Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Reads

I'm glad this is just a log of the books I've read because I'm just a bit embarrassed at how few books I read this month.  Oh, well!  I've got a long summer coming up that's wide open for reading. 

Product Details

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor

Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor

Product Details

It Happened in the Great Smokies by Michael Bradley

Product Details

Persuasion by Jane Austen


Delight Directed Learning:  Guide Your Homeschooler Toward Passionate Learning by Matt and Lee Binz

How to Survive an Orchestral Performance with a Preschooler

We were invited by Daniel's flute teacher to attend a performance she was performing in last night.  Did you notice the start time on that ticket stub?  Yep, 7:30!  I knew I was pushing it, since Michael is sometimes asleep by that time.  We had swim lessons yesterday morning, so I was really pushing the kids' limit.  

We planned on getting there early, because I didn't want to have to park in Timbuktu.  I had went there earlier in the day to buy 2 child's tickets (We were given 2 complimentary tickets).  I found out that children 4 and under attend free, so I only had to buy one ticket.  I scoped out parking and entrances.  We looked around at an art exhibit while we were there.  The Clayton Center for the Arts is such a nice place to walk around and look at the larger than life paintings.  The kids were really impressed.  

So we leave an hour early and get there just as a front row parking spot opens up....SCORE!!!!  Now, I don't have to walk through a parking lot with my kids at night to our car in Timbuktu.  

Now, I will give you some tips on how to survive an hour and a half performance with a 4 year old:

  • First and I do mean first...potty break.  Take your little princess/prince to the bathroom before you sit down.
  • Explain the rules...no talking, quiet listening...etc., depending on the circumstances
  • Bring something for them to put in their mouth...thinking lollipop, or a ring pop in our case.  Actually, I really needed 2 of them for this performance.
  • Let them move around a bit at intermissions or if no one is around you. Michael was in his chair (that just happened to fold up every time he scooted back), on my lap, on the floor, on my lap, floor, chair, lap, repeat 100 times. 
  • Sit on the end of a row near an exit...just in case you need to get out.   I know it's bad manners, but we left a few minute before the end.  Michael had just about had enough and I knew when to say..."Let's go!"  You want it to be an enjoyable experience and not to ruin a performance for those people around you.  He lasted a really long time, so I was grateful.  
  • Devise an alert signal to tell your older children you all need to make a fast getaway.  I had whispered to Tera that I would nudge her when it was time to leave.  Then, she in turn would signal Daniel.  This worked great! 
  • Try to sit away from grumpy people.   You don't need the stress of people turning around and giving you looks because your child accidentally kicks their seat. 
  • Give a strict punishment/reward for age appropriate behavior and stick to it! Oh, don't tell them until you're on the way home to avoid loud wailing or jubilant cries of victory.

So we did pretty well...Michael fell asleep in the car on the way home for a few seconds...no one had a serious meltdown today.  Grumpiness has been our visitor today, but  all the juggling of my four year old was worth it to hear:

"Oh, Sabre Dance was my favorite!"
    "Did you see that guy playing the cello?  He was so good!  That was awesome!"
        "That piece was so sad."
            "Thanks, Mom for taking us tonight!"

That made it all worth it!  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

We made it...pretty much!

Daniel had 4 days of TCAP testing at our local elementary school this week.  So, every morning we headed out and I sat in the office while he tested.  The first day he came out and said, "I think I need to go home and take a nap."  I felt the same way.  By Thursday, you are so tired--not physically tired, really, but a different kind of tired.  

Tera and Michael were home all week.  I found it quite ironic that my two that are energized around people were stuck at home all week.  While the one that needs alone time to function was surrounded by people everyday.  Tera did her schoolwork, helped Michael with activities and cooked our lunch 3 of the 4 days.  I'm not talking sandwiches, either.  She made homemade foccacia bread with a veggie tray, a baked spaghetti casserole and quesadillas.  

 Michael's guitar Tera helped him make.

By Wednesday afternoon, she was almost falling asleep on the couch while JP and I practiced our music.  She came in the kitchen saying:

"I never thought I would be tired of cooking, but I am this week. How do you do it, Mom?"  


"What did you do before you had the practice?"

       "I was tired, just like you are!"

