January 25, 2008

Awesome Optical Illusion!

Maybe you have seen it before, but it's new to me!

Click here:

January 21, 2008

My really techno-savvy girl

is officially retro-savvy. She's on cloud nine with her brand-new antique typewriter:
This kid updates her own blog. She frequently sends emails to her friends. But she has wanted a typewriter since she started reading American Girl's Kit series. We finally found a circa-1930ish one at a local antique dealer. She has been typing for hours!

January 18, 2008



My word for '08. The sum of my New Year's resolutions. I need it. I hate it. But I've got to have it. My kids thrive on it.

I find it humorous that God granted me the opportunity to mother three wonderful daughters. But He truly has stretched my earthly abilities in the structure department. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. But my children need to know the whens and whys and hows before they can even start a project.

So, here's what we are doing as far as school is concerned:

We start MATH at 9am. We've always kind of started at this time, but I've been way to lenient in the past because I'd let them play a little longer in the morning. If they want to play, which they always do, they have to do it before 9am. They also have to have their pencils sharpened and I will not tolerate a bathroom break after this time (my kids love to hang-out in the powder room!)

Now, here's where I'm flexible. They don't have to eat breakfast before we start. We sit at the kitchen table anyway so they can eat it while they are doing math. Besides, dry cheerios or fruit loops make excellent manipulatives for addition and subtraction, don't you think? ;) And muffins are much more enjoyable if they have to buy them from me using what they know about dollars and cents. :)

Then the girls divide. CG reads her Day by Day Bible and writes a summary. M and K review phonics and read out loud to me from their Bible reader. After all of this, M and K, with their short attention span, need a break, so off they go outside to play with BB or explore the woods or find some unidentified bug.

Most of the time CG joins them because I usually need to attend to Micah.

I gather them inside again by bribing them with a snack. M&Ms or freshly-made chocolate chip cookies work best work best, but they'll come for cheese crackers, chex mix or carrots (as long as there is ample ranch dressing available).

I then sit on the couch with K and M to read our book of the week. This week it's Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Our reading is followed by a corresponding science, social studies or language activity or two. (Once a week we have an art project during this time.) CG sometimes sits with us, sometimes she just updates her blog, checks her email or practices typing. It's up to her really--her official learning time is next. When I'm finished with the twins, I set them up on Starfall or a math drill website.

CG and I sit down and take turns reading her selection for study. This week we began Betsy Ross. We read together for a couple of reasons: 1) to help her read and retain longer passages and 2) to help her develop more enthusiastic character voices while reading. Then we have a few science, language or history projects to complete.

At this point we are officially done with school. Most of the time we finish around lunch time or shortly after. But there's still a lot more to be done: chores, silent reading, free play, errands, etc.

A simple structure with set expections like this still gives me the flexibility that I thrive on. I'll never be able to be structured by the clock, but just knowing a simple start time and an order of events helps greatly.

January 16, 2008

It's Snowing!

K and M were soundly asleep when the snow started. Lucky CG!

It only snows here every decade or so, it seems, (it snows so seldom we don't even know how to dress for it!) so even at 10pm, we had to take advantage of what snow we had! :)

Tongue tied no longer

Micah had his frenulum clipped this morning. Poor kid couldn't even stick his tongue out--which isn't so bad now, but I know for sure he'd want to use it in retaliation toward a sister one day!

All the males in my family have had this clipping done, but never in a hospital. Apparently modern medicine and insurance practices now complicate even the simpliest procedures. So off we headed to the hospital at 6:30 this morning.

But we were back in the car by 8:30. I was only separated from him for about 10 minutes.

He came home ate two jars of food and now is sleeping peacefully. Thank you for your prayers.

A few more words...
Now before you read the rest of this, you need to know that even with four kiddos, I can count on one hand, with a finger left over, of the amount of antibiotics my kids have taken. Needless to say, we've been blessed to not have to visit the doc very often. So any sort of medical procedure, even the tiniest one, freaks me out. Some of my friends have had many experiences with hospital for tubes and other surgical procedures and handle these sorts of things quite well (at least on the outside); I was, well, overly concerned and basically let God know how scared I was for my baby. :)

Anyway, I had 3 prayer requests this morning:

  • That the hospital staff would move as quickly as possible so that we would not have a long wait-time

  • That Micah would not feel hunger, even though he couldn't eat anything after midnight

  • That Micah would only experience minimum discomfort

All three of my requests were answered in amazing ways! I was told by the doc's office to be at the hospital at 7am to fill out all the pre-op forms and surgery would start at 8:30. So I was basically dreading this wait with a hungry baby. Well, when we arrived at 6:50am, I was told I was LATE and they were waiting on me! The hospital was told that I would be getting there at 6:30, so they quickly moved through all the paperwork to get me to where I should be on time. While I was signing my name and answering questions about his non-existent allergies and medications, the nurses and staff kept him entertained. He never once cried! He was so happy that he never thought about being hungry.

