Thursday, May 31, 2012

Celebrating Name Days...

TODAY WAS THE names day of my little boy. Often times my non-Orthodox friends ask me, "What is a 'names' day? Why do you have them? Well the short answer is, as an Orthodox Christian we have a saint's name that we use at church. For those of us who are blessed to have our children baptized into the church at birth we name our children after saints that we admire in the church. So often times their name and church name are one in the same. As for my family we chose our children's saint's names based on when they were due in the church calendar. I like having my children's names days near their actual birthdays. But since one never knows when a baby will arrive, my son's names day and birthday are more than a month apart.

In our family on someone's names day we read about the saint, sing (as best we can) the troparion for the day, attend a service if there is one and then try to make the day special and fun. Often times the children get a small gift and they always choose a special treat to be served that day. Today was all about chocolate chip cookies. We all enjoyed them! I do so much baking regularly I have gotten out of the habit of baking treats, so it was a blessing that they were requested today.

The helpers...

Adding the chips...

Ready to go into the oven...

mmmm..... don't they look like cookie perfection!

Lovely FULL cookie jar and a cup of tea! I had to take a picture, since I know it won't be that way for long.

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Learning disabilities...

DO YOUR CHILDREN have learning disabilities? Do they struggle with reading and writing, maybe math? The first time around I had a child struggle with reading and writing. Math seemed fine to a point and then fell apart. I felt like homeschooling wasn't working and I must have been doing it all wrong. Other families did it and their children seemed better educated than mine and they seemed to enjoy school. I was mystified because this was NOT my experience. Not my experience at all!! There were so many times I thought I would put my child in school, someone else could and should do it better. Of course they were more qualified.
Luckily, even though I felt way in over my head, I stuck with it. Through talking with other mom's I discovered that maybe it wasn't me and maybe we both just needed some help. I had my child evaluated and discovered he did, indeed have some learning challenges. We did occupational therapy, vision therapy, auditory therapy and a lot of trial and error. He is now going into his Junior year of high school and you'd never know he ever had any problems. He reads lots, for school and pleasure. He even took an online course this year though Institute for Excellence in Writing and achieved over a 90% in each semester. I call that success!!! Considering there were years I wondered if he'd ever master the art of writing at all.

Well, now I'm on child number two and he too, seems to have some challenges. However, this time we may not be able to do all of the necessary therapies, due to insurance and cost constraints. Or at least not as quickly as I would like. So I may have found another option and the beauty of it is I can do it at home and at our own pace. I am excited about the prospect!! There were so many times during occupational therapy that I thought, why can't you just show me and I could do this. This time possibly I can!

After watching the Webinar through Learning Link Technologies, I feel ready to again tackle these learning challenges. I've been looking over this program for a while now and when they had their free webinar I signed up to learn more. I really think this will be a good fit with the challenges we are dealing with. When we get going with this program I will be sharing our experiences and progress.

I know from educating my first child how hard it is to deal with learning challenges. So I plan to share this so that if you or someone you know can be supported and helped along their journey of finding what fits. Every family and child is so unique. This is just what we're choosing. I'm not suggesting this is the best or only program, just that for what we are dealing with it looks like a great find. So intermixed with the other activities we do, I hope to be sharing our journey. And God willing our successes!! Some times the homeschooling road is hard, but I've always said that homeschoolers are DOERS and if you choose to you can do most anything. You just may need a little help along the way and that's ok! Just keep moving!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Almost a Month...

IT'S BEEN ALMOST A MONTH... since I started this Blog venture and I think it's going fairly well. I'm hoping for this to be a place that I can share my Orthodox Homeschooling journey and that by sharing those of you reading this will take away some encouragement, support and learn something you didn't know. I would love to hear your comments about what things are useful. I would also be honored if you feel anything I blog about is worth passing on.

Now that we are on the verge of summer, I'm thinking most of my posts will be more about playing, crafting, cooking and trying to get back into the liturgical rhythm. While I do, do some schooling with the littler kids, it's more unstructured learning. I will also be sharing other blogs and information that I come across that strikes my fancy.

Hope you had a wonderful long weekend. I had so many plans for things to do, but at least I finished my first sweater!! I am extremely proud of it.

We had lots of playing in, mostly, sun this long weekend. And I took a walk around our yard and was able to put this wonderful bouquet of flowers together. It just makes me smile every time I look at it. God Bless your Day!!

Curriculum Choices...

