Thursday, May 29, 2014

School Planning – 2014-2015

I’ve been hard at work during our spring break preparing for our new school year that will start next Monday.  Here’s my finalized plan for what we’ll be doing:



HAYLEE, Grade 5

HOLDEN, Grade 1


Harcourt Family Learning: Math Skills 6

Total Math, Grade 6

Saxon Math 2


Sonlight Science F

Sonlight Science B

Harcourt Science 1


McGraw-Hill Language Arts 5

McGraw-Hill Language Arts 1


Wordly Wise 3000 Online (book 6)

Wordly Wise A and B


A Reason for Handwriting F

A Reason for Handwriting – Transition


Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 6

Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 2



Saxon Phonics 2

Other Language Arts

Evan-Moor Daily Language 5

Evan-Moor Daily Language Review 1

Explode the Code Online (books 4-6)

Foreign Language Switched-On Schoolhouse Elementary Spanish (first half) The Complete Book of Spanish for Grades 1-3 (first half)

Social Studies/History

Sonlight Core F

Evan-Moor Daily Geography 5

Sonlight Core B with Grade 2 Readers

Evan-Moor Daily Geography Review 1


Sonlight Bible F

Sonlight Bible B



Harcourt Health & Fitness 1


ARTistic Pursuits Early Elementary Book 2

Abeka Art A

Abeka Art Projects 1



Silver Burdett Music 1

Abeka Songs We Enjoy 1

Multi-Subject Practice

Complete Curriculum of Basic Skills, Grade 5

Brain Quest 5


That pretty much sums it up!  I’ve been hard at work setting up binders and packets of worksheets so everything is ready to go for the whole school year.  I’m all ready to go!  What are your upcoming school plans? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 11th-17th

Wow!  This school year is just about over!  How close is your family to finishing up?


It’s Mother’s Day!  Haylee started off my day by making me some delicious cinnamon bun strata using one of her recipes from her cooking classes at Young Chef’s Academy.  It was so delicious that I don’t even have a photo to show you of how they turned out…we all devoured them in record time! 

She and Steve also greeted me with beautiful flowers when I came downstairs!  I never get flowers, so this was a real treat.  I love mixed bunches.  Gorgeous!


And as we left church, I had the kids pose for some photos outside the building.


Aren’t they a handsome crew?  I sure do love them a lot.  Mother’s Day is really hard for me this year since I just recently lost my own mom.  I found it difficult to think about celebrating this day without sadness creeping in at not being able to share it with her.  But I truly am blessed with my own beautiful children, and I certainly have much to be thankful for in that regard!

When we got home, I made my favorite lunch for everybody…homemade reuben sandwiches with a Boar’s Head pickle on the side.  Yum!


Then Steve and Haylee (well, mostly Steve) worked hard in the kitchen to prepare another one of her recipes for dinner.  This was a delicious chicken pasta dish where they even made their own sauce. 


Thanks for all the special treats, guys!  I had an extra special day, for sure.


If you know me, you know how much of a passion I have for ice cream…like every night before I go to bed.  It’s my vice in life.  I admit it.

An ice cream company called The Ice Cream Club makes my all-time favorite flavor called Stellar Coffee.  A local shop used to carry it, along with a number of other flavors we love from this vendor (Mint Trax, Birthday Cake, etc.), but they no longer do business with them.  Such a shame!  No other place in the state of VA carries this company’s ice cream.  It beats Coldstone, hands down. 

Some time last year when I could no longer get this ice cream in the local parlor, I contacted the company directly to ask if there was a way for me to get it.  They said no, but that in the future, they hoped to sell directly to consumers by-the-pint through an online website.  They asked if I’d like to have my name added to the contact list for when this came to fruition, and I said yes.


