Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...Part 2

This is what the front yard looked like at 3:30 this afternoon...and that's just when the actual snow STARTED! It's been snowing all evening and is supposed to continue all night!! Hmmmm, maybe tomorrow should be a SNOW DAY!!

It's beginning to look alot like CHRISTMAS!!!

Or winter, at least!!

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready to run errands with The Kids, I was wearing a tshirt and capri jeans, and my slip on tennies with no was that warm. I think that the temp was in the low or even the mid-60's.
This morning, when we got up, it looked like this:

Bear and Deco were so excited that they could hardly stand to sit and eat breakfast, and they're now out there, happily playing in the "snow". I say "snow" in quotes, because it's actually sleet, and it's very icy and unappealing, at least to an adult. But they thing it's fun, so that's what matters. We're supposed to get real snow tonight! Yippee! Yay for winter!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm not a bad Real Mom...

...but I am a bad Pet Mom!!
Our cat Supey's bowl is on the school room table* because if we leave it on the floor, some small, furry dog who will remain nameless *cough*JOJO*cough* will eat his food. I noticed, while we were doing school, that Supey was nosing all around his bowl, picking up random, leftover bits of food because his bowl was empty. So I filled it.
Just now, I'm sitting here, reading some of my favorite blogs, and I notice Holly, our Big Dog, nosing around the bucket where we keep HER food, picking up random, spilled bits of food because HER bowl was empty. I swear, if there was an Animal DHS, they'd probably be knocking at my door, checking up on the eating habits of our pets! (Note to self: if you notice The Kids nosing around the fridge for random, leftover bits of food, break out the CheezIts!)

*Editor's Note: Lest you are worried to come to my house and eat dinner, fearing that Supey walks all over our kitchen table as well, let it be known that he only gets on the table in the school room. Scout's honor!

Today we decided to run errands this morning because we have a big winter storm moving in and I didn't want to get out in it. (And when I say "we decided", you know I really mean I decided!)
We went to Hobby Lobby and got a whole bunch of things for Christmas crafts - pipe cleaners *, Christmas-colored pom poms, things like that - and to Mardel for school room decorations. It's time for fall things to come down and winter things to go up!! At Mardel, I got this great game called "Auntie Pasta's Fraction game" for us to use in school. On the gameboard, each player has four pizzas divided up in different ways - a whole, one divided in half, on einto thirds and one into fourths, and the object is to get all the pieces to complete all four of your pizzas. We came home and played it (twice, if you count the first time where I didn't read all the directions and we played it wrong!) and had a really good time. Then, Bear and I did her Reading Packet for today. The Kids painted pictures this morning while I was getting we pretty much had Un-School today!

*Editor's Note: Why in the world do we have to call these things "chenille stems" now? That's silly!

So, now the storm has moved in and it's VERY cold and rainy. We're supposed to get some snow tomorrow, which Bear is SUPER excited about! OH, and I got our Christmas cards in the mail today. This is the first year that we've done photo cards, and I just love the way they turned out!!! I can't wait to send them!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ho Hum....

Well, there's not a huge amount to report, as far as school goes. A good friend of ours gave us the Scholastic Phonics Reading program, which we started using yesterday. Of course, it only took me 2 hours to figure out where I should start in the program, since Bear reads pretty well, but I finally settled on Workbook 6 (of something like....17....) and she really enjoys the work. I'm photocopying the pages so I can re-use the books with Deco (ssshhhhh, don't tell the publisher!) and I staple the pages together into what I call a Reading Packet. There are different activities like word searches and fill in the blanks and things like that, as well as numerous readers to use. I like the readersbecause the stories are really cute and the books at this level are challenging without being too frustrating. I really like having a set "curriculum" to use rather than just saying "Here, read this library book!" because I'm worried I'm going to leave out some of the 'rules'. I think that her favorite part is putting the sticker to answer the riddle at the bottom of each page!
We've introduced simple fractions in math and what it means for something to be a fraction. Also, she's doing addition of two 2-digit numbers (no carrying, yet!) and as really gotten the hang of it quickly. She really seems to enjoy math - unlike her Mama! - and I'm amazed at how quickly she seems to pick up new math ideas.
We started a unit in science on the senses this week. Yesterday, we went on a "senses walk" around the house and in the front yard and Bear made a list of things she could see, hear, smell, and feel. Deco got in on this one and really had fun. Today, I had a bag that I put a bunch of things in (feather, bark, satin shirt, piece of ice) and she'd choose something from the bag and write down what it felt like. This led into a couple of neat discussions on how light a feather feels even compared to a napkin and how, when the feather is put on your hand, it begins to feel a little bit warmer. I love how we can go off on little tangents like that! Deco loved this part too, and this evening, got two things and took them to Ched, and said, "OK, close your which one feels heavier?" It was precious!!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pancakes!!.....Oh, and Christmas lights, too...