NOW THAT THE SCHOOL year is coming to a close, I'm hitting the web and talking with other mom's about curriculum. What worked? What didn't and why? Since I have one student that is getting close to end of his homeschooling career and students just beginning, I'm spending time focusing on what worked and what's a good match for my current students learning styles. What I want to do again and what I want to ditch.

Over the years I've used lots of Sonlight curriculum and have been satisfied with the history and literature portion of their curriculum. I have not however, been as pleased with the Language Arts portion. I LOVE Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I've spoke about them before in a previous post. They have such a wonderful concrete approach to the mechanics of an essay and later papers.

I will probably stay with some IEW for all my kids at some point. I just can't say enough about how great their program works. As for history however, a dear friend of mine and fellow blogger just reviewed Heritage History and it sounds absolutely wonderful!! You can read her review at Circling Through This Life. I for one will be checking this out at the Washington Homeschool Conference coming up Father's Day weekend (June 15-16).

For my little guys, we are just focusing on the 3R's at the moment. I find it challenging to much with out reading and writing. At this stage of the game we do lots of "read-a-louds" and mom taking dictation, so at least they can learn the process. But a wonderful FREE resource I've found (I LOVE FREE, don't you?) are the activity boxes at the library. As homeschoolers we all value the abundance of material the library offers, but the activity boxes are kind of a fun "unit study" if you will. Since I've got this younger age group to cater to these are perfect and quite frankly, I tend to forget about them.
They come with different themes and everything is in this tidy little box. All the activities are included and everything is one box! Genius!
So what curriculum are you in love with? Give a shout out for your favorite subject, curriculum, or resource. I'd love to hear about your successes!!

Just as an FYI to those Washington State readers, Did you know that our Governor, Christine Gregoire has proclaimed June 10-16 Washington Homeschool Week? I thought it was kinda cool! Go Washington!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. (Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date. Most dates were in May.) By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Thank you to all the men and women and their families and their sacrifices to keep us safe! God Bless you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Feast Days...

YESTERDAY WAS THE glorious Feast of the Ascension of our Lord! While we weren't able to do all that I would have liked it was a lovely feast. Feast days are such an important aspect of living the domestic church. When my oldest was young our whole education schedule was wrapped around the liturgical year. Feast days were days off and we always attended Vespers and Liturgy. At the time we belonged to a mission and my hubby was the only Reader for a time so we attended everything. My son always looked forward to the feasts of the church, mostly because he had the day off school I'm sure, but at least that's something.

It's important to me to have my children celebrate the feasts of the church. It's how we follow the life of Christ and honor his visitation on humanity. It never made sense to me that most people only celebrate Christ's birth and resurrection. What about what happened in between? I want my children to know and celebrate all the feast of the church. I'm slowly, very slowly working my way back to the rhythm of the liturgical year. What I was able to do with one I find more challenging to do with three. I say three because my oldest gets up and makes it to church on his own. We are blessed to live on the church property, so we can just walk down the hill.

Even though we were not able to make it to services for this feast this year we did observe the feast at home. For each of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church I always read about the feast, the children color the icon, we do an activity and often times I have something in the kitchen that we make. I also try to teach them the troparion for the feast. The problem here is that I'm still not great at all the tones without the aid of the choir. So we solider on and do our best.

All these things are wonderful tools to help teach about Christ, his visitation and why and how we, as mere humans can become more like Him. I think if you want to keep Christ in Christmas then we need to keep all His feasts and through these experiences we are more able to attempt to reflect his humanity and experience true joy that only He can bring.

Troparion - Tone 4
O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory,
Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Through the blessing they were assured
That You are the Son of God,
The Redeemer of the world!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meal Planning

IT'S RAINING...IT'S POURING... The old man is snoring...he woke up in bed and bumped his head and couldn't get up in the morning...

When I looked out the window today that's exactly what I thought. I also must have bumped my head because I didn't want "to get up in the morning". We had kind of a lazy day, packed with loads of games, stories and mom knitting. Lots of tea, too! Sometimes, even though I can't kick everyone outside in the sun all day, I love these lazy kind of days. I especially like lying in bed listening to the rain falling outside.

This was a day to play and plan. Since this is my shopping week, I'm planning meals for the next two weeks and getting my shopping list in order. Over the past few months I've been lazy about actually planning meals and have been running into the dreaded zone of "what's for dinner?" and not having a clue. Or the zone of thinking of what to make only to find you don't have all the ingredients. Quite frankly meal planning is my least favorite thing to do. Coming up with dinners and ensuring that it's something that the majority will eat. I'm sure none of you have ever had this challenge!

