Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our Daily Homeschool Routine



This post contains affiliate links. 

We finished up Week 2 of our new homeschool year using various curriculum that I pieced together over the summer.  When I linked my 2015-2016 Homeschool Classroom and Curriculum post onto the "Catholic Homeschool Moms" Facebook page, Lisa M. commented that she is interested in what my daily routine looks like since both she and I have similar ages that we homeschool.

I've never written a post on what my day looks like (or hopes to look like) during our homeschool hours and to be honest it scares me to write such a post.  Mainly because I sometimes don't even know my daily routine because the only thing that I have found to be consistent during my days is  inconsistency!  (Not exactly the place I want to be at and something I'm trying to change always)

I also have skipped over writing daily routine posts because I don't want anyone to think I have my days all put together and things always flow so wonderfully during our school days.  I have good moments, bad moments, sometimes very bad moments, constant interruptions, struggles, challenges, and joyful triumphs! 

So with all that being said, I wanted to make this homeschool year different and a little less stressful, if at all possible.  When I stumbled upon how to follow a routine vs. a schedule as described in this YouTube video by Julie Bogart at Brave Writer, I thought this may be how I have to think of my days...focus on routine vs. a schedule.  Thank you Jennifer at Forever For Always, No Matter What for sharing the video on your Facebook page!

I wanted to incorporate more prayer time throughout our day and make this the most consistent parts of our day.  Events that happen in between our prayer times is what is most inconsistent, but at least the prayers scattered throughout our days would help me feel more focused on leaning on God's help and it's my hope that my children will get in a good habit of praying often. 

So here's the routine we have been doing for the past couple of weeks so I know and my kids know what to expect, but at the same time leave room for unexpected fun, learning opportunities, and interruptions. (Disclaimer: the exact times don't mean we always do things at that exact time. In fact, they rarely get done "on time".   Maybe I should call them my "target times", which means they are my goal times.  But we still follow the same routine each day, whether we hit our "target time" or not.  Hope I'm making sense.  :) 

5:30 AM:  alarm goes off, but I'm in a bad habit of putting it on snooze and not jumping out of bed right away.  And I wonder where my kids get the sleep past my alarm syndrome?    :)

6:00 AM - 6:30 AM:  Exercise with my 2 older daughters using the 21 Day Fix Beachbody DVDs.

6:30 AM - 7:00 AM:  Morning prayers by myself (if our 2 year old isn't up yet, but she usually is awake already so my solo prayer time is cut short often.  I must stop snoozing at the 5:30 alarm to make more time in the morning!)

7:00 AM - 7:30 AM: I shower, get dressed, tend to my 2 year old's needs

7:30 AM: Kids wake up (or not! Mostly not! Grrrr....)

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM: Breakfast, kids get ready for day, kitchen chores

8:30 AM: We try to get to Friday morning Mass and adoration and Mass starts at 8:30 AM. The days we don't go to daily Mass, we gather on our living room couches and start our Couch Catechism time, which includes morning prayers, scripture readings, daily Saint reading, and we are reading one Friendly Defenders card a day.

We will also use this time after morning prayers to review our Classically Catholic Memory (CCM) work for CCM co-op.

9:00 AM:  we go upstairs to the our homeschool room and begin lessons.  We start with the Pledge of Allegiance (when I remember) and then the kids start working on their lessons as noted in their spiral  notebooks.

More about the spiral notebook lesson planning:

For the past few years I have typed up lesson plans on the computer and each week and subject box looked the same almost from one week to the next.  I would run off copies of the lesson plan template each week, fill in with pen which lesson # they were on, but found it was a waste of paper since my kids never really looked at the plans because most boxes were vague on what to do and I got lost on where they were in each subject.

So when I read Sarah's post at Amongst Lovely Things about her spiral notebook lesson planning, I thought I would give it a try this year and see how it goes.  So far so good.

On the cover of these notebooks is the All About Me! sheets each child filled out on our first day of school and that is part of our new homeschool year traditions.  I taped these sheets down with clear packaging tape. 

  
On the inside of the notebooks are the daily lesson plans that I write the night before and a check box that each child will check off as they finish each subject.

Here's an example of my oldest daughter's daily lesson plan. She's in 10th grade and keep in mind this was Day 4 of the first week so we were still easing into lessons and curriculum and her online writing course hadn't started yet.   We do a very "soft start" the first week of each homeschool year to ease into things and get used to our routine.


