Saturday, December 28, 2013

No Naked Bears

So, Christmas has come and gone and Build a Bear Workshop was a  part of ours ;)  However, anyone who knows me  knows I am not paying what they want for clothing for these guys.  And my girlie wanted some of those clothes soooo badly. 

This pair of bear pants were only TWO....2....1, 2  two seams!  I used recycled jeans of my daughter's.  They were made a smidge bigger than this bear...but only by a hair ;)  I made them because this is not the creature they are intended for.  My daughter picked out the bulldog (and promptly named her Uga, as any good Georgia peach would).  And Uga is a smidge more pudgy than the average Build a Bear.  So, these directions might be give-or-take about 1/4 inch here or there.  Not too hard to manage when you are sewing too big and NOT too small ;)

Here is my template

Here we go with the as many pictures as possible!!

 I lined up the hems of an old pair of jeans with the bottom of my pattern piece.  This means no hemming required!  Easy Peasy!!

Lay the pattern piece (which is meant to be placed ON a FOLD) on the fold of the outer leg seam.  I slit my inseam so that it would lie flat.
The hem of my jeans are exactly on the bottom edge of my pattern piece.
 And outer seam is lying flush with the edge of pattern piece.  Pin then cut.
 This is what it should look like :)
 Repeat.  These jeans were purchased with embellishments already applied, so if you'd like something nifty on yours, apply it now!
 With the right sides together, fold each piece in half and pin.....
 then stitch.
 Turn ONE of them right side out.
 And slide that one inside the other to match up crotch seam
 Great time to remove this extra plate if you have a removeable one!
 Stitch the crotch..and it will look like
 Turn under about a 1/2" waist band.  PRESS.
 It will look like this.
 Stitch all the way around it, except for about 1 1/2 ".
 If you have a bodkin with which to thread your elastic through, use it.  Otherwise a safety pin will work just fine.  This piece of elastic is not the best one for this just turned out to be all I had, after destroying my notions box. is about 16"-18" long...

 When it comes through to the other side, pin it then size it on your bear.
 While I was sizing, I marked (with disappearing ink) where the tail slit will go.
 Once you've sized the elastic on your bear and pinned it at the size it should be...
 stitch it together
 and then complete the waistband stitch, which encloses the elastic!
 Ripping out the tail slit..
Thought it needed a bit more than I originally marked
 Stitched around it in buttonhole shape..NOT with the buttonhole stitch. Although you could, if you wanted to, but I don't expect these to last forever so I'm not putting a ton of effort into tiny details!!
 Here's my guy!
I can't figure out how to rotate this picture, so I won't worry about it now!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Five in a Row: Gramma's Walk

One of the things I love about FIAR is the flexibility.  It doesn't tell you what you must do to be doing "the right thing" or doing "enough."  You can make the choices necessary for your own child, according to ability, needs, etc.   This is just one example of how you can use FIAR for your entire curriculum, except math.  There are applied math concepts lessons but no systematic teaching.   This is one way to utilize copywork / dictation methods in your FIAR homeschool.

I do not do English every single day with my middle schoolers or elementary school students.

For  K-2 child, the expectation would be to copy a selected passage.  The copy should contain correct punctuation, spelling and capitalization.    Review it with the child for errors.  Praise student for specific details that he correctly performed.  This is what my homemade form looks like:

On a different day, I'd use this passage:

Donnie slips quietly into the sunroom where Gramma waits.

The lesson could also contain a mention of the concept of "qu" sound and drawing his attention to how we use it.  Or a compound word found in the sentence.  Or whatever you see in the sentence that you could draw attention to, in order to show your student how things work in our language.

For a child a bit older, maybe in grades 3-5, my lesson would look something like this:

Copy or dictate the following passage:

        Donnie listens and makes a picture in his head of the lighthouse out on the point.  He sees the path through the tall grass and thinks about his feet crunching into the dry sand as he walks beside Gramma.

Errors should be corrected and discussed as needed. 

The next day, I would bring to the student's attention the use of prepositions.  We'd discuss the uses of prepositions and compose a list of them. I would have the student circle any prepositions he finds in the passage. 

He might also illustrate passage , if desired.  On a different day that week, I might ask him to do another short writing assignment where he "makes a picture in his head of being........somewhere......" and to describe what he sees.

Finally, he will be required to recopy/dictate the passage.  Hopefully errors would be few or none this time, but corrections are still required. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Farmhouse Chats

I love talking, as anyone who knows me can verify....
Don't make me talk to myself!  Join up!

Everyday Ruralty

  1. Do you use any type of water filter (pitcher or sink mount)?
  2. Do you have any tips for staying hydrated in the warmer weather?
  3. Is your hair naturally curly or straight?
  4. Are you on top of all the chores/work you do, or are you always running behind?
  5. If you could sing a song to Wendell, what would it be?

1.  I have well water out here.  But we do not have a filter, softener or anything else.  It doesn't taste bad...but the slime under the fridge water dispense gives me the willies.  I'd love to get our water  cleaned up a bit.

