Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why We Keep the Computer in the Living Room

'Nuff said.
Click here to get around to it!

Happy Cumpleaños Andrew

Andrew turned 11 on the 7th of November and I'm finally getting to post photos of his big day! We had a great time! It was especially good that Doug returned home the night before -- Andrew didn't say so, but I know that he would have been pretty bummed if Dad hadn't been there to celebrate with us!!!

Here's Andrew's birthday photo collage...

We opened presents early in the day -- who wants to wait till bedtime? Where's the fun in that???
Can you tell that Andrew is the outdoor type by his gifts?

Maria and her family, Andrew's friend Michael and Esteban came over to celebrate with us. Andrew said he didn't want any games or candy -- just pizza and a tres leches cake (a Mexican specialty, which I attempted for the first time...Note to Self: don't attempt something new and complicated for a big celebration.)

So, we made PIZZA!!!!!!

Although the cake was a pretty complete failure as a "pastel de tres leches", it tasted wonderful! No one complained (except me) and there were no leftovers. It looked good on Andrew, too. Definitely his color!

After cake and pizza, all the boys chased Andrew outside with buckets of water (no photos for a reason!!!) and then everyone came inside and watched Iron Man.
Happy Birthday, Andrew!!!

Click here to get around to it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thanksgiving Blessing to My Friends

To be honest, Thanksgiving Day nearly passed me by unawares this year. I only just remembered on Saturday when I was in town, so I was able to get some cream cheese for our traditional Thanksgiving cheesecakes. Most of the "traditional" Thanksgiving Day foods aren't available here (or you have to pay an arm and a leg for them) so we've adapted, but cheesecake crosses all cultural lines!

My blessing for you my friends and family this Thanksgiving season comes from Colossians chapter 4 verses 2 through 6 (This is the NI-me version, so bear with me a bit)
Continue in prayer and watch in prayer with thanksgiving. Pray for us, too, that God would open a door to speak the mystery of Christ to those around us -- which is why we are here. Pray that we would show the mystery as we ought as we speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who don't understand the mystery, redeeming the time. Speak with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you would know how to answer every person who questions you.

I pray that God's grace would dwell in you richly this season and every day!

-- Rebecca
Click here to get around to it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Passing by Samaria

Well, I did finally finish re-reading this book. Yes, it was as good as I remembered. Quite possibly, better. Yes, I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone. Due to some more...mature themes, I'd suggest a parental pre-read for kids under 15. The author is a Christian woman and there is nothing off-color (poor word choice, I know) or inappropriate. The subject matter, however, is tough and may require some further discussion. In fact, I would hope that it encourages it.

This is not a Christian romance novel! While the story is of relationships, the focus is on the heroine's relationship with her parents and her Father God, rather than with a future spouse.

Set in Mississippi and Chicago in 1919, Passing by Samaria is a story of a young black girl's abrupt step from childhood to adulthood and her struggle to grow into the woman God intends for her to be.

I found this book spiritually powerful. I believe that a good story is at the heart of the great Romance that God desires to share with each of us. Sharon Ewell Foster has written a very good story. I was especially touched by the way Mrs. Foster communicated the struggle between good and evil through the lives of the characters. The heroine throughout the book is struggling to come to grips with the descrimination and hatred she sees in the world around her and balance that with the love she has been taught that Jesus has for her. This conflict threatens to rip her apart, but...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out "but" what!

My 15 year old daughter and I both put this book on our "Oh What a Good Book List". I can't recommend it highly enough! Let me know if you've read it or decide to read it! I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Click here to get around to it!

Re-reading Fauntleroy

Well, I just finished reading Little Lord Fauntleroy to the kids. What a blast! I'd forgotten how much I love that book! Of all Frances Hodgeson Burnett's books, I'd rank it #2 to The Little Princess...but it's a very close second! ;^)

The 30 second summary is this: Set in the late 1700s/early 1800s a poor, American boy suddenly finds himself heir to a fortune and whisked away to England where he sets the whole village in an uproar and captures his grandfather, the earl's, heart. Fast-paced and at times suspenceful and generally hilarious, it's a captivating story for young and old, boys and girls alike. (Some parts really need to be read with a British accent. I think my King's English tends more toward Irish, but the kids don't seem to mind! The reader will also want to practice a deep bellow for the grandfather and a composed, serene voice for the British lawyer. I did my "Alfred" voice.)

