Weekly Wrap-up: Caroling and Forty-Two

company Christmas party

company Christmas party

I think I will go on strike if next December is as busy as this one…

Last Friday was my birthday…forty-two years. Our older three went to a program at church that evening leaving just Littlest with us. I almost had my husband to myself! He took Littlest and me out to a hibachi restaurant for dinner. Littlest was very entertained by all of the fire and theatrics of our chef!!! I enjoyed my birthday dinner out very much.

Littlest and one of his big girls

Littlest and one of his big girls

The weekend was busy and went by in a blur. On Saturday my husband took Oldest to observe a Lego Robotics competition with the technology club. They will be involved in the Lego Robotics League and competitions beginning in the spring. As soon as they returned home we headed to my husband’s workplace for a Christmas party for the kids. Mrs. Clause told Sparkles that Santa would prefer we leave out my homemade applesauce in place of cookies on Christmas Eve. Sparkles couldn’t believe she knew all about our vanilla applesauce. I get the feeling we’ll be doing this every year now. I also happen to know that Mrs. Clause makes some really tasty jams and jellies!  On Sunday we enjoyed the Christmas Cantata

best fried chicken ever!!!!

best fried chicken ever!!!!

at church and then I went to lunch with the ladies group. I was nervous going out with the group because I am not very good at small talk. I do not mind listening but participating is sometimes tiring. I admire people who have the skill to converse. Eventually someone asked about homeschooling and then I talked too much…because my kids are my passion. I love homeschooling them! (I’m also passionate about my husband, my faith, and green smoothies…that’s about it these days.) I try not to talk about homeschooling in-depth because I know most people are only superficially interested. Hopefully, I didn’t bore the ladies too much. I got home just in time for my husband to start making dinner. This week he finally perfected his fried chicken recipe. I thought he had accomplished it the previous week…but no.

my birthday dinner

my birthday dinner

We went caroling with our church family on Wednesday night (after I had fasted for most of the day for a doctor’s appointment). I really wasn’t in the mood to go at first but the older three really wanted (begged with sweet smiles and I just could not disappoint them) to participate. I’m glad we went. All that Christmas cheer dissipated my grumpiness. The last time I went caroling was twenty years ago at a hospital in Alton. We sang Silent Night in German…my ability to pronounce German is far worse than my singing voice. That is saying something y’all!!!

Littlest's preschool class with Santa Clause

Littlest’s preschool class with Santa Clause. He is in the white vest.

Today, we went to Littlest’s preschool Christmas party. He must be a bit of a cut-up in class. He made silly faces for all of the pictures and his teacher said she would not be surprised if he ended up on Saturday Night Live. We were also told he likes to hang upside down while watching programs. Nice…

In school this week we wrapped up our studies for break. We are not schooling much the next couple of weeks. The crew will be working on some art and writing projects. I will be evaluating the first half of the school year and planning out our year-long nature study of the back yard. I also decided to give Littlest a Kindergarten readiness exam. He thought the test was fun and wanted to do another. He scored an 82 (out of

Littlest

Littlest

100) and only needed 58 points to be considered ready for Kindergarten. I called the homeschool department at Christian Light Education to talk to an advisor. She asked me several questions about his abilities and discussed the readiness test results with me. She thought it best that he start Kindergarten right away instead of waiting until preschool let out. I was prepared to order their entire Kindergarten program but she said he didn’t need all the books based on what he already knows. Every time I talk to representatives of this company my respect grows. They were more concerned with providing what we needed than making a sale.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Wibbly-Wobbly…What?!

This week’s chapter is titled “What in the World Does That Mean in Dog Years?” I had to chuckle a bit through this chapter because I completely related. So many times (not recently) I have watched doctors or nutritionists on one of those morning talk shows and could not understand what they were saying. The language was so technical that I could not relate to it in a practical way.

