Category Archives: 170 School Days. 2011

Week 23. Jammies, Toast, and Boxes.

This is our third year of homeschool. I can honestly say, I think this is the first time we have had sickness in the house during school. I may be wrong. I perhaps blocked it from my conscious memory, but I don’t think so. My odd children (referring to their birth placement, not their personality) had touches of some throat and fever issues.

Cameron had it the worst. There was lots of jammies. Lots of school, break, school, break. Lots of alternate places to learn. Lots of reading. Lots of home. Lots of quiet.

Of course, this brought with it a fair amount of stir crazy for some. However, everyone rolled pretty well. I visited the gym late night for a little time in the hot tub and a little late night therapy session grocery shopping at Target. Means of survival come with a creative outlook sometimes.

Special toast is always on the menu when sickness is in town. Toast with butter and cinnamon sugar. The crust cut off and cut into squares. I think it just might have magical healing powers.

Adding nurse to my title this week, required other things to go by the wayside. Such as cleaning (sad, huh?), “fun” stuff for school, and Awana. Despite the sickness it was a strangely welcoming change of pace. We are still learning. We will be catching up through the weekend. Slow and steady. I hope to be back on schedule by Monday. Everyone is on the mend.

My neighbor who has taught 6th grade for 12 years commented to me the other day that she thinks when homeschool is done with excellence, it is a very natural holistic approach to child rearing. It is times like this week that I really see this to be true. It feels very natural to be the kids mama, nurse, and teacher.

I mentioned that I had a Pinterest Project coming up. I have collected all my supplies. It’ll be done soon. It is the answer to so many of life’s most important questions.

I have four of these.

Some of these.

and these.

It’s going to be magical.

Have a great weekend.

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Week 22. Reading, Writing, and Sophia the Grecian Goddess.

We started a new unit {with the older two} on The Giver. This book is G O O D. I pre read it around Christmas time. I use these unit study guides and I love them. It has more stuff then you need. Plenty to give you options, but not overwhelm you. The kids are literally begging to read ahead in the book. I love that too. They would finish in a day if I let them. However, there is something about taking your time and studying the author, vocabulary, and going in depth along the way. You can wander off on whatever rabbit trails you want to. It makes for a very different experience with a book.

I will be starting Emma’s first one in a couple of weeks.

For now we are finishing up her health book. It is amazing how many safety rules we break around here. The book clearly teaches not to jump off a moving swing. Guilty. The book clearly teaches to wear shoes outdoors at all times. Guilty again.

It is unbelievable how anything in a school book becomes something that this girl sees as gospel truth. I am thinking I should write my own school book for her.

We studied safety on the roads and learned that children should use arm signals at all times when riding bikes. Guilty again.

We had stoplight snacks. {Graham crackers, Nutella, and M n M’s}

and some stoplight crafts.

I came across these 2 little fabulous books last summer and added them both to my curriculum order. Write About Me and Write About My World. I had intended to have them be extra fun books for free time. However, my girl has learned a TON with them and we do a page or two almost daily. It covers the beginnings of writing journals, stories, etc. It has a lot of good stuff for her.

Our weather has reached mid 70’s this week. My house is revolting over the lack of any sort of winter, even a California one. The kids have had a ton of time to play outside and it definitely helps get their energy out. However, I am just wishing for a big ‘ol rainstorm. JUST ONE.

We are hoping for a lot of rain before spring arrives, but I am definitely NOT holding my breath.

We arrived in Greece today. The Expedition Earth curriculum has daily lesson plans all written out for you. However, we have had to adapt some. I can’t seem to pull it together for all of this fabulousness on a daily basis. SO~ the last couple of weeks we have devoted Thursday afternoons to E.E. and it has worked fabulously.

I think I have fallen in love with Greece now too. Oh my gosh. It is just beautiful. We studied the Parthenon, listened to music, looked at pictures, read about the children of Greece, prayed for the country, studied the flag, and made cookies. Greece cookies, not to be confused with grease cookies. These were called Kourabiethes cookies and they were yummy.

