Friday, April 24, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 4/24/15

Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (4 months)

Happy Friday! Lots of reasons to Smile this week!

1. Zac, because I cut a mango for him: "You are the best mom I ever had."

2. I meant to add this to our geocaching post the other day. We had forgotten a pen and couldn't sign the logs. This took place after our first found cache . . .

Me: "Do you think God left a pen for us somewhere?"
Jake: "I prayed and asked Him to."
Me: "So did I."
Jake, surprised: "Really?!"

Immediately, he gasped. Two feet in front of him was a broken pencil. Leighton sharpened it with his pocket knife and we were able to sign the logs. More than that, it was exciting to have an instant answer to prayer and show our kids that God cares about even the small things. 

3. Jake, playing bakery with play dough, nonchalantly: "If you get fired, you die. You either walk into a pit of lava or we drop a piano on you."
Zac: "Uh, here's a cupcake to calm you down."

4. Tyler: "Mommy, I'm hungry. Can I have a taco."
Me: "I don't have any tacos."
Tyler: "Oh. Can I just have ketchup?"

5. Tyler "helping" Leighton: "Look, a circle! Daddy made a rectangle! A square shape! Daddy made a bus! Daddy, I need another hole over here. We need a triangle. Daddy, we need a BIG hole! How you can do that, Dad? Can we make MORE holes? Can you put more holes now? It would make me so happy. Daddy, can I color this wall?"

6. Zac: "Nicky was small, and now he's big. It must be magic."

7. Alyssa: "Mom! Zac is hitting me!"
Me: "Zac, if you choose not to behave, you will go to your room and take a nap. Why were you being mean to her?"
Zac: "Because she won't kick me out of her club."

8. Zac: "One time, at Gramma's, she let me eat a pine cone and birdseed for dinner.
Me: "Oh, did she? And if I ask her, what will she say?
Zac: "She'll say, 'Yup, yup, yup!' Go ahead, ask her. {whispers to Alyssa} Get Mom's phone. I want to tell Gramma to say 'yup' when Mom asks."

What made you Smile this week?
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 4/17/15

Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (4 months)

Finally caught up on my Smiles! That in itself is a reason to be happy.

1. Tyler: "That's yucky."
Me: "Have you ever tried it?"
Tyler: "Yes."
Me: "No, you haven't."
Tyler: "Oh, yeah . . . because it's yucky!"

2. Tyler, looking at our roman numeral clock: "Look! It's X o'clock!"


4. Zac, eating french toast: "Do they sell syrup at the store?
Me: "Yes."
Zac, confused: "So . . . it's just called syrup and not homemade syrup?"

5. Zac, playing with the baby: "Guess who I love the most in our family."
Me: "Nicky!"
Zac: "Nope. You! Then Nicky."
Alyssa: "I love you and Daddy the most. Well, Daddy's first. Then you."

6. Jake: "If I get married and my wife is a good cook, we won't go to McDonald's. {Friend} thinks it's weird that we don't go to McDonald's, but I told him that it's too expensive and that our food at home is 50 million times better." 


8. Tyler: "I'm hungry."
Me: "What do you want?"
Tyler: "Jelly beans."
Me: "You're not having jelly beans for breakfast."
Tyler: "But they're so yummy for me."

What made you Smile this week?

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The First of the Year

The weather's been warming up and we've been itching to get out geocaching! (Not sure what geocaching is? Read this post.) We finally found the time to do that today. It was a beautiful day with a bit of a breeze. 

 The first cache of the year!

Those pesky April Showers left large swampy areas just off the path throughout much of the trail. We had to skip some of the caches because we didn't feel like swimming through the muck to find them. We were able to spot one of the skipped caches, but couldn't sign the log.

And what did we find once we got to dry land? A garter snake! The kids were fascinated watching their daddy pick it up with a stick to show them. Me? I stayed far away, to, uh, document it with pictures. Yeah.  

The kids took turns riding in the wagon and running down the trail. 

One of their favorite parts of caching is looking for items to trade. Alyssa found a pretty compact mirror that she quickly claimed and left a toy army guy in its place. Of course, the 2 pieces of the compact are already broken in two. Kids. She kept the pretty top portion and gave Jake the bottom. It's a 2-for-1 prize!

There are so many reasons to enjoy caching. Finding the caches, of course, spending time with the family, getting fresh air and exercise, finding items to trade, and the newest one: making shadow puppets!

