Terrible Tuesday: wee sma edition

Third night in a row I’m up at three in the morning. It all begins with Jack the Brat (official new nickname) deciding he needs to go out. But then my mind says, “You’re up! Think about stuff. And more stuff! Ooh, have you considered this?” Stupid mind. Anyway, might as well get something useful out of it.

Like a blog post. LINKS!

Spaced-Out Challenge: Finding Uranus.  Giggle.

Ooh, shiny! A free template for homeschool gradebook and record keeping. Seriously, homeschooling a high schooler requires so much more paperwork. Ugh.

We ought to do better by our four-legged vets. And the fact that a bill has languished in Congress for years is just ridiculous. This seems like a no-brainer.

You know the conventional wisdom that creepy crawlies are creepy crawlier in rural areas? Urban areas may be contributing to super-sized, more fertile spiders. *shudder*

calvin knowledge

Give me gratitude of give me debt. I think I need to read this frequently.

I told MTG that I think we’ll be okay as soon as we get all our homeschool plates spinning. But frankly, I’m not sure we’re going to make next year’s list of America’s Top Homeschools. Sigh.

9 things every parent with an anxious child should try.

I think my mom may have perfected this move. Do not sass talk your mother.

Speaking of smart parents, this guy cracks me up. I look forward to more of his instructional videos. Perhaps he can demonstrate how to bridge the 5″ gulf between the laundry hamper and the floor beside the laundry hamper.




Nobody’s dead or maimed, I’m calling it a win.

Day one of the 2014-2015 . I’ve got assignments assigned, pencils sharpened, and schedules color-coded. I’ve even got my work space organized! It’s a first day of school miracle!

Day 1 desk

I knew today would not go according to plan, I even planned for it! New routines have to be broken in. I get this. I’m not new. Still . . .

I have new-found empathy for this kid.

So no, the day did not go according to plan. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to refocus and redirect my boy, to the extent that I finally overcame my inherent skin-flintiness and ordered some essential oils his occupational therapist recommended. Priority shipping. Because their were tears that the twice longer than scheduled break “wasn’t long enough and I didn’t have any fun!”

But we soldiered through, did not get through everything on the schedule, said the heck with it, and went for our annual First Day of School Celebratory Lunch.

day one lunch.jpg

Then, foolishly, I took the whole gang next door to Wal-Mart for some last minute supplies and the stuff for burgers tonight. (I swear, I think cows must be made of gold.) The good news is I scored the notebook deal I thought I missed. (44 notebooks for $7.48! Woot!) The bad news is it threw poor Little Miss off her schedule, and it was . . . unpleasant.

Actually, it wasn’t awful. The bones of the plan are solid, some things will have to be tweaked or moved or dropped kicked from the schedule entirely. Sadly we didn’t get to our Bunch O’Balloons water balloon fight. That might have to wait til Wednesday, because we blessedly don’t have to go anywhere. Homeschooling at home. God bless America.

But we did it. We got through it. And tomorrow is another day. Oh dang. Tomorrow is Terrible Tuesday. Hold me!

The good thing about what Victoria Osteen said

In case you missed it, Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, has stunned Christendom with … well, I’ll let you listen to her pronouncement.



Amen, Bill. Amen.

Here’s a transcript if you can’t watch the video:

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

But wait, doesn’t my post title say something good about what she said? Am I crazy and or heretical? Perhaps to the former, but no to the latter. The good thing is about what she said is that she summed up everything about the “your best life now” prosperity “gospel” and put it in a neat little package. Because this is what that theology boils down to: your faith is all about you, not really about God other than what he can do for you. The chief end of God is to make you happy.

Most of time those preaching heresy are smart enough to mush up their false teaching with enough truth to make it a mushy mess that makes many Christians afraid to say, “That’s heresy!” Because it wasn’t pure heresy, there was truth, and maybe I misunderstood or this is one of those secondary issues we need to agree to disagree–or at least realize it’s an in house fight. But this little pronouncement is pretty clearly outside the lines of Christian teaching. To wit: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘”Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

So really, she just did the church a favor, because this is clearly and plainly heretical. Thanks for the clarity, Victoria! Now, can somebody tell her about the gospel of Jesus? Because she really doesn’t seem to know it.

Her heretical nutshell has made me think how I would sum up my theology. As always, a summation is not going to be nuanced, there could be more that could be said, and should be said. And furthermore, the sum up doesn’t explain how it looks in practice.  So we’re clear, this is my summation, a nutshell, a small “what does it mean to be a Christian” that I’ve been thinking on since I’ve seen that clip.

Inigo sum up



Our reason for existing is to glorify God and enjoy his presence forever. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We do this by believing that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins and rose again. We walk out that faith by dying to our flesh daily and serving him and those he places in our lives, which God enables us to do by the Holy Spirit giving us the a new heart and new life in Christ Jesus as adopted sons and daughters of the Living God.

