My Alter Ego

Man's FaceImagine your favorite novel. Can you picture the colorful landscape; feel the atmosphere that envelopes you as you digest each page? The stage has been set, ready for the cast to bring this story to life. Your characters enter the scene, begin their dialogue, and the adventure truly starts.

No story is quite complete without good players. The next step in our creative writing adventure was to pick our cast. Once again, imagination was the key to choosing the best alter ego. The spark that would bring the flame to life.Alice in Wonderland

Using the setting we had already chosen, each of us then had to define who our characters would be. Did we want to be children, adults, animals, faeries, elves, or trolls? Were we magical, normal, or something altogether different?

There were a few key points that we took into consideration when choosing our characters.

We need to know our characters’ profile. How did they dress? What type of home did they live in and did they have family? The more informed I am about my character, the more consistent I will be. It will also help with writing prompts, should I ever get stuck.

We need to know our characters’ personalities. Is my character a reformed thief? Does he constantly stutter or stumble to find the right words? Is she vain, selfish at times, or spoiled? Is she quick to anger, but just as quick to forgive? Does he constantly jump at opportunity without fully thinking it through? No character should be perfect, that makes them less realistic and harder to maintain. There should be something they struggle with and something they excel in; as we do in real life.

We need to know our characters’ point of view. Are they looking at their world as an adult, filled with responsibility? Are they a child, with few cares and only joy or lots of cares and trouble? Are they a wizard, filled with the dread of coming evil? Knowing how my character views his world will help me when it comes to writing.

We need to know our characters’ motivation. Does your character want to be the best detective in all the world? Do they wish to be the top inventor, the fanciest dresser, or to simply be left alone? Knowing what motivates a character helps to further give them depth.

WomanEach person participating should have a brief “sketch” of what their character is like. How much that is detail written down will depend on the age of the person involved. No matter the age though, a little something should be entered. I have more elements about my alter ego than my seven-year old does on her’s, but she does have a few notes.

Remember to be creative and to use your imagination! There are no rules to the game. Your character can fly, swim underwater without aid, transport between worlds, and anything else you can fabricate. They can be very simple or very complex, it is all up to you. Still stuck? Dante’s Wardrobe might have some additional ideas to help you out!Circus Lady

The more details you can come up with, the easier it will be to write about “yourself”. The more background you can imagine, the funner it will be to share. Using their weaknesses, their strengths, and their goals, there is nowhere your character cannot go.

If you could choose to be different from what you are now, who would you be? Have you ever longed to have a special gift you don’t currently possess?

Organizing Chaos

All week we have tackled various areas of organization; filing the old stuff, creating our new portfolios, and putting in the new school books. Today’s project… replenishing our art supplies!

Homeschooling is more than just reading, writing, and reasoning. While those areas are essential, I also want to make sure that my children have an opportunity to be creative and artistic.

The week before we head back to school, the kids and I make sure we do a thorough inspection of our art supplies and restock anything that might be low. Markers are taken out of the box and each one inspected, just to make sure they aren’t dry. Paint bottles are checked, ink pads are tested, and glue bottles are consolidated. We reduce all we can, before determining what needs to be replenished.

Once we have determined what is low (or out), we make a list of all that is needed in order to keep our closet stocked. Then, we thoughtfully add anything that might be wanted. We then head out to Wal-Mart or Target and take advantage of all the back to school sales, using as many coupons and promotions as possible.

Upon returning home, our loot is unpacked and organized into our homeschooling closet. We have a plastic bin just for our adhesive and scissors. We have separate bins for ink pads, card stock, decorative paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Each type of art supply has a separate container, making crafting and cleanup more organized. (It is also a huge time saver.) Each bin is clear so that the children can easily identify which box is needed and a step stool is placed in the closet to help them grab whatever they might need.

Our homeschool closet is now refilled, organized, and ready to go! The kids are excited to know that everything they need is available and mom is excited to know that I won’t be needing to make any last-minute runs to a craft store because we ran out of something!

