ARKive Videos…the new way to view nature

We were sent this amazing link through our homeschooling group.


What is it you say? It is an archive of thousands of videos of animals in thier natural habitat. Get it ARKive!  Not only do you get the video, you get all the classification and habitat information right to the side of your screen. Amazing.

It is more captiviating then National Geographic because there is no narrator to get in the way of the experience. Just the animal in its natural habitat doing whatever it does.

I can see this being an ever useful daily tool. We just read Owl Babies (one of my all time favorite children’s picture books) then went to ARKive and typed Owl in the search engine and watched real baby owls.

“They look just like the picture, mom!” I heard as little ones sat captivated to the screen.

ARKive video - Long-eared owl feeding chicks at nest

I see whole new applications going on as we read through The Burgess Animal Book for Children!

Here’s another fascinating one we watched…a beaver felling a tree. Who doesn’t want to watch that? REALITY TV in its truest state!

ARKive video - American beaver felling trees and storing food for the winter

Added to my Free Homeschool Resources list under Nature Study!

Our snowy neck of the woods…

Mmmpphhh….sorry, my mouth was full of a warm, wonderfully delicious buttery chocolate croissant that my dear hubby just dropped off in the middle of the morning. The perks of being married to a chef. The perks of living at the place you work!

And our other perk….

Waking up to the most beautiful frosted forest. Reminds me of reading Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening with the kids during Christmas past!

But don’t worry, spring is still here, although a bit hidden!

The Learning Room ~ of Mice and Men

This week was a productive school week despite our whole crew getting reinfected and having another sick week! Daddy had to go in early all this week and that always allows us to get more schooling done. (Daddy is very distracting for momma in the best sort of ways!)

Between bleaching everything, boiling toothbrushes, cleaning puke bowls, double hot-washing sheets, and cleaning carpet, we amazingly started a new unit study on how our government works. And I’m so excited to share with you the books we found.

First, let me just say I will be putting together a post soon on all our resources for others to share so come back and visit us again!

I’ve been wondering when to do the whole government study thing for a while now. How do you fit that into a history schedule that you’ve got going that is rather chronological in order? But then Gabe casually walked up to me one day and asked what a President’s cabinet was if it wasn’t the kind in your kitchen. And Pop came up to me and casually asked if very soon he could take the kiddos down to the state capitol for a field trip. So I guess now would be as good as time as any to get started.

We read Vote! and We Are Citizens to start the week. These were both very helpful in getting a foundation of understanding about why all this government stuff even matters.

Then we read through this sweet little series by Peter and Cheryl Barnes that explores the three branches of our government. Why hasn’t anyone told me about these books? May I just rave for a minute about how well done they are!!! It is about a group of mice that go through the government process just as we people do. It is told in lyrical rhyme and just flows beautifully. And the attention to detail is amazing. It is a true living book that captures my youngest non-readers, who get a great introduction to concepts, and gives a great overview to my emerging readers, and provides great detail (architectural and historical) to an older child who is ready to dig in for a bit of research. It provides more complete information then I ever received in elementary social studies and it pulls everything together into a neat little package about why these things get done.

Woodrow for President takes us through the voting process including campaigning, primary versus general elections, parties, qualifications, virtues of good citizenship and so forth.









Woodrow, the White House Mouse takes us on a journey through the jobs of our President as well as an introduction to the White House and it’s different rooms and purposes. There is more information here then I ever learned in elementary school!








House Mouse, Senate Mouse teaches what the Legislative branch does and how the senate and house of represantives works together to pass a bill into a law. It also gives us an introduction into the workings of Washington D.C. and where all this takes place.








Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse introduces them to the Supreme Court and how that works. It also takes us inside the Supreme Court and compares to a courthouse that might appear in your town.









You can get the teacher guide to go with (which I did) and it is a wonderful resource full of discussion ideas, prompts for activities and research projects, how to get involved (through correspondance ~ complete with addresses they will need!), additional reading and kid-friendly websites for additional research. It also has a few coloring pages for the littles to feel involved and some copy-friendly templates for activity worksheets.

