October 30, 2007

My groovy life



See this doll? Seemingly harmless enough, right? Oh, no, no, no! This doll, or rather, this picture of this doll has radically changed my life.

As of yesterday life was rocking along at a smooth (well smooth for us) pace. Life was good. My girls were learning to read and write and do basic math. For the most part they engaged in learning, even if the topic was my idea.

But as of 4pm this afternoon they have discovered that all this learning has benefits. Benefits like knowing that the computer keyboard spells words. Just like writing in their journal, they can type things on the computer. Things like their names in the Google searchbar. And find dolls named especially for them.

This doll is named Kenna and she belongs to the Groovy Girl collection. And you guessed it: my Kenna discovered her while googling her own name. And did you know that this Groovy Kenna also has a swimming pool, kayak and treehouse in her collection. And as you may have guessed, too, my Truly Groovy Kenna now wants her.

Oh, life used to be so simple. They always knew that computer held all the info they could ever need. But now they are discovering all that info just for themselves.

All I can say is WATCH OUT WORLD!!!! You never know what my groovy kids will discover and what they will do with their newfound groovy knowledge. :)

October 29, 2007

Our Earth: from the inside out

We're finally beginning our study of explorers today. I've had this on tap since the beginning of October, we were just too engrossed in other adventures to start then.

Anyhoo, we started with the earth. Using the Christian Cottage Unit Study, Explorers, we explored the inside of the earth. I pulled out our Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space and created a PowerPoint Presentation from the first chapter. Then we made salt dough globes, from the inside out, starting with the solid core, adding the outer core and mantle and placing the finishing touches with the crust. Once completed, I took a piece of floss and sliced through all the layers so that the kids could see the insides. Here's M's (at least I think it's her's--they all look the same):



While we added the crust, which almost 6 miles deep in real life, we reviewed the continents. The kids enjoyed forming the land masses. But, it seems, they know the continents based on the countries we've studied. So K's Europe is boot-shaped for Italy and M's Africa is really just the Red Sea. :) And both the girls added the North Pole, which of course isn't a continent, but I haven't been able to convince them otherwise.


Here's the salt dough clay recipe we used:

Combine these ingredients in a sauce pan:

  • 1 Cup Flour

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used Canola)

  • 1 Cup Water

  • 1/2 Cup Salt

  • 2 teaspoons Cream of Tarter

Stir continuously (to prevent sticking) with a wooden spoon over medium heat. The mixture is soupy of a few minutes and then quickly begins to thicken. At this point, I remove from the heat, but still stir. Then I take the hot goo and knead (with extra flour on my hands) for a few minutes. I break the large ball into parts and mix in colored tempera paints. It will air-dry over the next few days.

We then watched a video based on one the D'Aulaire's books, Christopher Columbus. I would have read the story to them except our library only had the video. I then googled a picture of Columbus, which I will print and glue to a large index card. That will then be our first entry on our timeline.

October 28, 2007

Fall Festival

Tonight our church hosted their annual fall festival. Of course we played lots of games, ate lots of food and saw some very creative costumes. We had a blast!



M and K went as bags of jelly beans. Matt was responsible for this clever idea! He cut arm and leg holes in large clear plastic bags and filled them with small balloons.



CG dressed herself as an artist. She won a prize in her age group's costume contest! We simply splashed paint on a recycled maternity shirt and added an old beret and a cardboard paint palette for the finishing touch.

October 24, 2007

Heavenly Pizza

Here's the conversation in my car on the way home from church tonight:

K: Mom, have you ever had Godly pizza?

Me: (Wondering what they ate at church tonight.) Godly pizza? I don't think so. What's on it?

M: We went there at the the beach. (random interjection:) They had Star Wars pictures on the wall.

K: Yeah, it's pizza that God the Father made. It's good!

Me: (internally laughing hysterically!) Really? God makes all things good!

October 23, 2007

Really Reading

Well this week hasn't turned out as planned. It's only Tuesday, and though we more than adequately covered our 3Rs, we haven't done as much other "stuff" as I thought we would--I guess that's why I write all my plans in pencil. We're finishing up Wild Horses of Sweetbriar and should have been done yesterday or at least by today.

