Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Afternoon Snack

In the process of cleaning out our freezers before we move, I came across two bags of frozen strawberries from this summer. A perfectly good excuse to make homemade fresh fruit slushes at home (a la Sonic) on another homebound snowy day.

10 oz. frozen strawberries
1 cup orange juice
juice of 1 lemon (or a decent squirt from the bottle of lemon juice)
1/3 cup of sugar
1 pint ice

Run it all through your blender until it's nice and slushy! (Not responsible for any "brain-freezes" you might encounter when drinking this too fast). : )

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Project Life Tuesday


This is my third installment participating in Project Life Tuesday. This has been a great prompt for me to get down some thoughts on my pictures sooner rather than later (as sometimes happens in a busy household!) Last week while T and I were watching TV, I was able to pull up posts 1 & 2 of Project Life Tuesday and write up my journaling cards and it went so much faster having little bits already on the blog. Granted, I tweaked a few things from writing for the blog v. writing for the family album, but definitely made the process easier. Anyway, on to this week's photos!
January 16: The signs to sell our house went up in the yard today. It was one of those happy / sad days and I will admit it was a bit teary taking this picture. I have loved, loved, loved this house and while I know we have outgrown it, I will miss it terribly. You might notice parts of the photo are blurry for privacy. However, if you are truly interested in our sweet little 2 bedroom home, I'm happy to hook you up with the realtor. *wink*

January 17: By Jove, the boy has got it. He has been working on his thumb for a while now and Monday marked a day of success for him.

January 18: B's little lammy that she is glued to was in DIRE need of bath. We popped it into the wash Tuesday morning and she literally haunted the washer and dryer while it ran through the machines. When we pulled it out, upon first inspection, her comment was, "It's so white!!" (And just to note, it smelled much better, too!)

January 19: A little artistic creation with the Wiki Stixs during our school day. This is apparently a space ship and a couple aliens.

January 20: N2's birthday is ten days from today and in lieu of a party we have having her best friend and her BFF's family over for Sunday lunch along with our family. It will be a big bunch of folks in this crazy house! She spent considerable time this morning handwriting her invitation to them and we then popped it in the mail. I was super proud of her hard work on this. : )

January 21: The third snow day of our school year - so far N1 has had three of them fall on days that her tutorial meets. While I could go ahead and do school with her, we were all happy to have a day off to hang out and play. Thus, a spontaneous bowl of ice cream at approximately 10:45 a.m. Why? Because we could. : )

January 22: We had a girls' night out dinner tonight, only this was our annual one where we bring spouses along. Yummy Mexican at a LOUD restaurant and time to catch up with friends. We were missing half our group tonight because of conflicting schedules and we were sad not to see them - looking forward to catching up with them at the next get-together!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mid-Year Assessment

We have now made it over halfway in our homeschooling year - yay! (102 days to be precise.) I sat down on Thursday with our books and roughly mapped out our weeks of school and number of lessons we have left. With N1 gone two days a week for her homeschool tutorial, I have been a little concerned that we were going to get to the end of our 180 days and find that we were no where near finished with our language arts and math work. There are some of her subjects that I can easily double up on the three days that she is home (handwriting, Writing with Ease, etc.) However, her math (we're doing Saxon 1) takes us easily 30-45 minutes a day sometimes and to double up on those is tricky with everything we're trying to check off + the whole 3 other kids thing. : )

After looking at numbers of weeks v. numbers of lessons, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we will easily wrap up everything by the end of the school year with the exception of her math! Whew. It looks like that will take us a few weeks into June to finish up the daily lessons, but I am fine with that. I want to make sure that she is solid on her math skills for 2nd grade ... I am not a great mathmatician myself and I want her to be confident in her math skills we continue on.

As far as the materials we have chosen for this year, I've been pleased with the curriculum we decided to go with. The materials from Peace Hill Press (Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons) have worked very well for us and I expect will continue on with them next year. Saxon math has also been a good fit for us this year even though I wasn't knocked out with it for Kindergarten. I'm glad I gave it another shot for 1st grade. (Not that the kindergarten materials were bad; I think N1 was somewhere between the K & 1st grade materials when we started and they were to easy for her. Now, when I pull it out next year for N2, I think it will be a perfect fit). The only thing that I haven't been fired up about this year was our spelling/vocabulary workbook (Wordly Wise) but we're going to keep plugging away at it.

I've also started doing a little planning and notetaking about next year for my soon-to-be-2nd grader and almost kindergartener! Right now (although nothing definite as far as a decision has been made) we're planning on bringing N1 back home fully for 2nd grade. I cannot begin to say how completely providential the tutorial was this past year. Having two days a week where I didn't have to do school was such a lifesaver for me (mentally, physically, educationally) what with having a baby, surgery, and now our upcoming move. I have been so thankful for her teacher and the program they provided. However, I will admit that there is a tug-of-war with our time between the work that I do with her and the work that the school asks for. It's not much, but I find that have to let go of some of the things that I plan so that she gets her tutorial work done timely. Again, not a bad thing, but not as hands-off for me as I thought I would be. (Does that make sense??) : ) Anyway, I'm looking at / thinking about social studies and science curriculum for her. She has spent the last year in American History - mid-1800s and on. I'm contemplating using Story of the World but starting in book 2 (middle ages) as opposed to book 1 (ancient civilizations) and then hitting book 1 on our 2nd lap through the series when she is older. We'll see. And then, science. I like the looks of the Young Explorer Series by Jeanne Fulbright (i.e., Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day) - how much would my nature girl love something like this? There are a lot of cool options out there, that's for sure. : )

This has turned in to quite the long-winded and rambly post. My apologies but I apparently needed a brain dump on some of this school stuff. I've also been tweaking my calendars, meal planning system, and cleaning routines - can you tell I'm trying to get organized for the before and after of the move? : )

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Magnificent Moon - A Download N Go Review

This week, as time has permitted, we have turned our eyes up for a study of the moon! Thanks to Download N Go, we were given a free copy of one of their new unit studies, Magnificent Moon, to test out and it has scored high marks with the 1st grader.

