Friday, September 28, 2012

The BIG not-so-big News

After a full weekend of visiting Colonial Williamsburg, picking up parents at the airport and hanging out at a local park with a little cousin;)...

 we decided to bring Anna to a pet store. Recently she has been researching having a pet guinea pig. She's read pet books, took an online pet "quiz", even priced all the items she'd need to care for the guinea pig. But she had never touch/held one!

It ended up being a good idea because she wasn't very excited about getting one as we were leaving. I did have her touch/hold a rabbit and she was leaning in that direction more as we headed out the door.

But then we made another visit.... to a puppy store.

Just as a side note ... we've talked about getting a dog for years... it's always been a known thing that we'd have to get a dog for our kids because they've been asking. We've had all the inside/outside, small/big, puppy/pound dog conversations! And even things that we'd like in a dog... when the time came... later down the road :)

Of course when we told them our requirements of a dog (inside dog, small/medium sized, ok with allergies, and doesn't shed,and very good with small children) they said they had the "right" dog for us....

and he was:)

We are not "quick decision" makers.... getting a puppy right now was NOT in the plans!!
But this little guy fit us to the T!!

So we took him home that nigh:) Totally unlike us;)




For those who know more about dog breeds (which I am totally not one of them) he is a Cavashon. A mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Bichon Frise. He is just 5 months old and weighs about 15 pounds.

He is very easy going but will get very playful when the kids get him excited... which is perfect for us;)

He is content on any couch...

and even in a lap;)
I love Chris' expression....LOL!! Doesn't the puppy look content;)


He can also be found being carried around the house by either of the girls... which he is also fine with;)

And he is beginning to really like being outside!! Funny to see a dog that wasn't used to grass at all (kinda sad) begin to enjoy running through the grass:)


Besides crate training him and house breaking him, the only thing left he really needs is a name:( We're working on it;)

 And while I've definitely questioned the timing... I'm really seeing how it's a good time. The kids care for the puppy pretty much the whole day:) Brian and I will take him out in the morning as soon as we take him out of our washroom (soon moving him to a crate). And I bathe him (when he needs it) and put him in at night.

I'll be honest that the first few nights were a little crazy!! Thankfully it's settling down and I'm actually sleeping in MY bed for the night.... I missed more sleep with him for the first few days than I ever did with my babies;)

We are really pleased with our decision to bring this little guy home!! He's such a sweet, loving and silly dog. He's a puppy so we have puppy antics all day, everything from stealing underwear and chewing toys to taking puppy led walks hoping he'll go his business outside;)

He's definitely added some extra craziness to the days;) But the kids adore him and he's great for us!! 

Linking up to {phfr} and Moments to Remember.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: A Fun Week!!

Our family way was about accepting correction and discipline from parents (and other authorities).  Again, I like that this study is written from a "heart issue" approach rather than just a rigid you MUST obey. I like that through the discussion questions, the kids could understand why parents have to correct and discipline.

I posted the kids' list of what they think we are teaching them that they will need in adulthood;)

Language Arts
We are chugging along through the Grammar, Spelling and Writing;) This week I wanted to share how we are using Spelling Power with Chris and Lydia. Technically Spelling Power is used with older kiddos, like 3rd grade and up.

But I really didn't want to hunt for something formal for my middle two... again trying to get reading first and keeping the fun of learning in those younger years... trying;)


IMG_1080So what we've been doing is going over ONE rule/group a week. After we talk about the rule and maybe give examples of words with that sound or spelling, they copy the rule on their own paper. Then the next day (or if they are still with me) I give them the words for the week as a test. The rest of the week they practice their misspelled words only.

Some of the activities are making the words with play-doh, making sentences, rhyming, copying them 3 times, etc!! The ways to practice these words are endless and many are fun;)

For reading this week, Anna read through the Josephine series from American Girls. Lydia is working through some Magic School Bus books and Chris has enjoyed some books off our own shelf. For read aloud, we read some history books from the library and The Adventures of Homer Price by McCloskey.

Moving right along in math!!

her favorite "quiet" spot to finish math:)


We worked on a few more experiments with air.

