Monday, September 30, 2013

The Last of September

We are enjoying the last of the warm days around here with picnics and many walks to see the changing scenery.  

This past weekend we found a few baby snakes sunning themselves on the walking path.  O picked a few flowers for me, and as I carried them little bugs climbed up my hand, so I put them on a tree stump for others to see.  We found acorns and pinecones.  We have quite the assortment of berries on our front porch.
We also had coffee (ok O had hot cocoa) on our front porch and watched the sun come up, and read Bible stories.  

The mornings are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, and me oh my we are getting ready for Autumn all over the house.
Ah, yes, there is one more thing we are preparing for this week.

A party.

In honor of the little baby coming soon.  Is it a boy?  or a girl?  Guests will have to eat a cupcake to find out.  We are excited to share the news at the end of the week.  :)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Sometimes, we just need a day to play catch up.  

With all the excitement of the last weekend, and the constant going no one felt rested Monday morning.  O woke up saying, 'I'm not doing school work today' and the day kept on spiraling down.  For the first time, in a very long time, I actually thought to myself, 'I see why people do not like Mondays.  It is hard to get back into the swing of things after a crazy weekend.'
Instead of doing our 'normal' schoolwork, we spent a lot of time catching up on housework, and random chores/projects that needed to be done.  Here is a bit of our day.
 Last week, while O was outside playing she decided to make mud on the front porch for her 'wormy friends' to live at.  It was a mess.  I told her she could use the hose to rinse everything off, but she preferred the idea of scrubbing like a certain princess.  So, it sort of looks like I have child labor in my front yard, but it really wasn't like that.

While Mama crocheted for the shops, O sewed on her canvas.  I showed her a new technique, and she also practiced holding onto the eye of the needle while tightening/pulling the thread, so Mama doesn't have to rethread the needle after each pass. 

Laundry.  Oh My!  O helps sort the colors, put the clothes in the washing machine, move them to the dryer or outside to the drying rack, and she folds and puts away all her own clothing in a semi-neat manner.  Unless of course she is grumpy, then she shoves it in the drawer. 

After all that work in the morning, and eating lunch O asked to take a nap.  Whoa.  Why yes, little lady you may take a nap.  Just what we both needed!  She didn't really sleep for that long, but it was enough to help us get through the afternoon without the grumpiness the day started with.

We even made a trip to the library (where we collected 41 books to bring home, oh my!), had a tea party with some neighborhood kids and did some counting by 10's.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Weekend

 This weekend we spent a lot of time standing in line.  O is always amusing and was standing in some of the most dramatic ways possible.  Hands on hips, sometimes she even tapped her foot while waiting.

Although her face is hidden in the photo, she loved this ride.  The scrambler, the sizzler, the octopus--whatever you call it, this was the favorite ride of the year. 

She loved the rides at the fair.  That is for sure!

 I loved the taco potatoes.  I did try a lot of other food at the fair, but this is my favorite :)  

My parents and brother showed up while we were going on rides, and my mom gathered us for a group photo.  Not too bad, since there were a lot of people in there, and my arms are only so long.

After all the hoopla of the fair last week, we decided to do Whole30.  You can read more about here.  I cleared out all the sugar, flour, and other treats that have sneaked into our diet all too often.  Everything we can't eat is in a tote tucked away.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

We started on Sunday (yesterday).  Day 1 was a success.  F was worried he would be hungry, but at the end of the day decided he had plenty to eat.  I will probably do a recap of our meals sometime in the future.  I was a little concerned about the side effects.  Although the fair food was yummy, I felt the effects of eating junk for food and last week was sick/yucky feeling most of the week.  I am hoping eating healthier will kick the last of the morning sickness I am still experiencing.  

And just for fun, this is O on the first morning of our healthy eating.  While F and I are following the plan pretty strictly, I am being rather lenient with O.  She can still have oatmeal for breakfast with honey, and chocolate almond milk for a treat.  I feel like both of these are yummy, and still pretty nutritious.  She eats what we eat for lunch and dinner, so I think she will see have some benefits.

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Week (In Photos)

We have started every morning this week with a walk around the neighborhood in jammies (Ok, O is in Jammies I am not).

We have completely pigged out on too much fair food.  Mmm Elephant Ears!

