Friday, November 30, 2007

Fine Art Fridays

I saw this blog event (Fine Art Fridays) a few weeks ago but had forgotten to participate.

About my will typically find a scene like this in any market place in Ecuador. My ancestral country is full of art; indigenous or folk, mainstream, and stuff just for the tourist. Last summer I brought back some of their crafts. As I unpack them, I will use them over the next few weeks for Fine Art Fridays. Unlike Wordless Wednesday, I can discuss all the reasons why I love them.


New House!!!!!!

So we are here. All the searching and we are finally here....HOME! The move went smoothly. Nothing was lost but a few things were damaged so we now have to file claims and wait. My favorite bookshelves were damaged. I don't think we can replace them, although the movers are saying they can be fixed. I am doubtful. We will see. That still does not dampen my joy at being HOME!!!

It is short as time is not permitting me more at the moment. I promise more to come soon.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Trip Part 2

So on the way back, we took Rt 299 to the 101. Papa Peep just had to see the ocean. Well the 299 is not just an ordinary road. It goes up a mountain, via curvy, steep, windy, roads. We hoped to get there before the sun went down so we could actually see. We did make it and the drive was worth it. On the way back to the 5 we drove throught Redwood National Park and let me tell you it is very dark (read frightening) at night. We finally made it out but the pictures came to an end since I had no more daylight. I took over the driving and we got home around 2am. Happily we climbed into bed and enjoyed a relaxing Sunday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My 100th Post and A Discussion on Goals

First, this is my 100th post. Back when I started this blog, 100 posts ago, I did not think I would ever share it. My sister and Papa Peep were my most loyal readers. Now that we have moved away from friends this will be our lifeline to them. It is also a little peek into this crazy household. Enjoy the ride. As I have been known to say....

Never a dull moment married to Mr. _______

Now, the other day papa peep asked the little peeps if they had goals. The peeps looked at him and wondered what he was raving about now. He gets philosophical with them at times. Most times they jump right in but when you are eating breakfast after sleeping in a tee pee type motel that was cold and "weird" and it is 7 am and you still have 6 hours more to go in your road trip, well, you really don't want to discuss your goals. They did mumble a few things in between bites of hurriedly eaten food so we could get back on the road. I continued to think about this. I have goals planned out for them but I don't think I have ever shared them with them. As oldest peep is getting older I think it is time I involve her in this process. It is after all her goals I plan. It is her future. Middle peep is mature for his years and actually had the most to say about goals so I think I need to sit with him as well. Baby Peep knew right off what he wants to do when he grows up.

I will be an artist.

But when Papa Peep asked him why or how he would achieve this, he had no answer. I think for him we will need to expose him to artists so he knows what it entails. First, he must learn to read properly.

We are sick!!

We have yucky coughs and stuffy noses. And it is cold, but sunny outside.
Needless to say no school has happened. We close tomorrow and the movers bring our books stuff on Thursday. I think we will just take the rest of the week off even though we cannot afford it. At this rate we will have to work through Christmas and New Year since we have the Ecuador trip in February and March. But I am NOT stressed. I am not. Really......

Monday, November 26, 2007


Where have we moved to? I heard this on the news tonight and I could not believe it. It was small and few felt it. I did not or I would be packing my bags right now. Still the thought that it occurred just steps from my current home....well, I just don' feel too good about that.

Then they started talking about the snow they said would only stick in high elevations and guess is not just sticking up there. It is sticking in low elevations too. We will spend alot of time inside our new home.

Thanksgiving Trip

This will be mostly a picture post as I have dozens and dozens.....OK hundreds of pictures of our most recent road trip.

Things I learned from this road trip......
  • Papa Peep UNDER estimated how far Sacramento is from Seattle
  • Papa Peep UNDER estimated how bad the traffic would be Wednesday afternoon
  • In future Mama Peep plans the road trips
  • Redwood National Park is DARK at night
  • Driving at 3000 feet above sea level will make your ears pop..painfully if you have a cold and are stuffy
  • Mama Peep will never drive on mountain roads heading towards the Pacific.....REALLY SCARY little windy, curvy, sloppy roads with sheer drops!!!! S C A R Y!!!

