"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our reading list

As I mentioned yesterday, books really make learning come alive.  I am not a craftsy person.  We don't do many official science experiments or art projects at my house.  (I leave that to Classical Conversations.)  Instead, we read.  A lot.  My girls are immersed in good language throughout the day.  History becomes so much more vivid when you live it through a fictional character in an actual time period. 

Here is the chronological list of books we will be reading to correspond with our history lessons this year: 
The Bronze Bow by Speare
Beowulf the Warrior by Serraillier
Flame Over Tara by Polland
Twice Freed by St. John
My Father's Dragon by Gannett
Castle Diary: The Journal of tobias Burgess, Page by Platt
The Reluctant Dragon by Grahame
Door in the Wall by DeAngeli
Dangerous Journey
The Adventures of RobinHood by Pyle
Master Cornhill by McGraw
Joan of Arc by Stanley
Columbus by D'Aulaire
King Henry VII by Green
Courage and Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation Church by Withrow
The Second Mrs. Gioconda by Konisburg

Some of these books will be read aloud together.  Some Madeline will read by herself, depending on the depth of the material.  I compiled this list by researching Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, and others.

Here is Madeline's just for fun reading list:
Black Beauty
Treasure Island
Peter Pan
Strawberry Girl
Misty of Chiconteague
The Toothpaste Millionaire
The Cricket in Times Square
The Railway Children
And the Word Came With Power

She can pick out other books to read.  However, she loves to read and reads fast.  It is helpful for me to have a guided list to direct her back to.  This allows me to keep her challenged, be able to discuss the stories she is reading, and know that she is receiving a well rounded education.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Madeline's 2nd grade itinerary

Here is a synopsis of what Madeline is covering this year:

Saxon Math
We are about 75% of the way through Saxon Math 2, then will be moving on to 3.  We really need to get those math facts to come automatically this year.  She understands the concepts well and learns math relatively easy.  Now we need to get it down so she doesn't even need to think about it.

Spelling Workout
This is DIY spelling.  She completes the workbook pages one day, copies the spelling rule and word list another day, takes a 15 word spelling test the 3rd day.  She gets phonics reinforcement with this approach, but does not belabor her too much.  We are just about done with Spelling Workout B, then we'll be ready to move on to Spelling Workout C. 
Writing With Ease
Writing With Ease uses quality children's literature for copywork, narration, and soon will be dictation.  It is all laid out for you in the workbook with a gentle yet fun style.  We are about half way through Book 1. 
First Language Lessons
This is our study of grammar.  Once again, it uses short but full lessons to verbally learn about the parts of speech.

The Story of the World
We are covering Volume 2: The Middle Ages this year.  We read about a chapter per week, then do the map work, review questions, and narration.  We supplement with additional informational books from the library and the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History.  An important part of history are the read alouds and independent reading of literature that correspond with the time of history that we are studying.  This really makes history come to life.  I'll post our reading list for the year tomorrow.

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
I have enjoyed this science approach.  Honestly though, science is the on the bottom of my list of important subjects right now. 

Additional studies
Madeline is learning piano from me.  We all study the Bible together through the Picture Smart Bible.  Of course she is also attending Classical Conversations and working on that memory work.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Last Monday was our first adventure in the land of fun. We've had discounted tickets all year, and have just been waiting for the right day. Monday was it. Most schools around here had started, it was the last regular season day for the park, beautiful weather, and minimal amounts of people.

We had an absolutely fantastic time!  Madeline surprised us with her bravery, going on all the big rides.  She did it all.  Cora did great hanging out in the stroller most of the day. 

Lydia and Anna rode all the classic Adventureland rides, causing Mark and I to reminisce about how all the rides seemed larger back in the day.  

We arrived right as the park opened in the morning and rode rides all morning.  We hardly had to wait in lines.  Then we had a late lunch under some trees out by the van.  The girls changed in to their swimming suits, and we headed to the water park.  We stayed until just about 5:00, enjoying every minute of it.  Our first family trip to an amusement park was a hit.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I get a lot of questions around here. 
Inquiring minds want to know. 
About everything. 
Many things I can't explain. 

My most commonly used and most effective answer
Because that is how God made it. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The big yellow buses are rollin'

Well, school has started around here. Every time I see the school bus come down our street for the first time of the year, my heart starts to pitter patter. I panic. I get these crazy thoughts in my head:

Oh no! Am I ruining our kids by not granting them this classic American experience of going to school and riding a bus? Why are they picking the kids up already? What do they do there all day? We only "school" a couple hours a day. Those lucky moms get a break for a whole 6 and a half hours. They can go to the bathroom, go to the store, eat lunch by themselves. Those kids look so cute in their new school outfits and back packs. My kids are still in their jammies. What are we doing? Why are we so weird? Will our kids hate me for this?

As soon as those thoughts fly through my head at break neck speed, my next thought comes:

Praise the Lord.