I have been making meals for a life time. Since it was just me and dear ol' Dad growing up , I began cooking at an early age. Little did I know that once you begin making meals for people you never get to stop! At times I feel like a walking menu. Do you ever feel like that? A child comes to you with the complaint, "I'm hungry". You respond, "what would you like to eat" only for them to answer, "I don't know". Grrrr.... I then offer options and to each the reply is "no, I don't feel like eating that". Grrrr....

Maybe you don't have this dilemma in your home, but I go through this on a regular basis!! So any time I am invited any where for dinner or any meal for that matter it is such a blessing!! You could serve me a TV dinner and I'd be happy as a clam! Just thought of what to eat and then making it is a chore I really would love to avoid. I have often said if I was wealthy that is what I would have, a full-time chef! Even though I do like to cook, some times the chore of coming up with what to cook is more than I can bear. I'm a big baby, huh?? I know that's what you're thinking. Anyway I feel like I've taken a trip down the 'bunny trail' here....

Back to the topic at hand... Did I have a topic? Oh yeah, I was going to talk about I love them! Even though I've gotten out of the habit of using them lately. I can get new recipes or use my own and can build a menu complete with a printable shopping list. Or I don't even have to print it, I can just use my "smart" phone. Love that!! Over the last couple of years I have added my recipes so that I can have a digital way to organize them. It's wonderful. I have a menu for fasts, strict fast, fast free weeks, etc. It's great!! So now I'm back to using it and I happy to say I'm almost done with my shopping list for my outing!! It takes the stress out of it, at least for me. That's always a good thing!

I was also able to get more done on my knitting project. In between Wii Sports tournaments with the boys. I guess I don't mind video games when we are all doing them together. And I'm happy to report my foot is on the mend after my spill the other day. Hopefully I'll be able to wear a shoe for a more significant length of time soon. Hope you're enjoying the weather too! Blessings!

And it's beginning to look like a sweater!! I'm so happy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kiddo Dates

I WAS IN THE QUILT shop the other day, when the young girl (19 yrs) behind the counter made a comment to me, "How do you do it with all those kids?" Well, I have to say I was taken back a bit. Even though the oldest of the little ones is now seven years old, I don't think of myself having "all those kids". Quite frankly I don't really feel like having four kids is a big family. I know many people these days do, but I guess four seems like a good number. It doesn't feel overwhelming, however I do have my days.

Anyway, I thought about what she said a minute and responded by sharing with her my "kiddo dates". Many people talk about couples making time for themselves and many have date nights. My hubby and I do, but I think it's just as important to have one on one time with each child. If your kids are anything like mine they are so different without sibblings around and some times I don't get to see those special little things about them until we're alone.

In our family each of the kids gets a "date" with mom at least once per month. I have been encouraging dad to do the same, but he just seems busier than mom. Anyway, each week one of the kiddos gets to go out with me. Some times it's just to run errands, but I always make a point to do something they would like to do also. It's just nice to have that one on one interaction, where there is no competition and it's just free and easy. I also think because we make the effort for these times there is much less competiton when we're all together. At times when one of them is being especially needy, I make time for an exta "date" time with them and it almost always nips in the bud.

I think balance is the key to 'how I do it'. Time alone, time for us as a couple and time for all the other 'parent/kiddo couples' our family includes. Less activities and just more time for relationship as a family. For us it's much less stressful than going from here to there and my kids seem to have plenty of activities to keep them busy. Balance... it's a good thing!

Monday, May 21, 2012

WHAT A WEEKEND... Some times weekends are blissful and you don't want them to end. Then there are some that, well.. you don't mind seeing the back of. My weekend was somewhere in between, with all the high and low points!

Before I had my children, I was... well, quite materialistic, vain, self-centered to name just a few. I was mostly a 'girly-girl'. I loved to fix my hair and play with make-up. I was into the latest styles and quite frankly much different than I am now. Then I had my first child. I was shocked to be introduced to a whole new world of emotions! For a while I didn't quite know how to handle it all. Having a boy... a HIGH NEED boy, really threw me for a loop. For years I was so caught up in taking care of him that I don't think I really had the time to think of myself. By the time he was eight years old, I started to feel like I was coming out of the fog and well, I didn't recognize myself. I began to consider doing things, not "mommy" things, but my things. Then when he was almost ten I had my second high need boy. Luckily my peanut boy was not as high need as his predecessor, however being thrown into the "new mommy" thing was a bit of a shocker! Then two years later, boy number three arrived and while I LOVE my boys, I felt that I was doomed to the world of dinosaurs, 'man-eating' plants, things that could kill me and all things gross! While I was a 'girly-girl', I'm not squeamish and can hold my own in the world of boys. Through all this I somewhat lost my sense of being a 'girly-girl'. But now that I have my girl, she has revived the 'girly' side of me.

