Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Aspired Week..week 4

Our Week

Product DetailsOver the past two years I have 'meant' to focus on Math facts. I was very diligent with the first kid did a pretty good job with kiddo #2 and pretty much dropped the ball on #3. So this year I have made math facts a priority. So as the year began I still wanted to find a way toincotporate more math drill into our homescool. I want my kiddos to have their facts down pat by the end of  3rd grade and I have not been successful in this endeavor in the past so now I'm playing catch up.Then one day as I was visiting blogs I found this game at Highhill Homeschool Blog . Highhill Homeschool is the blog of a very creative American Mama home educating her children in Germany. The game  she created is called Speed! and it's a skip counting game.

Speed! is skip counting game that teaches multiplication I promptly ordered it from Amazon and it arrived from Amazon on Thursday of this week and it's been a really big hit. At the end of their math hour they are required to play a math game for 15 minutes aimed at improving /drilling their of math facts.


 First we watched the YouTube video(below) that explains how to play it and it has been infectious. Our 10 year old loves it and she has already set up several tournaments. Tournament play works well with her competitive nature.


In addition to Speed! we also started doing  XtraMath (have I mentioned that we LOVE XtraMath?) which tests your kiddos and let's you know which facts they need to work on and then it works with them to learn those facts. The kids have really been doing well with this electronic drill that reinforces our Math facts recitation in the morning and their individual facts review prescribed by Christian Light Math.






Homeschool Preschool

So while the bigs were busy playing Speed! with every spare moment they had the preschoolers were working on the second week of Hubbards Cupboard  a free Christian preschool curriculum that we are using for our twins. Keep in mind our 3 year old twins also participate in our morning recitation (this is fun for them, not intense). We are moving pretty slowly through this curriculum right now they are studying the days of creation. This week they are working on the 4th day of creation. Their memory verse is Genesis 1:1 which by the way is the same verse they were memorizing in Truth & Grace (2&3 year olds) during "baby" recitation. They really enjoyed working on their art project and painting suns in the backyard. They are also suppose to be working on their colors but they now this weeks colors already. Even though we do not get this done everyday or sometimes even every week we have truly enjoyed this curriculum.


Co-op News: 

First, I am considering using a second dedicated co-op bag f like the one I have for our History, Art & science Co-op, for our Bells Co-op. I will

Finally, this week we had our first Choir Co-op. Our Choir co-op is a free ministry provided by a wonderful woman our director Mrs. Lassister and her very musical family. Several of her children have pursued degrees in music and she is an amazing musician herself. We meet bi weekly at a wonderful local Baptist Church. This is our 5th year in choir, we took 2 years off and now we are back This year Choir has a band/orchestra and our 10 year old will hopefully be able to play clarinet in it. The volunteer Band Director previously worked at one of the best private schools in our area and has 40 years of public & private teaching experience. We are truly blessed.

This &That: 

I am still slowly listening to Issac Newton CD's. This week I watched a documentary on Issac Newton also, which was very informative. My kiddos will watch it on a Wednesday after we get back from Piano Lessons. Also I randomly received this article from Homeschool Enrichment on Isaac Newton which I'll be printing and giving to our middle child who is writing a report on him. As I am finishing my CD's and have watched the movie I think my interest in Mr. Newton has waned and I am looking forward to finishing the Newton CD's and moving on to Wuthering Heights by Bronte.

I am also slowly re-reading Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns as I have been revamping our homeschool. I think I am going to have to read a few more Classical Education books after I am finished with this one, my interest in this topic has certainly not waned.

Autism in our Homeschool:

I am hoping to purchase and read Simply Classical from Memoria Press.

Simply Classical"This revolutionary new book guides parents and teachers in implementing the beauty of a classical education with special-needs and struggling students. Cheryl is an advocate of classical Christian education for special-needs students. The love of history, music, literature, and Latin instilled in her own children has created in Cheryl the desire to share the message that classical education offers benefits to any child."

