Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Pinterest Attempt & What I Learned

So I haven't been blogging lately... hopefully you don't miss us very much:/

I have oh, so many antics to share:) How right now Nate's car seat is in the kitchen getting doctored up. Or why Chris still might have some red marks on his neck (it was all him... and a marker!!).

Or my little girls getting new or new-to-them shoes and how they are in little girl "heaven" getting all dressed up!  And I couldn't forget Lydia's first experience with makeup at a friend's house... oh, my...  unfortunately, no pictures... a blessing for her because they would have been great to have to scare off those first few boys!


I'm sharing what I did with a weekend day while the crew was outside playing in the yard... getting all nice and dirty/sandy:) And having great adventures in the woods with a neighbor like kids do!!

I cleaned. Not just anything but my laundry table... I mean dining room table:/  It's not tucked away in any room; it's totally visible where we have guests. But I tackled it... laundry, Christmas decor, random kids' toys and all.

Can I tell you how pretty the table is, again!! And how determined I am not to junk it up again:)

I then rewarded myself with a Pinterest project:)
I had seen an "Easter" cross a few weeks ago and I began gathering up my sticks. Brian left me a huge pile of dried out vines and branches as he had cleared off some of our wooded property so I had lots to choose from:)

Then on a Wednesday night I took only 2 older kids with me to Walmart after church and got some artificial flowers too:)

IMG_1287So on that "quiet, at least inside" Saturday, I gathered all my supplies in our unfurnished entry way and got to work;)

I have to admit... I am NOT a good crafter:/ A lot of it is lack of practice and skill. Some is lack of knowledge. And some is not "having an eye" for what looks decent....

but I didn't use those excuses... I pushed forward to do a "PIN" :)

There were discouraging moments when I realized my fake lily wasn't up to the caliber of the lily in the original post :( But I pressed on...

Ok, my wreath isn't going to win any awards:) But I made it... yippee!! And it only cost me $3 for the artificial flowers, everything else I already had or collected in the yard.

I could make a list of really awesome excuses why mine doesn't look like the original... but my crew likes it:)  And I LOVE it...

ok, I like it because I made it... but I LOVE what it stands for and that its on OUR door!!

So what did I learn??

1. I NEED a new glue gun... LOL!! I've been joked before, but I either need a new glue gun or some extra appendages to hold the project, hold the part that is getting the glue, hold the glue gun and push the little glue stick through so the hot glue will come out.... yes, a trigger would be super helpful!!

2.  Walmart flowers weren't as pretty. My lilies were small... no just puny! And I tried to get them to hang open... nope, it wasn't happening naturally. I just glued those puppies to the side:/ Next time I'll have to do a little advanced planning or make a trip to get some nicer flowers:)

3. Since I'm not a perfectionist with crafting... I just need to make projects my own. Use the idea as a starting point and then tailor it to my abilities, supplies, time and style.

But I had fun:) And my door is decorated with something that has lots of meaning for us and this season:) So it was a good attempt!!

This is my next "quiet Saturday" project... maybe, if I get another one;)
Source: Kelly B on Pinterest
 With these instructions, because I think I can:)

Have an AMAZING Easter ... 
taking time to reflect and celebrate the meaning of the season and 
the amount of  POWER and LOVE demonstrated on the cross that is available to EVERYONE!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

BFIAR - Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Nate and I were very excited to "row" another book... Jesse Bear, What Will you Wear? by Nancy Carlstrom.

IMG_1044Again, since it takes me a while to prepare his materials and find time to sit and work with him, we end up "rowing" for a couple of weeks instead of just one;) So this was definitely not planned and put together in one weekend or done in one week:)

We read through Jesse Bear at least 3 times each week;) Talking about all sorts of things as we read, like activities at different parts of the day, or Jesse Bear's daddy coming home from work, "ants in the pants", eating at the table, etc! It really is a sweet and fun book:)

We thought it was funny one day when Nate dressed a little like Jesse Bear:) And I don't know where it was the cooler weather or the influence of the book, but Nate did dress a couple of mornings... yippe, he's becoming more civilized!

