Monthly Archives: April 2013

22 Years


It was a Monday, my regular day off from work.  The forecast had called for a 100% chance of rain, so there would be no construction work for him either.  I slipped into my new, blue camisole , then my Easter dress.  I put in my best friends antique earrings. I added some extra makeup to conceal my “morning sickness green” complexion.  I looked down at my left hand and saw the engagement ring that had only been on my finger for two days.  A couple  of our friends were to meet us at the court house.  We were getting married.

Or technically , we were eloping.  Neither of us had told our parents about the pregnancy or our recent plans to wed.  It’s not like we were teenagers,  we were in our middle 20’s.  We were trying to act responsibly (for a change).

That was the start of my new life.  Everything prior to that moment was suddenly my past life.  Some days I can hardly believe that this journey with him has already been 22 years.  Other days I can hardly believe that this journey has only been 22 years because it feels like we have been together forever.

So much has changed since that day 22 years ago.  We have grown up.  We have rediscovered the GOD who made something good out of us, and gave us our heart’s desires.  Our love has grown over the years as has our family.  We are blessed.

betty jo


Avoiding It Like The Plague


I’ve been designing our homeschool’s curriculum for several years.  I base our unit studies on a historical period timeline.   One year we study everything “ancient”.  The next year we move on to studying everthing “middle ages”.  Then the following year our unit studies are based on “American history”.  The fourth year we focus on “modern world history”.  After these four years, we start over, but with more advanced assignments.

Every June I start planning the upcoming school year’s unit studies.  And I start this process by making a list of everything found on on a timeline that could/should be included in our lessons for the year.

As this homeschooling year comes to a close,  I am pleased that our Middle Ages/Renaissance unit studies have covered almost everything on my original list.  We will be ending our regular studies with church reformers .  Our summer school studies will include the great composers as we have elected music as one of our summer classes.

However, there is one topic on my list we haven’t studied yet.  Truthfully, I have been avoiding this particular study like the plague!  Actually, that is the study, the Bubonic Plague, Black Death.  This was such a terrible time in history as nearly one third of the European population died from this epidemic.  With less than three weeks left of our school year, and not wanting to end with this study, we will be covering the plague this week.

We will be reading about the Bubonic Plague from these library books.

plague books

Here’s the resource links we’ll be using

Teacher notes for the younger boys

Black Death lecture for the older kids

The younger boys will work together to make lapbooks from

I’m not surprised that I couldn’t find notebooking pages for this subject.   I’ll be designing our own notebooking pages using that  horrible art photo at the top of this post for my older kids.

Knowing that we are so close to finishing our homeschooling year will hopefully brighten our moods as we learn about Black Death.

betty jo


Stewardship Day

The Dixon Springs Agriculture Center, in Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest, teams up with with environmental and conservation experts every year for a week of educational programs for school children.  They have been hosting this event for over twenty years, and I think our homeschooling support group has been attending for about that long, too.

We had an excellent turnout of  both young children and teens for our day of Stewardship Week even though it was quite cool and cloudy.

ag ctr 1

Our first class of the day was The Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle).

ag ctr 5

Our second class was Wildlife Management.  We learned about the area habitats and the animals who live there.  Also, our teacher explained illegal poaching and trapping.  He passed around the pelts of animals that he had found in traps.

ag ctr 4Even though this was rather sad, it gave the kids a chance to touch, feel, and study several of the forest’s residents.

ag ctr 3Our third class was Wetlands Birds and thankfully it was under a tent because it had started to rain.

ag ctr 2Instead of having our picnic lunch outside, the rain continued so we ate in our cars.  After lunch, the kids went to the Activity Center.  Here they stocked up on coloring pages, stickers, and worksheets to do later.  They also made necklaces.

ag ctr 6The rain decided to stick around as did the cool temperatures, forcing cancellation of the rest of the Stewardship Day classes.  We were disappointed, but also ready for some dry, warm clothes.

Maybe the rain will stop sometime over the weekend so we can plant the Red Oak saplings we brought home as souvenirs.

ag ctr 7

Next year we will try this field trip again, and hopefully the sunshine will try to show up too.

betty jo

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                                                   GALILEO GALILEI

                                              Astronomer, Physicist

                                                                 1564 – 1642

As we continue our homeschooling Middle Ages/Renaissance unit studies, we will be adding Galileo to our lessons. Not only will we be focusing on his inventions and discoveries, but also his character.   He showed great respect for those he disagreed with.  His willingness to speak out for his beliefs when such beliefs were considered heresy, is inspiring.  It’s going to be an interesting study.   I found fantastic links and want to share them with you.

Short Biography, quiz, and printables (for younger students) –

Galileo Biography, Discoveries, and Inventions (for older students)  [Parental Warning!  There was an inappropriate ad in the middle of the biography!  I was able to close it.  It may be a smart idea to check the page before handing it over to you kids to read.]

Galileo quotes –

Galileo notebooking pages  (3rd down on the pdf list)  –

A re-creation of Galileo’s “falling bodies” experiment at Pisa  –   (This physics professor goes all out for this one!)

Galileo Experiments Interactive  –

“What Galileo Saw With His Telescope” documentary video  –

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use”.  Galileo

betty jo


Forced Into Minimalism


Lately I’ve read numerous articles about prioritizing, organizing, simplifying and minimizing.  I suppose these ideas go well with the whole “spring cleaning” theme.  However helpful these themes are meant to be, they remind me of April two years ago and the hardest time our family has ever had.

