Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine's Day Cupcake Recipe

While my husband and son were at Spring Baseball tryouts on Saturday, the girls and I made some Valentine's themed cupcakes. I want to make these on Valentine's Day but, being it is a new recipe for us thought it best to have a test run first.

The cupcakes are super simple - just a strawberry cake mix with 1 1/2 cups of strawberry soda added to it {no eggs or oil needed}. Then just bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. We made 12 big cupcakes but, you can easily get 24 from the same mix.

They were yummy and very strawberry tasting ... next time I am going to add some real strawberries to the batter. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week End Wrap Up : January 28, 2012

This week we had our first field trip of 2012. The kids and I had been waiting patiently for this field trip since I booked it last summer. It was a reptile show that did not disappoint! I was blown away by the critters the reptile man, Mr. Greg, brought with him. It was a great follow up to our study on reptiles that we did last week in Science.

Science this week brought a science experiment - the kids are recording their results each day as we wait to see the affects of moisture on seeds. The kids were introduced to a control group in an experiment. They have enjoyed checking each day on the seeds to see what is happening.

Also, this week we began to study Walt Disney - his life and how Walt Disney World in Florida came to be. Our plan is to work through studying and learning as much as possible about Walt Disney leading up to our vacation. We will also do a study on all the countries in Epcot. That way when we visit each country the kids can interact with the cast members from those countries and will be able to ask some intelligent questions. All part of my plan to make our vacation one big field trip - don't tell the kids. :)

DIStickers.com Ticker

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Walt Disney World Vacation Planning


Just a month from now we will leave for our vacation to Walt Disney World. It is one of our favorite vacation spots as a family.

I grew up less than an hour from Disney World and we began taking our children to this amazing vacation destination from the time our son, Devin, was just 9 months old. Lots of great memories and the kids look forward to vacationing there at least once every two years.

In case you are planning or are thinking of planning a trip to Disney I wanted to share with you my number one planning tip ... use TourGuideMike.com. It has to be one of the best and most in depth planning spots on the web.
Yes there is a fee, $21.95 to be exact, worth every penny and then some. Mike Hewell, the creator of TourGuideMike.com, used to work as a VIP Guide at Walt Disney World. To get to that level at Walt Disney World, you have to be the best of the best. His information and insight is invaluable. Following Mike's customizable touring plans for all the parks we have never waited in a line. That's right - even when we were crazy enough to vacation at Disney during the week of the 4th of July {one of the busiest times of the year} we had no more than a 5 minute wait.

While asking your friends and family who have traveled to Disney questions is a great idea - remember nothing beats having a professional's advice. Walt Disney World crowd levels and seasons have a big impact on what experience you might have at the park. Taking the advice from someone who has traveled to Disney during the off-peak season is not going to help you plan a vacation during peak travel time.

And, if like me, you have been to Walt Disney World more times than you can count you will love Tour Guide Mike for all the great ideas about things to do and see that are not commonly known. Did you know that Disney offers many "Behind the Scenes" tours for each park or that you can rent a yacht to go out on and watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom?

It also really helps to know when your child's favorite ride is going to be closed for refurbishment while you are at Disney World ... trust me, you want to know that before you go.
DIStickers.com Ticker

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week End Wrap Up : January 21, 2012

This week we continued our study of Early American History - we also studied Ohio. We learned how many settlers heading to Indiana would float down the Ohio River on what would be considered the first "house boats". The kids were quite interested in this unique way of travel for the settlers and I found a great book at the library with really good pictures to read to the kids. {Pictured above a sweet picture of our cat Tigger ... nothing to do with our school week but, cute none the less.}
Ava Mae found a horse crafting book while we were at the library and so this project was her art for the week. She sewed a purse she made out of a pair of old jeans and cut a horse out of felt and stitched it on with embroidery thread. She said she is going to carry the purse when she buys her first horse with her best friend, Maddie Bell. Inside the purse she will carry treats such as apples and carrots for their horse when they go to visit her. I told Ava Mae to start saving her money now ...
The kids each do a journal entry every week in their notebooks. It is a great way to see how they continue to improve in both handwriting and language skills. Devin had an interesting entry this week. He talked about our upcoming trip to Disney World and how it was a secret his sisters were not privy to yet. Of course, he told his sisters what he was writing about and they spent the rest of our writing time trying to see what he was writing about. That made for a fun 20 minutes at the school table.
Next week is our first field trip of 2012 and we will hit our 100 Day mark for schooling ... can't believe we are past the half way point.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Trying to get better at writing down all the gifts I am given each day ... here are a few highlights from my week:

Words with Friends ... my new favorite game!

