7 Quick Takes -life edition

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Josie is working on a painting for her arts highschool, they will be selling it at auction for a fundraiser. She continues to amaze me with her artistic talent.

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My sister and I had to have our grandfather's driver's license suspended this Summer.  He is suffering from alzheimer's and was not safe on the road.  It was a hard thing to do.  Now, my sister and I take turns taking grandma to her Dr.'s appointments, and a weekly shopping/lunch outing.  My grandmother is a dear, I'm hoping to take her home with me some day <3

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Oliver: A.K.A. Evil Kitty and I have come to a truce.  I keep Emma-the-wonder-labradoodle away from the dog door at bedtime, and Oliver is free to use it without being chased.  Win/win. (no more meowing at me at 2 a.m. to be let out) Here is a photo showing how in his world, Cat > Composition homework


I am giving up on my facebook fanpage for this blog, and concentrating on google+ (watching my post views continue to dwindle on fb because they want to sell ads, is frustrating and it has gotten worse)  It's a bit of a learning curve over there, but I think I am going to like it.  Leave your name or handle in the comments and I'll circle you!


We dropped Demi-Sky's online Latin class and I ordered Memoria Press First From Latin on dvd series to do instead. I'll report back on how it turns out.  I also ordered First Start French for Josie to work with afterschool.  The books arrived a day ago, and I am very excited.  Am I the only nerd that gets super excited when the UPS truck leaves a box of books at my door?

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I started back to college to finally finish a degree, decades later.  It was really kind of scary for me.  I am taking classes first, outside of my degree, for early childhood education.  I'm thinking I would like to work with the HeadStart program part-time once Demi and Amie start highschool outside the home.  The class is mostly young people, which makes me feel old, but there are a handful of moms about my age in there, too.  The instructor has been very encouraging about me being a homeschool mom, I admit I was worried about what the reception would be about that.  When I first started homeschooling, 13 years ago, I often got negative or hostile reactions from educators, but as the years went on, the general feeling seemed to warm up.  I am really glad that with my first college class back, my instructor is sympathetic to homeschooling.


I love photography.  I love the fact that a photo can take you back to a certain moment in time.  I am going to try to post one photo memory a week that I want to cherish and I will be putting up a linky so others can share, too.  I hope you will link up!

My Burn Book {moments I want to burn into memory}

*7 Quick Takes is hosted every Friday over at Conversion Diary blog

*join the Hot Homeschool Hop over at Homeschool Post!

Lego pirate fail

I mentioned in an earlier post my deep, dark descent into Jenn-ville with a pirate report for Demi-Sky's composition class. I've had requests for the dark tale- so here are the details in all its Jenn-glory richness... So, Demi had to do a report on a famous pirate, and then dress up as a pirate and present his oral report to his Biola Star class.  His class this year seems to be mostly boys, so I knew they were going to have fun with this.

A day or two after we had discussed a plan of attack for this, I saw this on pinterest:

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And I knew that we had to do this.  Imagine the delight of a room-full of homeschool boys when one of their own shows up in a lego pirate costume to deliver a report.  It would be epic, in homeschool-world.

I had a little niggling of doubt about tackling this project...just a little, which I ignored.

and ignored

in typical Jenn fashion as I procrastinated the week away.  We discussed methods to achieve this look.  A bucket seemed easiest, but we couldn't find a yellow bucket at Target.

I nonchalantly assured Demi that we could just whip up a paper-mache head, easy.

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I used a bucket for my shape and then used thin wire to make the form for the pirate head.  I took lots of photos so I could share my step by step instructions here on the blog....



and then, two days before due date, I commenced with the glue/water/paper routine....

 photo pinterestfail-papermache-homeisblog_zpsab6794ae.jpgdon't panic.

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there is always plan B:







quickly spray paint my only bucket and drill holes into it for eyes.

...into my only bucket for household stuff...

and then the morning of the class, we abandoned the lego pirate idea and dressed Demi up as a traditional pirate.

The End.

(it's just a Jenn-thing...)

