Friday, July 29, 2011


Now, I'm going to say up front - THESE ARE MY BOYS!!! I love that Connor is so adventurous, and that Canon will try anything Connor does. Sometimes it takes him a while to get up his nerve to try new things, but once Connor sets his mind to something he is all over it. Canon, however, rarely shows any qualms about trying new things. ;) We were at the Republic Aquatic Center yesterday, and Connor wanted to try the Huna. It was only $2, so I said sure. After watching Connor and their cousin, Chance, Canon begged to do it, too.

It was so much fun to watch! They didn't know exactly what they were getting themselves into, but they had a blast.

On Canon's second run-through, he had a little...incident. He was doing great, but then the board got away from him - and took his trunks with it! He jumped over to the side, and I met him over there to help him re-tie them. People were laughing, I was afraid he might get embarrassed...but he couldn't stop laughing either! Now I have to say - that's Kelly's boy right there! He brushed it off, let me retie the string, and ran back to the line for his next turn. It was so funny, everybody started clapping and cheering for him! If it had been me, I would have been in tears and begging to go home. I'm so glad he has the ability to laugh at himself and move on - he makes me pretty proud.

Connor also made me proud. Even though he was one of the smallest kids to ride on the Huna, he was only one of two boys that tried to stand. I was so surprised, but ready to cheer him on.

The lifeguard helped him get started.

Then he pushed him farther out toward the center.

Only one hand...

And he's doing it!!

But not for long!

Regardless, he tried it, he loved it, and we are totally going back soon. Chloe was wearing a two piece, so I didn't let her try it. But she's ready to give it a shot next time as well. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

St Louis!

As some of you know, we took off for St Louis with my sister and her family for the weekend. The kids had gotten their Read to Succeed certificates in the spring, which gave us free admission to Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor - yay for free! We decided to stay overnight and see a few sights...which ended up being only one....but was so much fun, anyway!

We spent most of Saturday at Hurricane Harbor. It was so hot, I couldn't imagine staying in the main park - but a lot of people did! We enjoyed the wave pool a lot, and the kiddie area was very nice with the exception of multiple 4-year-old niece got separated from us for about 45 minutes and checked herself into Lost and Found! :O By the time my sister found her, the workers knew her full name, how old she was, what her parents' names were and where she lived - as worried as we had been, we were all very impressed with her informative abilities! ;) What can I say, she's a Craker!

We went back to the hotel to eat sandwiches and rest about 4. We headed back to the park about 6, thinking it would be cooling off as the sun set. Well, it was cooler, but not much. I can't remember the last time I was so sweaty! But regardless, we still enjoyed it all. We rode Batman, The Ninja, Pandemonium, Superman, Tidal Wave and Collossus. The kids played and rode the things in Looney Toons Town, and the big girls rode Mr. Freeze. We all really enjoyed Scooby Doo's Monster Chase. And the little ones were thrilled to meet Bugs Bunny and Shaggy. We stayed till closed and danced our way back to the car - they play some great dance music in this park! ;D

We took our time getting around Sunday. We decided to go to the Anheuser Busch Brewery tour. I had gone on it on my senior trip, but Kelly had never done it. We were all impressed. This family business has created a legacy rivaled by none, and whether you drink their product, you know their name. Over 150 years of planning, growing, striving for excellence, and surviving the Prohibition has made this company learn and grow and become the one of the greatest companies in the world. And don't forget about the Clydesdales!

Some little known facts about Anheuser Busch/Budweiser:
-it is an all natural product, the five ingredients being, rice, hops, barley malt, water and yeast.
-Adolphus Busch studied and implemented pasteurizing in his brewery even before the milk industry began to do so.
-Budweiser was the first nationally distributed beer.
-The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. One of the first cases of Budweiser to be delivered was to FDR at the White House as a thank you for his support of the repeal.
The recipe yeast starter from 1876 is under lock and key at the St Louis brewery, and is still used today. So basically, their guarantee is that their beer from the first batch will taste exactly like their brew from today.

We were there for almost 3 hours, and the kids didn't complain once - well, except for the smell! But that was fine with me. I just told the boys when they were offered their first beer, just remember the smell from the brewery and say no! :D

We had lunch at Steak N Shake and talked about what was next. The plan had been to head to the St Louis Arch, but we all decided we had had enough fun for one weekend. We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us, and it was already 4:30. It was a great weekend, and I can't wait to go back again. St Louis has so much to offer, and two trips in the last year hasn't even touched it. We are very blessed to have such an awesome destination so close to home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gearing up for school - really?!?

I have to admit, I didn't really want to accept the fact that school is only 3 weeks away. I almost wanted to plug my ears and sing, "La, la, la, la, la!!" But then I started reading everyone's posts on my friend Rodna's blog, and I actually started getting excited! You homeschool moms know what I mean - glossy book covers, new curriculum, all the fun of digging into new kits and models almost makes me giddy every year. I had to stop and take stock of all that we'll be doing, and I'm so glad I did!

