Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mt. Vernon

We are studying George Washington now and this week's project was to build a dollhouse replica of Mt. Vernon. I don't think we got it exact, but we did a virtual tour of Mt. Vernon and I was suprised at what the boys put into the house. It wasn't too long of project, and we all enjoyed making it. When it was done I took my grandmother's dollhouse furniture she built and put it in there, just so we could see what it was like. Hannah loved it! I loved it! I didn't hardly notice it was made out of a shabby box. Yes, even at 35 I got joy out of playing in a dollhouse. My grandmother made a dollhouse 30 years ago for this furniture. Even my grandfather got in on helping her build some of the things. All of the rugs, the linens, and the furniture were made by her using a skill saw or her sewing machine, although the lace canopies and doilies were crocheted, and one of the quilts looks hand stiched. The dollhouse was a 1900 era house, so I realize it didn't exactly fit into George Washington's time, like the kitchen. My favorite room she made was the kitchen. I was surprised that some of it has lasted this long, but a lot of it is falling apart and breaking easily. The only reason I knew it was 30 years old was because I had a newspaper clipping of Grandma and her dollhouse.
Here's some pictures for you all. I added extras of just the furniture.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December Update for Salisbury's

I'm ahead on our curriculum, so I'm trying to decide if we are going to go forward or just take an early, long break for Christmas. The problem for us taking long breaks is that it is hard for us to get back to work.

I'm still loving this curriculum. Last week we studied horses and I was impressed that Hannah actually took an interest in the subject. We had studied these a few months ago, but it was nice to have refresher. We have also been studying Colonial Christmases. Very different than what we have today and I was shocked to learn it was not a children's holiday. I had thought I would try to replicate the gifts for colonial children, if they may have received some, but it's been very difficult to find things and then I thought it wouldn't be as special because I doubt my kids would play with the items. I settled for a small train case and have put some hopefully special items in each one for the three older kids. I feel good about it, I hope they like it.

I have been thinking about how my style of teaching is fitting into the TJ Education mode. I talk about a curriculum, but honestly, if I didn't have one to follow, nothing would ever get done. I have noticed as the year progresses that I have been able to feel out how each kid learns and modify to fit their needs. I've also been able to not feel so guilty when we haven't had the most successful day, but on the way to an errand my kids will ask about a topic and we'll have some of the most fascinating conversations.

One day last week Jesse went with Curtis to work since he didn't feel good and I had another appointment to get to. Curtis had him doing pre-algebra and multiplication, a report on a current event and then had him read one section of the Federalist papers. Anyone know what those were? I didn't either. Maybe he should be doing the schooling? I felt like the pre-k arts and craft teacher after hearing that report. I get stuck between: are my kids old enough to comprehend this stuff (so we do too easy of work) to it says it's for ages 8-12, but I'm not understanding the material (so now the work is too easy). The days that work the best for us are when they have a good mix of activities. School is usually in the mornings or early afternoon for us and if I can keep it interesting, we all love it. I've had to get away from text books and workbooks, which used to be my favorites, and I still do find some work sheets to do, but it's usually more creative stuff they need to work with. It's so interesting how we've evolved.

Family Reading:
Me: Feng Shui Make this Your Lucky Day
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Christmas stories for families (one a day)

Curtis: Prince Caspian to all the reading

The kids are not reading anything right now except what has been read to them. I just got done paying for 3 books that were lost or damaged to the library, so we've not returned until I could get those paid for. Sometimes the library is a blessing and a curse.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An update

Today, my family finally received the blessing of finally knowing what to do in regards to managing the needs of our special needs son and our other children. I posted today on our blog, below and thought I would share our blessing with you. Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. I really needed it and was thankful for a safe haven in which to seek help.
Heather (Kindredmamma)

Blessings of a School Bus
Yes, you read the title right. Yes, a homeschool mom is thankful for the school bus. Many of you know the struggle our family has been having this fall with managing J's Speech needs and those of my homeschooled children and nearly 2 year old. In fact, as I look back now, my last post to this blog was full of despair, despite my resolve to have a brighter week by making some changes. And today and yesterday have been very bright. The home, at least the parts that have been reclaimed are being maintained (I know, two days...but it is my victory for now). For many weeks now I have been pondering and praying about the needs of my kids. I just couldn't do it all. I was filled to the brim of tears and my life felt in chaos. Literal chaos. I felt my spiritual life being neglected, there was no time for "me, let alone them" (as it relates to our Thomas Jefferson Educational philosophy of "You, not them.") And my home...fell apart around me. Something just had to give. Like I said, after weeks of prayer and making one decision then changing our mind week after week. In my heart I just knew that taking J out was not the right choice and we couldn't feel that it was right to put A and C in public school either. I can not ever recall in my life where a prayer took so long to be answered. Ever! I felt alone and perhaps unworthy of an answer to prayer. I pleaded to HIM in my heart and finally I said if it isn't for me, then do it for my kids. PLEASE. And still, no answer.

The other day brought remembrance of this quote from Spencer W. Kimball:
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more, I find it easier to abide their counsel.” (“What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren and All Others of the Youth of Zion,” address to Seminary and Institute personnel, Brigham Young University, 11 July 1966, p. 6.)
This has given me a new sense of where my You time should be spent.This was on Sunday and I began to ponder my relationship with my Heavenly Father and the whole "You, not them philosophy."
And then... another message from Him yesterday as I read in the car while waiting to pick up J from preschool from the book we are reading for our January Women's Colloquium (we are taking Dec off). It is from the book, In My Father's House, by Corrie ten Boom. She, on page 26 writes, "How often we think when a prayer is not answered that God has said no. Many times, He has simply said; wait."

How truly thankful I am that I spent weeks of torturous indecisiveness and waiting for the answer that came today. It was worth it, for today. It was worth it to feel the spirit so strong when a school bus drove up today (unannounced, no phone call of approval, it just showed up!) to relieve me of the distance, time, and preparation of 4 children in the car to take J to preschool and back, where I knew in my heart that even though he may not be getting the most optimal of help (and that help I know can be changed by may advocating for him), is help he needs. I could never shake that, despite my strong convictions regarding the benefits and blessings of homeschooling. It is what's right for him. It was worth it to feel that my family and I were so loved by Heavenly Father, that he would bless me with the ability to have the blessings of both worlds. I am thankful for a simple miracle today, that came in the form of a school bus.

Today is also my birthday. I don't think that I could have a better gift than an answer to prayer that was so desperately needed and wanted.
Be courageous enough to wait for your blessings....Lesson Learned.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Butikofer Family Reading

All of my kids are in Core, so we have two family reading books-- Black Beauty and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

My books-  Gone with the Wind and The Screwtape Letters

Hubby- CDCs  (his books for military promotion)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Family this week

We are on no formal books this week. We are scrubbing away making things shiny and nice in the home. I have been dwelling a lot recently on family work. It seems to be going well, despite the crazy schedule. We have not made a definite decision for our son J, but are trying to be creative in our approaches for now, though that may change.

I think aside from finishing A Tale Of Two Cities, we will be immersed in reading about Thanksgiving and readying our home for the Holidays. We are feeling rather festive and creative. Our goal is to have a more pioneer Christmas. The kids are enjoying thinking of crafts they can make for each other and I am anxiously trying to finish all the homemade gifts I felt brave enough to tackle.

We will be putting up our tree and other festive decorations on Friday. Baking, sewing, scrapbooking, painting and making homemade ornaments will be the study this week.
Happy Holidays!

My Colloquia

We just had our Colloquia this last Friday night. Funny that we were reading Dickens too, only it was A Tale of Two Cities. While I hadn't time to finish the books, I always enjoy hearing the perspective of the other mothers in our Group. It is amazing how we can each glean something different from the book. I marvel at the depth that some of these women, who are further in their phases than I am. They bring so many opportunities for growth for me. I like to think that I contribute some to them as well.

Colloquia This Month

We had a great colloquia this month. We read Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol".

The book was very close to the movie, but had details and a better perspective of the emotional transition that Scrooge underwent during the visits.

My book had some old fashioned illustrations which made it nice when I tried to picture in my mind what Dickens was envisioning when he wrote this book. Some of the old fashioned decorating or terms were a bit hard to picture.

During the meeting we broke down each ghost and the symbols involved with each one. We got very indepth and it was quite enlightening.