Quick takes- December edition

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Lacrosse season has begun here in So California.  This year, Demi-Sky is trying out the goalie position.  I was equal parts worried that he would miss a bunch of shots and his team-mates would be mad and worried that he would be hurt because apparently, lacrosse goalies don't get extra padding. Not even shin-guards. Nope.  He did really well, his team-mates were happy with him and he only got a little hurt.


Our bible-conference is over and slowly our house is being emptied of extra people.  We had a blast, lots of laughter, fun, eating and sharing.  We had several trips to In & Out burgers for our out of state guests.  We also might of introduced a couple of newbies to Dr. Who while they were here.  Maybe. Probably.

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Meg played her violin at the police explorer's talent show, and since then, she has been asked several times to play the national anthem at different events.  We are so proud of her hard work and dedication!  Here she is at an event, talking to her dad.


We hardly go to the movies, the cost is just too great for us, but this last month we went to see Ender's Game, the Dr. Who 50th Anniversary in 3-D!! [whoot!]  and The Hobbit.  They were all really good.


With the New Year, I am really needing to clean/organize our homeschool books.  With this new semester, I am planning on starting up Apologia's Worldview Bible study with Demi and Amie.  I am also thinking of quitting Demi's online Latin class and continuing it at home with Memoria Press Latin.  I'm having trouble deciding....

So, any new plans for the New Year?


just some lines about what life is like these days... I've been side-lined by pretty deep depression.  I've mentioned before that it runs in my family.  This episode is why the blog has been neglected as of late.  I thought about writing my thoughts about depression, but then, what can I add, really?  Depression is sadness, often without a real reason, and it sucks, and I don't know how to fix it.  I can't really get more profound than that.  A loved one was concerned that I hadn't managed to turn it around, like I eventually do...and he gently prodded me to come up for air, and added these sage words "you need to snap out of it".  I was mad for a split second, the wide-eyed - mouth-falling open-mad/shocked  - I thought after all these years he would "get" it a bit more about the helplessness of depression.  But then, I remembered that it is so foreign to his even-keeled nature and that he was trying to help.  I took a minute to get un-mad and then asked him, "if a reminder to "snap out of it" was all it really took, don't you think some corporation would have packaged it all up neat and pithy and would be selling it for a mint?"  He seemed to get my point.

okay, so no profound, deep thoughts on depression.  But, I think this is what depression sounds/feels like:


Homeschool is back in full-swing.  Today, Sky dropped off Josie at school, I worked-out with P90x - kempo.  Demi and Amie had piano lessons.  Demi worked on Aleks math and then had his online Latin class.  The class is through the Biola Star program and they are using The Latin Road to English Grammar.  Amie did her Aleks math while Demi had his class and then she worked on History.  We started using Veritas Press self-paced online course this Summer.  We are finishing up Explorers to 1850.  After Latin class, I took them to their art lesson.

Meg has been really sick with a bad cold, she slept in and skipped work (horse care) and her Biology lab at college, but then got up and went to her Biology lecture.

We returned from art and I read aloud to Demi and Amie.  We are reading Rainbow Valley (Anne of Green Gables, No. 7)by L.M. Montgomery.  I wanted to read Rilla of Ingleside with them because of how wonderfully it shows the impact of World War II on the families left behind, but then I thought the book would have more pull on them if they felt like they knew the main characters first as children.  I love sharing this book with them, The Anne of Green Gables series is such a treasure.  I try to read all 8 books every year or so.  (yes there are 8 in the Anne series).   After reading two chapters, Demi worked on Science and I sat with Amie and worked on Math Mammoth with her.  Once we were done, I took Amie to her parkour classes.  Demi was free to practice his piano and work on his short story.

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we stayed for two classes today, usually I need to leave to go pick up Josie from school, but Sky picked her up today.  On the way home from parkour, I stopped and picked up some broccoli for dinner.  Amie worked on her creative writing story while I made dinner.


