Friday, August 31, 2012

Week 6, August 31, 2012


What's that sound? 

Why its the sound of angels singing down on me! 

We're at the end of our first stretch of school.

We'll get all of next week's book work completed by Wednesday so that we can take off for a long weekend.  By "off" I of course mean no formal lessons, but hands-on / project-type stuff.  We aren't taking a full week off because we have one off in about a month (when we'll be off from co-op too).  Our recent relaxed days have us pretty refreshed.

Places we're going, and people we're seeing:
Saturday, the boys had their last of 6 bowling lessons, and they were given their very own custom-drilled bowling balls.  Spunk bowled a 99 that day!

Sunday we went to church then returned to the bowling alley with friends.  There was a special running all weekend long, that we all wanted to take advantage of.  We had so much fun together, but I didn't snap any pictures - fail.

Monday, we had a trip to our local TCBY.  Yay!  There was a group of older kids who went first, and they were allowed to assist in setting up yogurt machines and run the cash register.  It was a cool trip for sure!
Getting a lesson about where the yogurt comes from, followed by a trip into the deep freezer!! Brrrrr!!

Thoughtful's sample to be sure the machines were ready to dispense.

And of course our favorite part!!!  Yogurt and candy with friends for lunch!

Tuesday we went absolutely nowhere!  It was my favorite day :)  until Wednesday.

Wednesday we had co-op, which we are loving.  I taught the toddler class, which is so fun for me.  I'm the only Momma in our group without a little one in our tot class.  We had story time, finger painting the Earth, playdough time, show and tell, snack, and park time.  I was so busy with them, that I didn't see my boys at all.  Here's what they were doing:
Reviewing what they learned at home. 
I didn't think it stuck with them,
 but look at my Spunk ready to answer questions. 

Thoughtful's class creating a human revolution and rotating Earth.
Thoughtful is the Sun.

Then they did this playdough model of the Earth's layers.
Step 1, make 5 balls of playdough, using different colors, each in a different size.
Step 2, smash all balls, except the smallest.  Wrap the second smallest around the smallest.
Seen here, it would be wrap the green around the yellow.  Continue this with each color, until you're left with only a big ball of playdough.  You should only be able to see the outer layer.
AND THEN CUT!  Use dental floss or string to get a good cut.

Thoughtful did this one in his class too, and he came home and named each layer for us.  Books are not his friend.  He struggled for three days about the names of these layers. We read, used flashcards, drew pictures, used the white board, etc.  It wasn't working, but THIS tactile activity made it click for him. 

Did I mention that I'm loving co-op?

Then they had PE time inside, as our park area is currently more like a swamp.  They learned about relays in the Olympics, then had some fun!
Egg race!

Oh no!!  Quick, get it!

After co-op, I took the boys to the bank as they've been begging me to deposit their saved money.  They have done extremely well with their tithe, save, spend. 

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very prideful today!  They neatly completed their own transaction tickets, Thoughtful properly added, and they patiently waited for the change machine while the mean old man jumped in front of them.  They used manners with the teller and even spoke up!! 
(this last one is kind of huge)

And then off to the library where we picked up books for Labor Day and our upcoming archeology study.  More on that to come later!

Thursday, I had a lunch date to catch up with a friend, which we happened to have at McD's.  This is so that I had a play place for the kids.  They of course believe that they earned the privledge of McD's.  Judge if you will. 

Whatever, manipulation works for me, okay?

Friday, I'm thinking another nothing day. 
As much as I loved everywhere we went this week, I really love home. 

What's working for us:
Workboxes, for sure, and our new reward system which I hope to post about once I see it working.

What's not working for us:
I thought that NOT having a formal history curriculum was not working, but I think we're okay.  I'm gonna stick with the unit study thing. They are in elementary school grades afterall.  This just takes extra planning on my part ;)  And you know planning makes me a oddly happy. 

