Saturday, May 22, 2010

Smokey Mountains Vacation

Travel Pictures

The Alamo Steak House had FANTASTIC food! Their steaks were incredible and Dd#1 had a Southwest Chicken Wrap that was FABULOUS! We ate there for lunch and had a 15% discount from a coupon book we got at the Pigeon Forge Walmart. For 6 people, we spent $60 on lunch, not including tip. It was WORTH IT!

We ate breakfasts in the cabin and dinners and ate out for lunches.

The Red Rooster had the BEST breakfasts!! Mad Dog Creamery had the most incredible ice cream!!One thing we had a hard time accomodating was planning our eating times. Leaving enough time on the trails to get back to the car and drive through town, then choose a restaurant and wait for the food -- we were STARVING most of the time. There was almost no place to park in Gatlinburg (for free) and everyone just walked the parkway. That didn't work so well for us. We wanted to save our energy for hiking...not getting from our car and back when we wanted to stop somewhere.

The kids LOVED doing THE TRACK - they had mini golf with zoo statues, go karts, bumper boats, and a kiddie land.
1.3 mile hike up a paved path to Laurel Falls.
The elevation change was 400 ft and we took Ds#5 in a stroller. It was a LOT of work! The falls were cool (figuratively and literally) but not worth the effort in my book. It was REALLY neat that Dave could take the kids for a rock climb down and up the falls. Ds#4 had a REALLY hard time minding and when Ds#3 got ahead of Dave, Ds#4 just followed suit. Dave was not happy!
"Thank you, Sissy, for giving me your sweatshirt to make me warm!"
Prettiest view in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky & Tennessee!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Summer School & Chore Plan

The kids will be learning tennis through Lifetime Sports Academy this summer for FREE!

Summer school will be June & July
In addition to summer school, the each of the kids have a few subjects they need to finish up from the school year. Anyone not on grade level, will have to continue that subject through the summer as well.

  • Ds#4 puzzle books & math drills
  • Ds#3 reading, spelling & math drills
  • Dd#2 grammar book & math book
  • Dd#1 spelling & math book
We'll also do our annual chore training for May. Summer will continue training in their new chore so they'll be prepared to fly alone by the time school begins in the fall.

  • Ds#4(8yrs old) off trash/half bath/kitchen floor - onto emptying the dishwasher
  • Ds#3(10) off laundry - onto keeping the kitchen clean
  • Dd#2(12) off kitchen cleaning - onto cooking dinner all year
  • Dd#1(14) off budgeting, choosing meals, shopping for & cooking all meals - onto....ummmnnnn....uhhhh.....
This is a tough call. My master plan was that they'd know how to do each chore for the family by the time they were 13. She's succeeded.

I don't know how difficult high school will be for her and don't want to rely on her around the house if she'll need the time to study. I don't want her siblings being slaves to her while she lounges around, either. I was hoping to help them learn to juggle multiple responsibilities in their teens, but that's not really a chore. I guess I'll give her Ds#4's responsibilities and expect a MUCH higher quality of work than a 7yr old. Trash/bathrooms & kitchen floor are things EVERYONE but the 2yr old knows how to do, so if she needs let up on some work anyone can jump in AND she should be able to do them easily and quickly. I'm sure I'll continue to ask her to do jobs as she sees they need done and she's getting pretty good at that. I don't think the other kids will understand, though....

Book Review : Great Adventure Kids - Bible study packets for elementary kids

WOW!! I'm so impressed with Great Adventure Kids. This will be our 2nd time through Great Adventure (we did it 4 years ago with our Jr. High girl before T3 or Epic came out) and I was concerned that the adult version would be too boring for my 2nd Jr. High girl. I ordered Great Adventure Kids for the younger boys from All Saints bookstore and it's WONDERFUL! I needed to get an extra coloring book.

The timeline chart is the HEART of the program. I understand the kids chart so much better than I did the adult chart (maybe I'm just better with the pictures). I also love that it gives the important stories. I get so overwhelmed trying to read the kids every story in the Golden Children's Bible. We get behind and I don't know what to do. I can be sure and hit the 4 major stories per time period and any other stories I fit in are just gravy!

We do school 4 days a week and this is my plan:

2 days a week we'll do bible stories. On Tues & Thursdays for the elementary kids we'll :

  • start with the prayer on the back of the chart for that period using the prayer beads.
  • read over the whole chart up to the period we're in
  • review 1 memory verse for the week
  • read the bible story and color the picture
  • ask the kids if they can recite the memory verse and tell me items on the chart
  • have the kids do a narration
  • for Wednesday, they can play the card game and do an activity from Old Testament Days

Fridays we'll cover some catechism, big-picture sorts of discussions.

I'll want to do something to cover the 6 covenants -- maybe we'll bake/decorate cookies for each covenant or make a shrinky dink mobile ... I got GREAT ideas from a blog about crafting with the Covenants ... I'm getting so excited about next year!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review : All Things Girl

My girls LOVE this series of Catholic books about gowing up in the dignity of being a daughter of the KING. They are fun, kicky, and they've really enjoyed doing a club with 2 other lovely Catholic girls this past year using the Leader's Guide.

The All Things Girl books are VERY pricey -- but I haven't been one bit sorry for the expense -- WONDERUL resources!

http://atgseries.com/ Just click on the "catalog" button to take a look at the books

Friday, May 14, 2010

Where do you do school?

