Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up - March 26

Crazy weekends don't leave much time for writing blog posts. And last week was abit of a crazy week too LOL.

Monday we had LOTS of excitement! Despite the fact that it is SUPPOSED to be spring, it was snowing.  I was busy organizing the school room when Rodney called up to me from the living room. A car had just slid into a tree in our front yard! I called 911 while he went out to check on the driver. The driver was sore, but not seriously injured. The girls thought it was terribly exciting to be able to watch the firemen and tow truck and everything.  MiniMe grabbed her ipod and took a video, until her battery ran out LOL.  Sassy was horrified to realize she couldn't find HER ipod, and begged me to let her use my phone to take pictures. Once the rescue stuff was here, so I knew I wouldn't need to call 911 (or answer a call if they somehow had trouble finding it) I let her take a "few" pictures. Sure is a good thing we don't have to actually pay for film and developing anymore, we'd go broke LOL.

Wednesday was our friend, E's 6th birthday. He had his party at Ballocity, and a great time was had by all! Ballocity is the ONE place I've been to in the 5+ years that I've worn skirts, that it does NOT work well to wear a skirt (at least as an adult, most of it is crawling-height (though Little Bit could still stand up in alot of it) and crawling in a skirt just doesn't work well). So in preparation for the party this year (E's party was there last year too) I went to Goodwill and got a pair of jeans.  MiniMe decided she wanted jeans too (Sassy tends to wear knit dresses with leggings under them, which works fine for crawling, MiniMe tends to wear longer denim skirts, and doesn't like to wear tights or leggings, so crawling would be more challenging in her clothes). The girls told me I looked "weird" in jeans LOL. And MiniMe was NOT impressed with wearing jeans at all LOL, but it worked well for the day. I actually managed to find a pair that fit ok, and is pretty comfortable, so I figure I'll wear them from time to time.  It really made me realize how much Little Bit has "grown up" in the past year. Last year she was still a "baby", needing me with her all the time, and, while she had fun, not "getting" most of it. This year, she liked to have me come in with her, but took off on her own alot of the time, loved the slides and shooting balls and such.

MiniMe's cake

Thursday was cake-decorating day! Little Bit had been saying, for awhile, that she wanted a "Joy the Cat" cake for her birthday, so I went hunting for EASY black cat cakes and discovered an ice cream cake that looked do-able, and bonus, she's not a big fan of cake, so ice cream was better anyway. THEN the big girls heard about it, and decided THEY wanted ice cream cakes too. So we rounded up 3 springform pans (thanks to generous friends & family who were willing to loan them out) and bought WAY more candy than I normally buy in 6 months, and the kids got busy.
Sassy's Cake

My dad got better pictures than I did, but here's what I managed to remember to snap (apparently I didn't manage to get Little Bit's cake at all, sigh . . . eventually I'll get a picture of it from Dad, or from someone who was at the party.

Friday was preparation day for the party on Sabbath. In the morning we took something over to our neighbor, and Little Bit got busy playing with E & J. Their mom said she was home all day, and Little Bit was welcome to stay and play, so I gave her that option, fully expecting her to refuse, earlier in the week she had completely melted down at the very thought of me going to a meeting, leaving her home with Mama, Papa, both sisters AND Daddy. But, she just glanced up and said "I'll stay here. Are Sissies staying too?" When I said that they were coming with me to help clean, she just said "ok, I'll stay". And she stayed until naptime! So that gave the big girls and I a chance to clean and work on food for Sabbath.

Sabbath morning, Sassy had a stomach ache, so she and Daddy stayed home while I took MiniMe and Little Bit to Sabbath School.

Sabbath afternoon was our "party". All the grandparents, Aunt Lynette & Uncle Dave, plus our "adopted" grandparents, Judy & Brian were able to come, so we had a house full! But it worked. I was rather nervous about fitting everyone in, but between the table, and 2 card tables filling the living room, it worked. Little Bit was VERY into presents, and "helped" her big sisters with all of theirs too. I decided this is definitely an advantage of having them farther apart in age, Sassy and MiniMe are old enough to not care about letting her open their gifts too.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Check this Out!

I recently read about this on a homeschool list I'm on, and had to share it! Educents is yet another discount site (like Groupon and the gazillions of others out there), but THIS one is for "educational products", what more could a homeschooler ask for??? And for those who don't homeschool, I bet there will be fun, educational products on this site to help keep your kids from whining about being bored this summer :)

It's hard to know exactly how useful this will be until it launches, but it doesn't seem like it can hurt to sign up (except maybe a few junk e-mails LOL). So here's the site again: http://educents.com/?source=nffnyefm

If you sign up before it launches, you get $10 to use once it launches. If you sign up through this link, I get credit somehow-or-other :) So, check it out, sign up, see what you think.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up: March 17

I thought I'd mix things up abit and try doing my wrap-up as a "journal" this week, blogging along with the Homeschool Mother's Journal link-up.

