From my Brain Straight to Your Eyes.

Darn life.

It gets in the way of all that is fun and right in the world.

No really. I seem to have lost the time to write. I’m rarely home in the afternoons anymore, and when I am, my children have already fried my brain into oblivion. Which means that I either a) need to learn to wake up at 4am if I intend to continue blogging, or b) get rid of my children.

Both seem equally impractical.

Anyway. I have no truly coherent thoughts for you today, but I thought I’d just tell you random bits of our life. Because no matter how boring it is, at least it’s better than talking about politics, right? And you need SOMEONE in your life that isn’t mentioning those T and C words.

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Last night at Cubbies (Awanas, like Scouts but at Church), I noticed that Noah was the first kid to, without asking, pick up his snack trash and throw it in the trash can. LIKE A FREAKING MODEL. This made me think back, and I began realizing that I have observed him doing this every single week at Cubbies, then I would promptly black out the memory because it was too painful to process.

This kid has been my kid for nearly six long years and NEVER ONCE has he cleaned up after himself without being asked. NEVER ONCE has he thrown away his paper plate. NEVER ONCE has he put his cup in the sink. NEVER ONCE has he picked up a single flipping Hot Wheels without me prompting him to do so.

I WANTED TO WIPE THAT SMUG, PROUD, SELF-RIGHTEOUS SMILE OFF HIS LITTLE FACE.

And I still might. Right after I remind him to clean from yesterday’s breakfast.

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Raise your hands if you’ve upgraded to iOs 10.

(Sit down if you don’t have an iPhone. Yes I’m discriminating against you.)

If you haven’t realized it, they created iOs 10 for sixth grade girls.

And I am in love with it.

You can send texts with invisible ink! And slam texts! And texts with balloons or confetti or lasers! You can send memes RIGHT FROM THE TEXTING INTERFACE. You can add stickers to your friend’s texts. You can download grammar correction stickers to correct your acquaintance’s texts.

It’s really the best.

But my favorite feature has been, by far, the handwriting feature. (Turn your phone sideways when you’re on the text screen to handwrite your texts.) I have friends with whom we almost exclusively hand-write our texts now, and nothing could look more beautiful than screens and screens of messily handwritten texts back and forth.

It’s like I’m passing notes in class, way back in the elementary school I never went to.

(It has also drastically improved my electronic signature at the grocery store.)

But one of my further goals is to regularly text beautifully(ish) written insults to those I hold dearest. Like this exchange with my precious friend Nikki (and several other friends, because you really should insult fair and wide.)

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I have a long way to go on having beautiful cursive (I know, “breath” is barely legible), but I want to promise to you now that I will apply myself tirelessly to achieve my goals.

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For my entire adult and adolescent life, I have been on the search for The Perfect Pen. This need is doubly important for left-handers, because we need a pen that won’t smear when the backside of our pinky finger rakes across freshly crafted script. I love a good, bold line which deepens that issue – I want boldness that dries immediately, and I want it to feel good coming out of the pen – none of that scratchy Sharpie crap.

I once found this Perfect Pen and I bought them out. But unfortunately, it didn’t last. They made the pen for about half a second after I discovered it, and then it was gone forever. It could have had something to do with its rather unfortunate naming (Permaball) but other pens with less fortunate names have made it longer (Uniball.)

However. I have once again discovered The Perfect Pen. My adoration for it may very well doom it to an untimely death, but I’ll quickly tell y’all about it while there are still some in stock: The Papermate InkJoy.

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Isn’t it LOVELY?

Besides the fact that it comes in fourteen beautiful colors (you must buy the 14-pack to fully appreciate the superiority of this product), it writes boldly, dries quickly, and feels like writing with real creamery butter.

If I were Oprah, I’d be sending you all a pack of these. Just for being here today. But I’m not.

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On Sunday, I ran my fifth half marathon on my 35th birthday. Chris and I went to Athens, Georgia for the weekend and enjoyed the college town (I would describe Athens as “adorably quaint and historic with an always-present more-than-faint stale beer odor.”)

As races always do, there were photo ops along the way. I wanted to scream at each and every photographer – “GET OFF THE GROUND!!”

Every one of them were sitting on the pavement, shooting upwards at my lack of thigh gap.

If they want to actually sell these race photos (which, considering I’m still getting emails from the race I did in March trying to get me to buy their blasted upshots), they should learn people’s angles.

NOBODY WANTS AN UPSHOT.

Despite my best judgement, I opened the email boasting of my magnificent race photos ready for purchase.

And I wanted to scream at the photographers all over again.

Ew.

This made me realize, though – I should surround myself by tall people. The taller a person is, the more of a downshot they have on me, and the skinnier I look. Oh – and that means I look EXCEPTIONALLY thicker to my short friends.

I’m taking applicants now to replace them.

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Dishwashing pods are the worst invention ever.

“Do not allow moisture in bucket of dishwashing pods.”

“Do not touch with wet hands.”

Guess what I NEVER need when my hands are dry??

Dishwashing pods.

So I’m destined to an existence of clumped-together dishwashing pods. Then I have to rip them apart (with wet hands) and spray the powder from within all over my kitchen.

This has to be part of The Curse. Thanks, Eve.

Planning Your Weekend For You!

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I know, I know – I usually give you more notice about Birmingham Artwalk. But not this year! It’s today and tomorrow, and I would love to see YOU!

Here are the facts:

What:
The best art show in the Birmingham area – over a hundred artists in a fantastically fun atmosphere downtown. There are free kid activities, food trucks,  and plenty to do.

