May 31, 2012

Cupcakes

The other week, when I took the boys to the eye doctor, we spotted a new shop across the street.  That didn't surprise me, because that store front is something different every time I go down town.  What did suprise me was that it is a cupcake shop.  Who knew you could have an entire store for just cupcakes?

I am not into cupcakes.  I am not really into anything sweet.  Chocolate?  Yes.  Sugar?  Not so much. But what I am into is pink.  And I knew my little pink princess would love to go into this store.  Later in the week I had to bring the girls for their check up so I made a date to take Elisabeth to the "Pink store."


And everything truly was pink.

 Except for the cupcakes.  I was disappointed there was not even one with pink icing.  With all that pink, I think there ought to be a regular signature pink cupcake.
We made some choices from the non pink cupcakes.  A red velvet for Pa.  Chocolate, orange, a chocolate with cream cheese icing.

With cupcakes in hand, we headed out into the beautiful afternoon

for a walk through the beautiful down town.  
 Pass the ice cream shop
 And the Flights of Fancy
 And the coffee house
 And the umbrellas
 And the great old shops
And a neat picture, just because....
To, yes, another Cupcake Shop.  Now if you think I was shocked to know we had one cupcake store, I was doubly so to know that we have two.  Not even a block apart.  And notice the similarities in the name?  Do you think there was some competition there?  We didn't intend to go into this one but when we got there we had to check it out.

The girls weren't sure about taking a box from the competition in with us, but I have no qualms about such things.
So in we went.  I loved the tall domes on these.  Otherwise, I was not impressed.
We decided to get a few so we could compare.  Key lime, lemon and salted caramel.

No with two boxes in hand, we headed home to make some coffee and have lunch.

The comparison?

The cakes were dry and too sweet from both bakeries.  We thought our Hershey chocolate cake is millions times better than their chocolate cake.  The flavors were lacking in all the cakes.  We liked the marshmallow type icing at Angel Cakes much better then the icing at Angela's.  We thought the customer service was better at Angela's.  The cupcakes themselves were pretty enough, but for $2.50 and $2.75 a piece, I thought they were very small.  I could make a whole cake for that price.

In summary... truth be known, it was a fun outing with my girls.  However, we decided we could still live without cupcakes.

May 30, 2012

Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

We love capers! And we love the lemon butter caper sauce at Bonefish Grill.  This weekend Allen grilled up some beautiful Salmon and Kaitlin made this version we found online.  It was fabulous and will definitely be a keeper in my recipe basket.  We doubled it for my family but we could have easily tripled it.  Of course, there was that little spill, so maybe a double batch would have been enough.

This is great on fish and would be good on chicken.  We also enjoyed it with our Jasmine rice.  (Recipe coming in another post.)

2 Teaspoons Capers, drained and rinsed
4 Tablespoons butter
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon lemon zest
Parsley

In a small skillet, melt butter.  Add all ingredients, except parsley.  Simmer over low heat about 30 seconds.  Stir in parsley and remove from heat.

4 servings.

Jasmine Rice

Years ago, I fell in love with the Jasmine Rice at Bonefish Grill.  Which is unusual for me.  I don't hate rice, but I don't usually go out of my way to eat it.  Ever since that first time, I have tried recipe after recipe in an attempt to come up with something close to as delicious as theirs.  This weekend I finally hit on it with the recipe I found online.  I have no idea where I got it because I printed it out and didn't save the link.  However, here it is in all its simple glory.  I doubled this recipe for our family.

2 cups Jasmine Rice
2 cups coconut milk
1 3/4 cups water
2 heaping Tablespoons coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oil

1.  Rub oil over bottom and sides of pot with tight-fitting lid
2.  Place all ingredients in pot on Medium-High to High heat.  Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking.
3.  Once it has begun to bubble, reduce heat to low and cover.  Let simmer 15-20 minutes or until almost all the liquid is absorbed.
4.  Turn heat off and let sit covered at least 5 minutes or up to one hour.
5.  Fluff with fork.

We served this with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce.

May 29, 2012

The Girls' Turn

The girls' recently had their annual check up with the eye doctor.  This is a bittersweet time each year in which they are reminded that they are doomed with the terrible eye sight of their folks. The bright side is, they love picking out new glasses..

