Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Writing Curriculum

A friend recently asked me for advice about writing instruction. Actually, I get asked about writing fairly often, so here is a description of what we use.

I first began using this curriculum when Olivia and Julie were in the 6th and 4th grades. Clay began IEW when he was in the 4th grade. In my opinion, the 4th grade is a good age to begin IEW. Typically my children do the following for their "writing instruction" until the 4th grade:

1st--copywork, write letters to friends and family, dictation
2nd--the same as first, but longer assignments, plus begin a Journal. I make 5 basic writing assignments, one to be completed each school day. (1) copywork, (2) dictation, (3) doodling, (4) general journaling, (5) letter to someone. This journal can actually be started in first grade if the student is ready. The doodling is just this: I draw a little scribble or a few shapes on the page, the child finishes the picture to create something, and finally writes a sentence about what they have drawn. My children really loved doing this!
3rd--same as 1st and 2nd, plus I provide "story starters" weekly. These can be found on the internet. I would write the story starter either on the board or in their journal, and then they would complete the assignment. The story starter can take the place of one of the other journal activities.
4th--continue with letter writing weekly, plus begin Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW teaches children to write by first rewriting already written paragraphs, short stories, and excerpts from books. They are taught how to outline simple paragraphs, put the paragraph away, orally retell the paragraph using only their outline, and then write the paragraph, using only their outline. Next they learn a series of 6 dress-ups, to include in every paragraph. These are taught one at a time, and the student practices including the new dress-up in his writing before learning a new one. Some of the dress-ups are -ly word (adverb), strong verb, quality adjective, and a because clause. As the course progresses, the students are also taught sentence openers and various other language techniques to enhance their writing. Once a technique is taught, it is required in all subsequent writing assignments. The curriculum includes checklists for the writing assignments, so both the teacher and student know what is expected. Over the course of the curriculum the children progress from writing short paragraphs to book critiques and five paragraph essays.

IEW at first glance may seem confusing. They offer a wide variety of products, and some of them are relatively expensive. Keep in mind that most of them are non-consumable, a feature that I always look for in curriculum since I have five children to educate. The first product that you need is Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS). This includes a set of DVDs for the teacher to watch and a teacher's notebook. You could buy this product alone, and implement the curriculum with your children. However, IEW sells a few more products that make teaching writing even easier. The next product you need (really you need to buy it at the same time that you buy TWSS...they offer a price break when you buy them together) is Student Writing Intensive Level A, B, or C (SWI). You choose Level A, B, or C based on the age of your child. You do not, complete Level A, then B, then begin with either A, B, or C, and then you are through with SWI.

The teacher must watch the TWSS DVDs before attempting to use the SWI with her students. If you don't watch these DVDs, and read through the accompanying notebook, you will be lost when your child begins SWI. SWI is also a set of DVDs and a notebook, for the student. SWI will take your about one school year to implement. It requires 15-30 weeks (30 if you take it slowly, which I advise) to complete each level. Since I also require letter writing, working through SWI takes us one school year. The student will watch a portion of a DVD one or two days every 2 weeks. The rest of the time is spent writing, editing, and rewriting. A note: I allow my children to complete all of their outlines and writing on the computer. Typing is so much faster than handwriting, plus it is so much easier to edit and reprint the final copy. They sometimes choose to do their outline by hand, but they always choose to type the actual paragraph, story, essay, or report. When Clay first began IEW, he could not type very well, so I sometimes took dictation and typed his paragraphs for him. Other times, he had to just write them.

Once you have completed a SWI course, you have a few choices. You can buy their Student Intensive Continuation Courses (SICC), which is another year of lessons and DVDs similar to SWI, you can use what you and your student have learned using TWSS and SWI and assign your own writing assignments using topics from your science, history or English curriculum, or you can buy and use one of IEW's other writing products. I have not purchased SICC, but I have done both of the other two options. This year, Olivia used the Medieval Writing Lessons, and Julie used the Bible Based Writing Lessons (both sold by IEW) for first semester, and are now writing one book critique per month plus weekly letter writing for this semester. IEW offers many writing instruction books for all grade levels, and they all can be used with ease after your student has completed SWI. These books are much less expensive, and they don't require any planning on the teacher's part. The student simply works through the book completing the writing assignments.

