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Logic of English Review

I have been on a social media fast for a long while now.  It is far too easy in this day and age of technology to become too engrossed in those technologies.  Sure, they make some things in life simpler or more expedient, but becoming too dependent on them can overtake a person’s real life.  So, feeling the need to focus on educating my children without social media interruption for a time, I have taken a step-back for several months.

After taking several months longer that expected to finish up the reading and grammar curricula we had been working on from last year, we finally began using Logic of English Essentials in December.  Now about a third of the way through the program, it is time for a progress report.

Our younger son is moving a little more quickly in his progress than his older brother.  Fifteen lessons into it, he has made the leap to reading chapter books for the enjoyment of it.  Older brother is also making progress, but it is slower going for him.  He has gone from struggling to read early 2nd grade readers to reading much more challenging Stage 4 picture book readers independently.  As a writing exercise, they both wrote a book report on the book they read to understand the concepts of: title, author, copyright date, setting, characters, plot etc. They will be presenting their book reports orally to the family soon for practice in public speaking. In the near future both boys have to do an oral presentation for 4-H, so our book reports are good help in learning to research and write  more effectively.  Soon they will be doing a non-fiction book report as well and then we will compare the differences between fiction and non-fiction literature. 

Meanwhile, we continue working on Logic of English every school day.  Mama has had to learn a little patience in this process to not rush the boys through the program.  Since I never struggled in reading like my sons have I have to remind myself daily that taking this at their slow and steady pace is what will finally win this reading race… for me as a kid, it was just a sprint… for my sons it’s a marathon. 

We are all different and have to respect each other in that.  It is hard for mothers who love to read for the sheer joy of it to watch their child struggle to learn the skills needed to learn to enjoy reading themselves.  As a mother, the wait for them to be ready to get into some of those “great books” awaiting us on the bookshelves at home and at the library can seem like watching a Never-ending Story marathon all day every day for years…Meanwhile the children are completely clueless as to the beauty and richness of these literary works you just can’t wait to share with them.  We aren’t quite there yet, but they are starting to catch up. I can finally see them coming up the reading hill behind me in my rearview mirror.  I struggle in the limbo land between excitement for them and keeping patience while they complete this race.

My Little Pioneer-girl  is just entering her “schooling” years at 3 1/2 year old.  Almost daily she asks to “do school” with her brothers.  We are starting some early phonics with her and some early math.  We have gotten her some early learning workbooks that use Ray’s Primary Arithmetic and McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer. With that we are mixing in lessons from Alpha-Phonics, use of objects like pennies and buttons as counting manipulatives, counting things while helping mom cook, about cleaning and putting things away and how plants grow.  This summer we will have a short overview with all three kids on what happens during birth, as Henry’s dog, Karen, will be having her first litter of puppies in May.

This summer or  fall, we will be starting Logic of English Fundamentals A with Pioneergirl for preschool.


Last week, my niece and nephew, came up from Missouri for a three week summer vacation with my parents.  It’s been quite a treat for the cousins to get to know each other better.

The two 9 year-old boys, Henry and Kaden, are getting along famously and have so much in common.  Anna is the same age as her 12 year-old cousin Hannah’s baby sister,Tori, and so Anna is excited to have a “big sister” to play with.

Today, we have the pleasure of having Karen stay with us overnight, while Hannah, Grandma and Grandpa drive down to pickup my other nephew, Cameron, who is 13.

So far, we’ve been swimming twice together, once at the lake and once to the pool.  Next week there is a free swim day at the water park and we will all go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead tour and pageant for my boys’ birthday parties.  We are hoping to get time to go to Wylie Park in Aberdeen and to several museums while they are here.  We also managed to fit in some garage sale shopping, where the girls found some cute new outfits.

A Flavorful Take On Christmas Cookies

Gluten Free Eggnog Sugar Cookies


Heris a gluten fre version of one of our favorite Christmas cookies (original version from a favorite cookbook “Christmas Treats & Sweets”).


