Friday, August 26, 2011

Show and Tell

This is how we learn…

I’ve wanted to take the kids on this field trip for quite some time.

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The Falls of the Ohio state park is amazing. These fossil beds are exposed much of the year, allowing visitors to hike, explore, touch, and even pick up the many fossil rocks in the park (just don’t take ‘em with you, okay?).

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The falls is located on the Ohio River, near a railroad bridge and just a short distance from the city. That’s Louisville, Kentucky that you see in the background.

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It’s hard walking down into the river bed. I brought handsome honey along and I’m so glad I did. No way could I have managed this fieldtrip alone.

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The fossils are amazing and the place is rich in history that goes back to the buffalo trace and Lewis and Clark.

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I guess that’s them…. I shot this photo from the moving car on our way out!

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The kids enjoyed exploring and hopping across the shallow puddles of water in search of really cool islands.

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They also had fun creating a bridge using an old piece of wood that had drifted up onto the fossil beds.

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It doesn’t take long to get hot when walking in the river bed, but the interpretive center is cool (as in air-conditioned) and full of interesting exhibits.

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And this, is how our family learns.

Wanna share how your family is learning? Post a link to your blog or facebook page. Can’t wait to see what you share!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everyday Moments

~Why I love being a mom with a camera!

Sarah helping Sam 1

Sarah helping Sam 2

Sarah helping Sam 3

Sarah helping Sam 4

Sarah helping Sam 5

 Sarah helping Sam crash

Bet you didn’t see that coming! Well, maybe you did!

Call me a dork, but I just found the setting on my camera that allows me to take many pictures all in a row. It’s such fun to play with taking a quick sequence of photos of my kids doing what they do best. Play.

And I have captured a fun little moment in time that I will treasure.


I’m sharing today at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Little School

Yesterday was the first day for my sweeties
to join a local homeschool academy.

Mary and Danny's First School Day

And what a wonderful day it was!

The kids will attend classes one day per week, homeschooling for the other four days. A bit of the best of both worlds and a great break for momma!

More to come…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Texas Hash

~an easy recipe for those fresh garden veggies

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Got lots of yummy fresh tomatoes? Dice them up and fill the bottom two inches of your casserole dish.

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Add some rice, about 3/4 of a cup. It should be enough to more or less cover the tomatoes. Remember that rice fluffs up when it cooks, so it doesn’t take much. I also added about 1 cup of water.

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Yummy, yummy green peppers…

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Sautéed lightly with a thinly sliced onion in a bit of olive oil...

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Then, add to the tomatoes and rice.

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Finally, some ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir the mixture and bake for 15 minutes more, uncovered.

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Serve with cornbread and fresh corn on the cob. Yum!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saturday Show and Tell

Here’s a chance to share how your kids learn. Homeschool families, Sunday School teachers, school teachers, preschool teachers… If you help a child learn, link up and share!

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The rules are simple…

  1. Anyone who teaches children may join in. Mothers, homeschoolers, preschool teachers, classroom teachers, Sunday-School teachers…. Please don’t share photos of children without parent permission.
  2. Link to a specific post, not just your main web address. That way, we don’t need to search for your post!
  3. Check out a few of the other posts and leave a comment, please.
  4. And if you have time… Share our show and tell party with some friends. You can add a link back to this page on your post. You could share a link on Facebook or Twitter. Or, you could do all of the above and that would really make my day!

So this week at the FLTS Academy…

We survived our first week back to the books.

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Sometimes, and especially when the laundry pile is as tall as me, I wonder why we do this crazy thing. Are we gluttons for punishment?

Truly, my house fell apart this week. We have sticky floors in the kitchen and the bathrooms are not fit to talk about. Honestly, that stuff is pretty normal around here. I struggle to keep up on a good day. This week, the mess has grown to proportions that make me want to pull my hair out and cry.

The kids are tired, too. School only lasts during the morning hours, yet it has managed to wear my children out so much that they are ready for be an hour earlier than normal.

And oh, dear goodness… I am exhausted. I just asked my handsome honey to please, oh, please, do bedtime tonight and let me have just a little time all by myself. I just want to be alone. Just for a bit. You know, I rarely get a bathroom break alone. I Just Want To Be ALONE. Twenty minutes ought to do it. And maybe a hot bath… and a glass of blackberry wine… and chocolate.

