Monday, August 30, 2010

Summary Weeks 2&3

Up until today I would have told you school is going really well! But then last night the "bad attitude fairy" visited. Blech. We've had better days. 
But we are enjoying our curriculum and making our way through history.  We got up to the flood last week and below are Marissa's and Isabella's notebooking pages:
Now, if you'll note, Marissa's is on top, a nice happy ark perched upon Mt. Ararat, a silly little monkey dangling from the giraffe's neck.  And then there's Isabella's, no she didn't focus her attention on Noah building his ark, nor the animals entering it two-by-two.  What's the focus of her picture?  Why, drowning people of course!  Frantic people trying to stay out of flood waters by climbing up on a handy rock, people with closed eyes floating in water . . .  Can you say disturbing?!  I've got my eyes on that one . . . ;o)
And here's what the boys are working on:
Jackson's is on top, Emmett's on the bottom.  I hit up for some alphabet stickers at 1/2 off, so they are enjoying bestickering their pages. 
And the chalkboard for "Rosh Hashanah"
Pay no attention to the smeariness across the bottom, Emmett drew some random "cars" and "H's" all over my drawing. And Josh noticed I forgot the "y" on mighty. Oops. ;o) I'm thinking I might have the girls copy what I've written/drawn for each Jewish feast--another type of notebooking page--and we'll add that somewhere in their notebooks too.

And now on to week 4!!! Just 32 more weeks to go! Ha, ha! (and apparently, after spell-checking, I've made up a lot of words, notebooking? bestickering? smeariness? You know what I mean, right?) ;o)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Week in Review

Josh's "first day of school pic" ;o) He's actually in a classroom now, a practicum for both physics and chemistry.  A year from now (Lord willing!) it will be his very own classroom.  We're in the home stretch!
Owen got in the pool for the first time--he LOVED it.  Lots and lots of splashing.
My mom shared some of her okra bounty with me, and I made the dish she always made for us as kids, "fried okra" which is a recipe that comes from my dad's mom.  Basically, okra breaded in cornmeal, pepper, salt, and fried with some onions in butter.  Isn't it amazing how keen our senses of taste and smell are, so closely linked to memory that suddenly you're a kid again sitting at the table with your siblings chowing down on mom's okra?
A field trip to Homestead National Monument and a prairie walk rounded out our school week.
Owen discovers he is quite capable of using a walker to get around *gasp*
And I splurged on some mums, nice big ones at Me.nard's for only $3 a plant!
At our first home I planted mums along our front walk, dutifully pinching them off all summer so they would bloom in the fall.  Then I would scatter pumpkins amongst them (which the squirrels would feast on . . .).  I miss those mums. Since we've been renting these last few years, I've refrained from buying flowers--it seemed like a waste of money since I can't take them with me.  I realized after setting these mums on my porch how much I've missed having a plant to tend.  My heart gives a bit of a leap when I see them all cheerful outside, harbingers of fall.  I think they were well worth the $9 I spent. ;o)
And that would be last week in pictures. ;o) My favorite time of year is upon us and I'm busy planning out lots of fall fun--our labor day bonfire! the apple farm! two pumpkin patches (one out by Aurora we'll be checking out this year)! combine rides! and hopefully lots of nature walks too! I can't wait!
(oh, and as a sidenote, it's my blog's "birthday" today--2 years of online journaling accomplished!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Linky Love

So much to say, so little time to say it . . . That would be how I've felt lately.  There has been so much I have wanted to blog about . . . Jackson's b-day party, an okra recipe, a "week 2" summary of school (and now I'm already finishing up week 3!), and the list goes on.  Instead I'll give you a list of luscious links (what a lovely alliteration) ;o) that I think are so cool! And maybe sometime over the weekend I'll get back and get "caught up."

A new twist on giving cards for birthdays/anniversaries/etc--head here. I informed Josh this would be what I was expecting from here on out.  He snorted. 

A fun and decorative idea for the kids to craft this fall--head here.

A new use for baby food jars--head here.  I love this idea because I try to have my kids start drinking from cups by 18 months (at least during meal times, not in the car!) and these would be the perfect size.

And this--head here. We're going to be doing these for our Girls of Grace sleepover this year and I think it is such a fun nature-inspired idea.