After reading these classic books and having our little discussions at Colloquia, I then love to read the reviews on Good Reads. It helps me see the book, the writing, and the author in many other ways. Be warned, don't read the reviews until you have finished the book. I've come across spoilers that weren't termed spoilers and learned things before I wanted to about a protagonist or the storyline.

What are you reading for Colloquium?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching Up

I just realized I haven't been on here in awhile. I thought I would update you on our reads and then do a short post on what we have been doing.

All: Old Testament

Dawn: Vegetable, Animal, Miracle
Good Dog, Stay (sad dog story)
Secrets by Jude Devereaux (everyone needs a brainless novel sometimes, right?)
Lewis and Clark

Curtis: Prince Caspian (to the kids)

Isaac: Andrew Lost and Wishbone
Benjamin Franklin in encylopedias, internet and biographies

Jesse: Alma (Book of Mormon), Andrew Lost

Hannah: Skeleton Hiccups (she is learning to read on her own. I gave up teaching her)

Simeon: Being read to by Hannah and the boys. He's learned how to spell TRAIN and still obsessed with the Thomas the Tank Engine books.

We are just finishing up studying about Benjamin Franklin. I think he is one of my favorite founding fathers. He just seems like someone most people could talk to or relate to. I'm amazed at all he did...his brain never stopped working. For fun, while waiting in line for example, he would do a complex math problem. Every where he looked he tried to find something to make life better, easier, or find out how it worked. The stuff he founded, discovered, experimented on...what a blessed man!

Next week we will be learning about common life among the colonists. I think this might be a little more interesting for the kids, as opposed to me gobbling up all the information. I think some of the activities set out for the kids for Benjamin Franklin were a little more advanced for their ages. Which brings me to this question. We were supposed to study atoms (in relation to electricity). Guess who was most interested in that lesson? Hannah. 6 year old, barely starting to read Hannah. She understood the concept, drew the atom, and asked more questions about it. How do we know what may or may not be "on their level"? Is it our conveyor belt upbringing that limits us as teachers in thinking they may not be ready for a particular subject?

Hannah is the one that is surprising me the most lately. She wants to participate in our lessons, but only in a limited capicity: if it is interesting, she'll join in. She wants to learn how to read and I've tried to do the phonics method with her but it's not working so it's been suggested to teach her the sight word method, which she gets, but I hate to teach. Is there a good method out there for that? Should I just hold off and let her develop on her own, and I help her when she asks? Do I do a formal lesson plan?

I totally understand the "skydiving off the conveyor belt" muse. I'm right there with you!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When Dad Doesn't Want to Know

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this issue--Dad doesn't want to know what TJEd is all about.   I'm the one who wanted to homeschool our kids and talked with my husband about it.  He went and visited with my sis and bil- who homeschool- and became okay with the idea of homeschooling.  So with that, I began my journey of deciding how I wanted to teach my children.  I knew some things I didn't want
1.  No Textbooks-  I knew they only contained what the editors wanted to put forward.
2.  No School at Home-  for me this came after fighting with my oldest, b/c "that's not how we do it in school."
3.  Kids thinking Learning only happens at/during school-  even though I went to PS, my parents always showed me that learning is all around.
So with those things in mind I began my journey.  Shiloah introduced me to TJEd, and I KNEW this is what was right for my family.  I tried to share with my husband how I wanted our home set up.  I began to explain the important points of TJEd.  He wasn't really interested, instead he told me that homeschooling is my thing, and that I can do what ever I want.  However, over the last couple of months,  he keeps telling me that he doesn't think the kids are learning anything.  We had planned on attending a Face to Face seminar, but that didn't happen.  We have "A Thomas Jefferson Education", "The Home Companion", and "A Leadership Education," but DH doesn't want to read any of them. I guess here's the big dilemma, DH doesn't like to read.  In the 8 years we've been married he's read 6 books.  How do I get my husband involved?  We started holding FECs which seems to help DH know what's going on with each of the kids.  I've finally realized that I need to utilize my husbands strengths.  He's very handy, and can teach the kids things that I can't-- like making campfires.

Monday, November 10, 2008


In keeping with the topics we started, I thought I'd talk examinations. Which, I admit, I am TERRIBLE about when it comes to my home school. I forget the value of requiring the mind to sift over information it has already soaked in to form answers.

I found my 11 yr old daughter last week going through an examination on her own. For years I have tried to inspire her to learn about writing. I have hoped that through reading and watching me write she might pick up the torch and get busy with me. Alas, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure meant nothing to her and she could see no purpose in her future for it.

Then my husband who is teaching Italian at the commonwealth school asked her to write 5 sentences in Italian. She couldn't do it. She didn't know what a sentence was. He told me this a little upset (I can understand that) Friday. Tuesday she came to me and asked, "Mom, what's a sentence? How do I make a sentence?" She's ready to learn.

Sometimes failing is as valuable as winning.

What we're reading:

All: Core book - BOM

Dad: Finishing Ender's Game, a western and Prophets, Principles, and National Security (I don't know what he's studying for scriptures right now)

Mom: Prince Caspin, Prophets, Principles and National Security, Making of America, and Principles of Teaching, New Testament

Scholar: Fahrenheit 451

Practice Scholar: The Making of George Washington

Love of Learner: One of her Dick and Jane Books

Core: M&M's math (go figure - I can't tell you how many times this book has been thrust into my face! lol!)

Am I brave enough to jump?

Why is that jumping off the Conveyor Belt can sometimes feel like I am going sky diving? It is that mentality that says jumping out is crazy and the majority of the people around me would never do it. For me, it can sometimes be the same with letting go of my conveyor belt mentality. Some of my friends that are more conventional, look at me like I am crazy. I often lack confidence with my choices and I am afraid that it sometimes shows, which I think can do a disservice to homeschooling in general. So while I have embraced homeschooling, I continually stress about it, hate it, then love it. Back and forth...could I please just make up my mind. So I have resolved that like other issues in my life to just make a choice and stick to it. So we are homeschoolers. We are homeschoolers and I say it over and over to myself. I keep my doubts and concerns to those who will support me in my choice and understand that I just need an understanding ear. Its kind of like breastfeeding. If you want to succeed at it then surround yourself with those who will help you succeed. If you go to someone who isn't supportive or has no experience with it, then their suggestion or advice may be to tell you to quit. I consider homeschooling my children as vital and important as I did in breastfeeding them. It is what we have as a family decided what was best. There is always that fine line between that and really knowing when it is time to quit.

So back to skydiving. My biggest hurdle right now is managing the needs of my older two kids, one emerging Love of Learning and one in Core and those of my third child who has a severe speech disorder. We are constantly in the car to his appointments and preschool. Something has to give. If we are homeschoolers then putting # 1 and 2 in public school isn't what is best for my family. But I am unable to give them and #3 the time needed. My LoL is ready to explore topics at his fingertips but there are just too many interruptions in his day and the varying schedule leaves little time for structured time. I find that not only do I have little time to study myself, but that our structured time is not happening. Neither are chores and therefore we have CHAOS in our home. So as a couple we began to explore our needs and options.
Our son's speech needs are vital. Not only do the require speech therapy out of the home but also intense speech therapy in the home. That is not happening for him and our main Speech Pathologist sees this and is instructing us to do better in this area. We have seen a huge regression lately in his speech abilities and we began to ponder how helpful is this preschool he attends 4 days a week. The only way to know is to observe. I started off by observing his outreach ST through the School district. Yet another school we travel to for ST for him. It went really great and the SP actually move the other boy out so that she could focus on J. I was really impressed. He was drooling like mad by the time the 45 mins was over which is a good indicator to me that he was working really hard.
Observing the Preschool gave the opposite results. Really. My older son attended this same preschool when he had some developmental delays and we saw him blossom. J on the other hand was alone and no one even took the time to figure out what he was saying. Twice, I figured it out for them. But I would think that with 5 adults to 18 kids that someone could have pulled him aside to work with him. I understanding not stopping the whole circles time to spend a few mins with him but with 5 adults someone could have worked with him to figure out a way for him to contribute. Speaking of contributing, nothing has been done to find other assitive ways for him to communicate in the class. On top of that the Sign Language interpreter there (because there is a deaf child in the class and we could not get her assigned in his IEP because he has no hearing loss, something that may be worth fighting) has very little interaction with him. Sign Language is one of his primary ways to communicate. Can you imagine what this is like for him.
I also observed the SP who also works with him once a week at this school. She spent maybe 5 mons with him one on one alone, in ineffectual play, maybe 2 mins in the classroom and 5 more mins in indirect contact. All of which contrary to American Speech And Hearing Association guidelines for childhood apraxia of speech. I saw three separate kids comment that his speech was funny and that they didn'tyou talk funny" and then pushed him out of the way. Not one of the 5 teachers even observed this. As a mother I wanted to cry. I understand and don't expect someone to hover over him and protect him from every unkind word and act. But to see the look on his face and then him pick himself back up and keep going. I don't want him to lose his wilingness to try and the bright light he has about the world. But I think I am beginning to seem some signs that things may not be going well. How many times has he had to endure that? Is no training on the challenges that he and other kids in the class given to the other kids? In our homeschool group I feel comforted in knowing that the others in our close knit group are mindful of the special needs that he has as well as others and are in general teaching their kids to be tolerant and mindful of those challenges that others are encountering. I know he has to face the world and endure those at some point but does a 3 year old (he will be 4 in Dec) really have to endure that now. Three times in 2 1/2 hours another child teased and in some ways bullied him. My dh has a speech disorder as well and was teased unmercifully his whole academic life in public school. While he is kind and tolerant and I wonder how he emerged from his experience with such dignity. Where is the line to draw between sheltering him from this adversity and letting it strengthen him. I just think that in general kids today can have a tendancy to be far more cruel and meaner than when my husband amd I were kids.
I felt like preschool is fun...but we are not there for preschool we are there for speech therapy. I feel issues within in the classroom are very resolvable. I just think they don't know what to do, so they have opted to do nothing or whatever. The School SP is obviously unaware of appropriate treatments for Apraxia, though she says she has experience with it. How do tell someone they are not doing it right.

