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only more colorful

Archive for July, 2009

Date Nights

With the boys this weekend.  Let’s be real, this is really more about a date night with daddy than with mommy.  Friday night Brent and Noah went to Hometown Buffet to use Noah’s ‘free buffet” coupon that he got for reading at school.  Nathanael sweetly talked me into going through the Taco Bell that has markings for drive thrus. Then we sat at the breakfast nook and he had a million wonderful questions until Noah came home singing about the dessert bar at Hometown Buffet.  Meltdown.

Saturday was Nathanael’s night with daddy.  I had a buy one get one free coupon for TGIFridays so they went there but not until after the great debate on China Palace vs. Mike’s.  (Nathanael said we were being cheap since we mentioned Mike’s….um…yeah we are.)   I guess TGIFridays was a good choice after all because Nathanael came home wildly excited about the sliders describing them in great detail.  Noah really wanted to go to Taco Bell with me but I had a coupon for a free burrito from a small hole in the wall place so we decided to try something new.  He was excited because it was called “Santa Cruz” and he thought it was hilarious to keep saying that we were on our way to the island.  (The Channel Islands are right off the coast of Ventura.)  Once we got there it was closed.  Good thing McDonald’s was near.  Since the back seats were down in the back of the van we had a “pic-nic” in the Target parking lot.
He thought it was great fun.  I was just happy no one could see me inhaling my Filet-O-Fish.  Oh yes!

We went into Target to look for coasters.  We didn’t find any but I did find a set of Corelle dishes for 50% off.  We’ve needed new dishes for a couple of years.  That is if 10 year old dishes with rust spots all over the edges constitutes “need”.  Since when did ceramic rust???  I’ve been searching the internet just to make sure I got a good deal and I can’t find a set nearly this pretty for less than $50 and I paid $35.  Of course, if you want to show me up then send me the link b/c I’m always game for saving more!!!  Anyway these are the dishes I got but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them.
What do you think???

We also worked on the house a bit this weekend. The bathroom is almost done.  Two years later.  And I put the second coat of paint on two of our walls.  A year later.  My genius husband also hung the curtain rods he made from supplies from Lowes for LES THAN $20!  We saved a bundle since we needed loooooong rods for our front room windows.  I sewed some curtains all by myself without the help of my mom (or Aimee D.)!  They look great from 5  feet way.  Actually we don’t like them.  They are too busy with our new super duper awesome chairs.  Say hello to Sunny, aka, Mr. Magnificent.
We are planning to take a trip down to the fabric district in LA sometime soon so I can get some inexpensive fabric. We can’t find anything we like here in town and curtains at the store are soooo expensive.   Last visit to the fabric district we really scored with the glittery bright red shag fabric.   What. Were.  We. Thinking?

I also scored again on freecycle and got a free television for our garage. This is so I can test and review (at least that’s the idea) workout videos for which, by the way, is well on it’s way to becoming  We are also looking forward to trying P90x when it gets here.  😉

Oh yeah.  The other day in the car I asked Nathanael if he thought he would move far away when he grew up?  He said very matter-of-fact without looking up from his game, “I’ll live in California but I’ll probably live in Beverly Hills or some place like that.”



  • Filed under: life
  • As most of you know we have decided to homeschool this coming year. We feel a deep sense of gratitude towards God for giving us not only the desire but the means to do so.  For years I have wanted to homeschool in my head but I never could find the desire in my heart.  Brent and I would always talk about how much fun it would be if we could homeschool but I always said maybe next year.  About six months ago I was sitting on the couch praying and suddenly I knew we were to try homeschooling in the upcoming year.  It was so clear to me much like the time I knew I would marry Brent.  Immediately, I told Brent about the prayer time and he was very excited that I was ready to move into this uncharted territory.

    We have many reasons why we have decied to homeschool.  Here are a few in no particular order.

