Friday, July 30, 2010


It’s probably pretty obvious that we homeschool. In fact, most people who walk into our home for the first time pick up on that pretty quickly. I can’t even count the ridiculous amount of times I’ve had to explain why I have a solar system complete with glitter stars hanging from our dining room ceiling. If that’s not a big enough clue, the huge wall timeline I took down this week probably was.
Then there’s the towering stack of library books that break my back each time I have to carry the over flowing bag home. Or, how about the fact that we have our own home library that is ever growing and increasingly weighing the second story of our house down. I have the occasional nightmare of that infamous college in middle Tennessee who has this gorgeously huge library and can’t put a single book on the upper floor(s) because when they did the math they completely forgot to consider the weight of the books. Brilliant minds and all that you know.
Then there’s the shirts we wear. Nothing like having your kids walk around in shirts the blazingly scream, “Super homeschool student”. In fact, my kids were wearing those very shirts one day when I had to make a quick trip in to our local supermarket. And, by quick trip that means I spent 5 minutes parking in the farthest away parking lot that is meant for smart cars and not my Holden wagon. I then spent the next 10 minutes assessing how far we could open our doors before whacking the car next to us (a great lesson in probability to be honest), we then spent another 3 minutes estimating how many inches we could all gain around our girth before being incapable of getting out of the car. Then there was the 7 minute hike up to the shop while dodging wild taxi drivers, speeding P platers, and giant delivery trucks. 
Needless to say by the time we got to the foyer my kids were ready to get in and be done with the whole trip. So they ran ahead of me, most likely eager to see what the bakery currently had on display, but they didn’t make it that far before a women with wild hair walked out and says to me, “Are those your boys?” I’m somewhere between denial and fright.
Do I deny they are my kids so that if they upset her trolly or knocked her over I can look over my shoulder and say things like, “You know it’s because they’re homeschooled. Let’s find their parents and give them a piece of our minds!” Or, do I accept the fate of whatever tongue lashing I might be about to get about two boys running wildly into a shop and upsetting little old ladies and their trollies. All though, admittedly she was not in any way what I’d consider “old”. 
The truth won out and I nodded and said, “Yes, they are.” She smiles and says, “I love those t-shirts! It’s so cool you homeschool.”
Then there’s my t-shirts which have literally stopped the lines in a couple of fast-food joints and the movie shop while people creep every closer to read the words scrawled across my front. I gotta say I stopped wearing the t-shirt after some strange guy was about 8 inches from me and I thought I’d cut in line. The shirt, for the record says, “Homeschool Mom.. Please don’t interrupt me right now I’m having a parent/teacher conference.” 
Despite how much we love homeschooling I refuse to speak ill of public schools. While they have their faults and their problems I respect the fact that most schools are over crowded and underfunded. I get that, and I don’t think it speaks well of homeschooling to spend my days putting down public schools. The same public schools where in-laws work and sweet nieces and nephews attend classes. Besides that, I’m pretty sure all the cousins will agree my boys are the freakiest and weirdest of the lot.

My boys have no shame in putting on girlie gymnastic suits and parading around the house. They have no fear about wearing Mom’s tinted lip balm to heal sore lips. And, I’m pretty sure one of my kids owns a pair of fuzzy purple slippers I had to purchase from the girls department in Kmart. 
The thing is, despite my efforts of not speaking ill of public school kids, my children still feel “different” about them. They are all up for a game at the park, or races on the walk track. They’ll happily play for hours at a time with any child who will willingly agree to it. 
So it came as quite the surprise when Morgan informed me the other day that he felt really bad for kids who have to do “other school”. I was only half listening to him while dealing out cards for a new math game we were playing. Plus, I’m pretty sure I was attempting not to gag on the smell of white board markers. Jayden’s latest hobby is drawing British Officers on our white board. 
It’s not until he starts prodding me with his index finger and says, “Don’t you agree Mom?” 
“Say it again, I didn’t hear everything you said.”
“Don’t you feel bad for kids who have to go to other schools instead of learning at home?”
“I don’t know, why?”
“I was just thinking that they don’t get to learn as much as we do!”
“How do you know that?”
“Well, first off I’m pretty sure they don’t have much fun because they always look sad when they are going in to the building. Plus, they don’t know anything about the Revolutionary War, and whenever we ask people to play 10’s Concentration they don’t know what we mean. So, there’s no way they can have any fun at all.” 
“Hmmm,” was my only reply while I debated how to answer that one.
“It’s not just that, “Jayden pipes up, “the teachers actually watch them eat their lunches! That has to be the most embarrassing part of going to school. Either that, or asking someone if you can go to the potty. That would be so embarrassing.”
And me? I was sitting there with tears steaming down my face while attempting not to laugh. Which only led them to one conclusion:
“Jayden, you’ve scared Mom! Now when she grows up she won’t want to go to ‘other’ school either.” 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free Lapbook

We'll be 'rowing' Amber On The Mountain starting on Monday so I thought I'd make a quick lapbook to go with our studies. The boys really enjoy having the lapbooks to do, and they especially enjoy sharing them with anyone who sits still long enough. The lapbook corresponds with the lessons in the Five In A Row Volume 3 manual.