As Sarah mentioned in her post about spiral notebook lesson planning, both my kids and myself are getting through the subjects and if we don't get to a subject, I'm really trying hard to not stress over it.  I will just sit down at night and evaluate what got done for the day and rewrite what wasn't done  or write new assignments for the next day.  At first this entire process took much longer than 10 minutes, as Sarah suggests it will take,  because I'm still trying to get used to new curriculum, but I've been getting gradually quicker with planning and it doesn't seem as daunting.

I do like the "checking in on my kids' daily completed work" aspect of the spiral notebook planning. The notebooks hold me accountable because if I neglect to write in lessons for a day, my kids aren't sure what to do so the spiral notebook lesson planning forces me to stay on top of not only planning, but what each child is doing in each subject.

9:00 AM - Noon: Ok, so these hours of schooling and the routine are a bit crazy and inconsistent since the 2 year old is pulling books off shelves usually and getting into things while I try to work with my 7 year old and 11 year old on math and literature.  As one of my children finishes some of their work, I get them to watch my little one so I can focus on finishing up with another child.  My 10th grade daughter and 8th grade son are very independent and only come to me when they have questions so they are on their own for the most part.  This is a huge advantage of homeschooling older kids...they eventually become independent learners who can get work done without me hovering over them.

I do need to find more focused activities for my 2 year old, I admit, because things get a bit hectic with her.

11:45 - Noon: Everyone works together to clean up the homeschool room before lunch because if I don't stay on top of the homeschool room it can look like this playroom. As you can see below this is what is very typical in the Smith household.  My 7 year old and 2 year old were playing in the bedroom my 2 year old will move in to eventually and things get messy quickly.  



Noon - 1:00 PM:  We break for lunch.  Before lunch we say the Angelus prayer and Grace Before Meals prayer.    I try to catch up on any phone calls, emails, texts during this time.

1:00 -1:30 PM: Read to my 2 year old before her nap time and put her to down for nap.  The older kids use this time to catch up on any work or read from a book of their choosing.

1:30 - 3:00 PM:  Do History, Science and Writing lessons during this time.

3:00 PM:  We pray a Divine Mercy chaplet at the hour of Jesus's Passion and Death on the cross.

3:15 PM and on: free time, snack, and prepare for afternoon/evening activities.  In the late afternoon/early evening we get ready for various activities Monday through Thursday:  soccer practices, girls' church choir practice, piano lessons for my 2 oldest, 4H meetings, gymnastics class.

So far our routine has been going well.  This isn't a complete list since I didn't mention that on Tuesdays we have our CCM co-op and Thursdays we try to get to the library story time for my 2 year old and my 15 year old daughter volunteers for an hour during story time to shelve books.  But, on the days that we are home all day, the above routine is what usually happens.

What does your day's schedule or routine look like?  Is is similar/different than mine?

Have a blessed weekend!

 




Monday, August 17, 2015

Another (Home) School Year Begins with Traditions: 2015-2016



Last week, on Aug. 10, we started our 2015-2016 homeschool year.  We are slowly getting into a routine and gradually implementing the curriculum that I prayerfully and patiently chose for this year.

We started our first day last week with some of the simple and easy new school year traditions we have been doing for several years now.  I really didn't even think my kids appreciated the traditions or took note of them until of few of them asked, "Hey Mom, we're having our cross cake right?" and "We are drawing what we did over the summer on those paper t-shirts right?" So I'm thankful they remember some of our simple, fun ways to ring in the new school year and I'm thankful the traditions are easy enough to prepare since it's the last thing I get ready before the school year starts.


My kids love to bake and decorate our traditional cross cake.  We've been doing this for several years now.  Since our homeschool is named Sacred Heart Academy, we usually decorate the cake with Jesus' Sacred Heart and a "few" sprinkles.

Our youngest one was hollering about wanting to get down or wanting to eat the cake,  I think.  She's not in pain, I promise. :) 

In the morning on the first day, I have the kids draw on their "We've had a Tee-rific Summer" paper t-shirts.  I got the pattern from a teacher resource book, but HERE is a link to a similar t-shirt pattern you can use if you would like.  As they use their creativity and draw pictures and write words about their summer fun, it's always interesting to hear some of the memories they have had over the summer.


