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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teaching Them Diligence

We attended the Teach Them Diligently Convention last week, and I have been reflecting on the word diligence ever since. What does it mean to teach your kids diligently? The more I think about it, the more I think it is one of the most important lessons our kids will learn. Whatever you do, do it with diligence.  This carries over to all parts of life, and many opportunities arise every day to address this character trait. 

While, as parents, we need to teach with diligence, we can also help our kids succeed in life by teaching them to do all things diligently.

DILIGENCE, n. 1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity. 
      Diligence is the philosopher's stone that turns every thing to gold.
      Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.  2 Pet. i.
   2. Care; heed; heedfulness.
      Keep thy heart with all diligence.  Prov. iv.

DILIGENT, a. Steady in application to business; constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; assiduous; attentive; industrious; not idle or negligent; applied to persons.
      Seest thou a man diligent in his business?  he shall stand before kings. 
        Prov. xxii

DILIGENTLY, adv.  With steady application and care; with industry or assiduity; not carelessly; not negligently.
      Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God.  Deut. vi.
              {American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828}

Because my kids are with me almost all the time, they have the misfortune of having to run errands with me, too. We have had a couple of experiences lately of "adults behaving badly," and I have tried to turn them into learning experiences.

What message do you want to send to others when they interact with you? What influence do you want to have on others through your example? Even if your task is hard, you can do it with a cheerful attitude, and your day will probably turn out better because of it. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Garden Chemisty: Roots and Shoots


  The cucumbers are getting tall, and the carrots and peppers are all sprouting.  Two tomatoes are up, but there's no sign of anything in the third little pod.

   You can see the tiny shell of the seed still clinging onto the seed leaves of some of the bean plants.

The big leaves are starting to emerge in the center of the seed leaves of the bean plants.  We observed that these new leaves have jagged edges, unlike the smooth seed leaves.


jalapeno peppers

The tiny shell of a jalapeno seed is still clinging to the end of a leaf.


New seeds cooking-- planted Saturday:  sunflowers, Blue Lake beans, pumpkins.

{I'm linking up to the Garden Party at Oregon Cottage.}

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Convention Diaries


Whew!  Two conventions, two weekends in a row.  We're tired, but we came away from the experience feeling encouraged, motivated, and inspired with a bunch of catalogs to read and a few new materials to explore, plus enough pencils and pens to last for years!  These were the first homeschool conventions we've ever attended, and we will go again next year better prepared for what to expect.

The film track at Teach Them Diligently couldn't have come at a better time. My oldest son is passionate about filmmaking, and the seminars were wonderful. A highlight was a spontaneous Q and A session with all the film industry speakers. We attended seminars by Stephen Kendrick, Ken Carpenter, and Anthony and Jessica Rondina

Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally -- best friends.
We also attended the Brothers and Sisters workshop by the Mally family. My kids and I have been reading their book, and  we enjoyed their funny and personal stories.

We stopped by the Queen Homeschool booth, and I got some personal tips and advice from Sandi Queen. I came home with a new cursive handwriting primer for my youngest and a Pagoo study guide for a summer unit study.

At the Southeast Homeschool Convention, we met Sonia Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason, who demonstrated how to use the Picture Study Portofolios with my boys:

Picture Study Portfolios
and we came home with the Michelangelo and Turner sets.

Dr. Wile, science genius.

We attended a seminar by Dr. Jay Wile, the author of my oldest son's science books, and learned about Eco-Hysteria and Global Warming, and how propaganda is used to distort the facts.

Jim Weiss, the best storyteller.
The highlight of the convention was attending Jim Weiss's workshops and visiting him at his booth. We bought several of his CDs and had him autograph them for us: Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, The Queen's Pirate, Masters of the Renaissance (which will be a great accompaniment to our Michelangelo Picture Study,) and Animal Tales (we got a live sample of the best Tortoise and the Hare.)

We also met Sheila Ingle, the author of a book we read last year called Courageous Kate about a strong young woman who served as a spy during the American Revolution. She has a new book out, Fearless Martha, which we bought and had her sign for us. The boys also met her husband John, an artist and the illustrator of her books.

Some things I would do differently:

Bring our own snacks and drinks and lunches. While drinks and food were reasonably priced at Teach Them Diligently, the food was very overpriced and choices were limited at the GHC. 

Bring an extra tote bag -- catalogs get heavy, and an extra bag means you can split up who carries everything.

Don't plan to do any cooking or running errands on convention days -- we were worn out!

Bring a camera. I didn't because I didn't want an extra thing to carry, but in hindsight, I wish I had.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Cleaning: The Pantry

  My pantry has been a mess for awhile, and I found myself buying grocery items I discovered I already had due to disorganization.  I finally got a bit of spring fever and decided to tackle the mess, and it took almost a whole day to do it.  I was inspired by Kuzak's Closet's makeover using stackable bins, and I already had some on hand in other parts of the house.  I bought four more at Target, and I used them to store items that don't stack or stand up well.  I put all my opened dry beans, chocolate chips, and pasta in mason jars, and all the cereal and kids snacks went into clear jars with snap top lids.  All the extra staples went on the top shelves, and I threw away anything with an expired date.  I keep thermoses, lunch bags, plastic cutlery, paper plates, etc. in my grandmama's picnic baskets, and a floor mat my son made in art class brightens up the view when I open the doors.
   It makes me happy to look inside the pantry now, and it is much easier to plan meals knowing what I already have.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garden Chemistry: Sprouting

No tomato action, cucumbers are all coming up, two tiny carrot sprouts, one speck in the jalapeno tray.

