May 31, 2006

Updated Post - Planet Unit & Blogsurfing

Wanted you all to know that I updated our planet post with a photo of the solar system we hung on the ceiling. It's not much, but the kids learned a lot from it. It was a paper model done to scale (comparing the sizes of the planets to each other) and hung on the ceiling to scale of the distances the planets are from each other and the sun. They did a great job coloring them also (teaching them what they look like as well). The photo is a little lacking, however... there's no way to get the entire set of planets in there when Pluto was in the living room and the inner solar system was over the dining table. In the picture, the children are standing on the table and it looks like Kaden is wearing a big glowing hat. Reminds me of the pope and a funny story that I'll have to share some other time. Please disregard my lack of photography skills and enjoy the photo. I also added a link to the links section that my husband sent me after he decided to find out if our model was correct (a site that allows you to interactively choose a planet and compare it to the sun by size). Pretty cool site, if you ask me. Enjoy!

I'm digging out from under a pile of paperwork (grading, record keeping, mail, bills, checkbook...), so I'm posting light tonight. Please forgive me. Below is your second peek at the new upgrade to my blog that will be unveiled June 8th.


I have also listed a few bloglinks to bloggie friends that you might enjoy (I did). Lots of other people have some funny and inspiring things to say out there in this blogosphere.

Hop on over and check out these priceless posts:

  • Beth at the the brew*crew adventure gives a list of famous homeschool students.

  • Headmistress Zookeeper at The Common Room did a fine job of posting this week's Homeschool Carnival.

  • The Terrible Speller has some suds-covered kids and it looks like they are having fun in their new kiddie pool.

  • The BEST MOVIE REVIEW EVER for the absolute WORST MOVIE EVER. Always fresh and funny at Nehring the Edge! I am so ashamed that I watched 3/4 of this flick! Hey, at least I wasn't a Christian back then. Don't judge me.

  • Cuteness alert: LJC's furry friends are eating watermelon. Yep, a CAT and a DOG eating watermelon. I didn't think this was possible either. Photographic evidence is here.

  • Glenn at Unite Later (Procrastinators of the World - Unite Later) has a funny Southern blogger post: "Freeze a Yankee". Sorry to my Northern pals!

  • My friend Cindy admits that she knows how to kill a person with a plastic creamer bottle and a key. Always a laugh to pick you up at Obstreperous Heart.

Those should keep you busy! Now I'll have time to grade more papers tomorrow.

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May 30, 2006

Cultivating Love at Home: The Flowers of Affection

I thought I would share something that has touched my heart. I'm still reading a few books at a time about homeschooling, homemaking, and Christian womanhood. I keep a few of them in the restroom and a few of them on the night stand... the only places I pause for a moment to read for myself (sorry if that's too personal). I love to read, but I don't have enough time to do personal reading for my tastes, and besides curriculum and lesson planning/personal Bible reading/Blog & news... I read about 5-10 minutes worth for 'ENJOYMENT' a day. I am planning to do a WHOLE LOT of 'enjoyment-reading' in August when we have a month off from school.

I loved these two pages of print so much that I read them to my kids for our devotional time yesterday. My son said, "That's really pretty, Mama." Then we discussed the imagery and message behind the text. Tonight my daughter came out of the bathroom carrying one of my "bathroom books" (having been inspired by yesterday's snip) telling me how much she loved it. I think Charlotte Mason is right - kids really thrive without "twaddle".

So here it is; the little morsel of wisdom that brightened my heart:

Have you brothers or sisters living anywhere in this great world? Have you allowed the friendship to grow cold or the ties to be forgotten? Have you permitted all intercourse to be broken off? Lose not a day till you have done the first thing, taken the first step, to gather up the shattered links and reunite them in a holy chain. If they are far away, write them in words of love. If they are within reach, go to them in person. If you are still living side by side in the old home, and if your life together has not been close, intimate, confiding and helpful, seek at once by all the wise arts of a loving heart to make it what it ought to be.

Then, no matter how plain, simple or old-fashioned your home may be, the sacred friendships beneath its roof will transfigure it all. Poverty is a light cross if there is love at home. Toil, hardships, care, sacrifice, and even sorrow affection twines over them as cold, bare, rugged rocks are changed into beauty when the wild vines wreath them all from every crevice and fill every black nook and fissure.