1 c. Butteflavor shortening

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 c. Sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp. Rum extract

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

2 large eggs


2 tsp baking powder

3 to3 12 c. Gf all purpose flour (with xanthan gum or guar gum in theblend)


Using aa mixer, cream together shotening, salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flavor extracts and nutmeg and mix in, add eggs 1 at a time mixing between additions. Add baking powder and then add flour slowly 1 cup at a time mixing  between additions. Dough will be very thick, but not crumbly. Chill or allow to rest for 1 hour..  Prepare an area to roll out cookies with psrchment, foil or wax paper sprinkled well with gf flour and well spinkled rolling pin also. (Alternately, if you want round cookies, you can hand-roll walnut sized balls of dough in colored sugars, plsce on baking sheets and gently flatten with the bottom of a glass..)  Roll out about 3/8 inch thick and then cut out cookies with your fsvorite cuters.  Bake at 350 F for 12 to15 minutes or so, or until the edges are just browning and cookies aresoftly2 cS set.  Bake a bit longer if you like crispy cookies.   Cool on pans 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  When completely cool, decorate as desired with ffosting and  sprinkles. 


Guest Post: Writing Your Own Spelling Curriculum

A very good friend of mine, Aimee, a fellow homeschooling mom just posted this on her blog, Scribing Life.  In her post I am  the “first homeschooling mom” friend she talks about who gave her some ideas to getstarted with spelling.  I am re-posting Aimee’s article with her permission.  (*After Aimee helped me get started with I started writing my own spelling lists into this antique/modern fusion format and after a short 4 hours work I had the words from the 1st 14 lessons in the McGuffey’s Spelling Book  divided into ( lists I felt were from grade K to 3… 79 of them)  grade appropriate spelling lists by phonetic spelling rules.)  We began our spelling this week with our 1st lesson in this method which is probably a late 1st/early 2nd grade list.  My older children are a little beyond the: cat, hat, sat- type spelling words now, but I made the lists anyway… so they will be ready to go whenever baby sister is ready for those basics in a couple years (or can I hope earlier that that?)


  • SpellingI have been toying with starting spelling as a separate subject for a while.  I like our phonics for decoding, but I feel encoding needs to be taught also; or at the very least practiced.  I really haven’t found a program I like.  I want/ed to teach spelling by spelling rule / phonics rule.  Some programs I have seen group words ‘by other criteria’ such as vocabulary from a story or all words that end in “th”.  That might be better, I don’t actually know, I am not setting out to make any professional recommendations or comment on the different ways to teach spelling.  Actually, I like the look of Sequential Spelling and reserve the right to switch to that.  Nevertheless I wanted to start with spelling by spelling rule / phonics rule.  I was not happy with what I had found and had pretty much decided to make my own lists (10 to 12 words a week) and I was going to pull word lists from the Explore The Code books that we have finished (book 1 to 3.5).  The books work though the phonics rules one at a time, focusing on one per lesson, I thought I could pull words out for our spelling list that ETC had used (for example a list of words where “oa” makes the long o sound).  Then, ah then, I realized that since we are living in temporary housing (and have moved so many times since Oct of 2012) I have packed up to store all our competed books and do not have access to them, to use them for this great idea.I was talking to a fellow home school mom one night and she suggested I look at the McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book.First publish in 1836.  I discovered that it was available for free on my Kindel Fire so I “bought it”.  “This 1879 revised edition conforms to Webster’s International Dictionary, and associates each lesson with some principle of sound, meaning, or accent”.  Have a bit of history with your spelling, there lad?Another home school mom – you have to love the home school community; many hands make light work and there is never any reason to recreate the wheel – had, in the past, turned me on to where you can create worksheets and activities based on your own spelling lists.  (There is a free version, and a pay version, but the free version allow you to do some stuff).  I had never used it, since we had never done formal spelling, but here, here was an opportunity.  Now I had spelling lists, and a way to create worksheets and activities.I took the two ideas – one the start of public education in America, and one from the “modern technology age” and crafted us a spelling curriculum.  I created spelling lists for us; following roughly the order of the McGruffy Speller, and using most (though not all) of the words in the Speller’s lists.  I also found where you can download graded levels spelling lists; again I cherry picked the lists, or part of lists that met our needs.

