Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best Homeschool Money I Ever Spent

I am a cheap frugal homeschooler.

While my children's education is worth any price, I find there is a lot a person can do inexpensively, or even for free.

Therefore, it is highly unusual for me to plunk down more than a few bucks for a learning aid.  But based on our experiences so far memorizing basic addition/subtraction facts, I was very much dreading beginning the multiplication tables.

The boy can memorize a poem or an entire Bible passage in an afternoon.  He has a clear grasp of the concept of multiplication, of fractions and even basic decimals.  But to commit to memory 7+8=15 or 4x3=12?  Forget it.

I have always been interested in CBD's Multiplication Memorization kit, especially after reading the Andreola's review.  After our experience with addition, and considering Dale's imaginative, visual learning style, I had a hunch it was just what we needed.

We opened up our box of jumbo-sized flash cards the day they arrived, reading the number story and memorization aid on card after card.  The next day we reviewed the 10 or 12 we had looked at, and wonder of wonders... it worked!

We add a few more every day, and I continue to be amazed at how quickly Dale is able to recall 9x5, 8x4, or 7x8.  For my learning style it is the long complicated way.  For him it is perfect and easy.  So, so thankful we have this kit!

267555: Multiplication Memorizer Kit Multiplication Memorizer Kit
Yes, this is an affiliate post.  If you are kind enough to make a CBD purchase after clicking the above link I will receive a small compensation.  That said, I would love, love, love this product if I never made a single cent! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Patrick Swayze would not approve

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Except... maybe we do...
But when a space is so cozy and out-of-the-way you just can't help yourself.  A perfect little baby-space!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Gift

By now, most of us are probably aware of the many incidents that were the result of the craziness that is Black Friday.  Pepper spray, gunshots, fights, and more.  What a way to kick off the start of the Christmas season.  The "happiest season of all."

We don't like to think of commercialism and violence as part of this season.  What do we think of when we think Christmas?  Christmas trees?  Cookies?  What is it all about?  Gifts?  Stockings?  Lights?  Shopping?

Or maybe it is about this:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-8
That is Christmas, right?  A virgin, a baby, a manger.  There were no sparkly trees.  No cookies.  And no gifts.  

Ah, but there was one gift.  The baby Himself was the gift.  

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Jesus.  God's gift to us.  
God gave his son, and his son was beaten, hated, rejected, spit on, mocked, and killed.

Dale heard that list yesterday during the sermon and, using his favorite phrase in his best attempt to sound grown-up, whispered to me, "Why in the world did God do that?"

My whispered answer to him is the same to you: 

He did it because he loves you.

As our pastor said yesterday, if you asked Jesus the true meaning of Christmas, he would probably say it is less about the baby in the manger, and more about the love of the Father, and his Gift to the world.  His gift to me.  His gift to you.

Have you humbled yourself to repent and trust in Him?
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
2 Corinthians 9:15
*This post is composed of my own words, but is a paraphrase and abbreviated version of our sermon yesterday.  The thoughts and ideas are those of our pastor, posted here with permission.*

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

How we've been celebrating:
We started out the month with a giant tree, a stack of colored leaves, and  roll of double-sided tape.
We try to each write at least one blessing a day to put on the tree.

We even have guests put up a thankful leaf!  The tape we are using is re-stickable, so after Thanksgiving I plan on putting our leaves into a notebook for a keepsake.  Stores flat! :)
Some of our Thanksgiving school work on my makeshift bulletin board (until I find what  I am looking for to make one).
My favorites are the handprint Mayflowers from Almost Unschoolers. The video link (about the Mayflower II) on that site is also very good!
A turkey hairclip for Miss B!  From Vanessa.
Also from Vanessa @ Silly Eagle Books.
(Hmm...went to get that link and noticed our turkeys are missing their wings. Whoops!)
These three turkeys are among the things at the top of my thankful list, along with their sister,
their Daddy, and a host of other blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving 
from all of us in the Buffalo Herd!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alan!

As often happens around here, the celebration was spread over several days.

A candle in his breakfast, a long-standing family tradition...
A treat for lunch.  With another candle, just for good measure...
A box in the mail from Grandma the next day...
Followed by a family party a few days later...
Happy birthday my sweet, precious, five year old!

Monday, November 21, 2011


.... moments before everyone's favorite part of every school day...
...when DADDY arrives at home!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Kids Are Weird

Our babies have all needed a little help getting to sleep and being soothed in their newborn days.

