Sunday, November 25, 2012


We had the blessing of being able to drive just a few short hours over to my folks house for Thanksgiving. Given that we homeschool and that my husband's a pilot, we don't always hold the most typical schedule - especially on holidays.  This Thanksgiving Dennis was on call so we really weren't sure how the holiday would play out.  We hedged our bets and arrived a few days early just in case we'd have to have the big meal on a Wednesday.  All this shuffling of the schedule naturally affected our homeschooling days as well.  I suppose we could have taken the whole week off, but to those of you teaching math to non-math gifted kids, you know how easy it is to lose momentum once the train is rolling.  With this in mind, here's how the week went.

Tuesday was a travel day and upon arrival, a fishing day too.

Hoping to catch "The Big One".

  On Wednesday we found out Dennis would most likely not be working so we pushed the big meal to Thursday. Wednesday was a day for indoor surfing. 

Kat tries out boogie boarding on indoor wave.

Thursday morning was a great time to head out to the St. Pete Times Turkey Trot.  The kids ran (and we walked) the 1 mile Gobbler. 

When we got home my mom put the turkey in the oven.  Dinner was scheduled for 4pm and it was now about 11am.  What to do for 5 hours?  Let's see... how about... algebra!  "What?" exclaimed Emily and James in disgust and protest.  "You want us to do school on Thanksgiving?" I know it may seem harsh to some people, but the truth is, we homeschool so we can teach and learn when it is convenient for us.  We take days off when others have to go to school. Why should we not do school on days when others have off?  This did not go over well with the kids, but once we got the math problems on the table and started working, they resigned themselves to this form of torture.  Actually, all we wanted to do was a little review so they wouldn't be so lost when we got back into the swing of things.  It was meant to be helpful, not punishment.  Emily and Kat got their work done fairly quickly, but this time it was James who need a little extra review.  Although it took longer than expect (and there may have been a few tears)  truth is it was time well spent.  Persevering through things we don't want to do - like math - when we don't really want to do them - is one of life's great lessons. 

If we want to our kids to think and act 'outside of the box', then we really have to take them 'outside of the box'.  This time it meant algebra on Thanksgiving. Next time it will be something different. Who knows, maybe I'll have them write their blog on Christmas Day.  Humm.. now that's an idea!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Then and Now

One of my favorite things to do is get together with family especially the ones who I don't get to see too often.  A couple years ago we lived a few miles away from my husband's sister and her family.  Both our families got together for weekly meals in addition to holidays, birthdays, and other special events.  I loved that the cousins were growing up together and becoming good friends in the process.  Then their family moved to Tennessee and the following year we moved to Florida.  Now we are more than a few miles apart, we are a few states apart.

I know the cousins miss each other greatly. We do as well; however, I'm beginning to really appreciate and enjoy visits that are spaced further apart but are more in depth and personal.  Gone are the days when we'd rush to swap stories about our week while handing out juice boxes and wiping running noses only to rush off quickly to be home before bedtime.  Now when we get together we have several days to carry on multiple conversations not only about the current events in our lives but also parenting philosophies, homeschooling, careers, religion, home improvement, politics, etc.  So much to discuss with plenty of time to move past the surface... that's what I like. 

I also love seeing the changes in our kids.  I know they did a lot of growing up when we lived close by, but now that I haven't seen them for a few months I can hardly believe the maturity and development of each child.  This picture was take in 2006 when we still lived in Illinois. 

Kat, Lauren, Anna, James, Jared and Emily 2006

Anna, Emily, James, Kat, Lauren, and Jared 2012

The changes in personalities over time are also remarkable. Silly, loud, whiny, and fearful, have turned into studious, mature, kind, and helpful (and I'm referring to all of them as a whole and not one in particular).  They're just great kids and I'm so blessed to be able to see them change.

Here's a picture from The Factory in Franklin, TN. This was taken in 2010.

  This picture is was taken just two years later.

It goes without saying that the kids have their favorites. Kat and Lauren have been two peas in a pod from the very beginning.


This year it was sweet to see that Anna still enjoys Emily's company best.


Of course that's not to say that all the girls don't get along great together too.


Probably the tightest of the group has to be James and Jared.  I know they're both boys, but it's more than that. These two seem to have a special bond held together closely by similar interests and mutual respect. 
 And finally all those attempts at the perfect group photo.  I think neither the kids nor parents will remember them fondly, but there's no denying all the 'ooos and ahhhs' once the picture is taken.  I'm so glad we made the effort to capture them together over the years.  I must say it is getting easier.