In my life this week:

I'm excited to have shelves in my banister (starting to put books ON those shelves is on today's to do list, I had to wait for the stain to thoroughly dry).

The shower is DONE (except for drywall on the other side of the wall, but that doesn't affect usefulness.

Dad got the basic frame of the girls' bed done this week too! It still needs a bookcase headboard, and something at the foot (probably another bookcase) to keep them from banging into the corners, but we can use it, so now we can slide the twin mattress under it during the way,woo-hoo! 

In our homeschool this week:

We started our spring unit for Little Bit's Waldorf curriculum. She seems to be more into the books for this unit, and I included more active things in circle time, which is keeping her attention better. Getting to paint was a big draw too LOL.

We're doing a bunch of science right now, reviewing two different science curriculum-type-things, plus the nature portion of Little Bit's curriculum that is rather science-like and the big girls insist on participating in.

Our studies in Astronomy this week included learning about the phases of the moon, so of COURSE we had to have a visual aid! And what better way to illustrate the phases of the moon than with Oreos?

Things I'm working on: 

Planning the girls' birthday meal next Sabbath. Getting ready for Passover. The never-ending task of unpacking and organizing things.

I'm cooking:

My big "kitchen project" right now is my newly acquired milk kefir grains, and a room-temperature yogurt culture. I'm hoping to write a whole post about those soon, but for now I'll just say that I'm LOVING working with kefir grains. Little Bit is thrilled to have plenty of "milkshakes" and "popsicles" made with the kefir. The yogurt, I'm still trying to get figured out and decide if we like the flavor, but we shall see . . .

We also made challah bread for Shabbat this week, for the first time in FOREVER! We made whole wheat, honey-sweetened challah and the children declared it BETTER than the store-bought. Now to get organized enough to make it every week! 

I'm grateful for:

Soooo much!!! I'm grateful for all that my dad has done to help get this house into shape. I'm grateful that spring is coming (even if I AM looking out at snow on the ground today). I'm grateful to have found a house that not only meets our needs, wonderfully, but is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from close friends! It was soo fun yesterday to spur-of-the-moment eat supper together! I love it! 

A Photo to Share: 

Reading for Quiet Time

St. Patrick's Day Smoothie!

What better way to start St. Patrick's Day than with a green breakfast?

Not only was it holiday-appropriate, but MiniMe's comment was "I hope you wrote down this recipe, it's GOOD!" So . . . I figured I'd better write down this "recipe" before I forget it LOL.

1 apple, peeled & quartered
some milk (I just poured some in)
a big handful of baby spinach leaves
2 cups canned crushed pineapple - frozen (we'd opened a can of crushed pineapple a couple weeks ago for a recipe that only needed a tiny bit, so put the rest in the freezer in pint mason jars, I used one full mason jar)
3/4 a lime (juice & pulp)
several spoonfuls of orange juice concentrate

Blend first three ingredients until you can't see little "flecks" of spinach leaf. Add the rest of ingredients, to taste. I really have no idea how much oj concentrate I used, I had an open can in the freezer that I've been using for kefir popsicles (recipe coming soon-ish LOL), so just spooned out of it until it tasted right. Pour into cups and serve.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weeds, Anyone?

Today's topic for the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively is Toys, Games, and Puzzles. There are so many great ways to use toys, games and puzzles in homeschooling, it's hard to know where to start a post about it. So I decided to just tell you about one of our current, favorite learning games.
Interestingly, it's a game that I bought several years ago, and we played it a couple times, but it wasn't a favorite (plus, we found board games and similar to be challenging when Little Bit was a toddler), and  it soon became one of the many games on our game shelf, mostly overlooked.

Then we moved. And that meant all the games were packed in boxes and then, stacked on new shelves at the new house in a new order. And somehow that brought new and different games to the girls' attention.

The first thing they noticed about Wildcraft was that it was made by LearningHerbs. Last spring, Learning Herbs offered an awesome series of stories about herbs, Herb Fairies, and we have THOROUGHLY loved these stories all year. So the girls noticed the logo. If they love Herb Fairies and this game is by the same company, it must be good too right? So they wanted to play it RIGHT NOW!!

So we did.

