Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Plan for Purchasing Homeschool Curriculum

I have a separate checking account set up soley for homeschooling purchases, and I have automatic funds transfers set up to transfer a specific amount of money from each of our paychecks to the homeschool account. This forces me to actually stick to our homeschool budget!

Since we school year-round, we have week-long breaks every six weeks or so and I designate each scheduled break as a time to also purchase the curriculum and supplies we will need 12 weeks from that time (two breaks away).

Here's the schedule for purchasing curriculum:
Memorial Day Break/Spring Break: Acquire materials needed for August-September
Fourth of July Break: Acquire materials for October-Thanksgiving
Summer Break: Acquire December materials (I also do all the "Back to School" shopping during this time--new school clothes, school supplies, etc.)
Autumn Break: Acquire materials for January-February
Thanksgiving Break: Acquire materials for February-Easter
Christmas Break: Acquire materials for Easter-May
Winter Break: Acquire materials for June
Easter Break: Acquire materials for July

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Things Heard in our Home Today

Mr. Brooke: "I love my [Rabbit]."

Rabbit: "I'm not your [Rabbit]. I'm Mama's [Rabbit]."


Mr. Brooke: "High school is a monument to inefficiency."


Little Lamb: "Cah cah" (cracker)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good Idea: Weekly Reports

I was perusing some homeschoolers' blogs and noticed that a number of them post a weekly report on their homeschooling adventures, and I think it's a good (and fun) idea!

(Can I just remark that visitors to my blog have sharply declined ever since I shifted the focus from mostly homemaking to mostly homeschooling? Hmmm. Oh well, it's my blog and I'll write what I want to write about.)

Anyhow...on with the Weekly Report!

Math: We did four lessons this week. All on the same day. Bluebird is always pleading "Let's do the next lesson...", so I just let her keep going on Tuesday and she kept going and going until I suggested that we stop. Then I had that silly notion that we'd done enough math that week. Hee hee.

Reading: She's up to 15 books read all by herself. I located the easy readers at the library this week and checked out five. She found them that evening and read them all. Guess I'll need to check out more next time around. We went over the "ck" rule and she grasped it easily. Rabbit checked out five books about animals this week and listened with rapt attention when I read her the one about Beluga Whales, which is a big deal because she NEVER sits still. Every time she catches sight of the Beluga book she exclaims "Dat's my favoh-whit!"
While at the library this week, I asked one of the children's librarians if they had any lists or hand-outs of reading suggestions for ancient history. She said they didn't, but then proceeded to show me where all the stuff that dealt with those subjects could be found; I had done some hunting before and knew about most of them, but she did introduce me to the children's mythology section, which I hadn't noticed before. Yay!

Writing: Ha ha, writing. Bluebird hates writing and insists that she only needs to know how to write her name. We're taking a break for a bit because I'm tired of fighting over it with her. A couple more weeks and we'll get back to it. She wants to "write" a book and I've said that I will not write it for her, so she sometimes indicates interest in learning how to write after we get on that matter.

Music Appreciation: I remembered to do it! We played with Moon Sand while we listened to the second half of Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty." The first half of the ballet has much catchier music than the second. I signed up to participate in our homeschool group's strings class, so we went to a music store this week to rent me a violin and I had fun pointing out the different instruments on display and was pleasantly surprised that both Bluebird and Rabbit knew a fair amount of them by sight. Bluebird wanted to rent a (non-existent) harp and Rabbit really, really wanted to take home a trumpet. (Little Lamb was content with trying to rip sheet music.) I was tempted to forget all our goals about getting out of debt and just buy a piano on credit.

