Simply Summers

Simplified Chaos


Project 365

As usual, I am a little late to the party.  Just after the first of the year, I saw several people posting their Project 365 posts. The idea behind Project 365 is to document your year by taking a photo each day of the year to create a year long photo journal and to remember what is important in life. I got so mad at myself, because I totally wanted to do that and I forgot.  So I decided to start late…better late than never.

So here are our pics from this last week, days 21-27.

Silly Cheyenne

Reading a book to a friend on Monday.


Learning early...

Helping Nana play Poker on Tuesday…she’s learning early. 


January 2013 (57)

Closet remodel on Wednesday…just turned the rods to go along the back…still need to work on the shelves.


Pretty girl!!

Pretty shot of my little angel at the Arboretum on Thursday.


January 2013 (1)

Playing on the huge outdoor xylophone at Perot Museum on Friday.



Chillin’ with her big brother on Saturday.


Sitting with her favorite person in the world…Grandpa, on Sunday.


I hope you all had a wonderful week!!



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Our First Trip to the Dallas Arboretum

Believe it or not, I am 37 years old, almost 38 and have lived here in Dallas, Texas all of my life and have never been to the Dallas Arboretum even though it is only about 10 minutes from my house.  Well, today, I went to the Arboretum for the first time!  My friend Julie has a membership to the Arboretum so when she asked us if we wanted to go with her and her granddaughter, we jumped at the chance.  It was pretty cool. Of course right now, there aren’t any cool displays set up and being winter (even though it was 80* today) there weren’t a lot of pretty flowers either.  There were a lot of pansies and of course all of the trees, bushes and other plants, but not very many flowers.  But there was so much else to see, that it was still a wonderful trip and we plan on going many more times and making this trip often.

Cheyenne and Alexis are planning our route through the Arboretum….because they don’t think we are capable.  We did get turned around a few times, so maybe we should have let them lead the way.  🙂

Cheyenne and Alexis planning their route at the Arboretum.

My pretty little angel sitting outside of the sod house.  It was closed for repairs, so we couldn’t let them go in.  They tried to crawl in through the windows though.


They thought it was pretty fun to sit in the covered wagon….

Sitting in the covered wagon

Cheyenne loved the teepee.  Inside there were animal hides hanging up and some primitive pots and tools.

Cool teepee at the Arboretum

I swear these girls had to sit on every bench there was…there is a ton of benches there.  It could have something to do with my obsession of benches.  I just love pictures of little girls sitting on benches, so the first few we saw, I had them sit to take a picture.  I’m sure you can figure out how long sitting on the bench actually lasted….not even long enough to snap a picture before they were up and running around and seeing what else they could see.


Something just struck me about this view and I had to snap a picture.  I love this picture.


They have an infinity gazing pool and it is so pretty the way it looks like it just runs into the lake that is right behind the Arboretum.

Infinity pool....looks like it continues into White Rock Lake...beautiful!!

Again, I just thought this was pretty and peaceful.


Good times with good friends are what life is all about!  This has to be one of the most precious pictures I have ever seen and I’m so glad I was able to capture this shot.  These girls are so sweet to each other and it was amazing the way they helped and looked out for each other today.


I think they are reflecting on how tough it is being a kid, but how fun it can be at the same time.  They look so deep in thought.

Reflecting on how tough it is being a kid....

This was just another beautiful shot.


The waterfalls were so cool.  I couldn’t get them to stand still and look at me for a good pic.  By this time, it was hot and the girls were getting a little tired.


This was so pretty.  I bet it will be beautiful in the spring when they are in bloom.  I thought this would be a beautiful shot for a bridal portfolio.


I always think this decorative kale is so pretty.

I just thought this was pretty!!

We had such a fun time at the Arborteum today and can’t wait to go back.  We will definitely be adding this to our regular rounds of field trips and fun outings.

I can’t wait to see it in the spring when everything is in bloom!  They are currently doing a lot of construction right now and will be opening a Children’s garden later this year and some other new parts of the Arboretum as well.  I am excited to see what all is coming!







