Monday, August 31, 2009

My Blessings!

Some days I look at these munchkins and am just overwhelmed with the realization that God has allowed me to be their mother. They are so special to me!





Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leftover Breakfast Loaf

We have always loved breakfast for supper around our house. But, recently we've changed our schedule, and we typically have our bigger meal at noon instead of in the evening - and breakfast just isn't nearly as yummy for lunch for some reason!

So, we decided to start a tradition of sorts - breakfast for supper on the Saturday nights we are home. I'm sure the results of such an establishment are going to be delicious experimentations!

The first such experimentation was thoroughly enjoyed tonight.

We had a lot of breakfast-type foods leftover from recent cooking. We'd cooked up a bunch of bacon for various things, resulting in about three strips leftover. We also had maybe a third of a roll of sausage left as two and a half wheat biscuits. Plus, we have ham cubes that need to be cooked up.

So Doug, my wonderful spontaneous cook, pulled it all together. And it was wonderful! Shall I share our new recipe with you?

Leftover Breakfast Loaf

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. Break biscuits into bite-size pieces and spread the pieces into the bottom of the pan. Crumble leftover bacon and sprinkle in with biscuit pieces. Brown sausage and cook up into a sausage gravy. Pour gravy over biscuits and bacon.

Place several cheese slices over biscuits and gravy - enough to form a blanket of separation between biscuit and gravy layer and the layer to come.

Beat several eggs and pour over cheese layer. Sprinkle with ham cubes and grated Colby Jack.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until eggs are done and top is golden brown.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Touch the Art books by Julie Appel & Amy Guglielmo

I just love the way God blesses! He has been showing us ways to creatively teach art and music appreciation by bringing ideas from various sources, guiding me to websites, and helping me find books I'd forgotten I had. But, He wasn't done! An unexpected addition to our collection arrived last week!

In the past, Doug and I have reviewed children's books for Sterling Publishing. It's been a while since we received any books from them, but last week UPS dropped off a package with two yet-to-be-released books to review. And, they were art books!

We own one book from the adorable Touch the Art series by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo, and we have loved it! We were so excited to receive the two newest additions to the series! The Touch the Art series is an incredibly fun way to introduce children to a wide array of art. Each book has a whimsical tale that moves through a variety of artwork. Incorporated into each piece of art is a texture of some sort, enhancing the learning experience by adding the sense of touch to art discovery. At the end of each book is found a picture of each work of art accompanied by either a brief biographical sketch of the artist or description of the artwork.

Tickle Tut's Toes takes a journey through some of the great artifacts of ancient Egypt. Children can touch the "gold" on King Tut's coffin, feel the gauze in which a mummy is wrapped, and rub the side of a mummified crocodile, just to name a few. Each page asks children a silly question that will have them rolling with laughter as they delve into the fascinating world of ancient Egypt. Accompanying each image is a description and location for the original artifact, and more detailed information can be found at the end of the book.

Catch Picasso's Rooster is a fun journey through a "museum" of artwork depicting favorite barnyard animals. As children chase Picasso's rooster through the pages of the book, they meet Rousseau's cat, Marc's blue fox, and Van Gogh's mice. They finally catch up with the rooster again in Bearden's Autumn of the Rooster. At the end of the journey, they can learn more about each of the artists in the "Artifacts" section.

At first glance the Touch the Art books might seem to be simple board books for young children, but a deeper look shows a treasure that children of all ages can enjoy as they learn about artwork and artists of all kinds!

To pre-order these fun books, click on the titles or images. Or, click here to to see all the titles in this fun series!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pictures from School

I have seen so many back to school pictures. We'll probably do something more "formal" for back to school pictures in October when it's cool and the mosquitoes have decreased so we can take them outside. I love fall pictures!

Meanwhile, here are just a few scenes from our first few days of school.

Angela, excited about copywork!
Olivia waiting for math instruction.
The spot where Olivia is sitting is one of the "instruction" spots. When it's just easier for me to teach from my desk where everything is accessible and handy, the kids pull their comfy little chairs up to my desk and we go over their work right there.

