Sunday, November 20, 2011

Around the World with Sculpey

My oldest daughter loves Sculpey and her favorite thing to make is little dolls.  She has amassed quite a collection including dolls representing cultures from around the world.  When we moved I decide to make a display of her dolls and our world map.

Here it is (forgive the terrible lighting)

And here are some of the dolls up close.


Hawaii (of course)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I love having older kids

Don't get me wrong I LOVE babies.  Their soft heads and squishy thighs and sweet baby smell. I love them so much that I was worried that I would keep wanting to have more and more babies. But alas the baby hunger stopped after 3 babies.

And toddlers are just so cute.

And preschoolers.  Oh, preschoolers are so much fun!

But older kids and teenagers, yikes, teenagers...  I didn't really know what to expect. Turns out they are still pretty cute and they are lots of fun and....

  • They can carry on real conversations.
  • They can clean up after themselves - with reminders ; )
  • They don't fight bedtime 
  • They can be left home alone while you go shopping, exercise, go to a girls' night out, go on a date!
  • They can help out with the household chores.
  • They are more fun than work while camping or traveling.

Yep, having older kids is great.  They no longer let you smell their soft heads or squish their thighs, but they are so much less work.  And I am really enjoying watching them grow and mature. It is really amazing to see the people they are becoming.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just Because

I was sorting through my pictures and found this one of Kali.  Isn't she pretty? And sandy...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homeschool Schedule 2011

I am tempted to just copy and paste our schedule from last year because things haven't changed much.  In fact, I think I will and I will just make changes as needed.

7:00am  - I attempt to get out of bed.  This is a half hour earlier than last year.
7:30am - I go to gym to use elliptical machine

8:15 am  - Meet friends for weight training.  This is a recent addition.  I am hoping it will help spark some weight loss and it is fun to be with other women for a while each morning.
9 am - return from home, eat breakfast, computer time (Kids are awake by this time and are eating breakfast and watching TV)
9am - school starts - girls work on independent work while I finish up on computer and do other morning chores, such as start laundry and tidying up a bit. I am often called over to answer questions.
10 am  - I take a shower, put away laundry, more tidying, more questions
10:30 am - Read aloud (or, as has been happening lately because we no longer spend much time in the car, listening to book on tape)
11:00 am - "mom school" time - M and W - history, T - science, Th - depends on my mood (poetry, extra history books from the library, art, etc.) F - is our short day if we get all our work done or is a catch up day, if we miss another day during the week.
12:00 - lunch
1:00 pm - girls finish independent work
2:00 pm -school's out
after school - play with friends, instrument lessons, choir.  Sierra tried an art class, but didn't like it.  Kali and Arwen have been taking a dance class.  

This schedule has been working great almost 2 years now.  I am starting to feel a need for some tweaking. When I don't get in the shower until 10 am, I don't have time to do anything with my hair.  I end up just twisting it up and letting it air dry.  That works fine for Hawaii, but I often feel like a slob all day.  So I want to try and work on getting a shower earlier.  

Also, I am feeling like I need to give my girls more individual attention.  I spend time with them in the morning and afternoon on an as needed basis, but there is often much distraction (either from the other girls or because I am looking at the computer...).  I want to find a time to have a scheduled "meeting" time with them to focus on areas where they need help or to discuss what they are reading on their own.  I am trying to decide whether I should meet with them each once a week on Friday (our short day) or for 10 - 15 minutes each day. If I meet with them each day, I will have to cut something out.  I am thinking of cutting out our listening to book on CD time after we finish our current book. I think this meeting time will be even more important as Sierra does more independent work as a high schooler next year, so I'll have to figure something out. We'll have to see what works best.  I'll keep you posted. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Lost Tablet

It's Fall Break for the public schooled kids here on the island.  Yes, they get a fall break. Yes, already.  They actually started the school year at the beginning of August, so I guess now is as good of a time as any for a break.  For the last few years during the break, some moms have put together a play.  The first year I asked if my homeschooled kids could participate and they were happy to let them, especially since I volunteered to help direct ;)

I have to admit that it is almost as fun for me as it is for the kids.  It has been really fun to have a creative outlet, even if it is only once a year.  It really works out well because we rehearse and perform the play in just one week. So I get to immerse myself for a short period of time and then go back to my regular life. This year it was about a month of work because I helped coordinate a group of teenagers who wrote scenes for the play.

