Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I was working myself up a little post about this but then I read this and as usual, she said it better than me :)

From Amy:

Why don’t we independent types support autonomous businesses to do what they want with their money? It is not public money; it belongs to Subway to do whatever they want with it. If homeschooling exists because of the freedom allowed by the Constitution for parents to raise their children how they see fit (children belong to parents, not the state), then Subway ought to be afforded the same freedoms to give their money to non-homeschoolers (after-tax money belongs to Subway, not the state). It’s consistently applying the same principles, even when we don’t like it.

Certainly, we have to take a stand for Christ, live in a way that glorifies Him, honor our husbands, care for and discipline our children, & wash oil out of their hair, but.....finding fault with Subway and spending a precious moment over this issue would not reflect good stewardship of my time.

I got stuff to do.

Lots and lots of stuff.

I agree with Amy.....except I'll head to Jason's Deli! Mmmmm....Turkey Muffaletta!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Picture takin' makes me sweat

We went to Portrait Innovations this morning. I think overall we ended up with great pictures for a great price. I would love, love, love to go to a professional photographer who practices more of a photojournalism approach, but I am just not quite ready to memorialize my post-baby shape with several hundred dollars worth of proof.

I always take pictures of my babies at four months, so we needed to take Benjamin in and since the kids didn't have official "school" pictures this year, I decided this would be our best route.

These pic's came from the CD and have not been edited the way my actual pictures have, so excuse the imperfections and lack of cropping. I loved being able to choose from the 175 pictures that were taken today AND I hated being able to choose from the 175 pictures that were taken today.

If you know me, then you know that the sticker aisle at Michaels can send me into a tailspin so trying to narrow down these pictures made me sweat profusely. My girls were invaluable during this process!

We'll start with the baby, who of course.....stole the show!

This is Benjamin's standard expression. Every single day. All day long.
Here we have a little Fred Rogers going on....
And obviously the caption for this pic would be, "Hey, baby...come here often?"
I threw this one in to see if you noticed the slight resemblance? This is Samuel!

Ah. The classic family photograph.
I am going to kick humbleness to the curb and venture to say that I think I deserve a round of applause right here. There are four children who are smiling AT THE SAME TIME! It was during this round of pictures that I started to morph into the squawking, squealing, chirping, jumping, twirling, hooting, clicking, jabbing, yelling encouraging mother with a primal need to have all four children smiling. Whatever the cost.

Including her pride.

I stopped short of hanging from the rafters but I had my shoes off....just in case.

Baseball Pictures
She took some of him with his glove and also his back with his name on his jersey & on the back of his hat. She took the three photos and created this precious montage but it isn't on the CD.

Trust me. It's precious.

I was so tickled with these because Sam missed his team pictures during his bout with mono.

Emma Cathryn - 5th grade

Hannah Marie - 7th grade

Samuel Christopher - Five Years Old
The youngish photographer was joking around with the girls trying to make suggestions about how to pose for the pictures and said something along the lines of, "you can jump up in the air if you want!"

Lady. You are speaking Sammer's language now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just so you know...

This is baby oil.

This is baby shampoo.

You should not use the baby oil in place of the baby shampoo.


While I am assuming that we ( all mothers in the universe) know this fact, apparently there is a five-year old boy who did not.

And since we have portraits scheduled for the CRACK OF DAWN in the sunshiny morning time around here and my son looks like he is oiled up for a round of the WWF, I thought it might bear mentioning JUST IN CASE there might be someone who thought it wise to use AN ENTIRE BOTTLE of baby oil on THEIR HEAD!!!!!!!!!


And just so you know.

Four washings will not remove said oil.

I will return with photographs of my family, including my glistening son, (aka: Slick & Slippery) and hopefully post about curriculum in the very near future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I just wanted to make sure you recognized the "Mister Linky" in the previous post. It took entirely too many brain cells to figure that booger out!

Spend some time this week reviewing the school year and write your thoughts if you get a chance.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Curriculum Review From A Novice

Here I go with my feeble attempt at reviewing the curriculum that we used this past year as well as lay out a tentative plan for the upcoming new year.
It's the middle of the afternoon and I am moving that second part until tomorrow.

Remember I am but a babe in the world of homeschooling so keep that in mind when you consider my shared opinion :)

Here's the link from last year where I listed my curriculum plans. I pretty much followed this game plan at first but when the wheels started falling off I had to scrap a few things and reevaluate. It looked something like this....