Finally, we studied Greek sculptures. Of course, the kids got the ability to try out their sculpting skills.

Meet Grecian Cookie Monster…

and Sophia…the Grecian Goddess.

I am looking forward to the weekend. Sleeping in and playing!

Enjoy yours.

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Homeschool Talent Show

Oh my sweet girl and her daddy. They have stolen my heart.

So proud of them both.

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Week 21. Love, Goodbyes, and Mars.

Oh, this week was C R A Z Y. Three doctor appointments and Valentines Day, put us in a challenging place of getting everything completed. It is amazing how even one dr. appointment can wreak so much havoc on completing a school day. I talked last week about our system of breaking down our studies, one week at a time. This week is a perfect example of why. We have a little bit left to finish in the morning. However, it will get done. For me, if I didn’t have this system it could be dangerously easy to let life take priority over school. Just today, and then just today, and then just today….you get the idea.

On a side note…do you know about these magical little relatives of the Post It note family? Oh how they make Teacher’s Guides user friendly in no time flat.

I gotta admit that school wasn’t too overly exciting this week.

We did begin Emma’s health book. It will take us just three weeks to get through. She loves the A Beka readers. They have written some of their textbooks at first grade reading level and Emma LOVES being the one who can read these subjects. It goes a long way in the I’m a big girl now thing.

She read something super profound to me. Yes, yet again the teacher learned something during school. A HABIT IS SOMETHING I DO WITHOUT THINKING. It goes on to say…I CAN FORM GOOD HABITS BY DOING RIGHT THINGS OVER AND OVER. I love that. Put that in the perspective of my quest for health. Its reframing my goals. Grabbing veggies, grabbing water, exercising. Do them over and over until you do them without even thinking about it. You can change.

Taylor wrapped up her study on Mars this week with a project. She created a Mars Community. This may look simple, but she has quite the story (including a lot of  information about Mars) that determined her choices for these items. She is learning a TON.

I broke down and finally allowed us to leave Italy today during our Expedition Earth studies. Passports are stamped and we are gone. Kinda sad. The Expedition Earth curriculum is great and it comes with some additional recommended books to enhance your studies. These books have been some of our favorites during the year.

Next week we are off to Greece!

I have to admit another challenging part of school is getting regular household stuff done like grocery shopping. Last week as I was innocently scrolling through Facebook I find that my husband ratted me out about the condition of our fridge. He posted this on Facebook and said guess we need some food. BUSTED.

We live on the cash only system around here. I plan all of our meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to help keep on a tight budget. I buy only what we need to make those meals. At the end of my week, my fridge typically looks like this. Its not a bad thing really, do not be alarmed.

Today we had lunch recess at Costco. The food court and some groceries and another week of school completed.

Looking forward to the weekend!

Enjoy yours!

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Love Day

We had a simple day at home today celebrating.

It started off with four mom friends and our thirteen offspring at 9 am! We had heart pancakes and heart strawberries and all kinds of other goodies. The kids all got to hang out and play for the morning.

We also did a Valentine exchange with the kids. A mixture of homemade and store-bought. There are SUCH cute ideas for home made Valentines. We had adorable sugar cookie pops and these cuties. However, there is the good ol’ fashioned box of Valentines thing that cannot and should not be ignored. My kids just love standing at the row at Target picking from the gazillion choices of little cards. They totally dig ripping apart and piecing together their little treasures….(and I am so cheap thrifty that we always buy at 90% off and save for the next year).

It was a great morning. I am so blessed to have such amazing friends around who homeschool their crew as well.

After a nap and a full afternoon of studies, we partied for the second time with the family. For starters, Papa Murphy’s heart pizza. Because who DOESN’T love heart shaped pizza?? It tastes so much better, right?

I decorated the table all fancy schmancy with things from around the house. I also pulled out my stash of Valentines party things that I bought last year at Target. I got the whole set up  for about $4.00. Add in some candlelight and it just makes everything extra special and twinkly.

