Wednesday, December 31, 2014

{2014} In Review

I thought I would share some of our favorite pictures, memories, and blog posts from each month of 2014. 

Many bloggers are doing this at the moment and it's been fun to read and reread their posts. I'm amazed at the beautiful writing and reflections they have of their year! Unfortunately you won't find that here! ; )

Anyway . . . some things I did noticed is that I had a ton of Quick Takes and Daybooks and not many subject specfic post. This is something I want to work on for next year. I want to take a topic and write about it. Of course, I enjoy doing Daybooks and I get good response to those (who doesn't when you spill your heart!) and will continue those. I'm hoping a few less checking in sort of posts.

Well, here is a quick glance at the year on the blog!

January's most popular post, 7 Quick Takes Friday~Homeschool Edition~1/3/2014. We celebrated a new teenager in the house. Caleb turned 13 and we got a nice day to go outside and take some pictures.

February's most popular post, The Homeschool Path {Planning Eighth Grade and Preparing For High School}. It looks like we got snowed in and Scott made some coon skin hats. I enjoyed seeing pictures of our hamster (he passed away early December). 

March's most popular post, Just Checking In {March 31, 2014}
It seems we were really longing for spring weather in March! Caleb finally saved enough money to purchase his bow. We also went out for our first nature study of the year. 

April's most popular post, A Spring Daybook in April. We celebrated a long awaited Easter and looking at the pictures, spring must have finally came! A stray cat adopted us and stole our hearts (which were broken come December)! The First Nature Study of Spring was much loved!

May's most popular post, Evaluating the School Year {2013-2014}.
May was really busy! My blog posts are of full of pictures of Zebra and that was the best part of looking through them all. May turned out to be beautiful spring weather (which can be rare in Missouri). I think this post was my favorite from May either because of the pictures of the iris or cat! 


June's most popular post, 7 Quick Takes Friday {June 27, 2014}. We enjoyed some carefree days in June! Tyler celebrated his 10th birthday and I was deep into school planning.

July's most popular post, Our Plans {2014-2015 Term 1}July: fishing, outdoor play, garden veggies, sweet kitty, and a new school year!


August's most popular post, Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {August 21, 2014}. We enjoyed some summer nature study, a trip to Kansas, evaluated our first month of school, and tried hard to get into a new school schedule. 


September's most popular post (and only post), Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {September 11, 2014}September was our busiest month of the year. Too much to do but the good news is since Tyler will be a Boy Scout come March, this should be our last crazy September due to Cub Scouts!

October's most popular post, A Tuesday Daybook {October 28, 2014}. October brought nature study, the Feast of St. MichaelThis Week in LearningTerm 2 of the school year, more nature studyHalloween, and our first cross country season came to an end.


November's most popular post, 7 Quick Takes Friday {November 21, 2014}. Things settled down after a hectic fall season. Because of that I was able to work on recording our school days. The boys had a successful deer hunting season. We had family pictures taken too.

December's most popular post, This Week in Learning {Week 17}Advent came and went. We grieved the lost of our cat and the hamster. We welcomed a puppy into our family. Christmas celebrations were much welcomed and enjoyed (and continue). 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

We are certainly enjoying our Christmas celebrations! Happy Feast of the Holy Family! Looking forward to Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Thursday. (And happy that our parish has Mass at 10 am and not first thing in the morning!)

The boys have been enjoying their daily opening of the 12 Days of Christmas gifts. These are small gifts (some shared) and mostly books. I'll share titles when it's all over as I can't remember what I've wrapped.


I thought I would share some pictures from Christmas Day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Family Pictures {2014}

My wonderful Sister-in-law took some family pictures for us while they came to visit at Thanksgiving. I'm just now getting them posted!

Family, if you would like a copy, let me know which one and I will email it to you. 

Caleb and Tyler Cross Country pic (because I was too cheap to purchase team ones!)