Amber On The Mountain is a really sweet story about a little girl who learns to read and write. I suspect this book will hit a soft spot with a certain little boy I know, and I'm quiet eager to read it with him.

There is no actual location given for the book other then atop a mountain. I've opted to learn about Switzerland with the boys, mostly because the story of Heidi came to mind and the lonesome life people felt she must have lived living way atop the mountain. We've actually listened to this book before, but this time we'll be reading it. After that we'll have to see if we can obtain copies of Heidi Grows Up & Heidi's Children.

Hopefully the pdf won't seem to weird if you chose to print it out. I put many the labels for booklets on differing pages then the booklets themselves as I only printed out one copy of this lapbook for both my boys to work on. We like to have lots of color in our booklets and this allowed our labels to be different colors then our actual booklets.

You may also find, when printing on A4 paper (that's those of us not living in America) that some of the pages will just barely fit on the paper. My awesome scrapbooking program has one small flaw, and that would be that I can't make things on for an A4 paper. BUT, they do fit so I didn't go back and adjust it. 

I also made two pop-up booklets; one for the map and one for the flag. Hopefully the directions are pretty self explanatory, but if not I'll post pictures or a video on how to make it. Really, it's quite simple so don't be frightened by it! You can download your own copy here if you want.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homeschool Book Of days

Remember our homeschool journal post a while back? I finally bound the pages we've accumulated thus far. It's interesting to look back over them and see how much we've covered, even if it was just conversations in the car. I also made a cover for it, which has a hideous white border around it because my no-fail program is set to American sized paper instead of Aussie sized paper (yes, there's a difference..), but it serves it's purpose so we won't complain too loudly.

I print out a set of the weekly journal papers and store them in my file box under each week of the month. Truthfully I try to use them even when we have an "off" week, but I may need to make up a fresh paper for during that time frame. At the start of the week I simply pull out the fresh set of papers and stick them on my trusty clipboard which is most often found laying on the kitchen counter. This makes it handy for jotting down what we're doing through out the day.

Then at the end of the week we bind it up with our Pro-Click binder and put it aside. The note page (left) is one I don't always use. I find that I can jot simple notes down when I write down what we've covered. For instance, if we cover a math subject and I feel we need more practice on a particular area I can just jot down something like: "Played Fraction Action today, boys had fun and showed reasonable comprehension, but J could use hands on application to fully comprehend fractions." For some weeks instead of a notes page I might have a typed page of plans for our unit study instead. It just depends on how the mood strikes me and how much planning I feel our school week will need.

I also keep our grade appropriate check-lists in the front of the book so I can tick things off as we cover them. As you can see from our list I haven't ticked very much off, and must sit down sometime this week and tick some boxes off! The list was made using the fast array of things in Rebecca Rupp's Home Learning Year By Year. It's not a must have, must know type list, but it gives us something to consider as we make our plans through out the year. Some things we cover by reading a book (light & electricity), some things are much more hands on (magnets), and then some things are only covered orally (habitats). My kids all ready knew what habitats were and just to verify one night over dinner I asked them. The conversation went a little something like this:

"Hey, Jayden do you know what a habitat is?"

Morgan starts jumping up and down in his chair waving his hand madly as if he thinks he's Hermione Granger, I, being the ever steadfast McGonagall ignore him entirely and refuse to debunk his excitement by taking away points. After all, I'm not that Snapeish am I?

Jayden thoughtfully chews his spinach and cheese ravioli while smirking at his brother and then says, "It's an animal home."

"Right you are, and do you think all animals have the same kind of habitat?"

Again Morgan starts jumping around, I peek under the table to see if Mr Scarecrow is sticking jumping beans in Morgan's pants but there appears to be no evidence. My attention flows back to Jayden who looks very insulted by my questions.

"No, of course note. Do you think birds could live in water? I mean, you know, besides seagulls and penguins and water birds. They don't always live in the water though you know, they just do it sometimes for fun."

I decide that since my question has been answered I'll ask him something else that revolvs around habitats, "So what's a fish's habitat?"

"Water Mom."

At this point Morgan is sulking because he's not been involved in the conversation and he's feeling quite dejected. I continue to pretend I don't notice such defeat because that would mean letting him answer questions I'm fully aware he all ready knows.

"What about a birds habitat?"

"That depends on the bird. Sometimes they live in trees and sometimes they live in our roof."

And yes, that's how most conversations go around this house. I asked Morgan about Roman Numerals not long ago, something he was previously obsessed with and he swore he couldn't remember anything about them. The next day I walk into the dinning room and discover the entire whiteboard comic scene he's drawn is marked out by Roman Numerals. Only, he's written IIII instead if IV so Mr Scarecrow appears and says, "Let me show you an easier way to draw 4." I am now stuck with math papers I must decipher before I can correct because Morgan now finds it necessary to turn everything in with Roman Numerals.  I'm really not complaining, I'm just wondering what normal looks like..