Well, low and behold, it’s been about a year, and out of the blue, I got an email from them saying the website is ready, and they wanted to invite me to be part of a test group to try out the website ordering process and see how it went.  They are selling their pints for $10 each with a 6-pint minimum order.  Yikes!  That’s $60 plus $19 shipping!  Well, as part of the test group, they offered me a one-time coupon code that would make the entire order cost only $1 including shipping!  YES!  It was indeed my lucky day!  So on Wednesday of this week, my ice cream delivery showed up via Fed Ex.  It was a cooler packed in dry ice.  I was so excited!  It was a hot day, but the ice cream was frozen hard.  I was duly impressed!  I immediately devoured a pint with the kids while picking Hayden up from school that day.  Oh, how I missed that flavor!  This stuff is GOLD to me!

Of course, that giant block of dry ice inside the package led to all kinds of fun for the kids.  They’d been playing in the pool that afternoon, so I went out and took a video of the block bubbling like a cauldron in the pool.  It was crazy-looking, like a witch’s brew! 

Then they brought a chunk inside in a plastic tub and watched it steam everywhere. 


Isn’t that wild looking?!?  I’m amazed at how long it lasted and at how long it held the kids’ attention!  Ahem…no, they aren’t starved for science experiments…yes, they are (hangs head in shame).


Holden finished up his schoolwork a week early on Thursday, and I promised him a kindergarten graduation ceremony once he finishes this last assignment, which he’s taking a break from.  So we’ll save the celebration for next week’s post.  However, I was able to get all his Kindergarten curriculum listed and sold immediately on Friday.  Yippee!  I have stacks of books everywhere in this house as I take stuff out of the storage shed and weed out what we no longer need.  I shipped 6 packages on Saturday alone! 

Haylee still has a week to go with her work, and then she’ll be done, too.  Yay!  We’ll have to start planning out where we want to go for our traditional end-of-school-year dinner.  Or maybe we should wait a couple of weeks until Hayden gets out of school, too.


It’s been so, so busy around here!  I almost think I need the new school year to start just so we can get back into a steady routine and a sense of calm around here!  Wait…did I really just say that?!?  Until next week…

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 4th-10th

I can hardly believe it’s May already!  Our school year is almost over.  Yay!  Of course, we begin again right away since we school year-round, but I always feel a sense of excitement over the new beginning and all the shiny new books we’ll be using.  If only the kids shared my enthusiasm!  LOL


We got a huge box in the mail from Learning Palette.  It contained a complete 2nd grade math learning palette kit, a complete 2nd grade reading learning palette kit, a basic math learning wrap-up kit, a vocabulary learning wrap-up kit, 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery, and 10Ssteps to Addition Mastery.  We also get access to the Learning Palette Online program for 1 year, which gives both of the kids access to every grade level for math and reading.  We’re so excited!


I won’t get into their use of it…you’ll have to wait for the review in June!  But let’s just say they dove right into it!


We’re nearing the end of the school year very quickly, and some days when it’s warm out, the kids get a case of spring fever and have a hard time getting motivated to start their school work.  Instead of yelling like usual, I decided on this day to lure them into the same room with a little bit of morning fun.  I turned on some music from Music Together’s Family Favorites CD, which we reviewed last year.  The kids absolutely love the music!  Sure enough, they came running to see where the music was coming from, and I had some fun games waiting for them to play.


They played a few rounds of Discovery Toys’ A B Seas, and then they did a matching puzzle where you had to sets of 3 pieces together that worked on sequencing, like life cycles and how things grow or progress.  They raced to see who could get the most puzzles completed by the time they were all put together.  This was a great way to get their brains working, but also bring them together so maybe they could start their schoolwork with a positive attitude when they were done.  Very cool!  They certainly appreciated the change of pace.


On Friday night, we went out to the oceanfront for Monsters on the Beach!  That was such a blast!  It was a great show, and the weather was so pleasant for an evening at the beach.  There were plenty of crashes and near-crashes to keep us all on the edges of our seats throughout the evening.


I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I took LOTS of video!  We don’t have satellite television any more, so Holden can no longer watch Monster Jam competitions on the Speed Channel.  So I knew taking video was going to be cool for him so he could watch the performance over and over again.  What fun!

