Friday, August 19, 2016

How We Found the Diameter of the Sun

I would have to say, out of all our subjects, science is our top favorite.  I use Answers in Genesis as our curriculum.  This curriculum is designed to use with multiple aged kids, which is perfect for our family.  I primarily use this curriculum with our boys (3rd grade and 5th grade), however, our 1st grader likes to listen and participate with the experiments.  I also do a second science lesson for her (ABeka 1st Grade - Discovering God's World) which is more age appropriate.

Our experement yesterday, took us outside to use the sun and shadows.  The purpose was to calculate the diameter of the sun using a "pinhole projector".

To make the projector:
1.  Use a needle, push pin, or even very sharp pencil to poke a hole through an index card.
2.  Tape the index card to the end of a yard stick so that the card is perpendicular to the stick.
3.  Tape a second card (without a hole) to the opposite end of the yard stick, also perpendicular.

Next you have to move the yardstick around until the top index card (containing the hole) places a shadow over the bottom index card.  We were surprised how much we had to angle the yardstick to get the shadow to match the bottom card.  If you look very closely at the picture above, you will see a small white circle on the card.  We had to draw a line across the circle.  This had to be done three different times.  The boys took turns and let me tell you, that little circle moved all over the place.  It was so hard to keep it still.  It also didn't help when the person holding the stick would purposely move the circle, while the person on the ground chased it around.  It looked a lot like a cat trying to catch a reflection.  :)

We decided maybe we should switch "stick operators".  This particular operator was a little more serious about keeping the circle still.  :)  

This is a great picture to show the top index card with the hole and then the bottom card showing the light through the hole.  From there, we measured the three lines (by 16th's of an inch) and then took an average.  Our average was 5/16 in. which is roughly 0.3 inches.

From there we followed the formula provided in our book.  We divided the diameter of our images 0.3 inches by 36 inches (because the distance between our cards was 36 inches) which equaled 0.0083.  Then we took that amount and multiplied it by 93,000,000 miles (the diameter of the sun).  This gave us an answer of 775,000 miles.  

Now the actual diameter of the sun is 868,000 miles so we were really pleased that we got relatively close.  At the end we discussed why our calculations were different.  The kids agreed that since our projector was homemade and not an actual instrument, the calculation could not be exact.

All in all it was successful.  Now my little confession...  My husband came home on his lunch break and checked my math.  AND...I...DID...IT...RIGHT...  I think I was more impressed and excited than the kids!  LOL

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Divvy Up Wallets and Budget Organizer

 Years back when we went from a two income family down to one income, we had to revamp our finances.  My husband is a huge Dave Ramsey fan and we decided the best way to get a grip on our money was to go to an all-cash system (a highly effective finance program by Dave Ramsey).  Unless it was something like our mortgage, water, or city bill, we vowed to only pay cash.  Using only cash really makes you think about your upcoming expenses and keeps you accountable for each purchase.  It is unbelievable and scary how fast you can drain your checking account when you are only using your debit/credit card.

The only down fall to the cash system was the countless paper envelopes.  My husband gets paid on Fridays so every Thursday is our budgeting day (for the following week).  I had paper envelopes designated for every possible thing we could think of.  However, sometimes I would accidentally leave the envelope at home or grab the wrong envelope.  Overtime, it became a big pain and I stop using the system.  Earlier this summer I was telling my husband that we really needed to go back to using only cash because we were always able to save so much with that system.

A few weeks later while watching my kids at a swim meet,  I noticed a mom working on these adorable wallets.  My curiosity got the best of me so I began to ask her questions.  She explained that the wallets were inspired by the cash system.  I absolutely LOVED her design.  Her product is called Divvy Up Wallet and Budget Organizer and after a time of selling on Etsy she has since moved to Amazon Prime.  She hand makes the wallets, each containing five cloth, magnetic envelopes specifically for cash.  The wallets also contain slots for drivers licence, insurance cards, debit card, etc., as well as, a zipper pouch for coins.  Under the slots for various cards are two larger areas for receipts and lists.  I must say the wallets are not only super functional and organized but also really cute AND very well made.  An extra bonus for me is that she is also a homeschool mom and her boys are in Scouts with my oldest.  We had just never made the connection.  It is a small world that is for sure.