Hannah- 7th grade
Emma-5th grade

Math-Saxon Algebra 1/2 I love Saxon. I can see where it would have been beneficial for me to have been teaching my children incremental math so that I would have a full understanding along with them :) It might help me not break into hives and/or a full sweat when approaching certain ominous word problems. Still, the book is helpful to fill in the gaps and we have made our way through with only one minor adjustment. Right from the beginning it seemed that Hannah was grasping but just barely. She would finish her assignment but would often be in a heap of discouragement and she still had an unacceptable level of anxiety over math.

She is my daughter.

So we decided to break the book in half (not literally, although it sounds like fun, huh?) and stretch it over the course of her 7th & 8th grade year. Since she was already in what was considered "honors math" in public school most of the concepts had been introduced but none had actually taken root. We have taken two days for each lesson, really driving home the basics and completing the odd problems one day and the evens the next. I think it worked out wonderfully!

John Saxon writes in the preface of the book about the benefits of long-term practice beyond mastery. It is this concept that encouraged me to prolong the time we spent in Algebra 1/2. I would rather Hannah master each problem with speed and accuracy than struggle through the mechanics again and again. Saxon says this:
Students often resist this practice because they feel that if they have already mastered a concept, no further practice is required. They do not realize that being able to work the problem slowly is not sufficient. They need to be reminded that mathematics is like other disciplines. For example, playing a musical instrument well requires long-term practice of the fundamentals. Playing football, golf, tennis, or any other sport well requires long-term practice and automation of fundamentals. Mathematics also requires this long-term practice.
Emma completed 7/6 with flying colors but I am not sure if we will go to 8/7 or hop over to Algebra 1/2 with Hannah. I am seeking some guidance in this. Emma is proficient in math but I am not sure she will be ready for Advanced Math in the 8th or 9th grade. Any advice?

Shurley Grammar- O.K. I hate to confess this but I am gonna keep it rill for you gals. Me & Shurley? We are like oil and water. She ain't my favorite (get it....the bad grammar?'s a joke) Shurley doesn't like jokes. She says "DO THIS!....SAY IT LIKE THIS!......NOW WRITE IT LIKE THAT!". I imagine her with a stiff ruler across my knuckles. Basically.....she scares me.

I still think it is a good curriculum which means that it is thorough and quite comprehensive. I am not even sure if we are truly finished with it but I need to really dig and evaluate where my girls are since they have been through the public school system and grammar was pretty well covered. I think my situation is unique in that we hit certain areas where it is quite repetitive (because my girls jumped around for testing purposes in public school) and then other areas we are knee-deep in the world of reflexive/intensive pronouns and my eye starts twitching and then I pretend that the dry erase markers have given me a headache and we close up the grammar shop for the day.

And here is where the love of my homeschooling life enters....

Total Language Plus -By far, my most favorite thing! I found out about this from my friend Tiff and saw it first-hand during our visit to Texas over Thanksgiving. Their philosophy:
Total Language Plus is an innovative curriculum focused on teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base. The authors believe an integrated system is more efficient than a fragmented approach, discovery style learning is the most effective and learning should be enjoyable. The "discover, do, drill" method is employed throughout the TLP program with activities focusing on thinking skills.
I would encourage you to browse through their website for a really in-depth look at what they offer. I love that the curriculum is centered around the book which makes the assignments relative to something they know already and have interest in.

The units are broken down into about 1-2 weeks worth of assignments. We usually completed them within the 1-week span but at times spread them out when necessary. Each and every unit will include a multitude of writing projects, art projects, field trips, and personal thinking. In addition there are comprehension questions, intensive vocabulary, dictation, and a bit of grammar.

This is a Christian curriculum that weaves scripture into the lessons and requires the student to examine how God's Word addresses particular situations or the heart issue of the characters.

An example of a Pen & Paper Project from The Hobbit is....

"Write a psalm of praise to God for the joy of spring and the beauty of His creation. (ch.19)"


"Find a scripture that speaks of counting the cost before beginning a project. Explain how the scripture fits in with this story. (ch.11)"

Keep in mind that choosing the projects are at your discretion. The book is full of ideas for making the story come to life which my girls loved! The personally thinking questions were great conversation starters and the vocabulary was awesome! It's hard for me to find a negative with this study but I have to admit it is not rich in grammar and I would definitely recommend a supplement.

