Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cantata

Well after spending most of my evening downloading the video. Here is it. The 2009 Christmas Cantata with the girls. This is a 25 minute video so sit back and relax and enjoy. Also, please forgive the video. First, it was downloaded on One True Media so its not the original video quality. Second, not the best of hand holding with the camera. So please forgive some of the shakiness. We weren't in the best of spots. In hind sight we should have recorded it at the evening program because there were fewer people there and we wouldn't of been video taping the back of people's heads, or picking up background noise of children. Nonetheless we got it and I can say it was much better in person then it seemed on the video tape.

Here is our gift to you! Hope everyone has a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tape 2 and When in Rome.....

Okay. So I know the title is a little corny. I'm sure your rolling your eyes as you see it on the screen. But I have to share with you this strange fasination I have had with tape lately. You can come to my house and find , scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape and even medical tape. The tape that I find I go through the most though is packaging tape. So as you read this you ask yourself, well why? Why do you go through so much packing tape?
The reason is that my daughters love to play with the collection of file folder games that I have procured throughout the years of homeschooling.
If you google file folder games you will find that there are many free resources on which you can download and print various games you can glue, tape and laminate into a folder and they can learn... excuse me play games on various topice from math, language arts, from history to science and even Bible school topics. Today I had counted that for my older girls I have about 38 games thus far and for Maggie I have a total of ten. So you can see I have definitely given our printer a good work out. Out of all of those games I've maybe created 3 or 4 of my own from googling clipart and then making my own games. Even today I created a game for the girls so they could study their Latin vocabulary. They love it and had fun and told me it was much more fun then just sitting there trying to memorize it from their book.
Okay so you ask why are we talking about tape then? Early on I found that with my file folder games I could use packaging tape to laminate them. Instead of going out and buying a machine and then the expensive laminate I could easily go to Walmart and spend less then $8 for two rolls of packaging tape. If I was really spendy I would go to the Fed Ex store here in town and buy their really heavy duty packaging tape. Fed Ex tape to me is the gold standard in packaging tape and honestly the best for laminating them. In the real world though I can't always buy it and settle for my Walmart tape. It does the job well and they look fanstastic.

I think next to butt cream I could easily say that we could hold stock in packaging tape here and make a fortune. LOL. Or maybe I help the packaging tape business make a lot of money.

Well also since I've mentioned File Folder games. Today I had gotten a bit crafty as the girls sat and did their work. I decided to make something fun for them to help aid in learning their Latin vocabulary. They always find it a drag to use the flashcards. So I thought I'd spiffy things up a bit. So I Googled my way through clip art and this is what I came up with:

Our cheesy title for the game

The helmets with the Latin words on them.

The little soldiers with the definitions.

Once I had the idea in my head I found that the game was pretty easy to make. I plan on making some more Latin games to get us through the Latina Christiana series. I do like the series. Its reasonably priced and they have DVD's to help teach the concepts. I never had taken Latin so this is a new experience for me as well. I am learning right along with them. Its the beauty of homeschooling though. You learn all of the things you never learned as a child.

Here are the links to the clip art that I used:

Roman soldier
Roman helmet

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Girl Scout Party

Of course you would think I had pictures of this too. But I don't. Its funny that I have a video camera and a regular camera and I don't take either of them with me half of the time.

Today the girls had tons of fun at their Girl Scout cookie party. They had Christmas arts and crafts, pizza and exchanged cookies. Let's just say that this time of the year is not good on my figure. LOL.

Actually I can't believe that Christmas is almost here. This month has gone by so fast that's for sure. I can't wait until this winter is over that's for sure. I'm finding the older I get the less tolerace I have for this sort of weather anymore. No fun I tell ya.

School is going so so for us right now. I'm just feeling so schooled out. I'm glad that in 3 more days I'll have a break from my own school work for the next two weeks. I'm also glad to know that by Feburary I'll be half way done with my degree. I'm far from being done as my ultimate goal is getting my bachelors degree. But I'm taking this college thing one step at a time.

I'm also rethinking next year as well as far as schooling the girls is concerned. I know something needs to change. I like the K12 , the girls like it too. But I'm just feeling a little burnt out. Having three children and two of them need my direct attention at all times is tough. Then stretching myself even further for Marilyn when she has questions and trying to keep track of my 3yr old is not easy at all. Then by the end of the day I'm working on my school work. Its just an exhausting cycle. I am hoping that I can just homeschool on my own , maybe use a combination of Christian LIght , Ace and add in some good books from Sonlight. That would be my perfect world.

Anyways here is to a good day and that is all folks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

File Folder Games , oh my!

Okay. So I usually have a picture to post on my blog about the things I talk about. I may even post a picture later on when I get a moment and its not almost 1 o'clock in the morning.
But I'd thought I'd take a moment and talk about File Folder Games.

I was just looking at our little stack of File Folder games in our living room. Did you know there are tons of free File Folder Games to download and print on the internet? If your really crafty you can even make them yourselves. I'll admit, I'm crafty but not that crafty. No, just kidding. I could do it if I had the time. Between teaching the girls, doing my mom duties, and college school work there is only so much time left in the day. So there are other moms out there that take the time to put these games together and they post them for free. All I can say is bless their hearts that they are actually help make my life a bit easier.

What are File Folder games you ask? They are bascially educational games made out of file folders. Minus the printer ink, they are easy to put together and the kids have fun and learn all at the same time and they don't even know it.
They can be as simple as using a coloring book and crayons, file folder, and glue.
Or if your like me finding premade games so all you need to do is print them , cut, glue and laminate. There are many free ones online and there are some that you can purchase online. I've even found you can purchase them in workbook form so all you have to do is cut them out of the book , glue , then laminate.