Here is an excerpt from  her blog, it is from a conversation she is had with one of her children who has recently found out that she has a medical condition that requires her to take 7 pills per day at specific times:

  "The other day on our way to the hospital’s outpatient clinic for her blood work, I parked the car and said, “Michelle, I want you to know how much I admire your courage.” She smiled and covered her face with her hands. Despite her embarrassment, I continued. “I do not think I would remain so cheerful if I endured everything that you do.”
She looked up and paused. She said quietly, “C’est sa raison d’etre.”“What does this mean?” I asked.“That is her reason to be,” she explained, “from Lesson 6 of First Start French.”She looked at my face to see if I needed elaboration, but I understood. I found her contented interpretation mature and comforting.
These are the sorts of conversations I would hope to have with my daughter but we are not there, and she is certainly not able to process information like this young lady. Autism is a hard disorder and it takes a toll on our relationship and on our family. Due to that I had removed her from our classical school (she homeschools using a textbook approach from ACE Ministries & participates in our family gathering in the morning) but now I am reconsidering this decision and I am egar to see what Mrs. Swope has to say. I hope to read this book over my Christmas Break and I am eagerly saving my pennies.

Well, I certainly hope your week has been Aspiring too!

We are linked to: Weekly Wrap Up, Homeschool Mother's Journal & Friendship Friday

Thursday, September 26, 2013

{Pretty,Happy,Funny,Real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

{Pretty}

We had to make $40 work for two weeks of grocery for a very hungry family of 7. I praise God for my well stocked pantry and for his provision. The Lord's provision for our home 50 pounds of very versitle russet potatoes! During the week a friend called and offered 1/2 the potatoes she had received from a mutual friend.

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor. 2:9



{Happy}

Yep, that's full concentration you see on her little face as she stacks her rods during our Family Gathering. The twins work on Montesorri type  activities while listening a doing their cute little recitations. 

"From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him." Proverbs 12:14




{Real}

"For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;" Proverbs 2:6

Now we are a few weeks into school and the kiddos have their noses to the grindstone. She is doing Christian Light Math which I L-O-V-E, it's a self teaching Math Curriculum and my kiddos (except for Peyton who has Special Needs and does ACE Math) are thriving on it, as demonstrated by their scores on their most recent standardized exam. I like it because it has an advanced scope & sequence and is a self teaching curriculum so I am able easily manage several Math programs. I highly recommend Christian Light Education's Math!



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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grammar Stage Notebooking with Spirals


coversheet for science
"We suggest each child should maintan his own history notebook" Harvey & Laurie Buledorn Teaching the Trivium 

We use Mystery of History and God's Design for Science in our 4 year rotation and most of my classical kiddos are in the grammar stage. Although I have one who is 10 and ready for some Logic level studies. Nonetheless, this year we are focusing on getting the grammar of subjects down pat for all the students in our homeschool.

Why Notebook...
We focus to help the children to retain the information they are learning.  We are simply trying to create hooks so the second and thrid time we come around to the material the children will have a foundation to build on.

"True education should not be like filling an empty bucket.  It should be like the lighting of a fire." WB Yeats from -Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn, Teaching the Trivium
Bingo card glued into spiral

How do we Notebook...
I try to keep it simple and provide a concrete learning experience for the children, so we do not do anything elaborate.
  •  I make a cover sheet for the notebook. 
  • We keep a record of our ongoing studies: We do a very simple kind of notebooking that I call spiraling, because we use a spiral notebook and glue all of our individual worksheets into it.
  • They write a narration on each lesson we cover (my younger students do this orally). Now this narration may be oral, 1 sentence or a picture from my 3rd grader or it might be 5-6 sentences with a picture from the 5th grader.
  •  For the most part I do not use elaborate pre-printed notebooking or lapbooking materials instead their notebook is mostly original content. The exception to that is the work they do from History in the Wood's Project Passport  Middle Ages  which we use as a supplement to Mystery of History. This has pre-printed lapbook/notebook pages that the children complete and glue in and we go over.

  • I give them homemade "Vocabulary Windows" which is a sheet of paper folded like a hotdog bun with 3-4 flaps. On one side is their vocabulary word (pre-printed) and they write their definition under the flap.This is glued into the notebook.

