Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Promise realized

And they're out!! The baby robins hatched over the weekend, and though they're pretty homely right now, they are pretty amazing!! They came out of those tiny blue eggs!!!


One of the major tools that has been invaluable to me in our homeschooling adventure is the internet. I sign on so many times each day to get materials for school, to look something up, for an "object lesson", or just to have fun with the kids.

Lately we've been into watching video clips, and I like to be right there beside the kiddos when they do, partly because they're usually quite funny, and partly because there's a lot of not so great stuff posted that I don't want them looking at.

I was excited to hear about a new video upload site, Viddiction. It's the same general idea as some of the established sites, but it has some fun twists. On Viddiction there is more of a focus on individual, rather than corporate or big name submissions. There are also some fun networking opportunities on this site, as well as contests where they offer cash for videos, including regular monthly ones where they give away up to $500!! Right now I'm cheering for a little clip with two kittens playing hide and seek - it's cute, and it's one that I can watch my young children :). Take a peek...

So log on, check it out, sign up, vote for your favorites, and have some fun on a rainy day!

Sponsored by Viddiction

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Family Meals

I found this piece by Ann Douglas, and just wanted to pass it along. It's full of some very good tips, and I can certainly use all the help that I can get with my cooking and meals. I was going to try and share it in my own words, but she does a great job already:). Read on and enjoy!

Summer Family Meals

10 Real-World Summer Mealtime Solutions

All bets are off when it comes to feeding kids during the summer months: who knows what foods will be appealing on super-hot days and who will even be at the dinner-table at a time of year when schedules tend to get tossed out the window on a regular basis. Here are some suggestions on zeroing in on meals that are high in kid-appeal and ways of taking the stress out of mealtimes during what should be a fun and low-stress time of year.

1. Keep it fresh. Take advantage of the wide availability of farm-fresh produce while it's in season. Foods like blueberries aren't just delicious: they're also rich in nutrients and high in kid-appeal.
2. Get your kids in on the meal-planning act. They'll be less likely to gripe about what shows up on the dinner-table or go into great theatrics about how there's "nothing to eat" in the house if they had a role to play in planning meals, drawing up the grocery list, or-better yet-helping you choose some fresher-than-fresh produce at the local farmer's market.
3. Stock up. It can be hard to predict ahead of time how many extra kids will show up at your dinner-table during the summer months. And be sure to stock up on foods that can be enjoyed on the run: cheese cubes, hard-boiled eggs, bagels, homemade muffins, and the like.
4. Get ahead of the game. Do some food preparation ahead of time or look for items in the grocery store that can save you time on the food preparation front (e.g., salad in a bag, mini-carrots, etc.). Prepare foods as soon as possible after arriving home from the grocery store or the farmer's market. That way, your kids will have plenty of healthy foods to snack on when the munchies strike.
5. Plan meals that require minimal preparation and very little clean up. Think grilled meat or fish or vegetarian protein; a baked potato; some fresh vegetables (grilled, raw, or made into a salad); and some fresh fruit. Hint: If you throw a few extra pieces of meat on the grill, you'll end up with some tempting leftovers for meals and snacks the next day.
6. Go for quick and easy menus. Load up on cookbooks that feature menus that can be whipped up quickly and easily, and that are both healthy and kid-friendly. (Ask other parents and your local bookseller for recommendations.)
7. Beat the heat. Aim for no-cook meals at this time of year or meals that avoid very little oven time preparation (to avoid heating up the kitchen) .
8. Batch cook. Make at least one extra meal on the weekends, either by cooking that meal all by itself and popping in the freezer, or by making "doubles" of one of your family's weekend meals (e.g., a double batch of spaghetti sauce or lasagna) so that you can have leftovers during the week.
9. Have "leftover night" or "make your own dinner night" at least once a week. It's a great way to clean out the refrigerator, give yourself a break from cooking, and allow your kids to make themselves something they'll really enjoy. It's a win-win situation all around.
10. Schedule family picnics on a regular basis. Even if your kids try to convince you that they're too old for picnics, encourage them to join in the fun anyway. Summer tends to whiz by in a flash: who wants to spend it being holed up in a kitchen?