Thanks Nesbitt family for another great visit.  In a few months we'll get back together and do it all over again.  We miss you guys!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Off To Work We Go

Everyone has heard of "take your son or daughter to work day" and many have enjoyed seeing what their father does for a living.  Our children know that their dad is a pilot and have even flown on a plane while he's been the captain of it.   However once the cockpit door is closed there's really no telling what's going on in that little room.  At least up until now.

This week our family had the privilege of being passengers on a "ferry flight".  The purpose of a ferry flight is to transport an airplane to and from a particular location for various purposes.  In this case, our jet was going in for routine maintenance and we were picking up a jet which had just received new carpet and updates.  Ferry flights occur without paying passengers or a working flight attendant.  The captain and first officer are the only ones on the flight except for whomever they decide to invite.

I don't think the kids and I have been this excited in a long time (and that's saying a lot since we've been on some pretty cool adventures lately).  Also along for the ride was Dennis' father, or granddad as the kids call him.  I think he was as thrilled as we were to see what his son does during a standard flight.

Our destination was a short distance away, just barely 15 minutes from take off to landing but the preparation was lengthy and very professional.  Every detail, checklist, and radio call was checked and double checked. Nothing was done that wasn't first verbalized and then concurred with. The meticulousness of the entire operation left me completely in awe. I can't imagine remembering all the buttons and knobs or understanding the charts and radio calls.  It was almost like watching two people speak a different language. 

James and Granddad were the first up in the cockpit to witness the take off.  The girls and I took our seats in the back enjoying every minute of being in an airplane with no one else aboard.  Snacks were served, announcements made, and beverages passed out. Between Emily and Kat, I felt like I was getting first class service.

Upon landing at our destination we were allowed to take a quick peek at an engine being worked on. How it is even possible that someone knows how it works just blows my mind.  I am glad there are some really smart people working on those engines!

On the flight back Emily and I got to sit up front.  What a view!  I  think the thing I liked most was watching my husband physically "fly" the plane. Watching his hand on the throttle, feet on the pedals, making radio calls, pushing buttons, and turning dials, it was all so impressive.  I've seen him fly a simulator before and a trainer plane, but this was even more remarkable. 

As our flight came to a close we could pick out landmarks on the ground and then eventually the runway.  Seeing it all lit up and watching the plane land - while we faced forward instead of the usual side view - was so cool.  I know there must have been some pressure on Dennis to make a perfect landing with his whole family watching and believe me he didn't disappoint. The wheels touched down with a gentleness and ease that made it seem like we had barely been in the air. 

I can honestly say it felt like a 'once in a life time' experience.  I now have a greater understanding of what his job is really like and I know the kids do too.  Do we have any future pilots in our household?  I'm not so sure, but we may have a few flight attendants in the making. One final thing I want to say is how thankful I'm am that we decided to homeschool our kids this year.  I'm sure this trip would not have been possible if they had had to go to school the next day. It's times like these that remind me of why we are making the commitment and sacrifice to make sure they get an education that encompasses so much more than what can be taught in four walls.  Praise God for another real-life experience.

Friday, October 19, 2012

American History and the D.C. Field Trip

American History is one of our core subjects this year.  I majored in history at Florida State so teaching history is something I actually get jazzed up about.  It's not that I remember all the details of history or have all my dates in order, it's just that it's truly fascinating to me to understand how and why we got where we are as people and a nation.

Sure I found it terribly boring, unnecessary, and almost incomprehensible as a kid.  My love for history didn't take a hold until I was a little older so the challenge for me is to deliver the information to my kids in a way that is interesting, relevant, and memorable.  I'm not sure if I'm succeeding on all fronts - at least so far - but it's got to be better than when I was a kid.  What I remember from middle and high school is dry text books, long lectures, and a few films shown from old movie projectors.  This year our kids are watching creatively produced DVD's on high def TV, reading relevant books (for example: Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly), and going on field trips to places like Boston and most recently our nation's capitol in D.C.

D.C. is not at it's best right now.  Construction on the Mall, Washington Monument, and Smithsonian really doesn't make for a good first impression, but we didn't want to postpone our visit because we know that there is so much to see and it's really best done in several short trips compared to cramming everything into one long visit... at least that's how we feel. 

Grass project has Mall closed until Dec.