Family pic #1

Family pic #2

Family pic #3

Family pic #4

Family pic #5

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

As Advent Comes to an End . . . .

Life has been slightly out of the ordinary here at the pumpkin patch. 

Our world was completely changed when we welcomed a new puppy, Lucy (she arrived at our house on the feast of St. Lucy.

We finished decorating the house on Gaudete Sunday.

Our most wonderful cat, Zebra, had a run in with a car and the car won. We had very sad boys (and mom) last week! Our hamster, Hammy, past away too earlier in December. It's been a tough month for pets around here. I had to put this picture of Zee Bee on my laptop desktop to be able to see him throughout the day. He is much missed!

Most Advent activities did not happen last week due to the death in the family. Finally, by Friday we were ready to get out and go ice skating with friends. We did read some books and watched a few Christmas movies. I think our favorite was A Muppet Christmas Carol (Netflix).

We typically celebrate Christmas with my parents and brother and his family the weekend before Christmas but that has been delayed until next weekend as my brother's family were all sick. 

I'm running behind on my project to-do list while on Christmas break. It seems like the everyday chores are over taking my day. I need to work on this!


Yes, thank you very much and I did! I certainly enjoyed the box my Land's End order arrived in. I was really happy with everything I purchased too! Nothing had to be returned. My closet is slowly being filled. I haven't done any major clothes shopping for myself in years and I came to a point that I was washing twice a week because I didn't have enough clothes to make it through the week. The only thing still on my list is dress pants.

We are certainly ready for some Christmas celebrations here and are counting down the hours!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Second Week of Advent {2014}

We started the week off by putting out some outdoor decorations . . . . very simple seems to be our style.

The boys decorated their rooms with Christmas trees and other decoration.

We keep adding to the Jesse Tree and reading bible stories to go with the ornaments. We had to double up two days as it was forgotten the day before.

I finalized the Christmas menu and Christmas celebrations. My parents have Christmas the weekend before Christmas. We celebrate with Scott's family on Christmas Eve and sneak in Mass that evening too. We spend Christmas Day at home. I don't enjoy cooking so I planned a simple day at home. For breakfast we will have cinnamon rolls, eggs, and bacon. I planned simple snack food to have throughout the day (taco dip, veggie tray, meat and cheese, and something sweet). Dinner will be an easy taco soup that will just be thrown into the slow cooker to let it take care of itself. I will do all the prep work on Christmas Eve.

Gifts are almost done. I just have a few last minute things to pick up at Target next week and one more order at Amazon to get the last couple of books needed for the 12 days of Christmas gifts. It looks like Amazon has a 25% off coupon so I will probably do that order today before it expires.

Advent is about preparing and material wise we are about done. Mentally there is still more work to be done!

Books we read this week:
-continued in A Christmas Carol and Letters From Father Christmas

-Saint Frances and the Christmas Donkey by Byrd
-Christmas at Long Pond by William George
-The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
-Our Lady of Guadalupe by Carmen Bernier-Grand
-Lucia Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde
-Listened to Glory Stories Fresh Flowers in Winter: The Story of St. Juan Diego 

This week's school adventures can be found here.

We started our annual Christmas puzzle this week. I chose this nativity one after seeing it mentioned by Jessica at Shower of Roses. It's been a while since I had to purchase one new. We usually find them at garage sales. (I didn't get out garage selling much this year.) I admit that this puzzle is a little difficult due to the fact that their is so much color. Looking into the box for pieces overwhelms the brain.

The boys finished off the second week of Advent with a 5K run (fundraiser for the local FFA chapter at the high school) and our town Christmas parade. Tyler rode in a float with his cub scout pack and Caleb marched with his boy scout troop. Tyler got to rest at home afterwards but Caleb went to help a fellow scout with his Eagle project. Both boys had to serve at a wedding in the afternoon. We also had a family birthday party to attend. 

We also welcomed a new member to the family. Her name is Lucy, since we got her on St. Lucy's day. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

This Week in Learning {Week 18}

It has been a good school week but we are so very glad for a long Christmas break!