In the end we had a play about kids from Laie who went on a quest to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to gather pieces of a tablet that would restore world peace once brought together.

Kali played Artemis and sang a beautiful solo.

Arwen was an Egyptian and did a really cool dance

And Sierra wrote the Egyptian scene.
Here she is with one of  her Egyptains which she called her minions.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 - 2012 Homeschool Plan

Can it be that is is already October and I haven't posted our homeschool plans? This blog started out as I way for me to publicly think through my homeschooling plans with a little bit of regular life thrown in.  Now it is mostly  regular life with a little bit of homeschooling thrown in. When I actually get around to posting...  But in case I have any homeschoolers still reading,  here are our plans for 2011 - 2012:

Reading: Books, books, and more books.  I have 3 readers now, so now it's just about finding good books for them to read.  I made Kali and Sierra lists of books to chose from.  Sierra started the year with The Magician's Nephew and Kali read Alice in Wonderland.  Then I chose for them and had Kali read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Sierra read The Crucible to go along with our history studies.  Arwen is still developing her reading skills, so I let her chose to read whatever she wants.  She read one of the Gail Carson Levine Princess Tales chapter books and she also sometimes reads picture books.

Writing - My older 2 are using Writing Strands and also writing papers that I assign, like research papers, etc.  Arwen is doing freewriting this year.  All three girls are doing copywork.  And Arwen is learning cursive.

Spelling - We are still doing individualized lists.  Each week I look through the girls' writing and find misspelled words and they study those words for a week and then do a test.  Any words misspelled on the test go on the next week's list.  I give them between 8 and 10 words to work on per week.  If I can't find enough misspelled words in their writing (either they didn't write much that week or they didn't spell very many words incorrectly - unusually the former), I have them pick out words from their grade level in Natural Spelling to work on.

Grammar- We are still using Growing with Grammar. And I am still going with the plan of using the 4th, 6th and 8th grade books but taking 2 years to complete each books.  This avoids much of the repetition in many grammar curricula.  Arwen is beginning level 4 as a 3rd grader.  Kali is doing the second half of level 6 as a 6th grader and Sierra will finish level 8 this year as an 8th grader. I still feel like it is very repetitive, but it is working for me to have the girls each do 2 grammar lesson per week.

Math - Arwen is working on Singapore 3.  Kali is doing Singapore 5 with a plan to also complete (or at least begin) level 6.  Level 6 is not has long as the other levels. Sierra is finishing up Thinkwell PreAlgebra and will begin Thinkwell Algebra in about two weeks.  I am loving Thinkwell.  Sierra can pretty much do math on her own now with the video lessons.

History - We are studying American history by reading through The History of US.  We read 10 chapters per week.  I was hoping to get through the series this year, but we may have to finish the last book at the beginning of next school year. Sierra is reading Don't Know Much about History on her own.  Kali is reading the Jean Fritz history books as they tie in with our other reading.

Science - We are working through Apologia Elementary Science Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Foreign Language - Sierra and Kali are using the free Live Mocha program.  Sierra is studying French and Kali is studying Italian.

Music - Sierra is taking flute lessons.  Kali is taking violin lessons.  Arwen is taking piano lessons.  All 3 girls are in a choir.

Art - We aren't doing any formal art lessons.  Art just seems to happen naturally at our house.

And that's it.  We have finally found a schedule that works ( I'll post that later). Most of the curriculum is a continuation of what we used last year. It was an easy beginning of the school year because we just kind of jumped in where we left off with the same schedule and curricula.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Mother's Love

It is said that a mother will do anything for her child.  During our trip this summer I had an experience that proves just how true this is. Here is what happened.

Before we left Philadelphia for NYC, we packed everything we would need for our days in the city into backpacks so we wouldn't have to haul suitcases in the subway and on the sidewalks. My husband reminded me that we would want dressy clothes to wear to a Broadway show.  So I packed the girls' and my dresses and fancy shoes. After a few days in the city, the night that we planned to go to Phantom of the Opera arrived.  By that time I realized that we would not want to wear fancy shoes to walk across the city from our hotel to the Majestic Theater.

I started making plans for us to wear our flip flops with our dresses. "OK, if I wear Kali's and Kali wears Sierra's and Sierra wears Kali's (Arwen can wear her own fancy shoes because they are already flip flops), then we will all kind of match our dresses." But Sierra didn't want to do that.