What I loved most is that it's a game that ALL the girls can enjoy. In fact, Little Bit goes in spurts of wanting to play it EVERY DAY! I also love that it's a cooperative game! Sassy and MiniMe seem to naturally be so, incredibly, competitive (we're working on that, but it's a constant issue . . . ), so while we certainly play and enjoy games like Monopoly and Stratego (the girls are so proud that they can beat DADDY at that one) etc, I am always thrilled when we can find a fun game that focuses on working TOGETHER to beat the GAME! This game does that, and, in fact, Little Bit's favorite part is being able to share her "herbs" with the rest of us :)

In addition to teaching cooperation and working together, it also teaches about which wild herbs can help with various maladies. The one thing the older girls (and I) find frustrating is that the game doesn't tell us HOW to use the herbs. So now we know that stinging nettles is a good remedy for stinging nettles (yup, seriously!) BUT the game doesn't tell us if we should make a compress or drink a tea or what . . . so, to go along with playing the game, I hung a poster, that I also got from Learning Herbs, that gives  at least brief information about USING each herb. That, combined with what we've learned from the Herb Fairies series, is helping us to know how to USE the herbs.

The game is simple enough that Little Bit can truly play it, by matching the pictures on the herb cards with the pictures on the "ouch cards" (as she calls them), she can tell which remedies to use. And because of all the herb knowledge it helps with, the big girls (and I) still enjoy it too.

So, that's one way that we are using games for learning. The possibilities are endless, games are great for learning logic skills, trivia, nature, history, science, math . . .

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time to Fix Supper, Time for Math!

Bonus points to anyone who can tell who's who! 
From the time Sassy and MiniMe were old enough to stand up, they've wanted to know what I'm doing in the kitchen. When they were toddlers we got a "Learning Tower" (really fancy, big "stool" with walls) that let them be up at counter height and see what was going on, they LOVED it! And even at age 5, when they hadn't USED it in years, were broken-hearted when I sold it.

Little Bit didn't get a Learning Tower (no room in this kitchen for such a beast LOL), and she has sisters to distract her, so sometimes she helps us cook, sometimes she plays with one sister while the other cooks, or whatever, but she's still had her fair share of time in the kitchen already.

And so begins "kitchen school" at Broad Horizons. . . from watching me, and helping add ingredients and stir, to beginning to measure ingredients, and read recipes, to making things all on their own (except for putting them in the oven, or cutting some things or whatever), and finally to doubling and halving recipes, the kitchen is a wonderful place to learn math!!!

I can remember when MiniMe was 5 or 6, some lovely "educational" TV show had "taught" her that "math is hard". I asked her what made her think that, and she told me that so-and-so (tv character) had said it. Sigh! I just dropped it, but later that day when we were cooking, I made sure to have her do some math (well beyond first grade math too . . . I think I had her adding fractions!). After she'd effortlessly given me the correct answer, I asked her if that was hard, and she looked at me like I had two heads. THEN I told her "you just did math, was it hard?" And that was the end of "math is hard" from her (until more recently when we've reviewed some math products that weren't really her thing LOL.

As they've gotten older, I've had fun throwing a few curve balls at them . . .how do you halve a recipe that calls for 1/3 of something? Or I'll teach them "tricks", like if a recipe calls for 1/4 c of Cocoa, it's easier to just use 4 Tbsp, because the Tbsp fits in the Cocoa jar. They keep learning math, and loving it. And sometimes we throw in some science too . . .

This post is a part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew's 5 Days of Teaching Creatively.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Extra Extra Read All About It!

I am so excited to participate in the Schoolhouse Review Crew's 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Blog Hop! And today's topic is Delight Directed Teaching. Which is great, because that's exactly what we do!

All of us learn best when we're interested in what we're learning, and children who are interested in learning, because they realize that learning is fun, are going to learn faster and better.

Lately we have a great example of delight directed learning around here. It's the "newspaper" that was 100% the twins' own idea, while I was busy unpacking from our move. They decided to start a newspaper and sold "subscriptions" (for $0.02 per paper) to my parents, and Rodney and me (somewhere along the line, I bought a copy for Little Bit too, she was feeling left out). They're getting typing practice, which brings in a whole new level of spelling practice, because Word tells them if it's wrong, so they know to ask about it. As they get farther into it, I'm going to slowly work with them to correct punctuation and sentence structure and such. I suspect that it will go much more smoothly when intro'd that way, then if I just sat down and told them what to write about and such. AND it will go more smoothly by holding off abit. . . if I sat down with their first paper and pointed out all the spelling (even with spell check), and punctuation and capitalization and sentence structure errors, it would suck all the fun out of it. Instead of being proud of their very own paper, they'd be frustrated and demoralized at all that they had done wrong (and/or blaming each other . . .well SHE typed it! Well SHE told me to say it that way . . . ), so instead, each week, I'll slip in a little bit more instruction and hopefully it will continue to be fun. (Added bonus, the first week, after they typed it, I went in and adjusted font size and all that fun stuff. The 2nd week, I showed Sassy how to change font size and do page breaks and set her loose. She did GREAT!! Now she's (impatiently) waiting for me to fix some formatting thing for their 3rd paper, but still, she's learning word processing and layout too!

