Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Whole Bunch of Sickies

A few weeks ago I gleefully remarked to several people how excited I was that after our bout of December ear infections we had remained healthy the rest of the winter. Since spring had arrived I assumed I was home free. *doing one of those nifty little Mary Poppins heel click dances* Unfortunately, I was wrong. Emmett began it all last week with his double ear infection. Jackson soon followed with massive nasal drainage and a croup-like cough, and by the weekend Marissa had the same sounding kind of cough, then Josh got it. In the meantime, Emmett's antibitotics appeared to be doing no good, and his cold-like symptoms worsened. Sunday night brought Isabella complaining of throat pain. Yesterday afternoon, I toted them all to the doctor. I'm feeling great by the way--no signs of anything so far. Ever since I had my tonsils out (9 years ago) I think I have had to be on antibiotics once. I really think that has kept me much healthier.

So, the diagnosis: Emmett had to be bumped up to a stronger antibiotic--for some reason the pink amoxicillan NEVER clears up the ear infections for him. I was going to say something to the doctor when he prescribed that for him last week, but I figured he knew what he was doing. Jackson had one-going-on two ear infections, Isabella has some swollen glands and was tested for strep, but so far just seems to have a cold, and Marissa has an ear filling with fluid, which up until that point wasn't bothering her much. Of course, within an hour of leaving the doctor it starts to hurt, and bothered her all through the night, even causing her to dry-heave at one point. ( Oh, and Mom, if you're reading this you can tell Papa Roy I believe she "throws up like a Hansmeyer." ;oP) We will see what today brings, but I wonder if I'm going to have to have the ear looked at again.

So, we skipped school yesterday, and naptime, since that was when we were at the doctor. As early evening rolled in, our house was not the most pleasant place to be. We watched some back-to-back "Between the Lions" videos we had checked out of the library, a Pooh video, and perhaps a Veggie Tale thrown in for good measure. There's nothing like a TV watching marathon to put them all in a semi-comatose state. :oP I had them all in bed by 7:15. Although Jackson was quick to point out that "It's not dark Dad!" I was actually planning on just getting him to bed, but we had to stage a whole mock bedtime routine, involving his sisters, prayer, lullaby, and me "throwing him into bed like a baby" (don't ask) in order to convince him it was bedtime. Still, I think it threw off his whole routine. Everything must run like clockwork for that boy.

It looks like we will be stuck at home for yet another day--maybe by tomorrow the girls will be feeling up to Awana. Perhaps I will get a chance to escape at some point for some fabric store therapy, but most likely not. ;o) I'm sure I can find SOMETHING to do while stuck at home . . .

Monday, March 30, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook~March 30th

For today, Monday, March 30, 2009

Outside my window...

There IS a sun, but it is blustery, and the weather is forecasting SNOW for those north of us. So much for March heading out like a lamb. ;o)

I am thinking...

About essential fatty acids, DHA, and lots of other interesting things after hearing Dianne Craft speak this weekend.

I am thankful for...

Being able to attend the homeschool conference this year--I feel refreshed and inspired and full of new ideas.

From the learning rooms...

Five weeks of school left!!! We might finish up the math curriculum this week or next--focusing on money. We will also be learning about the transcontinental railroad and Colorado.

From the kitchen...

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, Sugar Snap Peas, Sliced Apples

I am wearing...

Pajamas, glasses *blush* I haven't quite made it to the shower yet . . . ;o)

I am creating...

A menu for April, lists, plans . . .

I am going...

To take ALL FOUR children to the doctor today. GUNK has descended upon us. ;o)

I am reading...

Just finished up BEFORE YOU MEET PRINCE CHARMING by Sarah Mally--great book

I am hoping...

To be productive today . . .

I am hearing...

Jackson informing me, every five minutes "I came out of your tummy!" Which he will repeat until I affirm that yes, in fact, he did. (He's become obsessed with his baby scrapbook lately--really obsessed)

Around the house...

