Ora et labora
~St. Benedict

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Family Night

This is how we spent our family Night.
Learning how to play Chicken Foot.
We loved it!
Although, the double-blank domino is scary!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Enjoying Story of the World - second time around!

Big T has already read through all the volumes of SOTW and enjoyed them immensely.  We never possessed the accompanying activity book before now though.  As a family, we used to act out scenes from the texts that the boys chose themselves.  It was dubbed as "family acting" or more like "family comedy" night.  They still talk about those "fun" nights, so I plan to implement this again in the near not so far off future.

In the meantime, we have started the series once more with Little T and my God-daughter K.  Big T is assisting and taking part in some of the latest activities that have been inspired by our newly acquired SOTW activity book.

This time around, my students are reading from the text & following along with the audio disc, which was checked out from our local library, along with additional books to enhance our
first chapter. 

My pupils loved making their own cave paintings!  This particular scene was motivated by hunting, but I was impressed to see a farmer's shaduf in the upper right hand corner.

Big T also made a fantastic hunting scene!
 Big K was moved by aliens!
Big T in teacher assistant mode.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bring Them Up Gardening

We are very fortunate to have connections with some wonderful homeschooling families in the area.  Yup, we struck it rich with this bunch!  My boys are not only socialized too death, but they have opportunities to learn, experiment, & do amazing things with homeschoolers like themselves.

A huge learning, experimental, & amazing thing they get to take part in is community gardening.  There are 8 families, including us, working side by side growing our own food.  It has been highly successful in both production and learning how to set up a large garden.

We have tilled the land, planted seeds, collected seeds, harvested, controlled bug invasions, and so much more.  Right now we are in the process of readying its second growing season.  I am not quite sure that Texas has more than two seasons, but when our pumpkins start getting big and orange, it will certainly feel like Fall.

some of our garden harvest

Little T & his buddy M planting seeds.


Our youngest working in the garden for the first time.  She watched the others & quickly caught on. See, she's patting the dirt.

Big T getting the rows ready for planting.  His dad did a great job tilling beforehand.

I'm helping K with the harvesting...shhh, it's one of the best jobs. And another K is behind us watering.

Big T & K prepare the veggies to be weighed and washed.  Math is everywhere!

One of my favorite parts of our last garden group day was when the littlers wandered off & created their own garden.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Apologia - Excellent Experiments

Big T is really liking his new Science course this year.  I decided to try out Apologia and thus we journey into the world of Physical Science four times per week.
I like to preview before I purchase curriculum, so I examined the course at a homeschool convention and ended up acquiring the text and student notebook/workbook.

What do I like about using Apologia so far?  The first thing that I find helpful is the course layout itself in the student notebook.

There are 34 weeks already planned out & ready to go! One could jump right in or do what I did and amend it to suit your own schedule. It is definitely handy to have as a quick reference.

I also like the fact that the experiments do not have me running to the store a zillion times in search of various materials. So far, I have found everything we need right in our own home...big plus!

Another note regarding the experiments is that the student does them as he/she reads along. There is no need to wait until the end of a chapter and they do not seem to be a hindrance to include in a lesson.

Now, what does Big T like about Apologia? He is all about the experiments of course and enjoys playing "Mad Scientist" with his brother.

One of his favorite experiments that he performed recently was titled, "Oxygen and Fire." The boys were so excited to strike matches. And I was more than happy to once again talk about fire safety and chaperone the monumental event.
Hydrogen Peroxide + Yeast = Oxygen trapped in balloon topper

tea light candle under glass jar 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My story of 4 + 1 = 5

I guess I am "one of those bloggers." It has been quite a while since I last posted... not very consistent, I know.  So, what has happened? Besides my computer being zapped by lightening (truthfully), we are expecting a precious baby.  It is exciting, wonderful, and such a blessing, but this pregnancy has been a little different from my previous two.

