Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day! Never forget....freedom is NEVER free.

As we all gather together with friends and family today and tonight...let's not forget...HOW we got here.

We are here, in America, because a group of people from Holland were tired of being persecuted for their faith and not being able to worship the one true God.

We are here, in America, because many men sacrificed their lives so that we could be removed from under England's "boot."  (No offense to those in the U.K....that would be like me being upset with Vietnam now...I'm not.)

We are here, in America, because 241 years ago, a group of dedicated men signed what would be named, "The Declaration of Independence."

We are here, because freedom...is never free.  

Remember to thank your service men and women that you see today...the ones in your family...the one's you pass on the street...your neighbors...the one's you have lost to keep us that way.  Remember that some of them are suffering HORRIBLY, because there are so few joining the military now that when they come home...no one understands what they've seen, suffered, and had to do.

Remember to quit complaining about things that won't matter on your death bed; and quit thinking that you are "entitled" to certain things just because you have breath in your lungs.  Freedom is NEVER free.

Remember those who are NOT free...living in countries where they cannot leave their homes, walk down the street, or even sleep well...because at any given moment they could be massacred by who knows what.

Be thankful, for a God who loves us, and that we can trust, no matter what.  He DOES have a reason for everything, and He is incapable of lying.

Be thankful, for another day with your children, parents, friends, siblings.
You never know what day could be your or their....last.

Be thankful that we can worship without being beheaded in our country...by a saw.

Be thankful, for that baby that cried all night last night because they could be suffering a horrible disease that WE have a cure for, but they do not.

Be thankful for friends...they are your reward for being who you are.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fighting...Hacksaw Ridge's slap in my face...

Just another day...

Sitting here, flipping around on Facebook a bit....

And I come across this:  Hacksaw Ridge Trailer

I...was...floored.  First of all, I never even knew this man existed...or anything about him.  Then, as I'm watching this...I'm feeling a multitude of things from "I've always hated war...this man was awesome," to "What have I ever sacrificed and TRULY stood up for like this?"  "WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING?!!!"

What am I talking about?  My faith.  My fighting it...fighting God...fighting with others...I've been going about so many things....so wrong.  Instead of dedicating to saving people...I've been fighting them....more.  Sure, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.  I've been depending on my flesh...and God has really been telling me this lately.  For some reason, this movie preview really slapped me in the face...in a way I needed.


That's not why I'm here!  That's not why we're here!

I've been letting fear hold me...satan lie to me...and it's been ruining me for two years.  I keep telling myself it's all the crap I've been through...what's happening to my mom (Alzheimer's)...any excuse I can think of.  But it's me...my doubt, my fear, my compromising, my disobedience.

Things have got to change.  I've got to start removing, let God start removing, the stumbling blocks...and take over my fights...and guide me into what/who He wants me to save, through Him...from whatever.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum Plans for 2016-2017

I know, I know...I skipped doing this last year.   Saweee!  Here ya go....

Sixteen years of homeschooling.  Wow.  Seems like five.  Anyway, blah blah blah...here's what I am doing with the kidlets this year...

After you look through all of this you might be thinking, "How in the WORLD does she organize all of this?"  I create, throughout the year (rushing sucks) a schedule for EACH child.  Yup.  If I don't make these, things get behind and/or not done.  "I" have the final decision on what books we will/will not read...not some boxed up curriculum.  I tried that for YEARS and it drove me batty.  Some books were GREAT, while others...."ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz."  Being in control rocks.  Totally worth the time.  And, yes, it takes time to schedule them all, etc.

IF you would like to see how I schedule, feel free to message me (you'd have to give me your email, though)...a "safer" way would be to message me on Facebook here:  Tracey's Facebook.  However, please let me KNOW that you have messaged me, because my security is high and it will go into a "Message Requests" folder...I might not notice it for a few days...or weeks.


The Mystery of History, Volume III -- NO, we don't do every project; NO -- we don't do the memory cards...I have more "NO's."  Do what works best with YOUR children.

Teaching Textbook Math - Even ol' mom is doing Algebra I, II, and Geometry in the next few years.  

Learning Language Arts Through Literature

English From The Roots Up, Volume 2

Living books - most of which are found by looking through All Through The Ages OR Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  ***Please note -- I strongly encourage you to read these books WITH your children (you read a page, they read a page, or whatever works best).  These are the most precious times of our homeschooling.  Yes, even with the high schooler's.**  It's a great bonding time. I can't WAIT to read the books I've chosen for this year with them.  

