Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Weekly Wrap-Up Journal: Two Weeks of Productivity

I ran out of time last week and was unable to write my weekly post. This post will consist of activities and occurrences in our lives from the last two weeks.

In My Life The Last Two Weeks ...
The house is coming along quickly. Jeff has accomplished a lot! We designed our cabinets for the house. Thankfully, my husband did some work for the cabinet maker months ago so we are getting a good deal on custom cabinets. Jeff will also stain them to save even more money. We decided to put a metal roof on the house. The roofers showed up this week and almost finished the job. Jeff worked diligently last week painting trim around the entire house so that the roofers and rock workers could work easily and he'd be out of their way. This is the type of job that makes me nervous when he works alone. I had another horrible migraine this week and it lingered on for several days. In fact, I still feel it right now as I type this post. I wish I could figure out what is triggering the migraines. I may have to start a food and activity journal again.
Dark Brown Trim
In Our Homeschool ...
I am most excited about the review products we have received or will receive. We have been SO BLESSED!!! We received two new review products in the mail Artistic Pursuits and Essentials in Writing First Grade. Artistic Pursuits just released the third edition of their books and we will be reviewing the NEW edition of Book Two. We also found out the other day that we were chosen to review Adventus: Children's Music Journey which looks like an outstanding music curriculum! I am extremely anxious to begin - We are going to have a blast this year! I know that my daughter will enjoy this program ... I just hope I understand all of the music concepts and lesson material. I have a feeling I will be learning how to play as she is learning. She is actually counting down the days until we are given access to the program. She is calling it her Valentine's Day gift. I really wanted and needed a music curriculum for the rest of the year. God has provided us with a program.

We are working through her A+ Tutorsoft's First Grade Math Curriculum Online. She started chapter 4 lessons and will zip through them because the focus is on addition which she has already mastered. Target the Question has been a wonderful addition to our homeschool day - it is something she looks forward to each day. Spanish is going well however many of the lessons are review for her but she still LOVES the curriculum. I will post my Song School Spanish review next week so be sure to stop by again real soon.

Alyssa also made a bat clock to practice telling time. Check out our Bats Around the Clock activity. She had a grand time making this clock and thought it was soooo cool. She helped her father practice telling time after work. I always try to add in a few math activities related to her science units.

She made a beautiful princess mirror from her Crafts in a Bag Book. You can read my Craft Kits in a Bag review on my blog. Our school time hasn't been the same since Thanksgiving - we got off schedule big time. I am happy to say that we are back on schedule. Yah! Our school time has also been more productive than it was in the past - we are accomplishing so much more in one day. The review products definitely helped get us back on track.

We had fun playing Valentine's Day Addition Bump Games this week. Alyssa was very competitive! I love that we can practice math fact automaticity using games.
The game link can be found on my blog. 

Helpful Homeschool Tips or Advice to Share ...
We love to read books! Although in the last year and a half I noticed that we have been reading fewer and fewer books aloud. There is no reason you have to stop reading aloud just because your children can read independently. There was a time when Alyssa didn't want me to read to her ... she wanted to read everything to me. I missed reading to her but I was thankful that she loved books and wanted to read aloud. I had to figure something out. I made a deal with my daughter that we would take turns reading aloud throughout the day. We are now reading many more living books aloud. My tip is make sure you schedule time with your children to read aloud regardless of their age and whether they can read independently or not. Snuggle on the couch, bed, chair, floor ... wherever you want ... be together ... read together ... cherish the time.

Places We're Going or People We're Seeing ... 
We have been very busy the last two weeks! Let's see ... last Friday we went to Magik Theater to see The Cat and the Hat. We ate loads of salty popcorn and a few sweet treats. We always get to the theater an hour before opening so that we can sit in the center of the second row. Alyssa has bonded with one actress in particular, Ariel. She is a kind and sweet actress. She always smiles and waves to Alyssa from the stage. While we waited for the doors to open, she saw Alyssa and came out to give her a big hug. When my daughter first met her in the autograph line she couldn't ... wouldn't say a word. When she really likes someone she has this huge smile on her face and becomes speechless for some reason. Now ... she won't stop talking. Funny how time and familiarity changes things. The show was good; it was an interesting take on the book. Alyssa was laughing and especially liked it when the Cat in the Hat sat next to a woman in the audience and put his arm behind her neck. You never know what to expect. We have seen them flying overhead, running through the aisles, and sitting with the audience. I also like that the actors and actresses serve the customers in the concession lines. This gives the children an extra opportunity to say hello.

