Saturday, January 25, 2014

Classical Conversations

Before we moved from McKinney to Houston, we were planning on enrolling the kids in a homeschool co-op that met once a week and provided a variety of fun classes for the kids.  I had heard, briefly, about a program called Classical Conversations, but the homeschooling community in the DFW Metroplex is far smaller and less open than the homeschooling community in Houston, so I never gave it any thought.  After we moved and found a church (a church that is pro-homeschooling, in fact, the pastor's family homeschools!) and many of our new friends talked about how wonderful the Classical Conversations program at the church was.  We decided to give it a shot, despite my not being sure if it would be the right fit for our family.

As expected, Piper love it and had a great time!

Caleb was kind of meh about it all.  This program requires the kids to sit and drill facts.

A lot.

It's just not a good fit for ALL of us.  Piper wanted to go back so bad, but we had discussed before we went that it had to be good for both of the kids and both of them had to be on board since it would be a huge time and monetary commitment.  So, all in all, no negative moments from this experience, just information which was what we were after.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pinewood Derby

This past weekend, Caleb's Cub Scout pack held their annual Pinewood Derby.  I have to say, I equally love and loathe the derby, all the way around.  The boys and the dads have so much fun building their cars, but the actual racing gets so, so tedious and tends to be long.  However, the boys love it so much, so we all persevere and have a good time just hanging out with each other.

Here's Caleb and his Angry Birds car.  The photo is misleading in that his car looks red, but it's really bright orange.  He was so happy with how it came out and was so excited for the event!

I've written about how the Cub Scout pack was in existence and the moms realized that all the sisters needed an activity too, so a Girl Scout group was created.  Piper instantly loved the group of girls she was matched up with, especially her little friend Zoe.  This Girl Scout group has been up and running for long enough now that some of the girls do not have brothers in the Scout pack, or they have graduated up, so we don't necessarily have friends for P to hang with at these events.  Zoe's brother is in the den just below Caleb, so he and Zoe are at all the events, which is great for Piper to have another girl friend to hang out with during these events!

Here is Caleb with his Bear den (and a couple of little brothers added in), waiting for racing.

Caleb's car getting lined up for its first run.

And they're off!
When it was all said and done, Caleb did not place in the race, but was a VERY good sport and congratulated his friends who did (we were very proud of this).

By the end of the night, Piper was begging for bed and ended up lying on 3 chairs lined up next to each other.  Needless to say, we all slept well that night!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blue Bell

For the Christmas holiday, we took 2 weeks off of school to reset and refresh.  I had promised the kids that we would go do all sorts of fun things since the weather is so mild here, however the flu thwarted those plans and kept us bed bound for 5 days.  
The Friday after New Years, I decided that I pack the kids up and take the trip to Brenham, the home of the Blue Bell Creameries, where they make our favorite ice cream!

We made a stop at Starbucks partially because it was a special occasion and because Mama was still worn out from all the sickness and cleaning up from it all.  Brenham is about an hour from us, so a little chocolate/vanilla milk for them and a coffee and cinnamon bread for me and we were off!

We made it in time to grab a fun hat, some cute photos and get our tickets for the very next tour.  There are no photos allowed during the tour, but let me tell you, what I saw of the factory convinced me that we will continue to be Blue Bell customers for life!

At the end of the tour, everyone gets some ice cream.  P chose dutch chocolate (her fav gluten free flavor), Caleb chose mint chocolate chip and I got cookies and cream!  Yum!

We just had so much fun here, just us and the ice cream and we can't wait to come back and bring my dad!  He's a HUGE Blue Bell fan and customer!

Monday, January 06, 2014


Oh friends, Christmas this year was interesting, in not such a great way.  But, I'll get to that.  First, lets cover the fun  and good stuff!

Christmas this year was on Wednesday, and since my parents' house was ready for sale, they and my grandmother came to spend the holiday with us at our house.  They came in on Monday evening and stayed until Christmas afternoon, when they made a hasty exit.  But, again, we'll get to that.  

On Christmas Eve, I always let the kids open one gift and it's always the same thing.  Pajamas.  They've yet to figure this out.  This year, I also let them open their gifts from their little friends from McKinney too.

Piper loved her Doc McStuffins Big Book of Boo Boos, one of the accessories to the hot toy of the season.

In the past year, Caleb has developed what has bordered on obsession with Duck Dynasty.  Miriam bought him every episode and you can see he was just a little bit excited...

At our church, the kids are asked to wear their pajamas to Christmas Eve service, so that's what we did too.  It was cool enough, thankfully, so they were all cozy and comfy while we were at the service.  This ended up being a good thing, as my oldest baby ended up laying in my lap with a fever for about 2/3 of the service.
A sign of what was to come...