That's all for now, have a great day! ;o)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I don't know if I'm the last one in the world to learn about *swag*bucks*, but in the event you have seen that word floating around and wondered what it was, I will tell you what it means to me:

$5 Amazon gift cards!!!!

That was, quite frankly all I needed to hear. ;o)  Basically, you go to swagbucks, download their header bar, and then use that as your search engine instead of whatever else you use.  What I've been doing is typing "facebook" or the name of my blog, or "amazon"--you know, my favorite places that I go to on any given day, instead of typing them in the regular way.  Swagbucks in turn pays me "money" whenever they feel like it.  You can also take surveys, and I just did my first one today (took about 8 minutes), they paid me 50 swagbucks.  So in a week and a half I have collected 438 swagbucks.  How much is an Amazon gift card for $5?  450 swagbucks.  I'm thinking in two weeks time I could have that--in a month hopefully $10.  And all for just doing what I normally do.

Intriguing eh? ;o) Of course there are other things you can buy with your bucks, but the Amazon one is pretty useful for me and quick turnaround.  If this proves to go well I could have $40-$50 in e-cards by Christmas time.  Every little bit helps!

Soooooo, if you do want to sign up, I put a little referral button on my blog down on the right hand side.  Click on that and I think I might get a few more bucks for referring you--you know you want to help support my book habit, right? ;o) 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy 5th Jackson!!

Dear Jackson,
Yesterday afternoon about 25 minutes went by and I found myself in a sudden panic because I hadn't seen or heard you in all that time.  I dashed upstairs, I dashed downstairs.  I asked the girls if they had seen you. I checked outside.  No Jackson.
I went back upstairs and pulled back the covers in my bed, and there you were, sound asleep.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and realized something.
You are a busy boy.
If you aren't popping up every few moments to show me a new picture or a toy, to ask me to watch you do your latest stunt or to ask me outlandish questions--
Then you're probably busy drawing pictures of Buzz Lightyear or some other Mar.vel comic hero.
Or cutting off Woody's arm with scissors and attempting to reattach it with rickrack and stick pins.
Or attempting to hang your artwork by hammering screws into the wall.
Or you're tormenting a sibling.
The moments I find you still
--as in sleeping or quietly perusing a book at your leisure--
are few and far between.
I guess you didn't get nicknamed "Action Jackson" for nothing.
There's a real imagination in that head of yours, as maddening sometimes as it is delightful.
I truly never know what you are going to cook up next. 
(Jackson's happy face)
(Jackson's mad face)
I'm not sure I've ever been more infuriated by a child--
or more entertained.
Because you are a character.
And sometimes when I get all dressed up and you tell me I "look beautiful in that dress"
I think you just might be the sweetest boy in the world.
And sometimes when you mimic Buzz Lightyear "out-takes" belching real loud and saying "Woa! I don't remember eating that!" I have to turn away so you can't see me laughing.
You are unique.
I  have a feeling we are in for a fun year. ;o)
I love you buddy and can't imagine our family without you.
I pray for you and me both, that God give me the wisdom to help raise you to be a man that seeks Him.
Because you know, God is the best super hero of all.
And that nap idea you had yesterday? It was stellar. ;o)
Happy happy birthday Jackson boy!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eight Months Old

I'm creeping in here quietly, before the day has completely slipped away to share a few pictures and thoughts on a baby who insists upon getting bigger.
I tried to get a few pics of him this afternoon, and I really don't have much to show for the effort because this little guy just won't stop moving.  He's underfoot a lot these days, in fact he's underfoot at the moment.  He follows after us--quickly--and before we know it we've stepped on, tripped over . . . Poor guy has gotten his share of bumps lately.  Of course, most are his own doing as he's figured out how to climb the first stair, pulls himself up on anything with enough nubbiness to grab onto (like Daddy's leg hair for instance).  He's toppled enough lately to make me want to helmet him.  He's starting to cruise too.

And I realize you're probably thinking that is what babies are supposed to do. For some reason I guess I just thought he'd stay in that 2-4 month range a lot longer than he did.  Didn't anybody inform him he's the baby?