Then, on Saturday we drove an hour and a half to finally see our friends in the Bulverde/Spring Branch area. We haven't seen them in months. Alyssa was dying to see her friend Summer. They met during dance class but both of the girls are not participating in dance lessons this year. The girls immediately started playing dress up upon our arrival. The princesses decided to set-up camp in the living room. The looked at stars in the tent. Summer had a Ladybug Constellation Night Light that displays stars on the ceiling. We ate a delicious meal and then the girls disappeared in the club house to watch a Barbie Mariposa movie. I was freaking out because they were outside alone, but Chrissy reassured me that they would be safe because the yard was enclosed by a huge fence and the girls locked the door from the inside. We checked in on them using Walkie Talkies. She knew I loved all things chocolate so she offered me a cup of chocolate wine. I am not sure if she gave it to me to calm my nerves or because I love chocolate. It was a very unique and rich wine.

We stopped by to check the house after our dinner date. Alyssa hasn't seen her good buddy (Johnny) in months. She misses his wife too. We drove by the gas station and thought we saw his vehicle parked. He's a deputy sheriff for our county. Alyssa claimed him as her uncle. She used to call him her boyfriend but she has moved on. He was on duty but asked if he could stop by the house to say hi to Alyssa. She was giddy and talked his ear off. She  dragged him through the house making sure he saw each room. His partner was friendly as can be.  

The next day we headed to Kerrville which is about a two hour drive for us. We love the drive because we take the scenic route. I do get a little nauseated on the curvy roads and sometimes it gets so bad that we have to stop on the side of the road for a quick break. Our visit to see Great-Grandma Mae and Great-Aunt Jeannette was long overdue. I made them breaded chicken stuffed with smoked Swiss and Cheddar cheese. I don't usually like people in the kitchen when I cook. I do not mind when friends and family visit me outside the room at the bar counter. Mae always joins me when I cook in Jeannette's kitchen. She observes everything I do and seems genuinely interested in what and how I do things. She also helped by handing me the toothpicks. I enjoyed bonding with her and spending that special time visiting. She always makes sweet comments. The best part of the evening was when we showed Aunt Jeannette how to play our all time favorite game. I think it may become a tradition for us to bring it and play each visit.
Hey ... I didn't realize one piece was missing when I took this photograph.
This week Jeff walked Alyssa down to Papa Kenny's house and they had a Madagascar Movie Marathon. Grandma Lois left town to visit her other grand children in Corpus so the three of them had the house to themselves. I chose to stay in the apartment to work on reviews and do my household chores. It was almost midnight when the two tired and moody movie watchers came stumbling through the door.

On Tuesday, we met Jeff at Fazzoli's for lunch and drove to Martindale to meet Larry the Cabinet Maker. This makes me think of Larry the Cable Guy every time we say his name and profession together. He gave us a tour of his house so that we could see his cabinet work. We spent three hours designing custom cabinets for the main living areas and bathrooms. It was a lot of fun! I can't wait to see my kitchen when it is all done. I am going to be in hog heaven when cooking. Alyssa played with the dogs outside, watched her Magic School Bus DVD's again, created a stick and rock house, and played on the swing set while we worked. She would come inside every once in a while to share her observations and experiences. She was obsessed with their friendly dogs. She said the black lab plopped on her lap and watched her show. She was so silly! When we were inside she saw the freshly baked apple cinnamon pie on the stove, she started rubbing her belly making sounds and licking her lips. We all started laughing at her goofiness - she is such a ham when in front of others (just like her daddy).

Questions or Thoughts I Ponder ...
What's been overpowering my thoughts lately is whether or not the cabinets in the laundry room should match the color and style of those found in the rest of the house. We are going to have a difficult time matching the stain on our armoire and tables with the cabinets in the kitchen. We will do our best! We have an open floor plan and we know it will look best if they match.

Originally we discussed having a fireplace in the living room. It was to be placed beside the left door leading to the game room. It seemed oddly placed. We kept looking at the wall trying to figure out how we would organize the living room with the fireplace. Nothing seemed to work. The couch was too close to the doors leading to the porch. The idea was thrown out when we realized that we forgot to add the expenses for a real rock fireplace to the house budget. Besides ... we live in Texas where it is HOT most of the year who needs a fireplace ... right? Every time we showed the house people would say, "Is that where your fireplace will be?" Not to mention, we really liked the idea of having a fireplace especially around Christmas time. The wall is the focal point of the room. We didn't want shelves that would become cluttered yet the wall seemed empty with just a television.