Sassy and MiniMe can't quite wrap their minds around why anyone would NOT want to learn, or NOT bother to ask questions. Part of that is their personalities, but I also believe that being allowed to learn about the things THEY are interested in, at their pace, is what has continued to foster the inquisitiveness and love of learning that most children have as toddlers and preschoolers. I'm soo thankful that I learned about the concept of delight directed learning (though I'm not sure I heard that term, until later) before we ever started homeschooling, it's been such a blessing for us!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up March 10

Our big "project this past week was re-doing the Cradle Roll (0-4 yr old) classroom at church. Theoretically, we change the theme of the program, and the decorations that go with it, every quarter, but with all the chaos in our lives last fall/winter, we'd been going with a "farm" program for at least 6 months. I knew what I wanted to do next, just hadn't found time to do it. So finally I decided we needed to MAKE TIME! On Sunday, our friends, and the other regular attendees of the class, met us at the church and we took down the farm decorations and started in on the zoo decorations. We got it principally done on Sunday, and then the girls and I (and my mom) went back in on Monday to finish it up, with the FINAL touches on Thursday (I used to end up running in for short bits of time every day on the week we switched out the room, but that was when I was 10 min from the church, now that I'm 25 min, I try to consolidate it, and in this case, waited and went in on our way back from piano lesson on Thursday). It all came together nicely, I was abit concerned that the program was too short, but when we did it yesterday, granted we had more children than usual, we didn't make it to "visit" all the animals, so we're good :) The big change I made was, the little "props" that the kids hold, or bring up or whatever, instead of having Sassy & MiniMe (my "helpers") pass those out, we put one of each prop in a shoe box for each child, they keep that by their seats and find the right thing when it was time. We had a few times of them pulling out things at other times, but overall it went really well. Little Bit and J had been wanting to be "helpers" and pass things out which worked ok when it was just them (they'd "pass things out" to Penny (J's mom), and one or both of my big girls), but it caused fits when other kids came because the other kids didn't understand why they should be sitting down if L & J weren't and such . . . SO, that was one of my big reasons for the switch, it was a way to get them back in their seats being "kids" without having to explicitly tell them they couldn't be "helpers" anymore :) The other thing it's helping with is, in many cases we don't have identical props. We raided our stuffed animals and Penny's stuffed animals and the ones already at the church, and came up with enough of several animals for the kids to bring htem up, but the tigers are all different. Even just the first time through the program on Sunday, L & J were starting to choose favorite ones "I want the big elephant felt", etc. By having everything randomly in boxes, it's easier to say "you get what's in your box, your box might be different next week", and again, that seemed to work as intended this week, except Little Bit didn't like that she happened to get the SAME monkey she'd had when we "practiced" on Thursday LOL. The downside is, we don't have as many of some props as others, so we got around that by numbering the boxes. We have 4 boxes that have all the props, so they're all numbered "1", then the rest, are numbered 2-4 depending on how much they are missing. I've already warned Little Bit, that if we have "lots of kids" we'll need to share some things. So in that case, we'll sing the song once with whichever kids have the parrot, then we'll pick the necessary number of parrots up and sing it again for the other kids. We'd have to do the same "sharing" either way, this just has potential for L & J to feel more "possessive" of the things in their boxes, but hopefully with enough coaching and reminders, they'll get it. One of the props we needed to make was something for the rhino, so I found a rhino mask online and printed  it out, colored it (because (a) the color version online was blue and (b) our color ink is wonky in our printer) and laminated it. Little Bit had to try one on right away, so I snapped a picture LOL.  All in all, things went smoothly yesterday, even with a larger-than-usual class, so I'm happy with the results :)

The shower is ALMOST done!!! To the point that my dad is asking me what the next priority is, woo-hoo!

The weather is starting to get nice, at least part o the time, finally!!! We had planned to go to California Pizza Kitchen on Tuesday to use the girls' birthday coupons, but the weather was so nice, that we decided to wait and go this next week, so Dad could take advantage of nice weather for cutting the boards he needed and such. The garage is his 'workshop" but it's been an awfully cold workshop most of the time :)

The snow we were supposed to get the last half of the week never materialized, much to the kids' disappointment LOL. It WAS incredibly windy on Wednesday, and Sassy and MiniMe spent a good long time outside being "weather channel reporters" LOL. I'd have loved to get a video of it, but that would have meant staying out in the cold wind, and I'm a wimp, so just take my word for it, it was amusing :)

Little Bit takes every chance she gets to go check the tp roll bird feeders they made. She was SOOOO excited yesterday when she actually saw a bird ON one of them :) The bird was even obliging enough to stay, if not on the bird feeder, at least on a branch nearby through all her excited screaming until we came to see too.