What would your summation paragraph be? What would you tell Mrs. Osteen? (Let’s just assume we’d all start with, “Bless your heart.”)

Everything *was* awesome!

Lego Emmit.jpg

Last night we went to Lego Kids Fest. Despite the fact that I was bone tired and yesterday had kicked me up one side of North Texas and down the other, a good time was had by all. If you have kids (or if you can borrow some) and Kid Fest comes to your area, make it a point to go. If you can make the Friday night session, do that, because I understand today will be jam packed.

Of all the amazing things they made, I loved their creations from the Lego Art Gallery the most. See if you can guess what Little Miss’s is (3rd square down.) It was here that I found my calling for the rest of the night: the kids made amazing things and I found the perfect pieces for them. Igor to their Dr. Frankenstein, so to speak. Luckily they didn’t ask for brains.

Lego Art Gallery.jpg

Anyway, it was fun. I’m tired. I’ve got to take my cat to the vet for his shot because I couldn’t make it yesterday. Enjoy the highlight reel! Click on the image to start the slideshow.

Fine Arts Friday: Carrot in the carrot cake


Our Fine Arts Friday is officially kaput. Next week, Fridays will be devoted to enrichment days at a local private schools. To be fair, the kids will be taking art (at least three of the four will), and we’re going to be stopping and picnicking and hiking at our local nature preserve. But it won’t be the same thing.

This past Monday, we went to a meeting of a Trail Life troop we are looking at for our boys. Trail Life is a distinctively Christian outdoor adventure group. The speaker was explaining how they included Christians beliefs throughout the activities and achievements. A carrot cake doesn’t have huge chunks of carrot in it, it has shredded carrot throughout. Likewise, they won’t have chunks of Jesus, but shredded Jesus throughout. (Um, it sounded better when he said it.)

Anyway, the analogy stuck with me–not the shredded Jesus part, but the weaving Christian principles and teaching throughout. We won’t have a big chunk of time to devote to fine arts, so we’ll need to weave it throughout our lives. But while that sounds great in principle, it means that I’ll have to be very deliberate

The music weaving is probably the easiest. For hymns, we try to sing the new hymns as part of our family devotions, as well as sing past hymns we’ve learned. I also put on our hymn playlist Sunday mornings as we’re getting ready for church. I can play our composer study music during the non-instructive intensive times in the afternoon. Folk songs are easiest because the kids love singing them. I can put them on while they’re kicking back or while we’re doing chores, and they’ll sing along.

We’ll have half an hour a week to talk about the composer or artist. That’s not really a huge amount of time, but frankly it will have to work. I’ll also be able to use the slideshow function on our television for an in-home gallery. I’m still working out how that will look for picture study. Something will come to me.

As for Shakespeare, well I know what I’m going to use. I just haven’t figured out the how and when. Maybe I’ll pull out the stuff while we’re at the Nature Preserve. Or maybe it will be a Sunday afternoon family activity. (We’re using How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare (af). I’ll be doing one play a semester and this book covers 5 plays. So I’m good until 2017!)

So that’s my plan to shred fine arts into our schedule. We’ll see how it works. And now I want carrot cake.

Paddling from sea to shining sea

This post contains affiliated links.

50 states

Last spring when I was looking for geography curriculum, I came across a free resource for U.S. Geography, 50 States and Where to Find Them by Kathy Jo DeVore of Barefoot Meandering. (I honestly cannot remember where at this point. I really ought to right that stuff down. Thanks whoever you were!) I wish I would have discovered this sooner, instead of a tacked on the end of our U.S. history studies, but it worked as a summer study. It is the perfect resource for families taking a Charlotte Mason or other literature-based approach to homeschooling. It was was also easily adapted to be used with multiple ages. Everyone can do the basic mapping and then the students can add to the maps or notebook according to their abilities.

The curriculum consists of an instructors guide and a student workbook. You can buy a printed version of the instructor’s guide from Amazon, but the student guide is a pdf available only at Lulu. (You can also get the instructor guide as a pdf for half the price of the printed book.) You’ll also need to buy or check out from the library five books. These are all wonderful books and classics that would be good for any library, and not too expensive in paperback form. They are Paddle to the Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, Tree in the Trail, and Seabird* by Holling C. Holling and Follow the Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo. You’ll also need a U.S. Atlas. (Obviously)

The country is divided into regions: New England, Mid Atlantic, Midwest (further subdivided, because there are twelve states in this region), Southern, Southwest Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Coast. For each state, you read a short informational piece with some basic facts and map the capital, major rivers, and the highest point. The notebooking pages include a space to record information or draw as well as the state flag, bird and flower to color. Mapping reinforcement is threaded throughout. Within each section, the students map the states and capitals of that region every day. At the end of each region, they review previous regions. Each region also includes a crossword puzzle, a word search, and section relating to the region’s history: The Erie Canal, the Underground Railroad, etc. Each state also has a related geography term. I know that seems like a lot, but honestly this only took 20-30 minutes a day, depending on how squirmy the boys were. If you were going to do it throughout a normal school year, I would think two lessons a week would be sufficient. That could be two states or a state and end of region review. I think that would make a 32 week course. But we’re talking geography, not math.