Do you have a cupboard or closet that you keep your supplies in? How do you keep your’s organized?

 

Another Exciting Year of Ministry

Most mommies look for creative ways to teach their children life skills, I am no different. Several years ago, having expressed an interest in perhaps trying Girl Scouts, my Bible study leader brought Keepers of the Faith to my attention.

Now, you might ask, what is Keepers of the Faith? Keepers of the Faith consists of two separate programs; Keepers at Home (for girls) and Contenders for the Faith (for boys). Both are Bible based clubs that focus on teaching young people to be Godly men and women. The clubs are run similarly to those of Boy/Girl Scouts; the children attend group a few times a month, they earn badges, and they learn life skills. The difference with Keepers is that we center all we do on the Bible. Our focus is Titus 2; training these young people to be all that God has called them to be.

When Keepers was presented to me, my children were a little young, so I set the idea on the back-burner and set out to pursue other things. However, about two years ago a friend and I began to seriously consider Keepers at Home and actively look for a group. We were made aware of one group, meeting at a local church, but the group seemed a little less active than we would have liked. We were invited to attend a smaller group, consisting of mutual friends; which we tried. As it turned out, that group was mostly preschool girls and their activity level wasn’t quite what our girls were looking for.

On the way home from our second meeting, I asked my daughters what they were looking for. My daughters excitedly replied, “We want to do some sewing. Oh, and some baking! And don’t forget the jewelry making, cooking, and flower arranging!” When I relayed this to my friend, her prompt reply was, “You know the Lord is telling you to do this, right?” I staunchly denied that I needed to have any involvement with running a group. I simply wanted to participate and help out the current leader!

When I got home, my husband asked us how this meeting went. He was treated to the full story and the responses of our girls. He then replied, “You know the Lord is telling you to do this, right?” Oh, man!! It seemed like the Lord really was going to have me step out on a limb.

With much prayer, the Lord showed me what He wanted from the program and how we could make it happen. We started with just some close friends in our home, eight girls in all, and followed what the Lord wanted us to do. We learned a lot in that short five months and my girls were hooked!

Jump to now… We have had so many girls join the group we are now part of church ministry, with about thirty girls in attendance. We meet twice a month, exploring God’s word and learning new skills to help us be better keepers of our homes.

This morning, I had the pleasure of sitting with my pastor’s wife. We went over the upcoming year and all that the Lord has been preparing in our hearts. We shared our vision for the program and where the Lord might be taking it this year. We prayed over the ministry and the girls who will attend; that the Lord would be the center of it all. 

Please join me in praying for this ministry as well! Not just for our group, but for all the groups who will be meeting. That the Lord would be honored and glorified in all we do. Please pray for me, that I will continue to listen to and obey the calling He has given me. Also, if the Lord is willing, that a gentleman from the church would step up and lead Contenders for the Faith. We have not started a boys group yet, but I feel the Lord is leading in that direction.

Do you have a Keepers group? Please let us know, if you do! We would love to hear all the exciting things you have been learning!

The Old Piano Roll Blues

My husband very much wanted our kids to learn piano. Unfortunately our budget couldn’t afford sending four children to piano lessons. I was also a little hesitant to add another outside activity to our list. My guy, very sweetly, suggested that I was “smart enough to do this on my own”. Off I went to conquer the unknown…

I knew how to read music, as I had played flute for several years and sang in high school, but knowing how that relates to a piano is entirely different. I needed a program that would start off with the very basics.

Teaching Little Fingers To Play by John Thompson worked wonders! This curriculum started with the most basic instructions of all; finger placement, hand position, and posture. From there, the children learned to identify basic notes on the piano and to play them, first with the right hand and then with the left. Once the notes and their corresponding keys were learned, songs were introduced. I found that I liked this curriculum for getting started and for teaching them the basics.

John Thompson’s curriculum goes far beyond Teaching Little Fingers To Play; there is also Modern Course for Piano. For those interested, they also have music for Christmas, Disney fans, and more!