In this chapter I learned that 4 grams is about one teaspoon. So to figure out how many teaspoons of sugar is in a food you need to divide the number of sugar grams by four. My favorite coke (soft-drink or soda for you non-Southern folk) is a Dr. Pepper and it has 40 grams of sugar per serving (can size). That is ten teaspoons of sugar in each can!!! Before reading this chapter I did not really understand what a gram or milligram looked like in a relatable way. Now that I know how to read how much sugar or salt is in a product I can make healthier choices for myself and my family.

I really do not want to keep up with how many grams of each nutrient I need to consume each day. I just do not have time for that sort of mental gymnastics. I found an app that is fairly easy to use that does keep up with all of that information. All I have to do is enter the food I eat and it tells me the nutritional facts and the number of remaining calories for the day. The app is called “myfitnesspal” and so far I like it. When I actually use it I am much more aware of what I am eating and less likely to snack on junk because I know how many calories remain for me to enjoy. I just need to start using it again…another habit to work on.

Speaking of habits…I met my water goal four times this week and on the other days I was only off by a glass or two!!! I was really happy and having a spot on my planner to check off my glasses of water was a helpful reminder for me. So this week I will set my goals to keep my water intake up and to start using the app on my phone to log food.

Weight loss goal page for 2015

Weight loss goal page for 2015

I made some cute weight loss planning pages for my planner this week. On the first of January I will weigh in and then set my goals for the rest of the year. I found a printable of a mason jar on Google images and then glues it to a page in the back of my planner. As I lose a pound I will put a sticker in the jar. I like the idea of the jars of stones on the counter and you move a rock from “pounds to lose” to a “pounds lost” jar. But I really didn’t want to clutter my counters so I made this paper version in my planner (ideas inspired from Pintrest).  Next to the jar I have some flip pages where I can record my measurements every month. The rest of the page and next page are for recording my target and actual weight each month. I used washi tape to pretty it all up and added a couple of my favorite quotes from Ellie’s book. I am really excited to use these pages for 2015!

 

Weekly Wrap-up: One Amazing Weekend

Christmas card picture

Christmas card picture

Wow!!! This was a week to remember for our family.

Saturday morning, just Littlest and I had a special morning to ourselves at the Angel Breakfast at church. Just the two of us…a rare event for any of the kids to have me to themselves. We enjoyed breakfast with our church friends and made several crafts. Littlest especially enjoyed story time with Mrs. M and the visit from the two “angels”. The visiting angels were so nice to leave us some of their feathers to make an ornament for our Christmas tree. Several times this week Littlest has pointed out to his older siblings that he has a “real angel feather” from one of Jesus’ friends. The entire time we were at the breakfast Littlest kept asking when his brothers and sister would join us. My kids are used to traveling in a pack…they don’t quite know how to be without each other…except for Oldest, he loves alone time with one of us.

Angel visit at Angel Breakfast

Angel visit at Angel Breakfast

Sunday night was our church’s annual “Holly Jollies and Frosty Follies Christmas Celebration”. As a church family we enjoyed a potluck meal together and an entertaining talent show. Our night was hosted by the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who…they were awesome!!! My older three each performed on piano for the first time ever for an audience. Oldest played “We Three Kings”, Sparkles played, “Silent Night” and Middle Boy did “The Entertainer”. They all played well but Middle Boy’s love of the piano was obvious. I was stunned at the applause he received. The Grinch “fired” the current music minister after Middle Boy’s performance.  I was far more nervous than they were and was nearly sick. Their piano teacher, the fabulous Mrs. Melody, came to see them

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Go Tell It on the Mountain

perform and my crew chose to sit with her when they were not on stage. She is more than a piano teacher to them (and me too!) she’s an adopted Grandmother. We were also delighted that a couple of family members came to see the crew on stage.  Oldest also played Grandpa in a little skit called, “Tell it Again, Grandpa”. He told the Christmas story in the little play and did his best to dress as an old man. Then all the children sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain”. Littlest and the rest of the preschoolers also participated in the festivities  and played “Away in a Manger” with their handbells. I am so proud of my crew they did so well!!! I was a nervous wreck the entire evening and need to learn to relax…I am so thankful that we were so quickly adopted into our church community and am so grateful my children have a safe place to share their talent and love of music. They are already planning next year’s pieces for the show!

