Friday, November 2, 2012

Wow, it is already November.  The leaves are just about off the trees, and it has been chilly in North Carolina.  This week marked the end of the first term which means we are 1/3 of the way through our school year already.

Cupcake is working on learning her vowels.  She's made it through the rest of the alphabet, and is making progress.  She continues to practice counting by two's and added counting by ten's this week.  I introduced her to another favorite storybook character, Milly Molly Mandy.   She learned a bit about migration, seasons, directions, and weather while I read the picture book, The Little Island each day this week.  To accompany the book, we completed her first lapbook.  A lapbook is a folder with little cut and paste notes and booklets glued to the inside.

Muffy and S- have been busy practicing for the Christmas recital as well as the next orchestra performance which will be in December.   The piano and violins are not sitting idle much lately.  They have time for a bit of fun too.  S- is still reading Oliver Twist and sometimes baking, while Miss Muffin has several books going and is learning to cross-stitch.

Our big boy is turning 15 tomorrow.  Can you believe that?  He is looking forward to birthday chocolate pies tomorrow instead of the traditional birthday cake.  He says he has been working on his annual Christmas poem, but he hasn't let me read it yet.  His nose is often in a book, especially ones relating to the middle ages.

Matt had the opportunity to preach at our church three times this past week.  He preached about Israel demanding a king.  I guess I'm a bit biased, but feel he did a very good job.  He was quite diligent with studying and preparing in the wee hours of the morning and in the evenings.

I don't have pictures of the kids work as I'd hoped too, and haven't been too good about pictures in general, but decided to give an update anyway.  Here are some pictures taken the day of the orchestra concert in October.   I'll try to get pictures of all the children next time.   -Tiffany

Friday, October 12, 2012

Letters, Queens, and Mushrooms In the Middle of Construction

Our family has not dropped off the planet.  However, we are living in a construction zone, with lots being done with floors and walls of this old house.  Plus, before that most of us had a cold bug.

Cupcake has been working hard at speech, learning to say s-blends.  Just ask her to say SPIDER.  She will grin and say it with pride.  At home, we added the letters J, K, L, R, Y, and V since our last post.  We continue to use some of the Hooked on Phonics materials, but have added handwriting and phonics sheets from  The starfall sheets have a place to paste pictures from magazines that begin with that letter.  Thank goodness the library seems to have a lot of free magazines these days.  Also, I added the C book from Go for the Code (primer to Explode the Code).   I'd gotten free somewhere.  We'll finish it and begin the Explode the Code series.  It seems to be a good fit for her.  It is exciting to see her be able to hear a word and figure out its beginning letter.  This was so hard for her at the beginning of the school year.  In math, she's learning to add doubles with her math-u-see rods.  Another thing we are doing that is a bit new is workboxes.  I have about six clear dollar store shoe boxes that I fill with various activities such as puzzles, colorful printables in a plastic sleeve with dry erase marker, vet kit (doctor kit from dollar store, with rotating tiny stuffed animals), foam letters for copying spelling for short words like bug and rug), tangrams, etc.  Mommies of littles, I'm open to new ideas.  She's always so full of energy, directed independence is good for her (and me).  She's doing a great job learning verses from her ABC Bible verses book.  We go slow with constant review to keep the previous verses learned in her memory bank.  At the store today, she said something about remember that verse, "Even a child is known by his deeds", well mommy don't you think these people in the store think I'm behaving nicely! "  There is so much she doesn't understand, but she sure is trying and soaking it all up.  She shared with God that her day had been so boring (she had to shop with her mommy and auntie) and could he please help next week not to be so boring!!!
Demonstrating Letter "K"

Princesses and queens have been a big part of the Muffy girl's studies.  The last three weeks have been about Lady Grey, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth.  For one of her written narrations, she decided to do a creative narration in the form of a poem.  I'll copy it below for you.  The Muffy girl was disappointed in Queen Elizabeth.  After her reading yesterday she said with a frown and a sigh, "I really wish Elizabeth hadn't been so vain."  She also learned about the French colony of the Huegnots in Florida, called Fort Caroline.  Next time we go to Florida, we'd like to go visit the historical site.  It isn't too far from her grandmother.  In her free time, she's enjoying Cherry Ames and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

          Cruel Mary 
Muffy and her vacuum cleaner scarecrow

Mary was very extraordinary
And not in a very nice way.
Lady Grey reigned only a few days
Before Mary beheaded her.

