Thursday, February 27, 2014

BFIAR : Angus Lost

Nate and I have been using Before Five in a Row to "row" a book about every two weeks or so. I work only 15 or so minutes with him individually each day so making a book last 2 weeks or so is very easy!  Nate is also really into letters so sometimes he just likes doing activities with letters and not our BFIAR activities!

Right now it's just exposure and enjoying learning. He's also working a little about listening/following directions while we work together:)

We had soo much fun the last few weeks with Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack that I thought I'd share some of what we did! I'll share by topic/week... I'm very simple with pre-school... again making learning fun!

When we first read through Angus LOst we talked about getting lost and what the kids (because all the kids were gathered around Nate and I by the end of the book) should do if they got "lost" at a store or park. It's one of those conversations that parents need to have. The older kids and I have had the conversation many times but I don't remember being intentional with Nate about the getting lost and going with strangers! So a needed conversation!

During our first week of Angus Lost we also talked about D and dogs.  We read through Angus Lost each day and made all the animal sounds:) We played with "D" magnets. We tried to spell dog;)


I also collected some "D" items in a bag for a "game". Nate had to reach in the bag and pick up one to name. I put a wooden letter D, a plastic doughnut, play dishes, a toy dog and other random items. Nate's favorites were his dinosaur, two dimes and a dollar;)

We also talked about dogs. We looked a dog encyclopedia that had a TON of dog breeds. We read through a book about caring for dogs and then Nate made a chart to take care of Jack for the week.




We also had a few "dog" activities:)
Nate liked this pattern block "dog" template from here.

This super cute "Puppy Fun" was a favorite activity! Found here.
An amazing resource for us was a printable packet from Homeschool Creations made for Angus Lost. We used MANY things from the printables including the story sequencing, matching cards, maze, pre-writing activities, and this mini-reader! For the mini-reader, I copied it and glue the individual pieces to construction paper. Then laminated and made it into a flip book. The little Angus (and milk) pieces I laminated separated and had the back waxed so they would stay in place and Nate can do it over and over and over and over;) LOL!!

Another fun activity Nate liked... that I didn't get a picture of... was sorting  dogs with long legs and dogs with short legs;) Too funny! And we also used the pieces to match them with the correct breed in the dog encyclopedia.... Lydia helped us with that activity:) We printed the pieces from this Angus Lost packet!

Our second week included some snow days ... which are never too productive... and that's OK!! Perfect for a week to talk about caves and making one in the school room:)

Everyone had to climb through:) They made cave drawings and bats (and brought bears) to complete the cave;)
There are soo many cute kids dog books out there...  we included Harry the Dirty Dog and Flash the Dash during our weeks reading about Angus.

After visiting another town's library and found Angus and the Ducks by Flack as well:) That find got my brain going since Angus Lost's setting was winter and Angus and the Ducks is spring/summer .... we did a third week with Angus talking about SEASONS:) oh, yes! I just love how many things can be "studied" from just one book (or two).

We talked about a season a day using a couple of really cute season books from our library! So why not make a season book;)


Using season cards, we matched letters and "wrote" each season on the page!

We also borrowed a Season Box from our local ChildLinks office. From the box, Nate loved sorting the pieces into what season it matched. And then he surprised me one morning by tracing all the words on the 12 cards... I've got another writer;)



As you can see some weeks we get a lot done... other weeks our actual BFIAR-time is much less! There is no hurry, no rush, just us carving out a few minutes to spend with Nate doing "his" school when the others are starting their individual work:)

Nate is very content during school time playing with Legos, cars, puzzles and whatever else he finds to do. He is also starting to sit with us for Bible time (a work in progress). And when we're needing some quiet, Nate watches educational shows and DVDs. He is NEVER still or bored!

We started Caps for Sale today.... we'll see where it takes us this week (and probably the next week or so)!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Thrift Store Risk

IMG_4253I've been lacking in the jean department lately:/ Mostly because I'm not at a place where I'm willing/able to really invest in really great jeans.

So I went thrifting with 4 kids on toe... sounds positively choatic but it wasn't too bad:) A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!! We were in the area of some thrift stores and I had to take along my entourage or not go!

But you can imagine when I found "my" size in a decent brand:) I was soo excited and they fit wonderfully!

And then I looked down and saw it...

a line across the front of BOTH legs:/ Really??? How do you get a line across both legs with ink?