I have the t-shirts hanging on a "clothesline" in our hallway to our homeschool room and each year as they hang their current creation up, they look back at their previous drawings that we still have hanging up behind the newer ones.  They giggle at how their artistic talent has changed and improved over the years.  :)


Around this time each summer, we also measure how much everyone has grown since last year.  Wowzer!  They each have grown so much, no wonder they are always hungry! :)  Our son grew about 3 inches, at least!  They like to compare their heights with each passing year.

Another tradition that we do (even the older kids) is write on and color the All About Me sheets.
It's neat to see how their interests have stayed the same or have changed from last year.  I then taped these sheets on their spiral bound notebooks that I am using this year for lesson planning.  More on my new lesson planning routine and our daily schedule in a post later this week...

We also take photos with our grade signs. Last year I stumbled upon 13 Free Printable First Day of School Signs that I have been using.  I don't think I have taken first day of school photos every year since I started homeschooling in 2005, but when I remember to do so, I think it's a great way to start the year.   

What are some of your new school year traditions, whether you homeschool or not?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments!  

I hope everyone has a terrific school year! 


 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

2015-2016 Homeschool Classroom and Curriculum



This post contains affiliate links.

We will start our 2015-2016 homeschool year on Monday, August 10!

I usually start early August for a few reasons.  I like to get back in the swing of things before my birthday on Aug. 24th (this year I turn the big 4-0, though last month felt like my birthday with my husband's big surprise! :) ) and it's nice to get back into a school routine before the extra-curricular activities start.  This year we will do school work for two weeks and then the week of Aug. 22-29 our family will take a vacation to the beach with my parents, siblings and their families like we did last year in September 2014, but at a different beach this year. Then after our beach vacation we will continue with our homeschool year. 


When we built our home in 2006, we were already homeschooling our children.  I am grateful that the floor plan we chose allowed our family to use the "game room" as our homeschool room.  Above is our homeschool classroom from the door's entrance.

Not much has changed since last year with how our room looks and how I organize our homeschool books. If interested, take a little tour of the room and an explanation of our book baskets and foam boards where our curriculum is stored and stays organized .  I must say I struggle finding the "perfect" system for many things, but our book baskets have worked for us for several years now so that's one thing I'm not changing (yet).  Maybe it will inspire you and be helpful!


Before I list what our curriculum choices are for 2015-2016, here is a list of my curriculum posts from 2010 on.  I put the grades each of my children (aka "Cupcakes" :) ) were in for each year in case anyone is interested in a particular grade level.

2010-2011 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 5th, 3rd, 1st grade and a 3 year old) 

2011-2012 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 6th, 4th, 2nd grade and a 3 1/2 year old)

2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 7th, 5th, 3rd grade and a 4 year old) 

2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 8th, 6th, 4th, and Kindergarten grade and I just had Baby #5)

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 9th, 7th, 5th, 1st grade and a 1 year old)

I will say that I pick and choose my curriculum for each subject and I don't use a box curriculum. When I first started homeschooling in 2005 I did use Catholic Heritage Curricula (CHC) lesson plans for my oldest who was in kindergarten at the time.  I was new to the homeschool journey, had 3 young children and felt I just couldn't "make things up", but I found I ended up picking and choosing some curriculum that was not suggested by CHC through the year. I have kept with the picking and choosing method ever since.  For me, having the freedom to choose curriculum for each subject each year has been a blessing and a curse.  I enjoy the flexibility of using so many different and wonderful resources to fit my children's learning styles and needs, but it can be overwhelming to choose curriculum because there is sooooo much out there.

Please Visit My Sponsor

The one company that has helped me not only choose great curriculum for each subject, but has also saved me tons of money through the years is Rainbow Resource Center.  Their catalog is so user-friendly, as well as their website.  Their huge catalog is divided into various subjects and I love that there is a summary of each product so I can get an idea of what a product is before I purchase it.  Besides curriculum, they also sell school supplies, games/puzzles/toys, and offer homeschool helps. Their prices are lower than retail and I love that there is free shipping for orders over $50!  With their wide selection, I never have trouble spending at least $50!  Rainbow Resource Center is really a one stop shop for not only homeschool families, but any family looking for educational materials to suit various needs. Be sure to check out Rainbow Resource!  