When we got home, we shuttled the kids off to bed and Jes got to work putting together the one toy that needed to be done, Piper's Doc McStuffins Doctor Station.  If I could express the craziness that involved actually procuring this toy, you would never believe me.  But, thanks to my quick thinking, calling a Target at the last minute and a wonderful store worker who was begged, bribed and threatened when he wouldn't sell it to other customers and eventually hid it in the electronics section, we were able to obtain this for our girl!  You guys just have no idea...  And this was a full 3 weeks before Christmas!

So, Santa came and the kids got some great stuff.  P got her Doc McStuffins things, her very own personalized lab coat, a Bevo (go UT!) and some fun stocking stuff.  Caleb got a BB gun, a bow and arrow set, a target and some great stocking stuff.

My big girl in her lab coat.  Take note, friends.  You will see this photo again in about 20 years, if she does what she says she will.

Poor Caleb wasn't feeling 100%, but smiled and did the best he could.

My grandmother even got in on the action a bit.  I'm not going to lie.  This scared me a little...

One of the things the kids got in their stockings was jump ropes.  They actually figured it out pretty quickly and were jumping rope in a jif!

After we got breakfast in everyone and stocking/Santa stuff cleaned up, we all sat down to open our gifts to each other.  Of course, the kids loved everything, but their favorites were their new iPad minis.  We struggled with whether our 8 and 5 year old should have iPads, but they can and will use them for school, as well as fun, so my mom and dad and grandmother went in together and bought these.  I bought an iPad 2 for Jes and my dad got one too.  So, this was an Apple holiday!

Piper got her first Coach bag this year too.  Now, before you start shaking your head and saying that my kids are rotten, let me set you straight, they are rotten, but I also got this Coach backpack at a consignment sale for $12.

Clearly my mom needs a tutorial on how to wear her infinity scarves.  :)

After we opened all our gifts, we finished up lunch and sat down to eat.  About 15 minutes into lunch, Caleb threw up and lunch and the holiday was over.  My mom, dad and grandmother were gone about an hour later and we were down for the count.  By that night, Jes was sick as a dog and I knew things were not good.

The next morning, P woke up crying, saying her legs hurt.  This is her way of saying that she was having body aches.  I managed to get an emergency appointment with one of the partnering doctors at our pediatrician's office for both kids the next morning and off we went.  Both kids had the flu and Jes went promptly to urgent care.

The poor things were trying to rest in the doctor's office.  It was a madhouse and we had to wait a bit, but they were both so brave and tried to have good attitudes about the whole thing.  However, by this point, they were done.

So, the long and short of it is that we did have a good holiday, but we could have done without the flu.  It was so, so bad and I don't wish it on anyone, but I'm happy to say that everyone is all recovered and we're on to bigger and better things.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


When we moved to Houston, I decided to jump right in and start meeting some people and getting involved.  One of the first people I met happened to be the wife of the pastor of our new church.  She invited me to attend the homeschool book club that she organized and, of course, I jumped right on it!  During my first book club, she mentioned the Advent ornament exchange that she arranges and my ears perked up.  My mom tried to do Advent with me when I was growing up but we never could settle on a good, daily program to get the point across in a way that we all could understand, so I've been on the hunt ever since.  

Basically, what we did was we were put into groups of 24, for the 24 days of Advent and each person was instructed to make an ornament using whatever we wanted to illustrate that verse.  We have a book that we are following that teach the concepts that Advent covers complete with the Bible verses and even an activity to do with the kids to cement the concepts, so it wasn't too hard.  What you see here is what we came up with.  I think that we all did a wonderful job and the kids were able to hang an ornament on the tree after we discussed that day's concept.

I wanted to have a little tree in a prominent place in my house, that was easy for the kids to access so that we could do our little lesson every night.  The kids took turns hanging the ornaments on the tree and filling this up.

I couldn't get a picture of both of the kids, but I feel like this activity touched all levels and ability of learning and the kids really loved it.  I'll do this next year too so that each child has a box of ornaments to take when they have families of their own and can continue the tradition.

Like most families, we have quite a few traditions during the Christmas season, some new and some not so new.  One of the traditions we have is that I've always purchased a Lego Advent calendar for Caleb to do each day.  This year, however, we discovered that Lego Friends, the girl version of Lego, had a calendar as well.

So, I bought two.

Of course.

Each day, we did our Advent ornament lesson first and then the kids opened and put together that day's Lego build.  It was very short and very sweet and a tradition that we'll continue to continue!