Sassy and MiniMe continue to work diligently on their "News Paper" each week. They've figured out the basic formatting they need to do in Word, and Papa showed MiniMe (the official "puzzle maker") how to make crossword puzzles and such in Excel, so she's doing that on the computer too now (she was hand drawing them).  I need to figure out a way to get her "cartoon" onto the computer, yes a scanner would be the obvious answer, yes, we have at least 2 of them, no, that's not likely to actually happen anytime soon), and then put the Word/picture/excel all together into a .pdf, then they can start offering "electronic subscriptions" to increase their 'readership" LOL.

We're also on abit of a science kick right now, in addition to the flash cards we just reviewed, we have 2 other science products we're reviewing right now, so the girls are getting lots of science, to go along with the "birding" we're getting as part of Little Bit's school.

Lately Sassy has been telling the Bible story in Cradle Roll most weeks (with MiniMe doing it occasionally), and a week or 2 ago, when she looked ahead and saw that this week was Baby Moses, she started planning immediately. She saw a big basket that I hadn't yet filled with anything, and borrowed MiniMe's favorite doll, and used a babywearing wrap as her "costume", and Jochebed told us the story of Baby Moses. She was soo cute doing it, and the kids actually seemed to "get it' for the most part, and listened as well/better than usual LOL.

We had planned to go to a nature center yesterday afternoon, but when we got home from church and the weather was SOOO SOOO SOOOO gorgeous (which would have been nice for the nature center too) we decided to just stay home. With moving in the middle of winter, we haven't really gotten to enjoy OUR YARD as a family much, so we opted for that, and it was lovely.

A couple weeks ago the girls found an old, flat, basketball in the weeds by the garage, and Papa re-inflated it for them, so they've got a new obsession with basketball. Daddy spent some time working with them on dribbling and passing and "faking out" the person guarding you, and such.

The previous owners had also left a birdfeeder hanging in a tree by the house, BUT it was in a location where you couldn't actually SEE it from inside the house. So while Daddy and the big girls were busy playing basketball, Little Bit and I moved it to a place where we can see it from the front windows, and put birdseed in it.

So that was our week. Now the girls are enjoying a day at Grandmom's and I need to get moving and get birthday shopping done while I can :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

If You Like to Talk to Tomatoes . . . (and a giveaway)

**Our giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to #1, Kathi, our winner!**

I've loved Veggie Tales since I was a teenager . . . which would be when they first came out, I think. My kids weren't so sure about it all when they were little, but now that they're older, they love Veggie Tales too! So, when I was given the opportunity to review the BRAND-SPANKIN-NEW VeggieTales DVD, The Little House that Stood, I was thrilled!!!

I was going to surprise the girls, but they noticed that I was stalking the mailbox, and asked about it, so I admitted that I was hoping the new VeggieTales DVD would come so we could watch it on Sabbath afternoon. And it did, it came ON Sabbath afternoon, and we put it straight into the DVD player to watch.

Little Bit isn't always on board with watching VeggieTales, but I guess our excitement was contagious, because she was excited about it too, and sat quietly watching it.

In this episode, the general idea of "the three little pigs" is adapted into a parable to teach children about building on solid ground. The second "episode" on this DVD, uses all the nursery rhyme characters you can think of and teaches about helping others. One thing I noticed immediately is that the humor is "up-to-date", even DH, a professed VeggieTales hater (but I think it's all an act), noticed and commented, "this one must be pretty new, huh?" (yes, dear, we're reviewing it, because it's brand new!).

When I asked the girls for their opinion, they summed it up, "It's VeggieTales, of COURSE it's great!" :) And really, they have a point . . . if you like VeggieTales, this is definitely another winner, if you're not a fan of talking vegetables and corny humor, well, then . . . this is VeggieTales! But I'm assuming that if you like MY blog, you have good taste (ha ha), so of COURSE you love VeggieTales too, right?

To see what you think, you can watch the trailer here.

AND . . . if you love VeggieTales, what could be better than winning your very own copy of this brand new DVD?!? I have one to give away! To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post (not on facebook), telling me what your favorite VeggieTales Silly Song is (Mine's "I Love My Lips!", though the new one on this DVD is good too). Don't forget to also tell me your e-mail address, so I can contact you if you win.

For additional entris (please leave a separate comment for each):

  • follow me on Linky Followers (in the sidebar), or tell me if you already do.
  • follow me on Google Friends Connect (in the sidebar) or tell me if you already do.
  • "Like" my blog on Facebook.
  • "Like" VeggieTales on Facebook
  • Follow VeggieTales on Twitter

The "fine print"
This giveaway will close at 8pm on Tuesday, March 12. I will pick a random winner, and contact them via e-mail. If the winner has not left an e-mail, another winner will be chosen. If the winner does not reply to my e-mail within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up - March 3

We had a good week this past week.

