Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten in 2012

Here are ten of my favorite events from 2012, in no particular order:

1.  Princess Ivana was born January 9.

2.  We joined our local homeschool group and have already made some wonderful new friends.

3.  Princess Abbey's softball team won their championship tournament.

4.  Princess Tarja's tee ball team won their championship tournament.

5.  My number of baton twirling students went from 3 students to 23 and counting.

6.  I started teaching baton twirling for the local marching band.

7.  We got back into Girl Scouts after a long, unwanted break.

8.  Princess Melody completed one year at her job.

9.  We took a family vacation to Glen Rose, Texas.

10.  We joined the local Chamber of Commerce, and they have really helped our parade corps in a big way.

Of course, there were too many good thing in our lives to list here, but I hope that you will keep reading The Four Princesses to see how we do in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Laurel Santiago

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Homeschooling Princess Christmas

This Christmas was special, as it was Princess Ivana's first Christmas.  I am sad to report that it was not a great one for her.  Ivana had been sick only one time since she was born, and she is now 11 months old.  Darned if she did not become sick with a cold or some kind of stomach bug on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, She didn't want to open her presents, so we opened them for her and put all of her new toys on a blanket with her, and so she just laid down with her toys, paying no attention to them. 

This morning, she is feeling better.  Princess Tarja brought Ivana her big baby doll that Santa brought.  Ivana lovingly played with its hair and feet and said, "oooooo."  I, honestly, am excited about playing with her Vsmile Baby, but we have to wait until after her morning routine that includes watching Blue' Clues.

The rest of our holiday went as follows:

1.  Our twirling class, The Sparklers, was in the lighted Christmas parade, which was a tribute to our local servicemen and women.  They rode on a float that some of the parents got together to create and then performed in the park to a local singer/school teacher that sang "God Bless the USA."

2. We made homemade ornaments for our Christmas tree.

3.We drove to the next town to see Starbright Village, which is a park that is filled with Christmas light displays.
4.  The library allows organizations to put up small trees in the library to represent themselves, so we went and put up trees for The Sparklers, Sands Art Association, Girl Scout troop 121 (the homeschool troop), and the Monahans Homeschoolers.  We made most of the ornaments for those trees.

5.  Around here, Santa has a horse drawn sleigh instead of one that flies through the air by way of reindeer.  He gave the kids free sleigh rides during a community Christmas party that the Chamber of Commerce hosted.

6. Our Girl Scout troop helped deliver meals on wheels on the Friday morning before Christmas.  That evening, we joined the other Girl Scout troops for a little singing program and party.

5. In preparation for the big day, Princess Melody treated us all to breakfast out, and then Princess Abbey babysat while we did our final Christmas shopping.  Princess Melody bought new clothes for herself and her sisters and I got the food that we needed for Christmas dinner.

6. On Christmas Eve, we listened to Mannheim Steamroller, Handel's Messiah and the Chipmunks Christmas while we cleaned up the house to get ready for Santa's arrival. 

7. Christmas morning, was spent opening Princess presents.  They played with their new games and toys while I made a Christmas feast that was fit for a diabetic queen.  I made the traditional turkey, gravy, biscuits, mashed potatoes and stuffing.  Then, I added things from my low carb cookbook such as creamed spinach, cauliflower-sausage casserole, stuffed mushrooms, and deviled eggs.  We chased it all down with some good old fashioned tea and water.   Dessert was pecan pie and apple pie that I did NOT make, because baking is too tempting and dangerous for me.  Incidentally, we all ate like a bunch of starving people, yet I woke up with my blood sugar LOWER rather than higher than usual, so I would say that the meal portion of our holiday was a success on both the taste and health front.

8.  So now, it is the day after Christmas.  We all slept in, as we have no activities to attend until January.  The exception is a bake sale that will take place on Friday, and Princess Abbey will volunteer at the animal shelter tomorrow.  I need to work on new twirling routines.  However,  I look forward to the next few days being restful and rejuvenating.

Merry Christmas!
Laurel Santiago

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Princess Abbey is about to start the final set of lessons for her conservation course.  I am super happy about that.  She wants to take the Veterinary Assistant course next, which leads me to a little victory that we had yesterday.  Abbey has been wanting to learn dog grooming, so I contacted a local dog groomer on facebook and asked her if Abbey could work as a volunteer for her.  She said that due to liabilities and child labor laws, that she could not allow her to volunteer, but that she could help out in the animal shelter that she also runs.  I gave her a few days to think about whether or not this is something that she would like to do, and she finally came to me and said that she would love to volunteer at the animal shelter and was very excited to get started.  To make a long story short, we went to the animal shelter yesterday, visited for a few minutes with the owner, then signed the necessary waiver that allows Abbey to volunteer.  It turns out that the lady that I was in communication with has an animal shelter and is a dog groomer, and she is also a veterinary assistant.  I take that as proof that God does send the right people to us at the right times.

The other day, the king and I went to a flea market, and I scored a really pretty pop up book of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I also found a cloth, Princess book for Princess Ivana, that she seems to love.  Tarja has also discovered The Nutcracker on Netflix and loves it.  I did not even know that it was on Netflix, but her four year old self found it and fell in love.  Incidentally, we discovered Spotify, and I am pleasantly surprised to learn that not only can we listen to our favorite modern hits, but there are tons and tons of classical options and even things like entire Girl Scout albums, which we have needed, but didn't think that we could afford.  We may never have to purchase a CD again!  Anyway, this is very exciting for this Charlotte Mason mama. 

Night before last, we went to a Christmas event that our local Chamber of Commerce hosted.  Mr. and Mrs. Claus were there, and Santa gave everybody free rides on his sleigh.   We are missing a princess, because she was at work. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homeschool Unit Studies

Tis the season to be busy.  I have been actively working on advertising both my expanding parade corps and Avon businesses.  It's fun, but I have been so tired at night that I fall asleep as soon as  I hit the pillow.  Since I have been somewhat of an insomniac for the past few years, I guess that's really a good thing. 

Princess Abbey has decided to focus her energy on our New Jersey unit study, since the state fair is next week.  There are many ways that doing an occasional unit study helps our homeschool. 

*The child has to research information both online and off.  As long as Mom doesn't do this for her, she learns how to find information about anything and everything as the need arises.  You will be very surprised by how this boosts the education of your child. Honestly, do you sit around and wish that you had more schooling if you want to know something, or do you ask questions and look it up?  This is real world experience.

*The child is asked to narrate about certain topics in the unit.  Remember, we use the Charlotte Mason method, so we don't use many, if any, worksheets.  Therefore, the bulk of the assignments are worded sort of like, "Research and tell about Thomas Edison."  "Research and tell about the Pinelands Fox Hunt." My created assignments for my children never say, "Please choose the correct answer for each of the following questions."

*Narrations are graded for spelling, grammar and punctuation.  Spelling words have to be practiced.  We talk about why the mistakes are mistakes.  The child may have to do some rewriting so that we can have nice, final copies.

