Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Little Word 2010

I just came across this idea today reading through my feed reader and thought it was a really neat way to regroup and focus on a great new year. One Little Word is something that was started by a fellow blogger and you can find out more about it here.

I have decided to participate and the word I have chosen is PEACE.

Definition of PEACE from (emphasis mine)

1. the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world.

2. (often initial capital letter) an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc., to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting or antagonism: the Peace of Ryswick.

3. a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, esp. in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.

4. the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security: He was arrested for being drunk and disturbing the peace.

5. cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

6. freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity.

7. a state of tranquillity or serenity: May he rest in peace.

a state or condition conducive to, proceeding from, or characterized by tranquility: the peace of a mountain resort.

9. silence; stillness: The cawing of a crow broke the afternoon's peace.

10. (initial capital letter, italics) a comedy (421 b.c.) by Aristophanes.

In the coming year, the word PEACE describes what I am striving for in all areas of my life and family. I want a peaceful home, a peaceful mind, and peaceful relationships to become the norm. Just read the bolded definitions above! Freedom from strife, tranquility, serenity, stillness… Who doesn’t want these things?

Count me in!


: ) Cassie

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saying Goodbye to 2009

I probably say this every new year, but it has been quite a year! There have been so many milestones and memories, I thought it would be nice to reminisce a bit…

Joey had his 1st birthday this past May

Joey learned how to walk

We started using the Workbox System which completely changed the way we “do school”

I tried to institute a chore system (and failed)

I became a contributor for Heart of the Matter online

I joined HOTM forum and became co-admin

I developed a very close friendship with an online friend who has been such a blessing to me

My dear husband started college

My sister was married in August, and Joey was her ring bearer

We moved

My older kiddos had birthdays also and turned 8, 9 and 12

I turned the big 3-0

I got a bread machine and baked 8 loaves of bread in 3 days

I purchased my first laptop

I purchased a second laptop (for the kids’ Christmas gift)

I learned how to make cinnamon rolls from scratch and perfected my recipe

I became a grouch on an almost daily basis (this is a recent realization and I am working on having a pleasant attitude no matter how I FEEL)

We got a Wii as a Christmas gift from my Mom and are enjoying it as a family

Joey transitioned from a baby to a toddler

Drew and Isaiah developed a love for drawing and Lego

We received a need-based scholarship which enabled us to begin using Tapestry of Grace classical curriculum

There are a lot more things that happened this past year and this is just a brief list off the top of my head. There are several things that came into mind as I was writing this list that I wanted to do but did not manage to accomplish. With the beginning of a new year, I find myself contemplating a new list of goals for 2010.


1. Develop a healthy schedule/routine

This is something I have struggled with since day one of beginning to homeschool. Throwing a baby/toddler into the mix has only made this more difficult. Every little change in routine results in HIS schedule being thrown out and I am constantly struggling to get him back to a normal sleep/nap routine.

The boys and I both have a hard time getting up and going in he morning and boy do we like to sleep in! I believe that if we can get out of this habit, we will be more productive every day.

2. Stick to a plan

I am great at writing out lesson plans and routines. I am not so great, however, at actually doing things according to plan. I need to learn how to plan things in a flexible way yet be disciplined enough to follow those plans as closely as possible.

3. No more store-bought bread

Now that I have a bread machine, there is no reason for us to ever have to purchase a store bought loaf. Home baked bread is healthier, tastier, and cheaper! Not to mention there is no wondering about preservatives or other additives that we may be putting into our tummies.

4. Crack down on school

My goal for this past year was to catch up on those subjects the boys are slightly behind on. We didn’t quite get there, but we did make progress. By the end of 2010, I would really love to be able to say they are exactly where the need to be educationally.

5. Start informal lessons with Joey

I had planned on doing this sometime after he turned 18 months, but with moving and settling in, I have not been able to get around to it. My new goal is to be doing regular, informal learning times with him 3 days a week by his 2nd birthday in May.

6. Write more.

Whether it means writing here on the blog, writing for HOTM, or writing some freelance articles for other sites, I would really like to write more and get more comfortable in my writing. I have lots if ideas that have never made it into “paper” that need to be developed and shared with others.