My kids LOVED reading these. I’m glad I sprung for them since my library didn’t carry them. We received used copies in good condition and the kids were tickled that all of our copies were autographed by the authors. One even had a typo in the book that the author had fixed and signed “Oops!” with her name underneath.

Gabe also read How the U.S. Government Works which is a bit dry but concisely explains concepts that he will need to know more about being the oldest. Mainly I wanted him to see why the three branches of government were started and this book does a good job of explaining in simplistic, yet detailed terms. He did an oral narration to me on the book and we went over how to say each of the branch names. I laugh everytime I think of how he was pronouncing legislative!

The older two worked on their math, of course, and Lily was excited to have finished her Kumon: Counting Coins book and her Kumon: Telling Time book. And I reread all the Moncure vowel books to the littles as well as Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosuars which rekindled Luc’s first love and spurred on a conversation about the tools needed for digging up real bones. (I love this book. It is perfect for homeschoolers who are trying to teach creation-based science even though this book is secular.)

That was all we did “formally” (due to the sick thing and all). But there was a lot of unschooling going on as well.

Lily was wondering about day and night and how God didn’t create the sun and moon till after the first days of creation so how could there be day and night yet and when did the first day actually start? Man, does she have some deep thinking in there! My husband and I were just discussing this the other night concerning our version of day compared to God’s in relation to the whole young earth-old earth theories. I had her flip through What Makes Day and Night after our discussion and set up a little hands-on experiment for her to observe for herself how the sun is connected to us counting days.

Gabe decided to get creative this week. He spent days working on this project of writing his own story. (Could be that his Mario game was taken away in a discipline decision. Imagine that…imagination blooms!) He was very serious about his work and frustrated when he finally put it all together and then couldn’t read it right beacause he had no idea what a margin was. We discussed the importance of margins and he went back and took the time to redo the whole booklet in order to get it just right. I was pretty impressed at how well he did with the quotes and comma usage.

Gabe was also seen carrying around his Painless Grammar book wherever he went…the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, to bed. That boy cracks me up. Who reads grammar?

Lily’s new Highlights magazine came in the mail and she just discovered the Table of Contents. I explained to her what this was, why it is used, and how to use it. She excitedly spent the next hour looking things up in her magazine.

Language Arts…check!

Gabe also found this Word Processing book in my pile of library books to go through (you know, that pile of books you have going that need a decision on whether to write this title down for future use.) I noticed him reading it on quite a few different occasions and finally said, as casually as I could, that he could use the computer if he actually wanted to try any of the exercises. He jumped on the chance and learned how to open and save a document, create a folder, store documents in his folder, and write a letter.

Letting Go of Supermom: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, it’s true. I’m sorry to report that they found her, unconscious in the middle of her pristine living room floor. The emergency crew said they’d never seen a house so clean or kids so sad. It was a terrible thing to have happen during the week before Christmas.

Maybe it was the elaborate Christmas decorating and four dozen Martha Stewart style cookies she made for the missions society Christmas bake sale and the late night gift wrapping marathons and the two shifts of bell ringing for the Salvation Army and the organizing of the Christmas pageant at church for Christmas Eve that sent her over the edge.

Or, maybe it was keeping up with her usual two loaves a day of homemade bread, daily wiping beneath the bottom drawer of the fridge and twice daily toilet bleaching routine (she has boys, you know!) and the requisite starching of the children’s turtleneck shirts before they can wear them to their twice weekly playgroup that killed her. It’s hard to say. Either way, she’s gone now.

The oldest kids say that she started to look sick a few months ago, right after the seventh baby was born. She started getting up even earlier so that she’d have time to make it to the gym three times a week and work on that “baby bulge” that so disturbed her.

To compensate, she ordered “Super Mom” vitamins. They helped right away. Her energy came back and she kept right on running. Until last night, when, without warning, she just collapsed on the living room floor. There was nothing anyone could do. She’d worked herself to death.