Joining the ISP we are apart of now, I noticed that several of the other kids were taking piano lessons. Their progress was quickly achieved and they played more advanced pieces than our children had been exposed to. I asked around and was told that all of the other kids were taking lessons using the Suzuki Method of piano. I was highly impressed with the program and wanted to try it out for ourselves.

We still were not able to afford classes, but having already learned the basics from Teaching Little Fingers to Play, I felt confident that we would pick things up with this new curriculum. I was right! Our kids took to it immediately.

I appreciate that the Suzuki Method teaches children to focus on playing the music by ear and not relying on the sheet music itself. I also appreciated that the curriculum came with a CD so that we could listen to the pieces as our children played, teaching them to keep time and play along with someone else.

So far, we are more than halfway done with Book #1 and going strong. The kids are loving the program and enjoy learning new songs. I am loving the fact that we are learning without having to leave the house, spending time and money we don’t have. I enjoy the Suzuki Method greatly, but I am very glad we started off with Teaching Little Fingers to Play first. I believe it gave us a strong foundation for what we are now learning.

Do you have a piano lesson you do from home? I always love learning about new curriculum and would love to hear what you use!

Fair Competition

Well, we are finally done. All of our competitions for the L.A. County Fair are complete and, as of this morning, turned in.

The kids did a wonderful job creating all of them and did very nice work. They are proud of what they have done and that is always a good sign. In all, Trinity completed 7 projects, Noel and Angelina 6, and Joseph 4. Once the fair opens and the competition results come in, I will have to take some pictures to post. 

The only things left to complete are the Read-to-Ride book reports, which we have about halfway done. When six reports are completed, you get passes for 9 rides at the fair. With four kids attending, free carnival rides come in handy! There are two weeks left of summer, I am sure we will be able to get it done with no pressure to rush.

We are very excited to explore this year’s fair and can’t wait until it opens. Then we will be able to see what the judges thought of their work.

¿Usted Habla Español?

I am part Puerto Rican, but my father (the Spanish blood in my genes) left when I was a child and never looked back; thus, I don’t speak Spanish. My mother-in-law is Mexican by birth and my father-in-law Spaniard by birth. Coming to America they wanted to become fluent and so they only spoke English in their home, therefore my husband doesn’t speak Spanish well.

Despite the fact that neither of their parents speak Spanish, our children grew up becoming more and more interested in their hispanic heritage. They love listening to their yaya and yayo (grandma and grandpa) speak fluently and try to figure out what they are saying. They love listening to Spanish music and learning to dance. They even have dresses, brought over from Spain, which they wear as often as possible when they are having play dates at my in-laws. They love Spanish and Mexican cuisine, paella and tacos being the top picks, which makes my in-laws very proud.

It seemed natural when at some point my kids asked if we could start learning Spanish. Always willing to give a learning area a shot, I quickly looked up some good Spanish curriculum for young kid.

The curriculum that best met our families needs was Teach Them Spanish! This curriculum starts as early as PreK and covers a lot of ground. I like the fact that it starts off with everyday items that the children will use; colors, numbers, family members, and parts of their body, are just a few topics covered in PreK. Each new grade level stars off with reviewing what has already been taught and then builds upon it. If you learned 10 colors in PreK, you will review those 10 and add 5 more in K.

The best part of the curriculum, in my opinion, is the fun activity list that accompanies each lesson. Not only does the curriculum offer workbook pages to help you with learning, but it has Bingo games and other ideas to help make learning fun!

For those absolutely new to Spanish, like myself, there are also very helpful teacher pages. These pages follow each lesson, offering suggested questions to ask your student. For example: When studying colors, the teacher pages will teach you how to ask your student what color their shirt is, in Spanish with the English translation next to it. It will then teach you how your students should respond, in Spanish with the English translation beside.

This curriculum has been a lot of fun and we are learning a lot. Come high school, we are going to have to go with a more formal program, but for now this is working for us. The kids are having a blast and my in-laws are having fun supplementing what we are learning.

Do you have a Spanish lesson that you enjoy? I would love to hear suggestions.