*Important dates are entered into the Book of Centuries.

* Some coloring pages may be used, but if the child is able to draw things like state symbols, then it is encouraged.  My princess love to draw, so that's a plus.

*State symbols such as the state flower, bird, tree, and so forth, become science lessons.
*Looking up and trying recipes related to the unit are home economics.
*Getting together with other homeschoolers for a fun event related to the unit is part of how we knock out the "socialization" issue. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

So here is the straight skinny on what has gone on for the past 24 hours.  The Christmas parade and ending performance went without a hitch, thanks to some wonderful moms that organized the whole thing.  For the every first time, in all of my years of twirling, I did not have to do anything except show up and enjoy my own show.  The girls rode on a float that was dedicated to honoring the troops and then twirled to a local school teacher singing "God Bless the USA". 

THIS morning, I woke up to a bunch of grumpy princesses, including one that is teething.  I finally, retreated to my room and played games on the ROKU for awhile.  After we all got over our temper tantrums, and I answered a few messages and phone calls regarding twirling lessons and AVON, Princess Melody and I went to the library with a carload of stuff with which to decorate four small trees for the four organizations that we belong to.  When I got there, I was a little surprised that the librarian knew that I was coming with more than one tree, and so she designated one long table for us to use.  One, very sweet lady, who was decorating her tree, asked, "What company are you from?"  I said, "The Sparklers Baton Twirling Corps, Sands Art Association, Girl Scouts and the Monahans Homeschoolers."  Her eyes got bigger with each group name.  Anyway, we had The Sparklers bring handmade ornaments for their tree, and I made little batons out of toothpicks and gumdrops.  For the topper, I put a blingy, pink Santa hat.  The tree is pink.  For the Sands Art Association, we made drip ball ornaments at our last meeting, and added candy canes that a member brought.  For the Monahans Homeschoolers, we added glitter to an assortment of teacher bulletin board shapes and letters.  For the Girl Scouts, we made a good deeds tree by writing the name of each girl and a good deed that she did on gold, glass ornaments.  I still need to go back and add cards to each one to denote where the trees are from.

As soon as I got home, I had some Avon to deliver.  Then, I had a customer ask for my Avon boxes, which I was happy to get rid of. I called a water delivery service that was supposed to have started last Friday, and complained loudly.  It didn't do any good.  They still didn't come.  We had a twirling lesson, which involved me bonking myself on the nose while showing the girls how to do a horizontal one turn.  I don't normally do that, but I guess it was bound to happen.  Finally, at long last, we came home and had quesadillas for supper, which is about the easiest meal that a person can throw together.  I am thankful tonight for cheese and tortillas.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, December 3, 2012

So far, for Princess Ivana's first Christmas, we have made lost of ornaments for her first tree, and bought new lights that blink and play music.  After we decorated the Christmas tree yesterday, we went to a nearby town to drive through a park that they have decorated and called Starbright Village. The rest of the princesses loved it so much, that we turned around and drove through it twice.  Princess Ivana slept through it.  She woke up in time for her kid's meal from Stars. 

Today, we had Girl Scouts and shared our mini God's eye ornament craft with them.  That was a lot of fun.  I had some Avon orders to deliver, then we had a parade.  My twirling class had a float and then had a little performance at the park where the parade ended.  We came home and had pizza and breadsticks and are now winding down for the night.  Winding down, of course, involves making more Christmas ornaments.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yesterday, I went out to do a little shopping and picked up Candyland for Princess Tarja.  We played many rounds of Candyland last night.

My avon order came in, and I had one delivery to make that was in between my town and the next.  After that, we came home and wrapped presents, then had leftovers buffet for supper.

The previous night, we had our twirling lessons and then our Sands Art Association meeting.  It was my turn to bring the refreshments and give the program.   We make drip balls to go on our Christmas tree that we are going to put up at the local library next week.  That was fun.  Then, we tried to come home to a roast that I had been slow cooking in the oven.......but not only was it not done, but I spilled it on myself.  Therefore, I had to go visit Princess Melody at McDonalds, and get our dinner at nearly 10p.m.  EPIC FAIL, but everybody seemed to be happy with their supper.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I woke up this morning and immediately started cleaning my bedroom, which is one of the most neglected rooms in the house.  I also took that time to fold laundry that the Princesses needed to put away. 

After that, I had to turn in some nominations for awards the our local Chamber of Commerce is giving, and had to take Princess Melody to check on her work schedule. 

When I got home, Princess Abbey began working on her New Jersey unit.  We watched a video about Thomas Edison.  Until this unit study, I did not know that he was from New Jersey.  Princess Abbey and Princess Melody read an article about Bon Jovi, who is also from New Jersey, and how he has started a restaurant that operates on donations rather than on set prices for his menu.  This gave them the idea to start something similar here in town.  That will be a BIG project, for sure. 

Princess Tarja did a few reading exercises on, and we read part of a Hans Christian Anderson story.  Then, Princess Tarja went with me to the stores to gather things that we need for our art association meeting that will take place tomorrow night.  It is my job to organize the making of Christmas ornaments for our little tree that we will have at the library, and to bring the snacks.  I plan on making sausage/cheese balls, little tuna sandwiches, and I bought some little Christmas cookies.  When I got home, I helped Princess Abbey make chili con carne for supper.  While the chili simmered, I read a chapter from Mere Christianity, and we discussed what we read about how if we focus on being friendly and nice to others, that we will discover that we like more people than we thought that we would. 

If you haven't read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, then you are missing out.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I woke up this morning with a little issue with my tummy.  Colloidal silver seems to be knocking it out.  Princess Melody and the King aren't feeling so hot, either, so we're all on the colloidal silver, pepto bismol and alka seltzer. 

Princess Abbey ran my errands with me this morning.  We had to fax some papers to the Girl Scout council in regards to our troop account, considering that we can't sell cookies without an account.  Then, we had to go to the store to buy yarn to fill some crochet orders that have come in recently.  We also needed some colorful paper to make our giant New Jersey lapbook.  Then, we went to the bookstore to find some new books for Tarja.  To backtrack, we have stopped borrowing from the library because: 1) we NEVER manage to turn books in on time.  2)the librarians don't seem to like it when children come in and look at the books.  3)we found an assortment of books about "alternative lifestyles" rubbing elbows with books for preschoolers that we did not appreciate.  At any rate, I found The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter and Tales From Hans Christian Anderson.  The clerk at the bookstore gave me a discount on the most expensive book, so I am a happy book shopper.  We also picked up a 1/2 pound of fudge, which is entirely too good, and has entirely too much sugar for me.  I emailed the book store owner and asked if she had considered making some sugar free items, and she said that she had not been able to find any good recipes.  Now, I might be on a mission to find some good sugar free treat recipes, because I KNOW that somewhere out there, probably online, is a goldmine of sugar free candy recipes that have not been discovered. 

