Friday, August 30, 2013

Daniel's Birthday

The cute card Michael made for Daniel...

The cake made by Tera

Playing the flute has strengthened his ability to blow out all those candles.

Presents and goofiness

A present "from Michael" that turned out to be a present for Michael and Daniel to play together- hex bugs.  It took Michael a minute to realize that one of them was for him.  I wish I got a picture of him jumping up and down shouting "Yes!" 

Group gift of some videos 
(We have a group gift at every kids' birthday--a tradition we started a long time ago.)

My guys

 My not-so-little-anymore guy and his mommy that loves him so much!

Mosaic Reviews: Homeschool Programming Inc- Beginning Web Design

It's been a while since I took an actual computer class.  I know very little about computer programming, but I wish I knew more as I'm venturing further into this bloggy world.  When we had the opportunity to review a program from Homeschool Programming, Inc., my kids and I literally jumped at the chance.  Tera and Daniel both were so excited.  We chose to review the Kid Coder:  Beginning Web Design program and started our adventure.   


Each KidCoder/TeenCoder programs are designed as a one semester course for grades 4th-12th grade. It teaches the basics of computer programming with self paced lessons.  There are several purchasing options for the program we reviewed:

Beginning Web Design- Course and Video  $85
Beginning Web Design- Video Only     $20

There are 8 different programs that you can work through: 4 Kid Coder Programs:  Beginning and Advanced Web Design, Windows Programming and Game Programming; 4 Teen Coder Programs:  Windows, Android, Game and Java Programming.  You can find sample pages and videos on their website.  For pricing, purchasing options or discount bundles, visit Homeschool Programming, Inc.  

Course Tracks

What's the history and philosophy behind this program?

"Homeschool Programming, Inc. was founded by homeschooling parents who have B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. We have a combined 17+ years of experience in the software industry."  
(quote taken from their website) 

I am certainly not an expert on the subject of coding and programming.   So it was nice to see how much experience the Homeschool Programming, Inc. founders had.  They created this curriculum because they could not find any comprehensive resources on the internet to teach kids and teens how to work with programming and software. 

 "So, we decided to write curriculum of our own. We wanted to use our love of computers and programming to inspire a new generation. We set out to create courses that would teach professional programming languages in a fun way that students could understand and that non-technical parents could teach. KidCoder and TeenCoder were born!" 
(quote taken from their website) 

What we like:
  • Students can work through this program on their own with a little help from parents.  We are on lesson 5 and my role basically involves opening the files to get them started.  Then, they watch the video, read the text, follow the directions on how to write code for their own website and save their work.  Each student does a pre-made website on Raptors: Birds of Prey
  • These programs teach a great skill that would stand out on college transcripts and lays the foundations for future careers in technology

  • Practical!  This program teaches the basics for building your own web site using HTML.  As a blogger, this is such a great skill to know!  

  • Instructional videos.  These were great especially for visual learners.  It hits the highlights of each lesson in a whimsical fun way.  They include screen shots that help students work through the activities.  

  • My kids were speaking in computer lingo by the end of the first week.

  • Kids only need a basic working knowledge of how their computer works.  My kids also picked up some of these skills while we were working through each activity.  

Tera says:  "I like the fact that the program lets you copy and paste your codes instead of having to type them out." 

Daniel says:  "It's great!  It's terrific!  I love it!  I don't like that the activities are in a different file from the lessons"  (Clarification:  The activity files were in a different type of file which made the highlighting of various html codes harder for him.  He likes the pdf lesson files better.)

What we struggled with:

Initial set up.   For this review, we did not receive the CD-Rom version or printed book.  We had to load the individual files onto our computer.   When I went back in to find the files, I had a harder time locating where they had saved onto my computer.  I think this was more operator error than the program.  I did love the Getting Started guide on their website that walks you through the set up. 

There are a lot of files to have open at once when working in the program. (Probably due to the fact that 2 of my children are working on it at the same time.)  Once we had been through the first week, I had everything bookmarked and locations saved.  Now, it's very easy to find everything we need to get started.  Tera has even started helping me with that process.  So, what I thought was really hard and difficult was just a matter or forming a new habit. Some of it has to do with being one of those "non-technical parents" mentioned above.  We got the hang of it through using the program just like any other skill. When you receive the CD-Rom and printed versions, I would imagine it would be even easier to get started. 

This is one of those programs we will definitely stick with until we are finished.  My kids are learning the foundations of coding their own websites. It fits easily into our school day, so we work on it everyday.   Both of my children have plans on what kind of website they will design in the future.  

Maybe one day, they can even help me out!   Or I just might go through the program myself! 

Homeschool Programming, Inc.


Thursday, August 29, 2013


11 years--- since we brought you home! 

We can't believe how much you've grown.  Physically, we can see that easily, but we've seen you grow and mature in spirit as well. We've seen you become more self-controlled and persevere this year more than ever.  

