Friday, February 22, 2013

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week #25
Americana & Girl Scouts

I sat down to figure out just exactly which week this was, school year-wise, and was surprised to also realize we only have eleven weeks left of this school year.  There will be a week-long break in March to celebrate the end of our winter quarter, but that's the only break from school we'll have until we're done with the year.  We are going to DO ALL THE SCHOOL, ALL THE TIME from now until Memorial Day.

This was a short school week, owing to a holiday on Monday for President's Day (which we spent doing absolutely nothing besides vegging out in front of was awesome), and Friday was deemed a "Girl Scout holiday" because it was World Thinking Day.

We continued along.  Bluebird's ability with subtraction facts is improving.  Penguin learned about nickels.  Junebug and I played "Sneak the Numbers."

Language Arts
Spelling is going well.  I let Penguin move onto the next step in Spelling Workout A, after keeping her on the previous step for two weeks.  I've increased Bluebird's spelling instruction time almost by double so that she can make up for missed lessons.

Grammar gets done and I winged a couple of Writing assignments this week as well.  Penmanship gets attended to.  Penguin is working through the prefix section in Phonics Pathways, and Junebug has graduated from sounding out vowel sounds to adding a few consonants and blending.

Nothing livens up a grammar lesson like your two year old brother jumping on the table "to shoot bad guys!"

Foreign Language
We didn't get a lot of Latin done this week.  We're pretty behind in Latin, but I'm just going to be thankful for the amount we have done because a little Latin is better than no Latin at all.  We'll definitely be working on Latina Christiana I in the fourth grade, rather than moving up a level. 

We read a few more books about the American Revolution.  Why not?  Bluebird enjoyed The American Revolution from A to Z, by Laura Crawford.  We also read When Washington Crossed the Delaware, by Lynne Cheney, which made the word "Hessians" very popular in our home--when used as an insult.

Michael did an experiment with them about the temperature of water and conductivity.  I forget that he has all these interesting gadgets for random things, and he busted one of them out for the experiment.  (I think it's called a digital multimeter...and I'm pretty sure I bought it for him a few Christmases ago.  The power of Wish Lists, people...)

Junebug's drawing of the experiement:  "It's me and my sisters looking at the water tube!"

Bluebird had her piano lesson and practiced daily.  I took a look at her stuff one day and insisted she skip keyboard time and finish up her theory.  She was not happy with me.

Penguin had an art lesson.  We have art scheduled for Tuesdays; and, in an attempt to get the girls to finish their work quickly, I reminded them in the morning that we could do art in the afternoon if all their work was done.  Penguin finished all her work and was rewarded with an art lesson (drawing landscapes) while Bluebird finished up with the work she had dawdled over earlier in the day.

The view from our back door.

Girl Scouts
World Thinking Day!  February 22 is the birthday of Lord Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting Movement in the U.K..  I remember, during my elementary school days, wearing my Brownie and Girl Guide uniforms to school and explaining what I did to my teachers and my friends.  I always loved doing that.  I gave the girls off from regular school and we did an entire day of Girl Scouting activities instead.  (It was amusing to see how so much of the work we did lined up seamlessly with what we were studying in school anyway!)  I have no pictures, but the girls finished up steps for numerous badges and started the work for other future awards.

Physical Education
Bluebird went to tennis lessons.  Frustrated with how wild Bluebird and Penguin were one day, I sent them out on a run to the mailbox and back.  Penguin was having wildness issues a few hours later, so I sent her out again--for a longer distance.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How I've Beaten the Snot Out of the Winter Doldrums This Year

It seems that every homeschooling blog I read nowadays is lamenting this season.  "How to Avoid Burnout," "How to Keep Pushing Forward," "How Do You Find the Motivation to Keep Doing School?"  I'll be honest, I usually am scouring the internet for articles such as these during the months of February and March; but this year I haven't felt the need because I'm pretty happy these days, which is a huge break from my regular winter routine.  I've been trying to figure out what I'm doing differently this year that has afforded our family the Happy Version of Carathis winter season, and I figure I'd share it with you in case it would be helpful:

1.  The running has helped immensely.  Not because I'm active, but because I'm using my running time to have some seriously positive conversations with myself.  I read the book The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer a little while ago and decided to adopt the psychological practices suggested in the book.  It seems so silly that a little bit of positive self-talk would produce such impressive results, but it has.  It's been amazing.

