April 30, 2006

Compassion Sunday

We sponsor a child in India. It costs 32$ a month to send him to school and provide a meal each day for him. Twice a year, they also allow you to send 15$ as a birthday or Christmas gift. To an American child, 15$ for Christmas or Birthday would seem like a joke; but to these children it is a miracle. Sudharson is my little boy's name, and he looks like my son, only with a little darker skin. I hope I get to hug him one day!

I was so afraid after the tsunami hit that Sudharson had been killed. I called Compassion and at first, they were unable to locate the children because of widespread damage. They confirmed that his village had been hit. His family and he were spared from harm, thankfully; and so was the project/school where they care for the children. I have been writing him for a few years now... and I enjoy getting his letters. They are so refreshing. My children now write him also. He calls them his brother and sister, and he calls me his Aunty. I have told him that I hope to meet him one day, and that as soon as we pay all our debts off, we will try and come across the ocean to see him face to face. He once wrote and told me that he was not sure I would like to come to his house, because it was very small. I assured him that I did not care what his house looked like, but that I still wanted to see him very much. I would like to share a letter from him that I got a few months ago:


Dear Uncle and Aunty,

Greetings! Received your loving letter, beautiful pictures, and points about Thanksgiving Day. You are all looking beautiful in the picture. Thank you for writing to me in detail about Thanksgiving Day. You had written me that one day we will meet together. If I happen to meet you by God's grace I will be the happiest person. I received a set of color clothing from your gift money. I wore it on the project Christmas function, and on the day of the function, I received a cake box, food packet, and bucket as gifts. Thank you very much for your love. I pray to God that you will come out of your debts. Loving New Year Greetings to You.

Your loving son,

I hope that through Sudharson's story, you will be touched to reach out to another child just like him - a child who is bound by poverty and circumstance, and one who is asking for just a little help from those with enough to share.

Compassion has an annual event they call "Compassion Sunday" (TODAY) where they do a drive to gather sponsors and match them to children who are waiting. They even allow you to pick the country, age, and gender of your sponsored child (and you can see photos on their website if you want)! They will send you updates on your child each year with photos and involve translators to help you correspond until your child is able to write you on their own. You can view a flash animated presentation about the "day in the life" of a Compassion Child if you are interested in what kind of children are being sponsored. Here is what Compassion sent me in my email box:

"April 30 is Compassion Sunday -- a day when sponsors, pastors, and people who care about impoverished children will speak up in congregations all across the United States. We are asking God for 21,000 child sponsors through this event this year. Last year, nearly 17,000 children found sponsors on Compassion Sunday!"

Won't you please consider sponsoring a child?

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*Graphic by Steven Wyandt

April 28, 2006

Small Victory for the Secret Magazine Police

OK, I'll admit it. I HATE all the skin being shoved in my face 24/7. I don't go to see movies hardly at all anymore because most movies are just an excuse to show a lot of "T & A" as my husband calls it. I don't care to see every 16 year old's navel or butt cheeks (peeking out under their non-existent shorts) in the mall. I don't think my little boy needs to, either. I shake my head in wonder at what parents let their teenagers put on these days (or the lack of what they put on). I mean, WHO is the parent? Who is in control? WHAT are they thinking?

Last year, we saw two teenage girls, half naked, briskly walking through the mall with a little infant in tow. The little girl was barely old enough to walk (poor thing), and the mother was practically dragging the child along as it's little bare feet rushed to hurry and keep pace with her. When she stumbled, her uncaring mother scolded her - "how DARE she inconvenience her and slow her down?!" No baby could walk as fast as she was wanting her to move. It looked as if the teen would pull her baby's arm right out of it's tiny socket. I felt so awful for that child. I also felt awful for the teenager. What a sad life that her mother and father had not taught her better than to run off and jump in the sack with the first boy who took her parking.... And why would they let her "park" with some kid anyway? She couldn't have been more than 16.

Oh, my heart aches for the young teenagers of this world. With images of nudity and sex surrounding them from such a young age.... even their Barbie's and "BRATZ" look like hookers (yet I've even seen grandparents buying these trashy toys for their elementary age granddaughters). What kind of women will these kids grow up to be if they think you have to be half naked, lacquer yourself with "face-paint" and wear a size "00" to win a man's heart? Let us just imagine for one second the full gravity of where this slippery road could lead... OUR DAUGHTERS on a stripper's pole or "knocked up" or working tricks downtown for cash. Is that what we want for our little girls' futures? Is that how we want our grandkids to enter the world? Unplanned, un-wanted, or worse... terminated?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves, so I usually go up to the counters every time I go to the grocery store and turn the magazines around if they have too much skin showing (I'm not talking about arms and even a little bit of leg). Especially in the summer, the magazines start getting tackier and tackier. For the past six months, the grocery store nearest to me has been my main target. The REALLY bad magazines with string bikinis and inappropriate cleavage on the front cover end up shoved way under the racks on the floor. No one needs to see that trash, right? They can build another room and label it "Porno Shop" if they want to sell that trash. It should NOT be at eye-level for my elementary age kids to see. I have been known to do these kinds of things in book stores as well.