You can watch a couple of the little videos I took, like Avenger’s freestyle performance and Megasaurus eating a car!  Megasaurus is always exciting to watch when it’s dark out. It was so funny, because all of the 5- and 6-year old boys sitting around me (including my own) were shouting “Just torch it, just torch it!”  So funny.


That pretty much wraps it up!  We had a great week, and I hope you all did, too.  See ya next week!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – April 27th-May 3rd

Well, this sure was a busy week for us!  I’m not sure I got a lot of photos, but we were certainly very busy.  The big event of the week was my nephew’s wedding in Williamsburg, so I’m going to focus on that.


My oldest living brother, Brady, has 3 children, and his youngest son, Ryan, got married on Saturday!  It was quite a big affair!  We drove out to a gated community in the Lightfoot section of Williamsburg to spend the day celebrating with Ryan and his bride, Brittney.  After a beautiful ceremony outdoors on the edge of the golf course, complete with live classical music being played by 3 lovely ladies, we went inside the ballroom to attend a catered dinner and dancing with a DJ for several hours.  We had great fun with a photo booth they had set up, where everybody took turns going in and dressing up in silly hats to take photo strips that were placed into a scrapbook for the happy couple.  It was great!  Then as the evening drew to a close, everyone adjourned outside to light sparklers and line the driveway to their car as the bride and groom made their elated departure.  It was a lovely evening spent with family!


After the recent sadness in my family with the loss of my mother, I have to say that it was really nice to have a joyful occasion to celebrate. Smile


Hope you had a great week, too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DEAL ALERT: Magic Pencils at Wholesale Prices!!!

I have no idea how long the vendor will offer this deal, so hop on it while you can!  Go to Magic House and click on the “Whole Sale” tab across the top.  A window will pop up asking you for a password.  Enter password wholesale88 in the box.  For a limited time, you can purchase Magic Pencil products from this wholesale store at drastically reduced prices (a 5-pack of pencils + 1 refill for $3.50 instead of $9.50), AND you can get FREE SHIPPING on orders over $9.50.  My order was under $9.50 (I forgot about the threshold!), and shipping for me was still just $2.  But for just over $10, you can get a total of 10 pencils, 4 refills, and a transforming pencil box…just put two 5-packs in your cart (each comes with a refill), 2 refills, and the pencil box of your choice.

If you aren’t familiar with Magic Pencils, you should know that they are mechanical pencils that auto-feed the led, keeping the tip at just the right length to reduce breakage.  No sharpening and no clicking to advance the leads is necessary. These pencils take 0.7 mm refills. 

You can read a recent review of this product to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Happy shopping!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – April 20th-26th

Happy Easter!


After church, I came home and made a fabulous Easter Brunch Strata, thanks to a wonderful recipe provided by Trader Joe’s.  It was an enormous hit with Steve and Hayden and myself, but not so much with the little ones.  It had smoked ham, asparagus, red onion, sliced mushrooms, liquid eggs, Swiss and Gruyere cheese, and after it baked, it was topped with real Hollandaise sauce!  Yum!  It was quite a heavenly good treat, of which all of us big people had at least 2 portions. SmileDSCF1622


After lunch came the opening of the Easter bins.  I went with bins this year instead of baskets.  We got rid of most of that kind of clutter that sits around somewhere all year long when we did the big cleanout a couple of years ago.  Hayden ribbed me a bit about bins instead of baskets, but hey…bins are useful all year long, and besides, I put Easter grass in them!  Smile


Here is a little home video of the occasion:  Burgess Easter 2014

I bought a Sony Handycam at Cash Converters this past week during Spring Break, and this was my first time trying it out.  Not bad!


Haylee has been doing a lot of really cool art projects over the past few weeks from an ARTistic Pursuits book that we have been reviewing.  Here, she’s showing off her favorite of all of her projects.  She got to layer colors of oil pastels on a piece of cardboard, then layer it with black, and then scratch out a picture of a sheep.  It was so cool and turned out so cute!  She loved it.  We’re definitely going to use this book for her art instruction for school for 5th grade, which she starts in June.