Elizabeth had no power
And so she was thrown in the tower
Since Mary was so cruel.

Even though she was ill 
The soldiers took Elizabeth still
Because Mary had no pity.

King Philip cracked the whip
On the poor people of England.

Mary used the man from Spain
To regain the Roman Catholic faith.

And so she earned the name of 
"Bloody Mary."

S celebrated his 13th birthday last week!  Our house was a bit too out of order for company so we went to his grandparents house, grilled some burgers, and had a yummy chocolate chocolate chip violin cake.  One of his presents was a beautiful wooden music stand.  We've repaired (taped) his old yellow metal one a zillion times.  It was hard to keep the secret when he was begging the last few weeks up to the birthday to please take him to the music store and get him another stand.  He's covering the life of King Alfred in his history studies.  He's starting to make connections between the various books he's reading.  This is one of the things Charlotte Mason believed in with this kind of education for students to make their own connections.  We only have three weeks left of the 1st 12-week term.  S- and the Muffy girl have their first orchestra concert tomorrow.  They are excited about it.

Another teenager in the family

See, I can do something other than Ipad.
E finished Ivanhoe this week, which he loved.  He wrote four essays to end the study of that book.  He was excited to begin The Talisman, also written by Sir Walter Scott.  In biology, he just finished a module about fungi.  Yes, I did embarrass some of my children at the outlet mall parking lot when I picked some mushrooms from a grassy tree area.  I think they walked a bit faster so maybe people wouldn't think I was related to them.  Unfortunately, we didn't have much success getting the spores out to see under the microscope.   A couple of years ago I bought him the Grace and Truth boys character series.  For some reason, he started reading them one after the other and has just about finished the set.  They are reprints of very old books.  Maybe having his reading ability restored to him after last year has made him appreciate books much more.  He's been working on a big list of what he wants for his birthday---can you believe he will be 15 in a couple of weeks?

As usual, Matt and I are busy keeping the house a float.  We've also been busy with church activities.  He's still teaching adult sunday school and had the opportunity to preach last Sunday night.  I spoke on the second half of Ruth at our new ladies Bible study this week.  It brings me joy that we share a passion and vision for ministry.

I hope I'll get some good pictures of the house and the kid's concert for the next post.  That is all for now.  This post was brought to you by the letter K!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Breath of Fresh Mountain Air

One of the benefits of homeschooling is getting to take vacations when most folks are in school.  This means better rates and fewer crowds.  Plus, after five rather intense weeks of school we really needed to get out of the house.  If I could live in two places at once, I'd live here at home and Lake Lure.  I love the mountains in general, but Lake Lure is one of the most beautiful spots in North Carolina in my opinion.

We spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday doing a bit of relaxing, playing pool at the cabin, me working on my Japan presentation for homeschool co-op, picking apples,  hiking at Chimney Rock State Park, and a pontoon boat ride across Lake Lure.  We also enjoyed several Lamplighter Theater audio dramas in the car.  Everyone's favorite was A Peep Behind the Scenes, closely followed by Charlie's Choice.  I can't even begin to tell you how good they are, both the books and the audio dramas.  The spiritual truths are so good, always causing me to tear up a bit.  Few books these days are as well written as these timeless treasures from days long past.

It is probably goofy looking but we all wore brown for our trip to get apples, thinking we'd find lots of pumpkins as well for a fall picture.  However, we were too early this year for that.  The apple farm did have a few pumpkins for decoration that we used to get a picture of the girls.  At the apple orchard we were introduced to the Ambrosia and the Mutsu varieties.  The kids love the sweet Ambrosias.  We also picked Fuji and Cameos.  The kids had some yummy apple slushies to cool them off.  The apple experience would not have been complete without the apple cider doughnuts and apple cider we bought for breakfast.  Delicious!