So that's the explanation! If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I'll try to answer them. Also, the people at IEW are very helpful too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Homeschool Channel

A few months ago, I blogged about a new blog, called The Homeschool Channel TV. I added it to my bloglist, but it stayed at the bottom of the list because.....well I don't know, it just wasn't set up to update when it was updated.....I don't really understand! But, now it is more than a blogsite. I put a link in my left sidebar. Just a small title, "The Homeschool Channel TV". Clicking on those words will take you to a wonderful website full of homeschooling encouragement and information. One feature of the website is called "Article of the Day", and I am one of the regular contributing authors. I will not be posting anything over there that I do not post over here at my blog, but I encourage you to visit The Homeschool Channel TV to read other articles (some of them written by real life friends of mine....Anita and Sherri), and to just spend some time looking around this neat site. Apparently you can watch various videos and instructional programs on the site. I plan to spend some time over there myself checking things out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Sam!

Four years ago today I gave birth to my last child, sweet Sam. He arrived 2.5 weeks early, weighing 8 lbs., 5 ozs. He was just precious! We set up a crib for him in the corner of our bedroom, but he slept in my arms or right beside me most of the time. In fact, for the first two weeks, I slept at night in a recliner, holding him all night. Sam has been such a joy in our family! We have really enjoyed celebrating his special day with him.

Newborn Sam

Sam today, waiting to open his presents

This morning when Sam woke up, he came into our bedroom, and said in such a cute way when he walked in, "Does somebody have a birthday today? Is someone 4?"

Sam with all of his gifts

Sam and Mac the truck.

Sam was with me when I bought this gift. I tried to hide it from him under Leah's coat, but he dug around the buggy and saw it. When he saw his presents this morning, he kept saying, "Is this my Mac truck?" as he picked up a gift.

Sam playing inside his Lightning McQueen tent. Olivia, Julie, and Clay gave Sam this tent along with a flashlight, compass, and sleeping bag. Sam played inside this tent most of the day.

The birthday table---Curious George was the theme.

Two Georges--I decorated the table with Curious George books (I read at least two of these a day to Sam) and Reese's Peanut Butter cups--Sam's favorite candy.
The birthday breakfast--bacon, eggs, biscuits, and pancakes.

After a leisurely morning of birthday fun, Jimmy took the boys into town for haircuts. The girls and I met them for a late lunch at McDonald's, and then we all went to Homeschool Skating. Sam rode his bike, and everyone else skated---even Jimmy and me! There were 87 homeschooled children there today. It was a lot of fun!

Sam riding his bike at the skating rink

After skating, we all went home. I cooked "little" hamburgers and homemade french fries for Sam's birthday supper. Next, we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed a yummy bakery-bought Curious George cake and ice cream.

the cake

Sam getting ready to blow out his candles

Happy Birthday Sam!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coupon Clipping

When Jimmy and I were first married, and up until probably the time when Julie was born, I diligently clipped coupons. Nothing fancy or time-consuming, I just clipped coupons out of the Sunday paper---only clipping the ones for items that I already planned on buying. Gradually I got out of the habit completely.
I have several friends how are really coupon savvy, and they inspired me to try again. So, for the month of January, I have used coupons at my weekly Kroger visit. Surprisingly to me, I saved $8-$12 dollars each week! I was amazed! That is over $40 for the month! $40 times 12 months will be $480 in savings!

Since I love to organize so much, high on my list of coupon clipping was how to manage the coupons. In the past I had one of those accordion type thingys that I sorted the coupons in by categories. Some of my friends use a file box type thing, and some of them use a binder. Since I love binders, I chose the binder method. I bought a package of baseball card clear plastic page protectors from Toys R Us, and I placed my coupons in the little holders. I like things to be alphabetized, so I have one page protector for each letter of the alphabet. I put toothpaste coupons in the T page, and dish detergent in the D page, etc. I can find my coupons easily this way.