I have been carrying my wallet for about a month.  It has gotten us back into the discipline of  using cash.  We have already seen a savings.  It really blows my mind how much money you save when you are actually aware of your spendings.  I purchased two additional wallets and sent them to my cousins as early Christmas presents.  :)  To which they were super excited to receive.

I will give you a peak inside. :)

Functionality and Oober cute!!!

Each envelope has a white label.  I placed washi tape over mine because I was too afraid to make a permanent label for each envelope.  Now I can remove the washi tape if I need to revisit the use of each envelope.

The magnetic closure on each envelope is very strong.  I have not had any issues with money slipping out or envelopes opening.

I really like the zipper pouch.  It is nice and big plus the zipper is easy to open and close.

For those that don't want an entire wallet, she also gives you the option of just five individual, magnetic cash envelopes.  I think this would be a great addition for vacations or extra categories, which you don't  need with you on a daily basis.  I also thought the individual envelopes would be great for ponytail holders and bobby pin organization in my daughter's dance bag.  :)

I included the Amazon link above but just in case, here it is again. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

5 Ways We Keep Our School Day Organized

We have hit the ground running with our 2016-2017 school year.  The kids and I have completed 15 school days and have 165 days to go. :)  With this being our fifth year, I feel like I finally have a bit of wisdom and knowledge that I can pass on.  I have given it some thought and although there are many tips and tricks that I implement into our homeschooling day, there are 5 that stand out.

#1 - Homeschooling is my full-time job
I treat running our home school just as I would if I worked out of the house.  It is not something we do on the side or when we feel like it.  We have a yearly, weekly, daily schedule and I make sure we follow it.  Now from time to time, something extra special will come up, such as an unplanned field trip.  I try to be flexible in these moments but that is just it, they are moments, not every day.  Our daily expectation is that we are in the classroom, kitchen, or outside working on our school work.  I want my kids to follow my example of diligence and commitment to their education.  If I treat our homeschooling as a priority so will my kids.

#2 - Plan, Plan, Plan
This is where homeschoolers have very different views and ideas.  I am a homeschooler that plans.  It is what works best for me and frankly my kids thrive on a schedule and daily plan.

I take about a month in the summer to plan the entire school year.  I know that some people do not prefer this method because they feel they will constantly have to erase and re-plan but for our family it works really well.  There are times I have to move things around but they are minimal.  During this time I also plan and schedule our grading periods and breaks.  We start late July and go until mid May.  For our family, it is very beneficial to work for 6 weeks (1 grading period), take a week off, then work another 6 weeks, take a week off, you get the idea.  Over the course of a school year, we have 6 - 6 week grading periods with 6 - 1 week breaks, plus a week at Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and two weeks for Christmas.  All in all we total 180 working school days.

I know it seems like a lot to plan the year all at once, but I really can't imagine planning at the end of every single week.  Just like the kids I also like having weekends!

As stated above, I have the entire year planned before we begin.  I keep all of our plans in my lesson plan book.  I also write the daily plans in my kids' agendas.  This gives them a list of subjects and lessons for each day.  They know if I am working with one child and cannot be interrupted then they should reference their agenda in order to move forward with their day.  This also keeps me from having 3 kids ask, "Mommmmmm, what am I suppose to do next."  They know to always check their agenda before asking me.

The kids use hi-lighters to mark off a subject once it is completed.  They are always asking each other how many subjects each person has left.  I tell ya, everything is a competition. :)

#3 - Work Boxes (which my kids call buckets)
My kids would be the first to tell you the number one piece of organization in our classroom is the tower of work boxes.  Each of the kids have six work boxes.  Some boxes contain 2-3 subjects while other boxes only contain 1.  It depends on the size of the books and extra supplies needed for each subject.  Before the year starts I have the kids organize their boxes to make the most sense to them.  I label and load each box.  This keeps worksheets, books, folders, etc. organized and tidy.

