Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Blast From the Past

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Are you ready? Sitting down? Okay, don't know too many people who read blogs while standing up, but just in case, go ahead and sit down now. 1980's hair is COMING YOUR WAY. Don't say you weren't warned!!




Yep, it's MEEEEEE~!! I know you're marveling at the fabulousness of the WINGS and the curls and ... um ... (I can't even bring myself to say it!) the mullet. And oh my, what the 41 year old me would like to say to the 17 year old me ... but THAT, my friends, is not the topic of the day. I am the oldest child and a rule follower and a blank filler-inner, so I must stick to the topic of the day. (As an aside on the blank filler-inner side of me - I missed a blank on the listening guide of my Beth Moore Bible study and it just about drove me crazy. I had to come home and look it up because I felt like it was hanging over me. I suspect I have issues. Ahem. Comments on that not necessary.)

THE TOPIC!!

Share your post about your favorite teacher. Who made a positive impression on you? Whose words have stuck with you all through the years? Have you carried over any of their traits into you own homeschool?


Oh wow. I think all of my teachers made a positive impression on me in some way or another. Even the ones whose names I can't remember! I loved school and was a good student.

I think I liked best the teachers who would be willing to push and stretch me as a student. Mrs. Bishop comes to mind. She was not afraid to throw the hard concepts at us, and fully expected that we would "get it." Of course she was willing to help if we didn't quite understand, but her expectations were high and she kept us on our toes to meet them. She expected, and received, hard work from her students, and we were stronger and better prepared for the rest of life because of it.

While I'm on that topic, I think this is one of the hardest things about homeschooling. As the mom and teacher, it's hard to know how to push my own kids. I don't want to be the tyrant mom and have them think they can't meet my standards. Nor do I want to be raising lazy kids. I think I have some blinders when I try to think of what my kids are capable of - is it what they are really capable of doing, or is it what I THINK they should be capable of doing? Or the opposite - am I content with a lack of effort in one area (which may happen to be a subject I don't enjoy) when they would be better served with me raising the bar? This has become more of a challenge as my children have gotten older and it's become more and more clear that they're not just little clones of me. And let's face it - feeling like you're not good enough to meet a teacher's expectations is one thing. A parent? That's permanent damage territory. It's a constant prayer for wisdom and grace as we draw the lines of expectation! We are quoting this a lot:

Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men

I think that well sums it up, although I still find myself wavering between pushing for more from them and relaxing with what they do a lot of the time.

So, there's a bit about one of my favorite teachers, and a bit more. Plus ... 80's hair!! And BRACES!! Funny that I had my braces removed just a couple of weeks after my senior portraits. I'm glad I had them on in the portraits though; seems fitting since I wore them all through high school. Just one question - do senior girls still have to wear the fluffy thing in their portraits? Whose idea was that anyway? And WHY? Makes me want to sneeze just looking at it! Oops, I think that was more than one question!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A New Project!

Pin It I've been doing the questions and linky for The Homeschool Village for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed it! The Homeschool Village is this fabulous community of homeschoolers - loads of mamas (maybe some dads too; but I haven't seen them as of yet!) at different stages of the homeschool journey. This is a great resource of encouragement and information (seriously! Check out the science experiments from last week! Stuff for every level and GREAT ideas!)

I get to be a part of it! (insert big cheesy grin here!)

I'm going to be part of their panel for the next two months. I am really excited! I'm excited to get to know the other mamas on the panel too, and would love for y'all to check out their blogs too.
New Panel and Contributors

There is a kick-off twitter party at 9:00 eastern time tonight. I've never done a twitter party before (and to be honest, up until now, I've kind of hated twitter ... trying to keep an open mind about it though ... maybe I'll decide I love twitter after all!) Um ... I've had a twitter account for ages but really couldn't tell you the first thing about how to do the party, but you can go to The Homeschool Village home page and get more information on that. (My twitter id is itsmelaniew if you twitter!)