So back to the weekend, I began the weekend by going into the salon and getting a new look. Now that I have begun to rediscover 'all things girl' I feel like I'm reinventing myself a little. My oldest says I'm going through a 'mid-life crisiss'. I don't feel like that however. I just feel like I'm actually making time for myself. Having little ones again this late in life, I feel like I need to figure out what I'm doing now and stop waiting around for later. To that end I'm making more 'me' time and I think that is making me a better mom. I don't feel so neglected and under valued. I'm just more happy about life and that's always a good thing.

As I said Friday I got a new look, then Saturday I was able to go to some of the South Sound Yarn Crawl with a friend. It was lots of fun. I bought some yarn for new project and got to get a lot more done on my current one.

Next project...

Now on to the sleeves...

Now the low point... Saturday evening I managed to slip down my stairs on a small child's boot and hurt my right foot rather badly. Due to the pain I was in, I missed Liturgy and the baby shower I had been invited to Sunday. It was a bummer ending to a fabulous weekend. On the bright side, since I was stuck stitting around with my foot up, I was able to get quite a bit of knitting done. And it was a misty rain kind of day and boy, the tea tasted good! Now I just need to heal so I can get on with the week ahead...

Friday, May 18, 2012

True Confessions...

Today was the birthday of my youngest boy's best friend. We were honored to attend his WONDERFUL birthday party! His EXTREMELY TALENTED mother did a fabulous woodland themed party. The children all had lovely felted masks and she had made wonderful decorations and the cake, the cake, well I'll let the photos do the talking!!

Here's the true confession part. Years ago when I had my first child, I had many ideas of what makes a "good mom" and moms like my dear friend today would have been intensely intimidating to me. Since I didn't grow up with my mom, I longed for a mom who would create things and do "mommy" things with and for me. For years I sabotaged myself by comparing myself to other moms who I found more creative, more organized, who I thought "had it all together". If you've read any of my other posts you might say, you ARE creative, etc., etc. and I might agree with you. However, when we as moms sabotage ourselves and make comparisons, we are not being rational. We are only looking outward to get our validation, which means we don't always value what we do, do. We second guess ourselves because we are not confident, satisfied or feel valued. We think everyone else knows more and does it better. The grass is always greener ideology comes into play. Other mom's kids are always smarter, better dressed, involved in all the "right" things. For years this was me in a nut shell, nothing in my life seemed enough.

I am happy to say that has since changed! Today I was able to take part in the festivities and "oh and awe" over things and NOT feel inadequate. I was so happy for her to have pulled it all together and happy for me, that finally it had nothing to do with me! I could be inspired to do more with my kids, but not feel like a failure if I don't. What a blessing indeed!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is it a School Day?

Now that we are wrapping up the end of the year, my little guys are starting to feel like we really didn't "do" school. Their idea of "school" is big brother sitting at his desk in front of his computer, writing a paper, watching a lecture, or doing some other "work" at a desk. As their teacher, I don't find it productive to put children of their age (they just turned 5 yrs & 7 yrs) at a desk for extended periods of time. So in their minds, they don't "do school". How do you educate your little ones? Even though you're at home, do you use desks? Having boys, I have just never found it useful to use traditional techniques to teach my children.

Like today we ran around outside memorizing sight words. I had written them with sidewalk chalk on the pavement and they had to run and stand on a word and tell me what it was, or I would shout out a word and they had to find it. It's a lot more fun and pretty effective. Later we did some art, where drawing and painting took place. They also worked on knitting. My focus is much more on building fine motor, which my peanut boy is rather weak in, rather than getting prefect penmanship. The penmanship will come later.

We made something in the kitchen, covering math and science. Finally we played Monopoly. Lots of counting involved, adding and even making change. I count all of this as "school", it's funny that the boys don't. I love that they are learning and having fun. Since I now have a successful high schooler I have the confidence to know what we are doing is beneficial and in time they may look like more traditional students. But for now, "school" is play, they just haven't realized it yet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Science, Science Every Where...

A WEEK OF SCIENCE... The sun is shinning and summer is on it's way. We are all looking forward to a little break from the routine of school. Playing outside later, staying up later, and all those fun things that summer brings. But along with summer, June also brings the Seattle Science Festival! I am particularly excited about this because my son's FRC Robotics team will be there showing off their robot and participating in this years events!