Sick children, disarray, running out of shampoo, laundry detergent . . . It's time to get busy!

One of my favorite things...

Fresh new pads of writing paper, new curriculum purchased for next school year

A few plans for the rest of the week:

My number one priority is to get these kids healthy, and then we'll see what else happens ;o)

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Isabella and her "fashion sense" ;o) She comes up with the most interesting combinations.

Head here to check out other daybooks or make your own.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Parade of Projects

If you recall, a few weeks back I made myself a list of a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to get done. Well, I'm not done yet, but I've been able to cross off a few things, the first being this valance for the girls' room. A few houses ago I had gotten these long window panels to go with the girls' bedding, but when we moved we didn't have as many windows, and it was a double window, so I decided to shorten them into valances. I had them cut and pinned, and then stashed them away, where they sat for a VERY LONG TIME. ;o) Finally they are complete. I threw in some pom-pom fringe. Am I weird, or is pom-pom fringe just the most adorable stuff? Love it. ;o) Next, a "before" picture of another shelf that Josh built for me when the girls were little. They have since outgrown its original purpose.And "after," painted blue for the boys. Sorry about that glare. ;o)
Two cans of spray paint did the trick.
And finally, a new little purse, ("The Flea Market Purse" from a book entitled The New Handmade)I finished up today. I have officially decided my favorite color is robin's egg blue. The problem is I haven't found a way to include that color in my home decorating since I'm more into "primitives." I find myself wearing it more. I LOVE this fabric--got it at The Calico House I believe.
This picture below shows a bit of the lining, which pulls out the coral red flowers on the purse. The only problem with this purse--it doesn't fit my wallet as well as I would like. Which is kind of funny, because when I saw the pattern/picture my initial thought was "Oh, that will fit a BOOK nicely!" I guess that shows you where my priorities are. ;o)

That's all I have right now. I'm probably going to attempt some shirts or dresses for Marissa. Sewing clothes is still one of the hardest things for me--especially zippers, and would you believe I have never successfully made a button hole? Usually I look for patterns that don't involve either of these things. ;o) All in all, I enjoy it and get much satisfaction out of making something, that whole "works with her hands in delight" thing. (Well, most of the time--as long as there are no button holes or zippers . . .Then it's more a "works with her hands while muttering" sort of thing) ;o)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Of Ear Infections, Chipped Crowns, and Other Excitement

My little Emmett has been waking A LOT lately. He had gone in for his 2 year appointment last Monday, and the doctor checked his ears, saying they were fine, other than a bit of fluid in one. I attributed our nighttime issues to molars getting ready to come in. Yesterday came the fever, a cough, a runny-nose, and today the diagnosis of a double-ear infection. Poor little guy. He just looks miserable. So we're back to the "Well, he had a long break, if he can kick this one, we won't worry about tubes, but if not . . ." This has happened about three times now, we go through a bout of ear infections, the doctor says "One more and it's tubes . . ." and then the "one more" doesn't come--until way later, beginning the cycle again. The doctor we saw today mentioned his huge tonsils, which it seems all my kiddos have, and thought maybe Emmett would benefit more from adenoid/tonsil removal, as opposed to tubes. We shall see where this goes. Hopefully we will start seeing some improvement tomorrow, especially in the area of sleeping. I'm kind of tired. ;o)

And then I somehow managed to chip out a good-sized chunk on the crown one of my molars is sporting. Two years back I ended up with a cracked molar (it got really sensitive during my pregnancy with Emmett, but no x-rays were taken at that point, since I was pregnant and all, so I dealt with this awful tooth for a good 6-9 months I think). It resulted in a root canal and my very first crown. End of the story, so I thought. But last night I was lying in bed when I suddenly felt "grit" in my mouth, and removed a small bit of porcelain. I checked back there with a mirror today and YIKES! there is a good amount missing. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow (Wed.) morning at 8 a.m. And I'm trying to remember the last time I ever had an appointment scheduled at eight. I'm sure it will be quite pleasant. (Ha, ha) I am sooooo hoping the crown doesn't have to be pulled off and a new one made. However, I have a feeling it's going to be more complicated than I would like (isn't it always?). ;oP But maybe they can just "spackle" in the missing part. A girl can dream, right?

