Tuesday, March 31, 2009

homeschool

Good morning! We had planned to go to the library this morning (Allison is going to get her very own library card), but Abby's car seat is in Chris' car, which is with Chris at work. So we are waiting (eagerly) for his return!

I thought I would give a brief summation of why Chris and I decided to homeschool. There's been some discussion lately about this, with various people, and so I decided to state
some of our reasons in my blog as a sort of visible record.

Our primary reason is - quality of education. First, let me state, that we believe there are many excellent teachers, some of whom are wonderful believers, teaching in the public school system. For this we are thankful and we prayerfully support them.
However, we have noticed a trend of decline within our lifetime. State testing requirements have put a pressure on teachers that causes them to teach only what is covered on the tests in order to boost scores. The "No Child Left Behind" initiative has caused expectations and requirements to fall dramatically. Discipline is extremely limited, leaving many teachers struggling to simply maintain order in their classes. The government has made it so that anyone can graduate from high school. While this sounds great in theory, what it means is reality is that even those who put little to no effort into learning can graduate. It is those students who have set the bar for all of the rest. It used to be that a college degree would get a graduate a well paying job and a start in their chosen career field. Now days, a graduate should feel lucky to achieve this. Things simply aren't the way they used to be. Just because a person has a college degree, or high school diploma, does not mean that they are educated, intelligent or know how to make capable, logical and informed decisions. Public elementary school seems harmless when considering high school and college, until you consider that the majority of the foundation for a persons' education is developed in elementary school. Basic mathematics, reading skills, grammar, punctuation, language development, etc. are all covered in elementary school. With this being said, Chris and I are in agreement that the challenge to homeschool is great. By choosing this route in our children's education, we are stating that we will do a better job of educating them than the local school district....and that is our intention.

A secondary, but equally important, reason has to do with our personal beliefs. We believe that God wants us to raise our children in His truth and love. We believe our children would be taught certain things in public school that we do not agree with and some things that are simply lies passed off as proven facts. Examples of these things are: sexual education, promoting not abstinence, but "safe sex", taught in elementary school. Also, the
unproved theory of evolution is taught as fact, when it is fiction. The Pledge of Allegiance has been deemed unconstitutional in some states because of the use of "God" in the text. Children are not allowed to pray in school. These are simply a few very obvious examples of things taught inappropriately in the public schools. The people who have the most time and access to your children are the people who are going to mold and change them. It seems so innocent and harmless....just send your children to school, what could be wrong with that? Keep in mind that a secular government controls those schools and what they teach, Christian teachers and non alike.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A quiet Sunday - ahhhh.....

We're enjoying a quiet day today. After church and lunch (and a quick game of cribbage), Chris had to go to work (he's so diligent). Abby is down for a nap and Allison is playing. We read a Magic Treehouse book. This is a series of books that include scientific and historical facts as part of their stories. Allison enjoys them.

I just thought I would mention something Chris and I found amusing this morning. We received comments about both the girls when we picked them up from Sunday school. The nursery workers asked if Abby had brothers. They were sure that she had picked up her rowdy ways from having several older brothers and were quite shocked, actually, to discover that she only has one older, somewhat demure, sister. They actually asked us if Abby ever tackled Allison to the ground. Sadly, we said yes....it's something we're working on! Shortly thereafter, we picked up Allison. Her teacher ran after us to say that she can tell Allison is obviously spiritually sensitive and really loves the Lord. She's so proud of Allison. Needless to say, Chris and I were very amused to hear two such contradictory comments about our daughters in such a brief time. We can only pray that Allison continues to love the Lord and stand firm in him....and that Abby will also grown in God's love and learn to be a little more gentle! :)

ALERT: The following part of this posting is mainly about my homeschool stuff, so you can feel free to skip it if you're not interested! :)

