Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homeschooling Many Children

I recently wrote a post for The Homeschool Classroom entitled, Homeschooling Children of Multiple Ages.  I am by no means an expert in this area, although I do have a few years of experience.  I shared some ideas that have worked with us through the years.

The main idea I want to express concerning homeschooling multiple children is that it is hard.  If you are homeschooling a few children of your own, and you feel like maybe you are doing something wrong since it takes you all day, or you feel like you are always trying to catch encouraged!  Homeschooling is hard work!  And that is okay.

I hope you enjoy the post!

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Bible Study

A few weeks ago I contemplated beginning the B90 (read the entire Bible in 90 days) program again.  I finished this for the 3rd time back in April, and I thought I might want to tackle the challenge again.  I considered which translation I wanted to read, and about two or three weeks ago I actually began the B90 plan.
I lasted 8 days.
I am not sure why I decided to stop.  I have enjoyed my B90 readings the other times, and I have learned so much!  But this time, it just wasn't what I felt I needed right now.

So I am currently studying two different Bible study books.  One, Worthy Women, by Mary Alice Wilhelm, is the book we are using for our monthly Ladies' Bible Class.  I am reading the lessons and copying down every single Scripture that is mentioned or quoted.  I am also making notes and personal applications as needed, and I am taking my time when answering the questions at the end of each chapter.

I am also studying Sweet Journey by Teri Maxwell.  I am using the same procedure with this book.  My plan is to alternate between the two books each day.
I also am continuing to list five things I am thankful for each day in my thankful journal, and I am currently keeping my prayer request list in the back of this journal.

One more thing about prayer requests--I may have shared this before, but when I am asked to pray about something, I try to write it down right at that moment, either in a notebook or on a sticky note.  Then later, I copy it into my thankful journal.  I also have a folder in my gmail account where I put all of the prayer requests I receive via email.  I copy these into my thankful journal too.  It is so encouraging to look back at prayers and the little checkmarks and dates I put beside them as they are answered.

How is your Bible study going?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Working With a Schedule

Five weeks ago I began our new school year a little bit differently than I have in the past.

I never made out a schedule for our school days.

I had typed up a routine for our days (school 9:00-12:00 and again from 1:00-3:00).  I included broad time slots for Bible study, running, morning and afternoon chores, housecleaning, laundry, and cooking, but I did not assign specific times for those activities.

When I was planning this summer, I was so overwhelmed whenever I looked at my children's school material and considered the time it would take to implement, that I just never put anything on paper.  I figured that we would just begin school, and I would try a few different things, and then hope for the best.

It didn't work so well.  After almost 5 full weeks of school, I felt like I was drowning.  Little by little, I kept feeling more and more behind.  I was diligent to do school every single day that Jimmy was working.  I still washed and dried our clothes (although I got way behind in the folding and putting away), I still cooked supper at night, I still did some house cleaning.  But after about 10 days of this--working myself to death all day and feeling like half was left undone--I just chose to stop stressing about it.  I reminded myself that my family was more important than my to-do list.  So, my attitude improved, but my productivity was still lacking.  Not from lack of my working all day, but from less than perfect use of my and my children's time.  I had a peace with this busy season of my life, but I still felt like I could do better.

I found that while I was working with one child, I would have 3 other ones who had done all they could do independently, and they were all needing me too.  Or someone would be trying to practice their piano while another child was doing a math lesson.  Or three children needed the computer for school, all at the same time.  I felt like we had a lot of time being wasted, because the children did not have a specific plan for their days.  Like we have had in the past.

So last Wednesday, I worked on a 2012 school day schedule.  Just creating a table and typing in all of those neat little blocks made me feel so much better!  I already felt like I could be the master of my day, instead of putting out fires all day.  I patterned the schedule after ones that had worked in the past.  Assigning piano practice times, computer times, times with Mama, times alone, times with a sibling, etc.

