April 29, 2004

Thank the Lord for Little Girls!

Sophie is such a joy to be around. Her cheerful spirit and eagerness to learn brighten my day! She likes to spend some time every day working at learning to read on her own initiative. She brings me her little Bob books and reads them to me. (Short little books with easy three letter words in sentences.) When she obviously is getting tired (starts yawning), I tell her that she can stop, but she usually presses on to get to "The End". She even took the books to bed last night and read for a little while before "lights out". This morning she read a Bob book to James and I first thing. She also likes to work on spelling on a white board. I read a word from the beginning spelling lists in the spelling/phonics program that I use and she can isolate the "phonograms" (letters or letter combo's) that make up the word to spell it.

She also likes to get out her Earlybird Math book when the boys are working on theirs and do some pages.

During part of our school time today, she rearranged the dolls and furniture in her dollhouse and organized the doll clothes.

She has come up with cute little drawings of "kitty girls" out of her own imagination. She draws a little kitty wearing a puffy dress with fanciful designs and ruffles. She usually draws a house outline around the kitty and sometimes draws trees with birds perched on them. Yesterday, she drew a picture of several clowns and a truck that carried flowers for sale. The clown idea came out of a book, but the truck was entirely her own.

It's nice to see her apply herself cheerfully to different activities. "Kindergarten" couldn't be easier!

She also cracks me up (internally) when James reads the book of Acts at night. When he asks her a question about the story, her answer no matter what is usually "Paul".

Posted by melissa at 04:44 PM

April 24, 2004

Books on Tape

Angi recently asked me to recommend some books on tape. The following is a list of books on tape that we have checked out from our local library. The kids have probably listened to others as well, but this is what I remember. The kids listen while they eat lunch on school days. I haven't necessarily paid close attention to all of the stories, because I check email and homeschooling message boards during lunch...

Books on tape:

Pippi Longstocking
Peter Pan
Mary Poppins
My Side of the Mountain
Heidi (Sophie liked more than the boys)
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler
Ralph S. Mouse
Alice in Wonderland
The Black Stallion
Henry Huggins
Henry and Ribsy
Little Britches (warning: some bad language, but excellent story)
The Schoolmouse
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Narnian tale books
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (oops, actually this wasn't on tape, but good book)
Wizard of Oz
Black Beauty
Any stories on tape by Jim Weiss
Adam of the Road
A Cricket in Times Square
The Complete Book of Dragons
Charlotte's Web
King of the Wind

Posted by melissa at 10:45 PM

April 22, 2004

Girls Day In, Boys Day Out

Today was "Take Your Child to Work Day". James took the boys to work, because they were both old enough this year, and Sophie and I spent the day together. We went shopping and then came home for lunch and tea. I made Sophie pb&j sandwiches which I cut with cookie cutters in the shape of a heart, a flower, a little "S" and a music note. The flower sprouted out of "grass" which was actually frozen peas. I also served her little melon balls. She sipped vanilla tea out of a miniature pink china cup. I lit a candle and decorated the table with flowers as well. For dessert, we both ate a rasberry chocolate truffle.

After cleaning up the kitchen, I lit candles in the family room and turned on (!) the fireplace (it is a dark, dreary, rainy day today) and read poetry aloud. We played two games of dominoes, then watched an episode of "Little House on the Prairie". Sophie played with dolls while I started laundry. Next, we worked on spelling on a white board, then Sophie read some Bob books to me. When she got tired, I read to her. Now it is time to get supper.

I wonder how the boys enjoyed their day with James!

Posted by melissa at 06:01 PM

April 14, 2004

Family Favorite Recipe

Lemon Dill Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

3-4 peppers cut into bite sized pieces (we prefer red peppers)
bunch of asparagus cut in bite size pieces
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix together peppers, oil and seasonings in roasting pan and roast in 450 oven for 30 mins., stirring after 15 minutes. Add asparagus for last 5 minutes (longer if you prefer.)