The night before last, The Kids had spent the night at their Nani's house, since Nani didn't have to work yesterday. It was nice for Ched and I to wake up on our own, without two human alarm clocks going off to remind us that it was 7:00 AND WHY ARE WE STILL LOLLING AROUND IN BED?!? ARE WE CRAZY?!? THERE ARE THINGS TO BE DONE, BREAKFAST TO BE HAD, SHOWS TO WATCH, ARGUMENTS TO START AND WE'RE ALREADY BEHIND SCHEDULE!!! But, the only problem was that it broke our Thanksgiving tradition of having acorn-shaped pancakes for breakfast, something that we've done for two years, which is, as you know, a third of Bear's life. In school, she was dictating Thanksgiving memories to me, and having pancakes was one of the things that she had me write down. Also, I'm a tradition girl, and I LOVE having things that we do, year after year, and I feel a little sad when things change. So it bothered me a little bit that we didn't get to do that yesterday.
This morning, The Kids came into my bedroom, as they do every morning, and one of the first things that Bear said was, "Mom, can we have pancakes for breakfast, since we didn't ge to do that yesterday?" Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting That's my Tradition Girl!

On another note, I decided that today would be the perfect day to put up our outside lights, since it's supposed to be 73 degrees and bee-yoo-ti-ful. So I haul out the box of lights and proceed to plug them in, one by one, to make sure that they all work. Out of 8 strands of lights, ALL of which worked last year because I had them on the front of the house, how many do you think worked? Go on, guess...I'll wait. Did you guess? Well, if you guessed THREE, you were right! THREE STINKIN' STRANDS of lights!! How is it that I can take them down, all of them in working order and twinkling merrily, lovingly coil them up, gently place them in a box, and oh-so-carefully carry them out to The Barn, and when I get them out a year later, I have 5 strands that only half light up? I don't get it. Are there Light Gnomes that get into The Barn and work some gnomley black magic on them? Is there some sort of Gnome Poison I can put out there to prevent this from happening in the future? It's maddening.
So, sometime, when it's not Black Friday, I'll go and invest in MORE lights so that I can put them up on my house and enjoy them this Christmas Season, and make sure they don't work next year. *sigh*

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today was a fantastic day! The Kids actually spent last night at their Nani Kay's house, which was a change for us. It was a little strange to get up and not have them here, but it was nice to sit with Ched and have some coffee and quiet time together. We went over and got them from Nani's at about 9:00, with the idea that we were going to come home and watch the Macy's parade, but, as we were driving home, they asked if we could get out the Christmas movies we came home and watched The Grinch with Jim Carrey. I think this might be our new T-Giving tradition because, as much as I love the Macy's parade, everyone else loses interest in about .5 seconds!
We have a wonderful friend named Jan, an honorary aunt, who opened her home to us for a fantastic feast. Now, I LOVE having people over to our house, and that is what we did last year for the holiday. But, it is really nice to go to someone else's home to celebrate! I was in charge of mashed potatoes (which I do a really good job with, if I do say so myself!) and bringing canned cranberry sauce in honor of our friend Bev, whose tradition was jellied cranberry sauce, straight out of the can.WITH the ridges left on - you COULD NOT mix up the sauce, it had to be slid out of the can, onto a plate, still in its can-shaped form!! Bev passed away in 2000 and we think of her at every holiday meal as we slide the sauce from its can.
After Naps (another holiday tradition!), we packed up The Kids and headed over to the annual tree lighting and arrival of Santa at a local Utica Square, which is a high-dollar shopping center. They have all their trees bedecked in white lights and Santa ceremoniously flips them on, signalling the official start of the Christmas season. Deco's face was just priceless! His eyes got HUGE and he got this big grin on his face when the lights came on - it was so precious. This is the seventh year that we've done this and it's one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. We always come home and have corn soup and breadsticks, which is a great dinner to have after a huge heavy lunch. Our friends Natalie and Stephen, and their kids, have joined us for The Corn Soup Feast for at least 3 years now. I love it that we're building memories not only with our immediate family but with our extended "family" as well.
It was a wonderful day and I'm almost overwhelmed with all the things that I have to be thankful to God for!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One Hint that Your Kids are Homeschooled!

