Juggling This Life

Latin Memory Aides: Cycle 3 – Week 5

NOTE:  This is a post for Classical Conversations memory work.  For the vast majority of you, this will mean nothing – I’ll try to post about something more generally applicable in the near future.  In the meantime, for those who are working through Week 5 memory work, here are some helps for Latin.

These are memory association flashcards that helped my guys remember the words.  Some of them are a stretch, but hey – it’s a start!  They have the added benefit of tying into the Perspective theme of this week’s art focus.


factum – made

1 factum - made

A factory made a bright, shiny thing.



missus – sent

2 missus - sent

Mrs. Missus, the president of the factory, sent one to me.



comprehenderunt – comprehend

When it came, I understood what it was.  I held it in my hand and thought, "I comprehend! (comprehand)"

When it came, I understood what it was. I held it in my hand and thought, “I comprehend! (comprehand)”

(For little guys, just understanding what “comprehend” means will likely help them understand and remember the Latin word, especially if they have the “-hend/-hand” sound in their head to jog their memory.)

Bonus:  “When it came” sounds like last week’s “venit – came.”  Actually, that’s how we remembered that one.

lucet – shineth

4 lucet - shineth

…and I said, “Look! It shineth!”



fuit – there was

5 fuit - there was

Then it stopped shining. I was sad.  I said “Fooey (fuit)” because there was no more shine.


Here is a pdf you can download.

It’s not fancy – just each flashcard with the caption underneath.  If you print it on cardstock, you can cut out the pictures and write the words on the back.

I hope this helps!  Please leave any memory aides that have helped you in the comments below.

States and Capitals – Memory Pictures

As we’re working through our year first two weeks of Classical Conversations, our kids are introduced to the names and locations of states and capitals.  Here are some pictures I drew to help cement the names – we’ll also work on locations – into their memory.  Some are my original ideas, others I freely borrowed from more creative minds than mine.  See explanations below if you happen to be working on them yourself!  NOTE:  We’re only learning 5 each week, so I’ll update weekly, or as I can.

First ten states and capitals - the Northeast.

First ten states and capitals – the Northeast.

Here is a description of the pictures, starting in the upper left and going down the column:

o       Augusta, MaineA gust of wind is blowing through a lion’s mane.

o       Concord, New Hampshire:  A cord is wrapped around a new ham. (You may need to explain what a cord is if your children are bitty ones.)

o       Hartford, ConnecticutHearts are connected. (You could draw four hearts to get the “-ford” sound represented. Or not.)

o       Boston, Massachusetts:  The Boss has a cold (see the red nose?) and is saying, “Mass-ACHOO-setts!”

o       Providence, Rhode Island:  A road with lots of dents leads to an island.

o       Montpelier, Vermont:  There is a mountain, a banana peel, and another mountain. A stretch, I know.

o       Albany, New YorkAl, the bunny is about to eat a new, York Peppermint Patty. My kids had never had a York Peppermint Patty. What could I do?  York Peppermint Patties for the fam!  It was highly educational.

o       Trenton, New Jersey:  This is a tent (Tenton…Trenton….I know, another stretch. But it spoke directly to my sports-loving son’s heart!) made of new jerseys. I used sports numbers I think my son likes.

o       Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:  (This one is my favorite.) It’s a hairy iceberg (Say it real fast a bunch of times – It will start to sound like Harrisburg) on top of a pencil with a weather vane on it.  Florida natives may need to explain what an iceberg and a weather vane are.

o       Dover, Delaware:  Isn’t it great that the only “D” state has a “D” capital?!  I placed the Dover “D” OVER the Delaware “D.”


As I said, if you happen to be studying states and capitals, I hope this helps!  If you have any ideas yourself for these states or the others we’ll get to, please share – I would love more ideas!

When Hubby Helps with Homeschool…

I’m SO EXCITED!  Last week I got a great deal on a really nice whiteboard.  Today Ken hung it in our homeschool room, which also happens to be our dining room.  This board will really help as we work through our Classical Conversations* curriculum this year.

So, speaking of curriculum, as a Classical Conversations VET (Very Excited Tutor), I couldn’t wait to start arranging our first week of information.

White Board Set-up

History Fact Cards.  Check!

Science Fact Card and information.  Check!