Such as this one. I have found Rainbow Resource has great prices on them.
Or better yet,, if you want to skip the whole cutting process and you just want to open and go then something already made for you might be beneficial. Such as these:

I'll admit though that would take the fun of the cutting , gluing and laminating away. For me the very act of sitting down and cutting paper can be relaxing after a crazy day of school.

As I was saying I've accumulated quite a few of these games in the past few years. I counted about 40 of them today. That doesn't include the ones I make for Maggie to sit and play with.
I have found they make great 'distractors' for one child when I am working with another child. Plus I know they are learning something from them in the process. Its much better then having the usual chaos of have the other three running around while I try to teach one of them something.

I'll admit, File Folder games are right up there with making Lapbooks. They are fun for the kids and educational all at the same time. They are very hands on and great for kids who learn best doing hands on things. Even if they don't all children love games.

Here is a list of my favorite places to go for my freebie games: ( great for toddlers) ( this one you do have to purchase but they are the only ones at the moment that i know of that have File Folder games up to 4th grade) ( has a few simple games to print out for free) ( games and file folder games for prek-K) ( there are three of them on this website) ( have some freebies)

I'm sure there maybe other sites but these are the major ones that I have been able to find that offer free file folder games.
I do hope in the future that I will be able to find games for children in upper grades. I've made one of my own so far and one of these days I'll have to share it on here so others can benefit from it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homeschooling Blahs

If you can't tell by the title its easy to see that I am going through homeschooling blahs.
We began our homeschooling journey when Marilyn was 4.5 years old. My baby girl will be 12 this January so we've been homeschooling for almost 8yrs. Its hard to believe it but really that's how long we've been at it.
In that time I've homeschooled on my own and we've utilized cyberschooling during our journey.

I remember the fun and the joy that the elementary grades brought when I taught Marilyn reading and math, and Katie as well.
I'm finding this year that my homeschooling enjoyment is just being sucked from me. When Marilyn was 7 years old we decided to join with a cyberschool in our state. I mean I would have free curriculum ( school books are expensive) and the school could deal with the paperwork accountability that I would otherwise have to do with our school district. I mean what could be better?
That first year was a total disaster. Marilyn fought me tooth and nail, letting me know each day that she wasn't going to do her school work. I can't tell you how many tears and arguments were shed that year. Katie , she did great. Always wanting to please her mommy.
The 2nd year was difficult, but not as bad as the first. Then the third year came along and Marilyn began to be more cooperative. But we were finding that we were just going through the motions to get those green Calvert tests done to send to the school. Then the 4th year came along and Maggie was born. That was a horrific time of turmoil and uncertainty dealing with all of the health problems that kept surfacing from her condition. I'm not even sure how we did it that year. It was just all a horrible blur to me. But we did it and I was proud. The 5th year we decided to give the virtual classes a try and boy that was just a horrible mistake.Technology and me donot mix at all. Marilyn was frustrated, I was frustrated and nothing was getting accomplished. Then during that year we have to travel with Maggie to Cincinnati and this gave me the perfect "excuse" to cut ties with the cyberschool altogether and just homeschool on my own. Even though it was almost the end of the school year I managed to throw some curriculum together and though it wasn't perfectly executed we mangaged and finished out the school year. I was happily awaiting to homeschool the two older girls and leave Hannah in with the other cyber we were with as it was working fine for her. So I pulled Katie out and got all the paperwork signed for the school district and we were officially homeschoolers once again.

I was so happy but of course doubt set in my mind. I had some curriculum to start out the year but not all of it.. We were working with parts of curriculum and the girls were just not enjoying it. So a friend of Marilyn's was with the cyber Hannah was in and of course I once again got talked into doing it. So once again we are with another cyber and this year I just feel like the fun, the enjoyment of learning is just being sucked out of me. The girls tell me they like their cyberschool but our days are being filled with Scantron tests, and even some tears because of the pressure. There is Study Island once again and on top of it all school work. I just feel so totally stressed out lately that its not funny.

One thing is for certain I will NOT be doing cyberschool with Maggie. Of course I could pull the older girls out but they are actually progressing this year, though in some areas we really need to work on things such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.
They enjoy the activities that we would probably not be doing since finaces are still really tight for us. Our area doesn't have social homeschoolers in the the sense they don't like to get out and do much to get together or become friends with. So just getting together with kids that homeschool is such a treat for them. I do try but others really don't seem interested.

Don't get me wrong I do like the curriculum( wish I could afford it myself), its the extra stuff that we HAVE to do with the school that is just causing my homeschool blahs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

File Folder Game: History of Us K12

Of course we have finally hit our snag in the road so to speak. As much as we enjoy K12 we are not enjoying the 6th grade History. The curriculum uses the Joy Hakim books The History of Us. As much as I've heard good things about the books its just not working well for us. Even my husband finds the information they have in the books mundane and scattered. So in my attempts to make things a little more interesting I've created my own File Folder game for Marilyn to help her review the facts she's learned in the books, and also for it to help her review for her assessment tests too.

I will I give lots of credit to those who create their own file folder games. I only have Microsoft office so my futile attempts at making a "professional" looking game that not only looked good but was fun.
So I created a game for Unit 2. I still have some kinks to rule out before I post it for others to use. But my daughter did test it out and she enjoyed playing it.

Here are some pictures of what it looks like if your curious.

