Friday, October 25, 2013

An Aspiring Week 8: Classical Grammar Living Books

For our Younger Knowledge (Grammar) Stage children we only use Memroia Press' English Grammar Recitation which is the backbone of our Younger Knowledge program. In order to enrich our homeschool we like to maintain Discovery Centers. 

"maintain an informal learning atmosphere"
pa 86 Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarskon

Similar to our poetry centers I like to keep enrichment simple and easy on Mom. In order to accomplish this, it's critical the books that illustrate the different parts of speech or any other subject in Language Arts the book must be interesting  and engaging books. My hope is that they will be so interesting that the kids are drawn to them and pick them up again and again.  
"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire." W.B. Yeats

The Perfect Punctuation book in the middle of the collage, is a perfect example of engaging books that 'light a fire'. It's a pop up book that the kids often pick up and look at for 20-30 minutes at a time. They carefully explore the pages pulling the tags and reading the descriptions and periodically asking me questions.

Like most homeschoolers we are pressed for time so, I leave them in our library cubbie  for the kids to grab as they please. If I notice the books in the cubbie are not being read then I move the books to strategic locations such as the bathroom or living room table. Since all of the reading is done in their free time the books must appeal to the children.

Additionally, we give children a skittle or an M&M if they recognize something Language Arts they have learned in their Grammar Recitation or language arts free time book. Since we don't generally just eat candy (see homeschool happenings dentist trip) this little treat is very motivating, although we may need to switch to stickers. 

I have found interesting and twaddle free books are  just another simple way to add some enrichment to your Early Knowledge Stage memory program. 

Homeschool Happenings

PhotoThis was kind of a strange week.

We did not have a 'normal' school day on Tuesday & Wednesday of this week because Daddy was home. On Monday and Tuesday we finally put in the path we've been "working on" for the past couple of years.

Tuesday was especially eventful as we went to pick up gravel  with our trailer and we forgot to put down our tarp. As a result of the missing tarp gravel poured out of the back of our trailer like a sieve and we spent hours trying to secure the trailer. Then on the way home our trailer got a flat tire. At this point we knew we were in the midst of a comedy of errors.

We managed to do school on Wednesday after the "Real Estate holiday".  We have several children with medical issues that require visits to specialist each year. So on Thursday we were off to the podiatrist  for a follow up on Shoo-Shoo's inserts.

This was followed by a trip to our dentist where we were their 10 am appointment. At this appointment we found out that one of our children has 3 cavities and another one of them has 2 cavities. When the dentist was telling me this I wanted to throw my arms up and surrender. Today as I write this the Lord has reminded me that since that appointment I have done everything humanly possible to get them to to take better care of their teeth. Yet I have failed to do the most important thing which is to pray for them. Why is that so often the last thing that I think to do.
Photo" not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God..." Philippians 4:6
Finally, we ended the week with one of our most beloved activities the Homeschool Choir. Our second child is learning to play the clarinet, singing in the choir and play bells. Our third child participates in choir and plays bells our first child is taking a break from Homeschool Choir and the twins, well they do their best to have their version of the most fun as possible.

May the Lord Bless your Homeschool!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


 ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~  


Daddy & the twins arrived home before before us . . . we pulled up, he was reading. . . Wynken, Blyken & Nod by Eugene Fields. . .the twins spell bound... a precious moment frozen in time.  

"And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers...". Malachai 4:6

It's always me. . . finding snakes under stones...the children rejoiced with the find...standing in line to pet his to the door we also found .. a love stick bug, which raised qutie a stir. All the children wanted to see the bug that looked like a tree.


This was not funny ha!ha! so much as FUN, our piano teacher had this toy out for our twins enjoyment. The toy plays a song as you add insturments to the middle additional instruments start to play. So you start the song and there is no noise then you add a piano, trumpet & violin and the toy adds those instruments to song. Really, a wonderful toy and our whole family happened to be at lessons that day and we all throughly enjoyed it, very FUN!


Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!    Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:1

We are doing home improvements . . . so we bought pea gravel . . . forgot to lay our tarp down.. gravel poured out of our trailer like rain . ..we headed to Lowe's and bought tarps.


. . . then on the way home . . . we got a flat. 
There was no acrimony just a quiet realization that the Lord is in control and we should praise Him in the  storm.