Creation Science Resource

I haven't actually taken the time to dig into this site too much, but I'm afraid I'm going to lose the business card, so I'm "storing" the info here... :)

Creation Ministries international has a website specifically for creation/evolution information, which sounds like a good resource for doing your reasearch as you teach basic Science to your kiddos: (or .org ).

Check it out and let me know what you think....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


We are up to seventy-one kids planning to participate in our homeschool co-op - wow! Just sorting through the list yesterday - glad to have six other ladies also on a steering committee that work can be divided up with. Lots of little details to work out over the summer, but it is very much worth it!! I'm excited :).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I was reading an article today that mentioned something neat that Benjamin Franklin was said to have done for years. He picked thirteen character traits that he wanted to see developed in himself, and then studied one a week for thirteen weeks. He just kept cycling through that list. I like that idea. I'm thinking that when the girls get back we will sit as a family and make a list like this, and then use different resources to study those traits. Maybe we can even each take a day where we are in charge of sharing some of our "research". We could pull out the Bible, biographies, personal experiences... I like it, but we'll see how it catches on :).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Safe Online

Whoaaa!!! The Crimes Against Children Research Center found that 42% of children ages 10-17 have been exposed to online pornography in the past year and 1 in 25 have received an "aggressive sexual solicitation" by a person who attempted to contact them offline. (Focus on the Family magazine, July 2008)

That is so sad.

This same article that shared those numbers also gave a few tips to help kiddos stay safe online.

  1. Tell kids to never give out personal information at all (even job, teacher etc. that could be used to locate them).
  2. Set up clear internet use guidelines. Have their passwords.
  3. Reserve right to check behavior, and keep computers in high traffic areas, for accountability.
  4. Understand technology. Explore "in" sites.
  5. Set parameters for your child's list of "friends".
  6. Visit your child's friend's pages and read their posts there.
  7. Tailor rules for age.
  8. Urge children to think about long term consequences. Online material is cached, and is often accessible even if deleted! Colleges even research kids online now - what will they see?

Thankfully we've done pretty well with this so far, but our kids are younger. We need to stay vigilant as they get older, and more and more into this stuff. One more thing to worry about, or better, pray about!

Memory Walk

One of the things that I like about homeschooling is that my daughters have had opportunities to do things, and to get to know people, that they probably wouldn't have if they were in traditional school.

One of the things that we did together was, for about a year, deliver meals for the county's Meals on Wheels program. Once a week we loaded up the van with hot lunches, and drove our route. At first the girls were apprehensive about going up to the doors of the senior citizen's homes. With time, however, they warmed up, and came to really enjoy our Wednesday deliveries. When someone didn't answer the door, they would worry, insist I knock one more time, and then ask me to call to see if they were okay. They got to know each senior's name, and would say prayers for some of them.

Some of the seniors left our route because they deteriorated, physically or mentally, and had to move into assisted living or nursing homes. I had opportunities to talk with my kiddos about things like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, hard things... I hope that these relationships, and these conversations, will lay the foundation for empathy in my children in the years to come.

I recently saw something about an Alzheimer's Memory Walk , and think that this might be a nice follow up for us, a way to do something proactive for the people that we lost touch with, the people that we met that now struggle with this challenge. A typical Memory Walk is a 2-3 mile walk held on a weekend morning in the fall, and is open to participants of all ages. The walks are held in communities all over the country. Currently there is a real need for folks to sign up to walk, and also to be team captains. I encourage you to check it out...

