Messy Monday 4.30.12~ Car Trash

Happy Messy Monday, everyone.

My entry for today may not seem like much, but it represents a pattern of behavior in my kids which I am desperately trying to change.

My dear children have a bad case of "stash-the-trash-itis."  They LOVE to brag about the cleanliness of their rooms, all the while, they know good and well that under the bed lies mountains of clothing, garbage, paper, books, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I busted them on this big time.

The Gallery ~ Presentation Night ~ April 2012

A sample of work presented by the kids on presentation night, 4/26/2012:

We have been studying Vermeer in April.  He often did portraits of people in the midst of their work; ie, The Geographer, The Milkmaid, The Astronomer.    They were usually pictured near a window with light streaming in with a furnished room in background.   Here is my DD's painting in keeping with that idea titled, "The Blogger".

Our monthly musician studies culminate in a project called, "My Symphony", for the younger two boys (3rd/5th).  They must put together a collage that best represents that composers' music to them and be able to explain it at presentation night.  

This is my 3rd grader's collage for Stravinsky.  The letters "r.o.s" stand for Rite of Spring.  The dinosaurs are there because the song was used by Disney in the dinosaur scene in the movie, Fantasia.  So, there you go.

My 5th grader's final project on Vermeer.  He decided to focus on the still-life aspects of Vermeer's paintings.  In every portrait scene (such as those mentioned above), Vermeer included incredible realistic still-life components.  

Finally, to end our monthly Poet study, my 3rd grader wrote this poem as a nod to John Milton's subject matter. No editing by Mom~

"Paradise Found"

Paradise found when I accepted Jesus
and also when He returns.
Paradise would never have to be found if Eve had not listened
to that serpent.
The darkness of the world would not be
if that had not happened.
There wouldn't be any burglers
or sickose
or any in the world.
I just wish right now he would come back
just right now

The End.

Weekend R&R (Review & Resources) ~ 31

The weeks are flying by.  Just 4 more weeks of school before summer break.  Wow.

Week 31 Review:

  • Began final history unit with 3rd & 5th grader, Adventure on the High Seas, a study of explorers & pirates.  First on deck, Marco Polo & Vasco da Gama.  What interesting lives these men led.  I had no idea, until reading about da Gama, of the role Portugal played in establishing a European presence in the East.  Also, I did not really understand until this week, how much the spice trade propelled European exploration in the 13th & 14th centuries. I already appreciate my spice cabinet more!

  • Presentation Night was this past Thursday evening.  Subjects included Stravinsky, John Milton, Martin Luther, and Vermeer.  Works are displayed in The Gallery.

  • Learning some hard lessons about faithful stewardship and respect for belongings~many items have been confiscated this week, possibly never to be returned.

  • The week is book-ended by two family birthdays; oldest boy is 14, youngest boy is turning 9.  It's my baby's last year in the single digits and I'm feeling a little sad.

  • First week back on the TV-Free Weekday Diet.  So far, so good.  I've gotten a bunch of quilting done on my Brown Project (in the works for about 4 years now).  The chess board has been dusted off and returned to the top of the coffee table where it has seen renewed interest and more than a handful of games.  We only had to stop a game once for too much trash talk between opponents.
Week 31 Resources:

Be Careful Little Eyes...

I've been wanting to make one of these for several years.  Some sort of plaque/wall hanging/reminder to place above or near the screens in our house (TV/Computer).

Never being sure what form I wanted this art to take, I put off the project again and again.  Finally, inspired by the recent popularity of subway art I created this...

It now hangs on the wall in a lovely black frame above my homemade dry-erase board (just a regular frame with scrapbook paper under glass) which we use to keep track of daily "Tech rotation".  My boys are allowed 30min. of Wii and 30min. of computer games each day, unless they have lost one or both privileges due to behavior problems.

To watch, or not to watch?  The BIG BLACK BOX:

Adventure on the High Seas, Part 2 ~ Explorer Notebook Pages

" explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, the boldly go where no man has gone before."

Today we begin our voyage on the high seas with famous explorers.  Starting with Marco Polo, we will travel the globe with the likes of da Gama, Magellan, and Cook.

We will record our findings in a Captain's Log made up of notebooking pages for each explorer.

The Cover Page includes a place for dates of entries and the compiler's name.  You may want to decorate the edges, or leave it as is.

Messy Mondays~Bathroom Scum

Here's my first installment in the Messy Mondays posts.

Today I'm letting you into a part of my house I NEVER want guests to see--my shower.  Usually, there is no reason for guests to be poking around in my bathroom since it's in the master.  Therefore, it is probably THE most neglected area of my home.  I really don't like cleaning my shower.  I cannot express to you how much I dislike cleaning my shower.  So I'll just show you the sad truth...


