Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Here's a sneak peek (see below) at what Bennett and I will be doing this year for Pre-K. I've gotten in all our supplies except for the arts & crafts book (which I'm REALLY excited about!), and that should get here sometime this week. I've compiled our specific materials using the research I've done, reading a couple of different books on homeschooling (especially The Well Trained Mind, which I highly recommend if you're considering homeschooling at all), from one of my good friends, Kristen, who home schools her children and is rock star awesome at it, and from the homeschooling convention I attended back in May (with Kristen as my guide). I've also included some pictures of the workbooks and supplies we'll be using.

(**Note: I am not sure how long we will homeschool and do not know if this is a permanent thing or not. For now, it is what's best for our family, and what works for us. Michael is SUPER excited I'm doing it this year, and we're both going to wait and see how it goes and what the future holds before making more of a commitment to it. I figure Pre-K is a great place to start and get our feet wet :) )

Our Phonics, Math and Fine Motor books.

Spanish and a little handwriting (already had from this year).
I bought the trays (under the handwriting cards) because of
an AWESOME idea Bennett's teacher had from last year.
She placed separate centers on each tray, like play doh,
math manipulatives, cutting crafts, etc., and it kept things
less messy and in their proper place. BRILLIANT!!

I converted our coat closet to a school/activities closet last year,
so all of that is ready to go, thankfully, although I need to do
some straightening and a little reorganizing for the coming year.
The mesh magazine rack I purchased from Amazon
to hold all of our school books. Perfect! :)

Several things are not included above that I also want to mention:

1) Bible Curriculum - we'll do a weekly bible story. On Mondays, we'll read the story fresh and talk about it. Tuesday, we'll review it and also work on habits/character building from Charlotte Mason's book, "Laying Down the Rails" (A-MAAAAZING book!), on Wednesday I'm planning on taking the kids to BSF for bible study all morning, and on Thursdays we'll do a craft/activity tied into the bible story (i.e. when we do Jonah, we'll make a blue jello mold with gummy fish and stuff inside, and when we do Joseph, we'll make many-colored coats out of paper grocery sacks). We're hitting OT stories in the fall semester, and NT stories in the spring (I took this idea from Bennett's school last year). I'm still working on the curriculum and crafts list, as well as specifics on what we'll be memorizing each week from the Bible.

2) Two beefed up science units that I plan on doing with Bennett, one on Dinosaurs in the fall, and another on The Ocean in the spring. These two units will include lapbooks (which I'm alsoreeeally excited about, because they've got some pretty nifty stuff online you can use to make a unit study super fun for kids).

3) Field trips. We'll take one every couple of months, and I'd for sure like to hit the IMAX Dinosaurs movie, the Planetarium at our local children's museum, the Dallas Aquarium, and the butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. SOOOOO exciting - makes me wish I was a kid experiencing it all for the first time again!

4) Bennett is going to take music lessons with my mom every Friday (piano lessons, more specifically), which I'm pumped about and hoping he likes. If there's one thing I wish desperately I'd learned as a child, it's to play piano. He's still very young, so this year will just be an intro to music and having fun on the piano and maybe with other instruments.

5) The final thing missing here are our family plans that I've revised and have high hopes for this year. Michael's hours as an educator bless our family greatly, because he's here a lot and is so involved with our boys. I'm planning on having a Friday Movie Night each week, and a Saturday Game Night. On movie nights we'll break out the stereotypical popcorn, and on game nights, I'll make some kind of fun and different dessert. If all of this turns out to be too ambitious (which is HIIIIGHLY probable), we'll alternate weeks, doing movie night one week and game night the next (as I'm typing this, I'm thinking that's almost certainly what we'll end up doing :) ).

So there you go. Homeschooling and Family Plans in a nut shell for School Year 2011 (EEEK! I'm so excited!!). If you have any questions about any of the materials we're using, feel free to holler at me. I bought almost all of our materials on Amazon. They were cheapest there with free shipping in most cases.

