Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Beautiful and Busy Days

Let's start with Friday! Like many of you, we had the most beautiful day! The temps were in the mid-60's and it was sunny and cheery! Fridays are "Freedom Friday" around here, where we wrap up some unfinished work and then I leave the kids to do some delight-directed learning (with supervision). Do you know what is awesome? Being able to leave the house for a few hours to get groceries and run errands and know that your kids are home doing what they are supposed to be doing. They are great kids, and I am so glad that I can trust them to do what I asked them to do. I hope they are like this forever! I am a pretty lucky mom.

So what did they do on their Freedom Friday this week? They finished watching a video about squirrels (because our internet was not cooperating early in the week) and then they did some research on squirrels and badgers and filled out some worksheets. This is a concept that is difficult for Eli, but he pushed through. His skills are getting better every time he researches.

Never too old for Wild Kratts.

Their favorite thing to do is watch an episode or two of Brain Games. They read out of their personal books for about an hour, and they each worked on their UniversalClass courses. Brynne did a lesson in Dog Psychology 101 and read out of How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren. Eli watched a video from Astronomy 101 and read out of Night Watch by Terence Dickinson.

Finally, they did a little camouflaging activity where they took cars outside and attempted to camouflage them from the "enemy". U.S. soldiers needed to be very careful about camouflaging their vehicles, especially supply trucks. This activity came out of our WWII for Kids book.

The rest of the week was good, as well ... just cold.

The Basics

We are moving along nicely with our basic studies. We continue to do increasingly complex division problems with fractions. Spelling and Grammar lessons are going just fine. This week we revisited the "i before e" rules and learned about main/independent and subordinate/dependent clauses and subordinate conjunctions. I was very proud of how they conquered this topic. We read more of Prince Caspian and On the Far Side of the Mountain. Eli finished Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Old School and started How to Ride a Dragon's Storm. Brynne finished Warriors: Dawn and started Warriors: Starlight. Finally, we read and did more copywork of three selections from McGuffey's.

Of course we watched CNN Student News each day. And we learned that they are now taking reservations for their new CNN Student News VIP tour. We are going to be in Pensacola, Florida, in April so we decided to book a tour and head to Atlanta for a day. My kids are so excited to get a behind-the-scenes look at CNN Student News and to get to meet Carl Azuz in person!! Secretly, I'm a little excited myself!


We learned about the armor and weaponry of knights. The kids made some edible knights. It was just for fun.

They did an entire lesson about blacksmiths with a reading comprehension fill-in-the blank assignment and a word search.

Enrichment Class

The kids in our class took an energy and recycling quiz and completed some recycling Scrap Libs. These two activities earned them enough points to send in a photo to the WWII Museum in New Orleans and receive their first prizes in the Get in the Scrap program.

On the Web

I am an avid Aldi shopper. Here is a great article about their attempts to bring in more organic foods. That makes me happy!

And I just loved this.

In Other News

Today was a super busy day with Brynne having two basketball games, both kids bowling, and Eli going rock wall climbing with a friend. We also got to get a glimpse of the American Bald Eagles who have been hanging out at our city park the past month or so. We have been told there have been up to 22 of them at one time, but now there appears to only be two. Beautiful!!

We also did a little photo shoot and decided it was time to make this announcement ...

Our grandbaby is due in September. Mama is doing great, but this time is definitely feeling pregnant with exhaustion and sickness. She is happily sick, however, knowing that it just means that she has a strong pregnancy. We have seen the baby's heartbeat on an ultrasound and she has her first office appointment on Wednesday. This appointment will be a nerve-wracking one for her as it was at this appointment that she learned that she had miscarried her first baby. We are praying to hear that sweet heartbeat with the doppler at the appointment. If you have a moment, please be praying for her and Collin.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 560 1/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (206 hours outside home)
Plus 83 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Share a winter memory from your childhood.

So many memories come up when I think of winter as a child. I have always loved winter, even as a kid. One that I was just talking about with my Sunday school co-leader and childhood friend on Sunday: When we were kids, probably Junior High age, if we had a snow day off of school, the kids in our youth group (and there were about 6 or 8 of us) would meet together with snow shovels and walk around our small town and shovel driveways. We mostly did people in our church, just because we knew them, but would do anybody we knew. We did it for donations only and used that money for a trip to St. Louis. Sometimes the older ladies would give us snacks or hot chocolate. It was a lot of fun.

What was on your blog this time last year? (If you weren't blogging, what in the world were you doing with all that free time?