As you can see I added some clip art to the front of the game. Bascially, I googled the clipart and glued it on the front. I also added a few pictures on the inside to give more visuals. Like I said its not a perfect looking game but I think it will really help her understand what she is reading more. I know I learned a thing or two while putting this game together.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Many Faces of Maggie

I had to jump on and share these photos that Marilyn took of Maggie. Marilyn enjoys photography very much so whenever she gets the opportunity she is always taking pictures of something. Most times Maggie has the honor of being her subject. Maggie absolutely loves to get her picture taken too.

I really had no idea Marilyn took these pictures until I was going to download something on the computer from a picture that I took. I thought these pictures were so cute that I just HAD to post them here on our blog.
I'll have to say if you think Maggie looks pretty animated in these pictures, your right. She has become quite the silly girl since she has turned three. Sometimes not so silly too.

I will also post her other two projects with the Many Faces of Katie and Hannah too.

So here is " The Many Faces of Maggie"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who needs the workbox system anyways?

Boy, time sure has flown by since the last time I updated that's for sure.
The fair just ended yesterday so now we can really start into our school work. The girls no longer have "Fair on the brain."

This year we are doing something completely different. I began the school year off with homeschooling the two older girls on my own only to have them want to do cyberschool again. So we decided to go with a K12 cyberschool this year. God willing they will be around for a while as they are having some legal issues. But if we get one good year in with them that's fine too.

Of course I began to panic thinking," How will I split myself up into three people again this year?" Marilyn is in 6th grade, Katie is in 4th , and Hannah is in 1st this year.
I had been reading about the "Workbox system". The word intriqued me and I'm all for anything that will make my teaching more effective and make life a bit easier for myself all at the same time. So I had gone on the website that described this "more convienient" method. The method itself sounded like a great idea as it helps ease children into becoming more responsible for their own learning and gives mom more time to work with the younger ones.
I had only one problem with the whole idea. The fact that you needed 12 small boxes and a shelf to put them on. Living in a small apartment we don't have much room for much of anything. So I figured 3 children times 12 would be 36 rubbermaid tubs I had absolutely no room for at all.
So my creative juices began to start flowing because, well, I liked the method, I just didn't like the fact I didn't have any room to impletment it.

Hence my new idea,, the File Folder System@. I did make sure I wasn't stealing another person's idea so I googled to make sure there wasn't, and if its truely not an original thought of my own I apologize in advance.

First, I created the box. I took a box that would fit a file folder and books into neatly. Luckily the boxes we got with our school stuff worked perfectly for this little experiment of mine. Here is a visual. Of course I encourage children to decorate their own box but for the sake of this I did the creating this time around because this idea came to me at night and I wanted to get on top of it and see how it worked out first.

Next, I sat down with the file folders and wrote down things that they needed to complete their lessons. I wrote down whether they needed a pencil, notebook, textbook, or workbook on the front to keep from hearing" Mom, what do I need for this?".

After writing that down I went through the lesson plans for each of their subjects, Math, Language Arts, History, Science , Art and Music. I also go over anything their teachers assign them for work that must be submitted for them as well.
Then I take out any worksheets out of their workbooks, add in any workbooks that I can't tear pages out of, any books that will fit in the file folders and so on. I also add in worksheets or games that I think will help solidfy topics as well.
Even if the book doesn't fit in the file folder the box is big enough for me to add the book behind the folder when need be.

Last but not least, are the lesson plans. I broke down everything thing I wanted them to do down to tidbit steps. For them its like having me right there next to them but not. I numbered each step letting them know if they needed to go online, start with a worksheet, play a game, or enter in answers to questions they had done for their assessments. I also drew a small and of course not so neat STOP sign. This stop sign let them know that Mom or Dad needs to explain the lesson to them. Everything in the folder is set in order in the way I want them to do their lessons as well. I also told them if I was busy with their younger system that they could close the folder and go onto the next subject while they waited as well.

Also in my little world I decided to go through the Friday newsletters that their teachers send and write down on post it notes the times they needed to be on the computer for their Scantron practice, Elluminates, Clubs and posted those right on the side of the computer so they know to get on at that time. I don't have a picture of that on here but I think that is pretty self explanatory.
I also gave them a brief orientation of what OLS ( online learning system) means, how to get on it, how to look at what lessons need to be done for the day as well.

So there you go folks. If anyone else tries this method out be sure to leave a comment and let me know how and if it is working for your family. I am hoping and praying it works for us otherwise I may just be a little crazy by the end of the year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time has flown-Happy Birthday Baby girl

It sure has been a while since I last posted on here. As I was sitting and looking over old photos of the girls it really did remind me how fast time goes by. That we should enjoy each and every day we are here on earth.

Anyways I thought I would share some old photos that I found of Maggie. I can't believe my baby girl is going to be three on August 8th.

This was Maggie's first day home after having surgery on her bottom. That dress was to be her dress that she was going to having her baby pictures taken in. That never happened but we did get this photo. I'm planning on getting it photoshopped so she will never know that she didn't get them like her sisters did.

Here Maggie was 6 weeks old. To us life was good and we thought our health stuff was over. If we only had known that it was just the beginning of life with VACTERL.

This was a cute picture of Maggie that I took.

In this picture Maggie was 4 months old. This was the day before she was admitted into the hospital. Little did we know she was extremely ill. Of course if you can't tell she was very underweight for 4 months old.

This was how we spent Maggie's 1st Christmas and that wasn't the only hospitalization she had. Just one of the few that I had my camera with me. That was a long Christmas because we spent 2 weeks hospitalized to find out she had kidney/urological problems.

Here is a picture of Maggie and her 1st birthday. Of course I think a few days after this she went in the hospital for being dehydrated. But we sure did have a fun time with her first birthday. I even made a homemade allergy free cake for her along with the frosting, and you know what? It was a good cake!

