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Dec 28, 2013

THMJ Week of 12/15/13

    In my life this week…
We are busy getting boxes ready to ship to family.  Found out our shoeboxes went to Angola this year, so we will spend some of January learning about that area of Africa.

    What we're reading... 
Jotham's Journey

Mere Christianity and Critical Analysis Journal

    My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

Trying out their "new" snowshoes.  The bigger picked up some snowshoes at a sale a while back.  They're for Christmas, but we've had a good deal of snow, so now was a fun time to get out in them.

    Out of the mouths of boys...
Xav:  Mal, why don't you believe in Rudolph?
Mal:  I believe in him I just won't say his name.  (Mal doesn't like to say "oo" words.)
Xav:  Maybe we can call him something else so you can say his name.  Maybe a nickname.  Let's think about it.  Raydolph?
Mal:  Reedolph?  (Mal's go to replacement for "oo" is "ee.")
More names get thrown around.
Xav:  Wait, wait!  Whoa, whoa!  This might be a bad idea.  The song says the other reindeer laughed and called him names.  He might not like that.

Short and sweet update this week.  I actually cannot remember diddly from a week ago.

And for the second week in a row, I've missed the link-up.  :P

Dec 27, 2013

What in the World Was *THAT*?!

Christmas morning, standing in the kitchen, I heard a loud boom and felt a bit of shaking.  I thought something fell on the roof, but saw nothing when I looked around.  The following day, the Saint Albans Messenger posted a query on their FB page asking if anyone had heard a loud boom Christmas morning.  Many people responded from area towns with different times for the occurrence.  

It turned out to be Cryoseisms, or ice quakes.  The water underground freezes and expands, putting pressure on the rock, which is released as an explosion.  There were many all over Vermont, but all of the news articles Google turned up were from Canada.


Here are some pictures from the ice storm which left us without electricity for just over 60 hours leading up to Christmas and then on the 26th for about fifteen hours.  It's gorgeous out, but I feel just awful to see so many trees bent over and broken.  

I'm worried about the cherries and blueberries.  I didn't realize there would be growth on them at this time of year.  

Here are some shots after the ice storm and after the first snowfall.  We've had more snow since then today.

Dec 20, 2013

THMJ Week of 12/8/13

    In my life this week…
It is wicked frigid this week, with temps below zero several nights already this year.
The chickens finally started laying eggs.  Well, at least one of them is anyway.  So far, I found one medium sized egg at the beginning of the week, one shell-less freeze dried yolk (yuck!), and one large egg that had frozen and cracked.  That's one egg for us and two for the compost.  Not bad for feeding and housing those stupid birds for over 21 weeks.

    In our homeschool this week…

We used a lot this week.  I appreciated the quality of the classes we used.  Now I think it *might* be time to start thinking about adding one of the foreign language courses on the site.

    In our homeschool co-op this week... 
Our Christmas party!  We had so much fun.  Malachi was nervous about accepting his gift in front of everyone.  Afterward, he said, "I am never doing that again!"  So cute. 

    What we're reading... 
  • Jotham's Journey
  • A multitude of Christmas picture books.

Personal Reading
  • Mere Christianity and the Critical Analysis Journal
    Around the house... 
I won a 6x6" canvas this summer. I finally painted some canvases to hang with it.  I {{love}} all my boys.  I'm not 100% sure I will stick with this layout, but I'm good with it for now.

    My favorite thing this week was…

Date night!  We had so much fun at a *grown up* party!  No kids.  Hilarity ensued!  The usual hour home took nearly two and our poor sitter got snowed in with us.  OK.  That part may not have been a favorite.  :D  

    The kiddos favorite thing this week was...
Learning to play Twister.  Or maybe that was my favorite thing to watch!

    I’m cooking…
It is a no cook recipe, but I made pickle rolls for two gatherings this week.  You just spread a flour tortilla with cream cheese, layer on some cold cuts (I used ham and turkey), and roll around some dill pickles.  Then slice them into bite-sized pieces.  We only had a few leftover from the Friday School party and none at all from another gathering.  That makes them a hit in my book.  When I was a kid, my mom used to make something similar with sweet gherkins and a slice of bologna.

    Out of the mouths of babes... 
Xavier was talking to Micah about divorce.  He told Micah if he and I ever stopped loving each other he would build a heart shaped wall around us and make us stay in it until we loved each other again.

