Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Sport

Nelson has learned to play basketball.

Mom, be sure to tell "Uncle Micah"... Nelson wants him to watch this video.

Starting Tomato Seeds

Have you asked - "How many tomato seeds should I buy?" Wish I would have looked it up before I bought my seeds!

Tomato seeds - one tiny package equals about 18-24 plants (assuming that you start 2-3 seeds per hole).

Now I know.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Conference went well

We were able to go to the Worldview Conference  in Jefferson City yesterday. It was much smaller than I anticipated... and we were the only home educators there, but it was a good experience.

The youngest (3 month old Jeremiah) did as well as I expected. I did have to leave with him a few times. Two year old Josiah had some rough moments, but I thought he did very well. Four year old Joshua did very well and even took a nap during the last session he attended. Lydia was bored... but did as well or better than I expected. Nelson and Rebecca both did a fabulous job of sitting still and listening. Nelson sat on one end like a father would. I sat at the far other end of the "pew." Rebecca did an amazing job of helping with the two littles. When Jeremiah needed to nurse she would pull Josiah on her lap. And, when the baby's head/soft spot was facing Rebecca's lap, she moved Josiah to her far side... that action amazed me. What a girl!

We had to go to the conference early and without Daddy to help us the first hour. That was our worst hour, but even that went fairly well. Paul arrived promptly at 10 just when I was starting to lose control of the bored middl'ins. We all stayed together through lunch, then Paul took most of the kiddoes home. I kept Rebecca and Baby Jeremiah at the conference.

The theme of the conference was a Christian Citizen's Responsibility. We heard some amazing speakers. Rebecca's favorite was Dr. John Yeats, the new executive director of the MO Baptist Convention. I did not have a favorite, I liked them all. (Although we are not currently in a Southern Baptist Church, we attend their events regularly. Paul was ordained in an SBC church, and we both attended an SBC college and some seminary.)

At the end of the day as Rebecca and I walked back to the van, I said, "I like homeschooling The Woods' Way!" The conference was a success... and a great way to begin teaching civic involvement. I know my children have never heard so much politically charged information in one day!

I am glad that we went. I am glad that we were able to represent home educators at the conference. I am glad the children behaved well. And, I was very glad to go to bed early last night! (It is hard on a person's tail bone to sit all day!)

Overall, It was a good experience. And Paul said - now that we have broken them into going to conferences he will plan to take us with him to others! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Worldview Conference in Mid-MO

Lord willing, we are going to a free worldview conference in Jefferson City, MO this week. One of our former college professors will be speaking there. It looks like a neat event. If you are in mid-MO - check it out!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


If I had to name this little piece, I would call it - Acceleration.

Simple. But I love it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Garden Fever - Seeds

Okay y'all, I admit it - I'm going garden crazy over here.

Today we went to Menards and bought seeds! This is only our third year gardening and our first time to start seeds indoors! (Some of the seeds will be sown directly into the garden.) And, if something doesn't work then I will buy the plant like we usually do. But, we are going to attempt it anyway.

We hope to make small advances every year!

New this year: 
- starting seeds indoors
- hoping to save seeds from heirloom plants
- going to learn to "pickle" peppers
- going to learn to pickle cucumbers
- eggplant
- herbs
- more annual flowers for companions/pest control
- woven wire for climbing beans and peas (or maybe a teepee too!)
- chickens (just as soon as Paul gets the tractor made)
- maybe some fruit trees and berries
- pressure canning
- using a tractor tire as a raised bed ; ) 

Who thinks I'm biting off more than I can chew? (Don't answer that, it was a rhetorical question. *winks*)

Cost of garden so far: $170 top soil + $33 seeds

Old Farmer's Almanac online

If you are a gardener who is wondering if it is too late to start your seeds indoors (like me) then check out this nifty tool at Old Farmer's Almanac online. It does the thinking for you!

Start dates for seeds, by location.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Garden Fever - Step 5 (Hard Work)

The dirt was delivered around 10, and we were expecting rain... soon. Paul and the children worked with great enthusiasm!

We WERE able to get all 10 cubic yards of soil spread out before the rain fell in earnest. This was no easy task, and I was proud to give my children 2 science credits for this labor in the garden! (Homeschooling the Woods' way)

Click any picture to bring up the enlargements page.

 Finished for today... just beat the rain! Did this all in 3 hours time... with a lunch break!

Garden Fever - Steps 2, 3, & 4

 Click any picture to bring up the enlargements page.

Step Two - Tilled

 Hey, where did this one come from? ; )

Step Three - Bring in top soil

The garden plot was terribly depleted
and needed some help.