Here is a silly picture of Maggie. She was eating her "ice cream", actually sorbet and wasn't to happy it wasn't the real stuff.
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This was a cute picture of Maggie that I took.

This picture just cracks me up. Actually it was taken as part of a project Marilyn was working on for her American Explorers lapbook. She decided to dress her sisters up into tribal warriors and take some pictures to add in her book. I'll tell you we had fun dressing up and doing face painting. Even if it is during the summer time! LOL

And here is my baby girl now! She is going to be three in 10 days. Happy Birthday to you my Baby girl! I am so proud to be your mommy. You have taught me so much. I can definitely say I am blessed to have such beautiful and wonderful daughters. God has truely blessed me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

PineApple Upside Down Cupcakes

Everyone has heard of Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Well here is our mini version of this famous cake. Each month I get the magazine Family Fun magazine and they always have fun recipes and crafts.
Well we decided to give this recipe a try and we give it two thumbs up and a smile.

First we melted 6 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup of milk on the burner. That was Marilyn's job. After the butter has melted set the mixture aside and let it cool while you do the rest of this:
Next we took and cut each tablespoon of butter and cut them in half. Each half went into our muffin tin along with 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar on top.

That was Katie's job. She had fun doing this. After adding the brown sugar to the butter we took the muffin tin and slid it into our 350 degree oven just long enough for the butter to melt.
The next part was a little tricky. But it worked out alright. Taking pinapple slices(not chunks) we sliced them into quarter pieces. Taking the sliced pineapple we added two of them in each muffin tin and put a marachino cherry in the middle.

This was Hannah's job. Though it was a little tricky to do. Hannah did a wonderful job putting the pineapple and cherries in the muffin tins.
Last but not least was cake batter.
The dry mixture was 1 cup of flour, 1/4 salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.Katie mixed this and we set it aside. Marilyn mixed the wet ingrediets , which were two eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 3/4 cups of sugar.

After mixing these ingredients we added the wet mixture to the dry, mixing it until all of the dry mixture was absorbed. After doing this we added in the milk/butter mixture. Marilyn stirred this really well. Then my job was to evenly distribute the cake batter into each of the tins. I found that a soup ladle really did the trick when it came to this step.
Then we put it in the oven and waited for about 25 minutes. After being ever so patient we took the muffin tin out and then I took a cookie sheet, layered it with Reynolds Wrap and then flipped the muffin tin over and voila' Pinapple Upside Down Cupcakes:

Now if you have a non stick pan there is no need to take a knife and go around the cupcake to make sure it doesn't stick. If you don't you will need to add this step to make sure the cupcakes don't stick to the tin before you flip it over onto the cookie sheet.
After this step was done we let them cool for a while. Of course the girls just couldn't wait to give them a try, and give them a try they did.

And there you go everyone. Pinapple Upside Down Cupcakes.

Of course I don't want to forget one more picture. Hannah completed the first 40 lessons in Headsprout. She was very proud of herself and we were proud of her also.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer and Cheerleading Camp

We sure have had a wonderfully fun summer. This summer Marilyn made 1st runner up for Little Miss Corry. We couldn't be more proud of her that's for sure. I will set up the video from all of that as soon as I can. It takes a long time to download video on a computer. Hopefully someday that process can be sped up a bit.

This week(July-9.09)the girls finished up Cheerleading camp. This was the third year of cheerleading camp that has been set up at our high school. It began as a fundraiser to help costs for the cheerleaders and has grown to be a huge and popular program in our area. This is also Marilyn's third year and Katie's 2nd year. They truely have a lot of fun with this camp and its great exercise.
The one other thing I realized this year is that next year will be Marilyn's last year of the summer camp and last year of Vacation Bible Schools. I'll admit I feel a little lost as to what to do with her for when she enters 7th grade. Sniff. Sniff. I can't believe we are almost at this stage in her life already.

Summer sure is flying by fast. Before we know it fair time will be here and the start of another year of school. I have pretty much the stuff we need for our new school year. Marilyn and Katie will be homeschooled ,and I will continue with our K12 cyberschool with Hannah because it has worked so well for her. I am excited to be able to use the curriculum that I want to use for the girls this year that will work for them.

Maggie will join along and color in her Kumon workbooks. She loves to play games on the computer. I found a cute Fisher Price game that she can play. She likes it when Hannah 'plays' with her Headsprout so she feels she should do the same. Its so hard because Maggie wants to do everything her big sisters do, yet at the same time I just want to let her be my baby girl.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

VACTERL Conference 2009

Hello everyone. We had a wonderful time in Philidelphia. Other then the fact that we had a small stint of getting lost we had a wonderful time.
We met so many wonderful and amazing families, and their wonderful and amazing children.
Each of our children are just so unique that its truely possible to go to the conference and not find another child like our own.

We did take some video and some photos while we were there. I will say that I'm a little sad because some of my photos disappeard that I had taken. I'm not sure why or how. But what I do have is fun to see.

I am still working on the video of the conference and it will be made available really soon. I promise. Just a lot of work to edit stuff. LOL.

I can truely say that I miss everyone already. I knew that the conference would come soon and it went as fast as it came. We have met so many wonderful families online and at the conferences that our friendships will last a lifetime that is for sure. I really can't wait for the next one where ever it maybe.

