January 22, 2008

Can I help Mom?


Ok, so I don't have any toddler helpers anymore, but what I do have is a toddler-cat, who loves to follow his mom around and "help" her whenever he can.

This morning, I was pulling clothes out of the dryer, and Gus, my 5 month old cat, decided he would help me. He jumped into the dryer and proceeded to sit on all the clean, freshly dried clothes. After I removed the clothes, he decided to lay down in the dryer.

He also helps me with the washing and will jump up on the washer and watch me put the clothes into it. He follows me into the bathroom and will watch me clean the sink, toilet and tub. Then he follows me back out to the kitchen where he will proceed to open the cabinet doors and stick his head in each one. Usually he will tire out after a while and go and lay down somewhere -- take his nap -- which gives me a huge relief so that I can get back to doing my real work (at the computer).

This is my first attempt at loading a video to my blog. I tried to just load it up to Blogger and the video is really dark. I put it over on my own website so if you want to see "Gus Live," click and it should open in a new window. Thanks for DJ for running quickly and snapping the photo above and then taking the short video for me. Note: no animals were harmed in the making of this video!

I have had cats in my home since I was a toddler. They all have unique and wonderful personalities, but I have to say that I have never had one like Gus. It is probably because I hand raised him from 3-weeks of age. His mom abandoned him (for good reason - he was not thriving) and I adopted him and bottle fed him until he was old enough for solid foods. He still looks like a "preemie" baby, very small, but seems to be healthy and happy. He is not the most affectionate cat, as my DH says it, and doesn't really like to be petted or held much. He does like to snuggle after meals and will sometimes come to me and purr and cry a little bit. My older cats, Zachary (age 17) and Winston (age 9 months), seem to enjoy watching his antics, but don't interact much with him. Winston used to play more, but since his "nip and tuck" surgery last week, has decided he much prefers to sit in the window and just bask in the warm sunshine (he is fine -- healed nicely and has lost all those male aggressive tendencies -- hooray!) Nonetheless, Gussy is in need of a playmate and seems to prefer his Mom most. I usually don't mind, except when he climbs up my leg (like a tree) or dumps over my cups (like he just did a few moments ago) and spills my drink on my desk.

Ah, the toddler years...when will they end? In about a year or two, I guess!

January 21, 2008

Study of Esther

Our new Pastor, Jamie Rasmussen, has started a nine-part series on the Book of Esther. Due to our family being ill last week, we missed the introduction to the series. I have been told it was awesome (here is the link to download the MP3 file from last week). I was hoping to be able to link to yesterday's message, which was IMHO, one of the finest on the differences between pride and humility, I have ever heard. I cannot imagine not responding with a contrite heart after hearing his teaching on chapter 1-2. I will try and post the links as they get posted on our church website, but I am not sure when that actually happens. If you are interested in following along with this series, you can see the download archive here:

http://scottsdalebible.com/Main_Downloads_Sermons.cfm

January 17, 2008

7 Random Facts About Me...

I've been tagged by Dawn to play along. Gee, I don't know 7 bloggers to tag...

7 Random Facts... now these are the rules:

-Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
- Post these rules on your blog.
- List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
- Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog

My 7 random facts:

1 - I design websites
2 - I love cats (I have cat pictures, cat toys, cat figurines, cat clawmarks everywhere!)
3 - I plan on taking my DS to Paris when he graduates from high school (2011)
4 - I love the color blue AND country decorating (oh, it is so PASSE!)
5 - I cry all the time (at movies, at tv, with friends, in church, just because!)
6 - I talk to myself (sing, hum, and generally keep myself company) and pray out loud
7 - I dated my DH 31 times in a row (our first month together)

Ok, so to whomever reads this...tag you are it!

January 8, 2008

Year 10 Planning

Ok, I know...I am nuts, right? I am already thinking about our core curriculum for next year (10th grade). I cannot help it, I just love curriculum and planning and I THINK about it all the time. I am never satisfied, never completely at peace with our choices and decisions, and I am always 'tweaking, tweaking, tweaking' our program. The good news is that I am settled on a CM-education for my only child and am happily anticipating the next (or should I say our last) three years of home schooling. My son is set to graduate from high school in 2011 - yikes! I still can remember that tear-filled day when I took him to the local public school for kindergarten. He loved it, of course; I was the one with the tears and whines. Oh, how the days pass by so quickly! God has been ever so gracious to me and has allowed me the privilege and opportunity to home school for the past 4 years. In all, we will have home schooled for 7 of our son's 12 years in school.