With her progressively worsening nearsightedness, Brianna decided to take the plunge to contacts.  We all had a few chuckles as we watched her try to get them in and out for the first few times.  

Emma decided to just stick with a new set of frames.

And Elisabeth tried to convince us she should have a pair of glasses, too...

... since everyone else in our family wears them....

And they look so cute on her...

And, after all, every girl needs a great pair of sunglasses with pool season just around the corner.

May 28, 2012

Passing the Time With the Camera

On a recent errand day, I was nursing Carmella in the car between appointments and Elisabeth pulled my camera out.  She had a blast  photographing anything and everything for twenty minutes or so.  
She started out pretty ordinary with Emma.

And then moved on to an action shot... Pa and I coordinating our afternoon via text.  

Add caption
 And then she went through a series of the dashboard and control panels.
And the CD collection... which are worth nothing since there is a CD stuck in the player that won't come out.

And the other vehicles parked around us.

Nana's Literature book.

This is one you have to particularly like... a Kleenex stuffed in one of the nooks on the dashboard.

Then she tried some reflective shots using the window.

And moved on to feet...  Winnie's...

...mine...

...her own...

... and together.

After about twenty feet shots she moved on to my coffee cup.

The dash has read "check tire pressure" since we bought this car four years ago.

When my budding photographer asked what she should take a picture of next, I directed her to the vanity mirror.  She thought that was a real blast.

After a few shots Ellie figured it out.

To wrap it up she captured some neat pictures of the downtown shopping in the review mirror.
Who knows... She might become the next Ansel Adams... and I can say, "I knew her when..."

May 27, 2012

Call To Worship

No church home to visit today?  Stuck at home sick?  Wondering what it is those Christians do, anyway?  Join us in worship via live stream.  This post is put up each Sunday as a service to those who want to grow closer to the Lord or enrich their spiritual life.  If you do not like what you hear, you merely need to hit that red "X" in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Sunday May 27, 2012


Special Music Service at 9:30 Am
Worship Service at 10:30 AM
No Evening Service

1.  Go here and click on the Live Stream tab.
3.  Click on the play arrow in the middle of the video box.  They usually have the live streaming up a few minutes before service starts.  If it isn't up when you open the page click on the arrow in a few more minutes.
4.  You can click the 4 arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the viewing window to make the picture full screen.  To return to the viewing box size, tap your computers ESCAPE key.

If you would like to learn more about VBC you can visit our website here and Facebook page here.

I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know that you were here today.  Leave your questions and contact info and I will get back to you.  Or, as always, if you prefer a private discussion, click my email button on the side bar.

May 26, 2012

Visiting the Eye Dr.

Yesterday we had our annual eye checkup. Aedan had fun trying on some fun glasses.

Which might have been a little too fun because he was disappointed Dr. K. Said he did NOT need glasses.

Even with my dilated eyes I spotted this new cupcake shop across the street. I am not much for cupcakes but I know a little princess who loves pink and I can not wait until Thursday to take her for a date here.

Sam having his exam. He passed with flying colors!
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May 25, 2012

Wash Day


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May 24, 2012

Overheard... From the backseat

We were driving down town this morning and Samuel made note of the ivy growing up the fronts of the old brick town homes.

"I like the ivy. But we can't grow it because it attracts snakes."

Other boy: We have ivy in the woods but we don't go in there. Because it attracts a lot of snakes."

Another boy: "We could go there with a grown up."

Other boy: "But KK isn't a big person."

Aedan: "But she is a grown up because she is done growing."

Sam: "KK, Nana and Emma are all done growing so they are grown up."

Aedan: And that is why they get to drink coffee.
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May 23, 2012

Just a Thought

"Let us endeavor to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~ Mark Twain
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May 22, 2012

How Structured Is Our Day?


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start and finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.


How structured is our day? 

Not as much as I would like.  Ha!  I am a very structured person and do best in a more routine oriented environment.  However, most of my children take after their father and do far better in a looser environment.  We have worked to find a compromise that works for us all.  Our day goes roughly like this.  

Upon rising and waking each child is expected to do their chores and personal Bible study.  This time is also used for those who are discipleship study with younger siblings.  This is also when I have my personal study time, get ready for the day and do my own chores.  

