Wednesday, August 28, 2013


While its a "rite of passage" to learn the ABC Song... I've never really pushed it with my kids since I found early in teaching my kids about reading that the phonics of the letters and the ability to identify them as bigger priorities than just memorizing a song!

But Nate loves the ABC Song!

So he practices it often... over and over every day! Usually we have a book, poster, or his ABC Train puzzle in front of him as we sing so he gets the chance to correlate the name of the letter with the letter itself.

After a couple of days of asking if I could record him singing his ABCs, he finally agreed;)

He  almost has it;) And this Momma thinks its too cute!!

And I know I'll treasure this is in a couple of years as he gets distracted in the middle with his "taggie" blanket. And needs a little help:) And his little voice!!

Resources we are using for ABCs:
*LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD
*LeapFrog Fridge Phonics
*ABC Puzzles - we have a Melissa & Doug ABC Train (it comes out a lot)
*ABC Poster - found at the $ store
*ABC trace book  & Crayola erasable crayons
*ABC Books -  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, ABC board books
and just singing together:)

*** And this is all Nate led:) I love that he wants to learn, so I'm letting him go at his pace. Some days he wants to "do me school work" all morning and other days he's content playing with Duplos, Play-Doh or trying to tickle his older siblings' feet while they work:/

Zucchini Bread... ok, ok, it's more like a Cake;)

So we celebrated my 30-something-th birthday last week! And with any birthday I put in my request for the food:) Since I'm also the head chief I choose something easy for the meal (crockpot BBQ sandwiches) and

 Zucchini bread... ok,ok, it's more like a cake!!

IMG_9337We started making this recipe after a few attempts at some not so great zucchini bread.

The next week we were at my in-laws and was offered a slice of a friend's zucchini bread. I knew it had to be good because it called for icing;) LOL!!

ANyway, we arrived home with my zucchini plants still producing,,,, yippee!! Our turn to make some:)

At first "the fam" was a little hesitant.... all the strange "green" things in it!! But as soon as they had their first bite they were hooked;) After the first attempt I began peeling the zucchini before grating it... of course that probably took out any of the nutritional value, too... hey, it's a cake.... not the meal and not often made (although I totally would make it weekly)!


3 eggs (or 3/4 cup of applesauce)
IMG_93561 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
3 tsp vanilla
1/2 pkg of vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup chopped nuts (if desired, I didn't add any)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder

Stir together the eggs/applesauce, oil, sugar and zucchini. Whisk (or sift) together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to zucchini mixture. Stir in vanilla, pudding mix and nuts (opt).

Pour into 9x13 pan.

IMG_9348Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Use a cake tester to be sure it's done in the middle.

Ice that thing when it's cooled a bit. We use a cream cheese flavored icing (or make your own).

And then enjoy!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Did you miss us;)

Anyone enjoying peach season? I'm a summer fruit gal... strawberries, peaches, blueberries... count me in;)

So while we were running errands, Lydia, Nate and I made a quick stop into a grocery store that carries "as local as possible" produce to get PEACHES:)

But then I heard from behind me, "Us not get peaches. Peaches are disgusting!" Then giggles (Lydia's).

I have started to clean up our school room.... we cleaned a lot after we finished school and then we had 3 weeks stuck inside, RAIN and more RAIN, vacation ....

and the school room was trashed again:/

I was surprised to find that all our scissors are missing:/

I questioned the little bracelet makers:) "Do you know where the scissors might have gone this summer? I didn't find any in the school room?"

Lydia responded, "I think Mr Nobody took them!!"

LOL!! Those of you who have used First Language Lessons or are familiar with that poem know that name well:)


Nate was excitedly asking me the other day "Me doe to the freek?"

I wish I can understand what he is asking the first time every time, but I don't speak "Nate" well sometimes:/

So I asked him, "What is the freek, Nate?"

"Mom, the freek! Where me and Tis tatch the tadpoles, fish and toads and frogs!"

Ahhh... the creek!! He had seen Chris run down to the edge of the creek with some fishing supplies:) BOYS:)

Back in the school room we are laying down the "rules" again. Chris saw Anna's Kindle on the table and called her out on her infraction," Get your toy off the table!"

Anna quickly replied back,"It's not a toy. It's a very expensive piece of electronics!"

LOL!! I had to turn my back and snicker at that one, before I reminded them to speak kindly to each other;) And to keeps "toys" off the table during schooling!!


Lydia has already worked ahead in math and did her 1st assessment of the year:) But one question confused her.

Lydia: "I don't know how to answer this question. It says, "How many children have birthdays in August?" But my chart only says "mom" and "the cats"."

A normal predicament for a home schooler;) And BTW we also discussed that we were missing an aunt's birthday, too;)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Students

Every year when we start school, we spend a little time decorating their grade signs:) Things got a little tricky this year and I really thought "lets not do the signs this year" and there were protests:) So we got out the cardstock and paints and they got busy:)

ONe reason it's tricky this year is because of their "grades"... we home school not so our kids will skip grades or be rock scientist (although both of those things would be pretty cool!!). But home schooling allows them to work at their pace.

