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Archive for September, 2009

I hung out with my childhood friend Rhonda tonight and we had fun with Satori at the Pumpkin Patch and then went geocaching. Rhonda made a very talented geocache, she has the eyes for it! It was also my very first cache in Wisconsin! Just two miles away from the house I grew up in even.

Satori scored at the pumpkin patch with all kinds of handmade clothes for her barbie dolls and American Girl dolls.

Updated our facebook photos…

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And a few at the Pumpkin Patch, it was a cooold day so we didn’t post for long.

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Wow, the first time Satori has worn jeans since she was a toddler! She took them off in the car ride home though, hehe.

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On the road I only have access to my laptop and online editors. Up to now I’ve been using the free photo editing service. I just upgraded tonight to their premium service.

I still hate editing photos on this laptop, I feel like I’m blind and cannot see the fine details. But what can ya do… Here’s a photo I edited with one of the Premium features – “Before and After”. Wish Photoshop did this, it’s so much fun!

In this photo I didn’t like how tossled her hair was in the wind, and how it was reflecting light, making it look gray. I experimented with a few of Picnik’s editing tools to make it look darker and softer. Also cropped it a bit more closely, got rid of the distracting white corner in the upper left. Sparkled up the eyes (and now you can see me the photographer in them!) Got rid of a few flyaway hairs in her eye. Even gave her some blush on her cheeks! Just a few things you can do with Picnik!


Still wish I was on my home computer with Photoshop though… I do not trust what I see here…

We are here on my parent’s farm, and our week is now booked! We just threw a family party last night and had over 25 relatives at my parent’s house. The rest of the week Mama’s going to see friends that she hasn’t seen since her wedding!

Trying to get a shot of Satori swinging on her swing eating fresh grapes that Grandpa pulled off the vine a few feet away.


Mmmm… One of Satori’s favorite foods is grapes!


Next, we found this furry caterpillar, I remember these guys in plenty from my own childhood here.


When I’m away from home I use Picnik as my editor, I just upgraded to their Premium service and got cool frame options! 🙂



We’re about to head to Wisconsin for a week, so I’m considering most of it vacation. All I have planned for the next 10 days is to get 4 reading lessons in, and hopefully do some nice read-alouds, both in the car driving (checking out now) and having David and myself read. A trip to my childhood library would be nice…

Here’s what’s happening lately at the “Fox Mountain Academy” (SatoriSmiles homeschool tentative name)!

If you couldn’t tell already, I’ve been painting many rooms in our house, most rooms are homeschool-related. In our basement I painted this wall orange-red. For this I wanted an energetic color as this is also a fitness gym (on the other side), yet also be rich and mysterious for our history timelines, and stimulating enough for our Science station corner. I like it! Hope David isn’t too horrified by it, it is quite a bold color! On our return from Wisconsin, I’ll be working on putting up our timelines (with their own picture light shining down onto them) and setting up the science station with microscope, magnifying glass and experiment books.

Basement wall

Basement wall

I’ll just give a brief update on how all our subjects are coming along, as we’ve now finished exactly four weeks of “kindergarten”! First off, Homeschool Skedtrack rocks. It is certainly keeping me on track, yet I love it’s flexibility. I need to dedicate a new blog post review on that free tool. Now for the subjects:


We’re now on lesson 75 in OPG, our main reading program. This program will take her to a 4th grade reading level, which at her pace, will probably hit sometime next year, all before the official Colorado kindergarten age! We’ve moved on past consonants/short vowels and blends, now we’re learning long vowel sounds, and digraphs such ph.

Here’s the pages we did today.


She picks up this stuff pretty fast, we learn a new rule, she masters it right away, we finish the lesson. I then review to make sure she’s got previous lessons still memorized and yep, she remembers. If that all takes less than 10 minutes, we might stop there or start a new lesson. Tonight we did two lessons. Here’s a sample of what she read tonight.

Mack, Mike and I will go on a trip.
With luck, Mack and I will get a snack of chips.

For fun, we’re whipping (literally) through our ETC workbooks. She should be finishing up the ETC A-C books which are just easy primers and should be starting Book 1. Still just a review, we’ll whip through that and then finally slow down when we hit book 2, which will be a review on blends. Not until book 3 will we be caught up with the approximate OPG level. For fun, we’ve read through the highly entertaining (and free) Alphabetti books and are sad to say our goodbyes to Sid/Sis and Dod/Bob. They haven’t updated that site with the rest of the Alphabetti books, so we will start the more boring real phonics books. No lovable characters to get to know, as far as I’ve looked…


We just have a few pages left in her Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten book, which means we’ve finally covered all the lowercase letters! The few pages left are practice with whole words/sentences/paragraphs. Here’s her writing the alphabet (upper and lowercase) tonight:


As you can see, she’s got it down pretty well. Sometimes she writes the lowercase “g” backwards, and I see that she totally left that off. She also writes the Z backwards, also left off conveniently… Hmm… We will take at least a month off before starting the first grade book, but still practice handwriting at least 3x a week. We will work on noticing those lines and getting the lowercase letters in the right places. 😉 I suppose I should mention that she is constantly writing books and letters, they are very entertaining!