So today was a non-productive, "drifty" kind of day, where all I accomplished was a load of dishes. And it seems one day of slackiness always results in several days of make-up work. Ah well. Tomorrow IS another day. But today . . . Today I have a wee bit of denture envy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook~March 23rd

For today, Monday, March 23, 2009

Outside my window...It's RAINING!!! A real and true downpour with thunder and lightening and tornado warnings. (Hmmm, I suppose I should not be on the computer . . . .)
I am thinking...
About the buds that burst open overnight revealing lots of green baby leaves. It makes me giddy. ;o)
I am thankful for...
Everything. Really. Life is good.
From the learning rooms...
Tying up some loose ends from last week along the lines of Abraham Lincoln; learning about more states; magnets; subtraction within numbers to 100
From the kitchen...
Baked Chicken--which is just chicken breast breaded in cornflakes, some seasoning salt, and sprinkled with parsley and a bit of cheddar cheese, Baked Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts (and no my kids are not Brussels sprouts' biggest fans, but Josh and I kind of like 'em, so tough) ;o)
It was tasty.
I am wearing...
A short-sleeved maroon tee, black knit pants, bare feet, pony-tail, glasses, no make-up
It was a don't-go-anywhere-day today.
I am creating...
A new purse from a pattern in THE NEW HANDMADE by Cassie Barden
I am going...
To be sewing or reading this evening--hmmm, big decision
I am reading...
TAKE ONE by Karen Kingsbury
(shelved everything else for the time-being)
I am hoping...
Emmett gets over this cold or allergies or molar cutting or all-of-the-above quickly--I'm a quart or seven low in the sleep department
I am hearing...
Marissa singing in the bath and some gentle splashing
Around the house...
Kind of clean, but my kitchen is in need of a good mopping and we won't talk about the closets that I was supposed to be organizing last week
One of my favorite things...
I got out for my first run this past weekend and it wasn't too painful--or too long for that matter *sheepish grin*
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Cleaning morning tomorrow at church, Orchestra/Awana Wednesday night, and YIPPEE!! the homeschool convention is Friday and Saturday--two days to myself to peruse books and be inspired. I know, I know, what kind of nerd am I to be elated about going to a convention. ;o)
Here is picture thought I am sharing... Jackson creating lots of O's with our set of forms from Handwriting Without Tears--He was sooooo excited, and then changed them all to S's. The picture is him "mid-hop" (If you know him well, you know what I'm talking about) ;o)

Head here for directions on making your own daybook, or to read others'.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Encouraging Kids to Read

Back in December I mentioned my new shelf Josh built for me for Christmas, its goal to showcase books for the kids (and eventually some nature finds). It was a brilliant idea-- even if I do say so myself. ;o) The books used to congregate in a crate, and the kids would sift through them, pulling out a book here and there to read. Sadly, the vast majority of books we would check out would go unnoticed. Now, the books are looked at on a daily basis--at least! There's something about being able to see a book's cover that just appeals to a person, you know? I cycle the books in and out, when I notice the interest has died down I put out some new ones to display. It works great. Right now we have a whole bunch of spring books, books about maple sugaring, and books about baby animals on display. My next book round-up will probably have a lot to do with gardening and nature. That way we stay mindful and excited about what is happening out in the natural world. I have also heard about people who hang white vinyl gutters on the walls of their kids' room as a way to display books covers out. It sounds kind of strange, but looks really neat believe it or not. I'm sure if you it you'll find pictures somewhere. ;o) I've been meaning to do this for the boys' room. Anyway, all this to say, if you have a lot of books that are feeling neglected, put 'em on display. In my opinion, books make great decorations . . . ;o)

