Monday, September 30, 2013

Little Changes and Fixes

Sometimes I do a project and it works for awhile but then as time goes by, I realize it needs a bit of tweaking. I might have been in too much of a hurry the first time or it just didn't turn out the way I thought or our needs changed. Over the past few weeks, I've fixed and updated a couple things around the house.

The first thing I tackled was the kitchen sink cupboard. I had cleaned it out and put down contact paper when we first moved in and it was fine but after almost 3 years, it wasn't holding up as well as I liked. I roped Bass into taking some left-over kitchen flooring and laying it down in the bottom. It's now much sturdier and easy to clean.


Next project was to rehang the gallery in our master bedroom. I did it in a hurry and didn't measure... I just eyeballed where to hang all the pictures and of course, they never looked right to me. Every mornng I'd wake up and be annoyed that all the frames were too far apart. So with a hammer and a few minutes, I scootched 'em all closer together. It looks so much better to me now. Although I'm wondering if I should add a few pieces. Maybe if I come across something that fits. Part 2 of this project is to go back and fix all of the holes that are now hiding behind the frames.

Another project that I loved (but never blogged about) was making a Mason jar soap dispenser for our powder room. Bass drilled a hole into a solid canning lid and I used Gorilla glue to attach a soap pump from a used store-brand hand soap bottle. It turned out cute and fits perfectly in the half bath.
However, the lid has started to rust out. Ick! To fix it, I wrapped the spout with painter's tape and gave it a couple coats of Rustoleum ORB. I sprayed it on both sides to help stop the rusting. I'm hoping it will extend the life of the lid.

No before... oops. But here's the After:

One other fix that needed to happen was our 'coffee table' in our basement family room. It's a heavy trunk that Bass brought with him after we got married. It's one of the few things that we kept from his bachelor days. LOL It's a great piece because it offers us some storage that we wouldn't have otherwise. I keep all of our guest linens (in space bags) in it as well as a travel alarm clock and mirror for overnight guests. It's downside... it's heavy. Wicked heavy. Which wouldn't be a problem except that I exercise in our family room and have to move it aside every day (or every other day). The kids would have the same trouble, they'd move it to play but then not put it back when they were done because it's so heavy. After running it over my toes one too many times, I enlisted Bass once again. We got 4 rolling castors from the Habitat Re-Store near us. Now we can roll it out of the way to exercise or play and easily roll it back.

You can't really see the wheels poking out on the bottom but here's the After:

Nothing terribly exciting... just little changes to make life a little nicer 'round the homestead. Have you tackled any quick fixes lately?

School Summary - Caesar Augustus Coming into Power, Roman Literature, and Arches and Aqueducts

A Summary of September 9 - 20

I feel like we have finally gotten back into the groove of school. Less whining and complaining! Our days have been pretty full trying to balance schoolwork, Tae Kwan Do, church activities, Soprano's twice-weekly vision therapy appointments, the start of co-op, and just every day life. It's funny (or ironic) that I scheduled their work this year in a simplified way too keep us from feeling too busy. It hasn't quite worked as I planned. Perhaps with better attitudes, we'll get things done a bit faster.
Here's what we did these two weeks:

Things that were scheduled:
Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Penmanship, Reading, and Writing)
Typing, Spanish, Civics, and PA History for both.
Soprano did her next Home Ec lessons (making Scrambled Eggs and French Toast) and Tenor continued learning the Greek alphabet.

My Father's World Rome to the Reformation-
We are now fully entrenched in learning about ancient Rome. It still fascinates me how they went from being a republic of the people to a dictatorship. In studying history, it just reinforces the Scripture that 'there is nothing new under the sun.' The fashions might change but people really are much the same as they have always been.

Bible: We read multiple passages from the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming Messiah and then looked up the New Testament verses that showed how Jesus fulfilled them. We laughed a little when the New Testament passage straight up tells you what Jesus did and then said He did it to fulfill insert-OT-verses. Just in case you might question it. :)

Science: For MFW week 5 we continued using the Answers in Genesis Human Body to learn about the Nervous System and the brain. 
We did some response time tests to show how quickly the brain sends signals to the body and made models of the brain with Crayola Model Magic. Tenor took his model a step further and labeled more of the parts of the brain.
Soprano's brain model
Tenor's brain model
On week 6, we took a break from the Human Body to dig into arches and aqueducts as scheduled in MFW. I collected pudding boxes all year so we'd be able to make our arch. It worked really well! We also studied aqueducts and found some book basket titles to go along with our studies.
Roman Arch model with pantry supplies

History: We added Caesar Augustus to our timeline and talked about how the months of the years and days of the week were named. We also read a lot about trade and transportation in Ancient Rome.

We continued reading in Augustus Caesar's World about Herod, Augustus Caesar, Hillel, and Philo and the lighthouse.

I'm also incorporating Story of the World Volume 1 as well as Mystery of History Volume 1. However, neither of those books had readings that corresponded well.
Other MFW: 
Music: We listened to various selections by Haydn. We've had some issues with our iPod playing so it's been frustrating to actually get our music listening done. We think we've finally got all the issues figured out so in the weeks to come, we should be able to easily listen to our weekly schedule during our school day and then continue listening to various pieces by Haydn (from my extensive classical music collection) during lunch or other down time.