I was answering a Tuesday Coffee Chat of: Would you feel at ease going to a movie alone? Or to eat at a restaurant? A Concert? It was right about this time that I was figuring out what an introvert I really am, and giving what I am a title. No, I wouldn't have a problem doing any of these things alone. These particular things I prefer to do with someone else, but I wouldn't have a problem doing them alone.

Ellen Goodman is quoted as saying, "We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives ... not looking for flaws, but for potential." Do you see more flaws or more potential in your life at the start of a new year? Have you done anything specific this month to address either one? Does the new year truly begin for you on January 1, or is there some other month of the year that feels like a fresh start and new beginning?

I always enjoy a new planner come January 1 because it is usually completely clean. January always has a sort of excitement about it, especially for me because the majority of our activity comes to a screeching halt at the turn of the new year. No birthdays; no holidays; no major events. And I feel fresh and new. I am not sure I look for flaws that need to be fixed at the new year, but I feel more of a desire to claim back my life. I get this feeling around the end of August, too, when we are starting a new school year. There are endless possibilities awaiting us.

Who's an athlete you admire or respect and why?

Oooh, there aren't many I can say I admire or respect. There are a lot of cool pro golfers. But one athlete that would stand out to me (because I was so absorbed in the Kansas City Royals this year winning the World Series) would be Ben Zobrist. He was their second baseman that they signed on just for the end of the season. He is a strong Christian man with a lot of integrity. His wife, Julianna, became somewhat of a celebrity herself in Kansas City during their short stay. She is a Christian artist. She was pregnant with their third baby during the World Series and, in fact, had her just a day or so after the victory parade for the Royals. They gave her the middle name "Royal". Anyway, he seems to be such an awesome man, husband, father. Unfortunately, he signed with the Chicago Cubs and won't be covering second base for us this year, but he is definitely someone I will remember no matter where he spends his career.

Do you like cream in your coffee? Whipped cream on your pumpkin pie? Cream cheese on a bagel? Sour cream on a baked potato? Cream of Wheat for breakfast? Have you ever had a scone with clotted cream? Of all the creamy foods mentioned, which one sounds most appealing to you right this very minute?

I love all of these creams, but have never tried a scone with clotted cream. I am confident I would love it, too. Right now I would just about hurt somebody for a cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese from Panera Bread Company. Oh, yum.

Where were you last kept waiting for 'hours on end'? Or for what felt like hours on end? How well did you cope?

I am like anybody else, I get impatient when having to wait, especially when it is out of my control and seems endless. I am not sure I have ever had to wait for 'hours on end', unless it was in giving birth to my children. But, I think of those poor people on the Pennsylvania highway this week that were stuck there for about 24 hours? Oh my gosh. I am not sure I could bolster up an adventurous spirit to get through that with a positive attitude. Since I have kids watching me, I do try to show patience in waiting-type situations and instill in them an attitude of adventure instead of inconvenience when we are taken off our intended path. But, I think I have a limit.

Believe it or not, when next week's Hodgepodge rolls around it will be February. Huh?!?! Bid adieu here to January in seven words or less.

Thanks for the seven books read.

Insert your own random thought here.

Oh my goodness I have no motivation right now. I need to get up in the mornings and exercise, but I just haven't wanted to! My morning Bible time has been waning, too. I just want to stay cozied in bed all morning. As much as I crave my routine, I haven't been sticking to it. I've been opting, instead, for sleeping in just a tad later and spending every free minute reading. I feel sluggish. I need a good kick in the pants. But, then again, I know that I will get back into exercising once it's a little sunnier in the mornings, and especially when it starts to warm up and I can get back out and run again. I go through this feeling every year at this time. And, this is a good time to do some concentrating on my nutrition and general health care, so that's a good thing. I let that go at the end of the year and I can feel it in my gut, literally. I want to get that back under control again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

I'm not going to lie. I am sitting here drinking coffee trying to will myself to get up and get moving today when I would really rather climb back in bed for another hour. I didn't sleep very good last night, so I am feeling a little sluggish.

Drink another cup of coffee. That's what I'll do.

And answer today's Tuesday Coffee Chat prompt .... Do you have a personal theme song? Have you thought about picking one each year, much like how blogs choose One Word?

Leslie at Ink Interrupted (the host of Tuesday Coffee Chat) gave a link for picking your theme song. Mine said "Man-eater" by Hall and Oates. Um .... no, I don't think that's it. And then I did another random one and it said "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. I'm not sure that's it either.

I thought about my life and decided, at first, that it would be a song about contentment. I did a lyrics search and didn't come up with anything. But then I came upon a song by Pink and thought, yeah, Pink gets me fired up.

I love how many of her songs are just about being yourself!! It's okay to BE YOU!