"Dear moss," said the thatch on an old ruin, "I am so worn, so patched, so ragged; really I am quite unsightly. I wish you would come and cheer me up a little; you will hide all my infirmities and defects, and through your loving sympathy, no finger of contempt or dislike will be pointed at me." "I come," said the moss; and it crept up and around and in and out, until every flaw was hidden and all was smooth and fair. Presently the sun shone out and the old thatch looked bright and fair, a picture of rare beauty in the golden rays. "How beautiful the thatch looks!" cried one who saw it. "How beautiful the thatch looks!" said another. "Ah!" said the old thatch, "rather let them say, 'How beautiful is the loving moss that spends itself in covering up all my faults, keeping the knowledge of them all to herself, and by her own grace making my age and poverty wear the garb of youth and luxuriance!'"
Is your home plain and bare? Must you meet hardships and endure toil? Have you cares and privations? Do you sigh for something finer, more beautiful, less hard? Call up love to wreathe itself over all of your home-life. Cultivate home friendships. Bind up the broken home ties. Plant the flowers of affection in every corner. Then soon all will be transfigured. You will forget care, hardships and toil, for they will be all hidden under lovely garments of affection. Your eye will see no more the homeliness, the hardness, the anxieties, the toils, but will be charmed with the luxuriance of love that shall cover every blemish.

- J. R. Miller ("Home-Making" - originally published in 1882, reprinted by the Vision Forum)

I don't think there needs to be a single word added to that, nor a book review done. I just can't find a thing bad to say about this book. I suggest it as a family devotional... there's something for everyone in the household and many snips of poetry and parables to help the reader apply the truths of a Christian way of "home-making" to their lives. God really deserves a lot of credit for making a home wonderful. I know He's made mine more wonderful (even with it's hardships and toil) than I could have ever imagined in a million years.

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May 29, 2006

Low Tech Lesson Plans

My printer is not working currently due to lack of money to buy ink, so I'm back to hand-written lesson plans for the next few weeks. It is nice when you have to manually write everything down. It reminds you how wonderful technology is, and helps you remember the things you need to get done better than you would if you had typed it. I type much faster than I can write... but something about writing triggers my brain to remember things.

We're doing a few things we never got done a long time before vacation, so in a way, I feel I'm behind... but we sure enjoyed the time off and everyone seems to be rejuvenated and ready to learn. I'm lowering my expectations on the lesson plan level so that we feel like we are accomplishing a lot each day. Encouragement is worth much to the kids in this area since I tend to overload us often. They see a checked off list as a major accomplishment after a year of REALLY long lists each day that never seemed to get done. I've noticed that they work faster and better when they see more progress, so I'm making the lists shorter and enjoying seeing them as busy as bees!

The house is clean and we've gotten a lot of school work done for our first day back, but I'm still in my jammies. Tomorrow is a park picnic day, and we'll do school afterwards. Kevin is still getting home at 8:30pm, so we usually do school until around 7 - when I have to start cooking. We don't start school until around 10 or 11 (depending on the day), since Kevin is home in the morning. Sometimes he'll take one or both kids walking or running in the morning. I haven't yet gotten over to the gym to try the pool out. Hopefully we can get a PE routine started so that I can work off those cookies I mentioned yesterday. I think my box of them will be gone by the end of the day (yum!).

We're going to do school until the end of July because we had so much time off for moving this past fall. My plan is to work until the week of July 4, take a week off for vacation (again, in Texas!). Then we'll work through the rest of July and take the month of August off.

The simple list of what we're doing most days is as follows:

Me - Grading, Teaching, Planning, Keeping the Calendar Updated, Cooking, Laundry

  • Chores

  • Prayer Journals/Prayer Time with Mom (or Daddy too if he hasn't left yet)

  • Devotional (various books and discussion afterwards)

  • Read Bible (sometimes related to our KONOS unit, sometimes not)

  • Bible Memory (one of the following: write, recite, sing, read, draw, act out)

  • KONOS Activities (changes daily per unit)

  • Math (A Beka worksheets - usually 2)

  • Language/Phonics (Explode the Code/Grammar worksheets - various publishers)

  • Arts/Crafts (finishing previous projects, starting new ones per unit)

  • Typing (Mavis Beacon with Speedskin)

  • Lapbooking (we're still working on our Rock Lapbook in our spare time)

  • PE (walking with dad, swimming, park days, bikes)

  • Communication/Writing (pen pals, thank you cards, phonecalls)

  • Vocabulary (KONOS unit related: write, flashcards, game, crossword or test)

  • Poetry (Konos Unit related - about 3 a day)

  • Library Books (Konos Related)

  • Free Reading Time/Free Time

  • Family Read Time (Konos Unit related)

  • Field Trip (once a week or every other week)

Science and History are part of KONOS and also in our library books.

We rarely get everything on the list done in one day, but we try. On days when we have a large amount of Konos, PE/Social Activities, or a field trip planned, we do very little on this list.

The things we don't do that I want to add into next year's homeschool agenda are foreign language and music. I'm teetering on learning Italian instead of Spanish because I think my husband will be more apt to learn it because he has a friend whom he can speak it with. He fought me on learning Spanish although the children and I did learn a little bit and were enjoying it. I want to learn something our whole family will use... and because we know people who speak it, I think Italian is one we can all do together and retain it. Maybe after we learn Italian, we can study Spanish because it is so similar. I have heard that it is easier to learn a third language after you have mastered a second. As for the music, I sure miss our choir and piano lessons that are in our past. Aside from a planned Composers Unit as part of next year's Konos Units (classical music), we don't have the extra cash to add those electives for the 2006-2007 school year. If we stay where we are and keep plodding away at the debt we have, maybe by next tax season we can add one elective if we get a nice refund.