One more thing I tried this month was to stay out of WalMart! Normally, I shop there only once a month. I have done this for years, so I know just how much toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, kleenex, detergent, etc. to buy for each month. But, my coupon clipping friends informed me that I would save more money by shopping weekly at Walgreens, CVS or both, buying their on sale items with a coupon. To maximize my savings, they encouraged me to purchase the items that offered Register Rewards (Walgreens) or Bucks Back (CVS). So I tried it this month.

It wore me out!

I am used to going to Walmart once for the month and being done with it. For the past 4 weeks, I have frequented Walgreens and CVS weekly! And I still had to go to WalMart to purchase cat litter, cat food, Murphy's Oil, and a few other items that Walgreens or CVS just do not sell in the quantity or at the savings that I need. So, I am still undecided about whether I am going to still try Walgreens/CVS......I know that I still need a monthly Walmart trip. I think I will just continue to study the Walgreens sale paper on Sundays, and when they offer a really good sale, and I have the coupons, and I can get the Register Rewards, then I will stop by there on my way to Kroger. I have also learned that some of my regular WalMart items, when on sale, and I have a coupon, can actually be purchased cheaper at Kroger.

I am still learning. But I think my grand total of savings at the end of this month (savings from my regular WalMart/Kroger monthly spending) will be around $200! That is exciting and motivating enough to make me continue with my coupon clipping.

If you have any coupon clipping or money saving ideas, please share!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Menu Monday

Here is this week's menu.

Vegetable Soup, cornbread

Bacon, eggs, biscuits (we have breakfast for supper sometimes)

Mozzarella chicken, pasta, salad

BBQ, slaw, rolls, ranch potatoes

Little hamburgers, homemade fries

Crock pot lasagna, salad

I am using two new recipes from my cousin-in-law, Leanna this week.

Sour Cream Cornbread

2 c. self-rising cornmeal
1/2c. oil
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
cheddar cheese

Preheat iron skillet @ 450 with 2-3 T butter. Combine all ingredients except cheese. Pour 1/2 of batter in and sprinkle with cheese. Pour remaining batter on top and bake at 450 for about 25 min..

Crockpot Lasagna
8 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 Jar Ragu chunky vegetable spaghetti sauce (I get Mama's Garden Vegetable)
1/3 c. water
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 can mushrooms
1 tsp. dry Italian dressing mix
1 lb. ground beef

Brown beef, drain. Add dry Italian mix, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, and water. Place beef mixture aside.

In crockpot, layer 4 noodles, 1/2 beef mixture, 1c. mozzarella, all of the cottage cheese. Then repeat the noodle layer, beef layer, and mozzarella layer. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

For more yummy menus visit

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Running Post

I realized that I hadn't posted about running in awhile, and since this blog will serve as my memory as I grow older and forgetful, I thought I better give a little update.

November-mid March is not typically racing season around here. I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon on December 5th (I think), and I have run outside only 3 times since then. This is treadmill season! I am so grateful that we have two treadmills! Jimmy and I can run at the same time in the mornings (although he usually gets an earlier start than I do), and the children can run two at a time in the afternoons. We do have the trails on our property that are great to run on....when it is not too cold or raining. We had a couple of days of pretty weather last week, so one day we actually all went to the city park to run. It was wonderful to run outside!

Currently I am training for a half marathon on February 27th. Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie are also running it. I am really looking forward to running this race with a friend. She actually talks as much or maybe even more than I do, so I know that we will have the best time!

I have been keeping my weekly mileage the same as it has been since the summer--25 miles a week. For two-three weeks after the St. Jude race, I backed off to 18-20 miles, but I have been running 25/week for the last few weeks. I typically run a long run of 10 or more miles on Sunday mornings before our church service. I try to start by 5:30 at the latest. Tomorrow I am running 12. I run the rest of the miles in three days the rest of the week, usually on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Most weeks I run 6, 5, and then 4, or whatever adds up to finish out the 25 miles. I keep saying that I want to lift weights or cross train on those other 3 days each week, but so far, I haven't done that!

