Fun Times Photoblog


This week is our Spring Break. Wahoo! That’s something to celebrate! I have about 5 billion goals to accomplish and all of 5 days to do it in. Mostly, we are prepping for the big move. It’s three months out, but hey, that’s like three weeks in Mom years.

I could tell you what’s been going on around here, but I thought it’d be more fun to show you, so today’s blog is a photoblog:


Raynaud's syndrome

My Raynaud’s syndrome has been acting up lately. 

 What happens is that the blood vessels constrict when you’re cold, cutting off blood supply to the extremities. First, the finger tips go purple and then they go white and extremely numb. I suppose I should start wearing gloves. This would happen to you too if you were freezing in Alaska or something, but this happens to me if I’m even in a building with too much air-conditioning. My cold threshold is crazy low. No worries. We’re moving back to the land of sweat and mosquitoes. 


The other day I put Daniel down for a nap. He’s five now, and he rarely ever naps, but sometimes he gets so sleepy and grumpy that I deem it a must. This was a must-nap day. However, once he was upstairs all quiet and alone, he got down and had a BALL playing in the hallway with cars and who knows what else.

As I came up the stairs, I heard that classic boy-running-to-bed to pretend to be asleep sound. Because apparently he thinks I’m deaf.



Now that Caleb and Joshua are too tall to fit into any of their costumes, they have taken to putting these size 8 superhero costumes on JD and Daniel. Who needs pets when you have little brothers?


This is a Velociraptor.


Woody and Buzz.



Because finding gluten-free pizza was one of the happiest things that happened this week. It is a big deal.


Don’t tell Daniel these are weeds. I think he is the sweetest thing in the world, always bringing his momma flowers.


One of my neighbors gave the boys a bag full of snacks, from the “Easter Bunny.”


Dan painted this at Cubbies this week. He even said, “I put blue on this side, and red on this side, and put it together to make purple in the middle!”


Daniel made this “shapes” bird-house at home-school this week. We do preschool at home two days and regular preschool three days.


Dan took his new Star Wars ships everywhere the last couple of days.

Actually, he’s already broken one ship. He explained, “Mom, that’s because he was shot in battle. Mom, that’s why he’s broken. He’s supposed to be.”


People are always giving us stuff! Our homeschool umbrella school director gave this set to Daniel, and he LOVES it.


But someone really should follow Dan around all day with a vacuum cleaner.

Guess what I did yesterday…..


Oh, yeah, I took my birthday money shopping. It was GRAND. (No, I did not buy a cooler. I keep that in there to hide the large amounts of Easter chocolate that I’m saving for some special people.


And guess what I found near the stores??? SONIC!!! I didn’t know these existed in California.

That afternoon I also took Caleb to a Star Wars-themed birthday party. She themed it out so well, y’all. They got to fight Darth Vader, hop on a tree-stump obstacle course, shoot a Star Wars ship with Nerf guns, and last but not least, they threw pine-cones at these clone troopers:


I totally wanted to play this party game. The kids were not able to pop them all, so the adults DID get a shot at it. It was fun!





I hope you all had a fabulous weekend as well. We have basically zero plans for Spring Break, other than to catch up on all the work we have to do, but that’s okay. Even work can be fun when you tackle it with the right attitude, with a little happy music playing, of course.

(Enchanted move clean-up scene: You gotta watch it.)




The Boys’ Goals: Teaching Math, Eating French Fries, and More


Caleb’s long-term goals, at age 7

Each week at tutoring, the boys are required to give a presentation. Some weeks we are super prepared for this, and other weeks we are not prepared at all.

Last weekend, Alan and I talked to the boys about goals. Then we asked the boys to write their goals down and use that as their presentation at tutoring on Monday. I thought they did a great job with their goal papers.


1. (Become a) math teacher.

2. (Become a dad.) Have someone to play catch with.

3. Go to Lego Land.

Sooooooo… I went to Caleb’s class for tutoring last week. (Some weeks I go to Joshua’s class. Some weeks I go to Caleb’s. The babies are, thankfully, in child care during that time.)

Presentation time came, and I saw Caleb snatch three Lego men out of his book bag and head to his seat.

“What!? Caleb, aren’t you going to share your goals?? You worked so hard on it.”

“No, I just want to talk about my Lego men.”

He pretty much does this to me every week. The boy loves to talk about his toys. So that was that. One of the other moms said, “Maybe you should present Caleb’s goals, April.”

haha  Oh, you have no idea how badly I want to jump in there and perfect everything they do. I am constantly having to hold back my inner control freak.