7. Make a chore system and STICK TO IT!

I have recently talked to by husband about this, and I think we are going to sit down and figure this out together. In the past, I have always done it on my own and it has never worked. It is something we need to do as a team.

8. Teach the boys keyboarding skills

My boys are hesitant writers. They love making up stories and things, but rarely get them down on paper because they detest writing things out. They know their way around a computer, but still use the “hunt and peck” method for typing.

9. Get more organized

This is a very general goal and applies to all areas of my life and home. I am good at organizing things, but I am NOT good at keeping them that way. I am less stressed and more relaxed when my home is organized. Enough said!

10. Be a happier wife, mother, and teacher.

As I shared above, grouchiness has become the norm for me. I don’t like it. I WILL change it. I want my children to enjoy being with me and I don’t like being snippy and gruff all the time.

I know there are a lot more things I could focus on improving, but these are the most important to me right now. It should be interesting to reflect on this post at different times throughout the year to see how I am doing in meeting these goals.

I hope your 2009 was wonderful! Here’s looking toward a new year, see you in 2010!


: ) Cassie

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Toddler Baker (12-17-09)

It has been a while since I posted any new videos. I have not slowed down in taping the kids, I just have not been uploading any to YouTube recently. I went through a majority of all my video on my hard drive this evening and picked a few things out to share. Here is a video from a few nights ago, enjoy!

He really had a good time playing with the dough! Maybe I should think about digging the playdough out for him again. I believe he may just be ready to play with it (instead of eating it)!


Cassie :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

HOTM Review: Made With Love Flashcards

Here you can read my second product review for HOTM, enjoy!

Review: Made With Love: Flashcards for Early Education..

December 15, 2009 by Cassie
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When it comes to e-products there are a LOT more options out there in recent years then there used to be. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to review a product that is geared
towards very young children as I have found these resources harder to
come by. Made With Love: Flashcards for Early Education and Speech Delayed Children is one such product. It is also a useful resource for older children
that may have some speech delays. This product only requires a printer,
scissors, and some quality one-on-one time with your child. The
flashcards print in alphabetical order and are in full color. I had the
opportunity to use these cards in my home with my 19 month old son, and
with my friend's 3 year old son who has slight speech delays. I was
surprised to find it very easy to make using these cards an enjoyable
experience for both of them. They both really liked the bright,
colorful photos on each card! There is a wide range of words in this
set, starting with simple, one-syllable words like "ball" and moving on
into more difficult words such as "watermelon". There are 70 flashcards
in all.
For my toddler, we used the cards in the following way: I
went through and chose all of the simple one and two-syllable words
that I thought he would recognize. I then showed each card to him, one
at a time, and said the word aloud to him. Then I gave him the card and
asked him to say the word. He really liked collecting the cards and
looking at the pictures. We even practiced our animal sounds!
my friend's son, I showed him each card to first see if he recognized
the picture on it and could tell me what it was. If he did, I repeated
the word back to him and then gave him the card and asked him to say
the word again. If he did not recognize the picture, I told him what it
was, then gave him the card and asked him to repeat the word. Again, he
really enjoyed making a pile of the cards as he practiced saying the
I would highly recommend this product to anyone with
toddlers just learning to say words up to school-age children that need
help and practice to correctly pronounce common, everyday words.
This product is available for purchase through CurrClick: HERE.

Cassandra Simpson is a homeschooling wife and mother of four children, ages 1, 8,
9, and 12. She is starting her 6th year of home educating in Indiana
and uses a "Classically Eclectic" teaching approach. Cassandra is the
Assistant Lead Moderator for HOTM's forum
and loves talking homeschool with anyone who will listen! Her hobbies
are reading, blogging, sewing, and cooking. You can check out her
family's blog at In His Image.

Monday, December 14, 2009

HOTM Review: Diagnostic ELA/Reading Assessments (12/14/09)

My very first review with HOTM was posted today! I have quoted the article here for you to read, enjoy!

