Lego Organization

Legos can be the bane of a mother’s life. (If you don’t believe me, go buy some Legos for your husband to play with!) Well, my boys have been given gallons of Legos that were second hand and they love playing with them, but we were all tired of dumping them out and digging through them for the perfect Lego and then having to put them away each evening. So, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, we purchased some plastic drawers and the boys and the toddler organized them all. It was a great experience for the toddler to practice sorting colors–pre-school at it’s best.

Here are a couple of pictures of the work in process.

Lego sorting

Lego sorting




Mother’s Day Service Project

Zippy and I have been working at developing a new hobby–card making. We purchased a few things from Stampin’ Up and dug out some stuff out of the garage and away we went. We’ve been having lots of fun, even though we’re beginners for sure.

We came up with an idea to turn this hobby into a service project to bless others with. We made Mother’s Day Cards for all the female residents in an assisted living facility.

Mother's Day Cards

And here are some of our favorites.

Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day Cards

JD Boy and I went around and delivered the cards to each of the residents in their rooms.

Service and Healthy Cooking

I try very hard to follow the Moore Formula in homeschooling. One thing this means is that I consider service opportunities an important part of my children’s education. This is one area, I always feel like we need to be improving, but I keep trying. I keep this quote (one of my favorites) in mind: “True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers.” Ellen White, Education, p. 13.

In May our church sponsored a vegetarian cooking school for the public, which provided a great opportunity for service for my family. All three of my older kids were able to help out with this. They all helped with passing out the cutlery and napkins and with serving food to the attendees. They have helped a few times with cooking schools and it is always something that they love.

Here are a few pictures.

Zippy helping demonstrate at cooking school

Zippy helping with cooking demonstrations.

DH helping demonstrate natural medicine

Even my husband got involved in the action. He demonstrated this natural antibiotic that will kill anything. You whiz up onion, garlic, lemon juice, a little cayenne, honey and ginger and then drink it. If you don’t die from it, you’ll be cured!! No, really it works. We had a few people coming down with colds in our house and we all tried this stuff and our colds fled at the thought of having to face all of that onion and garlic. Try it sometime. Caution: don’t take it for nausea or anything related to stomach problems.

Simple Carpentry with My Boys

My boys love to build things. What boys don’t? So when I can think of something useful for them to build, we’re all happy. It gives them a great opportunity to develop hand-eye coordination as well as some math skills (measuring). You know me, I’m always happy to find ways to teach school subjects with real life. They get permission to bang on something. That always brings smiles! And it gives them a nice sense of accomplishment when it’s finished. So here is a project that I did with my boys recently.

I didn’t like the way they just piled things up on the floor of their closet, so I decided that if they built a rack to put in their closet, they would get all of the great benefits of building, plus they would be so proud that they would determine to keep the bottom of their closet nice and clean. It worked!! Yea! Score!

We measured their closet, then we went to Home Depot and figured out what would work and purchased a kit. Building with them is fine and all, but I did not want to have to get out a saw to complete the project, so I limited our choices to kits.

Here’s a before picture of the closet.

The closet before

Here are some work in progress pictures.

JD Boy (age 7) screwing the case together

G'tums (age 4) screwing

JD Boy (age 7) screwing the case together

G'tums (age 4) pounding with a rubber mallet

And here’s the completed project.

The closet after

The closet after

They’re quite proud of their work. They’ve faithfully been lining up the their shoes and toys in there now. They have even been keeping their closet floor vacuumed now. It might not make it into Better Homes and Gardens best organized closet, but I’m thrilled with and so are they. Just think of all that we got accomplished with that task.

Kitchen Math

Well, we finally officially started back to school on Tuesday. We had a fun and full week.