When you hear them wrestling and one of them is saying "AAAAAAAH, the white blood cell is getting me! The white blood cell is getting me!" God bless "The Magic Schoolbus"!

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Baby's Growing Up - Part 2!

Well, Bear "lost" her second tooth this week! I say "lost" in quotes because, in reality, we had to go to the dentist and have it taken out. The grown up tooth was coming in behind the baby tooth, rather than right underneath it, so the whole tooth-root for the baby one hadn't been dissolved and it wouldn't let loose. SO, we went to visit our dentist who is the MOST FABULOUS DENTIST in the world, and he numbed her up a little and popped it right out! The thing that is SO cute is that she was SO excited to put it under her pillow for the "Mom Fairy" to come and leave money. Now, she knows that there isn't a tooth fairy, so I could have just handed her the $3, but it would have ruined all the excitement. She carefully placed it under her pillow when she went to bed and in the morning, came running in, grinning from ear to ear and waving her money. I love sharing in her excitement and imagination! We're going to Branson on Wednesday for our last trip to Silver Dollar City, so I'm hoping she'll save it to take with her and get a souvenier.

School this week has gone really well. I began an "experiment" on The Kids to see if giving them some protein at breakfast would help their moods during the morning. Last winter, I got into the habit of giving them a piece of sausage or bacon with breakfast, either with their cereal or with eggs, but I've not done that much since we stopped school for the summer. (Who wants to cook sausage on a summer morning?) But I noticed lately that Bear has been so easily frustrated and generally crabby, and I wondered if the lack of protein might be a contributing factor. So all this week, they've gotten a small piece of sausage with breakfast, and it really seems to have made a difference!

Today was a fun day, but sort of short. We were meeting to have lunch with some girls that I used to work with, so we played two "file folder" games, one called "Step Up to 160" which was an exercise in counting guessed it! 160!......and one called "Leap Frog Addition" which was a math game. Bear REALLY had fun with those, I think probably because it really meshes with her competative nature. We've also been working on memorizing a Thanksgiving poem called "All in a Word" (T for______, H for ________, that kind of thing). It's 7 verses (T. H, A, N, K, and S, plus a wrap up verse) and I've been having her write one verse each day, plus reviewing the previous days verses. She's doing very well and hopefully will be able to "perform" it for Nani K. on Thanksgiving!

Ched is on vacation next week, but I think I may plan to have at least a little school on Monday and Tuesday before we go out of town. But, then again, that may fly right out the window on Monday morning!

Oh, and I took and passed my yellow belt test in karate on Thursday! Yippee!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Turkey Hand Math

Aha! I'm finally having GOOD ideas for school!! I'd pat myself on the back, but I simply can't be dishonest....I have to admit that my great ideas are coming from a book that I bought called Thematic Unit - Thanksgiving, published by Teacher Created Resources. It is just FULL of great, fun ideas for math, science, writing, and other subjects, all surrounding a Thanksgiving-theme and all "tied together" around three Thanksgiving story books. This week, we're reading Silly Tilly's Thanksgiving Dinner and our favorite activity so far was "Turkey Hand Math". I traced both of The Kids hands on paper and made them into turkeys. (The handprints, not the kids!) Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(Deco's picture is on the top, Bear's is on the bottom)

They colored the "turkeys" and then we used corn kernels to make up story problems about the turkeys. For example, for Bear I'd say "In the morning, the farmer came out and gave one turkey 5 pieces of corn and the other turkey 3 pieces of corn. How many are there in all?" and she'd solve the problem. I also added in some subraction problems. Deco's problems were just "Give the turkey on the left 3 pieces of corn" and he'd count them out. They both thought this was a fantastic game! I was amazed that Deco sat and colored his, actually, seeing as how he's usually completely uninterested in doing any "school work"!

We've also begun reading lots of books about Thanksgiving, including Thanksgiving on Thursday, which is a Magic Treehouse book. (That one was short, we finished it today at lunch.) I also have a book called Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners that I plan on reading at some point. The best thing about November, from a homeschooler's standpoint, is that there is a built-in theme, at least here in the elementary school years!
We've also been working on "parts of speech", for lack of a better term. Bear has learned what nouns and verbs are and now we're learning adjectives. I had Bear go through a magazine and cut out five pictures that she liked and then glue them on paper. Then she had to choose at least two adjectives to describe the pictures that she'd chosen. It was a fun exercise, especially since she likes practically ANYTHING that she can do with her hands!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


We went apple picking with some homeschooling friends on Monday and as I looked at the pictures that I took, the first word that came to mind was TEAMWORK! The weather was windy - at times, it felt like a hurricane - but the temperature was perfect for our day. All of the kids had such fun, climbing up into the trees and finding the apples that were good, using the huge apple-picker poles to get the ones off of the top of the trees. (Granny Smiths were the only ones that were left. I guess that we should have gone in the beginning of October!)

