Hello from The 4 Brothers Ranch! Our family has a lot going on and a couple blogs in order to keep things organized. You can find all our homeschooling stuff here! Annissa's regular everyday blog is called A PAGE IN MY BOOK and also there is a blog to update the kids medical issues at MY UNIQUE FLOWERS. Please check those out too!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quick Note

I just wanted to drop a quick note in here.  We've been really busy with life - 3 of us in the family have had surgery (me, Cal & Nathan) and between recovering and trying to get into the swing of things .. life has run away with us.  But we are starting to get back into the swing of things so posts should be showing up again soon :)  YAY!

Looking forward to sharing more of our Homeschooling Adventures here!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Great Websites: Whiteboard, Acrobabble, and more...

So there are a couple of websites I thought were to great not to share!!

The first one I want to share is Scholastic's Whiteboard Lessons  found at  www.scholastic.com/interactivewhiteboards

You have to download a little program to be able to use the free lessons, but it didn't take me long at all.  So I just basically checked it out and was very impressed.   I clicked on one of the programs, Capacity Lesson (Grade 1) by Joey Savoy which is in the Science & Math section..  and here is an example of what you see and/or do...

This was the screen that I saw...  so I then moved the items...

And then moved the boxes that said "answer" to see if I was correct... 

They have a bunch of great lessons in there.  It's definitely worth checking out!!

Also, a friend of mine introduced me to a fun little free web-based game called Acrobabble.  You can use things like Yahoo, AIM, Facebook, Myspace, etc to sign in to play.  You can create a little "nickname" and then join in the fun!!  www.acrobabble.com

You choose a room ...  there are "unrated" rooms that can get awful dirty, so be sure if your child is playing that you have them in a clean room.  I would suggest this game for teens & adults.  There is some language that would probably be questionable for little kids (I've seen "sex" or inappropriate situations expressed in some answers, it's all about what you as a parent are comfortable with) ...

You can see your category in the upper left corner, and your timer bar counting down.  You simply write a phrase with the letters given. 

And then everyone in the room votes for the "best one" ... if you win the next category choice is yours.  You simply click the category you want from the list, and then you can choose if you want random letters, or a word, and then if you want to add or subtract 10 seconds, or just leave it as it is... and don't forget to hit the submit button or your category will default to "general"

And last but not least, there is a fun link that lets you in on the secrets of LOL and all those combos that we look at and go huh?  Got an older texting child and you just can't understand what all the cryptic acronyms and symbols people us...  check it out at www.netlingo.com

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Off Track....

We have been off track lately, between medical appointments with in the family and my surgery, life has been busy and we haven't been buckling down the way I had hoped.   Found out the baby had a loud heart murmur (probably normal)..  Noah's kidney's are starting to fail again.  And Nathan, well, he's a medical aww on his own.  LOL...  and me I had major hernia surgery. 

I hope that we will be getting back on track this week.  We hope to go out and collect leaves, and talk about why they change, the Fall season, Halloween and it's origins, we plan on going to a pumpkin patch and hope to take the kids to a haunted house/trail.   We're going to make some soup, and do some crafts.

Today my goal is to organize a bunch of links and add them on here .. which is always nice, because no matter where we are or what computer we're on, we have access to those links.  

Banned Books Week ~ Sept 26 - Oct 3

We're coming to the end of the Banned Books Week.  I have been meaning to get this up all week.  I found it quite interesting to look at all the books that people have issues with and why.  It amazes me.

Most of the books I read (was assigned to read) in school are on the list for one reason or another.  The top five books of all time that have been "banned" or are on the "challenged" list ...

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Seriously?  Here is the list if you want to read it for yourself.   Banned and Challenged Classics   There are huge surprises on there, at least to me .... like.... Charlotte's Web and Winnie-the-Pooh

So some of the more recent lists are of course equally if not more interesting...  100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999  ...  I found a lot of surprises on here.  Several Judy Blume books, I laughed at home many Stephan King books are on the list, and the one that made me shake my head the most was Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford and A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein .... Seriously?  There are ones that I'm not surprised by, of course, Harry Potter is on there.   Apparently anything having to do with magic, ghosts, or witches is bad bad bad.  If it has to do with gay/lesbian issues, like having 2 Mommies or 2 Daddies... that's bad bad bad.  And if it has to do with learning about puberty or sex, it's equally as bad.  However, I have some issues with that.   There are some titles on there like Sex, by Madonna and Private Parts, by Howard Stern, ... I mean seriously, if your children are getting ahold of these books, YOU have a problem as a parent.  I have seen that some of these issues revolve around them being on public library shelves.  Last I knew, libraries were a public place (er.. yeah... PUBLIC libraries) where people of differences can find books of different interests to learn or research and learn more about other peoples beliefs or lifestyles.   So in my opinion if you have issues with these books, then don't let your children see them in the public library, don't buy the books for your house, etc.   But it amazes me that even books that have to do with learning about puberty, changes in a young child's body, and understanding how babies are made (sex) are banned/challenged.  I can understand that some parents don't want their children to just have this sort of thing, but a lot of parents (like me) would rather have their children educated about the changes so they don't worry about things, rather then having them scared and confused.  We as parents have this choice and if others don't like it, then don't buy the books.  Again, don't let your children find or check them out at the library.  Stay by your children in the library.  It's not that difficult.  