After that, Abbey completed a Conservation test and got a 100.  Yay!  We watched part of a movie about the book of John while I got her Forestry Management unit ready.  Then, we read Mere Christianity, in the midst of our parrot squawking, Princess Tarja crying and insisting on having The Nutcracker turned up full blast on the TV, and the dryer apparently drying rocks or something, based on all of the noise that it's making.  I'm guessing that we may need to go over that chapter again at another, more peaceful time.   Princess Abbey asked to take a break from some of her daily work to work on her New Jersey unit for our State Fair.  Judging from all of the stuff that I printed out for her to do, I guess that I will have to allow that.  I did manage to call someone about letting us borrow a building for that State Fair.  The two ladies that I spoke to seemed very happy to help out, but will have to get back with me at another time.  Now, it's time to get ready for our Tuesday baton twirling lessons. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, November 26, 2012

It certainly is Monday.  I actually enjoy Monday.  Monday is a day to start fresh, and Mondays after holidays seem to have an even fresher feel to them.  The Princesses may not agree, as I had a hard time getting them out of bed this morning.  All Princesses, including myself, picked up a stomach bug over the weekend.  With the help of colloidal silver and pepto bismol, we are all well, but I didn't want to risk exposing other people to us, so we cancelled Girl Scouts today.  Princess Tarja was furious.  However, I am happy to report that nobody has any more signs of illness as of this evening.  Princess Abbey will go to her archery lesson tonight.

This morning, it was my morning to turn in my Avon order.  That's always a little bit crazy, as I encourage and field last minute orders from customers.  I got that finished exactly by my noon deadline.  Princess Melody went with me to take an Avon catalog to a new customer.  We picked up bean and cheese burritos for brunch at a nearby burrito place.  Then, Tarja and I made some Huichol string art Christmas ornaments for our Christmas tree.  Abbey worked independently one some of her lessons and then we finished up her tenth lesson in Forestry and Wildlife Conservation.  We read Mere Christianity out loud, which brought forth a discussion of how loving our neighbor as ourselves, and forgiving others does not mean that we condone bad things that others do, but that we pray and hope that people that do bad things will be cured of their need to do them.  It was very interesting.  After that, we looked up and printed out a bunch of printables to assist with our unit study of New Jersey that we are doing for a state fair that we are having with our local homeschool group.  I believe that I have found all of the information that we need plus more.  This will become a very gigantic lapbook.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What do Native Americans Think About Thanksgiving

Our Princess Thanksgiving is going to be simple this year.  I'm only making the foods that everybody most loves, which will be the turkey, dressing (just a little bit, because only myself and the king like dressing), mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, gravy and sugar free chocolate cupcakes.  There will probably leftovers, but I will not force my family to eat them right away.  They can be frozen for future meals that can go in the microwave.

We won't be having school today.  Of course, Princess Abbey prefers to study independently, so if she decides to do some of her school work, I won't stop her.  I am really thankful for her willingness and desire to learn all that she can about everything that she can, including subjects that she really doesn't like.  Along those lines, I am thankful for Princess Melody's wonderful work ethic and her drive to always try to make things nice for her younger sisters.   She has held down the same job for over a year, and has even received a little promotion.  I can't be more proud.  I am thankful that Princess Tarja is a fighter, but gentle and sweet at the same time.  I am thankful for Princess Ivana, who has graced our home with her laughter and playfulness.

Now, I have always taught Thanksgiving to my children by using the living books method.  Abbey and Melody have already had these lessons so many times, that we're not going to do it this year, other than that I would like her to read this article that I am about to post for you here.  Tarja is too old to learn Thanksgiving the way that I would like for her to learn it.  I won't dumb it down, even though I do like to make it fun.  However, Native American history is a serious matter that isn't always taught in a serious manner.  I can remember being taught about the cartoony Pilgrims and Indians in school, and am well aware that I walked away from those fun lessons with the wrong idea about Thanksgiving.  As a child, I enjoyed the little craft projects and the funny songs, and the programs, because I didn't know any better.  For my homeschooled children, they have learned by watching movies about and reading biographies about Native Americans that were important to Thanksgiving such as Squanto: A Warrior's Tale.  They love the story of Squanto, and I think that your family will be blessed to learn it.  One great movie or series to watch is Into the West.  Also, there is a movie called Spirit Rider, and another called Bury my Heat at Wounded Knee, and Dreamkeeper (my personal favorite).  These movies aren't specifically about Thanksgiving, but they are wonderful for illustrating the Native American lifestyle, both past and present. 

Here is the article that I promised you.  It was posted this morning, by a Native American friend on facebook, who is very knowledgeable about Native American traditions.  Please read, think and pray about how you would have your children learn the truth about early America and giving thanks. Clicky

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This morning started out with my needing to open up a bank account for our homeschooling Girl Scout troop, because the cookie sale will be upon us before we can get our Christmas decorations put away.  I am the cookie manager this year.  Imagine that!  A diabetic mama that is in charge of hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS.........of cookies.  Things like that are proof positive that God has a sense of humor.

We raided McDonalds for lunch, then got busy on our school work.  Tarja and I sat outside for quite a long while, and she noticed that the leaves are different colors on the trees, there were bugs on some of the leaves, and she even spied a butterfly.  I would call that a pretty good science lesson for a four year old.  Charlotte Mason would approve.  Incidentally, you must know that in the area that we live, we sat outside sweating and I think that I may even have a mild sunburn on my face.  That is mid-late November in West Texas.

Our day isn't nearly through. Melody still has to go to work.  I have an Avon book to deliver to a new customer, and we have twirling lessons.  As soon as twirling lessons are over, I need to drive to the next town to pick up a cool Christmas present for Princess Ivana.  As I write this blog post, Princess Abbey is showing me that Princess Tarja used one of my lip glosses to paint the lips of each member of Family Force Five on her poster.  Umm.....should we consider that to be art work? 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, November 19, 2012

I actually needed to make myself a things-to-do list to get me through this morning.  I had two packages to mail to out of town Avon customers.  There were videos to return that we rented over the weekend, which were Brave and RENT.  I had to take Avon books to a new customer.  Then, I had to go to the bank to make deposits for both Avon and twirling.  Then, I needed a few things from the store.  THEN, I needed something to drink, because all of that running around made me thirsty.

  As soon as I got home, we got ready for our homeschool Girl Scout meeting.  At Girl Scouts, we worked some more on our magazine page bowls, and had a little planning session about the children's magazine that the girls want to start.  When we got home from Girl Scouts, I took Melody to work and then we worked on Abbey's conservation course.  In the process, we discovered that Abbey only needs to pass 5 more lessons and then she will be finished with this.  She said that she wants to take the veterinary assistant course next.  We read out loud from Mere Christianity, which opened up a great discussion about the birds and the bees. After that, Abbey worked on some of her other lessons independently.  Then, it was time for Abbey to go to archery.  While Abbey was at archery, Tarja watched Peter and the Wolf on youtube, and I heated up smoked sausage for supper.