Lots more to add, but for the moment that was good enough.  I left to run errands, leaving Ken (who thinks he’s really funny) home alone with the dry erase markers.

After errands, I discovered Ken had added his own classical learnin’  to The Board.  Here’s a before and after of our science facts:

Can you spot the differences?

Hmm.  Can you spot the differences?

I shudder to think what classical learnin’  additions I may find when we get to the Excretory System in a few weeks.  I may hide the markers.


*For homeschool this year, we’ve opted for a curriculum/homeschool group called Classical Conversations.  We meet once a week, separate into age-leveled classes, and tutors present new information for the week with a parent observing.  Then, at home, parents expand on the information as much or as little as makes sense for children’s ages and interests.  I’m one of the tutors this year, and I’m SO excited!

Failure Is Not An Option – it’s a certainty.

Back in my college days, I took advantage of the school fitness center.  One day while I walked the long and weary road (a.k.a. the treadmill), I watched a guy approach a machine.  Now, this was one of those machines you need to adjust.  And it was an easy adjust – pull a pin and move the seat.

He sat down.  He stood up.  He looked at the machine.  He looked under the machine.  The machine didn’t fit him, but how to change it?  I could have showed him, but even then I knew that a lot of times guys don’t appreciate help when they’re going about the business of being manly.

So I watched as he sat back down, stood back up, then walked away without using the machine.  In bold, black letters, the back of his T-shirt said, “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.”

Failure is not an option

Flash forward twenty years, one husband, two kids, and twenty-plus pounds.  Last night I used a free pass to a local gym and attempted a workout.  I opted for “The Circuit.”  Twenty machines and exercises lined up in a no-fail row.  Just jump on those bad boys, follow the directions and the timer light, and in no time you’ll have a full body workout, easy-peasy.  cough, cough.

I did pretty well until…The Ab Twister.  (a.k.a. The Pride Buster.)  Now, this was one of those machines you need to adjust.  (Sound familiar?)  It took me a full 30 seconds to figure out where to sit, let alone what to adjust.  So I stood there staring at the machine and trying to look cool.

Seriously?  I know - This machine holds no mystery for you experienced gym goers.  To me, it looks like someone put padding on a relic from the Spanish Inquisition and set the whole thing in The Circuit.

Seriously? I know – This machine holds no mystery for you experienced gym goers. To me, it looks like someone padded a relic from the Spanish Inquisition and set the whole thing in The Circuit.

The timer light turned green, telling me to GO!  I read the directions.  I looked at the machine.  I tried to match the parts of the machine with the words in the directions.  I sat down.  I stood up.  I pulled one knob and pushed another.  The seat swung around with a clang.  Did I mention that this machine is, literally, FIVE FEET in front of cardio row?

Oh, the poetic justice.

Oh, the poetic justice.


In times like these, I pretend I’m invisible.  Do you know how hard that is when a buff, gym-body person is working the elliptical trainer five feet away, and you know they’ve got nothing better to do than idly watch the inept newbie pull knobs and flail around on the ab machine?

The timer light turned red.  Again.  By now the timer light had gone through at least two cycles.  The timer waits for nobody.  I finally raised the seat to the right height, according to the picture.  I pushed and pulled knobs.

I twisted and squirmed till I heard and felt the machine clink into a position that might match the directions.  I grabbed what I was pretty sure were the handles.  I twisted one way, then the other.  The timer light went on and off again.  The timer light is a cold-hearted coach.  I twisted back and forth ten times – after all this, you better believe I was gonna get a set in.

The directions told me to “repeat for the other side.”  Not on your life.  The timer light turned red.  I was done.  Finished.   NEXT MACHINE!

After I finished my workout, and after I filled out the paperwork to actually join the gym, the front desk guy asked me if I had any questions.  As a matter of fact, I did.  Would he show me how to work one particular machine?  Sure, he’d be happy to.

He led me over.  He glanced at the directions.   “Well, you just…” he pulled a knob.  Nothing happened.  He tugged the seat.  Nothing happened.  He pushed a knob.

Ab Twister (9)

The seat swung to the side but didn’t click in place.  “You just slide this over here….” nothing clicked.  Finally he got it set in place and demonstrated, then confirmed that yes, I should repeat the whole process for the other side.  He walked away.  Rather quickly, I thought.