And here is our 2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum:

 Photo Credit: CCMemory

Catholic Co-op

For the first time this year, the families in our Catholic homeschool group can choose to participate in a formal Catholic co-op using the Classically Catholic Memory (CCM) program. I am so excited about this opportunity that I have been praying and thinking about and wanting for several years now! I have to thank my beautiful friend Michelle for taking my co-op idea and running with it!  She is such a blessing!  Thank you Michelle :) 

My family, along with 7 other families and 20 children ranging in K-8th grade will meet at a local Catholic Church one day at week and use the Alpha Year cycle and the subjects covered are: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words I and II.  We will also incorporate the CCM science experiments, Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios (Giotto and Fra Angelico) , SQUILT music Volume I: Baroque Era, and IEW Ancient History writing/grammar during the co-op gathering time. 

So as I was choosing my own family's curriculum for this year, I was keeping in mind the CCM program and subjects that will supplement our work at home.  

Daughter, Grade 10

Religion:
* She will be receiving her Confirmation this year in September. Yay!
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack
The History of the Church with workbook

Math:

* Teaching Textbooks, Geometry

World History/Literature:

Christ the King Lord of History text and workbook
World Literature text 
* Continue to fill out her HISTORY Through the Ages "Record of Time" binder as she reads events in history 
*  various Literature selections that I chose that fits with the time periods in the Christ the King Lord of History text. The Literature selections that I have chosen so far, but will be adding to the list are The Children's Homer , Saint Dominic , Saint Thomas , Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus,  and a WWI and WWII novel that will be decided upon later in the year.

Note: I have spent many, many hours planning out my daughter's World History/Literature course and writing lesson plans for the entire year.  If you are interested in finding out more about the lesson plans, please contact me.

Writing:

* Level C Essay Writing with Style and Structure online course through IEW (Fall 2015)
* Still deciding which writing class she will do in the Spring 2016

Science:

* Earth Science

Latin: 

* 2nd Form Latin
(Last year my daughter took 1st Form Latin with Memoria Press Online Academy, but this year, I decided to have her use the 2nd Form Latin DVDs and texts and try to learn this level at home vs. online.)  I plan to write a review comparing the 2nd Form Latin DVDs that I received from Rainbow Resource and the online Latin class my daughter took last year.

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
*Travel soccer team
*volunteer at local library
*4-H club
*sing in girls' choir at church
*member of church youth board
*AHG (American Heritage Girls) 

Son, Grade 8 

Religion: 

* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack
* The Story of the Bible, Vol. I, Old Testament (TAN Homeschool)

Math:

* Teaching Textbooks, Pre-Algebra

Literature:

* I will choose various Ancient literature books and study guides to go along our CCM Alpha cycle. The first book is The Pharoahs of Ancient Egypt  and while he's reading the book he will use this PACES Publishing Company Study Guide that I stumbled upon. I plan to use study guides for these other titles that I plan on him reading: The Bronze Bow, The Golden Goblet, The Eagle of the Ninth(and if PACES seems like a good guide, I'll continue using the company.  If the study guide doesn't seem to be a good fit for our studies, I'll look for another type of study guide for the other books.)

 Writing:

* IEW Ancient History with CCM co-op and at home

Science:

* Life Science: Animal Life with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op

History:

* Ancients:  Read Aloud various books on Ancient history to go with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op
* Continue to fill out his HISTORY Through the Ages "Record of Time" binder as we read events in history

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
*Travel soccer team
*4-H club
*altar server at church

Daughter, Grade 6

Religion:

* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack
* The Story of the Bible, Vol. I, Old Testament (TAN Homeschool) 

Math:

* Rod & Staff ,Grade 6 

Literature:
 
* I will choose various Ancient literature books and study guides to go along our CCM Alpha cycle. The first book is Mara, Daughter of the Nile and while she's reading the book she will use Study Guides for Children's Books that I found while searching the internet.  I plan to use study guides for other titles that I plan on her reading.  I'm still working on her book list, however. 

Writing:

* IEW Ancient History with CCM co-op and at home

Science: 

* Life Science: Animal Life with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op

History: 

* Ancients:  Read Aloud various books on Ancient history to go with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op
* Continue to fill out her HISTORY Through the Ages "Record of Time" binder as we read events in history

Extra-Curricular Activities:
*Travel soccer team
*4-H club
*learning sign language 
*sing in girls' choir at church


Daughter, Grade 2

Religion: 
 
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack
* The Story of the Bible, Vol. I, Old Testament (TAN Homeschool) 

Math: 

* Rod & Staff ,Grade 2

Reading:

* Little Angel Readers (I'm using these readers mostly as a review, but also to back track a little as I'm still trying to get her to read more fluently)

Handwriting:

 * New American Cursive I

Writing: 

 
Draw Write Now Box Set

Science:
 
* Life Science: Animal Life with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op

History:

 
* Ancients:  Read Aloud various books on Ancient history to go with Alpha Year Cycle in CCM co-op

* Continue to fill out his HISTORY Through the Ages "Record of Time" binder  as we read events in history

 Extra-Curricular Activities:
*Gymnastics
*4-H club
*sing in girls' choir at church

Daughter, Age 2

* Before Five in a Row (maybe? Planning on having my older kids read to their little sister and do various activities with her during the school day while I'm working with other children. That's the plan at least ;) )

So this is our curriculum that I have thought and prayed long and hard over and I'm sure things will have to be reassessed and changed as the year moves along.  

Be sure to come back to my blog here where I will do a post of some of our simple new homeschool year traditions that include new school year photosa cross cake, T-riffic summer t-shirt printables and All About Me Sheets!  

Hope your school year is blessed!





    Monday, August 3, 2015

    Birthday Bash with Fish Cupcake Cake and Bubbles at the Beach!



    This post contains affiliate links.

    This past Thursday, July 30th,  our youngest daughter turned 2!   I'm not sure who had more fun on her birthday and then at her party the day after?  Our sweet 2 year old, me, my husband, our 4 other children or our friends? :)

    Here is our sweet girl with her favorite book, Goodnight Moon. On her birthday in the morning we went to her weekly story time at the library and she played with scarves and ribbon as music was playing and in between listened to books being read.

    So our daughter really loves bubbles and likes to say "bubbles" alot!  So on deciding on a birthday cake to make for her, I thought of a fish cake after my 11 year old daughter found this one on Pinterest.  What did I ever do without Pinterest? :)  If you follow the Pinterest link you reach this blog tutorial on how to make the cake.  I thought it was a good one to tie in with the bubble "theme" since I thought I could make the fish blowing bubbles.

    I made homemade chocolate cupcakes using the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa can.  It is the best chocolate cake/cupcake recipe and I've made it for several other cakes! For the head and tail I took the advice of the tutorial and made separate cake boards by tracing the shape of the head and tail onto cardboard pieces. I cut out the shapes and then wrapped each board with foil. This made it so much easier to decorate because I could move the individual head and tail cakes to ice them.  The icing is homemade cream cheese icing that I have used on many of the cakes I've made in the past.  I tinted 3 batches of the icing with yellow, pink and green food dye.

    And here's the fish cupcake cake complete with bubbles streaming out of its mouth.  The tutorial suggested making a pink mouth with pink fondant.  I didn't want to buy fondant for such a little piece so instead, for the mouth, I just cut a piece of cardboard in a heart shape and taped a toothpick to the pointed end of the heart.  I stuck the heart toothpick in the cake and then iced the heart-shaped cardboard with the pink cream cheese icing.  The eye is made with white heart-shaped candies and a blue candy ball.


    I found a great battery operated bubble blower at Wal-Mart similar to this one that entertained our guests, young and old, for a little while as we waited for guests to arrive.

    I just love these photos I snapped of my daughter mesmerized by the bubbles, don't you?

    After we ate snacks of goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks, and fruit we sang "Happy Birthday" and ate the yummy cake before we headed out to the sun, surf and sand.  It was a great beach day as my older children and their friends and my husband and another Dad caught some great waves on their boards and the Dads did some body surfing! 


    It was another fun birthday and great memories were made celebrating the life of our sweet Cupcake #5!

    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    A 2nd Birthday Tribute to our Little Cupcake #5!




    Dear Cupcake #5,

    As I spent some time gathering photos for this post, it brought back memories of your eventful, long, and exciting birth and I can't believe another year has gone by since I wrote your 1st birthday tribute post!

    You have changed in so many ways since your 1st birthday celebration and what a joy it is to celebrate another milestone with your 2nd birthday!  This past year you have also grown in so many ways, including your wild and crazy curly hair!

    So around your first birthday you were cruisin' and taking big steps.  You were so fast and on the go so much the only way I could take a picture of you was if you were resting against the glass door on the inside of our house and I was on the outside. :)

    You REALLY like shoes!  Not just your new shoes that Aunt Jeanne gave you, but any shoes: my shoes, Daddy's shoes, your sister's shoes, your brother's shoes, stranger's shoes.   And this past year has been filled with great golf ball size bruises on your forehead...more than once!  And you found it very funny to rub avocado all in your hair!  Yuck! :)

    You got and gave many, many hugs and kisses this past year because you are soooooo huggable and kissable!  And your hair went from short, straight, and tame to long, curly and wild in a short time!

