Thursday, January 31, 2008

Odds & Ends

I still haven't been able to get a great shot of Katherine's huge smile, but here is a taste of what she is capable of doing.

Our beans and corn are growing fairly well. We've had to delay some experiments because our plants don't grow quite as fast as the book thinks they should. Right now, we have foil on one of the leaves to see why plants need sunlight, and we put "Diaper Goop" (because I didn't want to go buy a brand new container of Vaseline) on the top of one leaf and the bottom of another to determine where the stomata are. I feel a little bad suffocating the leaf! Every day, the kids draw the corn and bean in the pole planter (on the right) to see how much the plants have grown. I think I'm going to start telling my kids they are growing like a bean.

I cut Olivia's hair this week because the ends reminded me of straw. She loves her new hair-do: "I look like Nancy Drew, Mom!" Notice that her shirt is inside out and backwards. She and Benjamin LIKE to wear their clothes this way! I have to check when we leave the house to make sure all shirts are on correctly.
Please pray for us as we look for people to watch our children for an hour and a half each day while while Aaron and I are in school. We have three days of the week covered, but we still need two more days. Thanks for your prayers!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Look at the Week Ahead II

Another fun week ahead!

Sunday, January 27: Today was a very special day because Aaron baptized Benjamin at church this morning. Last May, Benjamin asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins and to be Lord of Benjamin's life. However, Benjamin hasn't quite been ready to be baptized in front of the whole church. A few weeks ago, he had the opportunity to talk with a friend about the need for Jesus in his life. The friend realized that he didn't know Jesus, so Benjamin talked to him, and Aaron followed up. There were three young boys baptized this morning, one was the friend that Benjamin talked to, one was a boy Aaron led to the Lord during the revival, and the third was Benjamin. We are so humbled and excited that our family got to play a part in eternity!

Today also happens to be Lewis Carroll's birthday (1832). Although we had lots of company (and Sundays are always busy), we drank out of the awesome tea cups (illustrated with the tea party from "Alice in Wonderland") that Aunt Rachel found. Grandparents enjoyed lots of hugs and kisses.

Monday, January 28: National Kazoo Day! How else do you celebrate except with lots of noisy kazoos?!?

Tuesday, January 29: National Puzzle Day! We have a new puzzle (thanks to Nahna) just waiting to have lots of hands working together.

Wednesday, January 30: The Lone Ranger debuted in 1949. We'll watch some of the old shows, and I can't wait for the kids to hear the theme song since we're studying Rossini right now.

Thursday, January 31: In 1990, McDonald's opened its first restaurant in the Soviet Union. So I guess we'll have to swing by McDonalds for a treat on the way to piano lessons.

Friday, February 1: National Bubble Gum Day Imagine being able to chew bubble gum at school while helping a worthy cause! Today children across the country will be doing just that. Kids who donate $.50 or more get to chew gum at school. The money collected is donated to a charity chosen by the school. Our "principal" has given us permission, and we're considering the local pregnancy shelter for our charity (we'll augment our gum money with some baby things, too!). Anyone else want to join us in raising some money?
Saturday, February 2: For Candlemas, I'm hoping to find some beeswax to roll into candles instead of trying to dip the wicks into wax. So far, I've been unsuccessful. If anybody knows where to find the sheets of wax, PLEASE let me know.
Hope your week is off to a great start! We are rejuvenated from all of our celebrating today.

Does anyone know what this is?

We found this "thing" on our philodendron plant in the schoolroom. It hasn't moved for several weeks. Anybody have a clue what it is?

Long Time, No See

Our week has flown by! Belatedly, here are some pictures:

Our popcorn cake turned out great, and we had plenty to share.

My sweet college roommate and her husband drove down to Dallas to take us to Medieval Times. We were transported back hundreds of years and enjoyed watching the horses and the knights perform. Sarah even caught a flower from the yellow knight!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Choate Beauty Salon

We had such fun this weekend with an extra friend over to spend the night. The kids got together to fix hair...

"do" their fingernails & toenails (even my sweet servant Benjamin got in on the fun)...

and pamper their faces.

We're open for business!

Friday, January 18, 2008


With the help of my sweet husband, I finally figured out that I had scanned the kids' pictures as documents instead of photos. I'm still learning!

Week in Review

Lots of odds and ends to write about from the week. But first and foremost, WE GOT SNOW!!! Just a few wet flakes, but enough to dance in this morning for a few minutes. This may be the last time we see snow for several more years, so we enjoyed every moment.

Sarah studying about viruses from Lyrical Life Science, which is our favorite science book.

The kids wanted to draw dragons on Tuesday to help celebrate "Appreciate a Dragon Day". Their illustrations turned out great, but I'm having trouble downloading the scan onto the blog. Hopefully, I'll figure it out and post them soon.

Today we went to a local grocery store for a field trip with some friends. We discovered that people actually buy and eat celery root, enjoyed some free samples,

and bought a bag of groceries to help out a local food bank.