We also have boxes that hold school supplies, headphones for the computer, rulers, glue, craft items, scratch paper, paint, etc.  

 #4 - Start the day right
In our family, even though we are not leaving the house for school, everyone gets up, gets dressed, and starts on time.  This is a must for us.  I think if I stayed in my pajamas and allowed the kids to do the same we would never get motivated to get our school work done.  I wake up at 6 because I like the quiet time for getting showered, dressed, a cup of coffee, my Bible and prayer time, starting a load of laundry and 30 uninterrupted minutes of the Today Show.  If you are wondering how I get my "me time" that is when I get it.  It is worth it to me to get up early.  Also, I will have all the "me time" I want in about 12 years and then I will be depressed because my house will be super clean and quiet.  Well....I probably won't be depressed about the house being clean. :)  The kids get up at 7:30, make their beds, get dressed, you know the drill.  I try to have a home-cooked breakfast on the table by 8am.  Some days it is a big breakfast buffet and other days it is called Cheerios.  Either way, we all do better when we have had breakfast.  My oldest son definitely performs better in the the classroom when he has had "real food" for breakfast.  The kids are allowed one 30 minute show before we start school.  They alternate days of the week for whose turn it is.  During this time I say good bye to my husband, swap loads of laundry, and sneak upstairs to call my mom.  I know, I know, I am 37 years old and I still prefer to start my day by calling my mom. :)  We start school usually between 8:30 and 9:00.

#5 - Zero "Pluggables" during school time
What is a "pluggable" you ask?  In our house that would refer to anything that plugs into the wall.  It is what our six year old says when I remind the kids zero electronics.  This has been a rule since the very first day we started homeschooling.  It has never been questioned by the kids.  It also makes certain subjects like Spanish and Vocabulary Workshop extra fun because those are computer based.  Sometimes we will play the radio but for the most part all three of my kids prefer a quiet atmosphere (except for the dogs who are never quiet).  I roll my eyes at that one.  Rescuing three dogs sounds like a good idea until a cat walks passed our house and all "you know what" breaks out in the form of barking.  Back to pluggables, the kids know to wait until everyone is finished before turning on the TV or playing on the iPad.  I think that is just teaching courtesy for those who are still working.  Oh!  That also goes for me.  I try really hard not to get on Facebook, Instagram, or check emails during the school day.  I also try hard not to take phone calls.  I will usually ignore the phone all together and return calls when the school day is over.  I have started leaving my phone downstairs with the ringer on silent.  It really helps eliminates the temptation.  I am pulled in so many directions throughout our school day, I honestly can't handle another distraction such as emails, FB, etc.

The best thing about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to meet the needs of your family.  For our family structure and firm plans work best.

Here's to a great year!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Not So Graceful or Relaxing Yoga Session

The ONLY reason I am writing this is in hopes that there is another mother out there with similar workout obstacles.  I have six workout obstacles.  Three are human and have a sixth sense for when I sneak upstairs to try and workout.  All of a sudden everyone needs something, needs to argue, or feels the need to come watch and critique me.  The other three are of the four legged breed.  Like their human siblings, they too, have a sixth sense about my attempt to workout.  I cannot get close to the floor without being licked or slobbered on.

Prior to our homeschooling adventure, my life revolved around dance.  I grew up dancing, majored in Dance, and taught Dance for 10 years.  I never had to worry about being out of shape or losing flexibility.  Teaching six classes (8 hours) of dance per day pretty much keeps you toned and limber.  However, over the last four years, I have indulged in cooking, baking, and all things Pioneer Woman.  I have neglected working out, stretching, etc.  From time to time, I try to "run" or walk/run, or maybe just walk (lets be honest) but life gets in the way and it is the lowest of low on my priority list. 