I took a meal over to the devastated family last night. The house was still clean; the kids are compulsive cleaners now too! They were grateful for my ham and cheese casserole, and shushed the little one when he asked why the bread had a “Market Basket” store sticker on it instead of being homemade. It was the best I could do. The middle child said she’d rather they’d have always had store -bought bread if it meant they still had Mommy. (Read the rest here.)

This is an excerpt from an article in Homeschool Today called Super Mom is Dead by Jennifer Miller.

As I finished reading the article I laughed as I looked around my house. We’d had a full morning of school today. We learned about being a citizen and how to vote and what an election and campaign are. The kids worked on independent creative writing stories and Gabe discovered why we need margins when making a book while Lily discovered the magic of how a Table of Contents works. We started the next book in the Little House series and even did some math.

But the winds of spring were calling. The smell of the outside mingling with the inside told me that this article was spot on and, instead of doing stuffy bills for the afternoon, we should go outside and partake of the day. This is what our house looked like before we went out. And this was after our 5 Minute Tidy before lunch!

Dining Room

Yes, the bills will still get done ~ at some point ~ today. The table will still have to be wiped before dinner and the dishes and laundry will still have to be put in. At some point I will have to decide to actually make dinner and then come up with a meal plan. The clutter will still have to be picked up before bed time. And the beds will still have to be made. But I am not a supermom!!! I am going to stop feeling guilty about buying store bread this week. And because I am choosing to accept this about me today, we did have time to enjoy this…

~ Playing in the new fort. ~

~ Wearing daddy’s special crown of gold. ~

~ Fresh air and tummy time for Eli. ~

~ Afternoon cup of Joe and writing for mommy. ~


Needing to Count

I need to count today. I come to this day depleted and tired, cranky with only words that tear down instead of lift up. My children feel it. I feel it. It is like a snowball rolling through my days picking up negativity along the way. Two weeks of sick kids. Kids who were healed getting reinfected and worse then before. The house falling farther and farther behind. More laundry then I’ve done in forever when I already do a lot of laundry. And me sick, down for the count, with them.

So I need to count to restore. To remind myself of His goodness. To remind me that we thank when He gives and we thank when He takes away. To remind my selfish spirit that it cannot stay.

#365 ~ new baby teeth at four months old

#366 ~ coos and smiles just for me

#367 ~ little ones who look to me for…well, everything

#368 ~ being sick on hubby’s day off

#369 ~ quality coffee that doesn’t upset the stomach

#370 ~ a husband who cooks good soul food so I don’t have to

#371 ~ two cars that work and allow our family freedom

#372 ~ this house that is blessing us and allowing us to save

#373 ~ all the learning tools I need for my children already under my roof

#374 ~ father son football

#375 ~ getting to go back outside after dinner

#376 ~ getting out the spring baskets

#377 ~ children playing with birds and chicks and bunnies

#378 ~ a renewed love of all things Peter Rabbit

#379 ~ the way a Beatrix Potter book fits so perfectly in little hands

#380 ~ kids seeing first prairie fire

#381 ~ leaf beautifully charred

#382 ~ taking walks by myself

#383 ~ the soft hairs on a single blade of grass

#384 ~ taking pictures of spring

#385 ~ trees framing moon

#386 ~ a husband who takes kids outside to play so mom can rest

#387 ~ good conversation with the one you love most

#388 ~ a quiet house for prayers to flow

#389 ~ documentaries

#390 ~ deer frolicking in the sunset

The Learning Room – School Shenanigans

Spring is upon us and it is bearing green. I will admit it is making me not want to work. I open the windows and smell the breeze, listen to the sound of the birds and it all makes me want to sit outside with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. And you should, I hear you saying. I know, I know. But I am inside looking at heaps of laundry that needs putting away and dishes piled up, a kitchen floor that needs mopping, more laundry that needs done, toys that need sorting ~ again ~ and a learning room that desperately needs to be organized now that all our new books for the year have come in. Sigh. It has been a rough week of kids being sick. But we went outside anyway. We declared it school. We were finding green for St. Patrick’s Day and looking for new signs of spring returning. Plus P.E. right? Can’t forget the exercise. It was good for our souls despite the wind whipping my hair at 60 mph! And the kids came back with quite the treasure trove of miscellaneous rocks and twigs.