   So, what makes a seed sprout?  Warmth and water make the seed swell and split.  Tiny roots grow downward as shoots grow upward trying to reach the light.  Not only do the roots help to stablilize the plant and keep it in the ground, but they also bring water to the plant and food from the soil.  The seed leaves also bring the plant "food" from the air and the sun.
   We are measuring the growth of our sprouts and tracking them in our nature journals each day.  We'll also add drawings to show how they look each week.

{I'm linking up with Oregon Cottage's Garden Party.}

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sharing Star Wars Figures...

Him:  "I'm never going to sell my Star Wars figures."

Me:  "You're not?"

Him:  "When I grow up and have kids, I'm going to share my Star Wars figures with my kids, but not when they're babies, you know why?"

Me:  "Why?"

Him:  "Because they will eat them."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Garden Chemistry: Seed Starting

First you add warm water to the tray.

   The boys have started their seedlings for the garden.  We are using these Burpee Seed Starting Greenhouse Kits.  They are less than $3.00 apiece, and each of the boys chose a pack of seeds to plant in one.  They planted jalapenos, cucumbers, and carrots, and I planted a tray of tomatoes.   

Then you watch as the soil tablets magically absorb the water and expand to fill the tray.

Then you plant,

and plant,

and cover them.
   The boys are already asking when their plants will grow.  We are going to check them each day and track their growth.

{I'm linking up with Oregon Cottage's Garden Party, Outdoor Play at Mama Pea Pod,
and Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.}

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DIY: Spoon Puppets

"I'm Batman."

   My boys have been feeling creative this week and have been working on these wooden spoon puppets.  They made some in their art class last year, and it is a project they have been begging me to let them do again.  All you need are wooden spoons and air-dry clay (along with your imagination.)

   Once you decide on your character, press the clay onto the spoon and layer on other colors, being sure to smooth everything down all around.  The smoother you get it, the less it will crack apart when it dries.  This clay is really pliable and easy to work with.  If you want a variety of colors, start with the primary colors, and black and white.  You can mix them together to create others.  Once the puppet is done, prop it in a vase or jar until dry (about 24 hours.)  They make great characters for putting on a puppet show or making a movie parody. 

The Joker

The Joker, "the Joker's minion wearing a black ski mask," "a real vampire, not a Twilight one," and Batman.


Joker's minion, "A red ghost eating his eyeballs," and "a green alien with sharp teeth."

Classic movie vampire, Frankenstein, and mummy.

{ Disclaimer: I am the mother of boys. Their imaginations are boy-ish; therefore, you will see no bunnies or princesses here, only icky boy stuff. }

Monday, March 5, 2012

Garden Plans 2012

   The boys each picked out a pack of seeds at Lowe's Saturday, and we got some little greenhouse trays to start them in.  I'm planting tomatoes, and the boys are planting jalapenos (for poppers,) cucumbers, and multicolored carrots.

   We are going to start our seeds this week so the little plants will be ready to move outside by the time the weather is good. 

Plans and dreams.

   We are still composting in our worm tubes, and the petunia plants and parsley have made it through the winter.  After Easter, we are going to plant a row of sunflowers and a row of pumpkins.  We have lots of deer and bunnies, so we are hoping that our choices won't be too appealing to them.  We found out last year that they love corn, lettuce, and broccoli!

{Linking up with Oregon Cottage for the Garden Party.}

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Record Keeping: Student Assignments

This year, my oldest is keeping his own lesson notebook, and it is divided into sections for science, history, writing/grammar/literature, vocabulary, and math. His notebook is similar to mine, but without all the extras I include. 

Staying Organized

It's not rocket science, but it makes staying organized much easier. I bought him a notebook with a built-in pouch in the front to store his lesson CDs for math and science, and there is plenty of room in the notebook to add more sections and pages as we go through the year. I made copies of the tables of contents from each of his main books and put them behind dividers for each subject.When he completes an assignment, he checks it off, and things like essays and quizzes are inserted behind each schedule. Because we "do school" year-round, once a level is completed, I remove the pages from that section and add in the new schedule pages.

Book and Film Lists

In a separate notebook, he has a book list where he writes down the title, author, and number of pages when he finishes a book. He also has a movie list to record and critique all the movies he is watching for his film class. My son is learning to keep himself organized and to be responsible for keeping up with his own assignments. As he transitions to high school work, he is learning to both work independently and  know when to ask for help. 

Using Technology

One "trick" I have implemented this year--My son got his own computer for his last birthday, and he would rather do things on the computer than "by hand." I email his assignments to him, and he sends me emails with his essays and other written work attached. Even though we are often in the same room, he enjoys getting emails, and it's an easy written reminder for him from me.

One Caveat

He recently had to rewrite a page from his Grammar and Writing book, correcting all the errors in the paragraphs. He asked me if he could just type it and send it to me instead of rewriting it all by hand. I obliged, and when he sent it to me, he commented that he turned off the spelling/grammar checker before he typed it. Duh! I wouldn't have even known--I didn't think about all the "helps" the computer gives. Back in my day, we didn't have all these new-fangled gadgets... :)