But my CG has had other plans. She finally has a desire to read for pleasure! And so I've let her read instead of finishing up a few loose projects.

She has engrossed herself in one of the American Girl books, Meet Kit. I've waited years for her to pick up a book and read for enjoyment! She actually prefers to read it out loud to me. She started reading it in the car on our way home from having our car serviced. She's the type that starts a chapter and doesn't put the book down until that chapter is finished. So once we got home, we sat in the car for a few minutes while she still read. She made it to the half-way point and I finally convinced her to go inside so that I could get ready for a meeting I had to attend. She continued reading to me in my bedroom and had two pages left when I had to leave. So she used Matt's phone to call me in the car so that she could finish her chapter. :) What a great kid! She showed some determination and persistence to finish what she started. I'm so proud of her!

She also has a new pasttime: playing her violin. I'm not sure when her desire to play again started, but she committed to playing her violin during Sunday School in two weeks. An excellent opportunity for her...except she hasn't touched her instrument in six months or so. Apparently the SS leaders were asking for volunteers to play and instrument during their offering time. She told me that she really wanted to do this and I, not realizing how important it was to her, completely dismissed the idea. This past Sunday the SS director told me that CG had volunteered her talent. Now what am I supposed to do? I have a child who wants to play in church and play to praise God. And she's overly excited--which is amazing since she can be so shy at times. So I agreed to let her if she would practice everyday. She has shown incredible maturity since last spring when we tried and tried a daily practice. Now she initiates her practice times. And she has really surprised me with all that she remembered from her lessons. So she and I will play a duet together, As The Deer, on November 4 during Kids Alive at our church.

When CG's not reading or practicing, she's playing outside with her sisters. The weather is so nice and they play so well, it's hard to round them up to do school. I guess that's another reason we haven't accomplished exactly what I set out to do. It's a good thing that we started our school year in early June so that we could slow down in late October.

Maybe next week we'll be back on track.

October 21, 2007

Homeschooling a Drama Queen (or two)





This is my M, Drama Queen Extraordinaire. She's cutting her eyes at her sisters because she doesn't want to do her math work and she wants them to take the blame for the fact that she can't find a pencil, even though there was a cup full of pencils in the kitchen!


Mark my words: she's Broadway bound! Want to see?


video

She was ranting--I mean acting--like this for a few minutes. I calmly diffused her antics by pointing the camera at her. So what you see is her carrying on but personally knowing she's acting crazy about the whole episode. Once I was done shooting the video, she magically found her pencil and finished her work.

Imagine this: her twin, Drama Queen Mega-Extraordinaire, is exactly the same way. She'll surely join, if not beat, her sister on the stage. Here is a picure I took a month ago when she was going on and on and on about having to do her--you guessed it--her math (simple addition, by the way). She was crying and fussing at me--until I snapped the shutter! At the click of the camera, she'd put on the biggest smile with the happiest look! Go figure (pun intended)...within seconds she was finishing up her math. :)


A camera sure does my drama queens good around here--and keeps the peace so they can get their work done! Of course, I could have sent both the girls to their rooms until they could return civilized, but their persistent little selves would still be sitting on their beds crying about math. Thank God for the camera that puts a smile on their faces and makes them forget all about their troubles!

Sunday Evenings

I sit here in front of my computer--alone in a quiet house!--because it's Sunday evening. Matt has taken the girls to church for Awana and the baby is asleep. Our Sundays really mess up his daily routine so by the time evening comes, he's ready for a good long nap and I'm ready for some quiet time. During this quiet time I plan for our coming week.