Bible - 4th grader - Bible Stories To Read

Bible - 6th grader - various Bible reading plans from the Early Reader's Bible
NKJV Early Readers Bible  -

Cursive - 6th grader - A Reason For Handwriting Cursive D
A Reason For Handwriting: Cursive D--Student Worktext, Grade 4   -     By: Carol Ann Retzer, Eva Hoshino

Bible - Our Daily Bread (including the "Read Through The Bible in A Year" plan)

Spelling - Apples 2

Handwriting - A Reason For Handwriting Cursive E
A Reason For Handwriting: Cursive E--Student Worktext, Grade 5   -     By: Carol Ann Retzer, Eva Hoshino

Typing Instructor

Science - Apologia General Science with Student Notebook (no review, sorry for the words)

Bible - Our Daily Bread (including the "Read Through The Bible in A Year" plan)

History (also listens in on our MOH reading above) All American History - Part 2
All American History Volume 2 Student Reader  -     By: Celeste W. Rakes

Science - Apologia Biology w/Student Notebook

Personal Finance package from My Father's World

Logic - The Fallacy Detective & The Thinking Toolbox

Friday, December 18, 2015

Make Your Own Thick Liquid Hand Soap

GREAT liquid hand soap recipe....BUT...when I made it, it was way too watery.  So, when I put it into a dispenser, it was messy.  If you at all squeezed it, out came the liquid (not that I would, but the younger kids might).  Also, it separates, so you have to gently tip it upside down and then back up again a couple of times before using.  Booo....

But, I fixed it!  I googled "how to make hand some thicker," and saw a comment on a blog where someone had added some (didn't say how much) guar gum and that it worked wonderfully.  Eureka!  I was thrilled.  Bought some right away on Amazon. I just wasn't sure how much to add.

Now, I quadrupled this recipe below (before adding the guar gum) so that I'd have a great big refill...so I figured I'd have to add at LEAST 1/2 cup of the guar gum (which I have never used before....I imagined it being like corn starch).  Mistake.  It made it waayyyyyy too thick...and clumpy.  I fixed it by 1) Putting it through a colander to get out the big chunks; 2) Adding water until it was at the consistency that I wanted; 3) Adding more castile soap because it was no longer sudzing up after adding more water; and 3) Adding more lavender oil, because I just love the smell and calming feeling it gives me.  :)  Took a little work, but it was worth it, and now I have a great hand soap that I don't have to worry about separating or dribbling all over.

My recommendation for how much guar gum to add?  Well, if you quadruple the recipe, as I did, I would start with about one tablespoon and go from there.  Just keep stirring it (I used a whisk in a large bowl) until it's at the consistency you want.

If you plan to just follow the recipe below, maybe start with 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon and go from there?

I'm going to just cut and paste from the original recipe, which I found here:  Live Simply - DIY Liquid Hand Soap (these are affiliate links) and then mention adding guar gum at the end.  Thank you, Kristin Marr for your awesome recipe!

DIY Liquid Hand Soap

My additions:
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. guar gum (I haven't perfected/don't know for sure how much to add, as I have only done this once, but wow, did it make a difference!  Nice and thick like the store liquid soap.  

1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and whisk.  Add the guar gum last.  Start with the smallest amount and whisk until well blended.  Add more until at consistency you want.

* Note:  If you want to quadruple this recipe (our family of 7 uses a LOT, so hopefully it won't go bad before we use it all) like I did, you will end up using the whole 4 oz. bottles of Vitamin E and Sweet Almond (I bought that one because it was cheaper than the Jojoba, lol) oils, and about 3/4 of the castile.  Just so you know.  :)

** Another note:  Not sure what to keep a quadruple-sized recipe in?  :)  I took an old store-bought large (about 90 oz) empty liquid fabric softener container (I know...I should make my own...I plan to...but at least this was free & clear!  :p ) and am keeping it in there (of course, I rinsed it out a bunch of times first).  I like how it pours well right into the soft soap containers I put my homemade soap in.  :)

Let me know what you think!  :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Homeschool Curriculum Plans for 2015-2016

Welp, just about done with another year.  My motivation is stronger than ever...and I'm so glad. I'm still a little nervous...wondering if I'm doing things right, etc.  We all get those little twinges of "Yikes!" once in a while, right?  Eh, I'll chock it up as normal and push forward.

So, this fall will be, let's see, our 15th year (huh, I thought last year was, ah well) of homeschooling. Huh...doesn't seem that long.