Tonight all my hard work paid off (or at least that's how I felt). I had a small victory that I thought I would share with you - in case you wanted to start harassing your own nearest grocery store. As we were checking out, I went up to a few stands and "re-arranged" their displays. I noticed that the Cosmo had a black plastic cover in front of it. I was shocked! Wow - a little modesty for a change. You could still BUY the magazine and SEE the name "Cosmo" up top... but the half naked chick was discreetly covered by black opaque plastic. Now, I call that a compromise! I don't know if it was me that helped prompt them to start using the plastic... but I'm sure glad I don't have to be the covert magazine police anymore (at least not for the "Cosmo" Magazine). Now if only they could get a few covers on the rest of them!

If you want other ideas for helping curb the sex-assault on our kids, you can also WRITE to your local grocery store chains, convenience store chains, book stores, and other stores that carry large magazine displays (which you deem to be tacky). I have written to quite a few stores in the past also (note to self - need to do this again). Ask them to put the magazines which show an inappropriate amount of skin for children to see up high and out of reach. Ask them to please cover them with plastic except for the name on the top of the magazine's cover. Tell them thank you for protecting the innocence of America's children! Be sure to let them know that you appreciate it when they comply. Give them some good advertisement as a reward. If they give you trouble, then get involved in politics. Boycott them. Rearrange their displays. Give them bad publicity. Start a petition. Get involved in the primary elections when you have the chance to join up and help set issues in motion. Write your local representatives. You can make a difference!

Just think about it. If we all do a little of this... and the magazines start loosing profit... maybe they will clean up their act also (keeping the covers clean and hopefully the contents as well)! If everyone acts on their conscience and gets involved in the fight, the message we could send to Hollywood, Magazine Editors, and Billboard Companies could rock the world and help set it right (at least on this one issue). Apathy is our only enemy. Jesus promises that the gates of Hell can not stand against us when we pray and act in His Name.

This issue is apparently not just a local one. Look at what people are saying across the pond: BBC News

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Links to Check Out

I've been enjoying the sunshine up here and these wonderful 60-low 70 degree breezes. Yesterday we picked strawberries and had home-made strawberry shortcake with my friend Lori. It has been hard to stick to a school schedule with the best of Spring's weather beckoning outside. Next week we're going to try and get our field trip in to go camp for the night and see the stars through a huge telescope. The following week is the Texas Arlington Book Fair. I emailed the McCords who put on the event every year, and asked them out of curiosity how many homeschoolers they average at the event. Her answer?

About 4,200 adults and 1,800 kids.

That's a lot of homeschoolers! No wonder they are willing to shut the park down at Six Flags to accommodate the homeschool families! Some are even from out of state. I wonder what the biggest homeschool event is in the nation? I bet this one is close to being IT.

I'm not feeling like sitting here to type today.... Kevin is off and we're on our way to eat breakfast out for a change. He changed his days so we could get a Saturday off this week and we're excited to have some time with Daddy. I'll leave you with these links I typed up earlier this week to share:


I've been meaning to read Christine Miller's Blog because she has a great Beating Homeschool Burnout series. Go check that out if you are like me and have the Spring Playing Hookies!

If you are interested in an awesome story of triumph for a seriously wounded soldier and a testimony to his mother's love.... Alan's Angels is the story for you. Alan's complete story (worth the thirty minutes it takes to read it) at the Washington Post article which is linked on his site. Be prepared (you'll need a box of tissue).

I can't remember if I've posted this link before, but I certainly needed to read this article again: Am I Really Supposed to be Homeschooling? by Crosswalk.

Dana over at Principled Discovery invited me to join HomeschoolschoolBuzz.com's Blog Watch, and I checked their site out earlier this week. They have a lot of talented bloggers that are being piped into their main page! Thanks, Dana!

Since I've been neglecting my food blog for so long, I thought I'd make it up to my friend Meena at Hooked on Heat and link her blog here as well. I love Indian Food, and she has a lot of very interesting recipes. She just moved her site and re-did her template, and it looks great. All her old recipes from the last site are probably linked somewhere! I'm going to link her on my other blog when I get time to sit and type out the recipe stack I have waiting to be posted! Headmistress, zookeeper at The Common Room has tagged me (ever so long ago), to fill out a kitchen meme. I'm working on getting to this, but I think I'll put the answers on Gathering Manna! Check there early next week and maybe I'll be posting there again!

Here's a neat link I've been wanting to explore myself, but have not had time yet. I thought I would share it with you all: MSN Kids and Money

Resolution Check! How have your plans to exercise and loose weight turned out so far for your January '06 Resolutions? It's nearly half way through the year and most people are loosing steam. Here's an article to help you get your exercise goals back on the jogging trail: The Best Time to Do Everything by Prevention.com

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April 27, 2006

A Letter to Anne Rice - by Morgan (age 7)

We were talking about how God changes people, and I used Anne Rice as an example. Anne is an author of many books (and has a real talent for writing with wonderful detail)... although, in the past, her writing has been jaded by the "dark side" (we use a lot of Star Wars analogies in this family). I used to read all of her books before I became a Christian, and had to give them up when we became followers of Christ. I was as shocked as anyone else when I heard the news last year that she had publicly claimed to have given her life to the Lord and vowed to write "for Him" from now on.