Last week we read The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Kinsey-Warnock. My girls are absolute fascinated with horses and are holding out hope that one day we will buy them each one. We've bought us some time by telling them that they can't have a horse until they are teenagers; but that time's quickly coming and I'm sure they'll call our bluff before then. The other day I asked them what they would do with a horse and they said that they wanted one to ride to Granny's school (she teaches at a local highschool) everyday. Good thing we homeschool--can you imagine a horse galloping into the school's parking lot only to tied to an awning rail for a day? :)

With Sweetbriar we studied islands, since the story is set off the coast of Nantucket in 1903. Of course, just the timeframe alone brought up some interesting conversations about life in the last century. The lack of electricity shocked my children. And what? No cars? How could that ever be? :)

This story will bring us into this coming week for we need to finish it. We use a rich curriculum entitled Five In A Row and with each reading we add another dimension to our studies. We'll begin the week by discussing the flora and fauna of an area. We will also create an art piece using a spattering technique. I, of course, will post our pictures.

When we finish, we'll launch a study of explorers. I'll use a Christian Cottage unit for that study. We'll start by study the composition of the earth. The girls will find this fascinating! I'm not completely sure where our study will lead. We'll definitely touch on Columbus and other explorers, but I'll bet that we'll get a bit side-tracked as we cover navigation. The odds are that we'll end up taking a mini-study on astronomy and constellations. My kids love the night sky and before it gets terribly cold is a good time to spend some quality time outside in the dark exploring God's vast universe, don't you think? So I guess we'll be explorers on our own--just not in a ship but from the front porch. ;)

October 19, 2007

What quiets my baby?

Not necessarily his blanket, not always his paci, sometimes his sisters, a lot of times his daddy, most times his mother...but always--I mean always--Alan Jackson! This boy will fall asleep in a matter of seconds as soon as I turn on AJ's hymn CD.

I'll show you...
From last night, a picture of a very tired, fussy and frustrated Micah laying in his crib:

This is 30 seconds later...the very same baby sleeping peacefully to the soothing tones of AJ:

Now if Baby Micah is anything like his singing sisters (who think the entire world is an open stage!), then I invision a pair of boots, a guitar and a trip to Nashville in his future!

October 16, 2007

Scheduling

Tonight I attended a small meeting of homeschooling moms to discuss scheduling. This is such a tricky subject for us moms because it requires constant tweaking. My official schedule is always changing, or so it seems. Just when I think I have it together, something throws it off: a fussy baby, a whiney daughter, or a crazy day. Like today, math was delayed due to the lack of useable pencils. I had bought a pack of 50 mechanical pencils 2 months ago because the girls would stand around the pencil sharpener like professionals hang out by the watercooler--wasting time and accomplishing nothing. As of today, the supply had sadly dwindled to few shabby pencils with no workable erasers or clickable lead. So we hunted in the couch cushions and under the bookcases for the good ol' fashioned ones and then we had to dig around in the craft cabinet for the pencil sharpener. All the erasers had long been bent/bitten off, but we finally started our math!

Through the sharing of other moms, I was encouraged to redeem the time. I need to account for all the time I spend by having something productive to show for it. I tend to spend a fair amount of time online, sometimes truly researching a topic, other times just surfing around. Time never flies so fast as when I'm in front of my computer. This is one area where I can refocus my time and, um, maybe do an extra load of laundry before logging onto the computer.

One mom, the self-proclaimed queen of schedules (and she really did have a very well-thought-out and organized one!) reminded us that schedules are meant to free you, not hold you hostage. She also pointed out that schedules don't have to be rigid since some moms thrive on a loose and flexible one (me!) and others require a highly structured one (not me). It doesn't really matter what it looks like, because everyone's will look different, but your kids will be reassured of your expectations and know their own personal daily tasks because of your set schedule/routine.

Here's my typical daily schedule:
But first a few ground rules:

  • On Sunday evening I plan the upcoming week. By weekly planning I mean that I glance through each child's math lessons so they will be fresh in my mind as I explain the new concepts. I decide what passages the kids will copy during the week and what phonics or grammar rules I'll explain. I also look ahead so that I can reserve necessary library books.
  • Mondays are closely guarded. As Monday goes, so does my week. We need to start each week refreshed and energized and can only do so by staying home and limiting outside distractions.
  • During the week we are home more than we are out. There's a reason it's called HOMEschooling. Necessary appointments (like visiting the dentist to replace what the tasty candy apple broke at the fair) are arranged in the afternoons. We only have 2 weekly commitments: one on Wednesday nights for church (choir and missions) and the other on Thursday afternoons for the girls' dance.