Life: We spent a lot of time out in the glorious sunshine that we received this week, especially since I knew that the next week would consist of dreadfully rainy days. We played in the sprinkler, went to the reservoir park and had lunch there, and when we went to the library we also had lunch and played in the park that day as well. We spent a wonderful amount of time outside and just had fun with the new spring weather. It felt refreshing to the soul. At some point I told Bluebird that I couldn't wait to do school outside and her face lit up and she said she thought that would be fun. I sure would like to put up a swing set in our backyard and other things that would make outside more feasible. (How much fun would it be to say, "Why don't we do school on the trampoline today?) :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amber's Apron

My cousin, Amber, turns twelve this week; and she likes to help her mom out in the kitchen, so I thought an apron was a good birthday present choice for the dear girl. She's one of my favorite people, and she's named after me to boot (same middle name). You gotta remember the ones that are named after you! (I was even present at her birth...quite the experience for fourteen year old me!)

It's Apron A from Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates and I used fabric from Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market collection.

I am completely smitten with the fabric and I've been racking my poor, worn-out and exhausted brain trying to figure out a way to use the scraps in something else, but there aren't too many scraps leftover. Wah.

Happy Birthday Ambone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Sprinkler Day of the Year

Midnight Frost Necklace & Earrings

No offense to all the other pieces of jewelry I've made, but this set is one of my absolute favorites! It's for my cousin Ashley, who turned 17 this month...where did the time go? I was in the fourth grade when she was born and she starts her senior year of high school this coming September!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Going Forward with Faith

Last Sunday, as I sat in sacrament meeting, I had an idea. It was a flickering of an idea, just flitting through my mind as I sat pondering about what the will of God was. But when that tiny shred of an idea appeared in my mind's eye, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace spread through my body--a definite manifestation of the Spirit, telling me to pursue the thing I had quite accidentally thought about.

I stewed about this personal revelation for the rest of the day, only sharing my experience with my husband. (His response: "Sounds like a good idea...we can make anything work out.") I stewed about it during the night, allowing for very little sleep. I pondered the implications of such a decision--the time requirements, the work necessary to clear the first hurdles, the commitment required and the time it would take me away from my family. The more I thought about these things, the less desire I felt to go ahead and make the idea a reality, despite the overwhelming confirmation by the Spirit that it was the right thing to do. It is a hard thing, a difficult thing that is being asked of me!

And then Thursday morning, I felt prompted to look up that familiar verse in 1 Nephi:
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
(1 Nephi 3:7)

Now, I know this verse and I've quoted it and sang the song about it numerous times, but never before had I truly understood it. I am perfectly aware of the need to obey THE Commandments; such as The Ten Commandments, the Word of know, the commandments given to everyone. And I know firsthand the blessings that can come from following the promptings of the Spirit. But never had I considered the promptings of the Spirit to be personal commandments. There's a big difference when you think of a "prompting" as really being a "commandment" from God--a personal commandment that He needs you to do, despite what your fears or doubts may be in regards to it. A further reading of the 3rd chapter of 1 Nephi opened my eyes to the importance of faithfully and diligently following personal revelation...without balking and worrying about all the things that could go wrong. God will prepare a way for me to accomplish the thing that He has asked me to do.

I have previously thought about this thing which I am now being asked to do, but dismissed it as something I would do when embarking upon the stage of my life that no longer included raising young children. I do not, in any sense of the word, understand why this prompting has come to me at this time--I have three young children and I'm gearing up to carry out a previous prompting to homeschool them--but I can't allow my concerns to interfere with the work of the Lord. He needs me to do this thing now, and He'll show me the way to make it all work AND He'll bless me and my family for our efforts and sacrifices. It's a leap of faith...and yes, I am apprehensive about taking it. But leap I will.

I have to re-learn various things and improve my abilities in certain areas--areas that are embarassing weaknesses for me, areas that I don't necessarily want to work on. I can see the blessings that improvement in those areas would bring, so I am making the effort.

No, I don't want to talk about the specifics of this thing that I am endeavoring to's something that lies very close to my heart and asks me to really step out of my comfort zone and intentionally pursue something that I think is too big for the likes of me. I guess God has a different view of my abilities. That's a very humbling and inspirational thought.