There were some other books we read:
*Don't Get Wet, Jesse Bear
*Good night, Bear (about hibernation)
*What Colors will Bear Wear? (cute board book with wooden pieces are used to "dress" the bear)

IMG_0942Finally the activities;)

Nate LOVES the little cards that I printed and laminated from Homeschool Creations:) He did soo much with that one set of matching cards;)

We matched and played Memory with them....

we found them in the story... and Nate couldn't resist putting "the rose between his toes".


He also liked the plate and food printable from Homeschool Share.

I printed off the pieces, laminated and then waxed the back so the pieces would stay in place. The plate was glued to a piece of construction paper to make it look pretty and to give it more stability.

Nate liked to make Jesse Bear's lunch plate as I read that part of the book. We talked about the veggies and fruits as well.

One week we bought celery for him to try. He's not a fan:/ Thankfully he has a big brother and a mother who like celery and our choice of nutbutters.

I realized I didn't take a picture of a tracing sheet from Homeschool CReations that Nate worked on a few times. It's teaching kids one-to-one correspondence as well as learning pencil control and pre-letter formation by tracing lines.

At fist he was very frustrated he couldn't get right.on.the.line... we have a perfectionist on our hands:/  It seemed though that he would choose that activity to work "alone" and he did a little better at least with his frustration:)

I also tried to introduce the letter B to our study. B for Bear:)
coloring a B
I love the printable ABC Find It from 1+1+1=1. Again we laminated and waxed so they lasted through the drool (yes, he is still drooling) and would stay in place:) He liked it... I look forward to finding more ways to use this colorful resource!
don't you the love the real bagel that made it into the picture;)
I printed off and laminated this B! He helped make the B out of Play-Doh...

and then it became a fun Play-Doh mat with some shape pieces...

or a place to line up counting bears!!

he got a little side-tracked with the bears and Duplos:)

From Homeschool Share, I found a cute ABC laundry printable. I copied onto colored computer paper and then laminated the set! I gathered up some clothes pins and taped some yarn to a corner of our wall.

Nate was a little young (or not ready) for the actual matching of the letters. So for him I wanted to help him pick out the B's. He also practiced some fine motor and problem solving skills by trying to pin the letters up onto the line;)
clipping all the blue ones to the line;)
the older kids clipped his name up for him

He also got to fit in some real-world play like Jesse Bear:)
In bubbles...

and sand;) Yep, it was definitely on his arms and hands.... not to mention between his toes, in his hair, ears and even underwear:/

Just like Snowy Day and the Truck book, Nate has started finishing the lines of this Jesse Bear book;) He really is loving the attention and the games. We keep it simple and try to use all that we have available over and over;) And its precious to see the older ones reading to him from the book box or playing a game of Memory with him;)

And again... so indebted to the other home schoolers who share their talents!!

Linking up to Tot School at 1+1+1=1.Linking up to the Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up, Homeschool Creations and Weekly Wrap Up @ WUH

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekend Favs

Too high??

Wesley chasing bubbles:)
IMG_1159 E

A shared yawn:) LOL:)

And the best of all:)
Pey throwing a football to the boys and...


waving to neighbors driving by:)

You all it was an AWESOME visit home! Good to see out family and even all be home at the same time for a few minutes. But to see my Dad getting to spend a few moments outside... getting to enjoy the day after being bed-ridden for over 3 weeks!!

Isn't that like the LOrd to give us sweet memories and glimpses of hope? Just so thankful for our trip!!
And continue to keep Pey and my mom Grammie in your prayers.

More Wordless Wednesday at  5 Minutes for Mom,  Mama to 4 Blessings, Go Graham Go.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tiny Talking Tuesday with Help From the Extended Fam

On the way to the second grocery store Nate announces, "Me,me,me,me,me.... me hungry!"

I offer him some pretzels. "No, me eat tandy!"

seriously... this kid is a candy monster. I totally limit his intake but I've never had a kid ask for candy soo much before.

"Me,me,me,me,me... me buy wiff me own money?"

I explain that candy isn't good for him (like pretzels are any better:/). "Tandy not have any milk in it."

How did he get this "smart"???  Unfortunately, as cute as he was... no tandy was purchased or consumed on that trip:/

How do you know when you KNOW that your dog needs a haircut???