Now some of our kids prefer to rise early and others prefer to sleep in.  All are expected to be up by 7 at the latest and finished their morning routine no later than 8 am.  

Aedan is an early riser and is usually finished by 7.  This is where having school set up all the time comes in handy.  He just pops down stairs and gets a head start on things he can do by himself.  

Brianna chose breakfast as her chore so she makes breakfast and sets out a buffet so people can eat when they are ready.  If Allen is working from home he likes us to eat all together periodically.  

At 8 am we meet for family Bible reading while I nurse and dress the baby.  

Immediately, following Bible reading (around 9 am) we start our school "Circle time" while Pa goes to work.  This is an in depth Bible study (we are currently studying the Life of David) and character training time (We are getting ready to start respect.)  Now, even though my older kids don't really need this training, they like to be part of it and I like the contribution they make in teaching the youngers.   If we finish before Carmella's nap, we take turns playing with her while some of the kids get started on independent work.  That would be something like readers, Science books, history books or some of the periodicals I mentioned earlier.  

When Carmella goes down for her morning nap, 10 am, we move downstairs for our morning session.  I like to start off with the hard subjects so Math, Reading and Grammar are morning subjects.  We rotate through subjects taking turns using the computer for our Xtra math practice.  

At noon, I wake Carmella and feed her while Kaitlin and the kids make lunch.  Some days we eat lunch while we continue working and some days we move to the kitchen table and eat with Allen if he is at home.    

If we have stopped for lunch we have a little play time in the nursery with baby before her nap at 2 pm.  If not she plays on the floor by the table while we keep working.  At 2 pm Carmella goes for a nap and Elisabeth and Samuel lay down for some rest.  Elisabeth loves to listen to her Jesus Storybook Bible CDs at this time and Samuel loves Jonathan Park CDs or Uncle Rick reading Proverbs.

The rest of us return to the school table and do our less strenuous work.  Science, History, Art, Music, etc... These subjects are usually finished by March or April so then after lunch the kids use this time for special projects, playing out doors or reading quietly.  This is my time to work on special projects, answering email, sewing, or blogging.  Sometimes, I might lie down and read to Elisabeth.      

This is also the time of day when the big girls are permitted to use the computer for whatever projects or blogging or email they want to tend.  We find limiting the hours when the computer can be on fosters more face to face relationships and less interruptions into our lives.  It works for us.

Four o'clock is when I get the little ones up and nurse Carmella.  We then take turns playing with her, while working together outdoors or making dinner etc...

We try to have dinner strictly at 6 pm.  This is always opened to interpretation, though, since we have classes on Monday night and Allen is almost always done on Wednesday nights.  We like to use dinner time for each member to share something from their day and to tell us what the Lord taught them in their study that day.

After dinner, we might read some science or history together or read a book aloud or color or play a game.  If it is bath night we rotate through the shower.  Allen typically tucks the kids in bed while I feed the baby at 8.

Then we try to spend some uninterrupted time with our 3 big girls.  This time alone with them is so important to keeping heart strings tied and the pathways of communication open.  Even though I would like to go straight to bed, and even though I often fall asleep on the couch, I like to be with them and for them to know we are there.  I think they like it, too.  They call it girl time, but we let Pa come.  And if one of us takes a little longer to get down stairs they are asking after us.

Now, that we are finishing up our school and the weather is nice, all this will change until next fall.  We will spend our mornings working in the gardens, our afternoons by the pool reading aloud together, the evenings by the pool playing cards or banagrams and the nights catching fire flies.

One more note:  I know I have mentioned this before but I think it is worth repeating.  I keep Tuesdays between 10 and 12 for visiting, appointments, errands and the Bible studies I am doing with younger ladies away from home.  This makes it very easy to schedule and keeps interruptions to a minimum.  That makes our school time much more efficient.  The only exception is the orthodontist who is only in our area on Thursday.  So every six weeks or so we also have a Thursday appointment.  If Allen is working at home, he will try to take the kids for me so our school day can continue as normal.  If not, Kaitlin jumps in and teaches for me or I schedule it during my afternoon free time.

Wow!  So, my friend, you made me work!  But, I hope I have answered your questions.  Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

Hugs,

Kat

May 21, 2012

Our School Year


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start and finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.