    1. We feel like God has placed this desire in our hearts.  Sitting down with the boys to learn has by far been one of the greatest joys of parenting for me.  Some people have remarked that it sounds like such a chore.  A year ago I felt the same but I can say with honesty that I no longer see it as a “chore” but as a gift.  I can’t believe that God has given me two amazing children and has given me the desire and opportunity to homeschool them.
    2. The boys are getting big and we know Nathanael’s next 9 years are going to go by FAST.  We know if we never give homeschooling a try we will regret it later.  We don’t want them to grow up and say we wished we would have tried.
    3. We want to help preserve our boys unique personalities.  Although they have gone to a very warm and nuturing school we have noticed the effect of peers on their personalities and frankly it’s not been all that great.  Our boys are trying to discover who God has created them to be and we want to be the ones to guide them down that path.  Do we want to shelter them???  Yes, to some extent we do because we feel that is our job.  Forever?  Absolutely not.  But homeschooling will give us a bigger say in who they choose for friends.  Homeschoolers have a reputation for being “weird”.  This idea that all homeschoolers are “weird” is just plain ignorant.  A while back I spent some time visiting homeschooling groups.  Honestly, I was expecting to meet “weird” kids but what I found is that the kids actually seemed more grounded, thoughtful, confident, and kind than the kids on the school playground.  I observed kids appreciating the differences in others.  I even saw two juniour high girls discussing science and math with enthusiasm. One was encouraging the other who was not doing as well with those subjects.  This really opened my eyes to the types of kids who homeschool.  It was a far cry from what I saw happening between the girls at the school.  So if “weird” means being able to think for oneself, an interest in learning, and relating to others on a mature level then so be it…I want “weirdos”.  Of course, school kids are NOT all bad kids.  There will be a few that we hope to keep in touch with but these are some observations we have made that have influenced our decision.
    4. We want to know our kids as deeply as possible.  We just don’t feel like we are getting to know them as well when they are in school all day and then coming home tired and cranky with only a few rushed hours trying to squeeze in homework, taekwondo, and dinner before bed.
    5. Freedom and flexibility.  Brent has worked so hard to get to do what he does for a living but because the boys are in school we are unable to take full advantage of his flexibility and enjoy the fruits of his labor.  Now we will be able to go camping and visit family whenever and for as long as we want as long as it works with Brent’s schedule (and money and not wearing out our welcome!).  We have dreams of spending a year in a RV traveling the country really learning about American history.  Or spending a year in China teaching English.  Or who knows…..  We are all SO EXCITED about the opportunities that this will allow even if it’s just family trips to a museums during the week.
    6. Teach them not just to learn but more importantly teach them to love learning.  Learning is not about textbooks, quizzes, and tests.  It’s a way of looking at the world, asking questions, and seeking answers.  It’s exploring the history of humanity through art, literature, philosophy, and science so that we can respond the work of God throughout mankind.
    7. Reduce stress at home for us and for the boys.  As crazy as it may seem to some, we know that this is going to reduce the stress level in our home.  We are SO HAPPY to be done with the get up early and rushing around to get to school on time.  Not only that but stressing to get all the homework done after a busy day and having very little free time to just be kids and play.  Running back and forth between home and school had added unnecessary stress.  We are really looking forward to slowing down and being able to enjoy each other.  We also hope to reduce isocial stress.  We talked to one family who had home-schooled 2 or their 4 kids and said their home-schooled kids carried a lighter burden.  We hope to lighten our boys future loads.
    8. We feel they will get a better education, one that is tailored to suit their gifts instead of a one size fits all approach that’s necessary when teaching in a classroom.  For example, Nathanael has already expressed interest in taking Dave Ramsey’s financial peace course and learning Photoshop.  Things we would never have time for if he is in regular school.  Not to mention those are real-world skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives if they so choose. Much (not all) of traditional school work is boring and a waste of time.   Okay so a few people love filling out worksheet after worksheet and cramming for tests.  And a few actually remember it.   As Nathanael has gotten older his busy work has gotten longer and longer.  He has sat for hours filling out science reviews or history reviews searching through dull textbooks for the answers.  Understandably so, he gets frustrated and bored.  Brent and I talked about this and remembered feeling the same.  Not only that but we remember very little from our textbooks BUT we remember almost all of the stories we read. So we are going to use very few workbooks and textbooks.  Our homeschool is going to be based on high quality, much of it classical, literature. See History & Literature below.Not only is much of the work boring but they either have to wait for everyone to catch up OR they don’t understand concepts because the teacher doesn’t have the time to explain it to them in a way they understand, so they fall behind. Most of world’s greatest thinkers were not taught in a classroom.So how do homeschoolers compare  academically with the rest of the students.  Read Academic Statistics on Homeschooling to find out!
    9. Spiritual guidance.  So what if our kids do brilliantly academically but suffer spiritually.  If that is the case then we’ve missed the point of life.  This is why everyday will start out with Bible and we are going to approach every subject from Biblical/spiritual points of view.  When they are ready we will tackle the big questions of life and the implications of the different answers.   Far from wanting to shelter them we want to challenge them by asking these questions while they are still under our care because ultimately these are the things that REALLY matter.