While I would like to sit and recall more fun facts, the truth is he just took a bite out of a brittle cover of Wilder's "The Long Winter."  He's grinning at me quite pleased with himself while a piece of cover stays plastered to the constant drool on his chin.  Hence, I'm off to rescue both book and baby. Happy 8th month dear Owen. ;o)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Story Problems

A) If the washer takes approximately 26 minutes and the dryer 50 minutes (although some loads of towels need an extra 20 minutes), how many loads of laundry could the frazzled mother complete in a 12 hour period?  If she forewent sleep, a 24 hour period?

B) If Owen's mother took 1/4 cup dry baby oatmeal and dribbled enough water to make a decently textured palate appealing gruel, how much baby oatmeal would she have now?  More importantly, if for every one spoonful that went into her baby's mouth, two came out, how much cereal would her baby eat?

C)  If your almost five year old took a 2 hour nap--on an awesome day 2 1/2 hours--and woke up in the morning somewhere in the vicinity of 5-6 a.m. at what time would he awaken if he no longer took a nap?

D)  If a mother spent the good portion of an hour preparing an extra special and tasty meal how many of her four children (who eat their meals at a table) would eat it and say "This is delicious, may I have 2nds please?"  How many would say "Ewwwwww! Does this have cheese in it?"

E)  What is the probability that a bed which has just had ALL it's bedding washed will get thrown up on and/or urinated on sometime in the next 24 hours?

(Just a few of the random thoughts that flutter through my head in a day.  Oh, and whatever you answered to C you are most likely wrong--it was a trick question.  Of course removing a nap would have absolutely no effect on his morning wake-up time.  Silly you). ;o)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainy Day Miscellany

August 15th was the official ending to our own little summer reading program--
Marissa tallied in with 2,847 pages earning herself a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble and a night at the "super" fair riding the rides.  Isabella read 823 pages earning herself $16.42 in book money--and that should have been it--but her Daddy is kind of a softy and took her to the fair too as long as she promised to keep reading. ;o)  Marissa's summer love has been the books by Madeline L'Engle and Isabella has discovered the joys of Judy Blume's "Fudge" stories.  I will never ever forget reading "Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing" as a kid and coming to the part where Fudge eats Peter's turtle.  I laughed and laughed--as did Bella.  She frequently comes and informs me of Fudge's latest escapade.
I attempted a little "7 year old" photo shoot with my Isabella.  It was a bit too sunny, which Isabella informed me of every five seconds, and consequently I ended up with much "squintiness."  But I think this might be one of my favorites--I know it's not professional quality, but I will enjoy looking at it in a frame none-the-less. ;o)
And this is what happens when I leave the sisters to taking care of the littlest brother.  He was none-the-wiser to them dolling him up and happily chewed away on a polly pocket while they had their way.
I've removed Jackson's nap from his schedule.
I really miss it.
Like this afternoon . . . what I wouldn't give for a quiet and resting Jackson . . .

I best be going now. ;o)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 1 Summary

We've successfully completed our first week of school, and honestly, it was an overall pleasant experience. *smile*
Everything we are using curriculum-wise is familiar, or familiar enough that it doesn't cause me any headaches having to figure out what it is asking me to do.
Our theme for this week was creation, and tying that in with the Jewish Sabbath.  Isabella decorated a "Challah covering" using a permanent marker and a scrap of fabric I had.  I baked our bread (challah) and attempted to braid it like they suggested.  It didn't end up too pretty.  Hence, the covering is on the bread for the picture. ;o) We attempted a *kind of* traditional Friday Sabbath meal, complete with spaghetti and all. ;o) (In case you are confused, no, I don't think spaghetti is technically Jewish, but the guide said "special" and I figured that was up to my discretion)
Everyone really enjoyed it--even the boys!
I'm not sure if I mentioned I painted myself a chalkboard--it is 3x4 in size, using smooth plywood and chalkboard paint.  I'm still planning to trim it out to make it look a tad more decorative as well as functional.
The kids love it, and I love it too, because I can do stuff like this:
The board highlights some of the stuff I wanted them to remember from our meal and the significance in the Jewish culture.  I had been inspired by another home schooler who used her chalkboard for all sorts of wonderful lessons. Like this or this.  I'm not quite that good of an artist, but I do see the potential for lots of learning fun.