Monday, June 27, 2011


After the last post about the now mandatory shower redo in our bathroom, I thought it only appropriate to update what's going on in the house DIY-wise.

1. I am still planning on painting our kitchen cabinets a soft white color and adding oil-rubbed bronze hardware to tie them in to our black appliances. I'm also planning on tiling a new backsplash and already have some of the tile for it (bought majorly on sale around Christmas time last year). However, this project still terrifies me because it could go way wrong in a hurry. But I know if I can get it right, it will brighten up our entire home (we have a very open concept layout) and will definitely increase the value of the home when we eventually sell.

2. I just saw a project on a blog today that I am now desperate to tackle because it looks SO amazing and would not be that hard or that expensive to do. It's a fireplace makeover, which sounds super intimidating, but compared to the kitchen project, it's child's play. Here's a picture and the link for the post I'm wanting to imitate. We would cover over the vertical brick entirely, like this woman did, and also paint the "bench" part of the brick white, like her. I think it's BRILLIANT, and would once again be one more step toward lightening and brightening our home, which is something I've really been working hard on for a year or so now. The link for it is HERE.

3. There are several odds and ends I still need to take care of, like spray painting a huge vase I got from Goodwill for $4, patching up the frame around our front door, and installing new hardware in the master bathroom. As I said before, all of this goes little by little using our minuscule monthly home improvement budget. Baby steps, baby steps.

I'll post before and after pictures as I get the projects completed. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


HAHAHAHA! I'm already laughing at my own cleverness with the title of this blog post. You'll see why in a minute (although I don't expect you to be half as impressed with my radiant wit as I am :) ).

This afternoon we got home from church and had lunch, and then Bennett begged and begged to play a combo game of hide-n-seek/escape the monster. It's where he and Michael hide somewhere and me and Jasper come find them, which thereafter ensues in an unlimited amount of tickling, growling, wrestling, etc. We do this over and over again, usually until one of the adults calls it quits (that's usually me).

For this particular round of the game, Michael and Bennett were hiding in our master bath shower. I was growling and making all kinds of fierce monster sounds, feeling extremely proud of my scary beast prowess. We wound it down and Bennett and Michael started to try to come out of the shower door with me still blocking the entrance and acting all "monstery." In Michael's pursuit of escape, he shoved his rear end back against the shower wall to push off and gain momentum (I am laughing out loud as I type), but instead of gaining that leverage, he dented in a large chunk of the tiled shower wall. The tiles caved and fell, leaving an exposed, crumbly part of the dry wall behind. BWA-HAHAHAHA!! Get it?! "Butting" in?! HAAAA!

The first thing I said to Michael was, "Wow, honey, your bottom is so big, it knocked out our shower wall!" Little ears pick up everything, and Bennett has been repeating and rephrasing that little jewel of a comment ever since. His favorite question to ask now is, "Daddy, how did your big bottom make a hole in that shower?" HAHAHAHA!! It never gets old, people.

So now my big-bottomed husband (if you know Michael and you know how tall and thin he is, you know how ridiculous this description is) is in our bathroom tearing apart our shower so he and my dad can re-tile it all. My dad is an expert tiler, so luckily all we'll have to pay for are the supplies, not manual labor. We're out a few hundred bucks and are considering trading the shower for our trip to Galveston later this summer (boo!), but our bathroom keeps getting prettier and prettier, so I guess that's good :).

Friday, June 24, 2011


This morning Mimi took me and Bennett to see his very first movie in the theater: Cars 2. This morning at breakfast he was so excited he told me he couldn't finish his food or his tummy would get sick. He LOVED it, and loved the whole experience so much, he cried when we had to leave after the movie was over (he thought we would get to stay and play or watch another movie). It was the cutest thing to watch him. I enjoyed watching him more than the movie, and so did Mimi :).