    I happily stole the first home schools mom’s idea and did the first spelling list on “math” words (see below) because these words are practical and functional.  I know, that cries out against my “not wanting to group words by subject rather than spelling rule” logic.  However I felt that ‘math words’ were necessary for word problems and so on as we move forward with math, so I made an exception.  I made five lists of math related words that I felt Big Brother should be exposed to assist in him more independently doing his math work.  However, I did not do them one a week for five weeks; I felt that was a bit much, so I mixed them in with the other “more traditional spelling rules” lists.  I plan to make more “exception lists” as we go on and they become an obvious need.  As he learns to read better, I want to be sure Big Brother has the tools he needs to be able to work more and more independently.

    After creating the math related lists, I started over at short vowels sounds and went, week by week, vowel by vowel; after that a couple of weeks of “mixed” lists where all the vowels were still short, but all five main vowels were represented on the list together.  Then we moved on to “silent e” words and did a few weeks on that concept.  After that, lists based off different spelling rules (such as ‘oa’ = long o like in boat).  By the end of the first night, sitting with my McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book and brainstorming “math related words” with my fellow home schooling mom, I had 21 lists; not all of them had 10 words yet, but I had a plan; and over 5 months of spelling lists.  I love a good plan.

    In case you are interested here are the spelling lists I have so far, note that do not all have ten words yet, I will be filling them in before I use them.  Next week will be week three for us, and we will be doing short U; week four we will do another ‘math list’.

































































































Drawing On the Wisdom of Past Pioneers

Today is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and in rememberance of those pioneers in my family who have passed on from this world to the next, I am “putting up”  produce for my family’s later use… using the old fashioned art-form of canning and preserving.

As I write this, I am in the process of canning the 2nd of 2 batches of apricot jam (15 1/2 pint (1 cup) jars total). A 3rd wil be made (sort of), but I ran short of apricots and lemon juice for it, so I am making that batch into Apricot-Carrot Marmalade substituting shredded carrots for the missing apricots and orange juice concentrate for the lemon juice (approx. yield 8- 1/2 pints of marmalade.)  The remainder of  can of frozen O.J. concentrate will probably get made into a sweet pepper relish made with a mixture of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers.  I wish I could say that I had grown all of the apricots, carrots and peppers in our family garden and orchard, but this time I can’t.  Our carrot crop was just planted 2 weeks ago, our pepper transplants aren’t in the ground yet and we don’t have any apricot trees that are bearing…yet.

If you’ve never tried canning your own fruits and veggies before. I highly recommend starting your canning adventures with jams and/or jellies.  Jams and Jellies, along with salsa are among the easiest canning recipes to start with.  A search at your local book store or an online book-seller like Barnes & Noble or Amazon will yield a number of useful books on canning in small batches to get you started.

As a young girl, I grew up in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley, with it’s many orchards, nut groves, berry and vegetable farms.  I remember many summers spent at the sides of my mother, grandmothers and aunts, as my cousins and I helped with the taskes of preparing fruits and vegetables for canning, freezing or drying.  At 4 or 5 years old, we were able to shuck corn, snap beans and stem the apples and cherries.  As we got older, we were able peel and chop some of the fruits or vegetables and later to help with the canning itself.

Appropriately for today’s post, the very first recipe I remember actually helping with the canning… learning to wash and boil the jars, mixing the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and pectin, then using the funnel to help fill the jars etc… was Apricot Jam.  I was about 9 years old and my mother had gotten a huge box of apricots from a local orchard… we had decided to make lots of apricot jam with it because it was my step-dad’s favorite jam!  Even after that huge batch of jam, we still had some apricots left and my mother pureed them and spread the puree on plastic wrap lined trays she placed in the food dehydrator to make healthier fruit leather than the high fructose corn-syrup laden kind ou buy in the store… as snacks for us kids.  I believe she also had a large box of plums at the same time and those were also turned into fruit leather and prunes.

