Friday, May 28, 2010

Products That Help: My Good Friend- The Multi-Purpose Bin

Let me just start off by saying...

 I {heart} The Container Store

Okay, with that said, I can move on.

You could, but not necessarily should, spend a whole lot of money at any "organizing" store.

There are tons of items I consider "overkill" or as Papa likes to say, 

"A solution to a non-existent problem."

But, we have had a big problem around this "school" that, thankfully, is no longer a problem.

Let's listen in...

"Where is my math book?"

"Has anyone seen my folder?"

"I don't know where my (fill in the blank) is!"

Oh. Dear.

What is a momma to do?

Buy lockers and install them in my home?

Nah, too expensive, too big, and just too... "locker-y"

I did try jumbo magazine holders... and they were too heavy, too awkward, and too expensive.

Then, I discovered these:

This is the picture from their website.

Here is how we use our bins...

Each child has at least two.  One medium-sized bin hold both of their jumbo binders with enough room for a pencil box.

They fit nicely into our cabinets too!

They organize the games...

and the manipulatives...

They store curricula...

But, they aren't just for "school."

Because they are light-weight, sturdy, easy-to-clean, and have handles, I also use them around the house in places like my freezer...

We plan on getting a few more for things like... yarn, Legos, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc...

I found them at the beginning of the school year (September) and not one has cracked,  split, or broken in any way.

But the best thing?

We've (almost) entirely eliminated the anguished cry of,

"Where is my math book?!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sunday Bulletin

The last two Sunday bulletins were so good.  This is the one from May 23rd...
Thank you Pastor Jim :)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right
to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:12-13

Drawing by Jean Keaton

It is easy to quickly read over texts in the Word, especially if we have heard them before, and forget the fantastics truths which they reveal.  

Above is one of those... look at that verse and let is sink into your souls with delight that God gave us the right to become children of His!

Not one of us, obviously, had any say as to who are parents would be, we had no choice as to the DNA which would dictate our make-up, or even the environment we would begin our life in...

and yet God gives us the right to choose, if we would like, to become a child of His.

It is no wonder that in the writing of 1 John 3:1, the apostle euphorically declares;

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that
we should be called the sons of God!

Not only do we have this "right" to choose to be in the family of God, but also to realize He accepts and welcomes us individually as a "special people."

The purchase price for us was literally the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ.

The price He paid indicates the value He places on us.

Do not neglect our great salvation (Heb 1:3), Never cease to value the gift God has given you.  Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 of the grace and gift that avails our salvation... it is nothing that we do!  And then in verse ten we are reminded that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works... that we should walk in them.

There is no greater work than for a believer to walk humbly in agreement with His God... yes, do justly (what is right), but love mercy~ and it is our God who has abounded in mercy towards us... and then walk in humility with our Lord Jesus Christ!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dinner Time Devotionals and... Nana!

Ever since our kids were itty-bitty, The Captain has done devotionals with this bible:

He illustrates the bible passage and we all take turns looking at it to guess what story it is or from what part of the Bible it comes.

After we've had our guesses, he reads the verse from that day and does a devotional/explanation of the passage.

As he often does, he decided to do the devotional during dinner.

(Captive audience I guess-hee hee)

So we were all sitting down for dinner, complete with Nana, Papa, and Marimba Sticks.

Tonight's illustration looked like this..

Everyone looked at it and immediately said, "Isaiah!!"

Well, since everyone knew it was Isaiah, he wanted to see just how much of this story they knew.

He pointed to the first picture...

and asked Kurt, "What is happening in this picture?"

Kurt replied, "Isaiah is seeing God on His throne and there are angels there and, and, and he sees the train of His robe!"

At this point, several people at the dinner table start singing,

"I see the Lord, seated on the Throne, exalted.
And the train of His robe fills the temple with

The Captain asked, "What kind of angels?"

Leisl piped in with, "They were either cherubim or seraphim."

The Captain said, "You're right!  They were seraphim.  Now Kurt, what is happening in this picture?"

Nana, unfortunately for her, was sitting right next to me.  She was trying to wrangle more chicken onto her plate and wasn't paying close attention.

Kurt answered, "The seraphim is taking some hot coals..."

I never heard the rest of his sentence.

Nana had lost interest in her chicken long enough to snap her head up and loudly exclaim,


I looked at her, trying very hard to suppress a grin, and said, 

"No Ma. 

Hot. Coals."

"Oh, I thought he said 'Tacos.'  I was gonna say..."

Leisl and I just looked at each other and she told me, "I know, I know," and proceeded to turn around and write it on the whiteboard so I wouldn't forget to blog it.

So in the year that king Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up.

And seraphim flew and retrieved with tongs this...

and not this...

Products That Help: Meet Mr. Binder

There are several products that have made this homeschooling momma's life a little easier and I thought I'd share them with you.