Photo Credit:

2.  I made plans for fun stuff, namely the Dream Birthday Parties.  Having something to be busy preparing for and looking forward to has done wonders for me this winter.

3.  I let Bluebird sign up for tennis lessons, thereby forcing myself to pack us all up twice a week and LEAVE THE HOUSE.  (No small feat with four young children and being a one car family.)  We use her lesson time to get grocery shopping done, visit the library, and check off other errands.  Not only does it give us a change of scenery; but we get stuff done, which helps me feel productive.

4.  I said "no" to things we usually do that aren't really necessary.  We are NOT selling Girl Scout cookies this year.  Oh my goodness, it's wonderful.

5.  I said "yes" to things that make us happy.  Date nights, playdates, family movie night with candy-infused popcorn--all wonderful things!  Why do I ever deny myself and my family these opportunities?  They're pretty inexpensive, or downright free, and they break up the monotony of another week of cold winter weather.

6.  I'm planning for the next school year, early.  I normally make myself wait until after Easter to start planning, but it's something I enjoy so I figured it wouldn't hurt to start now.  Having my mind set upon the things we're going to be doing next year keeps me focused on getting stuff done right now.  We can't move onto the next level as planned if we don't get the current level done this year.

Photo Credit:

7.  I'm making hair appointments for myself--and keeping them.  Feeling pretty makes me so much more productive!  I also found myself a new hairdresser and was completely honest with her about how hair styling-impaired I was and what my life was like and that I needed her to make me feel fabulous.  She has not disappointed.  My monthly hair appointments are such a positive experience--she spends the three hours I'm in her chair telling me how fabulous I am.  It's like therapy.  With a head massage.  Do it.

Photo Credit:

They're not big things, but they have definitely added up for me this winter.  We're allowed to have fun during the gray months of winter.  We're allowed to feel productive and feel good about what we're getting done!  Spring is almost here, the school year is more than half over (look at how much work we've gotten done so far!) is pretty fantastic! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Junebug's 5th Birthday: Snow White Party!

Junebug's Snow White birthday party is officially over and done with, leaving us only with apple-filled memories and hordes of Disney Princess paraphernalia.

The Snow White theme emerged from the very first thing Junebug blurted out when I asked her what kind of birthday party she wanted:  "A Bambi party!"

Me:  "Bambi?  As in, the deer?"

Junebug:  "Yep."

Me:  "Why Bambi?"

Junebug:  "So we can play 'Pin the Tail on Bambi!"

After a few more minutes of brainstorming ideas for a "Bambi birthday party," Junebug mentioned how much she loved it when Bambi showed up in the Snow White movie and helped clean dishes.  I pounced, and we agreed upon a Snow White party in the next few minutes.

Pinterest gave me a lot of great ideas for this party; we decided to decorate crowns, paint with apple halves, make caramel apples, paint fingernails, and play "Pass the Poisoned Apple."  (After playing "Pin the Tail on Bambi," of course...)  Junebug had a blast and came over to me to give me a hug and kiss on my leg a few times because she was so happy.  (Awwwww.)

The Invitations

The Food

I made little apple cupcakes, based off of the pumpkin cupcake instructions in Hello, Cupcake!  (Love that book.)

We also served Broken Glass Jell-O in Snow White colors, pigs in blankets (because that's what Junebug wanted to eat!), veggie sticks, and chocolate-dipped strawberries with cheesecake filling.

The Fun

As guests arrived, we had them sit down to decorate crowns.  (Burger King crowns, spray painted gold by yours truly.)  They had glitter stickers and gems, which stick on incredibly well if you use "glue dots" instead of white glue or anything like it.  (I wish I could remember where I found the glue dot idea because it is wonderful!  I found our glue dots in the scrapbooking section at Wal-Mart...yeah, that easy.)

Next, they used apple halves to paint apples onto tote bags:

We then played "Pin the Tail on Bambi," and I have no pictures of it!  That might be a blessing for you, because my drawing of Bambi has been mocked by almost every family member as resembling either a:
A.  Fox
B.  Dog
C.  "What is that?"

After "Pin the Tail on [Whatever That Is]," we herded the girls into the kitchen where we made caramel apples.

One of my trusty helpers returned for Birthday Party 2.0.