One of the new things we are trying this year is a new math program, called Math on the Level. It is a very unique math program which I am quite excited about, partly because the editor of it is an electrical engineer (like me!) This program is set up in such a way to help parents (or teachers, but it is written for homeschoolers) teach math without workbooks. The reason that I was attracted to this program is that my son declared last year that he hated math, but in a different conversation, he told me that he spends his time in the shower figuring out different kinds of math problems. I started quizzing him and realized that his math skills had surpassed his textbook significantly. Before I even heard of Math on the Level, I put away his math book and I just printed off a scope and sequence from the internet and started teaching him the concepts on my own. I had intended to keep that up until I found Math on the Level. But I really love it when somebody has invented the wheel before me. This program has a very systematic way of recording so that you can keep track of the areas in math that your child(ren) need to work on. It has several books to teach from: Geometry, Operations, Activities, and Money. There might be more. My only concern with this program over a textbook math program is how parent intensive it will be. Math was the one subject last year that I told my kids to do and I went and made lunch, but this requires my time too, at least right now. Perhaps, once the kids and I understand the program better, it will become a bit more independent.

So what did we do for math this week? Well, my first grader needed to learn the definition and measurements for volume. My fourth grader needs to work on her multiplication and she needed to learn the difference between the English and Metric systems. So we went out to the garden and picked this:

Zuchini from the garden

That is one very overgrown zucchini. Not all of them we pick are this big, but the ones that are get turned into zucchini bread.

Then we chopped this zucchini into all kinds of fractions to run it through the food processor and we practiced our addition and subtraction of fractions with our mammoth zucchini.

Cutting the Zucchini into fractions

After we had it run through the food processor, we had eight cups of zucchini, which translated to eight recipes of zucchini bread. So my daughter got out the recipe book and started her calculations.

Kitchen math class

I’m not quite sure why, and not sure if you can tell, but she felt that the best place to work on this math, was standing on the counter. I promise she didn’t get that idea from me. I have never stood on the counter to look at recipe books.

Then the kids set out to measure and measure. JD Boy learned the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons and Zippy learned the difference between cups and milliliters.

Learning Volume Measurement the Messy Way

And, if you couldn’t already tell from that picture, they made a mess. I took on the job of cleaning the whole time they were cooking (and answering questions). I probably should have taken a picture of how high and carefully I had dishes stacked in the drying rack by the time they were finished. That was my math lesson for the evening: how many layers of dishes can be stacked in a drying rack at once.

Messy Math

I’m ashamed to say that I did not take pictures of the bread after it got out of the oven. Everybody else was in bed when it was finally done baking and I was a bit anxious to get there myself. But, they must have done their math well, because the zucchini bread was delicious and we ate the whole lot of it up before the week was over (and before I got the battery on my camera recharged.) I had planned to freeze it, but we ate it. So I guess, we’d better head back out to the garden and see if there are any more over grown zucchini.

So did I need Math on the Level to turn this into a math lesson? No. I had already discovered that the kitchen is the yummiest and messiest place for math class. We are however, excited, to try a new approach where we learn math with real stuff. Even my fourth grader will be doing minimal written work with this program. She will mostly be doing hands-on activities to learn her math. I hope to one day soon give a more thorough review of the program, but after the zucchini-bread math class, my kids are totally sold on the program, at least for the time being.

We also did some geometry this week and even my preschooler thought that was fun. One of the neat things about this program, is that it gives you lots of ideas for teaching multiple ages. So you can teach names of 3-D objects to one age, while at the same time, you’re teaching something more technical about the 3-D objects to the older students. One lesson plan, but multiple levels at once, makes for a less stressed mama.

Last but not least, I have to share one more little math lesson that my preschooler did this week all on his own. I didn’t prompt him to do this at all. I don’t think kids usually need prompted for this math lesson, but it is the best lesson we’ve found around our house to teach the one-to-one relationship to preschoolers.

G'tums learning one-to-one ratio with olives

Yep! Olives on the fingers! He counted out his olives and put them on his plate before he put them on his fingers and he got it right. I just watched the whole process and didn’t say a word, well that is, except, "Can I take your picture?"

Now, I’m getting hungry. Guess it’s time to work on some more lesson planning for math class!

Canning Peaches

Well, I didn’t finish my list, and my husband gave me two days of work that must be done now, and I looked at the weather and saw that it was supposed to start raining the middle of this week and then rain indefinitely. (That might give my location away.) So I decided to start school when it starts raining, and let the kids enjoy what’s left of sunny weather.