I have been asked how much planning I do for Konos, and I would have to say that I can only plan one week ahead in detail, but I do plan my year (even if I change it as we go somewhat) ahead during the summer... and I also plan my units ahead (in "very light pencil") to see how they fit with our calendar of activities. I enjoy the planning part of Konos. It seems that when I plan my units, that's when I get to do a lot of learning. Learning as a lifestyle is really wonderful. I always said I would never quit going to school. I enjoyed taking college classes and love to read. Homeschooling gives me the ability to continue learning right along with my kids... and helps us to grow together rather than apart!

For the last week, my daughter Morgan has told me, "Thank you for homeschooling me, Mommy!" every day! There's no better reward for the sacrifices you must make being at home than that.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this post. Hope someone out there needed to read it. While I'm in here writing the random stuff in my head, my kids are at the kitchen table doing their handwriting assignment for today. They are busy writing the names of the days of the week in a bunch of different languages (part of our unit on Seasons).

Here's Monday's breakdown:

English: Monday
Latin: Solis dies
Greek: Mandei
Italian: Lunedi
Spanish: Lunes
Russian: Poneledínik
French: Lundi
Hebrew: Yom Sheni
Arabic: Al íthnin
Czech: Pondělí
Japanese: Getsu-yōbi
Chinese: Xīng qī yī
German: Montag

And for extra credit, I had them write Monday in Tamil (a dialect from India) because of our little Indian boy we sponsor. They did a great, artistic job of it!

Here it is: திங்கள்

Happy learning - even if you aren't a high-tech lesson planner!

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May 28, 2006

Sneaks and Peeks

Me with the incriminating evidence
(and some kind of greasy sheen on my forehead and nose - yuck!
Is that your blog I'm reading???)

Mexican Wedding Cookies are from the devil. OK, OK, maybe that's harsh, but they seem to have the tantalizing power to overrule my ability to stay away from sweets. The evidence is there in plain view - sprinkles of sugar and cookie crumbs all over my fingers and clothing. I'll be glad when this box is gone; and I'll feel much safer knowing I can't buy any more of these until my next trip to Central Texas.

Just look at this sugary tormenter:

Beware the cinnamon seduction!

My kids call me the Cookie-Snatcher. Maybe that's because I have been caught once at my cousin's house sitting in a bathroom eating Oreos (so the kids wouldn't know I was having a cookie)... they are so bad for you, you know - and there weren't enough to share with all the kids there PLUS myself?! *sheepish grin* Alright, are you happy? I was being stingy.

We don't buy a lot of sweet stuff at my house, so when we have something here, it tends to go quickly. We fight for the last cookie as if it were the holy grail. I like to eat the cookie dough and Kev likes the baked cookies. It's often a battle to see if he can get a pan or two in the oven before I eat the dough up.

In a day or so, I'll be back to no-sweets here at Sprittibee's house (although I do consider those peaches we got at the grocery store to be pretty darn sweet). Then it's time for the dieting and exercise to commence. Wish me luck - better yet, PRAY FOR ME! A peach for a pile of cookies a day sounds like a fair trade. It's the routine and exercising that I usually have the problem with, however. My idea of exercise is.... blogging.

Sunday Stuff
I'm enjoying my Sunday. The sermon today at church was super. It was about worldviews, purposeful parenting, teaching your kids scripture, and remembering that we are in a battle. Good stuff. Just as good as those Wedding Cookies, to be sure!

Peep My BlogI thought I would remind you that Sprittibee's Blog is getting a face-lift and will be unveiled on June the 8th (one year to the day after I have begun posting here at Blogger). I still have a small fee left to pay my wondermous-web-designer-lady, and then we're ready to tackle a new school year with a new face here on the web! Maybe by the time the following year rolls around (if I'm still a blog addict) I can re-do my blog (again) myself?!

Anyway... Every few days, I'll post a tiny preview of the upcoming design (until June 8th!). Aren't you excited? Well, I am! Here's today's peek:


Come back and join me next week once school has begun! Now I'm off to gather up the lesson planner and get ready for a great day tomorrow - picking back up with our Seasons Unit that we left before vacation began on the 10th. Have a great week and see you tomorrow!

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May 26, 2006

FastStone Image Viewer

A friend of ours has turned us on to a great new program for viewing, cropping, editing, resizing, morphing, re-coloring and otherwise just enjoying your photos: FastStone Image Viewer 2.5. I may be the last person on the block who has heard of it, but I have really had a good time using it since we got home from vacation. My digital camera is a 5 mega-pixel camera, but the flash on it is a blinding light that can give ANYONE red-eye. The red-eye repair feature on FastStone works great for everything except when the eye gives a white or amber colored glare (which is not as common). I was impressed at how professional the program seems for freeware. Yes, I did say FREE-ware. That is the best part. Maybe after I get my redesign up and running, I'll drop FastStone a tip!