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

School Supplies

The brown bag on the shelf in this post holds most of our everyday school supplies. I picked up the little tote at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon when I was in America a couple of years ago. The tote can hold an unbelievable amount of stuff and fits into most small spaces quiet easily. Plus, it's super easy to take school on the road, outside, in the tent, upstairs.. you are getting the point right? All I have to do is say, "Grab the school basket!"

The tote, or basket as we call it, is loaded with pockets and spaces to hold just about anything under the sun. It is actually a scrapbooking storage tote, but we prefer to use it for our school supplies. Here's a look at what's inside of it.

Scissors, glue sticks, and hole punches are kept on the lefthand side. As you can see by the empty pocket we're missing a pair of scissors. I'm pretty sure they are my pink cutter bee scissors too which are great for when you make small minit books for the lapbooks. We normally have 2-3 glue sticks in there as well, but we're in need of restocking.

This is the side we dub the front. It has the two pink flap pockets, the two wider pockets where you can see object stuffed into them, and then the long pocket on top which can also hold ample supplies.

Those pockets hold: Blu-Tack, a true staple around here. We use it for everything. Paper booklets that go with our reading program, it's all most time to file those away. The clock Bingo Game (that's what's inside that green file folder booklet.) A large purple eraser (most pencils don't come with an eraser here and most of the ones that do rip your paper instead of erasing it), white out tape, post it tags, and mini brass tabs for our lapbooks.

This picture is a little blurry which is what happens when you're in a rush and snap photos. Anyway, the large section of this basket is broken down into three larger pockets. This is the front right pocket.

Two packs of twistable crayons, one neon one regular colors. New Testament Story Cards, the boys love those things. We use them on our timeline as we've been working our way through the NT. Regular scotch/cello tape. Double stick tape, Super Math Bear's stamp supplies, a small pink Bible related stamp, and then the Presstic stamp. Ignore the little images on it that say what it can do, total fib there! We bought it ages ago for the checkmark on it and the silly thing isn't in there. In fact half those images aren't on the stamp pad which made us wonder who mismarked that stamp..

This is the pocket directly behind the previous one I showed you. And yes, you do spy pencils with erasers on their ends, I had to buy them through Koorong and they are the first packet of pencils with erasers that actually ERASE instead of RIP the paper. We were so thrilled that when Koorong had a special on last month I picked up two more packages of them. They don't come cheap though..

This is basically our whiteboard pocket. We have Crayola Whiteboard markers in the cup. They are the only whiteboard markers I can tolerate as they have a low odor to them, the rest will give me a near instant migraine. Unfortunately, on days when I'm weak even those low odor ones can send me over the edge. So, while at Kmart recently I spotted the whiteboard crayons and picked up a package of them! We also have our special school pencils from Koorong. The froggie one was a gift from cousins for one of the boys. We have a lizard one like it around here somewhere too.

This is the right hand side pockets. They hold our stickers. We use to have some more, Wiggles, Bob the Builder, & Thomas merit stickers too, but the basket had a slight accident. Or rather a child was setting up a "store" for Mommy & Daddy to come play at and he put a wonderfully delicious strawberry smoothie on the book case and then proceeded to climb up and over the counter thus spilling the smoothie all over the school supply bag. That was fun to clean up.. yeah.. Maybe not. We also have the reinforcement stickers in there which are used more on Jayden's footie calendar then anything else.

This is the biggest pocket on the inside. It's half the bag, so it holds the majority of our phonics and spelling supplies as well as smaller math supplies. It's suppose to hold the stapler too, but that was being used when pictures were taken.

Here's what we stuff inside this pocket. The three round containers in the back hold pieces to phonics games. Jayden's workbox holds the calling cards, but I keep the smaller pieces here so we don't have any mishaps with them. The blue Diego drawstring bag holds playing pieces, various dice and and bits and bobs for playing math games with. Two over sized dice which we picked up for free at Agfest two years ago. A ruler, metric for the record. Uno cards, a mini deck of math cards, and two unopened decks of waterproof playing cards. We use lots of cards during math time. There's also a Where In The World is Carmen SanDiego cd-rom, and three timeline cds. There's World & Us, Bible Timeline, and Bible Story all from Hold That Thought.

Then there's the back of the bag. Which has a couple of zip pockets. I didn't pull the contents out for an upclose photo. They are some free Piggie Counting By 5 cards I printed and laminated ages ago. We use them for making a giant clock on the floor, learning to count by 5's, number practice, etc. There's also some other number cards in there that we used when the boys were learning to count. Sadly, the back pockets contents are hardly used anymore now that those skills are learned. It might be time to empty it out and restock it with something else.. Like tissues or rubber bands, which are always in high demand during school hours..

