Monday, March 30, 2015

What our schoolwork looks like

We are studying animals.

This is called a lapbook- made from a Manila folder

Info can be added to the folder in many interesting ways

We are currently studying mammals

Each boy can choose a mammal to research from the category we study

We are learning the order in which the states joined the Union and what some few particulars of each state are.

The 1st state to join the Union

The 11th state - we did this paper today

We are being introduced to the presidents one by one.

We continue to learn about world history as we study American history.

For Math the two youngest are doing a book in the Life of Fred series. Whenever we come across a highlighted word(s) in the text, I have them illustrate it or write a definition to put in a Math lapbook. Matthew is using an online math - Khan Academy.

We enjoy story books that enlarge on the history of individuals.

What is your favorite animal?

How do you deal with the horrors from history like the Reign of Terror?

Do you have a biography to recommend?

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Our time here in northern PA is nearly at an end. Five days from now we can head home! We are enjoying our time here but home is in our thoughts a lot these days. We hear of warm weather, blooming flowers and spring peepers while we continue to watch the occasional snowfalls and experience the cold weather here. 

To console ourselves, we have tomato plants growing on the windowsill. (190- I counted the other day!) We also started a sweet potato or yam growing. I am feeling like I need to do a little research on the two potatoes. What's a yam and what's a sweet potato? As we continue to learn about phytic acid in foods, I read that yams have some and sweet potatoes have none.

See the snow outside?

Back to the subject I started out with in that last paragraph- we are dreaming of gardening. I ordered strawberry plants that I am hoping will be in good health when we get home. One of the major projects will be to construct fence so that the deer will not get the fruit of our labors. The next will be to get the ground enhanced with good things. We didn't do much gardening last year and what we did the deer enjoyed.

I have been spoiled with good cooking here. We eat our meals in the cafeteria most times. A couple of things this has done for me is - 1. Given me a break where I can get new ideas and new zeal for cooking. 2. Made me eager to be back in my own kitchen to cook healthy foods.

Regarding #1 -Some time ago I signed up for a meal planning website called Pepperplate. I never used it that much. I guess it just wasn't user friendly enough at the time I signed up. Soon before we came up here Thomas gave me a tablet for my last birthday. I was looking for a meal planner app and found Pepperplate. Now I'm really excited about it.

They have added a feature called a bookmarklet that you can put on your bookmarks bar on your computer. Then whenever you find a recipe you like, just click that little gizmo and presto! It adds the recipe from the page to your recipes file in Pepperplate. It syncs with the app on the tablet where there are so many cool features. 

There's a planner where you can add recipes to certain days or a menus page where you can make menus with your recipes and then put the menus in the planner. Then when you want to cook, take the tablet to the kitchen, pull up the recipe(s) you want and start cooking. The app has a feature that will keep the screen from dimming until you are finished cooking. You can work on multiple recipes at once and have timers going for each one. There is also a feature that allows you to scale the recipe by a fraction or however many times you need to increase it. Once you schedule a recipe you have the option of adding it to your grocery list. It is just way too cool. Of course if you have a smart phone it will work with that too.

Regarding #2 - It is hard to have to continually pass by foods that don't like you and that look oh. so. good. Or compromise and just eat them and then suffer the consequences. It is hard to go hungry but I know it doesn't hurt me really. 

Since we have been off sugar and then cut grains from our diet to a large extent, I have found cooking very interesting. It is challenging to rethink the typical American diet. For the most part I just fix "real food" - vegetables, salads, soup, eggs, meats, fruits. But occasionally I want something like a sandwich ....or muffins..... or pancakes. So what do I do? Do a Google search for "Paleo Pancakes" and amazingly someone has come up with such a thing! A pancake made without grains. 

Or more recently- Austin wanted Sweet Potato Pie for his birthday meal. I found one made with a nut crust. I sweetened the filling with maple syrup and it was a very delicious pie! Now Melvin is requesting Hamburgers, ginger cookies and frozen lemon yogurt for his birthday meal. I found a bun recipe that is made without grains, as well as ginger cookies. Also found a recipe for the yogurt that looks quite easy and good. Can you tell I'm having fun?

