Eclipse 2017

The kids and I have been eagerly awaiting the eclipse that was to happen here in North America. Today was the day and we were not prepared!

(The featured photo is from NASA. The link is below)

Since we live in Texas, visibility was only at sixty percent so we knew it would not be a huge difference. We did however, notice the sky had changed and it looked a bit like early evening.

Unfortunately, we did not have viewing glasses and I never got around to making the eclipse viewer with the kids. ( Yeah I know :/)

We did go outside and try to look up at the sun but like I said without the glasses to cancel out the surrounding light it was disappointing. It was still nice to go out and experience the light change in the middle of the day. Another thing I noticed it was also not as blazing hot outside for the middle of the day.

Here are our pictures:

 

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This photo was taken at 1:16 p.m. The sun was still pretty bright. 
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A view without a filter. The lighting outside was a bit darker as you can probably tell from the color of the tree.  This photo was taken at 1:25 p.m.
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A friend of mine was able to capture this photo from Houston.  Photo Credit: Olya Valyan

Here is the link to the site for NASA. You can see more photos of the eclipse and get more information.

The next eclipse will be in April 8, 2024 and here in Texas we will have greater visibility.

Were you able to see the eclipse? Share your experience below.

OMG! LOL! A Surprise Emoji Party!

Well, I did it! I threw a surprise party for the kids.  This was on my life list!

It was a real challenge to keep my mouth closed.

One night while the kids were upstairs they overheard me talking to a friend about the party and they immediately came downstairs to ask me about it. I was so upset that I let it slip so I told my husband about how I failed to keep quiet.

He came up with a solution that we would tell the kids that something came up and we needed to push the party back. It was a genius idea!

In order to make time to decorate I asked my mom to keep the kids overnight so I could set up without them noticing.

Before I got started my husband bought me a great dinner from one of my favorite seafood restaurants! We got to enjoy a meal with peace and quiet!

After that much needed meal I had the energy needed to get decorating!


Decorating

The first project I worked on was the Instagram frame for the photos!

This was a big hit!

I originally wanted to buy this pre-made but I wasn’t able to so I thought to make my own.

Materials Used:

  • Foam Poster Board
  • Exacto knife
  • Foam Sheets in White, Red, Gray and Blue
  • Foam letters
  • Printer to print out photos and text
  • Instagram reference photo

Instagram Frame


I used tablecloths from the Dollar store to make the backdrop. The emojis are napkins because I wanted to save time. If you scroll down a little bit you can see the plates I turned into emojis for the food table backdrop. I intended on making a bunch of those but I was short on time.

We had meatballs, hot dogs, ham and cheese sliders, veggies trays, mashed potato bombs, cupcakes and chips and salsa. Perfect finger foods for kids on the go!

Emoji 1
Candy Table with the Poop Emoji Pool Float
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Candy table
Emoji 2
The table before I added the food.
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I made this sign for the food table
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My son likes to send this emoji to me because Koalas are his favorite. I thought it would be fun to make this for him.
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We love to play the game Portal so I thought this would be a funny joke for my kids. They loved it!

 

Here are some pictures from the party.

 

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My parents with the grandkids. We are missing one who is five months old.

 

 

 

School’s Out For Summer But Not Foreva

School

That’s right! School is out! We get to be lazy and lounge around the house. Who doesn’t like that?!

When we started the school year, as a family we agreed that our homeschool structure would be year round. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In May of this year when we were gearing up for the next round the kids told me they wanted to have the summer off.

We sat down and discussed why they felt having the summer off would be a good idea. I was hesitant to accept this route but decided to listen to their thoughts.

All three kids said they worked so hard during the year they wanted time off to spend with their cousins and friends. They just wanted to relax and celebrate their hard work and the end of our first year of homeschool. It was that simple!

How could I say no to that? The kids expressed their opinion and wanted to modify our previous plan. After all, isn’t this what homeschool is about? Having the freedom to change your schedule and meet your child’s needs? Why are we doing this if we aren’t listening to each other?

So, I expressed my concern to the kids about them possibly being bored and they brought up the point that when they were in public school they had the summer off and things were just fine.

Point taken so we changed to a “traditional” school year and the kids are really happy. We have more freedom to play around or be lazy. Having the summer off will also help with not feeling burned out.

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have any work to do. They still need to read 15 mins a day and do XtraMath two times a week to keep their skills sharp.

We are a little over half a month into our vacation from school. Not having a scheuled day was really killing me and I decided to do something about it.