I recently saw a beautiful picture of one of my college friends and realized that even though we are the same age her body looked a-mazing.  I sent her a message and asked what she was doing to look that great.  She gave credit to yoga.  I thought NOOOOO - not yoga - I hate yoga!!!  Seriously, every time I have tried (like twice), I felt as though I would get stuck in those positions...and that was when I was in shape! But I gave in and decided to give it a try.

I have tried it a couple of times over the last week in the privacy of my own home.  But remember, my house is anything but private.  As soon as I think the kids are preoccupied so I can sneak upstairs everyone (all six) follow me.  I try to ignore and be a good sport.  I beg and plea for them to go play.  I shut my door but that always makes me nervous so I re-open the door.  The boys are often being super loud and my daughter (bless her heart) is at my side doing each pose with ease and grace.  She is six! This is not good for my self esteem.  Not to mention, I am afraid of falling on her and squashing her precious little self.  I don't exactly feel light and dainty during these little episodes.  And I NEVER get the same relaxed look or feeling about myself as the woman on the video on a beach in the Bahamas.  Ugh!  She is breathing deeply and peacefully.  I sound like a cow in labor.  Not to mention, her eyes are closed.  Are you kidding me?!  I do not close my eyes EVER when my kids are awake.  That is just plain asking for it!  This woman on the video is not allowed to be my friend.

So this afternoon, as I was attempting this thing called, yoga, I was joined by three kids and only two dogs.  As the kids were "gently" giving their feedback, I went into a plank position.  The very limber lady on the video (have I mentioned I don't like her), told me to move into downward dog and then lift my left leg into the air.  You can only imagine the fire hydrant comments from my boys.  This move I completed with ease and the kids were actually impressed.  It was after that when everything went down hill.  From there I was told to move into a plank while my leg was still lifted.  Once I reached the plank position I was to bring my left leg into a passe (my dance terms) position.  This would probably look like a mountain climber on pause.  Actually I was surprised that I still had a bit of abdominal strength.  But then... she told me to rotate the leg to a turned out position.  It was at this moment that I realized I have zero oblique strength and Dixie our Great Dance goosed me in a rather personal zone.  I don't know who was more surprise, the kids or me.  Everyone broke into complete hysteria and lets face it, you really can't recover from that.  I mean a Chihuahua maybe but not a dog that weighs more than your children or gives hugs by putting her paws on your shoulders.

From here, two of the kids decided to join in while my oldest removed Dixie from the room.  We continued the workout but at the end as my youngest son lowered himself from downward dog, he also released a ton of...shall we say...built up pressure.  I don't know about your house but we try to take those sounds and functions seriously and in a stoic manner but honestly all refinement goes right out the window.  He finished in criss-cross applesauce and brought his hands to a prayer and said..."Awwww, inner peace..." 

Yep, it was the most relaxing yoga session.  NOT

What I have realized is that my kids don't remember me as a dance teacher.  They have no idea that in my mind I know what I am doing even though my body doesn't paint the same picture.  I have also realized that yoga is much harder when you are trying to keep everything tucked in and held up.  And most importantly we have all learned that my youngest son should NEVER hold downward dog and the Great Dane must stay outside if anyone is bending over in any fashion...  Sorry, but it only takes once to learn that lesson!

So, I may attempt yoga again today or I may make brownies.  These things I know to be true:  I have never gotten stuck making brownies.  My kids do not critique me when I make brownies.  I do not shake violently when making brownies.  I do not get goosed by my dog when I make brownies.  But making brownies is why I have to do the yoga in the first place.  It is a vicious cycle, I tell ya!

Monday, July 25, 2016

First Day of School

We did it!!! We made it through our first day of school.  I wasn't really sure how it would go since we came off of a huge weekend.  The kids were involved in the City Championship Swim Meet which lasted about 8 hours on Saturday and then again on Sunday.  I was concerned that they would be crabby and tired this morning.  To my surprise and answer to my prayers, everyone was excited and ready to work.