Thursday, we loosely followed the schedule for the first time.  We started 30 minutes late (because I ran 12 miles that morning, and I did not get home until 8:30....and I have us scheduled to begin at 8:00).  I had hoped to make up that time by shortening each 30 minute block by 2 or 3 minutes, but then I had to make some important phone calls and do some computer work for Jimmy that had to be done at 11:00 AM, and that used up another 1 hour and 15 minutes of my day.  In spite of those two deviations, we still accomplished MORE on that day than we had on previous go with the flow days.  I was encouraged!

Friday, we followed the schedule to the minute!  I keep my phone handy as a timer, and I had that timer playing the harp alarm every 30 minutes to keep us on task.  I worked with all five children, did all subjects, and even remembered to do science with Leah and Sam.  Science is on the schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!  In my schedule I made allowances for Mondays when we have to leave the house at 1:00 for piano, and for Tuesdays and Thursdays when we have to leave at 3:10 or 3:30 for XC practice.

For my family, using a schedule is a valuable tool.  I am not a slave to the schedule.  It is my  guide.  When things are going smoothly, it allows me to accomplish so much.  When life happens and there are disruptions, I can deal with those cheerfully, and then jump back into the schedule where I should be, or just take a few minutes off different activities here and there to make up the difference.  I also plan to make adjustments to our schedule as we use it this week.  Places where I do not have enough time and places where there is more than enough time will need to be tweaked.  When the timer plays, and we are in the middle of a good part of a book, or in the middle of an important math concept, etc, I will allow myself a few minutes to tie up the loose ends.  In fact, I set my timer for 28 minute blocks to allow for smooth transitions.

If you find yourself floundering in your days, I encourage you to create and follow a schedule.  But don't let it rule you!  Don't let it steal your joy!  Just let it serve as a guide for you, a tool to assist you in reaching your goals.  Serving our Lord, being a help meet for our husbands, lovingly teaching and training our children, cheerfully keeping our home...those are our goals.  Let your schedule serve as a means to that end.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tallahatchie River Run 5K

This morning our family traveled to New Albany for the Tallahatchie River Run 5K. Leah and Sam ran the 1/2 mile fun run, and then the rest of us ran the 5K.  This was my first 5K (or any race) to run "fast" in over a year.  Lynn agreed to watch Leah and Sam, and I just decided to see what I could do.  My first goal was to finish in under 30 minutes, and my second, non-published goal was to break 27 minutes.  I had never run this race before, and it was very hilly!  I am usually not one to complain about hills, but this race had lots of hills.  But, the last 1/2 mile to the finish line was downhill, and that was awesome!

I finished with a time of 26:52.  And I was pleased!

This race scores high school runners both within the total 5K runners and also as a separate group of 12-18 year old runners.  I think there were 4 or 5 school teams there, and the Spartan girls won first place in their division.  The top 10 boys and girls from the school runners, ages 12-18 each won top runner t-shirts.  Many Spartans won t-shirts, including Olivia, Julie, and Clay.

I didn't take many pictures, since I was running, and the ones I took were with my phone.

 Danielle and Julie
holding the Spartans Girls' trophy and their individual trophies too

Jimmy and Clay

Another fun Saturday morning!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Meeting Teri Maxwell

  • Earlier this week, our local homeschool group hosted a night of encouragement.  They invited the Maxwell Family of to speak at this annual event.  

I was so excited when I heard who the speakers would be!  I have read Teri Maxwell's books for over 13 years now, and I could not wait to hear her speak.  She was all that I expected--gracious, soft-spoken, kind, and upbeat.  Even after reading most of Teri's materials (books, website, blog, and monthly newsletters), I still learned something new at the conference!  

While Teri was sharing ways it was possible to successfully homeschool your children with preschoolers, toddlers, and babies underfoot, she shared an idea that I have never thought of........having your children drill flashcards with each other.  Now why haven't I been doing that?  Beginning Tuesday I gave Leah and Sam each other's flashcards.  I gave them a few brief directions, reminded them to be patient and kind, and let them go.  It worked!  They both enjoyed it, and they have continued to drill each other each day this week.  An added bonus is that they will not only benefit from the flashcards for themselves, but also for the flashcards that they are asking the other person.  I am predicting that Sam will learn his multiplication facts early!