Our first stop, after arriving at Regan National, dropping off luggage at hotel, and figuring out the Metro system, was the Museum of American History. This building would be the main focus of our trip as it falls in line with everything we are learning about from the Discovery of America to the Civil War.  We only had an hour and half the first day before the museum closed so we made a bee-line upstairs to see the First Ladies' dresses.  I realize that James and Dennis would most likely not be completely enamoured with the dresses and dishes, but the girls and I were overwhelmed to imagine each women wearing a particular dress or eating dinner on her finest china.  I could have spent hours in that one room alone but feeling the pressure of time and knowing how much there was still to see, we pushed through hastily.

Next Dennis wanted to see the rare coins. This room would not have made my list of "must-see" American History, but James, desiring to see anything but dresses, thought this was a great idea.  Only later after he wrote about it in his blog did I realize that it was one of the more memorable and interesting things he saw.  The girls and I gave a cursory glance and moved on.  With this our first day in the museum was over. The security guards ushered everyone out and the doors closed behind us at 5:30pm.

The weather in DC was absolutely beautiful so we walked toward the Washington Monument. Although it was closed it still made for great photo-ops.  Notice the cartwheels and handstands performed by the girls.

It was a short walk down to the Lincoln Memorial so we headed in that direction taking in the WWII Memorial on the way there.  I think the kids liked climbing the stairs up to the memorial more than the actual structure itself, then again, sometimes it's hard to tell what a person is taking in.

The walk back to the train station was long but manageable. It was late by the time we got around to having dinner. I think the kids will tell you that one of their highlights was ordering room service.  Not sure why. Dennis and I went down to the lobby for a peaceful meal and to watch the VP debate.

The next morning we made our way back to the American History museum to see the other floors.  There was so much to take in.  My favorite was taking the kids through the "U.S. in Wars" exhibit. The display started with the Revolutionary War and contained artifacts, pictures, and explanations of each conflict. The history we have been studying was right there in front of us. From Washington's uniform to Lincoln's Hat... it was right there.

Unfortunately, Dennis and I were the only ones really excited. I think James was ready for a big nap, Kat had more fun with the hands-on displays, and Emily seemed somewhat interested but not all that impressed.

Another memorable display was the Star Spangled Banner room.  We weren't allow to take pictures of it, but the original flag (or what's left of it) is displayed beautifully along with Francis Scott Key's story about writing it.  Dennis and I had chills walking through the room; Emily, James, and Kat sat on the benches.  They thought it was 'neat' but without a more mature perspective it's just an old flag, and I can't say as I blame them.

We pressed on seeing as much as we could with our remaining time.  I couldn't get enough of the place but once again, the kids thought otherwise. 

I think if you ask the kids, they'd tell you they did enjoy the trip and saw many cool things.  It didn't surprise me that they were a little bored at times nor did it discourage me from continuing our American History studies.  It's hard to say if the history switch will get "turned on" for any of our kids but even if it never becomes a focus of study like it did for me, it's still our duty and obligation to help them understand the great sacrifices and efforts that others made before them so that they can have the privilege and freedom to sit on their iPods and ignore all that is around them. Sounds odd, but I think their getting it and maybe one day, they'll set their electronics aside to become one of those great people that serves their country in some memorable way.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vacation Yellowstone!!

When you hear the word "vacation" most people conjure up imagines of relaxing, taking it easy, and basically having a break from daily life.  For me, a "vacation" with my kids is really nothing other than taking care of them in a different location.  The problems are the same.  They need food, clean clothing, entertainment and a referee.  The only real difference is that life is taking place in a new locale where you are sure not to have all the things you need. 

When Denny and I decided to take the kids on an RV trip to Yellowstone National Park, I assumed this vacation would not be different from any other.  Our preparation included the usual shopping for items we needed (especially going into a colder climate), searching through boxes for things we already have, and my personal favorite... trying to fit it all into a suitcase. One thing that made the prep slightly easier is knowing that we would have access to any store we needed once we got there. That actually helped a lot.

Since we fly 'space available' on jetBlue, the trip out included the usual waiting in airport(s). The kids are experienced enough travelers to know how to do this with little complaint.  I wish they would have choosen an edifying outlet like reading, but I suppose iPods would have to do.

Passing time before our flight to Salt Lake City, UT
Our first stop after picking up the RV was to where else? Walmart.  It wasn't easy figuring out exactly what we would need over the next week, but we managed to get quite a few things that turned out to be good purchases.  We headed east and north through Wyoming hoping to get a great view of the Tetons; however, due to a nearby fire we only saw haze and a few foot hills.   