So...first thing on day one, Steven watched Olivia and Angela as they had their math instruction. Next thing I know, he is grabbing his chair and pulling it up to the "spot." He looks at me with this sweet expression on his face and says, "Can you teach me now, Mommy?" Now, how can I resist that? (It has, by the way, continued to be a consistent request every day since as well. Today, however, he came up to me and said, "Mommy, I don't know how to read. Can you teach me?")
Steven working on colors and shapes with flashcards.
Oh, and I couldn't leave this one out - on the first day, Steven found great joy in sharpening his pencils. He couldn't quite coordinate the pencil into the sharpener because he was trying to do it left-handed, but he had a great time thinking he was sharpening his pencils!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Choice

Oh how much I want to share with you! I have figured out how to be more consistent on my thoughts blog, thanks to scheduling posts, but I still need to figure out how to carve out a few minutes every day to post on this blog. There are so many sweet things to share!

But first, can I tell you about Thursday? Yes, last Thursday. I know, it was almost a week ago, but I promise...it's worth it. At least, it is to me!

Thursday was the last day of our school week last week since we needed to spend Friday taking care of some things in Little Rock. And, what a week-ending day it was. Monday had been a good, solid first day. Nothing fantasmagorical, but a very good start. Tuesday was about as rough as Monday had been good. No motivation. Slow workers. Lots of frustration. Then came Wednesday, which was absolutely fantastic! Much motivation. Much diligent work. Much excitement and enthusiasm about everything!

Finally, Thursday dawned. Thursday started like Tuesday. The whole family was dragging. None of us wanted to do much of anything, but we knew we had to. That is not a fun feeling. It is really hard to motivate my children when I am so unmotivated myself!

But, I have been learning that diligence is so important, especially when I do not feel like it! So, I prayed for wisdom as I bolstered myself up and began to work on doing the same for my girls. The results were amazing.

My girls were diligent. Not by desire, but by choice. They chose to do their chores in a timely fashion, even though every bone in their bodies said, "I don't want to do this!" They chose to do their school work quickly, diligently, and attentively, even though they would have much rather curled up in front of a movie, on the couch with a book, or on their floors with games and toys. They made it through each activity in record time - not because they were enthusiastic about it, but because they made the choice to just do it.

That, my friends, was the highlight of my week. Not the smooth first day of school. Not the incredible and enthusiastic day on Wednesday. Not the day off with a fun trek to Little Rock on Friday. Nope. It was the choices - the wise, godly choices - that were made on Thursday that still bring tears of proud pleasure to my eyes. That day made every struggle, every strife, every pounding of the Word into my children's hearts and minds worth it. God is working on them, and it is more beautiful than anything I have ever seen.

Thank You, Lord, for shining through my precious children. Thank You for the gift of watching them grow in You!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School Time!

School is back in session! Today will be day three, and we'll be getting started in just a few minutes. We structure our mornings such that the kids have chores and about an hour of play time before we start school. We start around 10:00, have an hour break for lunch, a mid-afternoon break, and then finish betwen 3:30 and 4:00. It seems to be working well all around.

I realized that I haven't posted anything about our curriculum this year! So, here's what we're doing:
History - Sonlight Core 3, US History 1 (up to shortly before the Civil War). It includes some great looking read-alouds to go right along with the curriculum, a fun-looking poetry book (and this is coming from someone who isn't a huge poetry fan), a guide to praying over Native American tribes, and some great Scripture memory and Bible reading.
- AR History, focusing on the same time period, using various resources found here and there as well as an incredible stack of resources on loan from Ruthanne. To top that off, we have an invitation from some teachers in our church to join them for their special AR history activity days! Those will be next spring - how exciting!

Science - Sonlight Core 3, focusing on biology. The kids are so excited because we'll be planting seeds a couple of times this year, exploring just how they grow - what helps, hurts, etc. They just can't wait!

Reading - Sonlight Readers 3 advanced and Readers 2 advanced.

Language Arts - Sonlight's LA program

Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears for 1st and 3rd. Angela is solidifying printing skills and Olivia is starting cursive

Spelling - Sequential Spelling 1. I was going to be doing it only with Olivia, hoping that it will greatly strengthen her confidence in spelling. Angela has been watching us, though, and wanted to do it with us so badly! So, although I'll be continuing to reinforce her phonics rules, she'll be joining us.

Math - Horizons math 1 & 3. Angie is so excited to have a "real" math book this year!

Art Appreciation - Our museums, as well as any books and websites we can get our hands on!