Fun Valentine crafting materials

My friends ... Robyn, Tammy, and Danette or as they are now known my bible study posse. Thankful for another Priscilla Shirer study we can do together {Can We Talk?}


Getting some fun new products to review - delivered to my home this week ... can't wait to start using the products from Beeyoutiful and beginning our new bible study for this half of the school year - from Apologia "Who Am I". So thankful for being chosen to be on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew!


A wonderful husband who always stands by me {Date Night tomorrow night woo hoo!}

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week End Wrap Up : January 14, 2012

With all of our activities back in full swing this week life got a little crazy. Thankfully, I think we took it all in stride. {Pictured above the kids on the way out the door to Timothy - all bundled up, it was actually snowing and just 25 degrees.}

On the homeschool front, the kids are really enjoying listening to me read "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It goes along well with our American History and the kids are getting a really good glimpse into how hard life was back then. Their few chores are nothing compared to what was expected back in that time period.

We continued our study of Tchaikovsky by listening some more to a gret CD from Maestro Classics - The Story of Swan Lake. You can read all about it in my review I did earlier this week. To combine our art lesson and music. The girls listened to the music from Swan Lake while water-coloring their drawings of ballerinas taken from one of Degas' paintings.

In science, we learned all about Living and Non-Living Things. Then the kids each drew and diagrammed a cell after we made a large replica out of jello {in a plastic ziploc bag}, a piece of tangerine, and butterscotch chips. Devin took one look at what bacteria looks like under a microscope and announced he had enough of that and was moving on.
 Another fun activity we like to do each Winter is to bird watch. Since moving our school room up to the front of our home we have a perfect view of our bird feeder. Lots of great birds spotted this week. 

{Pictured above a few of the birds we spotted - Blue Jay, Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee and a Red Bellied Woodpecker. Also pictured above, Tigger, our number one bird spotter.}

Timothy was back in full swing this week also. The kids began their 2nd semester classes -

Devin - Advanced Chemistry, Spanish, and Guitar 3

Lexi - Eight Cinderellas (World History), Quilting, Combination Crafts

Ava Mae - Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain, Pretty Princesses (Bible), Combination Crafts

As always, the kids are super excited to be back in schools on Friday. They love being in classes with all their friends and having "lunch bunch" together. This semester my husband and I are both teaching one class at Timothy. I have a sweet group of 1st - 3rd grade students in my Georgia History class and, my husband, has a super smart group of 4th grade and up students (including some adults) in his Computer Animation and 3D Modeling class.

January is always a hard month for us ... just the dreariness and the post-holiday blahs. Thankfully, we have a big vacation {Walt Disney World} to look forward to at the end of February which is keeping us motivated. Only Devin knows at this point where we are going - the girls know it is something big and they are super excited.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TOS Crew Review : Maestro Classics

This year our curriculum has us studying the classic composer Tchaikovsky. We studied The Nutcracker in the month of December and we're ready to move on to another one of Tchaikovsky's pieces when we were given the opportunity to review Maestro Classics - The Story of Swan Lake. My kids love classical music and we have enjoyed studying Tchaikovsky. We have been blessed, in the past, with the opportunity of seeing the ballet "Swan Lake" performed by the Atlanta Ballet.

The CD we received from Maestro Classics begins with the telling of the story of Swan Lake set to the beautiful music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In no time my girls were up dancing to each piece, while my son enjoyed pretending he was the conductor.