  • MOH on the left, History in the Woods on the right
  • I also incorporated bingo game into their science notebook for a review. They glued it into their notebook so now we know where it is at all times. We play bingo with vocabulary words a couple times per week. This was an idea that I got from pintrest  from a public school teacher who also uses spirals for notebooking and it works for me!

"Before the ate of ten, the child is at the Early Knowledge Level, where he is mostly dependent upon his concrete sensory experiences for learning" Teaching the Trivium by Bludorns

What do we Notebook...
Vocabulary Windows
Our notebook is simply a record of the work we have done in school a place to record their concrete learning experiences.We are mostly in grammar stage so we focus on vocabulary acquisition and the simply recording facts.

 Here are some of the things we notebook...
  • Mystery of history worksheets
  • Homeschool in the Woods Projects
  • MOH 12 Key Events
  • AIG Heaven & Earth Worksheets
  • Vocabulary
  • Copywork
  • Lesson Narrations
  • MOH & AIG Quizes/Tests
  • Games (such as bingo)
Normally, I would include a timeline but we do our timeline (Using Simply Charlotte Mason's free Book of Centuries) and Homeschool in the Woods Complete Collection Time Line pieces at our co-op so it a separate from our history Notebook.

How does your family provide concrete sensory experiences for your children in the grammar stage?

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week 3

What's on my heart...

There is very sick baby named Rain in San Antonio she has Whooping Cough and is in the hospital. Her parents are super adorable newlyweds and this is their first child. Please pray for peace & healing and here are some updates...

From Erin's Facebook - "Rain developed lung failure and heart failure because of her lung failure. She continued to worsen in spite of all of the usual treatments. The doctors said her greatest chance of survival is to be put on a heart and lung machine to give her lungs and heart a chance to heal. This carries risk and the doctors say that once she's on the machine it is a 70% chance of good outcome.We ask you to pray with us for a rapid, complete, uncomplicated healing, for protection from the dangers of the hospital, wisdom and insight for the doctors, and the comfort and presence of God with Rain and her parents." 
from the 17th
Update on Rain:Over the weekend they started dialysis on her. It helped to get the toxins out of her blood, but in the process it threw everything else out of balance. When we came in Monday, she was more swollen than before dialysis. So yesterday was a rebuilding day to recover ground that was lost. Praise God that they have got her "stable" again and mostly back to where she was before. Today they changed out her ECMO circuit and she seems to be taking that really well. The doctor said that over the next few days they are looking to see more of the fluid drain off of her so that the swelling will go down which is necessary to free up the organs so that they will heal and begin to work again. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Please continue to lift her up before God. 
If you only have a little bit of time don't read my post spend it praying for Phillip, Erin & Rain.

What I've been up to...

So over the summer I contacted Kerry Beck and we set up,  this Homeschool Mama's Encouragement Breakfast at a local family integrated Baptist Church. It was such a blessing to sit down with other Mamas and listen to Kerry, a homeschool mama, who has finished the race and glean her wisdom. After her talk, our lively discussion continued and we discussed all sorts of things amongst ourselves and had a very tasty grown-up breakfast!


Photo

In Our Homeschool

We enjoyed a day off on Labor Day since Dad was home.

We were back to the grindstone on Tuesday and  have been making very good progress in all of our subjects. I have however been examining our curriculum choices in respect to our transitioning to a much more Classical Education model.I do not expect there to be huge changes, because I found I have a tendency to  but I do see some specific subject areas that may need some alteration.

This is the week we attended our  Homeschool Encouragement ad Academic Fellowship Co-op or HEAF for short. The purpose of our Co-op is for fellowship and academic encouragement. What is meant by academic encouragement is to spur each other on to complete the curriculum we have purchased in a timely manner. Since History, Science and Art often get kicked to the curb when we get busy or stressed but by participating in the co-op we are hoping it will spur each family on to keep plugging away. Plus we do all the dirty stuff like painting, experiments and projects together! Starting this co-op has been the biggest boon for getting our school work done in a prompt manner so we are on the same schedule with our co-op. Additionally, our kids are making great friends.

