Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - Pulled Every Which Way

This week is what many would call an over scheduled week. I would totally agree with that conclusion. This week was really crazy and yet we still seemed to get a lot done. On Monday we went to get impressions for orthodontia work, ate lunch out, squeezed a trip to the gym, a little school work thrown in, and I went to Bible study in the evening.

Tuesday was a little school in the morning then off to Cooperative after lunch. I taught four classes and Grace attended her four (Improv, Stage Makeup, Pottery, and 4:12 Ministries). Immediately following classes the Cooperative had a parent meeting about our first Spring Formal for the high school kids.

Wednesday I meet one of my co-directors for the Cooperative at our venue for the Spring Formal to start getting ideas of what needed to be moved and what kind of decorations we can use. The venue is a barn (not one used for animals) and because of the rustic setting the theme will be A Country Carnival. It should be very cute. Again we got a some school work accomplished before dinner. We tried watching a movie, Becket, produced in 1964 to set the stage for our study on Henry the II. The first 45 minutes had more sensual stuff in it than I care to sit and watch with my 14 year old daughter. I thought for sure it would have been a little more chaste. If anything it did show her how power hungry and just plain bad most of the kings were back in that time frame. A family from the Cooperative came over to talk about the possibility of me teaching there daughter at my home next year. Kind of scary but I do feel up to the task.

Thursday found Grace attending her Speech and art class then off to the animal shelter for her first day of volunteering. She did fall in love with a little dog named Shorty. For all our benefits I hope he gets adopted before we go back next week. She has talked about him a 

Today we did a full day of school and off to the gym this afternoon. Next was grocery shopping and now we are all doing our own thing.

What We Discussed, Learned, and Studied This Week

Started a study on Henry II and the Tudors
Algebra Lessons
Finished White Fang
Japanese Lessons
Simple Machine Experiments with a new review product
Learning Study Skills with another new review product
1st Corinthians 
Speech Homework

Reviews We Are Working On

Mango Languages 
Motivated Moms
Victus Study Skills
Supercharged Science

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Volunteering In The Community

I have waited until now for Grace to reach a suitable age to volunteer in the community.  There have been other endeavors of volunteering over the years but those have always been with groups. This will be her first try at a volunteer gig that is mostly on her own. For liability reasons I do have to be on the premises until she turns 16. Recently Grace voiced her desire to volunteer at our local animal shelter. Our county is vast but the animals shelter is very small. They are always in need of volunteers. Today was day one. We hope to continue volunteering one day a week. Today we walked and socialized 24 dogs that are awaiting adoption, their forever home. It was truly exhausting and sad. So many unwanted animals. Next week we plan on working in the cat room as well as walking some of the dogs. It took almost three hours to walk all 24 of them and unfortunately I don't know if we can spend that much time at the shelter each week.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blasts From The Past - Curriculum I Miss

Over the past week I have been looking through Grace's old school books and curriculum. There are a few that I really miss using and would love to use again if the right situation arises. This is by far not all of the items I wish I could still use but it is a start.

I lucked upon this little book a few years ago. I purchased my copy at the local homeschool convention. Vocabulary Cartoons teaches vocabulary words through mnemonics and cartoons. Most of the cartoons are quite humorous and silly which captures the students attention and makes them easier to remember. This book can be purchased at any curriculum site like Rainbow Resource and

Queen Homeschool Supplies was always one of my favorite resource sites during the elementary years of homeschooling Grace. Everything is slow, steady, and gentle. One of their products that was my one of my favorites would have to be the Pictures in Cursive Series. Each two page spread has a beautiful painting and sentences related to the picture to write in Cursive. This product brings two of Charlotte Mason's method together with picture study and writing/copywork.

Another product from Queen Homeschool we enjoyed was the Spelling Through Copywork Series. This series of books has 30 weeks of lessons with a list of words each week related to a certain rule in phonics. The student copies the words and then copies sentences that include the words throughout the week. I add my own twist to this workbook by using with the word lists. The students can play games to reenforce the words and take spelling quizzes at the end of the week on the same site.