This from Newsweek Online (Oct. 31, 2005):

"For the last six months," she says, "people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'." We'll know soon. In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord." It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" announced that he'd been born again.

Her new book "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" already has been a best seller, and the Christian crowds are welcoming her with open arms, although some are choosing to test her newest novel against the scriptures (which is always a good idea - with ANY book).

Basically, I explained to Morgan that while Anne used to write about Vampires, now she writes about Jesus... and that is part of the miracle of what God does for you - He changes your focus and makes you a better person. Sometimes it happens slowly, and other times it happens quickly... but if God is truly "on your insides", you are bound to keep growing in the right direction. I welcome Anne Rice's heart-change and pray that God keep her protected from the enemy (who would probably rather keep her writing books about creatures of the dark and ungodly deeds). I pray that each day, she is given new insight and truth into God's Word and will for her life.... and that He makes her path straight. That is all we can pray for any person who was once lost and is now saved (like we all were/are at one time). We pray for the conversion to be real, for the Lord to clean and make new, and for their name to be found in the Lamb's Book of Life.

After our discussion, we went about our daily business and later that night, my seven year old daughter brought me a letter she had written in her own free time - TO ANNE RICE. I didn't ask her to write it, and never imagined such a thing! It made reading it all that much sweeter. I love to see that my little girl has a heart for others.

Here's Morgan's letter:

Dear Anne Rice,

Hello, my name is Morgan. My mommy and Daddy want to get your book about Jesus! I am a Christian :) I am glad you are a Christian too :) I have a kitty named Minga, she is very bratty. I am seven in case you ever thought I was grown up :) I homeschool and do KONOS :) Do you like cats? I do! My second favorite animal is a Horse. 1st err, Cat. Is your hair short? Mine is. Is it pretty where you live? What is your favorite animal? Where do you live? What is your favorite food? Mine is a Baked Potatoe. I live in Texas. Wellll I used to, but now I live in ARKANSAS and we live in a dull apartment and we used to be in a house. Please wright back. Bye Bye.
... and by the way I know you are going to choose to wright back :)
My Daddy blushed when I read this letter out loud :) Haha!

Love, Morgan

(she drew a cat and a horses face on the letter also)

I hope you won't forward this to Anne just yet (if you happen to know her). I'm planning on mailing it this week, after I look up her address. If Morgan does get a reply, I'll post it on the blog.

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April 26, 2006

Ode to Pug

The sun rose slowly, like a fiery furball coughed up uneasily onto a sky-blue carpet by a giant unseen cat. - Michael McGarel


One year ago today, I lost my best furry friend in the whole wide world. He was my fur child; my fuzzy angel… my “precious”... My Pug. Pug was a Maine Coon Mix. We found his mother as a kitten, hiding under an office building where my husband (then boyfriend) worked. His co-workers planned to exterminate that week, and we wanted to save them. I was able to coax the kittens out for a brief moment with my tricky “mama cat noise”… just long enough to grab one of the fluff-balls. I was moving (fancy that!) during the first few weeks after we caught her, so we let her stay at my husband’s mom’s house for a while. Somehow, she ended up staying there and was not returned to us. Whatever anger I might have had over having my kitten stolen was soon forgotten – once I looked into the eyes of the cat of my dreams: her cutest kitten, Pug. Kevin’s mom gave him to us as a return gift for his mama. Pug had two sisters and one brother. Oliver, the grey and white striped tabby (pretty rare coloring) who was short-haired… and the two black short haired sister-cats. All of them were given away. I have no idea what became of them. After having Pug, his mother ran away from my mother-in-law’s house. We never saw her again.


Pug was the only long-haired kitten from his litter. He curled up in my hands on our way home with him and slept with his belly in the air. He was so cute, that even people who didn’t like cats wanted to pet him. He had big funny paws (like most Maine Coons) that looked too big for him. He liked to talk to you in broken Cat-English, and he loved riding in the car. Pug was our first child. We doted on him. We would pin his furry paw to the pillow until he tired of fighting and fell asleep with us. After doing this a few weeks, he became a teddy bear and slept with me every night for nearly 12 years. He would have turned 12 in October of 2005.


Through the years, Pug gave us smiles. We have fun memories of him climbing the fake Christmas tree his first year and it snapping in half… him dangling from the top with the tree sideways… and climbing into the tree the second year only to bat off every ornament and snatch up all the swirly glitter wands to chew on them inside the tree. He was a good friend, a funny companion… and a mischievous trouble maker. He purred my babies to sleep while I was pregnant with them. He helped me do paperwork and lesson plans (by lying on my papers and chasing my wadded up receipts). He kept me company any time I sat on the floor or napped in the bed (allowing me to use him as an arm muff – my arm neatly between his legs all the way down his belly while he slept).


Pug was always entertaining. He took first place in everyone’s lap when we had visitors (even the dog people loved him). He brought me splendid gifts (geckos, lizards, birds…) and kept the pests down (he ate bugs and spiders!). If you told him to catch the bug, he would look for one and meow until he found it! He only once swatted and scratched the kids (and after being reprimanded, never did it again). He kept us entertained long hours by letting us swing him around in plastic grocery sacks (his idea of course) and squishing himself into tiny boxes so the kids could push him around on the floor. He liked to run and jump on our rocking ottoman so it would rock him. He was a blanket lover. We had a blanket we all fought over because it was Pug’s “magic blanket” and whoever had it would always get a visit from the sleepy kitty. I could roll him up like a taco in a blanket and leave him just a hole to peep out of and he would lie on the bed like that for half a day!