Somethings got to give and I think that Preschool should be it. Am I brave enough to jump off the Special Education Conveyor belt? Could I write a bigger novel about this? I could go on. We are trying to get an Augmentative Communication Device for them and is it possible without the school districts help? If our insurance won't pay for it then they will but if they pay for it we have to give it back if we are no longer apart of public schools. I am afraid to pull him until we know. That could be months. And then there are the concerns of homeschooling a child that I don't understand 80% of what he says and he fights using the sign language. How do I know if he is learning to read and do the interactions with peers really help him to talk more?
Thanks for letting me vent, explore, and in general bounce this dilemma off of you. What to do? What to do? I am getting no divine guidance on this one or I am just not seeing it. Despite fasting, praying, Temple Attendance. Nothing. More waiting, and I am so afraid of not making the right crucial choice here. His entire future seems wrapped up in this choice and I just don't know what is right.

Heather, who is gathering her courage because I think...I can do better for him on my own. I think that it is time to just pull him and have faith that we will manage to find a way to get that augmenative communication device.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scholar Phase Quote

"I have formed my plan and am determined to enter on a course of serious study. Our own library is too well known to me, to be resorted to for anything beyond mere amusement. But there are many works well worth reading at the Park; and there are others of more modern production, which I know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon. By reading only six hours a day, I shall gain in the course of a twelvemonth a great deal of instruction which I know feel myself to want."

-Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baker Reads

I'm sorry gals, I'll try to keep up better. Life is pretty busy for me. I'm counting down the days till I get my man home with me again. We're looking at less than 40 right now!

We got part of our order in from today. I was surprised it came in as quickly as it did.

Here's what we're reading:

Shiloah (me)
Last twenty pages of Sense and Sensibility. I should finish tonight.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille (I got this in today from my book order)

Cailynn (E S)
Secret Garden
Robinson Crusoe (non abridged)
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

She has a log of books she's read and she proudly announced to me today that in the past two years she has read 54 books! WOW! I'm amazed!

Chrisy (LOL
Same as last time.

Benjamin (LOL)
Dr. Doolittle

Scriptures: We're in Mormon
Mathematicians are People Too
Last two chapters of Tom Sawyer
Dr. Seuss for the babies

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Creating an Enviroment

I have given a lot of thought this week about environment. More so on setting up a house of order and a house of learning. It got me thinking about a line from a movie, His, Hers, and Ours. "A Home is not for good impressions, but for free expressions." I don't think I can completely let go of not having a good impression, as feel that it could lead to not taking good care of it, but it does allow me to let go of much of my guilt. I would so rather just play with my kids or do something creative or just read a book than to clean my house. But when I let it go like that, then I end up having "Chaos- Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome," to quote the fly lady, who rarely visits my home anymore. I feel so bad about not inviting their friends over. But having a clean home or at bare minimum at least presentable, is more than for good impressions. We are all so much happier when it is. But when I am focused on them and not the monstrous task that is our home, I am happy too. Balance is needed. I struggle with that. But back to environment.

The most creative environment in our home is when, there is easier time constraints as well as a rhythms. We have been so busy this last two weeks in the home and it has been fabulous. I really felt like I met everyone's needs, art projects adorn our home, The upstairs is mostly presentable and perhaps we will do more downstairs today. The kids were off playing and I actually sat down and did a two-page Halloween scrapbook layout, which turned into a 4 kids and moms scrapbook session with scissors and papers and a lesson on making faux leather paper for their scrapbook pages and also the start of making a pirate map. Our studies in pioneer life have morphed into the history of pirates (there were pirates during pioneer times, right!) They spent 3 hours and my bed was just covered with creativity. We went to the Aquarium this last week and then we came home to 2 hours of researching and question bombardment on the computer to ask all the why's of the day. The list could go on about how we went with the flow and let our passions guide us the last two weeks, but the sad thing was, it all happened during DS # 3's 2 week break from therapeutic preschool and Speech Therapy. I actually had time to work with him on his speech stuff from our main Speech Pathologist. So I go back to questioning is the preschool right for him and our family. After coming off such a productive and low stress two weeks I hate the thought of going back to the rigorous schedule on Monday. While it is fun for J, but it isn't fun for anybody else. There are a few more things I am going to try for the others, before we give up, that I really need to pray and ponder how this program helps J. I think my biggest fear is the Augmentative Communication Device for J. He really does need it and if our insurance won't pay for it, then it is likely that the school district will, but if I pull him, then we have to come up with the money ourselves. So for now I am working on that scheduled environment, how can I make it work and still meet the needs of the other two.
1. Sure it takes planning.
2. New books on CD as we have gone through he standard 20 in the car many times.
3. I wonder how much a blackberry or Internet service on my cell phone would cost so we could be free to do research on a "I wonder" or "why" question.
4. During preschool time, just go to the library and read and bring some stuff to work on. I am wondering if that is easier than going home, so we are at least able to focus on learning something, rather than having the distractions of the home.

Well any ideas on that would be helpful. I need an environment that facilitates learning on the go. Perhaps looking to that "its about me" philosophy would be most helpful here. I am so inclined to run errands or just go the park next to the school (not that that isn't important as well.

Well anyhow, greetings from a very fabulous sunny Colorado week. It was just Heaven here the last two weeks. Happy belated Halloween and Harvest Festival.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Environment and Mentoring

I'm a little behind on what I'm doing here. There has been a lot going on, so I thought I would try to catch up on two subjects at the same time.

Mom: Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover. I think we have made every possible financial mistake one could make. Now to take the challenge to get out of debt.
So Sexy So Soon. Very interesting and shocking. It is about the sexualization of our children and how to prevent it, work around it, and explain things to our children that are happening long before they are ready for it.
(I started writing two children's books yesterday. I have one other I will work on through the winter for the boys (about a dragon).)

Dad: The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

Isaac: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jesse: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Hannah: Rocks
Simeon: Do I need to repeat it? Thomas the Tank Engine

Environment and mentoring. Many, many times I will be looking up something, browsing through news articles, laying awake at 4 a.m. thinking about ancient Egypt or somewhere and do research on my own. Since we have computers all over the house, the boys usually get involved in what I'm looking at or learning about and it spills over to them. Their environment around me is usually full of little tidbit things here and there of stuff I have learned and passed on. Jesse (age 8) is now getting to the point that he will read up on stuff by himself. When we go to the library every other week they are usually required to check out a fun book and a book to learn about. Bugs, aliens, rocks, weather and natural disasters, dinosaurs and dogs have been the norm lately. I get specific movies from Netflix on subjects we are learning about. Anytime my kids ask me about a subject I don't hesitate to help them research it, talk about it, find some activity that supports it, or make a way for them to pretend play about it.