This kinda goes with the above two subjects. She will sit down and want to have spelling  quizzes even on days that I do not plan for Spelling! She’s pretty good at  it too, for a 4 year old. She LOVES writing these on paper, and we haven’t pulled out the big whiteboard with letter tiles at all lately.

We’re on Lesson 15 in All About Spelling, which is covering initial blends. Here’s our spelling list for tonight.


Of these 10 words she spelled 8 perfectly. Every now and then she gets “i” and “e” short vowel sounds mixed up, even though she knows their sounds and can read them perfectly. So she spelled “sled” as “slid”.  The other word she spelled wrong was “trip”. She spelled “chrip” instead. If you can read the gray paragraph, it specifically says the child may spell “tr” as “ch”, so I should have read that and enunciated more carefully!

On these spelling quizzes, she reverts to capital letters and sometimes they’re a bit sloppy, but I’m not complaining – I know she’s thinking intensely while she writes and this is all new to her. Each lesson takes us anywhere from 2-3 days to complete now that we’re covering more difficult material.



We’re getting the hang of RightStart math level A and have hit a few of their games, which she loves. She has been waking up and after talking about her current favorite animal (Wooly Mammoths this month), she then asks to do a math game with her dolls. Tonight we played a game that reinforced Even/Odd. Her she is posing with her American Girl doll Danna, who played with us. Although it takes longer for 3 “people” to play a game, she insists to give Danna a turn too, in addition to myself and Satori.


Since we started all over with RightStart A after doing Math-U-See all spring/summer,  it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much math progress this year, but I know she’s really getting these new RS concepts. So glad we switched to RightStart. On Fridays I have Singapore workbook lessons scheduled, although we are not as consistent with math as we are with the above 3 subjects.


We’ve wrapped up Prehistory! I know I started off documenting this stuff pretty thoroughly, but we really had a blast all the way through. The next History we cover will be actual human-written History! It is killing me to wait to start Story of the World, but I really think 4 years old is too early. We’ll start after she turns 5. 🙂 I’m really planning on documenting the heck out of our history studies, look forward to our blog posts of Ancients in 2010.


We covered Gravity this week, which I can tell we will need to cover a bit more, so in Wisconsin, I hope to find some good books on Gravity and Forces. When I get all the science experiment materials out, it excites her so much that she has a hard time focusing on the lesson, lol. Our first 3 science lessons she mastered the concepts immediately, this Gravity force (our 4th lesson) is something that I can tell was hard for her to understand immediately.


We’re doing 2 pages a week out of our Lollipop Logic book. Going well. She could most definitely handle more than 2 pages, but I haven’t researched this enough to figure out where to go after Lollipop Logic, which covers K-2 and is for prereaders. I want her to be reading fluently before she tackles the next books.


We do art and drawing multiple times a week. The Drawing With Children book is a bit more complex than I anticipated, but out of all homeschooling moms, with only one child, I have the time and still plan to step up to that challenge! Other than DWC, we do Artistic Pursuits but the preschooler lessons are pretty simple, I don’t talk about them too much.

Just thought I’d share. One of the photos I took was blown up bigger than life and made the booth of my friend Melissa for the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas.

For those of you with babies, be sure to check out – they carry and now manufacture one of my favorite Mei Tais – the FreeHand, as well as stylish coats and vests.

We’ve been kinda slacking on math, but finally tonight Satori was ready to do some math! We are practicing tally marks and I think this lesson also covered the beginnings of addition. The lesson ended with a fun RightStart game – More Game!


Satori was about to put Mia to bed, when I thought of recruiting her favorite American Girl doll to play. Satori said that Mia was tired, but okay, she would play. 🙂 We then had RightStart cards from 1 to 10 in their 3 styles (fingers, tally sticks, and abacus). The object of the game is to see who can get to 10 first, by drawing a card and seeing who has “more”. It is excellent practice on both recognizing at a glance her numbers in the different styles, as well as writing tally marks correctly.


Satori and Mia had so much fun that Satori wanted to play again! (She never asks to extend math lessons, so this was a big SCORE.) She said that even though Mia was very tired, it was past her bedtime and her eyes were getting red, Mia wanted to play again too.

And it was a tie in the end, both Satori and Mia won a game! (The neat tally marks circled was my writing, the rest is all Satori.) We only played to 5 the second game. Satori wants to wake up tomorrow morning and play again. She also wants to show Grandma and Grandpa how to play next week. 🙂 So, Math can be Fun!!


For sure, I will now go ahead and purchase the rest of the RightStart games the week we get back from our Wisconsin trip. For those of you using a different math program, you can still take advantage of RightStart games! The link above will get you the game manual and a DVD, but if you want it ALL, you can get the entire Math Card Games Kit. This includes the games book, DVD, cards, abacus – everything you need.

RightStart Math Card Games Kit

RightStart Math Card Games Kit

The past few days I’ve been working on the blog, changed the them *again* and updated a few sections, mostly the Homeschool Room photo section.

Added our Learning Loft page.

Learning Loft

Learning Loft