Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Inkheart and Inkspell

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was an awesome book for youth and adults alike. If you've seen the movie, the book is even better.

Mo, the father of Meggie has a love and passion for books. He is a book doctor and knows all the illnesses books can get and how to prevent and fix them. Resa is his wife and loving mother of Meggie. What Mo didn't know was that in addition to his love of books he had special gift- a gift of bringing books alive when he reads them aloud. They call him a silvertongue. He could read things or characters unintentionally out of a book. The problem is, if someone comes out of the book, someone goes into the book. He discovered this one fateful night when he was reading Inkheart and his wife Resa disappeared and several of the characters in Inkheart were standing in his house. Capricorn, one of Inkheart's villians, Basta (a villian) and Dustfinger one of the good characters were plucked out of their story and brought into our world.  Meggie was only a baby.

Ten years later Dustfinger found Mo and Meggie and begged for him to read him back. Mo knew he was unable to do it. The story goes from there and is one adventure after another. Mo wanted his wife back, Dustfinger wanted to go home to his story full of fairies, brownies and where fire did what he asked it to do.

This book makes you fall inlove with the beauty of books and makes you look at stories in books in a new light. I absolutely loved it!

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke is the sequel to Inkheart.   Funke is an amazing writer and really knows how to tell a story.  In this book, you spend a lot of time "in the book" Inkheart as Dustfinger is read back into his book near the beginning, but not by Mo. Meggie as you learn in Inkheart has Mo's gift -silvertongue, but she learned that she has more abilities with her gift.  She read herself and another character into the book.

Throughout the book you start to wonder if there really is a story going on when before, during and after the book has been written.  You learn to love the old fashioned artwork in books.  It is action packed and keeps you wondering what will happen next with so many twists and turns.  You learn why Dustfinger loves his world so much.

There were several things I did not like about this book.  It is written for youth but also for adults to enjoy, so keep that in mind.  Meggie is only 13 years old and falls inlove with Farid who I assume is between 16-18 years old.  He is like a love-sick puppy over her.  They kiss several times and are always together and even spend a night on the beach.  All the adults in the book not only approve of their romance, but encourage them-including her parents.  Mo even asks her in a teasing manner if Farid has kissed her yet and she blushes as her answer.

Almost all the couples are looking at or have a crush on someone else.  Dustfinger is in love with Resa.  Dustfinger is married.  Fenoglio the writer lusts after Dustfinger's wife.  The prince Cosimo has no interest in his "ugly" wife and instead spends his days and night's with Dustfinger's 13 year old daughter.

Additionally, most of the character's relationships are a bit dysfunctional and it's hard not to get frustrated with Dustfinger and his wife for throwing their hands up in the air regarding their daughter and her upbringing.  

Aside from these things, it was a spell-binding book.   I'm left hanging and will be reading the final book in the trilogy (Inkdeath) next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Want to Know You: Blog

By Shiloah Baker

My words fly up
my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts
never to heaven go.

Over the years I have met some amazing women- women who changed my life through their example or their mentoring me. When they moved away we lost touch because they were doers and not writers. How many times I wished those women would write-write their thoughts, their experiences and share their knowledge. Oh, the things we could learn!

Many people say, “I’m too busy to write- too busy living life.” To that I respond that there are many people who could use your mentorship through your example and writing about it. Writing about life, the ups and downs and how you learned from your experiences is a form of journal writing. How are our children to really know us if we don’t write?

The amazing thing about writing online is you never know who you will touch and how far reaching your words really are. Sometimes you’ll get some wonderful feedback in person or online, or sometimes people quietly read and take in what you share and allow it to enrich their life.

While I love to share my feelings in person with friends and those I meet, I feel that writing online is my way of sharing my thoughts and opinions in an unthreatening manner. I can also give unsolicited advice and people can read and take it if they want or move on to the next article.

To those who are currently writing on a blog or elsewhere, don’t hide your light under a bushel. How many blogs have I been to that I fell in love with the content and feel of the blog? The answer is many. When I like someone’s writings, I want to get to “know” them better and am taken aback when after sharing such a wealth of information they hide who they are and don’t give us an insight into their real lives. Sure there are some weirdos out there, but don’t let the fear of them keep us from getting to know you. Your writings have credibility when we know you are a real person. If you touch our lives with your writing, please further touch our lives with a glimpse into yours.

Everyone who loves life and family has something to offer. Everyone. I especially love reading from those who are passionate about life, Christ, family, hobbies, reading, writing, etc. and not necessarily in that order. It’s easy to begin a blog and share with the world. Take a chance today to touch someone or teach us through your writing.

Shiloah Baker is a mom of seven, pregnant with #8, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes and reads. Join us at The Homemaking Cottage Deluxe Edition for 897 ways to improve your home and family! And don’t forget to join our ezine for free ideas. Free Homemaking Newsletter

Reprints of this article are permitted as long as it includes this byline.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How the Environment in the Home Affects Children

By Shiloah Baker

“Children are affected from the beginning by what they see and hear within the walls of their home. Their environment creates their taste.” –Arthur Henry King 

From the first day I learned that I was going to be a mother, I began collecting books, toys and things that I knew would benefit my child. I read every resource manual I could get my hands on. Like most women, I want the best for my child. I quickly learned that in addition to providing shelter, clothes, food and love, that the environment in the home is an important key to raising a well adjusted child.

Creating an Environment for Learning

Years later when I decided to homeschool my children I was introduced to the Thomas Creating an Environment for LearningJefferson Education or a Leadership Education. One of the suggestions was to build a library of classic books. I had maybe a small bookshelf full at that time and not surprisingly my kids weren’t big readers. I took the advice to heart and over the next four years I gathered and built a large “brain” storage of books for our home. We have over eight bookshelves now spilling over with fun, classic and educational books. More importantly, my children have caught on to this passion for reading good, wholesome literature-literature that educates. Not a day goes by that I don’t see the children pouring through books, rifling through the bookshelves or reading in a corner. We have a large bookshelf outside of my bedroom door which is at the end of a long hallway. When a child is waiting to speak with me, she naturally chooses a book, sits by my door and takes a little adventure with words on the pages. What joy it brings me to see the difference having a library of books in your home can make.

“Every single item is of relevance to our education and to the education of our children.”–Arthur Henry King

How many times have you noticed your baby would rather play with empty boxes or magazines than her own baby toys? Children always want to help mommy bake cookies and can’t wait to learn how to make their first peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Children have a natural curiosity and we should allow them to explore and learn within the safety of our home.

Children learn naturally through their own environment. Why should a small child fill out a worksheet on how to match socks, when they can learn that same skill only using all their senses: the smell of the laundry detergent used, the visual senses of colors and patterns, touching the various textures of socks and occasionally tasting the texture of socks. I have many fond memories of sock folding growing up and trying the over-sized ones on my hands and sliding around the bare floors with them on my feet. The natural learning experiences within the home are powerful.

I’ve made it a mission to keep the majority of commercialized toys out of our home. They do not foster learning like a set of plain building blocks or a life-like baby doll with clothes and cloth diapers. Even though they wanted them and got them for birthdays, my children have never treasured commercialized toys (such as Barbie dolls, Bratz, etc.). After the initial excitement wears off, I find those toys lying around unused with little to no interest. We have never had that happen with puzzles, wooden beads, blocks, or art supplies- the basics for foundational and explorative learning.

Organization and Structure

I used to cringe when I heard those words, but now as a mother of many I feel excited and inspired when I see them. After being a mother for nearly fourteen years I have learned that children, some more so than others, thrive when there is structure and organization in the home. We have seven children, two children with autism and two others with various disabilities. When things become chaotic in our home, not only do our family pets react (i.e. birds chirp frantically) but the children react to it too. Every family has a rhythm whether they realize it or not. The question is- is it conducive to teaching and does it promote family time?

I love reading Steven and Teri Maxwell who have written a couple of books on this subject. They successfully homeschooled and raised eight children and now write about how they did it- it involved scheduling, structure and organization. “God has given us a powerful example and analogy of scheduling in the natural world. Everything that He has created, from atoms to the universe, has a periodic cycle. There is a timetable God has applied to each part of His creation. This is easily seen in the weather. Year by year, each season comes at its ‘scheduled’ time bringing with it predictable changes.” (1) If God uses scheduling, I believe it is an example to us that using a family schedule is something we should do too.
While it is unnecessary and too constricting to schedule all of your time, coming up with a family schedule/rhythm for each day gives the home an organized environment while giving peace to each family member so they each can know what to expect in their daily routine. This is especially important if you have children or adults in the home with disabilities. Eliminate the disordered feeling and house clutter by prayerfully creating your own unique family rhythm complete with chore time.