We took the day off from school on Friday, because we had some serious errands to run.  Daniel was invited to go with the 5th grade class to get ice cream at our local ice cream shop-a short walk from our house.  Since, they passed our house on the way, we just watched for them and joined the group.  They were so happy Daniel had come.  We didn't do that for Tera last year, but I just felt (for some reason) that Daniel should participate.  He kinda sat alone for a while just eating his ice cream until some sweet, low- intensity kid came and started talking to him.  He warmed up fairly quickly.
 Daniel practicing his flute

As a homeschooler, I've read articles about rude questioning or comments people have received about their choice.  Frankly, I kinda expect it to happen, but it really hasn't.  The teachers, students and principal were so nice to us.  No questioning, no comments...just nice, accepting people.  I love my town!

Today, we are cooking for a local community service fundraiser...beans, cornbread, desserts. JP and I are performing as a warm up group for the main musical group.  Tera and I are selling friendship bracelets and window stars.  It's a busy day to end a busy week.  

Last night, my body revolted in a manner of speaking.  I got in bed late, woke up a couple of hours later with aches and pains in my hands/feet--aches that kept me from sleeping.  I got up took some medicine and didn't fall back asleep until almost 4 AM.  All the stress, weird eating, crazy routine, not as much exercise or water...finally caught up with me.   I'm definitely taking a day of rest tomorrow.  Fortunately, this upcoming week is a pretty normal one....and the last week of school for us!!!!  I'm really glad!

One little girl at the school asked me, "Do you like sitting here everyday while your son tests?"  I said, "Do you like sitting here waiting on your testing to start?"  She shook her head, no!  Then, I explained that sometimes "you just do what you have to do...it's not a matter of liking it or not!"  

So, we made it, took care of our responsibilities (Well, most of them--my laundry is not done and the house is not as tidy as usual) and kept a smile most of the time.  :)

 Michael copying a cartoon drawing of Daniel's...complete with dialogue he figured out and wrote all by himself.  (Oh)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

2 Corinthians 4:17

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mosaic Reviews: Spanish for You!


We really want our children to learn a foreign language. My husband's heritage is French, but we haven't found a French program that really works for our family. I took 2 years of Spanish in high school, but haven't really looked at it since.   We keep feeling very defeated in this area of our homeschool.  Most programs are so expensive to find one that's affordable for multiple age levels is difficult.  Or they are so involved that they take too much time and prep work.  I was excited to be given the opportunity to review Spanish for You! designed and tested in a homeschool co-op experience by Debbie Annett through the Mosaics Review Team.  

When we received our materials, I have to admit being overwhelmed at the PDF files and trying to figure out what to do...UNTIL...I realized that Debbie's lesson guides, spell it all out for you!  I found the lesson guide for the week and printed it out.  Then followed the list on what to do everyday.  Once a week, I print out the lesson guide and all the worksheets.  Then, we take a few minutes everyday to do our assignments. There is a wide variety of activities on a daily basis. Games, flashcards, audio files, worksheets- no time or opportunity for boredom.   

I received the Estaciones themed book, revolving around the seasons of the year.  There are only 5 lessons in each book.  So, you spend several weeks on the same material-enough time to really learn the material.  In each lesson, we go over  vocabulary, grammar, and verbs.  Kids read, write and speak the language everyday.   My kids were writing and answering questions in Spanish, the very first week! 

Tera and Daniel working on an activity

What we like:

  • Affordable--the whole year for all the grade levels  (grades 3-8) under $75. 
  • Easy to use lesson guides break down what you are supposed to do everyday.  You don't have to figure out how to break this program up into "bite-sized" portions.
  • Grade levels can all work together.  This program is designed so that your 3rd grader is working on their level with the same material, while your 8th grader works at theirs.
  • Flexible and not time consuming-- 4 days a week and right about 10-20 minutes at the most to finish the day's work.
  • Builds a foundation for later Spanish instruction.
  • Lots of fun activities built in--my kids played Simon Dice (Simon Says) and other games.
  • Audio files included.  If you've never had Spanish, you don't have to guess at the pronunciation.  Your child (and you) can listen to the audio files (one of the founder, Debbie Annett and another of a native speaker)
What could be better:

  • The audio files and worksheets did not come arranged in sequential order.  The worksheets are listed in the lesson guide.  So it just took looking for the right one in the worksheet file.  You could organize them into sub-folders, but it would be nice if these came arranged in the order they are used in the book.
UPDATE:  Since posting, these files have been reorganized by Spanish for You!  Now when you order,  the audio files are organized by lessons and the worksheets will come in folders for each grade level!!  What great customer service!!!
  • There were a couple of words on the assigned worksheets that had not been covered previously in the printed material. This might be frustrating to parents with no Spanish background.   It would be great if there were a vocabulary list that included all the words in maybe a glossary type appendix.     If my children came across a word that was not introduced in the material previously, I encouraged them to try and figure out the meaning of the word from the context clues.  They could usually figure it out. We just googled any other ones.  At the beginning of the book, there are common words/phrases and commands vocabulary lists.  

