December 21, 2009

Christmas Poem

When the stockings were hung on our wall,

Santa Clause was calling to call,

"Merry Christmas to all!"

Then, a little mouse squeaked and swade threw our hall;

Then I tiptoed out of my bed to look for presents under our tree,

There I saw,, 20 presents just for me.

-Cayli and Kenna

December 12, 2009


This past summer, I discovered quilling while meandering through Hobby Lobby looking for something new to do. I was in a creative fog and my normal crocheting/sewing/photography-self just wasn't excited by anything. Nothing at all. I needed a challenge.

Knowing nothing about quilling, I bought some strips of paper, found a toothpick to wrap paper around and within minutes I made this to thank a friend for her hospitality:

Now I'm hooked! The first ever quilled works came from England hundreds of years ago. Book binders would trim off some of the guilded paper and artisans would quill the scraps (by wrapping the paper around--you guessed it!--quills) to decorate the covers of the books.

I, however don't have fancy gold-edged paper, but I did quill hair barrettes for the girls' Christmas pageant attire from my overflowing stash of scrapbook papers:

The snowflake ornament nicely decorates the tree, too:
The best thing about this craft is that the girls quill alongside me. Every evening we twist and twirl paper into ornaments and snowflakes.

These are Kenna's creations:

The bad thing about this craft is that it isn't Micah-friendly (this was a Christmas tree):
So we usually wait until our resident tornado has gone to bed before we break out the quilling supplies. The girls and I enjoy gathering 'round the table, crafting and chatting. With no expectations, each piece is lovingly handmade and always perfect. It's Christmas memories in the making.

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December 11, 2009

Christmas Pageant

The 22nd annual mammoth production of our church's Christmas pageant began last night. If you're local, we've got four more performances, so come see us!

Here the girls (and me, far right) are signing Bethlehem Morning as Dawn Smith Jordan sings. (Thanks, Ann, for the picture!)

Hope to see you there,

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PS For locals, the entire production will be televised on WLTX-19 on Christmas Day at 12:30am (when I'm wrapping gifts! :D) and 9am (when my kids have long finished ripping the wrapping paper). Other times and stations for state-wide viewing are here.

December 5, 2009

Deaf Banquet

Every year our church hosts a banquet for the area's Deaf and hard of hearing people. This year my girls attended. (Thanks to Dan, The Snake Man for these pictures!)

They came because they were going to be signing with the Silent Sounds choir. Our choir has practiced I Want Your Presence for Christmas and the girls learned all the words to sign with us. Tomorrow Cayli will lead her 4 grade choir in signing a song during the worship service. Then all next week they'll sign Bethlehem Morning in our church's Christmas pageant.

I first started learning sign language in the second grade when my friend and I would pour over a signing manual on our bus ride home. I got serious about it about 7 years ago when a precious deaf lady befriended me. So really, all I have ever learned, I've learned from my friends who are deaf. With 4 kids I haven't had the opportunity to take ASL classes; just hanging out with my friends, like sweet Mollie (below), I've learned quite a bit.

Signing has blessed my family in so many ways. Not only can I worship and communicate with great friends, I also get to share these friends with my family.

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November 4, 2009

Miracle Math

Math is anything but pleasant to my distractible darlings. They can easily compute, but the extra boring processes of writing and thinking when they would rather be outside playing is torture challenging to them and me.

Miraculously, I discovered math on a dry erase board. We sit together on the couch and finish our lessons in record time--as long as they can mark and erase themselves. So far that's working great--except when I gave them a test the other day, they acted like they had never seen a math worksheet. So today, they did their actual math lesson with their miracle markers.

Apparently to them, it's not really math if it's done with a dry erase marker (of their favorite color, of course).

I slipped their worksheet into a sheet protector, thus giving them a dry erase surface. They snuggled on the couch, happy to get their work done. Dry erase=no whine!

All the doodles disappear with a paper towel. Of course I don't have a record of what they have done, but that's okay because it's actually getting done. Besides, I'm only keeping tests as a sample of what they accomplished.
This sheet-protector/dry-erase-marker-system works entertains toddlers and preschoolers, too. When the girls were younger, I'd slide various coloring pages and tracing worksheets (you know letters, numbers, etc) into sheet protectors. Instead of giving them use of a permanent dry erase pen, I'd give them a washable crayon. Voila! Instant no-mess, reusable pages!

