Archive for June, 2009

Two of my kids, John and Cosette, have been diligently working on their activity cards for our library’s summer reading program.  Cosette has finished hers which qualifies her to attend a special party in a few weeks.  John is also hoping to finish his.

As part of this activity card, John and Cosette each wrote poems to display at the library.  I thought they turned out really nice, and wanted to display them here on my blog as well!

The first poem is written by John, who will be in 7th grade of A Beka Academy DVD Homeschool, program 1, this fall:

The Bumbly Boo’s World

In the land of the Bumbly Boo,
There are no regular people like you.
However, there are figures made by pencils
And People made from stencils.

Animals also inhabit this legendary place.
They are not normal; they are made of lace.
The plants are made of wire,
And glue replaces all of the mire.

This land is really just a paper that has been drawn upon.
(You can see pictures in at least one lawn.)
The sky is made of pictures with the color blue,
In the Land of the Bumbly Boo.

This second poem is written by Cosette, who will be in the 3rd grade of A Beka Academy DVD Homeschool, program 1, this fall:

What is pink?  A rose is pink by a fountain’s brink.

What is blue?  My lace is blue on my shoe.

What is red?  My pillow is red on my bed.

What is white?  My bed is white through day and night.

What is green?  A bird is green that I have seen.

What is tan?  The label is tan on the can.

I’m glad I don’t just see black and white.
All of the colors make the earth bright.

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We are now officially half-way through our summer baseball season.  I do enjoy going to the games, but I must admit that going every night is a bit much!  I decided that this is a good time to make a slideshow of the pictures from the first half of our season.  The main picture for this entry is my favorite.  I really don’t know why, but I like it.  Luke is #3 in the picture.   Enjoy the slideshow!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: 2009 City Rec Baseball
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Lovely, isn’t it?!  There is a story…..

This hole used to be the home of a glass built-in cutting board.  Several weeks ago, I asked Dan if he could break a large box of frozen ribs into family-size portions so they wouldn’t take up so much room in my freezer.  I went to the store and missed all of the action, but when I got home, there was Dan vacuuming out the HOLE!  He said that he got a little carried away trying to separate the ribs and didn’t realize how fragile that cutting board was.  He kind of slammed things around a bit and shattered the glass.  **Yep, I am glad it was him that did it and not me!  😉

So, our search for a fix began.  First we contacted a local business that specializes in glass.  A guy came to look at what we had and immediately started shaking his head.  He said that he would have to do some thinking about our problem.  Several days passed before he called me back to say that a replacement piece of glass was going to cost at least $180 just for the glass.  Of course, cutting and installing the glass would be added onto that……

So, we kept looking!  One of the guys who helps with Cub Scouts has a handyman business.  We asked his opinion, so he stopped by, took some measurements, and shook his head.  He also said he’d have to do some thinking about our problem.  Well, he never got back to us……

We had another guy that has done work on our house come look at some projects that needed to be done in preparation for our exterior painting.  I asked him to take a look at the HOLE, and he just shook his head, took some measurements, and recommended that we contact a very expensive custom cabinet maker about making a cutting board.    So, the hole remained.

Fortunately, while all of this searching was going on, my Mom offered to let us use a large cake sheet pan to cover the hole.  I really needed my main work space by the sink, plus we didn’t want the insulation for the dishwasher to get wet and ruined.  So, we taped that pan over the hole, and although this wasn’t a final solution, it did make the kitchen workable again.

Finally we had a guy come to our house to measure the windows that we need to have replaced.  Out of desperation, I asked him to take a look at my HOLE too.  He did not shake his head, but he did take measurements.  He said he had the perfect solution and that it would cost NOTHING!  He runs a building supply/lumber yard store and said that he had some scraps of counter top that he thought he could cut into the proper shape to cover the hole.  All we needed to do was get the metal rim out of the counter, take it to him for a pattern, and he would do the rest.  He wanted us to stop by to approve of the piece he had.  I told him that I am not picky–I just want to get rid of the HOLE!