(Please note: I am not doing/do not do product reviews, etc... and have no benefit from blogging this stuff other than trying to helpful.  Just had to say, y'know?).

Last time, we "met" our pencil sharpeners.  Today we meet...

Mr. Binder

This year was our first year with "good" binders.

They were much more expensive than our regular, cheap binders.

But again, they were worth every penny because having good binders saved us a lot of time and prevented a lot of frustration.

We used to use these type of "economy" binders (which we would purchase from Costco or an office store for approx. $1.25/each):

As you can see, I still use them.

But I use them for things like bank statements, bible study workbooks, etc...

When we used to use them for our student binders, our poor kids would "chase" their slippery, page-protected sheets all over the floor every time they fell out.

They would fall out regularly.

So last year, even though the price difference made me hyperventilate, we purchased these type of binders (the non-sale price is approx. $11.99/each for a 2 inch binder):

These have "D-shaped" rings instead of "round" rings.

And they have a nice, easy to use open "button."

Best of all, they have reinforced rubberized spines and edges that don't split OR stab you in the leg/arm!

Have you not had an injury due to a binder mishap?

It must be us.

Anyway, these binders, called the "Better Binder" at Staples have held up all year with no accidents and no spillage.

Have you tried these?

What binders do you like?

Do tell...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Speaking of Pencils...

After the post yesterday about pencil sharpeners, a friend left a comment on Facebook about mechanical pencils.  Hold on...just a second...

{{{Hi Kathy!! Love you!}}}

Okay, I'm back.

I was thinking about pencils and the reason we prefer wood pencils to mechanical pencils.

There is something... satisfying about pulling a pencil out of a sharpener and having a fresh, sharp point that a click, click, click of a mechanical pencil doesn't have for me.

This, of course, made me think of wood and wood shavings.

That led to thinking about the Bible and how wood is a picture of our humanity.

Like a pencil, I can become dull and insensitive to the things of the Lord.

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation
 to all who obey Him,called by God as High Priest 
"according to the order of Melchizedek,"of whom we have much to say, 
and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 5:9-11

But when I am spending time in the Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12),
 and participating in true Christian fellowship (not simply "socializing") then I will experience "sharpening" as...

"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Pr 27:17)

As my "wood"/ carnal man is shaved away, the inner man/spiritual man is revealed.

I love that pencils are no longer made with lead.  That heavy metal equated with things that are heavy and weigh us down.

Now pencils are made with graphite.

(This is where teaching our children Greek root words comes in handy!  Hee hee)

Graphite's root word is 'graph' which means to write or to draw.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel 
after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, 
and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jeremiah 31:33

I have the Spirit of the Living God in me and He has written on my heart the Law of His mercy, His love, and His grace, that I may know Him.

Like John the Baptist and my Ticonderoga, I want to decrease (have my humanity shaved away by the sharp & exacting Word of the Lord) that He will be increased... in my life, in my mind, in my heart, and in my reflection.

Now as much as I love a freshly sharpened pencil, I cannot stand a dull pencil.
I'm always sending the kids off to sharpen their pencils usually with a comment of,
"How can you work with a dull pencil?!"

But there are times when I try to work with a 'dull pencil' too.

When I am 'dull' my humanity & carnality inhibit the 'graphite' in me.

My carnal man interferes with the new spiritual creation God has made me.

There is only one cure for dullness of the heart and that is full (and sometimes painful) contact with the sharpening blade of Scripture.

In God's Word I receive correction and training.  In It, I receive new life and fresh passion for Jesus and His Kingdom.

Lord, may I never be afraid to come to You for sharpening.  May I always know that in being sharpened I am also being made useful, as a tool, in Your perfect, scarred hands.

Show me Lord, where my hearing may be dull.

May I decrease that You will increase all to my good and Your glory.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet...My Pencil Sharpener

The last time we had a little home education gathering at my house, the topic of helpful products came up.

There are several products that have made this homeschooling momma's life a little easier and I thought I'd share them with you.

(Please note: I am not doing/do not do product reviews, etc... and have no benefit from blogging this stuff other than trying to helpful.  Just had to say, y'know?).

Alrighty then,  first up?

Our pencil sharpener.

We are on our third electric pencil sharpener in four years.

This year is the first year we've made it to the end (almost) without having to buy a new one.

Now, there really wasn't anything "wrong" with our previous models which all look something like this...

I still have this one on my desk.

But the problem we had with this type of sharpener is that this is design for use in "home/office."

Because the shaving catcher/container thing is 'smoky,' it was harder to see if it was getting full.

I would know it was full because I would hear the familiar cry of, "Mooommmm, there is something wrong with the pencil sharpener!"

Now, emptying out the sharpener should take all of about 15 seconds.
• Pull it out, dump the contents, and put it back in.  Done!


Oh, no, no-- let's forget to check, keep sharpening pencil after pencil after pencil, wait until it stops working, and then, investigate.