    So how are we going to do all this????  Well here is a list by subject and I’m sure this will change as forge ahead.

    Bible – A Bible, The Awesome Book of Bible Facts,  A devotional Bible.

    History & Literature & Reading – This is going to be the core of our program.  We are going to learn history through high quality literature. For our first year we are going to give Sonlight a try.  Check out their website for more information.  History and literature aren’t grade dependent so we will be reading many of the same stories together out loud.  Nathanael will also read from the advanced readers list and Noah will read from the beginning reader list.  We are starting with an overview of world history as opposed to American history because…well…the world didn’t begin with America and it’s not all about America.  We feel like this will give us a better perspective and appreciation for our own country’s history.

    Writing – The boys writing assigments will be based off of the books we read for history and literature.  As far as a formal handwriting program, we are going to give the Writing without Tears program a try for Noah since he doens’t like handwriting at all.  I’ve researched and researched and this seems like it will be the best fit for him something that would not be able to happen if he was still in school.  Nathanael is going to use A Reason For Handwriting program since this is what he has used since Kindergarten.  As soon as he is consistently writing neatly we will stop a formal handwriting practice.

    Grammar – We are going to use the Rod and Staff grammar program.  From my research, it is one of the best and most thorough programs out there.  Noah will not start this until 3rd grade.

    Phonics – We are undecided on our phonics program.  So far I’m leaning towards Explode the Code, Rod and Staff or A Beka.  I’m still very open though and will be talking to other homeschooling moms for advice.

    Science –  This year we are going to be using Sonlight’s science curriculum.  For now our focus on science is to encourage their curiosity, appreciation, and wonder for God’s creation.

    Math – We are going to stick with Singapore Math for now.  Their school switched over to it last year and I was very impressed.  It’s a little different than the way most of us were taught math but I find the Singapore way of doing math to be way more intuitive and practical.  For those of you worried about me teaching Math I want to assure you I’m confident in my abilities for the next few years.  If or when I feel I need additional help we will either switch to a different program, take classes through the groups or co-ops and or get a tutor.  Just FYI I did very well in math.  I’m better at the language arts but I did get all the way through trigonometry in high school with an A.  I didn’t take any math in college so yes, it’s been a while but like I said if I need help, I’ll get help.

    Spelling – I think I’m going to start Noah with Spelling Workout A and I’m trying to decide wether to do Sequential Spelling or Spelling Workout D with Nathanael.  I really like all that I’ve read about Sequential Spelling but again I’m going to talk with some other homeschooling moms before I make a decision.

    Spanish – We are going to give the Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition a try.  Of course, trips to Blancas (the little mexican market around the corner) will be great fun and practice.  I considered starting with Latin but since they’ve already had some Spanish and there are ample opportunities to practice we decided to wait on Latin.

    Music & Art – Until we can afford piano lessons we are going to try to learn the basics together.  We are also going to spend some time learning about the great artists and composers throughout history.  There is a really cool drawing book we are going to try to go through together as well.

    Socialization – This is possibly the most annoying question so don’t ask me about it.  People who ask this must have forgotten what it’s like to be on a playground or in the junior high cafeteria.  If this is a concern read Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World or this one and  you’ll see where Brent and I are coming from.  Don’t worry, we are not going to raise our kids in a bubble.  They will interact weekly with kids at taekwondo, church, playdates, our friend’s kids and our homeschool support groups CASA, ACHEVE, and we are on the waiting list for Group Solutions.  In additions we are considering joining the homeschool choir and/or Boy Scouts.  So they will have plenty of friends, in fact, we are going to have to be careful not to get too busy!!  We are already looking forward to a homeschool camping trip the last week of August.

    So there you have it a basic overview of what will be The Nims Academy of Excellence in Exploration.  Yes, we realize this is a bit ideal on paper but we agree with Michelangelo  “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”  We hope in time Nathanael and Noah will be setting their sights as high as the heavens.

    With Love,
    Jenn & Brent

  • Filed under: homeschooling