Our school theme this week concentrated on the holiday. I love weeks like that. Some homeschoolers look at holiday worksheets and crafts and unit studies as too much extra busy work.  Let them enjoy it. Take a school break. But I have found that my kids actually look forward to it. Not a one was asking to not do school. And when it got too late in the day (since we were having company over) and I had to finish up dinner and have the kids get to chores, there was a loud chorus of groaning and please can we do some more school coming from their lips.

We found the most wonderful little freebie this week from Living Books Curriculum. It was a little holiday package with a living biography of St. Patrick and mapwork, copywork, and a fabulous color sheet. I let the kids color with the coveted color pencils while I read Amy Steedman’s Our Island Saints (Love her work! You can find more of it here.). It was a phenonomal example of a living book. I stopped periodically to have the kids narrate back what had happened and they did flawless narrations and remembered much more detail then I thought they would. One of those yeah-Charlotte-Mason-really-works!!! kind of days.

We then, as a group, worked on the Trinity Shamrock from Little Blots. This is a beloved favorite every year and we’ve done a different project for it each year. I love the depth that this tradition will bring to their adult faith when they get older.

Since we ran out of time we finished up the next day with a wonderful, simple phonics game for the littles and a St. Patrick’s Day Lapbook for the two older kids.

I worked with the two younger ones and we read My “e” Sound Box and Play with “a” and “t” to supplement.

The two older students had to use this time to practice working together. They each read St. Patrick’s Day and Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day then had to use teamwork to figure out how to fill out and put together their lapbooks. I stayed out of it and allowed them all the time they needed and the freedom for their result to turn out how they saw fit.

St. Patrick's Day Lets Celebrate St Patricks Day

We used these fun little cards in the children’s treat bag and then again as copywork. So our little St. Patrick study took care of language arts, history, and art this week.


And for math we broke out the Monopoly game for the first time. I helped Luc along but we let Gabe and Lily fend for themselves. Gabe did excellent and had no problem using his multiplication and money counting skills. For him it was more about learning what a mortgage is and what property value means. For Lily it was a chance to do practical work with the money counting skills she’s been learning and some practice in triple-digit hundreds addition. For Luc we kept it simple in allowing him to count out his spaces on the board. The kids loved it. I think this game will start coming into rotation often.

Linking with Weird, Unsocialized Unschoolers @

Seeing Green

~ Breakfast ~

Buttermilk Coffeecake with Green Buttercream Frosting

(in the shape of a shamrock, of course!)

Green Milk

(drunk in our cool new St. Patty’s shirts)

~ Lunch ~

Green Mac N Cheese

Grahams with Green Buttermilk Frosting and Gold Sprinkles

~ Dinner ~

Slow Roasted Corn Beef

Roasted Cabbage, Potatoes, and Carrots

Irish Soda Bread

(And no pictures because my battery ran low!)

The New Love Dare…sacrificial love

I stare out the window and watch them burn down the grass. Beautiful auburn Little Bluestem natural prairie grass. Lush tall, dried ornamental Pampas grass. This golden color has been the landscape of my days. Whenever I walk by the big picture window I say a little prayer of thanks and revel in the beauty of His glory. Even during the harshest part of winter this grass departed only beauty. But today it is up in flames. The orange licks against the blue sky and I feel sorrow. I feel broken inside. Now I stare at piles of ash, fields of black as far as I can see. Death is ugly. But it is also necessary.

I know enough about prairies to know that every once in a while they need a good burn to start over. It helps with the prevention of weeds. It keeps unwanted trees and shrubs from rooting. It provides a good clean slate for new growth. And in weeks this black barrenness will be covered with fresh new shoots of green. Life…vitality…new beauty.

I thought about this emptiness I felt inside. Silly, I know. It is only plants. And then I started thinking about all my bucking against change this year. I was so comfortable with me, with where I was. Change equaled death. And the Lord was calling for change. Dying to myself.