While I fixed supper, Ivana had to be confined to her high chair, because she has figured out how to climb up on, out of, into, and on top of just about everything.  None of her baby furniture keeps her safe except for the high chair, and I caught her as she nearly tipped THAT over.  I know that it's not nice to compare, but my other children all could talk quite clearly by the time that they were as old as Ivana.  None were as physically active as she has been.  The only word that Ivana says is, "Num!" when she is eating something that she likes.  The rest of her day is spent getting into, onto, out of, on top of, and under, everything that she can find.  Needless to say, we have had some crazy days around here.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesdays, fortunately, are kind of an easy day for us.  We don't have any scheduled activities.  After doing our usual routine of running errands, I helped Abbey with her Forestry course, read a chapter aloud from Mere Christianity, and then read from a book that contains two minute Charlie Brown stories for Tarja.  Do you remember Charlie Brown?  I LOVE Charlie Brown.  Tarja did, which we refer to as "Ed Mouse."  Tarja has a love/hate relationship with Ed Mouse right now, because he gets to be more of a challenge as we go along.  Later, Tarja and I read some fairy tales together, and THEN, we watched Tubby the Tuba and Peter and the Wolf on youtube.  She thought that was completely amazing. 

Quite a few blog posts ago, I had started the grapefruit diet, and then the baby ended up in the hospital for a week, and that ended that.  I'm back in the saddle, and have enlisted the help of ACE, the dietary supplement that everybody is advertising on facebook.  So far, everything is going great. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This morning, Princess Melody and I had to run to the next town to pick up the pictures that we had made last week of the four of them together.  It was a nice little drive.  Then, we came back, picked up Princess Abbey's broken wii, and took it to the computer repair shop.  The man seemed confident that he could fix it, so let's hope.  THEN, we had to run to a local church, that had said that they would help our twirling team with an indoor practice area for the winter.  The lady that was to let us into the building acted like she was very annoyed with me, because I did not call her before today, when, in fact, I had tried to contact her over and over......and O V E R again.  She basically called me a liar, but she put us on the calendar, and at that point, I was too happy to be upset.  I thanked her so much that I bet she was even more annoyed with me, but being able to keep twirling lessons going during the winter months is a dream that I once thought was impossible.  All of this took place before lunch time.  After lunch, we had school work and twirling lessons, which doesn't sound like much unless you are the one doing it.  We did finish up a chapter in Abbey's Forestry and Wildlife course.  She made an 85 on the test, which I thought was pretty good, but she wasn't too thrilled.  Anyway, onward to the next part of the course tomorrow. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago
Yesterday, we had our homeschool Girl Scout troop meeting.  The Princesses cleaned the cage of our half moon conure, Pitbull, and put the California king snake in a smaller container so that they could show them to the rest of the troop.  Therefore, for our troop meeting, we had those two pets to play with, and we began making decorative bowls out of magazine pages.  We worked on using our good manners throughout the activities, which goes toward their Manners Count Patch, and we discussed how making something out of what would normally be considered trash (old magazines) goes along with the Girl Scout law of "using resources wisely".  It was a fun time until the snake died.  We don't have a clue as to why he died.  Princess Melody was heartbroken.

After the meeting, we took the snake to the pet store, so that they could properly take care of his remains.  Melody went to work, and Abbey and I got to the task of working on her Forestry and Wildlife Conservation course.  Abbey went to archery class, and Tarja and I worked on her activities. 

In between those things, I turned in a large Avon order, which made me very happy.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I have been off of the blogging track for the past week, because I started off with jury duty.  Usually, court is cancelled, but this time, I was told that I had to appear.  I made the decision not to claim my right to stay home with the kids, because I do have two kids that are old enough to babysit, and I really didn't think that they would pick me, anyway.  After all, I would get $10.00 just for showing up.  We could have a princess lunch at McDonalds for $10.00.  Yay! 

When I went for my appointed time to appear for jury duty, according to the summons that I received, I found myself waiting for nearly an hour before we were called into the courtroom for questioning.  We were told to sit in a certain order, and only the first two rows of seats were questioned.  I was on the second row.  Each person before me was questioned extensively about his or her family life and background.  I was questioned very little.  The attorney remarked that he had never had a twirling instructor before, asked me a little about what the king does for a living, and moved on to the next person. 

We were dismissed for a break while the attorneys decided who they would choose for the actual jury.  I was ready for the names to finished being called so that I could go home.  THEN, they said it.  "Laurel Santiago."  What?  Were they kidding?  Everybody else was dismissed.  The other 11 jurors and I were given a cute little badge, some instructions and sent home for lunch.  Court started right after lunch and kept me busy for three days.  At any rate, I believe that God chose this jury, and I hope that decisions were made for the benefit of all concerned.

Be that as it may, we missed our weekly Girl Scout meeting, but Abbey did make it to archery and we had our twirling lessons.  Then, Thursday, we had a photo shoot of the girls together in the next town.  That was a fun time.  Today, we have done as little as possible.  There was even a nap involved.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Princesses

I am so lucky to have been blessed with the experience of being the mother of these precious people.  Our lives together have not and are not perfect.  We've been through some terrible things as a family.  We've also been through some lovely, miraculous things together that maybe nobody else would understand.  Our lives have been full of art, music and great literature.  We have created our own opportunities, and we value God and family far more than we value standards and norms of society.  If God be for us, then who can be against us?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Today was one of those days that felt sort of like a let down after all of the commotion from Halloween.  Even so, I am glad that Halloween is over, and we can move onward to Thanksgiving. 

There wasn't a lot of actual school work happening today, because the Princess chambers were ghastly.  Instead of school work, I had them clean up their room.  To give you an idea of how bad it was, you must know that they will have to continue this project tomorrow.  Anyway, cleaning up one's living space is actually a life lesson as well as a lesson about health and home making.

We did have our twirling lesson today, and the photographer delivered our pictures. I wish that I could post them, but we aren't allowed to scan any of her work. 

I'm too sleepy to type anymore.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Princess Melody and I determined that we needed more hairspray to be able to turn the Princesses into trolls for Halloween, and I also needed to pick up a check from our art association treasurer to pay the gentleman that cuts the grass at the art center.  When we stepped outside, we found a dead cat under a tree in our front yard.  Yuck.  I sent the king a text message about it, and we went on our way.  When we got home, there was another dead cat near the porch.  Holy Cow!  I sent the king another message.  Melody said to be careful, because there might be a snake.  This really freaked me out, so I called the hard working king to interrupt what he was doing to come out and pick up the dead cats and find the snake.  He was totally unshakeable, and advised me to call the dog catcher to come and pick up the cats.  She did come, and was very nice about it, but said that she had already picked up several that looked as though they had been mutilated.  Ewwww!!!!  I had forgotten that weirdos like to do things like that in honor of Halloween. 