What I'm cooking:
Yep, bacon on the waffle iron.  It wasn't done yet when I snapped this picture, but rest assured, we fried, and we ate.  The grease dripped down in the grooves, I pretty much felt like a genius.
We also baked a large cookie in honor of both boys getting 100s on their math tests.  They only had 2 days of working the new concepts, so I was uber-impressed!!
Thoughts I have:
I believe that my younger will eventually catch his big brother, academically.  He's such a smart kiddo, and I shouldn't suppress his desire to always move on.  He truly grasps each concept quickly, can teach it back, etc.  But his brother, Thoughtful, moves along at just the right pace always doing just enough to get by.  He's not behind by any means, but he lacks self confidence.  I don't want to see him throw in the towel, and I'm afraid that he will if he and his brother are doing the same thing.

I already see him competing for reading rewards, desperately trying to stay ahead of his little brother.

Any help out there for this situation??  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I'm praying for:
Those experiencing Hurricane Isaac and its remnants.  There are millions of people affected by this storm.  PEOPLE, His people, and He hears our prayers.

I'm linking up with I Homeschool Network and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers this week.  Read about more homeschooling families' weeks by clicking either link. 

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pollo Perfecto

We don't know much Spanish.
 Santa Fe Chicken and Rice, or
 Southwestern Something or Other
sound way to normal for our home.
Perfect Chicken became Pollo Perfecto!
"What's for dinner?" 
"I don't know, I didn't plan this week."

Enter my beloved Crock Pot.
After a quick scan of the kitchen, and a FB friend's status asking for ideas, I came up with this:

"What's in it?"  (This is always the first question from my picky eaters.)
  • Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast, I guess it was about a pound?  I don't, a normal sized package from Publix.
  • a small jar of salsa, any heat you like
  • a can of Rotel tomatoes, drained
  • about a cup and half to two cups of frozen sweet corn
  • a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of dry rice, already cooked (it was leftovers for us)
  • some cilantro, just put some in
  • sour cream and cheddar cheese, to top as you wish
How'd you do it?
  • throw in the chicken, still frozen
  • cover with salsa, Rotel tomatoes, and cilantro
  • cook on high for 5 or 6 hours.
  • shred chicken with 2 forks, still in the pot
  • dump corn, beans, and rice on top.  Cook for another hour
  • Mix well, serve it up with toppings, VOILA!

Memory Verses

Our Science curriculum comes with a memory verse for each lesson.  We've memorized Scripture in the past, and obviously some are more difficult than others. 

We've used hand motions, songs, and pictures.  But last week, we had one with big words:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth.  Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who determined its measurements?  Job 38:4-5

There were tears.

Momma's solution:
I typed the words, cut them out, and glued them onto index cards.  Then, I marked them using the colors of the rainbow, in order, since the boys already know them. 

We laid them out, in order, revealing the verse,
and the boys could see the columns formed by the colors.
 See?  Red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, and violet.
We started reading the verse.  After a few times, we removed a card here and there.  Next, we removed all of the green cards, then all of the violet cards, etc.  After about 10 minutes, we all knew the verse.  Just like that! 
We'll definitely use this trick again!  I hope this helps you too.  How does your family memorize Scripture?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - They're growing up too fast!

Yesterday, they were my babies!

I'm linking to 5 Minutes for Mom, click the button for more Wordless entries and enjoy!
5 Minutes for Mom

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ahhhh, This is the life!

Just like you, we have extremely hectic days, and then we have our nothing days.  I like both for different reasons.  But we also have our "normal" weekdays, my favorite days, when all goes according to plan.  We have chores, school, work, playtime, and our extra curriculars.

Here is how my favorite day goes:

Morning Routine:

I am the early riser.  Can't help it.  I'm up by 6:30 most days but some days earlier.  I get my quiet time with my Bible and coffee first, followed by checking emails, reading blogs, and work.

After a quick calendar check, I glance at our school planner.  I set up the whiteboard for the boys' boardwork and fill their workboxes. 

If there is time before my boys need to get up, I'll do some general light pick up around the house, or whatever chore I have slated for that day.  I get myself together, and do a "swish and swipe" as taught by The Fly Lady.  If you aren't familiar with her or her household cleaning program, I encourage you to check her out!

Thoughtful and Spunk get up, ideally at 7:30, while I make breakfast and tidy the kitchen.  We have our Bible Devotional time during breakfast with discussion and prayer.