I was THAT kid, you know? My papers were always neat, orderly, and I was always finished way before most of the class. I sat up straight in my seat and listened. I LOVED school, sharpened pencils, and …….but wait.

Classical Conversations, the boys tutoring service, is actually nothing like that. I would have been much like they are in class, especially if I had just moved to a new place, as we have.

The boys, especially Caleb, are very quiet and withdrawn in class. They don’t want to answer questions, even when they do know the answers. You know what? I was exactly like that. I lived in mortal fear of being called on, even though I had straight A’s most of the time, so this is a very different environment, not so simple for shy extroverts.

I know: shy extroverts, that makes no sense. Actually, I think it does, but that is a topic for another day’s blog post!

But do you know what Caleb does WAY better than I would have done in this situation? Presentations. Sure, sometimes he looks at the floor and mumbles, but not usually. Usually, he is eager to get up there and tell all about his toy, and he talks and talks and fills up his time slot. I never had to do any presentations like that until the 4th grade, in Talent Pool, and I can remember being so incredibly nervous.

I try to remind myself of these things when I am tempted to feel exhasperated….so I sat back and enjoyed Caleb’s Lego Man presentation.

Meanwhile, I think his goals and drawings were fantastic.  Caleb said that the insect/monster drawings at the bottom were just for added fun. He is such a cutie.

Also, I learned that maybe I should play catch with Caleb more often. The one day I did, his brothers took over. That happens a lot when you have this many brothers.


joshua's goals

Joshua’s long term goals, at age 9

Joshua actually did follow through with presenting his goals to his class, and his tutor said that he did a very good job.  Hurray!

I loved both boys’ illustrations. 🙂

Joshua’s goals:

1. Climb Mount Everest.

2. Win a year’s supply of McDonald’s french fries.

3. Become a comic author.

4. Get a Powerade pool.

5. Be a famous band drummer.


The picture of Joshua at a desk with a giant stack of papers is a realistic drawing. This is what his room looks like now. Joshua reads, writes, draws, and jumps on the trampoline all day, every day.

I told Joshua, in reference to the french fries and Powerade, “Ugh, Joshua, everyone’s going to think that all I feed you is junk, and you know people are very healthy here.”

He giggled.

I enjoyed doing this activity with the boys. I think having both short and long-term goals are very important. Writing goals down makes them feel so much more real, too.

Now MY biggest goal for the next 24 hours is to get photos of the boys with their grandparents before they leave! I have been terribly negligent with the camera this visit, but I do have a good excuse. Joshua keeps running my camera battery down, making movies with his brothers and his friends. That kid has lots of hobbies!

I did take ONE picture during this visit, at Point Lobos:

JD, our smallest hiker

This was the FIRST time we let JD walk the trails, rather than ride in a baby carrier. Woohoo! Go JD! He did a great job!

We have had a wonderful time, as always! I hope y’all had fun too, Mom and Dad! You will be missed!

Hope everyone has a great week!!


Go ahead…you know you want to click it. 😉



Review Olympics. Hot Lava Required.

hard at work

Any science project or craft attempt done by this momma/teacher has to be brain-dead simple. This is an atom we made from fruit loops and pipe cleaners. Beautiful? nah. Fun and easy? absolutely.

We had a surprisingly fun day of school today at Ants in Our Pants Elementary School! 🙂

We introduced all of our new memory work for the week, and then we spent about half an hour on reviewing work from past weeks. I’ve been wanting to do this game that’s been floating in my head for weeks, and we finally did it today!

The Review Olympics!!

It’s more like a centers relay race, only I had the boys do it together. It’s so much less confusing that way.

We did this in multiple rounds. They started at the board. They had to answer the question and then do the assigned P.E. type task. I alternated between math and grammar questions at station #1:

Fill in the blanks. Then crab walk from the kitchen sink to the garage door.

They loved this. Then they had to go to station #2: Sing the assigned history song. That’s their favorite memory work. They love that part. I hear them singing history songs all week long, all over the place.

Then do 10 push ups.

They love this stuff.

Then to station #3: Color the listed geographical features. Shew! They struggle with the mountain ranges and lakes. I think it’s so easy, but we are all different.

endless possibilities with sentence strips

Then to station #4: Latin

The first time, they had to match the Latin to the English and put them in order.

The second time, I put them on the floor, and they had to hop across, reading them as they hopped. Don’t fall off!!  The floor is lava!!! Hot lava is always popular in learning games!!!

He can’t actually read the Latin sentence strips, but he does everything they do, so he sure does enjoy the hopping.

Then to station #5: Timeline Chairs. They had to sing the time line song, switching chairs for each subsequent event.