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Guest Poet

Spring is windy, spring is warm
It rises up the meadow corn
Easter's in it I must say
It never comes another day
And in the fields where new wheat grows
Watering, watering with the hose
And planting, planting with the plows
In fields of corn the milking cows!
Which munch and munch and munch I say
I leave May Day baskets in the month of May
The chickens lay me Easter eggs
In between their yellow legs
I love spring don't you?
It's when the skies are blue.
By: Marissa Grace Cooley age 7

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I had these grand ideas for today, our last name being Irish and all (it's so Irish that there is even some epic tale involving our name and a cattle raid!! How cool is that?!?!) ;o) I found some recipes from Family Fun online, for some good ol' corned beef and "Authentic Irish Soda Bread." However, I did not get to the store until late in the afternoon. It would seem corned beef is not something you can rush in cooking. The directions on the package called for an oven set at 300 degrees, and 1 hour per pound. Well, I was in a hurry, plus I wanted to get my soda bread going too, so I decided to cook everything at 350 degrees--not the best idea I have had. You ever heard the phrase "as tough as shoe leather" ? Yep, that was supper tonight. Josh wanted to make reuben sandwiches out of it. I could not for the life of me chomp/tear/rip a bite off. The kids couldn't either. Well, actually at this point, Jackson, after repeatedly removing the sauerkraut from the table due to the stench permanently vacated the dining room and went to his room--he's kind of sensitive to smells. So, the remaining three kids and I munched on the bread and carrots. Josh somehow managed to get his chewed and swallowed. So much for our bonny Irish meal. ;o) We did however redeem ourselves with what was next on our agenda . . .
Kite Flying!!!!

The highlight of the night for me was definitely Emmett flying a kite. He was adorable, and he held on so well. It was a perfect night to fly some kites. We then came home for some "Shamrock Shakes" (which is just mint chip ice cream thrown in the blender with some milk). All in all a fun evening--even with the corned beef fiasco. ;o)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook~March 16

FOR TODAY, March 16, 2009
Outside my window...
SUNSHINE and the promise of a beautiful day
I am thinking...
I would like to get out for a run at some point today
I am thankful for...
A fun birthday party for my "officially two" Emmett on Saturday evening
From the learning rooms...
Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; Energy and Forces; Adding numbers within 100
From the kitchen...
Crockpot Lasagna, Carrots/Cucumbers for dipping, Cheesy Bread
I am wearing...
Pony-tail, glasses, short-sleeved brown tee, jeans, bare feet
I am creating...
I have a myriad of projects started, I just need to pick one up and get it finished!
I am going...
Amend the disastrous situation in my bedroom closet. No matter how organized I am for company there are always miscellaneous items that get stuffed in there when it comes to crunch time. A fatal flaw of mine. ;o)
I am reading...
Okay, so I just keep adding books to what I already have going *blush* without finishing anything I've started-- my list currently:
Instructing a Child's Heart~Tripp
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World~Weaver
The Passion of Mary-Margaret~Samson
I am hoping...
To do some "behind scenes" cleaning this week, my closet and our art/homeschooling closet in particular
I am hearing...
Marissa and Emmett playing together nicely, Jackson upset about train track situations, and quietness from Isabella
Around the house...
Pretty clean--thanks to the party on Saturday, just a bit of vacuuming/picking up and we'll be in good working order
One of my favorite things...
"The Sound of Music" I introduced the girls to it this weekend and I had forgotten how much I LOVE this movie. We've been singing the soundtrack and I'm freshening up on my yodeling. ;o) "Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens . . ."
"How do you solve a problem like Maria . . ."
"You are 16 going on 17 . . ."
"Edelweiss . . ."
OH, it doesn't get much better than that, no? ;o)
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Emmett has his 2 year check up today, church activities scattered throughout the week, our homeschool group has "craft morning" on Thursday, and Friday it's official "Spring gets Sprung" I'm sure we'll celebrate somehow ;o)
Here is picture thought I am sharing... Emmett loving on his baby cousin Drew at the birthday party

HERE for info on making your own daybook or to read others'

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Emmett James!