Composer Studies - Again, whatever we can find. We have been able to collect music from here and there. We'll play music from a specific composer for familiarity, and then find whatever resources we can to study his life. We'll probably spend a couple of months on each composer.

Other Electives - The kids will have "Learning Activities." Essentially, these are things they can do during specific elective times, or when they've finished their work early. Besides the art museum and music books, they have typing and Polish instruction on the computer, map learning skill sheets, cutting and drawing patterns, Sudoku puzzles, supplemental books that will correspond to some of our history and science reading, holiday-related projects, etc. I don't have all of this organized yet, but we're slowly working in that direction!

Preschool - This is, and has always been, my toughest area. Even if I have an outlined plan, I don't do well with one-on-one preschool. But, Steven and I are having fun. I listed the skills I wanted him to work on this year, and then I pulled out all of the resources I could find and divided them up into groups related to those skills. There are three groups, and we try to make sure we do something every week from each group.

So far this week, we've done colors and shapes, matching, listening comprehension, and opposites. Today we'll focus on fine motor skills.

Well, time is up! I'm going in...oh, how blessed I am to have this "job!"

I'll have pictures and tales to post soon!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Family's Choice

I always love hearing how other families came to the decision regarding how to educate their children. So often we are defensive about our choices, whether it is a choice to send them to public school, place them in a private school, or educate them at home. What we need to be is prayerful, both about our decisions and about how we should share those decisions. There is such a testimony of the power of our Lord when we can share our decision in a solid, articulate, non-defensive manner.

This morning I read one of the best explanations I have ever read of a family's reasoning for choosing to homeschool their children. Their homeschool journey is just beginning, and they seem to be looking forward to it with great excitement. The interesting thing is this - "dad" is a public school teacher who very much loves his job and the school system in which he works! Naturally, he has received a lot of questions as to why he would choose to withdraw his children from a school district that he firmly believes can provide a quality education.

So, he blogged about it. And I encourage you to click here and read it.

I love seeing families who intently pray about their children's education, regardless of what choices come from those prayers. When we seek the Lord for His direction, He will not only guide but fully provide. What a relief to be able to place it all in His hands!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Railroad Museum and Lots of Pictures

Here are shots from our day at the Railroad Museum. We had such fun exploring the engines, train cars, and railroad paraphernalia!
The kids enjoyed a ride on the little kids' train. Steven wasn't sure about it at first, but once he saw the girls go for a ride, he was convinced and hopped on to join them!
Olivia in her natural habitat - talking. Be it on the phone or otherwise! :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Addition Facts

I made a very delightful discovery the other day that I just had to share! Angie knows all of her addition facts 1-10!! Apparently, Olivia has been teaching her these facts over the past few months. Angela isn't super fast in answering yet, but she has the concept down and she does know them! I cannot put into words how excited I am - this is going to be quite helpful as we proceed through first grade math this year. Oh, how I love having multiple children who love to teach one another!

Meanwhile, Steven knows all his colors and shapes and can count well above ten - and can even actually count objects up to ten. All thanks to his big sisters (with just a teensy weensy bit of help from Mommy).

Yep, I like this! :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Steven!

Three years ago today our family dynamics changed tremendously when we welcomed a baby boy into the family. We knew it would be a change after two little girls, but we never dreamed how distinctly boy he would be from day one!
I never imagined a child could be so much like his father. But, the similarities started from the first moment when, just like his daddy, Steven arrived on his due date. Although occasionally we see glimpses of my personality in him, he grows more and more like his daddy with each passing day. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

And oh how he loves his daddy. As soon as Doug walks in the door, his question begins...Will you play with me Daddy? Then he's off to find a ball of some sort, sometimes with a bat, and sometimes just to practice throwing and catching.
I also never fathomed what the phrase mommy's boy meant until those first few weeks. And that has only grown. He is still the epitome of a mommy's boy!
How quickly three years have passed!