For each kid we've started a little earlier in a schooling routine than traditional schools because they have asked!! With Anna I was trying to keep up with a local preschool but with Chris and Lydia they wanted to start. So each child as started earlier than their same-aged peers. But their home school "grades" and their peer age grades are not quite in line this year.

So we decided to have them stick with their age group as far as their "grade" and then let them work at their own pace in their schooling. This year is a little tricky because it's our transition that explains the "double grade" signs this year! But better to have a strong 2nd grader than a struggling 3rd grader.... right;) 

And what's the rush.... none, here;) Like I said in our curriculum post, this decision has fit perfectly into our choices to finish vol 4 of SOTW and do the Apologia Chemistry and Physics:) Perfect timing!

The class!










And occasionally it gets a little crazy here;) Just occasionally, though :P

We have an awesome year ahead of us;) 

We are joining in on the Not Back to School Blog Hop:)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Enjoying the Summer Produce

IMG_9188We had a blast with our garden this summer;)

You won't know by looking at it right now, it's pathetic with weeds taking over and the tomatoes and bean plants dying back.

 In fact, Lydia and I almost cried when we saw our huge, luscious zucchini plants dying back a few weeks ago:(

All good things must come to an end... or at least the summer part of our summer garden.

We did get to "put away" some of the goods. I have 5 canned quarts of squash and a few baggies in the freezer. We canned tomatoes with friends and were given a lot of those quarts;) We have some corn "put up"... not much though:/

IMG_9123And somethings are just better fresh... like squash and zucchini:)

Chris and I were ready to try a very simplified version of Ratatouille. I sauteed the squash and zucchini in EVOO with some salt and pepper. Then layered the squash, zucchini and pepperoni slices. Finally we drizzled spaghetti sauce over the layers (sometimes the sauce was a meat sauce). Chris and I ate lots of Ratatouille this summer;)

The kids got to cut into a few little watermelon. They kept picking them too early.. or that's at least what we thought:)


love his expressions:) And it was edible:)

Even though I know very little about black eyed peas... we had plenty come up. I had two little "shell-ers".

We even got some corn in... awesome to eat the corn that we planted:)


And I have two fantastic corn shuckers;)


IMG_9202We are still getting some peppers and tomatoes... so fresh salsa right now;)

Anyway, it's been quite the experience and we've all learned a lot. Next year I am definitely investing in tomato cages and maybe planting a few less tomato plants... 48 was a bit much for us this year:) Although many people got to enjoy fresh Roma and Cherry tomatoes from the garden:)

Can you find Lydia in the picture to the right?? Those tomato plants were crazy!! I referred to them for most of the growing season as my "unruly teens"... they were just every where;)

I also hope to figure out a way to can at my house. I found out in the middle of the season that my nice flat glass top stove wasn't going to be suitable to can on... who knew:/ Anyway, we have a few possibilities so that we can get more canned next season and make our growing season last through the winter.

Can I also say that I stink at growing and harvesting beans... definitely going to work on that next year so we don't have to purchase them all year long at the grocery store;)

I'll be sharing our favorite zucchini recipe from this summer, soon:) Too good NOT to share;)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

To Mississippi and Beyond #3

Since Brian can remember, every trip to and from Mississippi included driving by the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. So he thought it would be a fun "on the way home" stop for us;)

The first night was just to relax...

because some of us were exhausted by then:)

And itch:/ It was about that time that we realized we had gotten into chiggers while walking to the stream in MIssissippi... some of us were miserable:/ But we pressed on:)

We spent a rainy 4th of July exploring the Space and Rocket Center. Lots for the kids (and adults) to see and do. We really enjoyed an IMAX movie about space and the Hubble telescope. Watching Nate's expression as the HUGE screen displayed beautiful scenes of space and space views of the earth... he was truly amazed.





After spending most of the day at the Rocket Center, we headed out for dinner before fireworks. We visited a chain called O'Charleys where we had a very allergy safe meal... phew! Very nice to have NO reactions while out to eat:)

It literally had rained ALL.DAY.LONG!! We were thankful that fireworks could be seen from the hotel we were staying. In fact, the kids played in the indoor hotel pool as we looked for the fireworks through the huge glass window. Finally...

we heard the booms and saw the lights;) We seriously had the driest view... well, minus Nate on and off my lap:)

No camera to catch the memory:/ I was at a pool on a rainy night... not normally a place to bring a camera:)

I think it was a good 4th for us;) Brian got to visit the Rocket Center and possibly spark some interest about space, space travel and the science/math needed to help space travel on his kids;)

IMG_9068The kids weren't too excited about space travel after they learned that urine on the International Space Station is recycled through a machine that purifies it into water that the astronauts drink. ewww!! But we learned it's actually more purified than our own city/county/well water. Yep!

And getting to see fireworks makes every 4th of July special:)

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast, packed up and hit the road again:)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our 2013-2014 Curriculum Choices

I still get excited about a new school year!!!