The other thing to consider is that you are limited to the selection given by TLP. My girls have read: The Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, & The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe. There are plenty more for them to choose from this upcoming school year, but after that we might be looking at slim-pickin's.

Apologia General Science- Remember when I talked about the wheels falling off? Remember when we were building an addition on to our home and I was 7-months pregnant? I had to start cuttin' our losses people. Science? It didn't make the cut.

We choose General Science because of the recommendation for it to be first in the series. I think the curriculum is great but starting with General Science was not a good move for us.

The website says:

The course covers such topics as the scientific method, designing experiments, simple machines, archaeology, geology, paleontology, biology, and human anatomy and physiology.

You see the part about the scientific method? Ummmm....that's about as far as we got. We will start in the fall with Apologia Biology for a fresh start :)

Veritas History/Old Testament & Ancient Egypt- I love Veritas. I love this curriculum and the recommended reading that goes with each lesson. I love seeing God's perfect provision for mankind throughout history. We will definitely stay with Veritas. I can see where this curriculum might be a bit much for a 2nd grader (which is the recommended age for starting OT & Ancient Egypt) but my girls didn't start until this past year so it worked great! I bought some of the resource books that I knew I would use again and I checked the other ones out from the library. We did a handful of projects which the girls enjoyed.

Pathway Readers- I still really love Pathway and plan on using it for my younger children all the way through. Unfortunately my girls didn't start with this type of reading and it was hard for them to attach themselves. I plan on using it through the summer because I like to finish what I start and it is a good quiet activity that also requires some level of thought. This kind of fell into the same category as Science when we had to make adjustments in order to survive the season we were in.

I can... not.... believe how long this post took.

Glory Be.
Have Mercy.

I will write more later about our plans for the upcoming year to include Samuel's Kindergarten Curriculum! Art! Critical Thinking! Latin! Music! Sewing! Cooking! Baby Rockin'! and still managing to work in the three R's!

I can't wait to see what you guys think. Give me details!!!! I know I greatly depended on the consensus of those whose opinions I valued in order to make my initial decisions. I couldn't have done it without you all :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Homeschooling, Year One....Part One

I cannot believe that this school year is just about finished! It is winding down and we should be completely done by month's end.

I have been thinking about a post for several months or each time I open a certain curriculum and say, "I will NEVER do this again" or "I will definitely do that again". While I tried to gain as much insight as possible from other homeschoolers, I don't imagine that there is a better way to fully understand what homeschooling looks like than from this vantage point.
And the first year? Well it was a plethora of live & learns which left me both humbled and grateful....and ready for more :)

It was a wonderful year with just a few hiccups in the way of actual schooling but as far as relationships, scheduling, & discipline......HOO-WEE! That stuff wore me out!

I did gather the majority of curriculum plans from the seasoned veterans and I loved the blogs that listed the fav's and not-so-much fav's last year. I am hoping to enlist others to start posting on this soon.

My goal is to write each day (ahem....goals are good, but don't try to hold my feet to the fire on this one) about the blessings of our first homeschooling year.

Blessing number #1-The Family Relationship

I am certain that there is not a more revealing way to truly examine the hearts of your children than to spend every last cotton-pickin' waking hour with them AND educate them along the way. Oh and let me edit-to-add....examine your heart as well.

Sinful selfishness picks no favorites. There are some strongly embedded roots of selfishness in each of my children, but none as deep-seeded as those that have taken up residency in my own heart.

After spending the last 9 years sending off one, two, or even three children to school each day, it was more than just a mere adjustment to embrace little to no time alone.

Let me clarify.

It is still an adjustment.

I have come away from this year realizing that I need to encorporate a daily quiet time for the entire family. I'll wait to post more on this when I get to the time management post. I'll do that when I have

Back to the year of hair-pullin & eye scratchin' huggin' & kissin' between the siblings.

The daily goal is that I have been obedient to God & His Word. That pretty much covers everything from what I teach them, how I discipline them, and more importantly, how much they see the scripture applied in my life as an example to them.