Jimmy gave me two running related gifts for Christmas, both of which I love! The first one was new running shoes for the treadmill. We all have shoes that we use only for treadmill running. This keeps the treadmills clean. I keep up with my treadmill miles by writing them on a marker board.....I had 626 miles on my treadmill shoes! Normally, the shoe experts tell you to replace your running shoes after 250-300 miles. I figure that treadmill miles aren't as hard on your shoes as pavement ones are.....but after 600 miles, I was ready for new shoes! The other gift was a long sleeved running shirt. It is a pretty pinky-red color, and it is so soft! It is a little thicker than normal running technical shirts, but not too thick to wear while running indoors. I love that shirt, and I wear it twice a week!

Well, that's the running update!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Over the years I have tried a variety of approaches and curriculum to teach my children how to be good spellers. One thing I have observed is that the more they read, the better they can spell. Also, the more they read, the more that they know when they have misspelled a word, but they just don't know how to spell it correctly. My girls used to tell me when they were giving me a paper to edit that they knew they had misspelled a word. Now that they type all of their papers (and study guide answers too), they can use the spell check when they are unsure.

Clay is a different story! Since he is not a voracious reader like his sisters (actually he only reads the bare minimum required for his schoolwork.....with the exception of reading the Lego catalog!), he has struggled with spelling more than they have.

Here is what I have used:

1. The Natural Speller--I used this for 2-3 years with Olivia, Julie, and Clay beginning when they were in the 1st grade. It is a collection of word lists. You just assign a word list at the beginning of each week, and then the books suggests grade appropriate activities to help study each word. These activities are your typical ones: put the words in alphabetical order, write sentences with the words, illustrate the words, identify the part of speech each word is, and also a variety of tactile ways to practice the words (sand, glue, stickers, colored markers, etc.). The Natural Speller is non-consumable, so it is a bargain in a family of 5 students like ours.

2. Excellence in Spelling--sold by IEW. I used this for Clay for 1.5 years. It is a set of CDs that call out word lists to your child. When they have mastered a list by making a perfect score on the words twice, they move to the next list. This spelling program is completely independent, but it is expensive. It is, however, non-consumable. Clay grew tired of it after 1.5 years....the recorded voices say a little jingle (sometimes a long jingle!) that goes with the spelling words after every 3 words, and Clay thought that took too much of his time.

3. Bob Jones (I think) spelling. I used this for Olivia and I think Julie one year in about the 3rd and 5th grades. We lasted about one semester with this program. It included just too much busy work like cross-word puzzles, word searches, etc. However, I did like the dictionary skills.

4. Currently I am using my own spelling program, using the best features of all the things I have tried. I am using the Natural Speller PLUS words that Clay misspells in his writings to create spelling word lists. Here is my procedure:

  • call out a list of 15 words for him to write
  • tell him which ones he has misspelled
  • have him rewrite the misspelled words twice, saying the correct spelling out loud while he is writing the words
  • the following days I only call out the words he missed previously.
  • have him rewrite and spell out loud any missed words
  • repeat the above procedure until all words are learned
  • Begin again with 15 new words

I plan to begin the same plan with Leah next year when she begins 1st grade. I will probably give her 10 words at a time.

One last note.....when my children are Leah's age and are beginning to write letters and things on their own, I make each one of them a personal Spelling Book. This is just a spiral bound notebook (the $.25 kind from WalMart). I use a marker to label the upper right hand corner of every other page with the letters of the alphabet, writing both the upper and lower case. When the child asks me how to spell something, I have them turn to the correct page, and then I print the word for them. This is very useful! They learn to refer to the spelling book and see if the word they want spelled is there before they ask me how to spell it.

Happy Spelling!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our Mississippi History Curriculum

We began a study of Mississippi History when we started back to school this semester. Originally I had planned to use a purchased curriculum, for Olivia only, but I recently heard some less than favorable reviews about it, and then when I tried to install it.....(it was a computer based curriculum), I could tell that it just wasn't going to work for us.

So I went to Plan B.

I ordered some books about Mississippi and its history, provided the children with some blank maps of Mississippi and three ring binders, and we were set!