Guess that's about it for this week!  Don't forget to check out all the other moms at The Homeschool Mother's Journal!

Dec 19, 2013

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

Frigid temps do not equate fun to mom.  Apparently, boys are impervious.

Xav body sledding (video).

Mal body sledding (video).

These webs, that were practically invisible under normal circumstances, became works of art in sub-zero temps.

Dec 15, 2013 Review

I have been a huge fan of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for years.  When they stopped making print issues and switched to a bi-monthly digital magazine with an annual print issue, I still had some time on my subscription. was their newest offering at the time and subscribers were able to access the website until the print subscription term ran out.  Well, I didn't join after that period was up, but I did spend a few months accessing the e-books and other resources offered there.

Fast forward to 2013, I still kind of had my eye on, but hadn't subscribed.  Then in August, I won the Yearly Membership Option.  My stars!  The website has grown tremendously!  This is my review of that content.  They offer so many new courses, with more on the horizon.  There are other benefits of membership, too.  Let me tell you what we appreciate about and what we've done with it lately.

Merrick is taking toddler classes and explores a new letter with each lesson.  This week, M is for Music and we've explored sounds with a few instruments we have around the house, as well as those we've made.  Each lesson is in a PDF format for printing (or print nothing and view it online).  Each day of the lesson has a different focus.  There are listening, doing, and reading suggestions.  Sensory Learning for Toddlers is hands-on FUN!

Xavier and Malachi were inspired by the art techniques course suggestion to make a holiday watercolor.  Now, I have zero artistic ability and couldn't draw or paint to save my life, however, I have hope that the boys will inherit some ability from Daddy or a grandparent.  They really couldn't be bothered to draw their picture with a pencil and then paint, but they were happy to get the art set out and paint on Mama's good paper.

We used Jason Lindsey's science experiments, which I've never used before.  There is a video of about one minute to watch which explains the science.  Being more hands-on, we of course, had to try some of the experiments out.  We even headed back into the extensive class archives and tried the November experiments.  Some things we had on hand and ready to go, so we read the lesson or watched the video and did it.  Ta-Da!  Easy.

We don't always do exactly what the lessons suggest.  I get great ideas that I may not have thought of myself and we figure out ways to make them work for us. can work for every family.  There are classes for every student.  From Sensory Learning for Toddlers, the new Schoolhouse Preschool, and elementary subjects to Middle and High School courses, you'll find something for everyone in your home.   The typical maths, science, and literature for all ages are there as well as languages (Spanish, French, and Hebrew), mock trial, sewing, film making, and more.

Feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you will keep track of all that is offered?  Print the monthly course checklist.  You can see at a glance, all the course offerings and if any are on break or have been archived.  Archives are kept for many classes, sometimes for a few months, sometimes indefinitely.  This form is a great way to track attendance if your state requires it.

But wait!  There's more!  (I always wanted to say that!)  I seriously cannot tell you everything to be found at  I am going to tell you about some of my favorite extras though! If you go over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew SchoolhouseTeachers Review, you'll find a lot of other wonderful reviews from other families.  Many of those overviews will likely highlight different aspects of the product than I have.

  • The Dailies - Include basic courses (spelling, math, grammar), as well as astronomy, Shakespeare, and The Epistles.
  • Certificate Gallery - Certificates of Achievement for memorization, helping around the house, learning new skills.  Many blank certificates are there for parents to fill in as needed.
  • Unit studies and Lapbooking - These are some of our favorite ways to learn and record what the boys know.
  • Monthly reading lists.  This month's list had several books in our Christmas collection.  We love reading together.  I was also inspired to look for The Nutchracker movie.  Xavier cracked me up when he mistakenly referred to the Sugar *Plumber* Fairy!
  • Special Needs - This is where you can find ideas to assist your struggling learner.  Over a year of this section is archived, with more due in January.
  • Animated Books - the boys LOVED the Woodpecker Knocking story/song full of knock-knock jokes.  I will likely have to listen to this one again and again!
In a related note, a Children's Story Book Writing Contest for 5-10 year olds is currently running.  The contest ends at midnight, December 31, 2013, so have your little author enter soon!  The winning author will get to see their story animated, too.