This is so exciting for me especially because this is one of my success stories. So often times over the years I have wondered if we were really accomplishing anything. Since my oldest was my "guinea pig" with the whole homeschooling experiment, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into for that matter. I had never planned to homeschool. It just happened to be the best fit for our child. So many people have asked me, especially lately, how we got involved with robotics and how we made it to where we are.
Well, it all started with a small boy who loved to watch a program called "Robot Wars". We used to sit and watch it together. He would talk about how cool it would be to build robots and he would tell me how he would design them, etc., etc. He could go on for hours talking about robots and all things mechanical! Like most boys he loved Legos and building things. Early on in my homeschooling I tried seeking out organizations and activities that were more "boy" related. At the time most of my close friends had girls and I was having a terrible time finding good "boy" activities that fit.

Then we found 4H. If you've never looked into 4H, you really should. Most folks think they are just about animals, but they offer curriculum and programs for EVERYTHING under the sun!! The beauty of it is, it's an extremely low cost per child membership fee and they provide all the curriculum for FREE!! It's a great deal!! We started with 4H Gardening, which was fun for the whole family. My oldest was and IS obsessed with carnivorous plants. Most folks are familiar with Venus Fly Traps, but there are HUNDREDS of species and many of them live at my house! He began with his plants in first grade and now as a Sophomore in high school he has quite a collection and can speak with authority on many varieties.

This plant in the wild eats small mice...

He has also participated in Archery through 4H and now is a member of a JOAD team and last but not least, he found robotics through 4H. It began with the Lego League using Mindstorms Robots and now he's moved on to FIRST. 4H is a wonderful resource, so if you haven't looked into it now is a great time to do your research. Their school year begins in October. Finding your child's passion could be just around the corner and who knows where they can go!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

KITCHEN SCIENCE... One of the lovely things about homeschooling is that when it is a glorious sunny day you can move things outside!! Today was just one of those kinds of days. Unfortunately when you're in high school it's a bit harder to do that, so my oldest was cooped up in on his computer. The little ones, however got to partake in a little "kitchen science". We made our own bubble juice and then test which combination of ingredients made the longest lasting bubbles. We decided that the distilled water, soap (ultra) and corn syrup combination worked the best.

Apparently corn syrup makes a thicker layer around the bubble, and the water inside evaporates more slowly, hence longer lasting stronger bubbles. We had loads of fun. If the weather continues this way I'll have to find more outside activities.

I'm thinking of going on a nature hunt and trying a project I found on Pintrest. It's from a wonderful Blog called the Artful Parent. She has some great ideas for art projects with kids. Flower Stained Glass art, it's beautiful and would be a lovely addition to my large kitchen windows. May have to run out and get some contact paper.... hmmmm the possibilities.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Be Creative...

HAPPY BELATED MOTHER'S Day... Hope you all had a wonderful sunny weekend. We really had a nice weekend. A wonderful balance of together time and mom getting some alone time. What a blessing!

I was able to get some much needed crafting done! Crafting is what keeps me energized!! It's just to bad it took me 16 years of motherhood to figure that out!! For me it's so important to be creative. Homeschooling and just being a mom gives me lots of avenues to be creative, but I have to admit that they don't always leave me re-charged. They definitely take lots of energy, because those things don't always come naturally. So for me there is creative and creative.

So first I was able to get my Thimbleberry done! I changed the pattern up a little, but I am happy with how it turned out. And it gives me another "twister" or "pinwheel" pattern I can do. Love that!!

I also got to work a little more on this little sweater for the little Ms. This time it seems to be the right gauge and should fit her. I'll keep my fingers cross! Ha! Ha!

Now I'm frantically trying to get this baby quilt done. I did actually have one almost finished, but I decided I didn't like it. I wasn't able to do it the way I had intended and was just going to go with it, but as I was quilting I just couldn't do it. So I'm taking it a part to fix it, but now I'm running out of time. So I'm making a whole new one and will deal with the other one later. Call me crazy, but I feel like life as a mom is a life full of compromise. In my crafting world I just can't compromise, it has to be RIGHT!

Here are some photos of my crazy, creative process!

The colors....

Playing with design....

Now it's Monday and back to the business of all things education and child exploration!! Have a magnificent Monday!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


IN MY KITCHEN... Today was baking day. I love my Prosphora baking days. I try to keep them as calm and serene as I can, with 4 kids in the house. I always start in prayer, since I am making something that will be transformed into something holy.