Then we had lunch, and opened presents, and ate some cupcakes, and painted nails.  And then we danced.  Because all the cool princesses dance at parties.  :)

The End

Friday, February 15, 2013

2012-2013 Weekly Report: February 11-15, 2013

I am trying so hard to get back in the habit of writing up our week's accomplishments on Friday!  I deserve an extra pat on the back today because not only am I staying up past my bedtime in order to make good on this goal for myself, I'm also writing this up at the cost of extra birthday party prep.  That's commitment, folks.  COMMITMENT.


All we do is math.  At least, that's how it seems.  Bluebird and Penguin both are just moving along, getting their drills done in timely fashion and all that other stuff.  Bluebird has learned to carry tens across zeroes and has spent the last couple of lessons learning how to find differences from slightly more complicated word problems.  It's like Big People Math, and she's doing really well with the upgrade.  Yay Bluebird!

Valentine's Day Linking Cube Tower!
Penguin has been learning counting by 100's, subtracting two from a number, and other random things that she thinks are easy to figure out.  Yay Penguin!

Monkeyboy has played with the Geoboards a lot this week.

Junebug trying to distract Bluebird from her math worksheet.

I love this girl.

Language Arts

Bluebird has almost finished up writing her birthday thank you notes for penmanship.  She hasn't done a lot of spelling or grammar lately--we finally did a spelling lesson the other day and both of us were like "Wow, it's been a while since we've worked on this...uh oh!"  This could be due to my increased resolve to get through Latin.  She's really been working the Latin and it takes a lot of time and we're still working on how to fit everything into our day.

Penguin soars through grammar.  We started talking about verbs in this last week and she loves acting out the action words.  She's been getting kind of sloppy with her penmanship and I've been having her re-do assignments.  Where did my tidy writer go?  I think she's also hit her ceiling in spelling--lots of spelling rules she used to remember easily are becoming rather spotty in her mind.  She's almost done with Level 1, so instead of moving forward to the next lesson I'm just going to let her take a couple of weeks to just play with the rules and words she's learned thus far.  Let it gel a bit.

Foreign Language

As mentioned previously, Bluebird's been working it.  I think she enjoys Latin because it's her most independent subject yet.  She gets to watch the lesson on DVD by herself, she fills in her drill sheets by herself, and then she goes through her vocabularly flashcards by herself.  I was able to sit down with her this week and go through her entire stack of flashcards, and I was impressed with her ability.  Latin's going well.


The girls finished up the American Revolution.  Penguin drew a picture of Benjamin Frankling being carried in his chair to the Presidential Inauguration that was pretty cute.  (Glitter!)  They also read The Boston Tea Party and You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party.  (They love the "You Wouldn't Want to be..." books.)


Still memorizing the Periodic Table of Elements.  We're about 75% there.  I think Michael will re-instate science lessons next Saturday, after all the birthday party madness.


Bluebird practices piano every day.  It's always fun when she starts playing something and I can recognize what it is; she was on a big hymn kick this week, which was really nice to listen to.


Nothing formal, but Penguin went on a big Disney Princess drawing spree this week and she really is doing some excellent work.  Proud Mama.

Physical Education

Bluebird attended her tennis lessons and the other three kids had a personal mission to run and scream and shout throughout the house as much as humanly possible.  Oh my goodness, it was a zoo this week, but it was expected with a fifth birthday going on.

Highlights of the Week:

  • Junebug turned five this week and insisted that she be allowed to start Kindergarten.  :)  She's working on one of her Kumon Pasting pages in this picture. 
  • Listening to Bluebird chant off all those latin vocabulary words and knowing that she pretty much learned it on her own.
Lowlights of the Week:
  • Monkeyboy has misplaced my Kindle.  Not good.
  • I had to ramp up the consequences of being sent to time-out.  Time-outs now include penmanship practice--copying out a sentence of Mom's choosing, generally related to the behavior that earned the time-out.  I feel like an 1800's school marm. 
Funnies of the Week:
  • Monkeyboy's new response to anything that won't let him have what he wants:  "Aw, phooey!"
  • Junebug, who I suspect is ambidextrous, exclaimed "Both of my hands can write the same!" after I had to remind her to switch the pencil back to her right hand after she was distracted for a moment.  Not quite sure how to handle this situation.
  • Bluebird no longer wants to pronounce the Latin word for six ("sex") because she was originally counting in latin at the top of her lungs and encouraging her sisters to count with her.  At the grocery store.  And the post office.  And anywhere else you might see numbers.  "Sex" was particularly easy to remember because it's rather close to its English counterpart, and was most likely to be yelled in perfect unison and earning us the rather horrified looks of our typically conservative Mormon townsfolk.  I asked Bluebird to stop doing it, but couldn't get her to understand why I didn't want her yelling the Latin word for six until I explained that most people don't speak Latin and only know the word "sex" for its English meaning.  Which led to the inevitable discussion about what that word meant in English.  (Thank you, Latin, for forcing my timing on that subject.)  Now when the flashcard comes up, Bluebird scrunches up her face and mumbles the word.  It shouldn't make me laugh, but it does.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