What does this have to do with a love dare, one might ask? Everything. My husband and I have been talking…a lot. The Love Dare is something that is prevalent in our church as in many at the moment. My husband scoffs. He’s flipped through the book. We’ve even watched the movie (not as a part of a church group…just out of curiosity). “That is not what I would want,” he informs me. Then he, very graphically, describes what would be in his version of a love dare book. And it got me thinking. Would I dare? Would I dare to ask him five things that he would like me to change for him? Would I dare sacrifice for him because I love him? Would I do it without defensiveness or justification of my past actions? Because it is different for each of us…what we want, what fills our needs, what ignites our passion for each other. What if he took the same challenge and asked me what five things about him I would change? And then…get this…what if we actually died to ourselves and took up the marriage cross and did those five things? How would our marriages change?

I think we will find that we might buck against such an idea. After all, opening that line of questioning could quickly ignite a fire that burns terribly fast right through our notions of where we think our relationship is. And we would be left with this black, ugly void that left us feeling wanting. But then as we lived out the dares I think of the new growth that would come, of all the weeds that will have been choked out, of the tree obstacles that have just been moved out of the way, and of the healthy root that would continue to get stronger. And, as uncomfortable as it makes me, I might just have to take up this dare…to ignite the fire of my relationship. And then I will sit back this spring and watch the tender new shoots of green come to life.

Small step buttonD1

There was a little girl who had a little curl…

…and her name was Lily who sparkled like a new spring flower. There is a certain glow about a girl who is growing up and gets to experience that first salon visit. She sees herself as a canvas for the first time and the potential is limitless.

Isn’t she divine in her new 50’s style pin-up floral dress?

Grandma said this is the most still she has seen Lily sit at one time.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.          ~ Matthew 6: 28-33

A Fun New Crafting Site & Free Resources

My sister shared with me a wonderful link to this blog dedicated to making crafts out of toilet paper tubes. It is called How cute is that? Adding it to my resource page right now! The ultimate in upcycling!

By the way, don’t forget to check out all the fun free resource links I’ve collected. Click on Free Homeschool Resources tab above.

The Learning Room – Versatility

Versatility is my word of the week. That is how I’ve had to be with all my plans whether they be for school or our homelife or community. We’ve been out house hunting this week on a serendipitous spotting of an open acreage in our area. That has meant rearranging Adam’s days off, getting paperwork together through the bank, digging up files of information that we had set aside for a later date, and on-the-fly researching to pull it all together.  We needed to be versatile with our schooling to accomplish this and maintain any type of household sanity.

To top it off, we had a bout of sickness come our way that has necessitated everyone to have a versatile attitude. Chores got rearranged, sleep got interrupted or just didn’t happen, meals needed to be changed and made on the fly, unplanned trips to stores happened, and the laundry is overwhelming the whole house right now.

The constant of our week have been the new workboxes. And this week I discovered their versatility of use that made a week that, under my old ways, would’ve made us just miss this week of schooling. And I would have been, understandably so, telling myself that life happens and it was okay to miss a week of school. The workboxes allowed school to still flow this week. Granted, it was more haphazzard then I would have liked, less planned out then I would’ve liked, but it did still happen! I was able to take that five minutes before bed or 5 minutes after breakfast and put a few things in their folders to work on. I didn’t let my mind get carried away with what I would have liked to do but focused on tying things up.

With math we just went on to the next lesson. I put some basic copywork, cursive, and typing practice in to cover the basics of language arts. For history I allowed them the creative freedom to finish up their Little House on the Prairie lapbooks. We combined science and literature by reading The Burgess Animal Book for Children. We also watched the Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution video off Netflix.

The Burgess Animal Book for Children (Dover Science Books for Children) Fizz, Bubble & Flash!: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun! (Williamson Kids Can! Series)

We also did a lot of unschooling this week. All of our new books for the year have been pouring in via FedEx and they have been snatched up before I can even flip through them. Our most popular of the week have been Fizz, Bubble, Flash: Element Explorations and Atom Adeventures and The Life of Fred: Fractions. Gabe started reading it yesterday afternoon. And he was reading it during our movie last nite (the action-packed 2012 – a great movie to watch right before all the news footage on the tsunamis!). He took it to bed with him and I found him still reading it at breakfast this morning. I would have to say that must be one great math book! If I had any doubts about using a living math program with him, they are all gone now! But I suppose the proof is in the pudding. We will see how he does with the actual working out of the problems. For now, I am just thrilled that he is reading it cover to cover like a novel. How many other kids in America are going around reading math books like a new book of Goosebumps just came out?