One of my favorite things was how DeVore used the Holling books along with the basic geography. In addition to the state maps, the students complete a map as their reading through the books. Not only are the stories wonderful, they are very informative. I finally know all the Great Lakes and their locations! Yay, me! Holling covers natural and American history through well crafted tales, so the kids come away with a richer understanding of the area in the story than your standard topography/major industry geography. I loved them all, but so far I think Paddle is my favorite.

I got this resource for free, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for it. Especially if you have more than one kid, it’s a bargain. The kids and I both loved it and we know a lot more about our beautiful country than we did before. What more could you ask for? Charlotte Masoners (heh) should definitely check out her other offerings.


*We haven’t done Seabird yet, because it still hadn’t been shipped after more than a month. In fact, I just canceled it and bought a used copy through Amazon because ARGH! So I shouldn’t say they’re all wonderful, because I don’t know about Seabird yet. But it would be shocking if this one was awful after the other great books. So if you’re going to buy that particular book, order it early.

Field trip ninjas!

Homeschoolers love to take field trips. Actually, homeschoolers are apt to call anything a field trip: trip to the grocery store? Home management field trip! Dentist visit? Health/career options field trip! Visit to the DMV or post office? Government in action field trip!

We also like the more traditional field trips as well: zoos, museums, etc. But like most people who visit these places, we cringe a little when we see a bunch of yellow buses parked by the curb. To be clear, students on school field trips, in my experience, are generally well behaved and perfectly lovely children. There’s just a lot of them, and they all have worksheets they have to fill out, and then we have the dreaded lines. And everybody knows homeschoolers don’t know how to stand in line. (I kid! See the reference to grocery stores, DMVs and post offices.)

Therefore, I give you homeschoolers tips for avoiding school field trip groups:

  1. Call ahead. (This doesn’t always work, but some places don’t have field trips on Fridays or Mondays.)
  2. Some places have homeschool days where they won’t book other field trips. So it’s still busy, but the sort of creative chaos that homeschoolers are accustomed to. There also tends to be a lower adult to child ratio, making it a little more controlled. (Although some parents have the ability to tune out their own child that’s most impressive. Hey, lady, your kid is about to jump into the crocodile enclosure. You wanna check on that?)
  3. Go later in the afternoon. The school kids will need to get on the buses so they can go get on other buses, so two or later is a good bet. The downside is that you end up driving in rush hour traffic, another homeschool no-no.
  4. Go during testing week. This is great for avoiding public school kids, but sometimes private school groups have the same idea.
  5. Go at the very beginning or very end of the school year. The end of the school year can be tricky, because private schools tend to get out earlier, so the museums may already be full of summer vacationing private schoolers. (And of course, other homeschoolers. But we’re still a rare enough breed that we don’t overwhelm places unless we get organized. See #2.)

We took advantage of strategy number 5 today. Public schools just went back Monday and private schools haven’t been in much longer. Nobody’s had time to organize their seating charts, much less field trips. Our competition was tiny toddlers in strollers and a few fellow homeschoolers. Score!


What are your tips for avoiding groups at museums and parks?

Terrible Tuesday: Back in the car

School still doesn’t start till next week, but all the appointments are now back on the calendar. That means an extra six hours in the car a week, which means the return of audio books! This year is slightly different because the girls will not be trekking to the boys therapy appointments this year, so we’ll be listening to a boys audio book and a whole crew audio book. The boys are fond of the Hank the Cowdog series (and I am, too), and fortunately there are a ton of those.

Traveling stories links!

The Spaced-Out Challenge gives us the dog days of summer. Hey! That’s where that comes from!

Don’t you love it when you find out something you’ve already been doing is scientifically sound. Drinking coffee before a workout improves your performance. I’m accidentally brilliant!

Ya know, there’s a difference between “It costs $245,000 to raise a child” and “the average person spends $245,000 to raise a child.” This chart proves that first statement is incorrect.

One of my favorite Twitter accounts: Bears Acting Human.

bears acting human

The Metropolitan Museum of Art puts 400,000 high resolution images online for free!

Spoil sport, grinch, selfish jerk. I actually think the man who broke the pay it forward streak has a good point. Coerced goodwill gestures aren’t really goodwill gestures. And this article explains how you aren’t really paying anything forward anyway. I’m a little disturbed that our generosity has to be crowdsourced these days. Can’t we just be spontaneously and independently kind? Random acts of kindness and all that jazz?

