Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blue Zones

The idea of Blue Zones is interesting to me. It is not from a Christian point of view, so it is obviously lacking a lot of insight into how to live a long and happy life. But there are still things to be learned from their research. From the website:

We studied the verifiable parts of the world where people live the longest and report the highest levels of well-being. We distill their lifestyle lessons and then, working with top scientists, offer ways for you to learn, measure and act on your own longevity and happiness.

Power 9™ are specific lifestyle habits shared by the world’s longest living people. Here they are in summary:

1. Keep Moving - Find ways to move naturally, such as walking, gardening, using fewer labor saving devises.

2. Find Purpose - And pursue it with passion.

3. Slow Down - Work less, rest, take vacations.

4. Stop Eating - When you are 80 percent full.

5. Dine on Plants - Eat more veggies, and less meat and processed foods.

6. Drink Red Wine - Do it consistently but in moderation.

7. Join a Group - Create a healthy social network.

8. Feed Your Soul - Engage in spiritual activities.

9. Love Your Tribe - Make family a high priority.

Tips from Martha

I can't remember where I found this, but I know it was from Martha Stewart. Seven daily chores that will help keep your house tidy:

1. Make beds right away.
2. Do one complete load of laundry.
3. Empty all garbage cans.
4. Keep kitchen sink empty.
5. Clean up after yourself and help your kids do the same.
6. Bathroom wipe down.
7. Before bed 10 minute clean up.

Monday, July 25, 2011

School Links and a Tip For Boys

Ten Habits of a Happy Homeschool Lots of great ideas here. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Michael Thompson on Teaching Boys This is written primarily for schools. I don't know much about the author, but I appreciated many of his insights into boys and education. Again, take what is helpful and pass on the rest.

And my 2 tips for teaching boys: 1)Move it right along. 2) Keep them moving.

With regard to number one, I often say,
"Read this as fast as you can."
"Stay on task."
"Let's get this done."
"You have two minutes to do that paper."
"Who's going to get done with their math first...ready, set, go!"

Statements like these might make it seem like I am rushing through the school work or even trying to just check the box and get it done. It might seem like they would miss things or get stressed from the pressure. Not true.

In this house of 4 young boys this is what works to motivate them and keep school fun. Boys seem to get sidetracked easily and want to saunter through the school day. But what they really want down deep is to get to the point and then be done with it. My boys love learning and they enjoy school. I think part of the reason for that is that I don't drag it out. I require them to stay focused and pay attention and then they get to run and play. When I say I require them to stay focused that does not mean that they do it perfectly every time. It means that I am constantly reminding them and bringing them back to focus. Little by little they get better and focus a little longer.

One of mine used to get very side tracked during his reading lesson. Now I tell him to read the sentence as fast as he can. It helps him to focus and keep the meaning of the sentence as a whole in his mind. Instead of reading a word and taking a break, he keeps it moving, keeps the momentum, and reads much better.

We learn things dancing around, singing songs, and doing hand motions. They love sitting on the couch watching me be really silly during a Classical Conversations memory song.

Competition motivates them to do just about anything. They can be poking around picking up our play room. If I come in and say, "Who can get it done first?" they all spring into action. The funny thing about that is that they are all working at the same thing and it is a bit hard to determine the winner! They usually don't ask who won, but the competition spurs them on.

Now for point number two...if they can't sit still and focus then we get up and do something! Do it with them and it will give you a burst of energy too!

Jumping jacks
Dance to an upbeat song
Run laps around the house
Punch the air like a boxer
Hop on one foot
Ring around the rosey
Duck duck goose
Run in place as fast as you can
Hokey Pokey
Skip around the couch
Jump on both feet as high as they can

I want the boys to be able to sit down and do their work for as long as it takes. Sometimes they just have to control themselves. But many times when they have the wiggles I realize that they have been sitting through bible, then reading, then math...they have not been up in a while. If I send them to move around in some way and give them a drink of water they usually come back ready to focus again. I also let them wiggle a little while I am reading aloud. They can build something quietly or fiddle with something in their hands. This actually HELPS them focus. Sometimes it takes all of their concentration to keep every part of their body still. If they don't have to focus on doing that then they are free to focus on the story I'm reading.

All these boys are going to conquer the world when they grow up! You don't want to take all of that "spirit" out of them. Teach them to control themselves and wait when they need to, but give them an outlet now and then for all of that energy. They will thank you for it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” Erasmus

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This year I planned our routine a little differently, and so far it is working really well. I have been helped by looking at the schedules of many other moms. I'm throwing this out there so it might be of help to someone else. It is a loose outline that we use as a guide, not as a master. Since I linked to resources in my Curriculum Post, I've only added a link if I am mentioning a new resource. Here is our schedule:

7:00 Aiden reads the Bible to Daddy and they answer questions from the Greenleaf Guide; I read my Bible, pray and get dressed
7:30 Get everyone else up and get breakfast on the table (planned the night before hopefully :0)
7:45 Breakfast and clean up
8:15 Back to the table for Bible time:
Sing Psalm we're working on
Jeremy reads and leads discussion on one chapter of the Old Testament (in sequence)
Memory Verse Review
Sing Hymn we're working on
8:45 Jeremy leaves for work
9:00 A & A (Aiden, 8; Alex, 6) pick up a bit and have some free time; I do a simple activity with R & R (Riley, 5; Remy, 3). I usually choose the activity beforehand instead of asking them what they want to do. Then I read a picture book listed in Five in a Row and do one of the activities for that.
9:30 Everyone together on the couch for Classical Conversations Memory Work (History song, Science, Math, and then go to the map to point to places for Geography), reading a few Sonlight books, and Prudence with the Millers
10:15ish R & R Room time in separate rooms; A & A at the table with me for math, First Language Lessons, Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (Alex), Handwriting/Copywork, God's Great Covenant, and The Story of the U.S.A. from Sonlight.
10:45ish R & R join us at the table to color and do Kindergarten papers while A & A wrap up. Aiden usually goes to another room to read a chapter of whichever Sonlight Reader he is on. I ask him questions about it using the excellent Instructor's Guide and he narrates what he read.
11:30 Get lunch together and have boys pick up a bit.
11:45 or 12:00 Eat lunch together at the table. I read the chapter of Proverbs that matches the day of the month and hold up pictures from Hidden Treasures to see if they can tell how it goes with the Proverbs.
12:30 or 1:00 R & R rest time. I lie down with them for a minute and tickle their faces; A & A have separate rest time in other areas doing a quiet activity or looking at books; I check my e-mail, read, and rest for about an hour (usually with an interruption or two). Then I read a Sonlight book to the older boys.
3:00 Snack time!
3:15 (Because snack time does not take long around here!) This is a flex time. I do something different each day of the week:
Monday: Artistic Pursuits
Tuesday: Veritas Press History Card Review
Wednesday: Copy maps while listening to Children's Music Masters
Thursday: Science Experiment
Friday: Preschool Art
At least that's the plan :0). Some days they just play or do one of the things mentioned next.
4:00 Usually everyone goes outside or does some kind of free play inside. I plan to play some active games with them during this time, but have not done that yet. I sometimes use PE at Home if it is rainy or they watch a video. Rosetta Stone Spanish or Sign Language For Everyone DVD fit well here if they want to do that (I don't assign either one right now). About this time I start getting dinner together.
5:00 Jeremy gets home, we hang all hang out, eat dinner, clean up, and then hang out some more. On Thursdays we eat together quickly at 5:00 and then Jeremy and I take turns taking one of the boys out on a "date" for 2 hours.
7:00 Bible Time
Sing Sunday-School type song
Jeremy reads and leads discussion on one chapter of the New Testament (in sequence)
Sing Hymn we are working on
7:30 or 8:00 boys go to bed and look at books and/or listen to book on tape
8:30ish lights out

There is a lot of FLEX in this routine and lots of extra time built in. That helps us stick to the flow. It's always discouraging when you look up and see that you are an hour behind. So I've tried to leave more than enough time for everything so that we are usually ahead of schedule and feeling relaxed. Things go along much better if I ignore the computer most of the day and don't answer the phone in the morning during school. I'd also like to mention that I don't have a new baby and I am not pregnant. My youngest one is 3 1/2 now and so it has made things much more predictable and manageable than they were in the past when all 4 of them were pretty young.

Are you approachable?

This post has a lot of wisdom for Christian women.

Simple Activities

A few ideas to keep your little ones busy (or to do with them).

Mega Blocks
Look at books
Sidewalk Chalk
Play catch with brother
Make obstacle course
Make indoor club house
Puppet show
Play dough
Help with chores
Play with cardboard box
Treasure hunt
Take a Bath
Just do nothing
Pattern Blocks
Write on Chalkboard
Brush your teeth
Felt Board
Mega Blocks
Dress Up/Costumes
Masking tape road with cars
Build with wooden blocks
Sort Beans
Sort Macaroni
Bristle Blocks
Paint with water
Pipe Cleaners
Play food
Pouring Rice
Wash dishes
Glue stick art
Color with markers/crayons
Make chair maze
Sticky feet (masking tape around shoes with sticky part out)
Geo board
Shape sorter
Pouring water
Threading cards or beads
Water/oil in bottle with food coloring
Bubble Bottle
Clothes pins in a milk jug
Window Markers
London Bridge/Duck Duck Goose
Teach them how to do rolls, hopping or skipping

Saturday, July 09, 2011


We just finished a terrific Biography of Gladys Aylward. We followed it up with the Torchlighters video about her and then the movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. I found some videos about foot binding that were really interesting here and here. The boys were obviously very surprised by that custom. For anyone interested in China these resources have all been great.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Garden Your Own Soul

Look at this wonderful reminder to Garden Your Own Soul. I've been reading Dancing With My Father by the same author and so far I heartily recommend it! I don't think you can really go wrong with a book by Sally Clarkson.


My friend Shannon posted a great quote she heard in a Sunday School class about gossip.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
Eleanor Roosevelt