I stared at the machine.  I didn’t care about the timer light.  I didn’t care about the people in cardio row.  I probably would have cared about the two guys who were about to use the machine, but I didn’t see them till I was done.  oops.

I sat down.  I pushed and pulled that stupid knob till I clicked that seat into place on one side.  Success!  Then I pushed and pulled that knob some more and got the seat to click on the other side.  Then I practiced it again on the first side.  Then again on the other side.  Then I set the weights and did 10 reps on each side.


I stepped off.  I felt great!  My imaginary inspirational T-shirt should have read, “Failure is the door to success.”

Nah.  It should have read,

“Failure’s a learning experience – That’s life.  Hope you enjoyed the show!” 🙂

The Perfect Misconception

NOTE:  Though I write this post from a homeschool mom’s perspective, I believe all mothers struggle with the same agony at some point, if not every day.  Whether your child goes to a brick and mortar school, or homeschools, we all make the best educational choices we can, given our unique circumstances.  In your reading, please change whatever verbiage you must to apply the spirit of this post to your own heart. That said, read on!


Wednesday through Friday this past week, I attended a homeschool seminar.  During an open-mic discussion, the facilitator posed this humbling question:

“How many of you feel like someone else would do a better job homeschooling your children?”

I would say fifty percent or more of those precious women raised their hand.  Thinking of certain incredible moms, I raised my hand, also.

However, I next raised my hand to speak my heart:

When my husband and I go to a friend’s home for dinner, their house is immaculate.  Ours, well, we’ll just say it’s not.  On our way back to our laundry-filled, sticky-floored home after one of these visits, I asked my husband in despair, “Why can’t I keep our house like that?”  Heaven bless him, he  said, and I quote, “Hon, they don’t.  They do the mad company cleaning just like we do.  We only see the cleaned-up version.”

In the same line of thought, I’m thinking about the GREAT homeschool moments and ideas I share with others.  I don’t mention the fifteen moments that left my kids in tears and the ten ideas that just didn’t work.  I share that one great thing.  But that great thing doesn’t represent the whole of our homeschool experience, it represents the top five percent.  It’s the cleaned-up version!

Guess what?  Everyone else does this, too!  But sometimes, we listen to those great moments, and see those great Facebook posts, and judge our whole experience by someone else’s top five percent.  No wonder we think someone else would do a better job!

I've always struggled with housekeeping.  More posts to come (I'm sure!) on my journey in this area.  In the meantime, I appreciate your grace. :-)

I’ve always struggled with housekeeping. More posts to come (I’m sure!) on my journey in this area. In the meantime, I appreciate your grace. 🙂


Afterward, at least three women made a point of saying to me, with relieved faces, “Thank you.  I really needed to hear that.”

I think we all really need to hear that.  We choose how we school our children because we believe that will give them the best foundation for life.  We strive for perfection.  The weight of this striving will crush our spirit if we judge ourselves by another family’s journey, especially when we compare and then judge ourselves on our worst day by someone else on their best.

Here’s the truth:  We all mess up.  We all have “Moments.”  (I’m picturing a few of my own “Moments” right now that I will not write about!)  Actually, I’m guessing we all have a lot of Moments.  We fear these Moments may have dislodged our children from the perfect path that could have been theirs.  But….

…Here’s another truth:  Our children will not have perfect paths.  And that truth is not ours to fear, because….

…Here’s another truth!  (Thank you to my sweet friend, Melissa, who shared this, which I needed to hear!)

God has a story written for your child.  You are not going to wreck it.  In the mind-blowing balance between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility, His plan will prevail.

Our children will live the story God has planned for them.  We’ll cheer for their happiness, and we’ll fall to our knees in prayer for their sorrow.  And it’s all part of God’s Plan for them.  Part of His Plan for us.

So, sweet mom, take comfort. If today is the bottom three percent for you, the top five is around the bend.  If you’re in the top five right now, a valley looms.  That’s Life.  For all of us.  No one is perfect, but you’re the perfect mom for your child.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Coolest Fort Ever – Literally

Let me introduce you to the fort structure of choice during hot, Florida summers when I was growing up.  It’s called “The Bubble Fort.”

All you need are a big fan, a big sheet, masking tape (duct tape would also work), and about  8-10 heavy books.  Those college textbooks you’ve saved for years but never once read again  would find new purpose here.