Sewing a tiny purse for her sister's church offerings
And now that I've just made myself hungry, I'll leave you with some pictures and I'll find a snack!
Everyone got a turn to drive, except Mom
Momma, phonics is better with plum tea!

Lake Lure (taken from the boat)

My Sweet Pumpkins

Sweet Little Apples

Pick a bit faster, that sun is bright!

Ride almost over-- guess we can't keep the boat.

One of our attempts at a fall picture

Growing Boys--Opposite as Night and Day

We just noticed S has also passed his momma in height

Chimney Rock Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls, Careful Slippery Rocks

"The Chimney"  Kids are on the rock near steps

Friday, August 31, 2012

Yummy Science and the Not So Tasty Looking Science

While the local schools around here began their first week of school, we completed our fourth.   I'm so glad to have those first few behind us!  We are already one-third of the way through our first term.

C for Cat and D for Dinosaur
Today I met with a team at the local school to go over Cupcake's full evaluation.  It was encouraging that most areas of cognitive development, she is on target or pretty close.  Given her start in life, we feel she will catch up in the ones that were on the low side.  The greatest concern is her speech and language.  Articulation is a big area of concern, as well as some of the receptive language.  She will be getting two speech therapy appointments each week for a year.  The goal is to work on about eight sounds.  Some of her errors are consistent with what they see with previous hearing loss.  Now that she is hearing in normal limits, they must retrain her brain out of the habits set in place when she wasn't hearing the right sounds.    It finally clicked with me during the meeting that her problems with phonics are LARGELY related to the speech, which in turn relates to the hearing.  Another goal will be to increase her vocabulary so she can catch up to her age of peers.  I told her today that she would be getting help with her talking soon, and that the people are excited about helping her.  She said, "Oh, they excited? They jump up and down?"
Learning to work on a task indepedently

We did not do any new letters this week but gave more focused attention to "C" and "D".   Cupcake did much better with letter sound games this week.  I decided to give only three choices of letter cards to pick from for beginning sounds.  She did some very nice upper and lower case D handwriting pages.     For story time, we enjoyed cat stories, her favorites being Tom Kitten and Miss Moppet.  For art, we did a draw-write page on the cat.  Hers turned out so cute.  Aunt C., doesn't it look just like Picasso?  Another project involved cutting out the letter "D", some shapes, and glue for a D is for Dinosaur (see pic above).  For math, we began working with the Math-U-See colored bars, similar to c-rods.  This week she had to match up the bars for each number with the same number of units.  For example six ones (individual green units) to the purple bar that is one piece but the equivalent of six.  This is supposed to be very important concept before we begin adding them.  She's enjoyed continuing to create numbers with the hundreds, tens, and units.  I love that she is finding numbers EVERYWHERE and practicing what she's learned with the tens and hundreds-- in books, street signs, clocks, etc.

The edible cell--MMM mitochondria!
Muffy enjoyed a delicious science lesson this week.  She baked and decorated a cake to show the parts of an animal cell.  She spent a great deal of time making a list of what would best represent each part.  Needless to say, she likes her biology lessons.  For history, she did a very nice timeline notebook page of King Henry VIII, and in case you didn't know he had a tendency to cut off people's heads.  You would not want to have been one of his wives!  In literature, she thoroughly enjoyed The Merchant of Venice in Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.  She loves the Princess and the Goblin and wishes she would be allowed to read it faster.  It is scheduled for the whole first term.  I had to convince her dad that it is part of the philosophy and program to not read it straight through.  Charlotte Mason believed that children make more lasting connections with their studies if taken in challenging but small doses over a longer period of time.  Of course, her free reading can be done at whatever pace she chooses!  She is filling up a commonplace book of quotes in her books that strike her fancy-- from school selections and those for fun.

The pre-details before the experiment
S- continued reading in his many AO selections for school this week.  I think he's improving on his reading speed with the school load.  He says Ivanhoe is getting much more interesting and easier to read.  (I've dropped it for me now along with Birth of Britain, as his dad is covering those).  In Brenden Voyage, the ox-hide canoe replica is finished and ready to set sail.  It is amazing the lengths they went to in making the vessel as accurate as possible.  This was experiments week for his physical science module, so some messes were made in the kitchen.  He learned what happens when you use a little bit too much baking soda with your vinegar, oops!  Speaking of vinegar, I really need to put it in a permanent position on the grocery list like milk, or otherwise, buy an enormous bottle.  It seems when I need it to mop the floor, SOMEONE has used it up!  One of his experiments involved showing that a candle lit under a jar will go out due to lack of oxygen, but a balloon filled with oxygen gas pumped under the jar and into it will keep it lit.