Dictation exercise

There are three different  thematic packages to choose from:
Estaciones (Seasons), Fiestas (Celebrations), or Viajes (Travels)  (full package coming in June 2013)  

Each package can be purchased for grades 3-8 ($64.95) 
or individually (3-4; 5-6; or 7-8 for $39.95 each) 

The package contains:  
  • soft cover book
  • the following in PDF downloads:   lesson guides for the grades you need (24 weeks for grades 5-6 and 7-8, 30 weeks for grades 3-4); self-checking worksheets; and flashcard/activity pictures.
  • audio files of entire book plus a bonus audio with a native speaker as a MP3 download. 

If you are a teacher and would like to use this product in a classroom setting, there are lesson plans that can be purchased in addition to the packages.  Fiestas is available now, and the others are coming available in May and throughout the summer of 2013. 

The website also includes:  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Civil War Encampment

JP needed to go into work for a while today, so we had him drop us off at our local county museum grounds for a Civil War re-enactment. 


The cannon that about destroyed my hearing...there were people standing right up on that thing, too.  That poor older lady spinning will have no hearing and no nerves left at the end of the day.

A friend we met on our homeschool bowling trips let Michael hold his gun and wear his hat.  I think that just about made Michael's day! 

Some friends were out and about and met us over there.  
We had such a nice time hanging out! 

A skirmish...

Spring is finally here!!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Livin' in the Moment

Some friends invited us out to the park for a play date and asked us to bring along our fishing poles.  After a handle fell off one pole, another one breaking a line...we called it a day and headed to the playground. 

I've been keeping our Razor scooters in the trunk of the car for any opportunity that might come up.  Instead of trying to entertain the boys while Tera has piano lesson, we seized the moment and rode up and down their driveway.  Great exercise in the cool of the day!  I'm thinking this will be great this summer!  

Strawberry blossoms and new paver stones put in by my husband out our front door...I think he did an awesome job!

It's been a busy week...lots of things going through my mind...I'm sure I'll share those thoughts in some form very soon.  For now, I'm trying to live in the moment and not feel overwhelmed....knowing that God's peace is right there just when I need it!!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning

We've been spring cleaning all week.  In the past, I do it all on my own and kill myself for a couple of days.  This year, I decided Tera and Daniel were old enough to help.  I approached it quite differently this time around.  

First, I broke up the house into rooms...hall, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom.   So, we covered one room a day downstairs (I left off the office/junk room...that's a week in and of itself).  I listed out the jobs for each room.  We moved furniture, wiped baseboards, cleaned windows, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned out clutter, and any other room specific jobs.  

Next, each day the kids had ONE area in their room to clean up...closet, floors, toy bins, under bed, desk/under desk, and bookshelves.

Finally, the kids had ONE assigned job in our upstairs middle area....top of game shelf, game shelves, straighten book shelves, clutter, vacuum, string basket.

We spent way less than 2 hours a day...relaxing hours, getting our house clean.   
JP worked  outside everyday doing jobs he's been wanting to get around to...we inspired him.  

Tera mentioned that we should do this on a more regular basis.  I thought about that this week and decided that was a great idea.  I always feel the need to do major cleaning at certain times of the year.  So this will fit right into our lives.  Now, I have at least two helpers and I'm training them how to deep clean a house.  I think the week before school starts and the week before Thanksgiving, in addition to an annual spring clean will work nicely for us.  

It feels so nice in here...the windows are open, a cool breeze is blowing and there are no dust bunnies floating around...well, maybe a couple.  There's only so much you can do when you have a cat, a dog and 2 long haired women in the house.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013


We bowled some strikes, we bowled some spares...we bowled some gutter balls...

We played, laughed and talked and had a great time!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Old Times

I rearranged our schedule, so for now, we have Tera and Daniel's music lessons back to back.  It's more driving on that one day, but less overall.  

After lessons, we headed to the park to meet our very good friends who were in town for the day.  It was so good to see them...just like old times...except all the kids were a bit taller.  

 The boots in this next picture...look like an invisible kid is standing in them.  :)

 Have you ever tried to get 7 kids all facing the camera with normal faces in the same shot? 
It's not easy, let me tell ya....but that's our brood...cute and goofy!

When we got home...Daddy had finished our long garden bed...WOOHOO!!!  Now, it's ready for some amaranth.  


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