And now, I must embark upon the unlit path that lies before me...who knows where it will lead, but I know that I will have guidance and strength given to me to navigate it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

FYI: We are not growing illegal substances

Dear Neighbors,
In an attempt to avoid any accusations, I am posting a picture of why you can see the illuminating glow of growing lights shining from a corner in our basement. My husband has recently acquired a hearty interest in square foot gardening and has been laboring to ensure that he has adequate seedlings for that glorious day in May when we can finally start using our garden again. Each plant is very much legal, so please don't "anonymously" submit a concern to the HOA about what we may be growing. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs (for culinary purpose, none of which have anything to do with brownies) and lettuces--not exciting at all, especially in that "I busted up a drug ring" sort of way. If you would like to see for yourself, please stop by.
Mrs. Brooke

(And further more, if you love tomatoes/peppers/herbs/lettuces, please just grow some yourself instead of badly hinting that you'd like some of ours.)

Have a nice day!

(And the funny coincidence that I'm posting this on 4/20 does not escape me...ha ha ha.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Guess My Children Are Canadian Now?

I really should look into that whole dual citizenship thing...and perhaps for them as well?

Hmmm...I dual citizenship a good thing or a bad thing? Safety or divided loyalty?

On one hand, cool...citizen of two countries, that's neat. Seems a little smart in case things go very bad in one of them, then I can easily take up residence in a safer place and bring my family with me legally. Or visit places that Americans have a hard time going to, just by playing the Canadian passport trick. (But am I that particularly interested in visiting Cuba?)

On the other hand...loyalty/allegiance/patriotism. Some say it's like the ridiculous thought that you couldn't love one child more than the other, and others say that it points to divided loyalties and therefore, to a person who can't be trusted in regards to their allegiance to either country. Are you a Canadian or are you an American? Who do you side with? You can't side with BOTH.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Lord of the Rings Review

The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

My review

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm giving myself a major pat on the back for finishing this gigantic book, and I'm quite pleased that I took the time to read it completely.

I enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring the most and plan to go back through it and gather all the quotes that I think will serve me well in the years to come. There are many great things written about the choice to forgo comfort in the face of evil so that we can battle against the bad, even if the hope of victory is small.

Unfortunately, I had already seen the movies before I read this, so the story wasn't that exciting to me because I already knew what was going to happen. However, this gave me the opportunity to pay attention to other things, such as Tolkien's writing and the overall quality of his work. I cannot point to a more complete work of fiction, with genealogies, extended histories, examinations of languages...what a lesson in doing an excellent job on whatever is that you're working on!

I always encourage others to read "the classics" so that we can all participate in the Great Conversation...and this trilogy is now included in my definition of a classic.

I also recommend reading "The Hobbit" before starting The Lord of the made it a more enjoyable experience to know exactly what the characters were talking about when discussing the journeys of the Ring and Bilbo's previous adventures.
View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I LOVE Being Her Mama

My Little Lamb is the smilingest little person...well, for our family. She scowls at just about everyone when we're out in public, but at home she's our giggling girl.

I look at pictures like these and it almost makes me forget the last two weeks while she cut three molars at once and spent almost all of her entire waking hours screaming and whimpering and wanting to be held at all costs.

*Looking again* Hmmm, what a cutie. You can scream when you need to, as long as you return to your usual smiling.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Girls' Club. My House. Today.

Another facet of that "I'm crazy for thinking about homeschooling" train of thought.

We have a great homeschool group right here in our beloved Spanish Fork area that meets every Friday so the kids can "socialize" with other homeschool kids for a couple of hours and attend mini-classes taught by various moms of the group. They've also organized clubs for the boys and girls that meet at another time during the week.

Hosting responsibilities rotate through whomever volunteers to host it at their house and I've try to host once a month since we officially decided to join this group--this is the second time we're hosting. It takes a certain amount of insanity to willingly invite a horde of young girls into your home for two hours for no other reason than to hang out with each other, but I can see the enormous benefits that it will bring to my girls if we stick with it.