To make the event extra special, I got him a Cars 2 t-shirt (which Bennett was also pumped about), and we had popcorn and Sprite during the movie. You would've thought my little man was in heaven, getting all the attention from Mom and Mimi, getting to see a movie on the big screen, and getting a coke! He was bursting with happiness and excitement the whole time, and sat perfectly still (except for one bathroom break and one little rendition of musical chairs) watching the action.

This experience illustrated to me once again why God loves doing wonderful things for us, his children. He loves us so much, and he loves to bring us joy. It was a really special date with my little guy, and I'm looking forward to doing the same kind of thing with Jasper someday.

(pardon the crummy-quality of the pictures - they're from my phone)

Mimi and Bennett (aren't they the cutest??)
Getting ready to go in!

P.S. All the reviews you're reading about the movie are pretty much true. It has a huge, blatant political message about alternative forms of fuel, the pixar animation is rather crummy in parts, and the plot is way too complicated for little kids. So if you're going for yourself, don't go. But if you're going because you're hoping your little kid will enjoy the sequel of Cars, and they already love the first movie, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Bennett was completely unaware (as kids tend to be) of all the stuff I just mentioned. He loved the movie and loved the experience, and I just loved that he loved it :).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One of my very favorite things about doing something new is all the new people you meet and get to know. A lot of the cast was new this year, and with the way the cast was split into different groups for different parts of the show, it took a while to get to know people, but the two set building days and the last two weeks of practice/show times gave me the opportunity to get acquainted with a lot of wonderful, talented people. Now that it's all over, I'm really missing everyone!

These sweet girls are in the youth group at our church. It was so great getting to know a lot of them.

Abbey and Gracie (Gracie shared her husband with me for the show, who did an awesome job playing Ham), Mr. and Mrs. Skunk.

The Peacocks - Joey and Sarah. They were amazing. So amazing, in fact, that Sarah pulled a neck muscle from busting out her "peacock moves" - no joke. That's dedication, people.

Laura and I sang in choir together in high school. It was great doing the show with her after all these years! (Ms. Porcupine)

Suzy and I sing on praise team together. She's been doing the show for years (Mr. Sheep).

Mr. and Mrs. Monkey - Mrs. Monkey's name is Jenna in real life, and they have the same last name as me, so this created some confusion at first. Aren't they the cutest couple?!

Speaking of cutest couples ever, our narrators, Mo and Jo, who are Laura Beth and Jason, are engaged to be married in real life. We're going wedding dress shopping tomorrow - EEK!!

The men in Noah's family (Japheth, Noah, Ham, Shem).

The women in Noah's family (Arathka, Naamah, Zedkah, Nahala...yes, the names were made up).

Noah's family. I was privileged to work with such gifted people who dearly love the Lord. What a blessing!

(I have to also mention that ALL of our costumes were made by a woman at our church. She is UNBELIEVABLE, needless to say. I can't believe she got it all done, and she was never frustrated or without a smile. Ms. Pam is my hero!)

This show really gave me a renewed desire and conviction that teaching our children about the Lord and showing them His love and grace while they are young is so important, and can never be underestimated. When these kiddos came through the hour long line to have their t-shirts signed, they were so excited. It seemed to make their night when we learned their names, said hi to them, and asked them questions. They are so impressionable and have a natural, innocent belief in God that is so refreshing and encouraging. I loved doing this for the Lord, and for all the children and their families who love Him or, I pray, will come to know Him. Praise God that His Word is so powerful and that He uses the least of these to get His message across!

Monday, June 20, 2011


The show itself spanned three nights and totaled about 3 hours, and this year we did the story of Noah. There were evil people on Night One before the flood, the animals came on Night Two, and on Night Three, Noah's family and the animals were going crazy, ready to get off the boat. I was Ham's wife in the show, and the eight of us in Noah's family acted out the story along with the narrators (one of my best friends and her fiance, who are getting married in October and were SOOOO cute together on stage!).

