Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ready For 1st Grade?

So what does it take to do 1st Grade at home? I've picked up various books at yard sales, book sales and such over the past two years, plus we have the Jump Start computer games. So, are we ready? Until recently I just stored them on a shelf, but now... Now we're getting closer to the time for starting 1st grade so I decided to go through everything this week and formulate a loose plan. I quickly realized we have too much STUFF.
Learning doesn't always involve books. It's the hands-on adding and subtracting of pebbles and the making leaf patterns that I dearly love. Rarely does a teacher take the class outside to learn about earthworms, but why not? Surely it's better to learn about the earth and the creatures that live in it out where these things are? (weather permitting of course)
Everyone who finds out we are pro-homeschooling seems to ask won't you get tired of being around your children all day? Well, I've been around them almost all day, every day for the past 5 years (for the oldest) and 3yrs for the youngest. Some days I'm more tired than others, but they are God's blessings and He put us in charge of taking care of them. I also believe that children become easier to live with as they get older (I may change this way of thinking as mine get older). :-) I would much rather have my children here where I can watch them delight in learning than in a room full of their peers for 7-8 hours each day.
So, if you're still with me on reading my ramblings... I have now accumulated way more books than I will probably need for 1st grade, but I feel blessed to have several different options for math worksheets and literature lessons. As for science, it happens all around us every day so I'm mostly focusing on Reading, Writing and Math. In addition to those the other 1st grade subjects for our son will be Music, PE & Spanish (every other quarter) and Sign Language (every other quarter). I'm not going to count Bible as a subject for school, though we will have a daily bible story and weekly bible verses.
For those who are wondering why I'm thinking of 1st grade half-way through the kindergarten year, well I'll tell you. We plan to start 1st Grade in June and enjoy year-round learning with a one week break in between quarters. If you're thinking, 'whoa, that's too much school!' really it's not. We'll be doing lessons Mon - Thurs and Fridays will be our field trip/catch up day. I'm thinking a field trip twice a month and on the off weeks we'll review as needed or play online learning games.
I know, I over-think things sometimes, but I like to plan ahead. Now I have a plan and I have roughly 5 more months to think about it and change it as needed. :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lost Sticker

While in the car today my almost 3yr old kept telling me she had lost her sticker. It was a small sticker that had been on her hand and she was very sad that it was gone. Assuming that it had fallen on the floor I told her we would look for it once we were home. Several minutes later she coughed a few times and said something was in her mouth. (you can see where this is going) I looked in the review mirror and she had her mouth open and was just looking at me. I asked if there was a hair in her mouth and she said no so I suggested that she drink some water and maybe it would help. This whole time she was verbal but mostly kept her mouth open and continued to look uncomfortable. I was contemplating stopping the car when she told me she was going to throw up so I quickly pulled over, yanked her out of the car and stood her on the grass. Then she simply stood there a minute then smiled at me and said "It's gone". I was confused and asked what's gone and she pointed to her water bottle and said, "My sticker. I poked it in that hole and now it's gone." The light bulb in my head finally went off as I understood that she had poked her sticker in her water bottle spout, had taken a drink and had the sticker stuck in the back of her mouth. Well now you and I both know where that sticker went... in her tummy! Just goes to show even children that are old enough to know better than to put things in their mouths, will still put things into their drinks and end up swallowing them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Berinfell Prophecies

Venom and Song (book 2)
by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

This second book in The Berinfell Prophecies takes the thrill up a notch from the first book. The seven young Lords are learning to get along with each other, learning about elves and other beings, plus they are training together so they can eventually fight the spider king. The Lords are only thirteen years old and yet they grow and mature quickly during the events throughout this book.
For me, this Venom and Song was an enjoyable read and difficult to put down near the last few chapters. If you like reading books about castles, fantasy creatures and heroes with special gifts then this book is right up your alley. The cover artwork is awesome and gives a good feel for what the book is about. There’s action and adventure with a good moral story between the lines as well. There are a lot of characters and at times I had a difficult time remembering who had what special gift, but the cast list at the beginning of the book was a great reference. Reading the first book of the series is a MUST to really understand and enjoy this second book. Happy reading!
I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through BookSneeze dotcom. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sweet and Honest Prayers

The bedtime prayers below were said by our 2 year old daughter without any prompting or input from Mom and Dad.

"Dear Jesus, please help our Paisley cat to get all better, Amen."
(She prayed this prayer every night for several weeks after our cat was hit by a car and had to have major surgery back in April.)

Later on the above prayer was changed to:
"Dear Jesus, thank you for making my Paisley cat all better, Amen."
(she said this same prayer almost every single night for 3 months! Amazing!)