E- and I were busy with Shakespeare's historical play, King John.  Thank goodness for Spark Notes on the computer.  At first we read a portion of the play, followed by the Spark Notes.  Then I got wise, and reversed that order.  The history curriculum guide said to read it out loud and that it should only take two sittings.  Well, we did four sittings this week and did not finish it.  Since the play is taking longer than planned for, I had him go ahead and begin Ivanhoe.  Yep, different curriculum from S- but same book.  Beautiful Feet's plan goes through it much quicker, as this counts for literature and history.  For free reading and extra literature, he finished Howard Pyle's Men of Iron.  I do believe that might be one of his most favorite books.  I never asked for narrations for this free-read----He ALWAYS gave them with lots of details.   This has been his experiment week for his module in biology too.  So, he and his dad have been enjoying the microscope (actually everyone wants to use it!).  They set up some yummy looking jars on my kitchen counter--- pond water cultures for bacteria being fed by various things- rice, egg yolk, grass, and dirt.  Hmm, I think my canning jars are going to get a lot of science use this year.  We added an elective that is still in the trial stage, although I'm inclined to keep it.  I found a physical geography e-book online for free.  I think we should be able to get at least a half credit from it.  Then we might do Bible geography for the other half.
The microscope owners-sometimes they share!

Matt and I seem to just manage to keep up the fort.  With two doing high school work, it is definitely becoming a bit more of a team effort to homeschool.  I'm thankful he has taken over S's history, two of S's  literature selections, E's biology, and one of the Muffy girl's literature selections.  I am making the time to run, and am finally starting to see better numbers on the scale.  Little sis encouraged me to time my 2 mile run, and I was pleasantly surprised with a total of 22 minutes!  Just like everything these days, discipline and slow but steady progress eventually pay off.

Happy weekend everyone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our Week 3, for Lack of a Better Title

The whole gang
This week in the life of  my big and little students:

The Cupcake worked on the letters "C" and "D" and spent much time in review of previously learned letters.  I made up some games to play with her letter cards.  We laid out the ones she knows and played
"We're going to the store and we need to buy some sss-soap, which letter do we need?" and "We're going on a picnic and we need to bring some ppp-potato chips, which letter do we need?"  She lost a tooth, the bottom one I've been trying to get her to blow air through to make the "S" sound.  It sounds so much closer now with the tooth gone, and she's so proud!  In math, we added "hundreds" blocks and numbers to our place value houses.  I think she's quite impressed when she can build 486 with the blocks and say such a large number!  We read books and poems about dogs, especially enjoying our Harry the Dirty Dog Treasury, along with a few new selections from the library.  Today Muffy commented that my English teacher's book had yellow pages, but hers had plain old white.  So, Cupcake felt so sorry for her that she said, "Mommy don't you think you could swap books with sissie?"  We got tickled and explained my book contained the answers so no there could be no trade.  
A little Visitor in the Neighbor's Yard
Muffy finished her first light units for math and for reading this week.  One down, nine to go.  She's been learning about figures of speech.  History this week involved readings on the explorer Pizarro,  King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and Queen Katharine.  She's doing Real Science 4 Kids- Biology (elementary age Biology course) as well as a neat science book called Science Lab in the Supermarket.  I enjoyed overhearing her discuss her science tidbits with E over lunch.   As part of her AO studies, she and I began Pilgrim's Progress.  We are going to catch up to where S left off and resume it all together reading the various parts.  She handled the rich language beautifully.   In her free time, she and the Cupcake have been playing with their Calico Critters kitty house.  They have named all of the critters after themselves and the children from two families at church.  