The Tetons are in the distance. The smoke was from a nearby fire.
One thing we learned very quickly is that driving in a RV does NOT go quickly. We had hoped to make it to West Yellowstone by the evening but after several hours it became clear that we would be nowhere close.  Thankfully we found a great spot to overnight just south of the Tetons National Park.  It was our first evening in the RV and we grossly underestimated how cold it would get overnight.  I don't think I slept a wink but instead plotted my escape to a hot shower at daybreak. Thankfully, the facilities were close, clean, and unoccupied.  A small miracle in my mind.

The next morning we arrived at the south entrance to Yellowstone and began to take in all the park had to offer. The kids had their iPods, but no WiFi so as far as we were concerned they were as 'unplugged' as we could get them.  At this point they weren't overly impressed with the views out the windows but we kept driving until we arrived at Old Faithful. From there we raced up to the viewing spot and parked ourselves hoping we wouldn't wait too long. A bathroom break was needed by all, but no one wanted to miss the eruption. After 35 minutes, we finally got a to see what the fuss was all about. I had never seen it myself, so it was a treat for me too.

The area was full of boardwalks that led to amazing pools of hot springs, more geysers, and other geological wonders. It would have been a nice walk for all of us if Kat hadn't discovered that she had outgrown her tennis shoes and was now wearing flat fashion boots that were killing her feet. I offered to head back with her - whining in tow - while Dennis went the long way with Emily and James. It didn't take long before I received a text with a picture, no words. Here's the shot sent from Denny's phone:

It was our first wildlife spotting and it was very, very, close to my son!  I was excited, jealous, and completely scared all at the same time.  You'll have to read James's blog to hear his side of the story. By the time we made our exit from the park into the town of West Yellowstone, we had run across several more bison and this adorable female elk.

Our campground, The Wagon Wheel, was excellent.  Clean facilities, lots of trees, and a friendly guy named Ken who gave us all the info we needed.  Our evening was far more enjoyable too as we had stocked up on more sleeping bags and extra pillows.  We got up when we felt like it, made a quick bowl of cereal and even found a close by store to get Kat some new hiking shoes. They were super cheap and super cute.
Mammoth was the next stop in the park. It's very close to the north end of the park and had wonderful sights to see.  Among my favorite were the elk.  There was a bull elk bugling and charging at anything that got in his way while the female elk hung around in a group grazing unaware or uninterested that crowds of people had stopped to take their picture. 

By far the most curious thing around Mammoth included a swimming area where the Boiling River and the Gardiner River comes together. If you move your foot too close to the Boiling River it was hot enough to scald your skin. If you move your foot towards the Gardiner River it was freezing.  Right in the middle was the perfect mix.

Back at the campground it was back to work... sort of.  There was laundry to do and dinner to cook but with no set schedule, few dinner options, and the kids busy playing pool in the game room it wasn't too bad. Matter of fact, it was somewhat enjoyable. The only tense moments seemed to come in the evening when we were ready to settle down and kids were still spooled up.  You wouldn't think giggling and chatting could get on your nerves, but after a long day in close quarters, it can.

We choose Saturday to stay in town and check out the local color.  Dennis needed a break from RV driving and we were in need of yet another pair of shoes. This time it was Emily whose boots decided to fall apart in the middle of a walk.  She ended up ripping the soles off her shoes which were later put back on with 'shoe goo'. 
We took in an Imax movie about Yellowstone and also went to the Grizzly Bear Sanctuary where we were able to see some small bears and two packs of wolves.  These two types of animals can be seen in the park but are not often easily spotted. 