Our daily plan is this:
1. I read aloud from two of the books to all of the children.

This is one of the books I am reading aloud. It is providing a very colorful history of our state!
Disclaimer! Do not just give this book to your children to read! Parts of it are gruesome (describing the activities of Indians, outlaws, and various people who took the law into their own hands). I am reading this aloud, and am skipping the disgusting parts.

This is the other book I am currently reading aloud. The title is Must See Mississippi, 50 Favorite Places. I am reading about one place each day.

2. After we read these books, we head down to the schoolroom and work on our Mississippi notebooks. I am having them copy or write from memory one interesting fact from that day's reading. Next, they are marking on a blank Mississippi map the place we read about. They have also colored and labeled a map of the three primary Native American tribes of Mississippi, and they are coloring various state themed pages for the notebooks too. As we cover more of the history, we will be adding appropriate pages. Olivia is also reading several pages daily from a book that I am using as our "text". I am reading it too!

The "textbook"

The following books are other books that I plan to read aloud after we finish Adam of the Road, a book set in Medieval times that we did not finish before Christmas break.

I really like it when all of my children can study the same subject at the same time. For many years, I used KONOS curriculum, and my three oldest children studied every subject except math and grammar together. For the last couple of years, it has proved too difficult to conduct unit studies....the children were getting older, and now we had two preschoolers in the mix. But for now, our Mississippi unit study seems to be going fine. I plan to add some crafts and cooking for the younger children as it fits.

One of the advantages of homeschool is the ability to change course midstream when needed!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Big Party!

Saturday we celebrated Leah's and Sam's birthdays at GO, a fantastic place in Tupelo.

This was Leah's second time and Sam's first time to have a birthday party ( a party with guests outside our family). Since Leah and Sam share the same friends and their birthdays are two weeks apart, we thought a joint party would be a good idea. And it was! We had such a fun time. Sydney Darnell, the owner of GO provided us with a wonderful party experience.

Leah and Sam sat in chairs and opened their gifts as each guest arrived. The children went straight to the spring floor to complete an obstacle course.

Leah--having a fun time!

It took Sam a while to warm up....he stayed in either my or Olivia's arms for the first part of the party.

Clay--he knows about GO....when he, Olivia, and Julie were younger, they attended weekly classes at GO.

party guests and coaches in action!

After all the guests had arrived and all the gifts were open, the children were divided into four groups. Each group rotated to one of four stations and participated in an activity with a fun coach. They also were pulled from their groups one at a time to help paint a canvas for both Leah and Sam. The activities were rope swinging, marble rolling inside tubes, jumping to catch a football (landing on a pile of pads!), and red light, green light. Since the playing floor of GO is made of that springy stuff, so really anything you do on it is lots of fun!

Jimmy and Sam swinging on the rope!

Leah, swinging on the rope!

The children were also pulled from their groups, two at a time to do the favorite activity of all--

Climbing the Rock Wall!!!

Here is Sam climbing the "little" rock wall. This one does not require any special equipment or harnesses.....the children can just climb up and jump down.

Leah, harnessed and ready to climb the "big" rock wall. We did not get any pictures of her climbing....but she climbed about a quarter of the way up.

Sam tried the big rock wall too! Sydney "helped" him!

Look at how proud Sam is!

Here is Clay climbing the rock wall. He tried 3 or 4 times, and he almost made it to the top!

Julie, smiling and climbing! She almost made it to the top too!

Julie and Olivia, racing to the top! Well, kind of racing! Rock wall climbing is slow and strenuous. Olivia did make it to the top!

Clay and Olivia

Clay and Me!

Yes, I was brave and tried to climb! It was very, very scary! Those rocks are so tiny.....too tiny to grasp with either your toes or hands. I guess I made it about halfway to the top. It seemed extremely high! I was ready to come down, but I was scared to let go! Lynn calculated that I burned about 90 calories attempting to climb that rock wall! My arms were sore the rest of the day!

Lastly, Jimmy climbed the rock wall. It looked effortless!

There he the top!