This week I was in charge of the science experiments and I am proud to report despite my general science apprehension and ineptitude the experiments were completed correctly. This week we were dropping various objects into our "town" to see the results of various size meteorites falling on the earth. Additionally we did a Newtonian optics experiment (which atypically I was very well versed on due to my current reading material) investigating the colors in light. Despite my success this week I am still very worried about the volcano I am suppose to make at home with my family and bring into Co-op in a few weeks, hopefully mine will explode this time.

I am very happy to report that I have completed our homeschool curriculum plans which I will begin to list in our 4 year Cycle with Curriculum Plans page.

What I'm 'Reading' (aka listening to): 


I am still working on the Newton Biography I started last week. It's pitiful that as a  homeschool  Mama I'm still not even able to finish an audio book quickly. But this one has some questionable content specifically about his belief that there  is not a trinity, instead Newton believes there are  3 distinct begins that form the Godhead. Many of my Anabaptist breathern hold this belief also. However, it is not our belief and my kiddos who are for the most part in the grammar stage aren't ready to parse this. But who of us is really ready for a verbal disagreement with Issac Newton? So I have to listen to this when they are otherwise occupied.

I all of you have had a productive week full of discovery and the love of our Lord Jesus!

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

{Pretty,Happy,Funny,Real}



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Finding contentment in the everyday

{Pretty}

Yes, I know it's just a bag. But I LOVE it and I am so happy to have a fully dedicated Co-op bag and it has really simplified my co-op mornings to be prepared and relaxed.  


{Happy}

Our Co-op hosted an encouragement breakfast with Kerry Beck from the blog How to Homeschool my Child (#1 Homeschool blog in 2012) she is a local homeschool Mom in our area. We had a wonderful breakfast and got to glean lots of Titus 2 wisdom from Kerry. It was a wonderful morning with a group of sweet homeschool Mamas!


{Funny}

Why anyone would give this adorable little boy a bat is beyond me! He did do a good job hitting the ball instead of his sister.



{Real}

Still cleaning out the house and taking things to storage but I think we are only about 2 weeks away from listing it and hopefully simplifying. We still need to plant some grass, paint all around the house. I am still dreading the super cleaning of the kitchen.


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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homeschool Distinctives


I learned about the idea for Homeschool Distinctives from the blog Raising Olives here. At the time I ran across the post I was struggling with being overwhelmed with homeschool, homemaking and homesteading. The idea of homeschool distinctives seem to hold the  possible solution to my dilemma of balancing 0-1 year old twins (at the time) with 3 school age children.

One big issue we were having was bouncing around from curriculum to curriculum. I loved Charlotte Mason but it was too labor intensive for our growing family. Homeschool Distinctives gave me an opportunity to give our homeschool the focus it lacked. 

So here are our distinctives:
  1. Christ focused curriculum.
    • Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  2. Emphasis on independent study by the student with Mama in the role of tutor. Thus we adopted much of the methodology of the Classical Method. Which allows me to insert Charlotte Mason type elements into our homeschool without usurping the role of teacher. (again see Proverbs 2:6)
  3. Keep it Simple. By this I mean I need to not overload my children which is a tendency I have since they are quick workers.  To meet the goal taking the simplest path 
  4. Classical - We are utilizing the classical model but we are not purists and I also really like Charlotte Mason's ideas. I utilize the book Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns as a guide.
  5. Frugality - I am adding an emphasis on both reusable and free curriculum's from this point forward. I am trying to save money in our homeschool and stick to a budget.

    •  A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished. Proverbs 22:13 Darby Translation
6.   Building Relationships within our family is a top priority and we will use our homeschool to strengthen relationships. For example older children have 15-30 minute time blocks in which they play with their 3 younger siblings.
    • "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."John 13:35
7. We are trying to create competent communicators for Christ. Accordingly, we have an emphasis on speaking and writing well. So participation in things like speech & debate, essay contests etc... are a part of our school.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:1


8. Volunteering  simply stated our time is the Lords and if he needs us we will be there regardless of what the schedule says.