If you have elementary students and haven't check out these products, take a peek, you might find them to be something you can use in your household. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Not So Typical Homschooling Day

 Or maybe it is typical. I knew we wouldn't get a lot of school work accomplished today. We had an orthodontist appt at 11:50 then Grace wanted to eat lunch out. I scheduled just a little work after lunch: finishing an essay about knights, speech homework, a science experiment, literature reading, vocabulary cards, and CNN Student News. We did get a trip in to the gym this afternoon as well. There really isn't anything special that happened today other than forking over 6,000 dollars to the orthodontist for work over then next four years. So I will end it on that note.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

An Unconventional Birthday Party

I don't throw myself birthday parties often, but when I do you can rely on it being very unconventional. About ten years ago I had 10 women come to my house and have a sleep over. Movies, games, food, and fun. This time I wanted to invite more people, around 20 to be exact. My house is small so we invaded my sister's house. Me and my family love playing the card game Nertz. So I came up with a Nertz Card Tournament as you can see from the bracket poster above.

We set up three tables to house three - four teams at each table. 

The prize table consisted of medals and prizes for the top three teams (First, Second and Third place).

When playing cards all night lots of food is in order. I didn't take a picture of the food upstairs in the kitchen. I had everyone bring a dessert or finger food to share. Downstairs we had a coffee bar with special creamers.

Some of my very special friends plus Grace and one of her friends. All of these women are very special to me. I know them from church, Cooperative, and homeschool groups. I was super blessed that they all came out to help me celebrate my birthday because you can imagine how hard it is to coordinate 20 different schedules and make it work.

Nertz is so addicting and will bring out the competitiveness in everyone.

For those of you that don't know what I look like I am on the end in the blue with the glasses.

I think everyone had so much fun that we plan on doing this event every couple of months.

Thanks ladies for making it a great night of food, fellowship, and NERTZ!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - Not A lot of School

This is a tool shower invitation that Grace was asked to create for a young couple in our church that is getting married.
 This week was just one of those crazy weeks that was busy with other stuff but not a ton of at home sit down school work. Let me see if I can remember everything from this week to share with you.

Monday morning we headed to the dentist for Grace to have her very first cavity filled. She was very nervous about this and didn't really know what to expect because the new dentist we started going to actually does some shallow cavities without numbing. I told her just tell him to numb you if you need it. Low and behold he did a complete filling with no numbing and she felt nothing. I went on a walk/jog in the afternoon and Grace rode the stationary bike in the evening. I also attended Bible study Monday evening.
New desk area to work
 I talked with Grace this week and we decided to move up into the loft area for our school time as opposed to the kitchen table. This was actually a fortuitous idea because it is looking like in the fall I will be homeschooling a friend's child for next year and another may be on the way to add to that mix as well. Now I will definitely need a space away from everything else for focus and storage. I will admit that once we did get to some real school work on Thursday and Friday Grace was able to focus a lot better being away from the rest of the house. Another great thing about the loft area is wall space. We live in a cabin with lots of windows. That means no where to hang anything.

Tuesday morning we got a little school work done, ate lunch and headed to Cooperative. Grace attended classes in Improv, Pottery, 4:12 Ministries, and Stage Makeup. Hubby brought a pizza home for dinner and we were all so exhausted we crawled to our rooms to veg out.
4:12 Ministry Class at Cooperative working on props for a puppet skit.

This is half of the Improv class from Cooperative
Most of the day Grace felt bad so no real book work was accomplished. I did a walk/jog that afternoon and again Grace rode the stationary bike in the evening.
We have a small loveseat in the loft area for reading.
Grace attended Speech and Art class in the morning while I ran errands. Grace has wanted to volunteer at the local animal shelter for eons. Finally decided it was time. We went by, introduced ourselves and planned out a schedule. We will be volunteering every Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours. We came back home, Grace did some school work then we took a break for dinner. I left to attend a Zumba class and Grace finished some science and exercised.
Today we did a good bit of schoolwork. Hubby is taking us out for dinner for my birthday tonight. Tomorrow I am having a birthday party with all my women friends. I wanted to do something different so we are having a Nertz (card game) tournament.
What We Studied This Week
Two lessons in Algebra
Finishing up the details on a research paper about the life of a knight
Speech Homework (Writing a paper about someone she admires)
Reading White Fang, House of Hades, King Arthur and the Book of Romans
Simple Machines
Japanese Lessons

Reviews We Are Working On
Mango Languages 
Motivated Moms
Just got picked for Supercharged Science and Victus Study Guide

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Support For This Homeschool Mom

Every homeschooling family has a different way of educating their children. This will include the method they teach such as unschooling, relaxed, classical, eclectic, and so on. There are many articles and blog posts out on the world wide web about all the teaching techniques and methods to use but today I want to focus on the activities and groups that have supported my family over the past 8 years.