Pug also knew when you were down. He came to check on you if you cried. He followed you around like a puppy. He usually always came when you called him. He was a people cat. He really thought he was one of the family… and we thought he was too. We liked to say he was “high maintenance” because he wanted running water from the sink rather than a water dish, and he was WAY to good for "people food" (unless you gave him a little piece of black olive). He would wait patiently for you to turn the water on for him in the bathroom. He liked to sit with you if you were in the restroom or taking a shower, too. He just liked to be around us all the time.


We were having a pretty rough year last year trying to sell the house while my husband was commuting for eight months over 300 miles to work each week (living in another city for the week, and coming home on weekends). It took eight months to sell the house, and during that time, I allowed the kids to get a kitten of their own while Daddy was gone so much. We got Twitchet in March, and Pug tolerated him OK. Pug was old and slow (my favorite kind of cat), and Twitchet was playful and slept with my kids most of the time. On April 26th, 2005, I got the dreaded phone call from my neighbor across the street. At 7:00am my neighbor called to tell me that my cat was dead in the lady-across-the-street's front yard. Sure enough, it was Pug. He was like a child to me, for almost 12 years... (we got him the year we got married). There have been a river of tears shed since my "Squirrelly-Man" died. Morgan offered to give me her kitty (Twitchet) to make me feel better (isn’t that sweet?). I told her that I was really sad about Pug, but I was really GLAD it wasn’t Kaden or her on the driveway! That all happened right before the Homeschool book fair last year. My friends came by to offer condolences and chocolate the day Pug died.


I was glad I allowed the kids to get Twitchet. Since Twitchet was the children’s cat, Kevin thought he would get me another kitten to help me get over my loss a month later. I grieved for my Pug, still. We picked up a tiny baby girl kitten at the kill-shelter downtown. Soon, we found that she was very sick. We decided to give Twitchet back to his original owner when we discovered how sick our new kitten, Minga was. It took a lot of time, prayers, medicine and money, but we nursed her back to health (she is the kitten we have today).


On Pug’s last day with us, we were laughing at he and Twitchet because Pug was sitting on the seat of our little antique school desk and Twitchet was inside the cubby hole for books under him, playing with his tail. He kept popping Pug gently to get Pug to play, and Pug would continually slap him back into the hole without making a sound (looking as if he was just a put-out grown-up with a pesky kid to deal with). The kids giggled their hearts out because it went on for quite a while. I think Pug actually was growing to be used to the little orange guy. I felt so horrible about his death the day it happened, though – because his last night was a Monday, and I could not find him when I went to go sit down on the couch to watch “24”. I only watched one show a week, and that was it. Pug liked to sit in my lap and let me pet him while I was on the couch. While I was watching the show, I let the kitten get in my lap. Moments later, Pug walked over and tried to get on the couch and saw him… thus walking away indignant. He cried to get outside not long after, and as USUAL, I let him out for his last run around for the night… but I forgot to open the garage door a bit. I felt so guilty that maybe if I had left that door cracked, he could have gotten away from the dog that probably got him (or car). He probably slept under the neighbor’s car that night. I felt pretty responsible that he didn’t make it, and so awful that our last moment together was of him mad at me for letting the kitten sit on the couch with me.

I can only hope that one day, I’ll get to see my lizard-catching, best 4-legged friend when we all get to Zion. I’m sure there can’t be heaven without cats. I know that God created Mr. Pug just for me (and all the other lives he graced). The twelve years we had together were wonderful… and he is a hard act to follow. There will always be a Pug-shaped hole in my heart. I hope that all of you cat lovers out there can have a kitty as wonderful as my man-cat was. He was the sweetest “furry aminal” I’ve ever met. I bet he’s curled up on God’s magic blanket in the sky right now… and has an endless flowing river of running water at his disposal. I hope our paths cross again. Until then, my friend – I love you, and I’ll see you on the other side!


What is a Cat?
Gentle eyes
that see so much,
paws that have
the quiet touch.

Purrs to signal
"all is well"
and show more love
than words can tell.

Graceful movements
touched with pride,
a calming presence
by our side.

A friendship
that will last and grow -
small wonder
why we love them so.

Author Unknown

"After scolding one's cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference."
- Charlotte Gray

April 25, 2006

Solar System Unit Fun


Post Updated 5/31/06! - added one link and the photo of our ceiling solar system!
Post Updated 6/21/06! - added one link!

I thought I would share a few of our outer space links with you from the Solar System Unit we did recently. There are a great many books we checked out from the library as well. The one I enjoyed the most was:

"The Planets in our Solar System" by Franklyn M. Branley (he had another one that covered the moon phases as well that was also great).

This book had a bunch of projects included that are really neat. We created our solar system "model" out of paper by tracing the lines provided in the book (and then the children colored it by looking at photos from other books of what each planet might look like). We still have not finally hung them in order by distance before we left for vacation (the book gives the exact calculations to scale) from the ceiling (photo below).