Snowflake Painting

We did a fun craft over the weekend that we did once before back at Easter time.  I have seen several resist painting posts on Pinterest and it reminded me how much Cheyenne enjoyed it.  She could paint the whole page, yet when we take the tape off, there is a cool picture or pattern left behind!  I was so excited to set this up and let her do it that I didn’t get any pics of the actual process.  😦

I started out making a snowflake with blue painter’s tape cut in half (because I didn’t have any masking tape).  Then I mixed up some different shades of blue paint for Cheyenne to paint different parts of the paper or use the darker colors for effect, but they all ended up getting pretty much mixed together and there isn’t much color difference.  Once the paint dried, I took the tape off, with Cheyenne watching eagerly, and revealed the beautiful snowflake.  Cheyenne thought it was so cool.  I am going to laminate these and start an art notebook, since I have a huge stack of artwork from home and Mother’s Day Out just sitting around.  I am going to select some of the favorites and take pictures of some of the larger ones and laminate and create an art portfolio.  I will post more on that later, once I get it going.  🙂

Here is the finished snowflake!!  We will be doing more of these because Cheyenne loves to paint and loves to see the picture/design once the tape is taken off and is now old enough to think it’s neat and want to do more!


I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your little ones as well and got to have some fun!


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Kindergarten A-Z Review Week

As I said in my last post, Cheyenne was not being challenged enough with the preschool lessons I was doing with her. Not because the curriculum itself wasn’t good, I loved it and was so excited when I got it and started it with her, but because it seems Cheyenne is destined to be exceptionally ahead of others her age. Before the age of 3, she was talking up a storm, using vocabulary that no 3 year old ever uses (not bad words, just grown up words and phrases), singing her alphabet, counting to 20, and had letter and number recognition down pat. So since she had most of the basic preschool skills down before we even started preschool, I thought I would go ahead and start her with preschool lessons and go from there. Over the break, I had been thinking, praying and talking with friends about our situation and I finally decided to go ahead and start her on Kindergarten lessons after the break. So I prepared, bought the K4 Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler and the You Can Read! program from 1+1+1=1, printed, laminated, cut, printed, laminated, cut and repeated that vicious cycle for about a week and finally, I got my organization under control (mostly) and have 5 weeks of lessons completely ready to go.

I also have signed up for a free trial month of and if it works out, will keep that.  So far, Cheyenne has played several games and done several lessons, which all seem like games to her and she is loving it and wants to play it for a little bit every day.  I started her out with the preschool lessons on there too, but have since upgraded her to the kindergarten level.  She loves it and I have a feeling we will be continuing this subscription.

So we started our Kindergarten lessons this week and the first week it A-Z Review week and Cheyenne did great.  I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I was so focused on her lessons, plus after such a long break, she’s having a bit of trouble getting back into our routine and wanting to do school.  So we did take it easy this week and still got almost everything done, but took breaks when she wasn’t feeling it rather than forcing her to do it.  I want her to enjoy school, not resent it.

All of the following lessons are from the K4 Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

She put together the alphabet puzzle without even having a copy to look at.  🙂

Putting together the alphabet puzzle

She matched up letter tiles.

Matching letters

Here she is using a new pointer we found at Mardel.  She loves this thing and was pointing to each letter as she sang the alphabet song.  Have I mentioned this girl loves to sing??  Yeah….she does!  🙂


She loves any kind of mazes or hunt mazes and I came across this alphabet hunt at A Mommy’s Adventures.

All done!!

I have also decided to get Cheyenne into journaling and found this great storybook notebook at Mardel Christian and Education store.  Each day I have her draw a picture and then she tells me what the picture is about or tells me a story about the picture.  On some days, I will give her a topic and have her draw something related to that topic.

Cheyenne's first journal entry

We did an upper case letter recognition assessment and she did great!  As soon as I called out the letter, she immediately found and blotted the correct letter.  We also did a lower case recognition assessment a couple of days later, but I didn’t get a picture of that one.  The only letter she had a problem with on that one was q because it just looked like a backwards p.  It didn’t have the tail like pretty much everything she has seen up to this point.  But in other fonts she knows q.


On Wednesday, after Mother’s Day Out, Cheyenne wanted to go to her friend Alexis’s house, which is pretty much across the street from the church.  Unfortunately my friend Julie wasn’t feeling well that day and when I told Cheyenne that, she responded “Well, can we go home and I can make a happy card for Julie?”  I told her of course we could, so here she is drawing a happy card for our friend Julie.  This isn’t really school related, but I used this as an opportunity to do a quick lesson on mailing letters.  After she drew her picture, we put it in an envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on it and put it out on the mailbox for the mailman to pick up the next day.  I explained each step and let her be involved and she even put the stamp on and did it perfectly!!   You gotta love these impromptu lessons that just creep into everyday life!!

Drawing with her crayons from her cousins

Here she is doing her journal this morning.  She is really enjoying this and sometimes draws 2 or 3 pictures before she lets me write the stories for it.  I’m trying to drive the point home that we journal every morning and make 1 entry every day.