First and foremost was my original parent support group. I called the director of this group way back when Grace was still attending public school in the beginning of second grade. This woman was so supportive and gave me the confidence that I could pull my daughter out of public school and teach her at home. For many years this support group was our families main stay for activities like field trips, geography and science fairs, parent support meetings, and so much more. We made lots of fellow homeschooling families through this ministry and many are still close friends to this day. This support group filled a huge place in our life and hearts from 2nd - 8th grade. We decided not to sign up with this group again for Grace's 9th grade year simply because we have so many other outside interests that we weren't really connecting with many of these families through the group anymore but still on our own through other adventures and activities. I will always treasure the support they showed me in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure and how welcoming they were to our family.

Second on my list would have to be a local teacher that owns an art studio and teaches multiple types of classes for homeschool students. This woman is great and the kids love her and are always eager to please her. Over the last few years Grace has taken writing classes, art classes, summer camps, and is currently taking a speech class. The classes offered are priced budget friendly and gives the kids another teacher to learn from in the community. The other added plus is having some peers in a class setting with you if for nothing else but to socialize and have a little fun.

Third would have to be our current Cooperative. With me being one of the co-directors of the cooperative, it has become a huge part of our lives over the past two years. We have meet so many wonderful families and Grace has developed some great friendships. Attending classes at a cooperative gives the student so many opportunities to classes you might not teach at home. You never know when one of these classes might be a gateway to a great passion for your child. Over the past two years our cooperative has offered classes in: drama, choir, music, art, science, history, creative writing, stage makeup and costuming, and yearbook. We have so many more planned for the next semester. The students all love each other so much and enjoy spending time together. It is definitely worth all the hard work to build such a great program for our homeschooling families to attend in the local community. In this case I wanted a cooperative for Grace to attend but there wasn't one in our small community. So myself and a friend spear headed putting the program together. It has grown every semester in families attending and number of classes being taught.

The last item I would like to discuss is small groups. We currently attend two small groups. One small group has 7 homeschool families from a church in the area. This group is for the mothers and children to attend and meets twice a month on Monday afternoons. The other small group we attend is a branch off from our own church. Grace and another teenage girl are the only children/youth that attend with all the other members being our age and older. She enjoys attending a group with mostly adults and getting to participate. This small group meets every Sunday evening.

I write this post basically to say there are many avenues of support out there for the homeschooling family, especially mother and child. Without these outside activities and support systems my job would definitely be harder at home. I have many friends and confidants I can bounce ideas off of or simply will give me words of encouragement when I have had a bad day. This is important for stay at home moms. I strongly encourage mothers to seek out opportunities in your community to offer you support as you travel through this adventure of homeschooling.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Foody Kind of Day

This morning we had gluten free cinnamon rolls. These tasted just like the real thing. This is another product I purchased from my local source, Keep It Simple. I have a few left over for the next several days of breakfasts. These be a special treat once a month because of cost and calories.

Believe it or not I have never cooked pulled pork. Hubby has smoked a Boston butt before but never I. I decided to take the plunge and yesterday while at the grocery store bought one. Grace wanted it immediately because she loves pulled pork. Put it in the crock pot last night at 11:00 and it was ready around 10:00 this morning. The guy behind the meat counter told me to add a capful of vinegar in the last hour of cooking to give it the flavor we are used to at the local B-cue joint. We had it for lunch and it was great. Even have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Another Art Project

Grace was able to finish another art project this week for the upcoming art show. This is what the table looks like while I am reading aloud to her from either our fun book (House of Hades), church history book (The Captives from Salem Ridge Press), or history (King Arthur and the Round Table). Me reading some of our books aloud gives her more time to work on her art and quite frankly I love the books too.

It always amazes me to watch the transformation of a picture once she starts adding more and more color to it.

So this turned out to be a young Victorian girl with added steampunk touches.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Some Favorite Gluten-Free Snacks

I am a bonafide snacker. One thing about going gluten free for me is the lack of good snacks. This is my second try at a true gluten free diet. The cereal above has really impressed me. I tend to not like cereal in milk because of the sogginess factor. I just eat it by the handfuls with a glass of milk for breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon or evening.

Decent crackers are also hard to come by. I lucked upon these a couple of weeks ago. They are herb and garlic flavored. I eat them with cheese or sometimes with chicken salad instead of bread. They crumble very easily but I do like the taste.

