Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Scream, You Scream...

WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!!!! It is summer and boy, are we enjoying it! For a treat the other night, Brendt and I let the kids get ice cream from the Ice Cream Truck (which comes around EVERY night in the summer). Here are some pics of the kids enjoying their ice cream.

By the way, I purchased my own ice cream sandwiches the other night from Kroger, as the Ice Cream Truck is a bit too expensive for us. It was a fun treat though!

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Look what finally came in the mail last week.....

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of our summer-long insect study, I purchased a Butterfly Garden kit from a local toy store. This kit included a coupon for three caterpillars. Finally, last week, our caterpillars arrived!
Here is a pic of M with his caterpillars. He is really loving this.

This has been a great project for us this summer. I made M a Butterfly Journal (found here) and we have been using this to mark the progress of our caterpillars. We spent a few days measuring our caterpillars and watching them eat (boy do they eat a lot!) and now that they have formed their chrysalides, we are just waiting.

I will take some more pics when our butterflies emerge.

I wanted to add that this Butterfly Garden, along with all kinds of other insect things, can be purchased online at Insect Lore.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Potty Time

I posted earlier about getting the potty out for not-quite-two-year-old O. It sat in our living room for a few weeks and while she liked to sit on it with her pants on, she refused to actually try to use it. Until tonight...

Big brother was in the bath tonight and O found a 4 pack of toilet paper that she started carrying around. I explained to her what big kids use toilet paper for and told her that if she would take her diaper off, she could try it out. She immediately took her diaper off and sat on the potty! I was so proud...I thought that maybe this was the beginning of something. But no big deal.

After M got out of his bath, he was putting on his underwear and O kept saying that she wanted underwear (she has a thing for her big brother's underwear!). I told her that big kids who pee pee in the potty wear underwear. You will never believe what this kid did (well, you probably have an idea). She got off of her big brother's bed, walked to the little potty, sat down and peed in it! M and I were amazed. We clapped and clapped for her (she was quite proud too).

After her amazing feat, she went back into M's room and proceeded to put on two pair of Diego underwear. She kept pulling more underwear out of his drawer and tried to put more on, but I made her stop at two.

And that's not the end of it...this all happened pretty late (about 9 pm or so - we were out playing later tonight) and for the next hour or so, she kept asking to go potty. She probably ended up peeing on the potty about 10 times tonight!!! Every time she sat on the potty, she would go a little.

So I finally put her to bed with promises that she can use the potty again first thing in the morning. Oh and I can't forget to add, she fell asleep with two pair of size 6 boys Diego underwear over top of her diaper. What a sweetie!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Caterpillars and Butterflies

We started our Insect Study last week and began with a favorite bug book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Our first activity came from Homeschool Share. Since The Very Hungry Caterpillar talks about the days of the week, we worked on the days of the week by printing these sequence cards. I then made up my own days of the week cards and printed them. M and I had fun going through the story and talking about what the caterpillar ate each day of the week

The next activity will be ongoing as M learns to read. I got this idea from the Five in a Row Message Boards. By myself, I created Mr. Reading Bug. I introduced Mr. Reading Bug to M by telling him that I had a HUGE surprise for him. Of course, M is only 5, so he was extremely excited by my HUGE surprise. I brought out Mr. Reading Bug and told M that Mr. Reading Bug is a very special bug. Right now, he is small. But he has a very big mouth. I told M that Mr. Reading Bug will need M's help to grow big and strong. Did M want to help Mr. Reading Bug? Yes, Yes!!! The only way that Mr. Reading Bug can grow big and strong is to eat the words that M knows how to read. So far, M has only read one word on his own...that word is BUG (is this a surprise to anyone?). So I wrote bug on a small circle and attatched it to Mr. Reading Bug. Slowly but surely, Mr. Reading Bug is growing.
M with his new friend, Mr. Reading Bug.
Mr. Reading Bug ate his first word.

Next, with our new-found understanding of the word BUG, we worked on reading this book together - Zug the Bug. This book is part of a series of books by Dorling Kindersley. Each book in the series focuses on one of the short vowel sounds. The entire series can be found here. Once M figured out how to read the word bug, he realized that he could also read the words: tug, lug and hug. Lots of fun! So next, we will move on to another vowel sound.

We finished our day with a combination of the two things that M loves most - crafts and painting! I found a very cute wooden butterfly at the Dollar Tree (LOVE that place!) and I gave it to M, along with a small pack of paints and a paintbrush. For those of you who know M in real-life, you won't be surprised to see that he painted the entire butterfly purple!