I encourage you to visit the Maxwell's website, The Maxwells are such a sweet family, and I have learned many of my organization skills from Teri's books.  She has some really good ideas.

Here are the Maxwell books that I have read:

  • Managers of Their Homes (the first book of Teri's that I read)
  • Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit (I ready this three or four times each year!)
  • Managers of Their Chores
  • Managers of Their Schools
  • Just Around the Corner, Volumes 1 and 2
  • Keeping Our Children's Hearts
My girls have enjoyed reading The Moody Family series of books written by the Maxwell's daughter, Sarah, and I bought two new Maxwell books at the conference:
  • Preparing Sons To Provide for the Single-Income Family
  • Sweet Journey
After the conference concluded, I waited in line to meet Teri.  I was so happy to introduce myself to her, give her a hug, and enjoy a short conversation with her.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So What Do You Do On Your Day Off?

We typically "do school" 4 days each week.  Jimmy is normally off one day each week, and for several years now we have taken this day off from our school work as well.  Some people ask me why we do school only 4 days a week, and others ask me, "What do you do on those off days?

Let me answer that first question first.  I need one day off each week for my sanity.  On school days I am focused and on task all day long.  It wears me out!  My children benefit from the frequent breaks too.  We work really, really hard on our school days.  Plus (and really most importantly) Jimmy wants to spend time with us when he is home.  The older children sometimes have some reading or a science or math lesson to complete on our off days, but they only do that if Jimmy has a meeting or is on a long run or we are not doing anything in particular that day.

So now the next question:  What do you do on your "once a week day off"?
In general these are the kinds of things I do on these off days:

  • dental appointments
  • haircuts
  • long runs (when I can work it out)
  • errands
  • housework
  • cook
  • time-consuming household chores
  • read to the children
  • play games
  • sew
  • blog
The children usually enjoy their free day playing outside or spending extra time on their hobbies.  Sometimes we take a trip to Memphis, and other days we just stay at home.

Today is an off day for us.  It is now about 2:00, and this is what I have accomplished today:
  • ran 6 miles with a friend
  • took some of the children to the park so they could run.  I worked on my school schedule while they ran (more on that later.....I am just now putting down on paper my daily school schedule.)
  • with the children's help, cleaned our entire upstairs (dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed the bathrooms)
  • made a batch of granola
  • baked 4 loaves of homemade bread
  • cleaned out my pool (the water was turning green!)
  • three loads of laundry--one or two more to do
Today my children have done the following:
  • ran
  • cleaned the upstairs
  • played the Wii (Leah and Sam)
  • worked in his blacksmith shop (Clay)
  • sewed an apron (Julie)
  • did school even though we are "off" (Olivia--her two college classes continue even when we are off!)
  • prepared a new recipe for our lunch (Julie)
Our school work is more than academic, and having one day off from most of our "book work" each week gives us time to focus on non-traditional lessons.  

One more thing--with younger children, I have found that I can do school 4 days a week AND school only August 1-Memorial Day.  But with older children (7-8th grades and up), I have found that either they have to do some lessons (not all of them every time) on some of the days that we are off, or we must continue our school year on into the middle of June--for some of our subjects.  Having a shorter summer break is well worth the 4 day school weeks for our family.

Coming soon.....our 2012 school day schedule....that I am just now working on and it's our 5th week of school!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Flat Stanley Party

About ten days ago, Leah and Sam attended a Flat Stanley party hosted by our friend, Shruti.  She had another mom read the first Flat Stanley book to the children, and then the children moved into her kitchen to make a paper Flat Stanley.  Shruti had prepared a packet for each child to mail with his Flat Stanley to a far away friend.  That person will take the Flat Stanley to some fun and interesting place and take a picture with Flat Stanley in that location.  They will put a copy of the picture and a brief description of where they are inside the large envelope.  Then they will mail Flat Stanley and the packet to another friend.  