Warning to the reader: Keep a glass of water nearby on the last few chapters. Once you hit chapter eleven, your audience probably will push for "one more chapter" till the end. Even my 15 year old was in stitches during the last couple of chapters and led the troops in begging for "just a little more" till we finished the book. Now I'm hoarse. I'm going to go fix a cup of tea!!!

Click here to get around to it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Computers Help People Help People -- BFS#110

Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Please try to learn our memory verse this week. We will be sharing a new verse every week and hope that you will store them in your hearts and find a special joy in His words.

Intro: Computers Help People Help People (Marketing credit: IBM)
There are many ways computers help us. It is a wonderful way to stay in touch with family far away, “meet” other christian women around the globe, and it can be such a blessing with homeschooling.

Assignment: Share some of your favorite homeschooling sites. The only “rule” for this assignment is that you have to list at least one “free” site. Many homeschooling families have made the choice to live on very little income to do what they believe is best for their children and I want everyone to be able to benefit from this assignment. If you have other sites that are “paid” sites, feel free to include these also as it might be something someone would really appreciate. If you feel led, share your curriculum choices with us. I always love to learn what is out there that I don’t already know about. Please make sure to include links to the sites you share.

The only difficulty in this assignment for me is limiting the post to a reasonable size! ;^)

Over the years, I've used many, many different internet sites for curriculum, information, testing and supplies. Some of these sites I used for only a season. Enchanted Learning, for example, is a great site for outline drawings, easy craft ideas, and other ideas for elementary grades.

Once upon a time, Enchanted Learning was a free site; it is no longer. When they decided to make it a membership site, I decided to look elsewhere. I'm just a cheapskate, I guess. I think the main reason I decided to not pay the membership, though, was that I had already used it for my older kids and had many things printed out. I didn't see the point of paying for a membership when my kids were nearly past the age when that site would be useful. If I still had 4 preschoolers and ran a daycare, I would pay the fee and be glad I had the resource.

The Math Fact Cafe is my source for free math worksheets. Generate math fact tests, flashcards, drill work, etc. This site has both ready-made worksheets and a build-your-own page generator. I used to have a fact sheet emailed to my inbox everyday to print out for the kids. With my internet as it is, I just printed out a dozen or so different drills and use them as masters to copy.

The Riggs Institute is a school in Portland, Oregon, which teaches teachers to teach reading. Say that 5 times fast! Do you know how many spelling rules come into play in English? No? Click the link to find out. The Writing Road to Reading is the program we used to teach reading to all 6 of our kids. When Sarah was about 5, I discovered the Riggs Institute and their updated teaching of the old phonics. I never looked back! This program is not free, by any means, but all the info on their site is. Also, the teachers at this institute are SOOO helpful! When we lived in the States, I called the school with questions and they were always ready and eager to help. That was free!

We've been using English from the Roots Up for a little more than a year now. It takes us a while to get through textbooks. I'm such a tangent-taker. Know Your Roots is a great site to help with vocabulary and word roots.

Making word puzzles is one of my favorites ways to reinforce spelling words. Check out the Puzzle Maker.

Our kids are required by Oregon to be tested every other year. We used to have them tested with other homeschooled kids by a woman in our area who was a teacher. She used the CAT tests and while I did like the convenience of those tests, they were a little spendy -- especially if you have 6 kids to test! Last fall I discovered that the Texas Education Agency has standardized tests free to print out (of course, you need to buy a ream of paper to print them, but...). This is a great way to teach your kids how to read the story, answer the question, fill in the circle. Standardized testing is a wonderful way to measure how well your kids test, but that's another issue for another post! ;^)

I find myself referring to Ken Ham's website Answers in Genesis frequently during our Mystery of History class. He has great information and resources on many topics -- not just dinosaurs!!! We were able to read part of the Gilgamesh Epic there. Very interesting! They have really cute cartoons to put on your blog, too. Those are here.