    You loved staring at our Advent wreath in Dec. 2014. You love saying prayers with our family and making the sign of the cross before each prayer.  Whenever you see a cross or a crucifix you always point and say "G-sa" (Jesus).  Our family grins and giggles when you sing "Ah-ley-U-yah" (Alleluia) loud and proud during Mass or when you fold your little hands and bow your head in prayer.  Your siblings and Mommy and Daddy love you loving Jesus so much!   And you thought you were a big shot when you figured out that a Cheerios box can also serve as a great stepping stool for an inquisitive and sneaky little girl!

    You always love hanging out with your big sisters and they love hanging out with you!

    Your big brother is also one cool kid to go down the slide with and you love sneaking in piano practice with him.  He is always so patient and loving to teach you his musical talents!

    Your shirt on the left above says "Wild Girl".  Yep, that's you!  Your wild hair matches your wonderfully wild and sweet personality!  You love to walk your "doggies" throughout the house as your sisters act like puppy dogs as you grab them around the neck to give them a walk.

    Besides really loving the homemade "I-seem" (ice cream) from the strawberry farm down the road from us, you also love "doggies" and staring at our neighbor's dog in his backyard is great fun for you as you listen to his loud bark.

    I'm not sure how much you have loved being dragged to soooo many soccer games of your 3 older siblings this past year, but you did make the most of your time on the sideline as you entertained yourself with picking blades of grass or maybe it was examining a bug that got you through another game.

    "Ow-sigh" (Outside) is always a hit with you as you enjoy pushing the grocery cart or riding your little tricycle in our driveway or playing with sidewalk chalk or the hose or swinging on our swing set.  And here you are with my shoes at your Uncle's wedding!

    Dressing yourself with more of Mommy's shoes, Daddy's ties, and your sister's bathing suit has kept you quite occupied this past year.  And you know that when I call your name, your first response is to look up or turn around and say "Cheese!!!" with a big grin because chances are Mommy has her phone pointing at you and wants to take a picture of your cuteness! 

    You love the surf, sun, and sand at the beach and staying cool in Nana and Grandpa's neighborhood pool with Daddy is fun too!

    Since you have always been super flexible and even more so this past year, we signed you up for a summer gymnastics class recently and you LOVE to hang on the parallel bars! And you love the songs they sing in class and the clapping and the bubbles that are blown at the end of each class!

    Even with dirt on your face, you can still take some super cute selfies with me.

    For the past few months you have really enjoyed the book "Goodnight Moon". We have read the board book version  for awhile now so when you saw a little boy reading it at the library table last week, you ran up to him and tried to snatch the book from his hand since you were so excited to see your favorite book!  After waiting patiently for the little boy to leave "your" book unattended, you checked out "Goodnight Moon" with your sister's "caw" (library card) at the self check-out station so now we read the library version AND our board book version of "Goodnight Moon" every day more than one time a day sometimes!  You love to spot the roaming "mow" (mouse) in the book and the moon, "clock, clock", fire ("hot"), and count the bears sitting on chairs!

    Your precious little feet have taken you on many fun adventures with us these past 2 years and your love, smile, hugs, kisses, laughter and sweetness has taken each of our hearts and filled them with love and memories, and has helped our hearts to grow more than we could have ever imagined Baby Girl!

    Happy 2nd birthday, sweet Cupcake #5!

    We love you!

    Love,
    Mommy

      

     




    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    7 Quick Takes a Few Days Late: Haircut, #JumpforDystonia, Our REALLY Flexible Baby Girl!



    It's been awhile since I updated my blog here. (Over a week and a half to be exact!)  I'm beginning to be consistently inconsistent with updating my blog, but I'm not really sure if that bothers anyone but me. So for this post I'll do it 7 Quick Takes style hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum.  I know I'm a few days late on the link up, but that's blog and real life sometimes. :)

    seven quick takes friday 2

     -1-
    I'm happy to be here again with another post while my husband takes my oldest daughter to the beach to hang out with some of her soccer teammates and the other kids are outside playing with neighbors and my almost 2 year old (she'll be 2 this Thursday!) is napping.  Ahhh... a quiet house!  I'm savoring it.  So after The Edel Gathering 2015 and my (early) 40th birthday party surprise my husband organized and threw for me, I haven't been busy blogging (obviously), but rather...