It was this lofty goal that set up such a quagmire (like that one L?) for me as the mother/teacher/model for right behavior. You see, when one of my students began to pluck my nerves, then selfishness and a lack of self-control ensued and instead of setting the example for right behavior I lost my cool and then handed that snowball to one of the kids to pass on down the hill.
Hence, making it more difficult to reconcile this behavior when they treated one another in the same manner.
Enter God's grace and redemption....required on a daily hourly basis.

Lesson #1 for Momma? Confess, Pray and Repent before God and then with my children. They had to see my humility and weakness before they could even begin to recognize their own sinful ways.

Over the course of the year we have worked and worked hard at practicing selflessness and considering the needs of others before our own. It sounds simple enough but it is so foreign to my kids who have come from the "take turns" world of public school. We threw "fair" out the window during week one and we haven't brought it back. I remind them often that my goal is not to establish a foundation for later friendships but to build the bonds of friendship NOW. If the sibling relationships are lacking in sacrificial love then we start to eliminate outside influences and priviledges. Period.

God makes it clear that our relationship with Him is the first priority....the family follows.

I am afraid we lost sight of this somewhere along the busy way of doing life....especially a life that involves so many other individuals who are often pulling the family apart.

I do not and will not accept the low standard of sibling rivalry. While the bible may give clear examples of sin and even hate among siblings it does not ever condone the behavior.

I also do not accept the tired standby of them spending too much time together as a viable reason for hateful words or harsh treatment towards one another. Granted, they need space and quiet time and we are establishing those boundaries but there is no biblical excuse for selfishness....not even the plucking of someone's last nerve.

Believe me. I've looked.

The girls are closer than they have ever been, often ending the day in Hannah's bed. Samuel is recognizing his role of the younger brother and how to respect his sisters and their authority when necessary. His sister's are treading gently in this area, careful not to abuse their position.

It's a delicate but beautiful process. In the midst they have found solace and true friendship, despite age and personality differences.

Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace had this to say on sibling relationships and I loved it!

I hope to have another post up today about curriculum choices and I am begging would love to hear feedback about your curriculum for this past school year and your plans for the next.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Recommended Reading

If you are not in the habit of reading Amy's blog, let me send you there for a little visit. I always leave blessed.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Visit From Uncle Curt....

Chris' youngest brother visited from Florida a couple of weeks ago and I am just now getting around to posting some pictures. Curt is the youngest of the three brothers and is stationed in Jacksonville serving our country in the Navy. You can bet that when he showed up here in his uniform, Samuel nearly came out of his skin!

We drug him around treated him to the pleasures of our busy weekend full of games and birthday parties.

Curt and his wife are expecting their first child this fall, so I only thought it fair to give him a taste of the glorious life that is to come! This precious baby spit up all over my brother-in-law and he didn't bat an eye.

What a pro.

Does he or does he not look like he is nursing my baby? TOO FUNNY!

We had such a nice visit and enjoyed spending time together. Curt couldn't keep his hands off our baby (who could blame him?) I especially relished the extra set of hands! He is going to make such a fabulous daddy!

I can't wait to meet their precious baby and be an Aunt for the first time :)
Congratulations Curt & Cinda!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


As a gift to my mother-in-law who loves, loves, loves pictures of all the children I decided to dress everyone in their Easter gear since on Easter Sunday, we were at home trying to kill-off the Mono.

So here are the kiddos in their Easter Mother's Day outfits!

We went to our favorite Japanese restuarant for lunch and since our church service lets out at 11:30, we totally dodged the whole Mother's Day crowd :)

Aren't we polished and refined?
Well-mannered and well-bred?

What you don't see in these pictures is Samuel playing the drums with the chopsticks on our tea cups and eventually knocking over his Sprite.

Cake? At home? Cold Stone Creamery? FOR ME????

Because it is so much fun taking pictures of *EVERY*SINGLE*BODY* we I decided to continue the festivities once we got home!


More pictures!

And after only 322 tries, we have a winner!

Of course, the kids would have been happy with this shot.

And I would have been happy with this one.

Happy Mother's Day Everybody!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

Dear Momma,

It's been 16 years.
I miss you so much it takes my breath away.



To Make Jenn Feel Better....

In an effort to completely expose myself and make Jenn feel better, I offer this little ditty about life......and my brain.

A while back, we celebrated Emma's birthday with some friends. As soon as we returned home, Emma completed her thank-you cards. The cards had an opening for a photo. I promptly saved the photo of Emma and her friends on to a memory card and hustled out to Target to print them for the oh-so-timely thank-you cards.