S's Latest Masterpiece
S- has the heaviest school work load.  I feel downright sorry for him, but know it is good for him too!  He's really having to learn to pace himself to manage his time well to get the school work done as well as the daily practice for both instruments.  He learned about Britain as a Roman province in Birth of Britain, global warming in physical science, the Celtic story of Deirdre in The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls, cavemen paintings in The Story of Painting, Ambrose in Saints and Heroes, and continues to make progress in Ivanhoe and Watership Down.  

E finished a report on King John and the Magna Charta this week.  He seems to love the medieval time period.  He is almost finished with Men of Iron.  Although he does not like watching the lectures for his online biology class, he is somewhat interested in the topic.  This week was all about bacteria.  He also likes to share what he knows, especially about BACTERIA when we are eating.  Save it for later E!  I don't think I mentioned it before, but he's been writing song lyrics in his big black journal.

We added composer study and artist study this week for Fridays.  For this term we will listen to selections from Claude Debussy and view pictures of Renoir.  In addition, we worked on AO's hymn for the month, "For All the Saints Who From Their Labours Rest", and AO's folksong "Gypsy Rover" (Irish folk tune).  They don't care for "Gypsy Rover" but I think it is lovely.  To accompany our geography and missions homeschool enrichment classes, we've ben reading aloud  The Kite Fighters, about a masterful kite flyer in the 1400's in Korea.

Dad got some help from the girls
Matt finished his desk/bookcase for the living room.  The bead board back matches so well with the built in cabinets already in the room.  Once he puts puts it in, it will look like it is built in to the wall.  We'll have to post pictures soon.  We'll be able to get all those theology books off the living room floor!    

Busy week, so glad the weekend is here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School

Today marked the second full week of homeschool for us.  I must say this second week went much better than the first.  It is always tough in the beginning to get children and the momma back into gear.  For me, there is the remembering how to be a ping pong ball going back and forth between four individuals.  For them, it is adjusting to having to stretch the brain muscles.  Just like with exercise, at first it is hard.  However, with practice and routine it gets better.

Cupcake and Place Value Houses- that's 48!
Cupcake and I have been reviewing the letters we worked on last year, and working on letter recognition for the lower case letters that she struggles to remember.  I'm hopeful that phonemic awareness is going to CLICK one of these days.  For math, we are working with the same curriculum as E- uses, except Cupcake's book is the Primer and red, while E's book is blue.  She thinks Mr. Demie on the dvd is wonderful and requested we get to visit his house!  This week she's worked on place value in her workbook and with the blocks and place value houses.  For science, we have read various books about frogs.  Please ask her what tricks frogs do to keep from being eaten.  She loves to tell that part as well as the life cycle of the frog.  She dictated a paragraph with all she learned about frogs.  It was really cute.  She likes her knew talking microscope and the cool insect slides.  Other highlights were reading the Carrot Seed, reading our favorite Beatrix Potter story, The Two Bad Mice, and my personal favorite from my own early years, Stone Soup.  We started back over with Susan Hunt's, My ABC Bible Verses with the plan of learning a verse per week.  She's got Proverbs 15:1 down pat "A soft answer turns away wrath."
Cupcake's draw and write lesson-- lots of paint

Both girls enjoying the talking microscope!

Muffy loves 4th grade.  The Ambleside curriculum is such a good fit for her.  The only problem with it is she is prohibited from reading more than what is assigned for the week.  Her favorite AO book is the classic by George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin which she narrates to me with great enthusiasm.  In church history, we read about Martin Luther and the 95 Theses in Trial and Triumph.  She wrote about him, and used her draft for copywork on her history notebook page.  In world history, she studied King Henry VII, and in American history she learned about John Cabot's exploration of North America. She is giving Speedy Spanish I another try this year, and likes to learn the Spanish Bible verses.  For fun, she's reading one of my (actually my mom's) old Cherry Ames books.  She discovered Cherry Ames on the very top shelf of the built in bookcase (up near the ceiling), and since she's interested in becoming a nurse when she grows up, is enjoying it very much.  The biggest news for Miss Muffy is that she auditioned this week for a youth orchestra in the area, and will be playing second violin position.  Since, this is an intermediate orchestra, she was quite pleased as are we with this placement.
Muffy's Martin Luther notebook page

The long-awaited requested picture of THE QUILT!

