Quote of the Day



Yesterday we were blessed with a cousinly visit. What can be more fun for a little girl than playing dress-ups with her cousins?


home-school curriculum notes

As we soldier on in our homeschooling we have learned a bit about what we do and do not like. Here is our report, and some questions for you.

We love love love MathUSee. It's manipulative based and it teaches the concepts before the symbols. That is, the kids manipulate blocks in the 100s family, the 10s family, and the 1s family prior to trying to learn to read or write the symbols thereto. They get the concept of decimal place long before anything like a workbook shows up. AND, it gives my busy kids lots to pick up, move around, stack etc.

History and Geography
Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World is excellent for both history and geography. We listen to our lessons and follow along on our globe. Right now we are on Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Late Roman Empire and I am on the library wait list for the next 3 volumes. My question is: if you have used this with the workbook, would you recommend that I purchase workbooks? We are going without them right now.

Otherwise, for Geography we are using maps and errands. I give each kid a local map and show them where we are and narrate our progress as they follow along on their maps. Maps make sense to them now.

In addition, our dining room table is covered with see-through vinyl that I bought at the fabric store. Underneath it is a city map, our county map, our national map, and a map of the world. As different cities, states, and countries come up in family life or home-school, we can go find them on the map.

Language Arts
We still make use of the Rosetta Stone: Level 1 for Chickadee and Level 2 for Dandy and we set it to Reading, not Listening practice.

I've raved before about the Brand New Readers series, so I'll spare you the details. I'll just say that I give that line of books and the Leappad Videos full credit for Chickadee reading at grade level already.

I am thinking about buying Sequential Spelling. As I understand it, it builds words, from in to begin to beginning. I think Dandy would enjoy the decoding aspect of this. Here is a little blurb I found on it:
Sequential Spelling uses word families to teach spelling. Beginning with a simple word such as "at," the student gains confidence by adding letters on to spell words such as "pat," "spat," "batter," and "battle." The study of a word family, or "rime," continues for eight lessons before a new word family is introduced. A few weeks later the first word family is reviewed, and eight more lessons introduce new forms of the words with suffixes such as "ed" and "ing" added.

Any comments?

Writing etc.
And I am also considering Language Lessons for the Very Young as my esteemed cousin highly recommends it. Here is a link to a sample page. It has a very Charlotte Mason feel to it.

Today I bought First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise (Susan Wise Bauer's mother), but I think I will return it. The very second lesson includes a poem (Caterpillar) by Christina G. Rosetti (this is good) but the book has dropped the two middle lines from the poem (this is bad). Has anyone else noticed this? Or used this book? I like the integrated approach but I don't like that they messed with the poem.

We have on have on hand, but have not yet dove into, the Prima Latina set. I think we'll tackle this after my teaching quarter (10 credits/80% of full-time) has ended.

Dandy has a K'nex science class at our home-school class which he just loves. I'm considering getting him a K'nex set for him for Christmas. Any advice?

What are your favorite curricula? What would you recommend that I take a look at? and what should I avoid?


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:: one year ago today: Halloween pics


Dandy the Linguistic Wonder

Did I ever tell you about the day we met Dandy and he wowed me with his analytical skills?

We met and of course used a translator to communicate. While English was being used, Dandy focused intently on us, tracking the conversation though of course understanding none of it.

During a lull, he presented me with a picture book and was very insistent that I look at the book and he would point to certain pictures.

"He wants you to tell him what the pictures are," the translator relayed.

and so forth.

His eyes were bright and he was very purposeful in his actions. He slyly feigned dropping the book and backed up a few pages. He points at the tree again.
"Tree," I say.
He nods.
He points a few other new ones, then points at the wolf again.
"Wolf," I say.
We do a few more.
He finds a new tree and points to it.
"Tree," I say.
He nods, claps the book shut, and runs off speaking a mile a minute to his friends.

The translator tells me that he is reporting that we are not babbling nonsense (which apparently is what they had believed) but that we merely had different sounds for things.

So think about this. Within ten minutes of being exposed to the first foreign language of his life, he concocted a theory -- that we had different sounds, but that they consistently held meaning , devised a way to test his theory, did so even to include a double measure of testing (wolf and tree) and then reported his findings.

I was in awe, and I still am. This is the boy who uses the word avert. This is a boy who will ask once what a word means and then work it into his vocabulary. I really should not be amazed two years in, but still, he floored me with the syntax of this morning's pronouncement. He was helping his sister fold the laundry.

If you keep that attitude, I'm not going to help you. So if you don't want help, keep that whiny and grouchy attitude. If you do want help, lose it.

  • parallelism! (if you don't, keep . . . and If you do, lose . . .)

  • and that he said whiny and grouchy attitude rather than whining and crying

That is some pretty sophisticated sentence construction for a kid who has only been using English for two years. Some of my native-speaker adult English 101 students struggle to compose sentences like that.

Dandy, the linguistic wonder.