Our other big, and wonderful, surprise this week is the deer antler that was found by a NLOM staffer out here at the camp. He found it on his daily walk in the woods and graciously brought it to us to show the kids and then allowed them to keep it! I think it is the most coolest nature specimen we will ever collect! It made me excited for spring to get here so we can go out as a family and take our own walk through the woods. I have a feeling our nature study will gain a whole new depth this year.

The kids loved touching the antler and feeling the weight in their hands. They loved, as did I, feeling how rough the spot on the bottom felt where it used to attach despite it looking deceptively soft. I don’t think Luc was willing to part with it all night.

Gabe also took on a project. He decided to make a tracks bag. He used an extra sheet from our lapbook and cut it up. He then traced a bunch of tracks in our Animal Tracks and Signs book and then added them to his bag. I jokingly said he could make a Track and Field Guide. “Get it?” I said. He did get it and thought it quite novel that his mom could come up with a dad joke.

Lily’s unschooling is in the area of reading. Her reading is taking off in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. And the best part about her reading? Hearing her read aloud. She hates to read silently (which drives her brother crazy) but I think the reason for this is because she loves to act out the voices she is reading about. She puts such feeling into her dialogues. I think theater will definitely be an area we will pursue with her at some point.

And that’s a wrap!

Linking with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

Baby Bjorn and the Spewing Adventure

Have you ever tried to nurse a baby while simultaneously making sure a 3 year old’s stomach contents land in the bowl? It is a superwomen-like ability and I am pleased to say I had the pleasure of fielding that hurdle today. I also had the pleasure of nursing the baby and NOT catching it in the bowl but instead looking down at my baby’s shocked expression and quivering lips as his whole head and body is covered in someone else’s puke…as is my shirt, my pants, the couch, the floor, my socks, and the 3 year old. Did I mention we are having a sick day in our neck of the woods?

Well, not technically I guess. The older two are still over in the learning room doing their school thing. And I am gritting my teeth and trying to be ever so patient as my 9 year old is freaking out about a do-over in his lapbook because he messed up on the coloring. I try to kindly explain how mommy is a tad busy in clean up duties at the moment and he will just have to lump it or figure it out for himself. I have a baby to bathe, a 3 year old scared little girl to bathe, a couch to clean, clothes to change and I think my toddler might be poopy.

Our saving grace today? The Baby Bjorn potty. I have two of them in addition to our traditional potty chair. These little babies are small enough to take with in a van trip or to tuck away in every room of the house. It is a one-piece  potty, all rounded and smooth-like making it a breeze to clean and sanitize. I love this potty. And today I found it can also be used for the official “puke bowl”. I know this because it has been the thing I’ve grabbed in a pinch at least 5 times today and saved me from cleaning the floor, the bed, the couch (again), and our clothes.

I am having the first five minutes of peace right now as the baby is finally asleep and so is our precious sick girl. And she sleeps soundly with her new puke bucket tucked safely on her head…you know, just in case!

The Learning Room ~ Working the Workboxes

This week saw a new change for us. I’ve been thinking about implementing workboxes for a while now. I especially started thinking about it when I serendipitously discovered that two of the boxes I had been holding toys in actually fit hanging file folders. I knew I couldn’t use the traditional method…not with six+ kids eventually all homeschooling at once!

2009-2010 Work Tubs

We had been using basic work tubs in that each child each had their own tub that held all their workbooks, school papers, pencil case, etc. that they pulled out during school time. These worked great for a year or so. My oldest two loved having their own books in their own space. I loved being able to throw everything into a tub and just tuck it away at the end of the school day. Our system broke down this year with a preschooler and two toddlers who thought it great fun to get into and dump out the tubs on an almost daily basis despite being disciplined for it. And I was also finding power struggles over kids wanting to work on a book that I hadn’t planned on for the day just because they saw it in their tub.