Never-the-less, we proceeded to turn three out of the four princesses into those cute little trolls like everybody used to collect in the 80's and 90's.  All three girls turned out to be adorable trolls.  I tried to turn Princess Ivana into a Lalaloopsie with a hat that crocheted for her, but she wouldn't leave the hat on, and had no interest in any of the Halloween madness other than the part about taking over Princess Abbey's lollipop at Trunk-n-Treat. 

The merchant trick or treat was a really big deal.  I feel inspired to get in on that next year as a business owner.  Tarja almost couldn't hold her candy bucket after visiting all of the stores.  Trunk-n-Treat has always been the highlight of our trick or treating, and it was an even bigger deal this year than last, because all of the churches put their efforts together to make one, huge event.  By the time we got through that, it was time to go home, eat chili dogs and gear up to go house to house.  Ivana fell asleep in her car seat, so I got to ride around and supervise while Abbey and Tarja went trick or treating.  Tarja came home with another haul.  One lady handed out spiral notebooks instead of candy, which I thought was cool.  She must have known that there were homeschoolers in the area! 

Princess Melody was sad that this was the first Halloween that she didn't go trick or treating with her sisters.  However, she did get to dress up for work, so she was a purple haired troll and wore her favorite LMFAO shirt that says, "Sexy and I Know it".

When we got home, Abbey found all of my Christmas CD's and we chose a new song to use for twirling.  Can't wait to get started on it.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This morning, Princess Melody and I went out to run our errands.  We were on a mission to find some good, second hand jeans for Princess Abbey and Princess Tarja.  We did find what we were looking for, then quickly planned meals for the rest of the week as we shopped for the necessary ingredients.  We went home, had lunch, and Melody had a friend over. I had to cancel twirling lessons tonight, because everything that I do makes me cough like a crazy woman.  I haven't been sick in a very, very long time, so I'm inclined to think that this is just a nasty allergy attack.  I still can't read any of our lessons that I normally read out loud. 

I tried to crochet Ivana some baby socks, but gave up.  The first pair will fit a newborn, and the next pair might fit me, so I decided that today might not be a good day to crochet.  Therefore, I have worked on ChaCha all day long. 

We haven't done anything truly special for school today.  Abbey worked on her current events book for most of the day.  Tarja did with me, which doesn't take very long.  Melody had a friend over for a little while, and then went to work. 

I made chicken enchiladas and rice for supper, which was quite yummy. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, October 29, 2012

This morning, I got up and gathered some last minute Avon orders from friends, and put in the order for my first campaign.  It was a successful first campaign, so I am very happy.  Hopefully, I have a bright future with Avon, because it is a great opportunity for moms.

Since it's been well over five years since I sold Avon, placing my order took most of the morning.  Next time won't be so hard.  After I got all finished with that, we dropped off our broken wii at the nearest UPS station to be returned to Nintendo for repair, then we met with our homeschooled Girl Scout troop at the new pet store, that is in the center of town.  The ladies that own the pet store had no warning that eight princesses and three queens were coming to call, but they acted like they were thrilled to have us.  They even let us take pictures with them, which I can't seem to get out of my phone and onto the computer at the moment.  Sigh......

When we got home, Princess Abbey and Princess Melody planned our lunch with the rule that we were not going to the grocery store or through a fast food window to buy anything.  They decided on ramen noodles, drained, with chicken, cheese and mushroom soup to make a casserole of sorts.  We DID have to go buy the mushroom soup, but that only costs about 65 cents per can at the dollar store, so I think that we followed the rules pretty well.  We played the same game for supper.  What will we make for supper by not having to go buy anything?  The girls decided on jook, which is an oriental rice soup (probably a peasant meal) that calls for a small amount of rice, small amount of meat, and is left to cook so long that the rice turns it into a creamy, satisfying meal.  I suggested that we go ahead and buy some white rice, since all we have on hand is brown, but they immediately said that we should follow the rules and use the brown rice.  So, that's a bit of home economics, and everything turned out perfectly.

Princess Melody went to a friend's house to watch Bollywood movies.  Princess Abbey did quite a lot of her school work by herself, as I am currently too hoarse to read to her.  I don't feel sick, but I can't talk very well.  Later, Abbey went to her archery lesson, and then everybody got back together for some jook.   Now, I am working on and the girls are watching Halloween movies (the fun kind, not the scary kind) on TV. 

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The three princesses that are old enough to do so, made their Jack-o-lanterns the other day.  I like to light real candles for them instead of using battery operated lights, so my duty has been to light the pumpkins in the evening.  Pumpkin insides are pretty gross, though, just so you know.  The roasted seeds were the best that I've ever made, so that's the big bonus.

Princess Abbey and Princess Tarja painted wooded Jack-o-Lantern faces that the king bought for them from Micheals.  They are colored blue and green instead of orange and black. 

After much thought and a glance at our slender budget, the princesses determined that they would like to be trolls for Halloween.  They don't want to be the ugly kind of trolls that hide under bridges, they want to be the colorful, wild haired trolls that were popular in the 80's.  I used to have an amazing collection of those little cuties.   Each girl chose a different colored hair spray, and we got some stick on jewels to decorate their faces.  They can wear regular clothes to go with their crazy hair, just like the troll dolls.  I'm stoked that they came up with such a fun and economical idea.  Princess Melody might have to miss trick or treat for the first time, due to her work schedule. 

As for Princess Ivana, I don't think that we can spray paint her little fuzzy head, so she is going to wear her Cabbage Patch Kid beanie that I made for her.

Yesterday, Abbey had archery lessons for two hours and Melody worked at McDonalds.  I worked on crochet orders, made felt/sequin Christmas ornaments and answered ChaCha questions at the same time.  I also picked up some Avon orders here and there in between doing all of these other things.  I hope that Avon becomes very profitable for us, since I really do love it.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Friday, October 26, 2012

Old School Blogging

I used to blog about my day to day homeschooling journey with my family, but I got a little bit bored with that, so I quit.  I started blogging about things that seemed to be a little bit more newsworthy.  However, I have been meeting more and more friends that are new to homeschooling, and they actually ask me questions about what our day to day lives are like.  Therefore, I have been inspired to go back to my old ways of blogging.   Maybe what my readers need is some affirmation that I am, indeed, a normal mom, with a life that might not be as normal as some, but more normal than one might think.  To start us off, I will give a general detail of what has gone on with us since my last post. 

First of all, I made it through three marching contests with the local junior high school.  The first two contests were sort of a practice one for the UIL marching contest that took place last. To make a long story short, the band and twirlers were amazing.  They got a first division rating and are the only junior high band in the entire state of Texas that goes to the UIL marching contest.  What an honor to have been a part of that for this year!