After my first trimester, I was experiencing some pain where my left leg connects with my pelvis.  Initially, I thought nothing of it because I taught fitness classes and aches and pains, plus some injuries were normal in my case.  This particular pain felt like I had pulled a muscle, but one night as I studder stepped in the hallway, narrowly avoiding a collision with my husband, I felt the pain shoot through my entire leg.  It felt unquestionably strange and within minutes, my leg was bright red like a sunburn and swelling.

I am not sure why "blood clot" skated into my brain immediately.  It is not like I had any experience with this sort of thing before, but I calmly called for my hubby to come into our bedroom & told him that I was pretty sure I had a blood clot.  I remember feeling faint and just not well in general.  My poor husband was at a loss for a moment before he started scooping the children out of bed, but what stood out the most was an unrecognizable fear I saw in his eyes.  I became fearful too, because the nearest hospital was about an hour and a half away.  Lots of praying ensued that night and continues most readily.

We called my OBGYN before heading out and once on the road, Dr. K was on the phone talking us through things.  It was decided (because of proximity) to head to our small town ER. Our doctor was concerned that we would need a larger hospital to accommodate my needs and he was right.  We checked in, got into an exam room and then the on-call doctor indicated that they could not scan my leg because that particular machinery is only available during the day. We wasted a good hour, but headed towards downtown Austin, Texas (which took another hour and fifteen minutes) to meet my doctor at the hospital.

This was my first trip to the ER ever and that was interesting in itself.  By the time I got myself situated in an exam bay, I could no longer stand on my leg & the pain had intensified immensely.  The last thing I did was to stand on a scale, so they could get my weight for upcoming medication dosage purposes.

My husband and boys were allowed to stay with me until my monitor started beeping and five nurses rushed in to witness my blood pressure going way down.  I started having a Vasovagal Response (kind of like a fainting spell) and managed to relay this information to the nurses before the room started spinning and I felt like I was in a tunnel.  The staff seemed relieved and after 10 minutes, it was over. 

Dr. K came in and we discussed safe treatments for myself and the baby.  I was moved into ICU for a day and then into my own room on the maternity floor for several more days.  It was determined that I had a full DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and the course of treatment would include two abdominal injections daily for the rest of my pregnancy.

So, the blood clot has been kept at bay and I am currently 32 weeks pregnant.  Our baby boy is doing great and I have learned to adjust to a little pain every now and again, plus the injections.  I still remember that scary night like it was yesterday and have flashes of my oldest son's tearful and scared face as we left the little town ER to make our way to the larger hospital.  It is not a night I would ever like to repeat!  However, I am grateful for that experience and not another.

Someone had asked if I regretted this pregnancy and the answer is NO!  I can not wait to hold our new Baby T in my arms.  We are readying our home and hearts for this new little miracle to enter our lives.  My boys and husband are ecstatic and talk to my belly every chance they get and Baby T responds in kind with thumps, turns, and kicks. 

Baby Reveal Day for the boys!

Photos credit and courtesy of Jessica Reynolds of Portraitique Photography

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painted boomerangs

The boys are still playing around with their tri-bladers! They look great all        painted up too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tri-blade boomerang design

Our dot painting led us to boomerang design! We never even fathomed that boomerangs were not invented in Australia.  In all our research, it was founded that they most likely originated in Poland of all places. Nevertheless, the Aborigines seemed to perfect the art of throwing sticks and the ever popular boomerang in style and art adopted its way into Australian culture.

I decided to have the boys make a tri-blader (three blades) because it seemed more conducive to a beginner. 

These are the items needed for the project: scissors, pencil, ruler, cardboard, & construction paper

Project rating ='s easy to medium, only because it is a bit difficult cutting through cardboard

Start off by making a template for your tri-blader. The bottom straight edge of the design should be 1.5 inches across.

Now trace your blades on your cardboard; each blade must face the same direction.

