Saturday, September 17, 2016

Some Time with Mom

My mom took the Greyhound down to San Antonio to stay with us a few days before heading to Louisiana to spend some time with her dad. 

The kids haven't been able to spend a nice chunk of time with her before, so we really enjoyed this. 

We hiked Lookout Mountain and watched the sunset. The water tower in the distance is near our house. 

Sunday afternoon we watched Anne of Green Gables. We used to watch this at Grandma's house for the holidays; it's been a favorite for all us girls to watch together.

The youth group was having a Nerd Night Sunday evening, and my mom and I helped serve the supper. Harrison made an awesome little nerd.

We explored a new park. The kids liked it but they said, "Can we come back in the winter?" 
It was a little warm.

Nana made chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles with the kids. We played several rounds of Uno. Had good conversations. We cooked meals together, did dishes and laundry and shopping. Lots of normal together while she was here. I enjoyed it immensely. 

Then we drove Mom over to Louisiana and spent a couple of days there. The focus of this trip is spending time with Grandpa. He's almost 90.

And, of course, we have to go to the Alligator Chateau at Oil and Gas Park in Jennings and hold baby alligators. Grandpa had never been there before,
 although he's seen it many times from the highway and wondered about it.

Bubba cooked okra gumbo for us. It was delicious! Chicken and shrimp and lots of okra ~ rice and potato salad. We saw Mrs. Aline and her family, stopped at Scratch Local Boutique and bought a few things (some friends just opened this shop in Crowley and it is lovely!), had supper and good conversation with Teressa and Jayda, visited several other people, and had donuts at Ruddock's Bakery with Uncle Gerald. A lot packed into a little space, but I feel full ~in a good way~ when we're driving back home to San Antonio. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016


We are four weeks into school and it's going very well. I'm surprised at how well, actually, and that scares me a little. What's around the corner? 

The older kids can all do a little more work on their own than they were doing last year. Harrison is quick with math. (Math is one of the longest subjects around here.) We've combined more of the kids for more subjects. We're using more age-appropriate books than we've used in the past. This year I was finally able to pull away from AO with their too-mature books for my students. I am using AO, along with several other websites, as a book-list resource. They recommend some really great books, but I'm finding I would use many of their titles a year or two later than what they suggest. And since they are aiming for close to free, many of their suggestions are older public domain and not as accessible to a young one, in my opinion. 

I find this year that I'm not rushing through readings like I used to. I have time to enjoy what we're doing. I'm very thankful for this ~ thankful for my husband and others who encouraged me to simplify; thankful for the internet and all the blogs and advice and resources out there; thankful to God for answering prayer and caring about school schedules.

Selfie at church.

Harrison's bubble beard ~ inspired by Phoebe, no doubt.

Swimming at the Travis' after Taylor's baptism.

At Oak Haven park with Charlize, sweating and spying out deer. We probably saw 50 at the park and driving around the neighborhood.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Harrison's Cotter Tens Fractal

Well. The best beloved, the last child in our home has reached the Cotter Tens Fractal in his math book. This has been kind of a milestone for each of the kids. I had never heard of the Tens Fractal until doing RightStart, so it's been a novelty for all of us. You can see Elizabeth's, Jonathan's, and Phoebe's by clicking on their names. 

I get to a point like this and am a little reminiscent, a little sad, and a little happy that I won't have to do that again. There are certainly some things I will miss about each age of homeschooling, "Winnie the Pooh" being one of them. But math is quite an accomplishment around here because it's not always easy for the teacher or the taught. RightStart Math has made it fun for me though. It's interesting every single day, and it would be a drag for me if it wasn't at least interesting. My kids might not agree about the interesting part, but that's just because they don't know any different. 

Goodbye, Cotter Tens! We've enjoyed you. 

By the way, if you want your own preprinted triangles so that you don't have to color and cut them all out yourself, you can get the ones my husband made for us here: Preprinted Fractals. What we've done is have each of the kids make one of the tens triangles on their own so that they had a hands-on learning experience with one. And then we reuse the preprinted ones that we cut out for Jonathan so that the job is not so cumbersome.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Jonathan Turns 12

Jonathan is our very social one. He enjoys inviting lots of people to his birthday, so we had eleven boys in our home last Saturday to celebrate Jon turning 12. 