What should have taken 15 seconds will now take 5-10 minutes since shavings are packed in the container AND firmly packed up inside the blades.

Ten minutes and two toothpicks or an unfurled paperclip later, my hands are black and there is shaving "dust" everywhere.

A couple more minutes with the hand vac and/or a rag and guess what?

Now I'm ready for a nap.

Two years of this and I finally decided enough was enough.

Meet our new sharpener:


"Please turn to the side."


Sorry, it felt like I was taking mugshots.

Not that I've ever taken a mugshot... or had a mugshot taken...

Stay focused, Lainie.

Where was I?

Oh, yes... sharpeners.

This was not cheap.

I did, however, have a rebate/rewards coupon-y thing from Staples and applied the entire thing towards it's purchase.

It has been worth every penny.

It's strong.

It's fast.

It's, it's...

Super Shaver!

(Maybe I should make it a cape?  Oh that's right, per Edna Mode, "No capes!")

And it has a variable-size hole opening (bonus!), and as you can see, the shavings catch is BIG and clear and we've not filled it up yet.

As we know, every superhero needs a sidekick, right?

Sometimes we do like something with a little portability.

Those cheap "personal" sharpeners are... well, junk.

In other words, not a good sidekick for "Super School Pro."

They're inexpensive because they are cheap.
And will spill shavings all over something and stain and make you sad.

This one...

will make you and your student happy, happy, happy.

It snaps close, so no leaky shavings.

Open it up and...

Three sizes!

I left it "as is" so you can tell we actually use the thing.

To empty, simply pick a side and *pop* it open...

Dump the shavings, snap it back together, and you're ready to roll.


So that is our Dynamic Duo of Sharpening Greatness!

And that is about all I have to say in regards to pencil sharpeners.

So... do you have any of these?

Are you in the market for a new one?

Do you have a pencil sharpener horror story?

Is there a sharpener that you and your family really like?

Do tell...

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homeschool Highlights Weeks 23-30 (Part 2)

Well, where were we?  Oh yes, "highlights" of our highlights!

In Part One, we covered Bible, History, and Science.

In Music, we finished up Mozart and studying Beethoven.

We use the CD's included in the Deluxe Package of the Rome to Reformation year...

But in addition to these, we read these awesome books that reinforce the information of each composer...


These books can be difficult to find.  But there is a local bookseller that ships mail orders and they carry the whole series.

The children continue their own music studies.  The girls still play violin but Kurt has started taking drum lessons.  He is doing very well!  He has the same teacher I had and so it has sparked my interest as well.  I'm trying to be careful so I don't hurt myself! :)

In Art, we do what we can, when we can.  That is my way of saying we're not doing it all :)

We have had some good stuff like Drawing Florentine Towers...

and creating triptychs

They've learned basic proportions of the human form...

And Brigitta even tackled the famous Mona Lisa...

Leisl spent some time doing her hand study...

And lastly?  The Last Supper...

I love the expressions...

We are plugging along in Math, English, Latin root words, Spelling, and Writing.

We've finished our last assigned read aloud.  But, I'd really like to find another to do.

Any suggestions??

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Homeschool Highlights Weeks 23-30 (Part 1)

This is a "hightlight" of the highlights from Weeks 23-30 that I need to record before I forget!


Our memory verses for these weeks are from Philippians 2:5-11

Our study finished up the Gospel of Luke and the book of 1 John.

We've had some great conversations about Jesus, the Cross, dying to self, etc...

It must have been on Kurt's mind because, for Mother's Day, he made me a very large cross as a gift :)

The Captain wrapped it in lights and it sits on our back deck...

It stands about 5 and 1/2 feet tall!  And it inspired the most recent Midnight Chat :)


In History, we've learned a lot about Asia and the different Dynasty Periods ( like The Ming and The Tang).

Definitely this Tang...

and not this Tang...


Studying Asian countries gave us a great excuse to eat Chinese and Japanese food and reminded us of our Exploring Countries and Cultures days.

We authored haikus ...

and notebooked...

When we learned about Marco Polo they mapped his travels...

Kurt likes to "illustrate" while I read our history.  I asked him about the second frame of this next sheet...

Apparently, it is Marco Polo being "amazed" and "marvelling" at his discoveries.

Uh-hem, moving on... yes we've learned about Genghis Khan and the invading Mongolians, which of course led to watching "Mulan."

Perhaps it wasn't the most historically accurate, but it was very entertaining...

"Let's get down to business, to defeat the Huns!"

Boy, I am silly tonight!

Let's talk about something else?  Oh yes!  

The Black Death... good times-- right along with the Ottoman Turks 

and War of Roses.

We are starting to get a glimmer of next year's studies in our brief look at Christopher Columbus...

We are ready to depart from the Ancient World...


We are continuing to study Astronomy.

We've made a homemade compass, studied planets...

and, of course, the ever trusty ... water bottle hurricane...

Looking for something??