REALIZE: January Edition

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, I mentioned that I've adopted a word for this year and that word was REALIZE.  I got the idea from various other bloggers and I really love reading their updates in regards to their word for the year as the year goes along.  Ignoring the fact that it's halfway through February, here's what January meant in regards to REALIZING my various goals and dreams for the year.

  • I ran a lot.  I would like to REALIZE the dream of becoming a RUNNER in 2013.  I ran 41 total miles in January, which is rather amazing considering that I ran ZERO miles in November and only a handful of miles in December.  I have run ZERO miles in February, not due to a running injury but due to a completely random injury that really shouldn't have happened.  (A heavy wooden cutting board fell over onto my right foot and crushed it, resulting in some rather severe soft tissue damage [pretty colors!], but no broken bones.  Doc says I'm not allowed to run for 2-6 weeks, depending on how well it's healing.  Bah.)
  • I kept moving forward with the Dream Birthday Party plans for Bluebird and Junebug.  You've seen the results of Bluebird's party, and Junebug's party will take place this Saturday.  (Oi.  Birthday overkill.)
That's about it.  Both of those things took up the bulk of my free time in January (you know, when I wasn't dealing with all the ear infections and colds) and I don't regret any of the time spent on either pursuit.  I was originally scheduled to run my first 5K this last Saturday, but had to cancel my plans after that whole foot crushing thing.  (It snowed the night before the race anyway--blech.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bluebird's 9th Birthday: Baking Party!

It was during the week after Christmas--you know, when you're fighting the urge to be sad that the big day is over, and you're kind of euphoric with all the lofty New Year's Resolutions to which you're thinking about committing--that I found myself obsessed with the idea of throwing each of my kids their dream birthday parties in 2013.  We don't do a lot of birthday partying in Brooketopia, mostly due to cost and logistics (newborn babies every two years will do that to you), but here we were going into a new year with no new babies...the idea sounded feasible.
Bluebird and I sat down to gorge ourselves do a little research on Pinterest birthday ideas, and we happened across a pin of a baking birthday party and she was awestruck.  Culinary celebration, commence!
First, we raided the fabric stash and picked out fabrics that somewhat coordinated with each other, and then I settled in for three weeks' of sewing aprons for Bluebird and her guests:

Apron B from Little Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates
(Yes, you've seen this pattern on the blog before, both the child's version AND the adult version--I'm totally in love with it.)
Then we hurried about with all the other preparations (amidst all the ear infection fun we were also dealing with at the time) and Bluebird bounced off the walls as she counted down the days until her party.

Finally, the Big Day of Baking Fun arrived...

...but first the girls had to stop and adore Baxter for a few minutes before I could entice them towards the birthday fun.  (After insisting they wash their hands after touching the dog.)

First, they made cupcake liner flower pins to adorn their new aprons, then we gathered in the kitchen to make mini pizzas for lunch.

While waiting for the pizzas to bake, the girls made fruit kabobs which they then drizzled with milk and white chocolate:


I had hired two of the young women in our ward to help me out, and they cleaned up the lunch mess while the party girls watched Bluebird open her presents in the living room.  Then, while the party girls decorated cake boxes, my helpers finished tinting batches of frosting for the finale of the party:

Man, a gang of 8-9 year old girls can pick up the basics of cake decorating pretty quick!  Candies, marshmallows, sprinkles...we had it all and they had a blast creating their own dream cakes.

After decorating cakes, we sat down to enjoy Bluebird's actual birthday cake, complete with raucous singing and laughing:

Hardly anyone wanted any cake after the candles were blown out because they had just spent the past three hours stuffing their faces with candy, pizza and frosting.  No biggie, just more left over for the other Brookelets when they returned home!

Nine years old.  Bluebird, you've been with us for almost a decade!  You bring me so much joy, and I'm happy to indulge your lofty ideas.  You are such a creative spirit and I look forward to fleshing out more of your big birthday plans in the future.