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back To School

This week we're back to school after a nice three week break. We've managed to have a lot of fun at the park, conquer a whole lot of crafts, and still get our school planning in. So this week it's back to the books and school fun for us. Unfortunately our plans of doing a simple unit study on the book  Amber On The Mountain have gone a bit wayward as we're still awaiting the arrival of a book in the mail for it.

Rather then take another week off, something we're not interested in, we're going to work on a few lapbooks that we have that can be stand along units. Most of them we've obtained for free in some form or another. Here's some of what we have planned for the week ahead:

Ice Cream Lapbook in honor of July being ice cream month. This little lapbook is loaded with historical information, scientific information, and of course a whole lot of fun. I thought it was neat when it explained all the nitty gritty about brain freeze, questions Morgan was pestering us about just a few days ago! I think we can also squeeze in some graph work for math if we can round up enough opinions on favorite flavors of ice cream!

The boys have been big Steve Irwin fans for a long time, or at least Morgan has. So when Hands Of A Child was offering out free lapbooks in exchange for reviews we jumped at the chance for this one. It's really well done and quite thorough. So we'll finally finish putting it together!

Grandfather's Wisdom is a fun lapbook where you interview your Grandpa and jot down the answers to the questions. I'm pretty sure the boys will enjoy doing this because they are always asking for "real stories". So if we can get our time zones worked out they'll ring their Poppy in America and have fun asking him all sorts of questions, and probably crack a few hideous jokes while they are at it. (We happened to obtain this lapbook when it was being offered up for free as well..)

Grandmother's Virtues is in the same series of lapbooks as Grandpa's Wisdom. I'm pretty sure we snagged this one for free at some point as well. Either way the boys will enjoy interviewing their American Gram-Gram as well. We'll have to make up a second set of each of these books so they can interview their Australian Nana as well..

We'll also be playing some fun new math games (stay tuned for more info) as well as some oldies but goodies like Joey-Joey which we love using for math fact practice. Looks like a fun week ahead for us!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Craft Corner

1. Snowbound -- this is a free block a month pattern put out by Bunny Hill. The idea is to do a quilt block a month in order to have a beautiful snowman quilt done in time for Christmas! While we won't be entertaining thoughts of snowmen at Christmas here in Tassie, I'm delighted to find a free snowman quilt pattern! My quilt will clearly be more useful in July, and I can't wait to see the finished project!

2. Crocheted Bag -- I found this beautiful bag and couldn't resist digging in right away. In fact I had my bag completed and was working on the handles when I noticed a mistake in it. Perfectionist that I am, I took the whole thing out to correct my mistakes. Mr Scarecrow was officially, and deeply, horrified by my actions. I pointed out that once I spotted the mistake it would bug me non-stop until I dealt with it. The flower pattern she used can be found here.

3. Christmas Wish -- this is another free quilt pattern. It will require some embroidery work, and I'm hopeful I can manage. My french knots could use some work, but I can't wait to get this one going either. Gail also offers a couple of other free Christmas projects which you can find in her sidebar.

4. 12 Snowmen -- these are from Vermillion Stitchery and are suppose to be sample size. Can't wait to see them all completed! In fact, I think they'd look terrific sewn upon one of those cross-stitch blankets I've seen in the past. I wonder if I'll be able to locate one here.

Beautiful Blogger

Debbie over at The Architect & The Artist blessed us with the Beautiful Blogger Award. Debbie and her family live up in Alaska, my dream vacation spot. (Plug your ears D & J!) and happens to be the mother of two boys herself. Debbie happens to be a fellow homeschooler and she also does some amazing freezer cooking. You can check out her blog for menu ideas and recipes!

So the rules of this award are as follows:

As a recipient of the Beautiful Blogger award, one must:
1) Add a link and note of thanks to the person giving the award
2) Pass the award on to the bloggers whose blogs you love (15 tops)
3) Share 7 things about yourself

So, let's see if I can come up with another 7 things about myself to share:

1. I've been limping since March and when I finally went to the Dr in May I was diagnosed with a displaced fat pad in my knee. Sounds gross, hurts like you wouldn't believe! After a month plus in physical therapy for it I can finally climb stairs and get dressed without excruciating pain. As for Physical Therapy.. I finally found a use for those breathing techniques they teach you in birthing classes!

2. I can watch Aussie Rules Footie and, for the most part, know what's happening without needing explanations. I cannot, however, manage to keep from mocking the officials and calling my own penalties which are most often NFL based. Some habits die hard...

3. I was terrified I'd forget my own anniversary the first few years. Seriously. I was honestly petrified I'd forget. Mr Scarecrow has never ever forgotten and is always filled with so much excitement over it's nearing that I become stricken with fear that I will be the spouse who forgets it. It's really quite embarrassing..

4. My favorite color is purple. Lilac to be exact. I use purple pens, and I have a purple lunch box. I have purple socks, and purple tops, and I even have purple bed sheets. Then, suddenly Morgan decided he loves purple too. My purple pens are always missing, my purple pillowcases are always on his bed, and the only way I've procured my purple socks was by hiding them in my undie drawer...