You entered this world two weeks early, Daddy gone (like Los Angeles gone!) on a business trip. "The ides of March." You were a precious little 6 lb 5 oz bit of nothing. Tiny. Beautiful. Same song, fourth verse I would tell everyone.

In those early months I tended to fear for your life--you see you have Jackson for an older brother. Once he pulled you down off my bed. Once he dumped water on you. Once he peed on you. I'm soooo sorry. You spent a lot of time in your swing. It just seemed like the safest place. Those first few months I existed on no sleep. You were up every two hours--at least. I figured it was because you started out smaller than the rest--you had to make up for lost time. But eventually you were sleeping awesome. Until you started teething.

You spent many months army crawling like an adorable little inchworm. You took FOREVER to walk! You were nearly 16 months old before you decided to make it your full-time occupation. But that was okay, because I was still chasing Jackson and had no idea what I would do if I had two little crazy boys to run after.

You run the hottest fevers and get the worst rashes. You are the most cuddly little guy, still bringing me your blanky so I can wrap you all up and snuggle you close, like one big baby. But that's okay, you still are my baby. It's strange to be celebrating your 2nd birthday and not have another little one in my arms or just about ready to deliver. This is a first for me.

You might not have the language skills like Marissa did, the dressing-up skills of Isabella, or the mess-making prowess that Jackson exhibited, but you sure do remember each and every store that has ever given you a sticker and the exact place the sticker was given at. I cannot escape these places without hearing "Stickie! STICKIE!!" Which proves to me over and over that each and every child is unique and special and a genius in some area. Along with your "stickies" are the balloon and bubble love. Is it a round thing?

Your voice is ADORABLE! It is so sweet when you say "Love you too!" or "Peeeeeese!" or "Thank you" or "Supper time!" I love hearing new little phrases emerge. You are joyful. Impish. I love those little blonde curls and long dark eyelashes. I love when you wrap your little arms tight around my neck and give me kisses.

So happy birthday Emmers, my little Bubba. We are so very blessed to have you as a part of our family. And I am so very glad I get to be your Mommy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Let's Talk Fashion

So, tell me, what exactly does a seven year old girl wear? I just got back from what would best be described as "casing" out the stores, and I'm a bit perplexed. The young girls' sizes go from 4-6x, and Marissa is just on the cusp of outgrowing 6x. When I look at the older girl stuff, which ranges in size from 7-14, I'm going to admit it, I'm mostly turned off. I don't do trendy and I don't do pop icons. I have a problem with clothes that look like something I might consider if it were in my size. I want Marissa to still look like a GIRL. I just don't like the idea of my seven year old trying to appear 16 or 21 . . . Call me old-fashioned. ;o) And I know there are options out there. I know the Carter's Outlet off the interstate has nice things for older girls, as well as Landsend. The problem is, that all adds up in terms of $$$ pretty quickly. I think Marissa is just caught in the middle of a very awkward "dressing age." I don't want to dress her like she's a toddler, but I still want to keep her a young girl a bit longer--without making her stand-out or look too babyish of course. ;o) It looks like my sewing machine maybe seeing more action than I was planning on this spring. And of course there will be garage sales once it gets warm. But does anyone have any other suggestions for me, keeping in mind I'm not working with a whole lot of $$$? Are there any other stores out there that think preserving childhood a bit longer is a good thing? ;o)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

He Draws

For the life of me I have been unable to encourage Jackson to draw pictures. In spite of the obviously vivid artwork my walls have seen lately, the paper is seeing no action. My girls were making basic (crude) faces shortly after they turned two. I finally got something from Jackson last summer that resembled a face--right around his third birthday. I was ecstatic. However, there have been no pictures--of anything--since. He will color pictures in, or have me draw him pictures, but he will not try himself. Until today . . . What are these you ask? Shelves. Lots and lots and lots of pictures of shelves. Green shelves, and then to mix it up a bit, blue shelves.