Here's a pretty digital masterpiece that my son and I created tonight with FastStone... and as you can see, I added text. I was able to use whatever text my computer already supports, which is nice. You don't have to pick from a small list of pre-packaged fonts. Another really great feature is that it allows you to add all kinds of really great borders and cut in circle or oval shapes (not just squares). I am sure that all of these features are included in expensive programs like Photoshop... but I have not been able to swing that yet. This is my favorite freeware that I have tried so far. Hope you like it as much as I do!


Vacation Photos

I can't believe I've stayed up all night doing photos. I shouldn't have taken a nap today. I couldn't sleep tonight, so I got up at almost 2 AM to mess around on the computer. I saved a few of my favorite vacation photos (there were over 200 photos to pick from) on Flickr. Have a look if you are interested. Otherwise, I'll be back in here after I get a nap in before breakfast!

May 24, 2006

We're Back!

Central Texas Cornfield

Texas in the Rear-View Mirror
We got in last night at 10:30 pm. Nearly 2,000 miles after we began, we returned to our little apartment to share photos, stories, and fresh-baked Mexican Wedding Cookies with Kev. I'm back, but far from "in the swing". I haven't been reading blogs or even thinking of them for two solid weeks of vacation bliss in Texas. Hopefully I can get my list (below) checked off and start posting daily again. I'm a little discombobulated after our lengthy stretch of free time. Getting back into a routine may be tricky.

Bovine Memorabilia and Explore UT
I came back from our trip with some University of Texas T-shirts, but I'm not sure how well they'll go over up here (out of state). I'm not a sports fan, so I don't much care about "the game" (fill in the blank with sport of your choice). I do, however, really like Texas (the state much more than the college)... and the Longhorn is the "large mammal of Texas".

I do really love the University of Texas' Explore UT event they put on each Spring, so I don't mind giving them a little free publicity... even though I haven't ever attended classes there. If you haven't been to Explore UT and you live close enough to go... I'd suggest adding it to your 2007 March calendar. The busses are free to get around the campus during the event. There is so much to see and do that it would take three years of attending this event to see it all! They usually do a K-12 Science Fair at the same time and there are exhibits on campus that run year-round as well. Check out the previous 2006 event schedule to see what you missed this March in case you are interested in going next year. One of my favorite things about the event was the cute little passports they gave out (and the free hats and t-shirts). We got to pet live llamas, weave their fleece, see dinosaur bones, watch robots work, view Science Fair projects, listen to a Dr. Seuss book be read, see the campus and eat there, ride the bus, watch the Austin Fire Department give a live matress-burning and smoke demonstration, make a coat of arms, and more. There was simply too much to do in such a short amount of time. I plan to go back in 2007 if we get the chance.

Honey-Do List for Sprittibee
I'm hoping to get around to some on-topic posts, the blog re-design for my blogiversary, some quotes and excerpts from the homeschool book I'm reading, and the beginning of the next year of my homeschool series (2004-5... the year my kids were 1st and 2nd Grade). In the mean time, I'm enjoying a few more days of "summer break" and we're going to:

  • unpack the suitcases

  • wash the clothes

  • clean the house and vacuum

  • spend some time with Daddy

  • do the checkbook and pay bills

  • wash and change the sheets

  • do some de-cluttering

  • read

  • catch up with co-op friends

  • go to a water party (slip-n-slide) tomorrow morning

  • get organized for school to start next Monday

Tomorrow I'm planning to post a few things on Gathering Manna and I'll put up some vacation photos from our trip around Texas. I look forward to "talking" with you then!

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May 21, 2006

Still in Texas


Hi there. I know it's been a little quiet in here. Hope that you all will not give up on me. How long can you vacation and remain a "blogger"? I sure have been enjoying the trip... but I'll admit, I do miss my husband, my blogging, my husband, my cat, my husband, my own bed, my husband, my cat... and .... did I say my husband?

I took the photo above on a Texas back-road, but you could find one of those "Indian Paintbrushes" just about anywhere in Texas. We've driven more than a thousand miles already - the trip odometer flipped back to zero a few days ago. We've seen quite a few familiar faces. Feels good to be home. ... It just isn't the same without Kevin, though. Kaden said in the back seat the other day: "Texas isn't home without Daddy."

Anyway... we're enjoying a nice Sunday at church with friends and will return home Monday or Tuesday. Looking forward to getting back into the swing of homeschool (we're going to school through most of the summer) and blogging when we get home!

In just a few weeks, my blog will be getting a face lift. Thank you to those of you who have given a little spare change to the tip jar to help make it possible! I'll be sure and give you credit in a special post after the re-design is up and running.

