You Can Paint Countertops!

We would love to replace our kitchen counters, but it is so expensive.  I hadn’t realized this, but you can paint countertops.

countertop-paint

There are solid color paints and there are paints that make your countertop look like granite.

We decided to try to paint our bathroom countertop first to try it out (also the bathroom counter was an ugly pink color).

We bought the Giani Chocolate Brown kit.

I was so pleased with the result that I wanted to share it (since I didn’t even know you could paint countertops).  I am not going to explain the process because there are great videos on Giani’s website for that.  I will say that I am not an experienced painter, but found this very manageable.  The kit comes with everything you need.  I was impressed at how complete and organized the kit was. I feel like I can do even better on the next one.

If you have experience sponge painting, I am sure you can do even better than I did.  But I am pleased with my project.

before-and-after-right-side

We bought one $80 kit for the bathroom.  Our kitchen has lots of counters, so we will probably need 2 kits  for it.  We are going to get the Sicilian Sand kit for the kitchen. I am thrilled that we can refresh our kitchen for just $160 (for 2 kits).

If you are looking for a stone look, Giani sells 5 kits: Chocolate Brown, White Diamond, Slate, Sicilian Sand, Bombay Black.

If you want a single color, Rustoleum sells kits. Actually as I typed this, I found that Rustoleum also has kits to make it look like stone.

We are happy with our “new” countertop and hope you will have the same results.

close-up




Draw Write Now Series

I have children who love to draw and a few who don´t.  Draw Write Now was the first drawing series we purchased, and it has really helped my children´s drawing skills (as well as their writing skills).  (If you head down to the bottom of this article, you will see a few sample from my kids.)

drawwritenowseries

What do I love about the Draw Write Now series?

  • My children can follow the instructions on their own.
  • We are practicing copywork as well as drawing.  (The copywork is manuscript.)
  • There is an amazing variety of drawings in this series:  animals, geography, vehicles, people, and so on.
  • These books have actually encouraged my kids to write their own sentences about different animals than the ones found in the series.
  • My kids are better at drawing because of these books.
  • The drawing and copywork get increasingly difficult as the books progress.
  • The series is also great to have as a tutor at Classical Conversations since we focus on drawing for the first 6 weeks of Fine Arts.
  • We even pull out the stack of drawing books when we have a number of children visiting for a few hours (for small group or just friends over to play).

Now, let me tell you more about the specific books.


Book 1:  It´s definitely the easiest with mostly animals and storybook characters.  The sentences are very simple to copy.

Book 2:  This book includes Christopher Columbus (Cycle 3 history), types of trees and parts of trees (Cycle 1 and 2 science), more animals, and even a simple globe.
Book 3:  This book´s focus includes Native Americans (which could fit in Cycle 1, 2, and 3´s history), Pilgrims (Cycle 3 history), and different biomes in North America (Cycle 2 science, Cycle 3 geography).

Book 4:  Book 4 is full of animals from the Polar regions.  Some of my kids’ favorite animals to draw are in this book.
Book 5:  This one´s packed with U.S. history (the flag, Washington, Statue of Liberty, Alamo, Neil Armstrong, and many more Cycle 3 connections) as well as a lesson on drawing the United States (and showing when regions were added to our country).
Book 6:  Book 6 covers animals and habitats.  This ties in nicely with the biomes at the beginning of Cycle 2´s science.  I like the variety of animals drawn since it gives my kids many more drawing techniques.
Book 7:  This book (and book 8) specifically work through animals of the world.  This one includes creatures from tropical, Northern, and down under forests.

Book 8:  As the last in the Draw Write Now series, this book includes animals from the savannas, grasslands, mountains, and deserts.  (Cycle 2 Science week 1 keeps running through my head as I type this.)  I really like the tips this book includes for drawing the continents as well.

 

Here are a few samples of my children´s work.  Obviously we all aren´t at the same level of drawing.

samples

samples2

(Note:  My children sometimes write Bible verses with the illustrations instead of the book´s copywork.  These books themselves do not have Bible verses in them.)

We bought this series as a Christmas present a few years ago (if bought as a series, it does cost a little less per book).  It has honestly been one of the most used Christmas gifts in our home.  We love the Draw Write Now series.

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Using Mystery of History

We enjoy using Mystery of History in our family, but we don’t use the curriculum in its entirety.  Mystery of History has a textbook that a mom could read aloud.   There are activities, quizzes, and many other aspects of it.  I’m sure all of these are great, but we don’t use any of that.

Instead, we listen to the audio CDs as we drive around running errands.  When lessons are only 5-10 minutes long, it is easy to get at least one in when we drive to the grocery store, library, or any other local errand stop.  We often will just sit the van in a parking lot or our driveway to finish a lesson if we arrive before the tract ends.

My kids love history.  We memorize a timeline, history sentences, and geographical locations through Classical Conversations.  My kids read endless history books from the library.  Mystery of History audio CDs are a great addition to everything else we already do.

usingmysteryofhistory

What do we love about Mystery of History?

It is Christ-centered.  Between including Bible history as part of the history lessons, pointing out problems in a false religion or philosophy, and learning about Christians throughout our study of history, there is no mistaking that this is a Christian curriculum.  Even with all that, MOH still doesn’t shy away from teaching about the founding of Hinduism or what Plato or Socrates believed.

We recognize names and dates from our CC memory work.  While listening to the introduction to the first quarter of Volume 2 yesterday, we heard references to at least 5 points on our CC timeline or in history sentences we recently learned.  Mystery of History gives us more information about our memory pegs, but those pegs help the information to stick with us.  I don’t particularly try to “match up” our Mystery of History listening with our CC memory work.  When we run across something we have memorized, it gives us a chance to review (even if it was something we memorized two years ago).