Another great book which we have in our library for the Solar System Unit is: "364 More Simple Science Experiments (using everyday materials)" by Richard Churchhill, Louis V. Loeschnig, and Muriel Mandell. They include a great many experiments on gravity and many other interesting space-related fun - such as: Make a Balloon Rocket, Astronomical White Asteroids, Blue Moon Rocks, Telling Time by the Moon, Clocks, Star projects and Sundials galore!


In addition to great books, the children's co-op "Solar System Play", a field trip to see the IMAX "Man on the Moon", and enjoying our Konos lessons about Galileo and Newton... we also enjoyed these links:



We hope you have an Outer Space Unit that is out of this world!

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April 23, 2006

Friction, Action and Reaction Unit Fun

I got an email from another Konos mom requesting information on one of the units we did this school year, so I thought I would share my reply to her here. The Friction and Action/Reaction Unit is part of the KONOS Curriculum we use, and is found in the Volume 1 Yellow Book under "Obedience". Man, it seems like we have been in Volume 1 for eternity. I'm looking forward to finally finishing it next year and moving on to Volume 2 or 3.

The Friction-Action/Reaction Unit was supposed to be short. I think the suggested time was one week, but we NEVER finish anything in the suggested time frame. We have other added curriculums and distractions that we have to factor in (and I'm ADD and tend to follow rabbit trails), so we usually are between two and four times slower than the suggested time frame on any given unit. My kids still LOVE the Konos way of learning and we won't give it up (as slow and tedious as we tend to make it).

We did this unit close to the beginning of the school year. It was about 2 weeks for us. We did these things during the unit:


  • Drew a picture of an object experiencing Friction (in Konos book)

  • Played tug of war

  • Practiced resisting gravity (sit ups)

  • Watched a documentary on how ships move ice burgs in the sea so that they don’t cause ship-wrecks

  • Did vocabulary crosswords (created them using Konos words online)

  • Read some books on friction/heat from library

  • Discussed behavioral “friction” and how our actions effect others

  • Talked about behavioral “lubrication” through God’s Word and the fruits of His Spirit

  • Learned about lubricants (played 20 questions with lubricant in mind)

  • Did an inertia experiment with a rock and a piece of paper

  • Tried to hold on to a glass jar with soapy wet hands

  • Guessed the sources of different oils

  • Did the paper-clip & string experiment with incline (also in Konos book)

  • Jumped on a mini trampoline and talked about how we can use friction to help build our muscles

  • Struck a match & discussed

  • Learned the formula… force= speed x mass

  • Rubbed our hands together to produce heat

  • Talked about what kind of friction stops vehicles so we don’t crash when we get going fast.

We had plans to slide down a slide with different substances (wax paper, foil, sandpaper, etc), but never did that. We usually have a few projects and field trips that are on our list that we never get to. I keep a "Leftover" list so that we can re-visit those things we really wanted to do and never got the chance to finish. Hopefully we can do those things when we have free time in the summer... or maybe do them the next time we do the unit when they are older.

Recently, my son was playing with magnetics and he made a spinning object that spins "almost forever” on one of the magnetic balls. His daddy discussed with him the reason it will spin for so long: because of Newton’s law that says an object will stay in motion unless acted upon by a force (friction and resistance) – and he discussed how there is little friction resisting the object’s spin. That was just this week!

Upon doing a search on the internet, I also came up with these interesting sites that you could check out when planning this unit:


Have fun learning about friction-action/reaction!

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Arkansas/Minnesota/New Jersey Art Contest!

This just in my email box:

Join us in Celebrating and Recognizing the Creativity of Children in Your State!
The "Crayola Art of Childhood" exhibition is coming to your state and your student's or child's artwork could be one of the pieces on display at the Arkansas, Minnesota and New Jersey State Fairs. Juried artworks will be exhibited and first, second and third place prizes will be awarded to children in grades K-2, 3-4 and 5-6.

The call for entries is open now through June 10, 2006. Go to Crayola.com/statefair to learn more about entering your children's artwork into "The Crayola Art of Childhood" contest.

Colorfully yours,
The Crayola.com Team

April 22, 2006

Mrs. Grumpy Pants

Not sure if this is PMS (People-eating Monster Syndrome), or just a case of the "woe is me"s... but I just really am in an awful mood. I know that I don't have any reason to be... and that God is good. I really need a heart-cleaning right about now.

This week ended up being mostly time-off, and I feel like I haven't gotten anything accomplished. Oh, sure... we cooked dinner for a friend, met our co-op moms for a play date, got a few worksheets done, cleaned the house, picked up Daddy's truck that is finally fixed, took photos at an old local park blooming full of azeleas, and spent a few hours at a roller rink today for a birthday party.... but as for my lesson plans? Forget them. Our weeks run from Thursday through Monday (with most of Sunday off except for reading and Bible). So, this is my third day this week feeling like a homeschool flop. I thought I would come in and encourage you if you were feeling the same (it helps to know you aren't the only one struggling to get it all done).

