Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week in Review : Five Weeks and Counting!

Our first five weeks of school are done and behind us! I told someone the other day - our weeks are so busy that I seem to blink and it is Friday. I think this year with teaching at AMEN Choir on Wednesday nights, teaching History for our co-op on Thursdays, and teaching at Timothy on Friday makes things seem to go by even quicker. {Pictured above Ava Mae at one of her favorite classes at Timothy - Food Network. Each week the teacher tackles a new recipe while covering important lessons like measuring, food groups, etc.}

The kids are all enjoying their time at Timothy and their classes! We are blessed to have a such a fabulous resource just 8 minutes from our home. And, while I used to really enjoy the break from teaching, when the kids were younger, now my husband and I both look forward to teaching at Timothy on Fridays. This semester my husband has a music appreciation class and I have an American Girl class. I have the sweetest group of girls ever! These 9 girls get along so well and I love hearing all the stories they share with me each week. I will actually be sad when this semester is over and I move on to teaching a different class. 

In other studies, the kids are progressing along well {that's not to say we don't have our rough days - we do}! Devin is adapting well to weekly tests - something new for him now that he is in 5th grade. Lexi has reached a point with her dyslexia that most of the time it is hard to even distinguish she has an issue. Our tutor has worked miracles over the last 2 1/2 years and Lexi can actually, spell better now than her 5th grade brother. It has been a long road and it is so nice to feel like you have finally made it. It is not that her dyslexia is gone but, she is easily able to compensate now and no longer struggles with reading at all. Ava Mae I struggle with keeping busy ... like Devin, most of Ava's subjects come quite easy to her. She ends up finished before the other two even seem to get started so I am finding more creative ways to have her work longer by incorporating apps from my iPad into her school day.

We just finished our 3rd week of our History/Science Co-Op. It is really nice doing these two subjects with another family. The kids just finished memorizing the names and locations of all the continents - their reward was frosty's  from Wendy's. This week we are memorizing as many states and their locations as possible. Devin's goal is all of them, while Ava Mae is memorizing about 1/2. I am really looking forward to moving into other countries.  We will spend two weeks in each major country throughout our trip around the globe. This week in Science the kids studied more about Ecosystems - learning about Forests. They even planted some seeds in their very own miniature greenhouse. We are using My Father's World - Countries and Cultures for our curriculum and spending about 2 1/2 hours each week in class together and then doing some homework throughout the week for each subject.

In other subjects, the girls have begun doing some basic loom knitting using the Knifty Knitter. Work has already begun on Christmas gifts. I even joined in on the fun making an adorable hat for my new niece.

Pictured above is how Lexi comes to the school table most days ... between each lesson she is doing ballet/pointe. It is not enough that she spends six + hours a week at the ballet studio dancing plus, another hour helping teach a 3 year old class.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lexi's 10th Birthday

Last week Lexi joined her brother in the double digits ... again, I wonder, where does the time go?

We celebrated the day by having a "world" cake with our dear friends, who we homeschool co-op with. Lexi was serenaded with "Happy Birthday to You" and we all enjoyed spice cake.

Then it was off to ballet for the girls ... Lexi brought Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting to share with her friends. After ballet, we went as a family out to dinner at one of Lexi's favorite places - Cracker Barrel.

Lexi's party was at a tea room ... we invited several of her good friends to join us along with some special adult women in her life. 

These are the favors I created for the party.
Almost as fun as the tea ... the dress up time!

The girls tea tray.

Always love these little mice - made from Hershey Kisses, Chocolate Covered Cherries and Slivered Almonds.
The adult tea tray.

Happy 10th Birthday Lexi!!! You are growing up too fast ... we love watching the beautiful young lady you are growing into. God has blessed you with so many gifts and so many wonderful friends!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recipe : Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

With all the comments on Facebook after my post about these cupcakes, I figured better to get this post up sooner rather than later.

My daughter Lexi loves Nutella and I mean loves ... she refuses to throw the jar away until every ounce of goodness has been scraped from the insides, thus the inspiration for these cupcakes.

They are super simple ...

Here is the box mix I used for the cupcakes.

Just two changes to the box directions - substitute milk for the water it calls for and add 2 cups of chocolate chips, folded into the recipe at the end.