Each morning during the school year I write our schedule on the dry erase board. It isn’t rigid but mainly a guideline to make sure our work gets done. This guideline has a two-fold purpose. One is to help the kids to be independent in reading the schedule and get the task down without me asking.The second reason is so the day makes “sense” in my head.

The first couple of weeks we didn’t have this schedule was driving me crazy. This week I made a loose schedule and it has worked so well!

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The “Did you know” fact is changed out twice a week.  This is an example of our summer day.  It changes from day-to-day depending on what activities we have planned.

Initially, I thought having the summer off would be a bad idea but as it turns out I love it and so do the kids.

If you homeschool or send your kids to public school what activities do you have for them to keep busy? Share in the comments! 

Done! On To The Next One!

teacher appreciationletter

We began our first year of homeschool in August of 2016.

It has been an incredible ride! There have been many ups, downs, good days and bad days.

I always wanted to homeschool. However, many people were telling me that our children would be better off in public school in order for them to make friends and to learn how to stand up for themselves. My husband and I tossed the idea around for a couple of years before our oldest was school aged.

Here is a little bit of background on us.

Public school seemed like a good idea the more we weighed the two options. Off to public school Bri went. She had a very difficult time adjusting but we made sure to be there every step of the way. Then came the bullying problem. I am a parent who knows the difference between harmless teasing and outright bullying. What Bri was experiencing was not normal and after some time we decided to take action because it did not look like the situation would resolve on its own, even after supplying Bri with the tools to try to defuse the situation. It finally died down once we stepped in and the other child’s parents were informed but it left lasting scars on Bri.

Our twins Mav and Audy had a much better time in school but it was not without challenges. Audy had a difficulty in class because of how quick her mind is and students would call her names. Mav just could not keep up with classes because he tended to day- dream. He wanted his teachers to slow down and teach him one-on-one. With classrooms as full as they are today we knew it was not possible for him to have that.

Standardized testing was another issue. Mav in particular would vomit and get really nervous when it was time for the state issued test. He would cry because he did not want to let himself or his teacher down if he received a poor score.

So, taking all of this into consideration we sat down with the kids and asked them what they really wanted. We were surprised at what they said.

They all agreed that school was not meeting their needs. Audy wanted to be challenged. Mav wanted one-on-one time and Bri wanted more art and creative time. My husband and I weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling and it took over a year to make the decision.

Decision time.

Over the summer of 2016 we sat the kids down and told them we would remove them from public school. They were excited but worried about leaving friends behind.

We made the jump and never looked back. I feel proud of the progress the kids made. Bri gets her art time, Audy gets her challenging subjects and Mav gets one-on-one time.

Are you thinking of homeschooling?

Here is a list of things we learned during our first year of homeschool:

  • Getting along is tough…in the beginning. Once homeschool started we were always with each other and the kids began to test my patience. I  had to overcome their whining, stubbornness, laziness and disrespect. It took a good three months for the kids to understand how our schedule would work, who was the teacher and what was expected of them.  Nine months later I have hardly experienced any instances of the kids acting out. They know the plan and they acted in harmony with it.
  • To schedule or not to schedule. Not every family who homeschools is on a schedule and that is O.K. In order for me not to lose my mind and for the kids to know what was expected of them I had to create a loose outline of each day. We also are very social and have lots of family and friends who we hang out with so sometimes our schedule gets thrown off. I have to plan everything so I don’t mix things up.
  • Curriculum decisions. Depending on your state’s requirements you will pick your curriculum or choose to unschool. (Unschooling is an educational method that supports learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.) Whatever you pick do not worry! Your child will learn no matter what. Billboards on the side of the road are even opportunity to read. Grocery shopping trips can teach about budgeting or calculating pounds on produce. Don’t get so hung up on curriculum that the real world slips by.
  • What about friends?  This is important to lots of kids. Getting the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids is a must. We go to parks, museums, the beach and many other places where the kids interact with others. It is important for the kids to have some contact with other kids to play and sit and talk. We found that the park is the best place for this but it may be different for other families.  Our children have life long friends from our congregation which most certainly contributes to their happiness.
  • Supplies oh my. When the year started I bought every supply I could think of. By the end of our school year we used the pencils and sharpener more than anything. We have art supplies and books but we mostly do school work on the computer. I learned that you don’t need very many supplies to homeschool.
  • Self doubt. Yes, it crept up on me several times. I think the biggest challenge to anyone considering homeschool is overcoming self-doubt. I almost wanted to quit but I reasoned within myself that these are my kids and I am the best person to teach them. It is my right and privilege as a parent to educate my children. I stuck with it and made changes to our schedule and curriculum as needed in order to keep us happy and on track.

