Monday, March 12, 2012


Not mad, aggravated; but Aggravation the game.

Years ago our good friends, the Ketters, introduced us to the game.  It's kinda like Trouble with all the same rules of play, except that it is played on a homemade board and with marbles.  It has been a source of fun, good-natured smack-talking, and, of course, death ("black death" - Tom usually picks black marbles and likes to kill the opposition).

Last night the we were given our own Aggravation board - handmade by "Cappy", Brian's dad.  It is a beautiful board made from black locust wood.

Tonight we played with the kids.  Ben didn't last very long.  He sat on my lap and helped me out for a little while.  Then Tom's lap.  And them my lap again before he opted to go to bed - it had been a long day of hiking and he was exhausted.

Sammy had a very hard time at first getting killed.  Lots of tears were shed.  He always perked back up though when he, or I, could kill Tom or Livvy.  Killing is so much fun.

The game, like most Aggravation games, came down to the wire.  Sammy had just got all his men home (I still had 2 men to get home) when Livvy and Tom got her last man home.  It was a terrific game!!  The kids were so excited - they kept talking about it as they got ready for bed.

Growing up we usually played cards or some game on Friday or Saturday nights.  Since we really don't have to worry about school the next morning, we won't have to wait until the weekend to play.  I can foresee many more nights of playing Aggravation with the kids.  Another fun benefit of homeschooling.

On the Banks of Plum Creek

Every year the local homeschooling group, called FHE (Flagstaff Home Educators), puts on a Literature Fair.  It's a time when the kids of all ages can show off their favorite books or just anything that they've been reading.

Livvy loves the Little House on the Prairie books!  So, it made perfect sense for her to do a little presentation on one of her favorites, On the Banks of Plum Creek.

I found a free downloadable lapbook pdf for the book.  It included all the little mini-books and questions for each chapter that Livvy had to answer.  We re-read the book out loud and then I helped her answer the questions.  I really tried to push her writing skills with this project.  I had her verbally answer in a complete sentence, and then write it (sounding out any word that she didn't know how to spell).  It was difficult and frustrating at times for her, but she did it!

For a couple of the chapters we did extra fun projects.  She and Sammy made button-strings like the ones that Mary and Laura made for Carrie for one of the Christmases.  Because Ma had mixed up the girls ribbons in one of the chapters, I taught Livvy how to braid and tie a bow for the first time.

We then put all 41 of the mini chapter books on a display board to show off all her work.

At the meeting, Livvy was dressed up in her Laura dress that Grammie made and read a speech that we had typed up for her.

She was nervous, but she did great!!  I was/am so proud of her.  Check out her presentation here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Discovery Day

Discovery Day, as I think I've posted before, is what we call our co-op.  It's our day to get together with friends and learn about science.

We get together with two other families, each having four kids (no, it's not a prerequisite).  We basically break up into three groups.  There's the second graders which includes Livvy, Hannah and Taylin.  Sammy, Isaac and Rayna are our kindergartners.  The preschoolers are Ben, Nathan and Tobyn.  And then Jonathan, Natalie and Aleya are the babies.  That's 12 kids and 3 adults.  Oh, yeh.  It's fun.

Amanda teaches all the big kids (second graders and kindergartners) Spanish before lunch.  Kelly teaches the kindergartners and I teach the second graders after lunch.  There are lots of breaks for play.  It's kind of an all day event - just the way the kids like it.

The kids, and I, love having Discovery Day!!  It literally is the highlight of the week.  I feel so blessed to be apart of the lives of these kids and to have them in our lives.

Here's a picture of our crew  taken this past November.

Just for my memory sake, I wanted to record some of the things we did today.  Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures.

While Amanda taught the big kids Spanish, Kelly and I had all the littles.  We've been doing some activities surrounding the book, If You Give A Moose A Muffin.   Today we read the story for the last time, made some muffins, and finished some moose puppets that we had started last week.  We made 24 mini muffins and 9 big muffins.  There's not a single muffin left.  Not one.  I couldn't believe it.

Today the kindergartners learned about kangaroos (from My Father's World).  They read some books, tested their jumping skills, and made kangaroo puppets.  Sammy told us all about it at dinner.

I've been teaching the second graders about the deserts of the world using A Journey Through Learning unit study.  Today we watched a portion of a movie on deserts, read about the Sonoran desert, and finished our dioramas of the Gobi, Sahara, Arabian and Sonoran deserts.

All in all, I think we all learned something.  And had fun at the same time.
Now, I think I must go to sleep.  It's been a very full day.

Jonathan - 11 months was a short month so it's that time again.  My baby will be 1 year old in 3 weeks, sigh.  But, he's not there yet.  I will enjoy this last month of having him be 11 months.

Here are a couple of his favorite things:
He says, "Baa, baa" as he waves "Bye, bye".
He does all sorts of spitting and tongue tricks.
He takes 2 naps a day - we try to get most of our school work done while he's napping.  I'm not sure what I'll do when he gives up his morning nap, yikes!  But, thankfully, that's not here yet either.
He loves to be chased around the house by the big kids.
He loves Mommy most, but Livvy is right up there.  She loves him and is such a good mommy to him!  I am so blessed!!
He's figured out how to stand by holding onto the dishwasher (nothing else yet).  The kids saw him and said very excitedly, "Look, Mom. He's going to be walking so soon!!"'ll probably be another month or two before he takes his first steps.  I'm sure he'll be walking by summer, which will be so nice for playing outside.

Well...that's all I can think of for now.  Here he is:

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Come To The Table"

...not for dinner, but for school.

Sometime before Christmas, a little after our school room was finished, I started researching school tables.  There are a variety of school/activity shaped tables - rectangle, trapezoid, horseshoe, and kidney.  I really liked the kidney shaped, but all that I could find were a bit pricey and weren't the right size for our room.

In steps Dad.  My dad offers to make one for me (Tom did too, but...his "To Do" list is way too long as it is)!  Yippee for Dad!!  He did some researching of his own, of course.  He then came up with a design on one of his draw programs on his computer.

After doing some scrounging around our house for some scrap wood to try out the design, he discovered a 4'x8' solid door that we had bought from a used building supply place.  Perfect!  He measured and cut, designed a handy jig thingy to help with the curves, measured and cut some more, etc.

Then my dad, with Tom's help, topped (and sided) the masterpiece with formica.  Easier said than done.  Like a beautifully orchestrated ballet (or something a little less graceful) they discussed and rehearsed the "how" to apply the formica to all of the surfaces.  Then, with skill and precision, they glued, pressed, cut, and then glued, pressed and cut again (there might have been one point of peeling off and re-glueing and re-pressing, but that's not important).

I love it!!  It fits the room perfectly.  It allows me to sit next to everybody at once.  Everybody is within arm's reach.  It is usually covered with workbooks, crayons, and crafts.  It truly is a thing of beauty.

Thanks Dad (and Honey)!!