So, all of that to say ... I'm excited about doing this! I hope you'll follow along; I know you'll be blessed by the wisdom all of these mamas have to share!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Heart Faces - Chalk

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My sweet son defacing my driveway. I love that boy! He drew a fabulous bubble person and started writing his name, then apparently got distracted by the letter "H" which he doesn't actually have in his name.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Linky Linky Linky

Pin It Okay, so I have a TON of blogs I read. They go into my google reader, and where some people read newspapers or news sites in the mornings, I read blogs. (Which means SOMEBODY better tell me if there's major news happening that I should know about, because I'm probably reading somebody's blog and giggling away, totally unaware.) It happens all the time that I'll read something and think "OH! That's fabulous and everybody should read it!" That said, I'm going to start saving links when I read them, then post whatever is there on Saturdays. That's the plan anyway. We'll see if I stick with it ...

So, without further ado ... this week's linkies:

http://www.aartipaarti.com/2010/09/19/kiss-your-blessings/ I fell in love with Aartie while watching "The Next Food Network Star" but didn't click over to her blog until a few weeks after the competition ended. What a treasure! Read this post, then read some more of her blog. You're in for a treat!

http://shaungroves.com/2010/09/when-god-comes-by/ There are just no words. Read, listen, be moved, and be blessed.

And finally, yep, finally for today - I just decided yesterday to do this, so I only have a couple of links for you this week -
My dear friend Micah is scary creative. LOL She created a new blog this week and I have to share it! I have one of her makeup bags and not only is it the cutest thing ever, the craftsmanship is fabulous! See pics on her blog! (And I need to pull out pics of my middle one's "Minnie" dress that Micah made for her before our first trip to Disney! Oh my at the fabulousness!!)
So ... go to her blog: ShabbyShae and see the awesome things she's doing!
(Oh, and as soon as I find THE fabric, she's going to redo our piano bench! I'll be sure to take pics of the work in progress. Maybe not before pics though. The cover was kind of ... um ... DONE ... and that was BEFORE the little one got toothpaste all over it.)

Did you go to her blog yet?

Have a happy Saturday! I'm off to do some work in some bedrooms that belong to the little people who live here. Let's hope I make it out alive. It's questionable.

Did you check out the links?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Winner and the Random

Pin It May I complain for a moment? hehe ... like you could stop me. My out of shape body is screaming at me. It did this all night long. Simply because I had the nerve to do thirty minutes of step on Wii fit. The board is what? Two inches off the ground? I did this Wednesday night and woke up just fine yesterday. Then, as the day went on, the body started complaining. By bedtime, I think it may have been cursing at me. In the middle of the night, it gave up the anger and just whined in pain. Fabulous. Nothing like a constant reminder of how very out of shape I am. So let's see ... sore body and a lack of sleep last night ... these should make me a total joy to be around today. Lucky family I have.

My middle one has a very strong shellfish aversion, and I remember reading somewhere that strong aversions and allergies go together, so we avoid shrimp with her. (Which is easy because it's NOT going into her mouth if it looks like or smells like shrimp.) When we have gumbo (which we did last night), I pull hers out before adding shrimp, and then she's on her own when we have leftovers. No problem there. We don't have shrimp very often, so it's never been a huge deal.

Last night about an hour or so after supper, the youngest came up with a bump on his face. I assumed it was a mosquito bite; bless his little heart, if he goes outside in the evening, he comes back covered. Then his little bump became a few more bumps. Then I realized it was hives. They were just on his face when we gave him benadryl, which stopped both the hives and him in their tracks. When I checked on him last night, there was still a little redness where he had been scratching, but it looked like they were mostly completely gone. So now I'm suspecting that HE has a shrimp allergy. He never has before, he usually likes it and will eat a fair amount. A tiny bit of research last night said that's kind of typical. Fabulous. I can't think of anything else we ate last night that would have caused that type of reaction, and he didn't get into anything (for once) either. So, with two with likely shrimp issues, I guess shrimp is banned from our house. sigh.

And now it's time to wake everybody up. Soooo not my favorite time of the day. The oldest always looks at me like she would like for me to dissolve right there on the spot. The middle one complains loudly, and since the little one is still sleeping, it will likely not be a happy "let's get off to preschool!" morning for him either. You know what though? DADDY is home and can do the drop off! :D

Okay, so enough of my rambling. Sorry I made you read through all of my drivel to get to the point of the post. At least this one has a point. ;)

SpellQuizzer! We have a winner! I'll contact you shortly, and I hope you love this program!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Science

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Oh my. Had to go there, didn't they? The s-word. At least in our homeschool, the s-word is science. We also have the h-word, history. Yikes.