Last night, Chris generously provided the time I needed to (finally!) finish reviewing the different homeschool curriculum available. I needed to get this accomplished because Allison is basically finished with Kindergarten and on to first grade work. I had found one program (BJU Press) that looked like a good fit in many areas and included every subject, but I wasn't satisfied with the price or the amount of time required (about 1&1/2 hr teacher prep time per day, 4 hours teaching time per day/five days a week). We currently hold school for about 3 hours/day four days a week (with maybe 1&1/2 hour teacher prep time per week), therefore this seemed a bit exhaustive and unflexible. (I should also mention that we take a year-round approach to teaching. This allows us to take our time and leaves no lag time between grades. If Allison were in public school, she would not complete Kindergarten until the middle of June and start 1st grade in September. With our approach, she will be starting 1st grade in April and will be half way through the "school year" by September.) The material seems solid, however, and I believe it presents the material in a way that Allison will enjoy and easily learn from. I went through a lot of their sample material and decided that the teacher's guides were not necessary. First of all, let me state, for the record, that teacher's guides can be very helpful for many people. They are, however, a huge cost as they are very expensive and each subject requires a different guide. I believe that not relying on the guide will give us greater flexibility. SOOOO....after much reading, research, review studying and prayer, here's what we will be using for 1st grade (beginning sometime in April):

Adventures in My Father's World - this covers Bible, Science, History, Geography, Music and Art in a unit study on the United States. It looks like a lot of fun!

BJU (Bob Jones University) Press - 1st grade Math, 2nd grade Reading, 2nd grade Phonics, 2nd grade Spelling. We will be starting right off with the 1st grade Math (the beginning will be review) and 2nd grade Spelling. As far as Reading and Phonics go, I will be finishing the 1st grade Abeka workbook, that we are using now, before starting the BJU program.

Abeka - 2nd grade HandWriting. Allison will finish up the Abeka 1st grade HW unit before starting the 2nd grade unit. We are currently using Abeka for HW, so this should be a smooth transition. I considered using another program for HW, but Abeka is one of the only ones that presents cursive writing so early. Their program is really well presented, I believe, and Allison enjoys it very much so we will be sticking with it.

I know some of you have been praying for me about this decision. It's been a long and frustrating search, but I really feel that this will work for us AND I managed to cut the cost down from what I initially believed I would have to pay by $220 - praise the Lord!

Allison starts swim lessons on Friday and I will be taking Abby in the toddler pool to play during the lesson. Chris is pretty envious, so he may end up spending his lunch break at the pool with us! Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Family Day!

Yesterday, Chris and I decided to go into Portland for a family day! Chris had to work in the morning, so I took the opportunity to clean a little.

Here's a picture of Abby with her first full pigtails - they were very charming.



The girls are still having fun with the train tracks. Allison loves to try out new designs.


Initially, we had thought to go to OMSI. Allison has been wanting to go for a long time and they have a new area for young children with water toys, sand pit toys and all kinds of things that would entertain Abby for hours (YAH!). Chris had a suspicion that proved to be correct, however. It was very crowded due to Oregon's spring break. Allison was able to use their restroom and the girls enjoyed running around the grounds.





We decided to try Chris' plan B.




As we were leaving OMSI, we waited for a loooooong train to pass, much to the girls' delight!

Plan B was to go to the Portland Waterfront Park.






The girls really enjoyed the chance to run...and run.....and run, after being in the car for so long.


Chris' other idea (man, he has great ideas - I love my husband!) was to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The girls just loved it and we all had a great time!


Here are Chris and Allison enjoying Spumoni. This is Allison's new favorite ice cream flavor!


Abby had a fun time - it was wonderful how many entertaining things there were to see - even a man making balloon hats and animals!



A few days ago, I noticed Allison's doll, Katje, was missing her porcelain foot. I found the foot and set them both aside, not saying anything to Allison. I intended to glue the foot back on before telling her, as Allison tends to be very tenderhearted toward her dolls and stuffed animals.


Allison found the doll and missing foot. Being the future doctor that she is, she bandaged Katje right up!

Such a clever girl!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

tracks

The girls and I were in Gresham again today. I finished up my last physical therapy session (praise the Lord!) and the girls spent some quality time with Grandpa Tom and Grandma Holly.