S- also auditioned for the same orchestra, and will be playing in first violin position.  We are so excited for him too.  He has worked very hard to prepare his audition piece and scales, as well as working on his techniques and sight reading skills.  This is his 8th grade year, he is enjoying Apologia Physical Science in which he is doing some of the work through a free online at-your-own pace class at the Virtual Homeschool Group website.  The first module test was today and he made an A!  He loves the experiments, but isn't so thrilled with the lab reports--- yes, he has writing phobia.  Last week he turned electrical wire blue.   He is continuing in the Algebra I that we began last year.  The rest of his work is Ambleside Online House of Education Year 7 (which does NOT mean GRADE 7).  There are about ten different books he is reading from that cover lots of subjects including literature, economics, art, world history, church history, nature study, etc.  In Saints and Heroes, he learned about Cyprian and Athanasius.  In Winston Churchill's Birth of Britain and in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, S- learned about conquests of Britain under Roman rule.  His geography selection is The Brendan Voyage in which a man recreates a voyage from Ireland to Newfoundland in a ox-hide canoe, based on the accounts of St. Brendan, a celtic monk.  Thank goodness Ivanhoe is on the kindle so we can just click for the definition of some of the vocabulary.  He seems to like Watership Down which I didn't think he'd like since the characters are rabbits.  
S- and his physical science experiment

E- is doing much better this year with school.  We even moved him up to 9th grade since we have caught up in all subjects except math.  He completed his first module in Apologia Biology this week with an A on the test.  E- is also doing his science course through the Virtual Homeschool Group site.  It is wonderful that he can watch lectures to reinforce the readings and experiments, as well as complete quizzes and tests online.  Other than supervising the work load, he is working at it independently and getting help from his dad as needed.  For English, we are working through Jensen's Grammar, Punctuation, and Formal Writing books.  He is working through the Institute of Excellence in Writing's Grammar of Poetry.  This is one of the required AO books S- is working through, but since E- is the poet in the family, I knew it would appeal to him.  Instead of doing a full AO schedule, I decided the Beautiful Feet Senior High Medieval History and Renaissance might be a better fit.  He can receive literature credit and history credit for the readings and assignments.  However, I'm going to throw in a few additional classics.  So, it is a different course, but the time period overlaps a bit with S- and the Muffy girl's history studies.  E- gives excellent narrations of what he reads and is especially enjoying Howard Pyle's Men of Iron, and Jame's Daughtery's Magna Charta.  Did you know the Stephen Langston, Archbishop of Canterbury came up with the division of chapters and verses for the Bible?  I love this picture I captured of him reading about King John.  He is going through Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis with S- and I.  I'm still trying to think of another course we could get a credit hour from since the math won't count as a credit.  One possibility would be foreign language through Live Mocha.
Any other suggestions?
I wish you could see the grin on his face-- don't even think he knew I was getting a picture!
Matt traveled on business last week to Baltimore.  We were both glad when he was able to return home.  He's been busy working on our house (see dining room picture), teaching Sunday School, studying, and helping me more this year with school.  He is reading Birth of Britain, Brendan Voyage, and Ivanhoe too.  He's getting much farther ahead than me, but I'm reading many books for three different kids.
New heart of pine floors and finally finished walls, Yeah!

I think I'm the chicken running around looking for my head.  The AO curriculum and E's Beautiful Feet curriculum enables the kids to be a bit more independent in the day while I work with the Cupcake, but has given me much to do in the evening and between hours keeping up with their readings.  It is a good thing I love to read.  Also, I've been getting ready for our geography/missions homeschool enrichment classes for the coming year.  My parent's meeting for the classes was quite eventful when shortly before the meeting, the firefighters blocked off my part of the street, so they could do a controlled burn of the house across the street that was badly damaged from a fallen tree!  That had me a bit frazzled; would have helped to have known of that plan.  In the rest of my spare time, I've been studying the book of Ruth, to prepare for a once a month series of talks at my church for the women.  I've named it "Women of the Bible- People Like Me."  We will explore the lives of a different woman of the Bible each month.  I'm a bit nervous about it, but so excited about the things I'm learning and am praying I'll be able to share these truths with others.