Keeping a Morally Clean Environment in the Home is Imperative

"Parents now are concerned about the moral and spiritual diseases. These can have terrible complications when standards and values are abandoned. We must all take protective measures.” -Boyd K. Packer

Memories from books and the pictures in the books teach, mold and shape a person. Just as we should fill our homes with uplifting and wholesome books, we should be equally as careful about not bringing anything contrary to that in the home. I heard it once said that if a young boy were to view pornography in his own home he will be a customer for life. Is it worth it to allow anything pornographic in your home? Never. Aside from the fact that it is morally wrong, the risk is too great.

Regarding music-while I am fairly careful about lyrics to the new music, it is easy for things to slip by our notice from time to time. I find that I feel inspiration often to continually sift through the music my family and I listen to. We are all aware of the powerful effects of music on our moods. Music teaches and depending on the words and the beat it can teach negative or positive things. By my vigilantly reviewing music, talking with the kids about their feelings on the songs and reading the lyrics online my family is learning to do the same. Even though you may not always listen to the lyrics, your subconscious mind does and then records it. I think I would rather know what my subconscious mind is recording by paying close attention to what I or my children listen to.

Television needs a filter like the computer. We don’t watch regular TV because the morals portrayed on everyday television, especially the commercials, are not in line with ours. Instead we rent Netflix and buy the movies we enjoy the most. We carefully screen the reviews and ratings before watching and buying movies.

Raising children is anything but easy; but it is so worth it. Each child comes to our home with his/her own unique personalities. I find it fascinating to see how for the most part, children naturally pick up many qualities of their parents, whether it be the habits they pick up, facial expressions or one or a combination of both parent’s temperaments. I have three sisters and while we don’t look exactly alike anyone can tell we are sisters when they listen to us talk or see our mannerisms. It is an art to take into consideration all the differences of personalities in the family and apply the perfect mix of teaching, religion, and love. Children can’t help but to be influenced by the home environment especially when the parents care so much about making it a positive one.

Works Cited

1. Maxwell, Steven and Teri. Managers of Their Homes. s.l. : Communications Concepts, Inc., 1998.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Important and Famous People Who Were Homeschooled

Homeschooling has produced some of the greatest men and women in history. Here is a list of famous people-people who have made a difference in this word- who were homeschooled:

Constitutional Convention Delegates

* Richard Basseti – Governor of Delaware
* William Blount – U.S. Senator
* George Clymer – U.S. Representative
* William Few – U.S. Senator
* Benjamin Franklin – Inventor and Statesman
* Alexander Hamilton – Lawyer and Economist
* William Houston – Lawyer
* William S. Johnson – Columbia College President
* William Livingston – Governor of New Jersey
* James Madison – 4th President of the U.S.
* George Mason – Justice of Virginia County Court
* John Francis Mercer – U.S. Representative
* Charles Pickney III – Governor of S. Carolina
* John Rutledge – Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court
* Richard D. Spaight – Governor of North Carolina
* George Washington – 1st President of the U.S.
* John Witherspoon – President of Princeton
* George Wythe – Justice of Virginia High Court


* John Adams
* John Quincy Adams
* Grover Cleveland
* Jefferson Davis (the only president of the short-lived Confederate States of America)
* James Garfield
* William Henry Harrison
* Andrew Jackson
* Thomas Jefferson
* Abraham Lincoln
* James Madison
* James Polk
* Franklin Delano Roosevelt
* Theodore Roosevelt
* John Tyler
* George Washington
* Woodrow Wilson


* Henry Fountain Ashurst
* William Jennings Bryan
* Winston Churchill
* Henry Clay
* John Dickinson
* Pierre du Pont
* Benjamin Franklin
* Patrick Henry
* William Penn
* Daniel Webster

Military Officers

* John Barry – Senior Navy Officer
* George Rogers Clark – Revolutionary War hero
* Nathanael Greene – Revolutionary War hero
* Nathan Hale – Revolutionary War hero
* Stonewall Jackson – Civil War General
* John Paul Jones – Father of the American Navy
* Robert E. Lee – Civil War General
* Douglas MacArthur – U.S. General
* George Patton – U.S. General
* Matthew Perry – U.S. Naval Officer
* John Pershing – U.S. General
* David Dixon Porter – Civil War Admiral
* Joseph Bradley Varnum – Revolutionary War hero

U.S. Supreme Court Judges

* Charles Evans Hughes
* John Jay
* John Marshall
* John Rutledge
* Sandra Day O’Connor

Religious Leaders

* Joan of Arc
* Dietrich Bonhoeffer
* William Carey
* Jonathan Edwards
* Philipp Melancthon
* Dwight L. Moody
* John Newton
* John Owen
* Hudson Taylor
* John & Charles Wesley
* Brigham Young


* William Clark – Lewis & Clark Expedition
* Meriwether Lewis – Lewis & Clark Expedition
* John Wesley Powell – Colorado River Expedition
* Sir Ernest Shackleton – Antarctic Expedition


* Wilson A. Bentley – “The Snowflake Man”
* George Washington Carver – agricultural research
* Pierre Curie – discovered radium
* Albert Einstein – theoretical physicist
* Paul Erdos – Hungarian mathematician
* Michael Faraday – electrochemist
* Pierre-Gilles de Gennes – French physicist
* Oliver Heaviside – electromagnetism researcher
* T.H. Huxley – biologist, zoologist, Darwinist
* Ruth Lawrence – mathematician
* Gilbert Newton Lewis – physical chemist
* Ada Lovelace – founder of scientific computing
* Benoit Mandelbrot – pioneer in fractal geometry
* Blaise Pascal – French mathematician
* Joseph Priestley – father of modern chemistry
* Samuel C. C. Ting – Chinese American physicist
* Konstantin Tsiolkovsky – Russian rocket scientist


* Alexander Graham Bell – invented the telephone
* John Moses Browning – firearms inventor/designer
* Peter Cooper – built the first modern skyscraper, the first commercial locomotive, and patented the first gelatin dessert which was later named Jell-O
* Thomas Edison – invented the stock ticker, mimeograph, phonograph, and electric light bulb
* Benjamin Franklin – invented the lightning rod
* Elias Howe – invented sewing machine
* William Lear – airplane creator
* Cyrus McCormick – invented grain reaper
* Guglielmo Marconi – developed radio
* Eli Whitney – invented the cotton gin
* Sir Frank Whittle – invented turbo jet engine
* Orville and Wilbur Wright – brothers who built the first successful airplane


* William Blake – painter, engraver, poet
* John Singleton Copley – American Colonial painter
* Evelyn De Morgan – Pre-Raphaelite painter
* Christian Grew – American Painter
* Donal Hord – San Diego sculptor
* Akiane Kramarik- 10-year-old art and poetry prodigy
* Claude Monet – French Impressionist
* Grandma Moses – American folk artist
* Charles Willson Peale – American portrait artist
* Lu Pinchang – ceramic sculptor
* Leonardo da Vinci – Renaissance artist, sculptor
* Andrew Wyeth – American realist painter
* Jamie Wyeth – American realist painter


* Johann Sebastian Bach – Baroque
* Irving Berlin – Patriotic
* Anton Bruckner – Symphonies
* Noel Coward – Musicals
* Felix Mendelssohn – Romantic
* Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Classical
* John Porcaro – Experimental
* Francis Poulenc – Choral
* John Philip Sousa – “March King”