Our School Year

Because we vacation from the middle of September through the first week of October, I typically don't start formal schooling until the second week of October.  We school until the Friday before Thanksgiving and then take off until the first week day after the New Year Holiday.  We then school until the end of March or April, depending a lot on the weather.  

How can we fulfill all our requirements in so little time?

For one thing, as I mentioned before, we don't waste time on busy work.  We do what we need to learn and then move on.  Second, we do what I call double days.  Knowing we want to do our work in the 110-130 days when we are confined to indoor activities we divide 180 days of work (that is roughly the public school schedule, give or take some snow days) and figure how much we need to do in order to finish in 110 days.  Using only 110 days in our calculations leaves us 20 for appointments, sickness or when company comes to visit.  180 days boils down to 36 weeks.  Now take this example.   Each Math-U-See workbook has 30 lessons per grade.  We also use 5 weeks for World Math Days and one for the American Math Challenge.  That means we have 30 weeks remaining or 1 week per lesson.  There are 6 pages and a test per lesson with a four unit tests per grade and a final test.  That is 215 assignments.  That is 1.95 or roughly 2 assignments per day.


May 20, 2012

Call To Worship

No church home to visit today?  Stuck at home sick?  Wondering what it is those Christians do, anyway?  Join us in worship via live stream.  This post is put up each Sunday as a service to those who want to grow closer to the Lord or enrich their spiritual life.  If you do not like what you hear, you merely need to hit that red "X" in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Sunday May 20, 2012
at
10:30 AM
5:00 PM

1.  Go here and click on the Live Stream tab.
3.  Click on the play arrow in the middle of the video box.  They usually have the live streaming up a few minutes before service starts.  If it isn't up when you open the page click on the arrow in a few more minutes.
4.  You can click the 4 arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the viewing window to make the picture full screen.  To return to the viewing box size, tap your computers ESCAPE key.

If you would like to learn more about VBC you can visit our website here and Facebook page here.

I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know that you were here today.  Leave your questions and contact info and I will get back to you.  Or, as always, if you prefer a private discussion, click my email button on the side bar.

May 19, 2012

Math- What About It?


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.


Math

I have talked a lot about math in the following link.  The bottom line is I don't think you can find anything better than Math-U-See.  And I would know, because I think we tried them all at one point or another.  I love it.  My kids love it.  The other week I was babysitting and the young lady saw Emma's book and said, "I wish we still used that."  

We also take part in the American Math Challenge in the fall and World Maths Day in the Spring.  This year we started using xtra math (a free online program) to sharpen their facts and my kids really enjoy that.  

Formal Grammar


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.


Formal Grammar

Well, Lisa, as I've mentioned before, I use Easy Grammar which teaches sentence diagramming from the perspective of prepositions.  I am a word person and I always found formal grammar very interesting. However, I do not feel it is necessary to become a good writer or speaker and it can be very cumbersome and repetitive for someone who is not interested in it.  That will make school a drudgery for both student and teacher and hurt the learning process.  I do not believe it is essential for college entry, as it will be taught in English 101 if a child chooses the College Path.  I like the simplicity of Easy Grammar and I will say once again that my kids find it fun.  That is enough for me to make it an essential part of our curriculum.  If you are trying to decide what is right for you, ask yourself why are you teaching grammar and what kind of learning style does your child have.  Those answers will help you to find just the right fit.  For the record, if you are looking for a more traditional grammar program, Rod and Staff will be hard to beat.




Do We Use a Certain Curriculum?


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.


Do you use a certain curriculum? 

I do not use any set curriculum.  I have never found any one which seemed to meet all our requirements.  As a matter of fact, I don't even use the same books for each child.  I think every child learns differently and to try to fit them into any one curriculum is more of that public school mind set.  I have more home school moms who sabotage their efforts by falling into this error.  Either because they don't consider their children's learning styles, they don't want to spend the money or simply because they don't know any better.  I try to make my children as much a part of the decision making process as possible when choosing curriculum.  

For Bible I like the Bible Nurture and Reader Series for the primary grades and this series for middle school both by Rod and Staff.  For older children we use the ABC's of Christian Growth among other things as they strike our fancy.  