Enjoy your Sunday. God bless and keep you.

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May 16, 2006

Sprittibee's Vacation

I'm just stopping in to say that I'm having a great vacation. In fact, so great that we might extend it through this weekend! We've not thought about school since we left home... err - the apartment (other than the reading I've been doing in the books I got at the Homeschool Book Fair). I was able to see a few great speakers and visit a few really special friends... and best of all, the kids are having a GREAT time in Texas. I have to say "GO GOD!" for the fantastic weather we've been enjoying as well. It's almost surreal to have a breezy, cool slice of sunny heaven for a solid week straight (IN MAY)... in the deep South! I'm big on not sweating. Well, at least until I have to actually start working out at the gym... which is soon (since the life-gaurds will start being on active duty as soon as school is out and I'm planning on doing Water Aerobics and Yoga with the kids).

I wish I could post one or two of the photos I've been taking (like a camera-crazed mad-woman) on our trip. Kaden and Morgan both rode some coasters and we've got great pictures of all our friends and the places we've been. Not sure if our buddies want to be famous, but if we get their permission, we might post a few of our favorites.

Morgan went to a slumber party last night and we're visiting family right now. I decided to check in lest you think I ended up giving up on the blog. It has been nice to just enjoy life and turn off the writer's voice in my brain for a bit.

I hope you don't grade me on accuracy tonight. I'm not using spell check, Technorati Tags, Tags, font formatting or any other nifty HTML or Linking gadgets. Just me and the hijacked laptop that my husband reluctantly allowed me to borrow (sorry for the bent wireless adapter, honey).

I better get in bed. It's late and we've got a dentist appointment tomorrow. Can't leave Texas without having your teeth cleaned, now, can you?

May 13, 2006

Field Trip Foto Friday: Largest Steam Train

So, it's a little late and not Friday anymore... but here was the post I had planned for yesterday. We were busy doing corkscrews around metal roller coaster tracks, getting sun-burns, and shopping for great curriculum and books in Arlington yesterday and the day before. Hope you are having a good weekend.

And now for Field Trip Foto Friday:


While we were in Houston one weekend, there was a traveling steam train that claimed to be the world's largest that came to town. The kids enjoyed going up the stairs and talking with the engineer about the gears in the engine. They played in the steam next to the huge wheels. I copied a photo of our family standing by one of the wheels of the train to show you just how large they were. It was a HUGE train. They had a gift shop attached that you could buy prints and souvenirs from also. Trains have always infatuated Kaden. If you have a train to visit near you, you should go!


May 10, 2006

Thursday Challenge: Family

Families are like fudge ... mostly sweet with a few nuts.
- Author Unknown


Cousins are great, aren't they?
This photo was taken in 2004 of Morgan and two of her cousins.

May 09, 2006



We are headin' to Texas tomorrow! SIX FLAGS HERE WE COME! I'm sure I'll be in to visit a time or two, but posting will be sparse. I had a few things I wanted to post for tomorrow....
1. Thursday Challenge (I'll post that in the morning before we leave)
2. My event ticker that I should have had running for the last three months while we've been counting the days ourselves (see below)


3. A link for all you Texas homeschoolers out there, or those just wanting to learn a little more about the Friendship State. Here's Enchanted Learning's Tejas Page. ...And NO, Tejas isn't Spanish for Texas!

Have a wonderful week next week in case I go AWOL (a week-long online lapse) for the entire vacation. Not likely, but hey - stranger things have happened. God bless.

Carnival of Homeschool is Up

Week 19 is up. Love the Einstein quotes. I collect quotes myself. Hop on over and check it out!

Blogger is freaking out this morning, so that's all I have for today. We're busy packing and washing clothes so we can be ready to load the car and head out on our trip tomorrow. I'll check in tomorrow before we leave.

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May 08, 2006

A Badger, a Mushroom, and a Burger?


Now a bit of humor to lighten up the mood here at Sprittibee....

I thought I would share with you guys my two favorite sites of late (hat tip to JibJab for tipping me off to these). Watch out, once you see that badger song, you won't be able to get it out of your head. The kids torment us with it nearly every day.

WARNING: If you are at work, please forward these to your HOME email so you don't get in trouble! They have LOUD techno music included with the funny graphics.

Badger Song
Thing Falling Down a Hill

Once you see the first site, you'll know why I included the photo of a mushroom here. The kids went to the park with us the other day and saw this mushroom and started blaring out that song! It drives Kevin crazy, so they do it all the time.


We were in the line at McDonalds the other day and we were singing the badger song to annoy Daddy, but decided to change the words to:


"It's a Burger, it's a burger, it's a burger, it's a burger its a....


It's a Burger, it's a burger, it's a burger, it's a burger it's a...


OH! A SHAKE! It's a a SHAKE!"

