Amazing Summer

We started back to school in early August.

This summer was an incredible reset for me. We usually do light school through the summer (literature, math, and unit studies), but this year I decided we all needed a full break. While I’m sad to see this fun summer end, I’m excited as we are walking into fall.

Here is a little peek at some of our summer fun. I’ll do my traditional back-to-school post next week! Yes, we’ve started already, but I wait until the girls’ classes have begun to take their “first day” photos.

While things seem like they are falling apart all around the world, I’ve taken comfort in Psalm 142 this week, particularly this verse…

I cried out to you, O Lord,
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:5

There are not any quick fixes to the problems of this world and as our family strives to walk in the Lord we continue to cling to Him for our hope and stay.

Peek at Our Weeks: December 12-23

‘Tis the season for FUN SCHOOL! 
As the days creep closer to Christmas I have found our family functions better without our traditionally structured schedule. So we still filled our days with learning, but much of it was what I normally don’t have time to fit in! 
First we had our piano recital! I teach 36 students including my 3 girls. It was absolutely beautiful and although I was a bundle of nerves everyone performed beautifully! 

 Taking time for art! We all get out our art supplies and worked some more with our See the Light art curriculum given to us by a dear friend! 
The same friend who gave us the art curriculum also bought us Signing Time! We now have the full series two and the first part of Signing Time Sentences! We are so very blessed! We spent some time each day learning new signs.

Our neighbor purchased two ginger bread houses and blessed us with one of them! It was already put together thankfully because I’ve since been finding out that getting these things put together is a headache! So we had fun decorating and then eating our creation!

The weather has been quite mild so there was a lot of outdoor play. Our neighbors were all in school part of the first week, but the girls enjoyed time with Penny (our puppy) and just playing outside. 

Finally we celebrated our first of 3 Christmases several days early. With all of the traveling we do we like to have our family Christmas early so everyone can enjoy it. We spent the day in our jammies playing with our new things and just enjoying one another. I know a lot of families have been trimming down Christmas. We do not buy the girls much during the year that isn’t needed and while I do not think we go overboard, we enjoy experiencing Christmas like this with them. This year they each were given one larger toy and then lots of books and games.
My sweet husband bought my a new iPad which was just a HUGE surprise for me! My old one was so old it no longer updated and many of the apps I use for homeschooling, teaching my English class, and teaching piano just weren’t working well anymore. I’ve had a grand time getting it all set up! 
My next update will be post-Christmas! 

EEME Electronic Kits for Kids: A Review

My daughters enjoy trying all sorts of new things.  Beth, my middle daughter, is especially interested in how things work. I gave her a box of old electronics and a couple of screwdrivers earlier this year. She was over the moon taking everything apart and seeing what the insides of everything looked like. I realized I needed to begin to look for different ways to encourage this new interest. 

We were all excited to learn more about electronics with EEME and this opportunity came at just the right time for Beth. This service is a monthly subscription which provides a new project each month for students to create and inspire them to do more.
The basic project we experienced was the Genius Light. Everything was included in this basic kit which we needed to create a working LED light. All of the instructions are online and easy to access and clearly explained. This was really important to us because I have no experience with circuitry. 

The video is taken from the same view as the project builder has which is very helpful. Beth did have trouble sometimes reversing the direction, but we would just back up a bit and she would work through it. She is 8, so on the younger end of the projects suggested range (7-12). She did great, but I think this contributed to some of the trouble with reversal. 
The project is small, so it was helpful to be able to pause the video whenever we wanted. However, even though the project is small, the wires are easy to insert. 
Rose took over about half-way through the project. They took turns working on this project. Rose is 10, so right in the center of the age range for the projects. She very easily followed the instructions although I had to help her keep things a little neater. Rose’s only difficulty was wanting to get ahead of the directions! 
So this was what Grace did during the project! The sweet little thing wanted to be right in the middle of things, but she is only 5 and really isn’t quite ready. She did also help out by finding some of the different parts for her sisters. She did pick up on quite a few things as well which was fun to see. Pretty soon she will be building a circuit all on her own!
This nice big picture shows what the girls created! The LED light is shining here. They also worked at creating a dimming version and learned how motion sensor lights work. 
Sometimes homeschooling can be tedious. Other times I sit back, completely blown away by the opportunities we have for learning. Working with this EEME project was definitely one those WOW moments for me. Seeing my girls learn about circuitry in an hands-on and meaningful way was so much fun. The best part as a parent was just that. It was an opportunity for me to merely observe learning. I’m right in the trenches with them every day and sometimes I don’t get to just appreciate all which is happening in our schoolroom. Moments like these give me moment to really relish in what a blessing this educational journey really is for our family. 
Disclaimer: I received this project in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own. 

Mrs. Kate Carpenter’s Hug-a-Bug-a-Boo DVD: Review and Giveaway!

Mrs. Kate Carpenter has been a friend of our Family for a long time. Not only is she a dear friend, she is also an amazing song-write and singer! Her fun folk tunes engage audiences of all ages. We had the chance to have her in concert at our church a few weeks ago and the girls were so excited to see Mrs. Kate in person! If you didn’t read it yet, check out the field-trip post!

Hug-a-Bug-a-Boo is Mrs. Kate’s newest DVD release. We own several of her DVD’s as well as her first DVD. I’m glad it’s not a VHS because we would have worn it out by now! Mrs. Kate uses song to teach kids about manners, positive behavior, nature, and more. She even has a potty-training song included which leaves all of us laughing. Mrs. Kate and her guitar will have you humming and dancing as you follow along with the motions to the catchy tunes.