We went to half days which really made the week much enjoyable. Our afternoons were filled with activities I can count as school hours, but not a normal work load. We got some extra chores done, extra reading, movies, and games.

We started our day off with Morning Basket. I would then do math with Caleb while Tyler did his independent work. We would have a break and then start back with math with Tyler while Caleb did his independent work. We had our lunch break next and then did Afternoon Basket after lunch. We did all Advent readings and one chapter in the Faith and Life book since it was the Christmas story.

Our number one goal for the week was math. That goal was meet. Each of the boys had a "test" in their Saxon math this week and I wasn't pleased with their work. This was a reminder for me to make sure we are getting enough of the mixed practice problems done. 

Silly Boys! Caleb and Tyler with their cousin. Photo taken by my sister in law during our family photo shoot.

Caleb is still struggling with fractions. I'm struggling with this because most of the fraction work that is in the math book is not the type of fractions he will encounter outside his math book. We encounter fractions daily but they are normally pretty basic (1/2, 1/4, 3/4, and thirds and converting back and forth between fractions and decimals). This is not what he is practicing in the math book. I feel bad making him do them! Dang you math for being so easy to test that we are forced to make you more important than you truly are in real life! This is hard to avoid in homeschool too!

The boys did mostly literature reading during their independent work. I believe Tyler did some keyboarding practice and read in Life of Fred. Times Attack was completely during independent time too.

On Friday we just did Morning Basket and got some PE time in at the ice rink with some other homeschool friends.

We do have some school goals during Christmas break! Caleb will be forced to do some math lessons. We have a list of books I want to read aloud. And I will be making sure free reading happens during the day. This will be easy during the 12 days of Christmas since they boys are getting some books that were on their wishlist. Next week the boys will enjoy a week long class in Life Skills as we prepare the house for Christmas!  ; )

This Week in Learning will be back in four weeks!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Our First Week of Advent {2014}

December prayer table

Our first week of Advent was rather busy. Advent activities were short! I'm looking forward to a slower week two.

After mass, on Sunday, we put up all the Advent decorations. I'm hoping the stuff I bought will last forever and next year's Advent won't be as expensive.

I purchased two sets of Advent Candles to save from having to pay shipping on them next year. I like these candles. They seem to be burning faster than expected, but I think the problem is my wreath is covering up half the candle. I may have to use just the basic ring when the candles get too far down. I purchased a wreath from Hobby Lobby (when they were half off). I don't like it! It's a beautiful wreath but it's too big. I didn't like my non-traditional wreath last year (quality was poor) but it was small and easily fit. I've had to not put out other decorations to make room for the wreath. I may see if I can find something else for next year. The wreath would look nice on the front door with a bow.  ; )


I also purchased a set of Jesse Tree ornaments this year since the boys weren't interested in making their own. We've been adding the ornaments daily and reading a bible story to go along with the ornaments from Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories. I purchased a tree from Hobby Lobby, on sale too. It's is not what I thought I wanted to get, but the smaller trees just wouldn't have held all the ornaments. I wasn't planning on a lighted tree either but that is what I came home with and I've been happy with it. I would like to find a small piece of fabric to wrap the stand. I don't want to purchase anything so my eyes have been open to see what I can find in the house. Nothing yet! I would like to add the O Antiphons ornaments to our collection next year. I've decided to leave it out all of Christmas (last year the Jesse Tree was put away after Christmas Day) and hoping to add the 12 Days of Christmas ornaments that I put on Christmas list. I may move it to another location since the Christmas Tree will go up very near it.

I purchased the boys the Lego City Advent Calendar (back in October when it was only $25 from Amazon-our local Target had them for $30). They are enjoying that this year!