Saturday night we had a pizza delivered to the campsite for the kids while Dennis and I went to a local restaurant.  It was nice to get a way for a few hours and reflect on the trip thus far.  We both agreed that something was different this time.  It was easier, more relaxing, less hectic, and definitely less work.  I actually felt like I was on vacation.
Sunday was our last day in the park.  There were so many wonderful things to see. My favorite quotes from the back seat were "Hey!  Look out the window!"  and "Wow! Did you see that!?"  After 6 days on vacation the wonder of all things around them returned. They had fresh questions and a new spark for life and learning. They were inquisitive, engaged, and energetic.   It reminded us both of why we homeschool and why we want to keep the curriculum flexible enough to take vacations and learn on the fly.  As we were about to exit the park we turned around and saw this:
What a wonderful reminder that this place is God's country!  I felt so blessed on this vacation. Between the wonders of all the surrounding features and animals to the wonder that was stirred up in he hearts of our three kids, it was truly a break from daily life and a reminder of what is out there. 
Monday morning we broke camp early and headed down towards Salt Lake City. It was my task to pack up the suitcases and prepare the boxes of all the goodies we had purchased to make RV life livable.  Unfortunately, this is where my vacation ended. The stress of getting it all packed, cleaning the RV, and trying not to leave anything behind ruined the last few hours of the trip. My poor attitude and frustration set back in as I was reminded of how working against the clock often works against my personality.  Nevertheless, everything was completed in the nick of time and we were off to the airport. Our plan was to spend a night in Long Beach, CA, (two hotel rooms were reserved) and then head back to Orlando the next day.  Even though Dennis checked flight loads several times, when we got to the counter (with 5 suitcases and 3 large boxes in tow) there were zero seats for standby travellers.  Flying "space available" can earn you victory or defeat, and it is usually by a razor thin margin.  Thankfully, my quick thinking husband found a way to take advantage of a new policy allowing us to purchase standby tickets on a different airline. Praise the Lord, there was a direct flight to Orlando leaving in less than an hour with seats available.  We made it on board and were home several hours later. 
Lessons learned: 
1. Traveling off season (or just before the season closes) has many advantages.
2. Clean hot showers and a warm bed makes a huge difference.
3. $20 worth of quarters is not enough when laundry and a game room is in play.
4. Wildlife is more interesting up close.
5. If you're near a grocery store, it is better to buy less and pick up what you need later.
6. A trip to the shower may take several tries as it is easy to forget one or two items.
7. There is no privacy in an RV. Every move and every word will be felt and heard.
8. Good quality shoes that fit can make or break a day.
9. Getting up to use the restroom in the middle of the night is not pleasant when temperatures are low.
10. Space is only available when you are actually sitting in your seat on the airplane. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Time for a Little Celebration

verb (used with object)
1. to observe (a day) or commemorate (an event) with ceremonies or festivities.

Don't you just love a celebration?  It's a special time set aside to honor an accomplishment.  As homeschoolers it might be easy to overlook such a time since our days can be filled with many accomplishments OR perhaps on a not so good day, we might feel like we have accomplished nothing at all.  Whether our schedules are jammed packed full of activities or perhaps carefree and easy with little structure, it makes sense to find certain place markers for both you and your students to honor what you have accomplished together.  Granted everyday can't be a "party day" or else it would cease to be special; however, waiting till the end of the school year might not make sense either.  Finding a spot where you can stop and say, "Hey, we did it!" is going to vary from each family along with the frequency of its occurrence.  Just make sure you do it!

Our family has chosen to use our math curriculum as a place marker for celebration.  Math does not come easily for the girls in the LeRoy household.  Our son fares much better with numbers but there are still challenging days for him as well. Our curriculum of choice is Math-U-See.  We love the way they have divided the material into books that are titled by the Greek alphabet and do not necessarily correspond to a particular grade or age.  This allows us to work through them at our own pace without fear of falling behind or finishing too early.  Sometimes a workbook might take us 4 or 5 months to master, and other times it's a little longer.   At the completion of a workbook we have a family tradition of celebrating their accomplishment by baking a cake that is decorated to reflect the book we have just completed.   We've had an Alpha cake using light green icing and Math-U-See blocks to reflect its theme.  Our Beta cake had orange icing and blocks inverted to show subtraction.  Our Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon cakes also reflected the math they had learned.  This year our oldest daughter baked and decorated a Zeta cake all by herself. 

Next time your student reaches a goal in a subject they have been working hard in, consider setting aside some time for a celebration.  It's a great way to mark their accomplishment and honor the time and effort they have put into their studies.  Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Prayer Jar

One of my favorite times each day is the time I spend with each one of my kids saying goodnight.  Sure it's usually past their bedtime and I'm tried and sometimes cranky that they're still up, but when I go into their room and close the door I know it's going to be time well spent. This is the moment when they quiet down, reflect on the day, share their thoughts, and we pray together.  It's this last area I've come to realize we need a little help with.  I admit I'm guilty of something sometimes referred to as "drive by praying".  You know what I mean;  you bow your head and start off with something like, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this day... blah, blah, blah... in Jesus name we pray, Amen."  I want our prayer time to be meaningful and thoughtful, but in those last moments of the day I confess it unintentionally becomes very hurried, scattered, and sometimes lacking in substance.

