September 28, 2007

Puppy chow

This is our sweet ol' black lab, Black Beauty (we call her BB):



This, apparently, was her lunch:



I know man does not live on bread alone, and I suppose dogs don't either. :) The girls, who have taken up reading everything in sight these days, took this reader outside. I guess they got distracted by something and put it down on the porch somewhere. Our lovely lab eats anything and everything she can get her paws on. She's almost a year old and has calmed down tremendously over the summer. Hopefully her joyful chewing will wane soon, too! Of course, later this evening, I was informed that she was out of puppy chow. So off to Walmart I went to get her something more nutritious to munch on.

But on to other happenings today...you guys would be so proud of my girls! Today was one of those days that my eyelids could not stay open any longer. Getting up with the baby during the night is taking its toll and I needed a nap. I begged the girls to quietly play, thinking they'd only give me 15-20 minutes. They gave me 2 hours! I was able to wake up feeling somewhat rested. And while I was asleep, the girls cleaned the house! All on their own! They swept and swiffered the kitchen and dining room floors, they took all the dirty clothes out of the bathroom and put them by the washing machine and they cleaned a week's worth of school projects off the kitchen table. What a treat! Now I may not be able to find everything, but, hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

And these are the same girls who would never, not ever let me nap while I was pregnant. They were always up to some sort of mischief: climbing out of bedroom windows, turning the TV volume up too loud just to aggravate each other, running through the woods with or without clothes, playing inside the car, etc, etc. But today, bless their hearts, they cleaned! M said Jesus whispered in her ear that she should help her mommy and she recruited her sisters. I love it when they listen!

September 26, 2007

1 little, 2 little, 3 little Indians...

We built a tepee!

This is what I love about homeschooling! We all get to learn! The girls and I have been reading through the American Girl Kaya series. I hadn't officially planned this but we're in the throes of a Native American study. We began a few weeks ago when we read Roxaboxen and inadvertently learned about the Hopi Indians from Arizona that live in pueblos. I picked up Kaya at the library last week and so we've continued our study upwards to the northwest. In the next few weeks we'll study the Cherokee and maybe even take a drive through the SC/NC mountains. We'll eventually conclude our unit by reading about the indians of the northeast around Thanksgiving time. But until then we'll be hanging out in our tepee!


Our family chief found most of these trees laying in the woods. We used our dog's leash to tie them together. Since we don't have tulle mats or deerskin, we used fleece blankets, a quilt and some old-fashioned clothespins. Not very authentic, I know; but fun, nonetheless!


Hopefully we'll make some indian costumes, a la Kaya, soon.

September 24, 2007

Our Zoo Adventure

video

Last Friday, we ventured to the zoo. I chaperoned my baby, three girls and our new friend, A. Actually, A plans on marrying my M, so it's good that we all get to know each other. :) We had and great time and the rain held off until we returnd to the car for lunch. We mainly focused our efforts on the aquarium exhibits since we had been studying amphibians. We also spent some time in the desert part and CG got to see up close a gila monster--her favorite desert animal. Then we strolled through the rest of the zoo and spent the remainder of our time with the loveable meercats.

September 20, 2007

Introducing...Baby Scarlett

~ Scarlett Caroline ~
This is baby Micah's newest playmate and cousin. She's a real doll!
She was born on Monday around 8am and weighed 7lbs 4oz. Please forgive me, but I can't remember any other facts--I only remember the weight because Micah weighed exactly the same! Her mom and dad will be wonderful parents to this precious baby! I don't have any pictures of the Mama Sara, but here's the very proud papa:

Another new pet


This is our newest pet for our ever-expanding collection, a common house lizard named--ready for this?--Lizzy! :) We have been studying The Salamander Room this week and have been learning all about vertebrates, namely reptiles and amphibians. Sadly we haven't seen a salamander during our nature walks, but we're going to the zoo tomorrow to see if they have one on display. We're also hoping to see some reptiles like snakes since they are so much more interesting behind glass!

With all these new "pets" my nature lovers have acquired comes the added responsibility of feeding them. Now I don't do bugs. I don't like to look at the them and I definitely don't care to go find them. Yuck! But the girls think nothing of patiently waiting--with their bug vacuum in hand, of course--for fly or a moth. Then ZAP! our pets have lunch.