* Louisa May Alcott – author of Little Women
* Hans Christian Anderson – fairy tale writer
* Margaret Atwood – Canadian novelist, poet
* Fawn M. Brodie – biographer
* Pearl S. Buck – Nobel prize-winning author
* William F. Buckley, Jr. – conservative writer
* Willa Cather – American novelist
* Agatha Christie – mystery author
* Samuel Clemens – a.k.a. Mark Twain
* Charles Dickens – British novelist
* Robert Frost – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
* Charlotte Perkins Gilman – early feminist writer
* Alex Haley – African-American novelist
* Sharlot Hall – poet, writer, Arizona historian
* Joshua Harris- pastor and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye
* Bret Harte – frontier California journalist
* L. Ron Hubbard – science fiction writer
* Helen Keller – blind and deaf author and lecturer
* Rose Wilder Lane – journalist, ghostwriter, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder
* C.S. Lewis – Christian writer and apologist
* Amy Lowell – Modernist poet
* Gabriela Mistral – Nobel-prize winning Latin American poet
* Sean O’Casey – Irish author
* Thomas Paine – political writer during the American Revolution, author of Common Sense
* Christopher Paolini – teen author of Eragon
* Isabel Paterson – conservative political author
* Beatrix Potter – author of Peter Rabbit Tales
* Jedediah Purdy – author of For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
* Kenneth Rexroth – poet, translator, critical essayist
* Carl Sandburg – American poet
* George Bernard Shaw – Irish-born playwright
* Mattie J. T. Stepanek – 11-year-old author of Heartsongs
* Rosemary Sutcliff – historical novels for children
* Rabindranath Tagore – Bengali poet, essayist, dramatist, songwriter
* Leo Tolstoy – Russian writer
* Mercy Warren – American Revolution eyewitness
* Phillis Wheatley – African-American poet
* Walt Whitman – American poet
* Laura Ingalls Wilder – children’s book author
* Virginia Woolf – English novelist


* Amos Bronson Alcott – innovative teacher, father of Louisa May Alcott
* Catharine Beecher – co-founder of the Hartford Female Seminary
* Jill Ker Conway – first woman president of Smith College
* Erik Demaine – associate professor of Computer Science at MIT
* Timothy Dwight – President of Yale University
* William Samuel Johnson – President of Columbia College
* Horace Mann – “Father of the American Common School”
* Charlotte Mason – Founder of Charlotte Mason College of Education
* Joyce Reed – Associate Dean of the College, Brown University
* Fred Terman – President of Stanford University
* Frank Vandiver – President of Texas A&M University
* Booker T. Washington – teacher and founder of Tuskegee Institute
* Noah Webster – “Father of American Christian Education”
* John Witherspoon – President of Princeton University

Medical Practitioners

* Clara Barton – started the Red Cross
* Elizabeth Blackwell – first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree
* Florence Nightingale – Nurse
* Susan La Flesche Picotte – first American Indian woman physician
* Albert Schweitzer – Physician
* Mary Walker – Civil War physician; recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

Business Entrepreneurs

* Andrew Carnegie – wealthy steel industrialist
* Amadeo Giannini – Bank of America’s founder
* Horace Greeley – New York Tribune founder
* Soichiro Honda – creator of the Honda automobile company
* Peter Kindersley – book illustrator and publisher
* Ray Kroc – founder of McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain
* Jimmy Lai – newspaper publisher; founder of Giordano International
* Dr. Orison Swett Marden – founder, Success magazine
* Adolph Ochs – New York Times founder
* Joseph Pulitzer – newspaper publisher; established Pulitzer Prize
* Colonel Harland Sanders – started Kentucky Fried Chicken
* Dave Thomas – founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain


* Abigail Adams – wife of John Adams; mother of John Quincy Adams
* Ansel Adams – photographer
* Susan B. Anthony – women’s rights leader
* John James Audubon – ornithologist and artist
* Alyssa Buecker – director, Milbo Productions
* John Burroughs – naturalist
* Jennie Chancey – historical costumer
* Davy Crockett – frontiersman
* Edward Curtis – photographer
* Robin Lee Graham – youngest person to sail around the world at age 16
* Alex and Brett Harris – twin teen writers and conference speakers for “The Rebelution,” a Christian ministry/youth organization
* Eric Hoffer – social philosopher
* Sam Houston – lawyer; first leader of Texas
* Abraham Kuyper – Dutch politician, journalist
* Mary Leakey – fossil hunter
* Charles Fletcher Lummis – journalist, historian, photographer, founder of the Southwest Society
* Harriet Martineau – first woman sociologist
* Margaret Mead – cultural anthropologist
* John Stuart Mill – free-market Economist
* Charles Louis Montesquieu – philosopher
* John Muir – naturalist
* Raymond Parks – Civil Rights activist, husband of Rosa Parks
* Sofia, Susan, and Judit Polgar – chess masters
* Bill Ridell – Newspaperman
* Will Rogers – Humorist
* Eleanor Roosevelt – wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt
* Bertrand Russell – Logician
* Drew Ryun – co-founder of Generation Joshua, director of Jim Ryun Running Camp
* Ned Ryun – co-founder of Generation Joshua, president of American Majority
* Deborah Sampson – female soldier in the American Revolution
* Emerson Spartz – 12-year-old internet entrepreneur (MuggleNet)
* Herbert Spencer – philosopher, sociologist
* Gloria Steinem – founder of Ms. magazine
* Timmy Teepell – chief of staff for Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana
* Lester Frank Ward – Father of American Sociology
* Martha Washington – wife of George Washington
* Frances E. C. Willard – educator, temperance leader, and suffragist
* Frank Lloyd Wright – architect
* John Lloyd Wright – architect, toy designer, inventor of Lincoln Logs
* Sho Yano – gifted child prodigy
* Elijah ben Solomon Zalman – Jewish scholar

This list was compiled by Compiled by Teri Ann Berg Olsen, author of “Learning for Life: Educational Words of Wisdom”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colorado Springs

We are moving! Colorado Springs here we come before the end of the year! I hope to find you TJED'ers and pick your brains!

Taking a Quick Break: Pay Attention to Politics!

US Constitution

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson

While this is not a political blog, it is my privilege to head wherever I wish to when I feel so inspired. If you read this and do not agree with me, I respect that. However, I don't wish to start debates. I wish to inspire those who are not aware of what is going on to learn today! It only takes 6% to make a change!

If you are not paying attention to what is going on the USA right now, you really need to. Our American rights- basic human rights- are being taken away very quickly.  Please don't just take your information from the controlled media sources such as CNN, MBC, or CBS. Go to and find a radio station that is near you, or listen to their shows in the evening online, or listen to Rush Limbaugh. Fox news is pretty open and honest as well. HONEST online news sources are:,,,

“You and I have heard all our lives that the time may come when the Constitution may hang by a thread. I do not know whether it is a thread or a small rope by which it now hangs, but I do know that whether it shall live or die is now in the balance."
(Vaughn J. Featherstone, “‘These Are Not Men to Be Conquered’,” New Era, Apr 1980)

This was written in 1980, wow, I would want to know what is said of today. When I listen to the news today I'm shocked. The other day my husband and I were in the truck listening to the news and learned of a new device to stop all energy usage in the non-peak hours. The idea is to pass into law and that each home be forced into using it. The end product would be no use of any electricity during the non-peak hours. This is forcing all of America to save energy-the government's way.

I won't get into the health care bill, but this is trouble. Take note of the following quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

Thank you for respecting my right to blog about politics and now I feel better and we're off to talk more of homemaking topics!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I am starting to get it....

Picture from here.

I remember when I first started homeschooling and around that time I was first introduced to Thomas Jefferson Education I knew it was right but wrapping my poor mind around the concepts seemed difficult. As I read them on paper they made sense but implementing them seemed to be like a brick wall for me. For one of my book club readings we read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, you can also watch the video here. You will enjoy it, I promise. But in it he mentions brick walls. I assume here that you know what I am talking about. He says, "Brick walls are there for a reason. They are there to let us prove how badly we want something." So for me... homeschooling was a big brick wall. I knew it was right but..... there it is the proverbial but. Talk about information overload. So many approaches to homeschooling and this was not Anthropology that I studied in college. I did not study education, I just studied what I thought was fun (little did I know, that this was one of those things that was mine). Yes we have digs in the back yard, just in case you were wondering. Back to my brick wall. Hours of research... Montessori???? Waldorf??? Charlotte Mason??? The Well Trained Mind ??? Robinson Curriculum???? The list could go on. What we ended up initially deciding was that we wanted to have a classical education with some influences of Waldorf and Montessori so we started out with the Well Trained Mind until we came across TJed. And immediately I knew it was right but the implementing of it was a great challenge for me. The four biggest hurdles were:
1. "It's about you, not them."
2. "Structure the time, not the content"
3. "Secure, not stressed."
4. Inspire, not require."