As I've stated before we are learning about Colonial times this year and I have to say I think I'm learning more about it than my kids. I hope that with me being excited about learning these things they are becoming excited about the projects and learning. This week we have been learning about Colonial homes. What has my attention the most is Milk Paint. It's natural, and more colorfast than modern paints. I'm excited to try making our own and trying it out. Figuring out stuff like this leads us to learn about oiled paper, homemade candles and soap, cooking from scratch and home remedies. I love the Love of Learners. Isaac is a little more into this stage than his younger brother and it's been fun to teach Isaac, discuss stuff with him and it is simply amazing to me some of the things he remembers or figures out. Before learning about TJ Education, I think I dragged my kids along with me anyway. Homeopathic medicine, animal care, house building, arts and crafts, sewing, canning, gardening, Feng Shui, automotive care, baby care and cooking. I guess I never thought about this much before but they are always underfoot, underarm, or sitting on my desk, counter or chair with me while I work on these projects and naturally it carries over to letting them work with me. We made bread last week and I have made the recipe a couple times before, but them doing it last week, whatever they did with it, found it to be the best bread we have ever made.

The tales they'll be able to tell when they are older. Hopefully they will be good ones.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bringing Home to the Environment

We have received an opportunity to attend a Constitutional Class. Recently due to the LEMI Commonwealth school we have our two older girls in, it has come to my attention that my 11 yr old is severely lacking in some core issues when it comes to government. So I brought her with me.

It was a little boring for her, but she stuck it out until we were ending and then disappeared to find her sister. I didn't mind because it was quite a lot for an eleven yr. old. In fact, for awhile I wondered if I was doing the wrong thing. Then something funny happened. She started asking questions, and talking about things. The only time I worry about my children is when there isn't a dialogue going on!

It occurred to me that by bringing her with me, she might not be absorbing everything said, but she is in an environment where seeds of truth can be planted in her heart. Things said will come back later in conversations as the exposure begins to take hold and someday, I believe, these things will no longer be boring but passionate for her.

I would love to have these kinds of discussions in my own home. You know, passionate, informative discussions. But first I must expose. First I must inspire. Then I will get to respond. Sometimes, we as mothers have to look outside of ourselves for the inspiration to happen - and then we go get it. We bring home to the environment of inspiration.

What are we reading this week?

We are getting ready for a homestudy - which means what would normally pass the Mom inspection does not pass now. So reading is at a minimum but we are still reading...

Dad - ???

Mom - Prophets, Pinciples, and National Survival complied by Jerreld L. Newquist, King James Version Bible (NT), Making of America by Cleon Skousken, and No Doubt About It by Sheri Dew

Scholar - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury & BOM in both Italian and English

Practice Scholar - John Adams, Reluctant Patriot of the Revolution by Lenard Falkner & BOM in both English and Italian and Making of America by Cleon Skousken

Love of Learner - The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz

Core Phasers - The Very Hungry Caterpillar and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie Series...

Kindredmamma as Mentor

Reading the post of Mother as Mentor really got me thinking about the TJed philosophy, "Teach what is mine." This is a very appropriate focus for my mostly Core Learners and for when the enter LoL. I have struggled with this because, what is mine, doesn't feel like enough. Therefore, I need some more "what is mine." After all I must chart the path of example in order for them to follow. So I have begun reading a lot and sharing what I am learning. But when it comes down to it, until I have broadened my own horizons, I am really all about the fiber and paper arts. So lately I have begun to teach A and C how to knit and I let them have some scrapbooking supplies just so they will be busy so I can scrapbook, but check out this site. What a prefect solution.

SCORE!!! Right now I would just love for the Hockey Jams song to come on (they one they play whenever my favorite teams (the Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks) Score. (I am sure other teams have this song too in the NHL, but that is not my focus).

I will write more later becasue we are off to the scrapbooking store. I figure it is a lot like scrapbooking and notebooking combined. "Hey!! It's educational, so I have a GOOD excuse to spend more money on my paper fetish!" Well that and I have coupons for Michaels, JoAnn's, and Hobby Lobby that are burning a hole in my pocket.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mother as Mentor

Mothers are mentors where they like to think of themselves as such, they are. We as mothers really do inspire, motive, and we teach.

The past 3 weeks have been difficult for me and many outside things came up. Due to these disturbances I have been feeling "stressed" in our homeschool and thinking I should do more. Then reality hits. I do so much I cannot add anything more or the scale will break. It was during one of those moments when I had to go to my room to think and contemplate life, homeschool, and my role. I prayed that I could sort out the what's and why's again. I needed inspiration and needed to be reminded what I do as a mentor.

When the answers came I realized how I inspire my children. I realized how I mentor them. Sometimes it really is important to re-evaluate life and homeschool.

I'm going to make a small list of things that I came to a realization that I do personally as a mentor and what they do to inspire my children. Perhaps this list will help you remember the things you do too.

  • I run a business online (for 10 years): it has taught my children how to run a business and all about customer service.
  • I write articles and wrote a book: my children love to write and are always jotting down notes.
  • I am a social butterfly: my children socialize well too.
  • Healthy eating, exercise, and wellness are very important to me: my children are accepting to a variety of foods, are accepting of herbs and vitamins, and study my books with relish.
  • I love homemaking. It is my passion: my children all love homemaking, one daughter studies cookbooks, my son tries to help cook, my eldest is an expert at all things mechanical around the house like the vacuum.
  • My religion is my life: my children have testimonies of God, they enjoy scripture study time, FHE, and love going to church. They enjoy being involved in church activities and the older ones try hard to read scriptures often.
  • Books are like Food to me: my children are read to from birth. They love reading and being read to. Just tonight my toddler pulled out one of my books from a book shelf and flipped through it with interest for ten minutes.
When you are feeling that you do not do enough, take time to write down things that you do or have done and the positive affects it has had on your children. Your list may surprise you!

Baker Reads

Sorry, ladies, live got very hectic for me and so I hope to get back on track by next week.

Mom (Shiloah)

Still working on Jane Eyre
and Sense and Sensibility

Cailynn: LOL/Scholar

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Robinson Crusoe (which she plans to take with her to the youth temple trip to work on)
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Chrisy: LOL

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Benjamin Franklin Young Printer

Benjamin: Core/LOL

Dr. Doolittle

Monday, October 20, 2008

What We've Been Doing

Last week was a bust. I managed to do maybe 2 days worth of school. The rest of it I flopped on. Last week was about sewing, clothes, material, did a field trip to a sewing store so we could feel different samples of cloth, and I attempted to make a colonial style skirt for Hannah and me. Well, a seamstress I am not. Somehow the skirt is higher on the sides than the front and back and the elastic waist looks terrible. I've not returned to the project.

This week we are doing cooking. Already we've tried doing some cast iron cooking. The boys made a rice casserole last week in it and let's just say it didn't come out as tasty as I was hoping. We made up for it by making a dutch baby (puff pancake) for breakfast the next day. I think this week will be a little easier though. We are working on some grammerical stuff to, like synonyms, antonyms and homonyms. We did some haiku poems. Had to share this with you. It's about diaper wipes. Maybe you can guess what Jesse has been learning to do?

Reach in Dispenser
If you could hear what I smell
Swoosh, fresh baby butt

They will also be learning about table setting and some nursery rhymes this week too. Ugh. I've been listening to some of those songs on Not for the faint of heart. We all commented on how they sounded like amped up versions of Barney songs. But, it's for history's sake, so we'll listen.

As for daily life, last week was kinda rough. While I have long suspected it and was not surprised when the therapists suggested Simeon was autistic (not Asperger's) it was still a shock to hear it become reality. I know that there has been a suggestion of the correlation between vaccinations and autism. I read through some old emails last night and found that 5 days after he had gotten his 9 month vaccinations is when he spiked a fever of 104.5 for a week straight, and after that, it seemed he had lost a lot of his abilities. Does a mother ever stop feeling guilt? Should I have gotten him the vaccines? Was there more I could have done earlier to help him? How do you not feel sadness for what will seem like a life long struggle for him...but he's always smiley and happy?

So, anyway, that was the main thing that set me back last week.

Family Reading
Erma Bombeck Aunt Erma's How to Cope in 12 Days
Abigail Adams: Girl of Colonial Days

Isaac and Jesse
Adam Lost books


Thomas the Tank Engine (same three books he always checks out)

C.S. Lewis The Four Loves (hmm...seems to be more classically minded than his wife) :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Reading

I thought I would get a jump on this week since I totally forgot last week.
Let's see

I am reading:
Sarah's Quilt
Resumed reading Jane Eyre
The Read Aloud Handbook

Son (core/LoL)

Daughter (core)
Bob Books
being read aloud to: Anne of Green Gables

Family Reading
Gospel Principles

It is a light week since we are busy doing fall festivities. Oh and we just went to the library to get a bunch of books on frogs as some friends of ours just gave us two frogs. My daughter is really excited.

