Saturday, August 30, 2008

Outta Here!

Most of the computer models show Gustav heading straight for New Orleans. There are a few models that show this monster taking a late western turn...and that's us, west of New Orleans. We know the chance of this storm hitting us are extremely slim at this moment, yet with three young boys we don't want to take any chances. If the hurricane shifts tomorrow and starts heading our way, all of Houston will decide to evacuate. We will risk sitting in traffic for hours and hours on end (lesson learned by many of our dear friends who sat on the freeway for 24 hours to get to San Antonio - a three hour trip - during Hurricane Rita three years ago!). We are heading for the Texas Hill Country with photo albums, this years' school materials and enough clothes to last a week or two. We will be offline until Tuesday when we return, the storm having hopefully missed us.

To all our friends who are in the current path of Gustav, we are praying for you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Life on Hold

Hi! Life is on hold around here while we watch and wait to see what Gustav is going to do. Right now he is heading for the Louisiana coast but we won't trust any reports until Sunday night. There is just too much uncertainty until then.

While we are waiting, we've gotten the oil changed in the Suburban and filled it with gas. I've paid all our bills through the end of September...just in case. Filled and picked up all our prescriptions and checked to be sure all current insurance policies, immunization records, birth certificates and the like are in one place ready to be grabbed. Ahhh, the joys of living on the coast.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A New Beginning

In the last few months we have been dealing with increasingly challenging behavior from Thatcher. He has been in (what I call) a downward spiral. His ADHD is absolutely at it's worst. He has more and more emotional outbursts when he doesn't get what he wants. His behavior towards his brothers has been unacceptable more than I'd like to admit. He even wakes up grumpy and frustrated. It feels like I've been watching a bad train wreck but helpless to do anything productive to assist (although believe me, we have tried!!!). The situation hasn't been dire but it has been tough for sure.

That is until yesterday. I am not sure what made the change (other than fervent prayer) but I am sooo very thankful it did. Thatcher woke up with a smile on his face and full of hugs for his brothers and me. He responded appropriately when lovingly corrected. He had excellent manners, was patient, helpful and kind! It was like someone handed me back my son from a few years ago! Today went almost as well, too.

I am going to work so hard to keep us in this upward spiral - tons of praise and encouragement, extra privileges and rewards. We have been talking about how good it feels to honor God by loving others, sharing with others and bringing joy to others. He seems to be getting it, at least a little bit! These are not new things but I am just being extra-deliberate to incorporate them into our days. Sometimes he needs me to "connect the dots" for him when he can't do it on his own and that's what I am trying to do: making those connections that when we make wise choices it brings peace and joy to our lives.

Just wanted to share a little behind the scenes around here these past few days!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nutrition 101 - Part One

This is for my sister, Monica: a series of posts about healthy eating and what I've learned in the past seven years since I bought my first gallon of organic milk (which now I don't even drink having switched to almond milk). I've had several friends along with my sister who have asked me to post some tidbits to help get them started in the right direction in regards to feeding their families more healthfully. I was hesitant because this is a homeschool blog but hopefully this will bless someone else. It is so hard to know where to start on this journey and it can be such a help to have someone point you in the right direction - just like with homeschooling! :)

Nutrition is a hobby of mine - sort of! It's one of those areas where I know just enough to be dangerous. I am no expert, that's for certain. Take these words and do your own research. I am deliberately not posting lots of links to other sites here that say this or that. You need to do your own research if you want to own this stuff. Truly! My hope here is to give other moms a place to start.

First, know this is a journey. It won't happen overnight. It just won't. You can't make the changes that fast and your kids will most likely reject your efforts if you force too much too quickly anyway!You can't feed your child a whole-wheat muffin full of flax and organic blueberries, sweetened with agave nectar and expect them to scarf it down. They won't - unless you are insanely lucky. So many moms say, "I tried that healthy stuff and my kids just wouldn't eat it." The trick is to not give them a muffin for a few weeks and then offer the healthy version. They won't have a fresh memory of the unhealthy alternative and your chance of success will rise dramatically. This is still no guarantee but it's a start. You may need to be creative with some of this. I had a friend that got her child to scarf a pureed broccoli soup by calling it "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Soup". Hey, whatever works!