Not only the lack of "directed schooling" this week, but I am antsy about our upcoming trip to Texas (wishing I was already on it), and I'm really having a bad attitude about being away from home in general. It doesn't help that one of my cousins got married today and the whole family was together in one spot - gathered together from all over the Lone Star State. I couldn't be there to see everyone. I go through phases with missing home (sometimes more than one in a day), and today's phase is not a happy one. I asked the apartments today if they had a three bedroom available (since it's not way-too much more money), and how much month-to-month would cost when our lease comes up for renewal pretty soon. I'm leaning towards just staying here in my two-bedroom... and trying to have a good attitude about it. The hot ("Texas") weather and sunshine today just made me angry... like a kid stomping their feet with their bottom lip stuck out in a pout. I guess it's a good thing today that I have no extra money in the account to head for the border. It was God's way of keeping me from wasting it.

So, please excuse me for my lack of sparkle today... and for being so grumpy. Maybe I should get out of bed (I took a nap after our roller rink trip today because the kids were tired and cranky, too)... and clean up the apartment so I can sit down in front of my Bible and catch an "attitude check". Sure couldn't hurt. Then I'll get out my lesson planner and try and re-claim the last two days of the week. Or maybe I'll just call it "Spring Break" and get caught up on grading papers. Who knows? I know that staying in this pity pot is not where I need to be.

Hope your day is going well! 18.5 days until the Arlington Book Fair (note the new ticker at the bottom of the browser)! I can't wait!

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April 21, 2006

Field Trip Foto Friday: Magic Time Machine

Mommy and Morgan in the "Elvis Booth" on Mommy's Birthday

It's been a while since we did Field Trip Foto Friday, so I thought I would post one from our Field Trip list for 2003-4. You can view other field trip Fotos from our collection by searching our archives in the Blogger box up on the left hand side of the screen, or in the Technorati Search box in my lower left-hand "sidebar" column. Just type in "Foto" and see what comes up. I'm planning to go through as many of the 2003-4 field trips as I can find a presentable "Foto" for.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This isn't as educational as most of my other field trips, but my kids really enjoyed this restaurant. The Magic Time Machine we went to is in Addison, Texas. First time visitors are in for a real treat (but make sure you scope out where the bathroom is before you sit down). The restaurant is huge and sectioned into tables with themes: the "Spanish Hide-A-Way", the "Jail Cell", the "Mine Shaft", a crayon encased table, an Elvis table, a jungle hut, and many more! The salad bar is served out of a MG Roadster... and best of all, the waitresses and waiters are all in costume - such as... "Catwoman", "Batman", "Robin Hood", "Shaggy", "Peter Pan", "Cinderella" and the like.

Aside from a few nasty menu names (I would suggest you order for your kids that can read), the restaurant is mostly family friendly (yet rather pricey). My children's favorite thing on the menu are their wonderful smoking drinks (dry ice, maybe?). I think the one they got was called "Ugly Potion" and it was an awful boogary green-ish grey color. They have an assortment of interesting smoking drink "potions" for you to try. We also enjoyed balloons and watching everyone's waiters make them laugh. My son needed desperately to use the restroom in the middle of our visit and Robin Hood escorted him to the restroom (with Daddy following close behind). The waiter mercilessly yelled out at the top of his voice, "MAKE WAY! THIS CHAP HAS TO PEE!!!!" in a superb British Accent. Kaden was mortified. He asked his Daddy, "Does he HAVE to say it that loud???" Kevin told me that once; he went there as a teenager and someone took him around the restaurant with a whistle yelling "Potty Patrol!!!"

Over the years the characters and food may have changed... and a few more interesting cubby-holes may have crept up to dine in... but the fun spirit of the place has remained all these years (since the 1970's). Who says you can't be a kid even when you are grown up? Hopefully the Magic Time Machine will stay in business many, many more years to entertain and amuse.

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April 20, 2006


"If only I could go outside."

I'm a cat lover... but have rarely posted about my cat here at Sprittibee. I thought I would put a picture of her here that I've taken lately as a token for my Catblogging blogroll. I'm surprised they haven't kicked me off since I don't usually talk about her - or cats in general. But that doesn't mean we don't have a bunch of fun with her every day... and if you've read my previous posts (about how I love to squish furry animals), you probably can guess that my cat sometimes wishes for death. Just kidding... she tolerates us most times. There's always the bed to hide under when we get out of hand.

My kitty's name is Minga. The other cat in my sidebar is my sweetheart Pug. I haven't yet been able to post about Pug (my 12 year old cat that died last April). Next week would be the year anniversary of his demise in Texas. We got Minga on Mother's Day last year, so she is still a kitten for the most part. I am glad she is finally calming down a bit. I much prefer a lap cat to a crazy kitten.

Because we are now in an apartment, and don't have a house yet... we don't let her go outside. Some mean people below me like to set traps for cats (even in the below freezing weather when they could freeze to death), so I always spring the trap if I see it out. Any cat outside is at risk around here. So it is that poor Minga can not explore her surroundings - even with Spring buzzing and blooming all around outside. She spends most of her time in the windowsill, looking forlorn... or trying to catch carpenter bees (who have burrowed holes into our window sill and enjoy flying right next to the glass, looking in). It is a sad sight to see her pine for the outdoors all day. When she's not inside, looking out... she's usually upside down and way up. Her other favorite perch is on top of the bookcases in our dining room. While we eat, she turns herself upside down and hangs between them to get attention (I'm still trying to get a good photo of this trick to post here, but the one below is a blurry version of it)... or she naps up there to pass the time away between window sittings.