Little Ringers Bell Choir. Littlest is in the white vest.

Little Ringers Bell Choir. Littlest is in the white vest.

The rest of the week went by in a blur. Littlest went to preschool this week and every morning begged to go somewhere else. Mom guilt hit me hard this week and I started researching Kindergarten curriculum for him next year instead of sending him to another year of preschool. Mom guilt sucks!

In school this week we continued to learn about Michael Faraday whom my kids just love at this point.  Today we had to look up pictures of where he is buried…Highgate Cemetery in London, England in case you did not know. They all told me they wished they could leave a flower or two at his grave. They really hold him in high esteem. I doubt we shall ever go to England as a family but perhaps one of them may get the opportunity someday.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Wibbly-Wobbly Life Goals: Week 3

This was supposed to be posted last week but I never really got a moment to get caught up. Littlest was feverish off and on for a couple of days and then the business of the Christmas season hit us. My children were all involved in this past weekend’s play and talent show at church keeping us busy with practicing. Also, we started working on all the yummy Christmas goodies and gifts for teachers and friends. I was completely stressed for my kids and far more anxious than they were (and they were the ones performing!). I may have indulged in a few of the chocolate treats and cocoa this week…but not too much. I am really trying not to turn to food when I feel stressed and try to recite Psalm 139 instead.

This week I worked on keeping a food log…and failed. Even though I didn’t always write down what I ate and when, I did end up thinking about why I was reaching for a snack. Most of the time just being conscious of what I was doing and asking myself if I was actually hungry was enough for me not to eat the snack. I usually got a glass of water instead. The past four days I’ve managed to actually meet my water goal!!! This week my goal is simply to reach my water intake goal everyday this coming week. I started marking a place on my planner each day with seven water drops and filling in each drop as I finish a glass of water. For some reason it makes me happy coloring in my water drops each day…

Anyway, I changed the title of this series from weight loss to life goals. This chapter is about making goals and the reasons for getting healthy. Weight loss is not my primary reason. I want to feel better and have more energy for my family. I want the pain in my hands to go away and wear my wedding band again. I want to teach my children good habits so they will hopefully make better choices than I did. These are my main goals and each week I set small goals to help me reach these larger goals for my life. So, I borrowed Ellie’s term “life goals” and put it in place of weight loss.

This weeks goals: Seven glasses of water each day and journal my food. Make a weight loss page for my planner as well as a place to chart my measurements.

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Clearing the Soul Clutter

my favorite ornamnent

my favorite ornament

Seems like forever since I sat down for some blogging therapy. Generally, half of the words that pour from my head never make it to the published page…but it is healing to clear such clutter from my mind and soul.  This tiny spot on the internet was the place I used to exorcise my daemons. A place to expose all of the raw nerves of pain that do not heal when it is kept inside. For me, the act of typing it all out was freeing. I could just let things go…or leave them on the page…making room for the peace and healing that only Jesus can sooth. Anyway, once I started writing homeschool product reviews on this page I deleted most of those posts. All of this is to say that I missed writing my wrap-up last week because of Thanksgiving. My head has felt too full and rattled this week. Even though Christmas and New Year’s falls on Thursday nights this year I’ll be on here writing my wrap-ups. This is my therapy…I need to get this clutter out of my head…otherwise I’ll have another discombobulated week like this one where my head feels too stuffed. Enough of that…on to the past two weeks.

