Monday, September 19, 2011

The best budget-conscious homeschool whiteboard!

Isn't it fun to look out of the front door and see chickens on your front porch?  We keep a smallish flock of laying hens so we can enjoy nice fresh brown eggs here~ and I do love eating the eggs, but I think I enjoy watching our hens free-range and explore our property almost as much!

Tom captured these three "ladies" on our front porch this morning checkin' things out...  Aren't they cute?  I think chickens have the most adorable fluffy bottoms!


But you didn't stop by to read about chicken bottoms now did you?

On to whiteboards and homeschooling!

I am super-blessed to have a room for homeschooling.  I'll be honest though, last year I spent very little time teaching down there.  (Yes, we did do school last year! LOL!)  First off it is super-cold down in our basement since we heat the rest of our house, upstairs, with a wood stove.  Secondly, it was in dire need of some remodeling.  So my solution last school year was to do the majority of our work upstairs in the cozy warmth of the wood stove.

Bad blogger that I am, I forgot to take before and after pictures, but we did fix up our basement homeschooling room at the end of this summer~ fresh paint on walls and ceiling, new carpet squares from our local Habitat ReStore... super-cool PVC computer table for two computers (I'll try to show you that soon) and my brand spankin' new ginormous white board!


Pretty sweet, huh?  And yeah, at 4' wide and 8' long, I think it is big enough for even our largish family!

What would you pay for a 32 square foot whiteboard?  How about $12.67, plus a few $ for some strong screws from our local Home Depot?


And yes, it works just like a "real" dry erase board!  The dry erase markers erase just fine.  We love it!


Here's a slightly better photo of the super-cool eraser that I purchased.  I love the fact that it is there when I need it and the little pointy tip is fabulous for erasing smallish boo-boos without having to erase whole sentences or words.  You can't really tell from the picture, but it is sitting on its very own little plastic holder which I actually adhered (using the included sticky tape) to our white board.  The eraser holder is magnetic, but this whiteboard isn't metal, so that wouldn't work here.


You will notice that some of the screws holding the whiteboard are in awkward places... like the middle of the whiteboard.  Unfortunately that was necessary due to where the studs are in that wall.  I figured that I had so much real estate to write on that the extra screws wouldn't bother me.  And they don't.


What do you think of my whiteboard?

Have any frugal homeschooling projects that you have done?  Leave me a link in the comments~ I know we'd all love to see or hear about them!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Plaza 10K

A little rainy morning fun around here...

Our oldest daughter Micah was in town this weekend to run the Plaza 10K.  We made it into a family event~ well, part of the fam!  It was a blast!  Here we are before the rainy race start... being a little goofy for the camera.  My parents were *so* sweet to come out in the 58 degree rain to cheer for us!  What would I do without our personal cheering squad?

Tom, me, Caleb, Micah and Jake before the race.

This inaugural race took place on The Plaza... a beautiful Kansas City shopping area~ the flowers were fabulous!  Here are Jake and I at the 2 mile mark.

Jake and I at the 2 mile mark!

Tom offered to run with Micah and help her maintain a good pace.  She did *fabulous*!  I was so proud!

Tom and Micah... almost done!

Here I am.... almost done.  Yay!

Me... finishing in the rain!

I'm not very fast, but I'm persistant!

After the race Micah, her husband Joshua and my parents at lunch with us~ I *love* having almost everyone together!  (Our oldest son Nate is stationed in Ft. Benning, GA as a chaplain's assistant).

Feeling super-blessed here,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The power of words...

Have you watched this short video? It is a powerful reminder of the influence words can have.

What stories am I telling? What stories am I breathing to life in the lives of my family and in the lives of those I brush shoulders with?

Truly, words are powerful.

I need to consume words wisely (what am I reading/listening to?) so I can, in turn, influence with joyful truth...

Monday, September 12, 2011

An elephants' lunch....

It is so hard to write a blog post when I've been away for so long!  I end up feeling like I should write something very profound or supremely lovely in some way.  Yikes!  Talk about giving myself writer's block!

Since my last post we have been immersed in the "official" beginnings" of our school year here.  This year I have have nine children who are doing school "for real."  (At least as far as our state is concerned) Our two oldest children are adults out on their own now, so that only leaves Timmy not in school.  I can't believe he is now 4! He, of course, is *very* interested in all that we are doing and is actually doing a little bit of school work himself.  It is amazing to me how quickly he is picking up phonics with just a few minutes/day of work and reviewing letters and their sounds.

After many years of using Alpha-Phonics to teach reading.... and I do mean *many* years~ like 19, I was ready to "splurge" and try something different.  After reading many reviews, I decided to try The Reading Lesson.... and so far I am, or I should say, we are really enjoying it!

I will put together a post soon listing the curriculum that we are using this year for everyone, not because I think that what we are doing is somehow ideal or "best," but because I know that I *love* hearing about what other families are using.  It can be a wonderful way to find out about resources that I wasn't aware of.

When our oldest children were little guys, Tom and I frequently took them on interesting "field trips."  We loved attending Civil War reenactments and museums, nature centers, etc.  Alas, that practice had really fallen by the wayside in the past 10 years or so.  Now please understand: I am quite satisfied being at home and find so many projects here that interest and occupy my time.  I do not feel compelled to entertain my children or to be constantly taking them from one event to the next.  It is my desire that my children also enjoy the simple pleasures of home and creatively occupying their time.  That being said,  I do think that there are many interesting things to see and do nearby, and we are entering a season where it is more feasible to go and do, so I am going to try to go and do more!

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus was in town last week and we were able to take the children downtown to see the elephants eat their lunch!  A trip downtown is always a bit of an adventure for us... and if you add elephants to the mix~ well!  How can you go wrong?

Here was the crew... minus Miss Hannah, who was in class at the community college that morning.


Seven elephants eat a tremendous amount of food for lunch!  There were loaves of bread, bananas, lettuce, carrots, apples and even watermelon for dessert! (The elephants knew just what to do with the watermelons... they stepped on them first to smash them, then greedily ate them, rind and all~ Yum!)



The boys had a bit of fun playing with clown noses....


And even Dad got in on the fun!


While we waited for the elephants to arrive, we enjoyed a display of lassoing skills.... yee-ha!


Here come the elephants!  Yay!



There was also an informative Q&A time while the "girls" ate.  (No male elephants over the age of 5 in the circus... they get too interested in impressing the girls!)


I love seeing my big guys enjoy the littler guys...  *love* this about homeschooling!


And of course, what is a trip downtown without some cool reflective photography?  The Sprint Center is a huge, fabulously reflective building~ I simply couldn't resist a few Kansas City skyline pics...



I'm not sure why, but for some reason I feel compelled to go eat a banana or something..... perhaps a watermelon would hit the spot....