Thursday, August 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes: 7 Reasons To Be Thankful This Week

-1-
I'm thankful for my daughter (she's the one in the middle) who loves gymnastics and that all my Cupcakes are healthy (and healthy enough to do this with their body! Oh my back!)
 -2-
I'm thankful that when I just happened to be by myself one afternoon (which is a VERY rare occurrence), I decided to stop in at our local Goodwill store and I found this treasure sketched by Catholic artist, Cameron Smith.  (There is a plastic wrap over the print, hence the glare in photo.) No relation to me, but Cameron and his wife are dear friends of ours and they are the Godparents for our youngest.  Anyway, I was so very excited to find this print randomly in the store and I got it for an excellent price (though it's worth sooooo much more!)  You can check out Cameron's other masterpieces HERE, including his beautiful prints of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary that I own personally, as well.   
 -3-
I'm thankful for our little sweet Cupcake #5 who is modeling her new cupcake PJ's she got from her Godparents, Cameron and Kristen Smith, for her 1st birthday.   If you think these photos look like she is on the inside and I'm on the outside, you are right, BUT it was the ONLY way I could get her to stand still long enough for me to snap a photo while she was looking at me. :)  Since she's walking now, every time I try to take her photo now the "normal" way (while I'm in the house with her), she keeps walking toward me or running away. :)
 -4-
I'm thankful for my oldest daughter who is running cross country with our local homeschool sports league which means two things.  I have to drive her to practice for EARLY morning practices with her team and I am enjoying running with my daughter to get both of us in shape.  I'm enjoying the workouts and good conversations and company.  So this photo looks like we are in pain.  We kind of are as it was taken after a hot, sweaty run and the sun and sweat are in our eyes. :) 

 -5-
Speaking of fun runs, these are some scenic photos of our favorite spot to run.  I am thankful for the beauty and peaceful place that is only walking/running/riding bikes distance from our home.
 -6-


I am thankful for science experiments that actually WORK and end up being really fun!  I'm not one to LOVE doing experiments, but with Apologia Chemistry and Physics text we are using this year and the Creation Sensation experiment kit I bought to go with the text, science experiments are easier for me to actually implement.  So how did we get 4 different colors of water in the straw to form colored layers of yellow, green, red, and blue?   It was fascinating to do and it taught about density.  If you leave a comment on this post, I'll tell you the "secret". :) 

 -7-
I'm thankful for these precious moments with my Cupcakes as my older daughter fixed her baby sister's hair in the most interesting way.  With lots of laughs and giggles, the next thing I heard was "Mom, take a picture!"  :)  

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary
http://www.conversiondiary.com/2014/05/7-quick-takes-about-spicy-ebooks-awesome-twitter-bios-getting-foot-jacked-and-other-reasons-why-its-not-going-by-so-fast.html


I also linked this post to Lisa's "My Week in Review" Link-Up at Home to 4 Kiddos


Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Another (Home) School Year Begins with Traditions!

-1-
So we almost completed our first week of our new homeschool year trying to gradually implement our 2014-2015 curriculum.   1 week down, 35 more to go! But, who's counting?!!? :)  


For the past 4 years, we start the first day of the new school year making our "Tee-rific" summer t-shirts as in previous years.   We talk about some of the fun things we did over the summer and our Disney trip was mentioned, as well as our beach and pool visits, and our recent trip up north for my nephew's baptism.  Then the kids draw pictures or write about their summer fun and we hang them in our hallway on the "clothesline". We all enjoy looking at past summer t-shirt designs that are hanging behind the current year.  My older children enjoy this tradition as much as my younger ones.   
I got my t-shirt copies from the book,  The MAILBOX: Bulletin Boards For Busy Teachers book for Fall, Winter, Spring, Anytime.
I found a link to a free t-shirt printout that is similar to The Mailbox version that I used:  Click here for the printable t-shirt.
 -2-
 
My kids also fill out this All About Me sheet that I  glue to the front of their folders that holds all their lesson plans.  My older kids enjoy doing this simple, but fun activity too and it's neat to see how their interests change or stay the same year to year as they fill out this sheet about themselves. 


 -3-
Another tradition our family looks forward to each year is baking and decorating our annual cross cake to add to the many other cakes we have decorated through the years.  The heart and cross in the middle represents "Sacred Heart Academy Homeschool, the name of our family's school.  My youngest is not in the picture because it was so very late before we got the cake out of the oven and decorated it and the baby was in bed already.  The chocolate cake was made with the recipe from the Hershey's Cocoa can (and it is an easy and very delicious cake) and then we made our yummy homemade cream cheese icing and sprinkled it with just a few sprinkles. 


