Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Take Time to Smell the Roses

O.K. so the picture above is not roses but, we still enjoyed smelling all the wonderful flowers today on our fieldtrip to the Southeastern Flower Show at the Cobb Galleria. It is sponsored by the Southeastern Horticultural Society and has normally been in Downtown Atlanta ... we are so happy with its new location.

I think the kids were on sensory overload as most of the time I could not get them to stay and focus on one garden long enough before they spied something bigger or better in the next garden. We really enjoyed the small butterfly garden that Callaway Gardens had. Also, a display on container vegetable gardens was very interesting. We have enjoyed the past couple of years growing tomatoes but, this year I think we are going to expand and do some cucumbers, lettuce and carrots.

The Youth Area was wonderful and I met this really nice woman who was in charge of the area at the time - she had homeschooled all 4 of her children, the last two are currently in college. She encouraged me to let the kids enter exhibits in the future if their interest level leads them. We made a cute Pine- Cone Birdfeeder which is perfect for our unit study next month on Birds.

Our final stop, and the one my girls loved the most was the small container gardens. Ava Mae called them "Fairy Gardens" and would have loved to taken one home with her.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

King Tut Fieldtrip

I love having opportunities to bring to life for my children subject areas we are studying. We have spent the last year (with a slight break this past Fall) studying Ancient Egypt. The kids were so excited to visit this exhibit. The 1 1/2 hour self guided tour flew by and I loved seeing the kids race to an artifact that they recognized from something we had studied. I am also thankful that Ava Mae was on her best behavior and loved viewing all the gold jewelry. Even better ... we were not responsible for setting off any alarms from the kids trying to touch something. It was another wonderful field trip with our homeschool group!

25 Random Things About Me

I was tagged on Facebook and asked to write a Note including 25 random things about me ... here is what I wrote:

1) I was born in 1971 in Troy, Alabama while my Dad was still attending Troy State.
2) I am the oldest of ten children – I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers.
3) I grew up in a very small town called Zephyrhills, Florida.
4) Zephyrhills is famous for its bottled water.
5) I married my wonderful husband when I was only 19, he was 25.
6) We bought our first home when we got married ... it was strange owning my own home at 19.
7) I don’t really consider Zephyrhills, Florida to be my “hometown” especially being my parents have a home in Asheville, NC now and that really ends my connection to living in Florida.
8) I have lived in Atlanta since 1998. And, though we would love to live in the North Georgia mountains ... I could not imagine moving away from East Cobb.
9) I owned an Event Planning Company for several years before having children.
10) I once planned a wedding with a $100,000 budget – that the bride then ran off the night of the wedding rehearsal and the wedding never happened.
11) My husband was out walking our street one evening and met a new neighbor who he said I really needed to meet as she was pregnant with her second baby also.
12) She has been one of my best friends ever since.
13) That same best friend, just 18 months after meeting her, I stood in her kitchen and cried as I realized I was pregnant with #3.
14) Yes, at one point I had 3 kids all 3 and under.
15) I homeschool all three kids and love it! Not always easy but, definitely rewarding, and what God called me to.
16) I am married to a wonderful man who is a great Dad! He is my very best friend! Plus, he plays in a band. ;) I just like saying that ... even if it is the church band.
17) I love the color pink!
18) Rubber stamping is one of my hobbies, which now my girls share with me.
19) I love photography! I easily take over 1500 pictures a year ... thank God for digital cameras!
20) My favorite seasons are Fall and Spring.
21) I love cooking and baking ... and collect cookbooks, especially ones with great photography!
22) When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian.
23) I took Floral Design Classes and once even worked at a floral shop during Valentine’s Week.
24) I own a sewing machine but, cannot sew.
25) I love my life! I am definitely not the type person who would like to go back in time ... I think things just get better as I get older!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Last Week -- in Review

Last week was alot of fun ... the kids really enjoyed adding our new Home Economics course to our curriculum. Pictured above is the project for our first lesson. They were so proud of their veggie platter they made themselves for dinner. I really liked how the book goes step through step each lesson and reminds the kids to wash hands and tie back hair before cooking.

Of course, the lesson was not without typical competitions, such as - who peeled their carrot the fastest, who sliced their cucumber most evenly. I think Cooking Mama on Wii had something to do with it. ;)

Our Weather Unit Study continues on this week we made Snowflakes out of coffee filters and learned how no two snowflakes are ever alike. We also had a chance to play in some snow at our friend's home on Saturday. The Cox Family has built their own Snow Machine - similar to what you would find at a ski resort. The kids just loved sledding down the hill in their front yard. Tomorrow we have a chance at snow and we are all praying that it comes to fruition.