Check out the Carnival of the Cats by clicking the title of this post!

Bat Kitty

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April 19, 2006

Priorities and Politics

I happened to be drawn in to Wizbang's BlogAd today (furry cute rodent alert), and was glad I stopped in. There were two articles there worth reading (probably more, but my time was limited) this morning that I thought I would share with you. I don't post about politics that often because it really is a blood-boiler for not only me, but most of humanity as well. I would rather not argue or get worked up about it. I just do what I can to VOTE and VOICE my opinions to my lawmakers and other man-governed powers that be. And best of all... I pray. I think that Cynthia Dunbar of Texas is just such an answered (political) prayer that many homeschoolers and conservative (Christian) parents are thanking God for. Prayer works! God IS still in control - even of politics.

OK... so here are the articles and my notes:

First of all, there's the Testing issue.

Quote from Wizbang:
With the federal government's permission, schools aren't counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report progress by racial groups, an Associated Press computer analysis found.

Minorities - who historically haven't fared as well as whites in testing - make up the vast majority of students whose scores are being excluded, AP found. And the numbers have been rising.

Seems to me that the priority is on tests and not children. All the schools care about is federal money. That's why they worry about homeschoolers and want to get in everyone's business. It isn't because they are concerned for your kids.

...and then there's the latest on Cindy Sheehan. (commence eye-rolling)

Quote from Wizbang:

Nearly two years after his tragic death in Iraq, Casey Sheehan's mom Cindy is blaming others for the fact that his grave site is unmarked after all this time.

...Two years later and there's still no permanent headstone, because Cindy's too busy cuddling up to the likes of Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, and Hugo Chavez, though she still has time to pose for pictures on Casey's grave site.
Seems to me that the priority is on fame and pity, rather than honor for her kid. She gave him up to his father in a divorce, and now is giving up a second son in a second divorce. I think Cindy only cares about Cindy. Let her waller in the limelight. I only wonder what her boy would do if he were here to see this himself. Probably tell her to go home and take care of his brother.

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April 18, 2006

Season Unit Lesson Plans (...and Plague Reviews?)

I joined a lesson plan blogroll upon invitation from another homeschool blogger (see sidebar for links to the other participants), and I decided that maybe if I post today's plans, I might get more done. Accountability helps us ADD Moms, you know. *grin* So please review my day's lesson plans below and get a glimpse into a KONOS family's daily educational goals!

As a completely un-related (ADD Moment) side-item, my Konos friend Jennifer emailed me this morning with a VERY FUNNY review of the wonderful "Bag of Plagues" that I discussed before Easter. It only made me want to buy them more! I just have to have that cow! As a mad animal-squishing freak, I love anything that borders on extreme cuteness (fluffy rodents and kittens beware). My friend Teresa keeps inviting me over to see her little yellow chicks - she does this without knowing their peril. Just one look at their feathered fuzz and that evil gleam in my eyes threatens to throw me into "squish-mode". No, really... I just love to pet and hold little cute animals. DISCLAIMER: NO ANIMALS have ever been harmed by me intentionally. Although my cat might disagree after the children's benadryl episode (foaming at the mouth is no fun - even less is having bubble gum liquid shot down your throat with a medicine injector and coating your scratchy little cat tongue, I'm sure). I hope the cat has forgotten this event! I sure haven't (nor the 75$ vet bill for the advice to use over the counter medicines).

OK, back on topic... here are my lesson plans for today (I started out thinking I was going to type up a week's worth and just today's killed me... so maybe I'll come back and do a week some other time when I have more time!):

Tuesday's Lesson Plans:

1. Kaden does his vocabulary for KONOS for this week (Morgan did this yesterday). Write the words and look up the definitions on dictionary.com (since our dictionary is in storage in Texas). Write a paraphrased definition under each word on his notebook paper.

This week's words are:

(this week's words are a cake-walk! Morgan looked at me in disbelief that they were so easy.)

2. Look up three poems and read them from the internet: "The Last Word of a Bluebird" by R. Frost, "Spring" by William Blake and "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" - also by Frost.

3. Bible Drill (each kid races to find the scripture while being timed)/Read the Memory Verse for Konos.

This week's Memory Verse is: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (only verse 1 is what they write)

A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

4. Visualize World Geography (has nothing to do with Konos - this is an added program we use). Listen to the jingles CD with all the South American Countries and Capital City names. Review South American countries, capitals and flags (use the Interactive Map link).

5. KONOS Activities from Volume 1, pages 195, 196 and 197 as part of the Seasons Unit in the Orderliness Character Trait.