I spent so many years of my life trying to be who others wanted me to be. And it led down many roads of discontentment and unhappiness. We are who we are. God created each of us to be unique IN OUR OWN WAYS! Our wants, needs, and desires were placed there by God. And He doesn't make mistakes!

I might go overboard on this with my own kids, in making sure they know it is OKAY to be who they are. I can give my advice to them, but they don't have to take it (well, there are some boundaries there if they are living under my roof, but you get the point). My kids do not have to please me in the ultimate way in which they choose to live their lives. They have to please their God and their spouse, if they have one.

There is not enough freedom to fail. We are so afraid of failure. But with a strong support system, failure is okay. Being stupid isn't. But, again, you get the point.

So when I hear "Raise your Glass" or "Perfect" (I prefer the cleaned-up version), I wanna sing and shout, and oftentimes I do when I am in the car alone.

I wanna say, "Yeah! That's what I'm talking about!!"

I am an introvert who likes to be at home. I have carved out a place of safety and contentment. I don't have a lot of needs other than security, some good books, coffee and tea, my family, and a few cute outfits (I love cute clothes). I don't need a big house with all the fanciest stuff, a new car every couple of years. I don't like to go out. I don't like to be around a lot of people. Going to a sporting event for my daughter pretty much does me in for the week. I prefer to spend money on experiences than things. I just want to snuggle up in the chair in my robe and slippers and read a book. I just want to take care of my family, making them my priority. This is who I am and it is more than okay.

So you BE YOU! It's okay. Raise your glass and celebrate it. You are perfect to me.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ When our LONG Christmas Break Came to an End

What a much-needed and glorious long Christmas break we had this year! We ended school for first semester on December 18th and resumed school this past Monday. We thoroughly enjoyed our holidays and spending time together as a family.

But all good things must come to an end, and these kids need to receive an education.


Last weekend I had to make an emergency trip to Oklahoma to be with Rick and his family while his mom was in a critical situation with newly detected brain tumors. I wasn't able to get our weekly plans done to get us ready for Monday, so we spent the day learning about and celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. And, I am so glad we did. The kids and I both really got a lot out of our lessons. We watched the Reading Rainbow episode of the reading of The Martin Luther King, Jr., Story by David A. Adler. Then we watched some of the "I Have a Dream" speech on Youtube. We ended our day by watching the movie "Selma" on Amazon Prime. That movie was excellent and really touched us!

We discussed how we had driven past the exit to Selma when we were driving from Pensacola to Atlanta last fall to go tour CNN. The kids want to make a trip back that way to walk across the bridge and see some of the historical sites.


We started two new read alouds this week: Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and The Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I was planning to have us start The Diary of Anne Frank, but we finished the very last of My Side of the Mountain and the kids begged to read the next book in that series, instead. We'll pick up Anne Frank when we are done with it.

Brynne continued to read over the break and is now on book 3 of the second Warriors series by Erin Hunter. She is currently reading Warriors: Dawn. Eli is finishing up Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School and then will be moving onto the next How to Train your Dragon book in the series. He is on the 6th book.

World War II

We finished Chapter 2 in World War II for Kids and learned about the battles in Tunisia and Egypt, the American involvement in that campaign and preparations in England. We discussed army medics and nurses, learned about the bazooka, and camouflage. We watched some Youtube videos (including a reenactment of a WWII battle using bazookas and showing medics in the field) and discussed our plans for a camouflage activity we want to do next week (hoping for a little better weather since we will be outside.)


The rest of our time was spent on review. We school year round and just a month off reminds me why. Our math and grammar brains, in particular, had to be massaged a bit before we could move onto the next topics. (We even massaged our brains with some real life math by modifying a muffin recipe and then having a math snack.)

We reviewed multiplication and division of fractions in math and started learning about subjects as nouns in grammar. The kids completed a new lesson in spelling, read and did copywork out of McGuffey's, and watched CNN Student News each day.

Our Prince Caspian books gave us a chance to review the water cycle and landforms.

The kids watched a Study James video on the water cycle and took a quiz. Then we made rain in a jar.

To review landforms they did a worksheet from Scholastic and then made edible landforms. Brynne said it was a delicious activity.

Extra Activities

Brynne is in the full swing of her basketball schedule now. She had practice two nights this week and a game this morning. Eli and Brynne both bowled today, as well. It is time to start getting prepared for state tournament.

It was, overall, a very productive week with good attitudes. It's been so cold that we have been happy just to stay snuggled up in the house. Even schoolwork is more desirable than braving the frigid temps.