Sunday was a momentous day! It was MiniMe's first recital! She's been taking piano lessons for almost a year now, BUT she started lessons the week after last spring's recital (which must have been later in the year than this year) and then the fall/Christmas recital was while we were in Florida, so she missed that one too. It was fun to see her combination of excitement and nervousness about it :) She practiced over and over and over, not only playing the songs, but announcing the songs, and she did great!!! I was most nervous about how Little Bit would do. Our neighbor was willing to watch her, but she said she wanted to come. Sassy did a great job of helping her "practice" sitting quietly while MiniMe was practicing her pieces, and we talked lots about how she'd need to be super quiet and all, and she did GREAT! MiniMe has been carrying a doll everywhere lately, and Little Bit loves to "help take care of Marco", so MiniMe asked her to "babysit" Marco during the recital, which worked beautifully, Little Bit held the doll and helped him "clap" for "his mommy" after MiniMe played.  Sassy took a video of MiniMe playing her pieces on her (or maybe MiniMe's) iTouch, so when I figure out how to do it, if MiniMe ok's it, I can post it here (no promises though, tech isn't really my thing LOL).

The rest of the week was more "routine". We're finally getting into a routine that allows for more of our normal school stuff, though the unpacking/organizing has slowed down . . . part of that is the "easy stuff" has mostly been gone through, alot of what's left to go through, it's easier to wait until I have the school room back, and the whole garage to sort things in (Dad's using it as his workshop while he does the renovations) and the weather is more conducive to sorting in the garage). The other part is needing to do more school-stuff as we get back into the full swing of reviewing things for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, AND starting to get into the routine of Little Bit's preschool curriculum (the same waldorf one that the big girls used at this age, I LOVE the emphasis on art and nature!!!!)

One of the fun projects this week was making "birdfeeders".  We took toilet paper tubes and smeared peanut butter on them, then rolled them in birdseed. This was for Little Bit's "nature" time, but the big girls were just as into it as she was.

Little Bit has also been enjoying the books we read for school, her current favorite is "Horton Hatches an Egg" :)

She's also enjoying the lapbook we are reviewing for A Journey Through Learning (watch for that review in a few weeks), she asks, multiple times per day if she can do more school, gotta love that! :)

After all the bitterly cold weather we've had this winter (I know, those of you in REALLY cold places are laughing, but weeks on end that never get above freezing aren't normal around here and I'm not a fan!), we finally had some warmer weather! The girls had fun running all over the yard to figure out the PERFECT places to hang their birdfeeders. The big girls chose places that can be seen from our windows, Little Bit opted to hang hers in a tree way back by the stream though LOL.

They also spent a good part of the afternoon that day playing "basketball" (minus a basket, so just dribbling and trying to steal the ball from Papa or me when we took time to play with them) and otherwise getting lots of fresh air and exercise :)

Our garage has a "bonus room" above it, but it's currently only accessible by ladder (changing that is on the "to do list" but it's not real close to the top of the list LOL).  For now we're using the space to store the empty boxes as I empty them and other lightweight, not-needed-often, items.  While the weather was nice, we took another batch of empty boxes up. The big girls love getting the chance to get up on the roof of the lean-to and help put things in the bonus room. Though MiniMe insists on getting her turn up there, but is a nervous wreck while she's up there LOL.

For the last couple of weeks, MiniMe has been asking if we can get back to having monthly "dates".  As you may remember, if you've been reading my blog for awhile, we had a schedule going for awhile where dh & I went on a date one night (or day) during the first week of the month, I had bookclub the second week of the month, MiniMe chose a date with either Daddy or me the 3rd week of the month, and Sassy chose a date with either Daddy or me the 4th week (the day & time for all but bookclub varied depending on dh's work schedule). But then we were travelling tons and moving and such and the dates fell by the wayside. MiniMe was always the one who cherished the alone time with me (Sassy alternated between us, MiniMe always wanted time with me) the most, whereas Sassy saw it as a time to choose a fun activity like bowling, or a restaurant she liked, more than the "time" aspect of it, so it didn't surprise me that, with all the upheaval lately, MiniMe was seeking that one-on-one time  again. But dh's schedule has been insane, so we hadn't yet found a time that would work.

This week, with my mom here, we had decided that she would keep Little Bit here with her while I took MiniMe to piano lesson. I gave Sassy the choice to come with us or stay home, and she chose to stay home. So, I suggested that, since it would be just MiniMe and me anyway, we could go out for lunch as our "date". She agreed, and we had a nice time at Panera :)  And, without needing to spend all my time keeping Little Bit quietly occupied during piano lesson, I snapped a quick picture of MiniMe :)

Meanwhile, my dad has continued to work on the renovations. The big news is that the shower actually WORKS now!!! There's still lots to do, before it's completely DONE (like put in the permanent shower rod (right now it's a piece of conduit laying across the top, which is why the shower curtain looks too short), and drywall the wall that had to be built), but when MiniMe and I got home from piano lesson and our date, Mom told me that she'd taken a shower upstairs. Woo-hoo! I can't tell you how thrilled I am to not have to go across the cold, basement to take a shower!!!!!