I visited The Learning Palace - a store specializing in teaching supplies and great toys. This is one of my favorite stores. As a homeschooling parent, I could lose myself in that store for hours! As it was, I found a great workbook for Bible time (1st grade) and a lesson planner. As I was leaving, the strangest thing happened - a whole bunch of wooden train track pieces just happened to appear in my basket. I think the track pieces sensed my inner desire to create bigger cooler tracks for the...um...girls to play with. Allison and Abby were both thrilled with the new track pieces and they also got a new engine each. It was a very exciting afternoon for them.



Here's my latest creation. Even Chris was somewhat impressed!

As we were in a town that has stores (as opposed to our local area), we also stopped at Target and got Allison some new tennis shoes. I noticed this morning, on our way out, that her toes were rubbing against the front of her shoes. "Yeah, these shoes aren't as comfortable as they used to be," she says. Size 1. That's what size she wears now. We had to look in the 'big girl' section. I felt a little sad, to be honest. She's growing up so fast.

Monday, March 23, 2009

monday

Today has been a typical cloudy humdrum day. I did some minor work in the kitchen (maple syrup, brownies, bread rolls, jello) and helped Allison with some of her school work. We are trying a new approach of doing more school work in the afternoon and evening, when Abby is either napping or distracted. We were experiencing some difficulties in doing school in the morning. It turns out that Abby routinely enjoys climbing up on Allison's chair, stealing the pencils and trying to wreak as much havoc as possible. We'll see how the afternoons work out.

I am continuing to read "Cradle to Cradle," a book about natural and industrial resources. It is fairly interesting, however I find I have to wade through some repetition of information, which is rather boring. There is truth in their findings so I continue to plug away at it. I am hoping the authors provide some sort of light at the end of their rather dreary tunnel.

A side note: yesterday, Abby took one of her socks off in the car. After we got home, I searched and searched to no avail for the missing sock. About 10 min later, I hear a triumphant shout from Chris - he found Abby's sock. She had taken it off and put in on her other foot, over her other sock. That's right. This kid is going to be some kind of trouble! I try not to even imagine the mischief and trips to the emergency room that we have in store.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

blessings

It's the weekend - finally! I began to feel a little under the weather last night and it has continued into today. I'm am blessed that it is the weekend so, although I still have to wash a sink full of dishes, I don't have to struggle through hours of teaching.



The girls had a playdoh morning today. They don't get this opportunity often (what with all of the vacuum work involved), so they were very happy.



Here's Abby...reading a story to her little bear. Both girls love books - much to the delight of my heart! Another blessing...

Allison is currently enjoying one of my favorite childhood treats - the original Parent Trap movie! It is really fun to share it with her.
video

Friday, March 20, 2009

organization

Happy First Day of Spring! I am so glad that it's finally here :) Allison asked me if the "bird's eggs are all hatching" today. Ahhh...spring time!


We try to focus as much attention on Christ's resurrection on Easter as we can, therefore we generally have a little treat for the girls on the first day of Spring.



As you can see, Abby spotted the candy right away and had already shoved half a dozen jelly beans in her mouth before Chris could scoop the basket up and I could deposit her breakfast in front of her. Thanks to grandma Holly and papa Tom for the gifts.


Nothing quite picks up my spirits from the daily grind like being organized! (Sad, but true.) Today, I planned to sort through the toy box in the living room and ended up also making my way through the girls room. I try to do this once before December, once after and then usually once during the summer. The girls collect so much junk, toys fall apart and they amass a huge collection of small bits of paper and old stickers that no longer stick. It's amazing how much more space there is once all of the garbage is cleared out. Here are some before and after shots.



This is the living room toy corner. I moved the books to a tub, as the cardboard box was becoming overrun.





Allison made her bed!






The top of this bookcase ends up being Allison's "junk deposit."






This is the "No Abby Entrance" closet in the girls' room, where we keep all of Allison's "big girl" toys and books.





In the last week, Abby has taken a fancy to wearing her coat around as long as she can get away with it and wearing her socks on her hands like mittens. It was 68 degrees in the house (I checked), so I promise - it's not because she's cold!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pictures!

It is such a beautiful day (the sun finally peeked out)! Chris graciously found a cable for me, so here are some pictures!


This pretty much sums up our pace of life here in White Salmon! This guy rides by just about every day.





The girls have been playing trains lately. This is a track that Allison and I came up with yesterday. Usually the challenge is to come up with as many connecting loops as we can with the limited number of track pieces.