Hope you enjoy the pictures I do have.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

HeadSprout Reading

Hannah has steadily been making progress with using Headsprout. I am still very happy with the program, and am glad at seeing that Hannah is making progress with her reading now. I decided to video take Hannah reading her stories today. Hannah was very proud of herself and she loves to put her stickers on the chart to see how far she has gone with her reading. I paid for all 80 lessons so I am hoping that by doing the lessons everyday Hannah will be reading at a 2nd grade level by the start of the new school year.
I hope that everyone can hear Hannah reading. I accidently had the background microphone off on the camera and didn't know it.
Hope everyone enjoys:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Freebie

I'll admit even in the summer I enjoy a good freebie. . I'll admit without the brave pioneers of the couponing and freebie era I don't think I would find these awesome offers without them.
This summer freebie is for the preschool crowd. Not exactly educational in nature but fun none-the-less.
This freebee is from Fisher Price. I'll admit it takes a long time to get it in the mail. I haven't gotten the first one yet that I ordered some time ago, but it should be coming soon. They make great surprises in the mail that's for sure.
This is more of a boy DVD but I can imagine girls would enjoy it just as much. The name of it is GeoTrax.

Click the Link : GeoTrax to take you to the link and be sure to click the country on the upper right hand side to get started on the online order.

I suppose if you have a boy you would be familiar with this Fisher Price toy. Being a mom to four girls I am not familiar with it but I think Maggie and Hannah would like watching it.

This week is our last week of school until the fall. I of course will through in some school work on those days where its raining or if I hear "Mom, I'm bored". I'm excited though because this will be the first year I homeschool the girls on my own, using my own curriculum and not worrying so much about sending in tests and sample school work. We can enjoy our school year and use what works for us.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Fun

I bet you thought I was going to tell you about the summer fun we've been having just by seeing the title of the post. Well I'm not. Just kidding.
Actually we have been having some summer fun. The girls have signed up for summer swim team and we are participating in a free program at the YMCA for swim and gym during the summer season. Can't pass up on free stuff that's for sure.

Actually Hannah and I made a Summer Fun shape book. I had taken some video of it before sending it out to her teacher for her end of the year assignment. We had fun reviewing some of the addition and subtraction facts that she learned this year by doing some cutting and pasting.
I thought I'd share it with everyone because it turned out really cute and also in hopes it spawns off some ideas for other on what to do during the summer if your taking a summer break.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Somebody's in Trouble

Okay. Well after having four girls you would think by now that we would have a good handle with keeping the scissors put up in a high place. Well think again.

Maggie decided this week to get into that stage. You know, the stage where we learn to cut with scissors and hack our hair off stage.
Well she decided to cut her hair. Naughty girl. I'd thought I'd post some before and after pictures since, well, I had to take her to the hair stylist to repair the damage. As you can see Maggie was going for the Neo-Skunk look.

Here are the before pictures:

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Now here are the after pictures. Thank you Miss Hairstylist lady:

I wasn't about to attempt to try and fix it myself because she really hacked at her hair something fierce. I knew something was up when I found this trail of hair from our kitchen to her bedroom. The one thing I am greatful for is that it wasn't before getting any pictures taken. That was what my oldest Marilyn did from the time she was Maggie's age until at least the age of 6 or 7. Everytime we were ready to go for pictures Marilyn would hack the front of her hair. Unlike her oldest sister, at least Maggie got the sides too!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Head Sprout

Okay. I'll admit. I've seen this reading program a million times. I even used my other email addresses to give the girls their free trial of three free lessons. But I never bought the program deaming it to expensive. I went on to use other reading programs with either much success or even some failure.

This year with Hannah we were using the K12 with a virtual cyberschool. I love the curriculum but am not caring for all the 'extra' stuff we have to do. So this will most likely be our last year with K12.
So in my effort to start looking for curriculum for this coming school year I had gotten a Headsprout facebook invite. So went over and decided to let Hannah try the three free lessons before even thinking about purchasing it to use.
I'll have to say not only does Hannah love it but Maggie loves to sit in on it too. She really wants to play the games but isn't exactly quite ready for it. The nice thing is though is can absorb something out of it too.

The Headsprout program is worth the money. With a price tag of $198 ( the most expensive reading program I've ever purchased) they also offer an online payment of $33 a month if you purchase it online with a credit/debit card. I can handle $33 for six months. Plus hopefully we'll get in the mail soon some readers and a poster for Hannah to keep track of her progress.

So far Hannah has done 5 lessons and in those 5 lessons she is reading more fluently then she has all year with using K12 for reading. She was getting into a habit of sounding EVERYTHING out. I mean it has stretched into this process that makes me want to poke my eyes out with my fingers. She definitley has the process of sounding words out to an art. But man. She isn't learning to just read the word now.
So we will be using Headsprout this summer for extra reading practice and hopefully when she is done we can go right into a reading program such as Bob Jones or Christian Light.

I guess this is will be my word of mouth advertising of Headsprout. Definitely worth the money in my opinion and so far is providing good results.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let's Exercise

Exercise. Well yes, that chore that I really hate doing. I'll admit that after I exercise I do feel better.
Today in attempts to motivate myself to exercise more I signed up with an aqua aerobics class with my mother in law. I'll have to admit other then being the youngest person in the group it was fun and a much kinder way of exercising. Well almost kinder. Feeling that I- had -4 -children flab going up and down in the water wasn't so funny( even though it sounds that way). But it was nice in a way that no one could see that under the water.