We had lots of hand made love notes.

and we ended the night with little cakes…

…and some little treasures that I picked up during the after Christmas toy clearances.

Happy Love Day.

Hope yours was amazing.

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Our Leftovers.

I remember when my kids went to school outside of our home, that every single day they absolutely fell apart between the hours of 3:30-4:30 or so. Maybe it wasn’t everyday, but it sure felt like. Perhaps, it would have stopped as they grew older, I don’t know. It’s as if, they had held it together for so long at school, that they would just come home and fall apart for a while. One of the things that I so enjoy about homeschool, is that hour has disappeared in my life…and theirs. However, it is now just kinda spread out over twenty four hours. No need to hold it together for anything.

You know the saying goes that kids act better for others then their own parents. It’s also true that sometimes it is hardest to be nicest to our very own families. It’s as if the second we set foot out the door, many of us put on our shiny happy faces. We give our best outside our own walls and give our family our leftovers.

Let me tell you, that somedays, I live in leftover land. I get real raw emotion 24/7 from my littles and you know what? They get it from me too. It used to really get on my nerves. I would find myself wishing for that “I can’t act like that in front of my friends” fairy to fly right in and give my kids a kick in their misbehaving booties… and mine. Seriously. Give me some of that peer pressure. PAHLEASE.

I understand that misbehaving is going to be present with children whether they go to school outside the home or not. BUT WOW, does it make teaching math challenging when your child is tired, cranky, and mad at their sister because she breathed on him, or heaven forbid touched his side of the table. There is no holds barred. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter if you are a very cool middle schooler, or a great big first grader. The good, the bad, and the ugly. They all visit us on a regular basis.


We are home a LOT. The truth of the matter is that can add an extra challenge to learning because there are no outside eyes here. I asked one of my children the other day why they thought they could treat their sibling that way and they didn’t treat their friends that way. The immediate and completely honest response was, if I treated my friend that way, they wouldn’t be my friend anymore, but So n So (name not available so as to protect the sometimes innocent) will always be in my family. Honestly, for a completely self indulgent moment, I was mortified. TO. MY. CORE. I started to form a very fantastic lecture involving such statements as I raised you better than that and the like. Then I stopped. I realized I am completely guilty of the same thing. I am just more eloquent and would never dream of saying it so blatant. We are family and we are close, but all too often give each other our worst. We know that we will always be there for each other and to some degree maybe in that moment, maybe we feel as if we don’t have to work as hard.

The Lord not so subtly hit me over the head last week with a new perspective on this. The heart is at the heart of the matter. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7. For all the misbehaving, cranky attitudes, and nasty comments, this is our reality. God is using me to shape their hearts. All. day. long.  I have four safe walls to continue to daily nurture and teach these little people how to climb into the arms of Jesus and park it there, for a lifetime. I need to look at these moments of opportunity instead of failure in my parenting skills, or education choice. Opportunity to gently TEACH them again the path that they should follow and to realize that I will be teaching them again and again and again…..and YET AGAIN.

It would be ridiculous to expect to run a marathon without pain.  In just the same way, it would be ridiculous to expect to raise four children with the absence of discipline. It is part of the journey. Something to embrace, not avoid.

The Lord calls each of us to our own path. Mine happens to be homeschooling and I certainly do not feel this is the right or only way to educate your child. We each have to make those decisions for ourselves and they each are going to look different. That is the distinct and overwhelming beauty in this life God has given us all. However, each path is going to bring about its own unique set of positives and challenges. The key is to embrace our own life and learn from it. We are responsible to make the most of our days on this earth.

 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3



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Week 20. Hearts, Binders, and Gelato.