"By teaming up with the Alzheimer's Association, you can walk with a purpose – and move us closer to a world without Alzheimer's. Together, we can MOVE a nation."
Sponsored by Alzheimer's Walk

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I spent a bunch of time today trying to sort out registration forms for our fall co-op. Good stuff, and I'm excited that it's going to happen, but lots of behind the scenes work. We have a bunch of good teachers, good sounding classes, and lotso kids - off we go!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Missing child from Florida

This is a departure from homeschooling stuff, but it involves a kiddo, so I thought it would be appropriate. A fellow blogger with SocialSpark at IZEA is trying to get the word out about the missing son of a friend of a good friend of hers, and he has been searching for his son, Amedeo Cuomo, for over 1 year! Amedeo was taken by his mother, who did NOT have custody.

He could be anywhere in the world, but the last known country was Germany. There is also a possibility that he may be back in the U.S. (California???), or he may be in India - the bottom line is that no one really knows!

If you recognize this child or his mother, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (

The FBI and Interpol are also looking for the mother, so they can be alerted also if anyone has any information as to their whereabouts. Click on this poster to make it larger:

Please feel free to just copy this post, or just the poster above. We're bloggers and we're a world community. We have the power of communication quite literally at our fingertips.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Big Harvest!

Here's a picture of the first of the garden's harvest :).
Hey, it's intact! No squirrel nibbles thanks to my grandmother's tip about sprinkling cayenne pepper on the plants to keep the squirrels and bunnies from eating 'em up!! Yeah!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden beginnings

I forgot to post this picture, way back in May. This was the beginning of our garden this year. We live in a semi-rural area, and some of our friends have acres and acres to play with - homeschool paradise! :) We do not. We have a village size yard, and we've carved a corner of it into a garden, with three rectangular slightly raised beds and a re-claimed materials compost pile (all stuff the previous owners had left in the yard - not pretty but a great lesson in being good stewards of what we have, and not making more garbage than we need to).

Last year was our first year attempting a garden, and we did a tiny bit of research before we started, but learned more by trial and error. We took what we did learn and applied it to this year's garden choices: no corn, few carrots (not enough sun). Lots of beans (did great last year and we love them) and a fair amount of lettuce (did well last year too). We also attempted a few more tomato plants, putting them in different spots, attempting to get as much sun as possible.

It's been a great learning experience for the girls (and for me too). We've been taking problems, like not having tons of sun in our garden nook, and trying to work a solution together. The girls helped remember what did well last year and we planted more of that. They also thought that perhaps since the plants aren't able to make tons of food b/c of the shadiness, maybe if we fertilize better that would help - we'll see if that pans out - we applied composted manure and have been adding compost from our pile. Sooo, it's been a good study in gardening, and also in making hypotheses and all of that fun stuff.

Additionally, my little bargain hunters are excited about the money we can save if the garden does well and we don't need to buy lots of veggies, so there's a lesson in financial stuff as well.
Homeschooling - I like that because we are doing life together we really do have moments to learn, and to really prepare the kiddos for the rest of life. Good stuff. Glad we're able to do it....

Monday, July 14, 2008

Teaching kids about money

My husband and I have walked a hard financial journey. We bottomed out a few years back, and took some to recover financially. We still don't have strong savings, and with the one real breadwinner piece, it's hard to really get ahead. I wish that when we were both working part time we had done better at planning for our financial futures.

I want my girls to make wiser financial choices in their futures, and I know, like anything else, training will be easier when they are younger. We've done some training. They get $1 a week in a "paycheck" for completing their assigned chores, plus the possibility of a little extra for extras sometimes. When they get paid, they have envelopes to put 10% in savings and 10% for tithe. We talk about money stuff, in a good way, around them.

I am excited that in our homeschool co-op in the fall, a few of the moms will be presenting a class for the kids up over 3rd grade on money management. It's something I think I'd like to sit in on. Never too late to learn....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Planning for next year

This is that wonderful time of the year that we with kiddos call Summer Break!! When you homeschool, however, it is also planning and preparation time. In New York state we need to have our IHIPs, or individualized home instruction plans, turned in by August 15th to our school districts, so the clock is ticking!! It's time to look back at the past year and think about what worked and what didn't, what things we need to shift our focus on. It's time to flip through the curriculum catalogs and browse the many many websites that are out there.