5. I once wanted to know something about my mother's childhood, so I addressed it as, "what was it like in the olden days.." Mom was slightly offended by my misconception of her age. My darling 9 year old said to me a few months ago, "Mom what was it like in the olden days when you were a kid..." I had that one coming...

6. I am a neat freak. A disorderly shelf can send me over the edge on a bad day. My husband has always known I was a neat freak, but the straw for him was when I was 9 months pregnant with our second child and the church we were attending at that time was having a spring cleaning. I wanted to sign up. He refused to let me. I told him that was cruel I could really help. He asked me what I'd do. I told him I'd climb straight up into the balcony and knock down the 5' grey cobweb that had been driving me bonkers for weeks. He escorted me to the car making sure I did not sign the list of volunteers.

7. My husband and I met on the internet, but it's such an unusual and complicated story we prefer to tell people we met in an airport. Which is equally true because it's the first place we met face to face. Unfortunately for me, while at the physical therapist's this week I was concentrating so hard on not screaming while he worked on various muscles and such that when he asked me how we met I simply said, "The internet.." then, when I could breathe again I realized I should have said, "The airport.."  because while breathing deeply for the next 10 minutes I also had to explain the entire, "No we did not hook up on a dating site. No, we did not go online looking for love.." and all the other absurdly funny questions we get asked.. 

Now I'm suppose to pass this award onward to other bloggers, but as you all ready know about my inability to have so many blogs to pass wards on to I will, instead, share some fun cooking blogs I've been frequenting a lot lately, Enjoy!

1. Another Lunch -- this blog is bento box related, something we really enjoy around here. We make bentos for lunch and for snacks or any other time we can think of. When I don't use bento boxes (divided containers) I use silicone muffin cups. My kids always say, "This is the best lunch ever!" when I do. 

2. Cooking During Stolen Moments -- this lady has some fabulous recipes lurking on her blog and I can't wait to try out a few more of them. 

3. Finding Joy In My Kitchen -- another fun blog. Lots of recipes here we can't wait to try out from baked oatmeal and banana bars. 

4. Healthy Indulgences -- this lady also cooks sugar-free. All though her aim is more low carb, but still some fun recipes there. I look forward to trying a few out.

5. The Nourishing Apron -- another lady who cooks sugar-free. Her reasons are similar to ours, simply that she can't have the sugar. It's always so fun to stumble upon blogs where you can actually use the recipes as they are written!

6. Lynn's Kitchen Adventures -- I stumbled upon this cooking blog a while back but haven't fully explored it. Lots of good recipes even at a quick glance though!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome To The World

Precious one,
So small,
So sweet
Dancing in
on angel feet
Straight from heaven’s
brightest star
What a miracle
you are!

Congratulations to my brother and his lovely wife who just welcomed their first child into the world! 

(Ps: I promise not to inundate you both with gobs of pink, and if I get too carried away I'm pretty sure the boys will reign me in!)

New Workboxes

A while back I mentioned that we were still using workboxes but had come up with our own version. I've finally taken the time to snap a few photos and share them with you. Those two baskets on the bottom shelf there, the ones that match my nifty file box, those are the boys new workboxes. We swapped because we downsized our schoolroom. Okay, so we actually eliminated the thing! It seems that no matter how often we have a room designated for learning purposes we always end up back at the kitchen table, sprawled on the couch, or out on the deck. In fact, we've even done our school in the tent we had set up during the summer. However, our dinning area just wasn't big enough for two full sets of workboxes so we decided to try something slightly different and see how it worked. So far so good.

Here's the basic contents of Jayden's box each week. There's a lapbook, unless it's too big then we store it in the file box, Deigo notebook, crayons, phonics games, & pencil bag. The pencil bag has an odd assortment of things, mostly art related in it.

The second blue file you see in this picture is what holds his printables for the week. He may find math papers, crosswords, spelling words, handwriting papers, etc. inside of it. It keeps the papers neater by having the file folder in there, but I do often have to remind them to straighten up their baskets. It's currently neat because I was getting it ready for school next week.

Morgan's box is still home to some of his off week learning, but in general this is what you'll find in his: Lapbook, crayons (yes he drew a giant M on his box, and I tried to snatch them but he insisted my box would have really had a K on it..) an abacus (each of the boys has their own and uses them quite frequently during math classes. I'd really love to get a large one.) pencil bag (no he's not a Hawks fan, but neither were his cousins who had a membership and received free goodies, and since he couldn't score a Cats bag..) Morgan often has extra books stored in his, be it one he's currently reading or something fun he found at the library. Currently all his books are soccer related because he's working on a World Cup lapbook.

It all fits neatly in his basket too! The purple file folder in the back is what holds his printables for each week. Morgan's usually a bit better at keeping his basket neater, but can often us reminding about keeping papers tidy too. Just don't get him started on his crayon box.. the child actually organizes his crayons by color. Seriously, he out Monks me when it comes to crayons, if only he applied it to his bedroom!