We sat and had a picnic lunch and we WERE going to go through the educational area that the orchard had set up, but it was just for the school kids...why we didn't think to mention that we were homeschooling kids, I have NO idea! But it was a really fun day anyway.

This isn't the first time that we had gone apple picking. When we were in Ohio and we drove up to Amish country, we passed an orchard and stopped on our way home. That day was cold! I laughed at how excited Bear and Deco were to see apples on TREES!!

OK, I'll admit it, I was surprised that apples grew in clusters!! It was so beautiful!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm simply amazed!

This morning I decided to have Bear read a library book to me for reading. The lessons from The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading were getting a little tedious and, honestly, I haven't done one in about three weeks. Plus it seems like she does a whole lot of "real life" reading as I have her read in a whole lot of different areas - directions on her worksheets, things like that.
So, I'm listening to her read and I was just simply stunned at how well she does! In fact, I had to call Ched and have him listen to her. Not only was she reading the words well, she was reading the story with feeling! Putting emotion into the characters voices and everything! It was SO GREAT to hear!! This was something that I needed SO MUCH right now because there have been a lot of days lately where I've been scratching my head, wondering if I'm really doing a good enough job.

It's funny, I talk about all these "special" things that we do and I don't think I've ever mentioned the everyday things that we do. Every day we start school by saying prayers, each of us taking a turn. I love hearing Bear pray because she's really beginning to expand her prayer life. For example, she remembers every time she says a prayer to pray for some good friends of ours who are sick. And not just general prayers for them either, but specific prayers, like asking that Myra wouldn't get sores in her mouth and things like that. That pure, fantastic faith of a child is so amazing to watch. After prayers, she'll go over to the bulletin board and check of the date on the calendar and change the day of the week and the weather card (if the weather has changed!) Then we begin lessons, after I've gotten Deco all set up with whatever activity he chooses to begin.

I've begun checking out Great Illustrated Classics from the library and reading them out loud to The Kids. (Mainly Bear, Deco usually loses interest!) So far this year we've read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and we're currently about halfway through Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I've got The Adventures of Huck Finn on request from the library, so hopefully that will come in soon. I usually read these books at breakfast and lunchtime, and I do a Bible devotional either at breakfast or after we say prayers at the beginning of school.

Things have been kind of hectic since we got back from Ohio, only because I've felt out of my "groove" and haven't been making my lesson plan each weekend. It's amazing how that can throw me off! BUT, I'm back in that as of this past Sunday, so things are looking up this week.

Dinner with the Firemen

Note to self: when your mom, who is fairly computer un-savvy, writes you a note, telling you that it's time to update your blog, you know that it's been TOO LONG
since you updated your blog!!
I've been suffering from a bad case of procrastination regarding this blog! Honestly, we've been doing a whole bunch of stuff that I could write about, but I just keep putting it off.
Last weekend, The Kids, Ched, my Mom, and I all went to a progressive dinner that was put on by the fire department. It was a three-course dinner, beginning with salad at Station 23. Bear made a snowflake to give to the firemen, and she was THRILLED when the young man that she handed the picture to put it up on the bulletin board!

After our salads, we loaded onto a bus and headed for the next station - no, I can't remember the number. In fact, as I write this, I begin to question if the number of the first station is, in fact, 23...but I guess that's not important! At this station we were treated to the most wonderful grilled chicken with rice and veggies. I tell ya, those guys and gals can COOK! Makes my mouth water just to think of it! We also got a treat in that one of the firemen was there with his guitar, so we had some very nice music to accompnay our meal.

At the last station, we had our choice of numerous desserts, along with coffee (for the grownups, obviously!) to finish up our experience. It was really neat to see inside the stations, although we really didn't get to "tour" any of them. There simply wasn't enough time, although we did get to walk through the sleeping quarters at the first station. OH, and we got to see the bathroom...because, you know, The Kids simply CAN'T let any public bathroom go unexplored! I think that this may become an annual tradition because we all really enjoyed eating with the firemen!