September 18, 2007

Help the poorest of the poor

You know all those basic supplies we take for granted--things like soap, antibiotic ointment, bandaids? The people in Africa can't just stop by their local discount store to pick up toothpaste and kleenexes and body lotion, but we can send these LIFE SAVING items to them. Bright Hope International is committed to doing just that--supplying much-needed supplies to the world's poorest people, the people who live on less than a dollar a day.


Check out this website:
www.brighthope.org/medpacks


Since thousands die each day due to a lack of basic medical care, Bright Hope is coordinating efforts to send 50,000 boxes to the remotest parts of Africa. Buy an empty white box from them, let your kids decorate it and then fill it with the necessary supplies. The $10 for each box includes shipping and a Bible written in the child's native language. All the requested items are available on the travel/samples isle at Target or Walmart.

On the website you also have the opportunity to purchase more Bibles, mosquito nets and blankets. I can't believe a simple thing like a mosquito net can save a life!

Here are the kids decorating and then supplying their boxes (while they were busy, they kept talking about how they might be missionaries to Africa one day, but first they wanted to cowgirls. ;) ):


September 17, 2007

Our new pet


Today CG found a praying mantis on our backporch. My kids' radar eyes will sense the smallest creature, even the 3 inch mantis 5 feet higher than their line of sight. From birth, it seems, they'd find some "nature"--as they call anything that grows outside the house--and I'd help them look up any pertinent information. Until today. When CG found the insect she caught, placed it into the nearest plastic container she could find and took it to our bookshelves to search for the book that mentioned a praying mantis. Sure enough she found it and excitedly read for herself all about the mantis. This is learning at its finest, folks!


We then moved the mantis into a smaller glass container with some misted green leaves so we could watch it eat. But what to feed it? And how to catch the food? Never fear, the bug vac was here! CG found her bug gun that sucks up insects into an observation chamber. So she used it on an unsuspecting fly and the mantis had dinner!

September 16, 2007

Learning to Read



K and M are learning how to read using Phonics Pathways, which has been a great tool for all my girls. Letters and sounds have suddenly come alive to them and they are very eager to begin reading books all on their own. I thought I'd share with you some of the things they are doing. K is pictured on the couch reading a page from her My Father's World Bible Reader. After she finishes reading, she summarizes a sentence in her notebook (primary composition book) and illustrates what she just read. Of course M does the exact same thing in her notebook.


Most people are interested in how I teach a set of twins. Honestly, I don't. Actually they sort of teach each other. I just facilitate, it seems. I spend individual time with them working on reading, but math we cover together. When I'm done introducing whatever concept we're trying to learn, they put their heads together and master it themselves. It's a unique (but tiring!) priviledge to watch these identicals in action.

Baby Micah's Adventure

He didn't want to miss out on the learning fun around here!

September 14, 2007

Stuck on Band-aids...

My kids love band-aids. Doesn't matter if they are square, round, plain tan, Hello Kitty, rainbow, tatoo, butterfly or glow in the dark. They just love them! And they don't care if they really have a need for one. According to them, anything that comes in contact with their skin--whether it damages it or not, whether there is blood or not--deserves a band-aid.

When the dog jumps up on them and dirties their upper leg, they need one. When they trip on a stick, they need one. When their sister pokes them in the eye or if a mosquito bites their arm, they feel need one. When they fall off their bike and bang up a knee, they really need one, but they put two on each knee, one on their shin and three on their elbow, even though their arms never touched the ground.

Band-aids apparently have super powers to destroy even the toughest, though harmless, ouchie. Besides they spur creativity.

A few years ago, when my girls were in the 3-4 year-old range, I was finishing up a project for a client while the kids were quietly playing in their rooms. Or at least I thought that's what they were doing. Turns out, they were hiding in the bathroom closet decorating each other with...you guessed it...band-aids! They had opened a variety box, the ones with all the various sizes, and covered both of their arms from the wrist to the elbows. "Look, mom," they said when they were busted, "it's our new bracelets!"

Santa could fill their Christmas stockings with band-aids and these band-aid bandits would think that was the greatest gift.