Normally, I would have put them back on the hanger and then brought them to the front as "damaged goods". But they fit soooo well!

So when I went to check out, I asked for a discount:) Yes, at a thrift store I ask for a discount:) It was a risk  to bring them home not knowing whether the stain would or could be removed... grr!

So I took the challenge.... either to get the stain out or change the jeans into something usable! And everyone thought I was crazy.... LOL... my kids, my husband and yes probably even two people I called for a "pep talk" once I was home.

After some googling and reading, I decided to try what I already had... start with the easiest thing possible... non-acetone nail polish remover.


Since I couldn't work with the pants from the inside-out (the ink didn't go all the way through...a good sign), I just stuffed the leg with a towel so it wouldn't leak onto the side. And proceeded to dab the ink with nail polish remover on a cotton ball.


At first it was hard to see if it was really coming out or if the jeans just were getting darker because they were damp. But I did one leg and then threw the jeans into the washer for a cool wash.


When they came out, I air dried them overnight! And sure enough the ink on the leg I worked on was completely out. The ink on the opposite leg was not as dark too. So I got to work with the remover and cotton ball for the other side;)

I was almost giddy... LOL!! I know soo very silly!! But to think that I had taken the challenge and invested very little time to give these jeans a new life in MY closet:)  I was willing to put forth a little effort and get a great pair of jeans for a super price!

And the weekend before last I went thrifting with the girls and came home with two awesome crochet-like sweaters for Anna... soo bummed they didn't fit me;)

Yep, thrifting works for us:)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Study Buddy

It's always easier and more enjoyable to have a friend to study with:)


With this buddy though to have to watch out because he's a pencil snatcher:) Gotta love our Jack!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pencil Sharpening Sanity - a Review

Some days in the school room, the smallest things can drive any momma crazy!!!! For this momma, it's been PENCILS....

IMG_3686you laugh!

But you can understand herding 4 kids to their schooling spots with all the books out... some days it's like herding cats! We've got all we need we start and SNAP! A pencil lead breaks. SNAP! Another.

And then the cheapo electric sharper sounds good but does n.o.t.h.i.n.g. !!! We get out the little manual ones that came in the pencil sets... they are the back-ups:) But they don't work either!!

I finally was desperate and put a plea on a Facebook home schooling site... pleading for what works in other homes. And a friend excitedly offered what she loved... yes, I could tell she was EXCITED about her pencil sharpener.... only home schooling moms and teachers are giddy over a GREAT sharpener:)

Best yet! This mom had owned a sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies and then bought a bunch with friends to share and even to carry one with her to a co-op she teaches.... yes, this was the sharpener that might save MY sanity, too!

On the day the sharpener arrived, my son grabbed it and started sharpening:)

Oh, it was Beautiful!!!

And the kids love to sharpen because it's easy and it works. They load up the pencil cup with lots of sharpened pencils so there really isn't a need to sharpen during our academic time... unless they are procrastinating:)

I love the design. It is a manual sharpener but it just takes seconds to fully sharpen a pencil. It's very easy to use and not too messy for inside. I also love that it grips the pencils so the device can be used without mounting. And while the expensive pencils seem to last longer and don't break as often, this sharpener makes the Dollar Tree pencils very usable, too.
Two considerations to this sharpener are the lack of good mounting materials and the price. These come with a little vice that can hold the sharpener to the edge of a table, but it came loose every time we tried it. We sharpened most often without any mounting... which is actually convenient so it can be moved around to where ever we need it.

The price is understandable because this is a solid, quality sharpener! We were very impressed with the sturdiness, quality of the materials, the ease of use and the SANITY this pencil sharpener has brought into our school days!! And did I mention that they always have free shipping??

And here is Chris demonstrating how it works for you:)

A huge thank you to Classroom Friendly Supplies for allowing my family to review this device!! We have accurately shared our opinion of this product with no compensation besides being able to keep the sanity-saving, red sharpener!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our 1st Week with Abigale

It's always fun to have a new subject to take pictures of:) And Abigale has been my latest victim... LOL!! Probably because she is just too sweet and kittens are so very photogenic:)


But the picture just keep coming as Lydia and this kitty have had a week indoors to bond.... yes, a week INDOORS! No, I am not crazy... yes, I AM allergic to cats;)

The morning we brought Abigale home we bathed her with Jack's shampoo!! I wished I had pictures or better yet a video of trying to bathe this sweet (scared to death) kitty. At one point the girls couldn't find her because she was literally climbing in the shower curtains at least 4 feet UP!