And Cotton Candy!

And because we have had so much junk, the hubs and I are thinking about doing the Whole30 challenge.  Have you ever tried this?  I have been researching recipes.

I am not quite sure I can blame the fair on the mess all over our house, but whoa.  I feel like a maid chasing a tornado.  I clean one room, to find two more have been ransacked.  Also, lately I seem to be the only person in the house who is aware that empty toilet paper tubes and toothpaste containers go in the recycling.

We did quite a bit of school work this week, and I didn't do such a great job taking photos.  This is about it.  I promise we worked on actual subjects too.

I have been searching for this paint for about three weeks.  It was in the abyss also know as my garage that I avoid like the plague.  I finally can finish that dining room table! 

I have been throwing around the idea of adding some silly bows and flowers to my fingerless gloves.  I had to way overexpose the above photo and you still can't really see it well.  Hmm...I'm still not sure.

I also dragged out my quilt I started in 2008 and finally got around to finishing in 2012.  The hubs doesn't love it.  I spent so much time quilting it, I kinda have bad feelings towards it as well.  Maybe this winter when I get tired of so much teal in our house?

Side Note:  I am very happy we decided to go with neutral walls and furniture in here mainly so I can switch up the bedding when I please.  That makes me happy.  :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

First Grade Reading List

We have been doing school work for first grade for 22 days.

One of our favorite parts of school is reading.  I love reading.  O loves to be read to.  It is a perfect way to finish our days.

Before our year started I tried to compile a list of books (both chapter and picture) that I wanted to read with O.  I had various reasons for all the books.  

Here are a few of my reasons:
Some of them we have already read, but I wanted to read again and do some type of lesson with.  
Some of the picture books, I want O to start reading to me
Some were outside our normal genre of books we read
Some won awards
Some are classics

Of the 56 books on my list, we have read 9 (they are in bold).  (This isn't all we have read, just the ones that are on my list).  
Once upon a bananaArmstrong, Jennifer
Mr. Poppers PeguinsAtwater, Richard and Florence
MadelineBemelemans, Ludwig
Madeline at the White HouseBemelemans, Ludwig
Berenstain's bears new pupBerenstain, Stan
The MittenBrett, Jan
StellalunaCannon, Judith
Henry HugginsCleary, Beverly
10 Black DotsCrew, Donald
Fantastic Mr. FoxDahl, Roald
The Day the Crayons QuitDaywalk, Drew
Llama, llama time to shareDewdney, Anna
I knew you couldDorfman, Craig
Best NestEastman, PD
OliviaFalconer, Ian
CorduroyFreeman, Don
Miss Smith's Incredible Story BookGarland, Michael
Benjy's Dog HouseGraham, Margaret Bloy
CrysanthemumHenkes, Kevin
Humphrey's First ChristmasHeyer, Carol
Ordinary PrincessKaye, M.M.
Snowy DayKeats, Ezra Jack
This is not my hatKlassen, Jon
FerdinandLeaf, Munro
SwimmyLeonni, Leo
Henry's Freedom BoxLevine, Ellen
Gooney Bird GreeneLowry, Lois
AngeloMacaulay, David
Mrs. Piggle WiggleMacdonald, Betty
Too Tall HousesMarino, Gianna
Make way for DucklingsMcCloskey, Robert
Homer PriceMcCloskey, Robert
Love you ForeverMunsch, Robert N
The Day Jimmy's Boa ate the WashNoble, Trinka Hankes
Junie B Jones Party AnimalPark, Barbara
Goodnight GorillaRathmann, Peggy
Creepy CarrotsReynold, Aaron
The DotReynolds, Peter
Higglety Pigglety Pop! There must be more to lifeSendak, Maurice
The LoraxSeuss
Sheep in a JeepShaw, Nancy
Encyclopedia BrownSobol, Donald
Interupting ChickenStein, David Ezra
Ballet ShoesStreatfield, Norman
Joseph had a little overcoatTabback, Simms
Eloise: The ultimate EditionThompson, Kay
The Gift of the MagiVarious
Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad dayViorst, Judith
Boxcar ChildrenWarner, Gertrude
Emily's first hundred days of schoolWells, Rosemary
Little HouseWilder, Laura
The Pigeons Finds a Hot DogWillems, Mo
Charlotte's WebWilliams, Garth
Owl MoonYolen, Jane
How do dinosaurs go to School:?Yolen, Jane
Bartholomew's PassageYtreeide, Arnold
It could always be worseZemach, Margot
Do you make lists of books to read with your child?  What are your favorite children's books?  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fall Activities When Everyone Is Grumpy