And how much he has grown!
The child who once wouldn't even look at other people now goes off in search of them.
The child who once bucked change with all his being is now learning to flow with it despite his discomfort.
Our sweet boy learns by asking questions. He questions and questions again until he gets it just right. He repeats the answers over and over again. He wants so badly to learn, and that is his method! And, even though we sometimes have to say, "Enough!" the questioning still gives us a glimpse into his growing mind - and it's an amazing glimpse.He loves trains, tractors, trucks, and cars with a passion. If it goes, he's excited!
He loves to cut, and is proud of the airplanes and shapes he has fashioned from pieces of construction paper.
He is a wonderful helper, and wants to do his chores. Whether it's gathering trash cans, helping put laundry in the washer or dryer, or holding the dust pan for us to sweep trash into, he does it with a cheerful and willing heart.
What a treasure this sweet boy is!! Our family has been greatly enriched from the day he joined us.

Happy birthday, my precious son! I love you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Party Day!

Although tomorrow is the big day, Steven's birthday party was yesterday. A sweet family affair, something that - with only a few exceptions - seems to be becoming a family tradition. We like celebrating that way! Doug's parents came to join us, we made a trek to Pine Bluff to visit the Railroad Museum. Oh, and eat pizza! When Grandma and PopPop arrived and asked Steven where we were going, he informed them that we were going to eat pizza. So, pizza it was! After lunch and our museum visit, we came home to eat cake and open presents.

Because there were so many fun pictures, I wanted to make sure the Railroad Museum had its own post. So, I will share that adventure later in the week. For today, we have our home celebration.

His request was for a ball cake - I think he was happy. :-) Isn't he adorable?

This was his first time to blow out candles all by his little lonesome. It took a little work, but he finally did it!
video
Eating a football...
He seemed to have fun opening gifts, but we could tell that, even though he's all boy - and a rough one at times at that - he's not used to just destroying things. He just wasn't too sure about tearing up that paper! :-)
I don't know how well you can read it, but his brand new wooden Louisville Slugger has his name branded into it, just like a real baseball player!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Loving on Great-Grandpa

Last weekend we went to see my grandparents. I forgot the camera, but I just had to snap this picture, even if it was only phone quality. It was just too precious! Grandpa was having the time of his life, and Olivia loved it too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

DaVinci Museum

Time is ticking away...we are counting down to the start of our new school year!! I must confess, it has been very nice to be more relaxed in our days the last few weeks. But, I do notice that there has been a little more bickering of late. A little too much free time on our hands! This is why very short breaks from school are best for the Hibbard family!

One of the things I really wanted to implement in this coming year was more art and music appreciation. To be honest, that is not my forte! I remember trudging through lessons that required me to recognize works of art and recall their creators. I never was greatly drawn to classical music, and have only recently begun to develop an appreciation for it.

My friend Joanna is a natural at such things, and she has given me so many hints and pointers as well as an incredible book list. Unfortunately, neither of the libraries I have access to carry any of those books - or any of the others I have found as alternatives. So, I'm taking her suggestions and have been seeking alternate (free) visual supplements to replace the books.

Some time ago I ran across a blog post that shared a fabulous idea. Make a museum! All it takes is a cardboard box and some small prints or stickers of famous works of art. The idea is to let the kids take their Fisher Price (or other similar) Little People through the museum, giving the kids fun play time and contributing to their recognition of art. I wish I had kept the link to that particular blog post because her museum looked fantastic (and I'd love to give credit where credit is due). But, I naturally didn't. So, here's my attempt...

Okay, so it doesn't look all that fantastic, but here's my first museum. (The yellow is supposed to be a rug - she had drawn designs all over hers to make it look like a Persian rug, and I'll probably do that eventually. But, for now, it's just a plain yellow carpet.) What's important is that the girls are ecstatic and can't wait to play in their museum!
Obviously, we're starting with Leonardo DaVinci. I tried to get a varied sample of some of the things he did to put in the museum, and I printed labels with the titles of each piece and stuck the labels on the "floor" beneath each picture.
I printed out a biography of DaVinci written for kids, and I found a little blurb that explained the difference between a fresco and the tempera methods used by DaVinci to paint The Last Supper. Meanwhile, I found a great Museum of Science link about DaVinci that the kids can explore to give them some more information about the artist and his work.

In a couple of months we'll add a new wing to the museum with a new artist. I have quite a few works by Rembrandt saved and have found some websites, so he'll probably be next!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Playing

It's such fun to play. Here's a glimpse into a couple of things that have been played around our house lately...

Tinker toy umbrellas for rainy days.
Jenga (well, a colorful knock-off version of it, that is) - Doug recently taught Steven how to play it, and he is quite the natural!

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