There are two things to consider: eliminating unhealthy things from your family's diet and then adding new things into the diet. Here is a list of things I have eliminated from our family's diet in recent years: all synthetic dyes, BHT, BHQ, MSG, sodium benzoate, EDTA, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites, and as much white sugar, flour and rice as I possibly can. I will talk more about things I have added to our diet in a future post or two.

Step One: start reading labels of things you buy. Do you know what all chemicals are in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer right now? When I really started examining labels of the foods I was feeding my family, I was shocked. Many foods that seem to be healthy alternatives are still loaded with dyes and other chemicals. This is the first step. Just start reading labels. If something comes up again and again that you can't pronounce, Google it. You may find that it's perfectly fine, or not. Tocepherols sound scary but they are actually a natural preservative (Vitamin E) and a much better alternative to BHT (Which is everywhere even though there are many studies linking it to cancer. Companies get away with using it by putting it "in the packaging" and not directly into the food. As if the plastic packaging doesn't touch your food???)

I will post more soon! Leave me a comment and let me know what you find in your pantry...if you dare ;)


Thursday, August 14, 2008


I have officially posted 100 times on this blog! Yahoooo! You all know much about me but I am curious about you! Who are my readers and where are you from? Some of you regularly leave me comments and sometimes even email me. Many of you don't; you just stop by and check things out. I am so glad you do and keep stopping in! :) To help me celebrate my 100th post will you leave me a comment to say hi and tell as much or as little about yourself as you would like? I would love to say, "Hello!" to old friends and meet lots of new ones as well!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Children Learn What They Live

I was reminded of this poem today. Sometimes it's easier to be impatient, sarcastic or just plain unkind when disciplining my boys after I have said the same thing for the (seemingly) 400th time that day. The reward of persevering, choosing to be kind, encouraging and full of grace will reap huge rewards in their little hearts and minds. This poem encourages me to "keep on keeping on." I hope it inspires you, too!

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Books to Compliment SOTW 2

As I mentioned in my recent curriculum post, I decided this year I would purchase a book (or two or three!) from each chapter- the "best of the best". This list was compiled using recommendations from the Well Trained Mind Curriculum Board, the SOTW 2 Activity Guide and my own research.

I hope this list helps another mom who may want to do something similar. I do want to say that what I consider “the best of the best” may not be for your family so take my recommendations with that in mind. I chose books based on several criteria: books that would appeal to Thatcher (hence so many of Fiona McDonald’s titles from her You Wouldn’t Want to… series), classics that I wanted my child exposed to, books with beautiful language and/or illustrations, books that filled in the gaps of what I wanted Thatcher to know… Not all the books met all the criteria, of course, but I tried to sure that every book met at least one or more. A few book are used in several chapters as well and I still have a few chapters with no books listed.

Feel free to leave a comment if I have left off one of your family's favorites. I am sure there are many wonderful books I have missed that others would benefit from hearing about. :)

Ch. 1
The Glory that was Rome
I Wonder Why Romans Wore Togas…
Fiona MacDonald

Ch. 2
The Early Days of Britain
by Michael Morpurgo
Favorite Medieval Tales
Mary Pope Osborne

Ch. 3
Christianity Comes to Britain
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Michael Morpurgo
Across a Dark and Wild Sea
Don Brown
Life in a Medieval Monastery
Augustine Came to Kent
Barbara Willard
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland
Tomie De Paola

Ch. 4
The Byzantine Empire
Famous Men of Middle Ages
Cyndy Shearer
Legend of Saint Nicholas

Ch. 5
The Medieval Indian Empire
I Doko: The Tale of a Basket
Ed Young

Ch. 6
The Rise of Islam
Stories of the Caliphs
Denys Johnson-Davies

Ch. 7
Islam becomes an Empire
Ludmila Zeman’s series (out of print – borrow from library)

Ch. 8
The Great Dynasties of China
Lon Po Po
Ed Young

Ch. 9
East of China
Grass Sandals

Ch. 10
The Bottom of the World
Qinkin Mountain
(Ultimately I was not able to find thesetwo books but they came highly recommended by an Aussie on the WTM board. I left them on the list, just in case.)