Last but not least is the almond and raisin granola I get from my local gluten free source. This granola is so tasty and many times it is my go to snack in the afternoon or evening. Sometimes I had a few dark chocolate chips or even yogurt covered raisins.

Circling Through This Life

Friday, February 14, 2014

Random Five on Friday - February 14th

This is my first time joining up with this link up. Here goes with my random 5:

  1. I was pleasantly surprised that with all the snow and ice my chickens kept on with the egg laying over the past three days. Two weeks ago when we had snow they all stopped for about a week. Loving getting 5-8 eggs a day right now.
  2. Looking forward to going to the gym this afternoon to work off some of the exercise laziness from again the weather over the past three days. Can you say CABIN FEVER!!!
  3. I finished the four free seasons of The Good Wife on Amazon Prime and now I am going through Good Wife withdrawal.
  4. We are reading King Arthur and the Round Table for our history read aloud. I have to confess that I never read any of the stories going through middle or high school or even college for that matter. I am really enjoying this book. Grace could probably take it or leave it.
  5. I have started eating gluten free for the second time in a year. This go around I am finding much tastier alternatives that last time. It is making it much easier with the exception of eating out.
The Pebble Pond

Weekly Wrap Up - Snow and School

Art project for upcoming art show
This week proved to be very interesting. Snow and ice predicted Tuesday - Thursday. We did end up getting about five inches of snow and luckily not much ice. This meant we kept power all three days while many farther south of us did lose power. The snow was beautiful but started melting away yesterday with the sun out all day. We had been in the house since Monday afternoon and were starting to get  a little cabin fever. Public schools were cancelled all three days but of course us being homeschoolers we forged on and did school all three days with lots of breaks to go out into the snow. Now that Grace is in high school she doesn't require a lot of time out in the snow. Give her 30 minutes in the morning and another in the afternoon and she is all good.

What We Learned and Studied This Week
Module 3 in General Science - Surface Tension Experiments
Research Paper about Knights
Grammar - Pronoun Review
Marie's Words - Vocabulary
Japanese Lessons
Algebra Lessons 55, 56 and Chapter test

Just like every other kid on the planet right now Grace is obsessed with Flappy bird and Silver loves to watch over her shoulder.
What We Are Reading
White Fang
House of Hades
King Arthur
Finished The Captives

Reviews We Are Working On
Mango Languages
Motivated Moms
Finding Joy: A Christian's Journey to an Unschooled Life

We didn't get to attend Cooperative or Grace's other classes. Everything was cancelled due to the weather. Looking forward to getting back to it next week. Also no visits to the gym since Sunday afternoon due to the weather. We did attend a Valentine's party at our homeschool small group meeting on Monday. 7 moms and 23 kids in attendance. Grace and Scott watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Despicable Me 2. They are my animation movie lovers.

Yesterday when we ventured out to the main road we discovered a tree had fallen during the night or early morning and was being held up by the steel wire. This tree blocked the way out to go anywhere. We called the power company and they came and removed in later in the afternoon. So for the first time in three days Scott headed out to the Tattoo shop to help out (believe it or not while tons of people stayed home from work and school the tattoo shop was very busy) and me and Grace went to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner. Now that the roads are all clear we are off to the gym today and running lots of errands tomorrow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow In Georgia

Snow at 9:00 this morning

I think we got overall between 5 and 7 inches snow

As of right now (1:00) it is all melting away

Scott and Grace went on a walk about 10:30 this morning and discovered a downed tree. This is on the corner of our road and the main road. We are currently blocked in. Until the tree is cut we can't go anywhere. Scott was going to take his chainsaw down and start until they looked up and saw it was leaning on a power line. Once they came home and told me I called the power company and hopefully they are dealing with it today. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Evolution of an Art Project

I have mentioned a couple of times that Grace is creating art for an art show being held in May. Just like any teenager - sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get her to sit down and create some for the show even though she draws any where between 2 and 6 hours a day sometimes. Yesterday she created something for the show and it took her like two hours from start to finish. Her tool of choice is always pencil and marker. 

Next she must come up with an original idea. I am so proud of Grace. She is very talented but probably the thing I am most impressed with is the way she can come up with lots of original ideas to draw. The characters she imagines in her head are just amazing. We found a picture frame at Goodwill for a dollar and that is what she worked off of.

Now the magic has happened and all the color brings it to life. You can see where she created a stone wall between the characters from the mat. 

The artwork is hanging on her bedroom wall until the art show. Mission accomplished.