But that's not what makes them weird.

While most normal parents (I assume) are gently rocking their babies to heartbeat therapy or lullabies, we are bouncing and jiggling ours on our knees while they peacefully nod off to things like this:

or most recently, this:

Three of our four kids have drifted off to that Michigan State drumline.  It works almost every. time. 

Not white noise. Not classical piano, or singing, or shushing.

Oh those things might work sometimes.  But when we mean serious business, we break out the loud, (sometimes annoying), rhythmic gems o' youtube.  

And in moments - I kid you not - our babies are out like a light.

I told you they were weird.

How do you put your babies to sleep?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dasher of my children's dreams

Dale: I am going to try to set a record.  I'm going to see if I can wear these socks until Monday.

Mama: That will make your feet stinky and itchy, you know.

Dale: Oh. (Peels socks.)

Looks like we won't be calling Guinness any time soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Sickness & Spies

We woke up Sunday morning with one coughing, feverish little boy.

By Wednesday 5 of the 6 of us had fallen victim to the same bug.  It's the first time I can remember that a sickness has struck and run through the family like wildfire.  I don't think we've ever all gotten the same thing.  (I say "all" far Brooklyn has stayed well and we are hoping and praying that remains true!  Yay for breastfeeding!)

And let me tell you, this is more than your run of the mill sniffly cold.  This thing is vicious.  Stubborn fever that lasts for daaaays.  Just for you, I won't elaborate on the snot and coughing.  I'm sure you can imagine.

Greg has managed to work through it all, and we at home have sort of kept up a routine of school and housekeeping.  All in all, things could have been worse.  I'm thankful that there has been no puking (well, except that once when one person's cough got the best of them, but that hardly counts).  I'm also thankful we haven't needed a trip to the doctor, even though we really sweated it (no pun intended) with such a long fever in our transplant boy.  And have I mentioned I'm thankful for the lack of puking.  I'd take a weeklong cold over a 24 hour stomach bug any day.

One thing that has remained constant this week has been our Bible time.  We are just finishing up the Israelites' wandering through the wilderness.  When we discussed the 12 spies that went into Canaan (Numbers 13) Dale read the Bible passage and then summarized parts of it to us, including what the spies' goals were.

Dale:    "to see what the land is like, whether the people are strong or weak, few or many, whether the land is good or bad, too see whether the land is rich or poor, to bring back some of the fruit of the land....."

Alan:   "And to take pictures of everything!"

A future blogger, perhaps?
(And maybe things would have worked out better for those 10 spies if they had taken pictures!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Six Weeks...

...(and three days) old.
 Still loves having her hair washed.
 Doesn't love baths so much.
 Absolutely can't stand to have a wet or dirty diaper.
 Loves the sounds of her brothers' voices.
And still sleeps through all their buffalo playing noises. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Brotherly Love

One question we get asked a lot when people are admiring or inquiring about Brooklyn is "What do those boys think about her?"

My answer is usually always the same...

"They are crazy about her."

Sure it sounds good to say, but the truth is... it's the truth!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hey, Earl

November 3.

Sandwich Day.  National Sandwich Day? Sandwich Appreciation Day? 

I can't remember it's official name, but November 3 is the day someone decided we should recognize the significance sustenance between two slices of bread has in our lives.

This was our first year to recognize sandwich day, mostly due to the fact that my November activity book had a worksheet which I copied for Dale.

So while Dale was doing word puzzles to list out the names of a dozen or so sandwich varieties, Alan and I played an impromptu game of sandwich word building.

Yes, I made that up.  
What? Doesn't your bologna come in funny egg-shaped purple circles? No?

Yes, it was 2 minutes before the activity commenced.

I knew it was going to go well when Alan asked "Why are you drawing bread?"

If he recognized my poor attempts at drawing a slice of bread, things could only get better from there.

Which they did, when we had yummy ham and cheese mini sandwiches for lunch.

Meat & cheese on one half, butter and garlic powder on the other.  Toast.  Close.  Eat.

We even capped off Sandwich day with BLT's for supper.  But without the "T" because of my own miscommunication with our grocery buyer.  Even though we were missing the T they were the best BLT's ever, because of the addition of a fried egg.  I don't even like fried eggs and I loved this sandwich.  We will definitely be having them again, making sure we have tomatoes next time.

And since this is what I'm sure you all actually want pictures of more than my poor artwork and long-gone lunch:

Happy Sandwich Day, everyone!