We learn history that we haven’t studied before.  Just from listening to Volume 1 and the beginning of Volume 2, we have learned about people and places that we didn’t know before.  We’ve connected history in various parts of the world with each other.  The stories of various people are fun to hear and have led to my kids wanting to read more about that person.  (In fact, Ruthie’s Faces of History presentation was about someone we first heard about on Mystery of History.)

Great conversations happen when we listen together in the van.  We enjoy learning together as a family.  Listening together allows our conversations as we walk through the store to be about the current lesson.  We can have tough conversations about what martyrs faced in the early church and what persecution people face today.

Listening in the van is an easy way for me to add in more learning to our days.  Let’s face it.  Sometimes, we just need to run errands.  As a homeschool mom, I love when those van trips (and store conversations) are part of our educational experience instead of “wasted time.”

 

The kids and I were so excited when MOH volume 2 arrived at our house yesterday.  We listened to 7 lessons in the van just yesterday afternoon.

We finished volume 1 around Christmas time.  I’m not sure why I took so long to order volume 2, but I’m not going to wait that long again once we finish this one.

Obviously, I can’t speak to the content of volume 3 or volume 4 since we haven’t listened to them yet, but we intend to as soon as we finish the CDs we have.  Volume 4’s audio is currently available only throuhg mp3 files but will probably be out on CD soon.

TO LISTEN TO A SAMPLE:  Mystery of History’s site has sample audio lessons.  We have the ones with some music in the background.  When we got to the sample lesson as we listened through volume 1 as a family, my children remembered the lesson.  It’s amazing to me how much these kids learn.  Go here to hear a sample of Volume 1.

 

How does your family like to study history?

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 




Doing Hard Things

Doing hard things can be fun.  Yes, fun.

(This post is written by Elijah with the help of his mom.)

doinghardthings

Recently, I achieved Memory Master.

Since I am ten this year, I had to say my times tables instead of skip counting. At first, I was scared of saying my times tables because they were very hard and took much more thought than skip counting. Finally, my mom printed me the Tables, Square, and Cubes [from CC Connected] to help me learn my times tables. I tried saying them and realized that some of them were easier than others to master. I started with the 3’s. Even with these [charts], I still felt that I could not master most of them.

One day, Mommy said I really needed to work on them. I sat with the tables and said them over and over and over again. This went on for many days. The first hard ones I mastered were the 6’s. I kept going up and up. Finally, the only ones that were hard were the 11’s, 12’s, 13’s, 14’s, 15’s. During this time, Mom got the video Multiplication Rap from the library which I thought was for “little kids”, but I watched it anyway. After I watched that video, I was able to do my 11’s and 12’s easily. While I was still working on my 13’s, 14’s, and 15’s, we went for a walk around our neighborhood.  There my mom and I, as we were walking around, started reciting our 13’s. Mom was better than I was. We said them over and over, and eventually, I knew about the first half.

During all of this time, the times tables felt like hard work.  They were exhausting and no fun.

But guess what?  Now, my 13’s and 11’s are my favorites. The hard work was not at all fun, but the result (achieving memory master) was.

I learned quite a few lessons about doing hard things along this journey.

  • Things are hard until you decide to make them not hard through practicing (putting in hard work).
  • Practicing every day gradually develops your skill.
  • When you can do the hard thing, it feels like the work has paid off.
  • The results of hard work are fun and exhilarating.
  • When a task gets easy enough, then it is very fun.  (When you are still struggling, it’s not as fun.)
  • It feels good to say, “Look what I’ve learned” and be able to rattle off the information.

Doing hard things can be fun in other areas of life too.

In complicated board games, it is hard to figure out strategies, but when the hard work pays off, it may lead you to victory.

In cleaning (like when Mom tells me to clean my room), I’m not thrilled, but I know what it feels like when it’s clean. It’s just pure fun when it is clean.

Hard work pays off in sports too like when I learn new skills in basketball and disc golf.

 

Doing hard things brings about a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment.

If you’ve got a hard thing you haven’t done yet, go do it and remember that hard work pays off.

(Note from Becki:  This picture was originally shared on our facebook page with the quote:  “The elevens are fun.” Elijah dictated this blog post to me – even down to telling me to add the affiliate link for the Multiplication Rap.)




Squirrel Moving Babies Before The Storm

I wanted to share something really amazing that I saw this weekend. I was packing the van for a disc golf tournament and I saw a squirrel climbing down a tree with something in its mouth.  It looked too big to be a nut, so I got a closer look.   It was carrying its baby down the tree!  The pictures in the post are not great, but I did not want to disturb the process just to get a picture.

squirrel with baby

It ran across our driveway to a nearby tree, went up the new tree, and disappeared.  Then it went back and got another baby.  It repeated this at least 5 times.  I did not realize that squirrels had that many babies. (According to Clemson University, they usually have 2-4 babies, but can have up to 6.)

squirrel running to neww tree squirrel running up tree

 

 

 

 

 

The original nest was built in the branches of a tree, but the new one was in a hole in the trunk.  I thought that maybe the mother squirrel was moving the babies because of the storm that was coming.  After a little research, it seems like this might be the case, but it is actually normal for a squirrel to move her babies.  The babies might be moved if the nest it threatened or if the babies outgrow the nest.

squirrels in new nest

 

Take the time today to enjoy God’s wonderful creation, even if it is just in your own yard.