:: one year ago today: free rice
:: two years ago today: oddments: Children's Hospital, Secret Beach, Pizza with sauerkraut, diapers



Okay folks, I have an assignment for you. Turn to page 58 of the Nov/Dec edition of Mothering magazine and read the poem there written by my clever word-smithing cousin. I'm awaiting permission to post it here.



Black Bean Chowder

It does seem strange to send blog traffic to a woman who gets 5,000 comments (and I mean that literally) on her posts, but when a recipe is worthy, it is worthy: Black Bean Chowder with Yogurt-Cilantro Relish. Go taste for yourself.




No posts as I am feeling rather bleak. Our beloved old dog Holly is wetting the bed (our bed) and the couch, so we banished her back to her bed and now she won't speak to me. The couch cushions won't fit into any laundromat washer I can find (How does one clean couch cushions?). The laundry is piling up -- all that bedding. My son is, well, see the post below -- I don't want to talk about it. The storm windows aren't up yet. The medical bills are still hanging over me. The skies over my house are gray and cold. Nobody leaves comments on my blog anymore. I basically don't like fall.

I am trying to talk myself into a happier mood. And I do have so much to be grateful for. My husband -- who has been working away from home -- is back and I like him a lot, so that should cheer me up. We get to spend this evening with my Dad; that should cheer me up. I'm just having trouble transforming those 'shoulds' into reality.

I may be just worn out from solo-parenting all week and pretty much the week before that. Did I tell you he worked a 26 hour shift last week -- that's one continuous shift? I'm sure that is not even legal.


:: a year ago today:
bread-baking and pokeypine


stealing & lying

Will it ever end?


works for me: candy fairy

With Halloween coming up, and with two sugar-sensitive kids, and with me already tired of debating with eye-rolling strangers as we try to decline the sugar they are foisting off on us, it is time to start talking up the Candy Fairy!

You know, the one that visits in the early morning of November 1 and swaps your bag or jar of candy for a new game. Yes, that one. The more candy you leave for her, the happier she is, so it pays off to gather as much as we can, eat a discreet amount, and then get it out of our house.


Gospel according to Chickadee

Chickadee is working on her AWANA verse:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son whoever believes in him will not paralyze but have eternal life.

So, I wonder if she thinks her Grandpa was lacking in the belief department.

:: one year ago today: school updates



So happy to announce that our coyote guest has moseyed on. I think I'll leave the dogs out tonight, just to make sure he wasn't casing the joint for goats and cats.

:: one year ago today: Come, True Light

coyote under the shed (with pics)

Why do these things always happen when My Gift is away?

I'm trying to figure out if he is a young hungry coyote or an old dying coyote. He looks a little fuzzy, like a teenage coyote, but his muzzle looks grey.

If he is young and hungry, I'd like him to move on as I am very fond of my cats.

If he is old and dying, I'd like him to move on as my dogs will simply harass him day and night and if they make physical contact I have to worry about them too.

Either way, I'd like him to move on before the kids get too curious and crawl on in there with him. Mange, rabies, bite marks -- not good.

We started the day with a bird in the woodstove (they come down the chimney and have to be let out); we have a coyote around lunch-time; I wonder what will show up this evening?


edited to add: oh lovely, I just found a head and a tail of a mouse -- no connecting mid-portion -- in my bathroom. A little too much nature here today.


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My last cigarette? December 31, 1993



Chicken and Dumplings

This is an easy, hearty, thrifty, and good-looking meal.

Chicken and Dumplings

Boil down what is left of a roast chicken. Drain off the broth and then when the chicken remains are cool enough, pick off the meat. Pop the broth and the chicken back into a large pot.

Add and heat:

4 shredded carrots
4 shredded or cubed potatoes
1 chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 can of corn (or a couple of ears of corn, sliced off the cob)
canned chicken broth or water to cover

Simmer for a long while, then add:
1 t thyme
1 t dill
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C shredded cheese, mixed with 2 T flour (this is your thickener - skip if your soup is satisfactorily thick already).

In a bowl, combine:
1 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t parsley
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar

Whip together, and then add to the dry goods (do not overmix):
1/2 C moo
1 egg

Drop spoonfuls of dumpling batter into the gently simmering chicken soup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

For the kids, I pour a little milk into their bowls before ladling in the soup. This cools it a bit for them and adds a bit more milk to their diet. If you want to add milk before the dumplings, scald it first so that it won't separate when heated.


:: two years ago today: baby slugs




May God shield me,
May God fill me,
May God keep me,
May God watch me.

May God bring me
To the land of peace,
To the county of the King,
To the peace of eternity.

~ Carmina Gadelica

from The Wisdom of the Celts, compiled by David Adam

~Suzanne:: one year ago today: Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy and storm report



Chickadee is doing her Saturday chore of tidying up the bunny room (yes, the house-rabbits are spoiled, they have a small closet with a window all to themselves). This is what I hear . . .

Bliss, can you scootch a little bit?
Bliss, that is not kind.
Can you please scootch a bit?
That's better. Thanks.

Apparently Bliss is a stickler for good manners.