I now needed a system that ~

  • Fit on a bookshelf up high in a minimal amount of space away from destructive little kid hands.
  • Allowed the two older kids to pull out their workboxes and know exactly what to do and when/how long they had to do it along with the oder they were to do it in.
  • Allowed for me to work more one-on-one with my younger children who are desperate for my attention during school time.
  • Allowed for me to take 5 minutes in the evening to plan throw things together for the next day.
  • Allowed for me to use it in a very formal we-have-a-good-curriculum-plan-for-the-year sort of way or the spontaneous follow-the-rabbit-trail sort of way or the project-week-independent-interest-led-study sort of way.
  • Allowed for me to implement more of the notebooking/lapbooking pages I’ve collected in an organized manner.
  • Can also be used the same sort of way with the preschoolers/toddlers and guided activities.

So I researched one weekend and found this wonderful site of another researcher who had gone before me. Just love those trailblazers! I looked at all the examples of workbox systems working for others and took a few ideas and made it my own based on my needs. Most of my ideas are taken from how Ruby Slippers implements workboxes in their home. Here is what I came up with that worked wonderfully for us this week.

  • I took the clear plastic totes and hung about 6-8 file folders in it.
  • I took about five minutes to write out 15 minutes, 30 minutes over and over on one piece of cardstock and the numbers 1-6 twice on another piece and generically cut them into about one inch sqares.
  • I paperclipped the numbers to the folders on one side.
  • I put in what I wanted them to work on for the next day when I wanted them to work on it. (If it was something they didn’t have in the box like typing on the computer I just wrote what I wanted them to do on a piece of recycled paper and put that in the file).
  • I paperclipped the timed squares on the other side of the folder.
  • I taped a piece of cardstock in the back of the bin that said: FREE TIME if you have all your chores and schoolwork done.

Now the older two knew exactly what to do, in what order, and how long they had to do it. It really did only take me five minutes to throw together at night before I went to bed! And twice during the week I was too tired before bed so I took five minutes after breakfast to throw it together. The system worked beautifully. I especially like the paperclips. It allowed the freedom to switch things around very easily. And the kids LOVED having control over how their school day went and knowing when it ended. It turned the routine I had in my head into actual reality in our week. It even worked so well that on the day I had my ladies Bible class and daddy is watching the kids, schoolwork STILL got done! This has never happened before. The kids just effortlessly knew what to do and dad effortlessly played with the little kids managed their school time! I did just purchase two clip on timers so they each have their own to use for next week.

Hooray for workboxes!

Linked with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

Nikon D3100 Review and Picture Samples

As some of you may know, my trusty olympus point and shoot finally gave out. And I was having photo withdrawals as I waited patiently for tax refund money to come in to buy a new one. I’ve always dreamed of owning an SLR ever since I was a little girl. Well, my darling husband decided to use Valentine’s Day as a way to surprise me and took me out to buy the camera of my dreams. Since we still couldn’t afford the Nikon D90, I went with the next best thing…the Nikon D3100. A solid camera that will last me for years to come.

Last week we did very little schooling (mainly due to holidays, playdates with new people, an unexpected mold problem and house cleanup duty) so I had a little time to play. I watched some wonderful tutorials at Fro Knows Photos and will be back to watch some more. In the meantime, I’ve mostly been shooting in auto mode with the flash off to just get a feel for the camera.

Pretty basic to use so far. Only a little trouble with focusing (has 11 focus points that randomly redistribute where I thought I had focused…still need to figure out how to control those) but the picture quality and color clarity is out of this world and I have had lots of fun creating that bokeh I’ve always wanted to achieve (don’t I sound smart?). Here are a few of my samples from playing!

~ Portraits ~


~ New Life ~

~ Depth of Field Practice ~

F00d ~ Nature ~ Stills

~ Playing With Light Composition  ~


~ Night Lights ~