February 28, 2007

Enjoying My Kids Now

We had some friends who have a 16-month-old over on Sunday, and my friend asked if I miss the baby days (out of curiosity, not as if I should miss them). I thought about it, but I really don't miss it much. That isn't because I didn't enjoy my children when they were babies, but because I am enjoying them now. Every year brings new joys, changes and challenges.

As I type this, my youngest three are in the basement playing ninja turtles. They just came up to show me my youngest daughter with a big laundry basket strapped to her back, saying, "Look, Mom! She's a turtle!" I love watching them growing together, playing together, and developing new ideas.

My oldest, who just turned 13, is sitting on the couch with his dad, who is trying to fix a website while he helps Nathan with his math. I won't lie and say that this transition period between childhood and young adult is easy right now - we are definitely facing some challenges - but I love having conversations with my oldest son more than ever. He is maturing physically, mentally, and spiritually, and we are able to talk on a much deeper level now.

I often get comments insinuating that I should miss those baby days. Sometimes I do miss my kids' total dependence on me, but it is so exciting to watch all of the wonderful and even not-so-wonderful changes in my children as they grow. I wouldn't go back - I am enjoying "now" way too much!

February 23, 2007

"Confessions of a CM Procrastinator" or "The Chicken Mummy Saga Part 3"

No, CM in the title doesn't mean "Charlotte Mason;" it means "Chicken Mummy." Before I continue, I have a few rhetorical questions:

1.  Why did I let each child do his/her own chicken?
2.  What are we supposed to be learning?
3.  Whose idea was this anyway?
4.  Am I doomed to have mummifying chickens on the top of my refrigerator forever?
5.  Kristie, are yours done yet? If not, do you wanna race? (this one isn't rhetorical)

If you are interested in the history of this project, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Okay, now that I'm done with that, I'll get on with:

Our Continuing (read "Never-Ending") Chicken Mummy Experience...

February 23, 2007 (almost Week 24 - Am I really admitting to this?)

The scene opens to a beautiful, sunny winter afternoon. Mom is almost done preparing a late lunch when she suddenly has a great idea: "Guess what we're going to do today?" 

Jordan (excited): "Make a Flash website!"
Kathryn (not excited): "Chicken Mummies"

Groaning from all... then, "I'm last!" "No, I'll be last."

Jordan the Brave goes first, while Allyson practices piano and Nathan and Kathryn make balloons out of their gloves.

This week, we used:
* 1 pair of disposable gloves per person
* 2 gallon Zip-Loc bags per chicken
* 1 container of salt per chicken

1.  We took the chicken out of the bag, wiped the salt out of the cavity and rubbed it off the outside of the chicken into the garbage. No paper towels needed at this point, but the chickens still aren't done.
2.  We put the chicken in a new bag, filled the cavity of chicken with salt, and poured the rest of the container of salt around the outside of the chicken.
3.  We zipped the bag closed, squeezing out as much air as possible, added another outer freezer bag to help keep the smell contained, and moved the salt around to evenly distribute it.
4.  We put the chickens on top of our refrigerator until next week (?).

The smell isn't quite gone and some of the salt is still a little moist. This is our fourth salt change.

To be continued...

February 16, 2007

Great Free Map Resource

Since I blogged about Knowledge Quest's free geography e-book, I came across a great map site. Most homeschoolers probably already know about it, but it is new to me, so I'm sharing anyway.

I have used Xpeditions at National Geographic before (another great map resource), but for some reason I never saw their MapMachine Student Atlas.

At the Student Atlas Home Page, you can look up a map by region; look up a theme, such as animals, for a major region; or search for a specific city. This will take you to an Interactive Map page. You can also go directly to the Interactive Map page and search from there.

Tapestry of Grace has a great geography track, and we are always looking for good physical maps to help us visualize "the lay of the land." This will be a great help with that when we have trouble finding something on our home atlas.

The Interactive Map is great, but my very, very favorite area of this site is the Printable Wall Maps page. There is a great selection of political, physical and some regional maps in PDF format that you print out and piece together. The final size is 25 x 30 inches. I printed out the map for the Middle East, and it is beautiful! I've always wanted to stock up on wall maps, but the cost has deterred me. I have nice, big wall maps of the World and the United States that are well-used, and these free printable wall maps will round out my collection unless I get some larger maps as gifts.

Since I'm blogging about free map resources, my oldest son wants me to list Google Earth. If you really want to see what a region looks like, download the free version of this program. You can get so close that you see the houses! Not all computers will run this, so be sure to check the minimum configuration before downloading.

Another great site for printable maps is WorldAtlas.com. There you can find lots of maps, outline maps, country information, flags and even clipart.

There are tons of great free map and geography websites out there, but these are my favorites. I hope you enjoy the resources.

February 11, 2007

A Nice Evening with My Daughter

I bought my daughters Stitches & Pins for Christmas, hoping to be able to schedule some time to teach them how to sew. We got through the introduction and most of the practice stitches, but we hadn't yet begun the first project.

Tonight, I was finally able to spend the evening with my wonderful daughter, Allyson, teaching her how to sew a pillowcase as a surprise birthday present for her brother. She bought the fabric with her own money and has been begging me to work on it for a few weeks now. We finally got around to it (the day before his birthday). She did everything herself, and I am so proud of her! Here is a picture of her creation:

Allyson blogged about her surprise here. We'll be posting pictures on her blog tomorrow. Didn't she do a wonderful job?


February 10, 2007

Well-meaning Advice?

I was at my son's church-sponsored basketball game today and overheard something that really gave me a shock and made me think. I heard a grandmother a few seats down from me tell her two young grandsons not to grow their hair like "that kid - he looks like a girl." The two boys began laughing and making comments about the young man she was speaking of, who happened to be one of the refs.

I'm sure this grandmother didn't mean to sound unloving and judgmental - I am sure she saw something she didn't approve of and wanted to use it as an example to her grandsons. However, she did sound unloving, and her words inadvertently encouraged her grandsons to make fun of someone who was different.

I wonder how often I use comparisons to explain "correct behavior" to our children at the expense of others? I think that sometimes parents, especially Christian parents, can get so wrapped up in raising Godly children that we forget to be compassionate towards others. Surely there are enough examples of sin (BTW, I personally don't think that guys who have long hair are sinning) in the Bible that we can point to without exposing and demeaning other people. I am sure that I have been guilty of this, and I hope that this incident will make me think before I speak in the future.


February 7, 2007

Free Geography e-Book from KnowledgeQuest

Hmmm... my blog seems to be turning into a free resources blog! Here's the latest:

Terri Johnson from Knowledge Quest wrote an e-book called "Globalmania: Master World Geography in 7 Months." I downloaded it when she offered it in her e-newsletter and finally had time to look at it yesterday. Wow! I happen to love geography, and Tapestry of Grace integrates it into our history studies, but Globalmania will be a great supplement to TOG for me. My children do the map work, but I don't test them on it (yet). I am going to use the ideas in Globalmania as a fun way for my kids to really get their geography facts down.

Did I say geography and fun in the same sentence?? Yes! Terri Johnson has written out a systematic world geography course that is mostly based on free online games. You can use this e-book as a 7-month geography course, or you can use it to supplement what you are already doing. There are also 16 beautiful maps at the end of the e-book - one labeled and one unlabeled map for the world and 7 main geographic regions. Well, I guess you can describe them as "beautiful" if you are weird and like maps - otherwise you might say they are useful learning tools. How's that for non-map lovers?

Go here to read Terri Johnson's article entitled "Must I Teach Geography?" The download link for her free e-book is available there.