Needed:  large floor fan, large sheet, pile of books, masking/duct tape.

Needed: large floor fan, large sheet, pile of books, masking/duct tape.


Cute little munchkin is optional, but recommended.

Cute little munchkin is optional, but recommended.

Now before we get started, let me say I assume you are not going to leave your toddler who has shown an insatiable urge to poke his fingers into fan blades alone in this fort.  And I also assume that if you have a little one with long hair you’ve had the conversation about what can happen when long, light, fluffy kid hair gets near the business side of a fan.

Okay.  Safety issues are dealt with.  Let’s move on…. 😉

1.  Tape the short edge of the sheet to the top and sides of the fan.

Tape the sheet to the fan

2.  Spread the sheet out, leaving a gather in the middle.

3.  Lay 3 or 4 heavy books along the sides of the sheet, and 2 or 3 at the end to weight it down and hold in the air.


4.  Turn on the fan, shout, “LET ‘ER RIP!” and enjoy watching the big poof!

5.  Fill with pillows and blankets and books, and enjoy!

Enjoying the Fort

Full disclosure: These wonderful, genuine smiles are because one of them just tooted in the fort and they think that’s very funny. Joys of boys.  I’m glad I’m the one outside taking the picture! 🙂


This is the perfect fort for a hot summer day.  Let me know if you build a bubble fort at your house!

A Garage Sale is a Facial for Your House

From what I’ve heard, a garage sale is a lot like a facial for your house.  You open up the pores and drawers and get out all the junk and then it looks great; but the road to radiance has a few less-than glowing moments.

My road to home radiance started small and contained.

Off and running!

Off and running!


Then it turned into this:

Garage Sale Progress

It’s more organized than it looks. Yeah, no, it’s not. But most things have a price sticker and that’s a good step.


Along the way I found this:

Kindergarted/3rd Grade Kick-off

The first day of Kindergarten and Third grade. Aren’t they cute? That was, um, two years ago. Didn’t I collect and put away our work from last year before we started this year? Apparently not.



    Pause for a cause...Empty, collect, and collate two years worth of homeschool for two boys.

Pause for a cause…Empty, collect, and collate two years’ worth of homeschool for two boys.


Shane ate his lunch out in the “tree house” (the backyard playground). Eric ate his in the living room in his favorite chair.  Both were relieved when, after two days:


Can you hear the angels singing? I know. It’s a duct taped cardboard box. Definitely room for snazzing it up. We’ll get there. Right now I hear angels singing the sweet song of order!  And we can use our table again.


It hasn’t been easy living in so much clutter.  I’ve been really distracted.

Keurig with No cup


And it’s SOOOOO HAARRRRDD to let things go.  I mean….

Crayola Crayons

COME ON!  Forget coloring. We could melt these down in cookie cutter molds and make summer rainbow crayons. We could peel off the papers and make leaf rubbings. Or I could do what I’ve done for the last three years and put them in another drawer and dream about the day we’ll use them. NOTE: Lest you think I’m selling my children’s artistic potential, we have a whole other bin of crayons always available.  These are “extras – just in case.”


But I’ve found things I never knew we had.


Nine jars of peanut butter. Nine. In the SAME CABINET. How does this happen?


Luckily I also found:

Also in the same cabinet.  Coincidence...or fate?

…Also in the same cabinet. Coincidence…or fate?

Fluffer Nutter

I was a Lunch Hero.  The boys ate their fluffer-nutter sandwiches out in the treehouse.


So in the midst of garage sale preparation I’ve also organized two years of homeschool.  And sold three things on Craigslist.  And started my first Ebay auction (which is going quite nicely, thing you very much!)

Drawers have transformed from this:CAM04066


to this:CAM04067It’s been crazy, but I see the end in sight.  And that end has a “Garage Sale Here” sign pointed right at it!  Maybe I’ll use some Garage Sale profits and get a facial.

Brotherly Love

They say they will never talk to each other again, or forgive each other as long as they live.  Then I find them cozied up, eating tootsie roll pops and skittles and looking at magazine books. Ah, brotherly love.

Reading together

And, super cool and totally unorchestrated (seriously), the magazine book they chose is the one I made and posted about here; and in the background, you can see part of the garage sale progress I mentioned here .  Thankfully, the “for sale” pile is growing.