I found the shower curtain at Goodwill, and am SOO excited! The wainscoting is a kind of greenish grayish stain, and this shower curtain picks up that color along with the blues and lavenders. I'm thrilled to have found one that matches the colors already in the room, and bring in other colors that I like, for $2.50!!! :)

And a lovely bonus to having a separate tub and shower, Friday night is bath night, in the last house, once the big girls had decided they were "too old" for baths, that generally meant that Little Bit would take a bath, then one of the big girls would have time for a shower and the other would have to wait and take a shower Sabbath morning. While the only shower here was in the basement, MiniMe opted to take a bath, either with Little Bit, or after her. Sometimes Sassy took a bath (alone or with Little Bit) and sometimes she took a shower in the basement. THIS WEEK, was was awesome!! The girls got Little Bit settled into the bath, and once the tub was full enough, MiniMe went ahead and took her shower, then Sassy took hers. Plenty of time, since they didn't have to wait for Little Bit to finish her bath, Little Bit loved getting a LOOOOONG bath, with her sisters in the bathroom keeping her company, it was awesome :)

Dad also finished his work in the storage space off the girls' bedroom, so I was able to start utilizing that space. When we moved in, we stacked some of the boxes of the girls' toys in a corner of their room. My thought was that they could work through the boxes, sorting the toys into categories, and finding places for them. But what I found was that, with the boxes taking up part of the room, and cluttering it, they were paralyzed. They couldn't see where to start or where to put ANYTHING. Anything that I asked them to put away, they just shrugged . . . so, now that we can use that storage space, FOR NOW, I moved the still packed, and half-packed boxes into that space and arranged/organized what is left in their room (other then the fact that all bookshelves in the house are currently just filled with books, once Dad builds my staircase bookshelves, I will sort through all the books again and find their long-term homes organized by topic, but for now they are stacked into the shelves however they happened to come out of the boxes, to have room for all of them, SOMEWHERE).  That took pretty much all of Friday, but it's done. The girls can hopefully keep things organized/put away now, and we can slowly work through the still packed boxes without things being so chaotic.

So that was our week. Things are slowly but surely falling into a new normal . . . :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Lone Star Learning

PhotobucketWe're not real big on flashcards around here . . . they generally don't mesh well with our real-life approach to learning. But when we had the opportunity to review Lone Star Learning's Get the Picture Vocabulary Cards, I was intrigued . . .  These aren't your average flashcards! These cards use unique pictures integrated into the word, to help the child understand and remember what the word means. That sounds kinda cool!!!!
We were given the choice of reviewing the math, science or Latin/Greek cards, and I chose the Science Vocabulary Pictures, Set 1. There was a mix-up of somesort, and the vendor ended up sending us the Target Vocabulary Pictures, Set 1 (Math) instead. When the mix-up was discovered, Lone Star Learning generously let us keep the math cards AND sent us the science cards, so we got to review both!! Woo-hoo!!!

As you can see from the pictures, these are fun! The pictures do a great job of defining the work. And if you need some extra help, each set comes with a single card that gives brief definitions of all the words too.

PhotobucketMy plan for these cards, was to introduce one card, per day, talk about it, then hang it on the wall in the school room so the kids could be reminded, often, of these new vocabulary words.  When I found out we were getting both sets, I figured we'd do one card from each set, per day. But that plan went out the window the first day. Why? Because my kids were NOT ok with just seeing ONE card!!! We ended up flipping through anywhere from 5-20 cards per day, depending how much time we had, and how often we hit a word that was completely new to them, and needed more in-depth explaining.

The other monkey-wrench in my plan, was the fact that our school room is still functioning, primarily as a guest room right now. We recently moved, and my parents have been coming up most weeks to help with some renovations that needed to be done asap. So, most of our school is happening in the living room or the girls' bedroom, or wherever we can carve out some space in the school room (in addition to the blow-up bed, and my parents' suitcase, etc. taking up space, all of that makes it hard to unpack/sort/organize, all the craft supplies and such, so those are mostly just in bins stacked in the room for now. I ended up deciding that the girls would see the cards more if I hung them in their bedroom, instead of the school room.

As you can see, the cards are different sizes. The larger ones are the science ones. The website gives a choice between 2 sizes for the math ones, so I'm guessing these are the smaller math ones. It made it nice, having 2 sets we were using at the same time, to have different sizes, kept me from getting them mixed up LOL.