Here's a detail of what many of our days are like.  First of all, I usually wake up about 7:30a.m.  This may seem late to some of your, but Princess Melody doesn't get home from her job at a local fast food place until nearly 1a.m. on many nights.  The rest of the family is usually still asleep when I wake up, except for Princess Ivana.  Ivana normally plays with me for a little while, then sits in her high chair and eats while I straighten up the kitchen and surrounding areas.  As I type amid chaos, a visitor might think that I never clean up, but it is just a never ending process around here.  To backtrack a little bit, I feed Ivana, wash any dishes that are dirty, put away clean dishes, start laundry, put away clean laundry and wander around picking up any stray trash that I find around the house.  I try to straighten up my bedroom when I first get up, but that doesn't always happen.  Breakfast and lunch are usually leftovers from the night before, or pretty much whatever anybody wants.  We have cereal, eggs, and a McDonalds down the road.  I personally LOVE to have the sausage/egg/mcmuffins in the morning, but my blood sugar doesn't always appreciate it, so we can't do that as often as I would like.  So there's the truth about the first two meals at my house.  It's food, and isn't our all consuming thought.

Usually by about 10:30a.m. we have settled down enough to get some school work done.  If I have a lot of household errands to run, then we might not get started until after lunch.  School work is for Tarja, with stories read out loud from story books of her choosing.  She finished her PreK curriculum during the summer, so now we're slowly working our way through kindergarten.  At age four, I figure that we can take our time and do short lessons each day.  If Tarja isn't feeling up to it, then we don't do a lesson.  YIKES!  Did I really say that????  You read it right.  I don't pressure my four year old into doing her school work, but I do take full advantage of days when she feels energetic and ready to learn.  Abbey and Tarja both do math on  It does the teaching (for the most part) and grading for me.  I have to work on Tarja's with her.  Abbey logs in and does hers whenever she feels like it.  She claims to not like math, but she practices for hours on ixl so I have no complaints.  I get to log into my area and see what she has worked on and how well she did, or not.  If no progress is being made, then we talk about it, but other than that, my input isn't really terribly necessary.  I love this, since math is not my thing. When Princess Tarja and Ivana settle down in the afternoon, I go over Abbey's Forestry and Wildlife Conservation course with her.  We read and do the study questions together, and then she takes a test online.  After that, I read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis out loud.  We discuss what we need to discuss from it, and then Abbey retreats to my bedroom to work on the rest of her studies.  The majority of her work is done by reading and narrating what she has read.  There isn't much to grade.  There isn't much to teach, but there is much, much, much to read.  As for Princess Melody, the better part of each day is spent at her job.  She likes to run my errands with me each morning, and I have to strongly encourage her to stay on task with her online curriculum, but she is doing very well so far.  Again, there isn't much that I can do to help or teach her.  She has to read and study the prescribed lessons on her own, but I am here to assist when needed.  One lesson learned is that online college courses aren't necessarily easier than more traditional courses.  

While all of the above is going on, I also have the challenges of keeping our financial heads afloat since I don't have a job outside the home.  I make custom crocheted items, give twirling lessons, am a ChaCha guide and have just started selling AVON.  Needless to say, my fingers and mind are usually flying from the time that I get up in the morning, until the time that I go to bed, which is well past midnight. 

Looking back over this post, I can see that it doesn't include a whole lot of things such as Abbey's archery lessons, or Melody's art work.  There's also Girl Scouts and the Sands Art Association.  There is much more to tell, so starting tomorrow, I will start back on the daily journal of our lives.  We are simple in a lot of ways and very complex in others.  We don't do things as formally as a public or private school, which seems to confuse some of the newer homeschoolers.  I don't have a real philosophy about education.  I didn't like unschooling for my princesses, but I don't like strict, rigid structure, either.  I insist that learning happens 24 hours a day, which means that the traditional school schedule means absolutely nothing to me. 

So for now, I am going to pick up something to throw in the oven for dinner, work on a few crochet orders, and answer as many ChaCha questions as I can until I can no longer keep my eyes open.

Have a Great Day!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homeschool Schedules

Homeschool're joking, right?  I will say that the best part of our lives as homeschoolers is that we get to create our lives rather than bouncing around according to what other people want us to do.  With that said, one of the things that I had to purchase for myself at the start of this term is a desk calendar with lots of space to write.  I don't have a desk to put it on, but it stays near me and my laptop.  Keep reading to find out why I need such a calendar.

1.  I started up The Sparklers Baton Twirling Corps, which is actually a business that I moved from my home town to my new town.  Incidentally, we have been living here for about 3 years, but there were things that kept me from reigniting my business such as illness, lack of funds, lack of transportation and the birth of a new princess.  The Sparklers meet for two hours, two days a week, and more if necessary.

2.I joined the Chamber of Commerce and we now get invited to do all kinds of community performances.

3. I joined our local homeschool group, and pledged to help the leader and coordinate educational projects.
4. Along the lines of number 3, I started a Girl Scout troop for homeschoolers.  
5. During the summer, I was offered a job with the school to teach their baton twirling team in preparation for marching contest.   This involves practice every morning for an hour and then an additional 2 hours on Tuesday night, which happens immediately after Tuesday's practice with The Sparklers.  Can you say RUN???
6. THEN, our local art association had their first meeting for the year.  I am now the President and Melody is the secretary. This is not because we are awesome or anything like that, but because nobody else wanted the positions and somebody has to do them to keep the group alive.  Holy Cow!  I am only afraid that they will kick me out in the end for my ADHD like qualities which could cause their schedules to begin to mimic my own. 

Looking through the above list, my head is swimming with ideas of how to coordinate projects that include all of these groups at once.  Twirlers are girls that could become girl scouts that could enjoy art if it was presented to them in such a way.......hmmm.......GET BACK TO THE BLOG, LAUREL!  Wait a minute.......homeschoolers like art, which could become a series of educational projects that the Girl Scouts could help with, that the twirlers could perform to if I found some cool music, that the art association members would think was awesome if it was fun and could be a part of one of their regular meetings, during a holiday season filled with treats and ornaments......and......Santa is coming in 3 months, and the princesses want to all dress like fairies for Halloween and the answer to the math problem is ABCDEFGHIJK.....where's Ivana's binky???? LOL!  Don't freak out by my rambling.  It's all perfectly normal.

Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Necessary Changes to our Charlotte Mason Curriculum

This is Princess Abbey's Y7 year with Charlotte Mason.  This marks the first year of what could be considered Charlotte Mason high school.  If Abbey were in public school, she would be in 8th grade, but I would venture to say that little of her Y7 program could be found in a public schooling 8th grade program. 

This also means that the year is very challenging.  I didn't realize how challenging it would be until we got started.  Our first two weeks kind of feel like a waste right now, but we will keep moving forward, regardless.  It's good that we truly don't have any strict deadlines other than that most kids should finish high school by around age 18.  I still have a goal of graduating all of mine early, but when push comes to shove, it will depend on the individual princess and her abilities before we can truly determine when she is ready for graduation. 