 "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens--what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave--what can you know? Job 11:7-8

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama Menu Plan: Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Latte (FP)

Easy Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fuel Pull

2 cups vanilla (30 Calorie/Unsweetened) almond milk

4 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons Truvia

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso

canned whipped cream or coconut homemade whipped cream
Add the milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring almost to a boil.  Remove from heat and add to a blender.  Blend on high until the milk begins to froth, about 2 minutes.  Divide milk mixture between two mugs.  Add the coffee slowly down the side so you don’t disturb the milk froth, add a squirt of whipped cream and a pinch more of the pumpkin pie spice and enjoy.
Happy Fall!
This is a modified recipe from Farmgirl gourmet.


Trim Healthy Mama 2 week Menu plan
My italicized items should be skipped by THMers and are whole foods for our growing little children!
Bolded items are modifications for the THMers 
Credit: Low Carb Layla- Hamburger Cabbage Stirfry
We are still adding recipes to our cooking binder as we find them and try them because frankly we have had a number of flops. And I can definitely follow a recipe and turn out something edible, unless the recipe is flawed. So stay tuned for our recipe flips & flops THM style!
  • Sunday - Chili with Tamales & crackers
  • Monday - Hamburgers (in a Joesph's pita), Sweet potato french fries, green beans 
  • Tuesday- (the Hubby's Birthday!) Steak, sweet potatoes,broccoli, rolls
  • Wednesday-Layla's Hamburger cabbage stir-fry with rolls 
  • Thursday- Oven Fried Chicken with mashed cauliflower, corn, salad, Butter Bread
  • Friday- Chicken Salad Croissants (Joseph's wraps, ditch the grapes food process some green apples), with fruit (green apple slices) 

On a mini vacation:
  • Saturday - Taquitos (lime chiken tacos), refritos, corn
  • Sunday - Hamburgers (in a Joesph's pita), Sweet potato french fries, green beans 
  • Monday - Grilled Pork chops, sweet taters, green beans
  • Tuesday - Beans, Rice & Cornbread
And were back
  • Wednesday - Crock-pot Beef tacos (Joseph's tortillas), refritos, Mexican corn salad
  • Thursday - Baked potato night (salad night, I can use their toppings like bbq chicken or beef on top of my salads)
  • Friday - Stromboli (crustless pizza, although I am looking for a good low/no carb dough to use to make these)
  • Saturday - Bean, Cheese & left over meat burritos (Joseph's Tortillas), mexican rice, corn

Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Aspiring Week 7: A Simple plan to immediately add classical Music to your homeschool

A Simple Plan to Immediately Add Classical Music in your homeschool 
For years I have struggled with how to include Classical music into our school day. I really approached it as, yet another thing for this poor over burdened homeschool Mom to feel guilty that she was denying her children. There are a lot of things wrong 
with that attitude but that is a whole different post. What I realized is that it is actually pretty 'easy breezy' to include Classical music in your school day with a little bit of time, money and minuscule planning!

So, here is my 3ish step 'easy breezy' plan for you to add Classical Music into your Homeschool. I am going to use Bach as my example because we studied him recently.

Step One: Pick your composer. If you do not know where to start go to Ambleside Online's Composer list and just start going down the list. (If you cannot decide start with Bach, I do not have a good reason I'm just helping you decide ...lols!)

Step Two:Buy a"best of CD" and don't agonize over the decision just get one (if you cannot decide get the cheapest one!). Now you have the music you and your kiddos will listen to for the semester.

Step three: Buy a Classical Kids CD or get one from your library. I like to use the classical Kids CD's because they are engaging and they have a lot of interesting autobiographical information on each CD. Put it in while you are running errands. Now your children have meet Mr.Bach! (SIDE NOTE: I purchased all of my Classical Kids CD's used for under $10 each, so if you look you can find them economically priced.)

Step four: Everyday turn on the CD you bought in Step one(at least try for every day then you will get make at least 2 out 5 days!) . Listen to it while you are doing your school work and announce to the children in your most homeschooly voice..."Kids remember this is Bach". So instead of your kids groaning knowing they are going to have to sit with listening ears for 15 minutes and answer questions about why the music is called flight of the bumblebee. They now just listen and hum along while they complete their assignments. Don't forget to turn it on during dinner to impress your husband with the children's incredible and new found knowledge of classical music.

(Optional Step five: Get a simple book you can read in one sitting. For Bach we read "Bach and His Twenty Children" and the kids loved it. If you do not know which book to use for the composer and you want a good twaddle free book go to Lifetime Books & Gifts music section or Penny Gardner's Fine Art Section.)

Now, we listen to classical music on a regular basis. Then as (y)our children begin to have favorite composers we can buy additional CD's with their music and grow (y)our classical music library. I am hoping that my children will grow to love classical music as my husband and I do.

Could it be this simple??? Could it be effective?? Yes & yes! There is no extra burden added to the teacher and no more school time is added to your day. Yet, you gain the added beauty of music that touches the soul in to your school day.