Well, if you are still reading this, then you are probably tired out.  Especially long posts occur when there are new things going on, as well as when the blogger has not posted for a while.  I'll try to make the next one shorter.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Days

Cupcake waiting for surgery with Scotty (dog)
What have we been up to?  Well, it seems we can't get done nearly as much as I think we should.  Everyone's answer to that is "Mom, it IS summer, you know."  So, the momma is trying to sort of take it easy too.

Cupcake had surgery again for new tubes in her ears.  She thinks it is super cool that the doctor gave her a container with one of the old tubes in it.  He thinks there is about a 50% chance that once these new tubes come out, the eustachean tubes will have developed properly in her ears.  These will probably last her another year. 

Muffy is learning to quilt.  She made a beautiful ballet themed quilt top in pinks and purples two years ago.  I've finally gotten around to showing her how to do the stitches to put it together.  She's doing a great job.  She said, "This is really hard, takes a lot of patience, but I can do it." 

E- and S- at the ballgame
 S-boy had a few productive days this week.  He pressure washed the entire deck and put together patio furniture for us.  He is also the chief "pool skimmer" for these hot days.

E's been busy making snow cones on a daily basis.  His most requested flavor is green apple.  He also makes watermelon and cotton candy flavors.  He often recruits one of the girls as his helper.  Today with temps over 100, he was our favorite guy!  Never knew how much I'd like snow cones.

Both boys took in a ballgame with their dad this week, while the girls and I went to Moonberries, a frozen yogurt shop.  However, we really wanted to try the Purple Penguin but could not find it.  Someone please give me directions!

I had a nice time at the beach last weekend, getting to know some ladies in the church better.  It was good to get back to my family though.  I'm at 15% on Little Dorrit which is a good place to be because I'm far enough into it to understand what is going on, and I began Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, on Biblical worldview.  My brain cells might have to work overtime on that one. 

Being silly at Lowe's-- we are such regular customers!
Matt did well with the kids in my absence, and even did some reorganizing in my laundry room!  Muffy girl helped him in the clothing department, so hopefully they looked okay while I was gone.

We are looking forward to next week to celebrate the 4th.  Happy Independence Day everyone!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Banana Pudding and other News

We've enjoyed some mild temperatures for June, relaxing just a wee bit on our big front porch.  The kids swam on Thursday, but found it to be a bit chilly.

Everyone worked harder this week at being more productive with summer assignments, music practice, and housework in general.  It is a blessing when they begin to see that something needs doing without me asking.

Our little water bug!
Cupcake was sad on Monday when her beloved Mr. Darcy's doggie life came to an end.  Mr. Darcy belonged to her Aunt Missy, but we've all played along that Mr. Darcy was Cupcake's dog that had to live with Aunt M. When I had to break the news to her, she sobbed and then told me she needed to call her daddy at work.  That little girl loves just about every animal out there, but Mr. Darcy was by far her favorite.  When we would visit, he would lay in her lap so contentedly.  She picked some flowers to put  on his grave.  She'll miss him, but NO, do not even ask, we do not feel bad enough to buy her a dog.  She can borrow her other aunt's dog that lives across the street.  ...In other not so good news, Cupcake's ear development has not progressed since the placement of the tubes.  The doctor believes she is experiencing a lot of pressure, which may be causing the return of some unwanted irritable behavior.  She doesn't have much air space for the vibrations, thus affecting her hearing again.  So, she goes in for surgery for new tubes in both ears in a couple of weeks.

Muffy has been busy entertaining Cupcake (to which I'm very thankful), drawing pictures, and coming close to finishing the delightful Mary Poppins.  She also made banana pudding from her Paula Dean kid's cookbook.  We all enjoyed that very much!
Muffy's banana pudding, S- the taster!

S- parted company with his rental violin.  Purchasing it would have meant robbing the bank (okay, not really, but anyway...).  The shop owner had three violins in our price range ready for us when we arrived.  He had S- try out a G scale on all three to compare sound, and to see if he'd "bond" with one.  Well, of course, he "bonded" with the most expensive one (without knowing price at all to bias decision).   I think S- and his new violin are going to be a great team.  Besides playing music, he is reading Oliver Twist.  It will be great fun to watch the Masterpiece Theater version with him when he finishes reading it (which will probably be quite some time from now).

