Follow our family as we journey through life.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sewing To Summer Challenge

I have decided to try and join a sewing challenge that focuses on using up fabric!
I was unsure whether or not to join because I don't really have a problem finding time to sew. For me, sewing is like a good book that I can't put down. I sew every. single. day. To not sew for a day would be like not showering after working out. Yucky!
I do have a lot of fabric. That said, I have a lot less than before. I still have a lot, just less. I made a commitment not to buy any for six months, and I sort of made it. I say sort of because I bought fabric to help finish out some projects, or fabric for gifts. But I didn't buy any specifically for my fabric cabinet.
With this challenge I have until Febraury 20 to sew something amazing. Considering there are three Wednesdays between now and then, that shouldn't be a problem. For those that don't know, on Wednesdays I get to leave my family at home and sew with other talented women for several uninterrupted hours. Some days there is a lot more talking then sewing, but I still manage to get a lot of stuff done.
Want to join the sewing challenge? Click here to join and meet other bloggers with the same goals!

My Sewing Friend

He's very interested in all things sewing-related. Especially the drawers of sewing supplies and the cords of the machines.

He is my official taste-tester to check for quality.

He has many supervisors, but sometimes is still able to get away with stuff.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homeschooling At My House

The question this week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is "How?" How do I pull it all together? How do I do what I do? How does anything get done around here?

To say that homeschooling is hard would be an understatement. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of time. It's a lot of clutter and mess and wear and tear on my house. Is it harder than sending kids to school? I doubt it. Every family has difficulties with educating their children. It doesn't seem to matter where or how those children are educated~ difficulties exist.

We make educating our children at home work by having clear guidelines of what we expect from the kids, and following a schedule that allows them to meet those expectations. It's obviously not going to work if I expect them to finish their math by lunch time, but we spend the morning running errands. I have created goals for them and then made it impossible for them to reach those goals.

We also re-evaluate often and are flexible in our expectations. Isaac was struggling with a phonics program that James breezed through. Instead of push the program, we got another program that Isaac could excel at. Teaching three kids two different history topics was confusing and time-consuming. So one child changed subjects for the year and now they are all studying the same historical time period.

My kids do better with heavy academics in the morning (math, phonics, spelling, reading, writing, etc.), having a long break, and then tackling additional material in the late afternoon (science, history, music, art, etc). Following this schedule for their sake, instead of utilizing nap times like I intended, makes them school better.

There are a million ways that we make homeschooling work for our family. The little things that work today may not be the same things that work tomorrow. We take things as they come and try to work within the situation, instead of against it. Homeschooling works well now, but five years from now we may have found something that works better. I'm okay with that. My goal is to do what is best for the kids. Right now that thing is homeschooling. Later it'll probably be different. So be it.

Disclaimer: I wrote about these things because I wanted to, and I received nothing but personal satisfaction for my efforts.

Sunday Skirt

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Product Review: Kinderbach

Kinderback at Home is an easy and affordable way to expose your young child to the piano. Using playful characters to teach note reading, rhythm, singing, and composition, you are able to help promote a foundation for music development.

No musical background is required to get started. Your child can view the lessons on-line or by watching DVDs. A piano is not even a requirement, as a toy piano or keyboard will be just as effective.

There are many different payment options and programs for you to choose from, allowing you to pay anywhere from $7.99 a month to $19.95 a month. Not sure you want to commit? Try a Free Session to see just what Kinderbach Piano at home has to offer! Through the rest of the month of January, you can get 40% off of Kinderbach at Home products. Click this link to learn more about this limited-time offer.

Reading this too late to get in on the clearance sale? No problem! Simply enter the coupon code: TOScrew2012 during check out and receive 30% off your order! This code is good for one year, so you can order now and later!


Margaret, age three, did this program and really enjoyed it.  She would ask to do it, and responded to some of the prompts from the video.  Although she was engaged and motivated,  I am not sure how much it benefited her music knowledge.  She does now have some vague idea of the difference between high and low notes, loud and soft sounds, and a few other things.  I not not sure, however, how long she will retain this information, and if this was solely due to the Kinderbach program. Since we are a musical family, and have access to many musical outlets, I am not sure that Kinderbach music videos are the right fit for our family at this time.


"I liked my piano video and the girl characters. And that's all I am going to tell you for the review!" [Can you tell she's a tad strong-willed?]

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received a free trial period of Kinderbach at Home in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes


You know that feeling when you finally achieve something that you have been trying to do for a long, long time? Yeah, well I had that feeling this week when I finally figured out a sewing technique after THREE years of trying. Yeah me!!!


Another accomplishment: I went 14 days between grocery shopping trips! If I don't shop, I don't spend money. We eat up what we have before it expires or goes bad. It's a win-win situation for our family. Fourteen days between shopping trips is totally doable. My family wasn't hungry, and we didn't even have to eat anything weird or stale, nor did we even have to come up with any crazy substitutions. It makes me wonder a bit just how many people we could feed with food we usually keep on hand. Hmm.


Deal of the week: Hannah Andersson sweater dress. Retailed for around $50, currently on ebay for $30. My price: $1.99!


Old doors are very heavy. Our old house is filled with old doors. Best not to get a finger slammed in an old door.


This time next week my girl will be four. Unbelievable.


Sometimes my life is just not that interesting. Some weeks I don't have seven things to share with others. I'm okay with that.


You can check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Typical Night at Our House

To each his own

Planking (or trying to, but those darn arms!)