My girls love these songs. Some they knew already and others were new. One of my new favorite songs was Habit the Rabbit. Habit teaches kids all sorts of important manners such as not interrupting (except for emergencies!) and texting while interacting with others.

My girls favorite new song from the DVD Colibri  which is Spanish for hummingbird. We have thoroughly enjoyed the hummingbirds around our feeder this past summer and this fun little song has left us anxious to see them again next year!

I love that Mrs. Kate’s faith comes through in all her music. Even if the songs do not come directly from Scripture her heart for Jesus shines through with every note. She often has the opportunity to present anti-drug and anti-bullying programs in schools, both public and private as well as community groups and libraries.

And now for the awesome giveaway! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Funny Pictures

I hope everyone realizes that the pictures we post are the cream. It often takes several tries, especially when you have younger children, to get that perfect picture. Sometimes the ones in between are priceless! Here are a few of funny “out-take” pictures. I like to call this series, “Sometimes almost 4-year-olds don’t like to cooperate!”

My nose it itchy!
I am sooooo done with standing!

I do not like this badge on my pretty ribbon!
“What did you write on here, Mommy?”
Are you seriously still taking pictures of me?

Giant Roller Ramps from Lake Shore Learning: Review

**Read through to find a coupon code for 20% off!**

Every birthday and Christmas my husband and I go through the same conversation. What toy are we going to give the girls which is first, worth the cost and second, worth the space it will take up. I’m happy for my girls to have toys and fun things to play with, but with three daughters there just is a limit on how much stuff they actually need. As I think about toys now I think about what will inspire them. Lakeshore Learning is a company with inspirational toys. 
We had the chance to review the Giant Roller Ramp Starter SetWhat a fabulous toy! This set comes with 17 sturdy pieces and a ball. Sounds simple, right? My opinion is that simple is often best. This toy has captivated my girls for hours as they experimented with a variety of configurations. 

The girls started out by following one of the many options of configurations included with the pieces. I was pleased to see how clearly they were presented so both Beth (6) and Rose (8) were able to build what they saw. The ladder parts are stackable and a variety of heights can be used. 
The ramps easily snap together for children. It took Beth a little longer to figure this part out, but soon she was jumping right with the building and snapping! They are made so any one ramp will attach to another which makes creativity easy. They are extremely well crafted so the constant building and rebuilding does not put stress onto the connection pieces. 
The included rubber ball glides smoothly on the ramps. The girls called it their tester. They used this first to see if it worked for them. If the ball got stuck they looked things over to figure out how to get it moving again. It has been so fun for me to watch them discover basic fundamentals of engineering while they are playing. 
Notice the toy cars in the background? After using their test ball the girls would try a variety of cars to see which one would work best. They had a handful of cars they liked best. This was Grace’s favorite part! She struggled a bit with the building, but boy did she like the testing! 
Before long Beth especially was ready to try her own setup! I thought at first she was just randomly building and I enjoyed seeing her work, helping her when she asked. Imagine my surprise when she used her test ball and she grinned up at me saying, “It worked just like I thought it would, Mommy!” I questioned her on exactly what she meant. If you notice the setup, she intentionally created a ramp which would cause the ball to end up right back where it started. She told me she wanted to do it this way so she didn’t have to get up and chase after it. Wow! Seeing my recently turned 6-year-old deliberately build model that functioned in a specific way she intended from the beginning was eye-opening to my understanding of how her mind operates.
My girls have played with this almost daily since we received it. Some days small balls roll down the ramps, sometimes cars, and sometimes little characters going on a water slide (this was mostly Grace!). This is a wonderful set which I recommend to anyone looking for a different type of toy for their child, one which will engage them longer than the current trendy toys and cause their imaginations to soar higher than you may have ever thought!

Here is your coupon code:
(expires October 31)
Disclaimer: I received the Giant Roller Ramps Starter Set  in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

So far this summer…

I may or may not get around to documenting our summer field trips. We’ve had so many already! Here is a little peek into some of the fun we’ve had in just a few short weeks…

Great Wolf Lodge Mini-Vacation

Home Depot Project #2
Florida Aquarium

Glazer Children’s Museum

Lowery Park Zoo

We’ve also had a lot of fun around the house indoors and out…

New Pets

Craft Projects

Outdoor Fun

Just for fun…

I’m not one known for doing a lot of “kids” crafts. I’m good with grown up crafts but the whole mess factor really gets to me when it come to the kids. I’m really trying to work on this though! I know the girls need a creative outlet and now that we are homeschooling it’s my job to make it happen!

Do-a-Dot markers are really neat marker stamps. I use them with Grace to practice outlined letters since she is too little to write. Rose and Beth have been begging to have a chance at using them, but I wanted to give them something a little more fun than just tracing or filing in a picture. So we made tye-dyed circles. This is a fun little idea I picked up online somewhere. I have no idea where, but it’s been in the back of my mind for a couple of months.

Do-a-Dot Markers
Coffee Filters
Something to cover the table (If you’re not into messes like me…these are washable though!)
1. Fold a filter in half to make a half circle
2. Fold in half again to make a triangle
3. Fold in half one more time (it should still be a triangle)
4. Start dotting!
I showed Beth and Rose how to start in the middle and they started with this, but then the ink didn’t go all the way through quite like I expected, so they finished by opening it up. Grace just did her own thing!
Overall this was a HUGE hit! Do take note of the mats underneath the girls’ projects. I told you I don’t like messes! On the mess meter this probably hit about at a 3…and the markers were washable so that may even be a little bit high!