Later we found out that we saved money in other places and could afford a fireplace insert. Our new plan is to center the television over the fireplace. We didn't want the heat to ruin the television which is why we hadn't considered it being centered on the wall in the first place. Do you know how many people actually have the television over the fireplace? Many. We decided to follow their lead. Now all that just to say ... what do I do with the wall space on either side of the fireplace? Any suggestions? I am thinking photograph collages or half bookshelves (attempting not to clutter) but my husband was thinking he'd rock the entire wall. What do you think? We had leftover rock and they offered us a deal for the work to rock the fireplace. Hmmmm ... still thinking but running out of time because there's a possibility that they will start working on the fireplace area next week. My husband is awesome! He painted wood or cardboard to represent the television because he knows that I am a visual person and he wanted to give me an idea of what it would look like. Gotta love him! The fireplace insert was positioned this week as seen below. There will be two small closets in the room on the other side for storing movies.
Living Room Wall Space: Before Shot
Wall Space with Fireplace: After Shot (Blurry from Jeff's Phone)
My Favorite Things This Week ...
Pinning organizational ideas and house projects on Pinterest was my favorite thing to do this week. I have been a little obsessed lately but I think it is because we are on a time schedule and things are happening faster now with the progression of the house. The cabinet maker is building a kitchen cleaning supply closet for me as seen on my board. I am not sure if it'll have the shelves at the top but I will most likely ask him to add them. I am waiting for him to send the blueprints via e-mail. I think I will also ask him to change my silverware drawer so it looks like the picture seen here.

Another one of my favorite things has been finding awesome apps. I found Da Vinci History for FREE yesterday. It usually costs $3.99. Sorry, it is unfortunately no longer available for FREE. This is a great art app to use in conjunction with Alyssa's new art curriculum because it focuses on artists and their work. Da Vinci is one of the artists she will learn about this year.

Oh and I can't forget the time that I picked my daughter up this week and slow danced with her to the song Mama's Song by Carrie Underwood. We have been dancing to this song since she was a baby. I plan to play it at her wedding. I know that I will be crying on that special day.

Alyssa's Favorite Thing This Week ...
I would have to say that her favorite thing was our tub of Unifix Cubes. Alyssa spent hours this week exploring the Unifix Cubes. She sorted them, made patterns, worked on addition facts, measured items, and more. There is so much that you can do with Unific Cubes mathematically. She always enjoys our Mama's Song dance too.
Things I'm Working On
I used to be a very patient person. I am working VERY hard at being more patient with Alyssa and Jeff. I have been a little on the edge since the move. I want them to remember me as a patient person and not as an impatient person.

I'm Cooking ...
Jeffry grilled ribeye steaks last night. I am not sure how he seasoned and marinated them this time but they turned out juicy and tasted so good. I don't eat a lot of steak but when I do it has to be tender with a very, very thin line of pink. Most people can't make it the way I prefer so I gave up. I made honey roasted sweet potatoes, rosemary asparagus, and sauteed mushrooms. This was one of the best meals we've had all week! Yes, there is a lot of oil involved but at least we used Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

One of my fellow crew members, Karyn, shared her cooking blog with us. I searched her blog for a sweet potato recipe. I found a wonderful Honey Roasted Vegetables recipe and modified a tiny bit. I only used two sweet potatoes because there are only three people in our family and that is what we had on hand. I did not cut the sauce ingredients in half based on the number of sweet potatoes because we are sauce lovers. We did not use parsnips or carrots. We did not have fresh thyme so I sprinkled on dried thyme (no measuring required). I told my husband we should try fresh thyme next time and he told me not to change a thing. My husband and daughter literally scarfed down our sweet potatoes. I have to admit I was a little piggy and did the same thing. This was a tasty treat and change from our regular baked version. Jeff said, "Make sure you print or write this recipe down on paper - it is a definite keeper!" Alyssa couldn't stop talking about these sweet potatoes. You really should check out this recipe and her cooking blog.