For those of you who don't know what Prosphora is here is a brief explanation. A prosphoron (Greek: πρόσφορον, offering) is a small loaf of leavened bread used in Orthodox Christian and Greek Catholic (Byzantine) liturgies. The plural form is prosphora (πρόσφορα). The term originally meant any offering made to a temple, but in Orthodox Christianity it has come to mean specifically the bread offered at the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist). To read more click here...

I guess the thing I enjoy the most about being a Prosphora baker is the honor of making something so ordinary as bread that will be later transformed into a great sacrifice and made holy. For me that is the key to life itself. To know that we are just merely human beings, but with God's help and our obedience we can be transformed into something holy! To me that is an AWESOME thought.

In the season of motherhood of having small children again, I can not always be as consistent as I'd like with my church attendance and participation in the life cycle of the church year. By making prosphora I am able to, in away, take part even when I physically can not be there. I can make my offering and while I can not always be a witness to it, something I created is there. I have been blessed to bake for the church for the last 7 years and now it is such a part of my prayer life, I don't know what I'd do with out it. It keeps me humble and keeps me connected to the thought that even the ordinary through God's handiwork can be transformed. What a blessing indeed!!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Staying on the subject of curriculum, I just have to share my experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). My oldest, who is just finishing up his Sophomore year of high school took his first on-line class from IEW this year and I must say that it is the MOST fabulous program!! Writing is something we have struggled with from the very beginning. Just forming letters was a challenge for this child. There where times we were both in tears. As time past he did progress and did manage to learn grammar, however when he actually had to USE grammar things fell apart. Another obstacle was the fact he was extremely sensitive to ANY criticism. This makes teaching writing quite an under taking to say the least.

Then when he got into the middle school level of work, a friend had recommended IEW. At the time I looked into it, but it was cost prohibitive for us. As time went on I was feeling like a total failure in the area of writing and thought, that while my son seemed quite bright when he had to represent himself on paper his brightness would fade to dim. I used to stay awake nights thinking he'd never be able to go much further education wise unless I hired a tutor or had some other kind of intervention. Finally a couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and managed to purchase the IEW program. It was wonderful, however I still had the challenge of a sensitive child to criticism. I thought "I just can't be this child's teacher for this subject". I just couldn't get him past thinking, "If I can't write it correctly the first time, I can't write". No matter how many times explained that even professional writers had editors, I just could not convince him. Then this school year IEW offered their first on-line class option. It was indeed an answer to prayer!! As soon as I received the email about it I enrolled him. He was quite reluctant at first and quite anxious about having someone else reading his writing. However, after just a short time he was successful and as many of you know success begets success. He has one more week of class and after two semesters has carried a high B to a low A average throughout the class. His writing today is so well done, for the most part, my worry is over! Now we just have to keep him writing so he doesn't lose his new found skills.

So if you have a reluctant writer and don't know what to do. Check out IEW! They will also be at the WHO Conference next month! You won't be sorry and they have curriculum beginning in the lower primary grades. You don't have to wait until high school to fix this challenge!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's coming...

It's May and most folks are starting to think about wrapping up the school year and most kids are starting to get the itch of "spring fever". I however, am looking forward to the Washington Homeschool Organizations (WHO) Annual Convention!! It's such a wonderful event to re-charge your batteries and find some new and exciting curriculum or at least ideas for the upcoming school year. There are so many speakers and there is so much encouragement, I just love getting to attend. Even if I'm not looking for anything in particular.

This year however, I am in search of some new things for my little guys. While I am not unhappy with the tools I used with my older child, it's just different to teach multiple children at the same time rather than one on one. Also, I know so much more about what I'm looking for this time around it's fun to just look! I'd like to find some thing new in terms of math and math games. With my oldest we started with MCP workbooks, then moved on to Singapore Math, then Saxon and now have settled on Math-U-See. While all had strengths and weaknesses, I just am still not completely satisfied with the approaches. My oldest seems to really LOVE Math-U-See, but for me to use it for my little guys I'd have to relearn math in some ways. Their approach, while effective, just isn't the way I think about math and when I have to 'help' I some times confuse the situation and quite frankly don't want to have to read or watch the DVD to get them through it. At least for the K-2nd grade math that we are doing. So we shall see what's out there this year. RightStart Math  is intriguing to me. It is extremely hands on and visual, which seems like a good fit for my kids and my teaching style.

So what do you think? Do any of you have a math curriculum that you're just wild about? If so I'd love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment!! Happy learning!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bubbles & Saints...