We started off this school week with our class store. I started this when I began homeschooling and we have done it ever since. I have tweaked it a bit, but the concept is the same. Throughout our school days the kids have chances to earn sticks. I give 3 sticks for a 100% paper, 2 sticks for an A, and 1 stick for a B. I will also give sticks for good behavior, random games, etc. For Emma, my 1st grader, she earns sticks for neatness, books read, etc. Once a month the kids go shopping in the class store. They can spend their sticks or keep them. There are categories to purchase from for 1, 3, 5 ,10, 15 or like this past month we had a surprise 50 point item, and a couple of 30 point items. It’s like a mini Chuck E Cheese redemption counter.

I stock the class store with clearance deals. Grandma helps a ton. I am always on the look out for things throughout the year. It is amazing what you find when you start looking. Even the $1 spot at Target goes 75% off.  It’s a magnificent system that has worked really well for us.

Another system that I began just last year, but has worked incredibly well, is how I organize our work.

I have 2 planners from Lakeshore that cost $5.99 a piece. It is still not the perfect planner because I don’t think that illusive thing actually exists. This one is pretty good and the price is right. I have to have the subjects down the side and the days of the week across the top. This limits my choices. However, it is a must for me.

Everything in my planning world is broken down into weeks for our school year….36 of them.

(I use pencil for everything, because things DO change…and its o.k.)

I sit down at the beginning of the year and pencil in the vacations, holidays, field trips, etc. Then I take each subject and break it down and pencil in the lessons for each week. The older two are in one planner and my younger daughter is in another.

Then I take everything that can be ripped out, copied ahead of time, etc and hole punch it and put it behind the appropriate week number in my binders. I have 2 giant binders. One for week 1-18 and one for week 19-36.

Obviously, this is a lot of time upfront. However on Sunday nights, it is super simple to just pull out the papers for that week and place them on a clipboard, ready to use.

At that time, I review in detail and prepare for the upcoming week.

The most important thing about this system is that we do not progress on from the week until the previous week is done. Despite my best efforts to keep our studies priority through out the week, we have four children and things come up. Doctors, dentists, errands, sickness, and other random things. This system allows me to manage my overall workload for the year and not get off track. If its Sat morning and for some reason the work is not done for that week, we will finish it. Every Monday is a brand new week and the week before WILL be completed.

Having this system has helped me relax a LOT. I feel like I can chill with the ebb and flow of our days and know that things are on track to finish by June. I am sure there are countless ways to achieve this, but this has worked for my head…

We have been busy, as usual, around here. With Love day fast approaching we have added hearts…


and more hearts.

The kids tracked their food intake all week and plotted it into blank grids of the food pyramid. It’s been great to see them really begin to understand their health and nutrition. I’ve loved it. We’ve completed the Pyramid Cafe unit and next week will begin a unit on The Giver with the older two. My youngest will continue on with Health.

My older two have both been doing Apologia Science and there is a TON of hands on projects which they adore.

These little feet are everywhere during my day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Speaking of little….little mister had his first official tantrum today. I was sharing my cheerios with him, giving him bites out of the bowl. He wanted the bowl and the spoon. I did not agree. The result was big tears and MAD BABY! So of course, I grabbed my camera.

Today we ended the week with Expedition Earth. We are still in Italy. I refuse to leave. I am enjoying our study more than the kids. The Trevi Fountain, Sistine Chapel, amazing art, museums, music, and pizza? Oh gosh. Smitten. Today we made Gelato from scratch. It was De-Lish.

Boil 4 cups of water and 2.5 cups of sugar for 5 minutes. Let cool and add 2 cups of orange juice. Then freeze for 5 hours. Voila.

(Ignore the sugar content. Seriously, just pretend I said 2 teaspoons.)

It was, again ridiculously warm for Feburary, so we decided to take our Italy studies to the park.

Even though I desperately am missing some California rain…

…spending the afternoon drenched in sunshine with toes in the sand, ain’t so bad either.

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I’m Sleepy

I am tired today. Last night I felt like I was up all night. In reality, I kinda was. Around seven, after getting the littles to bed, I laid down with my laptop to do a couple things for school. Shortly after, my intent was to go to the gym. However, the next thing I knew it was 10:30. NOT an appropriate time of day for a nap. Thankful though that no one woke me up.

