Sunday, July 28, 2013


I'm just going to dive right in. Everybody got your floaties?

  • I am listening to: Well, until I started blogging, I was listening to thunder. There's a storm all around us but not quite over us. It's raining all around us. Kinda cool, actually. Now my headphones are plugged in and my play list is shuffling it's heart out. The kids are holed up in a bedroom somewhere watching videos on YouTube. Yes, I know what they're watching and I really do know where they are. I think. Uh. Oh.
  • Around the garden: Some success, some failures. We seem to be the bell pepper masters. They don't get ginormous, but they have some decent size to them. We almost can't get them to quit growing. I found tobacco worms the other day on one of the plants. They chewed the tops off of most of the stalks. They will never do that again. I looked at the plant yesterday and they are already growing new leaves. Yes! Our okra in one planter is beautiful. The plants are anyway. I'll be excited to be able to pick. And of course, we have lettuce and spinach growing like nobody's business. Well, except for yours because I just told you. We have them growing in stages. We have what we're picking now in the aero system that hubby built, soon to be picked in the tower, and seedlings in the other half of the aero tower. We also have chard, baby bok choy, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. The strawberry plants were bonuses as they just showed up in the garden one day. Awesomeness!
  • Around the school room: Out with the old, and in with the new. All the new books are in the appropriate drawers, waiting for the first day of school. The big girl has been registered for her Latin class. We're just waiting for her to be assigned to a classroom and a teacher. Co-op day and time have been set. The big girl and I have made lesson plans. A school supply list has been made. I have some ideas for field trips that have to do with our biology. Believe it or not, even the kids are ready to start school.
  • From the kitchen: Tonight is make your own pizza night. I've been in kind of a cooking rut lately. I get that way, usually in the summer. I'm done, over it. And then, a couple of months later, I get my second wind. Come on, second wind!! I did make some brownies the other day that were super delicious. I added peanut butter to them. They were so good, I had to make a second batch. A few months ago I learned how to make a really good roux, which is a base to gravy and some sauces. I use it for everything. Macaroni and cheese seems to feature prominently in the requests for dinner. I use the roux to make the cheese sauce. I added mozzarella to it the last time I made it. Holy cow, that was good! Other than that, I'd rather make a phone call or reservations.
  • Outside my window: Weirdness. Weather cracks me up. The storm that was around us has moved. Now it's gray out the back windows and sunshine coming in the front windows. Mother Nature is a woman, you know.
That's about it for now. I need to go cut veggies for pizza. My belly's growling.

Have a great day.   

Friday, July 26, 2013

Curricula! Curriculum! Curricula! Curriculum!

I love homeschooling. I had great mentors when I started homeschooling that have helped me on this journey. Without my friends, I don't think things could have gone so well. The knowledge that veteran homeschoolers have to share is priceless. Whether it's issues teaching addition or if diagramming is necessary, everybody has an opinion and has had that same question. One thing that we all have in common, no matter the length of time we've been at this, is making sure we have the right curriculum for our kids. Curriculum isn't always one size fits all. Some are, or at least a multi-level curriculum. Love those! We have had some duds, let me tell you what. We have also made really great choices. Here are a few of my faves:

  • Story of the World: We love this curriculum. It is taught in a Charlotte Mason way, with fact woven into stories. This has been our favorite history. There are 4 volumes, starting with nomads and moving forward. If I could get my hands on the 4th volume, we would continue to use it. There is map work for each chapter. You chart the path, highlight the major cities, and actually see where in the world we just talked about. There are several activities for each chapter as well. They vary from cooking to arts and crafts to light sewing to who knows what. There are several recipes we got from the activity guide that have become family favorites. They also vary by age. They have activities for younger, elementary to upper middle or high school. It also includes a reading list that goes with each topic discussed. We have done history together since we started homeschooling. And this is why. We switched to something else I can't even remember, and my kids asked to go back to this. Absolutely!
  • Wordly Wise: This is vocabulary. I look at different vocabulary books every year. Most of the time I let whatever vocabulary that comes with their language arts be it. The problem with that is the kids don't remember it because there aren't enough reasons for them to. There may be a couple of activities, but writing the word 10 times, though it can be effective, is not what I consider an activity. That's memorization, not learning what the word is, what it means, and how to use it. Wordly Wise does that. Each list is at least 15 words. There are at least 5 activities for each list, the last one being my favorite. The last activity is a paragraph followed by questions. It's reading comp and usage! There are the same number of questions as there are vocab words. Each word is used either in the question or the answer. It's not the kids favorite when they have to figure out which word goes in the answer, but I like it! It makes them think harder. One of the best things? It is relatively inexpensive at about $20 bucks for workbook and answer key. They even have tests available, but that's what I use that last activity for. 
  • Rod and Staff Grammar: This is one of those things that I wanted to use for a long time, but wasn't sure if it would fit my kids. I bit the bullet. I got a set for free and it was the baby's level. She learned so much using R&S. It was one of the things she asked to do every day. Who wants to do grammar every day? The baby and then the boy when he started using it. Grammar was not something that I had focused very strongly on, but it shows up later when they start writing. One prominent feature is diagramming. Diagramming is one of the most debated topics in homeschooling. Crazy, right? There's the side that says it's not necessary, then the other side that says it's vital. I can tell you I used to be on one side, but now I think it's one of the most important tools in teaching grammar. It really helps you to see what goes with what, and how to tell and adjective from an adverb. I kid you not.
  • Grapevine Studies: I can not say enough good things about Grapevine Studies. Learning the bible using stick figures. Who came up with that? I don't know, but we have the best time with it. I am no artist. I can, however, draw stick figures. Not well, but still. The thing I like about it the most is that the kids remember what we've learned because of what we've done. How can you ask for more than that? You should ask them about the 10 plagues and the boils. Eeeewww!
These are just some of our favorites. They make my kids like school more. They make our day much more fun. They make our day go much more smoothly and quickly. They make my life easier, and I like that for sure. Now it's your turn to dish and talk about your favorites.