6 half boneless skinless chicken breasts
lemon: cut in half; squeeze half; slice half in thin slices
1/2 c. white cooking wine
2 chopped green onions
1/4 tsp. dill

While peppers are roasting, lightly brown chicken brsts in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray. In a bowl combine the wine, 1 T. lemon jc., and dill and pour over browned breasts. Place a lemon slice on each breast half. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 mins. until breasts are poached (cooked through).

Serve vegetables on a large platter with the chicken arranged on top. Pour juices over all and sprinkle with green onions.

Posted by melissa at 01:08 PM

April 13, 2004

The Brumbies Are Coming!

Amiee asked me to post a site so that she can see the painting we have over our fireplace in our family room. I thought I'd share it with you all. I hope this link works:
Type "horses in the snow" into the search field and click on the picture if you want to see a larger view. Our picture, however, doesn't have a white border or print on it. The frame is right next to the picture.

Posted by melissa at 07:33 PM


I'm not quite as enthusiastic about the Horatio Hornblower series by Forester as I was after reading the first three. The later books reveal him to be more of an irreligious and immoral person. I still like the adventures he ends up in, though.

Posted by melissa at 01:00 PM

April 12, 2004

The Latest...

Matthew has been asking many thoughtful questions lately which really show the gears are turning inside his little head. Last night he asked me: "How come they speak Spanish in Mexico when Mexico is in North America?" I briefly explained how people from Spain settled Mexico. (We are progressing through studying World History in chronological order and haven't even come to the European settling of North America.) Last week, he asked me in reference to Little House on the Prairie, "How did Ma and Pa and Mary, Laura and Carrie get to India, when India is across the ocean? (He asked that because they come into contact with Indians and we have read about India in history.) It'll be fun to bring up his question again when we read about Columbus. Matthew also likes to tote a stool into the hallway to look at our world map and find places and ask questions.

He is also beginning not to take jokes literally. Last night he told me "I'm sleeping with my angel tonight" (a puppet he made in Sunday school). I answered, "No, I'm sleeping in my own bed, thank you." Right away he busted out laughing.

Last night at church, Johanna kept teasing him, saying, "Matthew, it's been forever since I've seen you." (He tells me that she always says that whenever we go to church.) When we arrived home, he called her. I told him to speak loudly enough for her to hear. He shocked me out of my socks by yelling "HI!" on the top of his lungs, then stammered out "Johanna, it's been forever since I've seen you." He got a big kick out of it.

On Friday night, we attended a piano concert at the church sponsored by the boys' music teacher. A piano store donated a concert grand piano for the stage. The pianist, Del Parkinson, was Mrs. Green's instructor when she earned her masters in piano. He went to school at Julliard among other schools and has played at Carnegie Hall. Friday he played Rhapsody in Blue, the Moonlight Sonata, and two pieces by Chopin.

On Saturday, Evan played a piano piece for Dr. Parkinson who instructed him while people listened for a Master Class. Evan wasn't nervous at all and really enjoyed the experience.

Two weeks ago, for a history project, we painted Russian-style Easter eggs. I blew out some eggs (too difficult for the kids to do; they tried) and they painted them with black acrylic paint, then painted designs with colored acrylics. I sealed them with clear acrylic and they look quite striking. They also painted some with pastel colors and we rubbed transfers on them. Fun! I took some pictures, but our camera battery died so that I can't finish the roll until it's replaced. I'll try to upload some pics here when I have them developed.

Posted by melissa at 01:56 PM

April 01, 2004

New Definition of Insanity

The best guide to homeschooling that I own is the book The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. My kids have heard me talk about the book to others and have seen the book around the house. This week for history we have been reading the chapter about "The First Russians" in The Story of the World. Part of the chapter tells about Ivan the Terrible going mad. Matthew told me with a chuckle that Ivan had "well-trained mind problems".

Posted by melissa at 08:12 PM