New books, new pencils, new lessons, a clean "classroom" and same great kiddos:)

OK... onto the STUFF we are using to encourage our learning this new school year;)

What We Do Together

Each morning we start off with Our Daily Notebooks:) These contain calendars, math fact sheets, memory work, cursive practice and Anna's even has Math Logic Problems and Daily Grams;) Everything that we SHOULD be doing that sometimes gets overlooked.

IMG_2052For Bible we are using Old Story New. These are short little lessons that are chronologically discussed through the New Testament. I love that these lessons are constantly pointing to Christ's love and sacrifice for us. The kids and I are looking up every and reading every passage aloud.... LOVE THIS TIME together!! And it says they are 10 minute devotions... it never takes us less than 10 minutes especially when we take turns reading, discussing, answering questions and praying:)

We've been trying to start Spanish for YEARS! I have a couple of simple resources like Spanish CDs and Kids Love Spanish DVD set that we add in while I prepare lunch or am working with someone alone:)

I have wanted to jump into IEW for years and have been waiting for the kids to be old enough!! I finally got my hands on a copy of All Things Fun and Fascinating! Yippeee!! I am using this with all 3 of my older ones (4/5 grade, 2/3 grade, 2 grade) together. I can see that it's going to be easier for some more than others;)

For history we are continuing with Story of the World vol 4. I originally thought about rushing through it to finish it last year (including working through the summer). But then I realized all we'd be rushing through and decided it would be better to slow it down a bit. We will work hard on getting a chapter done a week, maybe doing a little extra time with WWI and WWII to finish it up this year.

I am super excited about using an actual curriculum for science. The past 4 years we've been using experiment books as our science spine and I've not always been too diligent:/ This year we will be using Apologia's Chemistry and Physics book with the notebooks;) It's just really has FIT right into what I was hoping to find because those were the topics that I felt like we didn't really get a strong foundation. Super excited and looking forward to sharing our experience with it;)

We will finish working on  The Worlds Greatest Artists #1 by Confessions of a Homeschooler!! These are simple lessons with fun project ideas. And by covering one artist every month or so (art once a week) we will have plenty for the year.

For music, Anna is taking piano lessons now (she started this summer)! The rest of us will listen to her... LOL!! And we will study some composers (one a month) using Meet the Great Composers vol 1! We also have collected some CDs of these composers at the Dollar Store from YEARS ago;) Glad we kept them in the move!!

What They Work on Individually (*sorta... nothing is really "alone" here)

Anna - 4th/5th
Spelling - Spelling Power
Grammar - Shurley English 5, Daily Grams
Math - Saxon 56, Singapore Word Problems #4
Reading - books from history from the library:)
Writing - All Things Fun and Fascinating, assignments from Shurley English , book reports

Chris - 2nd/3rd
Spelling - Spelling power
Grammar - First Language Lesssons 3
Math - Finish Saxon 3, start Saxon 4, xtramath
Reading - finish Ordinary Parents (2 lessons a week), books from library
Writing - All Things Fun and Fascinating, journaling and book reports

Lydia - 2nd
Spelling - Spelling power
Grammar - First Language Lesssons 3
Math - Saxon 3, xtramath
Reading - finish Ordinary Parents (2 lessons a week), books from library
Writing - All Things Fun and Fascinating, journaling and book reports

Nate - preschool:)
Before Five in a Row and other books that interest him:)
Leap Frog Letter Factory and StarFall
Bible with us & Jesus Storybook Bible
LOTS of play;)
Letters, Numbers, Shapes
Cleaning up after self
Sitting quietly during reading and Bible time
Coloring and listening to our history

We are linking up to Curriculum Week  2013 at iHomeschoolNetwork:)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

To Mississippi and Beyond - #2

Since there were 8 of traveling together we stayed at different houses while in Mississippi.

The main home was Aunt Zanie Lee's. Grandma, Grandaddy and Anna stayed with Aunt Zanie Lee each night! Anna loved having her own room and bed:) LOL!!

Aunt Zanie Lee even let us get into her kitchen to cook safely for the kids... which we really, really appreciated. It definitely made traveling with food allergies a little easier to have a full kitchen available to us.

(And Aunt Aliene also opened her kitchen for us to prepare lunch and cookies on Tuesday!! It's just life with food allergies... maybe that's another post... bringing all the food I could think of!! But NO reactions... so it worked!!)


The rest of us stayed with Brian's cousin Bill and his family!! They were so gracious to us and the kids. Especially when the boys came in hyper off caffeine... they just rolled with the energy:) Very sweet. One of my favorite memories was getting the kids to bed after the reunion and sitting up listening to Bill and Brian reminisce and reconnect... just priceless!

Bill even offered to take the kids fishing one morning!!!

So he got out the tractor to ride (a very bumpy ride!!) some of us to the pond behind his home...

and the kids got to fish to their hearts content...



Nate picked up a pole and swung it into the pond himself... don't you know he caught one;)



Lydia calling out "15!" She's our little fisher-gal;)

well... until we all got hot and tired:)

My favorite fishing picture;) Just a very pretty place to fish!

Before we left Mississippi we also were able to visit with Brian's cousin Mac and his wife, Lisa!


They were so sweet with the kids and even gave into their soda infatuation:)

It was then that we finished packing up and headed north east to our next stop:)