We are going to be schooling hard for the next two months. Our next break is scheduled for the first couple of weeks of April when we will be taking our best friends from Oklahoma to Florida with us. We are on track to complete school by the end of April for our May break before we begin summer school in June.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 526 3/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (202.5 hours outside home)
Plus 83 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Random 5

1. Last week we saw a mouse ... then another one ... then more. We put out traps with peanut butter, in most closets, in the attic, in the basement, and they all got licked clean with nary a dead mouse. So then we put out poison. And it got eaten. And we stopped seeing mice. Could they be gone already or just cleverly hiding? To be on the safe side I have cleaned out drawers and cabinets and sprayed with a mixture of peppermint oil and water (mice don't like peppermint, did you know that?). I have also put out some sticky traps in safe places away from the dogs. I sure hope they are just gone, and that I don't catch any on those sticky traps. Those things are hard core. The good side is that I have a clean house that smells minty fresh!! And Dawson cleaned out the attic that has been needing it for the past three years.

2. Speaking of Dawson. He had a pretty icky end to his 2015. Well, really it started looking up before the new year, but let's just say he was ready to tell 2015 "good-bye". Recently he has changed his major to computer programming, quit his job where his bosses were a little verbally abusive and unpredictable, and started a relationship with a girl from Oklahoma who he has known since the 4th grade. They do not have a title to their relationship. But, in his words, she "makes him happy". And that makes me happy.

3. It's been a tough year for many in the health department, huh? Our family is no exception. Rick's mom just recently fought her third round of cancer and was cleared until April to take her husband, her RV, and her dog and head out to California. Last week she was having extreme dizziness and headaches and couldn't stand up. She went to the emergency room in California, and they found some tumors on her brain. My brother- and sister-in-law flew to California to help her husband drive back the RV so they could get back to Oklahoma quicker. She was so sick in Arizona that they almost took her to the hospital there, but she wanted to get back to her oncologist. She was immediately taken to the emergency room in Tulsa and admitted, and then moved to a hospital in Oklahoma City, and then, finally, moved back to a different hospital in Tulsa. This was all in the matter of two days. On Wednesday she had brain surgery to remove some of the tumors to release the swelling and fluid on her brain. As of yesterday she was recovering nicely, and even feeding herself. She has some recovery to do and then will begin radiation in the next couple of weeks. Poor lady. Geez! But, she is one of the strongest women I have ever met, so if there is anybody who can fight another round of cancer, it's her!

4. This bitter winter weather makes me just want to stay cozied up in the house watching t.v. and reading, which I have been doing. It's actually nice, to me, to have nowhere to go and to be able to cuddle up with a blanket and the dogs and a hot cup of tea at the end of the day. Actually, it's my favorite thing, so you won't catch me complaining about the frigid temps.

5. We started back to school this week. Things have gone well, no attitudes or problems. We did a partial day on Monday because of my emergency weekend away to be with Rick and his mom in Oklahoma, and I just needed to recoup and get my house back in order. And yesterday we only did a partial day because my friend had to go to the hospital due to complications from a hysterectomy she had last week. So we invited over her daughter, who is Brynne's best friend. The rest of the days we spent doing, mostly, review to get our brains back where we left off in December. But we did start a couple of new read alouds and did some fun activities. All-in-all it was a great week. I'll post all about that on my Weekly Wrap-up tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

When did you last 'skate on thin ice', 'skate over the details', 'encounter a cheapskate', or just plain skate?

Something bad almost always happens when I am away from home. While I was on an emergency trip to Oklahoma this past weekend, a conglomeration of events happened all at once and my laptop was hit in the crossfire. The kids immediately fessed up, and took it to a computer guy the next day to find out that there was no water damage (as feared) but a short somewhere internally that got knocked loose. It was easily fixed. My external hard drive hasn't worked in almost a year, so I have not backed up my computer. On my laptop are all of Kyndal's wedding photos, some of which would be gone forever, as well as every other photo. I have been skating on thin ice with this backup issue. I need to get another external hard drive asap.

What would you say is the biggest problem of people your age?

Lack of contentment and the comparison trap.

What's your favorite accessory? Is it something you wear every day, often, or only on special occasions?

Rick surprised me with an Origami Owl necklace a few years ago that holds many charms that identify me. It represents my marriage, my children, my dogs, my hobbies, and other things I love. I wear it very often.

January 20th is National Cheese Lover's Day. Are you a lover of cheese? What's your favorite dish made with cheese? Last thing you ate that contained some kind of cheese?

Love cheese. Really, I love just about anything with cheese, anything from a cheese danish to cheese grits or pasta loaded with cheese. I just had homemade macaroni and cheese last night for dinner.

What's something guaranteed to make you roll your eyes?