Her grandma had just bought her new shoes that matched her new dress.  I didn't push the issue.  The shoes were canvas wedges, so it didn't seem like they would be too uncomfortable. A block and a half into our journey, it became clear that I was wrong.

Sierra was wobbling down the sidewalk because of the height of the wedges and the backs were rubbing her heels.  Another block and I was wearing her shoes. For 6 long blocks and 6 short blocks, I wore those shoes.  Those who have lived in or spent time walking around NYC know what I am talking about. For 6 long blocks and 6 short blocks those seemingly innocent canvas wedges pinched my toes and rubbed blisters into my heels.

And that my friends is a mother's love.

Did I mention that I also walked back to the hotel in my daughter's shoes? Love, I tell you, true love.

Me, wearing my daughter's shoes and her next to me in flip flops

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Club 4 Boys Giveaway

Obviously I have no boys, but a friend of mine has a website with all kinds of cool ideas for getting boys excited about reading by hosting book clubs.  Some of her ideas would be great for girls, too! She is hosting a giveaway right now and the grand prize is a Kindle, so go check it out:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Is it July already?

Wow, time is just zipping by. The past 3 months have been busy, busy. We moved in May.  Don't worry it was just to a house down the street.  We are still in Hawaii.  Then I went on a Girl's Weekend to Las Vegas.  Then we left on a month long vacation to the mainland.

Here are some highlights from our trip.

Playing with cousins

 Seeing favorite animals

Eating delicious food
Georgetown Cupcakes

Preztel Bread from Ssam Bar

Patsy's NY style pizza

Dinner at Fatty Crab in NYC
Cereal Milk Ice Cream from Milk Bar

Soft Cheese Cake from Spot Dessert Bar

Wafels and Dinges

Visiting Historical Sites

Ground Zero

Taking in some museums
Calder sculptures at the National Gallery

Smithsonian Natural History Museum
The ruby slippers at the American History Museum
Starry Night at MOMA

Natural History Museum NYC

Egyptian exhibit at the Met

Degas sculpture at the Met

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Kali

She is the model of a middle child.  A true peacemaker. She is kind and loving. She was an easy baby and an easy toddler. When she was three, she went through phase of screaming to get attention, but since that was the year I started homeschooling her older sister and providing childcare for 2 other infants along with taking care of her baby sister, she had to do something drastic to get heard...

She is funny. When people meet her, they comment on how quiet she is, but once you get to know her, her subtle (and not so subtle) humor comes out. 

Even though she is super nice, she stands firm in her beliefs. Rand and I used to worry that she was too nice, but I have seen her stand up for herself even when sometimes I wish she would give in, so her younger sister will stop whining...

She is always willing to help. And often offers to help without being asked.  And she is cute, too.  I am awfully glad I get to be her mom.

Monday, February 21, 2011


When I first started homeschooling, I would meet many older homeschooled kids that loved to read and were  socially conscious.  I wondered if my kids would ever be the same way.  For a long time, they liked to read, but weren't bookworms and weren't all that socially aware. But... in the last couple of weeks, my oldest daughter has read about one book a day and my middle daughter started a club to save pandas. She began earning money to donated to the cause by selling her silly bands.

 Parents of the older homeschoolers promised me that my kids would turn out just fine and, in fact, they would be smart and kind. They never promised me that they wouldn't be weird though...

Yes, she is in the cage with the guinea pig!

A little bit weird is a good thing though, right???

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Things we like: Spilling Ink

I can't remember where I came across this book.  I think it may have been from rabbit trailing off some homeschool blog. As I read about it and used the "look inside" feature on Amazon, I was pretty sure that my oldest was going to love it. But you never know with 12 year olds... I requested it from the library and read it myself.  I felt like I was getting a view inside my daughter's creative mind.

After getting about 3/4 of the way through reading it, I decided to just order a copy. I asked my daughter if she just wanted to read it or if she wanted me to assign it.  She said she wanted me to assign it to her. I put on her schedule that she was to read 1 or 2 chapter a day and do one "I Dare You" writing exercise each week.  At that rate, she would have finished the book in a month.

After about the third day, I found my daughter in her bedroom one afternoon pouring over the book and making notes in her book ideas binder. I, of course, scolded her for doing school work "after hours" ; ) She just rolled her eyes at me and said, "I love this book.  It is exactly how I think." Soon she was reading the book whenever she had the chance and finished it in about 2 weeks.

 Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook was a big hit. I guess I know my daughter pretty well after all.