Just can't get enough information on Classical music here are a couple of articles written by regular CM Blog Carnival contributors:

Or if you are ready to kick  your classical music studies up a notch,  Michelle, at the Holistic Homeschooler is doing a wonderful give away of  A Young Scholars Guide to Composers which will end on 10/23/13! 

Thoughts & Highlights from our week ...

 We are currently having a few inevitable snags in math that will occur from time to time when  children work independently on a subject. Our kiddos are supposed to do their math and check their work daily.I make sure children are progressing through their course works utilizing our curriculum planner. The children must graded their previous lessons before giving them tests or quizzes. What happened is we had a kiddo slip through the cracks and she did not grade for about 20 lessons. During which time she failed to learn how to add & subtract improper fractions with borrowing. So she had the pleasure of re-doing all of the problems for the twenty lessons prior to taking her final test for the Unit. So the system worked just a bit slower then it is meant to work. Additionally, that same dear child is now tasked with catching up.

We have a zoo pass to the Cameron zoo which has a reciprocal membership with the Houston Zoo. So we took an impromptu trip to the Houston Zoo which was so full of fun.One thing that I observed was  the strides the 3 year old twins have made since our last trip to the zoo in March.During that trip they were only  marginally interested in the animals or they were terrified by the animals. During this trip they were full of wonder and curiosity, it was a blessing to behold the zoo animals through their eyes. Everyone had a favorite animal but for Shoo-Shoo the youngest of our bunch it was the monkeys (and apes)  hands down.  She was insistent that we needed to see the monkeys: "Where are the monkeys?? when are we going to see the monkeys??? Monkeys, monkeys, monkeys.....

Another highlight of the week was having our first piano practice with our new teacher. She was listening to the children and gaily running in and out of the room to get the books and things each child needed. She is very encouraging regarding the progress of the children and instruction they received from our dear Ms. Bethany. She also has a reward system that I think will prove to be very motivational for the children.

We still haven't managed to consistently complete IEW SWI-A & Medieval with the children.  Partly, because with Sugar I've been rather wishy washy on copy work vs. IEW. I think I have finally decided to  proceed with IEW SWI-A. For the Bigs I just have not been encouraging them to complete their assignments and making sure we have what they need to do the next thing. Anytime we have to wait for something we always get off track. Getting IEW going is my goal for next 30 days.

May God Bless your family and your homeschool!
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Thursday, October 17, 2013


{Pretty,Happy, Funny Real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~  


Our dear 8 year old daughter Sweetie I cannot believe how quickly she is growing up and how pretty inside and out that  she has become. 


Bullet currently wants to be a veterinarian and she contiues to express an interest in veterinary medicince and things related to animals. But she has been very clear she does not want to work with, large animals, water animals or zoo animals. However she was very happy to sit back to back with the Chimpanzee at the Houston Zoo. 


Our kiddos love monkeys and this little joker was made to order. He was absolutely hilarious. He ran up and down, jumped from rope to rope and continued to look at us after each trick. He was so funny we went back to see him before we left. Unfortunately he moved so much I never got a really good picture of him but he sure is cute.


Our kids found some kittens last year, and we didn't get the girl cat fixed promptly. I thought cats couldn't get pregnant for a year, I was wrong. So she ended up having 3 kittens, unfortunately 1 was still born. So we have had 2 kittens to entertain us for weeks, then our kids found a small kitten after we finished clearing some land. Fearing the kittens family was killed our kids brought the kitten to Mama kitten and she promptly added her to her fold. However, 6 cats was too many cats for me. We were going through more then 48 lbs of cat food a month. So I listed our kitties on Craigslist & the Homeschool Loop. Soon all three of our sweet kittens found a new home with another local homeschool family. 6 cats was simply too many little mouths for us to fill. There was a lot of crying but we are very happy that they have found a new home. And new names for the little gentlemen, they are now Mr. Willobough, Mr. Darcy (my favorite) & Mr. Billingsly.


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Field Trips: Central Texas

Welcome to our families personal online list of field trips, I hope you find something your family will enjoy. Please leave the names of any field trips not on this list in the comments so it can be added to the list.

So this week we are participating in Hip Homeschool Mama's Field Trip Ideas Around the World. Our family loves museums & zoos so we tend to go out of our way to visit them. As I have grown in my homeschooling I have had to temper my desire to do LOTS of field trips but we still make time for this kind of super fun experiential learning.