To address number one... what???? How can I give them an education on what I like. So I send them off knowing how to knit, crochet, cook and scrapbook and how to properly excavate a dig site? So when I started studying myself, I was able to increase what was mine. I had more to share... things I didn't know I would like. Books I never thought I would read. The books that I thought we too hard for me or that they would be boring. Ask yourself at the end of that book that you have been dreading... Les Miserables? The 5000 Year Leap and oh.... The Abolition of Man. I painfully read them only to love them when I was done. Though I have yet to reread them! My newest "mine" has been to become a Naturalist. I have been reading books like mad on Leave No trace Ethics.... yeah, my Cub Scouts find me a little annoying, but they all get their Leave No Trace Award. And i have learned so much about Colorado Wildlife. That's when my scouts think I am so cool. My children came along for the ride. I see my oldest intensely studying Great Horned Owls and he is obsessed with being prepared and learning survival techniques. we visited 43 different locations in Colorado this past summer during our nature school and it was awesome. When you stand at the top of Mt. Evans (the highest paved road in the continental US) and literally touch the clouds with your children beside you. You just can't get that in a book. We felt the clouds we saw a red fox sniff our stroller, a black bear cross our path, peer at deer feeding and relieving themselves and avoided a skunk. We found the stars hiding in the branches of Gigantic cottonwood trees and felt the power of the wind sweep through them as they blossomed their cotton puffs and swirl around us. We caste molds of animal prints and retrieved water by tying a bag over a branch. Ok... list could go on... but it worked. When I shared what was mine and what I was learning.... they learned too.
Uhmmmmm how can I do that with math????????? Another Brick Wall....

Ok... structure the time, not the content. Time...ok. I set time that worked for us, but content. Well this is still a brick wall that I am working on. Brick Wall 1 math. Partial accomplishment for math has been the family store. We got some play money and I set up a store. They have to pick out the correct change for a specific item. Paying for computer time, snack, a new book, other items in the store. It works well and is still very new. Even the two year old participates with his own price list. 2 pennies for snack for him. But the rest... they are still doing math facts until I come up with a better way for this. But the reading is going well and they study what they want to. Once a week I go to the library and they get two topics to find books on. It is working well and we are still refining it.

Secured, not stressed... this is my biggest wall. As mothers we worry about all aspect of our kids lives, at least I do. I worried that I would mess them up educationally. I want them to grow up to be successful adults. To be confident in their ability to learn and provide for themselves and future families. This wall was just conquered over time. As I saw them succeed as I developed, security naturally took over those stress. Sure I have had times of STRESS.... tried out public school... went back to homeschooling. But today... the security is more constant and the more time passes the better it gets. I would encourage you to hang in there... it gets better and better when you trust in your parenting instincts.

Inspire, not require. As I develop, inspiration for them comes naturally. Not to mention time on my knees in prayer is vital. I have found that when there is an area, like my recent thoughts on developing their math skills, I need to spend the time on developing them myself. Its time to tackle that brick wall. It works, but finding the ways to inspire requires my constant research, study, pondering, and prayer. This shows my kids... that you never stop learning and that you will love all the other stuff you learn on the way.

Perhaps you have heard this quote from a religious perspective, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." Look at it from a TJED perspective. It is.. it is so worth it. Of course ask me in 10 years when my oldest is 18.

Anyhow... I am starting to get it... the brick walls are being scaled, because I really wanted it. In the end... they are worth and I won't get these moments back.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Classic Kids Book List That EVERY Child Needs: Three

This is part three in the series as the booklists I have to share are VERY long.  Keep checking in for new lists. Some of these books you may or may not recognize from your own childhood.  One thing I love about book lists is being reminded of good books I may have forgotten about.  Time to rekindle some pleasant memories and make new ones with our children today.

Here is the next book list:Flat Stanley

Series Books:
Mist of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (and other sequels)
Betsy Tacy by Maud Halt (10 in series)
The Borrowers Series by Mary Norton
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Uncle Wiggily by Howard Roger Garis
Flower Fairy book series by Federick Warne
Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieska (13 in the series)
A Child's Story of the Book of Mormon (series for those who are LDS)

Read Aloud Suggestions:
Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster (Just in time for Halloween)

Good Reading:
Dragon of the Lonely Island by Rebecca Rupp
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumor Godden (Good for Christmas)
Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Middle Moffat by Eleanor Estes
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Flat Stanley by Tomi Ungerer

TJED is based on Classically based books and mentoring. Start buying and reading the suggested books and see which ones will work for you and your family library. For those who missed where I got these book lists, I received from a good friend who is well versed in classic books for kids and has a house filled with bookshelves full of classic books for children.  Several afternoons she had me come and copy down the titles so I could start my collection.  Thank you, Linda!  Happy reading, everyone!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Classic Kids Book List That EVERY Child Needs: Two

This is part two in the series as the booklists I have to share are VERY long.  Keep checking in for new lists. Some of these books you may or may not recognize from your own childhood.  One thing I love about book lists is being reminded of good books I may have forgotten about.  Time to rekindle some pleasant memories and make new ones with our children today.

Here is the next book lists:

Series Books:Raggedy Ann and Andy

Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan
Bear Books Karma Wilson
Weekly Readers book series (the old ones)
The Littles by John Peterson

Good Reading:

Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
*Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle
Raggedy Andy Stories by Johnny Gruelle
Floss by Kim Lewis
Just Like Floss by Kim Lewis
Dumpy by Julie Andrews Edwards
My Love For You by Susan Roth
The Girl Who Loved Horses by Paul Goble (An Indian story)
Degas and the Dance by Susan Rubin

Board Books:

Julie Merberg

Books by Author:

Lewis, Kim
Ehlert, Lois (artist)
Kellogg, Steven (artist)

Tate, Suzanne (Especially because shes is NC born and lives in the outer banks of NC -Nag's Head)

*Did you Know?

"Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, when she brought him an old hand-made rag doll and he drew yupa face on it. From his bookshelf, he pulled a book of poems by James Whitcomb Riley, and combined the names of two poems, "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie." He said, "Why don’t we call her Raggedy Ann?"

Marcella died at age 13 after being vaccinated at school for smallpox without her parents' consent. Authorities blamed a heart defect, but her parents blamed the vaccination. Gruelle became an opponent of vaccination, and the Raggedy Ann doll was used as a symbol by the anti-vaccination movement." (Source: Wikipedia)

TJED is based on Classically based books and mentoring. Start buying and reading the suggested books and see which ones will work for you and your family library. For those who missed where I got these book lists, I received from a good friend who is well versed in classic books for kids and has a house filled with bookshelves full of classic books for children.  Several afternoons she had me come and copy down the titles so I could start my collection.  Thank you, Linda!  Happy reading, everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Flat Travelers

A girlfriend of mine introduced me to the Flat Travelers Homeschool group online.  It sounded like so much fun! Here is the posted explanation straight from the group's page:

"This idea is based on the book "Flat Stanley".

A Flat Traveler is a person, animal or thing made out of paper. You print or draw your Traveler, laminate it and then mail it along with a blank journal to someone in another area, state or country. The host family treats your Flat Traveler as a guest and takes it places they go. After a short time your Flat Traveler is mailed back to you along with a completed journal and perhaps some photos, postcards and/or souvenirs. You look over your Flat Travelers journey and plot it on a map. Some families keep a scrapbook with all their journals, souvenirs and photos inside.

Some families send out one Flat Traveler and other families send out dozens! You can make this project as simple or as detailed as you like. This is a fun way to learn about geography and history among many other subjects!

This group has been formed to give homeschool families a group of participants to contact world wide. As a member of this group you should be prepared to host Flat Travelers from other families as well."

What a fun and educational project to do, especially for homeschooling families! :)

Libraries with No Books

A few days ago, I read an online article on The Boston Globe by David Abel. The article was explaining how the New England prep school the Cushing Academy is riding their entire library of our 20,000 books and replacing it with digital screens, places for laptops, etc.

The first question that entered my mind was how the library cannot invite the Library without booksdigital books and books online along with the books? I’m all for the convenience of modern technology, but there are many things that technology cannot completely take the place of without consequences and one of those is books. What has been working well for centuries shouldn’t just end because one generation found an invention they liked better.