I was on a mission.

But there was a line at Target.

A long line.

And here is where my brain starts to short-circuit. At that moment, my thoughts are suddenly drifting...drifting...drifting away from the photo machine and over to the earring section......then the paper towels.....then the guitar picks......

And then.

I have forgotten ALL about the pictures.....Until a couple of months later! Then I remember! I need to print those pictures! And mail them! Right this very minute!

So I went to Target and I printed those pictures. Then I came home and hastily shoved them into the thank-you/photo cards. Then I mailed them.


I got this message from one of Emma's friends. Something like, "hey, Emma....I like got like Megan's like thank-you card, uh, what's like up with that, like?"

I thought for a minute. "Sweet little Emma. She is so flighty and absent-minded. She is such a kind-hearted but forgetful little soul".

Then I remembered.


I took those pictures and put them into envelopes without a single solitary thought about the corresponding envelopes. So we have figured out now that Elizabeth has Megan's card & Haleigh got Elizabeth's card and Skylar probably has Haleigh's card and so on, and so on, and SO ON!

It's at the end of days like this when I question my ability to educate these children....or wash their underwear for that matter.

So this is a shout out to all of Emma's friends from her like well-meaning and like absent-minded mother.....

Consider yourself thanked.


Friday, May 09, 2008







I'll be right back.

I'm going to go swim across the Atlantic, put new shingles on the neighbor's roof, and repave the highway from here to Vegas.


This ain't no dummy....

I know this is a bad picture, but it came from my cell phone. We were at Children's Place when I realized that my son was not in his usual hiding place (the clothes racks).

Emma then informed me that one of the mannequins bore an uncanny resemblance to Samuel.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Watch this.....

It's a little long, but so worth it. I heard about this on the radio the other day and then saw the clip on ESPN tonight. I love stuff like this....

Brother Preacher

Conversation...yesterday afternoon:

The Scene-
Hannah & Emma are discussing their babies in Emma's room. Samuel knocks politely on her door.

Sam- "Hey dirls. What are ya'll taltin' about?" (hands on hips, eyebrows raised, a hint of concern in his voice)

Girls- "Well, we are talking about our baby dolls, Sam."

And then.


-short pause-


The door is then slammed shut and the Brother Preacher is done.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More Reviews!

More reviews at Our Humble Opinions.

My girls are opinionated.

Who knew?


Friday, May 02, 2008

A New Review...

Emma has written a review at Our Humble Opinions :)

Poppin' A Fat Wheelie....

My husband has been taking the cul-de-sac by storm lately. In the evenings he makes a few innocent laps around the circle with the kids and most always shows off his wheelie poppin' and wheelie ridin' skillz.

It is more than a sight to behold. The kids are impressed and I have to admit, that I myself, have never accomplished the full-on wheelie ride.

The pop? Yes.
The ride? No.

So I was a bit jealous, you could say. And mercy, Samuel is just salivating for the day when he can launch that front tire into the air with such ease and grace as his father.

It's called setting an example, people.

So. The other night the kids (including dad) were out doing the bike-ridin' thing and Dad popped and rode another one of his infamous wheelies.

And the front tire rose off the ground with some lightning quick speed that would make Knievel proud. And Dad rode that wheelie like he was on his way to Ringling Bros. And the kids were cheering his name. And he never felt more proud than right then when he was mastering the wheelie. And did I mention that he was poppin' these fantastic wheelies on a mountain bike?

And then.

The tire that was poised so perfectly in the air began to come down.

But it didn't come down the way it came up.

It came down after making a full and complete circle which dumped my husband FLAT on his tail.

Are you getting the complete picture? My husband flipped his bike over on top of himself. On the asphalt. In front of our children. In front of our neighbors.

Children are panicked so Dad quickly pops up (mistake #1) and says "I'm okay" (mistake #2) and acts as though he might saddle up that two-wheeled pony again.

The wiser and older children are, at this point, pleading for him to not EVER do it again. He sauntered off into the house, as though he was no worse for the wear.

Dad came in the house and when there were no children around, he quit standing upright (for several days) and began to cry like a little girl.

Not really.

But I think he is still walking with a limp.

My wheelie-popping husband at 8-years old....
I think the banana seat makes all the difference in the world.

It will knock their ideas cuckoo...

I love John Piper....