This continues until the 7th person mails Flat Stanley back to Leah or Sam.  After all of the children who attended the party receive their Flat Stanleys back after his travels, we will meet again and share where all our Flat Stanleys have been.  A map is also included in the packet for each recipient to mark the location of where they took Flat Stanley.

After making Flat Stanley, the children decorated sugar cookies to look like Flat Stanley too.  It was such a fun party!  I am so glad that I made the time to take Leah and Sam!

 Sam with his Flat Stanley cookie

 Sam with his Flat Stanley--he still had to cut him out and glue him on a large craft stick.

 Leah decorating her Flat Stanley cookie.

The completed cookie--Yum!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Blacksmith

Clay is a blacksmith.  

As I began uploading pictures for this post, I could not find the pictures that I thought I had taken of his various projects.  He has made numerous knives with all lengths of blades and various handles.  Every knife he makes is unique.  I hope to take some pictures of his handiwork this week, and I will share them.

This is what Clay looks like every day.  Well, actually in this picture he is still relatively clean.  He usually is much blacker than this.  

 Clay with a knife he made Saturday after the race.  It has a metal handle.

Clay's forge and blacksmithing supplies have grown over the last several months.  He started with a brush fire and leaf blower, and now he has a real forge.  At first the forge sat at the edge of our driveway, but earlier this summer Jimmy helped him build a shelter for his forge and other supplies.  He also has a thousand (or maybe it's two thousand) pound pile of coal.

 Jimmy, Clay, and Sam, beginning to lay the floor of the outdoor blacksmith shop.


 working hard

 The floor is all done!

 Everything moved into the blacksmith shop.
I can't tell in this picture if the roof of the shop is completed or in the beginning stages...

 A sign that Clay made

 another view of the shop
Oh, I can tell now....the roof is not complete.

 some his his tools and supplies

future blacksmiths

Clay's usual daily routine is to wake up early, complete his morning chores, eat breakfast, and begin his schoolwork.  He works independently until he has done all he can do alone.  By this time it is 9:00 or 10:00 AM.  Depending on if I am available to do school with him (check all of his work, teach a new math concept, give creative writing instruction, and read his Sonlight read alouds to him) or not he then goes out to his blacksmith shop.  He will forge, drill, grind (he also uses various power tools in our garage), etc., until I call him in for school or lunch.  He returns to his shop after school, and he will stay out there until cross country practice or supper.  Sometimes he goes back out there after supper!  

I am so glad that Clay has found a creative and productive hobby that he enjoys so much!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday.  And I am having a wonderful day!  Julie made homemade blueberry sweet rolls for breakfast, and they were delicious!  The girls had set the table with pretty zebra plates with turquoise forks on a hot pink tablecloth.  

After lunch, I opened my presents and posed for pictures.  Clay was the photographer today--his first time at this job.

 Sam tried to be in every picture!  See his little head in the back?

 Julie made me this cute wall hanging.  It has tiny clothespins to hold the socks.  I will hang it in my laundry room.  So cute!

 Here are some of the items that Leah made me.

 Sam giving me a hug after presenting me with this little handmade pillow. He actually sewed it himself (with help from his big sister).

 Here are some of my handmade cards.  Sam's card is missing for a few minutes.....we later found it.

After the gift opening, Jimmy and the children sang Happy Birthday to me.  Julie and Olivia made these chocolate cupcakes (from scratch) with salted caramel icing.  Yum!  Yum!  I love salty things, and these cupcakes were delicious!

This is seashell covered box that Olivia made.  She used seashells that she collected while we were at Seaside this summer.  

I am enjoying my special day.  I am so blessed to have a husband, children, parents, other family members, and friends who have taken the time to make sure my day is memorable.