Last year Sarah did a daily grammar review instead of an actual grammar text. The quizzes at Interactive Quizzes are, well, interactive. No wasted paper. Just a quick grammar review and you're on to better things.

Word Reference is an online dictionary of many languages. Sarah is studying French from a Spanish-speaking teacher, so she needed not only an English/French dictionary but also Spanish/French and sometimes Spanish/English. Having all three at her fingertips is a very nice thing.

Like I said, my only challenge is keeping this post somewhat short! Hope you are able to find something useful in that collection.

The internet, and computers in general have some serious issues. I am often frustrated by how much time I spend in front of the computer screen. We try to keep it education or communication related, but still the 'puter is on more than I would like. Sigh. I'll focus on the positive: the internet can be a fantastic resource...especially for those of us who have no access to television, radio or libraries. It's a blessing as long as we use it wisely, right???

"Study to show yourself approved. A workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Procura con diligencia presentarte a Dios aprobado, como obrero que no tiene qué avergonzarse, que maneja con precisión la palabra de verdad.

Click here to get around to it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Of Daffodils and Diesels

Years ago, a young man in our youth group (who is now married with a baby of his own! Time does march on...) read a really...thought-provoking story to me. He had found it in the Country Journal Magazine, February, 1994. For years I wanted a copy and then I found it reprinted in a homeschool handbook for NARS.

A friend sent me an email today and what we were discussing reminded me of this article, so I'm finally getting "around to" typing it out.

For those of you with (especially) boys who just don't see the point, I hope you'll read this through to the end. It's a good reminder of why we homeschool.

Of Daffodils and Diesels
Author Unknown

I'm not very good in school. This is my second year in the seventh grade, and I'm bigger than most of the other kids. The kids like me all right, even though I don't say much in class, and that sort of makes up for what goes on in school.

I don't know why the teachers don't like me. They never have. It seems like they don't think you know anything unless you can name the book it came out of. I read a lot at home -- things like Popular Mechanics and Sports Illustrated and the Sears catalog -- but I don't just sit down and read them through like they make us do in school. I use them when I want to find something out, like a batting average or when Mom buys something second-hand and wants to know if she's getting a good price.

In school, though, we've got to learn whatever is in the book, and I just can't memorize the stuff. Last year I stayed after school every night for two weeks trying to learn the names of the presidents. Some of them were easy, like Wahsington and Jefferson andLincoln, but there must have been 30 altogether and I never did get them straight. I'm not too sorry, though, because the kids who learned the presidents had to turn right around and learn all the vice presidents. I am taking the seventh grade over, but our teacher this year isn't interested in the names of the presidents. She has us trying to learn the names of all the great American inventors.

I guess I just can't remember names in history. Anyway, I've been trying to learn about trucks because me uncle owns three and he says I can drive one when I'm 16. I know the horsepower and gear ratios of 26 American trucks and I want to operate a diesel. Those diesels are really something! I started to tell my teacher about them in science class last week when the pump we were using to make a vacuum in a bell jar got hot, but she said she didn't see what a diesel engine had to do with our experiment on air pressure, so I just shut up. The kids seemed interested, though. I took four of them around to my uncle's garage after school and we watched his mechanic tear down a big diesel engine. He really knew his stuff.

I'm not very good in geography, either. They call it economic geography this year. We've been studying the imports and exports of Turkey all week, but I couldn't tell you what they are. Maybe the reason is that I missed school for a couple of days when my uncle took me downstate to pick up some livestock. He told me where we were headed and I had to figure out the best way to get there and back. He just drove and turned where I told him. It was over 500 miles round trip and I'm figuring now what his oil cost and the wear and tear on the truck -- he calls it depreciation -- so we'll know how much we made.