With the goal of raising blessed women of God who are intelligent, wise and able (a tall order for any mother!), I have begun teaching Allison some basic household chores. Here she is cheerfully washing dishes. I snapped a picture because, let's face it, I may never see her doing this willingly again!





Last night was "Parents Night" at AWANA so I went with Allison. I almost cried - she was so proud to have me there! She has finished her whole handbook and begun the review (where they recite the verses without any assistance). I'm considering helping out with AWANA next year. Allison has such a great time there - what a tremendous blessing! I also met the homeschool parents who have organized the swim lessons Allison will be taking. The classes are only for homeschool students. Allison is very excited to meet other kids her age who are homeschooled.





Here they are...brushing their pearly whites! Abby insisted upon wearing her coat, not sure why.

I finally got my ipod organized! This is a HUGE deal because it takes so much time to put oh...25 albums onto the ipod. Needless to say, I am very thankful to have that finished. I also added a free book that I got from Behemoth.com. It's called "Ten P's in a Pod" and is free from the website through the end of March, if anyone is interested.

We went to Safeway this evening to pick up some groceries. I saved approx. $50 with coupons! I am so excited! I have heard of people having similar experiences and I have to say - it is very gratifying. I changed a prescription over to safeway (receiving a $30 gift card) and signed up for a club card, getting free eggs, cereal, a banana discount and 10% off the total purchase. After using the gift card, I also used a promotional $10 off purchase coupon. It was very fun to get a cart of groceries for less than $20! I was also glad that no one was in line behind me as it took some time to forge our way through my little stack of coupons! :)

I'll leave you with this clip of the girls singing Abby's favorite song.

video

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thrifty

I was going to post pics today, however I am unable to locate the usb cable for the camera so I will have to wait until Chris gets home and see if he knows where it is - maybe tonight!

I came up with a menu plan and grocery list (WITH coupons!) for next month. That's right - I planned for a whole month! I am hoping to save some grocery money - we will see how it goes. At the end of next month, I will let you know how much I saved. One thing that eats away at the budget is weekly work lunch meetings. These are not reimbursed, but are required. Chris is so wonderful at trying to choose something inexpensive when they go out to eat, but it is still an expense. What do you think - should we budget in a lunch expense or does anyone have alternative ideas?

For those of you wondering, I recently read "Miserly Moms," a book about saving money, staying on budget, etc for various reasons (paying off debt, saving for different things or so that a family can afford to live on one income). God has been convicting me lately of my desire for things (mainly nice furniture and such) when the economy is in such a steep downturn and our economical future is fairly grim. So many people have recently lost their jobs; it's really kind of frightening. Chris and I firmly believe that God has placed me in the home for this season in our lives. Since I am not able to go out and work, I have been looking for ways to "make" money at home....in other words, increase the money we have left at the end of each month by minimizing expenses. If nothing else, I will probably learn to be more wise with what God's given me (not to mention grateful!). If you have any ideas, cost-effective recipes, etc - please feel free to pass them on!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Physical Therapy - to go or not to go...

As some of you know, I've been attending physical therapy for my hip. This has been, quite literally, a pain for a number of reasons. My parents have been such a blessing as they babysit the girls week after week! I've been getting up early once a week to drive all the way to Gresham for this. Today, however, I was told that I only have one more visit to go, as long as things continue to progress well! I am very grateful for God's healing. My hip has been bothering my for a number of years and is now feeling great! Praise the Lord!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Henry


Here's a picture of Henry - he's the black and white one.

Here goes...

Well, here's my first blog!
I've decided to start my own blog site, primarily for the convenience of friends and family. I will endeavor to keep current and post many pictures.

Right now, I am currently is process of:

Potty training Abby
Homeschooling Allison
Learning to knit with five double ended needles - it can be a mite tricky!
Trying to stay on budget - ugh
Reading up on small dog care

We are hoping to find out soon if we will be able to get "Henry" - there is one other couple on the waiting list ahead of us, so we are hoping they want a girl!

Thanks for visiting my blog site! Please bare with me as I learn to set all of this up the way I like it :)