I love birthdays!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recent Running

Well, I know I have not been blogging lately, so I'll just jump right back in!  My life has been CRAZY BUSY, and I have just not made much time for the computer.

But we are all still running and running here at the Johnson household!

Last Saturday, our homeschool XC team, the Spartans, participated (as unattached individuals) in the Pontotoc XC meet.  Olivia, Julie, and Clay all ran successful races.  My children enjoy these XC meets so much!  The weather was nice and cool that morning, and it was the perfect day for a XC race.

Early this morning (like around 5:30 ish) our family drove up to Pickwick for Jimmy and the older three children to run the Darryl Worley 5K race.  Today was also a cool, and all four of them ran a fantastic race.  In fact, Clay ran a PR (personal record)!

Here are some pictures of our morning.

 Sam and Leah, waiting during the race

 playing around on some sort of building materials

 still playing...

 more playing...

 Now they have moved across the road with me to watch for the finishers.

 Here comes Clay!
Flying to the finish!
He finished 4th place overall (just one second behind the 3rd place overall runner)


 He broke 20 minutes!
His official race time was 19:53!
Go Clay!

 Julie and Jimmy after the race

 Julie (1st place overall female) and Olivia (2nd place overall female)
They were both so happy with their race times.

Clay with his 1st place medal--10-14 age group

Jimmy is currently in major marathon training.  He ran the Tupelo Marathon a couple of weeks ago, and he has marathons scheduled for October, December, and January!  He runs many, many, many miles each week, and he is always the leader on my leader board on Daily Mile.

I have currently built up to 30 miles a week which I have done for the past two weeks.  I have increased my long run to 11 miles, and I plan to run another 11 miler this week (unless Lynn and Leanna want to do 12!)  My plan is to add 1 mile a week to my long run and keep my total weekly miles at 30 until mid October.....because......I finally have a surgery date!!  Last week my doctor set my final reconstruction surgery date for October 19th.  I plan to run 15 miles the day before the surgery (Heather said I should just run to the hospital!  Ha!  But Jimmy said that actually it's only 13 miles to the hospital.  Ha! Ha!)
I will have to totally rest for 1 week, and then the doctor said I could try to run at 2-3 weeks post-surgery.  I'll jump back in to some pretty high mileage, but I think I can quickly catch up in my marathon training plan.  We'll see.

So that's the recent running.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Our First Day of School

We are finishing our third week of school tomorrow, so I thought it was time to share our first day of school pictures!

The first week and a half of school was stressful to say the least. I ran out of day before I finished my list every single day.  And then things began to pile up.  I was getting more and more behind in my school schedule.  I was not happy.  I forgot to be thankful.  I was grumpy.

And then I found this blog post.  Please take the time to read it, and then add Finding Joy to your list of regular reads.  Rachel spoke directly to me.  I know she did!  I immediately thought of my dear friends Lynn and Heather.  I sent them the link to the blog post the very next morning.  By coincidence, my friend Anita shared the link to the very same blogpost on Facebook the next day.  She had read it too, and she knew that all of us needed to read it.

So I changed my attitude.  It has been a week and a half since I began reading Finding Joy (and I am reading it every day), and my attitude and my outlook regarding my homeschool and my homemaking and my family in general is much more positive.  I am no longer a slave to my to do list.  I have stopped saying that I am behind in school and housework, and laundry....behind who?

I still make a list.  I am still trying to be as productive as possible every day.  But I am not stressing about it.  I am choosing to enjoy my children and my husband.  To love them and to love the moments.  I am just doing the next thing.  Over and over again. 

Wednesday I did school with the children for 7 hours 50 minutes.  Then I folded the clean clothes that had piled up since Monday, and that took one hour.  Then I finished preparing supper (crock pot refried beans tacos), and then we went to Bible study at church.  It was a very full day, but I purposed to keep a happy attitude.  Did I leave items unchecked on my to do list?  Of course!  But instead of focusing on that, I recalled all that I did do.  
And that has to be enough.