Making Bread

I have always loved fresh bread (who doesn't?). And I love the idea of making my own fresh bread. But I have always really, really disliked kneading the dough. I guess I am just a weakling! So that is why I love the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois. (again, my links are messed up - I am working on this)

I am not a cookbook-girl. I have friends who LOVE cookbooks (hi Janelle!), but I have just not ever gotten into them. However, this book is different. It is definitely written so that beginners can understand it (a big plus for me!), but I think it also appeals to the more "seasoned" cooks out there (again, hi Janelle!). It contains many different bread recipes, but also other recipes as well, such as sandwiches, salads, pizzas, dips...really anything that goes with the bread.
The beauty of this book is twofold (in my opinion): 1. You don't have to knead the bread. You just mix it up in a giant bowl with a spoon and that is it; and 2. You make up a giant vat of dough and then proceed to bake a fresh loaf of bread each day for the next 3 or 4 days. You could even make your dough go longer if you wanted to make a double batch. Your dough stays fresh in your refrigerator until you are ready to use it (some recipes can stay for up to 14 days!).
I started out making the "master recipe" which is really just a boule bread (meaning ball or round). The master recipe is very simple and uses plain old white flour to make the yummy dough. Now, I have moved onto another recipe, called Light Whole Wheat Bread. Here is a pic of the loaf that I just pulled from the oven.

No, it is not beautiful (I am working on it!), but it is yummy. As I continue going through the book, I am going to work on my bread "presentation". Maybe I will have a prettier picture to show soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Insect Study

Since we will be schooling year-round, my plan is to do a fun "theme" each summer. Who knows if I will actually do this, as this is my very first time homeschooling, but it is my plan just the same. So, in light of M's current obsession (actually, it has been his obsession for most of his life), this year's summer theme will be INSECTS!!!

At the top of this post you will see a bunch of insect books, as well as a few activities. First of all, those aren't ALL my books. I did get some from the library. But we do own quite a few insect books (including our new Bug Dictionary, which is a huge hit at our house!). Have I mentioned that I love books? I truly, really LOVE books. I especially love buying children's books. I could spend hours on end at Barnes and Noble. But really my favorite way to buy books is to get a deal. I love my library's semi-annual sale...I love Half-Price Books and I even love a local consignment shop that sales kids toys and books. I have gotten tons of great deals there!

Back to school, because we enjoy doing literature studies so much, we are going to use several picture books as our way to study insects this summer. Here are the books that we will be using:

I found ideas for how to use these books all over the web, but my starting point was This site is fabulous...and best of all, it is FREE! Definitely check it out if you are interested in trying literature-based unit studies. Truman's Aunt Farm is a Five in a Row book, so most everything we do for that book will come from my FIAR manual. And if you Google "insect unit studies" - boy will you be overwhelmed! There is so much information out there. I really had trouble narrowing it down.

As we do each book, I will post and talk about the specific things we are doing. I also hope to post pictures of our Insect Notebook, which we should have completed by the end of summer.

Before I go, I want to mention that I am just learning how to post pics of things in my blog. As you can see, the links for the books above aren't working (when you click on the picture, it should take you directly to that book at Amazon). I am not computer savy and frankly, I am proud of myself for having a blog at all! Hopefully, I will figure this out and fix the links in this post and going forward.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little Mommy

From the time that she could sit up, O has always loved babies. When she wants her baby, she will seriously say "baby, baby, baby" over and over again until you find her baby for her. And she HAS to sleep with her baby (the Leigh Middleton one that Grandma got her). We have spent countless hours searching for Baby so that O could go "night night".

This morning, after eating her own breakfast, O decided that she needed to feed her baby too. The baby that she chose to feed is the one that we affectionately call the "Naked Baby" because for some reason O refuses to allow us to put clothes on her.
(Side note: What is it with little girls and taking the clothes off of dolls??? I had heard that they would do this, but I had no idea that it would be so frequently - and at such a young age!)
Here is O at her play kitchen getting everything ready for baby's breakfast.

And here is Naked Baby...ready to chow down!

And finally O is going to feed her baby. She really is a little mommy, isn't she?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Boy and His Dog

The other day while I was working, Brendt walked into the living room to find this sweet site.

Brendt and the kids (Bernie the dog too!) had a busy morning that day. When Brendt came downstairs from putting O down for her nap, he found M asleep with Bernie.

It is so funny because M is always talking about how he wants a pet. Since Bernie was already here when M was born, I don't think M considers him to really be a pet, but instead just another member of the family. Too cute!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Potty Training...Here We Come!

Well, I decided it was time to get the little potty out for O. She is 22 months old today and is showing lots of "readiness signs". She often pulls at her diaper when she is wet and she loves to put on her big brother's underwear (I think she is partial to Diego!). She also keeps getting diaper rashes, which is driving me nuts (her too, probably).