2.  I'm a water drinker.  I always have a Mason jar with me.  everywhere.  or a salsa jar or whatever I can find.  I add lemon to it and sweeten it.  Or maybe a shot of ACV with ginger and stevia.  Or nothing.  I actually Love water.  Tip:  drink water!

3.  My hair is naturally curly.  But not a beautiful, spiral, flowing curly.  A frizz-wave type of curly.  I straighten it every time I want to look human. Or at least blow dry it so that it's only a minor "body" type of wave.

4.  Never.  I try.  I am Type A.  But with what goes on here in a week, I can't think of one week when everything that needed to be done got that way.  So, I just relax and know that I have enough hours in the day to do what I am called to do....the rest can keep on calling.....I answer when I can.

5.  I don't know, I'll not offend him upon first impression. Can we just shake hands?  Really .  My kids would even advise it.!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Camping Fun....and a Few Tips

Our family took our first camping trip 3 years ago.  We tried it out someplace local, mainly so that we would be convenient to home if it didn't work out camping with young children.  As it turned out, we had a fabulous time and went several more times that first year. 

That first year taught us a lot!  You see that rustic looking campfire setup at the top?  Well, don't be deceived...that is precooked bacon yall!!! (okay, as I'm proofing,  I'm guessing that sounded like a famous female chef....but we're from the same area...the accent and tendency to end a sentence that way is Real ;)  )   I just put it on the pan to warm it.   I was not taking chances.  I did, however, perc the coffee in that pic but learned it has to "cook" a lot longer in that setting than the coffeemaker does at home.  So plan for an earlier morning if you want your daily cuppa when you're out on the trail!

This water container was a great investment!   We filled it half full and put it in the big freezer the day before. Then, when we were ready to go, finished filling it.  It worked out very nicely and was more convenient than bottled water.

 This brought back great memories.  Remember these popcorn pans?  They still make 'em!  Try them out over the fire.  It'll be fun!  Especially for the younger ones.

This was one of our "learning curve" ideas.  I'm not sure bringing the doggie was the best idea.  Trying to ride bikes and hike and play doesn't lend itself to keeping a doggie happy and safe in an unfamiliar environment.

Doesn't that look snuggly?  Well, it is...but it doesn't make for a good night's rest.  Because guess what's below most campsite pads?  Nothing.  Maybe rocks! So, we learned to bring an air mattress along.

 Safety...yep.  Shoulda discussed the wildlife issue before we left!  Just remember to check what the local prospects are and address the "what if you come across......." side of things.  Before you leave.
 Most campsites have plenty for little ones to do..usually playing and enjoying nature.  The wildlife. The water..........
 all of His creation is beautiful....and we sure enjoyed exploring!  So much so that this is what the trip home looked like:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Curriculum Choices for 2013-2014

These are my babies, except that they're two years older now .
 Most of our homeschool career, I have allowed a ton of flexibility and individuality and that will not change.  But, we will add a bit more structure and raise the bar just a little.  This is my oldest's last year before beginning high school courses so I'd like to make sure she's prepared.  Not stressed.  Just prepared.  And the bar raises a bit for each of the others as well.

We've always used tons of literature in our homeschool and we will continue reading classics and novels. 

This may seem like an oxymoron after what I just wrote, but we are also adding textbooks this year.  Only one other year have we gone with textbooks and I know that we needed that simple guideline for that year. I didn't have to put things together or come up with lessons on the fly.  I'm feeling the need for that again and so it will be this year.

I'm more of a life-schooling Mom than a school-at-home teacher.  That flavor will continue.  The use of texts will give me  a reliable backbone for our studies. When I need to , I can just have them read their chapter and be able to discuss the comprehension questions and be done.  That's what I need. 

I have previously thought of textbooks as rigid and boring but this year, I see them as giving me the gift of flexibility.  And they loove having their "own" books. 

So, without further ado,

1st Grade
MCP Phonics
Copywork--from our Five in a Row book
Abeka Math
Readers-I consider the science (CLP) and history (CLP)text readers at this point, but she devours books.  So, I will actually let her read....readers!  I own the 1st grade Abeka set and the CLP Nature Readers.
Artpac 1
Composer study with the family (from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
Literature-alternating a few of the Literature Studies from Confessions and Five in a Row

4th Grade
Primary Language Lessons
Spelling Power
Continue learning cursive
Abeka Math
Readers-CLP Nature Reader, library books
Artpac 4
Composer study with the family (from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
Literature-alternating a few of the Literature Studies from Confessions and Five in a Row
Instrument--he wants to learn drums.  But we don't have a set yet.  For now, we will encourage him with the tambourine to hear the beat and accompany his brother/sister and some basic keyboard.