So here are the pictures of our first day of school for the 2012-2013 school year.
These smiling faces are why I love my job!

 Sam-1st, Leah--3rd, Clay--8th, Julie--10th, Olivia--12th

After taking the picture, I gave the children the first of 10 clues for our annual Back to School Treasure Hunt.  This year I even made rhyming clues!

 heading down to the garage for another clue

 visiting Ribsy

 up to the back yard

 this clue was in the tree

 this clue was eaten by our dog, Pokey!!

 a clue in the workshop

 Sam, with the final clue

 the final clue
(The prize was in our upstairs hot water heater closet...which leads to our Christmas decorations storage area)

the prize!
Mr. Scenty scented markers
just like the ones they had when I was a child

I want to encourage you not to compare yourself to other moms.  Not to become weary in well doing.  
Encourage your friends.
Love your family.

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Baked Oatmeal

This is an easy recipe that I make for breakfast about once a week.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups almond milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix dry ingredients together and then add the wet ones.  Stir until blended.  Put in small square glass baking dish. Bake for 23 minutes.  If it seem a little dry after baking, you can stir milk into each serving.  You can also add chopped fruit or nuts either before or after baking.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Picky Eaters

Thankfully, my children are not picky eaters.  They are quite willing to try anything, and yesterday I started thinking about why this was so.  I wondered if anything I had done over the years had contributed to their adventuresome eating.  I think the biggest factor is that I have never made a big deal about food.  Basically, I fix the meals, they eat it.  This summer when I was revamping my recipe binder, Lynn, Heather, and I looked for cute quotes to put on our covers.  This is what I put on the back of my binder, "You will eat it, and you will like it".  I thought that was funny!

  • As soon as my children were ready for solid food, I began serving them from our table--whatever we were eating (within reason--no chips and salsa for a 10 month old!).  The one exception was my first born.  I did exactly what my sweet pediatrician said in regards to feeding Olivia.  Thankfully, he was fully supportive of nursing, but if he said to feed her half a jar of baby food carrots twice a day, I did it!  With the rest of the children I rarely used jarred baby food.  They just ate appropriate foods from our table.
  • I never fixed my children a separate meal.  They ate what we all ate.  And still do.
  • But, if I was preparing a new recipe that I was unsure of the taste or something extremely spicy, I would always also prepare a side dish that I knew everyone liked (rice or potatoes or something).  That way I knew that the younger children would have something to eat, but it wasn't like I was fixing them a separate meal.
  • I served very, very small portions.  Tiny.  Like 5 peas.  A Tablespoon of sweet potatoes.  My pediatrician that I loved so much when I had my first three children recommended that.  He said to give the children very small portions.  Large amounts of food overwhelmed them, but they liked asking for more.  I always happily refilled their plates--with more tiny portions--as long as they desired.
  • I asked them to try everything on their plate--even just one bite.  Or one pea!  Then they could decide if they liked it and wanted more, or "they didn't care for it today".  That is what I would allow them to say.  I taught them that it was bad manners to say, "I don't like this."  But saying, "I don't care for this today" was much more pleasant.  Just because they didn't like steamed broccoli one day, doesn't mean that they wouldn't like it next week.
  • I had them try one bite of everything on their plate every meal.  They would sometimes say, "Remember,  I don't care for this today?".  To which I would reply, "Oh, it takes 21 times of trying a food for your body to decide if it likes it or not.  So please try it again." 
  • I didn't make an issue over "cleaning your plate" or "eating all of your vegetables or no dessert".  I truly only required one bite, and I basically ignored them.  I did not make a big deal over it.  I did not ignore them in the sense that I didn't interact with them at the table, I just did not focus on whether they were eating or not.  They knew the try one bite rule, and we just ate our meals and enjoyed each other's company.
  • I did not use dessert as a reward (we don't have dessert after every meal anyway), but if I have a child who is clearly not eating enough of his meal, he certainly doesn't need ice cream.  Sometimes Sam will ask me, "Have I eaten enough salad to get dessert?"  And I just say something like, "Eat your salad until you are full of salad....and I am sure you will still have room for dessert later!" Then I ignore his eating.  
  • I allow my children to have a bedtime snack.  We normally eat supper around 6:00, and usually the children are not asleep until 10:00.  So, before "bedtime" around 9:00, I allow them to eat something.  This keeps them from going to bed on an empty tummy if I have served them a supper meal that was not their favorite....and therefore they may not have eaten as much as normal. 
  • I do not make my children continue to try one bite of foods that they clearly have no taste for---Olivia will probably never like fresh tomatoes.  I do not like pickles.  Clay doesn't like rice.  I am fine with that.  They eat such a variety of foods, and they are such good sports about all of the new recipes that I try, that once we are well aware of a particular food they they don't like, the one bite rule is dropped.  
  • The last thing is I serve a wide variety of foods.  I like to cook, and I have tried many recipes over the years.  Some have been total flops---and we have all had to make a sandwich for supper, but through the years my children have been exposed to and have tried many different kinds of foods prepared in many different ways.  We also encourage them to try new and different things at restaurants.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My New Running Shoes