So ... thus far in our homeschool journey, the science has been at the very bottom of the priority list, and for most of the time, didn't even make the priority list at all.

I know what you're thinking. Don't you have a seventh grader? And you haven't done science??

Um.

We did a science curriculum one year. I think it was third grade, or maybe it was fourth? We did a couple of lessons of fifth grade, I seem to recall. I'm pretty sure the middle one did some science when she was in first grade.

So yes, I am a science failure. And I'm admitting it publicly.

That said though - we have been part of a homeschool co-op since the oldest was in first grade, and science is part of their class day every year. They have done some great things with this program! The oldest made an entire ecosystem, complete with pond and garden. The middle one spent a year learning anatomy and made this fabulous human body complete with macaroni brain and balloon lungs. The oldest did an overview of geology last year along with life science. The middle one did astronomy. They both have seemed to learn a lot from co-op, and up until now, we've called it good.

Now that the oldest is in seventh grade though, I figured it was time to step it up a little around here. Part of our Heart of Dakota curriculum is science, and this year we're doing zoology, plant life, early medicine, and human anatomy. I believe we're calling this "making up for lost time!" So far though, I have been amazed as we've gone through our curriculum. They both seem to have a pretty good scientific foundation, so maybe that "lost time" wasn't really lost at all.

This year (remember, we're only in week six now) so far we've talked about various animals and how to classify them, and how God created them uniquely. On Fridays, we do experiments. Of course, that is their favorite part. It's one of my favorite parts too, because their father is usually home on Fridays, and amazingly, right at the time we get to science, I find an errand that I just *have* to run, and hand the book to him. ;) Love experiment Fridays!

I anxious to read about everyone else's science plans!

eta ... just realized I didn't actually answer the specific question regarding my favorite science experiment. And wasn't it just yesterday that I got on to one of the girls for giving me a well-written paper that would have been great had it actually covered the assignment? Apparently the "follow the assignment" apple doesn't fall far from the tree either! We actually haven't done a lot of experiments. I love the chemical reaction experiment with vinegar and baking soda ... great fun to pour it in the sink and say "HEY! I KNOW!! While that's here, let's clean the sink!!" So now I'm even more anxious to read everyone else's posts to find some fun experiments to try!

eta again -- I'm leaving the SpellQuizzer giveaway open for the rest of the day (Scroll down a couple of posts) so if you're interested, go ahead and comment on that post and you'll be entered!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nehi Grape Summers

Pin It I was just sitting here annoying my husband who is trying to play a game and I keep interrupting him by talking to him. The cat jumped up on my lap and was looking all miffed at me because I wasn't moving to make her more comfortable. This made me think of a sign my grandparents used to have in their antique store:

"This establishment is maintained solely for the comfort and convenience of our cats."

This, of course, made me remember the antique store. I loved that store. Treasures UNTOLD in there, although to be honest, I was more interested in the junk than in the actual good stuff. I think they tried to help us see the difference, but hey, shiny junk is just a lot prettier to a little kid than old looking stuff!

Actually, I'm still quite drawn to shiny junk, and I know there's a spiritual application there, but that will have to be for another day, because that would mean that this post has a point, and it really just plain doesn't.

My grandparents had a coke machine out in front of their store, and I remember at least when I was a little kid, that it dispensed bottles rather than cans. Their store was the only place in the world where I could get Nehi Grape Soda. Thinking back, I'm not even sure I really liked Nehi Grape Soda, but the novelty of being at the antique store and that being the only place I knew of that had Nehi Grape Soda was just the coolest thing ever.

I remember visiting over the summer and my cousin and I hanging out, ostensibly helping, but really in the way, although my grandparents would never have told us that. We'd drink our weight in grape soda and stay underfoot for the whole time we were there. I remember my grandmother told me the code to her pricing - there was a city, and each letter in the name of the city corresponded to a number, so they could put on the price tag, in code, how much they paid for the item. This made bartering easy. (Now I'm racking my brain trying to remember the city name they used ... dad? Do you remember? How many cities have ten letters with no repeats?)

It's funny the things you remember, and the things that stick in your mind, and that something like the cat jumping into my lap can take me back so many years!

I miss my grandparents. :(

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SpellQuizzer Review and Giveaway!