So over the weekend, Brendt got the little potty out, I cleaned it up and O couldn't wait to sit on it. My plan is to let her spend this week getting used to it. If she desires to actually try to use it, great! If not, she can just sit on it with her clothes on.

I am going to buy her a girlie going-to-the-potty book and I will get out our potty video. We may even go shopping for underwear!

Over the weekend, while Brendt and M are camping, we may really try to do the potty-training thing. If she wants to do it, we will go for it. If not, I will put the potty away for another day.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. I think that potty-training is the hardest part of parenting so far (I know, wait till the teenage years, right?).

Friday, May 29, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten!!!

Today was the BIG day...M started Kindergarten! Before I start describing our day, I have to say those words that all moms out there say when their babies start Kindergarten...Where did the time go? Honestly, it seems like only yesterday that M was a tiny little baby. Just in case you don't remember, here are a few pics of him.
First bottle -

First food (rice cereal) -

First Halloween (I picked this one because I am in it too!)-

First Christmas -

I just can't believe that he is even old enough for school yet!!! Now for those of you who are wondering why in the world we are starting Kindergarten at the end of May when most kids are getting ready to be finished with school for the summer, here goes. I work part-time, so I don't have the normal Monday - Friday available for school. We will be doing a lot of school over the weekends, which is fine since M doesn't know any difference. I know that lots of "life" happens over the weekends and there will probably be many times when we will have to put school on the back burner. Therefore, if we start now and school year-round, I am confident that we can get in a full school year, even with my schedule.

So back to today, we started the morning by giving M some special books for school. He received a Big Bug Book and a Bug Dictionary. As you can see, he was thrilled!

Of course, O got a book too and she also had to have her pic taken (by the way, we normally do put shirts on our daughter...she was being a bit difficult this morning and was refusing to wear one - she was also refusing to relinquish the paci, but that is another story).

Next, Brendt and I decided to start a tradition and we took the kids to Bob Evans to celebrate the first day of school. Here is M waiting on his pancakes to arrive...
...and O trying to master the art of drinking from a straw (we did this A LOT today).When we arrived back home, we started our first exciting day, which was actually a little on the short side since we were all tired from seeing Peter Pan last night (thanks Janelle for the tickets!) and from our fabulous breakfast.

We started our school day with our Bible Memory Verse (Acts 9:20b Jesus is the Son of God) and then we moved on to our Five in a Row (FIAR) selection, The Salamander Room. Finally, we did some handwriting practice and our ETC workbook and called it a day!

At dinner tonight, M told us that he enjoyed his first day of Kindergarten but he was wondering if tomorrow will be his last day. This is going to be a long 13 years!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

School is starting...

So, last week, I got some time to myself. Actually, I got (almost) three entire days to myself!!! Can you believe it? (well, I can't - it seems as though it had been about 5 1/2 years since I had been alone...crazy!). I could have spent my free days lying around, reading a book or watching tv. But no...I decided to spend my time cleaning and organizing (crazy again!!). Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I finally had the opportunity to clean out and organize all of my school stuff.

M is 5 years old and ready for Kindergarten. Since I have my crazy work schedule (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), we will be doing school on Friday, Saturday, Sunday (very little) and Monday. Now, I know that school is not "supposed" to start until the fall, but we are going to start this summer (tomorrow, actually). Since we are schooling over the weekends and I know that lots of life-things are going to happen over the weekends, we are going to school year-round so that we have plenty of time to fit it all in.

My plans for school - my goal for school this year is really just to foster a "love of learning" in M's life. He is such a curious kid (aren't all 5 year olds?) and I want to keep that curiousity alive. Here is the curriculum that we will be using:

Five in a Row - This is an awesome curriculum that I found years ago when I was just researching homeschooling (thanks again to my cousin, Marla). It incorporates awesome picture books into learning. This is how it works - you read a great picture book 5 days in a row. On each of those days, you do a different activity pertaining to that book dealing with Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Math, Sciece or Bible. It will be a great (and fun!) way to learn.

RightStart Math - RS Math is a hands-on math program. What I like about it is its heavy use of manipulatives and the way that it encourages you to "see" numbers.

For phonics, we are using a combination of two programs: Explode the Code and Happy Phonics. Explode the Code is a workbooky curriculum and Happy Phonics is phonics games. For ETC, we are still working on the primers (which teach letter sounds), but M is doing so well with them that I think we will be moving onto Book 1 in no time.

Handwriting Without Tears - Obviously, this is a handwriting program and it is great for left-handers! We went through the preschool book last year and M did great!