Brooks Pure Cadence

I bought these shoes last week, and I love them!  I have worn Brooks Glycerin (outside) and Brooks Adrenaline (treadmill) for years now.  In fact, Brooks are the only running shoes I have worn since I began running when Sam was one.  

I first saw these shoes on Daily Mile dot com.  One of my friends posted about trying the new Brooks minimalist shoes, and I was curious.  At our local Finish Line store I asked the salesman to show me some....I loved them even before I tried them on!

What a fantastic color combination!  I know that you are not supposed to buy running shoes for the color, but I don't consider myself a real, hard-core runner anyway!  I always consider color.  When I have shoes that are a color I am not crazy about, I cannot wait until I wear them out.

These shoes are considered a hybrid between a super supportive shoe like I have been wearing for 5 years and a minimalist shoe (which I will probably never wear).  They are extremely lightweight, but they do have some padding in the sole.  Especially in the mid-foot area, to encourage mid foot striking as opposed to heel striking (which I do---just look the the heels of my running shoes for evidence).  Whatever the mechanics, I just like these shoes.  I like how they feel.  I love the color.

How have they performed?  Well, I must be honest.  When I first ran in them (a 4 mile and then a 6 mile run) I did not insert my orthotics (I had these made after a long-term knee injury/pain 4 years ago).  I have only run once or twice without my orthotics in 4 years.  My  right knee and ankle hurt after both runs, and continued to ache throughout the day.  Then I ran 6 miles and then 10 miles with the orthotics inside.  No pain.  None at all.  I then wore the shoes without the orthotics to the grocery store/Walmart/Sam's last weekend for about 4 hours.  My right knee and ankle began to hurt with 10 minutes of wearing them and hurt the entire time.  So...yesterday I tried them without the orthotics one more time.  I ran 7 miles, and during the run my knee felt fine.  As the day wore on, my knee did begin to ache.  My verdict:  I will continue to wear these shoes, but I am going to work on my running form to see if that will help my knee discomfort.  If I have to, I will wear the orthotics.  Does that defeat the purpose of trying to wear more minimalist shoes?  No matter.  I love these shoes, and I am going to wear them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Questions, Answers, and Comments

Over the last couple of months, some of my commenters have asked me questions in my comment box.  Other people have asked me questions via email or in real life.  Since I still don't know the best way to answer questions left for me in the comments (especially if the questioner doesn't have a blog or website for me to visit), I thought it was time for a little bit of question and answer time.