Oh about when your 1 yr old nephew calls him a sheep:/

Yep, our little Wesley met Jack last weekend and looked at Jack and said, "Baaaaa"! He wasn't saying Jack was bad, although Jack had just knocked him over to get the dog toy from Wesley's hand.

IMG_1172No, Wesley was saying "Baaaa, baaa" like the sheep noise he and his mother had just practiced:)

Jack fit the picture. Furry, white and a big black nose;)

They did become friends after the knocking over event....

Wesley even tried to share his milk;) Jack has that "way" about him with most people!

Also from this weekend Nate learned the "secret weapon" in picking a fight with anyone:)  It was approaching bedtime and we were keeping Hannah Grace for my sister and the kiddos were tired. Well, that's of course when Nate and Hannah no longer wanted to get along.

I heard from the hall as I made my way to them, "I doe tell my mom." (Nate) and then I heard, "Well I'm going to tell my Grammie." (Hannah)... LOL!!!

Eventually they settled down on either side of me and we got to read some books until Hannah went to find Grammie:) Those two together crack me up:)

Now it's your turn!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just Another Week- Painting the Door Frame & Grammar Ninja

This week we began the lessons that prepare for Easter. We are using Ann Vokamp's Trail to the Tree Easter study series. And then using the little pictures the kids made last year (or making some for the ones we missed) to review each morning. I love how simply powerful the little devotions are.

One day last week we read and talked about the Passover. How the blood around the door showed that they obeyed and trusted God so that the death "passed over their homes and allowed them to escape from the control of the Egyptians. I think that is just a awesome picture of Christ's blood "protecting/saving/sealing" us. And so we did it:


Language Arts
IMG_1017Last week during Grammar with the middle two I introduced dictation. They did pretty well... yay!!

And then we took a new color and "Grammar Ninja-ed" the sentence finding the verb, noun, article and prepositions. They loved it;)

And if you haven't played Grammar Ninja... you are truly missing out... LOL!! We are definitely nerdy enough around here to enjoy Grammar practice with Grammar Ninja;)

We finally finished Rifles for Watie... loved it!! It definitely had us holding on at the end! We started Across Five Aprils but it started way too slow for us:/ We started a new book on the way to visiting parents ... totally read Bridge to Terabithia in 2 days! I selectively read it aloud because it contained a LOT of stupid, dumb and uses of LORD... that I really would prefer my kids NOT to say, just as a heads up;)

Chugging along... lesson by lesson:) Anna working through word problems, ratios, calculating tax, and longer division;) Chris starting multiplication families while reviewing other concepts from Saxon 2 and adding fractions to make a whole.
Lydia had some memorable lessons:


We began our 1st back in Story of the World vol 4 after our 6 week study of the Civil War. While we've loved using Story of the World the chapters for the next few weeks feel really rushed covering 2 or 3 events in totally different countries. I am actually debating about either slowing down and doing one "event" each week and just using SOTW vol 4 next year too or skipping over seemingly "insignificant" events to finish sometime in the summer. Honestly, I'm leaning more towards slower and savoring for a couple of reasons:)
So last week we studied the rise and fall of Paraguay and the role of Great Britain in the ruling of Canada. We did the outline, maps and read a little about each country:)

Here's where I dropped the ball last week;( Sadly!! It seemed hard to jump back into a new topic after finishing simple machines soo strongly:/ I know BAD excuse.

We did though begin a "side" unit of identifying birds. I printed off some little bird "cards" and the kids have been finding the birds in a identification book and then reading together the information about each bird! We are excited and hopeful that soon we will be able to tell what each bird in our yard is:)

We discussed two more of daVinci's works, The Last Supper and Madonna (or Virgin) on the Rocks. The kids would much rather paint B&W sketches of famous works. But we did do something a little unique. We have a Biblical art book that we pulled out to compare daVinci's works with other artists to painted the same "scenes".

Another week:/ Wow! They seem to go soo fast!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tiny Talk-ing Tuesday

I haven't been good about writing down our conversations this week:( I do have some quick ones;)

Lydia informed me this week that she wants to be a "Texas Ranger" when she is older. Why? "Texas Rangers get to ride their horses all day long outside. I love horses and being outside all the time." Looks like a good fit... LOL!!