Pin It I was asked to review the program SpellQuizzer, which I was happy to do. We have been through the wringer with spelling programs, so I have a pretty good grasp of what all is out there because if it's out there, chances are, we've tried it.

SpellQuizzer is a spelling program that works differently from other programs we've used. For us, we are using it as a supplement to Bob Jones Spelling 4 with my middle one, but it could certainly be used as a stand-alone program as well. My plan is to add in my preschooler as he is learning his letter sounds. (He will enjoy "playing" on the computer, and the early intro to typing and letter recognition can't be a bad thing!)

Basically, SpellQuizzer is spelling software with both pre-made downloadable spelling lists and parent-entered spelling lists. It is not designed for any specific curriculum, and really could work with any curriculum because it is fully customizable.

It works like this for the parent/teacher:
  • Create a spelling list, and enter the words into the program, using your own voice. Some of the words are already in the database, so you have the option to choose whether to enter it yourself or just click on what's already there. You can listen to your recording to make sure it records well (and if you happen to have a *bit* of a southern accent, you can giggle at yourself just a little bit!) My daughter prefers the words in my voice, but I do like to switch it up every now and then and choose one from the database.
  • The option is there to mark the word as case-sensitive. One of the goals of Bob Jones Spelling 4 is to have the students correctly spell the books of the Bible and a few other proper words, so capital letters are important.
  • Each list is titled, and each word you use stays there in your database, so if there's a word that is missed repeatedly, it can easily be added to the next list.
  • There is a forum that parents can join and can import and export lists to and from there.

It works like this for the child:
  • The child then opens up the program and clicks on "quiz me on a list", then finds their list. The newest list is the last one entered, so it's easy for beginning readers to find their lists too.
  • The program says the word and the child types it in. They can repeat the word if they need to.
  • If the child gets the word correct, it goes on to the next word.
  • If the child spells the word incorrectly, it pops up immediately with the correct spelling.
  • When the test is over, the program tells you how many were missed and gives the option to redo the ones that were missed.
  • The lists stay there, so it's super easy to go back and review older lists.

Additional information:
  • SpellQuizzer's built-in spellchecker recognizes both US and UK English spellings. The spellchecker warns the user when creating a spelling list if they enter a word that appears to be spelled incorrectly. Because of this safeguard it's reasonably safe to let children create their own spelling lists guided by the curriculum they are working on.
  • There are several free downloadable spelling lists for SpellQuizzer on the web site at http://www.spellquizzer.com/Spelling-Lists.htm. These lists include pre-made sound recordings. They are in the process of adding new lists to the site.
  • Users can easily export and import SpellQuizzer spelling lists to share with other SpellQuizzer users. This makes it easy for members of groups or classes to share their lists rather than everyone having to record their lists individually.
  • They have recently added a community area to the web site with discussion forums and an area where users can upload their own lists to share with others and download lists other SpellQuizzer users are sharing. This makes it easier than ever to share lists with other SpellQuizzer users.
  • There is an area on the website specifically geared towards homeschoolers - http://www.spellquizzer.com/Spelling-Software-For-Homeschoolers.htm
  • There is an area on the website for help regarding microphone or sound problems in recording lists.
Here are my thoughts on this program:
  • I love that I can take ten minutes on Sunday afternoon to enter my daughter's list for the week. I then put it in her hands. Since we are using this in conjunction with Bob Jones Spelling 4, I have my list handy, so I just read it in and that's it.
  • This program is super easy to use. I would estimate that it took about ten minutes from first hearing about the program to having my daughter's first list recorded. Those ten minutes included clicking around the website, downloading and installing, finding my daughter's spelling book (giggle), and entering the words with the help of my sweet son. (Wanna make the program really fun? Have a newly turned five year old "help" enter some of the words.)
  • I love that I can put the responsibility for studying her words into her hands. She does her pretest herself, as well as any review and then her final test.
  • I love that she's becoming familiar with the keyboard as well.
  • She loves that she's listening to my voice giving her words, and she loves it when I use silly sentences with her words.
  • The only negative I have is that I wish there was a way to save or view their results. My daughter would close the program and I couldn't see which words were a struggle for her. She'd tell me that she missed two (or however many) but chances are, she wouldn't remember which words after she closed the program. We have solved this by getting her to write down the words she misses more than once, and I add them to the next week's list.