The final minutes of the party were spent singing Happy Birthday to Leah and Sam and then enjoying a special GO cake (for the honorees) and lime green GO cookies for the guests.

It was a great party!
Happy Birthday Leah and Sam!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What Are You Seeking First?

I am currently reading The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson for at least the second time. I really like all of Sally's books, and I have a link to her blog in my sidebar: I Take Joy. This book is one that I have learned so much from. In a recent chapter she comments about the following verse:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33

This verse provoked a few questions in my mind....
1. Does my life reflect this verse to my children?
2. What do my children think is most important to me?
3. Am I seeking first the kingdom of God?
4. How should that look in my daily life?

Am I maintaining a joyful, grateful attitude throughout the day? (Sadly, there are days that I do not! But I know that it is commanded to me to do so). "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Am I exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" These are qualities that I must pray for and work on on a daily basis.

Do I do all things without arguing or complaining? "Do all things without complaining and disputing..." Philippians 2:14 I have noticed time and time again that my children act and react just like I do. My heart is warmed when I see one of them patiently helping another one, or sweetly playing with or reading a story to another....but I am equally dismayed when I hear them complain about a chore or exhibit a poor attitude, especially when I know that they learned it from me! I must strive at all times to be a good example for them. When times are hard, I need to teach them to take it to the Lord in prayer, and not resort to grumpiness.

When I have anxieties, how do I deal with them? How am I teaching my children to respond to stress? "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
I have put this verse into practice over and over again. It really does work!

Am I hiding God's Word in my heart? Do I share these Scriptures with my children at appropriate times? Do they know that God's Word is hidden in my heart by the way that I live my life? "Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against You." Psalm 119:11

Do my children know that I am seeking God and His Kingdom first because they see me pray and read my Bible? But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

Am I thankful? "in everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Am I thankful for all things? Not just the pleasant times, but truly thankful for everything?

Do I desire to fellowship with and assemble with other Christians? If the Lord is important to me, then being with people of like-minded faith will be important too. We can be so encouraged by other Christians. "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

I desire to seek first the kingdom of God, and my prayer is that with the Lord's help, I can live my life in such a way that my children will always know that God is the most important part of my life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Leah's Big Day

Here is the birthday girl with her gifts

Fancy Leah with Fancy Nancy

Sam took care of the trash

Leah with gifts her sisters made her--Julie knitted a sweater and crocheted a hat for Leah's baby Sarah, and Olivia crocheted her a hat. Leah wore the purple hat all day!

All of us at The Olive Garden (Jimmy is taking the picture!)

Blowing out her candles!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Leah!

Today is Leah's 6th birthday!

I stayed up until 12:30 last night preparing for the big day! I made this cake, and I will just say that this is the last birthday cake that I plan on making!
I have made several birthday cakes for the children, and whenever I try one like I did last night, I always regret it. I am just not talented in the cake decorating field! I even called Jimmy's cousin's wife, Holly who lives over 5 hours away for cake decorating advice--over the phone! She is super talented, and I really wished that she could just have just made the cake for me! is the cake.....

It's supposed to be a Fancy Nancy crown!

I decorated the table Fancy Nancy, complete with sparkly confetti, Fancy Nancy paper goods, beads, sunglasses, play make-up, a Fancy Nancy purse, and of course, a Fancy Nancy doll. Leah was pleasantly surprised when she woke up this morning to the fancy table. She also loved her cake, which she thought was beautiful!
the table

Fancy Nancy

a place setting

Leah's gifts!

Leah woke up around 8:00 this morning. We began the day by letting her open her gifts. She was so excited. She very nicely let Sam help her open each present. While she played with some of her new toys, I cooked her breakfast request, Sausage and Cheese Muffins.
The rest of the day was spent playing, and then we had a late lunch at The Olive Garden. Yummy! After that we sang Happy Birthday to Leah and enjoyed the delicious cake (it tasted much better than it looked) and ice cream. We ended the afternoon by watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Our whole family really enjoyed it!

I plan to share photos from our fun day later tonight---today's pictures are on Jimmy's camera...he is at a meeting, and I will have him upload them when he gets home.

Happy Birthday Leah!