My morning began like this...
The Star Wars theme song (the one where Darth Vader walks in the room) starts blaring in my ear.  My husband's phone was approximately 2 inches from my face.  Ugh.  Who wakes up to that?  I stumble out of bed, and go try to wake up, while my husband just keeps sleeping like nothing ever happened.  Gggrrrr.

I sat on the living room floor and tried to stretch out a little, when I see something out of the corner of my eye.  It's fall, and I am on high alert.  There are spiders and crickets and who knows what all over the place right now.  I practically fall over myself trying to get away from the two giant spiders I see.  I flip the light on, shoe in hand ready to attack...the pretzels my daughter dropped on the ground.  Ugh.

Having a stressful morning?  Nothing seems to be going right?  Your child has been up a mere five minutes and you are already fighting about something?  

My daughter and I have had our fair share of rough mornings since we started homeschooling.  Here are some of my ideas for dealing with days that just are not going as planned, and bad attitudes.

Grab a small basket.
Go on a walk.
Follow your child's lead.  
Look at the grass and leaves.  If there are any leaves on the ground collect a few in your basket.  If there aren't any on the ground, pick a few off the trees.  

Talk about the changing weather.  Is it windy?  cloudy?  

Getting outdoors is usually enough to improve both my mood and my daughter's.  

Take the leaves back home and sort them by type.  This took us about thirty seconds since we have 3 types of trees in our neighborhood.
Still have a grumpy child?  Sandwich a leaf between paper towel (on top) and paper (on bottom) and give them a little hammer (think Melissa and Doug wooden tool kit, but regular one works too) and let them hit the covered leaf.  Talk about what happens.

Glue the leaves to a paper.  You can be creative and make butterflies with drawn on legs and such or you can just glue a bunch of leaves to a piece of paper.    

 Thumbs are perfect for making leaves.  Print off (or draw) a tree with branches and no leaves.  Give him/her a green ink pad, and let them loose.

 Q-tips make great apples for a thumbprint tree.
 Don't worry if your child's finished product doesn't look like the finished projects on Pinterest.  My daughter decided some of the apples were falling to the ground, hence the long red lines.  Children do not need to color perfectly inside the lines for them to be successful in life.  :)  O loves messy work.  For whatever reason it is a great stress reliever for her, so when we are having a rough day, I give her art projects.

Ask for help at home.  Hmm, I have this black thing with wires.  What do you think it is used for O?  It has a dip in it for something round.  Here are some eggs.  Hey!  Do you think this contraption might be used for slicing eggs?  Show me how you would do it, O.  Children (at least my child) often feel unvalued at home, and like they don't have an important purpose.  Give them jobs they can do so they feel appreciated and 'part of the team'.

Go to the playground.  We always find someone there to play with, and O has an abundance of energy she needs to let out.  This girl is going to move mountains one day, mostly because she has the energy to do so.  :)

 Let your child play outside while you still can.  Enjoy the last of the warm days as much as possible. It really wasn't that cold out, but she wanted to wear mittens and gloves, so I handed them over.  Most mornings start with O playing outside on that teeny tiny tricycle.  She gets to be outside (her favorite place to be) and she gets rid of some energy.  She also has a few minutes of quiet to herself to observe things like the bazillion grasshoppers and spiders around our house.

Side note:  Yes, she has a regular bike.  No, she doesn't want to use it.

They are only little once, and you (and possibly grandma) will be the only one(s) impressed that they learned their ABCs at age 2.  It is way more important to live life and learn manners, respect, and thinking/analytical skills.

How do you survive a bad day of homeschool?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Activities

Today, I have two projects to show you.  We love them both so much we tend to do them with each season change (we just switch up some of the materials, and the poem/words).  Both of these activities are pretty versatile for different ages.  I started making some of this material when O was 2 (over zealous, aren't I?) and she is still using the same pictures now, just in different ways.  

