Friday, August 29, 2008

Need Opinions Please!

I have been planning to put some clothing I made online to sell. My delay has been I have been hesitant to commit to a name for the line. I want to get some input from those of you reading this blog. The clothing will include a line of pillowcase dresses made from vintage pillowcases, sweet little baby gowns also made from pillowcases, and the occasional appliqued dress or onsie. My idea was to call the line "Four Little Bunnies" after my four little kiddos - then call the different styles things like "Vintage Bunny by four little bunnies" or "Snuggle Bunny by four little bunnies". Mostly this is because I cannot commit to any one name (my choices have been snuggle bunnies, the vintage bunny, the carrot patch, four little bunnies). So, what do you all think? And, how would you spell "four little bunnies"? I thought about a play on the word four - using "for" as in "made for" little bunnies - or would you use the numeral 4 - or just stick with the word four? any opinions would be greatly appreciated, I would like to go ahead and register the site this week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our school room

I finally got it clean enough to take pictures :) We start school next week, so I have been in "get ready" mode all week. I must say, I love my house! We have been so very blessed with this home, it is as if it was made for me. After moving every four years, home number four is one I hope to stay in for quite some time. Our school area is what used to be an in-law suite, so I was able to devote two whole rooms to school without interfering with other areas of the house.

Here is the room as you enter from the hallway. We spend lots of time on the futon reading, and I love the easy access to the outside. The queen (4) can go out and play with water toys or other outdoor things, and still be right where I can see her. Under the table I store some of our math manipulatives and a box of the queen's "games," activity bags that are just for school time.

Here is the view from the opposite end of the room. The door leads into the office where the computer and my sewing desk are located (the castle on the table was a project crocodile hunter did for the middle ages). The deer is courtesy of my hunter husband (hey, in our other house it hung over the bed for a year, so this is not so bad, trust me!).

This is where we start our school day, at our prayer altar. I keep a book of icons and a Bible and a prayer book on top of the altar. The icons have mostly been selected by the kids, St. Theophan of course, as he is the patron saint of our school, and St. Seraphim of Sarov, and St. George. The bottom row is a series of creation icons. The bowl with the candle was a project the princess and I did as a treat. She decided we needed a place to put candles in sand, just like at church, so we went to one of those paint your own pottery places and she made this bowl for our school altar. The shelf contains the majority of our books for the school year and our notebooks. The baskets on either side contain fun books on our science and history themes.

Here is our picture study spot. I rotate the works of art every few weeks, and keep books that have to do with the time period or artist we are studying.

Here is a great shelf I bought at Mich*el's (a great buy with a 40% off coupon!). It has math books on tops, and then various things for the queen to use during school hours.

This is our meeting area for much of our morning work. We have calendar time, recitation and new memory work here. The shelf contains art books and supplies that they can use at the table.

Here is the view from the table area into the rest of the kitchen. Have I mentioned this is my dream house? This is NOT my main kitchen, but a secondary kitchen. This house has a large kitchen on the main level, then this smaller one which was set up for an in-law suite. These areas have become our schoolroom. It is wonderful to have access to a sink, and lots of counter space without dealing with dishes etc. And most of those cabinets are full of school books, art and craft supplies, and other school goodies (a few do have my cake decorating supplies, but each school year I inch a few more cake supplies out and a few more school supplies in :)

This is the little princess' desk. The basket to the right contains all of the books she needs to access every day (Explode the Code, her readers, her main history book etc) and her notebook.

This is the crocodile hunters desk, again with his main books in the basket next to him. The blue boxes on the hearth contain knitting supplies and a set of wooden figures for biblical stories.

Finally, here is a closer look at my low shelf. I love the window in this room, and in planning the curtains and shelving, my main concern was to not block the view or the light. So I found these nifty stackable shelves at T*rget and they are just the right height. The window sills are just below the top of the shelves! In these shelves we have our math manipulatives, some educational games, flashcards, globe and map puzzles and a basket with nature books. The show box on top is full of nature finds - a birds nest, a molted snake skin - all the wonderful treasures little boys love to find and bring home! Finally, the black storage boxes on the left (from Office M*x - I love the look of these boxes) hold each child's specific flashcards.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Calendar

I thought I would share what we do to learn more about the saints of the Orthodox church. I got this pocket calendar from a teacher supply store. Then each month I go to this calendar site and choose which saints I want to focus on for that month. I find an icon online and print it off on cardstock. I also have a packet of pocket icons I use. I type labels with the saints name and date of commemoration, label the back and laminate the icon. Then I insert the icons into the pockets on the date that saint is commemorated. Each morning part of our school routine is to go over the calendar information, so we always talk about which saints we are commemorating. I review with them the date of commemoration as part of our calendar review, and they spend a month looking at those icons, so they quickly come to recognize a multitude of saints. There are no number cards in the pockets yet because we do that each morning - talk about what day it is, the date, and then one of the kids puts the number card in for that day. By the end of the month all the dates are filled in. To make it still a learning experience for the Crocodile Hunter (who thinks telling the date is a bit beneath his level :) we also learn the months, days, date and weather in Spanish. Finding the icon images took some time in the beginning, but you can start small, just selecting 2 or 3 per month. Then the next year add two or three more, and in a few years you will have 10-15 saints on your calendar. I also mark all the church feast days with icons so we always have the reminder of the feast we are approaching. To keep it organized, I have a manila folder labeled with each month on the outside, and the icons stored in the appropriate envelope. Then all the envelopes are stored in a filing cabinet. This has been such a great visual way to teach the saints, and has become the focus of our morning "getting school started" routine.