This is pretty much how the whole shower looks.  I know....

What in the world?

This unsightly mess has been slowly growing on the door frame next to the shower.  One time I tried to scrub it, I made it worse by taking off a good portion of paint.  Not really sure what to do with this.  I think it might be water damage of some sort.  I hate seeing it EVERY time I use my bathroom, but I just haven't put it high on the priority list yet.  

So, there you have it.  While I am, in general, a tidy and clean person, my house if far from perfect.  Just trying to keep it real, y'all.

Maybe I'll go spray some Tilex on that mildew and call it good.


Beautiful Mess ~ Being Real About the Messiness of Life

Note to self:  be real

Transparency is necessary for anyone to see Jesus in me.  I have to let people into the everyday messiness of my life, lest they think that I have it all together, unlike themselves, and have no need for a Savior.  

Humans need acceptance.  We want people to like us.  So we put our best foot forward, often creating a facade of peace and joy over the reality of chaos and sorrow.

A clean & orderly house, joyful & obedient children, contented & loving husband~ this is what we hold up as the gold standard of success.  Since our culture equates success with worth, we feel that in order to have value as a person, we must attain these things, or at least make it look like we have succeeded.  

We crave approval and honor like a giant chocolate lava cake.  Most mothers don't receive monetary reward for our work, therefore we are looking for a way to validate our vocation.  We highlight our victories and accomplishments, yet we are not so quick to share our struggles and defeats.

With these omissions we do a great disservice to our sisters in Christ as well as the women in a watching world.  We are promoting the destructive practice of comparing outsides with insides.

Home-Made Granola ~ Chocolate

The second installment in the "Home-Made Granola" series.  See first post on Peanut Butter Granola Here.

I enrolled my youngest (9yrs. next week) to help out.  Yes, it's a bit more work, but he gets a kick out of stirring and combining ingredients.

Ready for assembly and a little measuring

To make my life a little easier and the Weight Watchers points more accurate, I measured out most of the ingredients before he came to the kitchen.  This method is not a "let-kids-be-messy-in-the-kitchen" purist approach, but it's a compromise that works for me.

And, of course, I insist that all cooks help with clean up. He dutifully obliged (sort of).

Chocolate Granola
Makes 30 servings
1 serving = 1/4 cup (1 oz)
WW Points+ Value:  4

3 cups old-fashion rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup plain puffed rice cereal OR plain Cheerios
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup coconut flakes, sweetened or not
1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
3 TBS cocoa powder
3 oz. baking chocolate or chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet, milk, or combo)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS coffee (or dissolve 1 tsp instant coffee in 2 TBS hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 and line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with parchment paper or foil.  No spray needed.

In a small saucepan, combine baking chocolate (rough chopped)/choc. chips, honey, oil, & coffee.  Heat on med-low, stirring occasionally,  until chocolate melts and all is well combined.  Remove from heat and add in vanilla, stirring well.

In a large bowl combine oats through cocoa powder, stirring well.  Set aside.
Pour wet ingredients over oat mixture.  Stir well.  Don't give up!  It will all eventually get coated-I promise!  Once all of the dry ingredients are wet, pour the mixture out onto your cookie sheet.  Level it out into a smooth, even layer.

Place cookie sheet on center rack in preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, then pull out cookie sheet and stir granola slightly to distribute around for even cooking.  (What you are trying to accomplish here is for all of the granola to bake, ie "dry out", at the same rate.  By stirring every so often, you prevent uneven cooking.)

After the first stir, put granola back into the oven for another 15 minutes.  Remove to stir again.  Repeat this cycle 2 more times for a total of 60 minutes cooking time.  *You do need to watch that last cycle because, depending on your oven, it may not need to go that long.  If it's starting to look mostly dry, take it out.

Once the granola is done cooking, take it out of the oven and let it cool ON THE COOKIE SHEET.  Don't worry if it is still a little soggy after an hour of cooking.  It will crisp up as it cools.

This recipe makes about 2 Qt.  Store in an airtight container (mason jar, ziploc bag, tupperware, etc.) in your pantry for up to 1 month...but it won't last that long!



Adventure on the High Seas ~ Explorers & Pirates

Our year in the Middle Ages is coming to a close (only  5 weeks left!).  To culminate our study, we will take to the seas and learn about explorers and pirates.