That’s about it!  I hope you had a wonderful Easter with your family.  Our weather was rather unpleasant that day, so we delayed and held off our egg hunt until mid-week when we had a nice day.  The kids didn’t seem to mind!

See you next week!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

REVIEW: Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits

My 9-year old daughter was so excited to get to review the Early Elementary K-3, Book 2:  Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits.



Early Elementary K-3, Book 2:  Stories of Artist and Their Art is an 85-page art instruction book aimed at kids in grades K-3. 

It contains a total of 36 weekly lessons that tells your children a little about the background and techniques of great artists such as Giotto, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Turner through the use of stories.  It also provides samples of their work and instructs your children on how to create their own works of art in similar styles.

This edition was newly revised and expanded in January 2013 and gives children experiences in drawing, painting, and printmaking.

Take a moment to look at a sample lesson and project assignment.  This book is available for just $47.95.



Haylee and I reviewed Book One in the K-3 series last year.  She enjoyed it so much that she was really excited to have the opportunity to try out the second book in the series for this review.  We ordered the required art supplies from Dick Blick, which is one of the recommendations given by the vendor’s website, and we received everything just before our book arrived.  The excitement was palpable in our house!

In lesson one, we read a little story that described life in Florence, Italy during the lifetime of an artist named Giovanni Cimabue and how it was that he came to paint.  Then it described how Cimabue painted traditional medieval art by filling in shapes with flat areas of color, similar to the way one colors in a coloring book.  It also described how he desired to make figures look more real in their art and how he went on to train his students to do the same.

After the story, the lesson talked about craftsmen of the time and how they built, painted, and decorated altarpieces for churches.  It then described how the pieces were put togethDSCF1562er and how the artists went about painting them.  It described how the artists used gesso and gold leafing to enhance their pictures.

After we read the lesson, it was time to do the accompanying project assignment, which was a watercolor painting.  The assignment asked Haylee to look around at building in our neighborhood and paint a picture from where we live.  It gave details on how to properly use the watercolor paint set and apply the colors with the brush, and reminded her to properly clean the brush betwDSCF1563een colors. 

It was raining that day, so I suggested that she set herself up on the front porch out of the rain and look at the neighbor’s house across the street.  Here, you’ll see what that house looked like, and then Haylee’s happy face after she painted it.

Our second lesson continued the story of Cimabue and described some of the ways in which he attempted to make the people in his paintings look more realistic, and it had Haylee observe and answer some questions about one of his paintings called Madonna Enthroned, with Saints and Angels.  Then it talked more about the gold leafing that craftsmen of this time period used in their paintings and had her look carefully at the indentations the artists pounded into the gold to give it texture.  Then it was time for her second project assignment, which was about gold leaf.

The assignment defined for her what gold leaf is and how it is applied.  Then it suggested that Haylee make a DSCF1573watercolor painting and use pieces of gold or yellow paper and apply it to the painting in place of gold leaf.  Then she had to paint over it so the yellow or gold showed through a little bit.  Again, the lesson reminded her of how to use the brush and paints properly.

Haylee decided to make a picture of a person in a room, and she used yellow construction paper to apply as the person’s dress.  Then she painted a colorful pattern onto the dress.  It turned out so cute!  She had a lot of fun with that.

In lesson 3, we were introduced to a story about the life of another artist in the time of Cimabue by the name of Giotto di Bondone.  It described his life as a shepherd boy, caring for his father’s flock of sheep.  Then it talked about how he came to accidentally scratch shapes into rocks that looked like his sheep.  Inspired by this accident, he began to scratch out images into rocks intentionally.  He sought out larger flat stones and continued practicing his technique until he became very good at it.  Then he came to meet Cimabue, who was impressed with his work and took him on as an apprentice.  Giotto learned all he could from Cimabue and later became a master painter who was known for his fresco paintings.  He was also known for how skillfully he was able to paint people showing their expressions and emotions.

