Sunday, December 28, 2008

Digital Layouts

I made some digital scrapbook layouts for my mother-in-law's Christmas gift again this year. I only got a few done for Christmas day, but I do plan to do more. I thought I would share them here.

I had to go back to using GIMP for the layouts. The CK Scrapbook Designer software was not translating some of the colors properly. I'm not sure if it's a problem with the software, or with Parallels. However, GIMP was not too difficult once I remembered the specifics, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We are down to the last couple of days before Christmas. Everything is almost ready here. We've had a lot of fun the past few weeks.

Griff had a Christmas concert.

So did the kids.

I made Christmas goodies for friends.

We put up the tree and decorated it.

We made Christmas cookies.

And gingerbread houses.

We will spend Christmas morning at home, then head over to my in-laws to exchange presents there. On Saturday we will have a Christmas celebration with my family.

I have had a very relaxed, enjoyable Christmas season. I hope yours has been the same. Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Okay, all you northerners get ready to laugh at me.

We had snow on Wednesday! Real, live, honest-to-goodness snow! It probably snowed for 6-7 hours, and it all melted overnight, but it was there.

My kids went out and played in it. Ruth got involved in a snowball fight with kids down the street. They took most of the snow off of cars, but hey, you take what you can get. It was so neat hearing the laughter of those kids. Both of my angels pelted me with snowballs, so their lives are now complete.

It was really coming down. (again, you northerners keep your laughter to yourself)

So pretty!
Ruth spies the snowball fight down the street.

I took this picture, then ran! LOL

Too distracted to actually look at the camera. :)

What a wonderful treat for this Christmas season.

(BTW, the projected high for Sunday is 76, for which I'll be thankful after our cold spell this week.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How We're Using Total Language Plus

We are a little over halfway through our first (okay, sort of first) Total Language Plus study. I say "sort of" because we actually did try one a couple of years ago and I just couldn't get a handle on how it worked. We've figured it out now, though, and I thought if I spelled out exactly how we do it now, it might help someone else.

I bought one copy of The Cricket in Times Square study. TLP allows you to copy it for use with another child in the family. However, I'm not sure how much I came out ahead doing this. I think next time I'll just by two copies.

I don't like book binding on workbooks, so I had the binding cut off and made a notebook out of it using my comb binding machine. I put dividers between each unit to make it easier to find the correct page as we're working.

Since my children are so close in age, we are able to do our study together. This is basically how we go through each lesson.
  • First we do the dictation exercise, if there is one.
  • If the kids worked on comprehension questions on the previous day, we go over the answers.
  • Each unit centers around a specified number of chapters (2 to 3 in the case of TCITS). We read from the book, taking turns reading aloud. The Cricket in Times Square has short chapters, so we can cover one chapter each day. There's plenty time to stretch out the chapters if you need to, though.
  • After reading, I assign the work for the day. Comprehension questions are by chapter, so I assign those if we read from the book that day. Vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are broken up into A, B, C, D, and E assignments. We do one letter each day (i.e. vocab A, spelling A, and grammar A). We will typically run out of comprehension questions before we are through the other assignments. If that is the case, we will either have a shorter lesson time or I will look through the suggested projects for something fun to do.
  • Writing assignments are included in TLP, but we use IEW, so I don't usually use them. If one of the assignments strikes our fancy, or I can see how to adjust it to a IEW assignment, I will do so. We also use the writing prompts for discussion purposes. (There is no actually writing instruction included in TLP, just a bunch of prompts.)
  • I always include an extra day at the end of a TLP unit. This allows us to catch up if we have fallen behind on anything, or do some of the projects listed in the guide.
I also wanted to show what we do with the spelling words. One of the assignments is to copy the words onto index cards, then use those for review each day. We were having a problem with our cards getting misplaced. I thought of buying index cards that are spiral bound, but I didn't want to spend the money. I finally decided to bind them just like the notebooks. This has enabled us to keep up with them.

TLP has been a big hit here. I know we will do at least one more study this year, but I haven't decided which one. Grammar is pretty light in the lower levels of TLP, so you might want to supplement that with something else. I would not do it at the same time, but fit something in when you're not doing a TLP study. We will probably take a break before our next study and do something like Junior Analytical Grammar.

I hope this helps someone. Let me know if you have any questions.