Meta Kid’s Snippet.


Go forth and learn stuff!

Today is the first day of public school in our area, and judging by my Facebook feed, for a lot of people all over the country.  You can almost smell the excitement: teachers finally putting into action all of your plans made over the summer, kids with all their supplies together for the first (and likely last) time, moms getting a little misty over sending their babies off for the first time (but also kinda giddy at the thought of uninterpreted bathroom breaks.) While I’m disappointed you do not follow Hogwart’s schedule, I’m praying you all have a wonderful day and a fantastic school year.

And now, for a word from your Kid President.

Here’s to a great year!

Start with compassion

I would like to start out by saying pro-lifers are the most amazing, compassionate, caring people I know. They not only pour out their blood, sweat and tears to speak out for the unborn, they also adopt kids, foster, kids, adopt shelter animals, feed the homeless, take care of the elderly and infirm, etc. etc. Most people have one cause they devote themselves to. Prolifers are likely to have at least two: the right to life cause and at least one side cause. (So if you’re recruiting volunteers, head out to your local pro-life gathering!) Pro-lifers are caring, compassionate people.


The worst conversation starter in the world is, “You’re doing it wrong.” I mean, where does one go from there? Okay, I’m wrong. Who are you and why should I care what you think? And yet, Christians in general and pro-lifers in particular are really good at starting with all the ways people are immoral, evil, misguided, and flat out wrong. This is not the way to win friends and influence people. (To be clear, this isn’t limited to Christians and pro-lifers, most activists do this. It raises awareness, all right. Mostly awareness that activists are killjoys and whiners.)

The most recent example of this is the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds to fight ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease.) The gist–in case you’re one of the five people who haven’t seen this–is that you are challenged by someone to dump a bucket of ice on your head or donate to an ALS organization. Most people do both, because we’re a nutty culture and like to do weird things. The upshot is that funding for ALS is skyrocketing. And more than that, a bunch of people hopefully getting a look at the lives of people who suffer from this awful disease. And all that is great. Full stop.

I’ve seen a couple dozen videos of people getting doused with cold water, but this video really moved me. Please note, there’s some strong language, but it is a powerful video that you should watch. (I suggest you start at 2:00, after his rather silly challenge, like Monty Python’s Camelot silly. Plus it’s inappropriate for little kids. But if you choose to watch the silly challenge, please watch the rest. That’s the most important part.)

My heart goes out to this young man and his family. If we can help find a cure for him, shouldn’t we?

The problem for pro-lifers is that some of the organizations may be funding research on embryonic stem cells. Pro-lifers, very naturally, oppose the creation of human life for the sole purpose of destroying it (i.e. “harvesting” the stem cells) and feel that a lot of people may be donating without understanding where there money is going. This are absolutely valid concerns. And most posts I’ve seen by pro-lifers end with one or more options to donate for ALS funding that are in-keeping with pro-life principles. But the thing is, they end with that information. The headlines are all, “You’re doing it wrong.” The message people take away is: You’re caring about people who are suffering wrong, you’re giving to the wrong people, you’re being compassionate wrong. And I think a lot of people read the headline and the first sentence and think, “you pro-lifers care more about embryos, but you don’t care about these suffering people that I can see and know and care for.” Generally, if you read further, that isn’t the case. And I absolutely don’t think it’s the case that pro-lifers don’t care for people suffering from ALS or any other injury or disease. I just think in our eagerness to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, we skip the part where we need to show compassion and empathy first.

Start with compassion. Start with love and joy and empathy. Yes, it’s important first, not to violate our own consciences, and second to inform people about ethical ways to support suffering people.  So let’s start with the fact that ALS is a horribly, ugly, cruel disease and it is amazing that $50 million dollars has been donated to find a cure. There are some wonderful opportunities to support proven research. (Adult stem cells have lead to the development of tons of therapies for many diseases in use today! Yay for stuff that works AND doesn’t rely on destroying life!) Let’s not say, “Pro-lifers, be careful not to give to the wrong people!” Let’s say, “Pro-lifers, let’s help find a cure for ALS by funding these great organizations!”

So, pro-lifers, let’s help fight this nasty disease. Here are some places to donate. (Snagged from Lifenews and other great, compassionate pro-lifers who want people to give to stop ALS.)

The John Paul II Medical Research Institute

Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center

The Mayo Clinic has a project using adult stem cells.

As for the actual Ice Bucket Challenge, Sir Patrick Stewart has the best one out there. (I like Zachary Levi’s, too. It’s very inclusive)

Slate has an interesting article on where the ice bucket challenge comes from. Short answer: nobody knows!

Go forth, and be compassionate!

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