All in all, this program has made and will continue to make spelling easier in my house. With schooling multiple children, it helps to make them responsible for various things. This is a good one for them to handle themselves, with less supervision from me. This program would not only be a benefit to homeschoolers, but public schoolers as well, and really, anyone with a spelling list!

Does this sound like a program that would benefit you? If so, it's your lucky day! One commenter will receive a free license to this program. Just leave a comment to tell me you're interested in this program and you're entered. Be sure to leave an email address so I will be able to get in touch with you. I will leave comments open Tuesday and Wednesday (adding one day here - comments open Thursday too!) and will choose a winner Thursday Friday morning.

If you don't win the giveaway, go to the SpellQuizzer website and you can download a trial to see what you think. The actual program is very affordable - even has a money back guarantee, and to me, worth it to make one less thing for me to do!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Heart Faces - Smirk

Pin It School started and I haven't had time to post pictures for I Heart Faces lately. With smirk being the theme though, I had to post this time because my oldest is the QUEEN of the Smirk!



Here is just one of MANY examples I could have chosen of her smirky face!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Rules and Discipline

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Totally giggling at this week's Homeschool Village topic:

What is expected of your children? How do you handle interruptions or poor behavior? Do you have homeschool detention?

Let me say first off -- the main one who struggles with discipline around here is ME. I am the lazy one, especially after taking a long summer off. I am the one who really needed to get up and go for a walk this morning and decided that no, what I really needed was more sleep, and then proceeded to go back to bed. Funny that this week, the Lord is really working on me in that regard, reminding me that if I'm going to say "why bother doing something if you're only going to halfway doing it?" while halfway doing things myself, well ... I need to step it up a little bit, in several areas.

So now that I've exposed y'all to THAT, I'll tell you how it all works in our homeschool.

The girls know what is expected of them each day. I have a calendar that I fill out every week with that week's assignments. They can look at the calendar and see what lesson they need to do and if there is extra work or other things. They're 4th and 7th grade, so this works pretty well to let them know what I expect from them. It was a happy day when I realized I didn't need to pull out worksheets any more; that I could just write it on the calendar and leave them responsible for getting it done. If they get up on time (this is our biggest struggle right now) and work diligently, they should have all of the day's work done by 1:30 - 2:00. What's not done is expected to be done before computer time, TV time, phone calls, etc.

Interruptions and poor behavior. Usually I reply with poor behavior myself. I've had more than one good southern hissy fit over seeing my children exhibit poor behavior. I'm sure they're learning a ton from my good godly example. (I'm a work in progress, remember?)

That said -- we have discovered what works for each kid, for now. You know how they all have a love language? Turns out they have a discipline language as well. The oldest? Merely the threat of taking the phone or email away and she starts polishing her halo. The middle one? She wants to be around people, so banishment to her room works well for her. Also, they're both old enough to be able to do things with friends and have various privileges, so taking those opportunities away is very effective around here. This is the one area that has gotten much easier as they've gotten older. Well, the discipline hasn't gotten easier, but figuring out what is effective for each of them has.

Homeschool detention -- giggling at that one. I'm not sure who that would punish, them or me, if I had to be the one to enforce it!

There are times when I have put in a call to the principal, DAD, to help with some bad attitudes, but for the most part, they're both kind of like me - the temper may flare and an attitude may pop up from time to time, but mostly it's a short-lived thing, and then we can move along happily. :)

The main rule I've been trying to enforce lately with the girls is that in their squabbles with each other, and me, and with their friends, I believe the Lord is more concerned with how they treat each other than with them being right in the situation. It drives me crazy to see them bicker over which one left her pencil out and spend way more effort fighting it out rather than one of them just picking up the pencil! And yes, folks, that is an example from this very day. We read about Joseph forgiving his brothers for selling him into slavery and five minutes later fight over who has to take the pencil from the table and move it 2 1/2 feet to the pencil jar. Awesome.

So, that's it for the rules and discipline around here. :)

(btw ... a word to you on the blog hop! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my blog! I am WOEFULLY behind on returning the favor. I'm working to get caught up on that! Just wanted to let you know that your comments have blessed me, and I really appreciate the time you have taken to encourage me!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week 4 DONE, and First Co-op Report!