handprints

handprints

My sweet crew was very excited about Thanksgiving this year (me too). We spent 13 months studying Early American History. This year we were ready for Thanksgiving! Not just for the food but in our hearts. The kids really wanted to participate in the holiday and to help prepare the food and meaningful decorations. Well, they really couldn’t do that with the extended family because everything is already sorted out. So we decided to have a family Thanksgiving on Friday. We made a special tablecloth with our handprints and everyone participated in preparing all of the dishes. Oldest made a hash brown casserole and helped with the special braided herb bread. Sparkles wanted to make deviled eggs. Middle Boy made some fun turkey cookies. Littlest enjoyed being underfoot!!! My husband smoked the turkey and made the cornbread dressing. I had my hand in everything but especially enjoyed the pitcher of Sangria I made just for me (I drank the entire pitcher over two days)!!! The crew’s writing assignment for the week was to tell who they wish they could have Thanksgiving dinner with and why. I loved their answers!!!!

Littlest and turkey decorations

Littlest and turkey decorations

Oldest chose Sir Isaac Newton: “…because of how he had thanksgiving almost every day in his heart. He loved God and was super smart.”

Sparkles chose Jesus: “…because he is special and I love him.”

Middle Boy chose Mrs. V (his pre-school teacher): “…because she was one of my favorite teachers and I really love her.”

I just loved their Thanksgiving papers!!! Can you tell?

Over the weekend we put up the Christmas tree and the rest of the decorations. This is the first year we put up the Christmas Village our neighbor gave us. Oldest put it up on the piano and he just loves it! We figured out the cathedral is an MP3 player!! How cool is that!!!!

snap circuit fun

snap circuit fun

Home education this week was really hard. We are all ready for a break (just two more weeks!) We are on our last Light Unit of math and will finally be at grade level in January. As we finish up our units this month we will not begin new ones until January. In science we started a book about Michael Faraday. The kids love this biography! After studying Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and now Michael Faraday they are all ready to dedicate their lived to science!!! We are loving Beautiful Feet Books science curriculum this year!!!

Speaking of science, we participated in one of the Supercharged Science online classes yesterday on electricity. My crew loved it and ended up playing with their snap-circuit set the

cuteness

cuteness

rest of the evening. I liked the webcast for the most part. I did not enjoy that half of it was a sales pitch…boo! I have not been happy with any homeschool based science so far…I wish I could find a science curriculum that I loved…I am open to suggestions.

We’ve also spent the past couple of weeks trying out art curriculums. We like ArtAtelier and SeeTheLight. I have a few more free samples to try out before we make our choice for next year. Any suggestions?

This weekend is a huge for the crew!!! They will be playing piano for the first time for an audience. I am so excited and nervous for them. Oldest is also I the Christmas play at church and I can hardly wait to see him!!! There will be lots of pictures next week!!!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Review: Lumo Project The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John

I just finished watching The Gospel of John from the Lumo Project with my family. This is the first film to be released of the four Gospels. In time this amazing reading of the Gospel will be released in many languages. Currently the film is available in Spanish and English with the NIV translation of the Bible and the King James Version. We chose the King James Version because it is so poetic. I went into this with a very skeptical attitude. The last time I tried to watch a Biblically based mini-series (The Bible) I ended up yelling at the television screen!

The sets and actors for this project look very authentic…beautifully authentic. While the actors are speaking (in Aramaic possibly…) a narrator reads the words of the Gospel of John…the exact words. I was a little confused at first waiting for it to turn into a more traditional movie with the actors being the primary speakers. Instead as a narrator spoke, the words of the Gospel were visually presented in a manner that truly brought the book alive for me. John’s is my favorite Gospel and I thought I knew it well. Now…the book is new to me again…alive in my imagination.

Just…wow! I want to tell you how deeply this experience claimed hold of my heart. My hands are shaking and tears are pouring down my cheek. I fail to find the proper words to express myself. I didn’t yell in frustration at the screen this time. It is obvious the people behind this project love and respect the Scriptures and I look forward to the rest of the Gospels.

You can watch the film on Netflix right now. It is available as of December the first…today.