He wanted brownies for his "cake." 

The goal was for them all to join a Minecraft world (or something like that) and play together on Minecraft. That couldn't quite happen like they wanted, but they all joined different games and groups and were able to connect online as they all sat around the living room together.  

They did also play a little Nerf War outside, and I believe some of them caught some Pokemon's (or whatever you call them). 

A couple of neighborhood boys, a couple of friends from church, and the Travis boys (they win the prize for most siblings ~ it was quite fun to have all four boys here). 

A couple of boys that are friends Jonathan met at Tanglewood Christian Camp traveled somewhat far to be here. I thought that was very sweet of them to make that effort.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Last Couple Weeks

Liz went to work camp with the church on this week. This was her first time. They get together with other churches and paint houses in town. They're gone all day but get to sleep at home at night.

We visited the Japanese Tea Gardens a few months ago and Phoebe's continual words since then were, "I want to go back early in the morning when no one else is around. I want to go by myself." So we dropped Elizabeth off at work camp one day and went to the Gardens alone. There were only a few workers there feeding fish and working in the shrubbery. She chased cats and we walked all around and I sat back and watched her wander off a bit. I think she enjoyed her time alone.

Swimming at Lady Bird Johnson pool. 

And we were blessed by a neighbor who had season passes to Six Flags and invited us on Invite a Friend For Free Day to go with them. This was all of our first time at Six Flags. Liz was at CIY during this week, so she didn't get to go with us.

We rode one roller coaster which scared the kids off anything else that sniffed of scariness. I didn't particularly enjoy it either. It didn't go upside down or anything, but it was really fast and went sidewise and I lost my sunglasses. 

Mrs. Adeba took Harrison on this little ferris wheel while we rode the roller coaster.

Waiting for VBS to begin. 
Harrison was so excited this year! He has had some trouble in the past with being away from parents or siblings. There was a time when he cried every Sunday morning in Sunday School. I think it became a habit for him. But this year he had no apprehensions and had a great time. 

We found this ox beetle in the playground. It looks like a June Bug but is much bigger. This is the female; the male has three horns. It was huge! 

We have one more week of summer and then we begin school! I've got a couple more things to figure out, but we are mostly ready. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Delightful Reading Levels

Delightful Reading is now three separate kits! The previous one is now Level 3. 

We started out writing one new kit for helping littles learn letters and sounds. But there was so much to it that we expanded it to two kits and then restyled the original Delightful Reading so that all three kits matched in look and feel. 

Level 1 is "Playing with Letters and Sounds." Level 2 is "Words I Can Build" which helps the child start blending sounds into words. And Level 3, as always, helps your child read sentences and stories. 

"A is for Art" was so much fun to work on! I looked through thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of classic art pictures to find just the right one for each letter of the alphabet. Each letter gets its own picture and there are several items in each picture that represent the sound of the letter.  It's great as an alphabet book on its own, and there are additional activities which use "A is for Art" in Level 1. You can purchase it separately or included in Level 1

I haven't had the completed kits for use with Harrison, but I've been using the ideas from the lesson plans. I have to thank a number of people who contributed ideas for these activities: my kids and husband, Alisa, Cheley, and Sonya and her team at Simply Charlotte Mason. 

We tried to keep activities simple so the parent doesn't have to do a lot of prep work each day, but we also wanted it to be like play for the child. Harrison is especially enjoying the "active" activities. I like the child's "Words I Can Build" booklet from Level 2. It's simple and is a great way for the child to look back and see what words he's learned how to build. 

So much fun to work on! I appreciate Sonya and Simply Charlotte Mason for allowing me to be on their team. They make everything pretty and make sure it makes sense and so much more. And my kids are learning how to read. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Missouri Bound 2016

Several important people in our lives were going to be in Missouri around the same time so we decided to make a trip again this summer. It was a busier vacation than usual ~ lots of people to go see, a cell phone to fix (and you have to drive to St. Louis to fix it), family and friends arriving..... 

