Thursday, June 26, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Arizona

round button chicken

 We just returned from a quick trip to Arizona to visit Wingnut's family.  His dad had a double bypass earlier this month and we thought we should really take a trip down to see him.  He really enjoyed seeing the kids, especially the little boys.  He is tired, but recovering very well, thank goodness!

On our way home we stopped at the Grand Canyon.  It was a beautiful day, but a little hazy.  I loved this shot of the ravens against the magnificent back drop.

Wingnut's older brother also lives in Arizona and lucky us, he has a pool.  It certainly was refreshing during those 100 plus temperature afternoons!

We also took a detour to Winslow Meteor Crater.  Funny thing is, my favorite shot from that stop was through this open window opposite the actual crater.

I think most everything in Arizona is prickly, spiky, or thorny.  Beware on walks around the wash!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Instagram Vacation Version

round button chicken


These are the lower Spokane Falls


We were able to visit GG and the boys played a couple of hands of UNO with her.  At 103, I know there are not many visits like this left.  It made her happy to see the kids.

This is a Domini's sandwich.  It is the most amazing sandwich spot in the country.  The bread is made fresh each day and is sliced thick.  It is soft in the center and the crust has just the right chew.  The meat is sliced only when the sandwich has been ordered, same for the cheese.  Then they pile it high. Get there early, because they only serve during lunch and when the bread is gone lunch service is done.

We spent the morning at River Front Park.  The younger kids thought the large blocks were really cool.


Selfies on the gondola over the lower falls.


This is the face of evil, according to the 3 year old.  Really this is Reggie the snorkie (Yorkshire Terrier/Schnauzer mix).  He is my brother's adorable puppy and Lil' Lamb was not a fan, even though he was 3 times as big as the dog.  Poor little Reggie, all he wanted was to play.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spokane 2014

The 7 kids and I made our annual trek to visit family in Spokane last week.  Hence the blog silence.  We had an enjoyable time and I was able to take them to several of my favorite Spokane haunts from my childhood.  I took my camera everywhere we went, but I ended up not taking nearly as many photos as I had planned.  No biggie.  It just means we were having too much fun to stop and snap photos.  I do have a bunch on my iPhone.  Maybe I'll post some of those later this week.

Manito Park Playground

This was a favorite for my brother, sister, and I growing up.  Our grandmother lived near this lovely, sprawling park with duck pond, rose garden, green house, formal gardens, and playground. She would take us on those special occasions we were allowed to spend the night with her.

Arend Hall Whitworth College

At least it was Whitworth College when I went there years ago.  It is now Whitworth University.   Arend Hall was the dorm I lived in during my freshman and sophomore years.

River Front Park

40 years ago Expo was held here near the center of downtown Spokane.  The pavilion was once covered in fabric, but would tear after heavy snow falls and disintegrate from weathering.  It is now a skeletal landmark structure that dominates the park's skyline.  This is another sprawling park with lovely grounds, a carousel, IMAX theater,  mini-amusement park, and locale for all sorts of cultural and social events.  In the winter, the pavilion houses a lovely skating rink.

 Lower Spokane Falls

Just a short walk from the main park are the upper and lower falls.  The lower falls boasts a short gondola over the river--which we took advantage of on this trip.  I remember riding the gondola as a kid with our grandmother.  Funny, I don't ever recall becoming so motion sick!  The photo is of all but one of the cousins from my side of the family.  They are a motley crew, but a lot of fun!

Old Man

Our dad celebrated his 68th birthday on Father's Day.  My sister made awesome American style enchiladas, a big salad, and two delicious home made dressings.  I made the carrot cake, complete with goat cheese frosting.  He looks pretty good for an old man, no?

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


Skoshi A was confirmed on Wednesday, along with 60 other young men and women.  She chose Blessed Jose Sanchez Del Rio as her confirmation name and Oleander was her sponsor.   I was very pleased at how well prepared she was to make her confirmation.  We are so proud of her for making this big step in claiming her faith as her own.

Oleander was her sponsor

Photo op with Bishop Wester

She's our goof.

I think she gets it from her dad.

Yup, she's a goof.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This Year's Homeschool Wrap-Up

We had probably the most productive homeschool year in several years.  It is nice to reach the end of the school year and feel completely satisfied with most everything we endeavored.   I found some great new curriculum through The Well Trained Mind and Peace Hill Press that will become mainstays, just as Saxon Math and Kolbe Academy High School Science curriculum have been rock-solid-go-to-programs for us.

Wingnut Jr. completed nearly all 3rd grade material this year and advances on to 4th grade.  He has proven to be a bit unfocused, but I'm thinking that has more to do with him being a boy than inability to memorize the times tables.  He's perfectly capable, but keeping him on task proved to be a bit of a challenge.  We'll be continuing to work math facts throughout the summer a few days a week and I'm sure he'll be right on track to begin the new school year.  He absolutely loved Art Fridays as well as all the hands on science experiments we did.

Special K continued to struggle with math concepts and spelling proficiency.  Thankfully, Saxon has a built in review year for 7th grade before moving on to pre-algebra.  I purchased the Saxon 8/7 book years ago, but have yet to use it.  I think the continued practice and review will get her right where she needs to be by the end of next school year.  I did see a marked improvement in her spelling which we believe correlates pretty closely to her much improved reading fluency.  She hadn't been a big reader until this year and I can see drastic improvement in the difficulty and length of material she chooses to read now as opposed to the beginning of the year.  She's very bright, but possibly a bit of an academic late bloomer.  A perfect case to show the beauty and efficacy of homeschooling, no?

Skoshi A plowed through her first year of high school with great speed, but not as much care as we would like.  She excelled in history and language arts/literature, but was not nearly as diligent in her science and mathematics work.  She showed herself to be perfectly capable when the work was discussed with Wingnut, but she has always been a rusher, and with the level of work we expect of our high schoolers, rushing is not going to cut it in the end.  Our goal next year will be to get her to slow down and double check her work.  Quality not quantity is what we need to see.  I believe she is definitely up for the challenge.

Our one shortcoming was we did not get as far in US history as I had hoped we would.  The original plan had us completing a full course of US history by the end of the year.  We barely made it to the Civil War.  Fortunately, our slow progress had more to do with how much interest we ended up having in US history which led to deeper exploration of people, places, and events over the course of the year.  Another perfect case demonstrating the beauty of homeschooling.  We can slow down and spend more time on topics that interest us and not worry about finishing within a limited time frame.  We will pick up right where we left off next year.  I highly recommend This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall as a resource for studying US history from early exploration through the beginning of The Great War (World War I).  We read it aloud throughout the year and thoroughly enjoyed the narrative style.

I've not yet begun hard core planning for the next school year.  I do know I will be looking for a grammar program for Special K that I will love as much as I loved Peace Hill Press First Language Lessons.  She completed the fourth book, and as yet there isn't a fifth.  I'm open for suggestions in this regard.  I'm looking for a program that teaches and explores the traditional eight parts of speech and doesn't include a lot of busy work or excessive writing. Print Friendly and PDF