The chair game could be used for anything. You can’t move to the next chair until you’ve said each part. For example:

Protons, hop chairs, Electrons, hop, Quarks….

I bet every single CC family does this center. Put these 8 timeline cards in order.

Station #6: Put timeline cards in order. Run up and down the stairs.

They did great today. I was so proud of Caleb’s behavior, I gave him a Twizzler and let them have at the arts and crafts box. They had a BALL.

He says there will be a puppet show at our house tonight.

Resourcefulness: If you flip him over, there’s another puppet on the back:


I did not do so great. I had a total melt down when I lost my dust pan again. I just knew someone had taken it….. Turned out it was right where it was supposed to be, but it had fallen under the extra broom, just lodged in the corner, hard to see.

Mom had to do some apologizing.

This sort of patience-losing that I do always shakes me up and makes me question if I am really fit to teach my children.

Then I remind myself that I have seen plenty of teachers in my day have melt downs too… This is something I need to work on myself. I need to commit it to prayer. No one is perfect. I remind myself of that constantly.

Sometimes I wonder WHY am I doing this??? Why am I home schooling?


1. Have I improved their academics?

Yes and no.

Here are the improvements I feel like I’ve made, academically:

the whole “classically trained” bit

I can’t begin to tell you how much information we have memorized. It’s tempting to say, “But it’s only memorized, what if they forget?” That’s the beauty of Classical Conversations. There are 3 cycles of memory work. For example, if a child starts CC in grade 2, like Caleb, and does cycle 3 in 2nd grade, then he will do cycle 1 in 3rd grade, cycle 2 in 4th grade…….and this is where it gets good:  He will do cycle 3 again in 5th grade, and cycle 1 again in 6th grade. If a kid started in 1st grade, he’d get all three cycles twice. This repetition over the years really sets that info into the memory.

The boys and I made this poster of this week’s memory work.

I love that!

For example, this week we are learning:

1. “In 1889, Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders defeated the Spanish at the Battle of San Juan Hill, while trying to help the Cubans win their independence.”

2. more of our timeline song: Japan’s Isolation through The Seven Years’ War

3. Name and label the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior, and Niagara Falls

4. “omnia per ipsum facta sunt”

“All things were made through him.”  John 1:3

5. Name some parts of an atom:  nucleus, protons, electrons, quarks, lepton, and neutrons

6. 10 millimeters = 1 cm

100 cm = 1 meter

1,000 meters = 1 kilometer

7. Irregular Verb conjugation:  to write, write, writes, wrote, writing, written

8. the art works of Georgia O’Keefe

And that’s just this week!

2. Have I helped Joshua in math, as I’d hoped?

YES!!! That boy is SO ridiculously smart. He is easy to teach, and he definitely is not ADD. He is just really good at tuning out when he’s bored, and he thinks school is:



“Yawn City.”

Not just public school, ALL school, my school included. He sure wasn’t bored during my little Olympics today, though. 🙂 Pat, pat, pat my back.

I can teach Joshua anything in just 1 or 2 explanations.

3. Thankfully, Caleb was already soaring in math, so there wasn’t serious improvements to be made there, just plunging forward….

4. Is Caleb reading better?  Yes. Maybe he would be anyway, though. I don’t know if I’ve helped him any more than a regular class would have helped him, honestly. Either way, I’ve enjoyed being with him and watching him learn.

But do you know what my biggest concern was?

My sanity. Am I sane? Can I handle this?

hmmmm Not the way that I’ve been doing it. I’ve been ‘stressed out’ for months. I don’t think the way I have been trying to do so much, all at once, all the time, with no help was healthy for me. The things that I don’t get to bother me too much.

If I am going to do this next year, I have to change a couple of things.


I need to separate the little ones from the big ones for a few hours a day so that I can focus better without getting so frustrated and having such a mess to clean up afterwards. I’m planning to enroll at least JD in a Mom’s Day Out type program. I did that with my little ones, and I wasn’t trying to do anywhere near as much back then as I am doing now!

I’ve also been researching new cleaning schedules. I found a mom who does a once-month deep cleaning, like we used to have Betty do, and I liked that idea.

This is the best advice I’ve seen:

“It’s amazing how clean people THINK your house is if you just keep the clutter out.” That’s not an exact quote, and I have no idea where I heard or read it, but you get the idea.

I was never a proponent of being “super mom”, “warrior woman”, or such. They don’t give out medals for never letting anyone help you. Delegating tasks is wisdom, not weakness.

I would love to hear from other moms how they get it all done without feeling so overwhelmed!!





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