Just to remind everyone, or let those new followers catch up, this school year I will be teaching a 5th grade boy, a 3rd grade girl, a 2nd grade boy and keeping track of a very busy 3-year-old boy! Okay, I'm already tired...but it's all good, I know Who sustains me even on the busiest days! ;)

We will be using My Father's World for the second year. We started the 5-year family cycle last year and will continue with year 2, "Creation to the Greeks". I absolutely love everything about this curriculum! We have a lot of flexibility, but plenty of challenging and stimulating material as well. Mr. Hazell, the creator of MFW, always gives us a variety of books that open us up to the world around us, but never fails to bring the glory of it all back to our Heavenly Father. For those of you not familiar with MFW, check out their link here. MFW's basic package covers our bible, history, geography, science, and copywork. We all learned so much last year, I can't wait to get started on the new stuff!

Along with the basic package, I decided to buy their recommended art curriculum, "God and the History of Art". It will coincide with the lessons for the next four years of the family cycle. Each child gets their own set of paint and marker cards. They will use these to learn about and apply the methods of many great artists.What an amazing journey this is going to be!

We have used Math U See from the beginning. My kids love the videos, and they are all strong in their grades. I believe in this progam wholeheartedly, mostly due to the fact that Mr. Demme encourages the use of manipulatives. I'm so thankful we found this principle early on - I can't imagine ever switching math programs. Connor will be working in Epsilon, Chloe will be in Gamma and Canon will be in Beta.

We had a rough time in English last year. We began the year with MFW's recommendations and decided at semester break that we had to take a different route. Connor is not a strong speller, and it has hindered him in his writing. His drive for perfection has prevented him from even trying at times - unfortunately, a trait that is so like his mama! So over Christmas break, I shared our dilemma with a friend. She turned me on to Shurley English.

I wasn't certain if it would work for us, and honestly, I was hesitant to even try. But I knew it couldn't be worse than what we'd been doing. To my surprise and pleasure, the kids loved it - especially Connor. He is such a type A personality: loves structure, wants a plan to follow, absolutely hates creative writing time! With Shurley, he is putting rules to memory, then drawing from that knowledge to diagram sentences and compose paragraphs. He has had a few writing assignments that he has used Shurley's processes, and they have gone smoothly. He still dislikes writing, but it's not a fight anymore. Praise the Lord! He and Chloe will be doing Shurley 4 together; Canon will be using Primary Language Lessons.

Primary Language Lessons is what MFW recommends for 2nd graders. It is a classical approach to teaching Language Arts that I really enjoy. It gives me some time with Canon one-on-one, which he sometimes doesn't get enough of! I'm so looking forward to this time with him and watching his little imagination work.

For Spelling, all three will be using the lists from Spelling Power, but plugging them into a website called We bought the family membership this spring for $25/year, and the kids have access to practice time, tests, games and vocabulary. I don't let them move on to a new list until they have gotten a 100%, so they work at their own pace. The site keeps track of all their scores, and I can even print it all out for grades if I choose. Check out this great website here.

We will continue learning Spanish as a family with Rosetta Stone. We bought the program in the fall and let the kids just play with it in their free time. We will now be putting it on the weekly schedule. Muy Bueno!

On top of all this, we will be starting Play His Praises Orchestra, continuing co-op with Lighthouse Christian Academy, participating in monthly field trips, and pursuing different sports throughout the school year. Whew! :D It is sure to be an amazing year, and I'm so happy to get to share it with you all. Blessings!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ah, rasberries. The sweet, sweet rasberry. Our place is covered in them! We love them as well as blackberries, and spent many days in June walking in the woods and through the fencerows picking them. Question for those berry conoisseurs out there - HOW can you spend two hours picking these luscious gems and only have half a gallon to show for it??

Actually, I had a lot to show for it...a couple dozen mosquito bites, numerous chigger bites, a few wandering ticks, some nasty thorn scratches and one pretty impressive sunburn. And that's just me, not Kelly and the kiddos! :) We learned and were more prepared in the following ventures!

After a week of picking, I think we ended up with 8 gallons between us and the grandparents. We left the rest for the ravenous birds and beasts of our woods. Many tasty treats have been enjoyed due to our picking.

But it wasn't just about the picking. We spent time together, outside in the sweltering heat covered in flannel and denim from our heads to our toes for days! Sound awful? Ironically, it has been one of my favorite memories so far this summer.

But it's all good. We have had some amazing desserts this summer, and I am actually sad that the blackberries didn't make this month - I'm down to one gallon of rasberries!!

So how have you spent your summer days?