I am not vilifying public school at all. It is a great option for working full time parents and care givers. There are kids who love public school and that is wonderful!

However, if you’re thinking of homeschooling but doubt yourself, why not sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses.  You don’t have to be creative or have a lot of money. But you do need to love your child and have confidence in yourself. Those two things will carry you through your homeschool journey.

Check out my other blog posts about our field trips and class projects!

Hectic!

I have not written a post in a little while. We have been really busy but I have been sick as well.

This is our first year homeschooling and it has been a wild ride. I plan on writing about the challenges we went though in the beginning and how things seemed to even out.

I hate having so little to say right now but I am going to use this post as a place holder.

Look for my blog about our homeschool experience that I will have up in a about a week or so.

Oh and the kids also took some more photos for photography class and we recently visited Louisiana to visit my Aunt and I took some great pictures! I will share those as well.

Sooooo, lots of catching up to do!

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Starfish Gazing

During this week in Science class the kids have been learning about invertebrates. Think back really hard to your school days and remember what an invertebrate is. Can’t remember…well here I will help you!  Cover Starfish

Definition of an Invertebrate as found on Wikipedia:

Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the subphylum Vertebrata. Familiar examples of invertebrates include insects; crabs, lobsters and their kin; snails, clams, octopuses and their kin; starfish, sea-urchins and their kin; jellyfish, and worms.

So, now we have that out-of-the-way! The kids were skeptical about dissecting a poor little animal. I convinced them it was in the name of science and by the time we were done they would have a clearer understanding of the animal and a new respect for it.

All too often the kids will view and animal such as the Starfish as unimportant because it is not cuddly like a cat or dog. This study helped them to see that all creatures have a purpose and are beautiful in their own way. Well…except roaches right? I think we can agree that no one likes roaches.

The neat thing about the dissection kit was that it had step by step instructions and I did not have to make up the steps as we went. There were some words that took some time to pronounce but we were all the better for trying!

On to the photos!


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The dissection tray and tools.
Bri Starfish
Bri focusing on making the right cut.
Audy Starfish
Audy cleared out the intestines.
Mav Starfish
Mav removed the skin.
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This is our project table cloth. It was on sale, kind of ugly and perfect for our projects. It has seen a lot!

I am always into making sure the kids have fun while learning. This seemed like the perfect way to get them involved in the lesson. We live very close to the beach and I try to instill in them respect for the ocean and all animals.

 

A Little Motivation Goes A Long Way

We all need a bit of motivation or incentive when it comes to boring or mundane tasks. Let’s face it, no one and I mean no one likes to do chores. As parents we often have to be creative when it comes to getting our kids to do certain tasks they that they do not want to do.

As a homeschooling family, chores an essential part of the day. When the kids were in public school the house was a mess because we never had time to do any cleaning. Coming home was more of a pit stop, with shoes and backpacks tossed everywhere. We all reasoned that since we were so tired we would wait until the weekend to clean up. But when the weekend came we wanted to use our off time for fun not staying home to clean up!

It was difficult to get the kids to see the importance of making sure our home was neat and organized. I mean, we were not living in filth, we were just messy and nothing had a place. I tried everything I could think of to get the kids to complete their tasks with pride and satisfaction but chore time was always met with whining and grumpy faces.

Most people might reason that since the kids live in the house they should just clean it and that’s that! To a degree that is reasonable. But back to the title of this blog, a little motivation and incentive goes a long way.

For the past month the kids and I have developed a little test program. Every day they have a chore chart with chores that I assign to them. At the beginning of the week I fill out a “check” with their name on it. Instead of printing new “checks” each week I reissue the same one to save on paper and ink. They are responsible for keeping up with that check and handing it to me every Friday for successfully completeing their chores. It’s a way to get them to do the chores and allow them to earn money instead of being handed an allowance.  I have two ten-year olds and a twelve-year-old so the idea of a check with their name on it is pretty exciting.

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Check template can be found here. I edited the Bank Name, School Name and Address.

The way the chore chart works is when the chore is complete they mark the time, using an analog clock. I also work with them on the chores to make sure they clean effectively and not just according to what they think is clean. That doesn’t mean I hover over them and pick out everything they missed. Instead I want to show them the proper way and also that I am working alongside with each one of them and not sitting on the couch eating bon bons. But they do the heavy lifting with the chores they are assigned.

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Chore Chart – Magnets can be found at my Etsy Shop (Shameless plug 😉 )

The kid have been super motivated and enjoy their work knowing they get paid at the end of the week for a job well done. I have seen a great improvement in their attitude and thoroughness of completing their job.

 

What have you done to help motivate your kids to do their chores? Share in the comments!