My kids are home with me. We get to learn and grow together. They do not need to get on that bus with those other children. They will not hear bad words at home with me. They will not feel the pressure of fitting in. They will not have to confront serious issues until they are ready. I have the honor of studying the truth with my girls. I get to walk through life with them. My kids get so much more time to play, explore, and breathe than the regular school kids. Yes, we are going against the flow. But I have no doubt this is what God wants for our family.

Praise the Lord.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crunchy Granola Bars

1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. milled flax seed
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a saucepan, gently heat the oil, butter, sugar, and honey. Stir in the salt and cinnamon. When the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stir in the oats, flour, and flax seed. Mix well and allow to cool slightly. Mix in the eggs and baking soda.

Spray a 15x10 jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Press the granola mixture firmly into the pan. Use a rolling pin to make sure the mixture is pressed tightly into the pan. Pay special attention to the corners and edges.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cut into 24 bars. Allow to cool in the pan. When the bars are completely cold, remove from the pan.

My thoughts:

After the mixture has cooled, before baking, I add chocolate chips or craisins. You could also add seeds, nuts, or whatever you have on hand.

These are crunchy and crumbly when eating.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fruit n Chocolate Oat Bars

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 2/3 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
1 1/2 c. uncooked oats
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9x2 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Stir dry ingredients together in medium bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg and bananas. Mix well. Add flour mixture beating on low just until well blended. Stir in oats, cranberries, and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in sprayed pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes until edges are golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. Cut into 24 bars.

My thoughts:

Again, I wrap these individually and freeze them for ready to go snacks.

This calls for a lot of bananas. I think my girls are half monkey with how many bananas we eat on a daily basis. If I don't have enough bananas, I substitute 1/3 cup applesauce for 1/3 cup banana.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whole wheat apple crunch muffins

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)

Crunch topping:
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Combine first measure of flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and first measure of cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.

In a second bowl, beat eggs, oil and applesauce. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in apples.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, second measure of flour, brown sugar, and second measure of cinnamon. Cut the butter into the oat mixture using a fork or pastry knife until coarse crumbs form.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Top each muffin with oatmeal mixture. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

My thoughts:
Because chopping all the apples is a bit of work, make a double or triple batch of these while you're at it. I peel and cut the apples while Madeline chops them with the Pampered Chef food chopper.

From now on, I'm not going to make the crunch topping. I'm just going to swirl a little combination of brown sugar and cinnamon on top before they bake. These are so delicious, the topping is really not necessary in my opinion. It is just extra work and another dirty bowl.

I make a large batch of these, then individually wrap them in foil. I put a dozen or so in a ziploc bag and freeze them.

This recipe is from the cookbook "30 Day Gourmet's Big Book of Freezer Cooking" by Nanci Slagle and Carol Santee. I love this cookbook!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snack time

At our house, my girls ask for a snack about every five minutes. Unfortunately for them, we only have snacks twice a day.

Snacks are one of the more difficult items to keep healthy, while still being easy and somewhat mess free. I also try to get a protein or more than one food group in the snack. I sat down and came up with the following list of snack possibilities, then set a plan for snacks for the week, just like I plan my meals.

Snack mix (Cheerios, raisins, craisins, chocolate chips, or other tidbits mixed together in a baggie)
Crackers with peanut butter (My favorite crackers are Trader Joe's multi grain and Kashi original seven grain.)
Cereal with milk
Veggies with ranch dip (Carrots, celery, peppers. Anything they can dip is good.)
Chocolate fruit bar
Apples and pretzels
Apple muffin
Bagel with cream cheese
Granola bar
Crackers and cheese

Over the next couple days I will post the recipes for the chocolate fruit bar, granola bar, and apple muffins.

What do you do for snack time at your house?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trying to be healthy

Over the last year, we have been renovating some of our eating habits. I think that we've always been relatively good eaters. We all eat quite a bit of vegetables and fruit. My philosophy has been, you can eat the dessert as long as you eat the vegetables too. I don't harp on my girls to eat, but provide good choices for them. We have never had a lot of McDonald's or convenience food. But we do love our chocolate chip cookies!

When we discovered Cora's allergies I had to stop and rethink what we eat. The research I did opened my eyes to ways we could all be healthier. It is a gradual process, and I am not a purist. Here are some of the changes we have made:

1. Eat food closer to its natural state. This means we eat butter, not margarine or shortening. We eat whole milk, not skim. We eat the fattiest yogurt we can afford. We eat "real" cheese slices, not processed "fake" cheese. We eat a Smart Balance peanut butter that still tastes good but has very few ingredients. I am grinding my own wheat to use for bread and baking. (Please forgive me for how homeschoolish this is. I use a bread machine for the bread, and overall it does not take as much time or effort as you would think. If I don't have time for it, I buy bread from the store.)

2. Stay away from artificial growth hormones and abundant antibiotics. Anderson Erickson, Target, and Aldi have non rBGH milk. I would love to drink non homogenized milk or completely organic milk, but right now can't afford it. I also aim to eat organic chicken with no antibiotics or hormones, but haven't found an affordable option for this either. Hurry up, Trader Joe's!