"Dear Jesus, please keep Ella from chewing on my drawing pad, Amen."
(Ella is a 17 month old friend of ours and like most children her age she likes to put things in her mouth.)

This last one wasn't a prayer, but was so funny I had to add it. This morning while walking through the line of cars at Hardees' drive thru I encouraged our 2 year old to hurry so we wouldn't get squished. She replied, "If you get squished we have to put you in the trash can." I promptly responded that if I were squished I wanted to go to the hospital instead of the trashcan. See, in our house broken toys and squished fireman hats (you know, those plastic ones from Firehouse) go in the trash can, so I understood her way of thinking. These are those moments where you try to keep a straight face, but inside you're busting out laughing because it's just so FUNNY!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Days of School

I've always loved the first day of school. For me it was always a combination of great excitement and slight anxiety of meeting new people and new places. There is nothing like the smell of a box of new crayons and having all your supplies all neat and tidy in your backpack. Well our oldest started Kindergarten last week and though he only goes half days he is loving it and I'm loving it. I feel so blessed to be able to spend some time alone with our youngest. There's no fighting over toys, just snuggle time reading stories, art, games, puzzles, and more! So, while one starts K5 in private school the other is home with me. We do a lot of homeschooling stuff with a focus on playing while we learn. For an almost 3yr old we do a ton of art, PE and learning life skills. Real life is the best way to learn!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kitty Love

Well our youngest has found true kitty love. I knew our daughter, B-Kat had my love of animals from early on, but her ultimate favorite are cats. Big ones, small ones, fluffy ones, shaved ones, she doesn't hold any prejudices against any of the varieties. When we visit people who have a cat she will immediately run over to pet it, while typically the cat looks at her with big eyes and slinks away with a look of, "uh... I don't think so!" B-Kat has also perfected the art of cat behavior which not only includes crawling around on all fours meowing, but also rubbing her head on people's legs and attempting to drink water out of a bowl. I dare-say this child is truly her father's daughter (those who know him will understand). The kitten B-Kat is holding in this photo is "Wubzy" named after the cartoon "Wow, Wow Wubzy". This poor innocent kitten has been toted around since he was 6 weeks old (he's now 4 months old) and he is the most gentle, mellow cat we've had in a long time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Clean and Interesting Romance Book

I just finished reading Love On A Dime, by Cara Lynn James and I was amazed at how this simple romance story grabbed my attention from the start and kept it. The story is based in New England in the late 1800's, when a young socialite named Lilly writes dime novels in secret. She learns how keeping secrets can tear at your heart and soul, and when it comes to marriage, love must be number one; instead of leaning towards how the marriage could benefit the family. The story inspires the reader to worry less about what society thinks, but to follow God’s plan and to look towards him when you are unsure of what to do. This is an easy read, but keeps your attention enough so you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. As an active reader of novels I was quiet impressed at how the sweet romance between the main characters was “clean” and there was no need for the immoral lust and other things the typical romance author adds to their stories. I give this book an A+ for clean romance and a B+ for good writing and character plot. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

End of the world in 2012 - I doubt it

I recently read the book "Will the World end in 2012? by Raymond C. Hundley

For those who don’t like to read long books, this was a quick and easy read which was simple to put down and pick up again later without missing or forgetting anything.
The author analyzes ten of the most popular theories of major catastrophes predicted to occur in the year 2012. These include:

1. The Mayan factor
2. Solar storms
3. CERN and the large Hadron Collider
4. Predictions of Nostradamus
5. Reversal of the magnetic poles
6. Collision with Planet X
7. Earth’s alignment with the Galactic Plane
8. Eruption of the super volcano
9. The web bot project
10. Religious predictions of the end of the world

The beginning of the book recaps the move “2012” for those who may not have seen it. The author never chooses to share what his thoughts are about the end of the world, but simply states the popular theories and leaves it up to the reader to decide what to believe. In the final chapter the author does get into how to prepare for the end of the world and there is also a study guide in the back for individuals or groups. Overall it was a very interesting book and many of the theories I had never heard of before. The key to remember when reading the book is according to the bible “No man” knows the day or hour. I personally agree that there are many ways the world could end, and believe that it’s better to be prepared mentally and spiritually than to worry about when it will happen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PART 2: How Many Cats Are Too Many?