The first was that air can be pushed together. We did the experiment a couple of times (it was simple) but I didn't think they were getting it, so Anna and Chris acted it out for us;)


The point of the next two experiments was that air slows down things moving through it. Our first experiment was dropping 2 pieces of paper, one balled up and one opened wide).


And then the kids made "helicopters". At first I tried to correct Chris for making the "blades" too long. But we quickly saw the difference in the time it took the "helicopters" to drop based on the size/depth of the "blades". Pretty cool how it expanded the experiment.


And we started outside but quickly remembered that the staircase inside would give us a LOT more height to drop the "helicopters".

Can't beat having Science class outside;) It's too pretty to stay inside!

Last week we studied about the Alamo. Besides the normal history routine we did some of the activities, too!!

Making super-sized Alamo shaped cookies;)


Making Texas Ranger badges and then having friends over to play a game!! It was great having another home schooling family come over for a an hour or two to play! The kids really enjoyed each others company and the mommas got to chat, too:) Definitely more play times ahead;) no pics.. sorry.. too busy helping with the game and chatting;)

Reading some biographies of those involved with the Alamo was also a highlight. Our favorites were Susanna of the Alamo by John Jakes and Davy Crockett : young pioneer by Laurence Santrey.

We also were able to visit Colonial Williamsburg over the weekend;) Definitely a great visit and day of history in a very FUN and hands-on way:) I haven't even started on getting those pictures off the camera yet:)

We finished our study of Van Gogh last week. We didn't complete the lapbook component, so I'm hoping to do a little review time this week and do the lapbook all together.

I was intrigued by how Van Gogh painted stars, the moon and the sun. So we reviewed Starry Night again and then I had the kids try to make their own night sky using the same colors and style of Van Gogh.


I thought their paintings turned out well:)



A book we have read a couple of times (because it takes seconds) is Vincent's Colors. A great library find;)

We have a local home schooling mother who was formerly a music teacher. She offered a bi-monthly music class for other local home schoolers. Last week was our first week and it was great! We are very excited about this opportunity:)

Tot School
My littlest practicing shapes and colors! He calls it "Uno"... LOL!!
He's supposed to step on only a certain color or shape.... he always thinks it funny when he steps on the wrong ones;)

It's remarkable though how much they learn at this age through simple games and play! Such a sweet stage... and a little messy:)

I'm hoping to share our not-so-big but BIG-to-us Family News. Maybe before the weekend;) FB friends already know... Grammie shared it with the world on Sunday:)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Our Little Soccer Players

Our nights are full of soccer lately! Iy's a little rushed getting out the door each night but the kids are LOVING soccer;)

It's been great seeing them run across the field in pursuit of the ball and aggressively get involved in the game. We still have plenty of learning to go... but it's been fun!

My active little Chris watching the ball and getting to it;)


And my surprising little Anna;) She seems soo bashful sometimes, but in the soccer field she is beginning to really come out;)

In fact, last night she was blocking a goal kick (i think that's what it's called) and she got the ball in her eye. HARD!! She immediately wanted to be off the field and took a little while to recover.

We were soo proud of her for jumping back into the game and dribbling the ball alone down field almost in range to score a goal:) It was very exciting!!

And THIS Momma needs to learn to be a little quieter!! I'm definitely the LOUD, soccer mom... Just trying to help my little soccer players... LOL!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What are We Teaching for Adulthood "from their perspective"

A question last week was to name things that the kids were being taught that would be beneficial for them as adults:)

The discussions that came out of the questions were great.... I had to make a list:)


It was an eye-opening view of what my kids thought we have tried to teach them and why! Might be a good questions to ask them more often!!

This exercise was also a great reminder that while we are teaching academic skills most mornings and early afternoons, we are raising future adults at every moment!!

It's your turn to share what your kids have been saying:)
 Share via the link or in the comments:)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nate's First Skate (at the rink)

We didn't start skating with the older three until we joined a home school group... so Anna was 6ish;) But Nate, the tag-along, has gotten some earlier exposure:)

It was too much though to see him in skates.

He didn't even go all the way around... but at least he tried:)

And a pretty good attempt for being 2:)

More Wordless Wednesday at  NapTime MomTog, 5 Minutes for Mom,  Mama to 4 Blessings, Go Graham Go

Keeping the Cost of Homeschooling Manageable

I have been asked a few times about how much we spend on homeschooling supplies and what we do to keep it affordable.