I'm finding having someone to exercise with motivates me more, and actually makes me do it. I have days where I'd much rather exercise by myself but I think most of the time I'd rather exercise with someone else.
The one thing I'm finding it is just plain tough to be a woman and adding the fact that weight just creeps up on you and it stays is even tougher. My husband comes out this morning and after giving up pop for the past month comes out and says: Look hun, my belly is going down. He really hasn't changed to much of his eating habits(which are a thousand times worse then mine). He just gave up pop. I can't even tell you the last time I drank pop. Even Tim admitted that one the other day. I eat a very well balanced diet. Complex carbs ( whole grains, no white rice etc.) fruits , veggies. Fish 3 days a week. Even my mother in law said I have eating food down to a science. Yet, its tough to lose the weight.
I even went in for blood work to check to make sure my body is working like it should I still suspect thyroid issues even though I'm on synthroid already. Just a really low dose.

Also I've been learning along the way with being a mom to a child that has special needs is that we give our all to our children and put ourself on the back burner. Which is really a bad idea. Its easy to slip into when you sit in hospitals, travel to multiple hospitals to see mulitple doctors that don't have a clue as to help your child. Its easy to get down and almost down right depressed when you try so hard yet things don't always go your way during that time. I've noticed a common theme with all of us VACTERL moms, Post traumatic stress. I'm most sure that families that have children with all types of health issues have this problem but since I follow most of my beloved VACTERL families I've noticed this as a common theme with us mothers.
The only way to really combat that is exercise , and well yes, therapy. But exercise really helps. So this is my start to a new beginning. Of being kind to myself. That is one of the most important things. If I'm not kind to myself and I don't take care of myself then I won't be around to take care of everyone else.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I actually won something!

All I can say is Wohoo! I can't believe I won something. Its a rare moment when I win something. Marilyn is my one that wins stuff all of the time. I tell her that she is the luckiest girl I know. Me, on the other hand not so lucky. I can count on one hand the times I've actually won something.
Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that I won one of the new science notebooks from Jeannie Fulbright's Apologia Elementary science series. Is that cool or what?
Marilyn chose the Astrononmy notebook:

you can see samples of this on Apologia's website . I'm looking forward to seeing it and I plan on getting one for Katie as well. I think that I will print out the notebooking pages for Hannah from Jeannie's website because these notebooks seem to be for older students( I would say grades 3 and up).

Now with all of that said there is another contest going on until June 8th. This is a Composer's Activity Pack giveaway from Homeschool in the Woods. If you enjoy doing hands on projects with your children, homeschool and love to lapbook this giveaway is for you. Just stop on over to The Lowe Piano Studio and enter today. What will you get? One free downloadable of the new Composers Activity Pack that is currently being sold at Homeschool in the Wood's website.
This visual activity will open up the world of composers to your child without boring them with just the facts.
Homeschool in the Woods creates great History products and are coming out with this new music program this year.

Be sure to click on the grey words in my post that will take you to the links I mentioned above.

Now I'm just going to cross my fingers and let's see if I can win this program too. If I do that would be GREAT!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stroller frenzy

I'll admit. I enjoy using a good stroller. One that is sturdy and one that will last a long time. Our last stroller I literally had it for eleven years. I used this stroller and kept such good care of it that it went through Marilyn , Katie , Hannah and the first year of Maggie's life until the tires fell apart. That's not bad for something that is made in today's world.

I ordered the Avila stroller as the medical company Allegra was having an awesome sale... free shipping. Gotta love it.
The one thing we didn't like was the fact the stroller was on back order and the company's website didn't state that it was. Other then that the shipping is insanely fast. I was emailed yesterday saying the stroller was shipped out only to recieve it today! I guess I can forgive that.

It was for the most part very simple to put together. The Avila stroller came mostly assembled in the box. All I had to do was put the bars in the back together and then add some back tires.
Of course when it comes to me putting things together I insist on NOT reading the directions. I'm not sure where that comes from. Usually guys have a habit of doing that, but since I'm not a guy I'm not sure why I do what I do.
The back tires were the most difficult part because I had to add a small pin at the end of the back tire to hold it in before adding on the little cap. That was just not fun. Luckily I had Marilyn to help me with that one. It was one of those Farkle family moments and of course a few choice words were coming out of my mouth as this was all taking place.

After all of the cussing and pulling we finally got this put together....

And in the end we had one Happy Maggie:

I also have a Kidsert that was wonderfully given to us by another family that I didn't take pictures of it yet. Maggie insisted on taking it out when I wanted it in. Of course by the end of the evening she wanted the Kidsert back in. She calls it her carseat. Silly girl.

Thought you would all enjoy a quick funny brought to you by Maggie Reed. I caught her dancing to Alvin and the Chipmunks today. She didn't know I was standing there for some time and I think she eventually sensed my evil presence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The "fun" of shopping

I'll admit. I love to shop. I love shopping and buying things for my daughters and for my husband. My girls have more clothes combine then I ever will own in my own life time. I enjoy picking out their outfits at the store. Children's clothing has really gotten cute since I was a kid.
Picking out my husband's clothes is pretty easy, shirts, shorts , pants. Pretty simple, huh?

Then there is me. I hate shopping for clothes for myself with every fiber of my being. I hate wearing women's sizes. There is someone, somewhere that thinks fat people should wear ugly clothes. Either that they are the same clothes skinny people wear and they just look ugly because they are bigger. I'm not sure which is which though.

I'll admit. Its been so hard trying to lose weight. I envy women all of the time. You know those women who have a flat belly, perfect skin, perfect hair. They were born this way. You see them stuffing donuts and coffee in their mouths yet for some reason they keep their figure.
I on the other hand eat a pretty well balanced diet. We don't eat much fast food because well its just getting to darned expensive. Fruits and veggies our in our home and we eat them. I'll admit I don't exercise as much as I should. Which I'm really trying to work on.
But dang. I've been overweight all of my life. I just would like a break, a moment, a wish even to experience being thin. I would love to shop and pick out those outfits that I always tell my girls are so cute.