Pin It Wow, I absolutely can't believe we're in week five of school already! It's been an eventful JUMP into fall!

School for the girls is going really well. We're making some headway on the bane of my existence, multiplication. Still a ways to go, but PROGRESS. I'm all about celebrating the little things! :) I know it will happen for her just as it did for her sister - one day she'll just know them. It WILL happen, right? ;) Progress ... we've made progress, and that's good.

The oldest is doing very well. I was a little concerned about her English this year because it's a "jump in and run" type curriculum, but she seems to be doing well with it. I was actually considering taking it down to half speed and I'm glad to see that we're not going to need to do that. (Y'all don't tell her this was ever a consideration, mmmkay? Our secret.) The good news is that since she'll finish her English this semester, in the spring we'll have time to do Literature! My original plan was for English to take all year and just call the other reading she's doing with Heart of Dakota and co-op our literature for the year. Hm, I wonder if she will be as excited as I am to know that she'll actually be doing a literature curriculum next spring? ;)

The middle one is also doing very well. We figured out some modifications to the Heart of Dakota curriculum that they're doing together, so that struggle is getting better. I suspect that we're going to let her repeat it when she gets to seventh grade, full strength, with the extensions that her sister is doing now. At least that's a tentative plan. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself!

News from the little one too: he started preschool last week. The child I had to PEEL off of me last year is going in easily this year. He isn't overjoyed about getting up early in the morning (NEITHER AM I!) but once that hurdle is crossed, it's all going well. He *should get his fifth smiley face today, which means he will get to pick a surprise from the treasure chest. Let's all take a moment and hope that the whale is still in there. If it's not, we may be making a trip to buy a whale today. That whale is all he's talked about since he's seen it!

And last but not least, our homeschool co-op started Monday. All in all, it went amazingly well. We were expecting chaos and chaos just didn't show up! Very nice! The girls are both excited about their classes. And!! Shocker!! The oldest told me she couldn't wait to start the book we're reading. :-O Can you believe that? My child who up until last year never saw a book that she wanted to read is now excited about reading a book. And NO, we didn't decide to read the Twilight series at co-op, in case you're wondering. ;) We're reading The Hiding Place, the biography of Corrie ten Boom. She has an interest in this topic, so I'm excited to see the impact this book will have on her. The middle one will be reading A Cricket in Times Square and told me that we will be making a cricket home for our home. I'll be honest with ya, not so excited about that. Cats + Crickets = well, this is just not going to end well. Plus crickets make noise.

So ... I think that's it for today in our updates. Homeschoolers, I'm working on a review post with a giveaway! I hope to have it up on Friday; if not Friday, it'll be Monday. If you need some spelling help, be sure to stop back!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fog is Lifting!

Pin It Maybe it will, or maybe it won't, come as a surprise to you to learn that the last few months have not been stellar in the life of Melanie. They just haven't. There have been days when it was a struggle to get out of bed and days when I'm sure my family sat in another room and whispered to themselves that "mama is starting to lose. it."

This blog is kind of strange. On one hand, I think sometimes I put way too much information out there. I mean, my heavens, I have told you people that I sat in the Target parking lot and wondered if I had brushed my teeth that day. Y'all hung with me last year when my life's goal was to keep my plates spinning and I blogged all about everything. Then there have been the last few months, when it was easier to blog pictures and superficial items and not let it get too personal. I don't want to be needy or pathetic, or whatever you want to cal it. I want to be a person who has it all together, and if I don't, I certainly want you to think I do.

All that said, this last summer, I have not had it all together, and I haven't wanted to blog about it. I haven't wanted to blog about anything on a personal level.

Now, though, suddenly the fog that I've been in has lifted. I'm not *there* yet, but the difference between how I feel physically and emotionally now from two months ago is amazing. I can't even tell what has exactly made the change - whether it's that I'm taking a little better care of myself, or doing some things specifically for me now (other than the daily Starbucks run ... KIDDING JIM! I really only go a couple of times a week!), or answered prayer, or getting back into a routine with structure, or what.

I just know that it's really nice to wake up and not try to figure out a way to hide under the bed. It's nice to look at things that need to be done and not feel so overwhelmed. I couldn't believe yesterday - I had a STACK of things to do. We went to church, came home, and I got my things done. A couple of months ago, I would have looked at the list and tried to crawl under the bed.