Friday, August 22, 2008


My niece is 2 years old and is enjoying many hand-me-down dresses. Most of those are dresses I made for my girls. Well, my sister each time has proudly told her little girl "aunt anrie" made it. So she often goes around to strangers announcing "aunt anrie made it!". Last night, when my sister was tucking her little one into bed, she looked out the window and nervously announced, "getting dark". Her mom gently reassured her, "it's okay, remember, God made the dark," to which my precious niece replied "nuh, uh mommy, aunt anrie made the dark".

Monday, August 18, 2008

I could never do that!

How many times have you heard that response when you tell someone you home school? I cannot count the number of times! And often it is followed by "I would go crazy if I had to stay home with my kids all day." I am always shocked by that statement, and I think that few who say it realize just what they are saying, or how bad it sounds. They decided to have kids, but have no desire to be with them, and in fact are horrified by the thought of spending the whole day with their own children. Yesterday at the crocodile hunter's soccer practice (it's that time of year again) I got one of the most refreshing and insightful statements from a mom who asked me where my kids went to school. She did not say "wow, you must have a lot of patience", or "you must be really organized." What she said was, "That takes a lot of self-discipline." I thought a moment, and agreed. Self-discipline. You do not have to be an organized person. You do not need to be a natural teacher. You do not need to have a degree. You do not have to be supermom. What you need is the dedication to do the job, even on the days you don't feel like it. The self-discipline to get up in the morning and raise your children in the way they should go. The self-discipline to not get distracted by the unimportant throughout the day. The self-discipline to keep working with your child until he understands the concept, no matter how many times it takes. The self-discipline to set your own routine for the day. The self-discipline to follow that routine! If you believe in your decision to home school, if you know that it is the right thing for your family, then what it really requires is self-discipline. You will learn what you need to teach them, you will learn patience when a child is struggling, you will learn that sometimes what you want to do has to be put on hold while you educate. But that is part of being a parent. That is part of raising the next generation. And if there is one thing the next generation will need in a world of instant gratification and endless possibilities for mind-numbing entertainment, it is self-discipline.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In My Garden

Okay, I am really excited because I finally took the time to figure out how to upload pictures to my blog (like I said, I am a little behind the techno train.) So until I have time to blog about a few things I wanted to share pictures of (like my school room!) I thought I would share a picture from our garden. Last year our lilies struggled along, this year they have spread all over the little pond, and finally, we have blooms!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Six Random Facts About Me

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you (i.e. me)

2. Post the rules on your blog

3. Write 6 random things about yourself

4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them

5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog

6. Let the tagger (me) know when your entry is posted

Six Random Facts About Me:

1. I was voted most likely to color code my coat hangers in high school (pretty sure Jen had something to do with that :) Not only do I color code, but all hangars face to the right.

2. I married at 19 - a sophomore in college, I married my guy after a one year courtship - against the advice of all of my college buddies who were convinced I was ruining my life. Well, nearly 15 years and four beautiful children later, I would have to disagree :)

3. I was home schooled - back before homeschooling was cool! My parents were part of the movement to legalize homeschooling in our state - and we were all prepared with passports to relocate to New Zealand if the government tried to stop us! As a child, a small part of me always kind of hoped we might have to do that :) it sounded like so much fun.

4. I climbed Pikes Peak. As a teenager I attended Summit Ministries two week worldview camps (highly recommend them!) and on the last weekend of camp those who wanted could attempt the hike up Pikes Peak. It took me most of the day, and it began to snow as we hit the Peak, but it was such a thrilling experience.

5. I had a crush on Bo Duke and Remington Steel. Still think Pierce Br*snan is one of the best looking actors out there (check out Thomas Crown Affair if you don't believe me!)

6. I have always been terrified of dogs. I was chased by a huge one while riding my bike and have never been able to stand to be around them. In 1998 my husband announced he wanted to get a black lab. I said okay, all the while thinking, I can't own a dog! We went and picked one out (I kept my distance as best I could without looking like a chicken). I got over my fear only after my husband dumped this new puppy in my lap for the drive home. I think my whole body was shaking for the ride, but after 45 minutes of being forced to hold this black mass of fur, I decided dogs weren't all that bad. We still have that lab, and now have a second one (third really - our current puppy's mom we had for 2 years before she had to be put down). I feel like I have come a long way!

I am not very good about doing these things, so I am going to refrain from tagging anyone else. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged if you want!