You have so many talents and abilities that amaze us.  You can make us roar with laughter and sometimes frustrate us to no end.  Your enthusiastic personality, love of books and just plain ol' zaniness never ends. 

We're so glad God gave you to us!  We love you so much and are so proud to call you our son!!!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Week According to Facebook

I thought it would be funny to see all my facebook statuses for the last week in blog form.  Sometimes I use facebook like a blog of sorts.  I type in little funny things that happen, or crazy things.  

So here ya go, the last week according to facebook (listed most recent first):  

Whoops...I left my facebook up while I've been gone all morning. 

"Better the storm with Christ than the smooth waters without Him." -MacDuff

Birthday fever is messing us up this week. Let's hope the kids can focus one more school day before Daniel's birthday. Glad we keep birthdays low key or we'd never get anything done for weeks. 

Just made this and surprisingly all three of my children liked it after one bite and asked for a serving.    

My older son decided to let his little brother throw K'nex at him repeatedly....oh's bad. Guess who's helping his little brother clean it up?

Well, it all started with Tera baking muffins. Then, I cooked a pot of lentils. Hey, since the kitchen is already hot, why not do some prep cooking for the next two weeks? Lentil Burgers-done, lentils ready to go for a soup tomorrow, black beans soaking and two lbs. of ground turkey starting to cook.

I love my husband so much more than I dislike mowing the lawn.

My boys pretending that there is a BIG lizard in the house they need to catch is not that amusing to me.

I just got beat twice playing Candy Land with a 4 year old!

Michael still mispronounces octopus as "hoctopus"...
Daniel yells down, "Can Michael have National Inquirer books, I mean, magazines in bed?" I'm like, "What? We don't buy National Inquirer!" It was NATURAL Inquirer a kids' nature magazine. I got roaring laughter when I explained that National Inquirer was a magazine with "Aliens are taking over the planet" headlines.
We said goodbye to our Pepper today (our cat for 16 years)...
Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bunk bed....Michael can't figure out how to eat his baked oatmeal and yogurt with ONE spoon. He REALLY REALLY needs TWO spoons. All our suggestions have fallen on stubborn ears...go get another spoon, kid...just go get another spoon.
Left for lessons at 8 AM, grocery store and post office stops on the way home, finished school, lunch, play date with Tera giving baking lessons and I Love Lucy, it's been a great long day...this headache is telling me to make sure to go to bed nice and early tonight. Another great day tomorrow!
Heartwarming Moment of the Day: Hearing Daniel and Michael singing along to "Our God's not dead, He's surely alive" in the back seat in between music lessons this morning. I loved that!!!    

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reality: Success

You don't know what joy these pictures bring to my heart.  

Have your kids ever just struggled with something?  You weren't sure how to get them past their mental block to succeed.  

Bike riding has been that for us.  

It's an idyllic scene.  Kids riding bikes and their parents casually strolling along side.  Everyone is laughing happily and having a great time.

Reality:  We live in a rural area with limited sidewalks and no real safe places for riding.  To ride bikes my husband has to load all 3 bikes in the back our van.  Yes, we bought a bike rack, but found out that none of the bikes fit on it.  So, into the van they go.  Finally, they're loaded  and we're loaded into TWO cars to drive to a bike path 10-20 minutes away.  We've never lived in a typical neighborhood that was conducive for bike riding.  Now, we have 2 older kids that are beginner riders.  There are cries of frustration, tears, crashes and finally success. 

Sometimes,  we as parents set a time table for our kids to  learn certain skills.  If they don't meet our "deadlines", we start to freak out.    We think, "My kid can't read, but he's x years old. He should have learned this by now.  Everybody else's kid can do that.  What is wrong with him?  What is wrong with me as a parent/teacher?"   We want/need someone to blame. Or in some cases, we're ready to just throw in the towel.  "Do they really need to know that skill? Is it really important whether or not they learn that?" 

Instead of blaming or giving up, why don't we just do what we can to help our kid get to the next level of success? 

  • Make it doable!
  • Go with the flow without comparing or blaming.
  • Rethink what success looks like. 
  • Don't give up!

Success is not always a one time thing, it's built through gradual steps toward your goal.   

My kids are not expert riders, YET they are successful!  They've gotten past the hardest part.  Now, as parents we just encourage them and give them opportunities to practice.  We encourage them to keep taking those steps forward.  

Reality:  It's an idyllic scene.  Kids riding bikes and their parents casually strolling along side.  Everyone is laughing happily and having a great time.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Flying by....

This week we added back one more activity.  So, we only have two more to go before our schedule is as full as I want it to be.  We've been hanging out for chess club and the kids have been enjoying it.  Daniel won his first game yesterday and Tera offered a draw on her game (She could win with a difficult rook move, but her opponent couldn't checkmate with his knight...or something like that).  We've seen new people every week and I just relax and enjoy the leisurely pace of hanging out.  

Tera has realized that this year she has to study harder after taking her first science test last week.  This week she put in the time studying and did great.