It’s pretty overwhelming. And then, I look back and see all the good that came from the week.

School has been wonderful.

Our new curriculum has been fun, yet challenging. We went with Singapore Math this year and I like it quite well so far. We also like Explode the Code, another new workbook we are trying out. I think I started Danny (Grade 1) out too easy, but the “Getting Ready for the Code” has been perfect for Sarah (Pre-K). Mary (G-3) is loving the literature based study of American History. This week she read a book about life in the time of Pocahontas and began making a model of Fort James. The kids give the school experience a 9 out of 10 on the fun factor. I’ll take that.

We visited the academy the kids will be attending one day per week. I must say, I am very impressed and excited about getting to be a part of such a lovely group. The kids have their backpacks ready, as the first day of classes is coming up on Monday!

On Wednesday, I started a group page on facebook for area homeschoolers. I must say, we live in about as small a town as you can get and still be a town. Already, we have 9 families signed up to join our little group. I am amazed and excited and overjoyed. 

Our family even had our first official field trip of the year. Today, we headed out to a state park for a class on identifying animal remains. Really cool, really fun. There were several homeschool families there and I see some cute little friendships forming between the kids in the class already.

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And so, I’m glad we get to share all this good stuff. Maybe you could just avoid the bathroom if you come over for a visit. I did get the tub clean, though. Think I’ll go put it to use!

If you haven’t already shared a link to your blog, I hope you will. If you don’t have a blog, then it’s time to get one! It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s lots of fun to share! Last week, a friend of mine even shared a link to her page on Facebook. If all else fails, I hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us about the fun you are having learning with your littles. Can’t wait to see the fun ways you are learning.


Learning is fun.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I’m thankful for…

Library ladies, always kind to my kids, helpful and sweet…

A new homeschool group and all the families that make it!

Making spaghetti sauce in the kitchen with my momma, like old days.

A play-date with friends at the park, sharing popcorn and fun.

And cantaloupe.


As always, I’m counting my blessings and hoping you will too! Please feel free to leave a comment and share your blessings. I love reading what others are thankful for! As always, I’m thankful for you. Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home-School versus Traditional School

A friend shared the following status update on facebook.

I am beginning to truly consider homeschooling Charlie next year for kindergarten. I am looking for advice, criticism, planning, support. I am very interested in what Fatima has to say as well as any other parents who have/do homeschooling and/or people who were homeschooled as kids.

Within a few short hours she was flooded with comments; warnings about homeschooling, praise for homeschooling, some public school bashing, and some teachers defending their profession. I can only imagine that she is now more confused than ever.

And I say, good. It’s good to be confused and unsure. Out of our confusion, we can finally begin to search for answers and begin to have an informed and insightful understanding of an issue. Until we have that, any decision we make will be based on nothing more than feelings and the opinions of others.

So my advice to this friend…

You are on the right track. Explore this issue. Listen to all of your friends, knowing they see clearly only one part of this complex, three-dimensional puzzle. Talk to them and find out more about their part of the puzzle and the reasons behind their opinions. After you exhaust the resources that surround you, go find more.

And when you have learned all you can, come back home and put the puzzle together. Find the spot where you and your son fit best and your family’s needs will best be served. Know that any place you choose will not be a perfect fit. If you home-school, you’ll need to fill the gaps by finding clubs, lessons, and activities to expand his world beyond your doors. If you choose a school you will need to fill the gaps by supporting him emotionally, guarding the little time left for good and active play, and enriching his studies by doing some amazing learning on your own.

In either case, you will have made a good, informed decision.


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Now… for my part of the school versus home-school puzzle.

I’m a school teacher. I taught fourth and fifth grades at a catholic mission school in a rather rough Louisville neighborhood. I loved it. I poured my heart into that classroom and the fun learning we did, and I loved my students so much that I cried when they were graduated from my class. Nearly ten years later, most of those kids still write me letters and keep me updated on their lives (mostly via facebook).

I quit teaching to start a family. We lost our first baby and it changed our lives. I can’t begin to tell you the heartbreak and the re-evaluating we did after that. I don’t talk about that much, mostly because it’s painful. I tell of it now, because it’s important to the story. See, we thought we had our life figured out. We had a plan and up to that point it had been working for us. It was just the beginning of my time of re-thinking things I thought I knew.