Our History lesson this past week was on Ancient Africa. It was interesting, though not very long as we do not know alot about the Ancient Africa time period. The kid's did find interesting, as did I, that the Sahara Desert actually used to be lush with vegetation. We practiced an African craft by making these paper beads. I think Lexi and Ava Mae would have sat at the table all afternoon rolling triangular pieces of paper and then stringing them on a necklace.

On the agenda for this week ... Baked French Toast, Snow (praying for), Ancient Middle Egypt, and a field trip to the King Tut Exhibit at the Civic Center in Atlanta.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Halfway Point

Today we hit the halfway point in our year! Only 90 days to go … ;) Devin was figuring in his head if we homeschooled every day with no break we could be done at the beginning of April. I tried to convince him that it would not be easy to do.

I can’t believe all we have done so far this year, all the great memories we have created. I love our eclectic mix of Classical, Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies that we have chosen. I have worked hard at relaxing my tendency to control everything and giving our schooling to God. Trust me, we have rough days, the kids get sick, I get sick, laundry gets waaay behind, I forget to take dinner out of the freezer, and the list goes on. Overall though, I am loving having my children at home with me, where God has intended them to be. Most days, we really have a great time together!

For those of you who are interested in what curriculum we are using:

Bible ~ “Leading Little Ones to God”, finishing this book and then I need to select another devotional for us. We are also memorizing large passages of scripture. The kids just finished memorizing Psalm 23 and we have now moved on to Matthew 5. Another area we have added is working on them having more of a servant’s heart. Each week we add a new rule, they must memorize and implement in their lives. Right now we are up to four rules. When I catch them in the act of having a Servant’s Heart, they earn a dime. At the end of the week they may cash out their rewards – half of the money must be tithed but, the rest is theirs to keep.

Handwriting ~ Devin and Lexi are finishing up “Handwriting Without Tears – Printing – Grade 2”. Next week we begin “Handwriting Without Tears – Cursive – Grade 3”. Love this curriculum!

Language ~ Devin continues with “Spelling Workout”, Lexi continues with “Explode the Code”, both of them are continuing on in “First Language Lessons”. Even Ava Mae has down pretty good was a Noun and Verb are.

Math ~ Devin and Lexi are both working out of Horizons Workbooks – Grade 2 and Grade 1, respectively.

Reading ~ Devin continues on in his Grade 2 Reader from Bob Jones University – “If Skies Be Blue”. Lexi is working in Grade 1 Readers from a different company, that I have not been thrilled with. The reading level is much closer to 2nd grade then it is to 1st. We have decided to reevaluate what we are doing with her as Reading is not her best subject and it has been frustrating for both of us. So, for right now, we have gone back to Dick and Jane. We both love those stories and the repetitive nature of the book has allowed for Lexi to really enjoy reading these stories as she learns sight words.

Electives ~

Spanish – Rosetta Stone has been a wonderful curriculum. The kids enjoy working on the computer with their lessons and it is so easy for me to evaluate their progress.

Home Economics for the Homeschooler - A great series that we are just beginning. Each week we focus on one or two skills around the home. This week we are working on learning to use a peeler to peel vegetables. We will make a veggie tray. Next week, the kids will learn the proper use of the toaster, even though I think they have that pretty much mastered.

History – “Story of the World” – We took a Semester off from this curriculum but, we are enjoying getting back into it. I think it helps that Devin and Lexi are a year older. We just finished up Ancient China and are moving into studying Ancient Africa.

Unit Studies ~ One of my favorite areas to teach! We have done Unit Studies on – Thanksgiving, The Birth of Jesus, 12 Days of Christmas and the book, “Kit’s Surprise”. We have lapbooked everything we have done so far but, I think we are going to switch over to Notebooking. I like the idea of each child having a notebook where they keep all of their unit studies we have done. Right now, our unit study is – Weather – with a focus on Winter Weather and Snow. We have been reading books about families living in climates where winter is really harsh. My kids only see snow as something fun … not as something to dread.

Science ~ Nature Notebook – this semester we are going to focus on birds. We are putting up a new birdhouse in the front of our home and we plan on journaling and photographing the birds we find.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Week in Review ...

Last week we began our Weather Study with a focus on Winter Weather. My children just love Snow. They are praying for snow sometime this month like we had last year. Imagine our excitement when a double rainbow appeared one morning for us.
We began our week with a weather science experiment - involving vinegar and baking soda blowing up a balloon.
And, what do you do when you do not have real snow to make a snowman? You use the next best thing ... marshmallows.