Review: Diagnostic ELA/Reading Assessments by Mark Pennington

December 14, 2009 by Cassie
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As a homeschool parent living in a very homeschool-supportive state I have never been required to have my children take standardized tests. In many ways, this is great for us. But there is a lot to be said for regular testing. As a parent-teacher, you walk away from the experience with a real idea of how your child is performing compared to his peers. Ideally, any weaknesses will be revealed and you can then formulate a plan to strengthen those areas.
The only area I have ever really stressed about educationally is reading and language arts. So very much of education hinges on our mastery of these areas! I am always evaluating and questioning if we are doing enough to prepare our children for a lifetime of learning. I was thrilled to receive Diagnostic ELA/Reading Assessments by Mark Pennington to review!
Let me just start out by saying this is a jam-packed resource. Although it was written with the classroom teacher in mind, every single assessment is totally and completely useable for the homeschool setting. The first 12 pages explain why these tests are useful, if not necessary, for evaluating student's abilities. It is also explained how to go about using and administering these tests. There are 18 different areas that are tested ranging from beginning reading skills all the way through high school writing competency. This would definitely be a resource you could use throughout your child's schooling, no matter what the grade or age. Each individual assessment has a teacher's instruction page which informs you exactly which skills are being evaluated, how to administer the test, and how to record and use the results to help your student(s). Not a single language arts skill area that I can think of is ignored in this thorough assessment package. The assessments are very easy to use and also easy to score, making evaluating your child's skill levels quick and painless for both parent and child.
The fact that this is a multi-grade level resource makes it very much worth the initial investment, especially considering that in e-book format, you can print as many copies as you need for all your students to be assessed on a regular basis. I would very highly recommend this useful tool for any parent who wants a clear picture of how much their child is learning and applying in the reading and language areas of their education.
This item is available for purchase through CurrClick and can be found: HERE.
Cassandra Simpson is a homeschooling wife and mother of four children, ages 1, 8, 9, and 12. She is starting her 6th year of home educating in Indiana and uses a "Classically Eclectic" teaching approach. Cassandra is the Assistant Lead Moderator for HOTM's forum and loves talking homeschool with anyone who will listen! Her hobbies are reading, blogging, sewing, and cooking. You can check out her family's blog at In His Image.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

As if you haven't had enough...

Be sure to check out this week's "I Spy" article (written by yours truly) at Heart of the Matter online! You can find it here: I Spy-DIY Gifts, Funny One-liners, and Imperfect Homeschoolers.
While you are there, be sure to find out what's been going on At The Forum! And if you haven't taken the opportunity to join the HOTM Forum, it would be a great time to do so! I hope to see you there!
Keep an eye out for my first two reviews sometime this week! I will let you know when they are published.


Cassie :)

Gingerbread Painting!

I have been wanting to make gingerbread cutouts for the kids to decorate for a while now. I bought all the ingredients last year, but never made them. So last night, we decided it would be fun to decorate some cookies!
It took quite a while to actually make and bake the cookies (the dough has to be refrigerated for 2 hours before you can roll it out) but they turned out very nice! For decorating purposes, i decided it would be easier to glaze them with a white icing and then paint them with food coloring. To make the icing I used the following recipe:
1 c. powdered sugar
3 tsp. milk
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. almond extract
To make the icing, you blend the sugar and milk til smooth, then mix in the corn syrup and almond extract. It coats the easiest if you then dip your cookies face down to coat then lay them flat til it forms a slightly hard glaze. Then you are ready to paint! This would also be a great base icing for sugar cookies! We used cotton swabs dipped into food coloring for painting purposes. You don't need to use much of the food coloring, a little bit goes a long way.
What's that you ask? Well of COURSE I took pictures!

Here is Isaiah painting away!
Here was my test cookie, isnt it pretty?

And here, Drew joins in the fun!
Our snowmen very very colorful and festive!

My friends son wanted to paint cookies, too
Heres Jazz painting her cookies with friends.

And of COURSE Joey wanted to paint! We had to be super careful as he kept trying to dip his fingers in the "paint"!

They turned out really nice, exactly like I had imagined them! We all had fun decorating them and they taste pretty good too!



Friday, December 11, 2009

Review-Homeschooing at the Speed of Life (12-11-09)

I recently read through a great book full of practical advice and encouragement for busy homeschool moms. I enjoyed this book so much, I wanted to share it with you!