Then the lesson went on to detail what a fresco painting is and how it is applied to a wet plaster wall.  After describing this technique that was often used to paint walls of large church buildings using scaffolding, it described how patrons of that time enjoyed the realism of the fresco paintings and how Giotto’s paintings were so real that even Cimabue could be fooled intoDSCF1626 thinking the painted objects were real!

Then it was time for the third project assignment, which was scratch art.  It suggested that although Giotto had used rocks and stones to scratch out his art, Haylee could achieve a similar look using oil pastels.  Haylee was so excited to try out this method!  This was completely new to her.  So she took a piece of cardboard and covered it with the oil pastel colors she wanted to use in her final picture, carefully placing the colors where they’d need to be in the final drawing.  Then she had to apply a layer of black oil pastel over the entire picture so none of the underlying colors could be seen.  Then I gave her a pointed tool to scratch her drawing of a sheep into the surface, revealing the colors underneath the black layer.  It turned out so cool!  I loved how she gave texture to the sheep’s wool by using curly lines.  I think this was our favorite project of all!

In lesson 4, we read about Gothic art and how many artists were commissioned to paint stories about the life of Christ in Christian churches.  Likewise, Giotto di Bondone was hired to paint about the moment when Christ was taken down from the cross.  It talked about how gold halos were used to depict heavenly beings and how the color blue was sought after because it was rare and expensive and looked very special in the flickering candlelight of dark churches.  Then Haylee had to observe this painting of Giotto’s, called Lamentation of Christ, and answer some questions about it.  Then it asked her to practice showing facial expressions and body language in a mirror to observe the way we look when we have certain emotions.  These clues were whatDSCF1628 Giotto used to show real feeling in his paintings.

Then it was time for our fourth project assignment, which was fresco painting.  For this, Haylee had to apply a coating of spackling paste (plaster) to a hardboard panel and allow it to dry completely.  The paste we used was pink when wet but turned white when dry, so that made it easy for us to know when it was time to paint.  Then she drew a picture with a pencil directly onto the dried plaster surface.  She was so anxious to start painting that she forgot that she was supposed to draw people with emotions, so at first, she drew a bouquet of flowers, and then she added people’s happy faces as an afterthought, which explains why the flowers are so much bigger than the people!  Winking smile  Then she carefully applied her watercolor paints to the picture, filling in the spaces carefully.  The paints were absorbed into the dry plaster just as they would be on paper.  Haylee loved painting on the plaster, which aDSCF1709dded a dimension of texture to the

Lesson 5 went right into a project assignment for color mixing.  It showed Haylee a color wheel and talked about how adjacent colors in her watercolor set could be mixed to create the in-between colors on the wheel.  It also explained how adding extra water to the colors dilutes the pigment to make the tints seen in the center of the wheel.  Her assignment was to mix the adjacent colors in the lid of her watercolor paint set to create bright new colors, and then she had to create a painting using her new colors.  She decided to paint a girl in a bathing suit beside a pool in the sunshine.

Both of us were really pleased with the lessons we tried from this book, and when we were done, she declared that as much as she loved the first book, she loves this one even more!  She is really looking forward to continuing the lessons, and I have to say that we are totally hooked on the ARTistic Pursuits program.  It’s fun, engaging, and spurs creativity in kids without making them feel like there is some standard they have to meet.  Art, for us, is about self-expression and trying new things.  What I loved most about this particular book was that Haylee got to learn about real artists and study their actual works, but then take some of their techniques and apply them with her own personal interpretation and flair. 

I definitely recommend you give the ARTistic Pursuits books a try.  Getting the supplies was easy.  Using their links to the kits, there was no endless hunt for the right materials, and the cost was very reasonable.  This was a really doable art program for us, and it has given Haylee the chance to gain exposure to different types of mediums to see what interests her the most.

To find out what other Crew members had to say about this and other books from ARTistic Pursuits, including their new sculpture books, just click the banner below.