Our little girl came along… A c-section birth followed by months of baby blues where I tore myself apart for not being able to deliver her the “right” way. She was followed by a little brother 22 months later, a sister 22 months after that. I thought we were done. I was enjoying life with my littles as a SAHM. I thought that I’d send my oldest off to school and enjoy a few more years at home. Then, I got that familiar feeling… And a pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions. I was devastated. I was barely keeping up with my three littles. I felt inadequate to the task that was ahead of me. Somehow, knowing that my youngest would, again, be 22 months old when the baby arrived made me feel that it was meant to be. And four kids 22 months apart every time… That must have been meant to be. Glad to say that our final little addition has been an amazing blessing. I’m so glad my plans were changed!

My little one was due to be born in March, so I figured I better get my act together preparing for my oldest to begin school the next fall. I was worried about her. She was to go to kindy, but she was already reading. And by reading, I’m talking about chapter books. She had read most of the Little House books by then. I was quite apprehensive about sending her to kindergarten. Imagine that…

I called the principal of the school. My daughter had only missed the kindergarten cut-off date by five days. I asked that she be evaluated and possibly placed in the first grade rather than kindy. She would only be five days younger than her peers and was quite capable of the work. The principal shot me down. Now, I was a very large and hormonal pregnant lady at the time. Truth be told, I never went back to him to press any harder for further consideration. My baby was born five weeks early and our spring was a bit hectic.

We were faced with a decision I had never wanted to consider. I really wanted my children to get to experience the fun of school. I also wanted to go back to the classroom myself. Still, I needed to do what was best for my girl.

We started our search for answers. We talked to people. We read books. We started reading blogs. In the end, we knew that we had to make the decision that was best for our family.

We chose to home school our family. It isn’t perfect. It is very hard. It’s a lot of work, especially for a momma with four little ones. It’s also very rewarding, fun, exciting, and beautiful.

I’m so glad that life has taught us to make our decisions carefully and thoughtfully. We made the best decision for our family. I wouldn’t change a thing.


For more about our home-school experience, visit this page on my silly little blog. It is an archive of our adventure in home-schooling.


Like this blog or know someone who might? Follow us on Blogger or on Facebook. Sharing is easy, too… Just look for the share buttons on the right hand side of the screen. Thanks for stopping by.


Got an opinion on the home-school versus school debate? I hope you’ll share your story by leaving a comment or a link to a blog post for my friend. Thanks so much!

Chocolate Cheater Cookies

~ A recipe for chocolate chocolate chip cookies that is so easy it must be cheating…

Cookies and milk are the perfect after school treat. I was too tired to make anything elaborate, but these cookies are so easy!

The recipe was in a Gooseberry Patch Cookie cookbook. I’ve made it several times and it is so easy that I changed the name of the cookies to “Chocolate Cheaters.”

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You take one devil’s food cake mix, 2 eggs, half a cup of oil, and a cup of chocolate chips and stir ‘em up in a bowl.

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It’s really that easy. See what I mean about cheating?

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You got a little cookie scoop? You know what I’m talking about? They are those nifty measured scoops like the lunch ladies used, except they are super small. Just right for scooping cookies. You must get one. I turned my little man loose with the cookie dough and the scoop.

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Bake at 350 degrees until they are done, about 7 or 8 minutes. Yum.

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Add a maraschino cherry…. Oh dear!

Just don’t make these when the kids are away. You’ll eat them all and not fit in your pants for a week. Just ask me how I know…


Monday, August 15, 2011

Class Photos, 2011

Our first day back to school….

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I set my alarm this morning. Can I just say… I’m not a morning person.

But with the help of my prodding handsome husband, I managed to open my eyes and crawl from the nice warm blankets. It wasn’t easy…

Once I was up and had a cup of coffee, it didn’t seem so bad.

I blasted the Jimmy Buffett and got the kids motivated. I’d like to think it was my reminders that today was the long-awaited first day back to school that got them going, but… In all likelihood, it was the four bowls of (don’t tell anyone) Lucky Charms that graced the kitchen table. Um. About that… I know when I’m beat. Sausage and eggs, getting up early, and managing our first day back to school… all in one day… So, Lucky Charms it is. A rare treat in our house, the two little ones ate the marshmallows and left the cereal. Healthy. Yup. That is what I was going for.

Morning jobs of getting ready for the day and a few household chores done, and we headed downstairs at 9:00  for school. I took pictures like any proud momma. Just never-you-mind the fact that my kids don’t wear shoes to school. Come to think of it, I don’t wear shoes either.