It was mentioned in the article that the staff of Cushing believe it is the start of a new era. The problems I foresee, aside from losing the pure love of books, are what if there was a power surge? What about the effects on the eyes as people do more reading on a computer screen? Like the television the computer screen can affect the brain waves as well. The author also pointed out various other problems with digital "books" such as sand, liquids and the cost of accessing the materials as many of the materials online are not free.

I'm also not in agreement with the library bringing in a coffee shop containing and encouraging the use of legally addictive stimulants for youth. Not just any coffee shop mind you, but a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

We travel an hour away to go to libraries in a large city nearest us. We have access to almost twenty libraries that inter-loan. I cannot imagine not being able to browse through the shelves, picking out books that catch my eye. Sometimes the spiral bound cookbooks are my favorites to browse, or books that are warn on the covers and pages dog-earring showing me that this was a well-read and well-loved book.

I write ebooks and articles, most of which are featured online. That still doesn’t replace the value of a book in my mind. Call me old fashioned but I love a book, a real book.

-Shiloah B.

Photo of old books by:  Ivan Vicencio (Pepo)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

As Fall Approaches

Hi all,
I know I have been awfully quiet on here lately. It has mostly been because we have been busy and going through the growing pains of finding out what works best of our family. Over the summer I took a break from the typical academics and took our learning outdoors and focused more on sharing what is mine. So as fall approaches, and the weather begins to cool slightly my mind naturally draws back to indoors and study which is also talked about by Dr. DeMille in his book, A Thomas Jefferson Education. And when we are just slightly beginning to be drawn in doors it is easier to sit at the computer.

I think it is so true that our natural abilities is to be outdoors in the warmer parts of spring and throughout the summer. The times we tried to do something like math, I would see my children longingly look outside and be more restless. I can't imagine what life would be like if we were in public school here. We have year round school and some of our friends were back in school in July. July.... Oooooh how much they missed. When they have six weeks off in the winter, they will still be shut up in doors. Summer seems to just pass them by. Though I suppose, like everything, the schedule has its pros and cons for them.

As for me, the last year has been a year of discovering myself. I remember that when I first started learning about TJed, the whole process of sharing with my kids was daunting to me. What is mine? How can I build and education for them around knitting, cooking, and scrapbooking. It was when I shared those things with them that I felt most successful. But as I stated, It isn't complete, which of course led me to working on my own education. Giving Heather a sense of well roundedness. I find that I am most successful when I am really excited about something. So I thought I would take it easy on myself. What is something new that really excites me and that I could also use to inspire my children? In the springtime when I asked myself this, I found that my most exciting things were revolving around my role as a Cub Scout Leader. Anything about it excited me and I spent a great deal of time studying it. More recently, I make it an objective of mine to have my Cub Scouts earn their Leave No Trace Award. I got books on the subject and started getting them outdoors more. This procession led me to several sites. (All of this is documented on my main blog, A Kindred Family- formerly know as Little House in the Suburbs, you can find it under "Our Blogs" on the side bar. In my labels section click on Nature Study.)
I began an actual nature study with my kids. We began to explore Colorado and gain exposure to nature. It wasn't as if we were completely indoors people, but I needed to get to know the plants and wildlife around so that I could mentor my Scouts in addition to my children in a comfortable and and natural way. I felt driven to seek out new locations, learn as much as I could while we were there. It was there that my kids were exposed to park rangers and staff that added that extra touch. Things others might not get to learn, cause they were too busy to take an interest in another's profession. It was amazing to say the least.

Consistency was something that I struggle with and I have been pondering for the last week. Not only do I need to find ways that inspire my children, but first I need to inspire myself in the areas that aren't as exciting for me. So while, the Nature Study will be returning in a smaller amounts throughout the year and blossom again in the spring, it will be interesting to discover what is mine this fall.
Here in beautiful Colorado, the tips of the leaves are changing and while we have had a milder and wet summer, it is cooling and the vision of our reading and study sessions aside a warm fire in our reading room approaches... it just gets me to thinking in a new direction. I totally see DeMille's points of view how colder weather is just naturally a time for study. As Fall Approaches.... what will be mine?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Inspirational Assistance Needed

Ok.... my son, is having a huge difficulty with handwriting. He's a boy, I know this is a challenge for him. I feel it is important to express your thoughts and and have people be able to understand what you wrote, so legibility is something we need to work on. But inspiring this in him.... not going so well. So I am trying a new angle. But would need someones help.

I thought it might be fun for my two oldest to have pen pals. Someone to get to know and to write to. Any takers?

My oldest is 8, he loves Scouts, anything outdoors, computers, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and anything to do with Historical Figures and far away places. Italy, Japan, and Greece are big interests for him right now. He is also interested in learning cooking techniques

My only daughter, is 7 and she loves Frogs...Frogs... and more Frogs. She is a passionately pink and purple, dress me up and paint my nails while I dig in the dirt with my brothers. She loves baking, nature, and dress up. She just started Ballet and is a Brownie in Girl Scouts.

I also have a four year old and a 2 year old son, who likes to get mail too. But I am hoping for a way to inspire them to share what excites and inspires them. I hope that a pen pal might be exciting. In addition to letters, they could send what ever is in their hearts to share with a far away friend.

So comment on this if you are interested or click on me and send me a message.


An Average Day in My Life

The life of a homeschooling mom of seven who runs a home business online

By Shiloah Baker

Morning comes way too soon in my world. Every morning I awaken by the bedroom door slamming open and someone screaming, one of the following,

“Mom, so and so stole the kitty away from me and she won’t give it back!”

“Mom, so and so won’t make me breakfast!”

“Mom, can I have a snack?”

My answers aren’t as patient as they should be at this time of day, “What? No! Whose day is it for breakfast? Leave my room, all of you!” Mornings are not my favorite time of day. Nights, now that is the time of day I’m at my best! Is it night yet?

I usually am wide awake by the third interruption, but before leaving my bed I visualize my day, especially if I plan to run that morning. Saying a quick prayer I drag myself out of bed to get dressed. I sleep in without guilt or regrets. I’m up on an average day about 9:30am. The bathroom floor is slightly sticky even though it was mopped two days ago thanks to a little sneaky someone who dumped half a bottle of hand soap on the floor. I try to take a mental note to assign that out as a cleanup chore to someone.

Never do I leave my room undressed or without perfume and depending on the day, without make-up. I always brush my teeth and floss, especially now that I’m avoiding a root canal. My hair is brushed…wait! Where’s the hairbrush? “Chloris and Maia, I need you to help find the hairbrush!” It never shows up until I’m downstairs checking emails and calling the kids to remind them of it. Rule #1: always look for missing items in the unusual places first at my house: the next door neighbor’s porch, the garage, the car, the refrigerator drawer. I quit asking the question, “Why?” because I’m never satisfied with the answers.

Upon leaving my room, every morning I see four laundry baskets overflowing with dirty clothes lined up in the hall next to the laundry closet and I ask someone to start a “big” load. I hug and kiss the little people who are waist high and below as I pass them in the hall. Taking a quick peek in each bedroom, I’m never disappointed to see messes- they’re always there, they happen. I call the kids from all corners of the house and assign clean up bedroom duties and make sure they’re all dressed. Most of the time, half of them aren’t.

Checking emails to see what I missed from the night before is a must especially when I have them all cleaning. Is your thyroid making you fat? Foggy morning brain makes me think about it a minute “Oh man! Is it? No, I don’t think so.” While checking emails I remind the kids about morning devotional in five minutes, which really isn’t until ten minutes but they don’t know that. Everyone must be dressed, fed, rooms cleaned; fur brushed off the teeth, and arrive with their scriptures. “Put the cat down, she’s meowing!” Usually we have a few things to fix before we start like: the baby doesn’t have “unnies” on, Athena is poopie and is stinking up the room, Mercury is trying to get away with wearing a pajama t-shirt instead of real clothing. Inevitably someone forgot their scriptures. No problem, everyone sits and waits until we are all ready. Two more minutes remaining- hurry up, move it, move it, move it!! I’m married to a soldier; I have a military mentor here, can you tell? {smile}

Morning devotional consists of the basics: opening and closing songs and prayer with Baker Kidsscripture reading sandwiched in between. Our family’s finished reading Esther two weeks ago and we are now reading Psalms. Reading a book at this time together is completely determined by behavior, much of the time by our six year old autistic daughter. Her only focus is on when she can get back to nature by going outside. We are currently working on the book “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephan and Grace Mally. The kids love this book and we often stop and discuss each situation.