Well, here's my plan, in case anyone is curious:

11th Grade Daughter - Age 16
  • Reading through the Bible in a year (schedule similar to the one in Our Daily Bread)
  • History - "All American History, Volume 1."  I'm also going to have her listen in on the rest of us reading, "The Mystery of History, Volume 2".
  • Math - Teaching Textbooks Geometry
  • Language Arts - Literary Lessons with Lord of The Rings
  • Science - Apologia's Exploring Creation with Marine Biology
  • Language - ASL (American Sign Language) (Haven't decided on a curriculum for that yet, but she has a passion for it, so...going to go for it)
  • Economics - she's NOT going to enjoy this, so I'm making it easy by having her read, "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy."  
  • Miscellaneous books I want her to read - "Lies Young Women Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free" (she's actually about half-way through this already; "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris, along with "Start Here, Doing Hard Things Right Where You are." 

8th Grade Son - Age 12 (born 9/15)
  • Reading through the Bible in a year (he was just going chapter by chapter from the beginning, but I am thinking of switching him to a part New/part Old Testament schedule like I do and I'm having my 11th grade daughter do -- it seems to be more interesting that way.)
  • History - "The Mystery of History 2"
  • Math - Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra (he's about half-way through that, so he'll just go right into Algebra 1 after that)
  • Spelling - "Apples" (this REALLY helped my daughter above to grasp spelling rules, etc.  
  • Language Arts - "Learning Language Arts Through Literature - Tan" (I don't worry what "level" they are according to what "grade" LLATL says their books are.  I just try to let them work at their pace...
  • Handwriting - "A Reason For Handwriting - Cursive D" (even if they decide not to use it as an adult, I INSIST they be able to read and write it.  He was NOT reading until this past year to learn it.  I wait until it's not hard/painstaking.  Who cares WHEN you learn it, right?
  • Reading - "The Hobbit," then we'll pick something new from there.  :)  Usually a book that goes along with our history.

5th Grade Son - Age 10
  • History - "The Mystery of History 2"
  • Bible - AWANA
  • Math - Teaching Textbooks 5
  • Language Arts - "Learning Language Arts Through Literature - Orange"
  • Handwriting - "A Reason For Handwriting - Cursive C"
  • Reading - Various books, mostly that go along with our history.

3rd Grade Son - Age 7 (born 9/23)
  • History - "The Mystery of History 2"
  • Bible - AWANA and reading "The Beginners Bible" (love that book!)
  • Math - Teaching Textbooks 3
  • Language Arts - "Learning Language Arts Through Literature - Red"
  • Handwriting - copywork from MOH
  • Reading - readers from LLATL unless he can't stand them, then we'll just pick classic, good stuff.

That's about it.  :)  I'm actually going through the TT Algebra 1, 2, and Geometry lessons myself.  I've had two kids get bogged down with Algebra, and I can't remember squat of it from high school, although I love math NOW...so I figure I can help while having fun learning what I WISH I had appreciated/had fun with then.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homeschool Curriculum Plans for 2014-2015

We'll be entering our 14th year of homeschooling this year.  Wow!  I still love it.  I have to admit, planning is one of my favorite parts.  This year I will have ages 18 (she is graduating, but will be taking some CLEP tests and possibly some college from home...so...she still counts...hahaha), 15, 11, 9, 6, and 3.

Here is what I plan to do this year.

HISTORY:  The Mystery of History, Volume II - We actually need to finish up the last six weeks of volume I, but since Volume II only has 28 weeks, we should be able to get through it all.  If not, oh well.  I really don't worry too much about "finishing" a volume by the end of the year since it is just chronological.  Who cares, right?  I just continue where we left off.  We use the note booking pages, coloring pages, and challenge cards as well.  I just love MOH (Mystery of History).  So easy to use with different ages.  I actually considered dropping MOH this year, because I thought my kids weren't retaining much of it, but they all screamed, "NO!  WE LOVE IT!"  So, okay!

I have a post on how I organize The Mystery of History right here, if anyone is curious.  :)

I will also be finishing up My Father's World First Grade with my 6yo.  I love using MFW for Kindergarten and First Grade.  I also have a post on how I organize My Father's World right here.  It's the same for Kindergarten as with the First Grade materials.

MATH:  Teaching Textbooks for grades 3 and up.  Singapore 1A & 1B before that.  TT3 (Teaching Textbooks, grade 3) seems to go well after that.  All of my kids have done well with it.  It's a keeper!  Self-grading?  I hardly have to teach math at all!  Frees up my time for other things. 

LANGUAGE ARTS:  Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  I like how it is all inclusive.  :)  So many different things to learn in those books. 

SCIENCE:  Nature study or Considering God's Creation until old enough to do Apologia older sciences.

BIBLE:  Awana club at our church.