Anyway, because my step-dad loves apricot jam so much, he’ll be recieving a portion of today’s yield for Father’s Day in a couple weeks once the jam has set.

Canning and preserving the harvest (whether you grew that produce yourself, bought it at a local orchard/farmer’s market or even purchased produce on sale in the grocerey store during “the season” for that particular kind of produce) is an art and a science handed down in time… generation to generation.  Mother to daughter to granddaughter… grandparent to grandchild… elderly neighbor to new homemaker.  If you’ve not learned this artform from one of your elders, take the time to try it this year and pass your new found knowledge down to your loved ones.  It is well worth the effort to acquire this knowledge and rest easy knowing you can provide your family with high quality, tasty and unique food creations to carry you through the winter months and through the years to come.

Interview: Data Collection With Jenni White of Oklahoma R.O.P.E.

Please watch this video. If you don’t know about President Obama’s Common Core Initiative yet, this will take the blinders off your eyes and open your mind. Parents and grandparents, do whatever you can to protect your kids and grandkids.


There may be someone in America who has studied the education data collection scheme more than Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education. But I haven’t found that person. Here’s a video interview that Alisa, Renee and I filmed with Jenni this week.


What is the State Longitudinal Database System?
Why does every state track every citizen with the SLDS?
What is the P20 system?
Why did the federal government pay every state many millions to build the system?
Why did they require states to build interoperable systems if they were not to share data outside the state?
How do schools, prisons, hospitals and military agencies now share data?
Is this really just career path assistance or is it citizen surveillance?

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We Are So Excited! Part 1

My middle and youngest brothers

My middle and youngest brothers

There are so many things for our family to be excited about this spring and summer, that it is hard to keep them in order and write about them all.

I guess one of the most exciting events will be  this coming summer. My younger brother, Eric, is getting married to the sweetest gal I’ve ever met, his fiancee, Rachel. (Eric is picture on the right wearing the glasses and standing next to my baby brother, Roy.)  As if a wedding and the resulting family reunion that creates wasn’t exciting enough,  Eric and Rachel will tie the knot on Pioneer Pa and I’s  11th Wedding Anniversary.  It is sure to be a great time for all, including our kids, who will be getting to see their cousins for the first time in 7 years and getting to see their great-grandmothers, whom the older two barely remember and the youngest has never met.

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma... I learned from the best!

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma… I learned from the best!

Traveling to Missouri this summer for Eric and Rachel’s wedding will be our family vacation this year.  It will also be our 1st major homeschooling field trip.  We plan to visit, Independence Square & Courthouse (the gateway of the Oregon, Santa Fe and Mormon Trails), visit the Harry S. Truman Home, Library, the soda fountain where Harry Truman had his 1st job, Bess Truman’s Tea Room, Ft. Osage and the Lexington Civil War Battlefield.  If there is time, we might visit Jamesport, MO (home of the outlaw, Jesse James), a Natural History/Science Museum or a Zoo.

In other news, I’m so pleased and relieved to once again have my income taxes filed for another year.  If you’ve never had to file your farming income along with the regular income taxes for a job in town, this is quite the chores and every year I am thrilled and excited once it is crossed off my to-do list.

Other things I’m happy to have crossed off the to-do list this week: Finding Eggplant purple dress shirts for both Farmer Boys to wear at their uncle’s wedding and finding the perfect yellow & white Easter dress/dress for uncle’s wedding for our Littlest Pioneer Girl (oh and finding a matching pair of  dress shoes to go with it for $1 at the thrift store! Cha-ching!)

Other things of course have been added to the to-do list since though.  My mom and I were assigned to plan the rehearsal dinner/BBQ.  And I was specifically assigned the task of designing, baking and decorating the grooms cake because I am apparently the family guru of special foods needs AND the best cake decorator in the family.

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