We also added back in our "Story of the World" curriculum. We finished up our study of Ancient China and are now moving on to Ancient Africa.

We had some fun crafting ... a friend came over and showed me how to use of my Christmas Presents The Big Shot - I love this die cut:

Lexi made her first Pot Holder with her loom she got for Christmas:

I was finally able to see Devin play basketball ... having pneumonia all of December meant I missed all of Devin's games. His coach said Devin has made so much improvement and even scored a couple of baskets during the game.

I just love this shot I got before Devin's game ... Ava Mae was praying that Devin would score a basket.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Family Night - Celebrating The Epiphany

Today is Three Kings Day, The Epiphany, the day we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men to visit Baby Jesus. It culminated our study of the 12 Days of Christmas. Some of the traditions we started this year were fun, though we did not necessarily get to them every night, such as burning our Yule Log. But, the kids were really looking forward to tonight, and our Three Kings Cake we were making. I decided a Spice Cake with Homemade Caramel Frosting seemed appropriate for tonight's celebration.

Tonight was also Family Night and we spent most of the evening taking down our Christmas Tree, a custom we have begun, our tree stays up during the 12 Days of Christmas until the Epiphany. In the beginning I had lots of help ... but, in the end, it was our 4 year old who stayed on task and packed up all of the boxes so neatly. I just love this age, they really truly love helping! You also gotta love the outfit Ava Mae was in tonight ... her ballet attire and rain boots.

After the tree was undecorated we enjoyed a night of Wii Family Games. We started Family Night in December of this past year as a way of setting aside one night a week where we did not schedule activities but, the kids have enjoyed it so much we decided to continue it through this new year. I know we won't always be able to avoid extracurricular activities, meetings, etc. on Tuesday nights but, we are going to try really hard to keep this one night a week for family time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Planning ...

I can't believe that on January 12th we will be halfway through our school year! We will have hit 90 days and begin our journey into the 2nd half of our year. I always forget how fast the first half of the year goes by. I think alot of it has to do with the holidays and all the fun that surrounds it. I always feel a little melancholy when I think of the next couple of months, school wise. The excitement of the holidays is not there to break up our normal school routine.

I am working hard this year on planning some fun things to do during this part of the year to keep things interesting! This month, along with adding back in our History, "Story of the World", we will be doing a unit study each month. This month it is centered around Weather with a focus on Winter Weather, most importantly, Snow. We start this next week by reading the book, "Stopping by the Woods ..." by Robert Frost. We are also going to be reading "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I found some fun crafts we can do, and, of course, we will figure out a few recipes to go along with our study.

Yesterday, Lexi and I had a chance to go by our favorite used bookstore while we were out running errands. Lexi enjoyed looking through a book on the making of "The Chronicles of Narnia" while I traded in some of our old books for credit and shopped for some books for this month. Here are a few of our finds:

The best part ... I was only out $6.00, with the money I had from trade ins.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Today we look back at 2008 and forward to 2009! Last night we celebrated the New Year's Eve with a small party with the kids and a family friend, Jen. We cooked and baked, played Board Games, watched the Disney Channel New Year's Eve Show, and then counted down the Peach Drop. The only one who did not make it to Midnight was Ava Mae ... the rest of us toasted 2009 with ginger ale, in fancy Crystal Champagne Glasses that I hardly ever pull out. Devin and Lexi thought they were so grown up!

2008 brought illnesses that were not welcome and fun vacations that were! I could definitely gone without emergency surgery in April and pneumonia in December. ;) I loved our vacation to Hilton Head with the kids, it was their first time at the beach! I will never forget their excitement when they saw the ocean for the first time. I know Daune would prefer not to have a chronic illness but, we are thankful to God for good medications that have brought it under control. Homeschooling continues to go well and though I am constantly tweaking our curriculum or schedule I am working hard at relinquishing control to God in that area and following him, knowing he is in control. I am so thankful for the Homeschool Support Group begun by one of my new friends this year, Renee. I am blessed by all the relationships I have formed with such Godly women who have chosen the same path as our family for schooling.

And now as we look forward to 2009 ... this bible scripture always comes to mind. I have a tendency to worry about what a new year will have hold for us.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34

Last night we all wrote hopes, dreams, and wishes on paper and placed them on our Yule Log, an Irish Tradition during the 12 Days of Christmas. Devin and Lexi are really hoping for snow again this year! As a family we have chosen the word "JOY" as our word of the year, "J"esus First, "O"thers Second, "Y"ourself Last. My Word for the year is "Contentment" - being happy with what God has provided for us in everything - family wise, health wise, material wise, time wise.

Happy New Year!