Paraphrased activities for today are:

pg 195 c) Measure a circle, learn that it has 360 degrees. How much is 1/2 of 360? (180). 1/4 of 360? (90). An 1/8th of 360? (45). Learn that it is true no matter how large the circle is. Learn that the Earth is 25,000 miles around and that is 360 degrees. Work a problem out that gives the answer to what 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 of 360 is. Find out where you would end up on the globe if you traveled 180 degrees from where you live. Learn that because the earth is a circle and we have 24 hours in a day, the earth is divided into 15 degrees for each hour... therefore it takes one hour to travel each 15 degrees.

pg 196 d) Answer following questions:
- Look at an atlas and find longitude of our town.
- What time is it in your town?
- What time is it 15 degrees East?
- What time is it on the other side of the US?
- What time is it in Dehli, India?
- What time is it in Sydney, Australia?
- What time is it in Hong Kong?

pg 196 e) Study US Time zones. I'll probably come up with a worksheet from the internet for them to color on this - maybe Enchanted Learning?

pg 196 f) Read about the Daylight Savings Time (Standard Time Act of 1917). Ask the kids if they agree or disagree and why?

pg 196 g) Look at an airline timetable in a travel agency. Pretend you are flying to London. If you left right now, what time would you get there? How would you feel? Why? Explain "jet lag". Learn the formula for how much rest time you will need when traveling long distances to recover from jet lag:

Travel time (over 2) + Number of Zones (over 4) + Departure Time Number + Arrival Time Number X 2.4 = Hours of Rest Needed

p 197 h) Use an airline time table. "Fly" to your favorite destination and figure the hours of rest you will need when you arrive (from This Book About Time).

p 197 i) It is day or night when (question answer game):
- a lizard crawls under a rock? (day)
- crickets chirp? (night)
- raccoons hunt? (night)
- a rooster crows? (day)
- a hawk hunts? (day)
- a bee collects pollen? (day)
- a bat flies from its roost? (day - at sunset)

p 197 j) Let the kids sketch a picture with charcoal and ask the kids, "What time of day is it in your picture?" (I'm going to have to hunt for a piece of this since we have no fireplace!)

p 197 k) Why are there 7 days in a week? (Read Genesis 1)

6. Finish reading Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (we have about three chapters left)

7. Go to the library and do some free reading/book gathering while Mom looks up books on Mayan civilization (we're learning about the Mayan calendar and Roman calendar later this week). We have a late video to return that is going to cost me a small fortune (Schoolhouse Rock).

8. Go grocery shopping with Dad and Mom (Kevin is off today, so we'll probably shop with Daddy this week). Read Season-related Library books and a few off-topic library books in the car while we go shop and possibly look at a rental house.

9. Make Resurrection Cookies (we didn't have pecans the other day, so I couldn't make them on Easter) and read the resurrection account in the Bible (if we have time for this).

10. Prayer and Prayer Journals.

11. Chores

Before I leave your jaw gaping, I probably WON'T get to ALL of that today... but it is a goal and I've got it written down so that if there is a free moment ANYWHERE in the day, it can be used constructively. Also, if the kids finish a task and ask me "What's next?" I can tell them. Also, we aren't doing Math or Language worksheets today (because my Kaden takes forever to do them - they are his least favorite part of school), and because Daddy is home today.

Well, I better get to work! Have a great Tuesday!!!

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April 17, 2006

Easter Eggs and an All-Seasons Tree

All-Seasons Tree Craft
We went out hunting for sticks that had nice twigs to hang ornaments from and brought them back to our apartment. Then we cleaned them up and cut off any undesired branches and made sure they were about the same length. We put a blue piece of tissue paper into a vase and some rocks at the bottom to keep it steady, and stuck each one in to arrange the "tree". Now, as we study the seasons, we can hang an ornament on the tree for each season, each birthday for our family, and each holiday we learn about. This idea came from KONOS, but I have also had inspiration from two other sources that will inspire you. Check out LJC's Valentine Tree and Family Fun's Mother's Day Arrangement.


No Easter would be complete without dying eggs. This is really not a craft that you have to see to do... but I thought I would share our photos just for fun. The kids enjoyed doing an experiment with the options on the package. The brown eggs are ones we emptied and rinsed for another craft that we've not yet tackled.

eggdye06 egghollow06 eggpot06

Cup 1: 3 Tbsp Vinegar with Orange Tab.... Egg = Orange
Cup 2: 1 Tbsp Vinegar/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice with Yellow Tab.... Egg = Yellow
Cup 3: 1 Tbsp Vinegar/2 Tbsp Water with Red Tab... Egg = Bright Pink
Cup 4: 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice with Green Tab... Egg = Blue Green
Cup 5: 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice/2 Tbsp Water with Blue Tab... Egg = Pale Blue
Cup 6: 3 Tbsp Water with Purple Tab... Egg = Pink
Mix Cup 1 and 2 (yellow and orange mix)... Egg = Red (our favorite!)
Mix Cup 4 and 5 (blue and green)... Egg = Green
Mix Cup 3 and 6 (pink and purple)... Egg = Lavender-ish Pink
Mix Cup 1,2,3,6 (yellow, orange, pink and purple - made a BLACK liquid!)... Egg = Carnation Pink (our 2nd fave!)


Of course, the children weren't finished after the eggs were dyed (along with our finger-tips). They wanted to paint. So they did. Glitter everywhere! They put the eggs back in the refrigerator to scare daddy when he took them out to make scrambled eggs the next morning. We had them for lunch yesterday and made a colorful egg salad (the dye had leaked a bit through the egg shells in spots). Yum! The kids decided they don't like egg salad. Oh, well. I do! They will eat the rest of the eggs boiled with just a dash of salt and pepper, though. We love eggs.


April 16, 2006

Happy Resurrection Day!




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