I made broiled pork chops, rice, broccoli and Hawaiian sweet rolls for dinner.  I have to tell you that I recently re-discovered broiling and have decided that it is the procrastinator's magic answer!  At our last house, the broiler on the oven did not work, and so I learned to live without it.  When we bought this house, the oven did not have a broiler drawer and I assumed it did not have one.  I kind of think now, after buying a brand new oven, that the old oven was probably like my new one and the main oven worked on broiler mode...kind of a slap your forehead moment... and so, I tried broiling some pork chops one day, and wow!  it was like 9 minutes on each side!  A very quick dinner for the procrastinator mom who doesn't think about dinner until it is dinner-time...

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Our wonderful neighbors are very serious about their garden, plants and trees (one of their sons is a botanist).  They hire a real arborist to trim their trees.  Sky is pretty friendly with the arborist -no he doesn't trim our trees, can't afford it, we just muddle through it ourselves... -and the arborist invited Sky to come to his house and take any firewood we want.

I love, love, love sitting by our fireplace in our dining room.  This unexpected gift is really, really appreciated.  :)


Sky and I have started watching Duck Dynasty, it is pretty entertaining and kind of in a category all its own.  I have to admit I cried when we watched the grandparents re-new their wedding vows.

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bonus photo of evil-kitty a.k.a. Oliver.  He plunks himself right down in the middle of whatever homeschool or homework we are doing.  On this day, he was very into the fish screensaver Amie found.

hope your week is moving along swimmingly, bloggy friends :)

7 Quick Takes -Create Mixed Media Retreat Edition


I stumbled upon this mixed media retreat happening right in my backyard.  Stumbled, yes- about two weeks before it was to happen. Usually, I see neat ads for incredible art retreats, but the ads will say something like "come to the beautiful Catskill mountains."..or Hawaii or somewhere else just as impossible for me, but this time, it was nearby!  I looked at all the great workshops offered, whittled my wish list down to 6 classes, then down to 4, then down to the two I was most interested in.  (this retreat covered days!)  I am hoping they will be back next year!


The class I was most interested in was encaustic collage.  Last year, when we were visiting San Juan Island, I saw an artbook with encaustic artwork in it.  I had no idea what the medium was, but intrigued, I googled it.

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I discovered that encaustic collage used beeswax as the main medium.  This was the art technique I was most excited about learning more about.  The class did not disappoint.  By the time I had laid down my first layer of hot wax, I knew I was in love.

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Have I mentioned before my love affair with flamingos?  Yes, it goes deep with me.  I'm currently on the look-out for a large metal flamingo I can dress for holidays.  I gather from Sky's silence on the matter, that he is in full accord with my wishes...hey, if he doesn't speak up before I hit "buy now" it's totally not my fault.  ---sooo, I tried the encaustic technique here with a flamingo photo I took and printed out on paper.  I love the paper doilie layer..it just works.  I need to add a pink feather to this, and then it will be done. I like it, because it has a sort of kitschy feel.


So the retreat was several days, many of the attendees stayed at the hotel, but I just drove in both days.

The encaustic class was 6 hours long.  Oh the joy!!  It went by soo fast.  We had a lunch break and I enjoyed eating at the hotel restaurant.  The whole day was very relaxing and yet very electrifying at the same time...kind of an art-induced head-buzz.  The second class I took was on making transfers, pretty useful.  I did well with the water and mat medium transfers, but went down in flames with the gesso transfers.

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The bathrooms at the hotel had these signs, which amused me, greatly.


We are done with school!  Officially- except I am rolling out a pretty rigorous course of study for the Summer.  We switched Josie over to Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 - I kind of lurve it because it is self-correcting. If it goes well, I might use it with Demi in the Fall.  Right now, I've got Demi working on Aleks math- it's online.  Amie has moved over to Math Mammoth.  I plan to have both Amie and Demi using Aleks Math in the Fall along with whichever program we also decide to use.


Meg and I are going through the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations together right now.  I wrote earlier how I felt panicky over the fact that Meg is graduating and that I feel like so much was left undone.  The book is a small, gentle way to address my feelings and to keep touching base with her.  We meet once a week to discuss our reading, over a bagel or something equally yummy. :)

*7 Quick takes is hosted over at Conversion Diary

7 Quick Takes -Homeschool Prom edition

So much going on here at {Home} with the end of school!  I'll start off with the most exciting event, homeschool prom!