Even Daddy thought that was REALLY funny. Now if I only knew a graphic designer and band who would set me up a website with a little dancing cheeseburger, fries and scary-looking chocolate malt! We laughed all the way home until the McDonald's grease made us quit laughing. After seeing the movie "Supersize Me", we've been trying to limit our McDonald's trips! We rented it from about a month ago. It was pretty eye-opening! Although I think everyone should see this movie because of the health information, I would not recommend you let your kids see it. It has some tacky language/adult content.
Have a super Monday to all those of you starting off your weeks today! We're on our last day of school until after vacation. I'll probably post a bit while away, but not daily like usual. I'm headed to Texas and looking forward to more than a week's vacation with friends and family all over the Lone Star State. We've been counting the days for three months now!

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May 07, 2006

The Jenny Garcia Story


Looking at Jenny's lovely face, it is hard to imagine anyone would want to kill her. I didn't know her, and have only read about the story and thought of her family many times since the grizzly event was made public in Texas news. With all the talk of immigrant issues, her story was brought back to my mind, and I thought I would share it with others who might not have heard it. I would like to ask all of you who read it to remember her family in your prayers when you think of her.

On January 26, 2004, 18 year old Jenny Garcia was brutally murdered. She was a typical college student, a sister to two other lovely young ladies and a good girl. A man she had worked with at an IHOP in Austin had attacked her in her home and left her for her sisters to find with a butcher knife still in her chest. The man who had killed her, David Morales, was arrested the following day because he had been calling her friends asking about her to appear innocent. It later was released from the Austin Police Department that Morales was a known child-molester and an illegal alien who had already been deported and had returned to the United States. His own family had tried to file charges on him for molesting his younger cousin starting when she was four and continuing many years, but the police had discouraged this report from being made due to his illegal status. Even though the molestation charges against Mexican born Morales had been proven to be true, the Austin DA, Ronnie Earl decided not to press charges and let him walk. His violent nature and illegal status were known by law enforcement agencies, and nothing was done to prevent him from victimizing others - like Jenny Garcia. The Garcias were promised by Earle that Morales would get the death penalty... and when that didn't materialize, they filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Austin and IHOP.

Personally, I hope the Garcia family win their lawsuit. I'd also like to know what has become of Morales. I did some googling, but came up with only stale repeats of the original murder story. I know that winning the suit will not take back what Morales has stolen from this family... nor give Jenny her life back. Even so, justice should be served. It is strong people like Jenny's father who take a stand against bad government policy and make the USA a better place for others. I personally would like to apologize to him for my country's lack of concern for his family. I think we all need to shake off our apathy and take a stand against those who would seek to commit murder and mayhem inside our borders. A policy of "sanctuary" (many other cities besides Austin have these policies) is only a time bomb ticking away... and the innocent in our country are the ones who suffer it's wrath.

I would suggest reading the full story about Jenny and her family's fight against the City of Austin's "Sanctuary Policy" here and here.

May God give us wisdom and protect us... and may He heal the Garcias and bless them for their courage and strength in taking up Jenny's cause so that other innocent young girls don't have to suffer the same fate.

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May 06, 2006

Sprittibee's Politics: Immigrant Issue

Normally, I shy away from talking too much about politics here because my main focus on this blog is homeschooling and raising your kids. That isn't because I don't HAVE an opinion, of course... but rather because of my desire to convey GOD's opinion through my lips. I take my words seriously (most of the time) and try not to say anything that would go against scripture. I am a conservative Christian and like YOU, I worry about our country and take in the news every day through blogs or the internet. Lately it seems that everyone is talking about the border. As a Texan, I have been watching very closely to see how the "Mexican Immigrant Issue" plays out. It hits close to home when most of my life has been spent in a state who's population is now a majority Latino. I grew up with Hispanic friends all my life and I love Mexican Food and Spanish Paella with chorizo.

In my own limited view, I completely understand the desire to have a better life - the American dream. I want the people of the world to have peace and prosperity. Not only in Mexico and the United States, but every country. I want the same blessing that I have to be extended across the globe to all the people of the world. Yet in my desire for others to have peace and prosperity, I also want to protect the peace and prosperity of my own family. I believe that we HAVE A DUTY to secure our borders and require those who DESIRE to come to America to do so LEGALLY. Let's face it... ALL of us are immigrants. The LEGAL IMMIGRANTS are AMERICANS who deserve their own country and should be able to protect it. If we do not have borders, then we are not a country. We aren't "Mexi-Canad-America". Mexico, Canada and America EACH deserve the right to be sovereign and control the influx of foreigners to their shores while protecting their citizens and way of life.

I was looking for a statistic on the population in the state of Texas today when I ran across a site called Latino Pundit. What I saw there disturbed me. There was a Hispanic man who wrote some ugly comments about whites in Texas. He said that he was glad they were a minority and they were all bigots. He said he wishes that the entire USA would be filled up with mostly Hispanics. This opinion is the kind that we need to guard against. Who cares what color we are if we all are Texans and Americans? Are we really so different? Are we really fighting for a different cause? Life and liberty is the same no matter what color you are. I replied to his post in a comment there if you wanted to go and read it.