I was surprised at how . . . easy, the science cards were. There were only a handful that weren't words the girls were at least relatively familiar with. I don't think they are especially advanced in science for their age either, but maybe?  I'm actually toying with the idea of starting to use the science cards with Little Bit, now, or in the near future. She's been looking at the ones on the wall and asks me about some of them, but I didn't bother to hang the really simple ones (like the seasons), since I was thinking in terms of the big girls, I may switch out some that we have up, and put some of the simple ones in and see if she notices and learns from them :)

Because of this, I am soo thankful that we got the math cards too. They seemed like a better fit as far as academic level. There were many terms the girls aren't familiar with. Some, I skipped over for now. Quite frankly, I have no desire to dig back into my brain and remember geometry well enough to explain all the geometry terms right now. I'm going to keep them handy and as we DO learn about topics, hang up the cards that go along with those concepts.

The cards that we used the most, actually never made it onto the wall. Those would be mean, median and mode. I remember struggling SO much with keeping those terms straight when I was in elementary school, I wish I'd had cards like this to help me visualize it!!! As it was, the girls had never heard any of the terms, so I taught them about them. Sassy picked it up pretty quickly, but MiniMe was really struggling with it (it's fascinating to get her to verbally do math computations, she does them differently than I do, or than I've ever seen taught . . . but I think because of that, she also needs to really understand the whys and hows of each new math concept so she can convert the "normal" method into what works for her. Finally, after trying to explain it 15 different ways (it seemed) and she just was. not. getting it! I looked around for some type of manipulative to use (remember, the area that I've done the LEAST unpacking is school stuff, so the things I'd normally reach for aren't readily accessible) I saw our Jenga game on the game shelf and figured that would work. And it DID! the Jenga blocks were easy to stack into various size stacks to represent the different numbers in the set, and things finally clicked with MiniMe, whew! But, then it was a fun game, so we spent the next while with me arranging the blocks into various groupings and then setting one of the 3 cards in front of each of them, once they finished one card, I'd switch them around so each girl calculated all 3 things for each grouping of numbers I set up. They thought it was great :)

Each set of cards sells for $29.99. The large math cards are $34.99.  The vendor says that the age range for these cards are grades 3-8 (there are also "Primary" cards available for younger children for both Science & Math). I would agree with this for the math cards, but not the science cards, I would consider the set we got (Set 1) to be more of a K-3rd, maybe 4th, at least with my children (and I would question that there are any "average" 3rd graders who don't know the seasons, for example). The website lists the words included in each set, so I would definitely recommend looking them over to determine if they are words that will be too easy, too hard, or just right, for your child(ren).  Assuming the words are ones that you are wanting/needing to teach your child(ren), this is a great way to reinforce them!

Be sure to check see what my fellow crewmates thought of these vocabulary cards and other items from Lone Star Learning, here.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Recipe: Broiled Grapefruit

I originally wrote this post, on my recipe blog in 2010. When Sassy was making it for breakfast this morning, she reminded me that I'm supposed to be taking pictures of recipes for my blog "so Miss Monica can pin them" LOL. So . . . the pictures are of Sassy NOW, the words are from a couple years ago. The only other change is that now Sassy likes them the way I do. MiniMe still likes them without the sugar, and Little Bit opts for her grapefruit "cold" LOL .Now my original post:

Several years ago we went to a bed and breakfast for our anniversary and as part of breakfast they served Broiled Grapefruit (or perhaps they called it baked grapefruit, I don't remember). It was delicious and I always meant to find a recipe and try it at home, but for some reason, I never did. A recent conversation with the girls, reminded me (don't ask me how it came up, I don't remember LOL) and I decided to try it. So I went online, read various recipes and kind of combined the parts that sounded good . . .

The way *I* like it:

Cut grapefruit in half, use a knife to cut around each section (I found it hard to get the sections out with a grapefruit spoon after it was hot, the "walls" weren't as stiff, so I prefer to pre-cut it). Dot approximately 1 tsp (I don't measure, just cut off a small slice of butter and break it into "dot"-size pcs) on each half. Combine approx 1 Tbsp sucanat (natural sugar, or brown sugar, but sucanat is WORLDS healthier than commercial brown sugar, which is about the stupidest product idea I've found yet) and 1 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture to lightly cover the top of the grapefruit halves. Broil for 6-8 min until the top is all "poofy".

The way dd likes it:

She doesn't like the sugar and cinnamon but she likes the "hot grapefruit", and she likes to "dig it myself", so for her I just cut the grapefruit in half, dot a little butter on top (not sure if that's really necessary, but seems like it should make it brown abit better?) and broil for 6-8 min.

(and just to be different, my other dd likes her grapefruit un-broiled.  The toddler steals bites from all of us LOL).