I have yet to get a suitable timeline up and going--I'm thinking I might use the longest wall we have upstairs and run a line of painters tape.  I kind of feel on top of everything.  I've been reading ahead and gathering ideas for future stuff, which I shall blushingly admit is a new concept for me.  I've been more than guilty many a time just opening the curriculum guide Monday morning and teaching "on the fly." ;o)  Which is why I love MFW--you can do that.  BUT I think it goes a bit more smooth if I know what's coming.  Go figure. ;o)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bird's Eye View

I happened to walk past the kids' bathroom today and and caught Jackson midstream with a new way of getting the job done.
Which is of course ingenious since he didn't make enough of a mess just a few feet off the ground.
A penny for his thoughts?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The First Day of School

~A Day in the Life~
5:30--the alarm goes off and I fire up the computer to check-in with my "Bible reading accountability friends"
5:35--Emmett appears, thirsty, get him water
5:40--put "Jay Jay the Jet Plane" on for Emmett, make a cup of tea, pop a Synthroid, retreat to closet (yes, my literal closet) to read my Bible
5:55--Emmett is crying because I forgot his tea . . . (make Emmett tea)
continue on reading
6:10--Owen's awake, I nurse him, hope he goes back to sleep . . .  nope
hear Jackson awake
6:15--Jackson sobbing about his lack of a cup of tea, and video is almost done, he must have his tea to drink before video is over!!!! Crisis!!!
6:17--come downstairs and discover fighting over Emmett's tea (Jackson's version of "sharing")
6:19--Emmett throws up on couch
I strip the slipcover off the couch
6:25--switch around the laundry
6:30--change a poopy Owen diaper, wonder at it's greenish tint
6:35--get dressed to run, put on a "Word World", Owen goes to exersaucer, inform sleepy Josh I'm heading out, put Marissa in charge
7:02--start making muffins for a special back-to-school breakfast
7:10--muffins in the oven, I hop in the shower, skip the hair washing, boys sobbing because I won't share my shower
7:20-7:25--dress quickly for the day, hair in a pony tail
7:25--banish Jackson to his room
7:35--muffins done, whip up some orange julius
7:40-7:50--sit down for breakfast
7:50-8:07--unload/load dishwasher, clean up kitchen, put Owen in highchair with cheerios, explain Isabella's math
8:07-8:35--oversee Marissa's violin practice, Isabella does math
8:35-8:53--switch, nurse Owen, Jackson points to letters asking "What does this say?"
8:53-9:06--pause for pictures (see above) ;o)
9:06--9:50--spelling, Greek vocabulary word, grammar, handwriting review
9:50-10:00--a short and sweet Science intro
10:00--Owen wakes up
10-10:15--wrap things up--a very gentle schedule today!! Celebrate that accomplishment! ;o)
10:15-10:45--a brief computer check-in, read a few books to boys, switch over laundry
10:45-11:00--pack a picnic for lunch
11:00-11:40--nurse Owen, find socks/shoes, go potty, load up van and head with Josh to Pioneer's Park
return home at 1:00
1:00--Emmett goes down for nap, nurse Owen and he goes down for nap too
1:28-2:00--another cup of tea for me, defrost chicken for supper, some computer "surfing"
2:00-3:00--put chicken in crock pot with some BBQ sauce, clean up kitchen, brief phone call with sister (we discuss inflatable sprinkler globes, real globes, and map laminating) ;o)
3:00-5:00--water play at my sister's house, where the kids have a blast and mamas roast--except for the occasional blast of water that gets directed our way
5:00-5:40--supper, clean-up, put a plate away for Josh when he gets home, kids bathe
5:40-6:00-nurse Owen, boys pretend they are hermit crabs and crawl out from underneath the shell (blanket) to pinch sisters, girls practice headstands
6:00-6:40--uploaded pictures onto computer, worked on blog a bit, let the kids crawl over me and gave "flying angel" rides
6:40-7:00--we each had a bowl of ice cream, "double fudge brownie" ;o)
7:00-8:00--played and cleaned and brushed teeth and readied for bed
8:00 and beyond--home free ;o)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer's Unofficial End