Alrighty then, on to my daily schedule:

  • The kids are up between 8-9am. They quickly kiss me good morning and run out the door to play with BB and enjoy the nice fall weather.
  • Sometime between 9:30-10am we eat a quick breakfast (I'm talking bagel or muffins and sometimes brownies) and start math. This isn't my first choice of subject matter but it works best for the girls to get it out of the way.
  • After math and while they are still sitting at the table, we dive into Sequential Spelling. Right now we really use it for phonical reinforcements and the kids really (surprisingly) love it!
  • At some point in time I have to feed Micah, call Matthew and re-group the kids.
  • I then have individual time with the girls to cover their phonics lessons/reading practice (M and K) or grammar/writing (CG).
  • By now it's lunch time. So the kids devour a grilled cheese sandwich and head outside to catch lizards, play in the sand box, ride their bikes or explore the woods.
  • After much bribery ;) we reconvene on the couch for Bible time and read a literature selection that will springboard us into our history, science, geography and/or art lessons for the day.
  • Of course, throughout the days we find time for chores and supper preparations 'cause after all this active learning, the kids have worked up an appetite!
There's always more I'd like to add in, such as studying artists or learning French or playing a sport. All those are well and good and some point we will probably do them. But now our schedule must be simple so that we can focus on learning to read and reading to learn. Also my girls do better staying at home where they can play, be themselves and enjoy life together. In another season of life we will redeem our time differently, but for now this is what works for us.

So, what does your schedule look like?

October 15, 2007

Uh Oh, I got too creative...

I spent this past weekend organizing photos and updating my scrapbooks. I so enjoy this activity--it's therapy for busy crazy, busy days. I seized the opportunity to crop lots of pictures of the kids, their friends and our family outings. I cut out paper bling to enhance my pages. I experimented with my scrapbook software, Memory Manager by Creative Memories (excellent software, by the way!) and, though I like digitizing my scrapbooks, nothing compares to holding scissors/trimmer/punches to paper/pictures and with a clip and a snip...you have a marvelous pages of memories!

But after all my creating, and feeling good about my accomplishments, I turned my attention to my daughter's hair. If I can cut paper in a straight line, surely I can cut hair, right? It was getting too long and shaggy-looking and just needed some, um, cropping. So I took my scissors, snipped a little here and little there, evened it up, stood back...and almost cried! I'm so NOT a beautician!

But don't you think she looks cute in her CROP CHOP? I keep telling myself that layers are the look for this fall. Besides short hair brings out the beauty in her eyes, don't you think?

Truthfully it doesn't look all that bad...from the front! But if you check out the back, you'll see my (non)handiwork.
Hopefully Danielle at Palmetto Styles, our favorite hairdesser, has returned from maternity leave so that she can whip up some magic with her scissors and fix my faulty creativity. Until then, K wanted to leave you with a laugh (because that's all we can do is find the humor in my creative craziness.)

October 12, 2007

Meet CG, DAREDEVIL

We went to the state fair! And had a blast! I had no idea that CG was such a thrill-seeker. She rode rides with her dad that I would never, ever get on--rides I couldn't even watch her on! The higher, the faster, the more thrilling for her!


Shhhh...Did you hear that?

Of course you didn't hear anything because the midlands area of SC has been quiet for the past few days. Why? Because K and M are on vacation! They have spent the past 3 days playing at the beach. My mom attended a conference and took my dad and the girls for company. Last year they took CG with them; so it was M and K's turn this year. I didn't realize how quiet my house is without the vivacious and comical twins! (Though it was probably a long 72 hours for my parents.)



But...whew...I'm tired! CG and I crammed as much mother-daughter fun into 3 days as we could. Wednesday we visited some old friends near Charlotte. We've been friends forever it seems. CG and Shelby met each other in Greenwood when they were 2-years-old. Oh, how they've grown. We can go months without seeing Shelby's family, but we always pick up where we left off. What a blessing it is to have such great friends! Shelby's mom is Tracie, who is one of my dearest friends!