I know you say, but just go on a diet. Exercise more. Trust me , been there done that all of my life. Unless I one day wake up and find myself on the Biggest Loser I don't know what else to really do. I REALLY don't want to have surgery if I really, really don't have to. It doesn't always work and it has so many complications that come with it.

When it comes to my weight I have always felt like I've been climbing the mountain but never have seemed to get past the go. I've made it to the middle once where I had lost 55lbs and I looked good and felt great. But after having Maggie something just keeps me from getting past go. I'm not sure what it is. I'm not sure why it is either. I start, I stop. I get stressed. The end. Its very frustrating.

I guess in the end I know I have to make it happen. I just wish I could make it happen. I'm hoping one day I will be able to brag that I bought a cute outfit and looked great in it. I guess until that day I can continue to live vicariously through my daughters.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Maggie says hello

Okay. So I've been having a little fun with our new toy. We have finally after two years have saved up for a video camera. I sure do wish we had it a lot sooner. Actually we did have a video camera but it was a video tape type and that was around when Marilyn and Katie were little and we have one video tape of them before the camcorder had died. Ever since we really didn't have one and boy my life has been lost without it. Though its a luxury item. We really don't buy luxury things very often.

Well anyways. I had some fun with it today and Maggie decided she wanted to say hello to her VACTERL friends Eithene and Benji. So I hope that everyone enjoys. Don't mind my annoying voice in the background, or the fact the video is a little shaky, OR the fact that Maggie insisted to get really close to the camera at certain times, OR the fact that she gets a "brain fart" when she sings the last verse of the ABC song. LOL.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Notebooking. Well just what is notebooking? Notebooking is a much simplier form of Lapbooking. Bascially you can copy sheets, create your own sheets from paper, add essays,maps, lab reports, worksheet pages, scrapbooking pages, drawings, timelines. You can add just about anything you wish. As long as it can be three wholed punched and will fit in a binder. There is a website where you can purchase or copy free notebook pages to get you started. The name of it is Notebooking

At first I really shrugged notebooking off thinking it wasn't something we were going to enjoy and would be way to time consuming for us to do. When it fact its just as fun as lapbooking.

The Notebook shown here is Marilyn's Notebook for her Zoology 2 Science book. I will have to admit Apologia science has become our favorite science book. I was a little leary at first but the girls really do enjoy studying one concept at a time.
We are excited to continue the series, which is a Christian science program, and I can't believe next year Marilyn will be starting into their upper level science. We've actually be contemplating the General Science for this year. Their science is very meaty in the upper levels so I'm not sure if I want to try it or not yet. I could always give it a try and see and if it doesn't work then we could just go back to the Elementary series since I will be using it with my other two girls for this coming year. We are looking forward to studying Botany and Astronomy. We may even throw in Human Anatomy if the book comes out soon.

The Notebooking Pages for Apologia Elementary Science are located on Jeanie Fulbright's Website Even if your not using Apologia Science they make great notebooking pages for any science curriculum.

Also Apologia is now introducing their beautiful spiral bound notebooks for Astronomy and Botany. They are already made, no need to use your printer ink to copy the workbook pages out.
Each of the notebooking journals include:
A daily schedule for those who like to have a plan or would like their children to complete the book on their own
Templates for written narrations, the notebooking activities and experiments
Review Questions
Scripture Copywork, with both print and cursive practice
Reading lists and additional activities, projects, experiments for each lesson
An appendix with beautiful, full-color, lapbook-style Miniature Books
Field Trip Sheets to keep a record field trips
A Final Review with fifty questions the students can answer either orally or in writing to show off all they remember and know at the end of the course.
See the sample pages here:

Jeannie is giving away four Astronomy Notebooking Journals and four Botany Notebooking Journals to bloggers who post about this on their site. Visit her blog to learn more about this contest:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Homeschoolers Poem

To a Homeschool Mom
by Amelia Harper

He gave this gift with gentle hands,
A treasure rich and rare;
But sand and rock and rugged stone
Obscured the gem so fair.

“I give this gift to you,” He said,
“To polish and to prime;
The future lies within your hands,
So make use of the time.”

Some others placed their precious gifts
Within another’s care,
Because they knew the craft took time—
And time they could not spare.

But you were not content to trust
This task to other hands.
You sought to teach yourself the craft
That such a task demands.

For, you said, “No other hand
Can craft this gem so fair;
My loving eyes can better see
The treasure hidden there.”

So carefully you chipped away
Till brilliance sprang from stone.
You shaped each facet, smoothed each face,
Until the task was done.

Some days you feared that you would fail;
Some days, you saw success.
But still you labored on with love
And gentle tenderness.

Thus, soon the gem He gave to you
Reflected Light sublime;
And then you knew no other task
Was better worth your time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Homeschool, Cyberschool and College, OH MY!

I'm going to admit that lately I feel like I've bitten off more then I can chew.
After having Maggie and going through so much stress with her care. I decided to do something for myself, anything. Its one of my many weaknesses doing things for myself. I have always been this way, caring for others then thinking of myself last.
I was 18 years old when my mother was ill with cancer. On top of that I had two younger brothers that were seven and five at the time too. My mother had finally divorced my evil stepfather( literally, he was) and so it was me who was left to care for my mom who's health was failing by the day. She had breast cancer but it was an agressive kind. Sometimes I like to think though that if she were alive today she'd still be here. Anyways, in that time I cared for everyone. I was the oldest so that was my job. So here I had an opportunity arise where I could finally do something for myself. Maggie's health has stabilized to the point that I could do something for myself and yet here I am feeling like I shouldn't have.