READING:  Last year I found All Through The Ages by Christine Miller and use it as my guide to choosing readers for the kiddos to go with our history.  LOVE IT!

PHYSICAL EDUCATION:  Soccer, basketball, baseball...usually through our church's private school team, but sometimes through a city rec.  Considering having the children take karate.  It's hard to fit that into our schedule, though.  Ugh.

MUSIC:  Going to try to incorporate more listening to and learning about composers this year.  I am a total Mozart fan, and would love to learn more about other composers.  Yeah, Amadeus the movie (although not something we play in front of the kids -- due to the immodesty of the dress) sold me on Mozart.  This year I purchased "A Young Scholars Guide To Composers" from Bright Ideas Press.  You can buy it other places as well, it's on sale this month through BIP
I'll probably get some other things as I research through the summer, too.  Some fun stuff for the younger kiddos.  I'd also really like to see if any of them are interested in learning an instrument.  I've got a junior guitar, a keyboard, and a recorder.  We'll see what happens.

TIMELINE:  Okay, so I tried a wall timeline, and it didn't generate much interest.  SO...now I'm going to just use the high school level timeline books sold by My Father's World.  I love how they separate the areas of the world.  I got the idea from those books for my wall timeline, anyway.

NARRATION, COPYWORK, and DICTATION as directed by Charlotte Mason's philosophy.  I just adore her.  I think I'll use this chart from Ambleside Online as a guideline

MISC:  Cursive and typing for my 11yo.  I tried cursive with him a couple of years ago, but he has difficulty with handwriting and just wasn't ready.  As long as he KNOWS it by the time he graduates, I'll be happy.  :p

Monday, March 24, 2014

How I Organize The Mystery of History Curriculum (updated 8/26/2014)

***8/9/16 -- Well, it's time I update this again, since MOH now uses "Comapanion Guides"  I think you can still use this for now.  Just don't tear apart your book!  Lol...  I'll get to this update as soon as I can.***

As promised, here is the new way that I organize our The Mystery of History homeschool curriculum.  Tweak this to however it works best for you.  Remember, this is just how I like to stay organized.  Everything I do may not be exactly what you want to do.  That's okay! In fact, let me know if you tweak something...I might join you.  None of these links are affiliate links, in case you are wondering.  Not that I see anything wrong with that, but Maine (where I live) law doesn't allow that due to taxes not being charged...or something like that.

Supplies needed  
  • Two or more (2+) File boxes -  1 for your Mystery of History supplies (and supplemental/additional curriculum supplies, if you wish); 1 to be used as an inbox/needs to be corrected box (whatever you wish to call it); plus 1 file box for each child ("school box")
It does not really matter what type you use, as long as they are the type that can hold the pendaflex-type hanging file folders.  I have three types of boxes.  Not for any particular reason; they were just on sale.  These were all purchased at either WalMart or Staples.  I'm sure similar stores carry them.  I actually got two for FREE from Staples with a "free after rebate" offer they had.  I get LOTS of things for free that way.  LOVE IT!
This file box originally had a lid that snapped on.  You can keep the lid or remove it, like I did.

Large "crate" purchased at WalMart (cute kitty adopted from humane society)