Happy learning, y'all!

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November 2, 2009

Fall Festival

Yesterday our church hosted its annual fall festival with its first ever kids talent show. Some kids song, some tumbled, some danced and some twirled!

My girls dressed as birds and twirled to Rockin Robin. Their costumes were courtesy of every.single.piece of fabric stashed in our house and my little ol' Kenmore machine.

Homeschooling provides us with extra time to pursue the interests our kids have. They chose the music and choreographed their own routine. They even helped with the costuming. I'm so thankful that we could take a week to focus on the creative side of kids.

As for the fall festival, we had so much fun with our friends! Thanks First Baptist for doing a fabulous job!

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October 30, 2009

Stepping on my soapbox...

In just a few short hours, the streets will be decked to the hilt with laughing kiddos raking in the sugar. Churches and other venues with be filled with all the fun surrounding these fall festivities. Though there is debate about Christians celebrating a pagan holiday, I firmly believe that every family has to make their unique decision of how to celebrate this cultural carnival of candy and costumes.

Jellybeans: Halloween '07:

As for my family, we enjoy dress-up! I don't personally morph into another character, but my girls sure do love it. Ever since they could say "pink" they have been one princess or another or any number of story book characters. Not a day has passed that they haven't pretended to be someone/something else.

And they are oh, so creative! Yesterday they stripped the sheets from their bed and transformed themselves into Nutcracker mice. Recently they stuffed a leotard with baby blankets and called themselves "nesting penguins in a rookery."

These silly kids enjoy this simplicity of childhood and allow their imaginations--and a few pieces of fabric--to take them places that are inaccessible to adults.

Spring and Winter Fairies: Halloween '05:

I'm excited that our church is hosting a fall festival where we can be around others who party like my girls. I've spent hours sewing the right costume for what they want to be this year. Yet I'm concerned for the number of Christians who use this fun day of dress-up to portray the darker side of reality.

Perplexing is the number of active Christians who use their blogs and Facebook statuses to sing their praises to the Lord...except for the days leading up to Halloween. On those days, they post pictures of themselves or their children spookily dressed as ghosts, vampires or dead people, display all sorts of creative, but ghoulish, crafts or they relay their tasty recipes for ghostly treats.

Please, consider what you, as a Christian, are communicating to an unsaved world! Never should a true Christian celebrate the disaster of death--Our Redeemer conquered the grave! We need to be purposeful in the way to live our life--every day. We should be focused on all things that are pure, trustworthy, holy. And our costumes, food concoctions, crafts and actions need to reflect our Savior, the Light of the world.

Don't get so carried away in the festivities that you find yourself unintentionally paying homage to evil. Anything dark and evil and hideous is very real. We as Christians fight a spiritual battle of good and evil every single day. Even if it is only for a night and all in the name of fun, don't trade your steadfast armor of God for the horrific armor of Satan.

I'm off my soapbox now.

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October 27, 2009

Today is Theodore Roosevelt's birthday.

And in honor of our boisterous 26th American president, my kids declared a no-school day in order to celebrate his energetic life.

While we were in Washington, DC a few months ago, we took a detour to Roosevelt Island so that my kids could see Teddy up close:

Teddy was a great conservationist (which is way he has a tiny island named after him) and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors. He actively hunted his own food, created games for his children and guest, and even set up obstacle courses for White House visitors.

I thought his quote of nature--"There is delight in the hardy life of the open..."--perfectly applied to my self-proclaimed country girls...
...especially the lively ones that observed his island with great speed:

Today in celebration, we reviewed his life. The girls relate well to his 6 children who supposedly slid down the White House banisters on cookie sheets--with their father's permission!--and kept a mini zoo in their executive bedroooms.

The Roosevelt kids were apparently a bit loud and rebellious and had so many chaotic and fun adventures that I had to stop telling the girls about the Roosevelt kids. I don't need any Roosevelt ideas enlightening my household. :D

Today, on Teddy's 151st birthday, the girls got their semi-wish today. I didn't let them take an entire day off, but I did let them do a report on a political Roosevelt family member. We used Easy File Folder Reports to aid in the presentations. Mabry is working on Theodore, Kenna is working on Franklin (the 32nd president and fifth cousin to Teddy) and Cayli chose Eleanor (who was Teddy's niece). (Whew! That Roosevelt family tree can give you a headache!)