So without further delay, here is a sample of our trip.

Maybe Mount Rainer? We were taking the streets because the the freeway was a parking lot for MILES!

Since it took us so long to get underway we had to stop. We found a tee pee type establishment. It was very "cute". They did not keep the heat or water on in the rooms so we had to turn everything on when we got in and the cold was just too much. The peeps used body heat until the heat warmed the place up.

The fog was very thick in most places making the whole scene gloomy and depressing eventually we were higher than the fog and the sun was shining in all its glory. It made everything breathe-taking.

This picture only captures a small small piece of all the beauty. This picture proves I need a wide angle lens for my camera....anyone shopping for me....Canon Rebel XTi.

Elevation: 3000 FT. My ears!

Can you guess where we are now?

Here is a close up. Come on guess!

Last one. Look at that water. Papa Peep said it is blue because of a high lime content. Sounds good to me.

We finally arrived and meet some new family.....lots of babies and an adult we had never met before. The peeps loved the babies and enjoyed getting to know their new big cousin. She has recently moved to the California area so we will be able to get to know her better.

I know my picture is off...there was a child running underfoot and I never checked it to see how it came out. Unfortunately, I did not take another.

This post is getting really long and big so I will post the return trip some other time. I promise more awesome pictures to come.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It is done...

These days are about life more than schooling.

The house is sold. It is no longer mine and after walking through before the final sale I really could not be happier. As soon as I walked into it I stopped romanticizing it and saw all the projects still left to be finished for it to be perfect. I am free emotionally from it. I am more than ready to move into my new house and make it our home. I also appreciate my new area more so than when I first got here. When the plane landed last night, the lady next to me (we chatted most of the way here) said to me, "Welcome home!" and I took it to heart and replied simply, "Thank you."

This is home.

Our visit was fun as we got to see Papa Peep's brother and his family. Their baby has just turned 2 and is adorable. We got to hang out with friends and enjoy alot of good food. We celebrated the sale (especially in this market) and some other personal truimphs for friends. It was a great good bye visit.

Today we have the walk through for the new house and even though we have a little conflict I am confident we will work it out. I have already measured windows for window treatments. Now to decide what to put up. In our old house I had nothign on the windows since I was way up on a hill and surrounded my trees. Plus for more than half the time we were there, the windows were old and foggy. No one saw in or out! :-)

We are up on a little hill but the neighbors are closer. They do not want views of Papa Peep out of the shower. So after Thanksgiving we will hit Ikea!!! I love that place. Today since I am going to the house I will bring the camera along to share some shots of the place.

To be updated later......


I forgot my camera!!! WAH!!!!! Enough said....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spanish Part 2

So now your child has all this vocabulary (where I am with oldest peep) but is not really speaking Spanish. What do you do? You get So You Really Want to Learn Spanish because you really do want to learn.

I have written often about this program many times on the WTM boards and on the Galore Park yahoo group. I can not say it enough. This program will get your child reading, writing, speaking, and thinking in Spanish. All you have to do is use it, study it, learn it. I will be the first to admit I need to have my peeps speaking it more, but they can translate most of what they hear me say to them. They can understand most simple books I read to them. I just really really need to make them answer me in Spanish. Funny enough, I know many in my generation whose parents speak Spanish but they do not. They understand completely but will answer completely in English. I am creating this!!! AHHHH!!!

Back to has exercises to translate sentences from English to Spanish from Spanish to English. They have short passages that tell about the culture in Spain. For example, they have a diary of sorts about a young boy's day. Your student reads it and then the is asked questions to see if they comprehend the passage. I read the passage to them. I let them read it aloud and to themselves. I copy it and let them mark the words they do not know. I ask them to translate orally and then I ask them to write out the translation. Then I read it to them again and ask them to just listen to it in Spanish and try to understand in Spanish. This is just one of the many exercises. Enough to say I love it.