We will briefly cover some of the big names from the Age of Discovery:
  • Marco Polo
  • da Gama
  • Vespucci
  • Balboa
  • Magellan
  • Ponce de Leon
  • Cook
  • (Columbus will have to wait until we study Early American History)

Our Spine Books for this portion of our study :

Product Details
Explorers of the New World: Discover the Golden Age of Exploration with 22 Projects (Build It Yourself series)

Explorer Notebooking Activities:
  • mapping 
  • timeline
  • sketching explorer clothing & ships' banners
  • sea-faring poetry copy work (resources here & here)
  • a biography page each explorer

We will also be studying the history of pirates, both fact and fiction, and how their presence on the seas affected the explorers and other travelers.

Our approach to Pirate Study will be based on location.  We will look at pirate activity in the following:

  • The Spanish Main (Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea)
  • The Mediterranean
  • The Indian Ocean
  • The Eastern Seas (Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, East & South China Seas)
  • Vikings 
  • Modern Pirates

Options for Pirate Study Spine Book:

Look for books that cover the who, what, when, were and how of  pirates in different regions of the world.  Book(s) should cover topics such as infamous pirates, ship & weapons designs, and strategy & tactics. It will also be helpful to study nautical terms.

We will study each pirate region for 1 week, but you could stretch this out over several weeks or a month.

Notebooking activities will include:

  • mapping 
  • sketching weapons & ships
  • sea-faring poetry copy work (resources here & here)
  • a biography page on a famous pirate for each section

And because I am a BIG fan of good historical fiction, we will also read this book during our study:


Lawson's books tend to be rather wordy, so I recommend them as read-alouds.  They are very funny and give an uncommon, albeit fanciful, perspective on familiar events.

All hands on deck & set sail!


Part 2 ~ Explorers
Part 3 ~ Pirates

Comfort Food ~ Chicken & Dumplings

There are certain meals that cannot be classified any other way than "comfort food".  When we eat them, they not only fill us with nutrients, but also with memories, warmth, satisfaction, in a word~ comfort.

My list of comfort foods would certainly include at least the following:  Chicken Noodle Soup; Slow Roast Beef with rice, gravy, & corn; Chicken Pot Pie; home-made Sloppy Joe on a nice soft white bun; Chicken & Sausage Gumbo (my Cajun coming out); Fried Shrimp ANYTHING-but mainly on a Club Style Sandwich, again with yummy white bread.  All of these foods are wonderful.  Just looking at that list makes me smile.  But at the top of my comfort food list you will find Chicken & Dumplings.  Simple.  Rustic.  Rich.  Divine.

Nature Study ~ Bulb Flowers

She slept beneath a tree
Remembered but by me.
I touched her cradle mute;
She recognized the foot,
Put on her carmine suit, --
And see!

                  ~Emily Dickinson

To see how we do nature study, hop over here.

Below you will find our resources for this month.  Enjoy!

  • Our Copy Work Booklet ~ print out, affix together, place on the nature table for verses, poetry lines to add to daily journal entries.


Product Details

Bulbs for Indoors: Year-Round Windowsill Splendor (Brooklyn Botanic Garden Series, Handbook No. 148)

The Busy Box

When I was a kid, I spent several weeks each summer, 400 miles from home, with my grandparents.  My little nuclear family was the only one to break away and move out of our home state.  All the rest-aunts, uncles, and cousins-remained close to Grandma and Grandpa.  My summers were filled with cousin-playmates and doting adults.  For me, an only child, it was bliss.

Most days, we busied ourselves with outdoor play~ bikes, swings, & hopscotch (this was before the days of sidewalk chalk and we had to find that one kind of white rock that would mark up the driveway).  If we were lucky, we were given permission to go to the local pool across town.  But some days the weather was uncooperative and we were confined to the house.

Occasionally, on these days, my grandmother would pull down The Box, set it on the dining room table and give us free reign to create to our hearts' content.  The Box was nothing fancy, just a simple cardboard cube; but oh, the treasures it contained!

Artist Study ~ Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer (1632 ~ 1675), Dutch artist, Dutch Golden Age

The Procuress (detail), c. 1656 possible self-portrait


  • Artist Profile Pages ~ a tool I created to help organize our Charlotte Mason-style artist studies


  • Living Books

Product DetailsVermeer Interviews   |    Bob Raczka

Vermeer's Secret World (Adventures in Art (Prestel))Vermeer's Secret World | Vincent Etienne

  • Images to print ~ I will hang these on our school room (dining room) wall for picture study.

Christ in the House of  Mary and Martha, c.1654-1655, oil on canvas

The Procuress, 1656, oil on canvas

The Milkmaid, 1658-1661, oil on canvas

The Astronomer, 1668, oil on canvas

The Geographer, 1668-1669, oil on canvas

Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665-1667, oil on canvas

For more general information on how we do artist studies visit   HERE.

Visit the School Room for other fine arts studies and more CM ideas.

Also, visit the Gallery for examples of our picture studies and original works inspired by the masters.