I headed downstairs around 11 to watch Biggest Loser. This season is annoying me. Too much game play and no Jillian is making me a bit sad. I haven’t cried once yet, in six weeks. Something’s terribly wrong.

Around 1 am or so, a chain of interruptions to my sleep began. Sore throat, thirsty, and a bad dream where her little brother died, made for a couple of fitfully sleeping girls and a non sleeping mommy. I am unbelievably blessed with how little our kids get up in the middle of the night. It actually is very rare. Last night lots of snuggles were needed. I rally to the cause, but at times I do have to fight my inner dirtbag mom to not just scream JUST GO TO BED.

In between the brief moments of sleep, I was processing some decisions and events of the past week. God and I were chatting a lot. The wee hours are probably the best time for that anyway. It seems I can not believe that just happened is par for the course these days. It has been a strange 2012 thus far. NEVER a dull moment around these parts. NEVER.

The hubby works late tonight and the kids have Awana. My mom day will end around 8:45 after I get all four tucked into bed. Following which, an hour with the lap pool and some hot tub time at the gym will revive me for sure. One would think if I was tired, I would go to sleep. However, I think that some me downtime does far more than 2 hours of sleep sometimes. Maybe I’m just weird. Whatever the case, I am just so happy that the gym closes at midnight.

I have been regularly exercising since around April of last year. I tell you, if I miss more than a day, I am all out of sorts. It’s a pretty good thing.

I am thankful that everyone is cooperating today. Everyone is in good moods and being quite agreeable. Consider this proof, I said “point to the airplane?” (I was, in fact, speaking to the one year old…but I’ll take what I can get, right?)

Its an amazing thing to have a large brand new neighborhood park 2 doors over from our house. It makes for a great break when needed. Today I think my son and I discovered a potential new hobby.

Taking pictures while flying off of swings can be a pretty fantastic way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

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Week 19. Clowns, Cookies, and the Sistine Chapel.

Let me start with how much we are loving our Bible Curriculum. We use Positive Action. They have elementary through high school curriculum. With my older two kids I am doing the study on Proverbs, Wise Up.

Positive Action has GREAT studies. My kids did them at the Christian School they went to before we brought  them home for school. This is our third year choosing this curriculum and I believe we will be going with Route 66 next year.

The one issue that you will have to work through is the freakish illustrations throughout the book. I am not quite sure what’s goin’ on with that. Consider it a little humorous gift. The content outweighs the illustrations and I promise that is the only creepy clown I have seen thus far.

The first year I did not order the teacher’s guide with this curriculum and that was a mistake. I always find the guides helpful and many times definitely necessary. I know it is tempting to abort the extra cost, but I have never regretted having them.

I do Bible with the kids daily. We almost always spend 30-45 minutes during Bible time. In addition to the text, the kids do a weekly project, quiz, and have created a life principle notebook. I have been really happy with this and plan to start Emma when she begins 2nd grade next year.


I began Emma on Victory Drills this year. Her reading has improved dramatically since beginning daily drills. The book is under $20 and will be reused year after year. When she successfully passes a page, she earns a piece of candy. It’s a great incentive. I made a tracking sheet and stapled it to a folder, so she can see her progress.

We had lots of learning and fun projects this week.

Lots of fun workbox projects. I love first grade. Rainbow hair books rock.

Science projects that involve Oreos pretty much rock too.

This week, during our Pyramid Cafe study, we went through each of the food groups. Our project today got hands on with BEANS. We did a little project that I found on Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I find great everything there and with the find of this cute craft, I made a new bloggy friend, Amy. She is and has a darling blog…go say hi!

Expedition Earth has brought us to Italy.

We took advantage of the spring like weather today and did a little Michelangelo style painting.

The kids adored it. I snuck under there with Emma to help her and I highly recommend giving this a try. Put it on your bucket list. It should be added right below visiting the Sistine Chapel.