Houston Area Field Trips:
Field trip ideas Around the World
  • Space Center Houston - We went to Space Center Houston several years ago during it's school days program. We saw several versions of the space shuttle, sat in "mission command" and the kids answered questions, toured the facility on a 'tram', & enjoyed the various exhibits/experiments they had set up. 
  • Houston Zoo - We really enjoy going to the Houston Zoo. It is a large zoo but you can see the entire zoo in one day if you get there early and keep moving.
  • Weather Museum - We have been to this museum once and we really enjoyed it. However, in my opinion it is over priced and I would suggest attending on a free day! 
  • Houston Museum of Fine Arts- The last time we visited this museum was when it had an exhibit featuring impressionists. We had a wonderful experience and the kids really enjoyed seeing Monet, VanGogh & Degas and frankly so did I. WARNING- Please check the exhibits they they currently have and make sure they are appropriate for children. For instance right now they have "120 days of Sodom", this is not an exhibit we will be attending. 
  • Houston Natural Science Museum - You can click -here- to read a post on our old blog about one of our many field trip to the Houston Natural Science Museum. This is one of our favorite 
  •  laces to visit in Houston. It is of course evolutionary in it's perspective but we have an  pologetics attitude about  museums. We have our children note each reference to evolution and Mama keeps score and they earn prizes for pointing out evolutionary theory. 
  • Children's Museum of Houston- The kids have been to this museum several times when we had a premature baby in Texas Children's Hospital. So I have very fond memories of this museum. It is huge and there are lots of things to do for a wide age range. We haven't been in the last few years and it's my understanding that they have remodeled it. 
  • Houston Health Museum- We have been to this museum a couple of times on the free days. This muesum is jam packed with interactive activities that our kiddos really enjoyed. They also have a couple of movie theater type displays one of which featured Bill Nye the Science Guy. I also recommend this field trip on it's free day. 
  • The Rest of the Houston Museum District - this is a list of the many museums in Houston.
  • Houston Zoo
  • Forbidden Gardens - "The latter invites tourists to "Discover the mysteries of Imperial China," but the world's oldest civilization has proved no match for the blistering sun and hothouse humidity of south Texas. Still, we recommend visiting F.G., a unique sight for Texas " 
Brazos Valley Field Trips
  • Washington on the Brazos - In August Washington on the Brazos has an education program for teachers that I have attended with 10ish year old children. Then in September they have school programs for different ages. This trip is well worth the money and the time if you are studying this time period. We will return to Washington on the Brazos in two years when we get back to American History.
  • Anderson, TX Stage Coach Days and the Fanthrop Inn...This event is jam packed full of re-enactors and re-enactments. Another field trip well suited to the study of early Texas or American History. 
  • Burton Cotton Gin - We haven't been there yet, this is another field trip that is on my list when we get back to early American history.
  • Fanthorp
    Fanthrop Inn
  • Antique Rose Emporium -One of my favorite places to go to explore all the flora and fauna.
North of Bryan College Station Area (Waco, Dallas etc...)
  • Fort Worth Zoo - We love this zoo it's very family friendly, it's small enough to be feel small town but big enough to be fully entertaining. 
  • Sand Creek Farm - A working farm that uses plow horses, aqua-phonics and makes raw milk.A very enjoyable field trip especially for city slickers.
I hope you are able to infuse a bit of excitement into your homeschool with the occasional excursion off the beaten trail.

Also, please leave your Central Texas (and general) Field Trip ideas in the comments I am really looking forward to hearing from y'all!

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Aspiring Week 6 - Poetry in the Classical Homeschool

I  cannot even remember the name of the movie. But I remember that the main character's (who may or may not have been Julia Robert's) father related many things in their lives to poetry, poetry that he learned in grade school. How eloquently he brought his life into focus with the words of Blake, Wordsworth etc. It made such an impression on me that even I pursue the memory of poetry with my children, although my memory is not as strong as theirs, but I am getting better.

Poetry in the Classical Homeschool

 We are really enjoying our formal study of poetry in IEW's Linguistic Development during our family recitation time. This program purposefully works on memory & language acquisition.

"Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization provides a system to reintroduce you and your children to a vital but often neglected source of powerful and sophisticated linguistic patterning available to children: memorized language, especially memorized poetry." from Institute for Excellence in Writing

I am also, teaching them the grammar of poetry. So, they have already learned about rhyme scheme, stanzas etc... All of this takes 15 minutes of our morning and that is all the formal programmed time available for it

A Little More Depth but no time

At 2 pm my time for homeschool is up and I must put on My Mama & wife hats and get our home in order. We do not have the time and I do not have the ability to add anything formal to our current coursework. But I can set up a poetry discovery centers which make poetry available to the children and adds depth to our study of poetry.