Ch. 11
The Kingdom of the Franks
Famous Men of Middle Ages
Favorite Medieval Tales

Ch. 12
Islamic Invasion
Three Golden Oranges

Ch. 13
The Great Kings of France
Famous Men of Middle Ages

Ch. 14
The Arrival of the Norsemen
Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky
Barbara Schiller

Ch. 15
The First Kings of England
The Vikings

Ch. 16
England After the Conquest
Medieval Feast
The Reluctant Dragon
Kenneth Grahame
Saint George and the Dragon
Margaret Hodges
Castle Diary: Tobias Burgess

Ch. 17
Knights and Samurai
Sword of the Samurai
by Eric A. Kimmel and Michael Evans
EyeWitness- Days of Knights

How to be a Medieval Knight
How to be a Samurai Warrior
Fiona MacDonald

Ch. 18
The Age of the Crusades
Chanticleer and the Fox
You Wouldn’t Want to be a Crusader
Fiona MacDonald
Canterbury Tales
Barbara Cohen

Ch. 19
A New Kind of King
Lives of Extraordinary Women
Robin Hood
Jim Weiss CD
Robin Hood-DK Rder
Angela Bull

Ch. 20
The Diaspora

Ch. 21
The Mongols Devastate the East
Mu Lan

Ch. 22
Exploring the Mysterious East
Silk Route: 7000Miles of History
John Major
Empty Pot

Ch. 23
The First Russians
Russian Fairy Tales

Ch. 24
The Ottoman Empire
Legend of the Persian Carpet

Ch. 25
The End of the World
You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century
Door in the Wall
Marguerite De Angeli

Ch. 26
France and England at War
Joan of Arc
Diane Stanley

Ch. 27
War for the English Throne
Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare
Marcia Williams

Ch. 28
The Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal
Lives of Extraordinary Women

Ch. 29
African Kingdoms

Ch. 30
India Under the Monguls
The Rumor: A Jakata Tale from India
The Monkey and the Crocodile

Ch. 31
Exploring New Worlds
Columbus-Step n2 Reading Book
Who Was Ferdinand Magellan?
Who in the World was the Forgotten Explorer, Amerigo Vespucci?

Ch. 32
The American Kingdoms
You Wouldn’t Want to be…Aztec Sacrifice
You Wouldn’t Want to be…Mayan Soothsayer
You Wouldn’t Want to be an Inca Mummy

Ch. 33
Spain, Portugal and the New World
Lives of Extraordinary Women
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
The Sad Night: Aztec Victory and Spanish Loss
Sally Schofer Mathews

Ch. 34
Marin Luther’s New Ideas
Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World
You Wouldn’t Want to be Married to Henry VIII
Francis: Poor Man of Assisi

Ch. 35
The Renaissance
J. Gutenburg and the Amazing Printing Press
Bruce Koscielniak
Leonardo and the Flying Boy
Laurence Anholt
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Pieter Bruegel
Mike Venezia
How a Book is Made
Katie and the Mona Lisa
James Mayhew
Leonardo’s Horse
Marguerite Makes a Book
Bruce Robertson

Ch. 36
Reformation and Counter Reformation

Ch. 37
The New Universe
Starry Messenger
Peter Sis
The Genius of Leonardo

Ch. 38
England’s Greatest Queen
Elizabeth I
Good Queen Bess
Diane Stanley

Ch. 39
England’s Greatest Playwright
Bard of Avon
Shakespeare and the Globe
Tales from Shakespeare
Marcia Williams
More Tales from Shakespeare
Marcia Williams
Any of the Bruce Coville Shakespeare Books

Ch. 40
New Ventures to the Americas
Roanoake: The Lost Colony
Lee Miller

Ch. 41
Explorations in the North
With Pipe, Paddle and Song: A Story of the French-Canadian Voyageurs
Elizabeth Yates

Ch. 42
Empires Collide
You Wouldn’t Want to Sail in a Spanish Armada
You Wouldn’t Want to Explore with Sir Francis Drake

Additional Treasure Chests:
Ancient China

Other Recommended Books:
Clown of God (Read around Christmastime)
Days of Knights & Damsels
Laurie Carlson
Squire and the Scroll
Bishop and McDaniels
Minstrel in the Tower
Gloria Skurzynski
Caedmon’s Song