Back to the tablet -Another really, really cool thing that we use it for is the Barton tiles. They have come out with an app for the tiles so we don't have to cart tiles wherever we go. It is just so, so nice. As we progress through the levels, the tiles keep adding up and can almost overwhelm a person for the space they take. Especially in a lively household, we would often need to rearrange them daily. Now we can sit on the couch to do a Barton lesson and have the tiles in one handy little spot.

I will give you a couple snapshots of the art work of the college students in this place. They were divided into teams to decorate their study halls. 

This wasn't part of the artwork

Think "Kindle"

Think "Scrabble"

Think "Castle"

The sign on the castle door
(which actually opens into Mr Russell's  office)

Paper birds mobile

We are planning to spend the evening with the students at Carl & Yvonne's (Thomas' sister) house. Time to go. Hopefully I will have more to share with you soon.

What is your spring like? Cold or warm? Maybe some of both?

What are your gardening plans?

What are you eating? :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

At Faith Builders

We are presently in northern PA at Faith Builders. They asked Thomas to come complete a renovation project. He is finishing drywall, painting, hanging doors, doing the trim work and flooring & etc. Hoping to get the project finished and ready to use in 5 weeks. One week is behind us now. He had to undo and redo some of the project before he could get started with his "calling" so he just completed the first coat of drywall "mud" yesterday. (There was a change of mind about some of the structural things after it had been done.)

It feels huge to be gone for the whole month of March. Other times when we came here for renovation projects, we were here for a week or two at the most. That was usually long enough. It can be so gray and cold here so much of the time. I was reading the weather forecast for home to the boys yesterday. It said Wednesday 55°, Thursday 55° and they said, "Stop reading!" 

Thankfully there have been at least 3 sunny days this week! Today is sunny. That helps. There is a foot of snow on the ground here and huge piles around the edges of parking spaces, by the sides of roads and so forth.

Interestingly the two deepest snows at home this winter have come while we were in Guys Mills, PA. Two feet at Thanksgiving and 8" this past week. I would like to see it but it's okay with me to not live in it. In this huge building you hardly know what it's like outdoors because the community is in the building. (There are enough windows in our apartment that you can tell if it's sunny or gray though!)

I walk a few steps out my door to the "laundromat" (a washer and dryer shared by 4 apartments), down two flights of stairs to the dining room (or I can cook a meal in our apartment if I care to), and a few steps from the apartment is the chapel where we had our worship service this morning.

Thomas and Austin made a flying trip home for today. They went home last evening and are coming back up this afternoon. Austin is in instruction class so we thought a couple trips home would be in order. Plus Thomas is Intermediate Sunday School teacher and he forgot to leave the teacher's book with a substitute. There were various other things that were forgotten that they are bringing when they come. 

Like dress clothes. Stephen wore some of the dress clothes that Thomas had brought but he had to wear his sneakers (with drywall mud on them) to chapel. A bit embarrassing but thankfully God doesn't mind such things as some people might.

Thomas & I and the two youngest came up on Monday but the three oldest boys came Tuesday. Stephen had helped to drive a vehicle to TX over the weekend and flew home Monday. We left Austin and Matthew to come with him. They had a lot of things to remember to bring and finish up before coming. It's really no wonder some things got forgotten.

The month of February was dead for Thomas as far as work. Now this month is filled up with the project here which, by the way, is in the men's dorm. When we get back home he has lots of work waiting for him. 

Thankfully, Stephen had a job in February working for Ken Yoder as secretary at the pallet shop. He made it clear to them at the beginning that this was not his cup of tea and so finally by the end of the month they had someone to replace him. They would have given him a full time job if he would have wanted it.

The month of February was cold and windy. Into that cold world was born another calf. This was what I called a "teenage pregnancy". A 14 month old heifer had a baby. Or would you say a calf had a calf? It had a bit of a rocky start. The calf would try to suck and the mother would kick it away. But finally, with some hand miking and bottle feeding and prayers they got their act together and the feeding is going properly.

Maybe you wonder what I do here? Well, we brought school along. That takes up half the day or more. Then there's always dirty laundry. I made myself useful in the big kitchen a few days. I also brought some sewing projects along and have worked some on that. Of course today I am writing.