 -4-
We also took first day photos using one of the free printables HERE.  I can't say I've done this tradition every year, but I do it when I remember it.  Our oldest is in 9th grade now so I also took one with her by herself to mark the beginning of her high school years. 

 -5-
This isn't a tradition, but I wanted to share some of the chalk art my son drew this week with his friend that lives next door.  Its design is creative and I'm not really sure what it is, but I just love the colors, imagination AND it's what they created WITHOUT sitting in front of a computer screen!!!! 
-6- 
It's very traditional and common in our homeschool classroom to have a table (and sometimes a floor) that looks like this with papers scattered everywhere.   :)

-7- 
With all our new school year traditions, I have to say that another fun tradition is documenting when our little one started walking and she is so proud of herself!  I realized after I downloaded this photo that it looks like she is missing part of her right leg from the angle that I took the picture, but she does in fact have both legs and she is about to go one speed with them...FAST!

So after our first week of homeschooling for the 2014-2015 year, everything ran JUST as planned, all my kids LOVE all the curriculum they are using after many, many, many hours of praying, thinking and planning, and there were NO tears, complaining, disobedience and frustrations in the past 5 days....WAIT! That's the neighbor or the blog next door maybe, but not here.  Overall, it was a fast and fun first week of school, BUT everything did NOT go as planned and there was grumbling from the Cupcake corner and Mommy had her moments too!  But, each day is a new day to make things better right?  Have a great weekend and Happy Feast of the Assumption


For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary
http://www.conversiondiary.com/2014/05/7-quick-takes-about-spicy-ebooks-awesome-twitter-bios-getting-foot-jacked-and-other-reasons-why-its-not-going-by-so-fast.html



 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Classroom and Curriculum

This post contains affiliate links.

We will start our 2014-2015 homeschool year tomorrow, August 11!  I'm embarking on another new adventure as our oldest will be in her first year of high school, then I will be teaching one in middle school, two elementary school aged, and then our youngest just turned a year old.  

Am I a little anxious/nervous/excited/scared/doubtful/hopeful about the year ahead with so many different age levels?  You bet!  But, I continue to trust and ask for guidance and patience (lots!) from our Lord for the fun and challenges ahead!  

Before I list our 2014-2015 curriculum, I thought I would share some pictures of our classroom space.  This is how our learning area looks after many, many, many hours of me trashing out papers and reorganizing books and curriculum over the summer.  I did not take "Before" pictures, but be assured our neat classroom rarely stays this neat during the summer and/or school year!  I think when learning starts happening during our school year and my 1 year old starts tearing up the place and things get hectic, I'll have to post the "keeping it real" photo to prove that things can get out of hand and to prove to myself that it once looked inviting and neat!

We are blessed with a room in our home that is the designated classroom and not much has changed through the years with the looks of the room, including many of the same art projects/decorations are still displayed from several years ago :) So for those readers who have followed my blog for some time now, these pictures may look familiar. :)
 
This is our classroom as you walk into the door.
 
Behind the door in the corner are the history/science/miscellaneous picture books
 
Along this wall is another bookshelf where we keep our library books and you can read HERE about the system I set up to never have to pay a library fine again! (Although, I have paid library fines since I set up the system since a system is only good if you actually use it!  But, when I have noted the due date of our library books on the library book shelf, books get back into the library on time with no fines.)  To the right of the brown bookshelf is our calendar.
 
This is where we try to keep most of our religious books
 
In the top left corner is the basket system I use for each of my cupcakes' textbooks and workbooks.
Each child has their own basket.  The baskets sit on top of a white shelf and cubbies that my husband designed and made for the space. 

As shown in the top right corner, I have their books separated by subjects using white foam board and then I listed each subject on each board.  So my cupcakes always know where to find their textbooks and workbooks and they also use the white foam boards to keep their baskets organized.
When I first started homeschooling in 2005, I tried using bookshelves, but things didn't stay organized then I moved into a basket system, but my cupcake's books were thrown into the baskets.  That's when I decided to organize the baskets with the subject foam boards to make books easier to find and this system was quick to set up and has been used efficiently for several years now.  

In the bottom left corner is a photo of the red basket where I keep all my teacher manuals for my cupcake's subjects. 