This week I have struggled with the SECURE, not stressed aspect of TJed. I suppose as mothers we all worry about whether or not we are doing the best for our kids. As a mom of all core children, I am not always able to see the end picture. I struggle with trusting in the process, and yet I have seen it be successful in other families. I find myself caught in the trap of comparing my children to others or worry that I didn't do enough to "educate" them. While I realize that these can be "conveyor belt" mentalities, never the less, forsaking them is hard to do. It is hard to change the thought process and to view as what seems a little accomplishment is actually a lot or in reality it just doesn't take as much time to ready our children for the world as it would seem to do in the public school education. At least this is the thought I am holding on to for now. I see all to often that my structured time is interfered with or that I can not give my time to that "magical moment" or that opportunity for QUALITY, that one of my kids are in at the time, because we have to leave for another appointment for our son with special needs. So lately I am struggling with the Secure aspect and I am feeling a LOT of STRESS.

Well, back to deep breaths and baby steps. Did Rachel DeMille Say 1 day in 10 is good? I think that that is doable, definitely not hitting 5 in 7.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Fourth Year

I realized today while I was talking to my sister how I have changed as a homeschooler. When I made the decision to homeschool I think my family thought I had lost my ever-loving mind. Over and over I heard about socialization, "don't you want the break with them in school?", and just flat out WHY? Over and over I explain my reasons. I always feel like I somehow lose the arguement which then gets me to start waffling on my decision to continue to homeschool or send them off to public school. So far, I've held my ground, but I wonder how often this thought crosses homeschooling parents' minds.

I thought I would list some of the things I've noticed about our homeschooling style.

Past: workbooks
Now: more hands on, creative play and projects.

Past: clock watcher (HAD to get 4 hours in and freaked out if I ran out of stuff for them to do before 4 hours)
Now: I watch the clock for certain subjects, like math. They should be able to get 10problems done in 15 minutes, right?

Past: Thought school had to be done at a table and on a chair.
Now: School can be done in the car, on the trampoline, on the porch, on the coffee table. We still try to start at the table, but I'm not as strict about staying there.

Past: Was overwhelmed with information out there for homeschoolers: the curriculums, the methods, the groups.
Now: Know what I want and search out particular things.

Past: Overwhelmed the kids with a schedule that none of us could ever possibly keep.
Now: Schedule lessons/themes for the week, and only plan for Monday through Thursday, with Friday as a day for catch up, or if there is one day that life takes over and we do no school.

I'm feeling more confident in my decision to homeschool and more at ease. When I consider the possibility of sending the kids back to school I actually start to panic a bit. My help will be gone, who will I talk to all day, what would I do with my time, I'll miss them. I really enjoy homeschooling. I said before that we are doing the Epic Adventure and I'm LOVING it!! I am learning just as much as they are, probably more (and probably enjoying it much more than they are). It is very much how I envisioned doing homeschool with the kids from the very beginning. I won't lie: there was a ton of learning I had to do to even get to this point. Maybe some beginning homeschoolers don't realize that. You have to and will grow as you homeschool.

What have you learned as you have homeschooled your children?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Dinner - A Time to Discuss

I checked to see if anyone had written about mealtime before I added my two cents, since in two hours it'll be time for a new topic! Alas, there are weeks that require time away from the computer - this was one of mine.

I wanted to share how much I love mealtimes where we are all present and we have fun/meaningful discussions. I add the fun in there because there is no discussion that my husband is involved in that isn't fun! He just has that knack.

We once had a friend come over to dinner (a single, male friend, mind you). We like to invite friends over because they bring to the "table" new and fresh ideas. Before we even started with the prayer, the kids had already had three light discussions and one serious one with him. I sat down to eat, and David says to me, "The energy in this room is electrifying. They're all highly intelligent."

Wasn't that a sweet thing for him to say? I know he was being earnest with me too, because I've been told the same thing by others. I not only allow my children to discuss topics at dinner, but encourage it. I want them to grow up being not only able to articulate themselves, but comfortable in doing so. What better way to learn this than in a loving environment, with the comfort of good food setting the mood?

Just today at lunch my oldest (14) and I were discussing what "running in different circles" means. She had mentioned that she never sees the son of a friend of ours at church because he's older, and they don't hang out with the same people. So I said, "Oh - you run in different circles, huh?" She stated that not only did she not know what that meant, but half the time she had a hard time understanding my vocabulary. With my 11 & 7 yr olds listening and chiming in here and there, we discussed how reading classics could increase one's vocabulary, and how maybe Clive Cussler, great author though he is, might not cut the mustard for one's education.

I admit, it was lost on the boys, but the twins are still learning the core lesson of not conducting a food fight, so I'm okay with that. :)

Family dinner - great time for family/group discussions. A good source for discussion starters (if you're lacking some ideas), is The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by ED Hirsch. Good stuff.

What we're reading THIS week (with notes about last week's reading):

Dad - The Road to Serfdom (to be completed by Thurs for colloquia)
BOM (I forgot to add our core books on the list the last few posts!)

Mom - The Road to Serfdom (yep - done by Thurs)
Making of America
The Constitution of the United States
(Jane Austen got put on the back burner)

Scholar - Brisingr
Intelligro Math
BOM (In English AND Italian)

Practice Scholar - Caddie Woodlawn
(note - last week she read the entire book of The Red Scarf Girl! She has never read a whole book in a week - she surprised herself and I'm so very proud of her! Talk about material for great discussions!)
She's picked up a core book of American Nursery Rhymes and is educating herself of some of the rhymes and songs that it contains that she somehow missed earlier.
BOM (In English AND Italian)

Love of Learner - We just finished tonight Pheobe the Spy!
Great Expectations (almost done!)
Has BOM read to her.

Core - They LOVE those "Values" books. The ones that are biographies about different famous people, but they throw in an imaginary friend so the story is explained without it being too dry for little ears. My LOL loves these too. We have several and sometimes I'll pick up others from the library that we don't have. My 5 yr old has picked these up again, so we're reading these along with Mother Goose Rhymes. I also read the BOM to them.

Family - New Testament, King James Bible
So You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? (we took a break last week)

Group Discussion

This week was a little off so one night we sat down to finish up school for the day after supper. The topic turned to death and age, and I have really been wanting to have a talk about how they are a chosen generation and what that meant. Isaac had mentioned a few times that he was scared to die and this was another moment we took to discuss why we shouldn't be scared of death. Isaac made the familiar "It's so hard to..." excuse.
Oh, how we all complain at some point or another about how hard something is. Life, tests, school, car problems, whatever. Name it and we've probably complained at some point about how hard life is.
We talked about Joseph Smith and his trials. We talked about the pioneers. We talked about the apostles and life after Jesus died. We talked about my struggles, our families hardships, the colonists (Jamestown and Mayflower) hardships and the list went on. Eventually we weren't even talking about what we were "supposed" to be talking about or on track with our school work. I don't know if it helped quell Isaac's fears, but I had their attention for about an hour. By the time they had to go bed no one really wanted to as we had enjoyed that time together, the talk, and the questions that were brought up.
As was stated on here before, I also bought the Noble Birthright Curious Beings Epic Adventure. I have learned so much in the three short weeks we've been studying it. The points that are presented, especially scriptural, have opened up some huge discussions on the topics. I don't think Curtis and I have had as many discussions about something in a really long, long time. It is drawing us closer. It is opening up many more facets for us to follow. It has been wonderful.

Group Discussion

I am running a little late with my posting this week.

For us, it seems our whole life is a group discussion. There are many opportunities to discuss with my children, who are mostly in core stage, a principle of truth or right and wrong. It is as if they are compelled to ask the why of things, well Cassie does and Andrew is wondering about things. They are close in some ways, but the two seem different, questions and wondering, that is.

Cassie is in the "Why" stage or as she is more likely to phrase it, "How do you know?" I find it challenging not to get frustrated by the constant questions. I should more wisely remind myself of the opportunity for discussion and learning, but sometimes a little silence is nice. I suppose if it was just her it wouldn't feel so noisy, but with the addition of three other voices wanting to be heard and acknowledge, it would be more easier to recognize. But in writing this it gives me a chance to ponder the opportunities I have with her and those times with her often brings in the boys too.