I, on the other hand, am tired of constantly buying replacement bandages and never being able to have them when we really legitamately have to have one. I've been trying to break the girls from their band-aid fettish for years. I stay away from the band-aid ilse at the store because they plead for a box of the sticky covers more than they beg for candy at the checkout! And when I do buy some, I hide them immediately...but the kids' super radars pick up the trail. And the box is depleted before some child has "gush blood" (as my twins call it) streaming from their knee after they and the bike collide with the driveway.

But they have gone weeks without a single band-aid, thanks to Burt Bees ResQ Ointment. We love this stinky stuff! A child scrapes her finger, I rub on some of this salve and all is well. One daughter had a scratch from rough-housing with her sister, the "green goodness" whisked away the discomfort. I only have to put a thin dab on the "hurt" child and they are magically healed. The best part: this tiny tub of stuff will last forever!



Now my curent box of band-aids should last for awhile. With all the money I'll save by not restocking my supply of skin stickers, I should be able to try some other products from Burt Bees. You think Burt has a cure for my kids' other pastime--depleting our rolls of toilet paper?

September 13, 2007

Time Out for Groceries!

You know you're a homeschool mom when you and the kids are starving, you find there's no (desireable) food in the fridge and you load up the kids in the car for a FIELDTRIP! We found our pantry shelves empty this morning so I dug around for something to throw at the kids for breakfast and then headed to our local Publix.

On the way there--not to waste our schoolday, you know--I had the girls make out our list of groceries. My house is full of persnickety and picky eaters so pretty much eat the same thing around here, so remembering what to buy isn't too hard--my cart has the same boring groceries in it week after week. I'd call a product and a girl would have to sound it out and write it down in her car notebook. (Each child has her own composition book for the car; that way we always have something to write on.) They each took their notebooks into the store and had to look for the item and write down the price. My shopping took a bit longer than usual, but the task kept the kids busy and their hands off every item on the candy isle! Besides they were so busy with writing they forgot to ask for the free cookie and the expensive juice boxes.

After we unpacked the bags at home, I grabbed a handful of change and sat down with each child to count out enough money to match the prices they recorded. So not only did they get to practice their phonics and listmaking, they then saw first-hand the value of money. I love real life opportunities! I just wish we didn't have to be so hungry to seize them.

September 12, 2007

Laptopping

Many homeschoolers love lapbooks, those creative displays of a child's learning. Truthfully, lapbooks make me CrAzY! Now I’m the highly crafty sort…I have a nice stash of scrapbooking tools, art supplies and general crafting stuff. And I, for the most part, can look at a craft and recreate it. But send this typically calm mom into a room with my three lively eager-beavers and give them paper, glue sticks and scissors…well, let’s just say it’s enough to drive me InSaNe!

Other homeschooling family like notebooking, which is a much better fit for us; but two of my girls are still developing their ability to write. So it really drains me when I have to help them compose a thought and then spell out every little word—times two. Yes, I know, I could just have them dictate to me. But by the time one of them is finished, the other is who-knows-where-doing-who-knows-what. Regrouping that child for her narration becomes next to impossible.

My solution: Laptopping!

I now put my computer, internet, digital camera and scanner to great use through PowerPoint presentations. Up until 2 weeks ago, I had never opened the PPt application. I didn’t even know it was on my computer. I take lots of pictures anyway to prove learning in action. So I just took it the next step, found PPt (courtesy of my mother who teaches at at a local highschool) and solved my problems.

Actually I solved multiple problems. Now my kids easily gather ‘round the couch and enthusiastically participate in these presentations. We review and introduce new material. I utilize the web with predetermined links. I have assignments built in and then scan or take a picture of their work. I quickly type in the kids’ narrations before they lose interest in the subject. It also keeps me on task, helps me use multiple resources and makes learning fun for my highly visual students. And the best part for this busy mom: it’s easy, easy, easy to compose and simple to use!

Want to see our desert study using Roxaboxen? It's only the barebones slides of the presentation. I spiffed it up when we'd click through it at home, but to convert it so that you can see it, required me to use only the bare necessities. But I think you get the idea.

Roxaboxen

We loved this Five In A Row study of Roxaboxen! The kids became creative in their play outside and learn so much about the desert. We added Arizona to our top place to visit whenever we get to take a family vacation of that magnitude. We can't wait to see the splendor of the Grand Canyon or step foot on the desert landscape. :)