My sister and I did get all the windows washed inside and out and tracks vacuumed and frames wiped down. Yeah! Check! And bless my sister’s heart, she repainted all the gutters around the house and did a bunch of other touch-up painting. I cleaned out one last closet and have more to take to Goodwill now. My kids and I cleaned out two fireplaces. Don’t know why I waited until it’s about to get cold before I did that. Hmmm… Now I’m down to computer work for my husband and typing up my schedule for school. I do have all my books though and my month-by-month plans done. It’s just trying to figure out how to make everything fit in the day that still has me mystified.

We also canned forty-nine quarts of peaches and froze thirty-plus quarts. Yummy! We saved twenty pounds to eat. Here are some pictures of our canning process.

Canning Peaches

Top Left: A dozen empty but clean jars ready to be filled. Bottom Left: Seven of nine boxes of peaches. Right: Peeling peaches and filling jars. We did it in the garage, so that we could hose off the floor when we were finished. The peaches were just right and we decided not to blanch them.

Canning Peaches

Left: Jars full of Peaches. Right: Canning in my steam canner. (I love it. It’s so much lighter to haul it around than my waterbath canner.)

Canned Peaches

Rows of canned peaches! I just think they’re pretty. I don’t know if it’s sentimentalism or what!

Since we consider work and service an integral part of school, I think my kids have been getting a fine education the last week, even if we haven’t "hit the books" yet.

What Am I Doing Anyway?

I’ve been so negligent about my blog this summer. Sigh. Our plan is to start school on Monday so maybe life will start feeling more structured.

In the meantime, this is what I still really want to get done before Monday. Some of it I have to.

  • Can and Freeze 180 lbs of peaches (They’re sitting in the garage, so that’s a must.)
  • Wash all of the windows inside and out.
  • Get caught up on the bookkeeping for my husband’s business (Working on that right now.)
  • Type up my school plans that are only sketched on paper right now.
  • Empty my ironing and mending baskets.
  • Oh yea, make 15 meals and clean up the kitchen and do half a dozen loads of laundry and vaccuum and mop and…

Wish me well!! (I do have help on the window washing and the canning. My teenage sister is going to help me out on those.)

But I’m quite happy about what I have accomplished this summer in the way of things around the house.

  • Got my husband’s bookkeeping all caught up–oh that was a few weeks ago.
  • Totally reorganized the school area. It feels so clean now.
  • Moved two children into different rooms and redecorated both rooms.
  • Cleaned out all but two drawers in my whole house and all cabinets.
  • Took two trips with boxes of stuff to Goodwill!!
  • Reorganized the pantry (which is a full size room in my house.)
  • Oh yeah, did some laundry, lots of laundry, and cooked a few meals, I’m not even going to calculate that.

I always look at my list of accomplishment and wonder why I get so little done. I used to be such a productive person. Sometimes now I feel so unproductive. I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’m giving it my best shot!

So long, until next week!

Strawberry Freezer Jam

We’ve been having fun and getting sticky at our house. I think getting sticky is one of my kids’ favorite activities. This time I commissioned them with the job though.

Yesterday we made five flats of strawberries into freezer jam. Yummy!

Making Strawberry Freezer Jam

I took this picture when we were just starting. My fingers were still clean enough to use the camera. I promise that that table did not stay white. It was eventually covered with bags of sugar and boxes of pectin and empty flats and plastic containers. We had to set up another table, because we didn’t have enough room for the jam! We had the table and the aprons and the fingers smeared with red before we were finished. For that matter the kids didn’t keep that eager look on their faces the whole time either. In fact, they went AWOL on me and started riding their bicycles and tricycle all around me, while I was reminding them that I wanted to get done as soon as possible so that I could have some sleep last night and their help would be very much appreciated.

Riding his Tricycle

G’tums is very proud that he can pedal his tricycle. Finally his legs are long enough. So he was the first to go AWOL, unless perhaps it was for reasons of his age!

Well, that’s a short post on something that took a long time to accomplish!