Andrew, while only 15 months older than her, is in that "7-year old wonder" stage. I need to pull that book off the shelf again...note to self. His statements are simple, "I wonder why....? Followed by, "Mom, can we go to the Library so I can get a book on..." Or can we go to Unfortunately the Library is often only a once a week trip, and so the wonder can often be lost by not seizing it right then. I suppose when Jeremy's rigid speech therapy schedule slows down, we will be able to do that more. And perhaps, if I wasn't driving the car, I could write it down to remind him when we get to the library next. Perhaps a digital recorder would work, so I could replay them to myself. I am a in the moment kind of person. If it isn't written, recorded or repeatedly brought to my attention, its gone. While our home is filled with books for just in case they are interested, for when they are older and for when I get to the time, there is just no way to be prepared for everything.

Jeremy and Seth both young are in a discovery stage. They live what they do and experience things fully. Like pudding last night. Little Seth was so was filthy by the time it was finished and my dh made a great statement about his eating pudding. He said, "Mommy (speaking for Seth) I experience my pudding!" And that is what those two boys do. They point, they ooh and aah. They "stop and smell the roses," or other flowers, weeds, insects. Anything that comes along their path. I try and make time to go at there pace. Especially on Fridays, when the older two kids are at the Options school (a one day a week school for homeschoolers with mostly electives at their ages). Fridays are at least partially devoted to what the little boys want to do.

While it may seem that I went off on a tangent, those stages they are in are prime opportunities for discussion in our home. The trick is to seize upon them or be mindful of them and go back to them. Or best opportunity for group discussion has been family scripture study with our central book and also during family home evening, a once a weekly spiritual family night. I hope to implement an opportunity every morning to have a little spiritual devotional time, but with our schedule, I am going to have to be more diligent. Though we do have scripture study it would be nice to go back to what we had been doing before Jeremy's therapy and preschool schedule started up this fall. One of the moms in the colloquium I attend shared with us what she did and that was to go through a little of the Gospel Principles Manual (those who are LDS would know what I was talking about) daily with her kids. I wonder if they have that available on CD?

So there it is, in a mostly core phase perspective. There are many opportunities all day to discuss with my family what I am doing and why, what I am reading, though they mostly look at my wide eye as if to say, "that's nice mom." But I find that more often than not, discussions come frome their curiosity at whatever level they are at, both spoken and unspoken. They have become wonderful opportunities to discuss life and the world to them and then patiently watch for signs that they want things more in detail. For Andrew it is often a time to go online or to the library and really find out more than just a basic answers as he often wants more information. Or there is Cassie, who really does just wants a strait forward answer, Then finally Jeremy and Seth, who love to learn the names of things in there world and basic descriptions of color and motion of things.


Our Reading

Sarah's Quilt- Nancy Turner (For Women's Colloquim)
The Last Lecture- Randy Pausch

Andrew Core/emerging LoL
Vacation Under the Volcano- Mary Pope Osborne
The Lost Wreck of the Isis- Robert D. Ballard

Family Reading With Jeremy, Cassie, and Seth (Core)

The Call of the Wild
Little House on the Prarie-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baker Reads

Shiloah (me)-
Reading Sense and Sensibility
Starting Jane Eyre

Cailynn- LOL/Scholar
Finishing Farmer Boy- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mysterious Island- Jules Vern

Group Discussion

An important element in the teaching environment for us in our home is Group discussion. There are so many of us that it is the most efficient way of teaching in our home.

Our group discussions consist of many topics and happen at varying times. Here are some examples of group discussions we hold:

  • Scripture reading and discussion
  • Family book reading and discussion
  • Corrective training and ensuing discussions
  • Family Counsel ends up in discussions of various topics
  • School subject group discussions
My children really seem to enjoy group discussions, especially when they have a voice and are respected for it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Renting

Dawn shared this website with me and I thought I'd pass it on!
Rent books like you do netflix in the mail!

Check it out:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Baker Reads

Shiloah (me)-

Finished Robinson Crusoe
Reading Sense and Sensibility

Cailynn- LOL/Scholar
Mystery of the 99 Steps - Nancy Drew
Missing Chums -Hardy Boys
Farmer Boy- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mysterious Island- Jules Vern

Chrisy- LOL
Matchlock Gun
Benjamin Franklin, Young Printer
Various cookbooks

Benjamin- LOL

The Stories of Dr. Doolittle

Introduction: The Butikofer Family

I've known for some time that I would homeschool my family (3 kids- 6yob, 4yob, 3 yog).  It took Jessie a while to be supportive of this decision.  We put our oldest in a half day pre-k, but pulled him out the next year.  School was changing him, and not in  a positive way.
I didn't know what direction I was to go in.  I knew was what I didn't want-- School at Home.  I knew that I wanted to teach from real books--not textbooks.  Shiloah lent me her copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education some time last year.  I finished it in no time.  I knew this was type of education I wanted my children to get-- it's the education I wanted.  I loved the emphasis on me getting a good education and learning from the classics.  

Maxwell hasn't been too keen on learning anything from me.  I remember starting out homeschooling last year, and every day it was a fight to get him to DO anything.  Yesterday I received Math-U-See's Primer set in the mail.  I wanted to get a feel for what the kids would learn, so I popped in the DVD and watched it with the kids.  After we stopped, Maxwell pulled down the white board and wrote out his numbers 0-9 and mimicked  what he saw on the DVD.  He absolutely hates to write, so I was shocked to say the least.  He and Blake spent about 45 minutes playing Math.  This morning I took out the student books and thought I'd see if there was interest.  Both boys took the bait and stayed busy for about 30 minutes.  We cleaned up, and did some other activities.  Later this afternoon, Maxwell pulls out the student book AGAIN!  I couldn't believe it.  He told me just two days ago that he didn't want to learn math or reading because it's too hard, and here he is voluntarily working.  My heart was full of joy-- almost to tears.  I have seen-- especially in that child-- the importance of waiting until the child is ready to learn.  I'm not quite sure if it's Inspire, Not Require of You, Not Them.  Perhaps a little of both.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Children: Entrepreneurs in Training

My children see their mother earning a living online with the things that I'm passionate about: homemaking and motherhood. They inspire me now with their efforts.

It is said that teaching your children to be entrepreneurs is one of the important things you can teach your children as it involves: planning, discipline, math, organizational skills, money, people skills, etc. I took this to heart and bought my children the book "Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to make it Big". It is written to teach and inspire children to earn money on their own. It is filled with creative ideas, stories and testimonials from other children. My kids cart this book around everywhere, and especially when they are setting up their next "selling booth".

Several years ago, my kids set up a lemonade stand on our street corner on a hot, sunny Texas afternoon. They had a table, chairs, ice cold lemonade, paper cups and a big colorful sign. They had people literally lined up to buy lemonade. As it neared supper time I had to drag them and the stand back inside. They didn't want to stop earning money! We counted up their till. They earned over $40 and each glass of lemonade was only 25 cents!

Every time we have a garage sale, my kids make up brownies and cookies to sell at the garage sale. They never seem to price the items above 25 cents and they sell like hotcakes. All the kids are there with their money and the adults love homemade baked goods!

Last month, the girls decided they wanted to sell baked goods again. I told them the best time was in the late afternoon when all the kids were out. They made two varieties of cookies with a sample plate. The cookies were brown sugar shortbread cookies and coconut macaroons. They set up their table in front of the house and make a bright colorful sign. They borrowed my red and white checkered tablecloth to make it more homey since they were selling fresh baked goods. Immediately the sales rolled in. No one even cared about the samples. At 25 cents a cookie no kids could resist and most kids have that much change lying around. The adults were buying too. When a car would drive in or out of our court, they would stop and buy a cookie or two. Just when I had come outside to tell them to wrap it up, a woman pulled up in her jeep and said she wanted all the cookies left. She bought them all for her and her kids to snack on while they traveled home. The girls were super excited by that last sale! They made over $20 on cookies!

My two eldest daughters, Cailynn and Chrisy, have a mentor teaching them how to crochet. They are both excellent at the chains and I'm trying to be patient with the long chains all over the house. They finally came up with a use for this talent too. They are making belts, bracelets, toe rings, and anklet "chains". They reasonably priced them at, you guessed it, 25 cents! They had so many kids lined up tonight when I called them in, that they promised to finish the "orders" tomorrow.