Not a huge change for us as all of our items are still accessable. Both baskets fit neatly on the shelf (as pictured at the start of this post) The other items the kids might have found in their workboxes are also on the shelf as well and I'll just tell them what we're up to next. I like the compactness of these baskets, and how they blend in much nicer then the big shelves.  Then again I'm a big basket person, one trip through my house would probably give you a good idea of that. There's at least 1 basket in each room. In fact we even have one big enough for the dog to sleep in!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

File Crate & Planning

I thought I'd share a bit more about the planning and file crate system since I've gotten a lot of questions about it since I first posted about it a few months ago. While we've been enjoying a couple of weeks "school-free" (is that even 100% possible?) I've been reorganizing my box and bringing it up to date a bit.

I like to bump my files around, which means as a month finishes I move it towards the back of the basket. You can see some green files in there which seem empty, and that's because those are the months we've all ready finished this year. This way the current month is always at the front. This makes it even quicker for dropping things into the basket as I find them. It also makes locating them at the start of the week easier too.

Each large green file roughly holds 8 smaller files. This allows me to plan 8 weeks worth of lessons at a time. All though we usually do 3-6 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off. Within each of those smaller files I keep: School plans, Homeschool Journal pages, the book we'll be using for our unit study, any go-alongs titles that I might have, a library list, a menu, and any other printables I might have. That would include lapbook pieces and so on. There are no lapbook pieces pictured above because I will need to make a lapbook for this particular unit study.

When the books are too big to fit in the file itself I store them behind it, but still within the main green file folder. I think when I reorganize it for next year I'll be using my green file folders for only 1 month. Due to the books I'm also storing in there I'm finding my files a tad tight. The typed paper above is my plans from the Five In A Row manual for the book Amber On The Mountain. Some of the plans have all ready changed since I typed them up. Which is why the journaling page comes in so handy. I can compare what I planned to do with what we actually accomplished. It's fun to look back through those.

My recipe file holds: menus I've filled out and we've all ready used, a few blank menu planning papers, cooking magazines, recipes I print off the internet or find in the local paper, etc. I know it probably seems insanely silly to hold onto old menus, but I'll let you in on a little secret. Not only do those menus have meals planned on them, they also have my shopping lists on them. So, if I'm pulling a blank or behind on menu planning I can just pull an old one out and run with it. I'm still using my weekly menu planners vs my monthly ones. I really should make some cute weekly ones again, but the plain ones work just as well!

My extra file holds a vast array of things and I really must take the time to break it down. Pictured above is what I found in it when I broke it down: Extra Planning pages, math game papers, some fun bookmarks I need to laminate when we purchase more laminate, olympic party plans for a homeschooling event we'll be hosting in a weeks time, Dolch word Bingo game supplies, my Nano story from last year which I've slowly been editing and typing up.

It no longer sits in a pink chair in the corner because we recently picked up this awesome white board easel. It has the whiteboard (pictured), and if you slide the whiteboard off there's a felt board behind it. Turn the whole thing around and there's a chalkboard on the other side. I'm not a fan of chalkboards, they give me the chills! I'd love to turn the reverse side into a nifty magnet board. So we close the box up and slip it under there. It's so simple to open and pull out what I need and to close it up as needed. I can also store it open under there, but decided to close it for a nicer photo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Silly Boys

This is what happens when your nearest cousins are girls and pass down their fun gymnastic outfits to you. This is what happens to you when your big brother says, "Com and watch my movie, it's in 3D!" This is what happens to you when you sleep in so late your parents pull you out of bed to rush down to the ferry before it leaves for the morning.  

Yep, he's sporting Lighting McQueen pj bottoms under a girls gymnastic leotard, and the best part? He wasn't at all embarrassed by the entire ensemble. Mostly put out and appalled that girls where the leotard bit all on it's own because.. "This weird thing keeps giving me a wedgie!" If you think that outfits good, you should see what I have to take him grocery shopping in. I've honestly had people stop me and says, "Look at the bright side, you won't lose him in that outfit!" 

Blankie, as he's lovingly known around these parts, was also forced to sport some mega cool glasses, left over from our Toy Story 3 excursion, in order to watch Morgan's movie. That poor blankie has been in the family for 7.5 years and it's holding on by a few threads, literally. That funky grey binding use to be a vivid and beautiful yellow. Tigger was truly orange once, and the blanket itself was a nice aqua color. It's been loved, trampled, misplaced, left behind, forgotten, eaten, gagged on, and run over. Bet you'll never guess who's it is though..

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Funny Conversations..

Last night it was just the boys and I while Mr Scarecrow got some well needed down time and went to a footie match. The boys and I ended up going to Kmart to pick up a new collar for the dog. Long weird story there, but trust me he needed one and the last one we picked out was way to big for him. While there we checked out the videos that were on sale and I treated the boys to the new Astro Boy movie which was on sale.