Art: More lessons on perspective, a lesson on drawing arches, and drawing boxes and paper bags.

Favorite Books: 
Let's Try It Out with Bridges and Towers by Simon Seymour
Spend the Day in Ancient Rome by Linda Honan

Sunday, September 8, 2013

School Summary - Roman Cities and Homes, Pompeii, Antony & Cleopatra

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!

A Summary of August 26-September 6
Argh! The attitudes!! We've had meetings with the principal (aka Daddy) almost every afternoon. We've tried lecturing, threatening, promising rewards for good behavior... it's not been a great start to our school year. The studies have been fine; the grumbling, whining, crying, resisting, and stubbornness... not so much. Hey, just keeping it real folks. I have to keep praying and reminding myself that working through these issues is something that we're blessed to do because if they weren't at home all day then I'd never have opportunity to point them to God's Word and the Holy Spirit as their source of power to change. A whole lot of sanctification is going on over here! But we did get some official schoolwork completed too.
Here's what we did these two weeks:

Things that were scheduled:
I added in Life of Fred Apples for Soprano. It's super easy but after every 7 Saxon lessons, she does one chapter which is a nice break. She likes it a lot and I think it's helping to reinforce basic math concepts for her.
Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Penmanship, Reading, and Writing)
Soprano's writing...yup, don't ask. It's still not happening. Maybe next week. Tenor is just moving right along without any trouble.
Typing, Spanish, and PA History for both.
I'm really liking their Spanish curriculum so far. I ran into trouble when I realized that there wasn't an answer/teacher's guide included. I took 1 year of French in junior high and then taught myself using cassette tapes for 2 years in high school. That didn't go well. Spanish, while similar because of its Latin base, is not pronounced anything like French. (Though to be honest, my French isn't pronounced like French. LOL) So I was in trouble without a teacher's guide. However I emailed the woman who created it and she is currently working on making an answer guide to go along with the curriculum. Yea!
Soprano did her second and third Home Ec lesson and Tenor continued learning the Greek alphabet.

My Father's World Rome to the Reformation-
I believe the first 13 weeks of MFW are all about Ancient Rome. It's really interesting. I'm learning so many things. There are so many parallels between their government and society and ours in America today. Makes ya' think.
Bible: We read about the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery and then began learning the books of the New Testament. Each day we added a few more books to our list and read key verses from each of the books.
Science: Using the Answers in Genesis Human Body, we learned names of the major bones in the body. To help us remember them, we wrote the names on each other with a bath crayon. We also had lessons on different types of bones and different types of joints. We did a broken bone experiment with a dry chicken bone compared to a chicken bone that had been soaking in vinegar.
Breaking the bone
Soprano got grossed out by the marrow
One broken bone (the dry one) and one slightly bent bone (the long vinegar-soaked one)
Tenor made a model joint using pencils, rubber bands, and tacks but I forgot to get a picture of it. We read about the muscular system and different types of muscles. To illustrate how muscles can be trained we did a 3-day muscle memory activity. We also talked about how God specifically designed our hands and feet to do certain tasks.

History: We read about Roman cities, how they were set up, the types of buildings, how they were decorated, and family life. To illustrate the Romans use of mosaic, the younglings each made mosaic bookmarks. We had gotten sticker mosaic craft kits ages ago and had lots of little left-over square foam sticker pieces left. They used those to create their own design on a cardstock base. (Way easier than making and painting clay tile pieces to create a mosaic.)
We continued reading in Augustus Caesar's World about Julius Caesar's death, the 2nd Triumvirate, Antony and Cleopatra's story, as well as how much Herod factored into events. I was really interested in how Herod became 'King of the Jews' which I think played into his reaction and responses when Jesus was born.

I'm also incorporating Story of the World Volume 1 as well as Mystery of History Volume 1. However, neither of those books had readings that corresponded well.
We also skipped making the clay toy pig. Neither youngling was interested and our week just got too busy.
Other MFW: 
Music: Week 2 we finished listening to the story of Haydn and listened to 2 pieces from his work The Creation.
Art: More lessons on perspective in the first two weeks.

no regular videos this week
Favorite Books: 
Living Long Ago Homes and Houses by Helen Edom
Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne
The Farewell Symphony by Anna Celenza (about Haydn)
Franz Joseph Haydn by Carol Greene
The Boy Who Loved Music by David Lasker (about Haydn)
Cleopatra by Diane Stanley
Exploring Your Skeleton by Pamela Bishop

Things that we didn't get to:
Dead Sea Scrolls interactive site

Friday, September 6, 2013

School Summary - Diving into Ancient Rome & Meeting Julius Caesar

Tenor's self-portrait for science
I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!

A Summary of August 12-23
We had another 1/2 week of sorts where we did our My Father's World studies and electives but put the 3 Rs on hold. Our second week was a full week of everything. While the work wasn't overwhelming, the attitudes everyone had didn't quite help things go smoothly. We've been wrestling through those issues and trying to still get the schoolwork done. I'm hoping in another week or so we'll be more into the routine of doing school.