We had a wonderful breakfast provided by my mamasita!  I am pretty sure she just rolled her eyes after reading that sentence.  :)  Then we ate the wonderful breakfast leftovers for lunch.  I had plans for the leftover, leftovers; however, apparently our Great Dane had something similar in mind.  Lauren came downstairs to find Dixie on the table (WHAT?!!!) eating the rest of the mini muffins.  That dog is a ninja - no lie!  She is super stealthy, her nose can open anything, and she has zero shame.  We NEVER hear her!!!

After breakfast, I took a few pictures of the kids and we got right to work.  It was a relatively smooth day.  The only hiccup we had was the teacher...couldn't seem to get the headphones to work during Spanish.  So, everyone got to hear the Spanish lesson three times because each child wanted a turn with the computer.  "Yo soy una nina."  Are you impressed? :)

We'll see how tomorrow goes.  Usually our first week is smooth.  It is the second week when everyone remembers this will continue until next May...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

5th Annual Summer Sleepover at Ma's

Over the weekend, the kids spent two nights with my mom while my husband and I made a quick get-a-way...I mean a weekend away. :) They have been planning their weekend for quite awhile.  This is their annual summer tradition with my mom.  The past couple of years have had a theme.  This year's theme was Jedi Training Camp, since all three of my kids are obsessed with Star Wars.  The look on her face when they picked the theme was priceless.  My mom isn't exactly a Star Wars fan.  She spent months researching, planning, and learning the language of Star Wars.  She told me she had over 97 pins on her Star Wars Pinterest Board. :)

The weekend included:
Making R2D2 trash cans
Decorating Holocrons
Setting up a training course in the backyard
Watching three Star Wars movies (kids' choice)
Performing obstacles and challenges of the Jedi Training Course
Water balloons and shaving cream slip-n-slide (that is an annual tradition regardless of theme)
Jedi Master graduation ceremony and certificate presentation

Like I said, she spent months researching. :)

Invitation packets received a week and a half prior which also included their Jedi Training Camp I.D. badges.

My mom made each of the kids their own training camp wardrobe complete with shirt, vest, belt, Padawan braid, light sabers, Holocrons, Thermal Detonators, and Star Wars beach towels. :)  Oh, and my daughter also had Princess Leia buns for her hair.

Making R2D2 trash cans

The weekend was also filled with Star Wars themed food.
Jabba the Pizza Hutt
Sith bread sticks
Star Wars cupcakes
Yoda Soda
Death Star donut pops
Princess Leia buns
Bantha Milk
Jawa Juice
Bow-Ba Fett Pasta
Hutt dogs
Trooper Scoopers 
Falcon Ship Dip
Vader Taters (with Wampa Dip, Chewbacon, Darth Cheddar)
Jabba jigglers
Obi-Wan Kabobies
Jedi Juice

Making Death Star Donut Pops

Visiting Admiral Ackbar's Snack Bar

Having fun outside

Navigating the laser field course.  Tiny bells were attached to the string to sound as an alarm if touched or bumped.

Not everyone took the same approach!!!

Trying to make it across the beam while attacking storm troopers (milk jugs on re-bar sticks) and making it to Darth Vader

Hopping across the stones without touching the lava while carrying Yoda

Free Hans Solo from the carbonite (ice)

Working as a team to get the Hans Solo figure out of the ice


Throwing thermal detonators through the target

Waiting his turn to navigate through the Black Hole 

Black Hole Maze of Boxes

Jedi Training Certificate Presentation

What was the lava pit quickly turned into the shaving cream slip and slide

Don't. Want. To. Know.

Visiting Yoda's Soda and Ice Cream Bar

While Jedi Training Camp was in full force, we enjoyed a weekend in Fredericksburg.

To view past Summer Sleepovers at Ma's click on the links below:
Thank you Ma!!!!!