We got started on the day with a prayer and the pledge, attendance, calendar time, and a story. The kids did their seatwork and stopped for a snack. Not too different from a regular school day, only it doesn’t take as long when you only have 3 students. Sarah finished her school day by 10:00, Daniel by 11:00, and Mary by 12:00. Now, they play and I relax in front of my computer screen sharing with my friends. I should be doing laundry and mopping the kitchen floor, but a girl has to have a break.

I’m the momma. I’m the teacher. I’m the lunch-lady and the janitor. I’m the principal, I’m the hall monitor. I’m also the pre-school/childcare worker. So, yes, I do deserve to sit a spell and share with my friends. The laundry pile will still be there. Heck, it might even grow.

It’s real life in a homeschooling family. It’s hard. It’s wonderful. It’s different. It’s giving our kids the best we have to offer.

It’s love.


Hope your school day is as wonderful. Hope you’ll drop by and share how learning is going with you, here on the blog, this Saturday. See you then.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saturday School Show and Tell

A learning link-up…

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Learning can happen anywhere, you know. A kitchen table, an elaborate classroom, a picnic table at the park, in the grocery store, while driving in the car…

Still, it’s nice to have a space that’s dedicated to learning. As a classroom teacher, I delighted in providing a fun and comfortable place for my students to learn. As a home-school momma, I’m glad I have room in the basement that can be our dedicated homeschool “classroom.”

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I guess that those old desks came from my school, several years before I was a student there. They used to sit in my grandma’s garage, waiting for me to play school when I was little.

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I covered the graffiti filled tops with some fun paper and topped it with contact paper. A little worse for the wear, but this will be the third year for our desk covers.

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My “desk” consists of three stackable storage bins topped with a fabric covered board. I keep the kids’ school books in the bins so they will be easy for me to access for planning and for days when we choose to work outside. On top of the bins, I keep my notes for the day, a stapler, and a few erasers.

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I keep a weekly assignment sheet with the kids’ school books. I find it is much easier for them to have a checklist rather than coming to me to find out what’s next. I’m often busy working with their sibling, so the checklists make the work go smoothly and helps the kids stay on task.

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This learning play area is a new addition to our classroom. I’ve filled it with learning games and plan to rotate new items as the year goes by.

A reminder to the kids before they begin to play….

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The kids have a lot of games and fun to choose from…

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Sewing, weaving, tumbling tower of math facts, games, bingo, puzzles…

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Basement lighting is always a bit difficult, but this old, ugly floor lamp really helps next to an old Subway table we picked up when they remodeled the restaurant near Eric’s work. It’s a great place for puzzles, painting, and play-dough.

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It’s hard to find an alphabet for the wall that will fit in our small space.

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These flashcards mounted on some scrapbook paper work great! I just punched holes in the tops and strung them up onto the wall using twine.

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Having been re-worked several times to adjust to our changing needs, this area isn’t quite perfect. Still, it works well for our morning meetings, giving the little ones a chance to count, record the weather, and practice saying the months of the year/days of the week.

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Our school trash bin… It makes me smile!

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Our messy book storage… Nothing more than a “gorilla rack” and some plastic storage baskets. The baskets allow the kids to look at the covers of the books easily without taking books off the shelf. It’s also easier for the kids to return the books to a basket. I’d like to organize the books by type, color code them, and assign groups to certain baskets. Um… yeah. We’ll see about doing that next year. Or the year after that.

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Our learning space is ready and the kids can hardly wait! Our first day back to home-school is Monday… It will be such fun!

Now, it’s your turn. Link-up and share your learning space and ideas! Show us your public-school classroom. Show us how you make that kitchen table classroom work or that new light fixture your “honeydew” just installed. Show how your living room by night becomes a classroom by day! Can’t wait to see your special learning spaces and the creative ways you make them fun for the ones learning there.

The rules.

  1. Anyone who teaches children may join in. Mothers, homeschoolers, preschool teachers, classroom teachers, Sunday-School teachers….
  2. Link to a specific post, not just your main web address. That way, we don’t need to search for your post!
  3. Check out a few of the other posts and leave a comment, please.

And if you have time… Share our linky party with some friends. You can add a link back to this page on your post. You could share a link on Facebook or Twitter. Or, you could do all of the above and that would really make my day!