The Extras section includes some of my all-time favorite The Old Schoolhouse resources.  Included with membership, is access to digital back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, five MEGA Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse EXPO recordings, and monthly bonus e-books, including the WannaBe series (as in, "When I grow up, I wannabe..."), We-ebooks, and thematic units.   The longer you are with, the more free ebooks you receive, 150 in all!  You'll also get the silver plan of AppleCore, a homeschool record keeping system.

One section was confusing to me.  The monthly menu under the Dailies tab wasn't presented as well as most of the website.  There  was a note about and a link to the August menu at the top of the page.  Below that was the option to "Print this month’s recipe list."  That was actually November's list.  The December list was indexed directly below that, but I didn't see a way to print it.  I think recipe list was a much more fitting description than menu.

We'll be using the website for school even more often.  It's funny how having access to something doesn't mean I will utilize it to it's fullest, but give me a review to write and I will thoroughly dig through it.  I'm so glad for this opportunity to learn more thoroughly about the website contents.

For the month of December, 2013, there is a BOGO special on  Purchase a one-year subscription for yourself for an affordable $139 for your entire family (ages two-ish through adult) and get a one-year subscription for a friend.  Not quite sure yet?  Join for $3 for the first month, explore and ejoy, decide you love it, and join for $139!

 Check out the other reviews to see how other families are using this website.  Schoolhouse Review Crew SchoolhouseTeacher link up.

Dec 9, 2013

Spotlight on Merrick

The youngest piece of my heart on two legs.  {{Love this boy!}}

Big boy haircut.

Baby Lego Maniac

Painting a stocking in Rainbows.

Chowing down on Domino's Pizza after Friday School and the library.

THMJ Week of 12/1/13

    In our homeschool this week…
I am trying to figure out a way to have school in the morning even though Merrick is awake.  He is so busy, it's hard for the bigger littles to concentrate.  And there have been a couple days over the last few weeks when we have *all* needed a break and I chose rest time over school.  Also, when there has been significant snow, the boys like to go out after lunch and I hate to call them in when Merrick goes down for a nap.  There just has to be a good way to do this.

    In our homeschool co-op this week... 
Mal was kind of out of control this week, floppy and vocal, but he participated well in at least two of his classes and helped with clean up in the nursery.

Xav had a good day at archery.  He loves that class and was excited to pop balloons while being timed.

Merrick participated in Wiggles and Giggles (for preschoolers).  He's gone a few times, but some days he just needs to head to the nursery.  Apparently, my little escape artist made a run for it during a rousing game of follow the leader.  As soon as he got near the door, poof.  He was outta there!

In Magic School Bus science class, we watched the holiday special episode about recycling.  I told the class how recycling centers work, we talked about what could be made from recycled bicycle parts (from the Scholastic activities website), and they learned all about upcycling.  I'm sure some parents will want to strangle me when the gang all start picking through the trash to create.  BWA HA HA HA HA!  Best part?  When I asked who knew what recycling was, *Malachi* gave a fairly long-winded and accurate explanation.  I was surprised and pleased.

Mal participated well in duct tape art and made an ornament almost entirely by himself.  Xav learned about the platypus in nature class.  In Your Amazing Body, Ms Trish showed the class a Magic School Bus video also.  It was a video kind of day for many of the kids in that age group.  Xav made a cute snowman lantern from an *upcycled* milk jug and a string of lights.

    What we're reading... 
Read Alouds:
Little Pilgrim's Progress (mostly on hold  while we read Christmas books)
Jotham's Journey

I'm reading CS Lewis' Mere Christianity for the first time ever.  I have a review opportunity for the new Critical Analysis Journal from Homeschool Adventure Co.

    Around the house...
 Jolly old St. Nicholas arrived a day late.  Shhh...  Don't tell the boys!  They had no idea what day he shows up.  Oblivious. 

Merrick got a hair cut. *sob*

    Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Knowledge Quest has a free recipe book here, Figgy Pudding, Stollen and Tamales: Gathering the World Around Your Christmas Table.

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Friday School (our co-op)
The library

We also joined a 3 mile fun run/walk for the Enosburg Food Pantry.  Micah was the only one who ran.  The rest of us walked, except Merrick who hitched a ride.  We warmed up at McDonald's, which Merrick calls EIO (as in Old McDonald had a farm).

We all had to wear Santa (or in Xav's case, elf) hats.
I didn't even realize Xav was drinking the syrup until just now!