Then in the bottom right corner is the photo of how I organize my "Teacher Manual" red basket.  All my teacher manuals are divided by my cupcakes' names using the white foam boards and blue post it notes to label each child's manuals.  So this will help me find answer keys I need quickly and my cupcakes can also go quickly to the foam board divider with their name on it to find any manuals if I ask them to get them for me vs. looking all over for a teacher manual that may be hidden in a shelf somewhere.

We use our desks, table, and dry erase board daily in or out of school :) The tall bookshelf on the left side of photo is where I keep alot of my resource books/idea books/catalogs/books and curriculum  I've used in the past.

In this corner of our classroom is our art area with a closet full of craft supplies, games, and math manipulatives.  The art table is used daily in or out of school time and I won this table several years ago!

So what have I filled my cupcakes' baskets with behind their foam board subject dividers?  Our 2014-2015 curriculum looks like this:

Cupcake #1 (daughter, age 14, 9th grade

Religion:
Couch Catechism and continuing Confirmation preparation program with other homeschoolers using various resources including Understanding The Scriptures: A Complete Course on Bible Study by Scott Hahn with My Catholic Faith Delivered, T3: The Teen Timeline (Catholic Teen Bible Study), and Decision Point 

Math:
Teaching Textbooks, continuing with Algebra I

American Literature:
Christ in the Americas for both Literature selections and American History

Writing
IEW Level C Online Course 

 Science:
 Apologia  Exploring Creation with Biology with labs with a homeschool co-op group
  
Latin:
First Form Latin with Memoria Press Online Academy  

Electives/Extra-Curricular Activities 
Piano lessons once a week
American Heritage Girls Troop 
Running Cross-Country with Homeschool Team 
Teens for Life member

Cupcake #2 (son, age 12, 7th grade)

Religion:
Couch Catechism, and Christian Studies II from Memoria Press with his younger sister.  With his older sister, he will also continue T3: The Teen Timeline (Catholic Teen Bible Study. 

Math:
 Teaching Textbooks, Math 7  

Writing:
Science
Apologia Chemistry and Physics with younger sister.  I also bought the materials for the experiments from Creation Sensation.  The kits aren't cheap, but they save me so much time by not having to look for all the materials myself for each experiment.
 
Geography:
Memoria Press with younger sister

Extra-Curricular Activities 
Piano Lessons once a week
Recreation Soccer Leagues and Homeschool Soccer League
Teens for Life member

Cupcake #3 (daughter, age 10, 5th grade)

Religion:
Couch Catechism, and Christian Studies II from Memoria Press with her older brother.



Geography:
Memoria Press with older brother

Science
Apologia Chemistry and Physics with older brother.  I also bought the materials for the experiments from Creation Sensation.  The kits aren't cheap, but they save me so much time by not having to look for all the materials myself for each experiment.
  

Electives/Extra-Curricular Activities 
American Heritage Girls Troop
Recreation Soccer League 

Cupcake #4 (daughter, age 6, Grade 1)

Religion:
Couch Catechism,  First Confession and Communion preparation using Faith and Life, Treasure Box Set Books 1-10 and Books 11-20 and making First Communion Scrapbook and Banner 

Memoria Press First Grade Lesson Plans

Extra-Curricular Activities 
American Heritage Girls Troop
Gymnastics 

Cupcake #5 (daughter, age 1)
Learning how to walk, how not to tear up books and pull them off shelves, and how to take long naps when her Mommy needs her to take long naps. :) 

Be sure to come back to my blog here sometime this week where I will do a post of some of our new homeschool year traditions that includes new school year photos,  a cross cake, T-riffic summer t-shirt printables and All About Me Sheets!  


To take a peek at other homeschool learning classrooms/spaces/centers/corners/tables/shelves be sure to visit the 6th Annual "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop: School Room Week HERE.

Have a blessed school year! 



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

1st Birthday Celebration, Baptism, Big Planes

Last week our youngest turned the BIG ONE and I wrote her birthday tribute post HERE.

We celebrated her birthday with family last Wednesday, July 30th, her actual birthday date.  We left the next day for PA to visit friends and my sister's family for my nephew's baptism.

Here is my Mom giving our Cupcake #5 the stuffed animals that my Mom knitted for her granddaughter.  My Mom is super talented and I so want to learn how to do this (in my "spare" time-Ha!).  My Mom said this teddy bear, frog, and skunk were not that difficult to make.  