Reading and Phonics are part of the Bible Nurture and Reader series for the younger grades.  You can read more about this series by clicking this link.  Once they are proficient with reading I forgo this program and move on to Easy Grammar.  You can read a more in depth post about Easy Grammar over here.  Once they have mastered grammar, we put it aside.  My children are all eager readers, even our dyslexic child so I don't see much need to teach something they already do well.  Brianna has an interest in Literature and chose to add the Abeka Literature program to her Highschool Curriculum.  

For Science and Healthy we like Abeka text books in the primary grades.  My kids read these like novels.  And, in my way of thinking, if you have a text book they won't put down, you have a winner. We also have a subscription to Ranger Rick for the youngers and Kids Discover for the older children. Before they can read, my children enjoy having these read aloud to them.  Again, they go back to these over and over and over again.  That makes me think it is a good resource for learning.  The older children also like the Abeka Science books but we also add other resources.  We have used a variety of videos for science over the years including, Moody Science Classics (shop around for these.  I got my set new for around $100 but I have see them up to $300), various Science series from Creation Today,    Answers In Genesis and Schlessingers Inventors of the World Series  (these are very expensive but we were able to get them from the public library.  Schlessingers has lots of teachers helps to download for free to accompany their video programs).  Brianna is using the Chemistry 101 Series from Westfield Studios.  This is an incredible program for highschool students.  Brianna started it and the other children found it so interesting they are all doing it, even Elisabeth likes to sit in on lessons and is learning to some degree.   For more information on Science you can click this link.

For History we again lean a lot on Abeka.  You can't go wrong when your children say, "I am finished my dinner.  May I be excused to brush my teeth and read history."  I have used many videos from Schlessinger media over the years to bring history more to life.  Our local library carries a large variety of these and you could easily build a program without ever opening a text book.  We like to use literature in History as much as possible.  We love to read and we love to read aloud so it is a win, win situation if you can bring a good book into it.  Brianna was very fond of the G.A. Henty books for History.  Note:  These are all available FOR FREE to Kindle owners.  Of course, there are lots of great field trips you can do to supplement your program.  For more information on history click this link.  

Quick note:  Abeka's website is arhaic, bulky and difficult to use.  I recommend ordering a free catalog and then once you know what you want order on line or find an Abeka sale in your area.  You enjoy free shipping which saves you ten percent if you shop at the periodic sales. 

For more information on curriculum check out this post.  This link will take you to all the posts dealing with Curriculum.  

I have tried to enter the kids Curriculum for the year each fall.  I see that I did not do that last fall, likely because of being busy with newborn Carmella and all our traveling.  I will try to get that up here in the next few days to wrap up our school year.

What Does Our Home School Look Like


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa



What does our home school look like?

I am assuming you are not referring to our physical school.  But just in case, here it goes.  Allen converted the garage into a gorgeous school room the first summer we lived in this house.  Oh, I loved it.  But five summers ago we began remodeling our basement.  Allen's office moved into the school room for the summer.  He's still there.  I miss my beautiful room.  But we have a very nice situation now.  

We started out that fall schooling at the kitchen table.  Which was right next to the school room.  It made sense at the time because there was no where else.  And because all our materials were in the school room.  What didn't work out so well, is that my husband spends  alot of time on the phone for his job.  And let's face it, even being as quiet as we can, five kids doing school and a preschooler running around can be very disruptive.  I actually bought him noise cancelling headphones to try to cut down on the distraction.  But that did not help when he was on the phone.  Sometimes, I would be looking for him and he would be in the closet carrying on a conference call.

Another big disadvantage is we only have one table in our house.  So when meal time came around we had to clear everything away.  It would take so much time to put everything away and bring it all back out again that sometimes I would just call it quits for the day.  

We heat our house with a wood stove and on many winter days we would drag our work down to the basement and sit by the wood stove while we schooled.  We had just concrete floors and the only lights were industrial work lamps but still we found it so cozy.  When Christmas rolled around we set up a Christmas tree down there which we left up until May.  Finally we decided to make it a permanent arrangement and set up two folding tables to work at.  
Besides the coziness of the wood stove, there are several huge advantages to doing school down here. There is a playroom where the little ones can occupy themselves.  There is a music room so children can practice their instruments and we can enjoy their progress.  There is the laundry room so we can keep up with the washing between lessons.  And you might be able to see the couch in the family room.  That really came in handy when I was suffering from morning sickness and when someone is ill.  They can lie down to rest right there with all of us and we can keep an eye on the ailing while we continue our work.  I miss my school room, but I can't really think of a better set up for schooling.  