So here I am, with the winter blahs and am contemplating next year's curriculum options. We are supporters of the Ambleside Online curriculum, a free Charlotte Mason inspired booklist, and will no doubt continue to use many of their book reading suggestions along the way. We will not follow the course schedules as proposed online, simply because I have found them to be a bit "too scholarly" for my "science/math/computer" loving child. We use their rotation, which cycles through every 6 years, and will pick up Y9 or American Colonial History for our 10th grade focus. As a Humanities major in college, I prefer to teach history, literature, government, art and music as a unit or block. It just makes sense to do it this way and helps cement the period into memory. I plan on following Charlotte Mason's guidelines for subjects and have put together a CM-Styled course planner to help me figure out our book choices.

I created this planner after studying several of the P.N.E.U. Programmes posted on the Ambleside Online website. While not an exact duplicate of the House of Education booklists, it is a low-key or lighter version than what is posted on their website. I think this planner is more "doable" for my son and will also give us some "flex room" to include Apologia Chemistry and Thinkwell's College Algebra courses. I plan on including plenty of good reading, but the focus will be on a more streamlined and "lightened" program than any of the HEO 9-11 booklists.

This is my tentative outline for Y10 (our 10th grade):

Period focus: American Colonial History, approx. 1600-1800

Bible

CM had her students read from the Old Testament and New Testament on alternate days. We will do this and will read from the KJV Bible. We will also include one devotional book per term, read aloud and discussed each Friday. Included in our Bible time will be some singing of hymns/Psalms, copywork and memory recitation (Psalms and verses). We will use our Oxford Bible Atlas to look up place names and to become more familiar with the geography of the Holy Land.

Language Arts

For our CM-styled language arts program we will include copywork, memory work, recitations and dictation (overlapped with Bible); weekly essays on readings and current events; specific instruction using Jensen's Grammar and Jensen's Format Writing; and lastly, reading about the History of American Literature along with 2-3 novels per term (one book from each: World, American, and English Literature). Additionally, we will read 3 Shakespeare plays and memorize 2-3 poems.

History

Our history choices will center around the providential founding of the American colonies. We will continue to read from Winston Churchill's 4-volume series entitled, "The History of the English Speaking Peoples" one day a week. Right now, my books choices are leaning towards: Steven McDowell's, America's Providential History; The Story of Liberty and Sweet Land of Liberty by Charles Coffin; Peter Marshall's, The Light and the Glory; as well as biographies of William Wilberforce, Patrick Henry, and short sketches on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. We will also create a history time chart for this period and will endeavor to keep our Book of Centuries going (hopeful). We will use a supplemental book that includes all the major American documents and will spend some time going over the US Constitution in detail.

Geography

We will probably work through our A Beka World Geography textbook and supplement with weekly readings from popular travel literature of the period.

Citizenship

We have been very hit or miss on citizenship the past couple of years, mostly due to my distaste of Plutarch and Ms. Mason's own book entitled, Ourselves. Note: there is nothing wrong with the Lives and I do understand it is one of the most foundational books in all of world literature -- but it is a chore to read so we may skip it again or may read a children's version (ouch!) instead.

Science and Natural History

We will use Apologia Chemistry for science this year and will follow Donna Young's course pacing, experiments and notebook suggestions. Supplemental reading will be minimal as this course requires a significant amount of time to complete each week.

Math

Thinkwell's College Algebra will be our program for Algebra 2 this year.

Foreign Language

We are currently shopping for a good foreign language program (not Rosetta Stone) to complete our study of the German language. An immersion type program is key and a visual component is nice, but not required. Due to the cost of such programs, one that offers multiple levels or at least beginning and intermediate study would be perfect. Possible options: Tell me More Intelligent Solution: German or Transparent Language's Complete German Learning Suite.

Art, Music and Miscellaneous

TBD - as I think more on it.

Well, that covers the basics, at least for now. Thankfully, I have until August to get all my ducks in a row and I am sure that my book list will change quite a bit between now and then. It is fun to plan out the purchases though and to dream a little bit about what we will be doing each day. Nice, happy thoughts!

January 2, 2008

New Year Resolutions

I am not very good at keeping my new year resolutions, but every year, I still seem to make them. This year my resolutions revolve around my waistline (losing 15lbs) and getting more into shape. Last year, due to a lot of stressful situations, found myself heavier than I have been for a while. I also stopped walking, something I enjoy doing normally. So this 2008, my goal is to get back into my walking routine and to really watch what I eat (I lost 35lbs in 2001 on Weight Watchers). I will do the "points" thing again as it worked well for me and is very easy to do. I may sign up and go to the meetings again as well. My hope is to not focus so much on the number (scale), but rather how I feel. I do want to fit into my clothing and to feel comfortable in them. However, I am more interested in feeling better, overall healthwise, than really being a certain size.

My 2008 prayer/verse is from Psalm 57:1 AMP:

BE MERCIFUL and gracious to me, O God, be merciful and gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge and finds shelter and confidence in You; yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed.

Oh, yes Lord! You are my confidence and it is in you that I place my trust and hope!