To be honest, for the last 2 years of schooling we used some money we had saved for a "rainy day"... birthday and Christmas money! And unfortunately didn't really pay attention to how much it really costs all together. We're super fortunate to have that available to us. This year Brian budgeted some money, like $300 and so far we are under:)


I've also been asked if we set aside a certain amount for each child. I remember my parents doing that for Christmas when we were kids... we could ask for whatever we wanted, but my parents were clear that they only would spend "X" amount for each of us:)

It's hard to do that for homeschooling... at least the way we are doing it! Thankfully MOST of the materials I purchase each year are non-consumables and can be handed down to the next kid!! Saxon Math is one example....  they can all use the teachers guide and I purchase their workbooks each year!
And yes... we do have to collect all of Anna's curriculum each year:) So those materials are usually the biggest expense!

These are what work for us in trying to keep the cost of homeschooling manageable...

1. Using our public library - we are soo fortunate to have an amazing Children's Librarian who has been such a HUGE resource for us, even offering to request books for us from other branches... providing great resources and really cutting some of my preparation time;)

2. Purchasing USED books at homeschooling consignment shops and local online sales.

3. Ollies..... crazy some of the fun stuff we have found. Especially the DK readers on history topics!


4. Asking for specific books or things that fit into a certain topic for birthdays and holidays. Seriously, how many toys do our kids need??? We get soo much more use out of science encyclopedias, art supplies, readers, even PAPER:)

5. Being mindful of when we purchase curriculum the TOTAL cost of using it and who can use it. I think our biggest and BEST purchase thus far has been Spelling Power. Anna is in her 2nd year using it and I am tailoring it to fit the middle two. Spelling Notebooks can be purchased each year for it ($5 each) but other than that it's been a ONE time purchase and will be useful through 12th grade (unless they finish it.... I could even benefit from using it!!! LOL!!)

6. Amazon Used... I have noticed that Amazon is starting to offer USED books that qualify for their free shipping deal!! So a used book at a used price and NO shipping!! Works for me;)

7. We also use a credit card (responsibly) that earns points that can be cashed in for money or Amazon credit! Nice to get a little money back from normal (think groceries/gas) card purchases and be able to use for schooling!

8. I have loaned out school books/curriculum to others and have benefited from others loaning/giving me things, too:) Even just looking through the materials before you invest in them is a huge savings;)

9. Sliding "consumables" in plastic page protectors so a couple of kids can use it! Or having the kids do simple assignments (I'm NOT planning to save) on wipe boards. They like using different things besides pencil and paper all the time. I had my youngest schooler do a spelling test verbally the other day.... I could hear the Lorax cheering... ha haa!!

10. I need to be better about doing this.... but having a running list of "book needs" so when we do see a stack of books on sale I have a "cheat sheet" of topics, specific books,etc to make solid choices of items that we really will use.

So even though most have already stock piled their materials for the school year. Hopefully these ways we keep homeschooling within the budget (at least in these younger years,... b/c that's all I know about right now) can be of some value when you're ready to stack pile again:)

Linking up to Works for Me, Wednesday:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Double Weekly Wrap-Up... again

Another two week wrap-up:) I just can't seem to get a schedule that allows for a lot of blog time:)

We have continued learning one of the "ways" each week. The week before last it was being diligent to ready the Bible and pray. And this week it was honoring and obeying parents (and other's in authority).

I think Our 24 Family Ways is a good study for us. We have learned the "ways" and Bible verse for each. Everyday we have fun questions that make us think and a Bible "study" that really drives home the point. But I do wonder if the conversations are a little "above" my children's heads... but the coloring sheets, verses and even the "ways" are what we need right now.

Language Arts
Not sure how to wrap-up two weeks of Grammar, Spelling, Reading and Writing;) We've been busy and are still on speaking terms.... so everything is great:)

a linking verb activity.... loved Chris' sentence "I am awesome!"

Lydia writing her own narration for Writing... yay!!!