On the way home we're driving behind a car with an L plate on it. (For those of you across the big pond, here in Autralia when a person is learning to drive and on an American Permit stage they put a yellow square with an L in the front and back window of their car so you are aware. Once they acquire X amount of hours driving if they can pass the test they move up to a P plate..) So there's an L plater ahead of me and I'm driving along patiently behind them when Morgan looks up and says, "Oh man I can't wait to have a license and a laptop!"

While I'm still debating this entire comment over Jayden pipes up with, "Yeah, but first you'd have to be an L plater. That means your just learning, and practicing. Learners can probably go through red lights without getting a ticket because you're just practicing. Right Mom?"

"No, Jayden, you can't go through a red light with an L plate on. You have to prove you know how to drive properly before you can get your P plate. If the police see you pulling through red lights they won't think you're ready for a P yet."

There's much silence while this is pondered over, and then Morgan says, "What I really want is that laptop so I can do whatever I want on it."

I ruined his entire evening by saying, "I'm sorry you can't do whatever you want on a laptop. You'd still have to obey the normal computer rules of our house."

Jayden, always thinking says, "Unless you sat in your own car. But you'd need a P plate instead of an L plate since Mom would probably be in the car with you if you had an L plate still."

Ps: We're still alive and well. We're just enjoying some well needed downtime around here the past two weeks. Regular blog posting will return shortly!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wonderfully Surprised

You'll have to indulge me while I tell a story.. Friday started out like a semi normal day. The early morning rush to get people to stop playing and have breakfast and put on something besides inside out pj's so we could run Mr Scarecrow down to the ferry. He takes the local ferry across the river into town, which, I can assure you, sounds way more grand then it really is. I managed to start a batch of bread mixing in my breadmaker before I rushed out.

Now, this isn't the whole wheat bread recipe I've posted, but another recipe. It makes two loaves and is slightly heavy for my breadmaker, but it saves my arms from falling off while I knead it so I ask the breadmaker to be patient long enough to get it good and mixed up for me.

When we came back from the ferry I pulled the bread out of my breadmaker and discovered my hand was covered in gray ick. I did not, I assure you, put anything grey and icky in my bread recipe. I flip over my bread pan and part of the seal that keeps the thing together pops off. I can't complain, Mr Scarecrow bought it for me as soon as we settled into our own home here 3.5 years ago. Still, I was slightly offended my bread pan broke, but worse yet I started to laugh. I laughed long enough my kids came in the kitchen looking for something REALLY funny and were sad to see it was just a broken bread pan.

You see, my mother-in-law, also has a breadmaker. Her bread pan also broke, and that broken bread pan rolled around my car for far too long before I managed to get it into the shop. That very Monday I'd dropped it off! So to find myself in the same predicament just made me laugh. Then, finding my entire situation so funny I called Mr Scarecrow at the office and informed him of the situation. He, poor man, did not find it at all funny.

To soothe the situation over I said not to worry I could always make bread by hand until we sorted the pan out. Then, while still chatting at him I went to set a load of laundry to rinse. I do that sometimes. I set a load of laundry to the rinse cycle and let it rinse out with a cup of vinegar in it. Only my silly washer knob wouldn't engage when I turned it. That funny phone call to Mr Scarecrow wasn't taken as well as it had meant to be.

After hanging up I ran upstairs and located the receipt to our washer. Yes, I'm a bit of a file freak and I save all the receipts, manuals, and paperwork that comes with anything we buy. Thankfully I'd cleaned the file box out recently and locating what I was after was super easy. Because the phone upstairs was missing in action I had to go back downstairs to call the washer company. The lady was all set up to send me a repair man when she informs me they don't work on my side of the river.

I had to call someone else who did work on my side and they were very pleasant people and said not to worry if I needed to run to the ferry before their arrival they'd wait for me. When I'm done with all of that I sit down and decide I'll work on one row of my current crochet project only to see the poor mailman laboring to get up our driveway.

People really do complain a lot about out driveway which is straight uphill, but because we're use to it we don't notice it being a huge effort. I was honestly mystified as to what he could be bringing me because all of our books had arrived. So when he handed me a brown box over the fence and we gave our normal "hello, good-bye, see you soon" type greeting I peeked at the address labels on it.

A sweet friend mailed us a fun, and completely unexpected package, filled with goodies for all. Unfortunately I only managed to snag a photo of my adorable little snowmen (you do know I have a snowman fetish right?) because the guys were too busy using theirs. So, despite it being a very delayed but extremely grateful, Thank you Ruthanne! It was such a wonderful surprise!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's On The Book Shelf

 The Backyard Homestead -- This book is so awesome I refused to tell Mr Scarecrow what I was reading until I warned him fully that I he wouldn't like it. It's chocked full of awesome ideas for using the land you have and helping you become self sufficient. Or, at the very least, to make the most of what you have. I think Mr Scarecrow might be worried he'll come home to a front yard full of wheat, and a few chickens out the back.