"It goes to show you that every business venture- no matter how small- is worthwhile. And every entrepreneur, no matter how young, can become a big success!" - Bill Rancic, Beyond the Lemonade Stand

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Fish Traps

I was so interested in the Curious Beings Epic Adventure, I bought the Noble Birthright curriculum. So far I'm loving it! I'm learning more than the kids probably are, but it is fitting in nicely with our school and I think the kids are getting something out of it, at least occasionally.

Like the Indian Fish Trap project we decided to do this week.

I looked up how to make these simple traps. I wasn't going to get real technical about it since we are not "outdoorsmen". A bottle, some string, a box cutter and duct tape is all we needed. Cut the top of the bottle off, invert it back into the bottle, punch some holes around the rim, tie it together, add your string, and tape it for good measure. We were ready. Off we march to the pond/swamp/lake.

Jesse with the trap. (Anyone notice how short the string is?)

The choice location

Baiting the trap with bread

The Launch

Simeon getting grossed out by the algae as we pull the trap in

SNAPP!!! The string broke and the trap is floating freely in the pond.

Now to try and get it out, with branches at least 10 feet too short.

Branches didn't work and we had nothing else to try to get it out with, so we decide to pack up and return later with intentions of fishing out the trap (no pun intended, hahahhahhhaaa).

We return with Curtis and three more traps. All of which snap, get loose or get thrown out too far and we loose all of them. Curtis, not wanting to get in trouble for polluting local lakes/ponds or endangering wildlife, wades into the pond to retrieve all the traps. I don't think he was enjoying himself to the fullest.

Notice the big knot in the line. He was also grossed out by the algae. I don't suppose it's because he had to step into it and now his shoes are full of it?

But, here's the ray of hope!!! We caught a fish!! He was in the first trap we put out. We released him right after his picture was taken.

All in all the only casualty was a pair of Curtis' shoes. A friend of his from work happened to stop by too and helped us get the other traps we lost in by use of his fishing pole. I think if we do this ever again, it would work better in a stream or river. The fish were biting around 1:00 pm because after we lost the first trap we saw fish jumping around it and saw some of them in the bottle. I do know these traps work, so if its ever a need that we have to catch our own fish, this will work if no other means are available (like the grocery store, or even your own fishing pole).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Salisbury Reading and Other Comments

Out here in Nebraska, we don't have a colloquium. I would love to have one, but as such so far, I'm one of a handful of spread out families that homeschool here. I'll just have to include myself in your colloquiums from a distance. *wink, wink* Curtis and I have read some books and discussed them. When I can pry him away from the computer we usually have some really good discussions.

I wanted to list some of the books that I have found to be really good and interesting.

The Secret Life of Bees (This is one of my favorites and just read it this spring).
Anne of Green Gables and other books by L.M. Montgomery
Bleed, Blister, And Purge: A History Of Medicine On The American Frontier
No Time on My Hands (Pinnacle Joe's wife's memoirs; she revitalized quilting)
A Midwife Story (Midwife that delivered for the Amish)

This week we are reading:
Dawn: Robinson Crusoe
Erma Bombeck: When you look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.
Native Americans in Nebraska

Isaac and Jesse (LOL): Flower Fables
The Tempest (Shakesphere)

Hannah: (Core) Still working on Fancy Nancy

Simeon: (Core)Thomas Train books (He spelled TRAIN this week from memory)!

Getting to Know You

Do you remember that song, Getting to know you? Was it the sound of music? Hopefully I won't be busted by posting off topic here, but let me just say that in checking out all the links and blogs from this blog and reading some and "getting to know you." has been a blast. Welcome to my tribe ladies!
What a privilege and inspiration to get to know you. That and now my blog has a new makeover, since y'all (that is what little is left of having been born in Texas) are such crafty bloggers, I just had to "LLLovingLLLy LLLift the whole download some background pages for your blog. Must go to bed...spent too much time playing on my blog.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Colloquim Perspective

I have had the privilege over the last year to participate in a women's colloquium with a small group of dynamic mothers. Women who are a strength and a vital force in my life. While we haven't been able to participate in the children's groups it has for a while due to our family's schedule, I fight very hard for my one night a month with them. Let me just be perfectly honest and say the books are not my favorite part our group. I love the potluck dinners we share together. Imagine a group of mothers bonding around a meal, sharing our excitements, sorrows, and concerns. The food is a vast array of our uniqueness that at times inspires a recipe exchange. And the funny times where we all brought dessert and then had to order Chinese. But mostly it is the encouragement and sisterhood that is gained from it. It is in part a small village and their influence at these meetings impacts my role as a woman, mother and wife. When too much time passes in between our gatherings, I miss these women. I would have to say that they are my De facto Indian tribe. Sometimes I want to just build a tepee for myself and my family so so we can go live with Rhonda, Robin, Britta, Syndi, Rachel, Marie and their families. Instead I live in a city where we have to drive at least twenty minutes to see any of those people. When I read the words about Kindred Spirits in The Anne of Green Gables books these women are that to me.

Well now I guess I should speak on the books that bring my "tribe" together. This month we are reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And let me just say that I could totally use some "highly effective habits," who couldn't? This particular book, as is many of the books we chose, is on the list for the 5 Pillars Certification from George Wythe University, a TJed resource. This one in particular gave me a sense of where DeMille gets the "you, not them" philosophy. I am only 2 chapters into it, and now I wonder why I procrastinated in reading it. I will say that next month I am going to request that we read something for fun. I need a break from this genre. I may just suggest Robinson Crusoe since some of you are enjoying it so much! I haven't read that yet.

What is my family reading?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Jane Eyre

Andrew (Core..with occasional bursts of LOL)
Buffaloes Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House Series)
Newly into reading recipes and cooking. His new self-appointed job
Children's Illustrated version of Treasure Island

Cassandra (Core- not yet reading, so I read to her)
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Jeremy and Seth (core)
Thomas Trains books
And we are always in search of the Letter F this week and we search for it in every book we read.

Family Reading time books
Little House in the Big Woods
The Blue Fairy Book
Skillet Bread, Sourdough and Vinegar Pie
The Scriptures
A Child's History Of America


We are beginning our first colloquium this month and are reading Robinson Crusoe. Wow, is this an amazing book! I can hardly put it down. I should finish it tonight or tomorrow. I'm trying my hardest to keep my mouth quiet about it around my friends who are reading. It is hard since books become such a part of me and open my eyes to the world in a new way.

Classic books change the way I view life and inspires me to be a better person, or reminds me of things I shouldn't do or try. I would much rather see an example of how a choice changed another person's life for better or worse and apply it to my memory rather than go through the trial or struggles myself.

In a colloquium, we can share and be inspired by what others drew from the book. Whatever things stood out to others can be an addition source of inspiration and consideration when we review the book in our minds.

I recently read Anna Karenina. It was so powerful and literally changed my life. I wished I could have discussed it with someone else who had read the book. I hate the fact that as I discuss it I may spoil a part of the book when talking about how it affected me. With colloquium we can do just that! No more feeling alone in this amazing journey through a new book!

In applying this to homeschooling as well our children can learn in the same way. My older girls love to discuss their books with me. It has a better result when I have read the book too, and thankfully I have for most of them.

When I was homeschooled around the age of twelve, I had a best friend who inspired me to read Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series. I fell in love with these books- and Anne- immediately. What made it more fun was the opportunity to discuss each book with my friend. I tried to tell my mom about them, but she hadn't read them and so we couldn't have the same deep discussion or share the same hope for Anne marrying Gilbert.

In writing this post it reminded me that the YOU not THEM is important in this as we are the mentors/ examples. It also reminded me that I need to get the ball rolling in having my girls become involved in a small colloquium too.

Environment #2 - Colloquium

I'm going to post on colloquium from a "You not them" standpoint.

My scholar's personality is such that she really doesn't like colloquium - she endures it. Although she has asked me to read the same scriptures with her in order to have colloquium with her over the readings because her seminary home study manual states she has to write what she's getting out of it. She says other than writing down the scriptures, she has no idea what to say. This from a girl who has already gone through two years of LEMI Commonwealth with teachers excited about her papers. So she sees a NEED for it, even if it's not her favorite thing.

I LOVE colloquium - I miss it when I don't get to go. I hope Tracy gets on here and talks about hosting one - I go to hers. Colloquium, in an environment that allows you to speak freely (Tracy does this well) is an excellent source. You get varying opinions to open your mind - to see how other people think, as well has having new perspectives that you would never get just reading it by yourself.