With that said, I was disappointed to discover that the reading schedule for this year is simply too much.  I think that it would be too much for anybody, and I am an avid reader.  For several days, I asked Abbey about her daily work.  Her daily work for this year includes things like a current events book, a forestry and wildlife course, music/art appreciation, and quite a few other things.  I was very disappointed to find out that she was having to make choices and decisions about what work or reading was most important and what would have to slide.  Even by cutting out some things (without asking permission), she was working until well past midnight!  I would tell her that she should stop and she would tell me that she could not.  She had this schedule that I posted for her in her notebook, and she was bound and determined to do it.  Holy cow!  Suddenly, she is complaining that her eyes and head hurt badly.  She doesn't feel well.  She's too tired.  This isn't the gentle education that Charlotte Mason created. 

I took her schedules out of her notebook that I had written before the start of this school year.  Those are now in the trash.  This is one of the many benefits of homeschooling.  If it doesn't work for your family, you can trash it.  I wrote a new schedule that included all of her daily work and ONE book to read for the week rather than a chapter or two out of several different books to be read during the same term.  I don't know for sure, but I think that by reading one book at the time, we can still get all of the books read for each term, and maybe they will all make a little more sense. 

ALSO, on another note.  I am reworking the book of centuries.  The book of centuries is a very large timeline, created by entering events that happen during each century as the student runs across them in her reading.  The last time that we created one, we used a spiral notebook, with a few pages designated for each century.  By the time that the school year was over, we had many empty centuries, and others that were full and could take no more.  This time, I'm putting together a three ring binder, with a divider for each century so that we can use loose notebook paper instead of attached pages.  That way, we can have as many pages as we need for each century.  In doing so, we should be able to make this one book last for the rest of her homeschooling years.  I'm very proud of my simple idea. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A New Kind of Homeschool Year

This year, I will homeschool my family, and also work for the local public school.  There are those adult persons who think that this is a completely messed up situation.  Why would I deny my children the chance to attend the school where I will be working part time?  Hmmm........anyway......onward to our new schedule.

This is going to be a fresh, brand new school year, starting about August the 27th.  I have a box full of books that Abbey will need to read for the entire year.  I also included notebook paper, spirals, and pencils in this box so that she won't have to waste time hunting for these items.

To Map Out a Course of Action.....

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The above quote really speaks to me, because my life has become like a hurricane for the past couple of weeks.  Most of what is going on in my life is wonderful, but there always has to be something or someone to try to throw a monkey wrench into things to shake it up.  I have learned over the years that the perpetrator is most often somebody that I love very much.  Maybe the explanation for this is that if I didn't love and care about the saboteur, then I wouldn't  be at all concerned about what he or she throws my way. 

Be that as it may, I can look back on my life and see how just about every great and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, has been the end result of a lot of sweat, tears, and misunderstandings.  Good things don't normally come easy, and I always tell the Four Princesses that anything worth doing is going to be hard. 

Homeschooling is hard.  So is starting and maintaining one's own business.  Choosing to leave the workforce to stay at home, homeschool, and attempt to start a business is and has been an amazing test of courage and faith.  It takes a set of broad shoulders to be able to smile among critics and act like you don't hear or don't feel pain because of the things that they say.  It takes even more courage to turn the other cheek, but there are too many things for a homeschooling mama to do, to have time to entertain the naysayers.

The point is that there are a lot of new homeschooling families in my community.  They are embarking on an amazing experience.  Each family's reason for homeschooling is as different as the children that they will teach.  The first year of homeschooling can be very trying, and many families don't make it to the second year.  I personally think that it does a child a great disservice to waffle between schooling situations, so the King and I determined together that once we removed our first grader from school, that it would be the end of schooling for her as she knew it.   That was nearly 12 years ago.  In 12 years, you can bet that we have had our share of challenges, but still manage to get up every morning and start each day brand new.

Have a Great Day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

20 Questions

My friend, whose blog about her and her four princes can be found HERE.  She posted these 20 questions on her blog, and so now I'm going to attempt to answer them on mine.  I love these kinds of games, by the way, so feel free to tag me for any of your own.
1.  What color is your toothbrush 


2.  What is the best ice cream flavor? 

Rocky Road, but I don't get to have any until someone comes up with a sugar free variety.

3.  Have you ever made a promise you'd die to keep? 

I would die for my children and my husband who is the father of all of my children. 

4.  Do you take vitamins daily? 

Not unless you count my Spark energy drinks that I've been drinking.

 5. Do you go to church every sunday? 

Not every Sunday.

 6. Do you have a tan? 

I'm slightly tan to begin with, and then I teach twirling lessons outside, so I just go with the flow and don't worry about sunscreen or any of that.


 7. When did you last talk on the phone?
The local band director called me a few minutes ago to tell me about our summer band schedule.  I'M SO EXCITED TO BE THE NEW TWIRLING INSTRUCTOR!!!!!  WHOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Ok....let me recompose myself.

8.Where is your dad? 
I called my grandfather, Dad, because he raised me.  He passed on about 3 years ago.
9. Look to your left, what do you see?

There is my headboard.  On it sits a can of powdered baby formula, a spiral notebook, and a framed picture that Tarja colored for her daddy for Christmas.

10. What do you think of when you hear "Australia"?

This is not very creative, but I honestly picture kangaroos when I think of Australia.

11. What are your plans for this weekend?

I actually have no plans for this weekend.  Crazy, huh?

12. Can you say the alphabet backwards?

I might be able to say the alphabet backwards.
13. Do you have a maid service clean your house? 
No, but someday I will.

14. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?

I'm pretty sure that I do.
15.  Name something that has made you angry.
I don't feel angry, but I am hurting over some things.  I'll get over it, though. 

16.  Do you like cats?

I love cats.  They are soft and beautiful, but I can't stand having them in my house.

17. Last CD played?

Melody and I listened to One Direction this morning while we she practiced driving.

18. Have you ever dated someone twice?

Back in high school, I dated one person twice, which was a mistake.  I ran into the future king right after that.
19. Do you want to change your name?

I can't think of anything better than the name that I already have.

20. Last interesting thing you read?

I'm reading a Beverly Lewis book that Melody gave me for Mother's Day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

CPS and Blogging

Did you know that blog readers can turn bloggers in to Child Protective Services based upon what they read?  I looked into this after a friend mentioned that this happened to her.  In my search, I found THIS ARTICLE.  I have nothing nice to say about this.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate Princess Abbey's 13th birthday with cupcakes and ice cream following twirling practice.  My second baby will be an official teenager, and this also marks the start of the path of high school.  Yes, it's early for high school, but I want all of the Princesses to graduate high school and get some college under their belts before life starts to happen.  We have one graduate and three more to go.

 My baton twirling company is having a ribbon cutting ceremony in two weeks.  I am so excited!!!!   I don't know why I had not thought to turn my love of twirling into a full fledged business, but I'm glad that I jumped in with both feet.  Great things are happening!

We now have a homeschool Girl Scout troop.  We even have my old troop number.  This means that  we will get to have our meetings and outings even when school is in session.  Love it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

PreK-1st Butterfly Lapbook

After going over some of the lapbooking stuff yesterday, I decided that Princess Tarja and I would have fun doing a BUTTERFLY LAPBOOK.  After all, little princesses usually love butterflies.    Before we began, I made a POCKET LAPBOOK, then printed all of the work sheets and activity pages that were suggested on the site with the lapbook instructions.  We learned about the letter "B" for "butterfly" and "C" for "caterpillar".  We learned about the life cycle of butterflies, and watched THE LIFE CYCLE OF A MONARCH BUTTERFLY on youtube.  We actually found several, similar videos as well as a couple of cartoony ones. 