Once again, I am ecstatic. Josh pointed out that on Tuesday, Jackson had wanted to draw a shelf, and I had guided his hand to show him. Today, we did the same, and suddenly it must have clicked. Maybe that is what I need to do with him--give him guided help until he feels confident enough to venture out on his own. Whatever the case, I'm quite happy and hoping to keep this new development continuing--especially since it involves paper and not walls. ;o)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook~March 9th

For today--March 9, 2009
Outside my window...
A chilly March day, kind of overcast with a sun that flits in and out, chance of rain
I am thinking...
About this post and feeling inspired and motivated
I am thankful for...
A great start to the week! The boys took LOOOONG naps yesterday giving me a jump start on cleaning and the incredible messiness that usually greets me on Monday.
From the learning rooms...
Abraham Lincoln, more states, how materials change in form, more numbers through 100
From the kitchen...
Our FAVORITE Tuna Noodle Casserole, Sugar Snap Peas, Salad
I am wearing...
Long-sleeved green tee, comfy tan knit pants, hair still wet from the shower
I am creating...
So far just a list . . . ;o) I am hoping by the end of the week I'll have something to "show and tell"
I am going...
Maybe Tar.get, maybe Joan.n's Fab.ric or, maybe H.ome De.pot, maybe nowhere
I am reading...
Still slowly making my way through Instructing a Child's Heart, but also scanning through The Thyroid Solution--honestly I have books started all over the place that need finishing. I'm kind of bad about that.
I am hoping...
To discover just where my deodorant is--thanks to one of the boys I'm certain
I am hearing...
Children playing--unfortunately accompanied by some whininess
Around the house...
Like I said, not too bad this week as far as messes go--I am just hoping to stay on top of things all week so that "Party Day" doesn't overwhelm me
One of my favorite things...
Heading to the library to get all of our holds--lots of spring books to display on our nature/season shelf
A few plans for the rest of the week...
Getting ready for Emmett's birthday party while going about our normal routine of housework, schooling, church activites, etc.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
You haven't BEEN to the library until your little white "book receipt" totals about 4 feet in length and the librarian tells you that's her record for the day. ;o)

Head over here for directions on making your own daybook, or to check out others.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

This Week's To-Do's

So, my baby Emmett is turning two on Sunday (which is another post in and of itself . . .) and I've got a houseful arriving to celebrate Saturday evening. For some reason this always inspires me to get to projects I have been procrastinating for months. (Notice I said "inspires," I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit or not). ;o) Here is my list so far:
Purchase curtain rod for girls' room
Maybe boys' too . . .?
Hang them
Hem/sew pom-pom fringe on the girls' valance
Hang it
Spray paint an old shelf some bright color for the boys' room
Spray paint a laminate bookcase to become more "learning activity" storage
Get supplies to make a felt board
Make the felt board
Hang it in the spot in boys' room where they continue to draw on the wall
Hang "mustard" peg shelf in my room
Hang "cream" peg shelf downstairs
Get the boys some hair cuts
Grocery shop for items on my menu for Saturday
(ad nauseum)
I could really use a haircut too . . .
Oh, and I should get some two year pictures scheduled for Emmett
I have about 23 different sewing projects in various forms of preparation, but that's just going to have to wait . . . ;oP
So, there you have it, my awesome to-do list, which is basically just every single thing that popped into my head that I've been wanting to do. My hope is that by making this list public I will hold myself to some sort of accountability. Maybe. Surely I can be Wonder Woman for just one week. If I assign a few tasks to each day it is possible right? We shall see.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Celebrating Season Changes

After two days of gorgeous weather and now a delightfully rainy morning (with real honest to goodness thunder and lightning!) I am now giddy with the prospect that SPRING IS HERE! I know it's not official, and I am sure there will still be some cold days in our future, but there are definitely signs that winter is ending. The tulips ARE poking through, so that's as a good a sign as any. ;o) Josh laughs at me with how "seasonally driven" I am. I find each change thrilling and exciting, although perhaps my very favorites are the changes from winter to spring and from summer to fall--because they are such noticeable changes. The seasons dictate my decorating, the foods I am craving, the projects I am working on, the clothes I am wearing, the crafts I do with my kids, the nature we admire . . . The list goes on and on.