Small "locker crate" purchased at WalMart.
  • One (1) 2-inch view binder.  This will be used to keep your The Mystery of History book in.  I remove the front and back cover, tear out all of the pages (they are already perforated), and place them inside the binder.  Do I put them in page protectors?  No.  Why not?  Because I am the only one who has access to these, and therefore don't have to worry about many hands messing them up.  Also, I make copies of many of the pages for my kiddos, and don't want to have to keep taking them out and putting them back into page protectors.
  • Six or more 1" flexible binders.  Two will be for your "teacher book," (1/2 year in each one) and four additional folders for each child that will be using the program (one for each quarter)  Now, remember, these are CHEAP!  I get them for about $1 each at WalMart.  I use the flexible/bendable binders for my teacher and student books because I think they are easier to handle.  It's just our preference.  I also only keep one quarter's worth of work in them at a time, just to keep them from getting so cumbersome.  My children keep these on their laps during our history reading time (they might be doing a coloring page, for instance, while I read a lesson), so for them to be holding a year's worth of papers on their laps may feel a bit big and heavy.  
  • Pendaflex-type hanging folders - I'd say about 20 or so would do.  You will need about 10 in your Mystery of History box (my plastic file box above with the yellow hanging folders in it), and 1 or 2 for each child in their school box for loose papers.
  • A printer and/or copy machine, or access to one.  I copy a LOT of my MOH (Mystery of History) book (Well, that is, until MOH3 came out...now I just purchase the disc with all of the printables on it, the downloads, and, if needed, let the children share the text book).  If I didn't have a copy machine or printer/copier, I'd probably purchase the Mystery of History Vol 1 Reproducibles found here.  If you can't copy your text, no big deal...just let the children take turns (to get the answers for the notebooking pages).
  • These awesome little bookmark tabs.  They remove easily and can be reused.  Regular bookmarks just fall out.
    These little gems can be found pretty much anywhere office supplies are sold.  I got mine at WalMart.
  • Red ink pens - I use these when I correct my children's work.  They see the red much better than if I use blue or black.  It stands out and is an "attention getter."  ;)
  • All Through The Ages by Christine Miller - I use this guide to pick my readers and read-alouds for each child.  It's the best guide I've found with over 7000 of the best in quality historical narratives, historical fiction, literature, and “living books."  I bought the PDF, printed it out, and stuck it in a 1" binder.
  • Mystery of History Vol 1 Super Supplemental Collection (Download or CD).  I don't use the folder books at this time, but it was cheaper to buy the whole set at my time of purchase (I waited for their Black Friday Sale and got 20% off...I think.  I use the coloring pages, notebooking pages, and challenge cards.
  • History Through The Ages timeline figures.  You will only need "Creation To Christ" for MOH Volume 1.  If I had to do it again, I think I'd buy the CD that has every set.  MOH doesn't use every single timeline figure, and if you own the CD you can just print off the ones you need and not waste paper.  These can be purchased online straight from Bright Ideas Press, and various other locations like Christian Book Distributors.  Look for a deal, or even buy them used!  Lots of people (and you should, too) just copy them for their personal use and them resell them when they are through.
  • Whole page label paper.  This is what I copy my timeline figures onto.  I found these at Amazon.  You can get 100 sheets for about $15.  You won't need that many for MOH Volume 1, but I figure why pay $10 for about 25 when I can get 100 for $5 more?  I'll use them all eventually.
  • Card stock for the Challenge Cards.  About 100 pages should do.
  • Key rings for the Challenge Cards, if you'd like to organize them the way I do below.

    Take Apart MOH Book
    1. Remove covers and pages from MOH book and place into 2-inch binder view binder.  Place front cover into slot on front, and back cover into slot in back.  I do this so that I can copy the pages easily, and keep some of them in my Teacher Book.

    Teacher Book
    1.  This is where I keep my schedule and lessons.  I keep 1/2 of a year's worth at a time in a 1" flexible binder.  I don't want a huge 2" binder on my lap while reading.
    2. Join the Yahoo Group called The Mystery of History, Volume 1 if you'd like to use my schedule for MOH1. This is where I upload all of my files.  The document I use to schedule our lessons is titled, "MOH1Schedule.docx."  It's under:  Files > Tracey's Journal Files > MOH1Schedule.docx.  Feel free to change this around to however you can use it.
    3. Edit the MOH1Schedule to your liking.  THIS is what takes the most time, especially if you want to change the schedule, but it's worth it!  I'm constantly changing and editing this file to suit our family.  You'll notice that the first nine weeks of this schedule aren't even completed.  Sorry!  I started using it AFTER I had completed those lessons, and haven't gotten back to the beginning yet.  Put in whatever books you like (I think it is just missing readers/read-alouds?).
    4. Put your schedule, as well as the lessons from the MOH1 book (all that will fit comfortably) into your binder.  So, in other words, each week you will have a schedule page followed by that week's lesson right in your binder.
    Front of Teacher Book
    Page of schedule from Yahoo Group
    Followed by that week's lesson from MOH1 book
    Student Book(s)
    I put in all worksheets to be done in the order of which it is to BE done.  I don't separate by continent, etc.

    1. Depending on the age of your child(ren), here is how you organize your student book(s).
    It's simple:  Put in whatever you feel they are at the maturity level to work on, in the order of which it is to be done.  I copy all necessary pages from the MOH book, type up any type of forms they might need to complete for certain activities (basically, making it a bit easier for them to figure out how to do the lesson independently), and put them in their notebooks in the order in which they are to be done.  I'm not allowed to share mine due to the copyright...so you will have to type up your own if you so desire, sorry!

    When a student has completed their day's work, they turn it into the "Correction Box" (one of the large file boxes) that I designate.  I correct it, right in their notebook, then put their notebook right back into their school box.  No papers to file!
    Well folks, I think that's about it.  Hopefully I remembered everything.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I will definitely edit this when needed and try to make it as simple to understand as possible.  
NOTE:  5/25/17 -- Well, now that the books come out differently, I'll need to update this again...coming soon!