finally broke my water for me. After that things happened pretty quickly. Cole entered the world at 11:29pm.

Cole has been a joy to watch grow up. He has a strong personality and is a natural leader. He's funny, carefree, adventurous, agile, strong, sensitive, curious, smart, cute, and confident. He learns things quickly and is a natural athlete. He's also very comfortable with himself. He knows that he's small for his age, but it doesn't affect him. He's also been keeping his hair on the long-side for the last couple of years, and is frequently called a girl by those not paying attention, but he doesn't let it bother him. We call him a monkey because he can climb anything practically. He is also a great snuggler and loves to have fun. We have enjoyed these eight years of having him in our lives and look forward to watching him continue to grow and develop.

Here's a look at Cole through the years:

Baby Cole at the Hospital
(I don't think hospital photos are meant to be flattering.)
Cole at 3 months, with very red hair.
(Reminiscent of Conan O'Brien or Donald Trump? lol)
Cole at 1 year old - now a blondie.
Where did the red hair go?

Cole at 2 years old - doing his two favorite things:
Sucking on his fingers, and holding his blankie (which he called an Ah-ja).
Cole at 3 years old - already our little Monkey!
Cole at 4 years old - with his brothers.
Gotta love that cheesy smile :)
Cole at 5 years old - It's fun to play dress-up.
Cole at 6 years old - The beginning of the long hair stage.

Cole at 7 years old - loving having long hair
Cole is 8 years old today!
And he has yet another hair style - still keeping some length.
Happy Birthday, Cole!! We love you very much and are so very grateful to God to have you in our lives. You are truly a blessing. Thank you for the incredibly sweet, loving, fun, and kind boy that you are.