I think I'm pretty much set for this next year. Thankfully, most of the curriculum we used this past year worked well for us, so we'll just carry on with it. Our co-op group is expanding a bit too, so some of our needs will be met there. Just some fine tuning, and I'll call it good. Then, the planner can gather dust for a few more weeks... Yeah!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What happened?

"How have we grown so deaf? How have we grown so immune to awesomeness? Why are we so reluctant to be staggered or thunderstruck?

Perhaps the frequency of miracles blinds us to their beauty. After all, what spice is there in a springtime or a tree blossom? Don't the seasons come every year? Aren't there countless seashells just like this one?

Bored, we say Ho-hum and replace the remarkable with the regular, the unbelievable with the anticipated. Science and statistics wave their unmagic wand across the face of life, squelching the oohs and aahs and replacing them with formulas and figures.

Would you like to see Jesus? Do you dare be an eyewitness of His Majesty? Then rediscover amazement.

The next time you hear a baby laugh or see an ocean wave, take note. Pause and listen as His majesty whispers ever so gently, "I'm here."

Max Lucado, God Came Near

Often hear of our need for childlike faith. Again, it fits here. How often do my kids pull me aside to look at something that amazes them, and I barely glance as I do "important stuff"? How much I have I missed? Subtly, I've allowed the "grown up world" to rob me of amazement. I've allowed my life to become a series of to do lists. Yikes! Today I put on my list to play with my kids, blow bubbles, be amazed!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Special Services in New York

There has been a back and forth battle over special services in New York for homeschooled kiddos over the last few years. This letter was just sent out by the president of LEAH (Loving Education at Home, a large statewide homeschool support group) to its members. It is a huge victory for homeschoolers, and will hopefully help parents to do the very best in meeting the needs of their children with disabilities.

Dear Friends of New York Homeschooling:
I have great pleasure to inform you that on July 7, 2008, New York Governor David Paterson signed A11463, the bill which restores special services to disabled homeschool children. This is the final step in making this bill a law in the state of New York. Disabled homeschool children in New York are once again eligible to receive critically needed special services, on the same basis as other students in New York,
As you may know, these services were abruptly terminated by the State Education Department (SED) earlier this year, changing a policy of more than 17 years of providing these services to homeschoolers. This action was in response to the outcome of a particular NY judicial case (which cited a legal technicality in Federal law). As a result of that change, parents, instead of homeschooling, would have had to enroll their children in a public or private school to receive services critical to learning and development.
However, as a result of calls, letters, emails, and prayers from New Yorkers like you, we were able to persuade the Board of Regents and the SED to see the folly of this new policy and to convince them to support legislation to restore service. More calls, letters, emails, and prayers brought about necessary changes when early legislative proposals were judged to be defective. And even more calls, letters, emails, and prayers generated support within the Legislature which paved the way for this bill to be passed. And I believe it was prayer that caused the final version of the law, which is now signed, sealed, and delivered, to be even slightly better than the version homeschoolers were actively trying to push through the legislature.
In addition to giving praise and thanks to God for his gracious providence in this matter, I suggest that you consider dropping a note of thanks to any government official (SED, Regent, Legislator) that you may have contacted in support of this effort. Listed below are some of the key legislators involved:
1) The following is a suggested message which you may put into your own words:
"Thank you for acting quickly and passing Assembly Bill 11463. This bill will allow homeschool students with disabilities to be eligible for special education services as other nonpublic school students are."
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (Sponsor)
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (Co-Sponsor)
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (Co-Sponsor)
Assemblyman Steve Englebright (Co-Sponsor)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Senator George Winner (Sponsor)
Senator Dale Volker (Co-Sponsor)
Senator Joseph Bruno- President pro tempore
2) Please contact both your state senator and assemblyman and give them this message in your own words:
"As a constituent, I want to thank you for voting in favor of Assembly Bill 11463. This bill will allow homeschool students with disabilities to be eligible for special education services as other nonpublic school students are."
To get the name and contact information for your state senator or Assemblyman, go to
Please be in prayer as the State Education Department defines how the new law will be implemented on a practical basis, and sends guidance to the local school districts in regards to details and procedures. The Special Needs Task Force and the Home School Legal Defense Association are already in communication with the SED in regards to a number of practical issues. How these issues are worked out can significantly impact the degree of ease or difficulty of working with this new law.
If you have disabled homeschooled children that need to receive special services under the provisions of this new law, please note that the signing of this bill sets into motion a 30-day window in which you need to make a written request to your school district for such services. The details and the procedures of this are still to be worked out – please go to for the latest information on this. It will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Thank you very your participation in helping protect and maintain homeschooling rights in New York,
Rich Stauter
President, NYS Loving Education At Home (LEAH)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One income