Journal time

Cheyenne has never been really big on tracing letters, but it’s really the only thing she doesn’t have down solid, so she needs to work on it.  Suprisingly, she was excited to do this one this morning, although when she finished the first side, she wanted to be done.  So I told her we would finish later after another exercise.  Later, she didn’t want to do something else and actually asked to finish tracing her letters, so I whipped that baby out and let her go to town.  Even though she really hasn’t wanted to do any letter tracing and really hasn’t done it much at all, she did pretty good tracing her letters and I was amazed at how many letters she actually wrote correctly without me telling her ahead of time which direction to go or how to follow the lines.  She has been really interested in writing lately and most of the time it just looks like squiggles, unless you maybe squint and turn your head, you might could make something out, but she has been writing her name a lot lately.  Well, at least her nickname…Cheyenne is pretty long so she writes Chey.  I am impressed with how well she did on her letter tracing since she doesn’t ever want to do it.

Alphabet tracing

The finished product!!  Way to go Cheyenne!!

Pretty good job!!  :)                                  Awesome alphabet tracing

She also did a Letter Sound Matchup and matched the beginning sound to each picture and did a great job. She is in a phase right now where she will be asked what a word starts with and she will sound out the word and either focus on the middle or ending sound.  So I let her know I am looking for the beginning sound, then she will usually be able to tell me.  She is so eager to learn, and I am having to learn how to teach her and I am loving every minute of it (almost).

Letter sounds matching

So we had a fun first week and I am looking foward to next week which is Numbers and Colors Review week!!  Lots of fun in store for next week!!  I think we are going to do a fun craft tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!


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Big Changes are Coming!!

Well, the holidays are all over and it is time to resume normal activity. Is there such a thing? I don’t think so…chaos is our normal.

I have to say since Cheyenne started going to Mother’s Day Out, it has been more difficult to keep our schedule of preschool and have been a little lax about it. With the new year, one of my goals is to get my butt in gear and do this.

I have been using the Letter of the Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler and I thought it was great! I loved all of the fun pages for each letter and the activites that can go along with them. I have since come to discover that it is not challenging enough for Cheyenne. Cheyenne has already mastered the majority of the preschool skills. Before the age of 3 she already could sing the alphabet, recognize letters (upper and lower case) and tell me what sounds each letter made. She could also count to 20 and knew her colors and shapes all by or right around her 3rd birthday. She is now asking me quite often what letter words start with and she will sound it out and tell me. Her vocabulary is amazing and she is wanting to write all the time.

So taking all of that into account, I have made the decision to start Kindergarten work with her. When I look at the Kindergarten lessons, they seem more on her level and I think she will be more interested because she won’t get bored with stuff she already knows. There will be lots of review for things she knows, but I think she will enjoy being able to do things that she is ready to do and wanting to do. I will still be incorporating some of the preschool work into our lessons because some of the preschool pages she really liked, so I will be adding those in. I purchased the K-4 Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler and I am so excited to get started next week. I have been spending this week printing, laminating, cutting, printing and laminating some more.

I also came across the You Can Read! program at 1+1+1=1 and purchased that to incorporate into our lessons as Cheyenne is so interested in spelling and writing right now. It is a wonderful program and is created for children who are showing reading readiness signs at a younger age (approx. 3-5). There are 4 words in each unit and there are 18 units. It looks like it will be a lot of fun with many different activities for each set of words that help with reading.

I have also purchased the Road Trip USA Geography and History Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I love this curriculum! It covers 5 regions, including all 50 states, state symbols, U.S. Presidents, famous people, landmarks, historical events, and more. It is designed for K-4th grade which I love because I can use only what I think Cheyenne is capable of understanding at this age, but can continue using it for a few years and expanding each year to cover more details and history.

I have been reading, following blogs, and being quite overwhelmed for quite a while and was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to make it in the homeschool world. I have prayed for the answers, the wisdom and the ability to make this work for our family. I believe He is in the process of answering my prayers. For some reason today, while Cheyenne was in Mother’s Day Out and I could actually think, things just clicked. I figured out an organization system (more on that later), which I have really been struggling with lately since I don’t have a dedicated school room, and I got a clear picture in my mind of how this was going to go. I have moved all of our school stuff into the living room and put a bookshelf in there to keep our stuff on. So I printed, I laminated, I printed some more, I cut some stuff, I laminated some more. I feel so much better now and I don’t feel as overwhelmed. I have some great curricula that I am looking forward to starting and working them all together.