All of that to say ... the fog is lifting, and I am so thankful!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Dads

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This week at The Homeschool Village is all about dads and their place in the homeschool. To be honest, I was planning to skip this week because I'm really not sure how to answer. With Jim having been gone all of last year, and us just getting started for this year, no one seems to be really sure how to make all the pieces fit together yet.

Last year I was the homeschool commando mom. Jim left in June to go to Afghanistan. We started school in August. When he came home in April, both girls had finished most of their curriculum, so we basically called ourselves done and took a long summer break. (Really, a little TOO long, but that's another post for another day.) So, last year I did all of the planning, purchasing, implementing, disciplining ... all of it. It started out pretty tough, but we found a system that worked for us; namely "let's please finish our work before mom LOSES.HER.MIND." You know, you do what works for you at the time. ;) In some aspects, last year was easier than normal. We had a set schedule because we weren't working around Jim's weird work schedule. Yes, I had to handle everything, but I have enough control freak in me to make that work. So, all in all, weird as it is to say this, last year worked out pretty well, at least as far as our homeschool went.

So now it's time for this year to begin, and some things needed to change with the curriculum we were using. The girls are getting older and we need to step it up in some areas. Jim is back home, back to the regular (weird) schedule. The strange thing is, it's like we're not all sure where we all fit now. Starting school again has shaken things up, and it's kind of like we're all confused. I'm here, so I'm still the purchaser, planner, and implementer, and I've pretty happily handed the disciplinarian role back over to Jim. And the flash card role. I don't enjoy that one so much, and neither does the one who needs the flash cards, so I'd rather just give up that whole chore. School is taking longer and more effort from me this year, which is adding another weird dimension to all of this. Time I would have spent doing things around the house is time I'm spending working with the girls this year, so there are also things around the house that need to be passed off to Jim as well.

So, the role of Dad in our school? I don't really think he knows, and neither do I. Maybe that's something we need to talk about in the very near future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Needing to Share This Today

Pin It Please read this today. I so desperately needed it today and I thought that maybe you might too. I have a few situations going on that seem pretty much impossible. "Human impossibility amplifies God's glory." How awesome.

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/09/3637/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+stuffchristianslikeblog+%28Stuff+Christians+Like+-+Jon+Acuff%29

Monday, September 6, 2010

Party #2 - Let's Get MESSY!!

Pin It With Micah and I having inseparable boys born five days apart, it seems only right to combine for birthday parties, so that's what we did. It was tough deciding between taking out a second mortgage for a Chuck E Cheese party or a less expensive and probably more fun backyard messy party, so we compromised a little this year. We had a combined messy party on Brendan's birthday and then our families went to Chuck E Cheese together on Landon's birthday. Best of both worlds!

He found that cupcake holder and Buzz candle a month or so ago. I can't believe it survived until his actual party!

He saw the big box for his present wrapped it Toy Story paper and was trying to convince me to tell him what it was. I told him it was "Lotso." When he opened it, he told me I had just been playing with him and he was so glad because he doesn't like Lotso!

MOST FUN EVER!!

And then let's take the most fun ever and cover it with shaving cream!

Shaving cream is apparently a big hit with the 8-10 crowd as well.

Please could you give me your fakest smile for this picture?
- Done.

My pictures from Chuck E Cheese were not fabulous. I thought I'd share a couple anyway.
Could we revisit the fake smile times two, please?
- Done.

I do love this pic. The silliness on Bren's face, the concentration on Landon's.

Happy birthday guys!! Seems unbelievable that you could be five already. Let's hope the next five years don't go quite as quickly!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Party #1 and the Winner!

Pin It It's been a week, so I'm sufficiently recovered from the parties, and now I can post about them. My oldest and youngest have their birthdays a week apart, so party season is busy around here. This year, Jim had just gotten home and then we were out of town and then all of the end of the school year stuff happened, so my poor middle one didn't get a party. We decided that since the oldest wanted a pool party, we'd include the middle one with her and fill up the pool. It was a great idea, and she didn't mind a bit having her party four months after her birthday.
Brendan trying to control the water!


Singing happy birthday to #1.



Singing happy birthday to #2.


Modeling a couple of birthday presents.


Opening her presents.

And then some boys decided to try some synchronized swimming.