Finally they came to get him, I hugged and kissed my smiling boy, and a nurse showed me the out-patient waiting area. Roughly 5 minutes later, the doc walked in and told me how well my boy did! If needed, give him Tylenol for pain, she said. Well so far, you'd never known he had anything done to him. He's been as happy as a lark!

Then, singing the praises of God and his care for the small things in life, I took the girls to Chick-fil-A for lunch. When we got to the drive-thru window the lady handed my a receipt and told me that the car in front of us had paid our ticket! Wow! Now how often does that actually happen!? The driver did leave a card with our receipt that said, "God loves you!" with a bright smiley face. And I'm truly all smiles this afternoon because my God responded to all my requests AND still chose to bless me through a complete stranger! Amazing!

I was so caught off guard by the kindness of someone who had no idea who I was or what had transpired this morning, that I just accepted the gift, took my food and drove away. I'll definitely return the favor soon. But right now I'm simply rejoicing over the undeserved, loving care of my God. :)

Here he is. He just finished some sweet potatoes (his favorite) and is enjoying moving around his newly freed tongue.

January 13, 2008

Elizabeth's 7th Birthday Party

Elizabeth is Matt's sister's only daughter...aka my kids' cousin. The girls had a fun time at this good ol' fashioned birthday party, which involved games and simple playtime. :)
Click here to view more pictures.
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January 12, 2008

Learning with Potatoes

Today we read Snowflake Bentley for the final time. It's due at the library and someone else has reserved it, so I can't extend my hold. :( At least someone else will get to enjoy this treasure.

Snowflake Bentley's illustrator, Mary Azarian, used woodcuts for her artwork. She would carefully draw her designs on a slab of wood and then chisel away until she had the perfect picture. After inking her cut-out block and placing on the paper, she used watercolors to add in the broader details and colors.

I had intended to get some wood or rubber from a craft store so that the girls could practice this art form, but I never made it there. So we used what we had around the house--potatoes and ink.

The girls freehanded a design with toothpicks and then cut around them with a butter knife. We then dried the potatoes on a paper towel, inked them up and pressed them onto the paper. Finally the girls added colors with markers.

Next week, we'll start a new book, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. We've read this one a few times, too, but we'll do a few fun projects to continue our celebration of winter. We'll probably not see snow this year on the ground, but we sure have found plenty in our books!

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January 11, 2008

It's wet and warm outside, so we had snowballs inside

The Pillsbury variety! ('Cause you know that's all we're going to get around here.)

I used these ingredients:

I would show you a picture of all the sweet delicious-ness, but by the time I washed the stickness off my fingers and grabbed my camera, they were all gone! But here's what I did: baked the cupcakes, used my little finger to drill a hole from the bottom, filled a plastic bag with marshmellow fluff and snipped off a corner, piped it into the hole and topped it all off with white icing. Very simple and the kids thought it was very tasty. So now that the girls have had their sugar fix for the day, they are outside playing in the mud. ;)
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January 9, 2008

I think I want a dalmation...

We are currently listening to this book in the car. It's the original story...you know the real story that Disney "recreated" for kids. But this story is absolutely fantastic! I learned so much about dogs and their barking habits, how it's really the dogs that walk us (not the other way around) and that dogs are actually brilliant creatures.

Now I know my sweet, loving and loyal BB is one smart gal, I just never knew that other canines could compare. But apparently 101 of them are quite intelligent also.

This is the first audio book that I haven't waited for the kids to finish. If, by chance, I actually make it to the car without them, I listen. And when we pull into the driveway, we all sit still until the chapter is over. I'm telling you, this book has captured us!

Now I can't compare it to the Disney movie because I've never seen the entire production. Quite honestly, I only started liking a dog (our black lab) last year. So I was never drawn to the movie. My kids, on the other had, have never met a four-legged creature that they don't just love. Whether it's dogs, cats, lizards, squirrels, salamanders, toads, possums, lions, tigers and bears, cows or horses, they ADORE them all! (I'll refrain from telling you about the baby squirrels they so lovingly "rescued.") And animals seem smitten by my girls.

Anyway, if you need something to occupy your drive through all the traffic and keep your mind off the hideous gas prices, grab a copy and entertain the kids by falling in love with those lovable blank and white pups. :)
PS If we actually had a dalmation, I'm sure this is what s/he would look like during our family games:

January 7, 2008

Just like Snowflake Bentley...

we took some pictures of nature. Our nature just happened to be at the zoo. Since we have no snow (and probably won't get any this year) we took the easy way out and photographed large animals hidden roaming behind high retaining walls. :)

I had a dentist appointment this morning. Those of you who are familiar with how I homeschool, you know how much I HATE to give up my Mondays to do anything outside of the house. So to salvage the day, I gave the kids some pointers on photographic composition and turned them loose. They used my hand-me-down camera, which they proudly wear around their necks. They aren't all that happy that they have to share this camera and they would much prefer to a hot pink, lime green or radiant blue color on their personal camera. But for now the boring black Fuji will have to work. I told them that even though Bentley's parents spent their entire savings on a camera for him, we would not being doing following suit.