Now my cautions. I speak Spanish fluently so I find it easy to use. I don't know how this would relate if I did not speak Spanish. I do know that French Prep and Latin Prep are books that I am easily using without really knowing the language. I do not own the audio cd's. I have read and heard from others that the cds are not that helpful. I am sorry for that as I will soon order the French one just because there are a lot of words I know I am pronouncing wrong. Also, it is Spain Spanish not South American Spanish. I know the differences and can easily add them in when necessary. There really are not many and anyone you speak to will know the differences. Most importantly I would not begin this with anyone younger than 10 and only if they have a large Spanish vocabulary. If they are younger I am finding some other things helpful.

I would find a Spanish Immersion class for the year, rent favorite videos and watch them in Spanish, tape Plaza Sesamo, read Dr. Seuss in Spanish (that is challenging even for me) and just immerse yourselves. If you have Dish Network or access to United Streaming, I highly recommend Elementary Spanish. I dismissed this program when I first reviewed it. Baby Peep is using it and enjoying it tremendously. I may start Middle Peep on it soon. If you can use this, I recommend you watch it with your peeps and help them practice throughout the day.

Another program that we are enjoying a lot if Fun Spanish. If you look farther down the blog you will see Middle Peep has started this also. It is funny and is allowing my not so language crazy peeps to have fun and still learn. It is written by a fellow homeschool mom who has some wonderful ideas and products available at her site so go check her out.

It is not an easy task to learn a language. It is not something to be undertaken by the faint of heart. It is immensely rewarding and satisfying. Just think of the part of the world that will open to you because of your new acquired language.

French Update

So we are using So You Really Want to Learn French....French Prep. Oldest Peep is working through this and to be honest I have been involved very little. Today I grabbed the book and did 2 exercises orally with her. I thought she would have some trouble answering the questions or have difficulty with some words but she not only pronounces better than I but she said it all correctly. I am amazed. She has a gift for languages. This homeschool thing can be lots of fun. I will post some of her work at another time. I just wanted to share how impressed I am. Now if only I could get her to do that in Spanish as well. That is another story.....


I have been asked several times how I teach Spanish to my kids. I will write this upfront...I wish I had done better when they were younger. Learn from my mistakes. If you are fluent, I beg you to please talk to them in Spanish as much as you can. Make the effort. Tell yourself for this hour I will only speak spanish to them. The younger the better of course, but really any age will benefit.

If you are like me and have missed out on those formidable years, do not fret. There is hope. But it will cost you!

First, label the house. Everything you can. Like everything else this is a stage of your life that will pass. Like not buying diapers anymore, the day will come when you can take them down. For now bear with them. But don't just put them up. Use them! Make the kids ask for leche, taza, cuchillo, agua, pan, plato. Make them say gracias, por favor, de nada. When you need to go say Vamonos, Apurate/Apurense, sientate/sientense.

Flashcards like these may help yo with this task.

What they use, sticks. Bottom line.

Go to the library and get books in Spanish.

Clifford, Froggy, Franklin and other popular kids books can be found in most libraries now.

If you are lucky, Scholastic has a warehouse sale near you. Take advantage. They usually have the Spanish books in the $1 section. Get other tales in Spanish. I once found this book in Spanish with a lot of action verbs. The first day I read it I translated the whole thing as I went along. The second day I translated less and made them act out some of the verbs. The third day even less and more acting. The fourth day totally in Spanish and they had to act every verb with no prompting from me. The fifth day they acted the whole book for dad while I read. They loved it. Whenever we encounter those verbs you bet they remember what they mean.
Have some kind of scavenger hunt. Say a word in Spanish and they have to work together to find the item....zapato, libro, abrigo, etc.

I like this book and this one for word ideas. This site has some great booklets you can print out to help with the reading.

These are fun as well as the others on that page. I have not used them all but some and they are fun for the crafty or easily bored child.

This one is cool and this one.

This is a workbook that worked well when oldest peep was 8 or 9. Here is another version of the same book. Looking for that one I came across this one. I have not used it, but their reviews look good. Check your library for it first.

This is a set of three books the peeps have enjoyed a lot.

Say Hola to Spanish, Say Hola Otra Vez, Say Hola to Spanish at the Circus.

Basically whatever you do, have a plan, stick to it, and most importantly get your kids repeating after you. This is the most important.
More to come........

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis

What a wonderful book!!!