I keep all my school items sorted by month, and am always pleased (and a little relieved) to pull out a folder that has fun things from previous years we can adapt to what we are learning this year.
First up:  Poems 
When I first heard about this idea on a blog I follow, I thought, 'that's so not going to work.  My daughter will never be interested in poems.'  Well, I was partially right.  It depends on the poem, Mama's attitude, and if there are fun things to do with the poem.  

I will be the first to admit that my skill level when it comes to drawing/artistic things is about 5th grade.  Yes, you can sort of tell what I make most of the time, but it is not pretty.  Thankfully 5 year olds don't care.  Put it on foam or felt and they will get down right excited about the new material.  Add glitter, or textured puffy paint and they may squeal.

The poem itself doesn't really matter, as long as your child finds in mildly interesting.  This one is talking about seasons changing and includes a hedgehog.  If you are over-zealous you can print it in a fun font, and throw some pictures of key words (like trees) on there.  I try to not print unless absolutely required, because we go through ink like crazy.
I usually read the poem through once to O, using our handy dandy pointer.  This inexpensive popsicle stick with googley eyes, and a marker mouth has made reading much more enjoyable.  O loves using the pointer while I read.  She will  point to words she recognizes or the foam pieces.

I may ask her a few questions about the poem when we are finished reading.  If there are words she doesn't know (like palette or migrate) I ask her what she thinks they mean, and I try to let her figure it out on her own (with helpful questions from me).

Next up, time to label.  Last year, we just labeled the beginning letter of most things.  Sometimes we would sort them by letter as well.  This year we are using the whole word (I just jot the word down on an index card I cut in half).  We start with just a few labels (2-3) and add as she learns the words.
Finally, after we have exhausted every idea this Mama has for poem work, we make up our own story using the pieces.  O has quite the imagination and comes up with all sorts of stories using the pieces.  If your child has mastered rhyming (or maybe to practice) you could make up a poem that rhymes using the words.

Next up, Mr. Scarecrow

I don't really have a good name for this, sorry my brain is foggy.
I made 6 parts to a scarecrow (in the Spring I use a rabbit, and in the winter I use a snowman).

If O hasn't watched me pull all the pieces out, I pull out the pieces one by one and ask her to guess what we are making.  Next, we may talk about patterns (ok, I know his shirt isn't really plaid, but let's pretend I wove all those pieces, ok?).  In the past we labeled him by colors, counted how many parts he had, talked about what scarecrows are used for, etc.  

Now we put the scarecrow together.  We mix up the cards, place them face down, and draw one at a time.  We each take turns selecting the parts to correlate with the word.

When O was learning her numbers and not at all interested in letters we played the same game with a dice.  I drew one piece for each number she would roll.  She would have to tell me the number of dots, and then put the pieces out.  When she was this little, I also had a template I traced, to make it easier for her to know where to place the pieces (this was especially helpful with rabbit ears and also the circles for the snowman).

Finally, reuse, reuse, reuse!  If I am going to spend that much time making these little pieces we use them every way we can think of.  Don't be afraid to mix the pieces a little as well.  (Because I am crazy I have a color-coded sticker or label on the back of everything so I know what it goes to just in case it gets misplaced and I have no idea what that blue bird is for).  

This year we put the scarecrow together from this activity and had corn from something else, and the hedgehog came along to much on the corn.  Count the stripes and polka-dots.  Have your child use letters that are placed in their room (like those foam mats with the letter cut-outs) and run back and forth from the living room to bedroom grabbing H for hat, and B for bird.  My daughter laughs hysterically when she plays this game.

If you are really on top of everything, you may laminate all those pieces, but that takes away the fun texture of the shirt and hay.  I used to laminate (or cover with clear contact paper)  everything.  I don't anymore, because I don't have a problem with O destroying the pieces.  

I try to switch things up each month but Mr. Scarecrow might stick around through October if I can think of different ways to use him.  

Do you use themes when teaching?  How do you incorporate fun into learning?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome Fall Sensory Box

Ok, ok, I know it's not officially Fall yet, however it sure seems to be Fall.  The weather is crisp when we wake up in the morning, apple cider is for sale, and I am starting to see pumpkins pop up everywhere.  As far as this household is concerned Fall has arrived.