True to his word, the piece was cut within a couple of days with a charge of nothing.  We did have a little more searching to do to find the right kind of clips to hold the board in place.  The clips that held the glass were put into the bottom of the counter, and to use those again we would have had to pull out our dishwasher, hassle around, etc.  Again we went to a hardware store to ask  for a creative solution, and we were pointed in the right direction.

Dan got the clamps on and put caulk around the edges to seal it all up and we filled the HOLE this morning!  We actually like the new piece better than the old glass anyway.  I learned something through all of this.  It was frustrating trying to find a solution to this problem and have so many road blocks.  Little did I know, however, that God was directing us to a solution that would be FREE.  Now I need to remember that the next time I get frustrated and impatient….

Click to play this Smilebox postcard: The HOLE
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As my regular readers know, our family uses the A Beka Academy DVD homeschool program.  This will be our 8th year, and we have used it for all five our kids.  This year our kids will be in 7th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd, and K5.

4 out of 5 our kids used the K4 program.  It was not available when our oldest was that age.  We wondered if it was worthwhile when A Beka made the K4 DVD’s, but we decided to use it with our second son so he would have “school” with his big brother.  We were really happy with it and have used it with all of the rest of our kids.  It is a great preparation for school–especially for families that are planning on continuing with the A Beka curriculum.  The kids not only learn to identify letters in K4, they learn actual reading and writing in cursive.  The teacher, Mrs. Wasser, is fantastic.  All of my kids adored her.  She is wonderful in Bible time and relates so well to the kids.

Anyway, the reason that I am writing this post is because I got an announcement from A Beka Academy yesterday that they are offering a special introductory price for their K4 program this year.  Last year, we paid $840 for Kara to be in it.  We were happy with that price because it includes everything that is needed for a successful school year.  I was ASTOUNDED when I saw the introductory price of $350 for this year!  That is an unbelievable bargain–practically a give-away for all that is included!  There is information available about this introductory price at http://www.abekaacademy.org/K4Offer.html .  I don’t know how long they will have this offer, but it is certainly a great opportunity for families wanting to try A Beka Academy.

We are looking forward to our new school year.  The summer is going so quickly that it won’t be long before we break out those new books!  If anyone would like more information about our A Beka Academy homeschool experiences, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Also, there is a clickable category on the homepage of this blog for Abeka Academy that will bring up the posts specifically about that topic.

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Paper Route Substitutes

John’s Scoutmaster’s family has a newspaper route.  It’s not a big route, but a responsibility nonetheless.  Several weeks ago, the Scoutmaster had asked John and Brock if they could help his wife deliver the newspapers while he and his kids were out of town because she is having problems with her knees.  So, the boys took the papers to the doorsteps while she drove along showing them where to go.  I was surprised how much the boys enjoyed doing this–they both thought it was a lot of fun!

Last week, the daughter of the family called to tell us that the whole family was leaving town and wondered if we could do their route for them.  We had never done it without them, but I told her that if she left us good instructions about when and where to get the papers and which houses were to get them that we could probably figure it out.  So, that is what we did on Friday.  All of the kids were so excited about rolling those silly papers, and, boy, did we get black with ink!  Then we set out with our house list.  We did it kind of like the boys had done it before:  we drove down the street with the list showing them which houses needed the papers and the boys put the papers on the doorsteps.  I am happy to report that when we were finished, we had just the right number of leftover papers and never heard any complaints, so we must have done all right!  😉

So, is this in our future?!  Who knows!  I do think it is good for kids to learn responsibility.  That being said, our local papers are out for delivery right around the time that we usually eat supper and get ready for our evening activities, so having our own route is something we’d have to think about awhile.  We don’t mind substituting, however, so hopefully we will get asked to do it again!

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Last year I spent the summer painting most of the interior of our house.  This year we had to do the outside.  It hadn’t been done for several years, and it was starting to show pretty badly.  Of course, exterior painting often grows into other projects, and this has proven to be the case for us this summer.