Here's what we did these two weeks:

Things that were scheduled:
Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Penmanship, Reading, and Writing)
I still need to decide what I'm going to do for Soprano's writing. I just need to sit down and look at the IEW Student Intensive A and figure it out.

They started all their electives. The work is spaced out so that it hopefully won't be too much during our weeks with all of our regular work. They continued with Typing and both added in
Spanish, Geography, PA History, and Civics.
Soprano did her first Home Ec lesson and Tenor jumped into Greek.

My Father's World Rome to the Reformation-
At the end of last year, we finished up MFW with Alexander the Great and Ancient Greece. This year we picked up with Ancient Rome.
Bible: We started reading about how the Bible came to be.
Science: I'm not using the anatomy resources as scheduled by MFW. We were blessed to be able to buy a complete set of the Answers in Genesis curriculum so we'll be working out of the Human Body volume but adding in MFW books if they fit. We'll read most of the First Encyclopedia of the Human Body, do a few experiments from The Human Body for Every Kid, and maybe 1 or 2 things the Body Book. I also picked up the Magic School Bus Human Anatomy science kit on Amazon that we'll incorporate. These first two weeks of MFW we did a few introductory lessons, read about Leonardo Da Vinci's scientific work, had a lesson about cells, tissues, and organs, and one on the skeletal system. We did the cell model
Lemon Jell-O and a grape for our cell model
and backbone model from Human Body for Every Kid.
Making the Backbone Model
Soprano's self-portrait for science
Science Body System wheel
History: We read about how Rome was founded,
Soprano's narration about Rome's founding
the Punic Wars, the conquest of Greece, Pompeii, and Julius Caesar.
Soprano's Pompeii worksheet
Tenor's coloring sheet done while we read Augustus Caesar's World
Tenor's Roman School page
I'm also incorporating Story of the World Volume 1 as well as Mystery of History Volume 1.
Week 1, we skipped Streams of Civ on days 1-3. Instead I read SOTW 9209-211, p212-213, and p227-230. Week 2, we skipped the SoC reading and substitued MOH p334-336.
We also made our wax tablets using tan Sculpey clay and little wood 'mosaic' trays from the craft store.
Other MFW: 
Music: Week 2 we started listening to the story of Haydn.
Art: Lots of lessons on perspective in the first two weeks.

BBC Shakespeare Animated Tales: Julius Caesar Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
Julius Caesar Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Favorite Books:
Roman Numerals I to MM by Arthur Geisert
See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

Things that we didn't get to:
Cell Activity Video
Rome Reborn Video
The History of Missions Video

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

End Table - Easy Transformation

Our family "room" is in our nice but unfinished basement. It looks like the previous owner started to finish off the full basement space by adding framing (with nice 70s paneling) to make a small room, adding a brick fireplace, and adding a brick wall with full closets on the back side. But it still has concrete floors, concrete block exterior walls, and an open ceiling.
Here are pics from after we moved in:
Paneled school room behind loveseat
Brick fireplace
Open ceiling (but it's wood beams which is nice), random brick wall with closets on the back, painted cinder block exterior wall to the right
It works for the time being and let's the younglings have a place where they can flop on the couch or toss the throw pillows around. We do spend a lot of time in the space because our school room is also downstairs so I've been trying to make it a little less 'left-over hand-me-down garage sale' and a little more 'ikea/pottery barn industrial rustic'.
The two latest improvements have been to add castors to the bottom of a trunk which functions as our coffee table. We exercise and play Wii in the space and it was such a pain to move the trunk out of the way. Putting wheels on the bottom has made moving the trunk back and forth so much easier. And ensures that the trunk actually gets put back after a work-out session. (The trunk is a keeper for now because it's great guest linen storage.)

The other big change for the space is a set of new end tables. Our previous ones were a well-loved (and well-stickered) former child's nightstand in a strange shade of barn red and a assemble-yourself psuedo-wood thing in a non-matching cherry finish from Ames Department Store. (Yup, that old!)
They were okay, they were functional but they didn't really add anything to the space.
There's the Ames table next to the sofa.
I found  these two solid wood pieces at a local second-hand store and liked them immediately. Nice shape, nice size, overall good condition, a little bit of storage space, and a little bit of display space. Bonus---they were only $15 each!

Bass did the dirty work of removing the non-matching hardware and sanding them down. I painted 1 coat of primer and 3 top coats of Crumb Cookie (our trim paint for the whole house.)

I didn't want metal hardware so I bought new wooden knobs at Lowes for $0.87 each and painted them to match.

They fit perfectly and really brighten up the family room area. For very little expense, they were definitely a step in the right direction towards making this space a little more pulled together.

Linking up to these great blog parties:

Sunday: Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming;
Tuesday: One Project at a Time at A Bowl Full of Lemons; Tutes and Tips at Home Stories A to Z; Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife;
Wednesday: Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman; It's Overflowing at Overflowing with Creativity; Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts;
Home Decor and Organizing at Organize and Decorate Everything;
Thursday: Delightfully Inspiring Thursday at Delightful Order; Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage;
Friday: Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest; Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring;
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