But the drive to and from was the best we've ever had, especially traffic-wise. We picked up Phoebe from camp on the drive to Vandalia (she was Worn. Out.). That little bit out of the way took us around Austin and Temple, which is traffikey and full of road work.  We traveled back on Saturday and Sunday with Sunday taking us through Dallas and Austin which, again was great, because of less traffic and no road work. 

Phillip drove me around and told me all kinds of stories and showed me all kinds of landmarks. I've heard it all before, but I always enjoy hearing it again. Especially since I forget so much. Papa did the same thing for the kids. Drove them to the place he grew up and the one-room schoolhouse he attended. Papa and Mimi lived a Laura Ingalls life. 

The church above is the Spencer Creek Baptist Church that Papa grew up in. It's still going strong. His brother attends. Papa goes to First Christian Church in town now.

Mimi wanted a picture of Harrison with his hair freshly combed. Doesn't take long for those cowlicks to spring up.

Decorating an old phone to look like a cow. 

Cody and his kids were passing nearby so they came over to spend a day and a night with us. I meant to get more pictures, but this is the only one I got, I guess. And not a very good one at that. So that's Emmey and Liz on their phones. It had been two years since we saw them last. Some of the kids swam at the Vandalia Aquatic Center and other of the kids watched Doctor Who. We played some games, did a lot of talking and eating. Phillip drove Cody around and told him stories and showed him landmarks. Good times.

Always a beautiful sunset from Mimi and Papa's front porch. 

Papa, Phillip and Elizabeth on the front porch swing.

Harrison wanted to be a raptor in a cornfield. 
Soybeans were growing across from Mimi and Papa's, so we had to drive down a gravel road to find a cornfield. The crops are doing so much better this year. Last year it was too cold and rainy and it was a poor harvest. This year is looking good so far. (I feel like I know what I'm talking about when I say stuff like that.) I really liked Laura Ingalls and Farmer Boy when I was little. Now I get to live around it a little bit when we visit Missouri. 

Across from the raptor in the cornfield was a wheat field. Part of the field had been harvested, so Harrison gathered some straw. He's still trying to figure out what to do with it. 

While Phillip and his dad went to St. Louis to take care of a dead cell phone at the Apple store, I took the kids to Moberly. That's where the college that we met at is located. It's where we lived as a newlyweds for a couple of years and where Elizabeth was born. I took them to the church and visited Mary Green. She often had college kids over to her house in town, and Phillip and I probably got to know one another there more than anywhere. At least I got to know him. I was pretty quiet, so I don't know if he who say he knew me from Mary Green hang-outs. 

Anyway, the picture above is in the new library with Patty Agee. She and her husband "adopted" me and had me over for school breaks, got me involved at church and let me dog-sit while they were away (dorm life is fun, but I sure enjoyed getting to stay in a home once in a while). She is the librarian for the college, and I loved the library. She would have spiced cider in a crockpot for certain winter holidays and it smelled so good in that library! 

Rothwell park where we had our first serious relationship talk about "what is this?" Yep, I asked that on the first date. I wanted to know where it was headed ~ no foolin' around. He also proposed to me there in the park a few months later. 

Galen and her family were there this week. There was a lot going on in her life. They went to Jeff City to eat at a favorite restaurant of cousin Eric who died in a car accident 7 years ago to the day. She also had recently come into contact with information on her birth family and was able to meet up with her siblings on another day this week. It was fun to see all the pictures and hear the stories and find out how many of her birth relatives other family members and friends have known because they live in the area. 

Aunt Anita and her kids also came for a meal. She homeschools her son, who is Elizabeth's age, so she and I got to compare what we're planning to do this year. Always fun for two homeschool moms.

In the picture above, Papa is reading a newspaper and Uncle John is watching the kids (Phoebe, Jonathan, Harrison, and Seth) play a card game.

Phillip and his brother, sister and parents. 

Back home again! Liz had made cow cookies for the Harris' and then we forgot them on the countertop when we left. So Harrison is trying a 10 day old cookie. It's a bit tough, but still tasty. 

Back to baking right away. It's the 4th of July after all. Must have a flag cake.