In my research for a respectable way to broach this subject, I have learned a lot of history that is not taught in public schools in this country (another reason I'm glad I homeschool). I learned a lot about the Hispanic contributions to the United States, the view of others on this issue, the Hispanic vote in Texas, and the Mexican-American War. It pays to be educated and know our past so that we are less likely to repeat our mistakes. We should all search out the entire issue before we utter derogatory comments about others or idle words. God says in the last days, we will be held accountable for every word that flows from our lips. I would hope that this issue does not divide our country and that we can all seek a peaceful resolution that will be good for AMERICA and HER people (after all, this is an AMERICAN policy we are discussing - not a Mexican one). Being a Christian, I don't wish that any blood should be shed... but I know that the end result is in God's hands. I pray for wisdom for those on both sides of this issue. I pray that God's Will is done and that God shines his face on America. I pray that He restores our land and the hearts within it. May we all seek His face... for without His blessing, we are doomed no matter what race we are from.

The whole reason I have even decided to talk about this issue is because of a girl named Jenny. Tomorrow, I'll tell her story and pay tribute to her for her family. I hope you'll come back and read it.

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May 05, 2006

Field Trip Foto Friday: Houston Ship Channel Tour


The Houston Ship Channel (Port of Houston) is one of the busiest ports in the world. We took our field trip to the ship channel while we were studying about sunken ships. An added bonus to this field trip is the fact that it is FREE. It was fun to see all the ships and flags along the channel. The kids really enjoyed being on the boat. It was hard to get Kaden to leave the back seat near the sound of the rushing water. I would suggest taking a country flag chart if you go so that you can figure out where each cargo ship is from. We went on a overcast day, and it was in the fall (and from what I hear, it is better in cooler weather). I was a little cold with the moist air blowing by, so take a sweater - even if you don't think you'll need it (unless you go in the heat of summer, of course). The trip down the channel and back takes about 90-minutes and is a relaxing ride. While the sights may not be the prettiest of Texas landscape along the tour, there are a great many interesting things to see (such as cargo ships, military vessels like the one pictured below, seagulls, refineries, and tug boats).


I think it is really super that the Port of Houston Authority gives free tours. In a day and age when hardly ANYTHING is free anymore, this is a refreshing service they offer! They even offer you a coke or coffee on the trip - free of charge. You can sit inside and look out the windows, or stand outside and feel the wind blowing by (to see a picture of the actual coast guard boat you ride in, click the Port of Houston Authority link above). There are restroom facilities at the port's Sam Houston Pavilion where you board the boat, and there are restrooms on the boat itself. Each tour is limited to a maximum capacity of 100 passengers, but we have never had any trouble getting a seat on the days we have gone. We have taken this tour twice now, and enjoyed it both times. For a free field trip, the Houston Ship Channel is top notch!
Another Review with helpful tips can be found here: Frommer's Review by David Baird

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May 03, 2006

Christian Exodus From Public Schools?

A homeschooling friend of mine sent me this article via email today.... 'Public Education Against America'. I thought I would re-publish a few pieces of it herein and give you a few of my own highlights...

Editor's note: Dr. Bruce Shortt, along with fellow Baptist Roger Moran, has proposed a resolution for the Southern Baptist Convention that would urge churches in the denomination to develop an "exit strategy" for removing their children from public school.

By Bruce Shortt© 2006

Marlin Maddoux virtually pioneered Christian talk radio, founded the USA Radio Network, cultivated a new generation of highly gifted radio personalities such as Kerby Anderson and Penna Dexter, wrote several books, and provided a strong radio voice for the Christian worldview for over 30 years. Most of us would say that that is quite a legacy.

Yet, even at the end of his life when he was in poor health, Marlin's energy and commitment to Christianity wouldn't allow him to slacken his efforts on behalf of the Kingdom. The result is the final piece of the Marlin Maddoux legacy: "Public Education Against America: The Hidden Agenda," the culmination of his research and many interviews regarding public schools.

For those of us who tuned into Marlin's "Point of View," we always knew we would gain some insight into how to think and act biblically. Beginning in the 1990's, "Point of View" started focusing more on education. In fact, Marlin was not only an early champion of Christian schooling and homeschooling, but became, true to form, a keen observer of the metastasizing pathologies of our government school system.