Then the next day we had Brendan's party. Pics to follow for it in a day or two. :)

AND! The winner~!! Because the comments are on two posts, I'm going with the name out of a hat method of selection. :) Please note my beautiful helper.

She stirs the name around ...


... and she draws ...


Mary Ann!


Congratulations, Mary Ann! If you'll email your address to itsmelanie@gmail.com, Micah or I will get your book out to you.

Thanks for playing, everyone! I think I'll have another book next week. I'm trying to decide if I want to part with it or not. LOL

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homeschooling - In the Beginning

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I just found this blog today and decided I'd play along. It gives me something to post and keeps me from finishing my "moldy" post that is a continuation from the other day. I seem to be having a hard time getting my thoughts out there ... maybe next week.

Anyway! The question of the day is when did you 1st hear about homeschooling and what was your reaction?

I first heard of homeschooling before my middle one was even born. We lived in Bryan, TX (Gig 'Em Aggies) and the Lord had placed us in a church with families who all homeschooled. There was so much I could have gleaned from these women and I am sad to say that I didn't take advantage of it at all. I didn't want that path. I wanted to drop my children off at school and go grocery shopping and clean my house alone! I didn't consider homeschooling at all during that time, but some ideas were planted way deep down apparently, below conscious thought.

(Then the demanding one was born and my thoughts were more than ever focused on I.WANT.A.BREAK! Bless her sweet little heart, she is a very easy little girl, but OH ME OH MY, she was a difficult baby!)

Then we moved here and I met some people here and there who homeschooled. Adding to that was my early September born daughter who was well ready for kindergarten but would have had to go to prek due to her birthday, and at the time, prek was income based and we wouldn't have qualified. The middle one was still a handful and we were worried about the oldest going to school and bringing home sickness, so we kind of decided to try out homeschooling. It was a prek/kindergarten mix with every intention of public school for the next year.

So, here we are, and that oldest is now in seventh grade, and is still at home. And believe me - no one is more surprised by this fact than I am! ;) The middle one who now is only difficult if there is multiplication involved, is in fourth grade, and the little one will, Lord willing, be home for kindergarten next year. (Which means, if we stay on this path, there will be another child in my house for whom I am responsible for teaching multiplication facts. :::shudder::: Okay, clearing mind of THAT thought.)

It's been a fabulous journey, I have to say! We've changed curriculum many times, and there seems to be a constant tweaking. I've learned so much about my kids, though, and have enjoyed having them with me. Well, most days. Of course there are days when I'm sorely tempted to chase down the yellow bus. ;)

I don't know if this is a forever "I'm going to be making their diplomas" plan, we're still pretty much on the "one year at a time" plan, but for now, we're loving it and so thankful that the Lord led us on this path, and so thankful for the friends who have encouraged us through the years. Now I need one of you to step up and handle our multiplication issue. HAHA!! (Seriously - we have finally had a breakthrough there and I'm hoping there will soon be a post in which we rejoice and thank the Lord that a timed test was not only passed, but with an A!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Regifting! You'll Want to Read This Post!

Pin It Okay, don't judge me, but I'm a big fan of regifting. I'm also incredibly careful to make every effort to not hurt people's feelings, so if you're wondering if I've ever regifted something you've given me, I probably haven't. Duplicates though? Oh, yes. Things I have gently used and would like to pass along to bless someone else? Absolutely. Clearly, I have at least one friend in the same camp. ;)

Last week, I gave away the book "Same Kind of Different As Me." The random number generator selected my dearest friend Micah as the winner. I delivered the book to her Saturday night and she IM'd me today to let me know that she had finished it, she had cried, and she would like to bring someone else to the same level of emotion. haha Okay, she didn't really phrase it that way, but she enjoyed the book and would like to pass it on.

SO ... if you entered to win in THIS post, you're already entered in the great "Same Kind of Different as Me" Second Chance Giveaway. If you DIDN'T already enter, you have a second chance now! I'll leave comments open until Thursday night and will select a winner Friday morning. Just leave a comment to be entered (and make sure I have a way to get in touch with you).

Same as always - if you're local, either Micah or I will deliver it to you. If you're not local, one of us will ship it to you. Feel free to share the giveaway with friends. :) This book will be a huge blessing to you, I just know it!