A Discovery Corner

"maintain an informal learning atmosphere"
pa 86 Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarskon

For us our poetry center will simply be one of the cubbies in our homeschool bookcase.. I will add books with poetry set up for children to our cubbie for them to read. My kiddos will work on memorizing any poems they love naturally which is how Bullet memorized "Elephony", and how I consequently memorized portions. Which lead to my reciting it at the Houston Zoo which lead to a family recital of the fun and silly little poem. Yes, we are those people.


"A discovery corner is a designated space that is dedicated to a general learning focus... Discovery corners are generally scattered throughout the house wherever you can create the spaces...Each corner should be a distinct place well supplied for the learning activity to which it is dedicated, comfortable and well lighted." Educating the Wholehearted Child pa 75

 I simply announce we have some library books and show them to the kids and put them in our book cubbie and then I notice they are left all over the house. Additionally, I will read some of the to the twins during their reading time.  Invariably the other children usually do a bit of ease dropping. Soon the kids start telling me about the various books/poems they read and the things they have found funny, interesting and not so interesting.

We also have IEW Linguistic Development on CD and we listen to that while we are in the car. I believe I have mentioned this before once a month and sometimes twice (when there are 5 Fridays) we have presentation night. The older children normally play a song, show us something they have made and all of the children, even the 3 year old twins, usually recite a memorized poem and/or a Bible verse.
We have seen them develop appetites for poetry.


"Poetry is the most complex form of literary expression, not just for the poet. but also for the reader.The ability to understand the poets message requires a higher level of concentration, the synthesizing of abstract thoughts and concepts and the discipline of maintaining both the lyrical meter of the structure and the emotional expressiveness of the content. Good poetry opens the heart to profound thoughts and concepts expressed in new ways. also prepares them for reading the primary form and language of worship in the Bible"  Educating the Wholehearted Child

I hope something in this helps or encourages you to find a way to enrich your homeschool with poetry.

Homeschool Goings Ons..

PhotoI ordered Spell to Write and Read their 29 spelling rules cards to add to our grammar school. I am currently personalizing the MOH schedule from Preschoolers and peace .She uses Tapestry of Grace along with MOH and I use Homeschool in the Woods along with Mystery of History this year so some adjustments were necessary. The wonderful thing about her schedule and her idea is that we only plan out the curriculum that we will repeat so we only have to plan for it once.You have a copy of all the resources you used in the binder instead of just a website or a CD both of which can disappear. I will go through MOH 4x with all of our kids the next three times will be considerably easier as we just add a few items here and there that are no longer available at the library, that are no longer on our shelves or new finds.

So I've organized my History and Science Year 2 into a binder complete with the necessary handouts and I am slowly going through the books and video lists.I'm very excited about the prospect of planning it well once having a detailed plan to follow and being very prepared for the following years of school. Additionally, this method blends well with my color coded planning charts that we use for each individual subject.


This is one of those days that disqualifies you from the Mom of the year awards. It started with the children spending a very long time in time, so we started school about 2 hours late.

We had Bright Lights that evening.this week we are covering diligence. During Bright Lights I lead a miniature Bible Study on the same topic that the girls will be studying. But in the end the Bible Study is an indepth examination of our own hearts on the matter. It is such a sweet time in the Lord with several very sweet Mama's!


We finally got back on track with the twins school and we completed the activities for week 2 in Hubbards cupboard. We figured out how to down load audio books from our library. So we can listen to the bronze bow this week the girls started Soccer practice.


We had our first piano lesson with our new teacher. It went well but we miss our dear Ms. Bethany who got married and stopped teaching. Our new teacher is extremely organized and has several incentives for playing & practicing a lot! We do however have to leave our house for piano which we haven't done for years. But I think continuing their lessons at this point is the direction we want to take.

We also enjoyed our Church plant Fellowship as we are helping to plant, a Grace Family Baptist Church plant, in a Community Center in small town. All I can say is Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Is the final day of our normal school week since we only school 4 days a week. This week we celebrated this by eating lots of popcorn. We also have soccer practice on Thursdays.

On Fridays we have our "extras" which rotate each week. This week we had homeschool Choir & Orchestra co-op practice.We have borrowed a clarinet and Parker is starting to learn to play it in the homeschool band. We have spent loads of time on YouTube learning about the instrument at Clarinet Mentors.

This and That...

I finally started listening to Wuthering Heights and so far it's very good. I had a hard time following it at first but after listening to it 3 or 4 times I think I'm up to speed now. Haha!

We are linked to: Weekly Wrap Up, Trivium Tuesday and Homeschool Mother's Journal.
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