There are a couple of women in my hometown that literally make me roll my eyes when they walk into the room. Refer back to the whole contentment and comparison trap thing. These particular ladies seriously walk into a room like they are royalty. It makes me want to puke.

Your favorite book series?

I love the Ladybug Farm series by Donna Ball.

Why did you choose your profession?

When I was a little girl I played school all the time. My most difficult student was my little sister who just would not sit and do what I wanted her to do. My friend and I played school every time we were together. I always wanted to be a teacher. But then I got into high school and realized that teachers don't make much money so, instead of following my passion, I followed the money route and went to school to become an attorney. I absolutely hated that profession. I hated every minute of law school and every minute I worked in the field of law. After Rick and I got married, he supported my decision to stop practicing law. I just wanted to be home with my kids. And then we had two more. And then one started struggling with school so we made the decision to begin homeschooling. And we have been homeschooling at least one child ever since with plans to homeschool the youngest two through high school. I get to be a teacher (and I don't have to be ruled by the government .. HA!). My childhood dreams have come true. It's the best job in the world.

Insert your own random thought here.

Are you watching "Making a Murderer" on Netflix? Whoa. Dawson and I just started watching it last night. Craziness! I already just don't know what to think. It's going to be one that keeps me thinking.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Ah ... Tuesday Coffee Chat. THAT I did miss in my blogging break!

This week's topic: Let it Go! Is there anything you need to let go of before you can embark on this new year?

And I am drawing a total blank. I've been so in the habit of letting things go over the past few months that I am not sure I have anything left.

So, if I had to come up with something .... I guess I need to let go of those pesky 5 pounds that found me again over the holiday season.

Photo Credit

I find that I have the same cycle with my body each year. From January to about May, I work to lose those Pesky 5. I get them gone by eating within my calories and macros and exercising regularly. Starting in about April or May I add running back into my routine, and then summer comes with better eating (less warm, comfort foods and more fresh veggies). I keep this up until about October when the temps start falling and family activities pick up making exercise more of a challenge. We have a fall break from school, a Thanksgiving break, and then a long Christmas break. Being off our schedule gets me out of my routine and then my eating and exercising takes a hit. I gain back those Pesky 5 (a lot faster than it took to lose them .... grrrr!) during the last few months of the year and then start my routine back over in January.

It's not a bad place to be, I guess. I should be grateful it's not a Pesky 10 or more, especially since statistics show that women at "my age" gain, like, 1-3 pounds a year for the rest of their lives.

So now that it's the new year, it's time to start leaving those pounds behind me (again) and letting go of my lazy days.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Word of the Year


I am back from my blogging break! I have never taken a month-long break from blogging before, and I have to say that it was so nice.

The end of the year always takes me down with birthdays (3 of the 4 kids) and Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas. This year we also had some major life challenges in Kyndal and Collin losing their baby and Dawson experiencing a major relationship break up. We were way up and way down, sometimes all in the same day.

So, I just needed a break.

The little kids and I took off a full month from school .... again, much needed! Although they are not ready to start back again, I think we need to get back to some structure. Today we are easing in and tomorrow we will be back into the full swing.

I decided to make my first post of 2016 an announcement of my "Word of the Year".

This year my word is ..... KISS. And I don't just mean physically kiss more, which would also be a good thing.

That's right. Keep it simple, stupid! (I'm not calling you stupid, unless you are like me and need to keep things simple. Then, I guess, I am.)

Simple spirituality ... spend time with God everyday. Simple.
Simple finances ... stick to the budget. Simple.
Simple nutrition ... don't eat anything unhealthy. Simple.
Simple exercise ... do it every day. Simple.
Simple health care ... take vitamins, drink water, get enough sleep. Simple.
Simple relationships ... put other people's needs and wants before my own selfish ones. Simple.
Simple housekeeping ... clean something every day. Simple.

And there you have it.

Oh, folks, it's not that hard. But we make things so complicated. (Mostly because we are trying to live up to somebody else's standard or are comparing ourselves to how someone else does it.) I know what works for me and my family, so it just needs to simply be done.

Stick to the program. Keep it simple. Do it and see how much more enjoyable life can be.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

As you can probably tell, I am currently on an unscheduled blogging break. I do have things to post ... Eli's birthday, Holiday activities, Christmas, New Year's Eve, the annual 'Word of the Year', etc.

But I just don't feel like blogging right now. No reason, just don't really feel like it. Plus, I am sick with a sinus infection and just need some rest.

We will be starting back to school on January 18th. I plan to get back into a regular blogging routine then.

For now I am doing lots of reading and relaxing with my family.