Why are you using Saxon Algebra 2 instead of Teaching Textbooks?
The long part of my answer of why Teaching Textbooks is not my favorite, but the best of what I feel like I have to choose from can be found by reading this post.
However, a couple of things have changed since I wrote that post in May, 2011.
1.  Horizons (my all time favorite math curriculum) has now expanded past their 6th grade book.  Horizons now includes pre-algebra and Algebra 1.  I am really, really hoping that by the time Clay and my other children need Algebra 2 and geometry, they will have added those courses as well.  Clay is in the 8th grade and is currently working in the Horizons pre-algebra book.
2.  Olivia (my 12th grader) felt like taking geometry and chemistry in the same year (10th grade for her) was just too much at one time.  She suggested that her siblings either take chemistry and Algebra 2 or advanced biology and geometry at the same time.  I asked Julie (10th grader now) which courses she wanted to tackle this year, and she chose chemistry and Algebra 2.  I offered to get her a different curriculum for math--she has not been a big fan of TT.  I did a little bit of research and chose Saxon, 3rd edition.  Apparently, I did not do enough research, because we found out that Saxon 3rd edition algebra books (1 and 2) include geometry.  Their advanced math course finishes the geometry course.  So, I guess we will be using Saxon advanced math as Julie's 11th grade math course.  Like I said earlier, I am hoping that Horizons will come through for me and produce both Algebra 2 and geometry courses.....very soon!

Have you found a satisfactory lipstick color since Jane:  Kiss of Caramel has been discontinued?
Yes!  It is NYC color 401:  Caramel.
It is not quite the same shade as the Jane color, but it is a satisfactory substitute.  It is also cheap, and can be found at Walmart.  I usually buy 4 or 5 tubes at a time, in case they decide to stop selling it.  My friends kid me about my lipstick use.  I do love wearing lipstick!

I see you are using both Bible Study Guide For All Ages and Our Spiritual Heritage in your home Bible study this year.  Why both?  And which would you recommend if I were to choose only one?
I am using both because while I love the Bible Study Guide, and I have used it for 8 years, this year at RYC one of the teachers used these great purple timeline-like cards as part of her lesson.  I asked her about them (did she make them, etc.), and she told me all about them.  She recommended that I visit the Our Spiritual Heritage website to learn more.  After reading about those cards (called the Chronology Box) and also their home study program, I knew that I wanted some of these materials for our Bible study.  I purchased the Chronology Box, the teacher book and 2 student books for Leah and Sam in order to teach the unit God Is Wise, and I am about to order the Who cards.

I will continue using the Bible Study Guide For All Ages. Hands down, it cannot be beat for general Bible learning.  It is a 4 year cycle through the entire Bible, and I have learned so much while reading through the Bible twice in 8 years with my children.  It stresses Bible reading....there are no paraphrases or application stories.  Drills and memory work are included, and each lesson has 7 review questions from previous lessons.  For example, now that we are halfway through year 8, we sometimes have questions from year 1.  And my children almost always know the answer without looking it up!  (I don't.)

The advantage that I feel Our Spiritual Heritage offers is application lessons and the the big picture of the story of the Bible.  I know that all of us will benefit from using the Chronology cards to learn the timeline of the entire Bible.  The Who cards will drill us on the well-known and the not-so-well-known people of the Bible.

So it depends on your goals when you are deciding which one to use.  I just suggest that you visit each website and look around a little bit.  Our Spiritual Heritage seems to take less time....that is how I can do both.

Here is my weekly Bible study plan.

Daily:  Bible memory verse drills using our Bible memory verse box.  I include the drills from BSG in our Bible memory box.
Monday:  OSH day 1, BSG Bible reading, text questions.
Tuesday:  OSH day 2, BSG review questions
Wednesday: OSH day 3, Proverbs and Psalms reading
Thursday:  OSH day 4, BSG Bible reading, text questions
Friday:  OHS day 5, BSG review questions.

Note:  We complete 2 lessons per week in the BSG.  Our church also uses the BSG in all of its Bible classes on both Sundays and Wednesdays.  So, what we study at home is reviewed and expounded on in their Bible classes at our local church.

I'll answer more questions later!