When we got back I wrote up all the bills and sent letters to the farmers about what their pigs and cattle brought at the stock-yard. My aunt siad I made only three mistakes in 17 letters, all commas. I wish I could write school themes that way. The last one I had to write was on "What a daffodil thinks of Spring". I just couldn't get going.

I don't do very well in arithmetic, either. Seems I just can't keep my mind on the problems. We had one the other day like this:
If a 57 foot telephone pole falls across a highway so that 17 and 3/4 feet
extend from one side and 14 and 16/17 feet extend from the other, how wide is
the highway?
That seemed to me like an awfully silly way to get the size of a highway. I didn't even try to answer it because it didn't say whether the pole had fallen straight across or not.

Even in shop class I don't get very good grades. All of us kids made a broom holder and a bookend this semester, and mine were sloppy. I just couldn't get interested. Mom doesn't use a broom anymore with her new vacuum cleaner, and all of our books are in a bookcase with glass doors in the family room. Anyway, I wanted to make a tailgate for my uncle's trailer, but the shop teacher said that meant using metal and wood both, and I'd have to learn how to work with wood first. I didn't see why, but I kept quiet and made a tie rack even though my dad doesn't wear ties. I made the tailgate after school in my uncle's garage, and he said I saved him $20.

Government class is hard for me, too. I've been staying after school trying to learn the Articles of Confederation for almost a week, because the teacher said we couldn't be good citizens unless we did. I really tried because I want to be a good citizen. I did hate to stay after school, though, because a bunch of us guys from the Southend have been cleaning up the old lot across from Taylor's Machine Shop to make a playground out of it for the little kids from the Methodist home. I made the jungle gym out of old pipe, and the guys put me in charge of things. We raised enough money collecting scrap this month to build a wire fence clear around the lot.

Dad says I can quit school when I'm 16. I'm sort of anxious to because there are a lot of things I want to learn.
Click here to get around to it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BFS #109 -- We Bring Good Things to Life

Memory Verse:

Philippians 4:8
In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.
Please try to learn our memory verse this week. We will be sharing a new verse every week and hope that you will store them in your hearts and find a special joy in His words.

Intro: We Bring Good Things To Life. (Marketing credit: GE)

The passion to sing, the passion to draw, the passion to build, the passion to ride, the passion for reading, the passion for nature… the list is endless. Some children exhibit their passion from day one, others need an experience to spark that passion

Assignment: Share a field trip/lifestyle learning experience where you really felt you were bringing good things to life for your children, where something came alive for them, or ignited a passion.

Picture ideas: This one is obvious - show us your kids expressing their passions.

Alright, this one is a no-brainer...

We've done some really neat field trips and vacations short-term mission trips and in-house experiments, but the winner, hands-down, is moving to Mexico. When we moved here, our kids were 13, 11, 10, 10, 8 and 7. In my heart, I believe that we removed our kids from the American hustle and bustle just in the nick of time.

If you ask the kids, they'll say that they weren't as excited on the inside as they made us believe on the outside. It took almost two years before we could honestly say that the kids were content here (actually, it took almost two years before I could say that!), but uprooting our family to become full-time missionaries is something that I would do a heartbeat!

Here are some photos that show our kids being "passionate" (or maybe they're just being kids!) :^)...

Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God!!! 1 Corinthians 10:31
Entonces, ya sea que coman, que beban, o que hagan cualquier otra cosa, háganlo todo para la gloria de Dios! 1 Corintios 10:31

Click here to get around to it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Election Time...sort of

It's time for the annual Homeschool Blog Awards! Tons of fun for the whole family! :^)

You can read all the rules and what-not at the Homeschool Blog Awards homepage. Then place your vote!

Just "For Your Information", the nominees from our family are...(insert drumroll here)

To view the individual blogs, click on the blog name above. To vote for one of them, click on the category name above and then click in the "vote dot" next to the blog name.

Click here to get around to it!