I definitely have "outdoors-y" kids...  one paleontologist and one Texas Ranger:)


Nate has begun stuttering:( Right now it's super cute, he usually gets stuck on "Me" when he begins the sentence with that word.... which happens often!!

I'm not too worried about the stuttering for now.... Anna went through at least 2 seasons of stuttering and began speaking without stuttering without any intervention... just waiting patiently and not drawing attention to it:) Maybe I can get a video... without drawing attention... right;)

Have a great Tuesday and stay dry... we're having a super soaker of a day today... glad we got outside yesterday:)

Your turn

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How We've Excelled with XtraMath

I've mentioned using with my kids numerous times. But I feel like I need to share how we've finally begun to excel with xtramath because using it wasn't always easy:/

We started using this free, online program about a year ago (give or take). The reason was my little Anna... she knew her math facts but NOT fast. In fact for her annual required testing she placed LOW on math facts which the test-giver said was due to her not being able to do the facts FAST. We were very excited about finding xtramath because it seemed like it fit our needs perfectly:)

Except, the kids HATED doing it.... HATED it!

The problem is that xtramath practices with the students until they can do math fact correctly in 3 seconds! So it's timed... they got soo frustrated and discouraged by not doing the facts quickly enough. So often xtramath was left undone most weeks:(

This year I've really tried to work more on their math facts... teaching them the different "tricks" at first, then practicing with flashcards and worksheets (that can be timed). But even those ways are great for practice to figure out the facts, but not the SPEED!

IMG_0797So here are some ways we moved from dreading xtramath to happy faces during math time, which are always nice;)

* First, teach and practice the facts before trying! They can learn new facts on xtramath but keep the stress low by giving them the ability to complete it well.

Thankfully xtramath can tell where a student is based on their placement tests. But I think I started it a little too earlier for my middle two (5 and 6 yrs at the time we stepped away from xtramath) and they really benefited from the "break" of being timed.

*Give them a "pep talk" before they even start:) Remind them over and over and over that it's PRACTICE. It can be fun and shouldn't be stressful.

I have one child that really struggled at first and I had to add that I really cared more about their attitude during our xtramath time versus how many "smiles" they got!   

BTW... I had to not let their attitude and struggle stress me out. So I reminded myself often to that it's more about "my attitude" too and I tried speak really calmly and quietly to keep the pace of the game from affecting me as well!

* Type their answers.  I know this sounds like I am helping them too much. But if they ask, just do it if you think it will help them. I have two kids who do it themselves and one that does better when I help in this way. Better yet...

*Make your own account and try to it!! I did and totally got a new perspective. The kids think it's great that I have to practice too;) I actually opened my own to see how the program progressed... but it's been a good decision... but NO ONE can talk to me when its my turn... LOL!!

*Practice the tough ones. Every time one of my kids miss a problem I have them read the problem aloud... sometimes more than once depending on the kid (and how much practice they need). I

*Eliminate the distractions!! For all the kids, they sometimes get distracted by the "timer" and "smiley count".  I know they get disappointed when they would miss one, but sometimes instead of focusing on the FACTS they watch that timer on the bottom of the screen or the smiley face counter in the top left during the Race the Teacher game.

This is what our screen often looks like:) LOL!!

*Offer praise!! Even if they get stuck on 2+1... we've been there! Again, focus on practicing with a good attitude:)

*Sometimes motivators work, too;)  As I saw them really begin to work hard I started offering them some motivations:) For every 10 smileys on the Race the Teacher, they get to watch a LEGO movie on YouTube or get a treat. BTW... this is also good because they are having to add up their smileys for the two games each session and they have to group by ten to figure out how many movies they can watch:)

I am so proud of my little xtramath-ers;)  Now  I have two that have (or are about to) complete the addition facts and are heading into the subtraction as they learn multiplication and division in their math curriculum! So we are also keeping up with new facts by  using many of the earlier pre-xtramath activities to  prepare!!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday !

Ending the Civil War and Simple Machines

Our discussions were about doing the right thing regardless of what others are doing. This was a great lesson that was very applicable for my kids!! And it lead to some fun, real, "what would you do" conversations.

