Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mouse in the House!

How many children does it take to catch a mouse?? Five, armed with an arrow and a cup, plus one mother giving orders from on top of the table!
About lunchtime yesterday, Sam calmly said, "There's a mouse over there." "Where?" I asked him, not really believing that he really saw a mouse. "Over there," pointing in the direction of our shoe basket which is beside our pantry. For a second I thought that he was probably telling the truth, he probably did see a mouse, but I quickly dismissed that thought and went on with my day.
Later that afternoon I walked in the kitchen and found our cat digging furiously in the shoe basket. It was then that I knew! Sam was right! I quickly called Clay to investigate. He started poking around the shoe basket with his arrow, and the mouse ran out! into the pantry! For 30 minutes or so Clay and Olivia poked around the pantry trying to catch the fat little mouse, while Julie, Leah, Sam and I watched from the safety of the island and the table. The mouse would pause during the chase for a snack of a gummy bear or a piece of cereal. (My pantry floor needed vacuuming!) Next the mouse ran under the refrigerator. Clay patiently sat in front of the refrigerator, waiting for him to come out. Finally, the mouse scurried across the floor, and Clay slammed the green cup over his plump body. Caught!

see the little tail sticking out on the right?

We waited for Jimmy to finish cutting the grass to ask him how to get the mouse outside (we wanted to send him back to his family and friends). While waiting, the mouse worked his way out from under the cup! I jumped up on a barstool and called for my mouse catcher (Clay) again! Clay caught him again, and this time surrounded the cup with heavy books. It wasn't long before Jimmy came in and took the mouse out to the woods. Thank goodness!

The pantry got a thorough cleaning and vacuuming yesterday. I sure hope the mouse doesn't have any friends!

Children's Mansion 5K

I ran in the Children's Mansion 5K yesterday, here in Tupelo. Jimmy and the children did not participate because they are running tomorrow in the Chick-Fil-A 5K in Memphis. The Chick-Fil-A race states that no strollers are allowed, so I did not sign up. However, last year there were several people pushing strollers in the race. So I plan to ask them tomorrow if I can start in the back, out of the way of the serious runners, and walk/run the race too. Anyway, yesterday's race course was tough! Full of hills---over and over again! I was very pleased with my time, 29:15. The older children ran a 2K during my 5K, but it was not very organized. There was confusion about the length of the course.....anyway, they exercised and had fun.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Yes! It is that time of year for me. Actually I Christmas (and birthday) shop year round, picking up items as I see them for family and friends, but the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done in September, October, and November. Not only is it more economical and less stressful to shop ahead, it is also much more pleasurable. My goal each year is to have all of the shopping done by November 30th. We take the month of December off from school, and we spend that time wrapping presents, making handmade gifts, baking cookies and bread for gifts, visiting people, hosting a variety of holiday parties and just enjoying all of our holiday decorations. I do NOT want to be in WalMart or the mall during the month of December!
Shopping ahead requires some organization. When December rolls around you will be asking yourself 3 questions:
1. What did I buy?
2. Who is it for?
3. Where did I put it?
I keep a spiral bound notebook that I have titled, "Christmas". This is about the only thing that I don't do on the computer. At the beginning of each new year I write the year at the top of the page. Until about August or September, I just write down each item as I buy it, how much I spent (to help me stick to the budget), and who it is for. When I am ready to complete my shopping, I begin a new page. I list each person I will be buying or making a gift for, leaving the appropriate amount of space between names (more space underneath each of my children's names than other people). Next I look back over the past years entries to make sure that I don't buy my sister in law a pewter bowl every year! Then I transfer the items that I have already bought to the correct page, and check it off. I list ideas for all of the other people. As I buy or make an item, I simply check it off, or list it then check it off.
The older children and I usually make gifts for all of their teachers, coaches, and their friends. I'm not going to share what this year's handmade gift will be, but in the past we have made things such as covered journals and stationery. I decide early in the year what the gifts will be, and I buy the necessary supplies as they go on sale at Hobby Lobby. In December we are ready to craft!
As you shop ahead, you need to designate a space to store the gifts. I use a corner of my storage room, but a shelf or corner in your clothes closet, a shelf in your hall closet, or even your attic will work as well. Just put everything in one place so you won't forget where you hid it. Or record the hiding place in your Christmas notebook.
Other things I record in my Christmas notebook are a list of ornaments I buy for the children, menus for parties, what foods I take to holiday gatherings, and what I serve for Christmas breakfast and dinner (really only the dessert is different each year).

I will post more of my December ideas as the time draws nearer.

Happy Holidays!!!