Have cape, will climb

How did you even get up there?!?!

Footed jammies on babies are AWESOME!

Everything is as it should be

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Learning Art at Our House

Art. Oh how you defeat me. Every year I purchase books promising children who draw, create sculptures, and paint. Every year those books get dusty and the kids go un-art educated.

It's not that I don't want them to learn. It just so. hard. to. fit. it. in. So very hard. Sometimes I pay to have them taught. Sometimes I get together with other moms. Mostly I just let them be spontaneous and creative and create art when and where they want.

I know this doesn't exactly make for an interesting blog post, but it may be that I inspire another art-struggling mom to just let it go. Because art will happen whether it is planned or not. 

Here are some photos from our art adventures:

The older boys at the end of a summer art camp.

Homemade Valentine's Day cards to gift to family

Decorating a club house.

Painting some ceramic mushrooms

Using markers and paper.

Using store bought art kits

Creating sculptures out of marshmallows, cheese puffs, and toothpicks.

Others are sharing about art as well. Visit Susan at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds or check out these links:

Disclaimer: I wrote about these things because I wanted to, and I received nothing but personal satisfaction for my efforts.

Sunday 12:28 pm

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Fun!

We haven't had much in terms of snow this year, so when it does snow the kids are quick to get out and play.
One of our resident snow removers.

Not so sure about this.

Margaret preferred to roll down the hill.

Back inside, Malcolm happily sat in the awesome antique stroller I found at the thrift store.

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes


Lately I have let my house go. I mean really let it go. Toys in every door way, skateboard on the steps, food under the table for a week. We don't have a dog, but we do have a Malcolm. That helps out a little. If I see some bodily fluids I usually make a mental note to clean it up sometime that same day. Usually.

It's not that I am being lazy. Okay, maybe a little. I have just decided that we can live with a little mess if it makes us happier overall. I have more time and energy because I am not spending every second cleaning. And the boys are happier because they are not being yelled at to clean every second. The funny thing is that I have become proud of our mess. I like it when people stop in unexpectedly and the front room looks like a closet threw up. I like that our house screams, "Kids live here. Lots and lots of kids!" Some people only wish they had it this good.


My brother surprised me with a Kindle Fire! It arrived on Monday. Let me just tell you that I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

We are having a blast trying to figure it out and getting it all set up. One of my favorite apps so far is called iStoryBooks. It's free and it offers all these picture books that read-a-loud to the child. In a nice human voice, not a scary computer one.


I think winter has finally arrived in Western PA! It is currently nine degrees outside and we have a couple of inches of snow on the ground with more in the forecast.


Look who found a friend in the mirror:


My nephew is officially a father! Reiley Beau was born on Tuesday evening. I love babies, and this one is especially cute! I don't have a picture to post because I haven't cleared it with the proud parents to post his photo here on my blog.


Well, the kids are waiting in the school room and I have run out of Quick Takes!


Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Learning Geography at Our House

Geography is kind of a hit or miss subject around here. We have tried many different approaches, and they all seem to last for a short while. We have done the scripted daily curriculum where I present a lesson to each child and they complete some sort of activity. We have done the standard workbook approach, and while that seems to work, I have stopped that approach. The main problem with the workbook approach is two-fold. One, workbooks tend to be too easy and the kids are motivated and finish the entire thing in a month. Fine, except the books we were using were $10 to $25 each. That can get pricey when you are spending up to $75 a month for geography. The other issue we have run into is that many times workbooks are designed for classroom use. A whole bunch of kids, roughly at the same level, are needed to complete this or that activity. I can't mimic that at home, therefore sections of the book are useless to us.

Enter Geography Through Art. This is what we are currently using. I can't say it is the best program I have ever used, but it works right now so I am a big supporter.

There are so many things to recommend this book. One, it covers two subjects at the same time: geography and art. Two, it is designed to teach multiple levels at the same time. Perfect for the homeschool classroom. The cost is fairly low, always a bonus. And although I don't think the learning level is anything that will help you get into Harvard, the lessons are engaging and informative enough that the kids are getting excited about geography. They walk by the large wall map and say, "Hey, here's Africa! Remember those masks we made?"

In addition to Geography Through Art, I also purchased an additional text, Eat Your Way Around the World. We haven't used this book yet, but it is intended to compliment lessons in the Geography Through Art Book. A lesson will alert you when there is a recipe that corresponds with that region or country. A great way to extend the learning.

Although I obviously look to books designed to develop geographical awareness, I also use many casual/ non-classroom ways to teach geography. The best way I have found to learn geography around here is through reading. My kids love to read and we always have a large atlas available for them to explore after reading about a foreign place. We are also avid travelers and allow them maps in the car. We encourage their curiosity about faraway places and check out books at the library.

Geography may take a back seat when it comes to our homeschooling goals, but I find at this house exposure and interest are key to success in this area.

Other Moms are also writing about the social sciences this week. Head on over to Homeschooling Hearts and Minds or click one of the links below:

Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

Leah Courtney @ The Courtney Six Homeschool Family

Angie @ Petra School

Jen @ Forever, For Always
Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

Letha @ justpitchingmytent

Laura O from AK
Joelle @ Homechooling for His Glory
Debbie @ Debbie's Digest

MissMOE @ Homeschooling While Living the Life of Easier

Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

Disclaimer: I wrote about these things because I wanted to, and I received nothing but personal satisfaction for my efforts.