Saturday, December 31, 2005

Our special kitchen table & family history

We have a very special kitchen table. It was purchased by my great-grandparents in 1906. It's a round, oak table typical of the period. My dad refinished it in the '70s.

Who has sat at our kitchen table? Well, a lot of people, really. Here's one fellow! His name was Alfred Foster. He's my great-great grandfather. He fought in the civil war, he worked on riverboats on the Mississippi, then became a pioneer and ended up settling in Kansas in the 1870s and farming.

Every once in awhile as we're doing school at the kitchen table, my mind wanders to the past. Who all has sat at this table, how much laughter did the table witness, how many tears were shed at the table. It is rich in history, our family history! I sometimes wonder if the ghosts of my ancestors watch us at their kitchen table while we are schooling.

I have studied family history for several years. My DS has been walking cemeteries with me since he was old enough to walk. It makes me very happy that he has taken an interest in genealogy. We are almost to the point in our American history lessons where I can tie our family history into what we are studying. I am very excited to put that spin on our history studies.

Here is a fun link I'd like to share. It is a travel log from 1806 of a family traveling to Ohio by wagon. Margaret Huff was my fourth great-grandmother. (She married Daniel Huff after her first husband died.) Her daughter, Rachel, is listed in the travel log. My son and I have visited Rachel's grave in Indiana.

If you're studying westward expansion, check this site out and read it with your kids. It's a real-life account of moving across country back then.

Friday, December 30, 2005

I just don't get it

One of my favorite homeschooling haunts has seen some controversy lately. For the life of me, I just don't get why the webmasters are upset with a certain poster. I just don't get it!

All posts from said poster have been deleted. Someone posted about it, and the webmaster replied with a "see-the-board-rules comment." I went and read the board rules. I still don't get it.

I see blatant violation of those board rules *all* the time. I haven't noticed others getting banned, but maybe I'm not looking closely enough.

One post that violated the rules in several respects did not get taken down. It was a call to arms post regarding NBC's new show The Book of Daniel. The poster stated that the show was making a complete mockery of Christians. The poster told us that we needed to write letters of complaint to NBC as a matter of principle because the media continues to break down our society by "allowing alternative lifestyles to become common place" {sic} and finally accepted by families. It seems this show centers on Christianity, homosexuals and drug usage. Hmmm, one word in that sentence pops out at me as the issue of complaint.

This post violated three of that board's rules. Personally, it highly offended me. What, am I stupid? Do I write a letter of complaint *before* I've actually seen a television show? Am I too stupid to actually *think* for myself? Do I need to blindly follow some cult organization's directives? I'm not a homophobe and I didn't think the show looked bad at all. Maybe, just maybe, people can learn from it. I don't like drugs, I'm very much against them. I don't even drink. I don't think that's "the" issue, though. Good grief, Charlie Brown!


This makes me think of the word respect. I don't understand the reasoning for deleting someone's posts -- all of them. Not all of them are in violation of board rules, and I certainly question whether any of them were. I guess I really did lose respect. On the same token, many years ago a very wise man told me that you don't need to respect a person but sometimes you needed to respect their position.

I did lose respect for the person that became ban happy. I guess I'll just have to respect the position they hold in that it is their board and can do what they choose. I don't have to like it, and I don't.

The bottom line seems to be that it's okay if your viewpoints are slightly opposing theirs, but if you are way out in left field, forgetaboutit.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Colonial History

I spent the last two days going over our American History schedule. Yuck, what a chore. It would be much easier to buy a packaged curriculum!

I have learned that if you want to buy a good book on each colonial state, it is going to cost -- a lot. I was lucky to pick up four of said books, but I'm going to have to ILL at the library for the other nine states. I would much rather have book in hand, though!

We use A History of the United States and Its People by Edward Eggleston as our history spine.

Here are my two lists. The first is assigned reading. The second is read alouds. We still enjoy snuggling up for a good book. We have no timeline to finish, but hopefully by spring or early summer.