On April 26th, 2011 we had to evacuate our home because of river and creek flooding.  We only took enough clothes for three days. We packed up our current homeschool books, supplies, and records.  The kids brought along one toy apiece.  We put a lot of things upstairs and put our furniture and appliances on concrete blocks, placed sand bags all around, grabbed mama cat and her kittens, and left.

The seven of us invaded the home of my husband’s sister.  Also, his parents, niece, her husband, and daughter were flooded out and were staying there, too (13 total).  It was crowded and tough getting along.   Everyone was stressed out, sad, frightened and worried.

It wasn’t until 2 weeks later before we could return to our home.  It was a nightmare!  The water line in the kitchen measured 42 inches.  Our furniture had floated off the blocks and tipped over.  A tornado had sucked out the kitchen window which in turn was an open invitation to every woodland and stray animal to take refuge in our house (upstairs included).  The septic system backed up into both bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room.    Oh, the smell was sickening and so much mold was growing on everything.  We were not going to be able to live there ever again.  Our belongings, including fifteen years of homeschooling books, projects, and records were completely ruined.

floodThe white foamy stuff in this photo is the mold that covered every inch of our home and belongings.  We had started our family twenty years prior to this event, so as you can imagine, we had a LOT of stuff.

The local news did a report from our driveway and yard about the dangers of poisonous snakes in flood zones.  And we found 2 snakes skins, one on the porch and one in the dining room.

After meeting with the insurance company, the Red Cross, and FEMA, we had the grand total of $8000 to start over with.

We stayed with my sister-in-law for three months, because there was not any rental property available in the area with so many being relocated.  Finally we were able to move into a tiny rental trailer.   We were greatly blessed by the charities of local churches, the Salvation Army and other ministries, who prayed with us, helped us with clothing , furniture, and brought us meals (they knew we were in too much shock to grocery shop, or prepare healthy meals).  We also, found out who our best friends really were.

By the following October, after living three months in that rental trailer, six months since the evacuation, we were approved for an emergency recovery loan for $50,000.  With more prayers, a very creative realtor, a caring loan officer, and sympathetic sellers, we had a HOME.

Today our home and furnishings fit into the categories of prioritized, organized, simplified, and minimized.  Though all these lifestyle and attitude changes did not happen to us by choice, I can look back and know without any doubt that these changes have been exactly what we needed.  We have learned about what is truly important. We understand the value of lending a helping hand to others.  We have much greater appreciation of the material things we have replaced.  We know that God doesn’t leave us or forsake us.  We are convinced that He provides us with what we need.  We are thankful.

betty jo

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Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564. And, in his honor, April 23 is “Talk Like Shakespeare Day”!  A couple of years ago, we learned about his life and works as part of our Renaissance Unit Studies. Below are online Shakespeare resources for today or any day.

Fun Facts and Timeline                                                      

Guide for How to Talk like Shakespeare

Shakespeare Translator

Shakespeare Invented Words and Phrases                             

Teacher and Student Resources                                                                      

Globe Theater Educational Resources                         

Tour Stratford Upon Avon                                                                  

Notebooking pages

And, the kids will liked playing some of these online puzzles and games

Tales from Shakespeare for young readers                        

Stories of Shakespeare’s plays written for children             

Literature Guides (scroll down a little bit for the Shakespeare collection)

Wishbone Shakespaw

Animated Tales Video Playlist                                                        

Of course, there should be cake, because studying anyone on their birthday is better with cake!

Shakespeare Party Ideas and Printables       

betty jo

For more of our Middle Ages/Renaissance Unit Studies click

And here

And here

And here

And here


Homeschooling On Earth Day

earthdayGenesis 2:15  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

That’s the verse we will be concentrating on for our devotion/discussion and lead in for our other Earth Day lessons

Huge List of Earth Day related vocabulary words and several word puzzles

Earth Day Related Quotes                                            

Earth Day Related Math Activities                                    

Water Life Interactive Game and Educator Resources       

Earth Day Projects, Activities, and Ideas                           

Make a Difference – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

REDUCE:  Since there is always room for improvement for energy conservation at our house, we’ll be brainstorming ways to cut back on our usages.  (I sure hope someone will feel motivated to fix the toilet that flushes on it’s own what seems like hundreds time a day for the past week.)  Here’s some tips and resource for energy conservation for kids

REUSE:  We keep a large box of paper towel rollers, scrap paper, small boxes, plastic containers, rags, and various jars and bottles to use when we want to work on crafts, building model projects, or to make games.  However, the box is just a big mess presently.  Earth Day is a great excuse to dump and reorganize that box.  And, make some plans to use those items.  Fran (our family’s favorite “substitute teacher”) is our first go-to source for using recyclables!

RECYCLE: Our town has a recycling center.  We’ve visited several times to drop off “trash”.  And, we toured and worked there a few years ago with our local homeschool group.  I think I’ll check into scheduling another group visit.  If you’re not able to visit a recycling center, you can watch a video or two.

Reading Rainbow – How Trash is Recycled

What might it look like is we didn’t reduce, reuse, and recycle

Have a happy Earth Day,

betty jo