Homeschooling at the Speed of Life By Marilyn Rocket (click on the picture to learn more)

This is a book I highly recommend to any homeschool mom that ever has a hard day full of cooking, cleaning, childcare, and teaching. Many of us find ourselves wishing there were more hours in our days. This book can help you find practical ways to make the hours you DO have count! Not only is there tons of great information in this book, there is plenty of encouragement!
Marilyn has included a cd-rom with the book that contains all kinds of great forms and helps. This book will help you organize your clutter (and clear out the clutter you don't need), develop a practical plan for keeping your home clean and running smoothly, develop a plan for teaching your kids life skills, make a chore system that works, learn to use planning and lists to your advantage, and keep your paper under control. She does all this without making you feel bad about your previous attempts to manage your home, that alone makes this book worth the read.
I read this book off and on throughout a day. It is a quick and enjoyable read and definitely worth the time invested! I found it at my local library. and I am so glad I did! Enjoy!



Saturday, December 5, 2009

What's been going on around here?

I know it has been about a month since I was last here to update my blog, there are million reasons WHY, but I'm not going to bore you with that. How about I just spend our time together here sharing what has been going on in our home in the past month?
As I am sure you have already figured out, we are all moved and settled into our new townhouse. It is a lot nicer then where we were living. The changes in floor plans have presented some challenges for us, but we are making it work. Even though we moved into about 100 more square feet, that space is distributed mostly in the upstairs bedrooms and the fact that we now have 3 bathrooms. We now have a common living and dining room area instead of two separate rooms. This has resulted in no longer having a dedicated school room. I miss it, but at the same time, it is kind of nice to have the bulk of our school things put away out of the main living area. In our dining area, we have our table, two tall bookcases, our dry-erase board, and our workbox racks. It is very uncluttered this way and things tend to stay put up out of the way when we are not doing lessons. My large L-shaped desk is now in our large master bedroom, along with the rest of our school things. We did lose one of our tall bookcases in the move as it was very unstable and cracked as we were moving it. I hope to replace it after Christmas.
The boys' bedroom is downstairs, which is nice because I no longer have the youngest's toys strewn all over the main living area. All his toys are in his bedroom and easily accessible to him. He can get things out as he wishes, but at the end of the day, they all go back into their toy box in his room!  The downstairs bathroom is off of the boys' bedroom and they have their own shower which has been nice.
I love my kitchen set-up. My only complaint is there is really no convenient place to store all my larger kitchen appliances, like my roaster. There are plenty of cabinets, but they are not deep enough or tall enough for certain things. There is also nowhere I can hang shelves like I am used to having for these items. Again, we are making it work.
I have two large patio sliding glass doors downstairs and although they are tightly sealed, as it's getting colder here it is becoming apparent that we need to invest in some insulated curtains to keep the cold out. I am hoping to purchase them for Christmas.
School has been tough since we moved. Naturally, we took our first week here off as I was still getting things unpacked and settled. then we had a half week for Thanksgiving. This past week has also been rough because we have all been passing around a nasty cold. We did school though we didn't get done nearly as much as I had planned to. My goal for the next two weeks up to Christmas is to get as much done as we can. I'm not making any concrete daily plans, just a basic list of where we need to be before Christmas break. We will likely only take a week off as we have lots of catching up to get done.
Joey has been having sleep issues this week since he has had his cold. I am really hoping it resolves itself soon. If not, I may end up reading through Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber again. He is turning into quite the conversationalist and jabbers all day long. His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. It seems like he learns a new word every day! He is just amazing. I am in awe.
Hubs is still working as a corrections officer in a work release center 5 days a week (and hating it) and going to school 5 nights a week. I am still searching for a part time job, though I haven't been able to devote as much time to this as I had hoped. Getting settled in took more time than I had hoped it would. I pretty much have to put the job search on hold until after the holidays as most places have already hired their seasonal help. I guess I missed the boat there.
There's really not a whole lot else to share right now. Except that I have been invited to join HOTM's review team! I am really excited about it, and I will be linking to all my reviews here on the blog, so keep your eye out for them. I have two that should be posting this week.
With that, I will bid you all ado until next time, which will not be so far off in the future. Stay warm!


Cassie :)
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