3. Reduce high fructose corn syrup and soy, because they are genetically modified foods. This is a tough one. Corn syrup and soy are in almost everything. Part of my solution for this has been to use more homemade snacks instead of ready made crackers and such. I have a nummy granola bar recipe and healthy chocolate chip bar recipe I make in big batches, then wrap the servings individually and freeze. I made homemade strawberry freezer jam with sugar. We mix this with natural vanilla yogurt to make strawberry yogurt. I am working on finding brands and foods that have less soy and corn syrup in them, then sticking with them.

4. Avoid artificial colorings and preservatives. If I can't pronounce or understand the words in the ingredient list, maybe I shouldn't be eating it. The fewer ingredients the better. To help with this, I am making my own macaroni and cheese. It really doesn't take any longer than making it from the box. You boil the macaroni, then mix in some real cheese, milk, and a little cream cheese. The girls have adapted to this fine. Pop is a big no no in this category. Unfortunately, I really like Mountain Dew. This is all a balancing game, which means I am reducing my intake of pop and feeling good about it.

The bottom line is that I would rather have a sick child with a healthy soul than a healthy child with a sick soul. But I want to be a good steward of my family. To that end, I am going to do all I can to keep us healthy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First day

Yesterday was our first day of school.
It is good to be back in a routine. It is good to have fun together. It is good to be productive. It is good to have a fresh start.

Lydia: Pre-K

Madeline: 2nd grade

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lydia learns

With school just around the corner, I'll be sharing how we homeschool at Scheve Academy. First off, we have Lydia...
Lydia is not technically school age yet. She turns 5 the beginning of October, which means she misses the cut off by a couple weeks. Although she is not ready for a rigorous academic schedule yet, she is ready for something. I am not a proponent of pushing your kids hard academically when they're young. We don't participate in a preschool program at home or out in the real world. The best way for young children to learn is through play, exploration, and reading with Mom. That being said, I will be doing a modified two year kindergarten program with Lydia this fall. We'll start to cover the basics in short lessons. Seriously, she won't have to sit at a table for more than 30 minutes total per day. Here is her curriculum:

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington

This is a parent and kid friendly way to learn to read. The lessons are short. It is scripted for the parent. You can use additional flash cards if you want to, but it is not necessary. It is phonics based. They have the child reading words early, which gives the child confidence. I've looked at other reading books, but they seem too complicated. This is easy.

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, K

I did not do a lot of research about handwriting. This was recommended from a respected homeschooler, so I went with it. We work our way through the workbook in short and easy lessons. It has colorful pages, but not too much distraction.

Saxon Math K

We will start with the Saxon kindergarten math program, which uses a lot of manipulatives. There is a lot of counting teddy bears, sorting colors, and playing with pattern blocks. Saxon is not colorful or fancy, but it is thorough. Everything is scripted for the parent, which is good for the math leery parent. If we run in to topics that I feel Lydia is already very literate in, we'll skip that lesson. Saxon utilizes a spiral approach, which means there is constant review.

Classical Conversations

Lydia will be in a CC class for 4 and 5 year olds. I don't think that she absolutely needs to be in this class, but think she will really enjoy it.

Although her formal education at this point is limited, she is learning every moment. We read from the Bible everyday. She attends Sunday school class, children's church, and Wednesday night classes at church. Lydia usually sits in on history and science with Madeline if she wants. She plays outside, creates sculptures with playdoh, bosses her little sisters around, swings on our swing set, and goes to the store with us.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I apologize for ignoring my blog for so long. I'm still alive and kicking, just been busy with ordinary life duties. I promise I'll be better at blogging. Really, I will. Here is some randomness to make up for my blog delinquency:

1. Menu plan for the week. I know it is helpful to hear what everyone else is having for supper. Here is my proposal:
Monday- beef taquitos
Tuesday- grilled chicken with grilled veggies
Wednesday- chicken salad from leftover grilled chicken
Thursday- pizza
Friday- leftovers
Saturday- supper at church
We will also be having fresh green beans, homemade applesauce, and lots of cucumbers.

2. I have been experimenting in couponing lately. I have been a skeptic of couponing because it seems to require a lot of work. I usually buy generic, store brand. Can it really be cheaper? I have found a couple good blogs which do much of the prep work for you, and am trying to be diligent in not buying things that are not necessary. So far it has been fun and productive. For example, I bought the toothpaste the girls use for 12 cents. When they run out, we're set. I am still working on it and have yet to determine how much it saves in the long run. But I'm getting sick of our high grocery costs and am up for some help.

3. We're doing swimming lessons again this week. It was absolutely amazing how much progress Madeline and Lydia made the first time around. Anna is getting her turn this week, along with her big sisters. She did better than expected today.

4. School starts either this Thursday or next Monday, as soon as I get my act together. I have some laminating to do before then. I love laminating.

That's all for now. Thanks for hanging in here with me. More interesting posts will be coming soon.