This mama is super tired lately and just can't seem to muster up enough energy to get much done.  Just looking at my to-do list makes me yawn.  Pair that exhaustion with an un-eager homeschooler (O not Me) and we need to scratch the big projects and go for a few simple activities.  This is not to say we aren't hitting major school topics with our homeschooling.  We ease ourselves into the reading, writing,  and arithmetic by starting with something like this in the morning.  Easier transitions for both mama and child.  

Enter the Sensory Box.  Before our whirlwind adventure of joining the military we used sensory boxes All.The.Time.  It is a sneaky way to get in learning and have fun.  Before you say, 'but what about the mess' every person I talk to that actually uses them says that they really don't have a mess to clean up.  Set strict boundaries in the beginning, and expect the toys to stay in the box, and generally speaking children want to please their parents so it works.  I like to use bins with pretty high sides (at least 4 inches) and if you and your children are just starting out, don't overfill the box.  If you look at ours, we have about an inch of beans in a 4 inch tall container.

Now that O is older, I let her help choose the items we put in (as in would you like metal measuring cups or plastic measuring cups?).  She also gets to help actually putting the items in the container.  She likes staging the items, so all the sorting and what-not that you see is all her.  I used to do that when I would present it to her, so she likes to make it look as beautiful as she can when she makes hers.

Step 1:  Fill the container with something.  It could be beans (these work great because they are big and easy to clean up), rice (can be colored and lots of fun for sifting), pasta (lots of shapes/sizes to choose from and can also be colored), coffee grounds (I can't bear to use such an expensive item on a sensory box, but it sure would smell lovely in your house), salt, sand, etc.

Step 2:  Add the fun items.  Scoops and measuring is what we are working on in this box.  In the past, I have done a letter theme using colored alphabet pasta and added anything and everything I could find around the house that started with a particular letter (think cookie cutters and mini plastic pieces like the toob animals, raid the toy box).  Color themes are also a fairly easy theme for toddlers.  

We have some wood leaves painted in fall colors, and several bowls and containers for her to sort the items in.  We also had large and small wooden acorns we added.  She had to count out 10 large ones and 20 small ones to add.  If you want, you can get pretty elaborate with these things.  I like to keep mine pretty simple compared to what I have found online (ie Pinterest).  If you are just starting out, less is more.  Right now, O has just scoops and measuring items in hers.  As an extra incentive to keep things neat and tidy, in a week or so I add items if I don't have to remind her to clean up.  I will usually add a few wooden peg people or other items she enjoys playing with so she can have characters cook food and other pretend play.  We typically keep the same theme for the sensory box for about a month.  It depends on the interest and amount of energy this Mama has.  

Step 3:  O helped with this part of the project.  We traced the measuring cups, measuring spoons, and scoops.  Next we cut them out, glued them to some heavy duty paper, and labeled them.  
She is doing school work and doesn't even realize it.  All of these things are using fine motor control, pincer grip (good for strengthening little hands to write well), and cognitive development (she is writing her letters, learning to associate the labels with the pictures, not to mention organizing all those tools by color)

Here, you can see our finished paper for her to place measuring cups and spoons on, when she is not using them.  I told her the names of the cups, and she figured out rather quickly that it takes 4 scoops of the 1/4 cup to fill the 1 cup.  I love when she is exploring and discovers things on her own.  It sticks with her so much better than if I told her that you need 4 scoops to equal 1 cup.

The finished product as O wanted it displayed.

So there we have it, day 1 of easy to make activities for children.
In theory, (as in if I have the energy) I plan on doing a few more homeschool posts the rest of the week.

Do you have easy go-to activities for your children when you are tired or have a lot going on?  I would love to hear your ideas!  :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

This Week (In Pictures)

We Love Jammie/Snuggle time in the morning with our tea and muffins.

I am trying my best to decorate the house...finally.

A few more details.

The dining room table is in place (unfinished but in place).

I couldn't have done it without my awesome husband.

Play Dough school work.

We practiced our Geography.

We did patterns in probably every way possible.

Everyone got haircuts this week.  

O invented a machine to pull her baby dolls using her tricycle, doll stroller, some string and umbrella.