What a full day we had today! Full of sunshine and blessings!! We spent most of the day getting things done around the house, but once Daddy came home the bulk of our little knights special day began! Dad's arrival brought the birthday boy a bouquet of balloons and his ice cream cake. Then we got everyone ready and headed out. A little shopping, picking up pizza and then off to the park for a pizza in the park picnic. We were also blessed with a wonderful surprise of a "best-friend" coming to play too!! I think that made it extra special!

In our family everyone gets to order their birthday dinner, home-made or dining out, then they get to plan the day. Whatever that will make it special for them. So far it's worked well and we don't always have to do a big party. Sometimes just getting to plan your whole day is more fun!

The other special part of the day was the blessing of a special names day!! Not to steal big brothers thunder, but it was also a special day for the little Miss too. I hope as they get older they will appreciate sharing their day together.

May 8th
(Tone 1)
Through thee the divine likeness was securely preserved, O Mother Emmelia; for thou didst carry the cross and follow Christ. By example and precept thou didst teach us to ignore the body because it is perishable, and to attend to the concerns of the undying soul. Therefore, doth thy soul rejoice with the angels.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Time Marches on...

Isn't amazing how time flys! We are in the birthday zone again. My peanut boy just turned 7 and now my little knight turns 5 today!! My little Miss will be 2 in just a few weeks. It just blows my mind! For so many years we only had one, it still amazes me to see pictures of our family. I have found myself thinking, "who are those people" and then I think oh, yeah that's us! Just amazing!! Time marches on whether you're ready for it or not.

Now that spring is finally here, or at least for the time being, we've spent a lot more time outside! I'm trying to start this little sweater for the little Miss, but I'm not getting a very good start. I got this new book and was so excited to get started...

But I had to rip it out and I'm beginning again. So we'll see how it goes this time.

I'd love to get back to my projects, but the sun is just to WONDERFUL!! Today we will have my little knight's 5th birthday celebration and I pray that we have the lovely sun to compliment our picnic outting! Whatever happens it will be a fabulous day!! Hope yours is too!

Playing in the SUN!!!

Another night, another post...

What a glorious weekend! It felt so good to play in the sunshine! We all got to play, catch a great movie (or at least the big guys got the movie), go for walks and chase a shadow or two. My baby girl discovered her shadow this weekend. I just love the wonder of children. How much pleasure they get out of the simplest things. Watching just makes me smile... it's those moments I cherish and feel so abundantly blessed to be apart of! I love the shadows of my children's lives, where I just get to sit back and watch when they don't always know I'm watching. Capturing those special moments of wonder and discovery. It's the best part of being a mom, at least for me!

I was also able to work on some projects of my own, which was such a blessing! I'll have to post photos of them later. I finished a cowl (FINALLY, I've only been working on it a month!), half way finished my Thimbleberries project and started a little sweater for my sweet baby girl. Being able to create is such an amazing thing to me. It just feeds my soul and re-charges my energy like nothing else. People ask me all the time, "where do you find the time to do all that stuff with four children?" My answer is, I squeeze it in when I can, I include them as I can and it all works out. But it makes me a happier mom and I don't know what I'd do without it.

Hope you were able to enjoy some sun where ever you were! God bless your day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Week of Blessings...

Today is Friday and I don't know where the week has gone. So many things going on, so many people in my life needing prayers. Some times it all goes by in a blur!

This week my oldest and my hubby came home from St. Louis and the FRC World Championship! It was quite an experience for both of them. There were teams from so many countries as well as from around the nation! I am so grateful that they were able to go and be apart of such an event! I can remember sitting and watching a program called Robot Wars on TV when my oldest was 4 and 5 years old and him saying "one day I'm going to build robots like that, wouldn't that be cool mom?" I can remember thinking how on earth am I going to help him with that! That is so far outside of my knowledge and comfort zone I can't imagine how I can make this work for him. But homeschooling mom's are "DOERS", they make things happen. I spoke with many moms that gave me hope and encouragement that we could indeed find things to feed this interest. Through lots of prayer and research we found curriculum and groups to help us accomplish our goals. And now believe or not he's doing just what he said, building robots! I think my hubby and I had hoped he would be athletic and active in things we had participated in growing up. Things we were more familiar and comfortable with. But leave it to our son to help build a robot that plays basketball instead of playing himself.

I have been so blessed to share this journey with this boy and I am so proud of the young man he's growing into.