In the future, we plan to use compost of all kinds to
strengthen our soil so that we never have to rely on purchased dirt again.


Step Four - Play in the dirt!

Let me tell you:

When I told the kids that they could play on the dirt piles before we set to work they RAN to get changed!

I had no idea that a girl could change clothes so quickly!

Rebecca had at least 5 minutes all by herself.

Springtime - by Rebecca

 posted by Rebecca, with help from Mom

I got out and took a couple pictures. 
Click a picture to make it big.

Big van with flowers.


I took this picture right after the rain so 
you can see the water drops on them.

Bushes coming to life by the church.
Tire swing on the walnut tree.
landscaping coming to life.
Water pump.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Garden Fever

Step One - Clear a spot

We want to add raised beds in the future, but for now a traditional garden plot is the way to go.

Our plot is about 20 feet x 60 feet, significantly smaller than last year's garden.

I spent all day yesterday thinking through which plants to put in and how to design it. I LOVE to design my garden and then see it grow into what I had planned! I will keep re-drawing and modifying my design until the seeds/plants are bought.

Keep checking back to see how things are going.

Spring is Here!

Spring is here!
Click any picture to bring up the enlargements page.

The Bradford Pear Trees are budding!

 The dandelions are coming up!
I highly recommend enlarging this first picture!
These three pics were taken by Rebecca (almost 10).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Analogy in favor of children in worship

One of the things that Paul hears on occasion is that children do not/cannot understand sermons. I have an analogy that I think can be carried over into our Christian life.

Nelson is 8. He has little knowledge of how cars work. But, Paul takes Nelson to the van and shows him various parts using the jargon of a mechanic. Paul can explain the purpose and job of spark plugs. He might explain the job of the carburetor (because our van is old and has one). And, when certain acrid smells burn inside our noses, Paul will teach Nelson about the radiator. At the beginning of these lessons the jargon is liken to a foreign language. Nelson will not understand how a motor makes the van move. But, in time, these concepts will take hold... and Nelson will be making car repairs on his own.

Rebecca is 10. I have worked with her some to begin teaching the rudiments of piano. When she began taking lessons, she did not know the meaning of the words: note, scale, octave, interval, chord, etc. But, in using these words regularly (and with illustrations) Rebecca has learned some of the meanings of and names for the musical forms that she hears. In the beginning she cannot play a song. But, in time she will build upon her knowledge and she will make music.

In church situations, many people think that children cannot be expected to listen to a sermon or teaching that is not geared solely for children. The argument is that kids will not understand the big words and the difficult concepts... after all, we adults don't always understand everything! (For example - the trinity, or atonement, or the virgin birth.) But, teachers and preachers need to speak in a way that will bring the hearers to new understanding and new knowledge. Preachers take the milk and meat of the Word and they break it down into chewable portions. Ideally, a sermon will contain some milk (simple words of explanation focusing on the basic tenets of faith and simple applications) as well as some meat (challenging abstract ideas, doctrines, and more challenging applications). In this way, the child (or new believer) will grow to understand as they hear more teaching/preaching.

Will a child sitting through a church service understand everything he hears? Not likely. But, it is building a foundation and a framework to be built upon in the future.

Eight Year Old Changes Spark Plugs - Homeschool with Papa Mechanic

Today was epic... Paul taught Nelson to change the spark plugs on the big beast (the 15 passenger van). Just to give you an idea of how happy this made Nelson, I have to tell you that Nelson interrupted Becca's math lesson every 5 minutes or so to show me each plug he removed. (I have grease all over the door knobs to show for it *winks*)
You can click any picture to enlarge it.

 Above and below: removal
 See the round thing in the picture, that encases the air filter. 
Nelson changed that too.
 Above: the old plug, "I did it, mom"
Below: Installing the new plug

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good school day

Paul helped me with school today and we were able to cover more ground. Usually he is wiped out after his middle of the night work at UPS. I think maybe his new cod liver oil is strengthening him... that, and plenty of glorious sunshine! ('Cuz it sure ain't quality sleep!)

Paul worked with Nelson on reading. 
Rebecca did her Pathway Readers independently (mostly). 
I taught Lydia from her new A Beka arithmetic. 
Josiah sat and played with puzzles. 
Joshua colored. 

I feel like I actually did something today. But, I could not have done it without Paul.

I hope to squeeze in some all-together lessons before the end of the school day (science and history). Right now we are on lunch break.

Look out, Daddy has a dry erase marker

Paul is using charts to teach the concept of the Trinity...
 Teaching abstract concepts to concrete minds - always a challenge!