From the Maestro Classics website:

Our Mission: To cultivate a love of music through education and joyful performances.
Stories in Music™ is the award-winning audio CD series for family listening. These recordings for narrator and symphony orchestra introduce great music and classics stories and provide the opportunity to develop important listening skills.
Three Major Benefits:
Expand listening horizons.
Our goals are to expand musical horizons, develop listening skills, and encourage parents and children to listen to music together. Listening to the complex patterns of classical music has been shown to stimulate brain development. This series makes it fun!
Develop listening skills and accumulate musical memories.
These CDs highlight Stephen Simon’s unique ability to explain how to listen to music. His joyful music-making, his interest in a broad range of musical styles, and his compositional skills provide entertaining and educational middle tracks. Bonnie Ward Simon weaves background information on the composer, the work and its place in history, both on the CDs and in the program book.
Encourage adults and children to listen to music together.
Listening is becoming a lost art. We encourage you to take the time to develop this crucial skill and delight in a world of wonderful music.
What I loved about Maestro Classics is that it is so much more than just listening to classical music. This is what was included on our CD, along with a 24 page booklet - with discussion topics and fun activities.

1. The Story of Swan Lake
The story is set to the most famous music from this great ballet.

2. Tchaikovsky's Life
Learn about the life of Tchaikovsky, the most loved of all Russian composers.

3. Speed Metal Swan
World-famous guitarist Joe Stump transforms Tchaikovsky’s theme.

4. About the Music
Discover about the different popular dance music that the composer included.

5. "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet"
A funny song to help remember the theme.

6. Want to Have Some Fun? Prepare to Perform.
Time to get ready and sing.
7. "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet" Sing-Along
A string quartet will accompany you.
And, after we had listened to the CD several times {and my girls had danced the ballet more times than I could count} I headed over to the Maestro Classics website and found many links to additional activities we could do which went along with our study. Today, the girls drew and then painted an excerpt from Degas' "Ballerina" painting, while listening to the "Swan Lake" ballet.

You can purchase Maestro Classics - The Story of Swan Lake directly from their website for $16.98 or as an mp3 download for $9.98. Also, head to their website to listen to excerpts from all of their CD's. Other titles include Peter and the Wolf, The Soldier's Tale, My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music, The Tortoise and the Hare, Casey at the Bat, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Juanita the Spanish Lobster, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of Maestro Classics? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

&&&&&&&&&&<span class=

I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than a free copy of Maestro Classics - The Story of Swan Lake, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the app.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Back in the saddle again ... Last week was our first back at homeschooling for the New Year. Thankfully, we had a good and easy transition back into doing school each day. It feels good to be halfway through our school year!

{Pictured above our Yule Log, an Irish tradition, we burned it each night until the Epiphany. Pictured below, we had a fun lunch with some homeschool friends on Friday - this is a picture of their new adorable puppy. She looks just like the Target dog.}

I enjoyed taking a week off from blogging though I did take care of some housekeeping issues for my blog in my downtime. I also got my Etsy store up and running {more on that in another post}.

{Pictured above, some Valentine crafting for a project in my Etsy store. Pictured below, Ava Mae's dress designing fun.}

This week all of our activities begin back ... that is probably the one thing I am not looking forward to. Don't get me wrong I love all the extra-curricular activities we are involved in but, it means late nights Monday - Thursday. Plus, tutoring one day a week and Timothy school on Friday's. It's all good though, right.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Parting Shots {2011}

Happy New Year!! I hope y'all had a wonderful New Year's Eve ...

I am posting a few of our Parting Shots for 2011 before I take a week off from blogging. Need some downtime while we clean up from the holidays, slowly transition back into homeschooling, work on opening an Etsy store {
a goal of mine from last year that I never got around to}, and enjoy another week off from all of our extra-curricular activities.

We celebrated the last day of the year by letting the kids spend a couple of hours at one of their favorite "jumpy" places.

Then we enjoyed an evening by the fire - watching movies, being silly with sparklers, snacking, and watching a 20 minute Year in Review DVD slideshow I had put together with around 200 of my favorite photographs from the past year.

The evening flew by and before we knew it ... Midnight was close at hand. Time to launch our sky lantern, toast with some bubbly, and sing "Auld Lang Syne".

Wishing you all the best in 2012! See ya back here in a week or so ...