Following devotional it’s time to- READY-SET -BREAK! – and the younger ones are off and the older ones report what schooling and reading they’ve done for the day so far. All three older children get up at 6:30am so they can get their schooling done during the quiet hours. When the younger ones wake up they help tutor them. We have been very focused on memorization of all math facts right now depending on the level of the child. We have flash cards galore and notebooks for writing them as often as they feel they need to during this process.

Chore time! I would say it’s my favorite time because some days they are busy bees working hard and getting things done. I would say it’s the worse time some days because I have to stay right on them to get their chores done. While chores are being done, mommy goes to work or makes some phone calls, depending on the day. I have a lot of girlfriends who need to talk and I love to talk, complain and laugh with them! If I plan to run that day, this is the time I go running for an hour. I always come home sweaty and gross and every time I get a loving compliment from one of the middle girls, “Mom, you stink!” I always tell them “Thank you.” Manners are manners, may we always use them. Since I am reminded, this is shower time for me too if I do a morning workout.

After a little bit of website editing or other online business is done, and a fair amount of twitter-ing and facebook-ing, I sit down with the middle kids to do reading, Latin, or anything else that needs help.

Most of the meals are made by my older three children with a few that I literally kick the older girls out of the kitchen for so that I can cook too. They enjoy cooking so much that I end up being a chef for guests more than the family. Now, that, girls is a Mom Promotion! I’m still in charge of the menus, grocery shopping and am “Head Chef” who approves and inspects meals regularly.

After lunch, we’ll read a book or the younger ones sit on mommy’s lap for some little kid books to be read to them. Then it’s time to nap! YEEHAW!

We have the Charge system implemented in our home. Each of the older children is given a younger child as their charge. They are to help with the care of that child from helping them get dressed, bathed, messes cleaned up, and to help keep track of that child when we leave the house. At any given time of the day you may hear, “Athena is poopie again, where is her charge?” or “The baby changed clothes again, wait, now she’s naked. Maia, she’s your charge, get her dressed, please!”
The late afternoon is for finishing school assignments, getting my work done, crafting, playing outside or running errands. It depends on the day and what we have planned.

On an average day I have to know where seven kids are at any given moment. I supervise the schooling and the chores, kiss boo-boos, listen to a million and one tattle tales, listen to any problem or story a child needs to tell me, play “friend” with my toddler, be sure the animals are alive and fed, messes are cleaned, the errands are run, phone calls have been made, and then…give attention to the man of the house.

The man of my life…I am totally and completely in love with him even though he’ll Shi and Benfall asleep folding socks, stirring spaghetti, during scripture study and while we’re talking. Wait a second that ticks me off! Knowing that my husband works hard all day and that he gets sleepy early into the night, I make sure he is number one when he walks through that door. When I hear his footsteps on the porch and I’ve made it my goal to rush to meet him at the door and kiss him like we were just married. I once neglected to do that when I was mad at him and he was so upset by it, so I’ve tried to keep it up mad or not. Time with my husband happens when he gets home no matter if it’s 4:30pm or 8pm. No matter what I have planned or what I have going on. I love him so much and want to spend time with him when I have the chance.

After dinner, we have another “pick up the house” session, everyone gets in pajamas and we meet in the office for scriptures and prayer with daddy. “Maia, wake daddy up nicely, please!” “Quit fighting and be quiet!” “Mercury, don’t shove your sister. I don’t care that she started it first. Be a gentleman!” We are currently beginning Alma. After scriptures and family prayer it is bedtime for the kids and time alone for the adults. Sometimes we’ll let the older kids stay up and read in their rooms or watch an occasional movie.

Before I pass out asleep at night, I read. I also take notes on what I want to accomplish or write about. I always keep a notebook on the bedside table.

I’m not sure if you noticed that I watch VERY little television. That is my secret to getting things done. I will upon occasion watch movies in the evening with my family or husband, but I just find it’s something I gave up like a caffeine addict gives up coffee, so that I could reap the benefits- more time.

*All children’s names are pseudo names.

Shiloah BakerShiloah Baker is a thirty something mom of seven, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a homemaking business online (The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes, blogs, and reads. See more weight loss tips at her blog Hot Mamas: Losing Weight and Feeling Great

Monday, August 10, 2009


This video gives you a very brief explanation:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Christian Family Radio and Classically Based Catalog

On the way home from the grocery store I was listening to this wonderful broadcast on the radio station. I wrote down the website on the grocery receipt so I wouldn't forget it when I got home. I'm so glad I did! I highly recommend this website it is called Family Research Council at . It is radio programs from the family Research Council keeping you abreast of news from Washington with a Christian mix.

Articles made into news broadcasts include things like this. Click the link to download and listen to this newscast:

"Science Czar or just plain bizarre? Hello, I am Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council. Among President Obama's growing list of czars is the White House science czar, Dr. John Holdren. Holdren, along with the sky is falling scientist Paul Ehrlich, who wrote the now-discredited book entitled "Population Bomb" in the 1960's claiming the world was overpopulating and would be out of food by the end of the 1970's, wrote a text book together. Holdren and Ehrlich's book, which they wrote in 1977, was entitled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. In the book Holdren advocates for radical government action to limit population growth. Among the proposals, forced abortions for women, involuntary sterilization through infertility drugs placed in food or the water supply...." For more visit

This website is very enlightening and I have been making it a habit to listen more to the talk radio shows.

The other thing I wanted to share with you was the Veritas Press catalog. A friend of mine shared this catalog with me as she knows I'm doing TJED which is Classically based.

Things I love about this catalog:
  1. It is broken into grade levels so I can, at a glance, be sure I'm not looking at something too easy for the child I'm buying for.

  2. I love the suggested books per grade level. I'm using it as a guide to gauge the kid's school this year. For instance for my eldest (Calypso), it suggested she read the Lord of the Rings series. Well, she's on book 2 already! Right on!

  3. It even includes classically based math books, which I have been on the search for. One for instance by Harold Jacobs.

Hope this post give you some ideas and a couple of new places to visit.

Making My Life Easier

Ok, I am a temp. single mom again and I have to find things that will make my life easier to homeschool, run a business online, write, read, etc. etc. So, after much thought and prayer I thought I should have the younger kids learn their math facts with DVD's and music!

Ha, what a concept?

Am I just a late bloomer on this? Anyway, I've begun the search but so far have come up with some that are really annoying. I have to listen to it too, so I want to at least find it "catchy." One rock math song I listened to was just I'm still on a quest. If you have any to share, please do! When I find some, I will blog about it. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Classic Kids Book List That EVERY Child Needs

I found my notebook with the promised book list! Tis the season for me to get back into my homeschooling life, so I will be better about posting. Promise. {smile}

Series Books:

Nurse Matilda Series (The move Nanny McPhee was based on these books)
The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West
Ramona Quimby by Beverly Clearly
The Wizard of Oz series by Baum
Dr. Dolittle Series by Hugh Lofting
Paddington by Michael Bond

Good Reading

Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad
Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
Miss Hickory by Carolyn Bailey
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes

Purely Educational

American History stories You Never Read in School But Should Have
A Child's Book of Art

Recommended Authors

All books by the following children's book authors:

Edith Nesbit
Holling C. Holling

Start buying books, there is much more to come! Happy reading!

See this cute video about the book The Candy Shop War:

Friday, June 19, 2009

2 Statesman Book Reviews

The U.S.Constitution for Everyone (Perigee Book)

by Jerome B. Agel, Mort Gerberg

History comes alive-in this illustrated guide to the Constitution and all 27 Amendments.

¥ Which state refused to send a delegation to the Constitutional Convention?
¥ Why was the Convention held in secret, with sentries at the door?
¥ What are the 27 Amendments?

The U.S. Constitution for Everyone relates how the "traitorous" Founding Fathers wrote the nation's supreme laws and how the thirteen Disunited States became a more perfect Union. A must for students of American history and for everyone who'd like to know more about the supreme laws of our nation.