"Public Education Against America" is, in part, a fascinating account of how Marlin's work as a radio-show host and interviewer led him to see behind the respectable facade of the "public" school system and recognize the public schools for what they have become – a cauldron of toxic pathologies inimical to the welfare of our children, our families, our churches and our culture. It is also, in part, his account of why the public-school disaster is not an accident. Most important, however, is Marlin's conclusion that we, as Christians, must not educate our children in today's public schools.
The article was simply too long to copy the entire thing and post here, but I highly suggest you go and read it for yourself (click the link above) if you are interested. I was part of a Sunday School class one day not long ago where the parents were lamenting about what to do because of their failing schools and talking about having to re-train their children because of the morals they were learning. Many parents have chosen private schools mainly because of the morality issues they are seeing arise from their local public schools and not just academic reasons. I wondered why they went around in circles about this when they all had the option to EXIT the public schools all-together. I think sometimes we just can not see the forest for the trees. Kent Hovind, Founder of CSE Ministries, really made me think when he says on his Creation/Evolution Seminars, (and I paraphrase here) "It is the wrong question to ask whether we should teach Creation and Evolution together in Public Schools. The right question is - SHOULD WE HAVE PUBLIC SCHOOLS?"

This next section really hit home for me, seeing as how my children are both in elementary grades. I am not surprised about the information on public school accreditation. The private school I worked for used public school textbooks in the name of accreditation. When I asked them what was being taught regarding evolution or creation, they told me it was up to the individual teachers as to how the subject matter in the books were taught. This answer was just not good enough for me. Neither were the books they were using (Kent Hovind's Creation Seminar #4 covers "Lies in the Textbooks", and if you can't afford to buy the tapes, you can click this link and view parts of it!). Read below to continue on with Bruce Shortt's 'Public Education Against America' to see how Cultural Marxism has become the theme of even America's K-12 schools (although many unsuspecting teachers don't know they are adhering to this mantra):

Manipulating the values and beliefs of our children

Given the assumption that there are no transcendent moral values, the government schools now teach children that what matters is "valuing diversity," "respecting differences," being tolerant and open, and avoiding being "judgmental." Moreover, if there is no moral truth, only personal values and preferences, then all that can really be done is reach a consensus. The consensus that is promoted, however, is one that uses the cultural Marxist presuppositions of race, class and gender victimization as a foundation for driving children to the conclusion that the highest values are diversity, multiculturalism and tolerance, as interpreted by the politically correct crowd.

"Public Education Against America" also points out that if children are to be led to a predetermined consensus, it helps to have detailed information about the children's values and beliefs. And, indeed, the government education establishment wants to know more about the children institutionalized in public schools. One particularly egregious example Marlin recounts involved the Pennsylvania Educational Quality Assessment. Of the 370 questions, 60 had to do with math and reading. The remaining 310 questions "... measured attitudes, values, beliefs, opinions and home-life of the children." Worse, the administrative version of the test had numerical codes next to the questions that were keyed to various "remediating curricula." In other words, once the EQA identified "undesirable attitudes," the test instrument would point the "educators" toward a curricula that would change the child's beliefs.

As a general proposition, local teachers and administrators have no idea that they and their curricula are promoting cultural Marxism. Moreover, they would undoubtedly deny that they are doing any such thing if questioned about it. Nonetheless, they have been taught these ideas while getting their education degrees, during their in-service training, and by their unions. The moral and cultural relativism that is imbedded in all of the claptrap about "respecting differences," diversity, and so on is simply what seems obviously right and decent to the typical public-school employee.

On the other hand, those who teach in schools of education, elements of the union leadership, and others typically have a quite explicit understanding of what they are doing. Indeed, we have now reached the point at which schools of education function in part as political re-education camps. For example, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which is a national accrediting organization for schools of education, requires adherence to such politically correct shibboleths as "multiculturalism" and "diversity" in hiring and curriculum as a condition of accreditation. Think of NCATE as the enforcer of the ideology embraced by the educator elites.

At its 2001 Las Vegas convention, NCATE's agenda moved farther into the open. During a presentation just prior to the opening of the convention, NCATE's senior vice president, Donna Gollnick, told an audience of 1,000 education professionals from around the country that "diversity" is the most important standard by which NCATE will evaluate those who train teachers – not effectiveness in training teachers to teach phonics, math, or grammar, but "diversity."
If you ask me why homeschooling is taking off like wild-fire in this country and around the globe, I would have to say that God is behind it. He is preparing a remnant of those who do NOT accept societies' values and are willing to stand in the gap. I will gladly sacrifice the "American Dream" of keeping up with the rich folk next door to prevent my children from walking in darkness. May God lead America (and the rest of the world) to wake up and SEE the darkness... and may He enable us to choose to walk in the light!

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May 02, 2006

No Homeschool Discounts from HP

I saw a really catchy advertisement the other day while reading a few of my favorite blogs. It was an HP ad for educators. They were offering discounts to public schools. I thought maybe I would email them since our printer has been a little sketchy lately, and it costs about the same to replace the printer as it does to replace all four ink cartridges twice. I wrote to them from their website and asked them if they offered the same discounts to homeschoolers as they do to public school educators.

Here was the reply:

" I have been advised that unfortunately we do not offer an educational discount to Home Schools."

Translation: "NO"

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