E-'s wagon rides, helmets needed!
E- completed his Math-U-See Delta course today.  Hooray for E- mastering three digit multiplication and long division.  We'll begin the Math-U-See Epsilon on Monday.  It is primarily on fractions, which he's had exposure to already in previous curriculums, so we hope to go through it quickly.  He's also resumed Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.   Other highlights have been making paper airplanes, singing country, and pulling siblings for wild rides in the wagon.

There just isn't much to post about Matt and I.  I've been extra tired, so we've both just been pushing through the routine, with a little time to read in the evenings.  Hey, no one ever tells you this, but when your kids get older, you actually end up with less free time!   I love them all though, and the ages and stages they go through so quickly.

I'm going to the beach with some ladies from church next week, so unless dear husband gets motivated to blog, there won't be a post.  Don't feel sorry for him; he'll be fine, but my house might never be the same, and if you see my kids out and about their clothes probably won't match!   Hee, hee, hee.
Delighted one girl, terrified the other.  Any guesses which?
Cupcake's version of a catbird!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Every spring I long for the summer break from homeschooling.  Don't get me wrong, we are all enjoying a more flexible routine.  However, for maybe the first time ever it has finally dawned on me that summer is all too short and realistically I'll probably only get 1/8 of my "want to do" and "need to do" lists completed.  So, anyway I sort of feel like a deflated balloon on this realization.  But, that is probably a good thing because the things that actually do get crossed off will probably surprise me and be "hoorah" moments.

We had a wonderful time with our other homeschooling friends from church on Monday at a nearby park at the lake with a picnic lunch, playtime, and fellowship.  This was our second annual end of the school year party with kids from toddlers to fourteen year olds.  I took E and S, along with two other kids out on the paddle boats.  I had one condition:  THEY had to do the paddling while I relaxed in the back.

An important lesson was learned this week.  When your hand-me-down shoes from your son wear out, it is NOT OKAY to buy some from Wal-Mart, when the purpose of the shoes is for running.  OUCH!  Ordering decent shoes is on the list of things to do right away.

The children have had a bit of routine this week with math, chores, and music practice in the mornings with quiet reading time in the afternoons.  The boys and I have been hammering away at finishing The Story of the Greeks, so we can begin Story of the Romans which have to be done this summer.   We are eagerly awaiting a replacement motor for our pool pump, so we can add swimming back into our afternoons.  Instead of swimming this week, S and Muffy have been listening to one of the Andrew Clements books on CD.  We've played several rounds of the Cupcake's Lost Puppies game and UNO Attack with her.  Also, E has made snow cones for us from his new snow cone maker he bought with his lawn mowing money.  He also got a pie maker machine but hasn't tried it out yet.  He likes to make his popcorn and snow cones inside his tree house.

I've had Muffy reading the Sarah, Plain, and Tall trilogy.  She's done with the first and is now in the middle of Skylark.  I can't wait to watch the Hallmark movies based on the book with her-- some of my favorites.  She's also reading Mary Poppins.  It is supposed to be very different from the Disney movie. She'd also like to report she is now the proud owner of a 1/2 size violin.  She's technically still so tiny she should be in the 1/4 but her teacher thought she's gotten close enough now.

Our family for fun read-aloud is Who, Me? from the Castleberry Farm Mystery Series.  Even the older boys love this series about another homeschool family.  They all think it is cool that the family also adopted a couple of  children from Russia.

I get a half-check for finishing a small wall quilt top for my kitchen.  It is a folksy birdhouse.  Maybe with it being so small I can get it quilted sometime (then I get a full check to my list).  My reading this week has included the Tozer book and Eternal Impact (about discipleship) by Phillip Downer.  Tozer has been challenging reading but thought provoking.   For example, on the attribute of omniscience, Tozer writes, "Could God at any time or in any manner receive into His mind knowledge that He did not possess and had not possessed from eternity, He would be imperfect and less than Himself."    The book is stretching my understanding and view of a very holy, unchangeable, mighty God!

Hope everyone is off to a good start for summer!