The reason we brought her in to begin with was the freezing weather coming into our area. We got her on a Monday and they were calling for a foot of snow starting Tuesday morning. So we kept her in our washroom when she couldn't be watching full-time. We kept a kitty crate in the room with a towel in there for her and she quickly used that place to settle down for the evenings.

We introduced her to both of the other pets;)

Jack LOVED Abigale! At first Abigale wanted nothing to do with Jack. But after a while she started rubbing against his legs and then they started playing together. Running around the room taking turns chasing each other. Although Abigale can definitely back Jack into a corner;)

Abigale is very interested in Mr Darcy but Darcy went wild to get away fast from Abigale. We haven't tried it again just because of Darcy's reaction:/

Abigale was too easy as far as the pottying goes! It took Jack about a  month or so to be consistent and that was only because we stuck to a strict schedule with his walks;)

Often though she found her way into the school room while we attempted to school.


And it was funny to see her CRASH after playing with the kids... I know cats nap but Abigale just wasn't prepared to be kid-handled those first few days:)




It was kind of bittersweet that Abigale was able to move out into the shed last Monday afternoon:/ I didn't realize how much we'd miss having her in the house with us! And how we had gotten into a routine of caring for her each day!

Lydia is 7!

So Lydia celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago:/ We were away celebrating Great Grandma's 105 birthday during Lydia's actual birthday and then it just got BUSY!

When we returned home we went to pick up her gift....

IMG_3831A kitten we adopted from our local vet office. The kitten was brought in by animal control after it was found in one of their cages:/  Sad to think what would have happened to her if our vet didn't have this program!

Lydia had been wanting a pet for a while... a long while! She was hesitant about getting a kitten because of our other two running off:/ But after some research and talks, she decided that she really did like having the cats and wanted another kitten!

So Abigale became a part of the family....

but on one of the coldest weeks ever, so the outside cat became an inside kitten for the 1st week of her stay:) More on that in another post!!

Lydia is our compassionate child. Whether it's taking care of the pets, being the peace-maker while playing with Nate, helping Chris with his extra chores, or serving my dad when he was sick (Lydia sat by his side on some of our visits willing to get stuff for him or hand him his cup) .... Lydia has a servant's heart!

She's also a little self motivated child. She can be such a hard-worker in her studies. In fact when she does complain about an activity or amount of work I have assigned her, I often have had to step back and remind myself "she's only 6 (or now 7)". We've seen it the most in her reading.... she loves reading and we can often find her reading a book that she's found interesting:)

She's not a perfect child... don't get me wrong! I'm not sure how one sweet, little girl can throw soo many things onto a floor as quickly as she can. Or when she and Chris team-up... oh, goodness, THAT is a pair... the giggles, screams and antics those two STILL get into keeps me on my toes! Of course, she's also the one that keeps her brother straight and out of too much trouble:)

But she's also the child that had to remind me the other day that there were more important things than Downton Abbey???  LOL!! I HAD to figure out what she was getting at. She wanted me to know that I could better use my hour on Sunday evening reading my Bible;)  Always nice to have a kid with a heart that is being softened towards the Lord. What a special little girl and stage we are in right now;)

We are blessed to have our little Lydia in our family! 
I love how God builds the family with all the differences, similarities and always the perfect fit;)

Happy (belated)7th  Birthday to our Lydia!

Lydia's  Stats
Lydia is 50 inches tall and weighs  about 65 lbs!

IMG_3832She seems to have skipped a couple of sizes recently! Thankfully she has "shopped" Anna's side of the closest and has found sizes 8-10 that fit well.

She's doing 2nd/3rd grade work... she has buzzed through  Math and seems to always have a book in her hands!!

Her favorites:

Color : Light White
Food : Tacos
Treat:  Chocolate Chip Cookies
Subject: Science
Animal: Cats
Do inside: Play with Legos, wrestle with Nate
Outside Activity: Explore in the woods, Play with Cat
Toys: Remote Control Car
Restaurant: O' Charleys
Book: anything about Animals- especially dogs, horses and cats
Movie: Brave, Spirit
TV Show: Leave It to Beaver

Goals for her 7th year: "train my cat to jump through a hoop and come when I call it"

When you ask her what she wants to be when she "grows up" she'll respond "a veterinarian"!