  1. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
I have done a lot of bouncing around between curriculum in our homeschool career. I must say that this list of distinctives has kept me more focused on the task at hand. I have been able to ignore curriculum like 'All About Spelling' (which I hear is wonderful) but it conflicts with distinctives 2 ,3 & 5.  Recognizing I am not looking for the perfect curriculum to perfectly educate my children but instead I am looking for a curriculum to teach them to educate themselves while I guide them toward the Great I AM.

We are participating in the following ....
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama Menu Plan

Something Yummy...

This weeks super tasty find was Chicken Bombs, for my husband who likes it hot,hot, hot!
from the Blog Dishing with Leslie!
Yes, this mess is on my diet! Hooray! These were very very good! I did not make any changes to her recipe but the next time I make them in an oven I will crisp my bacon first. Other then that they lived up to there name because they were the bomb! 

Here's the ingredients

5 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
5 jalapeƱo peppers
20 strips of bacon
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated colby jack or cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)

Since I am not the creator of this yumminess it's only fair that you head over to Dishing with Leslies! for the Directions after all she did the hard work of making this bit of tastiness!

Counting the cost
$4 chicken (skinless boneless breast from Sam's Club)
.50 Jalapenos 
$2.89 John Morrell Bacon
.62 1/2 a thing of cream cheese
$1 for cheese
.25 Paula Deen Sugar Free BBQ Sauce
Total Cost $9.26  for the main my potatoes were free and we ate 1/3 of Sam's Baby Greens which cost $1.44 total cost of feeding my family  of 7 dinner was $10.70. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get 7 orders of bacon wrapped chicken for 7 for less then $10.70 ...Yeah! Still this is .70 over my $10 maximum meal cost excluding birthdays and special occasions. 

Although I served it to the family with oven baked french fries and salad, I did not partake in the white potato french fries but my high metabolism kiddos loved them. I did enjoy my salad with homemade Italian dressing it was super yummy. 

Our Trim Healthy 2 week meal plan for the week

(Bold items are for the high metabolism kids!)
Friday Lime Chicken Tacos, refritos & Mexican Rice (E or S or FP...go here for how)
Saturday: Pizza (from Pearables Homemaking Curriculum made by my lovel daughter) - OFF PLAN I ate a whole piece of saucy pizza and was going to pick the tops off of a couple of pieces but she did not use enough cheese for me to do this.  I was too tired from painting to even consider making anything else. 
Sunday: Rosemary White Bean Soup (E)
Monday: Hamburger with fixins, white french fries & sweet tater fries (E)
Tuesday: Beans Rice & Cornmbread (E)
Wednesday: Ham, Augratin Potatoes & Cauliflower, peas, butter rolls (S)
Thursday: Trim Healthy Mama Chile Relleno, homemade fat free refried beans, Mexican rice
Friday: pulled pork tacos, refritos & Mexican rice (S)
Rosemary White Bean Soup
credit: The Prudent Homemaker.... Rosemary White Bean Soup
Saturday: Paula Deen Cheeseburger meatloaf, mashed taters & cauliflower (S)
Sunday 4 Bean Soup and homemade bread
Monday: Peanut Crusted Chicken (from Trim Healthy Mama), salad, brown rice (S)
Tuesday: Beans, Rice & Cornbread (E)
Wednesday: Trim Healthy Mama Hamburger Casserole, peas, potatoes & Cauliflower (S)
Thursday Oven fried Chicken, mashed taters & cauliflower(S), salad, butter dipped rolls
Friday Bean & Cheese Burritos & Mexican Rice (E)

I tend to eat S all day long so it's easier for me to switch gears at night and get some less expensive e-meals into the mix!

My Trim Healthy Tip...If you make potatoes for the kiddos you can easily substitute Cauliflower for the potatoes without much effort for you & the hubby. 


For more menus check out Org Junkies Menu Plan Monday

Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Ideas for organizing your Homeschool Part II




This week in our life...
.