We have several stray cats that have been hanging around our house the past month or so. One of them has been hanging around for about a year, but recently two more have shown up and one of them has been marking his territory on our front porch (not a good smell). We have a cat trap already, so I set it up and baited the trap with some canned cat food. I didn't have to wait very long, caught one of our own barn cats the very first night! Poor kitty was scared, but I set him free and he was fine. Two days later I was able to coax one of the stray cats into a large dog crate on our front porch with some cat food. It was really amazing because I expected him to be more skittish, but he acts like he wants to be nice though he is just a bit jumpy.
Today I came home from work to find another cat in the trap, but instead of our own this time it was the stray Manx. I was actually surprised to catch this one so quickly because he is really feral. So... two stray cats captured, 1 more to go. Oh, and in case you're wondering what my plans are for these strays, I like to use the TNR program (trap neuter release) because most of these adult cats aren't friendly and if taken to the animal shelter they'll end up being euthanized. I don't mind the cats living in our area, just as long as they aren't reproducing and adding to the overpopulation of cats.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easter egg contents

Why is it every year we go to Easter egg hunts where we have taken eggs filled with carefully thought out items the week before and return home with eggs filled with sugary candy that even most adults wouldn't want to eat. If you're a parent I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Today in our 2yr old's Easter basket there were eggs with lemonheads, fireballs, warheads, bubble gum, and other assorted totally inappropriate candy. These were the eggs parents put in the bin clearly labeled for ages 2 and under. The way it works is parents who have children ages 2 and under were to bring 1 dozen eggs filled with age appropriate items a week or two prior to the egg hunt. I'm not simply complaining, I have a solution for anyone interested. Here's a list of ideas for what to put in Easter eggs for children ages 3 and under:

Mardi Gras beads
plastic rings
plastic view finders
Easter egg shaped bouncy balls (these are larger than the standard small balls which can be a choking hazard
Easter stamps (stamper with self contained ink... again needs adult supervision, but 2-3yr olds think they are fun)
playdoh eggs
mini sized bubbles
sidewalk chalk
fruit snacks
smarties (not a big fan of candy for young children, but hey this kind is safe and easily doled out in small amounts)

Okay, so some of these items may not be so great for children under 2, but sometimes it depends on the child and what they may put in their mouths. Children under 2 need to be supervised 24/7 anyway, so if a particular item is a problem, just don't let them have it. (I know... easier said than done.)

Now you're probably thinking what should you put in Easter eggs for 4 & 5 year olds. Well here are some of the things we've used in the past or received at egg hunts:

tiny toy cars
plastic view finders
bouncy balls
tiny yo-yos
Easter theme shaped erasers
plastic rings
silly bracelets
rubber lizards, frogs and spiders
tiny zoo animals or farm animals

And, for all of you who think the best part about hunting Easter eggs is getting the candy inside the eggs.... Our 4yr old has cherished his tiny toy lizards and plastic rings much more so than any candy he ever received. Candy is eaten (or thrown away) and quickly forgotten, but small toys in the pocket of a little boy are much more enjoyable.

How many cats are too many?

Here on the farm we have problems with rats on occasion. We get the population under control for 6-8 months only to have a huge problem all over again. We've used rat bait and rat traps inside our feed shed where none of our animals have access to it, but our best rat control are our barn cats. We currently have 6 cats. Paisley is our indoor - outdoor cat and is pretty much just a pet. I've yet to see her venture out to the pasture. We have 5 other cats that actively roam our 6 acres and are fed in the barn daily. They're all neutered males and most seem to be very good hunters, bringing us moles, mice, squirrels and the occasional bird. I'm not thrilled about the birds, but I've come to realize there's nothing I can do about it. Well, to get to the point, we're once again having a problem with rats. They chew holes in the feed sacks, poop all in the feed shed and make holes and tunnels in the pastures. A co-worker has a litter of kittens so I've decided we need a couple more to grow up and help out with our rodent problem. I've heard from many sources that females make the best hunters, but since the females are triple the cost to get fixed I'm sticking with getting males for now. I've already picked out an orange tabby and a cream colored one. You might be wondering what does it matter what color they are? Well if I'm going to be adding more cats I might as well add pretty ones. :o)
So, as I've titled this blog "How many cats are too many?" this begs the question, will 8 be too many? Seriously, I really want to know. We're currently going through about 16 pounds of cat food every 2 weeks. Keep in mind we have 6 cats total, even though only 5 of them are barn cats. I like to keep our cats sleek and trim... you won't find any fat, chubby ones around here.
Let me know your thoughts and I'll share pictures of the kittens once they're old enough to leave their mom.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Learning to Read and Write