Morning responsibilities are next, and if they finish quickly enough, the boys will often go ahead to tackle their chores.  We have 10 minutes of quick clean up time every morning and every evening so that our home is never out of control messy.

Then free play for a bit.  Breakfast, Bible, chores, and free play total about an hour's time.


8:30 / 9:00-ish, or roughly an hour after the boys awake:  When I call "school time,"  the boys sit down at our school table and begin on their workboxes.  I alternately interrupt their box time to give them each a daily lesson in phonics, spelling, and language.  New math lessons only come at the beginning of the week, and I stagger those within their workboxes so that I can watch their Math U See DVDs with them.

I would like to give the boys 45 minutes with their workboxes then let them have a break.  However, most days, they continue through their boxes until finished.  This takes about an hour and half, max. 

We break for a snack and playtime.

Many days, we do read aloud time during snack.  Our "break" often includes a walk or bike ride.  We usually finish chores, play educational games (or just games, because let's face it, they're always learning something when we play), go fishing, ride the 4-wheeler, shoot bb guns, or some other way to play outside.

We usually have lunch sometime between 11 and 12. 

This is where it gets a little crazy.   Our home days are Monday, Thursday, and Friday.  When we're home, we hit group studies after lunch, which include Science, History, Spanish, Nature Study, and whatever Unit Study we're working on.  This goes no later than 2 or 2:30. 

Afternoons are for playing or random running around our little town, library, grocery, .... boring stuff like that.  TV comes back in the afternoon.  We have quiet time for a bit, for all of us to rest our brains and calm our bodies.  I don't mind the TV being on during quiet time, in fact I like it.  Usually, they choose an educational show anyways.

Extra curricular stuff & my cleaning schedule:

We go go go Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, and Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Tae Kwon Do Monday and Thursday nights
Baseball Tuesday and Thursday nights
Park day with homeschooling friends on Tuesday
Art class on Tuesday
Co-op on Wednesday morning until lunch
piano lesson on Wednesday

We'll hopefully go nowhere on Mondays and Fridays.

I break up house cleaning to do a part everyday so that its not an overwhelming job.  I do all of the laundry on Mondays, starting when my feet hit the floor.  Then I give the house a once over on Fridays, scrubbing bathrooms, etc.

I use it as my "catch up" time for the stuff that got missed during the week. Thoughtful should have baseball games coming up on Saturdays too.  We relax and play, have lazy time, swim, fish, and enjoy each other on our weekends.  And of course, Church on Sunday morning!

Our nights:

In my perfectly scheduled mind, the kids would get showers and a snack at 8:30 and be in bed by 9:00.  Some nights, we aren't even home until 8:30, so realistically its quiet time at 8:30, then bedtime is usually 9:30 with lights out by 10:00, (and lately, more like 11:00, but Hubs and I vowed to break this TONIGHT!).

ALL OF THE ABOVE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE, WITHOUT ANY NOTICE, AND FOR NO GOOD REASON.  Sometimes, Hubs comes home during workbox time.  We all drop what we're doing to excitedly love on him.  Sometimes, my office calls with an emergency "Can you do it today?" request, and our afternoon studies get pushed aside. 

And then there are sick days, or tired days, or I'm-having-difficulty-with-this-assignment-so-I'd-like-to-make-your-day-harder-Mom days and field trip days.  I truly dislike the disruption that these "sometimes" moments cause.  I wish that everyday would go without a hitch.  A girl can dream right?  But I know that we're all learning, even in those moments.

What's your day like?  I am really, REALLY excited to read all about it!  Perhaps I can get some ideas to make the glitches transform into smoother days.

I'm linking up to I Homeschool Network's Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop.  Click the button below to connect with other homeschooling families! 

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week Five, August 24, 2012

Another week down!

In my life this week:
Cooking!  I'm preparing a bunch of make ahead freezer meals.

I'm also back at the gym thing.  I've gained a whopping 20 pounds since we started homeschooling 2 years ago.  Yucko!  And to top it off, Hubs has decided that he needs to lose weight.  This is true, but my man must be larger than me. :)  I miss running, so I will try my best to get back.  I'm using to help me track and count calories in/out.  Try it out, we can be friends and motivate each other through the website!