Here is the cake I made for our big ray of sunshine..turning one and having fun with our sun(shine)!  The chocolate cake mix was from the Hershey's Cocoa container and then I made a homemade cream cheese icing tinted with yellow and orange food dye. 

Here's a short video of our family, my in-laws, and my two brother in-laws' families singing "Happy Birthday".  ( I always have technical difficulties downloading videos, so if you can't see the video below, sorry about that and maybe it will download the right way magically somehow!)  I have to explain the knife throwing part, however.  It is a family tradition to "throw" the cake knife into the cake and wherever it lands that's where the cut cutting begins.  This is highly supervised and great fun as you hear my mother-in-law in the background telling my husband to basically be careful by repeating his name more than once. :) 



She enjoyed her cake so much and so did her hair!  :) 

After our birthday girl got all cleaned up, I snapped this sweet moment that she was sharing with my father-in law.

The next morning, Thursday, July 31, we left bright and early (as in 5:15 AM) to travel to PA (about 10 hours) to go stay with friends and visit my sister. My sister's little baby boy was baptized this past weekend and I was the Godmother, while my brother-in laws good friend was the Godfather.  During a cookout prior to the day of the baptism, my sister had another cake and ice cream sundaes ready to celebrate our girl's 1st birthday.   Here are some pictures of the fun weekend!



I gave my nephew and Godson the baptism candle holder where I had his name engraved in it with his baptism date.  I did not make the cake.  :)  The christening gown hanging up was made by my great grandmother on my Mom's side and it is 70 + years old.  This gown was worn by my Mom and her brother during their infant baptism, along with all my cousins, siblings, and my children.  Our little Cupcake #5 wore it as well last year.

My "Cupcake" Crew

On our way home from PA on Monday we stopped in DC for a family field trip.  What an amazing place the National Air & Space Museum is to visit!  Free admission, but parking is $15 :/   It was "plane heaven" full of such wonderful aviation history!
I overheard a tour guide say that the Blackbird" plane above cost $85,000/day to fuel it!  WOW!

The kids got to operate a plane's steering wheel and we learned more about he Enola Gay, that dropped an atomic bomb on the military port of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

This was great to see the Discovery space shuttle up close.  In the front of the shuttle we could see how much insulation was used on it to prevent it from melting as it went to space and back down.  Just amazing!

It was a blessed weekend with family and friends! Thanks for stopping in!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Has It Really Been One Year Since You Were Born?

Dear Cupcake #5,

Has it really been one year since you were born and I blogged about your grand entrance HERE?!!?

Has it really been one year since you were in my womb at your baby shower and then you were trying really hard to focus your eyes on your brand new world outside my womb? You finally got to wear your Lil' Cupcake outfit because you are our little Cupcake #5! 



Has it really been one year when we took these family photos of the Smith seven in the hospital?


Has it really been a year since you came home from the hospital with your cute cupcake onesie and pink bow in your hair?

Has it really been almost a year since your beautiful baptism on August 31, 2013?


Has it really been a year since you gave us that cute smile when you were 2 months old and took a picture with a plaque with your patron saint, Saint Therese of Lisieux?   Your middle name is Therese (pronounced "Ter-ez) and a friend of Daddy and Mommy's gave you this beautiful icon of St. Therese, the Little Flower.  You are our precious little flower, as well.

Has it really been a year since I snapped this photo of your big brother and his neighborhood
friend trying to calm you down and entertain you?  Has it really been a year that your sisters thought it would be so fun to put clip-on earrings on you that were about as big as you?  But, you didn't seem to mind the attention or jewelry style.

Has it really been just a few weeks ago that I caught you in action taking your first steps?  You were moving so fast (before you fell to your knees) that my picture of you with this milestone is very blurry!

 

I can't believe you are old enough to take a selfie with my iPhone and you will soon be old enough to know that eating sand at the beach is yuck-o!


Like you, we too are shocked that it really has been a year since you were born!   It seems that your first year frame that I have for you and your siblings was filling up fast as each month sped on by.    I'm looking forward to placing your 12 month picture in the frame soon! 


 Happy Birthday sweet baby girl!  You make us "SO HAPPY"! 

We are looking forward to celebrating your 1st birthday with you and our family!   You may need your shades while eating your cake, though.  Let's just say you are our little sunshine and your cake will always remind you of this fact. :)  Pictures of Cupcake #5 cake coming soon!

Happy Birthday!  We love you!


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