My Opinion:

This book made the Constitution more interesting, a little more easily understood and gave important history surrounding the constitution and the amendments.

Common Sense

by Thomas Paine

"These are the times that try men's souls," begins Thomas Paine's first Crisis paper, the impassioned pamphlet that helped ignite the American Revolution. Published in Philadelphia in January of 1776, Common Sense sold 150,000 copies almost immediately. A powerful piece of propaganda, it attacked the idea of a hereditary monarchy, dismissed the chance for reconciliation with England, and outlined the economic benefits of independence while espousing equality of rights among citizens. Paine fanned a flame that was already burning, but many historians argue that his work unified dissenting voices and persuaded patriots that the American Revolution was not only necessary, but an epochal step in world history.

My Opinion:

After reading 1776 Thomas Paine became a real person to me. I really enjoyed this as it brought me to these times. I saw a very close correlation between England at that time and the US Government now and how we need to develop the passion for the Constitution like our forefathers developed then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A "New" House

Just a quick, fun little post.

I am in the middle of my six month purge. I'm giving myself a full week to accomplish this, as I have always thought it had to be done in a day and never finished - I usually ended up with a bigger mess than I started with!

So we've been moving furniture to fit our new needs, throwing stuff in the suburban to take to the local thrift store, and filling the back of the truck with all of Mom's papers that's she's been afraid to toss. I am pleased with the progress.

Apparently though, not as excited as my son. He came in the first day I moved the furniture around and said, "Mom, are we getting a new house?" his eyes wide with wonder.

"Yeah!" I affirmed. "Cool, huh?"

He nodded and left the room.

Well, yesterday he came back through - the house is really starting to take shape at this point. He runs over and tugs on my blouse.


And I didn't even have to endure a move. ;)

Reading Quotes

"Could we give one gift to every child
We should choose the love of books"

-William Frederick Bigelow

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Works alluded to in Monte Cristo (Part 1)

I'm now half way through The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I have been compiling a list of works mentioned throughout the book thus far. I'm sure there is more, but these are the ones that stood out to me and that caught my interest. I will break it up into parts. I hope this interests others out there as well. These are all going on my to-read list! ;)

Arabian Nights: Tales from One Thousand and One Nights

Throughout the book the Count of Monte Cristo is either called by a character or two from this book or hinted that he belongs in the book. He called himself Sinbad the Sailor for a time.

Caesar: Alexandrian War. African War. Spanish War

Mentioned in his conversation with M. Villefort regarding chemistry and health.

By The Abbe in the Chateau D’if


Thucydides (Thoukydídēs)

A Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century B.C. war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 B.C. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" due to his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods, as outlined in his introduction to his work.


• "But, the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."[42]
• "The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."[43]
• "It is a general rule of human nature that people despise those who treat them well, and look up to those who make no concessions."[44]
• "War takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master, that brings most men's characters to a level with their fortunes."[45]
• "The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention."[46

The History of the Peloponnesian War (English)


Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus[1] (Greek: Μέστριος Πλούταρχος), c. AD 46 – 120 — commonly known in English as Plutarch — was a Roman (of Greek ethnicity) historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist.[2] Plutarch was born to a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi. His known works consist of the Parallel Lives and the Moralia.


The Fall of the Roman Republic: Six Lives (Penguin Classics)
Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans (Modern Library Series, Vol. 1)
On Sparta (Penguin Classics)
The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek Lives (Penguin Classics, L286)
Alexander the Great
Selected Lives (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)
The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Lives (Oxford World's Classics)
Greek Lives (Oxford World's Classics)
Essays by Plutarch
Plutarch Themistocles (Bryn Mawr Greek Commentaries)
Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom and A Consolation to His Wife: English Translations, Commentary, Interpretive Essays, and Bibliography


A Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism.


• ca. 1660. Korte Verhandeling van God, de mensch en deszelvs welstand (Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being).[15].
• 1662. Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione (On the Improvement of the Understanding). 1663. Principia philosophiae cartesianae (Principles of Cartesian Philosophy, translated by Samuel Shirley).
• Gallica.
• 1670. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (A Theologico-Political Treatise)
• 1677. Ethics (Penguin Classics)
• 1677. Hebrew Grammar.

Poetry for Children

"Do you know what is wrong with people who never read nursery rhymes? I will tell you. When little boys and girls grow bigger and older, they should grow from the outside, leaving a little boy in the middle; even when they are quite grown up, the little child that once they were should be within them. But some unlucky people grow older from inside and so grow old through and through."

We have been reading several poetry books as a family. The book Honey for a Child's Heart has a section about Poetry which inspired me to get back on track with reading the children poetry aloud. We're currently reading "The World of Christopher Robin" by A.A. Milne as a family and we love the silliness of them.

Some other wonderful poetry books aside from our favorite Dr. Suess:

Randolph Caldecott's Picture Books- mostly nursery rhymes, but pictures are magnificent!

Works by Edward Lear:

The owl and the pussycat
A book of nonsense
There was an Old Man--: A Gallery of Nonsense Rhymes
Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets

Hilaire Belloc:

Cautionary Tales for children

Robert Louis Stevenson:

A Child's Book of Verses

What wonderful children's poetry books do you have to add to this list?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Library Excursions

We have gone to many of the local libraries here and I just wasn't finding a large enough selection for my tastes, so we travel to Raleigh, which is about an hour away and joined their library system. The cost was $25 for a year, which I think is affordable.

We go up either weekly or every other week and it is a family night affair. We spend all the time we wish at the library and then have dinner at a favorite deli or Mexican restaurant.

We each get our books according to the book list I listed previously and the time period they are studying. It keeps us organized. We also try to get a few audio books as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our Homeschooling is Always Improving

I recently found and loved the guidelines set in The Well-Trained Mind. It goes along with TJED so well, but I needed a more rigid idea of what needs to be done for my kids but with the classical mentality that I love and feel strongly about. I've been ordering some of the books suggested.

In addition I have a friend, a mentor, who owns hundreds of Classic children's books I had NEVER even heard of! I thought I had at least a mediocre idea of children's literature. I found that I am but a babe, a child myself in this wide world of classical children's literature. I spent two separate days copying all of the book titles in her many bookshelves. I still have another day or two to go to finish. I have hundreds of books on my list to get. When I have some extra time I will be sharing this list. She then took me to the numerous used book stores and helped me pick out additional titles of children's classics to get, many for $1 or less.

Two of those books are from the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series of which there are four, I believe. We begun reading the first one aloud. I highly recommend this book! It is an easy to read aloud book meaning it is easy to imitate the characters and it is enjoyable. My five year old and up absolutely love this book and beg me to read just another chapter. Even my husband laughs with the kids during some of these funny adventures. We have read almost half of the book in three separate sittings, so it is also a quick read. I am so glad we found this series!

M, my almost eight year old daughter, is listening to the CD that is the audio companion to The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. She loves it and the songs that go with it. I love hearing the younger children repeating all the alphabet sounds too.

Hope your homeschooling life is going as well!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Classical Music: Johann Strauss

Johann Strauss II (October 25, 1825 – June 3, 1899; German: Johann Baptist Strauß; Johann Straussalso known as Johann Baptist Strauss, Johann Strauss, Jr., or Johann Strauss the Younger) was an Austrian composer famous for having written over 500 waltzes, polkas, marches, and galops. He was the son of the composer Johann Strauss I, and brother of composers Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. He is also the most famous member of the Strauss family. He was known in his lifetime as "The Waltz King", and was largely responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century. He revolutionized the waltz, elevating it from a lowly peasant dance to entertainment fit for the royal Habsburg court.

I recently purchased "Johann Strauss Jr Most Famous Waltzes". What a beautiful compilation of his works. It contains over and hour's worth of music that is invigorating and makes you want to dance.

We listened to it again last night while I was cooking dinner. The younger girls were so inspired that they all dressed up in their ballerina outfits, tutus and all and danced around the house. We love all of his music. Our absolute favorites are:

"Tales from the Vienna Woods"
"Roses from the South Op. 388"
"Fruehlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring)"

May I also say he was quite a LOOKER! ;)

Listen to it, I promise you'll love it!!! Johann Strauss was a genius of a musician!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Library Subjects List

These suggestions came from the book "The Well Trained Mind". I loved them so much I decided to implement them in our homeschool library trips:

Each child picks out one book in each of the following subjects:

*One science book
*One history book
*One art or music appreciation book
*One practical book (i.e. hobby, craft or "how-to")
*One biography or autobiography book
*One classic novel
*An imaginative story book
*One book of poetry

The kids can pick out any title, but they have to have something in each category. Each child has a week to read each book before they go back again the next week.