    My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
First snowman of the winter.
Getting some decent snow to play in.  Until it melted mid-week.  But, hey, it's Vermont and we'll have more before we know it.

    Things I’m working on…

*whispers*  I can't tell you...

    Things Dad is working on...
Micah made some cool dragonfly key chains for our co-op's 2nd annual silent auction.  He's also painting some windows and going through our massive book collection to see what we can part with.  

    I’m cooking…

Pumpkin pancakes!  It is so nice to change up the required 3-4 batches of pancakes per week with a bit of pumpkin.

    Out of the mouths of babes... 
From FB, a conversation I had with Xav.
I asked Xav what he wanted to get Daddy for Christmas. He was psyched and apparently had thought really hard about it.
X : A tank! We'll park it on the hill and when bad guys come here, Dad can blow 'em up! Dad can live in it and come down to visit us and eat with us.
Me: Daddy might want to live with us, since we are his family.
X : Oh. OK. We can build a conveyor belt that will take him to the tank whenever he wants to go there.

    We rewarded the kids this week by…
Going to the library after Friday School.  I try to take them there pretty regularly, they all love it, but sometimes it's been too crazy at school or Merrick is just ready for his nap.  But we headed there this week and Mal brought home Herbie Goes Bananas, Merrick gravitated to the do-a-dot markers as usual, and we brought home many books.  Afterward, we got pizza from Domino's.  They inhaled it.

    Something I am ogling or have my eye on…
A comb-binder.  Suggestions?

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

This incredible speed painter.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal Linky.


Dec 4, 2013

THMJ Week of 11/24/13

    In my life this week…
Thanksgiving was great, had all my boys home.  Xav is always super duper excited to see Dave.  He wants him to move back home.  He also wants Christine to come live with us for a year.  I think we'd need another bathroom or two.

    In our homeschool this week…

Another short week with two days off for turkey day.  Mal asked why we don't have school on Saturday and Sunday.  I told him we could if he wanted.  He declined.  We're schooling pretty much year round anyway, why not add more days per week?

    What we're reading this week...
Little Pilgrim's Progress (read-aloud)
*Finally* finished Call to the Heart and Thunder in Paradise: Satan's Last Storm. 
As an aside, why is Christian fiction so painfully mediocre?

    Around the house... 
Merrick has learned to take his clothes off and put them back on, but not that the temperature might warrant *leaving* them on.  His very own Thanksgiving party (video)

    My favorite thing this week was…

Not getting sick.  Yeah, baby!  I dodged the sick bullet!

    My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

Probably Dave's visit.  Neither of the middles are very into real food, so the Thanksgiving dinner was nothing to them.  Weirdos.

    Things I’m working on…

Picking up the house and cleaning out.  One small fire at a time.  Not sure it will ever be done, but I'm determined to keep making "imperfect progress."

    Things Dad is working on...
Probably working hard to not go crazy since my iDaughter has given up connecting through our internet at home and is always using 4G.  Apparently Facebook uses up a lot of interweb stuff (I believe that is the technical name for it), and we will be charged $20 if I use any more magic, sparkle, interweb stuff before Christmas.  That's right!  FB used up my limit in a flippin' week.  Color me boggled.  Technology and I are not friends.

    I’m cooking…

We had bird and all the usual stuff for dinner.  I baked the rolls from scratch this year.  Sometimes, I use parbaked from the grocery store, but not this time.  I love it when it cools down outside and baking doesn't heat the house up.

    I could not get a decent picture of four boys to save my life!

    Something I am ogling or have my eye on…T25.  I have Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, but she says a few swears AND it ticks me off beyond belief that you can't FF through her intoblahblahblah, so I have to hear it every. single.  day.  I've been using Leslie Sansone's Shortcuts videos and she is sweet as pie and I adore her, but the workout is relatively light.  Anyone know if there are any swears on T25 Alpha?

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

This hilarious Pinterest board.  My imaginary well-dressed toddler daughter.

Sub-zero temps are waaaaaay to cold for November.  That kind of stunt has no business being pulled before January or February!  None. Oh!  And what in the world is "freezing fog?"  Micah supposes it's the kind you drive through and leave a car shaped hole.

Linking up at The Homeschool Mother's Journal!   At least, I will be if there is a linkup this week.