Even though we couldn't find half of the caches because of the muck, we still had a fun first time out this year. I call that a successful trip!

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 4/10/15

Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (3 months)

Happy Friday! I said last week that my catchup Smiles from missing a week would be posted soon. See, soon is a relative word. Here we are, a week later, and my list is finally posted. Ah, well, one day I'll be caught up. For now, let's Smile!

1. Alyssa, frustrated, reading a book: "The end! How can that be the end?!?"

2. Zac: "I made up a song. Wanna hear it? {singing} Running, running down the street. Don't be scared. Don't be scared. It's just an earthquake!"


4. Zac: "I love you this much! {stretches arms out to the sides} And I love Daddy this much! (stretches arms up and down}"
He loves us the same amount, yet different ways.

The following three quotes happened one night during family devotions.
5. Leighton, after reading Ephesians 6:1-2: "Who knows what we're going to talk about tonight?"
Zac: "Jesus!"
6. Leighton: "Does anyone know what honor means?"
Tyler: "Six!"
7. Tyler: "Daddy, I'm supposed to be playing wif my trains."


9. Me: "What was your favorite part about Easter?"
Alyssa: "Getting baptized!"

10. Alyssa, because I was trying to calm a crying Nicholas: "I wish you well."

11. Alyssa: "Mom, I don't know what to do."
Me: "You can go clean your room."
Alyssa: {gasp} "I didn't say I was bored. I just don't know what to play."

What made you Smile this week?
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Start Reading Review

It is always exciting when your child learns a new skill. Understanding the concept of fractions, memorizing the states and capitols, and learning how to bake a cake on your own are all great things, but my favorite thing to teach is reading. Why? Well, for one, most other subjects are dependent on the ability to read. You want to learn how to preform an experiment? You must read the instructions. You want to try a new recipe? You must read the directions. You want to find a cheat for that level of your game that you're stuck on {wink}? You must be able to read others' advice. Reading is a big deal in our home, and the foundation of our curriculum is based it. My 9-year-old is required to read a minimum of 1 1/2 hours every school day and then spend time reading on the weekends, as well. He will also spend time at night enjoying a book before he falls asleep. And while his love of reading didn't come naturally but had to be cultivated, it never would have happened had he not learned how to read in the first place. Yes, reading is highly regarded in our home.

I taught first graders before staying home to raise my family and I've since taught 3 of my own children to read, so I've seen many different reading curricula. I'm always interested in seeing other programs though. We had the opportunity to review First Start Reading and since I've heard wonderful things about Memoria Press I was excited to try it out.

The First Start Reading program includes 4 books (A-D) and a comprehensive Teacher Guide. Not only does this curriculum teach an age-appropriate approach to phonics and reading, but also instructs proper pencil grip and letter formation. It covers both short and long vowels, consonants, 45 common words, and manuscript printing. One thing that I appreciate about this curriculum is that it teaches the vowel-consonant approach, instead of the ladder approach. For instance, in a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) word, the ladder approach teaches the student to read the first two letter together and then add the last letter (e.g. sa-t, sa-d, Sa-m). The vowel-consonant approach teaches the student through word families, or rhyming words (e.g. c-at, r-at, s-at). When I taught first grade in a private school, the curriculum was ladder-based. I, myself, have always used rhyming word families to teach my own children.

I used these books with my 5-year-old. You know, there's a joke about homeschool kids not knowing what grade they're in. It's funny because it's true. Technically, he's too young to officially be in kindergarten (according to the cut-off date for the beginning of the school year), but he's been doing its work for many months now. My other kids will ask if he's in kindergarten. Yes, but no. Make sense? Regardless, since he's been reading for a while now, I started him halfway through the program, Book C.

The book begins with learning the short E. The student colors pictures beginning with the sound, draws his own picture, and traces and writes both capital and lower case letters. From there, he practices blending that /e/ sound with other letters and then using those blends to write words. The student also learns common sight words, like have, are, of, put, and so on. Lesson 4 is where the real fun begins--reading a story! The short stories use those blends and sight words that the student has been practicing. They are broken down into chapters, or lessons, and give the student a place to draw and accompanying picture. At the end of the story, the student is tested on those words through dictation. The process repeats itself throughout the book. 

The Teacher Guide includes instruction for the teacher, a word-for-word script that can be used for the student, and questions to further discuss the stories. 