Josiah and Mommy goof off in class.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Homeschool High

Homeschooling has its highs and lows. I think we had a high this week when Nelson (age 8) discovered solar energy. He picked up a book at the library because it had funny looking cars in it (solar race cars) and we ended up spending hours discussing solar panels and power as well as other alternative energy. He is determined to start building solar toys - you can learn how to do that on YouTube. (Again, please do NOT let your child surf YouTube alone!)

Nelson has promised to build me a house with solar power. I accepted

In other news: I am giving up soda... again. Really, I am. No, I mean it, I really will do it. What's that? My bad track record? Well - I am going to try again anyway. It is for my health and to set a better example for my kids. Also, I fear that Mt. Dew has become an idol that keeps me from truly relying solely upon God's Grace.

Did you know that drinking just one soda a day can significantly raise your likelihood of getting Type II Diabetes?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Focus

With so many food related posts, some of my regular readers might think that I am losing focus. (My parents are regular readers.) So, lest you be concerned, I wanted to let you know that we are not going off the deep end with any new diet or lifestyle. I have been thinking more along these line because I read two books about food back to back. My literary diet is a little unbalanced, but that is because books about food are generally enjoyable and easy to read. I usually read as an escape or as a means of keeping my sanity. And, I figure that reading non-fiction has more value than fiction (generally...). I am also reading Louise May Alcott's Eight Cousins to the children (it is fictitious), and I think that has some redeeming qualities - in addition to being very enjoyable.

Anyway, I am not reading deep theological books or writing deep theological posts right now because I cannot do it. My brain is too wimpy from consistently interrupted sleep.

Our focus is still on the Lord. He is still the most important element of our lives and our family. The blog is only a cross-section of of our lives, it does not necessarily show the whole story.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Folks, This Ain't Normal - Book Review

I have been hearing good things about author/speaker Joel Salatin for years. I have heard so many things about him, in fact, that there was little chance that his book(s) could actually live up to my expectations. I was wrong. Joel Salatin’s book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal, is one of the best books I have ever read. I love the writing style. I love his message.

Salatin is a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Creation-believing farmer at Polyface Farms, in Virginia. (Though he is a Christian, I would not classify this book as Christian genre, so much as agriculture.) He grows “salad bar beef” (meaning they eat only grass, never grains) and other naturally grown animals and vegetables. This particular book by Salatin is designated to pointing out how abnormal our current American culture has become. He pulls in many quotes from our forefathers, the founders of our country, and suggests that they would “roll over in their graves” to see the condition of our food system. However, this book is not all about politics. I would say that less than one third is politically charged.

The first chapter(s) of the book caught my attention immediately by pointing out the abnormal family structure that most Americans have today. Families rarely eat together… and when they do it is typically fast food or from some other restaurant. Children are allowed to be somewhat useless all the way through adolescence. Adult men are playing video games way too many hours a week, instead of working with their hands (or working at all?). And so on. These points were all very sad to me. I like his theory that giving young people a reason to stay at home (working for their food) would be a positive solution to many of the problems that contemporary families face.

The next part of the book contained many specific explanations that I found fascinating. While reading this book I felt completely uneducated. How did I graduate from high school and go on to get a BA when I know so little about common, “normal,” everyday  life?! I admit that I was never very good at science, but I am seeing more that perhaps that is because of the way I was taught science.

For example, when Paul and I moved to MO and rented a farm house (located inside 250 lovely acres) our nearest neighbors were cats and Hereford cows. My children have learned more about science/nature by observing these animals than I did in years of public school science classes. Before marrying into a farming family, I never knew the difference between hay and straw, or a stallion and a gelding, etc. Salatin says that, historically speaking, “this ain’t normal.”

The remainder of the book gives story after story of what the American food system is today. (Not what we think it is, or what is supposed to be, but what it is.) To say “I was appalled” is a gross understatement! I have read enough blogs to hear of some of the struggles that small farmers face. But, I had little idea how bad things really are. Yes, I have seen Food Inc (and reviewed it), but I still did not know the depth of the chaos!

The last few chapters build with intensity as we read and learn about how the government does not even believe that Americans have the right to choose their own food. Seriously. I will not post quotes without permission of the author, so you will just have to go to the library and get this book!

From the abnormality of the post-industrial-revolution family to the patenting of new life forms (genetically modified grains) to our government’s beauracratic involvement in my food choices – I agree with Salatin, “Folks, This Ain’t Normal!”

This book is a must-read for all people with a brain. A must-read for all homeschool families. A must-read for anyone who cares about their health. A must-read for anyone who thinks that a USDA label on eggs makes them safe. Go. Read the book.