Behavior Modifications and Sensory Diets

I'm intending for this post to be "educational" and hope to give you a good laugh at my expense.

Last week I reclaimed our school room. I scored some desks off of Freecycle, we had cleaned and decluttered and I was motivated to make our school room a fun, inviting place that the kids would WANT to be in. Bonus for me: all the desks match. Yay!

I've also been reading a lot lately on Autism and three things stood out to me. Behavior modification, sensory satisfaction and structure. So, armed with this grand new information and my imagination, I sat down to several projects last week. I'm passing them on for any of you to use if you think it might be helpful.

First up was our Behavior Modification. Who doesn't like a reward for good behavior or a job well done? I started a token economy. I used some pennies, an envelope decorated in stickers and a spinner. This is how we set ours up.

10 pennies for each kid
1 8 space spinner (you could make one out of cardstock and a brad, or I bought a pack of them for a dollar at Walmart)

The rules were that they had to earn 5 pennies for a break and 10 pennies for a big reward.

1 penny = assignment completed.
2 penny = if the assignment was completed inependently
5 penny = 10 minute break. Use the spinner.
7 penny = small treat (like M&M or animal crackers)
10 penny = 30 minutes computer time, outside play, art project (like painting, playdough)

For the spinner at the 5 penny mark (if needed, you can revert to the spinner if you need chores done, or more school work, or a big, unusual job).
1. 15 minutes educational game on computer
2. Sensory box (tell you about that in a minute)
3. Listen to MP3 player
4. Play a board or card game (Memory, Clotheline, Go Fish)
5. Coloring book
6. Free Play
7. Snack
8. Play outside or free play if inclimate weather

Tokens were paid for 5 and 10 penny activities. 1 token was also paid for crying, physical contact, and frustration violence (hitting table, tearing up paper, kicking furniture).

Now, for the Sensory Diet. Ugh. Ok, maybe this would have worked with some better quality balloons and may I suggest you allow this activity only with supervision like a hawk.

First, I made a sensory box. This is kind of like the I Spy bottles and pillows you see, only they get to use their hands to rake through the contents. I used a medium size plastic drawer, so when we were done, it goes up and away and the little kids actually do not know where I've hid it.

1 bag uncooked rice
1 bag uncooked each red beans, black beans and split peas
Small, blunt objects laying around the house. I used a marble, flat ended screw, coins, bottle nipple, erasers, paper clips, baby spoon, colored popscicle sticks, dice, small car. Anything you can think of to put in there and can be buried by the rice and beans.

I let them comb through it with their hands. I had to watchful of the 4 years and under set because they had a tendency to throw it up in the air and fill their pockets and try to bury their arms in the box.

Next on the list for the Sensory Diet were stress balls. I read this idea and thought WOW! What a great idea. Ok, not so much anymore. I know the purpose these should be for, but like I said, I think I needed better quality ballons.

Quality balloons (probably not something you would get from a Dollar Store)
Corn Syrup
Empty, dry soda bottle
A partner

1. Using your funnel, fill up your soda bottle with about a cup and a half of your desired ingredient.
2. Blow up your balloon. Have your partner pinch the base of the balloon to keep air in while you stretch the opening over the soda bottle's spout.
3. Pour the ingredients into the balloon. Some, like the corn syrup, will flow automatically, but you will have to tilt the bottle so you get some air flow/resistance that allows the ingredient to transfer to the balloon.
4. Remove the balloon carefully from the bottle.
5. Allow the air to slowly leave the balloon and tie it off.

Lessons learned:
First, do not think that funnel will somehow be a good idea using it just with the balloon. Things did not enter a deflated balloon easily, so when I thought I would blow it up and stick the funnel full of cornstarch into the balloon, I didn't account for air leaving the balloon and blowing corn starch all over my kitchen. Or the rice having to be prodded and pulled into the balloon 3 bits at a time. Or the corn syrup oozing out over the balloon because my funnel was cracked and the balloon didn't stretch out (did that 2 times before learning my lesson). Or that sugar is slightly heavier than the funnel it was in and made a huge mess when I fumbled the balloon and funnel together when my fingers and wrists cramped up and dumped sugar all over myself and the floor. Or that once I figured out the best way to get the stuff into the balloon was with the soda bottle and a partner, not to let the air out of the balloon too quickly, or once again, flour was blown all over the kitchen. Also, water and corn syrup do not mix. They separated in the balloon. I found this out after I thought that if I added water to the balloon, like you would if you were filling a water balloon, the cold water separated the syrup and it was heavy on the bottom and squishy on the top.

Lessons learned after the kids got a hold of the stress balls.
Do not let the kid that LOVES the bumpy texture of the rice ball sleep with it. He woke up in a pile of rice.
Do not let them leave the house with the corn syrup filled stress ball because one they throw it at someone or something, it will probably pop and make a huge, sticky mess.
Do not let them take their rice filled stress ball into the tub with them.
Do not let husbands play with the flour filled balloons because the balloons are too delicate for the kind of strength that a husband would use to release their stress with. Be prepared for flour to explode all over your dark green couch.
Teach your children what the balloons are for: they are NOT for target practice, dodge ball, catch, chewing on, or poking with pencils, scissors, nail clippers or toothpicks.

So, there you go. A fun filled day of stress balls, boxes filled with a potential recipe for disaster, and spinners to reward good behavior. Two of the things are working for us anyway, but I think I'm staying far away from the stress balls for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Colloquium Book Lists

At our colloquium this week, we had a great time talking about "The Age of Innocence" and planning for the rest of the year. We still had enough books we're dying to read that didn't fit in our year's schedule. *Smile* We thought about having an online discussion forum to talk about the book with those who can't make it for whatever reason, but read the book.

We decided to go ahead and start a second Colloquium meeting, this one for Statesman. We plan to read things like the Federalist papers, etc.

For March we are reading "Follow the River" by James Alexander Thom

Book Summary:

"Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement, killed the men and women, then took her captive. For months, she lived with them, unbroken, until she escaped, and followed a thousand mile trail to freedom--an extraordinary story of a pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her people."

The book reading list is now as follows:

March: Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
April: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (The first half of the book)
May: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (The second half of the book)
June: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
July: Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare
August: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
September: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
October: The Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe
November: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
December: The Other Wiseman (Suggested by Linda)

As far as the Statesman Colloquia we will meet the second Wednesday at the same time. I will send more information for that.

For March we'll be reading: 1776 by McCullough

At the next meeting we'll decide which to read next but our suggested book list is:

1) Future Shock by Toffler
2) The Roots of American Order
3) The Federalist Papers by Russell Kirk
4) Democracy in America by Tocqueville
5) The Constitution of the United States of America
6) The Declaration of Independence
7) Common Sense by Thomas Paine
8) John Adams Biography
9) The True End of Civil Government by John Locke
10) The Social Contract by Rousseau
11) The History of England by David Hume

I Went Used Book Store Shopping and...

these are the books I got today super duper CHEAP! I'm so excited and so are the kids. My Chrisy was intrigued by the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr and she read the entire book while we traveled from store to store.

Kid's List:

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Maples Dodge
A Little Princess by Francis Hodges Burnett
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The World of Christopher Robin by A.A. Milne
The Handy Biology Answer Book by Naomi Balaban
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Parakeet Handbook, The (Barron's Pet Handbooks)by Annette Wolter
Hello Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
I, Columbus: My Journal, 1492-1493 by Peter Roop
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

For Me:

1776 by David McCollough
Sonnets from the Portuguese And Other Poems by Edwin A. Abbott, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Selected Poems of William Wordsworth edited by George W Meyer
Teaching Your Children Values by Linda Eyre, Richard Eyre
The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796 by Amelia Simmons
Speaking of Women's Health: The Book
Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham (1948)
America's Garden Book by Louise And James Bush-Brown (1958)
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer
The New York Times Garden Book by Joan Lee Faust (1962)
Herbal Medicine by Dian Dincin Buchman
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by Nesta Helen Webster