Bodock 5K

Last night was the Bodock 5K held in Pontotoc, Mississippi. This is called a "twilight run" because the race begins at 8:00 p.m. This was the first race since April that I ran without the double stroller--thanks to 2 of my good friends, Pam and Karen. They both watched Leah and Sam for me. I really enjoyed the first 2 miles, then sometime after mile 2 I got tired. I have not run 3.1 miles nonstop in a while. Some days I run 5-5.5 miles, but I take one minute walk breaks throughout. I am still trying to rebuild my mileage without reinjuring my knees. Anyway, the race was fun! Clay chose to spend the night with his good friends, Parker and Carson (see their Mama's blog) instead of racing. Olivia and Julie had several friends racing and watching, and our homeschool cross country team raced too. The girls really enjoyed the night.
The results: Jimmy got 2nd place, Olivia got 5th, and Julie got 1st. I was just happy to be racing, and I was NOT LAST in my age group.....I was somewhere in the middle! There were 55 girls in Olivia and Julie's age group! That is more than usual. I am proud of them all! Our times are in the sidebar.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Introducing a New Blogger!

My daughter, Olivia, has entered the blogging world. Please visit her blog. Also, Julie's blog has had a facelift. Visit hers too!
Welcome Olivia!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good Children's Books

We began a new read aloud today, Sarah Witcher's Story by Elizabeth Yates. She is also the author of Mountain Born which we read this summer. These books are delightful! Inside the front of Sarah Witcher's Story I found a list of other books that Yates has written. I was so happy to find this list. I searched Amazon this morning and found four of Yates's books. I ordered all of them, plus two books written by George Selden, the author of A Cricket in Times Square. I was also very excited to find that Selden wrote several books about Chester Cricket, Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse (from A Cricket in Times Square). To complete my order, I purchased two books by Elizabeth George Speare. Here is the list of what I bought today:

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Carolina's Courage by Elizabeth Yates
The Next Fine Day by Elizabeth Yates
A Place for Peter by Elizabeth Yates (this is a sequel to Mountain Born)
Chester Cricket's Pigeon Ride by George Selden
Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse by George Selden
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

I will have to hide these books from Olivia and Julie when they come in! If I don't, they will read all of them in 3 days! It is very hard for me to find good books to read aloud that they have not already read. Of course they don't mind my reading aloud a book they have previously read, but it is so much enjoyable for all of us when the book is new to everyone. I am always on the lookout for books that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Leah and Sam listen too.

These new books should keep us supplied with read alouds for a while. I read to them only 30 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. I mean the very first thing! As soon as their alarm clocks go off, they come down for read aloud time. I find that if I don't read first thing, I never get around to it, and it makes getting up early for school much more pleasant!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blog Facelift

My sister in law set me up with the cute new header. I love it! Since we live 200 miles apart, she and I worked on it the way we do most of our communicating--electronically. Megan and I do not talk in the "typical" way. Most nights, sometime after 10:00 or so we begin our little routine: She will text me, "emailed you". So I read my email and then reply. Next I text her back saying, "emailed you". This may go on for several minutes. Sometimes I'll send or receive an email saying, "I texted you a little while ago...". Other times we will comment on each other's blogs saying, " I sent you an email (or text)!" Both of our husbands think we are so silly, texting, commenting, emailing back and forth. They'll ask us why don't you just PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL HER! Noooooo......that would be too easy.......and not as much fun!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Bible Study Binder

I recently created a new binder for my Bible study notes and materials. I love the idea that my sister-in-law gave me this summer for laminating paper to use for dividers in binders instead of the traditional tabbed dividers. My Bible study materials were not very organized, so I went to work. I used pretty colored paper for my binder cover and dividers. I printed the name of each section on the paper before laminating. These are the sections I have:
Thankfulness: Each day I list 5 things I am thankful for. I have been doing this for 12 years, and I love to go back and read my entries. It serves as a journal.
Bible Study Notes: Each day I read a chapter from the Bible and record key verses, thoughts, personal applications, etc. If I am studying from a particular book for my Ladies' Bible Class or own my on, I would include my answers to questions from the book in this section also.
Prayers: I have a page for my husband and each child, myself, and then a page for ongoing prayer requests, and a page for short term prayer requests. I simply list on each page what I am currently praying for. I sometimes include Bible verses, especially on the pages for my family and me. I keep paper beside the computer to jot down prayer requests I receive online so I won't forget to list them on my prayer page.
Mom's Corners: I have many, many of these printed out. They are very inspirational. I like to reread one each day.
General Bible Studies and Articles: These are various things I have printed out from emails or the internet. I like to reread and study these too. They are also encouraging.
Ladies' Bible Class Notes: These are my notes for our monthly ladies' Bible class at my church.
Marking Your Bibles: This is a new section. I have printed out instructions for underlining and outlining various Bible verses to use to teach someone else about God and His wonderful plan for salvation. I am just beginning to use this.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Elvis Presley 5K Graceland