Fact is, as children grow older, you can't control their actions at all times, our children have minds of their own, and all we can do is let them make their mistakes, and hope that we have taught them correctly so they will grow to be good humans.  

It really bothers me that people out there try to "ban" books based on their opinions.  We, as a country, are not robots.  We have freedoms, and rights.  Freedom of speech with both spoken word and written word.  Freedoms of religion.  Freedoms of sexuality.  A lot of these books that are challenged or banned have a great educational value to them in some way.  As homeschoolers, you know, you can learn something from ANYTHING.  Everything is a learning experience.  Even if it's about learning a lesson of what not to do.

I honestly look at some of these books and just think it's sad that people are so worried about something "turning" their child from their beliefs, or un-educated about thing that they fear it.

  2008-2009 Challenged and Banned Books w/ reasons (pdf link)  ... 

Recently, I had a relative spend some time in my home ... we love Harry Potter, we read Twilight, we love scary stories and educational ones...  magic is allowed in our house in whatever form - because reading, to us, is magic.  Allowing us into another's world.   This relative got so excited we had the Harry Potter books because her parents don't allow them (mind you she's over 18 but living at home) ... so she sat down to read.  Yet, it just struck me as funny because she is a huge Twilight fan and that IS allowed.  It just posed a question in my head, why is a Witch or Warlock not allowed in the house, but Vampires are?   I just have to laugh.  I love these relatives, and of course I believe parents have the rights to do that sort of thing if they so choose.  However she is an adult now and I think that is what bothered me the most.

I also have major issues with the label of "satanism/occult" for anything that has to do with magic.  Just because it's magic, doesn't make it satanism.  It blows my mind really.  Everyone has their religious beliefs and rights of choice... however, that's awful close minded in my opinion. 

Calahan and I had a long discussion yesterday about how books are banned and why.  Why he thought it was wrong, why he thought people felt the need to do it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You know at Target they have a section towards the front, by one of their doors (at least they do in our store) where there are a bunch of  DOLLAR DEALS ...   Well we went there this week to look for a baking scale for Dennis (for school & for home) ... and found these great deals!  All for $1 each!

SmartMats - wipe off mats that you can write on...  we got Space, United States, Presidents, Bugs, and the Alphabet  ... I think there were a couple others but I don't remember what

I love these things, they are an "overview" of subject - help remind you what to do what terms mean, what things are, etc...   I got one of every one I could find, Math, Algebra, Geometry, and the Periodic Table (which when you open it up, has a great periodic table) along with a bunch of other info on the outside. 

I found a cute Dinosaur Workbook for Noah when we do our Dinosaur studies soon, and a bunch of Grade Books :)  I picked up four... 

And Flash Cards... and let me tell you - these Flash Cards are AWESOME!!!   The Landmarks ones have great photos on the front and lots of info on the landmark on the back, the United States ones have a close up photo of that state on the map (but you can also see what it borders), and on the back has all the info (State, when it was made a State, State Motto, Flower, Bird, Animal, ect) ...   And the U.S. Presidents from the first to our current President.  They have great Portraits/Photos ............and lots of info including some little know facts on the back :)

One More Step to "Legal"

So I was putting off calling up the number I have to call to get the paper work to be "legal" in Homeschooling the boys, and I planned on calling beginning of August or so that I'd be able to have it all done before public school started, and ... well... next thing I knew, school was starting!!

Um.... oops!

Luckily I have until October 15th to have it all done.

However, I called the Friday before public school started - even though Cal's school had been informed at the end of the last school year, Noah's hadn't been so I knew I'd have to let them know.  Wasn't looking forward to that, I love his school, I love a lot of the teachers there, but I just started to feel that his needs weren't being met there in a lot of ways...  I've already gotten into that though. 

So ...  I called and did the recorded answers to get the paper work sent (screwed up might I add, but whatever, I got through it) ... and then school started.  We were out of the house the day it started and I got home, listened to my messages on my machine (something I just normally ignore unless I'm expecting something) and there were messages from BOTH schools stating both boys were out of school and wondering where they were.   Well I had tried to call Noah's school the day before school to let them know not to expect him and I didn't get an answer and they took their machine away a few years ago ... so I called them back and talked to the secretary - told her what was going on - she was good about it. 

Then I got on the phone calling Cal's school - who - remind you - were informed at the END of last school year.   So...I called and a young voice answered the phone, not the normal secretary - the one that had called me earlier.  I asked for the secretary ... "she's busy right now can you call back?" ... ah... yeah... sure....   So I wait a half hour (school has already been let out, it's 3pm) ... same voice...  I sorta explain the situation just incase it's a young sounding adult who works there now... and I get "she's like, in a meeting until 4" .. nice... real, nice....  So THEN ... I call back the following morning.  I tell her, I informed the school at the end of last year that we were doing this.  And I get "have you done the paper work?" ... I said "I'm in the process of doing it" ... insert attitude "WHERE in the PROCESS are you?"   None of your damn business ... so I told her, I am waiting to get it in the mail and will be sending it back in as soon as I get it.   She was still coppin an attitude with me, and I almost reminded her with my OWN attitude that I have until October 15th to get it in and to get over it. 


