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