Tomorrow is National Popcorn Day, and we found a fun recipe to help celebrate, as well as the books "The Popcorn Book" by Tomie dePaola and "Popcorn at the Palace" by Emily Arnold McCully, and a cute poem to read while we eat:

A Popcorn Song

Sing a song of popcorn
When the snowstorms rage;
Fifty little round men
Put into a cage.
Shake them till they laugh and leap
Crowding to the top;
Watch them burst their little coats
Pop!! Pop!! Pop!!
~ Nancy Byrd Turner

This is what Katherine does while I help the older kids with school. Don't you want to just kiss on those sweet cheeks?!?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This week, the kids' writing assignments were to write quatrains with specific rhyming schemes (like ABAB, AABB, etc.). Here's a sample of their literary skills:


by Sarah E. Choate

I know a hippo named Posey.

She is soft and gray

She isn't the least bit nosey.

I could play with her all day.

The Race

by Benjamin Choate

Waggie walks very fast,

But at the end, he comes in last.

When he finally gets home,

He takes a bath with purple foam.

I found it interesting that both Sarah and Benjamin chose to write about their stuffed animals.

Did any of you try the strawberry oragami for National Strawberry Ice Day last Tuesday? Ours came out backwards!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making our own snow

Since today is supposed to be sunny with highs in the mid-60s, we thought we'd make our own snow for tea time:

6 oz. cream cheese, softened ½ tsp. vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar 1 bag shredded coconut flakes

1) In a large bowl, combine sugar and cream cheese. Stir well.
2) Add the vanilla. Stir again
3) Roll the mixture into balls. Use about a teaspoon of the mixture for each ball.
4) Spread the coconut flakes on a cookie sheet. Roll each ball in the flakes until
it is covered.
5) Refrigerate until well chilled.
6) Enjoy the yummy blizzard!

Variations: Children might also enjoy building snow people out of their snowballs. They can stack the balls to make snowmen and add features such as raisins for eyes and licorice whips for hair.
While the kids are eating, I'll read some poetry to help us feel cold:
White Fields
by James Stephens
In the winter time we go
Walking in the fields of snow;
Where there is no grass at all;
Where the top of every wall,
Every fence and every tree,
Is as white, as white can be.
Pointing out the way we came,
Everyone of them the same-
All across the fields there be
Prints in silver filigree;
And our mothers always know,
By our footprints in the snow,
Where the children go.

Monday, January 14, 2008

From the mouths of babes

Over the weekend, Sarah created this poster to decorate her personal library. Her drawing explains perfectly why we are stocking up on books to take with us to the Solomon Islands.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A look at the week ahead...

What a peaceful sabbath afternoon we enjoyed today! Katherine and Olivia took great naps (wish I could have joined them), Sarah and Benjamin read books, and Aaron worked, and I planned for the week ahead. The day was warm - almost 60 degrees - and the buds are already swelling, but we have a little taste of winter coming later in the week with a cold front. Lots of fun days to enjoy as we look ahead...

On this date in 1957, the Frisbee was introduced. Although we didn't have time to play a rousing game of Frisbee outside,

we did get to enjoy using a clean Frisbee to eat dessert before leaving for AWANA.

Tomorrow is Benedict Arnold's birth anniversary (1741) which is a perfect tie in to the Colonial history we've been studying.

Tuesday, January 15, we get to celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Of course, we'll eat some strawberry ice cream, and we're going to try some strawbery origami as well. That evening, we're looking forward to some company to celebrate a special friend's birthday.

January 16 is "Appreciate a Dragon Day". I think we'll celebrate by rereading "My Father's Dragon" and the sequels. These have been some of our favorite read-alouds in the past.

Thursday is Benjamin Franklin's birth anniversary (1706), and we have lots of books about all of his adventures as we study history.

The author Arthur Ransome's birthday is January 18, and I've been looking for an excuse to read some of his books. So, I've checked out "Swallows and Amazons" and "Swallowdale". Sarah has been trying to figure out a way to read them before Friday! But she is also planning her first sleepover for this weekend, complete with oatmeal masks and a tea party. I can't wait to show you pictures.

Saturday is National Popcorn Day, and we've got lots of fun books from the library to read while we eat our popcorn.

Hope you can enjoy some of the fun along with us!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Katherine Picture

Due to the public outcry, here is a current picture of Katherine. She smiles like crazy, but those pictures never turn out well! I'll keep trying.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Several of you have asked about how we homeschool, so here's a taste of what we are doing today. We use Sonlight curriculum and augment with a few things of our own. Our school day started with recess! This lets the kids get those last wiggles out while I start laundry, load dishes, etc. Then the kids rotated on science (this week we're reading a biography of Rachel Carson called "Listening to Crickets"), handwriting, and piano practice with mom. "Homeschool Family Fitness" gives us lots of great lessons for PE on the days we aren't training for the OKC Kids' Marathon. Then we took a snack break (and I usually switch loads of laundry) before tackling another rotation of reading (Olivia - "Hop on Pop", Benjamin - "Viking Adventure", Sarah - a biography of George Washington), math, creative writing, spelling, & history (today we started reading "If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution"). We finished our morning with our music studies (other days we focus on our artist - Benjamin West). This week, we've been learning about the composer Rossini with some great broadcasts and lesson plans from "Classics for Kids". After lunch, we will tackle our TOPS unit of growing beans and corn. Then we will head to church for an after-school ice cream fellowship. Hope this gives you a glimpse of our school day for the month of January. Things will change a little when I go back to school in February!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Marathon Update