6th Grade
Rod and Staff English
Spelling Power
Christian Light Reading
Abeka Math
Abeka Science
CLP History
Various novels from our home library
Composer study with the family (from Confessions of a Homeschooler)

8th Grade
Rod and Staff English
Spelling Power
Christian Light Reading
Saxon Alg 1/2 with DVD tutor
Abeka Science
CLP History/Civics
Various novels from our home library
Artpac 8
Composer study with the family (from Confessions of a Homeschooler)

Tulips have nothing to do with my homeschool curriculum choices, they're my favorite flower, that's all. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Curriculum Thoughts from This Year

Okay, since this is the "real" post on  our  homeschool year-end thoughts, here's what curriculum choices worked and didn't for us this year.
Five in a Row for my younger two, ages 7 and 9
Winston Grammar for my older two, ages 11, and 13
Abeka Math
A Reason for Handwriting
Primary Language Lessons for 9 yr old

Beyond Five in a Row for my older two.  They do  not work well with this style for chapter books.
Saxon 1/2--But that was user malfunction.  We will be continuing in this.  It just happened that this child hit a brick wall with Math in general.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Year-End Thoughts

This has been our eighth year of homeschooling.  And for eight years, I have laid nice, neat plans. Not a single one turned out according to my plans.  Every one turned out the way God planned, though.  There have been moves.  Many.  There have been changes, babies, jobs, activities and any other manner of interruption . Yet, none were a surprise to the Lord.  He has given us the grace needed to get through each of those times, especially when I wasn't sure how on earth any progress was gonna happen.

At the end of the year, I'm so relieved  that I almost never sit back and reflect on deep issues.  This year, a few things grabbed my attention so I'm writing them down so that I don't forget them.  Here's what I learned:

1.  Hard doesn't mean bad.
2. Consistency IS key.
3. My children need my focus, not just my presence.
4.  My "sacrifices" aren't really sacrifices, they're part of  my Calling .  I get wrapped up in what I'm having to give up/change  instead of seeing what God's plan is.  (See #1)
5. Not one of us is promised tomorrow.

I'm going into next year with these thoughts close at mind.

By the way, it took all of my summer "vacation" to absorb these lessons.  We now only have one more week off till we start back.  Yes, I'm embarrassed.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Real Life Homeschooling -- Older Children

I never saw this day coming.  This young lady  pictured above is my 13 yr old daughter.  Yes, 13.  And she's headed out on a special date with her Daddy.   I'm still in shock -n- awe.  Seems like a few days ago I was teaching her to read...that was  just after having nursed her to sleep last week.   I was in the midst of potty training, changing diapers, piles of laundry, phonics flashcards and all the like when suddenly, POOF!  They all got away from me. (the laundry did not, however) 

So, here I stand among young adults and not-as-young children, wondering.  What do I do with them?  Who is this creature?  They look (and act) more like mini adults every day and yet they still need so much guidance.

Change....transition...whatever it is the name of this new game.  Of course this comes just when I'm feeling confident in my ability to shuffle and juggle all that goes with life with (whatever number) children in all of their individual uniqueness.  With bodies morphing, minds expanding and attitudes sometimes flaring; the rules are changing.  I find I am having technical difficulties.

Studies are not  the issue.  At all.  I  am.  I don't like giving up control, no matter how much hassle it was with all the little ones depending on me.  I don't want to deal with hormonal attitudes, since of course, they reflect some of my own.  I just want them to either be grown or not.  Which is  a recent whispering call from I working at growing or not?  Some days yes, many days, I feel quite short of the mark.  Growing pains ache.  Please, can we just hit the FF button and skip this song?

If you thought you were coming to read how it really happens with homeschooling when they get older, you won't find that in this post.  Yes, homeschool groups thin out greatly by this age.  Yes, it's harder to find social outlets that are up to standard for them.  Studies get harder.  Expectations are higher.  All these are true for us.This has nothing to do with real-life schooling.

It's here, during this song, I know that if I will accept the invitation to dance I will bow with pride at the end.  Will they all turn out how I trained and expected?  Have no idea.  Each is special in his own ways and will choose his own paths in life.  But for now, I'm trying to dance to the song that's playing, obey Him,  make memories and leave the rest to the One who knows the plans He has for their lives.

This seems more like a vent, I guess.  So I'll appease the other logistics:

*We use a DVD tutor for upper level math for my sanity (but I'm proud to say I can still teach at a pre-algebra level).
*The olders do help the youngers, sometimes, when needed. And we work together.  We work around the house, in the garden, yard, whatever.  I want them to be able to hold their own when they leave my home.  I am not as concerned with numeric evaluations of their abilities.
*I get them independant as quickly as possible. 
*I don't sweat the small test scores.  After having done almost nothing in pre algebra this past year b/c she hit a brick wall, my oldest still managed to score "far above grade level" on a standardized test in math.  But that's of no concern to me. 
*No, I don't stick to a meticulous schedule.  Life happens regularly in our home.
*Boys don't seem to be naturally drawn to academics on the whole.  But I have issues with spelling errors.
*I wish I could say that everyone does his own character training each and every day or that we have memorized all the books of the Bible at any given time or an index card box full of Scriptures.  Not true.  I do the best I can in my own fallen state.
*I'm learning to apologize regularly and learn from my children.