Next week, we will study the country in as much depth as four days will allow.

We may decide to stay for two weeks. Italy is one of my favorite stops on our world tour. One thing is for sure, I am pretty certain that pizza will be involved somewhere along the way.

We were a little park happy this week. Taking advantage of this strangely warm weather. With the central valley spring allergies looming in the near future, I am trying to get outdoors as much as possible. Very soon there will be about 2 months coming up that my 11 year old and myself stay housebound in order to not sneeze ourselves to an early demise.

Finally, would you help a girl out? I have a pile of these staring at me. They were Christmas ornaments that were just .10 a pack after Christmas. They will make a perfect Valentines decoration. Only what? I’ve lost inspiration. Thinking garland or ????? Any ideas for me? Help my crafters block. I can’t think of something fabulous enough. They have SO much potential!

Have a great weekend!

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Week 18. Half Way.

I wanted to do something special for the kids as we finished this week of school. It is officially the half way point through this year’s studies. I took them downtown to our favorite cupcake shop.

For half a cupcake each….

Upon finding out they were getting just a half, it took about a nano second for one of them to ask if at the end of the year we will be returning for a whole? I definitely think that sounds reasonable. Absolutely, its on the books.

I love LOVE me some cupcakes. They are just so happy.

I also finished grading this week. I try and make a big deal out of grades. I think it is human nature to want to see measurable progress. I feel that it is important, even for kids. This is Emma’s first time with grades so we had a little explaining to do.

After I went over their grades, individually, I also let them know that they needed to take their dad in to show him their grades. You know that moment of pride/dread when you show your parents your report card? I don’t want my kids to miss out on that.

 Each of my kids are struggling in a different subject. This is due more to the format of the curriculum than the actual material. For example, history has become difficult for my 6th grader. She has never struggled with history at all, but this year we are doing an online format and my straight A student had a D after first quarter. Here we are at the halfway point and she has a C+. Improvement! The temptation for me has been to abort this curriculum completely and give her something she can ace. However, after some prayer and thinking, I am continuing on with it. I don’t believe it is the curriculum, but rather the style of learning that is challenging for her. I think that it is important that she rise to the challenge and find a way to be successful in it. That is a skill that is crucial for all of my children to learn. If I tailor their studies to fit each of their strengths in every aspect, I think I will ultimately be doing them a HUGE disservice.

In other happenings around here…

I can hardly believe January is already coming to a close. Big highlights around here include a doctor appointment for me that revealed my cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels (which were not good 6 months ago) are completely normal. I have also lost 10 pounds this month and am on week 11 of the 10k program I am working on. (My 10k is coming in March). It has been 8 months since I gave up caffeine, fast food (have eaten it a handful of times), and began consistent exercise. The results have been well worth the slow and steady progress. A bunch of baby steps, take you places~~ BIG PLACES. Lest we never forget that.

Last week, my mama hit a great big clearance sale at one of her favorite shopping stores, Macys. My otherwise Target outfitted daughters and I enjoyed a lunch at the mall and a shopping trip with grandma. We are talking crazy cheap prices. Like $5 per item…and for Macy’s that’s pretty amazing.

My girlies are growing up into such beautiful young ladies. I am so proud of both of them.

It has been a great month full of hard work and laziness. I believe it takes a healthy dose of both to be successful.

In other news, you should see my baby boy’s hair. We sported a public bed head appearance at Lowes this morning. Note to self, no more putting this child to bed with damp hair, no matter how tired he is. It is absolutely unruly. Completely the opposite of this boy.

            I am spending the weekend planning our next reading unit, finishing up plans for our Pyramid Cafe unit, and celebrating two dear friends at birthday parties. I will also throw in three runs @ 5 miles each and never forget to thank God for the blessing of cute hats to help get me through the I have no time to do my hair days. There are a lot of them.

It’s a fabulous life.

Happy Weekend!!!


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