 This week we started our homeschool year.  And this year we are trying a staggered start for school. The kiddos won't start all of their courses for a few weeks. We celebrated our third daughters 8th birthday and had her official birthday party. It  is just unbelievable to me that she is 8. Speaking of birthdays, It was a rough summer with the oldest turning 15, the 2nd one hit double digits at 10 and the twins are out of diapers...oh the despair. 

 Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…


    Montessori Style Preschool


  1. Get as organized as you can before the school years starts.Also make a list of everything that you did and what still needs to be done. Keep that list so the next year you can hopefully accomplish even more and do it more quickly. 
  2.  Try to buy any new curriculum you've decided to use for the new school year, as soon as you can. This way you have as much time as possible to familiarize yourself with the 'proper' use of the curriculum. Reading the Teacher's Manual before the school year can sometimes save you lots of tears! (Proper use of the curriculum is ultimately it's up to you! But I like to know how they meant it to be used before I start changing it up.)
  3. Try to buy used and save the difference; we look for everything used and try to buy things either used or discounted. 
  4. Try to stick with the same curriculum every year. I know it sounds so boring but the more familiar you are with a curriculum the better you can teach it,. You will know what field trips pertain to the curriculum if there are extras on YouTube or Netflix, which books in the library were fruitful etc... Additionally, more information will be placed on the little hooks the child created the first time they went through it, thus creating a deeper understanding and the retention of more information.
  5. Finally, don't overwork the little scholars (as is my habit).
In my homeschool this week.....
XtraMath logo

So far the biggest hit for everyone is xtramath . XtraMath is basically a computerized math drill for the children. They race the teacher and practice facts and they are really enjoying it. I like it because it produces easily understandable reports that quickly show me a students shortcomings and their strengths.It takes about 15 minutes each day. As far as I'm concerned for Grammar age kids that is 15 minutes well spent.
History Notebook 

 Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… 
This week we went to our Homeschool Encouragement and Academic Fellowship for our first real session.

My favorite thing this week was… 
 My favorite thing this week was being on a more regular schedule. Next summer I am going to be sure to create a summer schedule to keep us on track. But I've also really enjoyed listening to the biography on Newton.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was… 
Surely my children's favorite activity this week was going to co-op to see their friends.Unfortunately, only two of the five families were there but we still had a great time. My kiddos were talking about their science experiment all the way home and for the rest of the week.

Things I’m working on… 
I am still working on finalizing each students checkoff lists  and making sure I have check-off lists for each subject. Each year, I find I have forgotten to add this or that and spend a week or two making adjustments. These checkoff lists have revolutionized our homeschooling and they are well worth the effort.

What I'm Reading…
For me this category really should be what I'm listening to, which is still Isaac Newton by Gleick. I became interested in the life of Newton after previewing one of the children's biographies. Did you know that he was basically abandoned by his mother on her first husband's estate as a teenager when she went to remarry in her early 30's. That when he entered the University although his mother could have provided support for him, she again choose not to do so. It makes me wonder if these things made him more hungry for knowledge.

As a Mama of many I have found that audio books have enabled me to keep on learning! ;) Plus, I sound so sophisticated when I tell folks I'm reading an  autobiography of Issac Newton.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pretty ,Happy, Funny ,Real

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{Pretty}
Our adorable Sugar Pie a junior glass doll collector was thrilled about her birthday gifts. It's so hard to believe that she is in 8 and in 3rd grade it seems like just yesterday she was 2 years old and sitting in a mud puddle by the pond.


{Happy}
Sugar Pie's Birthday party closes a summer of birthday parties at our dear friends pool. We were all very happy celebrating our 3rd child. And frankly after 4 birthday parties in 5 months I am happy to take a break from birthday planning. 


{Funny}

This is the nap area that the youngest of our twins finally settled upon after a long battle against napping.



{Real}
These are the bags with the supplies that mostly one gal from our co-op has been organizing for our 18 co-op classes. As I was helping I was frankly amazed at her attention to detail. We are going to have a very fruitful and well organized year!





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