 Archer's Quest -- Morgan is really smitten with South Korea since the winter olympics. So while scanning the library shelves this week for a great read aloud, this one caught my eye. Of course, the book by Ms. Park that I'd really love to lay my hands on was absent, but I this one looks very promising. We've really enjoyed all the Linda Sue Park books we've encountered thus far.

Grace Based Parenting -- I was thumbing through this book recently during a sale Koorong had, and am eager to read all the way through it. We'll see if it's as good as it looked to be.

Made From Scratch -- another book I spotted and my library happens to have deep in it's recesses. However, I'm still waiting for it to arrive. So I can't say too much about this one either. Which, I suppose, technically means it's not on my "book shelf", but I thought I'd mention it all the same.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mini Lapbooks

For the next couple of weeks we're off of an official school schedule. We're taking time to regroup after our nice long Revolutionary War unit. During this time we spend a few days just lazing around and follow that up with crafts, planning, and park trips.

I decided to try something different this time and make the boys each a mini lapbook or two. Jayden pipped up that he'd love to learn about trains next. Now honestly, I'm just not feeling a train unit in our future. Mostly, because this kid knows more about trains then most of us. He's been obsessed with trains since he could utter the word. The day we moved in near a train track he was in seventh heaven; the day we moved away from it Mr Scarecrow slept a full night without complaining about "that stinking train" even once!

The point is, Jayden loves trains and that's just part of who he is, but a train unit study? I so wasn't feeling it. Yet, I didn't want to squash the desire to pick something for us to learn about. Enter the mini lapbook idea.

I filled up his workbasket (they now have one basket vs several workboxes due to a space constraint) with all the Thomas books I could find on our bookshelf. The basket is quite full. I also remembered that we had a wonderful little train book in the home library about The Age Of Steam. So I pulled that one out too. Then I set to work on his lapbook.

This lapbook is a combination of things. I started out with the Mini Train Lapbook from Currclick. It was, however a bit preschoolish for my 7 year old. I pulled out the pieces that were good for us and left the rest. Then I went over to Homeschool Share and picked through their fun Train Lapbook pieces. I also snagged the free Thomas book from here.

The dot-to-dots were something I found via a quick google search. Jayden loves dot-to-dots. One is ABC related the other is numeral. Those colored trains you see sticking out of the red paper are actually long tabs you can pull out. They have math facts on them. I loved that feature from the Mini Train Lapbook. The inside of all the booklets are empty or undone. I then stuck this lapbook in his basket and when he's not sure what to do or asks for too much screen time I simply suggest he do 1 or 2 things in his lapbook. Pick out a train book for someone to read to him, etc.  And yes, unfortunately, Sir Topem Hat has a boogie coming out of his nose. Boys will be boys..

Because the train book was labeled a mini lapbook I took that idea to the max and cut a normal file folder down. I cut off about 3-4 inches off the bottom and 1/2-1 inch on the side. The amount cut off on the bottom will not go to waste, we'll use them for our geography cards (post later.) The Thomas book took two file folders to make, the Canadian one below only took one and it's slightly wider as I didn't trim it on the side.

Canada Day was earlier this month and I picked up this Mini Lapbook for a meager 50 cents. I'm doing a lapbook theme for my niece's craft kits this month and I couldn't pass up this lapbook for her. However, I realized it was something Morgan would really enjoy doing as well so I printed one out for him as well.  Again, I went with the entire mini theme. This is a lapbook Morgan easily did in one day, which is good because I have some World Cup lapbook, books, and crafts ahead for him! We soccer freaks must take advantage of it while we can!

I ended up adding two things to this lapbook. The booklet on the far left about the provinces and territories as well as the Canadian Animal cards. Those were freebies from Homeschool Share. To go with this lapbook Morgan also made a Canadian Mountie and I told him we'll stop off in town to pick up Dudley Do Right. We'll also be making some very yummy Maple Cookies.

The boys are also required to read a book a day to me during our off week. Morgan is hot to trot on this job right now because he's currently involved in a Book Challenge and hopeful he'll win an audiobook out of it. (Little does he know he's going to win an audio book if he reads those 10 books, which he's avidly doing!) Jayden has gone on strike, big time, against his reading books. He deemed them, "Boring and babylike. Can't I read something better then this?" So he's now reading through the 12 stories in this book. He adores this book and feels oh so grown up to get to use a bookmark and read a book that came off the every day bookshelf. Best Part? I get a kick out of seeing Morgan help him figure out tougher words.

As for math during our off week. We normally don't do anything formal. If the boys request one of our tried and true games I go with it. Honestly, the boys find all our math games to be awesome and fun favorites. They ask quite often to play them. We're also reading through How High Can A Dinosaur Count and doing the math mysteries inside. Fun little word problems. Jayden still needs a bit of review on being a Math Detective, and Morgan just gets a huge kick out of word problems. He's a top notch Math Detective when it comes to word problems!