Pop Art Landscape (Find the tutorial at Art Projects for Kids)  

So, I had all these "big" yet easy plans for preschool.  Most of that has flown out the window.  I'm going with the flow.  Michael asked to do math a couple of days, so we did.  Today he wanted to do "spelling"  as you can see from the picture below.   He usually just plays with his preschool stuff. 

I have really liked using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  In my attempt to try to "finish" the book, I was frustrating both of us.  The stories in the last 25-35 lessons are so long that it was not working for either of us.  So, I took a step back and realized....I'm NOT IN A HURRY!!  We are now splitting the lessons we did daily over the week.  Shorter time each day, more doable!  Guess what?  He's still learning how to read, we're just moving along at our own pace.  I love homeschooling for that flexibility! 

Daniel has taught himself to knit using two pencils at first and a pdf tutorial.  He upgraded to two bamboo skewers.  He's doing really well, but has slowed down a bit since he checked out some origami books yesterday.  

Tera has been giving some friends baking lessons when they get together.  Yesterday, they all baked delicious blueberry scones.  We ate them all before I thought to take a picture.  They were great! 

I saw this quote recently that said something like:  "When you have kids the days are long, but the years are short."  It feels like the weeks are just flying by.  I love seeing how my kids are growing and developing their own individual talents and interests.  Sometimes it seems like  this growing up thing  happens in the blink of an eye.  Then I think about my own mom and how she probably thinks the same things about me. 

Saying Goodbye is Hard

Pepper 2007

We said good-bye to our precious kitty, Pepper yesterday.  She had been going downhill for a while and it wasn't until I saw the above picture that I realized just how much.  I cried myself to sleep last night because I'm going to miss my friend of 16 years.  My Pepperoni--Peppernoni.

It was weird to wake up this morning to a quiet kitchen, no Pepper there to greet me and meow for food.  She was a great cat!  I've never been a cat person, but Pepper and I co-existed pretty well.  She has been our only pet that has been there through all the years.  Others had come and gone, but Pepper was our constant companion.  

She was abandoned when someone moved and when we went to the Humane Society to adopt a cat--they were all in quarantine, except Pepper, who had just been spayed.  We took her home that day!  

She was beautiful and I'm truly going to miss her!  

Some people think pets won't be in heaven, but unless you've been there---you just don't know.  I like to think they will be.  God created them and they are our little furry friends.  It brings tears to my eyes to think of her and our little crippled kitty Tiny Tim playing and napping together along side my other loved ones that are there waiting for me, too.  

I didn't think it would be this hard, but with tears in my is...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Best-laid plans go astray...

Our plan was to head out to the mountains for a morning hike, but the closer we got the heavier the rain fell. This was the first time we've ever really taken Michael on a hike in the mountains.  But we had to take a detour to Cades Cove.  We don't make it a habit of going to Cades Cove because of the crowds, but the rain helped take care of that as well.   The clouds on the mountains were beautiful!

The rain gave someone an abundance of puddles to splash in.


We walked around like tourists including some goofy pictures. 

The only wildlife we saw up close in Cades Cove was a pretty sorry looking turkey.  (There were deer way out in the distance) 

As we were leaving Cades Cove, the weather cleared up.  Seeing the sunshine was almost depressing, because we were really looking forward to a hike.  We decided to turn off onto the Tremont Road and that's where we saw this little guy in the woods right by the road.  He galloped off a couple of feet at the sight of us and then turned around and posed a bit.  He was actually quite close.  In all the years we have lived here, we have never seen a bear...never.  Not in Cades Cove or on any trail.  

I joke that I like to see my wild animals at the zoo.  After today, I pretty much feel the same.   This guy galloped off into the woods and we headed up the road to Tremont.  

God's beautiful creation

We had heard there was a falls trail right behind Tremont, so we thought we'd give it a try.  We followed the signs marked Falls and headed off.  It was pretty steep and root-y.  That was okay until JP started slipping on the trail in front of us, so then we had to turn around.  We got to the bottom and decided we'd walk on further on the Meigs Mountain/ Curry Mountain Trails.  I let JP go in front, well, because he's bigger and could scare bears off easier.  Michael and Tera walked ahead with him.  We weren't 100 yards up the trail, when he stopped.  They had seen another bear...a big bear.  Tera said the size of the ones at the zoo.  (They are huge).  I thought for a minute he was joking, but realized really quickly he was not.  He said (after he caught up with me---I was outta there quickly in the opposite direction)  that the bear had run off a few feet but then turned around looking at them like he was going to stand his ground. So, we left him to his turf and headed back to our car and to lunch! Needless to say, we weren't taking snapshots of this bear.  I'm so thankful that I let JP go first, because I'm quite sure I might have fainted.  

These two little fakers trying to pretend they were asleep when we pulled into the driveway.  

Most days don't go exactly how we plan them.  Sometimes we just need to stop--enjoy splashing through rain puddles, seeing clouds on a mountain, and unforgettable memories of encountering bears on the trail. 


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