So all you homeschool girls ages 5-7, come on over for some fingernail painting and snacks at Bluebird's house this afternoon!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

I am loving the Hello Cupcake! cookbook that we gave to Bluebird for Christmas. This is just one of the cute ideas in it. I made them for Recipe Club at the end of March.

It's just cupcakes from a box, frosting from a can, strawberry preserves and Ferrero Rochers. Love it. They tasted good, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Planet Earth Cake

I just realized that I never showed y'all my cute little Planet Earth cake that I made for Bluebird's space birthday party. Here it is!

If you're interested in making one for yourself (as in, next Wednesday is Earth Day...), it's quite simple:

Take a regular ol' box of cake mix, mix it up and pour it into your pans--I used Wilton's Sport Ball pans, but I've heard of people using Pyrex bowls. Bake it. Let it cool. Frost it with some blue frosting (I used the stuff from a can...many of you are already aware of my disdain for making frosting.)

Now don't get scared, but this next step requires a map or an atlas:
Make some green frosting and put it into a decorator's bag with a #3 or #5 writing tip on it and freehand some continental outlines. (Don't worry too terribly much about accuracy, it's a blinkin''re going for recognition, not masterpiece.)

Once you've got your outlines, put on a star tip and start filling in your land masses.

Voila! Planet Earth Cake!

I laugh every time I see how close Japan is to Alaska, and I was thisclose to leaving Australia and New Zealand off of the whole thing altogether because it was really hard to get the frosting down there, but I figured I owed it to my brother (who resides in New Zealand) to represent his place of residence...oh the fun of frosting creations.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oh the Inter-Cranial Pressure!

I'm up to my nose in planning out the next school year and my head just plain hurts. I was originally going to try to follow the school district's calendar, but after running out of weeks every time I tried to fit my curriculum into the calendar, I realized that Utah has only about 38 or so weeks of school. Then I started looking at the big chunks of time with no breaks whatsoever, and I decided that we're going to give year-round schooling a go instead. Six weeks on, one week off...and we'll still end up with only about four weeks more of school attendance than our district's calendar. I had to be honest with myself--I burn out easy at times, and having mini-breaks thrown in every six weeks will be very, very good for me.

We're also getting our garden going now, with starting plants and figuring out when plant-before-last-frost-dates are and where should we go on our certain breaks and does it mesh with gardening and I need to potty train Rabbit and I think we need new tires on the van and I need to do something with all the fabric downstairs, making clothes for Bluebird would save us money, why not do that?

I get to the end of a day and feel very tired. A week or so more and things will smooth out. I'm excited to homeschool, and then I think I'm a completely insane person for even considering it. Ha ha.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finished: Cheerful Baby Quilt

My dreams have finally come to realization! I am a completely finished blanket! Oh, it's wonderful!

The oldest girl really likes me and I've victoriously been added to the necessary accessories needed for her to go to sleep each night. It also appears that I am her go-to television blanket. She wraps me around her like a shawl whenever she watches TV.

It's really happened, I'm finally finished. It's taken years to get to my completion, but it's been worth it when I'm lovingly dragged around the house and demanded for each night. Life is good; downright cheerful, I'd say.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Overheard: Running Errands

The girls were playing in the bedroom and I happened to catch this bit of conversation:

Rabbit: Alright, I'll be back soon.

Bluebird: Don't forget to pick up some lightbulbs.

Rabbit: [Bluebird], I need my phone.

Bluebird: Alright, here's your green phone.

Rabbit: Thanks, I put it in my pocket.

And then Rabbit came out of the room, closed the door and went "shopping" in the living room, picking up two stuffed cats. She returned to the bedroom door, knocked, waited for Bluebird to say "Come in," and then entered the room and closed the door behind her.