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Josie and Meg attended our homeschool prom.  This was Meg's very last prom, she is graduating!!  (I can't believe it!) I was so lucky to get to play photographer again for their group of friends.  Meg is in the center, with cowboy boots and Josie is on the far right in purple.  They had a great time, the girls came over to our house to get ready, we went to a nearby location for photos and then they had dinner and prom at a restaurant near the Queen Mary.   More photos [maybe] coming up (it's a bit tricky when there are kids not your own in photos) we will see what I come up with :)

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Amie's Hogwarts for Muggles class ended.  Her last few classes involved herbology,  quidditch matches, building their own Diagon Alley with boxes and exploring currency, and making this very cute golden snitch.  She was really sad that the class was ending, she really enjoyed it, the teacher and the kids she studied/played with.  It was a really good class, the hour drive was a bit much for me though.  I'm really relieved that the season of driving is over.

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Our new kitchen island is finished! Sky totally demolished the old island, built a new one and installed a stained concrete counter-top himself. He did a really great job, this was his first time working with stained concrete and his first time making a concrete counter.  We went with a dark brown color.  I love, love, love my new island and my new stove-top.


Our homeschool year is wrapping up.  Meg and Josie's Biola Star classes ended last week, they were busy with finals and parties.  It was a little sad, Meg is graduating and she is all done with Biola Star, Josie is done too, since she will be attending the performing arts high school for 11th and 12th grade.  Demi will be taking two classes with Biola Star next year, and Amie will be taking one, so it's not totally goodbye.  I am so thankful for the wonderful classes Biola offers to the homeschool community.  I truly don't know what our high school homeschool would have looked like, without them.

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We had a piano recital recently and all of our kids played.  Josie and Meg played "A Thousand Years" and our wonderful neighbor joined them with her cello.  Here is a shot of a rehearsal at our house.  She is truly amazing, I want to be like her when I grow up!! She truly is so graceful, kind and intelligent.  She reminds me a bit of  Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter :)


Sky treated me to two workshops at the Create Mixed Media retreat that happened nearby in Irvine.  I was so excited to learn how to do encaustic collage.  Now that my homeschool mom career is changing, big-time, I am looking around and thinking about what I want to do with my time.  Art is big on my list, I want to spend time (any time, really) on art.  I haven't done anything with art since the kids were born, really.  My artistic outlets have been scrapbooking- which segued to blogging and then also photography.  I have directed my kids towards the arts, but neglected to address it much, myself.  I am realizing though, that things don't really look like they are going to slow down, much...so I need to carve out some serious art time for me.  As soon as things slow down, I will give it some serious thought.... (it's a circular problem...)


I went to yet another parent meeting at the performing arts highschool.  At this one, they handed out contracts- very much like car buying contracts- to us, wanting a pledge of the $4,000 per student they expect to bridge the gap between what the State pays for the academic side of the school, and the costs of running the arts conservatory side.  I kind of hyperventilated a bit....I thought we'd be able to work some of it off in volunteering.  Nope.  They want our credit card number or bank number.  Super serious.  It's totally worth it, this school is phenomenal.  It is one of the top 4 high schools in OC, even if it didn't have the amazing arts side, people would be lining up trying to get in just for the academics. I found out at this meeting that they had over 3,000 applications and only 400 spots.  Our Josie was one of them. :D  I am a super proud mamma, excuse the gushing/brag...  She asked me to help her set up a blog for her artwork (super exciting moment for a blog-nerd!) and I will link up when she's got it going.  She is drawing the header in photoshop- she amazes me.

Whew! so that's the run-down with all that is going on here.  How 'bout you, bloggy friends? -How's the start of Summer shaping up for you?

*7 Quick Takes Friday happens every week at Conversion Diary

Smells like high school Science fair project time

We homeschool all of our kids, but our high school students take a few classes with a wonderful enrichment program. This year, Meg is taking Chemistry, British Lit and Economics outside the home, and Josie is taking Biology and General Lit and composition.  Which brings us to the current season we just survived, known as Science fair project time....