I've found that one of the trickiest things about homeschooling isn't curriculum, or schedules, but money money money! It's hard to raise a family on one income, which is usually the case when you are homeschooling. I was reading an article in Focus on the Family's April magazine (I'm a bit behind in my reading!!) and it said that the cost of raising one child to adulthood ranges from $143,000 to $289,000. Yikes!!!!

We homeschooling mommies can help out by trying to keep expenses low, and maybe picking up a few hours of at home work here and there, but this is for most of us going to continue to be a tricky area. Press on. Remember it's just a season of life that will pass. Enjoy today with your kiddos. I need to go do that now...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mud pit

I posted a picture of the girls digging a hole a different day, and today they made good use of that hole. They had friends over to play, and where did they end up? In the hole, filled with water, now a great big mud pit!!

Besides that, as the picture shows, it also makes a great fishing hole!! No fish, but lots of fun :) Imaginations at work!

See New York without spending lots

I was reading a magazine the other day and they mentioned a program I remember hearing about a long time ago, but it had slipped into the dusty corners of my mind... The Empire Passport Discount Program. When you purchase this season pass you can get unlimited day use vehicle entry into most all of the NY State parks, rec facilities, DEC preserves, boat launches, arboretums, and park preserves. It's $59 for unlimited use - each time a carful. I believe AAA members can get discounts on top of that too. A cool way to see lots without spending lots.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just like the movie...

It's funny. I found that movie clip online and laughed, and then what did my girls spend a good chunk of the afternoon doing? One of them dragged out my labelmaker (best intentions of organizing things, but I haven't used it in many many months!)and they proceeded to organize, alphabetize and label a bookshelf, with no prompting from me. Ok, so I guess we are a bit of a weird homeschool family sometimes!!! :)

Homeschool family video

Funny video :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer time rush

I'm back from camping and our "real" summer begins. I'm looking at the calendar and realizing that I have once again packed in more stuff than I needed to. This probably is the best I've ever done at keeping it light, but still there is somewhere to go and something to do every day. Today begins field hockey camp for one kiddo. Granted it's only a few hours, and it really probably will be good for the kids to be going in different directions for part of the day, but it would be nice to have a day on the calendar that was empty :).


A momma bird has decided that our carport would be a good place to have her babies, and this is what they look like so far, but they're there. These eggs are a promise of the baby robins that we will see soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free homeschool software

This isn't a paid thing; I just wanted to share a resource. Free homeschool software is available at . You need only to pay shipping. I just get very happy when I find good resources and want to share :). Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Homeschool Talk Radio

I really do love all of the resources that are available to us homeschoolers at this point in history!! I still feel burned out at times, even with all of the supports that we do have. How did the last generation do it? Anyway, here is a talk radio homeschool show - interesting stuff!