St. Nicholas came for a visit on Friday night and the boys woke to some candy, books, thinking putty, and new slippers for Caleb (he outgrew his size 9 that he got last year, he got size 12 this year and I hope his feet don't grow anymore!) and a a Tinker-Box subscription for Tyler (this was a joint gift as another relative went in on the subscription). I didn't get any pictures since St. Nicholas came and went in a rush since I had to go help at a scout lock-in that evening. Tyler was already up and stocking emptied (and new book read) by the time Caleb and I got home at 7am on Saturday. Tyler received The Christmas Cat (which he loved) and Caleb received Shooting at the Stars (which he liked).

The boys decorated St. Nicholas sugar cookies on Saturday. I was very happy that I baked them on Friday afternoon as my brain was not functioning after staying up all night! And yes, the icing turned out pink. Most likely from my lack of kitchen skill rather than no sleep!

Advent books awaiting!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This Week in learning {Week 17}

This week started out great! It seemed the perfect mixture of school, Advent, and other "stuff". Then along came Wednesday! We ended up with more out-of-house activities than we should have in a week.

Thursday morning was tough and it was clear the boys weren't ready for book work so we watched a children's French lessons show (Bonjour Les Amis-if I'm remembering correctly). Caleb picked up the cat and sat down in the chair. The cat isn't allowed on the furniture and would normally just jump off anyway, but he heard the French woman talking in French and he became a different cat. Zebra sat and watched that whole video with us. We've determined he is originally from a beach community in the south of France. This would explain why he freaked out when we had snow last month. First we thought he was from Florida or most likely Hawaii but the comfort of hearing French made the south of France the most obvious choice.  ; )


We enjoyed our new schedule for Advent! Some days our school work ran into our lunch break but we took extended lunch breaks and then did our Advent reading after that. Our afternoons were free for extra activities which we all enjoyed. The only change I want to make for next week is more Advent reading. We may do that during Morning Basket along with our Afternoon Basket.

The boys did math, language arts, and a little religion this week. We continued with our normal Morning Basket time too. We did drop history and science. I rearranged the schedule just a tad to get it all fit into our morning. 

Morning Basket was cut short each day we did it (3 days). We read from Sentence Island, The Fallacy Detective, and Faith & Life 5.

After lunch we read Letters From Father Christmas every day. We all enjoy this book! It is letters J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his children at Christmas addressed from Father Christmas. We also read Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories for our Jesse Tree readings, but we moved this to the evening so that Scott could take part. This book is a gem! The stories are written to keep your attention and the stories match up perfectly with our Jesse Tree ornaments. On Friday, we read The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Take

I had hoped to read several more books so I will need to organize better for next week. Next week isn't as busy so it should go better!

Tyler has been typing away out of his keyboarding book. It took Caleb over a year to finish it and Tyler is half done in about a month. He does this during his independent work so I'm not sure if he is picking up on it or not. I need to watch him and make sure he at least has his fingers set up on the keyboard correctly and maybe have him slow down!

Tyler finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this week. I highly recommend this version of the book! It has glossy pages, color pictures, and the font is perfect. Tyler enjoyed it too and asked for the next book he was going to read to have glossy pages too. Even though we have the rest of the books in that series, none are the collector's edition, I'm thinking about getting The Horse and His Boy in the collector's edition too. Tyler started that one this week and wasn't too happy about the lower quality book. ; )

We added a thirty minute break into our mornings a few weeks ago and this has been a very positive addition to our schedule. It's the perfect amount of time needed for us at this moment. When the weather is nice the boys spend all of that time outside. I do some chores and check email. Tyler has been good about pulling us out of break to continue with school (which I need half of the time). I work with Tyler on math and spelling after morning break and it's our last hour before lunch break, so he is ready to get started to get done.  ; ) 

Caleb's favorite thing to do in school this week was math and Tyler's was Life of Fred. 

I didn't get any pictures this week because my camera went missing most of the week (Scott takes it duck hunting and then leaves it in the truck for days afterwards). All I found on the Caleb's Kindle was cat pictures! The cat enjoys looking at himself on a screen.

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