Yesterday I was reading a devotion book to my youngest, Katherine, and it suggested the idea of a prayer jar.  I had heard of this before but like many good ideas, I had filed it away in my mind for another time only to be completely forgotten.  So when the idea resurfaced, I knew it would be a good project for Kat to present to the family.  She loved the idea so off we went to get the supplies.  Here's what you need:  1) a jar with an opening large enough to fit your hand inside, and 2) several slips of paper listing prayer requests.  It's that easy. 

Kat spent some time decorating our jar (which happened to be a water pitcher we rarely use), cut up slips of paper, and together we wrote down people we wanted to pray for.  Most of them are family and friends but we also included our country, it's leaders, our church, upcoming events, and anything else that was on our hearts.  We tried to include at least three specific things we are praying for about the person or subject on our paper.  Then Kat folded them up, put them in the jar, and made a presentation to our family. 

The LeRoy Family Prayer Jar

Everyone agreed this is a great way to make sure we are praying with purpose.  Each evening the kids get to pick a request out of the jar and pray specifically for that item.  When there are no more slips of paper in the jar we will know that each person or topic has been prayed for. Then we can fill it back up and start all over again.  A great idea at just the right time.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Art Day: Friend or foe?

When it comes to doing art (and music for that matter) it's not one of my favorite things. Sure it used to be fun back in elementary school when the teacher put out all the art supplies, explained the project, and cleaned up after you. As a matter of fact, at one time it might have been my favorite subject but there was always one problem with it. The masterpiece that I dreamed up in my mind never materialized into my creation.  I can have all the best intentions of what I want to do and how I want it to look but when I'm done I'm usually disappointed and often times incredibly frustrated in the process.  So the question then is how do you make art a part of homeschooling when the teacher clearly posses zero talent at art?

Yesterday Kat and I went to the library. In the display case were some of the most beautiful paintings all done on pieces of palm trees.  That got me thinking.  We have plenty of palms in the yard.  We have lots of paints and brushes.  Why not plan an art project using the supplies we already have?  It sounded so easy and potentially fun in my mind so on Friday, after our school work was completed, I explained the project to the kids.  The girls immediately lit-up eager to get started.  James said, "Don't you have to have some talent in order to paint something good?"  I could only answer honestly, "Yeah, you do.  But you can have fun trying."  He was not convinced and opted to go back to doing something he really enjoys and is good at, probably Minecraft.  I got out all the art supplies and covered the patio table while the girls collected palm branches. 


At first the project started out okay.  Emily had a good idea and began painting.  I wasn't surprised at all since she frequently jumps at the chance to do artistic things and quite obviously has enough raw talent to put her ideas into images.  Kat began full throttle painting her branch purple, then pink, then blue. By the time she was ten minutes into it, there was just as much paint on her and the table as there was on the branch.  I tried to keep my cool yet fumed inside knowing that I'd somehow be the one cleaning up.  I began my branch with a green color (I ended up not liking) and no clear design or concept in mind. I waited for it to dry and then painted over it again which did not go well because the kind of paint we were using wasn't ideal for tree material.  Never-the-less, I kept going and ended up making a palm tree which I know any kindergartner could have improved upon.  Kat got frustrated too and I ended up sending her outside with the garden hose. Emily kept on quietly and neatly painting clearly enjoying every minute of it.  When Kat saw my branch and Emily's branch she grew more and more frustrated not being able to achieve what she wanted.  She started over whining, crying, and complaining while I matched her mood realizing the ever increasing mess that I needed to clean.  "I hate art projects!" I declared in a temper tantrum kind of way.  "They're so messy and they never turn out right!".  I sounded like a spoiled brat instead of a calm and loving teacher.  Not my finest moment.

In the end Kat copied my idea of palm trees. Much to her and my surprise, her finished product looked much better than mine and quite different from what I had done.

 I was impressed with both of my girls.  Was it worth it?  I think Emily would say 'yes' as she enjoyed both the process and the finished product. 

Kat struggled throughout and didn't seem entirely satisfied with her work (until we told her how good it really was).

 I, as usual, loved the concept and the ideas in my head more than the reality of executing the art itself and the finished product.

This day leads me to ask the question, "Art:  friend or foe?".  I think I'll go see what James is up to.