I also found her simple Roasted Asparagus Recipe. We usually steam asparagus and drizzle lemon on it. I changed and added a few things to the original recipe. First, I used a baking dish instead of a cookie sheet because I was cooking two sides in the oven. I dropped the temperature down between 350-375 degrees for both sides. After removing the sweet potatoes I increased the temperature to 400 degrees as the recipe states. I believe I cooked them longer than 10 minutes because I was waiting on the steaks and wanted to keep the asparagus warm. Next, I added garlic bulbs because we LOVE us some garlic. I think I used 3-4 and cut a few larger bulbs in half. I also used sea salt, peppercorn pepper, ground pepper, and garlic powder as seasonings. I probably added too much Parmesan and oil but I know that is how my family would like it. I already pinned the Honey Roasted Vegetables and Roasted Asparagus but for some reason it won't let me pin the Cinnamon Rolls on my Recipe Board. I will have to ask Karyn why it won't let me pin. Thank you Karyn for sharing your cooking blog.

The mushrooms were sauteed in olive oil and a little unsalted butter for taste. We usually use a pack of Good Seasons Italian mix. I couldn't find ours so I decided to seasoned the mushrooms with salt, garlic power, and a sprinkle or two from the Ranch seasoning packet. I was terrified that they were taste horrible but my hubby commented on how good they tasted. Score!

I'm Grateful For ... 
I am most grateful for a loving God and for the Schoolhouse Review Crew this week. Our family has been super blessed with amazing curricula to review. We have been chosen to review several items that we prayed hard about on a daily basis. I will find out next week if we are chosen to review a curriculum that is definitely needed and high on our wish list. This year is so exciting! We reevaluated our curriculum choices at the beginning of the new year. We are using mostly review products now. I am also grateful for the helpful women on the crew. They have given me advice and suggestions. They pray for our family when prayers are requested. I am glad that I am developing so many virtual friendships. I hope one day I will be able to meet several of these women in person.

I'm Praying for ...
Great Grandma Mae's heath issues. I pray that she feels better and that her circumstances improve.

We're Memorizing ...
I feel horrible we are way behind on memorizing our scripture verses for the 100 Bible Verse Challenge. We start Week 7 in the morning. We did not memorize Week 6 verses (Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 119:11) in fact to be honest with you all - we forgot all about them. We got off schedule when Alyssa was sick and we haven't been able to catch up since that week. We are adding two more verses to our collection tomorrow. I will have to create a few games to help Alyssa learn them all. I know what matters most is that we ARE studying God's Word, but we were having such great success it bothers me to see that we are all struggling now. I also noticed that in the beginning of this challenge we would do our verses first thing in the morning, but that is not happening. My goal this week is to make sure that Bible is our first subject of the day. It makes a difference in our day ... the day always goes much smoother when we focus on God and His Word first. I also have plans to add Scripture verses to the walls of our home next week. I haven't decided which ones to write so please share any recommendations in the comment section below. I can't remember where I saw this idea but I adore it.

I HAD My Eye On ...
We wanted a mini iPad for so long. After winning Valerie's contest, we were finally able to visit the store and use our gift cards to purchase a black mini iPad and a stylus. We decided that that we didn't need a 32 GB one so we bought the 16 GB. I asked Alyssa to choose the stylus color and out of all the color choices she picked silver. I thought she would pick pink or purple for sure. She is such a mini me. I tend to choose neutral or basic colors.

I also had my eye on Groupon's Vibe Bluetooth Aluminum Keyboard Stand for the Mini iPad. I thought it was a good deal so I purchased this case for only $23.37 with free shipping and returns. It doesn't seem to be a brand name so I pray that it is a good case and protects the iPad. Have you heard about Groupon? I have made several successful purchases through Groupon. It was especially convenient and helpful during Christmas and for birthdays. I was hesitant at first because I didn't know much about it. Now, I check Groupon first and for everything. If you would like to join Groupon, please consider joining through me. I would really appreciate it. Here is my personal referral link. I can earn $10 in Groupon bucks after you click through this link, subscribe, and make your first purchase within 72 hours. Every little bit helps. Unfortunately the mini iPad deal is over - it ended quickly due to popularity. However, there are many others deals. They are currently running a deal on earbuds for your iPad.

Photo, Video, Link, Quote, or Scripture
"And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men." (1 Thessalonians 5:14 New American Standard Bible)

How was your week? What do you remember most from your week? 

I am linking up at iHomeschool Network's The Homeschool Mother's Journal and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up.

Click on the links above to go directly to the Link-Ups and click on the buttons below to read the guidelines for participation.

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