So anyway, I introduced photography as what it means: light writing. The we talked a bit about focusing, filling up the the view finder and not moving when taking a picture. Just some basics. Here are some of their pictures:

And I took this one. I drove all the way to the zoo so my children could catch and carry around a mean furocious lizard. :)

January 4, 2008

Snowflake Bentley

As we resumed school a few days ago, we started studying this book. We love the story of Wilson Bentley, late 1800's photographer of snowflakes, around here! Last year I simply read the book a few times to the girls; this year we're delving in a little deeper. This year I downloaded a copy of this unit study from the Five In A Row website. I'll also be using some go-along material from the Homeschool Share site.

Today I had them copy the following (one of Bentley's quotes) into their composition books:

"Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated."

Then I let them cut out snowflakes. I had showed them how to do this last year when we read the book for the first time. Since then they have continued to cut snowflakes at least once a week. :) So after a little snipping here, and little clip, clip, clipping there...we had a blizzard of paper confetti to shovel away! I do believe it's one of their favorite things to do! But what can you expect from kids who've never experienced real, white, fluffy snow?

After they cut their flakes, they put them on their completed copywork page and colored around them using markers or oil pastels (probably our most favorite medium) to create a colorful snowflake design. They lifted their snowflake "stencils" and voila! a white negative design was left. How convenient for our study of a man who made photographic negatives of snowflakes!

This is M pictured below doing her work and then being silly with her post-colored snowflake. (If you look closely behind her, you'll see a sample of the new color of our living room. Matt painted 3 full walls and around all the trimmings in the room. On the one blank wall he surprised us by painting "Merry Christmas" on Christmas morning...silliness runs in the family!)

January 2, 2008

Whatta Day!

In the first 30 minutes of the morning, I:

* vacuumed the inside of the washing machine (a stuff dog busted, leaving puddles of plastic pellets)

* bought a $25 library book (one of the kids sat on the coffee table and tipped over my fresh mug of hot chocolate...fortunately the book stopped the milk from gushing towards my camera, unfortunately it allowed the milk to flow everywhere else)

* wiped pink, sparkly, princessy globs of lip gloss from K's big toe (she was supposed to be finishing her math, not kicking lipgloss across the floor and stepping in it!)

But like every other day, there's always more laughter...Mischievous M decided to cut holes in her socks and dress her toy puppy. She even used a permanent marker to add spots to enhance the dalmation effect. She's so thoughtful and creative, isn't she?

The day should get better. I'm about to drop off my darlings at my parents' house so I can get my car serviced. Doesn't that sound like fun? Matthew will be joining me as soon as he gets back in town, so we'll have both our vehicles in the shop. Not a big deal, though, we're planning on a mini-date at a sandwich shop. Gotta make the most of out time, ya know? ;) Besides we don't know what we'll be cleaning up tonight once the kids get home!

ETA: The kids are in bed now...I think drinks are safe again. The same sweet ol' silly kid that made the cocoa mess, spilled my glass of sweet tea on top of the (thankfully closed) laptop! I'm telling ya, it was cRaZy around here today! I'm off to stock up on duct tape so that my drinks stay where I put them in the morning. :)

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January 1, 2008

Wow! It's '08 already!

Happy New Year!

It's amazing how time flies. It was a year ago, but it seems that just yesterday I was struggling through a pregnancy, trying to pack up the Christmas chaos and organize a family birthday celebration for my soon-to-be 7-year-old daughter. Right now that same 7-year-old is writing her own invitations to her 8TH BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Hopefully, this nightowl will head towards bed so because I'm up trying to set a few goals for this new year. Taking a few weeks off from the normal routine during the holidays is disastrous on one hand (the kids can make me crazy!) and on the other, it's been good for me to take note of some areas where I need to focus (to prevent that craziness!). I realized around Christmas time that each of my daughters needs individual time with me. Yes, I know, I do everything with them all day long. But apparently they need separate focused time with me.

Last week, CG was having a few hard, emotionally-charged days (remember I said she is 7) so I took her out for a yummy frappacino and a visit to AC Moore. We bought some paper for her scrapbook, come home and worked on a few pages together. Just the few moments alone--together--made an impact. The next day, she felt and acted better. Who knew that a cold drink and a few sheets of colorful paper would lift her spirits? We'll definitely be doing this more often.

You may wonder what I did with M/K during this time? Well they stayed home and watched Star Wars with Daddy. :)

I'm now done with my current new year ramblings. After some focused prayer, I'll publish an official list in the next few days so you can help hold me accountable. Until then, I'd love to hear about your resolutions. So what fun things do you have planned this year?