Have a great day.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dancing the Days Away

Summer dance, we love you so...

Since we have been dancing, which is 11 years now, we have wanted to take summer dance. The issue has always been time and money. This year, however, we got a deal we couldn't turn down. So we didn't. I could kick myself for not trying summer classes earlier, deal or no, but that would be futile and a waste of my time. Except for ballet for the big girl and the boy (those classes were actually quite large), it was almost like having private dance lessons. Here's some pics for your enjoyment.

This is the big girl with her friend, D, and our tap teacher. We love Mrs. V! The big girl was worried about tap since she had never taken it before. She loved it. I'm so glad we took the time before camp to teach her some steps. I think that helped her when she got to class. You should have heard all the giggling coming from that room. Loved it!!

This is the baby's ballet class, with the ballet mistress, Miss S. That woman is amazing! The baby was the oldest, with the other 2 girls being 5 and 7. I am so proud of the baby. She did very well and found a new dance style to love. It makes my heart happy when my kids are excited about dance.

This is the scaled down version of the big girl's ballet class. This summer was the first time she has taken an hour and a 1/2 class. She would come out of class shaking she worked so hard. Then, with a huge smile, would say "I can't wait to come back tomorrow!"

Hip hop, baby!! I had signed the boy and the baby up, but the boy missed the first class because of camp. The big girl missed hip hop so much, I had her take the last class and she loved it. See the cutie patootie in the bottom right side of the pic. That's Miss C. Holy smokes, that chicky can dance! I am so glad the kids got to take a class from her. Notice that 3/4 of the class is my kids? They rocked it!

Once again, a couple of pics of the big girl's ballet class. It was hard to get a pic of everyone because of vacations and stuff, but that class was huge. Miss. S said she was going to push the girls, and women, really hard this summer and she did! I'm proud of all of them for making it through with smiles on their faces!! I would sit and watch the class thinking "There is no way I could that!" and theses talented people made everything look easy! Stinkers...

This was the last tap class for the boy and the baby. The class they took earlier in the week had just been my kids. I like the diversity of the class and the fact that all the people in this pic are our friends. What a great way to spend the day!

This is my favorite pic of the big girl's class. Aren't they beautiful?! I think so.

This is the boy's ballet class. This summer was the first time he has taken an hour and a 1/2 of ballet as well. He got quite the workout. Miss S has very high expectations of him and pushed him a lot this summer, too. He pushed himself. He rocked it.

The kids learned so much this summer! They got pushed beyond their comfort zones and did such a fantastic job. We were there Monday through Thursday, from 930 in the morning until at least 130 in the afternoon for 3 weeks. I brought lunch for everyone and we sat in the back rooms, eating and swapping stories. It was spending time with family. I have known most of these kids since they started dancing and most of the adults, too, so they are family to us. My kids were taught by amazing and talented teachers that put their heart into every class. They left every class excited about the next one. We went home every afternoon and took a nap!! It was awesome!

Have a great day.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


We got a dog. We've had her for about 3 months, and our lives will never be the same. She is sweet and loving and is very protective of us. She also loves it when our neighbor, Mr. D, gives her "cookies". She will be 6 months old on the 17th of this month. Here's a couple of pics:

Ohmigosh! Look at that little fur ball!! How can you not want to cuddle the stuffing out of her?!? Look at her little paws. She was attached to hubby from the word go. If he took a step, she did, too. Funniest thing ever.

That sweet face. Notice she's laying next to hubby? Yeah, that happened a lot. Still does even though she's 20 lbs heavier.

 This pic makes her look big, but she's only about 8 weeks old. Those cute little paws have started to fill out some. Uh. Oh.

This was Stella's first vet appointment. Notice who she's sitting next to? Good thing I'm not a jealous woman. She did very well. She did get protective when the vet came in and Stella barked and barked. She would back up in front of the kids like the vet was going to come after all of us with that thermometer. Crazy dog.

I took this a couple of weeks ago. You can't really tell how much she's grown in this pic, but she's at least triple the first shot if not more. This is what she does all day. "Play with me!!" "No, Stella, I want to watch TV." "Play with me!!" Then she jumps on the couch, or you, or you on the couch. At least she brings toys.

I love Stella. I love her so much, I decided not to show you the pics of the broken blinds. One happened when she was chasing a fly. I'm surprised the window is still intact. The other happened when she tried getting out of our bathroom window to the garden, where we were. The window was closed. Again, we must have some awesome windows. Blinds, not so much. She's so sweet, I won't show you the pieces and parts of her toys that she's ripped apart. The toy in the last pic is in pieces. She still plays with it, though. I will tell you that I am so glad hubby decided to get a dog. I'm glad he picked Stella. And I'm glad when he gets home, he takes her outside to play. She has found a Frisbee that has become her new favorite. Just like she's our favorite.

Have a great day.