Chris is soo diligent and neat during Copywork assignments!
Just a quick "what we're reading"!! Anna is working her way through the American Girl series... they are too easy for her but she started the books over the summer and she really wants to finish the ones our library has. Lydia has discovered Magic Tree House books.... she's almost reading them alone!! Just too funny seeing her with chapter books. And Chris is all over the map with books... this week his favorite was an "eye spy" history book and an "I can read" super heroes book;)

IMG_0977We were on top of math these last two  weeks.

Anna is still doing some review in Saxon 54. She likes the DIVE CD's she uses to "teach her the lesson".... more on that later. But the practice problems at the end stress her out, so I've been circling the problems I feel like she should complete each day and weeding out the types of problems she has already been successful at completing accurately..... it gets us through the lessons, ya know!!

I still have to chuckle at Lydia getting 4 lessons ahead in math from working ahead individually on her math:) She's a motivated little kid;) She loves worksheets and likes to "do her work"!! Of course then she burns out after that much math and fusses about doing a spelling activity;) LOL!!

Lydia working on patterns by making fences for animals;)


On the other side of the table, Chris is also doing a great job with math:) He's my busy boy so I get to sit with him through most sessions:) His excitement of the week was counting how many pasta pieces were in the pasta box.... we put them in cups of 10 and 100:)

BTW.... my girls have been very faithful in using!! I can really tell the difference in their math facts abilities!!

We've done 4 experiments since the last time I posted a weekly wrap-up... so we're right on schedule... YAY!!  The first one was watching smoke rise into a warm jar and not rise in the cooled jar... pretty cool! Funny thing though was that the direction called for someone to blow cigarette smoke into the jar... ha ha haaa!! Had a chuckle about that.... good 'ole CLASSIC science book!

We also had two FLOPS :(   One was nailing a hole into a jug...

to see if the water would stay in the jug when it was closed tightly (possibly air-tight). Unfortunately it leaked immediately :/

We concluded that the jug probably wasn't air tight and we have another container to try this week:) Hoping for better results... LOL!! But I think it was good it didn't work prefectly so we could brainstorm reasons the experiment didn't work.

IMG_1011And no time is ever wasted... they went from flopped experiment to playing with a Cicada!

Not quite physics... unless you try to figure out the path/speed your sisters will run when you chase them with the Cicada!!

Oh, and that's our ancient cigarette smoking Physics book;) LOL!!

I've been slack about making fun activities with our history, especially since these weeks we've been studying about South American countries gaining independence and then Mexico fighting for independence.  It's been reading, narrating, coloring corresponding pages (which they love doing) and then our maps!

We've really enjoyed reading some Cornerstone/Fiesta magazines that  correspond to our history topics;) Our Children's Librarian found them and it's been soo nice especially since there's not many resources for some of our topics and that the magazines are written for an elementary/early middle school age group so the kids enjoy them.

We have some activities for this week's history topic that are fun and more hands-on:)

We are continuing to talk about Van Gogh and his art pieces!! The kids really have enjoyed talking about the pieces and enjoy art because it is more of a dialogue time versus another pencil-and-paper requirement. I've enjoyed sitting on the floor with them with our Van Gogh books open and listening to all their comments;)

We did attempt from Va Gogh-like sunflowers. We had a crew that day so it was a little crazy:)
the "one Friday morning" crew working on an art project... for a moment... LOL!!

Tot in the Schoolroom
So wished I was organized enough to school Nate right now.... but I really think he's not ready just yet! We still have plenty of pre-schooling things to work on.... like not banging in all the marker tips, sharing (or at least NOT grabbing toys out of other's hands), cleaning up before moving onto another toy, etc!! Little steps;)

But he keeps himself busy! When he's not stealing apples from the fridge, he's....

Play-doh.... pan and blanket to attempt to contain the Play-Doh mess:)

Hammering "nails" into the couch... by far his favorite thing to do:)


reading... while sitting ON the toy shelf:)

and finally he crashed.... an afternoon nap on the couch since we had a workman in the house.

Slowly you are getting to see our "school room", too!! I'm really hoping to have another project or two finished soon and will be able to show you a little more. It's not designer... we used a lot of what we already had or could fix up!! But we are sooo blessed with our room and the things we've been able to use/find!!

Ok... so now we're all wrapped- up:)