At first I though of putting it down and reading something different. The first few chapters are slow and set up a conflict that takes too long in coming. Well, the wait is worth it. Kalogridis uses words to paint such a wonderful picture. I was brought to that Renaissance time in all its glory. She writes with such clarity and purpose. She sticks to facts but has the vision to fill in the details nicely. I will be reading more from this author.
And I am going to learn more about Mona Lisa herself. At first glance she does seem ...odd. I have been looking online and I think time and poor restoration efforts have made her seem ugly. There is much for me to learn.

I am now reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I have the audio but have never gotten around to listening to it. So far Hosseini is proving a great author. I completely enjoyed reading Kite Runner. He writes clear and vivid scenes. He taps into the human struggle. He shares the pain of his characters and makes us understand even the bad ones. Kite Runner has stayed long with me. I know many can not get past that certain scene but as painful as it was to read, it was completely necessary.

When I read more of his latest novel I will post some remarks.

Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende was also wonderful. Allende has done her research well. Like Kalogridis, Allende takes the smallest details and tranforms them into a complete and deatiled story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I miss my School Room!

On my favorite homeschool message board people are sharing their school rooms. I want to share mine too. But I don't have one. :-( I am schoolroomless!

I can share my old school room and tell you everything I will not have in the new house.

No closet with tons of shelves for all those books (and mess) to be behind doors.

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Not enough room to set up an area for Oldest Peep away from the loud ones.

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Not enough room for 2 huge computer desks so no one is in each other's way.

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No pole in the middle of the room to get in our way. No bathroom for the messy crafts and No bedroom in the back for watching the video based curriculum.

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Not enough space for the toys and the piano.

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No big red comfy couch to sleep on while Julian reads to me.

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Not enough room for the timeline, posters, 2,6 feet+ tables side by side, and a whole wipe board wall. NO, worry free, chocolate, laminate flooring. (not pictured)

But my favorite the sliding glass door that led out to the 3/4 acre back yard.

I miss my school room!!!!!!!!!!!!! of our new space.....

"Look at all that HAY-AH!!!!" said in your best Boston Accent.

This is Oldest Peep at 4 months old.

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At that time we lived in Boston and everywhere we went she drew attention. She had so much hair that as I was in the middle of delivering her, my midwife wanted to shampoo her hair. If I heard one more time "Look at all that HAY-AH" I was going to scream. It also always made her look older. I swear she is barely 4 months in the above
Here she is at 2 when we lived in Ireland. Matching hair.....that is not me...that is my sister for those of you who don't know...... and matching attitudes. SHHH!! Don't tell them I said that.

Here we are in FL at the beach. This was days after she turned 3.

Fast forward 11 years and this is Oldest Peep now.

Still all that HAY-AH!!!

And still silly!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Reptile Museum

We met homeschooler from this area and were invited to join them to the Reptile Museum. I, of course, did not want to go! But the peeps, of course, did so off we went!

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A little Update!

We are progressing nicely and with few hiccups since some of our major curriculum did not make it to temp housing.

Below is Oldest Peep working on Copywork. She has decided to copy Runny Babbit. HAHAHA! She keeps laughing as she copies some of those out. She loves Shel Silverstein.

Here Middle Peep is working on Fun Spanish. The author has done a great job of making some memorable sentences. We are all getting a chckle out of his drawings.

Baby Peep
What a difference a year makes! Last year this child would fight me on every aspect of learning. He wanted nothing to do with it.
This year he gets up, gets himself dressed, and gets right to work. Sometimes he will play under the table or jump around the room with his imaginary play but will soon settle himself down and get right back to work. I let the reading thing go for now. He has focused on Math and Handwriting. He loves copying and different from big brother. Reading will come...I will be patient. What a difference a year makes.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Beach Living

This is what I wan to do when I retire. Head to a little beach town, buy a beach house, and lay on a hammock all day reading! What a life. I might even do my own fishing.

This picture was taken Summer of 06 when a friend took the peeps and I to Esmeralda during our visit in Ecuador. The house belongs to his sister. It was basically a little shack on the beach but boy did I NOT want to leave.


This was when we stopped in DC. What a marvelous city. We are going to try very hard to get there again. We did not have enough time to see everything.