I read somewhere that God wrote two books, the Bible (obviously), but also the book of nature. As I get older, I am more and more amazed with the creativity and artistry that God demonstrates in our natural world. There could just be one kind of flower, one kind of tree, one bird, one butterfly . . . But instead we are blessed with an abundance of beauty to look at. We are blessed with change. If it stayed summer year round we would never get to appreciate the the thrill found in that first nippy autumn breeze while rustling our feet through piles of leaves, the silence of a snowfall, the thrill and joy found in the soft pastels of new life in the spring, the fireflies twinkling up the evening . . . Oh, my list could go on and on! There is such beauty all around us. It's an appreciation I definitely hope my kids "catch" from me. Growing up on a farm your life is definitely dictated by the seasons. I had a dad who traipsed us through various wildlife teaching us everything he knew. I take every chance I can get with my own kids to get us out in nature, not just walking through it, but getting down and observing it. It is definitely one of "my favorite things."

I also love how nature provides such good illustrations for our own lives. If it was always "summer" we would grow complacent and forget to appreciate--we would take it for granted. God mercifully mixes things up a bit, sometimes throwing in a "winter." When you have made it through that winter, the blessings of spring are so much more thrilling. You notice those little things with much more vividness. Your heart is so much more thankful.

I realize I am gushing . . . ;o) But my love of nature and the changes the seasons bring runs very deep--and it points me to thank a Creator who thought of everything. ;o) Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aspiring Cooks

Lately, my girls' interest in cooking has turned up a notch. I have often included them in my baking activities, and apparently they have decided that now is a good time to branch off on their own. Marissa has written her own recipe, for "Sugur Brownei Cake": And twice now I have found them in the kitchen concocting something, although unfortunately it's been unedible (well, in my opinion). ;o) They--of course-- think putting sugar in anything makes what they are cooking fantastic.
In spite of the messes and *ahem* waste of ingredients I am thrilled with their interest. I am thinking they may be ready to attempt some box mixes on their own. I can't remember how old I was when I started baking by myself. I just remember my desire to be a "pioneer woman." And I was motivated by the fact my own grandma started cooking when she was a girl. I wanted to be a good cook like her. Of course, I had some flops--like "Dishwater Potato Soup" that my dad likes to remind me of often (in my defense the recipe did not SAY to drain the water from the potatoes after boiling them . . .) But that's how you learn right? ;o) Anyway, just wanted to know you are all invited for a DOLLOP of the "Sugur Brownei Cake" which I would describe as kind of runny, grainy, and with a strong flour flavor. They wanted to bake it, but I had a bad feeling about how it would turn out. So they improvised, and alternately froze and refridgerated it. Yummy. ;o)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook--March 2nd

For today--March 2, 2009
Outside my window...
Snow--March definitely came "in like a lion"
I am thinking...
About a plan of attack for the messes today--the kitchen is always a good place to start
I am thankful for...
LIFE! For arms and legs that move, eyes to see, an ear (yes, just one!) to hear. There's far too much I take for granted.
From the learning rooms...
The Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, California, numbers to 100, solids, liquids, and gases--only 9 weeks of schooling left!
From the kitchen...
Swiss Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Peas
I am wearing...
Black "yoga" pants, long-sleeved purple tee, running shoes, no make-up, hair in a pony-tail
(Just got done working out)
I am creating...
Finishing up my wool chicks and hoping to get started on a "spring" pillow
I am going...
to get registered for the homeschool conference this year
I am reading...
Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp
I am hoping...
To get more disciplined in a variety of areas . . . ;oP
I am hearing...
Isabella talking to Daddy on the phone, discussing pizza options for lunch, how her hair is in pig-tails, and just general sweetness
Around the house...
Messes :o(
And some more messes.
One of my favorite things...
Planning out what we need for spring wardrobes, deciding what I may attempt to make, and stocking closets for a new season
A few plans for the rest of the week:
"Normal" stuff--mainly involving church activities
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
My wool chicks (or maybe they're duckies?)--I'm loving them. ;o)
Head here to make your own!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Preschool Ideas