Places we're going and people we're seeing:

Let's see:
Saturday - Bowling Lesson, Swimming at Gramom's & Pop's, Grocery

practicing their snorkeling

Sunday - Church (nothing more, nothing less)
Monday - Tae Kwon Do

Tuesday - a "Not Back To School Party" with friends at Jump Zone!
Our little homeschool group packed out the place with over 100 kids - Wow!  Great fun for them!

 Followed by lunch with Grandparents.
Spunk's Flat Stanley rode down the slide for a pic.

 Wednesday - Co-op, which we think is awesome!  Then we hit the library.

Spunk reading in the children's section at the library.
Thursday - An impromptu playdate with friends for pizza, cookies, and great conversation.
and the neverending Tae Kwon Do & Baseball practice

Friday - hopefully nowhere!!

And I'm going to add in piano and art class next month?  Crazy Momma here!

What I'm cooking:
Besides the freezer meals, see my meal plan of the week here
also baking chocolate chip cookies and bread.  Is there anything that warms the heart more than homemade bread? I think not, people.
We made these cute taco salad bowls out of tortillas baked on the bottom side of a muffin tin.

In our homeschool this week:
Language - Thoughtful is learning to how to read and access a telephone book.  I have mixed thoughts on this.  Is his generation ever going to need such a tool?  I haven't used a phone book in a decade.  Then again, it is part of his curriculum, and there must be a reason for this lesson.
Math - He's begun multiplication with X's 2.  He loves it and wants to move faster!  We'll see how it goes as we progress.  I'm not getting too excited yet.
Reading - FINALLY finishing the longest chapter book ever!  He has struggled his way through a Berenstain Bears "Big Chapter" book, and it truly was 13 long chapters.  It has taken over three weeks for Thoughtful to finish this one.  Lots of big words, lots of slang conversation, and just lots of difficulty.  But he kept pushing through, and its finished!  Fun reading now.
Phonics:  Its quite boring with him.  He has a lot of decoding assignments, which he doesn't need. 
I'm thinking of jumping forward with some tougher blends/sounds to challenge him a bit more.  He's reading like a champ.  He'll at least try to read anything he can get his hands on, and most times he gets it. 
Language - Complete sentences - beginning with capital, ending with punctuation.
Math - adding +1, time, patterns, introduced to word problems with adding - DISLIKE!
Understanding when to use KE or CK at the end of a word.
Bible - We are learning the Books of the Bible, and we're always moving through our devotions.
History and Science are very close together right now, both based around Creation.  We've finished our Creation lapbooks this week.  In Science we learned all of our continents and oceans.
Thoughtful's labeled map.
They also learned that God separated the dry land from the seas on the third day of creation.  Yep, that would include continents and oceans.

In our "spare time:"
yeah right.
No really, children do play.  They've been shooting bows a lot lately.  Hubs is getting ready for hunting season, and you know the old saying "Monkey see, monkey do..."
If we ever run across a legless deer in the woods, he's goin' down.
 And as we endure our rainy season here in the Sunshine State, we have a lot of runoff water.  We also have many different types of soil around our property, including an area with clay near the surface.  The boys have discovered that clay, and they've been working hard to harvest it for later modeling.

I love to see these little boy hands in the raw ground.

I'm reading:
Sunday School material.  I co-teach with a great school teacher, but neither of us are very experienced in the first grade Sunday School classroom.  Last week, we discovered that we really should be better prepared since the crazies out-number us.

Thoughts/Questions I have:
I'd really like to discover what is the appropriate age to learn keyboarding and computer skills.  Thoughtful has dabbled a bit in typing, until we were left without a desktop machine.  Can he learn on a laptop?  Should we wait?

Also, I'm seriously considering buying the kids tablets for Christmas or birthdays this year.  Why would I do such a silly thing?  They keep stealing my laptop!  Also, I keep reading about a ton of great apps that YOU are using to supplement learning.  It would be cheaper than a handheld gaming system as I'd otherwise have to purchase all of those games.  But I want to hold onto their ambitious imaginative play for as long as possible.  I'm afraid too much technology will squash that.  I'm so unsure on this one!