Let It Go!

I’m preparing for a major life event.  Think emotional drama.  Perhaps emotional trauma.  Ala Frozen, I’m gonna “Let it go!”  I’m gonna have a garage sale, baby!

This is a big deal for me.  I’m a hoarder saver.  My dad used to say if we were walking down the street and we stumbled on a white paper bag, he could pick it up, hand it to me, and I would grab it gleefully, saying, “Oh!  I know I can use this for something!”  And here’s the thing.  I would truly believe it.  Here’s my current collection of white paper bags.

White paper bag collection - Note:  purchased at store, not scrounged off ground.

White paper bag collection – Note: purchased at store, not scrounged off ground.


I have hoarding tendencies, anyway, and as a homeschool mom, I also see everything as a creative lesson component, thus justifying my hoarding as “future education for my children.”  Magazines could provide pictures for writing prompts, or illustrations for reports on Italy, or Genghis Khan,… or Alaska, if I cut out those martinis.

Magazine Collage

A 2-liter bottle?  That’s a terrarium waiting to happen.  Or a gigantic shaker instrument.  An old jar?  I could fill it with anything and estimate how many doodads are in it.  OH!  And ANYTHING can be a doodad, which can also be used for counting and math problems:  Mismatched buttons, pebbles, milk caps, coffee stirrers – you get the idea.  Cereal boxes are potential magazine storage.  Or cut them to size and they make great drawer dividers for office supplies, which I am addicted to.  I won’t tell you how many binder clips I have.  I’ll let you estimate.

What do you think?  100?  there's a bunch of small ones at the top...at least 30...

What do you think? 98? There are a bunch of small ones at the top…at least 92…


Now, I think about getting rid of books and dishes and linens and things that have actual, real-life use and I’m practically in agony.  The thing is, they aren’t useful to me.  I have so many doodads that I don’t use any of them.  So many fun plastic plates that I can’t find them even if I remember I have them, so I use the same couple over and over, fumbling through over-crowded drawers and cabinets to get to them.  A couple months ago a meat mallet fell from one such cabinet and hit me on the lip.

This does not foster creativity.  I have so much “stuff” that there’s no room in my head to think of how to use it creatively.

SO.  Garage sale.  June 7.  Including today I have ten days to get it done.  And I have a good start!

Off and running!

Off and running!

Half-y Birthday Party

Yesterday my sweet oldest boy turned ten-and-a-half.  I long for the years when “and a half” meant bragging rights.

We’ve never celebrated “Half-y Birthdays” before, but these precious boys are growing fast, and I want to savor little celebrations with them while they still think celebrations are fun and don’t roll their eyes.

I didn’t make a big deal of it.  I didn’t spend days planning a creative, out of this world celebration with hoopla and fanfare. I simply bought a plain little confetti cake on sale at Walmart, a tube of blue icing gel, and a $1.00 water shooter.  The whole thing cost about $7.00.

When I got home I “half-wrapped” the water shooter – half plain white paper (Christmas paper turned reverse side out) and half celebration paper.  You can just make it out in the lower left picture.

From top left:  Trying out the water shooter, This is 10 and 1/2!  Blowing out the candles, Unwrapping the "half-wrapped" present, "Half-y Birthday" cake.

From top left: Trying out the water shooter, This is 10 and 1/2! Blowing out the candles, Unwrapping the “half-wrapped” present, “Half-y Birthday” cake.


After dinner I cut the cake in half, personalized it, and invited Shane to his surprise Half-y Birthday party.    His eyes lit up and he smiled and said, “Thank you!”  Totally worth it.


I put one candle half-way down in the cake, and when we sang “Half-y Birthday,” we only sang half of the song!  (That was Ken’s idea.) And when Shane blew out the candles, he only blew out half of them (I like his style)…

Half-y Birthdy Cake

…And when Ken and I remembered that Shane is sick with a sore throat and fever we opted to eat the half of the cake that was still in the kitchen. 😉

Simple as it was, he loved the water shooter.  I’m sure he’ll go to water war with his brother in the backyard as soon as he feels better.

Eric will be-seven-and-a-half in three weeks.  Will we have a half-y birthday party next year?  Maybe not.  Will we have one in three weeks?  You betcha!