My son enjoys reading and was pleased to color the illustrations and draw his own pictures for the stories. He's not so crazy about the writing portions though, ha. I should clarify that his lack of excitement has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the actual process. Generally, we complete 1 lesson a day. For the longer writing lessons, we might split them to 2 days, not because the lessons are too long, but because he's still strengthening and learning to control his writing. 

I am enjoying using this curriculum. The lessons are short which is good for kindergarteners; the book teaches the material, applies it, and then reinforces by testing; and it includes a bit of fun with coloring and drawing. My son is doing well and I'm excited to see how he does in Book D.

You can connect with Memoria Press on the following social media sites:

Memoria Press offers many different products. You can  read more reviews of this reading program or their cursive curriculum on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 4/3/15

Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (3 months)

Happy Friday! Last weekend was crazy busy with Easter activities, so I'm behind with my Smiles. Here are my catch-up Smiles. Look for a brand new list with this week's soon, too. Lots of Smiling going on! 

1. Tyler, playing outside: "Mom, there's a dog barfing at me." (barking)

2. The older kids usually fold their own clothes. Leighton was giving Zac a bath when we were doing laundry, so I fold his for him. Afterwards, I told him to put them away. A minute later he came to me with a smile and said, "Thank you for doing it like I do--shirts with shirts and pants with pants."

3. Zac: "If I eat 2 halves, I can eat a whole."


5.  Everyone was finished with dinner, except Tyler.
Tyler: "Mommy, can I stand on the table?"
Me: "What do you think?"
Tyler: "Yes!"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "Ugh. Can I sit on the table?"
Me: "What do you think?"
Tyler: "Yes!"
Me: "No. You're supposed to be eating dinner."
Tyler: "Can I go outside?"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "Can I sit on the floor?"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "Can I stand on the counter?"

Leighton: "Eat your dinner."
Tyler: "But Mommy! But Mommy, I'm hungry!"

6. Alyssa, writing her copywork: "I like When I See the Blood. It's a good song."

7. Alyssa, to Nicholas: "Oh, I just want to sleep with you. You look like a cuddly teddy bear."

8. Zac, impressed: "Whoa, Nicky! That was some big spit up. You're like a wild animal."


10. Zac: "You are the best. mom. ever."
Me: "Aw, and why's that?"
Zac: "Because you make the best choices for us."

11. Alyssa: "I read Horton Hatches the Egg last night. It was a really good book."

12. Alyssa, while I was making dinner: "I smell something juicy!"

13. Jake: "How did you know that?!?"
Me: "Because I'm a mom. Moms know things."
Jake: "Ok, what time was I born?"
Me: "7:14."
Jake: "Ah! How did you know?"

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 3/27/15

Jake (9), Alyssa (6½), Zac (5), Tyler (2½), Nicholas (3 months)

Happy Friday! What a week! The kids were getting over being sick, Alyssa celebrated her 7th birthday, we went to visit my niece's brand new baby, Tyler celebrated his 3rd birthday, and Leighton was out of town for days so I was holding down the fort at home by myself. Lots of busyness and lots of Smiles.

1. Zac, eating caramel corn: "You used popcorn to make this? How embarrassing."

2. Alyssa: "On your birthday, every idea is a good idea."
Jake: "Yeah, except the non-good ones."

3. The kids were playing with the Mr. Potato Head stuff. Jake took one of the potato kids and put it in one of the regular potato heads.
Me: "Hey, it's kinda like a mommy with a baby."
Jake: "And it comes out its butt!"
Zac: "Did the baby come out your butt, Mom?"


5. The adults on The Little Rascals kissed and all the kids on the movie made faces and gagging sounds.
Me: "Kissing is not gross."
Jake: "Yes, it is."
Me: "You're not going to kiss your wife when you grow up?"
Jake: "Well, yeah. But only once! How else am I going to get married?"

6. Alyssa, because I handed her a napkin after she dragged her shirt sleeve in sour cream: "I have a tongue for a reason."

7. Zac: "When you're a grandma, I'll actually be your son."


 9. Tyler: "Can I get my Duplos?"
Me: "Sure, but you have to pick up your trains first. Do you want me to help you?"
Tyler: "Yes."
{I start gathering tracks.}
Tyler: "Can I watch you pick them up?"

10. Tyler, crying: "Mommy! Zachry won't give me something that's his!"

11. Tyler: "Nicholas is my favorite baby."

12. Jake: "Nick's cheeks are like marshmallows. They're large and fluffy. And delicious."

What made you Smile this week?

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