Our training for the OKC Marathon in April is in full swing. So far the kids have completed two miles toward the twenty five miles they must complete before the marathon ends. We're encouraging Aaron to sign up for the half marathon that our friends are running on the same day. If you are interested, he found a training schedule and would love some vicarious running buddies.

New Toy

Even though we're studying American History right now, we found a new toy at Barnes & Noble's big moving sale, and I wanted to share.

"Marguerite Makes a Book" is one of our favorite books. The illustrations are beautiful and the book gives a peek into the life of a fictitious bookmaker in Paris in the early 1400's.
While at Barnes & Noble enjoying our Christmas gift cards, we found this illuminated lettering kit on sale and fell in love with it. We can hardly wait to try it out! So while we're studying America in the late 1700's we'll jump in our time machine and enjoy playing with lettering in the 1400's.

Monday, January 7, 2008

First balloon flight across the English Channel, 1785

This was the fun fact for today posted on our fridge, and giggles resounded through the house when I read this out loud:

"Dr. John Jeffries, a Boston physician, and Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a French aeronaut, crossed the English Channel from Dover, England, to Calais, France, landing in a forest after being forced to throw overboard all ballast, equipment and most of their clothing to avoid a force landing in the icy waters of the English Channel. Blanchard's trousers are said to have been the last article thrown overboard." from The Teacher's Calendar

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Beginnings

For several weeks now, Aaron has been talking about shaving his head.

Today, with a host of cheerleaders, he charged ahead and shaved it all off!

The kids love it and want to show all of their friends.

I still think my honey is handsome, and I'm so thankful he's mine!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thinking ahead

The kids started back to school today, and I'm in full-fledged planning mode. We're looking forward to getting into a routine again. Here's a look at the week ahead:

We have company coming for supper tonight and company coming for lunch tomorrow. Since Epiphany falls on a Sunday (the busiest day of the week for our family), we will be celebrating tomorrow by making our Three Kings Cake and watching "Amahl and the Night Visitors" starring Daddy (at age 12) as Amahl.

Thursday, January 10, is the anniversary of the plastic ducky fleet sailing the Pacific Ocean. So we'll read Eric Carle's book "10 Little Rubber Ducks" and check out ducky alerts.

Our books for January will all be snow-themed (see side bar) and we'll create "Snowball Treats" while we try to imagine what it would be like to live in St. Paul with Aunt Melissa who actually gets snow.

We might even try a taffy pull if we get brave!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Creative children

I hadn't planned to post again today, but I just walked into the school room to find Olivia playing with her babies (instead of cleaning up). All of her babies were sick today, so they all needed "band-aids". I think she knew that she couldn't get away with using real band-aids on her stuffed animals, instead she raided the school supplies and utilized the hole reinforcers. This was one of those times when I really wanted to laugh - babies lined up and down the school room all with at least four little round white circles on each beloved animal or doll. However, I kept a straight face and asked Olivia to clean up her mess, then I ran and got the camera. I love the creativity of children!


The sunrise this morning was beautiful. I wish I had taken a picture. Sort of a gentle lavender that melted into salmon and gradually faded into a buttery yellow (don't laugh, the sky really did look that way!). Got me thinking about new starts, the coming year, and all of the goals we'd like to accomplish as a family.
This year will be really hard in some ways: lots of change and unknowns as we move overseas. We want our goals to reflect how we love the Lord with all of our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength. Since we're all in school, using our minds challenges us daily! We strive to open our home and our hearts to old friends and new friends on a regular basis as well. Now that Katherine is a little older, we're beginning to fall into more of a routine around here, and our souls are hungry for more time each morning with the Lord. The most unatural way for this family to love God is with our strength! It is not easy to get up and move (although we love being outside enjoying creation), eating rich foods is much more fun than eating carrot sticks all of the time.
So, as a family, we are tackling this area of weakness together. We are signing the kids up for the Oklahoma City Marathon! Twenty five of those miles must be logged before the end of April when we meet with friends and run the last 1.2 miles as a group. We are so excited! Anyone want to join us?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Earth at Perihelion

At approximately 6 p.m. CST planet Earth will reach Perihelion, that point in its orbit when it is closest to the sun (about 91,400,000 miles).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

A Serenade for New Year's Eve
author unknown
The old year departed, how swiftly it flew,
"Tis gone, and with rapture we welcome the new;--
We trust a bright morning will dawn on your eyes,--
And sun beams unclouded illumine the skies.
Then wake from your slumbers, our serenade hear,--
We wish you a happy,--a happy New Year!