Just because a book resounds with you doesn't mean it will with another. For instance, we recently read Man of the Family. I didn't get to go to that colloquium, but I talked to Tracy and another member about it recently. They all thought it was a fabulous book - I hated it. It is not a classic for me and will never be on my shelf! If I had been at the group, I still would have voiced my thoughts because Tracy allows everyone to have their own experience. I can see where if it is not a safe environment voices would be stifled, and learning would not progress.

I think that's important to remember as we offer colloquium for our children.

I've also recently made an interesting observation. Cultural differences! I'm LDS, living in an LDS environment, but because my family are recent converts and we come from Texas, the way Russ and I express ourselves is completely different than the way most of the people in our group do. Russ told them recently that he hated the book 1984 so much he went outside and chopped it into pieces. Shocked me a little, since it was my book! The difference was I thought it was funny - Texans are passionate people! The people in our group thought he was nuts. It bothered me a little until I thought about the cultural difference. They have been brought up in a much more reserved atmosphere, where we were brought up to embrace passions and act upon them. I don't think either are wrong - they're just different. That is something to consider when you're in a group - not everyone has been brought up the same.

I look forward to reading what everyone else has to say. :)

What we're reading this week:

Dad - I have no idea.

Me - Mansfield Park - I've never read a Jane Austen book!

My scholar - this has been interesting. Last week she was reading a Clive Cussler book and she started telling me how she was disenchanted with his writing style. I told her maybe she needs to take a break, and her dad told her how she needed to realize that writers are people who use the power of the pen to get across their own ideas to the people. They talked about how Clive Cussler had written a book where he wrote the whole story in metric because he felt the US should go to metric since the rest of the world had. They had a colloquia right then and there over the books she had read - it was interesting to watch! She is waiting for my Amazon order to come in today to start on one of the books from LEMI that starts this Friday.

My practice scholar - she's pouring over drawing books. She has started her own blog to showcase her work as she practices.

My love of learning girl - We're slowly getting through that Charles Dickens book, and the name of the book she reads for her liberty girls is Pheobe the Spy by Jean Fritz.

My Core boys - I decided to do nursery rhymes with them. I did this with my love of learner a yr or two ago and we had such fun - I thought the boys might like to do spider cakes and fluffy marshmallow lambs, so we're doing that. I like the checkerboard book - a lady at colloquium does not. Another example of YOURS, not MINE. :)

As a family: We're still getting through You Want Women To Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Environment #1: Lecture

Well, here goes. I go off on tangents and then when I take a breath, notice my childrens' glazed over eyes, or that they aren't even in the room anymore, I rethink my plan of lecturing.

Before I had kids, I taught at a public school and had the fortune of attending a conference in which I got to choose a class on story telling. How to do it "interestingly". The first rule is to NOT HAVE THE BOOK IN FRONT OF YOU. What? You mean I can't READ the book to the children? I have to TELL them the story? Have any of you read those books about the African spider, Anansi? They are kinda like the Aesop Fables, only with African touches to them. In one of the books, the story is about a rock. The instructor told us to go find a rock and then proceeded to show us how to just lay the rock on the floor and tell the kids the story, all centered on that rock. I tried it the next week with the class. I'm so painfully shy sometimes, but I sucked it up and tried it out. It was awesome! The kids were attentive and quiet. I was out of my seat and talking with my hands, but that rock was the main focus of the story and it was really a wonderful lesson to me and how to teach children. Who doesn't love an object lesson?

I know this isn't supposed to be about story telling, but rather about lecturing. I have one kid with ADHD who is super smart but just can't sit still long enough to get the whole lesson in. I have another one that would rather read all day. I have two others that if it doesn't involve trains or something that fits into a specific agenda (say, tea party, wearing the color pink, or asking why she wasn't the first born child), I'm not getting anywhere. I've discovered that if I can come up with object lessons or something that involves movement, I get some great results.

This year I started out with a curriculum based on the classics. I got copies of the McGuffey readers, spelling lists, and grammar lessons from the 1800's. They are so cool, but I gotta tell you, boy some of that stuff is dry and puts me to sleep while I'm trying to teach it to the kids. Snooze fest! (Sorry, should I not say that too loudly?) We all better start wearing football helmets our heads bob around so much. I decided to do more oral stuff with the kids and shorten the lessons. This is helping; they see us making progress and feel like they got somewhere and at the end of the week we do a bit of review and move on if they got the concepts. I know they need more writing experience, so I'm not abandoning the lessons completely, but I found I get more back when we all get to participate instead of just me droning on.

I think I'm going to try that storytelling out a bit more than I have.

Salisbury Family Reading

Mom: I picked up Robinson Crusoe today. The original wasn't in, so I got the illustrated version. I also really wanted to check out a book on the Lost Colony of Roanoke, after researching some stuff online. Never found anything at the library about it. Bummer.

Isaac (Love of Learning): I think reading is still a bit hard for him. His eyes don't work together so it makes tracking difficult, but I find him reading more and more the less I prod. He's into the Weird School books. I hear they are really funny. Ugh..and Captain Underpants. Dribble. (but who doesn't enjoy some of that now and then?)

Jesse (Love of Learning): He's reading BeastQuest. He is Curtis' #1 fan for computer games, so he loves this fantasy sci-fi stuff. But, he's also read Moby Dick, Black Beauty and a few other classics.

Hannah (Core): Fancy Nancy. She's doing pretty good on reading the site words. Curious George and Dora books are not far behind.

Simeon (Core): anything with trains: Thomas the Tank Engine specifically. He clears out the whole shelf. He's not really interested in any other books...wait, take that back. Recipe books. I have to fight with him for them. He sleeps with them, eats with them, they go to the bathroom, church, stores, appointments and for rides with him.

As a family:
Aesop Fables
Flower Fables (Louisa May Alcott)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baker Reads

Cailynn (12) Practice Scholar

Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott
Hardy boys #4 Missing Chums by Franklin W. Dixon
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Charisa (11) LOL
Matchlock Gun
Benjamin Franklin, A Young Printer

Benjamin (9) LOL

Pirate's In the Afternoon (Magic Treehouse) by Mary Pope Osborn

Shiloah (Me)

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The Lecture Environment

Lecture: n.

1. An exposition of a given subject delivered before an audience or a class, as for the purpose of instruction.
2. An earnest admonition or reproof; a reprimand.

I feel that every healthy learning environment automatically has an element of lecturing going on. An example in our home happened recently after scripture study. We are reading in 3rd Nephi about the parable of the lost sheep. What a perfect time it was to turn the parable into a positive and influential lecture time. It was a topic that was weighing heavily on my mind because of how much I love my friends who are having difficult times right now. I used the analogy that President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of so often in his home, "No empty seats in Heaven." I asked them to look at each other and asked how they would feel if one of us did not make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but the rest of us did. Wouldn't we miss that person terribly? Every child was sober and listening intently. They nodded their heads sadly. I then spoke of our helping those we know outside of our family. Benjamin went so far as to name several of his friends that he would miss terribly. I then turned the lecture into an open forum/discussion and asked what we can do to help those we love and befriend to stay on the straight and narrow path. After the influential and sober lecture, it naturally turned into a lively and positive discussion.

Lectures are a necessary part of learning. When we go to college we listen to lectures. We internalize and take it the aspects that can change us or that affect us. When we go to church, we have lessons many times in the lecture format. Lectures can be powerful learning tools.

I have many positive memories of lectures from my parents that are still with me today. To lecture someone or a group of people takes time, energy, and effort. It is a labor of love because more often that not we are doing it for their good and because we love them.

Lecturing in the homeschooling environment can come in various subjects and for various reasons. The reason could be anywhere from the importance of making our beds to why math is important and how everyone will use it in some form another in life.

Recently, several of my children became "pyromaniacs" and were caught a couple of times lighting small things on fire (i.e. sticks, leaves, paper, and later my pillow and part of my bed!) With the help of my friend Dawn on here, I turned their inappropriate behavior into a learning lecture complete with pictures of burn victims to fire safety. It became a varied learning lecture and I feel that not only did they learn a lot from it, but they became more aware of life, natural consequences, and very grateful to God for not getting burned or killed. Between this intense lecture and the fear of them almost burning the house down we've not had another incident since.

I am very much an advocate of a lecture in the learning environment. I agree with Aine that it should not be done too often as the effectiveness with wear off and eyes will glaze over and ears will shut off. Kids need variation in learning. Lecturing is a great one to teach important lessons. Hats off to the old fashioned "lecture"!