Making sure each blade has 1.5 inch edge

After all three blades are traced, you should see an equilateral triangle in the center. Yes, there is geometry in boomerang making. I made sure to point this out to the boys and we talked about it for a couple of minutes.

The last step & most challenging aspect is to cut out the boomerang design.

To our fingers' delight, we made it through the cutting process. And to our heart's delight, the boomerangs actually worked. It is best to throw them at a 45 degree angle. I told the boys to imagine making a half circle when they got ready to throw. Ha, hubby got a little excited and one ended up on the roof. No worries though, the wind kindly returned it to us.

Next project will be painting our tri-bladers!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Customized letters for school room

I have started the daunting task of organizing our school room, and got side tracked on the pretties. I am not sure what it is, but anytime I tackle something big or create something, I have to walk away a plethora (Three Amigos talk for a lot) of times and then come back to it.

This may seem like a strange process, but I often find myself doing "in-between" projects, so that I can come back with a fresh perspective on the larger task at hand.

Nope, I cannot sit and formulate a plan (like a normal person) and then execute it in a systematic fashion, especially when it comes to creative things. Re-engineering our school room is much more than a functional undertaking to me and is more like an artistic endeavor that will help shape, inspire, and influence the minds of my children. 

I spotted these wonderful blue metal “T” letters while out for supplies and decided to make my own letter “N” wrapped in alpaca yarn, which turned out great.  They will make a nice decorative addition to represent the boys in our learning space.
Ha, I really wanted to add a burlap flower on the “N,” but thought better of it for the guys.  I may add some jute pieces or nuts/bolts or even perhaps a bottle cap to “man” it up.  What do you think? What else can I use to add a little more pizzazz?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Aboriginal dot painting

Items Needed: brown construction paper, 3 different colors of paint (light colors work best with dark paper), and cotton swab

I started by explaining to Little T that Aborigines are the indigenous people of Australia. We did a google search on "Aboriginal children and art." Our focus became the dot art and pattern work. 

We talked about the art piece first and decided upon circles and one huge squiggly line.  Little T thoughtfully planned his pattern and spacing, starting with small dots that would graduate into larger ones.

It really did take a bit of time and concentration to get everything down on paper.  He had to remember that he was working within a set pattern and keep a steady hand.

I promised a great reward for patience and completing his work with a good attitude.  Once the dotting sequence was over, he decided that he did not care for the dead space left in-between the patterns. As a budding artist, some creative license was used and he filled any remaining space with off-white dots. Markedly, he declared that his work was "delectable." Hmm, what?  He meant to say "Aboriginal," but I am a fan of "delectable" too.

Oh and what was his great reward for maintaining a happy heart through pattern work? Well, see for yourself...he was painted as well.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's crafting and fun

Okay, so we are still celebrating New Year's 2013, woo! A round of fireworks and sparklers just could not be contained on one chilly night. Our second night of the new year had to be just as boisterous and a little more out of the box than the previous party.

TnT got to work on making their own drop balls! At first, Little T did not fully understand the concept of a drop ball until further investigation satisfied his ideas on the zany custom. It is an odd sort of tradition and we found it quite peculiar that not only balls are dropped, but things like pickles, giant acorns, & even pigs are used to mark the new year in some places. 

For our drop ball, I found plastic Warhead's candy Christmas ornaments for half off at our local drugstore. The task was then for the boys to fill each ball with sentiments, prayers, and items representing themselves and what they would be striving for in the upcoming year.

They both wanted flags and crosses to represent themselves right away, so we took out the Perler Beads and got to work creating.

Once TnT got all their items together, they laid them on the kitchen table and explained what each one meant.

Now for the outlandishly fun part! We managed to locate the largest popper we could find on Earth and had the novel idea to pop it in our quiet and clean home.

The confetti rained down on us like a prize show!
And just like any good game show, we had them grab their pillows for the ultimate game of "catch your drop ball."

Happy New Year! May 2013 be filled with abundant blessings and prayers for all!