So this week on one hand I've had this exciting experience to be a part of and on the other I have been following a fellow parishioner's journey with their "micro preemie" born at 22 weeks and 6 days. It just makes me treasure all the more, all the time I've been blessed with, with my children. There are days we have successes, days we have failures, days that we wish we could fast forward through, but each day is such a blessing. Such a chance to capture a moment to tuck away for later. We all grow through all that we do and we don't have to do it alone. We have friends, family, a community to help us and build us up. We have a faithful God, if we trust in Him. I just seem to take for granted the moments, the challenges, but when I look back at the journey I am so humbled by all the blessings we've received...

As we enter this weekend of the Paralytic, I pray

Kontakion - Tone 3

By Your divine intercession, O Lord,
as You raised up the paralytic of old,
so raise up my soul, paralyzed by sins and thoughtless acts;
so that being saved I may sing to You:
“Glory to Your power, O compassionate Christ!”

Let me not be "paralyzed" by my sin, but let me present to all those around me in all the moments and challenges of daily life and I rejoice in all the blessings and successes we receive!

Friday, May 4, 2012

One of those days...

Well here I am again in those late night hours getting some quiet. It seems just sitting in quiet is what I crave by the end of the day. No more people talking at me at once. I love being home with my kids. I love having my laid back routine of homeschooling. Hold on, wait a minute...did I say laid back??? Yes, I think I did. How can that be you ask? Well I saw a photo the other day on Facebook and it some what explains it.

I have been homeschooling now for over 10 years and this is what I've learned. Education happens whether your children sit at a desk for hours a day, on the couch or in their beds. Whether we stay home in our jammies all day or whether we run around from activity to activity. I have spent along time feeling guilty about not getting up at the crack of dawn, before my child or now children and getting things done and having my quiet time in the morning. I have felt like a failure because my child didn't do things at the "appropriate" times or behave the "appropriate" way. I have been embarrassed to have an unannounced guest show up at my door only to be greeted by me still in my jammies at 2pm in the afternoon. I have allowed my child/children watch shows that I know have been taboo by my home school group and have sworn him to secrecy.

Over the years, I have had years of being able to stay on track, I have had years that the thought of the upcoming school year has made me cringe and just about everything in between. Now that my oldest is wrapping up his Sophomore year, I look back on all that and think these little ones I have now will have a much saner (is that a word?) mom! How lucky are they?? Now I embrace all these things I was once embarrassed or made uncomfortable by. The beauty of homeschooling is that we are individual families, raising individual children. I have children that love popping out of bed and getting on the with the day. I have others, that are more like me, night owls that like to then ease into their morning. We mostly get it all done and I get to meet the needs of each child while teaching them to respect the needs of others. What a blessing!

Today was just one of those days. While I was showered and dressed long before 2pm, I did have child that stayed in his jammies all day. In fact I think I put him bed with the same jammies on. (The horror!) And while the learning that most of us did today did not come out of a text book it was an enlightening day all the same. Some times I think rainy days are just like that. On days like that I just want to cuddle up with a cup on tea and knit or dive into a project of some kind. Getting dressed some times feels counter-productive to that. When I used to be employed and was able to work from home I loved getting up and working in my jammies! Some times I think other people are just jealous! Or at least I'd like to think that. As for me and mine, we will keep our relaxed schedule and press on. But so I don't stay in bed to late in the morning I must get to bed... Good nite! Hope you had/have a good day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


So I'm throwing my voice out into the blogosphere to see what happens. I feel like I'm doing so many new things right now I just have to have a place to keep track of the journey. In the late hours of the night when my house is quiet and I get some peace, I have thoughts rattling round in my head that just seem to need a place to live. I'm hoping by putting these thoughts down on "paper" so to speak maybe I'll be able to organize myself. But as a mom of 4 active children I think I'm only humoring myself that I can ever be organized!! One can hope!

My newest endeavor this year was to kind of find my creative side. To that end my hubby bought me a sewing machine and I got out my knitting stuff and I have been creating up a storm!! It's been so fun for me and I think the kids enjoy it as well. Since I try to include them and have been enjoying making things for them. I hope to post photos of project and things I do along the way. This is a photo of my latest project. Below is what you begin with... a perfectly nice patch work you say...

From this then we line up the tool...

Then we cut... Yes, I said CUT! Can you believe I'm cutting a perfectly good quilt apart. I must be crazy...but you'll see!!

Are you starting to see the twist??? Keep watching....

After making all the cuts and sewing the twists back together, then bordering you get....

Voila! And there you have the twister!! I hope to share more of my projects in future. So if you've found this interesting, humorous, and/or useful thanks for visiting and WELCOME!!!