It frustrated me. 

So today I finally got the paper work... YAY!!!
And I've already filled it out, got it addressed, sealed and stamped, and it's going out in the mail tomorrow!  And the envelope under it is a free DVD I found an offer for that I'm sending off to get.  We'll see if I get it I guess :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cooking 101 - Pies & Cookies

Daddy, Calahan & Noah put on their aprons (note to self, by more "manly" aprons .. ha ha ha) ...  I thought penguins were great!  The one Dennis is wearing is the one Calahan made for me one Mother's Day :)

So the plan for the day....  making some Pig Ear Cookies (it's just a name people) and Chocolate Silk Pie  ...

We made them from scratch.  (Great thing about having Dad in Culinary School!) ...  First him and Cal started to make the filling for the pie... 

Noah is so silly...  he was waiting for his turn to do something, the graham crackers sitting there is for the home made graham cracker crust...

Here is Noah cutting cookies with Daddy
 Pie half done  (a smaller pie in a bowl was made for Noah)
Looks yummy doesn't it?  Dennis then gave Cal a bottle with chocolate syrup in it, told him he got to decorate his pie...  told him he could do lines, swirls, or write something....  so...
He wrote "DAD" ...  now this is a BIG thing ... Dennis is Calahan and Noah's step-dad for those who don't know and Calahan doesn't normally call Dennis "Dad" even though Noah calls Dennis both "Dennis" and "Daddy" ..  it has always been left up to them what they want to call Dennis BUT we make it a point that they always respect their Dad too...  so it was a proud moment.

Here he's piping the topping onto Noah's bowl Pie

Here is Noah with his chocolate decorating! LOL...  He is going
and keeps going until he RUNS OUT
 Proud Moments
The cookies are done too!!
The best part of baking ...... eating the evidence!!
Even Kaedyn got into the fun (Nathan was sleeping)

Noah's Reading

I've run into a little bit of a challenge with Noah lately...we've been working hard at phonics and reading, and I'm happy to say that he's AWESOME and he can SOUND OUT A WORD like a champ...  however, when he goes to put those sounds together..... he can't seem to? 

For example....

He does the word


He'll sound it out ...


then he'll go


Um... no... let's try it again... 



So then Mommy does it really fast.........


OOOOOOOOH soft ....

The cat is soft ....  

Anyone else run into a problem like this?

(here he is doing Math)

Our Glue Project

We got this idea through our Homeschool Group.  Someone was nice enough to share it!

Our project started out with a trip to the store to buy a few supplies....
  • Glue
  • Markers
We got enough glue bottles to cover each of the markers .... (actually, there were 11 markers, and we got 12 glues, figured we could always use an extra).
Before getting started, you HAVE to have an air-tight container (or a half empty glue bottle) because you need to removed some of the glue.

You'll also need:
  •  Scissors
  • Wet Wipes or Paper Towel  (just cuz it might be handy for messy hands)
Our fingers got pretty messy with the glue and the markers :)

Step 1: You take the top of the markers off with the scissors (some you can cut right through, some you have to manipulate the scissors and "wiggle" the top off) ...  what you want is the juicy insides ink pad where all the ink comes from. 
Step 2:  If you want to cut the plastic - that's fine, we did it for one of ours hoping it would make the color spread quicker, but it didn't.
Step 3: Empty out some glue from the bottle of glue you are going to drop the ink pad into ...  
Step 4:  Drop the ink pad in

Step 5: Put the cover back on, and repeat the process for each of the markers & glue.

This will make a fun way to "glue" stuff .... or could even be used as cheap puffy paint!!  A great way to throw a little science into it is asking the following questions.

What will happen when we put this inside the glue?
Why does that happen?
And just for fun...

Ask your kids which they think will be complete FIRST and which they think will be complete LAST.

Now when I first read about this project, I didn't expect it to take so long... but it took about a month for ours to be complete (for all the colors to be complete.)

Both my boys were asked separately:
Calahan's Guess:  Blue 1st, Pink last....
Noah's Guess:  Blue 1st, Light Green...er...no BLACK.. no Black will be SECOND... um... Red last ...
                   (he couldn't decide between black and light green and red, finally settled on red)

After 3 hours....  (you could start seeing the color spread)
Day 2

Day 13

Yellow was the first one done, Blue was the 2nd ...  Orange and Pink were running towards the bottom of the pack

One Month
 They are all done - but we're missing the teal and the yellow for the picture (the babies had been playing with them and somehow I lost track of them ... we're in search of the missing glue though! LOL) ...

Black was the last one to turn... just incase you were wondering.   If you do the glue project, I'd be interested in knowing what results YOU got!!