Princess Abbey took a test about human population for her Forestry and Wildlife Conservation course.
Later, we rented the movie, "Little Women", because she has been interested in the series, "Little Men".  I really want her to read the book, but her book list for this year is a mile long. 

Princess Melody had to turn in a paper for her World Civilizations course about the different dynasties in China.  I typed it up for her while she got ready for work.  It was an interesting paper, so I bet that she got a good grade. 

Princess Abbey's birthday is coming up.  I don't have a clue of what to get for her or what to do for a celebration.  If you have any fun birthday ideas for a thirteen year old girl, please share them in the comments.  Thank you!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting Ready for Lapbooking

I love lapbooking, but for the past few years, I have not had a printer to be able to print out some of the neat pages and templates that I find online.  Day before yesterday, I found a printer on sale and was also able to use a coupon for it.  Now, I'm ready to start lapbooking.  My favorite site for finding free lapbook units is HERE.  If you aren't sure what a lapook is, you can find a few videos on youtube to help clarify things for you.  Here is one that simply demonstrates what a lapbook is.  HERE is a nice video that shows how to include a pocket with your lapbook, which I wish that I had known about a long time ago.  Finally, I stumbled across THIS mom's video about how she puts together a unit study and how lapbooking fits into that.  I like this video, because it appears that she approaches unit studies about the same way that I do.  Basically, you decide what you want to do, gather your resources, and get after it.  If you are a person that likes crafting, especially scrapbooking, then you will probably enjoy lapbooking with your children. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Way Learning Happens at Home

I post on this topic quite a lot, but it's been awhile, and I believe that I have some new readers who might also be new homeschoolers.  I remember how awkward everything felt when we first started homeschooling Melody.  It didn't helped that we lived just two blocks from the school and could hear sounds from the school throughout our new homeschooling day.  It felt like every finger was being pointed at us, and my confidence had a lot of holes in it.

That was over 12 years ago.  WOW!  What a difference that time and experience makes.  At any rate, I have learned over time that a tremendous amount of learning (for anybody, not just homeschoolers) takes place outside of all of the books and assignments.  One example is that Princess Abbey has had a sweet pen pal for about a year.  The pen pal is another home schooled girl and they write to each other via "snail mail".  How many kids do this anymore?  Before Abbey seals up her letter, I check it for errors.  She corrects it, and sends off the clean copy, normally saving the graded copy with the rest of her school assignments.  Yesterday, she decided that she wanted to also send a postcard from Dinosaur World, which is where we went on vacation last month.  She didn't know how to address a postcard, and I was extremely busy fixing dinner, so she looked up the information that she needed online, and did it herself.  Doesn't this make more sense than if I had said, "OK, Abbey!  Today we are going to practice letter writing and addressing postcards!"  We aren't unschoolers, but this act of learning what one needs to learn when they need to learn it is a great deal of what is behind their ways of homeschooling. 

Another example is that when Princess Melody determined that she wanted to buy a parrot, she started researching the different types of parrots and their care.  At the same time, she began budgeting and saving her money for the effort, because she was learning that not only did she need a large sum of money for this special pet, but that she would also need things like food and supplies that other types of birds don't often need.  She actually started doing this research before she ever mentioned parrots to me.  What an interesting, unassigned science project that Pitbull, our half moon conure, has tuned out to be!

Then, there are the obvious things that go on around the house such as the care of younger siblings, household management, personal finance, sometimes even the operation of a family business.  Even taking care of plants, pets,  cooking, learning to drive, watching historical movies, playing physically challenging games on the Wii, all count in the big picture of homeschooling. 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Music Bullet, Struz, and Homeschool Science

I like to post reviews about things that I try and love, even if I'm not asked to do so.  Granted, I have done many requested reviews for books and products, but when I find a new item that I really love, especially if it makes my life easier, I get excited and want to make sure that everybody knows about it. 

First of all, I bought myself a pair of Strutz about two months ago.  They are fabric cushions that slip onto your feet so that the cushion part goes directly under the arch (or where one should be), on your foot.  You wear these under or over socks, and with your shoes or barefoot.  The first day that I wore them, I had some relief from my heel pain.  They were a little uncomfortable, and I had to take them off after walking around all day.  HOWEVER, by the very next day, my heel pain subsided considerably, and I began to wear them all the time.  Not only did my heels stop hurting while I was wearing them, but I can now remove them for a day or more, and still do not suffer as much pain as I did before I found this amazing product.  To give you some background info about my heel pain, and how impossible it should be for a pair of cushions of any kind to fix them, I was a hard core baton twirler growing up, and suffered multiple injuries to my ankles and feet.  As I had children, got older, and fell victim to hypothyroidism, I gained a considerable amount of weight.  Couple this with the fact that I have had a few more ankle injuries for various reasons.  Add to that a serious case of diabetes, and it would stand to reason that cushions would not be able to help me. For this level of relief, I spent $10.00.  I'm here to tell you that Strutz are an answer to prayer.

The next item up for business is the Music Bullet. We have lots of technology in this little house, and lots of people using it.  I have tried other little speakers for mp3 players, and was disappointed every time.  The Music Bullet was cheaper than others that I have tried, and really does make my phone and laptop sound like a big stereo.  Amazing!

The next thing is the Reli On series of diabetes testing supplies at Sams and Walmart.  I have been using these cheap supplies for nearly two years, and am very happy.  I treated myself to a new glucometer yesterday for less than $10.00.  Really, I feel very lucky in this department. 

With that said, here is where I get to the homeschooling part.  Science and health lessons can be found in a wide variety of ways in the homeschool.  A good place to start is to learn about those topics that affect your family.  For example, children on ranches need to learn about the animals and plants that they are raising.  It is useful and fun to learn everything that can be found about household pets.  Little Tarja doesn't just tell people that she has a bird or a dog.  She says that she has a blue heeler and a half moon conure.  I personally think that is awesome for a four year old child.  When I was going through high risk pregnancies, we learned about how the fetus was growing each  month, what to expect with a newborn, and what to expect from my pregnancy.  My two older girls have  fairly extensive knowledge about diabetes, just from being exposed to myself and other diabetics.  Incidentally, this is the "school work" that has the potential to save their lives.  More science that my children have had in their homeschooling involves things like making colloidal silver and then using it to do things such as retard mold or disinfect baby toys.  First aid is always a good topic of study.  You children will have an emergency at some point in their lives.  Do they understand anything about allergic reactions, drug interactions, or wound care?  I anything happens to us, can they summon help, be safe, be clean and eat?  In my opinion, household science and health is just as important as the 3 R's.