Dan has been doing much of the prepping (with “help” from the kids!) Today we starting staining the wood siding and our porch that are on the front of the house.  What a job!

Kara and Luke were so cute this morning.  They wanted to help, so we needed to find something that they could do to feel useful.  We set them to work doing some sanding on the porch, and they worked….and worked….and WORKED!  What busy little bees!  I thought they were so cute with their safety glasses and sand paper, as you can see from the picture.

We’ve had a lot of rain this spring/summer that has hastened some expensive projects that really have needed to be done anyway.  We have pretty heavy water damage on a couple of our front windows and both of our garage doors, so we are in the process of getting those all replaced.  That’s not a cheap thing to do, but, like I said, these are things that really needed to be done anyway, so it was time to stop putting off the inevitable.  In a few weeks the staining and painting will be finished, and we’ll have the new garage doors and windows.  I am sure it will look a lot better.  This type of maintenance is simply a necessity to keep up a home, and we are thankful that God has given us the means to do it.

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This summer Cosette has been enjoying the Kids a Cookin’ class offered by the extension service of one of our state universities.  This is really a neat program.  They offer 4-week sessions several times each year to teach the kids about nutrition and cooking.  This summer they are meeting on Tuesday mornings, and Cosette has absolutely LOVED it!

Last week they made Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip cookies that Brock even had to admit were delicious.  (That’s hard for a brother to admit!)  Today they made Potato Chip Chicken Fingers, French Fries, and Shamrock Shakes.  These recipes were so good that I told Cosette that next week she should help me make them at home for supper!

I appreciate this program.  It is offered to the public for no fee, and I know the ladies in charge do a lot of work preparing, teaching, and cleaning up.  I asked them today if the lessons change each time the classes are offered or if they repeat, and they told me that they change the recipes.  So, hopefully Cosette will be able to take more classes after the summer session is finished!

This Smilebox has the recipes for the chicken fingers and cookies.  Try them–they’re great!

Click to play this Smilebox recipe: Kids A Cookin' Recipes
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Guinea Pig Update

About a month ago, I wrote this entry telling about John’s Boy Scout pet merit badge project and the resulting additions to our household.  Well, a few weeks have passed, so I thought I’d write an update about how things are going with the guinea pigs.

First of all, they have grown and tamed a lot.  They were soooo skittish when we first got them, and that was discouraging to the kids who all wanted to hold them and smother them right off of the bat!  I had to explain to them that it would take awhile for the pigs to get used to us and tried to help them understand how scared the little things must have been.  So, each day we’d talk quietly to them, offer them treats, and try to pet them.  We saw improvement each day–food is definitely the right bribe!  Now they both eat out of our hands.  Lettuce is their absolute favorite, but they really like anything green.  So, when I peel veggies, now I save the peels for our “babies.”

Abilene and Snickers have very different personalities.  Snickers is pretty quiet and meek.  It took her the longest to actually trust us, but now she is the one who doesn’t mind being held and petted.  Abilene is the dominant one of the two–bigger and more aggressive.  Her biggest thing is eating–food will get you far with Abilene.  She really doesn’t like to be held–she is quite squirmy and hard to hold on to, so I hold her while the kids hold Snickers.  At least for now.

All of the Prairie Family kids love those little pigs, and they have been a good addition.  They are interesting to watch and fun to play with.  John has been good about taking care of them, which is a good lesson in responsibility for him.  I have been most surprised at Brock–he is really attached to those little things and talks to them so nicely.  He’s quite the softy, I guess!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Guinea Pig Update
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Summer Picnics

Each week this summer, I am trying to take the kids on a picnic lunch.  It has been unusually cold and wet here for the last several weeks, so our picnics have been “interesting.”  We finally had a nice day today for our weekly picnic.  It rained quite a bit last night, so the parks were muddy.  So, we decided to just enjoy our sandwiches in a nice area outside of Dan’s office.  It was a nearly perfect day: little wind, warm (but not hot) temperatures, and nice sunshine.

This is another summer tradition that we are going to continue with.  It is another source of low-tech, low-cost fun.

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