Currently the girls are have a teddy bear tea party in honor of their fave president. Did you know that teddy bears became a popular toy after Theodore refused to shoot a big black bear on a hunting excursion? The softer side of Teddy continues to live on in today's generation.

Happy learning, y'all!

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October 23, 2009

Math Test

It's amazing Cayli gets any work done at all. She finishing her work even though Micah thinks the table is a play place.

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October 17, 2009

Goodnight, Micah!

This is Micah's most favorite book. Truthfully, like most 2-year-olds, he likes any book for an average of 3.5 seconds, but this book holds his interest for a bit longer.
I never liked to read it to my girls. I'd rush through it, yawning, because I thought it was boring.

But now that I have a few years of reading aloud experience, this book is a true treasure. Besides, it has a magical calming effect of my zealous toddler.

The secret to reading this book? Read it s l o w l y and q u i e t l y. In a whispering voice, enunciate clearly and smoothly. Linger on all of the s and sh sounds. Ssssssavor it with a little one.
And if you still have a difficult time, enjoy the carefree images from a simpler era of life. Notice how the illustrator casts shadows over the pages, so that as the book ends, it's much darker. Point out particular items in each picture and let your child enjoy the look of each page.

This book single-handedly turned my non-verbal two-year-old into lively talker. We would read this book on the couch and then proceed with our bedtime routine--all while telling everything in the house goodnight.

Goodnight toothbrush.
Goodnight sisters.
Goodnight pillow.
Goodnight stars.

One simple book with very simple words--book that I didn't even like--transformed my child's vocabulary.

And the time we spent together talking about each page--absolutely precious!

Happy learning, y'all!

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October 12, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Besides the fact that Mabry's shirt doesn't remotely match the sundress.

I guess it's a twin thing, but it's how they did their schoolwork today--one sitting on the top of the other. Maybe they think better this way? :D

Happy learnin' y'all,

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October 7, 2009

Swimming Creatures

While we were on our family vacation to the DC area, we ventured at bit north to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. We chose this particular aquarium because my kids are aquarium groupies and it is the only aquarium, other than Sea World, to house dolphins.

For the past two years, Cayli has been our resident ocean expert. She first fell in love with the ocean when she was a bitty baby; though when we began Christian Cottage's Oceanography Unit Study (you should try it--it's FREE!) and completed Five In A Row's Night of the Moonjellies study a couple of years ago, she began acquiring knowledge to grow her love of the most amazing places of the earth. Through the study, she discovered her fascination for dolphins.

She finally got to see one for the first time in Baltimore. Thankfully, it posed for a picture.
The National Aquarium also hosts a dolphin show to showcase these magnificent creatures of grace.
The Aquarium also had other displays of amazement, including Micah's favorite, Nemo:
And spectacular, but grumpy-looking, Lionfish:
And my personal favorites, Jellies:
Currently, Cayli and I are going through Apologia's Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.A thorough factual collection of information, it challenges her to continue her ocean studies and enhance her already high level of knowledge. So far my budding marine biologist has learned all sorts of things about benthic and nektonic creatures. And about zooplankton and phytoplankton. And a whole plethora of other words that I never learned in my country school.

I'm excited to see where her passion for oceans and dolphins will lead. She hopes it will land her a trip to Sea World and the opportunity to swim with her loves. And maybe it will. Because I'm all about encouraging a child's pursuits--especially if it involves a family-focused road trip.

What is your child passionate about?

Happy learning, y'all!

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October 6, 2009

A new favorite resource: Dance Mat Typing

My girls are fairly fast finger peckers and this FREE online program is helping their fingers dance correctly on the keyboard. Check it out!

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October 2, 2009

Lentil: Pucker Up!

This week was all about lemons, puckering and harmonicas courtesy of Robert McCloskey's Lentil. Lentil may not be able to sing or whistle--because he can't pucker, poor kid!--but he can save the day with his harmonica.

Lentil can't sing. Lentil loves music, but sadly couldn't pucker to whistle. So he practices on a harmonica. In the tub.

So I gave Kenna and Mabes harmonicas to practice...where did they go? To the tub!

Of course, then the lesson involved a discussion about acoustics and how the sound resonates in a small room such as a bathroom with no carpet to absorb it.

Mabry and Kenna have enjoyed their noise makers so much that they play them all.the.time.
Hopefully next week's lessons will be quieter.