We've had a lovely and busy summer.  And before we turn over to our "school chapter" (which begins tomorrow, stay tuned!!!) I thought I'd leave you with a few parting shots . . . and thoughts. ;o)
Emmett and a butterfly--after chasing them all over the butterfly pavilion and climbing up on places he should not (in an attempt to coerce one to try the "nectar" on his fingers) one finally landed all nonchalant-like on his hand.  He was thrilled.
Jackson and the mosquitoes--not only is he really tasty, but he DOES NOT handle the bites well.  This was his eye BEFORE it swelled shut:
A baking soda paste seems to help the most, and at times he has looked like a plaster-of-paris project gone awry.  The doctor also recommended dosing him with benadryl every 4-6 hours (and I will admit to being a little too enthusiastic with this advice . . . "Really?  Give him benadryl, well if you say so!!) Unfortunately it didn't really seem to help the bites or *cough, cough* make him drowsy. ;o) Go figure.
Owen has two little teethers on the bottom now.  He has developed the most hilarious cackle of a laugh that just cracks us all up.  He's getting into all sorts of stuff, eating lots of things he shouldn't (mainly paper items and capless markers).  He went to Sta.r Cit.y Shores with the others on Saturday and just LOVED it.  He is definitely a little fishy.
And speaking of fishies we've done a lot of swimming, and the girls particularly enjoy coming up with new board tricks.  Isabella even did a back flip much to my horror/admiration.  I don't know what the following moves are, but the girls thought they were cool pictures. ;o)
And there you have it.  We vactioned. We picnicked.  We touched wildlife.  We toured.  We swam. We got bit.  We grilled.  It's been a good summer.  And while getting back into a school schedule has me a bit nervous, I'm also looking forward to getting more routine back into our days.  I'm hoping it will solve a lot of *issues* that have arisen in the last few weeks. Here's to hoping!!! (she says, hoisting a cup of soothing tea high while gulping several tylenol . . .) ;o)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Preschool Plans

Next week not only will I have a 3rd and 1st grader on my hands, but also two boys that are preschool age.  How awesome is it that Jackson and Emmett will only be one year apart in grades? (I apologize, that was typed in a sarcastic tone . . .) ;o)  But seriously, whatever was I thinking?  Actually I DO remember exactly what I was thinking . . . "Oh brain surgery was just a month and half ago, and Jackson's just 10 months, surely my body's not up for any people-growing at the moment . . ."  Nine months later, hello Emmett. ;o)

But getting back on topic.

Family planning or the lack thereof.  I mean preschool.

I want to make sure we're doing *something* this year, so I've devised a little plan.  It's a very simple plan because at this stage of the game SIMPLICITY is my middle name.  In the event you have a preschool aged child also, here are some humble little ideas to get the job done:

I'm going on a monthly theme based off of seasonal/nature stuff occurring outside right now. 
August--gardens, vegetables, and tractors (because they're boys who love tractors)
September--apples, fall, harvest
October--pumpkins, leaves
November--Thanksgiving, pilgrims

Each month has four weeks.  Each week we will focus on a different letter of the alphabet as our theme letter for the week.  We are going to put together Alphabet Notebooks. (Something like this only I can promise ours won't be quite so fancy) Each letter will have a few pages devoted to it, like a decorated  "Aa" and any corresponding art projects or handwriting practice.  We'll slip these into plastic page protectors and file them in a binder.  Jackson will be doing this workbook.  I'd love to see him sounding out words by the end of next year, but we'll see how this goes.  In the last month he has become much more interested in writing letters or asking how to spell things.  I'm pleased to see he recognizes that letters are involved. ;o)

And that's about all there is to it! I told you it was simple, but it accomplishes two things that I deem important:
1) Reading good books
2) Letter recognition (and hopefully learning the sounds and how to write them proper too!)

Here's my August book list--(all books from our city library):
Anna's Garden Songs~Steele
Driving my Tractor~Dobbins
Eating the Alphabet~Ehlert
Mrs. Rose's Garden~Greenstein
Oliver's Vegetables~French
One Tractor: A Counting Book~Siy
The Rusty, Trusty Tractor~Cowley
Tops and Bottoms~Stevens
Tractor Day~Ransom
The Vegetables We Eat~Gibbons

And of course we will throw in some seasonally appropriate art projects, most likely stuff I find online (truly it is rare that I come up with my very own idea) and some field trips.  With that, I've got a whole semester of preschool basically planned out. 

Next step--
Implementing it. ;o)