I'm praying for:
Linda, who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and started chemotherapy this week.
 Her daughter and son-in-law are some of our closest friends.

A final thought:

I'm also praying for the homeschooling Mommas that need encouragement. 

These thoughts follow a conversation I had with a friend this week,
about our shortfalls in motherhood. 

We try so hard to balance all parts of our lives: our husbands, households, children, souls, friendships, service duties, and even jobs.  We try to do it all with a smile, and when we happen to slip with a frown or frustration, we feel we've failed.  Well, you, my friends, haven't failed.  Do not let the enemy get in your heads.  Sure, life would be easier if you sent your children to school, but would it be as memorable?  Would it be a life lived to the fullest?  Would you be following what you know in your hearts to be right and good for your families? 

So, close the books if you need to, and go outside.  Learn to love the small moments with your children.  They are passing by ever so quickly, never to return.  Hold close to the Lord, staying in His Word and prayer.  And know that you're not alone in the trials of this season of your lives.  I am praying for each of you out there! 

All (have sinned and) fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

If we got it right everyday with every task, then He would be finished molding us, and we wouldn't fall short, right?  We are a work-in-progress!

What about you?  How did this week go?  What little moments can you savor?
 I look forward to reading about it!

This week, I'm linking up to The Homeschool Mother's Journal at
Weekly Wrapup at

Monday, August 20, 2012

Menu Plan, August 20, 2012

Alrighty, y'all!  I'm a planner.  Yep, that means food too.  I've been known to plan a month's worth of dinners at a time.  I've seen people look at my calendar and laugh.  I never understand why.  Its good to be prepared right?

So here goes:

Breakfast:  Cereal and fruit (we usually sleep in late on Mondays so we need fast and easy.)
Lunch:  Hot dogs & fries
We have Tae Kwon Do, right slap at supper time, 6:30-8 (usually 8:20 before we actually get out of there).  Early supper time with easy clean up = taco salads!

Breakfast:  Waffles and sausage
Lunch:  We'll be at Jump Zone! for a party, so probably overpriced pizza.
Supper:  Baseball practice from 5:30 to 7:15-ish.  Since we'll be out most of the day, I've decided to use one of our pre-made freezer meals.  Chicken Alfredo Bowties, with broccoli and cauliflower on the side.  I'll stick it in the oven on low before we leave, and it'll be ready for us when we get home.

Breakfast:  Chicken tender biscuits.  We have co-op from 10-12, and last week we were hungry way earlier than lunch time.  So this week, I'll combat the grumbling tummies with a breakfast full of protein.
Lunch:  sandwiches at the park with friends after co-op
Supper:  meatloaf, green beans, ranchy potatoes

Breakfast:  fully-loaded oatmeal (bananas, walnuts, cranberries, apples, and brown sugar)
Lunch: sandwiches again, with fruit and veggies on the side
Supper:  This is the craziest night for us.  Thoughtful has baseball practice from 5:30-7:15.  Spunk has Tae Kwon Do from 6:30-8.  So, everyone gets a snack before we head out, then we get a pizza on our way home.

Breakfast:  pancakes and bacon
Lunch:  cracker stackers (never store bought) & fruit
Supper:  Beef stoganoff in the crockpot and broccoli.  Even though we plan to be home all day, its my cleaning day.  The last thing that I want to do is prepare a big meal and clean up afterwards.

I can't wait to see what's on everyone else's menu for the week.  Bring me some new ideas!  I'm linking up to Orgjunki at where you can find more menu ideas!

Friday, August 17, 2012


One of the things that I decided I wanted to work on this year is Thoughtful's vocabulary.  Our science curriculum is heavy on the vocabulary, but I wanted something for real life.  I really don't foresee him discussing the earth's axis and revolutions, etc. with his buddies. 

So, what's a Momma to do?  She finds the cheap way, of course.

I found this Children's Dictionary at a local homeschooler's delight, an annual used-curriculum sale.  There are lots of deals to be had, and this year I found this beauty!