When:
Friday – 5-10pm
Saturday – 10am-6pm

Where:
I’ll be at 2312 2nd Ave N – by Rogue Tavern and Urban Standard (in the cool little parking lot on the other side of Rogue Tavern.) The art show goes on for blocks and blocks so you’ll surely not get bored.

Why:
I sell prints and products featuring my photography so that I can give 100% of the profits to The WellHouse, a local organization that actively rescues victims of human trafficking.

What’s so great about this event and why can’t I just buy online?
I have EVERYTHING on sale, and a ton of products that aren’t even for sale online. One of a kind! Creative! Choices! Touch and feel and look in person to decide what you want! And they’re all by far at the lowest prices of the year. And also, I love meeting people in real life. So I want to meet you.

What kind of products?
Prints, metal prints, canvases, notebooks, coasters, note cards, postcards, pillows, bookmarks, magnets, and more! You can check out my online shop to see some of the items.

What would I do with this stuff?
Did you know it’s only 11 weekends until Christmas? Think about it. You could come to ArtWalk this weekend, visit me and all my fantastic artsy friends, and have your Christmas shopping DONE by the time you leave. HOW AMAZING WOULD YOU FEEL THIS AUTUMN.

See you there!!

The Nuts and Bolts of Education.

So. Yesterday in my tiny moment of impressedness with myself for a change, I had a fantastic fail – caught by the first commenter (and then everyone else all day long.) I snickered about it over and over. Did you catch it?

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Yeah. It’s 2016-2017, Rachel.

Clearly I’m qualified to teach children.

So on that note, shall we talk about what Kindergarten and Fourth Grade will look like this year?

Noah’s Curriculum:

For Kindergarten, let’s admit that unless you’re either super Classical, super hands-on, or super crunchy, all books are pretty much the same. And, since I’m none of those and very much a workbook kind of mom, I set out to find ones he would be interested in. And oh, boy, did I succeed in my endeavors.

LOOK AT THESE BRILLIANT BOOKS.

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My little Darth Vader (he wears his Darth costume at least five times a day, and I do mean five times a day because he has to take it off every time he has to pee – thanks, Party City costume engineers) could NOT have been happier about his Star Wars Curriculum. He literally squealed when he saw his workbooks.

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They’re made by the BrainQuest people, and I love their work. They currently make preschool through second grade (maybe they’ll have high school books by the time we get there), and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to motivate stubborn little boys.

On his first day, Noah happily did several pages, then stopped abruptly and said, “OH – I need to stretch!”

Stretching During School

I always encourage good stretching habits. Even in the middle of Phonics.

I also found a bunch of free printable math worksheets in his other interests, Lego and Minecraft, and he was a pretty big fan of these, too – especially the Lego ones.

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There were only a couple of these printables, so we quickly moved on to making our own.

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He liked this better, because after he finished, he could make something out of the Lego.

For instance, the above math sheet, once finished, was built into a duck…

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In the middle of the act of pooping. Beige Lego-Brick Turds.

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EDUCATION, PEOPLE. It isn’t always pretty.

Since he enjoyed the Lego format of math so much, I bought him a storage clipboard to keep a special reserve of math Lego in.

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I put some in the pencil holder and more in the body of the clipboard. He was so excited about this new asset that he made himself a math sheet first thing Saturday morning.

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Another thing I’m doing with him is finally trying to teach him his states in the same manner that I taught Ali when she was two:

This is my most viewed YouTube Video, and although Ali is ADORABLE and totally deserves the views, I feel ever-so-slightly guilty about it since I now know that her level of focus and memorization is not attainable by every kid at the age of two – including the subject’s own brother (we tried. Really.)

So, for any mothers out there that felt less-than when they couldn’t produce the same results, please know that Noah is five and a half and didn’t know the state of Alabama when we looked at this map last week. So yeah. Sorry about that.

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But even so, he enjoyed learning, and enjoyed the marshmallows even more, so maybe by the time he’s six, he’ll be up to speed with his sister when she was two.

For handwriting, we’ll be using the Star Wars Writing Book along with Handwriting Without Tears. He especially likes their chalkboard – who cares if he’s using the lines all wrong? It’s without tears – that’s the important part.

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And for reading, I’ve got half a dozen different curriculums. I’m going to try them all until one sticks – because I don’t know what will motivate him – yet.

Ali’s Curriculum:

Ali is using several new books this year, and a few continued publishers from prior years. We’re still doing BJU English and Reading, but dropped BJU Math and will be attempting to transition to Saxon Math.

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We used Apologia for science last year (Astronomy) and she really enjoyed it, so we’re using their Botany series this year. Ali loves our hikes and adventures, so Botany should be a really fun study for her.

Exploring Creation with Botany

(After our first lesson we were inspired to make our Sam’s shopping list using taxonomy and binomial nomenclature, so I am giving it an early A+.)

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I’m also trying Apologia Bible. I’ve failed in the past at actually using a curriculum for Bible, so we’ll see how I do this year.

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(The coloring book is Noah’s – coloring books always help with attention span.)

We’re nearly through book one of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga for read-aloud (continued from last year), and it is so fantastic.

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And our super all-encompassing subject this year is Alabama History – but since I’m creating it from scratch, it’ll be another post on its own (or series of posts.)

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You are invited to follow along with us this year, or if you want to wait until after we actually complete it, I hope to be able to share an organized and easy-to-follow hands-on curriculum. But more about that in my next post…and then I swear, I’ll stop it with the homeschool posts for a minute.