The icing is from scratch. It is the same recipe I used this summer at Camp Crafty Girls with the addition of Nutella:

Ingredients for Nutella Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup butter
1 two pound bag powder sugar  
1 tablespoon vanilla  
4 tablespoons milk  
1/3 cup of Nutella  
dash salt
Place room temperature butter, vanilla, and salt into mixer. Add in powder sugar one cup at a time, alternating with the milk until you have used it all.  Then add Nutella - mixing well until completely incorporated into the buttercream.
If your frosting is too thick you can certainly add more milk but, I have found that this is the perfect consistency for piping roses using the 1M  Wilton Cake Decorating Tip.
Bake cupcakes, let cool completely then frost. To make the roses I used a 1M tip inside a disposable cake decorating bag. Just start in the middle of the cupcake and slowly go around the center and move outward toward the edge of the cupcake. You should have more than enough icing to practice a few times and still be able to frost 24 cupcakes. Of course, you will have to find someone to eat the icing you practice with - though that did not seem to be an issue in our home. :)


Linking up with ... 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Week In Review : Our First Field Trip of the Year and Co-Op Class

Last week we had our first field trip of the school year. Jenny Cote {a children's author} came to speak to our homeschool group about creative writing. Devin and Lexi really enjoyed hearing her. She gave some great tips and the kids took good notes. Lexi has already begun work on her short story.

We also were able to purchase one of Mrs. Cote's books and she autographed it for Devin and Lexi.

Another first for last week, our History and Science Co-Op with friends had its first official day {the weather was so nice we were able to do schoolwork on the screened in porch}! Looking forward to doing school with our good friends. It really makes sense to combine teaching when you can. For us it works well as we are doing the same curriculum this year, My Father's World - Countries and Cultures. I am teaching the History component and my friend, Tammy, is teaching Science. While our History will focus on different countries around the world this year, Science will focus on Ecosystems.

I was finally able to get around to ironing Lexi and Ava Mae's new patches from last year on to their vest/sash.  I use to sew these on but, it takes forever, so ironing it is.

Leave you with this parting shot ... how we use our time when out and about waiting on an activity to finish up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week in Review : Two Weeks Behind Us

Two weeks done and behind us ... last week was a little crazy. Wednesday morning I ended up in the ER with a kidney stone. Thankfully, I appear to be on the mend! So grateful for my husband who always handles medical emergencies with such understanding and wonderful friends who don't ask what they can do but, just provide meals and help with childcare! Such blessings in my life.

Thankful also that the kidney stone occurred after our monthly homeschool group meeting on Tuesday night. Though I wasn't feeling well I was not in serious pain at this point. This was our second meeting of the year. I am loving my role as the new co-leader along with my friend, Rena. We had big shoes to fill but, everyone has been so sweet and gracious in welcoming us as the new leaders and some of the changes we have made.

Teaching at Timothy on Friday was a little bit of a challenge as I was still in pain but, I had my husband {who teaches the class after me} and my daughter, who is my assistant in the classroom with me. I ended up going with our service project for the semester rather than attempting any crafting. I have the sweetest bunch of girls in my class and not one of them complained that we were not working on a craft. They all jumped right in to the service project {letters to "Any Hero" for Operation Write Home} with sweet hearts.

Our school week went pretty smooth even with the bump in the road. All work got completed and the only aspect we missed was no History.

Saturday was Devin's first game of the Fall baseball season and his first official game in the 11 - 12 year old league. He did so amazing - pitching 3 innings with 5 strikeouts and receiving the game ball for Defensive Player of the Game. Way to go Angels on your first win of the season!

Sunday Devin and Lexi served for the first time as Ambassadors in NOISE {our children's church for kids in Kindergarten - 3rd grade}. They were both so excited. I love that we are all can serve together now on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.

Praying life returns to a more normal pace this week!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week In Review : First Week {2012}

Our first week behind us, along with a fun 3 day holiday weekend, wanted to write a quick week in review for last week.

Our first day of school went wonderfully! The kids were excited to get started back and I was looking forward to having a routine again. While not always easy to start back to school after ten days at the beach we jumped in with both feet and never looked back.

We are working with a new workload schedule this year ... our basics are completed Monday - Thursday while History and Science will be on Thursday afternoons with another family. Friday's are reserved for Timothy classes and tests.

After the first day it seemed we might be falling into some old ways. I guess the first day excitement wore off real fast for Devin as by day two he was already needing a nap halfway through the schedule. Fifth grade is definitely a time of more work - it's o.k., he will get into a routine soon enough.

Ava Mae enjoyed being introduced to the first poem she will memorize this year.  One of the fun tasks I have her complete when we first read through a new memorization piece is to have her draw a picture that helps her remember what she is memorizing. {Of course when I asked her to work a little harder on the picture she drew she told me for her to do her very best drawing would require a full two days - this is the 30 minute version.}

While were at the beach all of our extra-curricular activities got started ... so we came into things a week late. We didn't miss much - if you ask me the first week of any extra-curricular activity is always crazy. We get to start with activities after some of the hiccups get worked out. Last week it was back to ballet, baseball, Wednesday night choir - RA's - GA's, and Timothy.

This week our history and science co-op begins and Lexi is back to tutoring. Summer is over ... bring on Fall!!