    -2-
    I've been busy getting a (much needed) haircut!  This is the same salon where my daughter got her haircut last year. My daughter donated 10 inches and I cut and donated 8 inches.  Somebody needed my long hair more than I did!  The salon gives free haircuts if you donate at least 8 in. that is uncolored and can't have too much gray in it.  No problem with either of those restrictions for me :)  The salon cuts the hair and mails it off to Pantene vs. Locks of Love.  The reason the salon donates to Pantene is because they will give wigs to cancer patients where Locks of Love charges people for the wigs.  I haven't confirmed this information, but it sounds like a good reason to me to donate to Pantene.
    And while I was at the salon one of the hair dressers looked so much like my oldest daughter!  I had to do a double take!  Here's my daughter and the arrow below is pointing to the hair dresser that I think looks like my daughter.  What do you think?  It really did "wig" me out.   (pun intended..LOL!) :)  Their hair is so much alike and I think that's what I first noticed :)
      

     And here's the "After" shots....It's so much cooler and faster and easier to manage my shorter hair!
     -3-
    Last week our family participated in an awareness campaign for Dystonia.  The campaign was called #JumpforDystonia and you take photos of family/friends jumping and then post the pictures on social media with the hashtag #JumpforDystonia.  
    Have you heard of Dystonia before?  My parent's neighbor, Tom, has suffered many years with this disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures.  Tom has written a book titled Diagnosis Dystonia about his life and journey as he continues to battle the disorder everyday.  His story is inspiring and I was so happy that he asked if my kids could #JumpforDystonia one afternoon last week at my parent's neighborhood pool as a way to make others aware of the disorder and have a little fun at the same time.  

     The Smith kids loved to #JumpforDystonia

    My daughters take gymnastics and so I had them and their friends jumping too!

    And then my daughters' teachers were so kind to show us their mad jumping skills...
     For more information about Dystonia and Tom Seaman's book be sure to visit his website.

    -4-  
    Speaking of gymastics, my almost 2 year old daughter is super flexible (and she doesn't get that from me or my husband!)  That's not quite unusual for a little tot, but she is like really freaky flexible. (Note: I'm not calling my precious little one a "freak" :) )  She hangs from our oven door and shows off her skills.

    See? Crazy huh?  I will be taking her to her 2 year well visit and I will be asking the doctor about this to make sure her legs/hips aren't doing things that they shouldn't be doing and could give her problems in the future.  Thanks T.T. for our discussion on the beach about how I should really get her checked out to make sure all is well :) 

    -5-
    So what do you do with a super flexible child who likes to hang from oven doors?  Sign her up for a gymnastics class as a gift for her upcoming 2nd birthday, of course! Yep, for the rest of the summer she is enjoying her class and really loves to hang from the parallel bars, like all.the.time.during.class! 



    -6-
    I captured this sweet moment with my youngest and my mom one day last week.  My mom came over to wish my 11 year old daughter a "Happy Baptism Anniversary" on July 17th.   Baptism anniversaries are always acknowledged and I love that my mom always remembers my kids' baptism anniversaries!  I can't say I always do something special for the anniversary day except give my kids' a big hug and kiss :)  If I was really on top of my family's sacramental lives, I'd have a blog post about how we always do A, B, and C for my children's baptism anniversaries.  But, I think just having my kids spend time with their Nana makes for a great way to celebrate such a special day! :)    

    -7-
    I've been busy trying to prepare my children's curriculum and lesson plans for the upcoming 2015-2016 homeschool year. I don't buy a "box" curriculum which is good and not so good sometimes for our family.  Maybe more on that topic later.  This year I'll have my oldest going into 10th grade, my son will be in 8th grade, my daughter in 6th grade, another daughter in 2nd grade and then our youngest will be 2 this week! Yeah, I'm not sure how I do it either.  By the grace of God for sure!   
    So if all goes well I'll have a blog post about my daughter's birthday this week (I'm working on an idea for her cake too) and I'll post our 2015-2016 curriculum (and photos of our homeschool room) like in year's past.  So stay tuned! :) 

    Hoping your weekend was blessed! 


     


     
     
     

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    I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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