Do you see the price?  That's right, a whopping $1.50!!
Please don't be jealous. (smile)

Here's how we use it:
Thoughtful opens the workbox to find the Dictionary and his vocabulary book with a sticky note telling him which look to look up.

I always look in the Dictionary to choose a word to assign.

Thoughtful looks up the word,

and completes this fill-in-the-blank worksheet that I created for him.

He writes the word, defines it (simply as you can see), finds a synonym and an antonym, and draws a picture describing the word, if possible.

Last, he cuts off the borders of the page and glues it into his book.  He loves to cut and glue.  That in itself makes this a fun activity to him.  I would much rather punch holes and slip it into a binder, but that would take away his fun.

We always discuss the word and its possible meanings.  He uses it in a sentence with me, but I don't require my dysgraphic guy to write it. 

Dictionary Skills are one of our "extras" that we squeeze in a few times a week, but not everyday.

What do you use to enhance vocabulary for your younger kiddos?
I'm linking to Learning All the time's Favorite Resources of the Week, where you can find other great ideas to enhance your children's homeschool days.  Just click the button!

Favorite Resource This Week

Week Four, August 17, 2012

In my life this week:

We have just completed week four of this year's homeschool journey, and we're comfortably finding our groove.  We are up to all subjects now, and I have no complaints. 

Our local private and public schools resumed this week, so our sports activities were canceled.  This gave Momma a much needed break from the evening run-arounds.

Hubs was home a lot this week, giving us extra family time. 

I'm still coming back from the Great Computer Crash of 2012, our crisis of the year.  I'm still not so sure that computers make life easier.  Hubs completely hates them at this point.  I am doing all of his invoicing and client management for the time being.

Places we're going and people we're seeing:

The bowling alley, fishing in a friend's catfish pond, park time with friends, and swimming with even more friends.  What was that part about not running around so much?

We started co-op for the first time this week!  We had a blast, and can't wait to go back next week.  I'm so blessed to be a part of a wonderful group of like-minded families.  Here I am teaching one of our classes about the seven days of God's Creation.  These kiddos were G-R-E-A-T!!

My favorite thing this week:

A silent prayer lifted up in thanksgiving.  Last night, I had a moment of reflection on our lives as they currently stand.  I am pleased to say how thankful I am.  We have health when a friend is critically ill.  My children are comprehending more and more what is expected of them in the eyes of The Lord.  Thoughtful is showing love even when he'd rather not....sacrificing.  Spunk is willingly giving of his allowance to The Lord, over and above his 10%.  We have the basic necessities of life:  roof, clothes, food, and clean water.

Questions or thoughts I have:

We moved to a year round schooling schedule this year.  Our co-op is following a six weeks on, one week off rotation.  We are too, only we began three weeks earlier.  I was going to have us school until co-op has its first week off, but I'm starting to feel the desire.....  I could really use that week off sooner.  I'm still not sure what we'll do.

Things I'm working on:

Scrapbooking!!!  I'm hoping to crop the boys' portfolios this year.  And maybe, just maybe, I can start on those tonight!

I'm reading:

Absolutely nothing.  <SHUDDER>  With computer backups, system rebuilding, catching up with work, school, and co-op planning, I've had zero time for pleasure reading.

I'm praying about:

I have this sweet friend, and I love her family like my own.  Her husband is my husband's best friend.  He is currently in remission with lymphoma.  Its been a tough battle in itself, but after 3 years of treatment and finally a bone marrow transplant, he's been cancer-free for a while.  His prognosis is very good.

Her mother was just diagnosed with lymphoma.  This is gut-wrenching.  We are praying for her without end.  She sees her doctor today for results from all of her most recent tests, and to hopefully get a course of treatment.  Hearing my Spunk pray for his best friend's Grammy puts tears in our eyes.

A photo, link, or quote to share:
Spunk's Flat Stanley went fishing with Gramom and Pop last weekend!  Here he is taking a dip at Gator Hole, in Crystal River, FL.

This week, I'm linking up to
The Homeschool Mother's Journal, at

and Weekly Wrapup at