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It was high school Science fair time here at {Home}  which resulted in much angst/ late nights/ trips to the art store....flies in my fridge...you know, the normal types of stuff....

Meg leans towards life-science type projects, and she tries, mightily, to bring horses into the equation.  After the gold-fish training science experiment last year, I issued the proclamation that we would have no more Science fair experiments involving live subjects (after a whole batch of highly trained goldfish died two weeks before her project was due).  Famous last words!!!  Meg's newest experiment involved mom using her credit card late at night to order 200 blue bottle fly pupae.

homeschool world is crazy world sometimes.

it gets better, they lived in my fridge for weeks.  In the butter compartment in the door.  I got to see them every time I opened the fridge.  good times.

So, her experiment involved testing the efficacy of different fly repellents.  She compared a popular insect repellent for families, an all natural insect repellent, and a horse insect repellent.  We had 50 flies in 3 containers, plus a control container, and then the fly repellents applied to fly paper on the bottom of the containers.  Meg researched the chemical make-up of each repellent and explained the process of how they worked on the flies.  It was interesting.  [minus the weekend she left and several escaped and spent several days loose in my house]

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Josie's Biology Science fair project was a 3-d model of a red blood cell.  She constructed a model and researched/wrote a report.  She used wooden embroidery hoops, red mesh and pom-poms.

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We purchased two sets of big wooden embroidery hoops (because each set has two different sized hoops so they fit inside each other- we wanted them to fit exactly the same size) and then she painted them red.  She used hot-glue to attach the red tulle/mesh purchased at the fabric store, and then put big red pom-poms inside to represent the hemoglobin, and a few of them had small white pom-poms attached to represent oxygen.  She labeled the different cell parts with little paper signs attached with toothpicks.   The only difficulty was making the distinctive donut-hole dimple in the center, she used thread, but it wasn't very convincing.  If we had more time to re-plan, I think we would have used darker red paint to make a shadow look for the center, or maybe a darker material in the center.  We decided to leave it alone, we didn't want a failed attempt on our hands right before Science fair day.

And so, whew!....done!

Math woes

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So I'm in the midst of some Math angst here.  I didn't plan at all, to move any of my kids over to regular school, so our Math choices were a bit unconventional, and I have to admit, I wasn't in a real hurry to arrive anywhere fast with it.

I'm now in the midst of some Math panic....I went through this a bit at the end of last school year, and we switched the younger kids over to Horizons Math.  I looked seriously at Teaching Textbooks but in the end decided not to throw more money at my problem -it has a price tag that stings a bit.  Well, here I am at the end of April, State testing season is upon us and I am panicking again.  Here are the things I am looking at to bring our Math learning up to speed:

-Teaching Textbooks Algebra II.   I left upper Math in Sky's hands this school year, but he has been really busy.  I'm not real happy about the retention Josie is showing, so I just ordered Teaching Textbooks and she will be going through this from now through the Summer.  >>>>look>>>> Timberdoodle has free shipping!!  The Timberdoodle catalog has been a great big love of mine for years, I am kind of sad that we seem to be aging out of it.

-Aleks Math:  we tried this with the 3 younger students a few years ago...maybe 3 years ago?  They didn't really like it.  I did, though.  I liked how it was correlated to State standards, and you can see what the child needs to work on, and what progress they have made.  The site is also very clean and easy to use.  I've got Demi working on it right now, I can't decide if I should add in Josie and Amie or one...or neither...  I'll stew on it for a few days...

- Mastering Essential Math Skills: 20 Minutes a Day to Success, Book 1: Grades 4-5

I just ordered this, the price was right and a mom over at the homeschool message boards really liked it.    It says 20 minutes a day...I think we could add that to our regular work.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Meg seems to be doing fine with Math U See Geometry, so I won't mess with it.

So yeah, it's going to be Math-ageddon here this Summer.

how is your school year wrapping up? What are the keepers in your curriculum?  The losers?