Olivia won 2nd place!Julie won 1st place!
Clay won 2nd place!
Today was the Elvis Presley 5K at Graceland in Memphis. The family did an excellent job! Jimmy won 3rd place. I was so proud of all of them! Leah, Sam and I watched the race and cheered them on.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Day of School 2008

The first day of school here at the Johnson home went extremely well! The children woke up at 7:00 a.m. (with the help of their alarm clocks) and sleepily settled in the den for our morning read aloud time. I finished the last chapter of Mountain Born. We began a Cricket in Times Square today. After reading time, we all completed our chores and enjoyed breakfast. This was followed by our Bible study. This year we are keeping the following schedule for our Bible time:
Monday--Bible Study Guide for All Ages (review questions, lesson text, lesson questions)
Tuesday--character study from Keepers of the Faith (we are currently studying contentment)
Wednesday--a chapter from Proverbs
Thursday--drills from Bible Study Guide For All Ages
Friday--Bible Study Guide For All Ages (same as Monday, different lesson)

Next on the agenda was preschool with Leah, which she enjoyed immensely!

The children completed all of their schoolwork before lunch. They were so excited about that!

Olivia--happy that the first day wasn't so bad!
Julie--enjoying her new math curriculum on the computer
Clay reading aloud to me--looking forward to finishing so he can get to sharpening sticks

Sam--practicing the sign language that Julie taught him during her playtime with him
the chefs
Julie and Leah prepared us a delicious lunch of mini pizzas on English muffins. After lunch the older children enjoyed free time while the younger ones napped and rested. Olivia mixed up some salt dough, and they all made various items. Olivia made the cutest dessert treats for her American Girl dolls. She painted them and packaged them, and they looked good enough to eat!
Later in the day was cross country practice for Olivia and Julie. All in all it was a super first day of school!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Leah's Seashells

Since we have returned home from the beach, Leah has carried this bag of seashells around her neck. It is quite heavy! The only times she removes it is for bathing and sleeping! This picture is just before church yesterday. She stuck a Belle Pez dispenser in the top for decoration.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Educational Placemats

I keep placemats on our kitchen table. I have a collection of seasonal ones, educational ones, and nice ones that we use for company. I have collected the educational ones over the years from museum gift shops, homeschool supply catalogs, and WalMart. My children enjoy making up games and quizzing each other using the information found on the placemats. We learn math facts, world and U.S, geography, U.S. history, science and preschool concepts while dining.
Recently while shopping at our local teacher supply store I saw so many bulletin board cutouts and posters that I wanted to display in our schoolroom, but I knew that my wall space was limited. Then I had an idea! I could cut the posters and cutouts, laminate them and make them into placemats! The posters cost $2.50 each, and I made 2-4 placemats out of each poster. The largest sheets my laminator can accomodate are 12x15, so I cut down my large white cardstock sheets (bought at Staples--100 in a package--12x17) to fit the laminator sheets. Then I used scrapbooking double sided tape to attach the things I had cut out onto the cardstock and laminated it to make a placemat. I made about 30! The new placemats include times tables, Spanish color words, Spanish number words to 100, Spanish shape words, election terms and their definitions, states and capitals, parts of speech, punctuation, preschool shapes, ABCs, colors, and contractions. For some of the placemats I used flashcards, 8 per placemat.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Scavenger Hunt

Today we had our annual back to school scavenger hunt. On the Friday before we begin a new school year I plan a scavenger hunt for the children. I make 4 clues for each child, with each clue taking them to a different part of the house. In the last location they find a surprise! The surprise is something new for the school year. In the past I have given them a box of basic school supplies, new lunch boxes (for field trips and park days), or some fun art supplies. This year the older 3 received a set of special markers and erasable colored pencils. Leah got pip squeak markers and Sam got two boxes of kindergarten crayons.

waiting to begin the hunt!

Can someone read my clue?

This is fun!

Is it in here?

Will I ever find this clue?

I know exactly where to look!

After the hunt we eat complete our chores and eat breakfast. Next I sit with each child individually and preview their schoolwork for the year. I show them their checklists, communicate my expectations for their work and behavior, and introduce any new procedures or curriculum. Now on Monday we are ready for a full school day! I think I am more excited than any of them!