Oh the chaos of homeschooling. They all have desks. There's a whole big empty house. Yet, THIS is where they choose to do their school -- in the smallest room of the house TOGETHER!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jenn's Birthday

Birthday number 42 was a quiet, not exciting affair. But Dd#2 couldn't let it be that way.

She made sure I had a present to open and it was wrapped as pretty as she could. What a sweet gift God gave me in her.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sleeping Sideways

I know kids like to sleep in odd places -- it's fun. But do they have to sleep in the TOP bunk together? Why would they want to? and....do they need to sleep sideways in the bed? Again, WHY would they want to?

Monday, May 10, 2010


I've spoken those words so many times, it hurts me to hear them. I've tried shelves & shoe boxes...I figured it was a cross to bear with multiple children.

Then, Dave bought me THIS!

With 5 kids and 1 mom who want to keep shoes downstairs, we divided the cubbies into sections and each person has their own row (I share a row with Ds#5 -- he has little shoes that can fit his and mine in a cubbie.) It has 25 cubbies --- 4 pair of shoes and mittens/hat can fit in a row per kid.

It's supposed to have a drawer (sold separately) on the bottom, but that's where we'll keep boots. It bought it on sale and it was still exorbitant, but worth it every time I don't have to say "Pick up your shoes!"

Maybe this find shouldn't thrill me so much -- but it's a GODSEND!

The rules of the shoe cubbie are thus:

No shoes are to be left out (or you loose the privilege of keeping your shoes downstairs for a week and you have to traipse upstairs each time you want to put shoes on or take them off.)

Shoes can only go in your cubbie. If you put your shoes in someone elses cubbie -- loss of cubbie privileges.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

First Communion Poll

I have to choose just one to blow up and put on the wall with the other kids' First Communion Pictures. These are my favorite out of the 63 that Peter's Godmother, Laura took of him. THANKS, Laura!!!!!

Which do you like best?

Friday, May 07, 2010

We're bored...

My kids aren't allowed to say, "I'm bored." I'm a firm believer in the theory that if you're bored, you don't have enough work to do. However, I'm pleased with some of the activities they come up with when left to themselves. Sick of Apples to Apples? Use every card to make a hotel!

Book Review : Living Memory by Andrew Campbell

I've had my eye on this book for quite some time. I hesitated to buy a book that was just a compilation of information I already had in other places. However, something that would genuinely assist me in getting all the topics covered that I feel guilty about -- now that's worth something!

This book is really WONDERFUL! I've only found it at Lulu http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/living-memory/4080865?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/6%3freviewItem#detailsSection

This comprehensive K-12 resource for memorization, copywork, and dictation can be used with any classical curriculum or as a handy reference for home or school.

Even though I KNOW how important memory is as a subject in school to supplement allllll their learning, it's sooo difficult to fit in. Then when I finally find things I want each of the kids to memorize, it takes me weeks (or more) to find more once they've completed the task. Then, another year has gone by and I've put little to no memorization facts before the kids when I KNOW it's important. THIS BOOK HELPS! It's all there for me (and then some.) When we have to pare down all the extras in school due to the flu or other life happening, this books makes it so easy for me to choose what items to put back on the schedule easily.

I was amazed and impressed by the variety of subjects covered. I had to put tabs in mine to keep them all handy!

Latin - Bible Verses, Prayers, Songs / Greek / Math / Grammar / Literature - Songs, Poetry, Plays / Religion & Christmas / Geography / World History - Speeches / U.S. History - Songs, Speeches / Science

This will really help me accomplish the things I want to and keep my priorities, too. As a matter of fact, it already has! I ordered this a month before we ended school for the spring and the kids learned things I've been neglecting for years. THANK YOU, Andrew Campbell!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Blessed First Communion

Ds#4 had his First (of many, God willing) Communion today. It was also his 8th birthday!!
We had a wonderful time with family at a local chinese restaurant and went Peter's Godparents' home after that -- their youngest son was having a First Communion party, too.
Family then friends on a wonderful day! My prayer is that he continue to grow in love with Christ!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010


We've needed a new camcorder since Ds#5 was born (he's 2 1/2, now).
I found the reviews at http://reviews.cnet.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/ helpful.
We couldn't afford the higher end camcorders, so I was looking for something under $200.

The top contenders were the

The biggest things I was interested in were :

  1. ease of use (I won't use it if I have to fiddle with it while I chase down the 2 year old who escaped because I was messing with the camcorder)
  2. extended ease of use (how long the battery lasts before needing recharged / plugging into our computer / recording to DVD off computer / how clear the video will look when we *eventually* buy a new, bigger TV)
  3. cost

After reading the reviews, we'll end up buying the Kodak Zi8 from Walmart with an extra SD card for around $200.

Edited to add : We got to Walmart and Dave thought the Zi8 looked too small to handle. After all my research, I had to do it all over again. Dave gave me an amount he was willing to spend and I researched around that amount. We ended up buying a Sony Handycam from Target for ~$350. It was the size and price Dave wanted. I liked Target's 90 day guarentee (if I didn't like the way it worked on my computer or tv or for any reason, I could bring it back in 90 days.)

We're happy with it and you'll be seeing videos from our vacation soon....