The one inconvenience is the only place to store our materials is still upstairs in the school room.  I have used several methods over the last three or four school years   to organize our materials, minimize the mess and lessen the interruptions to Allen's work with repeated trips through the school room.

Last fall I purchased each child a crate at Walmart.  They keep the books we are currently working in and their pencil box with whatever supplies they might need in their crate.  At the end of the day they just pack it all up and stack it away.  This has been an excellent option for us.  We can haul work wherever we need it and it is always neat and tidy.  

Each child also has a shelf in the school room where we store other materials they are using for the school year but not necessarily using at this time.  

One other important piece of furniture is our magnetic dry erase board.  This is a portable easel on wheels.  It has two boards so children can work on both sides, a great storage space below for our manipulatives and best of all it folds flat and rolls away when not in use.  Although, we typically put it in the playroom when it isn't used for school because the kiddos just think it is so much fun.  I bought this from a preschool that was going out of business several years ago and I think it is one of the best purchases we have made for school.
For the time being, that is what our school looks like.

Home School Is Not Public School At Home


Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.

Sadly, I think many of us revert to public school ways at least once in our home school careers.  Some people dwell there and it works for them.  Others kind of fall into it by default and either don't realize where they are or don't know how to get out.  Mostly, I find home schoolers who try to follow the public school model hate what they are doing or feel constantly overwhelmed and burdened at the process of schooling their children.

By the public school model, I am loosely referring to the idea that every page must be done, a certain number of hours must be kept, work must be done in a certain fashion or at a certain place, test taking, specific subjects or topics must be done, busy work, repetitive or redundant work, and the list goes on.  You get the idea.

I know, I really had to fight the ideas that had been drilled into me through 12 years of private and public school education.  I didn't know anything about teaching.  I didn't know any home school families.  There weren't a lot of resources out there.  Even the internet was not widely or regularly used when I began schooling some 15 or 16 years ago.  So all I had to go on was my own experience.  It became more complicated when our school came into question in a custody battle and we felt the need to really conform as closely as possible to the public school model in order to defend our right to school Kaitlin at home.

But the fact of the matter is, she was miserable.  I was miserable.  At the end of the day when Allen came home to two of us crying, he was even miserable.  The thing is, neither Kaitlin and I worked well under those constraints.  She learned differently.  I taught differently.  Neither of us enjoyed sitting in front of a book all day filling in answers when we already understood the concepts for the sake of having something to show the powers to be.      We both longed to spend our time exploring topics that interested us, but we were so busy finishing work books that we never could get to the real crux of the matter, learning.  It got even worse because while I didn't enjoy it, I understood it was a necessary evil for a time.  Kaitlin was a child, and she didn't understand the importance of it so it became a constant power struggle that exhausted us both.

However, when the day came that we could follow our natural love for learning and exploring and put away all the ideas that every problem had to be done, things had to be done in a certain time table or the thought there was only one way to fulfill our requirements... wow!  school sure changed for us.  We fell in love with the idea of learning and Kaitlin excelled.  Indeed, school became something we enjoyed and looked forward to.  By the age of 15 she was finished all her high school requirements and started a correspondence course with a college out of Pennsylvania.  By the time she reached graduation age she had also completed a three year Bible college degree run by a church in Louisiana and hosted by our local church.


May 18, 2012

Cutey Bracelet Winner

So, I almost forgot to pick a winner of the cutey bracelet today.  How do you like that?  Everything was a little off around here with Kaitlin having her wisdom teeth removed and Carmella standing herself up and let's not forget the fabulous weather.

Fortunately, it didn't completely slip my mind, though.  Brianna was kind enough to pop in to help me with the Random.Org thing, which it turns out isn't such a big deal anyway.  And the winner is #1 my friend, Andrea of Arise2Write.
Congratulations, Andrea.  I will get your bracelet out to you shortly.