I have the job of being mom first, next the wife, then I'm teacher and I homeschool my oldest on my own and PA is not a homeschool friendly state. The requirements are unreal, making me wish I lived in Texas or Alaska where you are free to homeschool your children without all the laborious paperwork that we do in PA. We are required to report to the school district with notorized paperwork and a list of objectives that are set for the year. After that you feel free, free that is until you hit this time of the year. When your child has to have standardized testing( required in 3,5,and 8 if you homeschool on your own), then you have to find someone to do an evaluation. This requires finding a teacher , psychologist or someone who is allowed by law. They all don't advertise so you have to go by word of mouth.That's not all, oh no, that is not all. You have to bring a handmade portfolio that has your child's work in it that shows improvement throughout the year. Which is tough because well we started in January. There has been some improvement but Marilyn still has a ways to go. We are maybe half way through her studies if best and I am finding I need to switch curriculum for reading because what we are using is just not working really well right now but its almost June so I can't. I have to make this porfolio like a scrap book with all the different subjects, math , reading , writing, science , history, art, phys ed, art and music and fire saftey . I'll admit phys ed is not something we did much of this year. We just didn't have the money and the weather was terrible this winter. So I'll just need to resort to taking pictures of her riding her bike , jump roping , etc. For art, well other then arts and crafts not much art appreciation going on around here. This subject is not one of my fortes and let me tell you right now of all subjects to start with college its none other then art and culture... ugh.

Then on to Katie and Hannah. They are both in different cyberschools. Requiring different tests and paperwork. Katie's curriculum requires us to do lesson test ever 20 lessons. Not fun. We are just plowing through them and that's all I'm going to say. After this year she will be homeschooled. Hannah's cyberschool requires three different pieces of work each month. It could be writing , math , history, or any other combination. Plus we are getting by with school work with doing the least amount possible. I'll admit though I really do like the K12 curriculum. Its very thorough and well put together. It can be time consuming though.

Then there is me. I had to start college now in my life. I feel like I'm going crazy and insane. I haven't been in school for 14yrs and education really has changed ALOT since I was last in school. I'm taking courses where they assume you know this stuff. For instance writing. I had always thought I was good with writing. Well, I'm learning I'm not really. I never had to write different types of papers such as expository or persuasive essays while in school. It was more , write a paper on what you just learned when I was in school. I never had much art. I went to several schools going up and art either consisted of arts and crafts , drawing or no art at all. I did play music in high school but never took any music appreaciation type classes or anything like that. I just was blessed I could play music by ear because I could never read music either.
College started off great for me. I enjoyed it at first. Now its become another stressor in my life that I just really don't need. Yet at the same time I do need and want my teaching degree. I have to manage being a full time mom , a full time wife , a full time at home teacher , and a full time student. My husband helps as much as he can and is my biggest cheerleader to make me keep going.
I find myself dwindling between regular mom stress, post tramatic stress from the birth of Maggie and now college stress/. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to pay for school. But I want to make sure I am making good grades. I just can't seem to get this old brain to learn the things I need.
Don't get me wrong , I'm still going to work through college. Just I feel like I've bitten off more then I can chew.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu , oh my!

Okay. I'm going to admit that since all of the hoopla with the media that I've been a bit paranoid about the whole swine flu thing. Even more so since we are planning to travel to Philidelphia.
Wouldn't you know though that the first case of swine flu in Pennsylvania was reported tonight and do you know where? Philidelphia. All I can do is scream on the inside. Of course we are still going to go( unless things get bad). Its not until the end of June and so flu season will be considered more then done and over with. BUT at the same time germs are germs and I don't think they care what time of the year it is.
One thing is for sure we pray that we don't get this swine flu. The crazy part is where there are germs , there are my daughters. They seem to catch everything for some reason. We homeschool yet they still catch these ooglie germs. It doesn't help we live in an apartment complex, but still. I guess it goes to show that my girls prove the saying that children are walking balls of human germs.LOL.

Kidding aside though I'm praying that we don't catch this bug at all and that this paranoia of mine can be put to rest once it all fizzles out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Watching my girls grow up

One thing is for certain. Time does not stop for anyone. Its amazing how time has flown by. It seems like yesterday I was holding my oldest daughter in my arms after having over 12 hours of very hard labor because I had to be induced due to my blood pressure skyrocketing at the end of my pregnancy. Now she is a beautifull 11 year old girl that just amazes me everyday. It was like yesterday that Katie was born. She was just such a silly girl. She gave us a bit of a run for our money when she was little with having seizure problems. Luckily for her it worked itself out and now she is just Katie Reed. A feisty girl who I think someday will be a lawyer. I will award the man that marries her someday. Hannah, she is my quiet one. We tease and tell her that she's going to be a spy. Its kind of creepy actually. Hannah can sneak up on anyone like a cat and they don't know she's there until you almost fall over her. I can't believe she is going to be 6 years old here in June. She is still by Hannie Lou Who. Then there is Maggie. I can't believe that three years have almost gone by. She is still mommy's baby. Its like those first few grueling years never happened.

One thing is for certain when you have children you really see time fly by. Its almost like when you are a child life can't go quick enough so you can be a grown up. But when you grow up you just want it to stop so that you can enjoy every moment.

Friday, April 17, 2009

File Folder Games

Hello all. Thought I would share some pictures of our new File Folder games.
These were downloaded from Fun File Folder Games Hannah was able to play the three word Sight word game, and I finished the two word game this evening so she can play tomorrow.

This is also Hannah's favorite game for skip counting. This game comes with game pieces for skip counting 2,3,4,5,and 10's.