It's truly amazing how quickly children learn. Their brains are like huge sponges, constantly absorbing and they don't turn off just because you aren't trying to teach them something at that moment. They learn constantly by listening and observing the people around them. Our 4yr old occasionally asks us random questions that we as adults never think about. What would you say when asked, "Why are there so many trees?". Of course after you answer that one you know what comes next... "Where did the trees come from?".
I've been helping our son learn to write small words like cat, dog, fish, etc. but in addition to those there's always the words he WANTS to learn how to write. You know, words like Spiderman, Trans Former, and Omnidroid (from the Incredibles movie). Simple words right? LOL It doesn't matter how long the word is, when it's something he's interested in he's determined to learn how to read it and write it. When you think about it, we adults are the same way. Admit it, you know it's true. I love animals and have researched numerous diseases and in-depth subjects way over my head just so I could learn more about the creatures I love so dearly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Funny Things Children Say (Part 1)

From the mouth of a 3yr old (July – Dec. 2008)

Father to son: “Bye, you be a good boy.”
Son to father: “Bye Daddy, you be a good Daddy!”

Upon seeing his Daddy washing his hands after finishing in the bathroom:
“Wow Daddy, you went potty all by yourself! I’m so proud of you!”

After watching the movie Open Season:
Son to mother: “Mommy, can bears really talk?”
Mother to son: “No, bears can’t talk, only people can talk.”
Son: “I knew that, but this bear can talk. Silly bear!”

While splashing in wading pool the family cat J.J. is watching nearby.
Son to the cat: “J.J. come play in the water.”
Mother to son: “J.J. doesn’t want to come play, he doesn’t like water.”
Son to mother: “Why?”
Mother to son: “Cats don’t like water.”
Son to mother: “But J.J. likes to drink water, why won’t he come play with me?”
Mother to son: “I don’t know, why don’t you ask him?”
Son to cat: “J.J. why don’t you like water?”
Cat meows
Son to mother: “Mommy, J.J. can’t talk!”

While driving in the car Mother says to her son: “Look, there’s our church.”
(Son remains silent)
Mother to son: “Say ‘Hi’ Church”
Son in an annoyed voice: “Mommy, Church can’t talk!”

After saying bedtime prayers with her son Mother says:
“Do you know Daddy & Mommy love you?”
Son: “Yes”
Mother: “Do you know God loves you?”
Son: “Yes”
Mother: “Do you know Jesus loves you?”
Son: “No”
Mother: “Yes, Jesus loves you!”
Son: “I don’t like Jesus.”
Mother: “What? Why not?”
Son: “I just want to go to sleep. We’ve said our prayers now I have to go to sleep.”
(In other words… stop talking, say goodnight & leave me alone!) LOL

Son says: “There was another Daddy in my class at church.”
Mother: “Oh, really?”
Short pause then son says: “I have two Daddies. That’s okay, sometimes some people have two Daddies.”
(We had no response to this one at all, just looked at each other and tried to hold in the laughter.)

Mother: “Did you know Jesus lives in a place called Heaven?”
Son: “No he doesn’t, that’s silly! Jesus is at the bat church.”
(For the past six months or so everything has been related to Batman. We live at the bat cave, our cat JJ is now known as Bat Kitty, we drive a bat car, etc.) (Oh, and to top it all off, Daddy is “Superman”, Mommy is “Superwoman, our son is Batman (of course) and little sister is “Spidergirl”. Talk about a family full of superheros!)

Putting a Beloved Pet to Sleep

Eventually all pet owners are faced with the tough decision of having to decide to euthanize, or "put to sleep" a pet. Though it can be a very difficult time to think about these things, here are some basic questions you should ask yourself before making the decision one way or the other.

1) If there IS a cure, will the "cure" involve additional suffering?
2) Will the "cure" further traumatize the animal?
3) How great is the chance of infection or further injury?
4) What quality of life would the animal have if the "cure" is successful or only partially successful?
5) What other circumstances are there, like the age of the pet and previous existing health conditions?
6) What are the chances of it happening again?

Every situation is different and no one can tell you when is the right time, but you should listen to what your veterinarian says and take some time to make your decision. Never rush into things or you may end up regretting it later.

Books I'm currently reading

I'm currently reading 2 books. The first one is Problem Children written by a child behavior specialist who professes to be a christian. The author gives great examples of why children act the way they do and how we inadvertently reward their bad behavior. No, I don't think we have problem children, but it's always nice to read about what to do if a situation may arise.
The second book I'm reading is Be the Pack Leader by Cesar Millan (you have seen him on t.v. where he's better known as the "Dog Whisperer"). I just started this book, but I've always admired Cesar Millan's methods of dealing with dogs and feel that many of his concepts could transfer over to people relationships as well. For example, some people have "little dog syndrome" where they bark & snap to show they are bigger than what they are.
After these two I plan to go back to reading something fiction for fun. I'm not sure what book yet, but I'll post when I know.