And the boys? After their studies the older ones help with the work project while the younger ones help where they can and play in the gym a lot. The two youngest have also helped in the kitchen some. Once their boots (another forgotten item) are here I imagine they will be out in the piles of snow, digging out houses or sculpting something.

Evenings are a bit long. Supper is served at 5:15 and then the evening is open for whatever. We join the students in things they are doing if we want to. I like to watch the volleyball games. Friday evening Stephen went to listen to a stringed instrument/piano concert with some of the students. 

Maybe this week I can get out a bit and visit some people, go shopping & etc. We decided once we get some money all the boys need new socks (with a different color or style for each boy!!) and some need boots.

Here are a few pages from this week as we began a study of animals-

Matthew's illustrations

Melvin's illustrations

Christopher's illustrations
They were supposed to write the 3 sentences about Biology, Botany and Zoology on the one paper. The other paper has the song This is My Father's World on it. I told them they could illustrate it any way they wanted with things from our Father's world.            

What was the most interesting thing you did this week? 

What are you doing this time of year?

I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anything from cows to church...

Okay. So this post is really strange. You just have to bear with me. It took me awhile to get it ready and now it's old. I wrote it on Feb 15. Enjoy it if you can.

The cow had a calf Jan 14, 2015. Oh wow! Is it 2015 already? For real? Yep! And a month and a half is gone now! What is happening? Slow down life! Oh back to the cow... Now we have plenty of milk. Enough to make some cheese occasionally plus drink all we want. I am not a big milk drinker but Thomas and the boys are.
A lively baby

My family- Daddy & Mama, all my siblings and all but one of the nieces & nephews- got together in TX toward the end of Jan. My three youngest sisters live about an hour south of Dallas and they hosted a family reunion. Rather their landlords and they hosted it. They did a super job of keeping the clan fed and entertained. Never a dull moment.
Parents and children
The brothers

The sisters in age from youngest to oldest

Spouses and grandchildren added (6 missing)

Large amounts of food needed!

We came back home, got settled back into our routine here and worked hard to get ready for a history fair that the school children were putting on. They gave that this past Friday evening. There was a list to pick up, at the beginning of the displays, with the names of the history characters. Then you needed to guess which student depicted which character.

Stephen gathered information on William Boeing since his main-most interest is airplanes.

Austin was Henry Ford. He did his best to dress up as Mr Ford but we absolutely couldn't find a knee length suit coat. He forgot to take his dress shirt along to the fair so he just wore his polo shirt. It worked okay.

Matthew spent many hours gathering information about George Handel and creatively displaying it. I think all his things were hand-written. I spent some time getting his clothes together. We found a ruffly women's shirt at a thrift store, sewed some lace to an overcoat, cut old khaki pants short and tucked them into long socks. We added belt buckles to his dress shoes to complete his outfit. He had part of The Messiah playing behind his board.

Melvin took an interest in Benjamin Franklin whose accomplishments were many and varied. He made a little cardboard shelf and stood a Lego man holding a string with a key and a kite attached. Too bad it didn't get into the photo. I had to help him a lot because he struggles to read and write. I would read things to him and then he would dictate to me how he wanted them written up. We also had work to get him out-fitted in colonial style dress. The canes they used were borrowed from their Lapp grandma.

Christopher wanted to represent Galileo Galilei. He found his experiments and discoveries fascinating. He read information and took notes but then I had to keep him on task to get it written up and on his board. He loves to play with Microsoft Word so that is how he wrote up his information. We found thrift store clothing to dress him in plus I added a big white collar to his shirt.

They all did so well. It was a good exercise in reading and writing as well as history.

Last evening the young people at church and their advisers gave the couples a Valentine supper complete with a little sermonette by Elmer Stoltzfus of Plain City, OH. They did a good job of setting a cozy atmosphere and feeding us an amazing meal. Salad bar, linguine with Alfredo sauce, a choice of chicken cordon blue or ham balls, corn, dinner rolls, punch and cheesecake.

We had an unusual church service this morning. It is so cold right now. Single digits. The furnace quit working and the sanctuary was cold so we moved to the basement and had a service minus Sunday school. The devotional spoke to our need of contentment and the message was about facing the giants in our lives.