Thursday we had a field trip to learn about Native Americans, played at the park with some new friends. I've known this mom for a few years now but we never got together to let the kids play. She has a 3rd grader and twins that are in kindergarten. So we also have a lot in common.

Friday we slept in (as much as you can with a 4-month-old) and developed our fair pictures so that we could scrapbook them. While we waited on the pictures, we had lunch at Moe's (CG's choice) and bought BB a chewing bone and a new collar (one of CG's favorite pasttimes is shopping for her puppy!).



Though we had fun together, CG missed her sisters. Here's their welcome home gift (completely initiated by CG with no help from me--what a sweet big sis!):

October 7, 2007

Experimenting with my old camera

I really just want to see if this works. ;)

I've had this digital camera, a Fuji S5000, for a few years now and I'm just now trying to figure out all the fine workings of it. I really, really like this camera! This video was taken earlier today while CG was practicing in our living room. The camera is mainly for digital picts so the video part only lasts about 15 seconds--just enough time for you to get the idea of baton practice in our house. So far she hasn't broken any light fixtures. She's typically a happy kid, but with a baton in her hand, she's all smiles. Enjoy! (Oh, I think it's K singing in the background--but it could be M, I don't remember--someone is always singing around here!)


video

October 6, 2007

Our Powwow

video

Yesterday the girls invited a few friends over to the tepee and what a fun time we had! All the moms pitched in and brought all sorts of food from berries and nuts to Indian candy and popcorn. Yummy! We also made head pieces and vests. These wild little indians had a great time, especially since they got to scout out the woods all around, catch a few lizards and otherwise spread their wings and soar on the wind--just like good little indian boys and girls. Enjoy the pictures!

October 4, 2007

Divine Divas

Last week my 1st grade twins attended on of the their my favorite weekly activities, GAs (Girls in Action) at our church, FBC. Their leaders, April and Rebecca, are doing a fabulous job teaching these girls about missionaries around the world. September's missionary was Victoria Rogers who ministers to the stars in Hollywood. Besides praying for Victoria, the GAs dressed up in their own fancy costumes and walked the red carpet as other ministers such as deacons or a pastor. The girls (especially mine who are a bit too natural at this) had a great time! Get ready for some sass...

October 2, 2007

It's amazing I even survived childhood!

I took Baby M to the doc today for his 4-month-old checkup. And shots. Oh, those horrible shots. The nurse turned my happy, babbling (almost 14lb.) bundle of joy into a scream machine! I understand why he needs his vaccines, but does he really have to have four shots at a time?! He had four last time, too, at 2-months. It gets worse, the next time I take him in, it will be for his 6-month checkup and he'll receive five shots. So in the little life that he's lived, by the time he's half a year old, he will have had more shots than I've had in my entire life! How in the world have I lived so long? According to today's standards, I haven't been adaquately vaccinated. I've even had the chicken pox. But my son never will. He shouldn't even get pnuemonia. Or Hepititis something.


I guess I should be happy that the medical community is looking out for my little guy and finding ways to combat deadly diseases. It's just frustrating thinking about all the require vaccinations the babies are receiving today versus the meager amounts my generation was given.


Speaking of shots...in a few weeks I'll take my twins in for their 6-year-old checkup. They'll finally get their 4-year-old shots--4 of them each! God has exceptionally blessed us with healthy children. I can count on one hand, with a finger leftover, the amount of antibiotics I've used for all three of my girls in the past 7 years. Honestly I haven't even thought much about taking the girls in for well-child checkups. But having to immuninize the baby made me think to update their shot records. And now I'll have to do the inevitable--subject a set of twins to eight! shots between the two of them. Poor kids. Please pray for them. And me, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a lighter note...check out this precious picture of M reading to the baby. She is working hard to read books and she loves every bit of this learning process. I thought I'd never see the day that she and her sister could read, but they are doing so well during this slow but steady process of reading.
What was M's partner in crime doing while she was reading to her little brother? I'm so glad you asked because K was creating her very own diorama of Adam and Eve in the garden. She wasn't told to do this, no one showed her what to do, "I just thought it up herself," she says--I didn't even know what she was doing until she was done. Quite clever, don't you think!