So, there you have curriculum plans for the year. In one of my next posts I will write about how I am planning our school days, but for now, I will leave you with pictures of my bookshelves, which I oh-so-happily organized during my "alone-time" last week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Exciting Day with the Baby Birds

I have been meaning to write about this and post pictures for a while now. Last week, while M was at his grandparents, Brendt (hubby) told me that the baby birds in the nest on our swingset are getting bigger and that we might want to take some pictures, as they would likely be gone by the time M comes home. So, I went outside with my camera and climbed up in the fort to take a picture. I did get one picture, but quickly climbed down as mama bird apparently didn't like me being so close to her babies and she kept trying to attack me (well probably not, but it sure felt like it!). Here is the picture that I took (see, not so great):

I wanted a better picture, so I asked Brendt if he would mind to take a few pictures for me. He agreed and went out with the camera. Instead of climbing into the fort, he climbed up on the side of the fort and took some pictures. And then IT he jumped off of the side the fort, he shook the swingset and all three baby birds fell out of their nest. Immediately, I freaked out. First, as a mother myself, I felt so sad for the mama bird, even though moments before she had been trying to attack me. Then, I thought of M and how he was going to be maaa-aaad when he found out what had happened.

We weren't sure exactly what to do, so I googled "what to do when baby birds fall out of their nest" (google is my friend!) and was linked to the Ohio Wildlife Center. On that website, I found a phone number that you can call if you find an injured animal. I talked with a very nice lady and asked her what to do if baby birds fall from their nest (I didn't mention that the fall was our fault!). She said that they need to be put back in their nest, but to be warned, if the mama bird is around, she may try to poke your eyes out!!! She mentioned that you might want to put a metal bowl on your head to protect yourself and wear sunglasses as well. So of course, I decided that this was a job for Brendt.

Here he is wearing a hat (I couldn't get him to wear a metal bowl), sunglasses and gloves - ready for action.

Here is a picture of him bending down to pick up one of the baby birds...

And another picture of the attacking birds (this one is my favorite!). And here he is chasing one of the babies as it walks out into the street.
Finally, after all of that work, you will never guess what happened...the baby birds jumped out of their nest! So I called the Ohio Wildlife Center again and talked to the same nice lady (who asked me if my husband was wearing his metal bowl) and she told me that the birds are probably old enough to fledge (the wings are developed to fly, but the bird just hasn't flown yet) so she said that if the mother was still around (umm...yes, she has been attacking us all day!) that we could just put the baby under a bush to protect it from predators and the mother would feed it on the ground.

Here is the final picture of the day - one of the babies in her new home. A few days later, all of the babies were gone. We are assuming that they just flew away!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Latest Obsession!

I have a good friend who loves to sew, and she decided that I needed to learn to sew too! My first lesson was a few weeks before Easter. She helped me to make a little bunny rabbit stuffed animal for O for Easter. Then, on my very own, I made M a stuffed bunny too. They both received them in their Easter baskets and they now sit proudly on shelves in their rooms (i.e. neither of them plays with their bunnies). While I enjoyed making the bunnies, I was almost ready to hang up my needle and thread for good...that is, until I learned about Pillow Case Dresses!!!

Yes, it is truly possible to make a dress from a pillow case. My friend started making them and they are so, so cute!!! I just had to learn how to make them myself. And now that I have...let me tell you, I am HOOKED!

Here is a picture of the dress that I made for O.

And here is a close-up of the embroidery (who in the world knew that I could embroider???).

And here is O posing in her new dress (don't you love how 1 year olds pose for pictures?).

And finally, here is a shot of O relaxing in her new dress.

So, now I am completely obsessed with sewing. I want to make O another dress, a shirt, a dress to wear over leggings...the list goes on and on. So the next time you see O, she will likely be wearing a lovely pillow case!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My First Blog Post

So, this is my first ever blog post. I never really imagined that this day would come. Not that I have anything against a matter of fact, there are a few that I read on a regular basis. I guess I just never imagined that I would feel like I had enough to say to actually create a blog.

Why am I blogging then? Well, I am starting school with M in just a few weeks and I thought that blogging would be a nice way to record our homeschool adventures. Also, we have a lot of out-of-town family and I am hoping that this will help us to keep in touch.

Since my intention with this blog is to talk about our schooling, I thought I would write about the one semi-academic thing going on in our lives right now (not counting our daily dose of Curious George).

A few weeks ago, M noticed that there was a bird nest with 3 little blue eggs on top of his swingset. Luckily, it was right beside the fort and he was able to look inside (only when mama bird wasn't there, of course).

Yesterday, M went outside to play and guess what he saw???

Here is a pic of the baby birds waiting on some food.

And here is a pic of the mama bird ready to feed her babies (if you look closely, you can see the worm).

Amazingly, we just got a copy of the The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock yesterday (thanks Marla!), so we have been able to do a little robin-studying of our own. Of course, M is loving it! He even made the baby birds a card today at church. Too cute!