Language Arts
Nothing too exciting;/ Journaled about a simple machine they'd like to build, kind of like the inventions of Da Vinci :) More prepositions! Comparision adjective for Anna:) Spelling words and sentences!

One "new"thing is using our Time Timer for a reading time. Setting the timer for 30/45 minutes each morning to read!! I usually use that time to do reading lessons with Lydia and Chris and then free-read with Chris until the time is up:) So they are reading during their "down time" during the day and then this reading time, too! yay!

Thankfully we have some diligent math students;)

We read a lot last week just to "catch up" some and finish up:) We talked about the hardships different groups faced during and after the War. The final match-ups between Grant and Lee. Sherman's "March to the Sea" as he marched through GA really crippling some if their homes, businesses, rail stations, barns,etc! And the official end of the War happening at Appomattox, VA.

Even though we had read and discussed the assination of Abraham Lincoln before, we still spent some time discussing the impact of Lincoln's death on the Nation at such a critical time. Anna had a great observation....

 she got excited that there was another person who was shot in the head and worked with the government.  The person she remembered was shot in the head but because we know more about brains and how to help this person, she is on TV with her husband and can walk and talk again.
Any guesses who Anna was linking Abraham Lincoln with????

Gabby Giffords!! It amazes me how much information my kids learn from watching the news with their dad! And what s even cooler was that Anna was making connections from historical figures to modern times... similar shots in the heads and then the difference because of modern medicine! 

We also talked about some of the challenges of Reconstruction. The bitter feelings and anger that still kindled in the hearts of people in both sides of the War. How the freed men and women were treated :(

We finished our three week study of Simple Machines;) This week we finished with Screws:) And then we enjoyed a magazine from our library to review.

And a Simple Machine Scavenger Hunt.

I also found a great printable Simple Machine sort!! They sorted through the many different pictures

and then made some of their own pictures to "even out" some of the smaller columns:)

And then I found a fun simple machine quiz at EdHeads! A great way to end our unit on Simple Machines;)

We did art on Monday so we'd be sure to fit it in this week:) We reviewed who Da Vinci was by reading a short biographical article. I gave the kids a black and white sketch of Lady with an Ermine and we read some of the background information about the painting. Then the kids pulled out the painting supplies and got to work using the painting as a guide;)

A great week:) Kind of sad to end these two units, we've learned a lot.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tiny Talk with Cousins, Grammie & Pey

Last week we finished working on Chris' RA derby car... last minute, of course! Regardless of time, Chris was determined make his car into a dinosaur... did you expect anything else??


Let's just say his car was definitely NOT the fastest down the ramp... LOL!! But Chris' stood out;)

I overheard a conversation with Chris and his sisters later in the evening when he was telling them that "A girl who was a teenager told me that my car had a really cool design! [paused] I was sooo embarrassed."

Lydia has hit a challenge in math, she is struggling with "odd ball" (as Saxon calls them) facts when subtracted. Its funny because she does the addition "odd ball"facts very easily, but for some reason when they are subtraction facts she gets confused.

I overheard her say  as she looked over her math for the morning, "More of these facts! These are the hard ones.... that's soo mean!" 


And my little Nate:) After seeing his newest little cousin and while watching a show that had a little baby on it...

Nate sweetly approached me and said, "Mommy, me want a baby." 

LOL... he obviously doesn't totally know what he's asking:) But I do have to say that Nate is very good with children younger than he is. Sometimes he doesn't really like sharing his specially toys but for being almost 3 he is very sweet to younger kids.

Speaking of being with the baby and Nate playing with other kids, we spent some time Sunday with my Dad (Pey), Mom (Grammie) and my sister's growing little family. So we got to see the new baby... I'll have more pictures of them later this week!

Nate and Hannah Grace... who are adorable together!! They play well together, too!

Grammie at the park with the grandkids:)

Here are the some of the grandchildren around Pey...

Yes, Pey is in a hospital bed... thankfully though at his home where my mom is caring for him. I don't really have words right now for this stage... just pray for Pey and my mom that these days would be filled with sweet memories and thankfulness, not just sadness.

Your turn