There were wonderful things about each night. On Night One, the music was awesome and the dancing was intense. On Night Two, we sang African songs acapella to call the animals onto the Ark - they came through the audience from the back and down the stairs from the balcony. The first time we did this, almost all of Noah's family onstage got choked up watching the animals come along with the peoples' reactions in the audience. It struck me all at once that God really CREATED all of these animals - made them up out of thin air, using his imagination, and then He brought them to the ark in pairs. Amazing. On Night Three, of course, came the rainbow at the end, which consisted of hundreds of strings of lights zip tied behind a screen. It took the men working on it four days to make and they used 3,000 zip ties. Holy Moly.

God really does keep His promises, and He really is Almighty and all powerful. In the midst of the show, I felt so convicted and reminded of this. In so many ways, I think I was more blessed performing it all than the people in the audience watching.

This post will have a TON of pictures in it, and then the last post I'll write about the kids we met as they came through the line to have their shirts autographed, as well as the wonderful people I've met through it all.

P.S. I know my family is the only group of people who really care about this. I am not disillusioned to think anyone else is really all that interested :). Bear with me and it'll be back to normal blogging in a couple more days.





There are too many pictures and too much info to cram into one post, so this will probably be a three-post kinda deal.

First I'll start out by saying that doing this show was a lot like Spring Sing back in my Harding days (NINE years ago - EEK!), and because of that, it was SO much fun, and something that I really wanted to do. I also have to say that I realized what a different place in life I'm at now. Having a family of my own - kids especially - makes a HUGE difference. For the majority of the the time (2 1/2 months) while getting ready for the show, I felt myself being tugged and pulled in several different directions, which was definitely a challenge!

It was tremendously helpful that Michael was so supportive and that he really wanted me to get the chance to do this. It was also AWESOME that they had childcare open during all practice times when we were up at the church practicing, and Bennett LOVED going, so I took him with me once every week or two to give Michael a break.

Practices were three times a week, two hours each time. About half way through, Noah's family started meeting an extra hour a week to go over songs, dances and lines, and the last two weeks, we were there every night from about 6:30pm-10:30pm. Dude. The whole experience introduced me to so many wonderful new people whom I'd never met, and shed new light on the term "work ethic"...holy moly. I practiced for 45 min to an hour 5-6 days a week at home while the boys napped, in order to learn the 27 songs and 20-ish dances, as well as the script for the show. Needless to say, I hardly know what to do with myself now! (On my first day off, I cleaned the bathrooms within an inch of their lives because I couldn't handle having nothing to do :) )

The show was a lot of hard work and added a lot of time constraints Michael and I hadn't anticipated, but I am SO glad and thankful I did it. Thousands of children came EACH night (for six nights in a row - we performed the entire show twice), and then waited in line for our autographs for over an hour each night, where we got to meet them and talk to them about God's love and promises. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It doesn't get much better than that. There are stories every year of entire families and extended families who come to know God after attending Summer Spectacular, and I'm amazed at how well my own kids know the bible story the show is focused on after watching it.

Bennett and Jasper loved it, and liked seeing their mama on stage, I think. My mom said every time I came out, Jasper would say, "Mama! Mama!" over and over again, and Bennett would ask all kinds of questions about what songs I would sing next, or things I would do or say. I'm so glad they got to experience the story of Noah in such a big way.

The pictures for today are of my boys enjoying the decorations and excitement. The next two posts will mainly be pictures of the show itself and some of the amazing, oh-so-talented people I've gotten to know.

If you are interested, in about a month there will be a DVD of the whole show available for free, to keep and watch at home!

There were live parakeets in this cage all week. It was Bennett and Jasper's favorite place to visit. There was also a petting zoo after the nights when the animals were in the show. Such a neat idea!

My little monkeys :)

Stalls and stalls of paired off animals were placed all over the building.

They came to say hi and grab a quick picture before the last night of the show.