Assigned Reading

The Sign of the Beaver
Tituba of Salem
The Courage of Sarah Noble
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams
Trouble's Daughter: The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive
Blackbeard: Eighteenth-Century Pirate
What if You Met a Pirate?
Pirates Past Noon
Treasure Island
The Red Wind
A Lion to Guard Us
The Quakers
Beaded Moccasins
If You Lived…Iroquois
If You Lived in Colonial Times
The Slave Trade in Early America
Outrageous Women of Colonial America
Charlie's House
William's House (picture book)

Read Aloud

The New Hampshire Colony, Griffen
Colony of Mass., Fradin
Salem, Cornerstone of Freedom
The Salem Witch Trials
The Connecticut Colony, Johnston
The Rhode Island Colony
New York Colony
Peter Stuyvesant: Dutch Military Leader
Henry Hudson, Harley
The Delaware Colony
The Maryland Colony, Mason
The Colony of South Carolina, Fradin
The Colony of North Carolina, Fradin
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Pennsylvania, Fradin
Colony of New Jersey, Fradin
The Georgia Colony
The Delaware Colony

Life as a Colonist Workbook
The New Americans, Maestro
Colonial Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities and Recipes, King
Hasty Pudding, Johnnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America, Ichord
The Heritage Sampler: A Book of Colonial Arts and Crafts, Hoople

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Schedules !!!

Is it possible that we will ever be able to follow a schedule?

It occurred to me tonight, as I was making my umteenth schedule of the year, that while we homeschool we tend to completely ignore the clock. Math can sometimes take an hour and a half.

What if I actually forced us to *follow* that schedule? What if we put the math books away at the correct time. Would it be possible for us to finally finish what I have planned for a day?

I keep telling myself that the beauty of homeschooling is that there is no schedule. Perhaps I'm doing DS a disservice with this attitude. He is a slow worker. Perhaps I need to teach him to use his time more efficiently.

Hmm, I wonder. School starts next week. I'll have to try this out.

Of course, it is all contingent on me getting my butt out of bed on time in the morning.

This has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling.

DH was brushing his teeth one morning and left the bathroom with toothbrush in mouth to watch the sports reviews on the news. He came back to find our cat all cozy and comfy. I wonder what the cat would have done if he would have turned the water on? We have remodeled this bathroom and the cat has never curled up in our new sink -- thank goodness.

Typing Programs are Hard to Find!

Typing programs are hard to find. I am not talking about the ever-present array of keyboarding software, I'm talking the old-fashioned typing programs that teach speed and drill, drill, drill!

My 10yos has a new "toy," an Alphasmart. This thing is cooler than sliced bread. He can use it at the kitchen table, and mom won't fear the dog inadvertently knocking it off the table because it is rugged. It's everything we wanted -- well, we wanted a notebook but couldn't afford that! It's Palm-Powered. Check it out!

DS needs to learn to type well because he just isn't good at handwriting. Lord knows, we've practiced over and over and over ad nauseam. Luckily, he knows how to type. We did a wonderful program in second and third grade called Read, Write and Type. Of course I bought ours for $8 from eBay, not from the website. That was perfect for second and third grade. We then used an OOP book called Kids Can Type Too by Christine Mountford. This is an excellent book which I highly recommend.

We need more, though. I wish I had saved my college typing book. After searching online for a few hours, I finally found something that I think will provide what I am looking for: Typing the Easy Way (Barron's Easy Way) It's got the components I was looking for: speed and accuracy building and timed drills. From what I can see using Amazon's viewing feature, it starts small with goals of typing 10- and 11-wpm, with only one error and continues pushing speed and accuracy throughout.

Let's just hope it's appropriate for a 10-year-old!

I know we could use the computer and some fancy cartoon software. I just don't want to do this. I think DS really needs excellent keyboarding skills and I don't think they come from using game-type software.

I'll report on how this works down the road!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Homeschool Crafts

We checked out several Christmas craft books from our local library. Most were junky twaddle, but we managed to find one very good book.
175 Easy-To-Do Christmas Crafts by Sharon Dunn Umnik (Editor.)

Thomas decided that he needed to make all our Christmas cards by hand this year. He used many ideas from the above-entitled book. We also made several projects from the book.

I'm sure this homeschool will be finding glitter scattered throughout until Easter. Then we'll switch to finding Easter grass until Christmas.

We liked this book so much that we checked out others that were in the same series:
175 Easy-To-Do Everyday Crafts
175 Easy-To-Do Thanksgiving Crafts
175 Easy-To-Do Easter Crafts
175 Easy-To-Do Valentines Day Crafts

Some of those books are more appropriate for the younger set and didn't appeal to my 10-year-old son. They are great crafting books, though.

Christmas Blues

Well, Christmas is fast approaching. I always get the Christmas blues.

Christmas was mom's favorite time of the year and she made it very special for everyone. I always felt her love at Christmas as it just overflowed. She spoiled me rotten with gifts, love and laughter. We played games, we shopped, we giggled. That magic is gone forever.

Mom's been gone for 12 years now. Christmas has never been the same. I've had to create new magic for Thomas, my son. I have had to become a very good actor because those Christmas blues really do hit me hard.

Here's to the memory of mom. The good, the bad and the ugly -- Christmas always brought out the good in her.