Jackson will turn four towards the end of this summer, and technically he would be "school age" for the 2010-11 school year. Scary. We've already decided he won't be beginning kindergarten at that time--I have a feeling he will benefit from being at the older end of his grade. (Which is a decision we also made for Isabella this past year--she could have started kindergarten and done fine, but I'm in no hurry.) However, I am starting to compile resources for activities I am hoping to do with him. Some of these resources are "tried and true" at least in my family, and some are new ones I am exploring because I realize Jackson is not going to be like my girls. I see him as more of a tactile/kinetic learner. . .
My thoughts on reading readiness--I spent a year working in a Montessori preschool in Lincoln, which was an INCREDIBLE experience. If you have a chance to spend a morning or whole day just observing you will come away incredibly inspired. One of my favorite ideas is the "sandpaper letter" work. If we stop and think about it, learning the "ABC song" or even recognizing letter names really does nothing as far as getting a child ready to read. Montessori approaches the letters as sounds. You demonstrate how to trace the sandpaper letter with your finger and encourage the child to do the same and then tell them the SOUND the letter makes, not the name of the letter. When Marissa was a baby I made her a letter book using corrugated paper, and then adhered the corrugated letters into a small little spiral bound scrapbook. She seemed to just "know" the sounds the letters made as she got older. I think that little book had a lot to do with that. You can buy actual sandpaper letters mounted on wood for around $30-$35 dollars, or sandpaper letters mounted on cardstock (pictured below) for around $15. You can also make your own.
Something new for Jackson and eventually Emmett too are these wooden forms from . I have been checking out items on their site lately and am pretty impressed with the unique products they have to offer. These wooden forms are used to build letters--perfect I think for building-minded little boys. I think these run around $35. I was thinking that you could also make something very similar using craft foam. The following book is by a homeschooling mom with a Montessori influence. She goes into much better detail about how to use the sandpaper letters and also has a website with ideas, including how to make your own sandpaper letters. I checked my copy out at the library.

This is the actual book I used to teach both my girls to read. My mom recommended it to me, and I love it. It is also full of games you can print off. If you look over on my right sidebar under "home schooling" you will find a link to this site. I ordered my book from Amazon for around $17.
Once your child starts reading "Bob Books" make the best early readers. So many books claiming to be early readers are really not! These are great. You get a box of 10-12 little books for around $12-$14 I think. I have noticed these at the library too.

The next book is just a great book to get you on the path to reading aloud to your kids. It offers great book lists. I'm pretty sure the library has a copy.

The next book isn't so much a homeschooling book, but just a really great book to peruse for some unique ideas. It is written by an "unschooling" mom who likes to live in a more old-fashioned way and just has great ideas for encouraging creativity in children. Again, visit your local library. ;o)
You CAN choose to buy a whole preschool program when setting out to homeschool. Somebody gave me the advice to "just get them reading" because once they are doing that successfully a whole new world has been opened for them. That has always been my main focus. There are so many WONDERFUL ideas out there, like tracing letters in sand or shaving cream and rolling letters out of play dough that encourage reading readiness. If you check again on my sidebar under "blogs I enjoy" you will see the link to My Montessori Journey. This lady teaches in an actual Montessori classroom and has fantastic pictures, descriptions, and sources available. Well, I've gotten long-winded, but hopefully this information will be helpful to someone. ;o)