With this study, one of the things we are really enjoyed has been learning a little bit about some of the astronauts that have been to the moon. What their hobbies were as a kid, what they studied in school, etc. It has been a great start for some discussions with N1 about how different subjects may lead into different careers in life, as a love of science did with these men.

As always, this study has some great hands-on lapbook elements for your elementary aged students as well as an amazing suggested library list for read-alouds and independent reading for your student.
Magnificent Moon was a lot of fun and we look forward to wrapping it up over the next few days! Thank you Download N Go for the chance of another fun unit study!

A few special offers from Download N Go that are available right now:

First of all, the Cabin Fever Fun Pack, which includes Magnificent Moon, Winter Wonders, Expedition Canada, and Popcorn is currently on sale, and will be through 1/31/11 for $20 (regularly $28).

Secondly, there is a giveaway contest in conjuction with the Magnificent Moon blog tour. The contest will run from 1/24-28/11, with the drawing at 9pm on 1/28. We will be giving away 2 standard Moon Maps from National Geographic, valued at $16.99 each.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weeks 10 - 14 Baby Boy Layouts

Playing catch-up here on posting my Ethan-boy scrapbook layouts. I've been getting them done each week (or every other week in a couple cases), but have been behind on posting. Time is flying by so fast with this little guy ... I am so glad that I'm taking the time (that I don't really have) to do these layouts for him while it's all so fresh. You can click any picture to see them larger in Flickr.

10 weeks

Template by Cathy Zielske
Red polkadot paper from Crystal Wilkerson's Playground pack
Brown & Cream from her Neutrals pack
"Cherish the Moments" wordart from Playground Word Art Elements
Fonts are CK Marker & CK Ladder

11 weeks

Template by Cathy Zielske
Blue & brown papers from Me and My Brother by Crystal Wilkerson
Yellow paper from her Playground Pack
Fonts are CK Allison & CK Ladder

12 weeks

Layout details:
Template from Rebecca Cooper's monthly layouts
All digi supplies are Crystal Wilkerson's:
Brown & graph paper from Neutrals Paper Pack
Red polkadots from the Playground paper pack
Snowflake & Heart are Merry & Bright elements

Amelie, CK Ladder and Lazy Days

13 weeks

Template by Cathy Zielske
Plaid & gray paper from Me and My Brother by Crystal Wilkerson
Fonts are CK Sassy & CK Ladder

14 weeks

Template by Cathy Zielske
Cream circle paper & owl element from Me and My {BABY} Brother by Crystal Wilkerson
Brown paper from Me and My Brother by Crystal Wilkerson as well.
Font is CK Ladder

52 Photos ::: Evening


Taken last night (1/18/2011) at dinner before my husband was home to join us. A typical bit of craziness trying to fill plates, calm babies that want to be held, pour juice, and maybe take a bite of my own food here and there. This is my life and I love it and am so thankful for it. (Such a good reminder this morning as Mama woke up on the wrong side of the bed in a big way.) : )

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project Life Tuesday


Week 2 of my Project 365 for this year. This project has taken on an entirely new meaning in just the last week. There is a blogger that I have read for many years now named Joanne and this past week she suffered a major, MAJOR stroke. She is my age, a homeschooling mom of girls, and so full of life that it is hard to imagine her laying in a hospital bed while family and friends wait for her to wake up. While I pray for her, it has been such a good reminder for me as to how I am spending my days with my sweet family and where my priorities are. (You can read updates on her blog here or via her husband's twitter here).
January 9:
The big girls are now going to a choir program at a nearby church on Sunday nights and it just so happens that my BFF has a few of her kids in the same program. This means that we have an hour and a half of UNINTERRUPTED TALKING on Sunday nights now. So wonderful.
January 10:  

Heap big snow on Monday! We were given some hand-me-down snow pants recently and at the time I wondered when on earth would we ever wear them. Apparently sooner than I thought and I was so thankful for them as we put them on several times over the course of a few days.

January 11:

We wrote a check today to seal the contract on a new house. So thankful for God's provision in letting us make this move and for how the pieces are all coming together. It really is amazing.

January 12:

The girls and I drove by what will hopefully be the new house today. (Really, I wanted to see how well I could find it without T driving me there). : )

January 13:

Today (Thursday) was the first day that we really ventured out much this week. N1 had a field trip at a local cooking store - the field trip was teach the kids some of the chemistry involved with cooking - and she, of course, thought it was very cool. The little girls (and boy) and I had an hour to kill in a small shopping center so we filled our time visiting a little toy shop and walking around and taking pictures. The left picture is one that I posted here and I wanted to include it to document B's outfit of choice. It still cracks me up to look at it. Her little smile is so sweet in the picture - she was so proud of getting herself dressed without help and since that included tights that was a big deal!

January 14:

As we are prepping to list our house, I took down the 4 seasons papers that have been on our wall for several years now. They were the first things that I made for our homeschool and were showing lots of wear. They weren't going to survive the move since I had originally made them on construction paper and were becoming very faded and flimsy, so I took a picture and will recreate them in the new house.

January 15:

My photographer Dad (and Mom) came over on Saturday to take pictures of the house to put online when we list it. Here he is showing the images to T and formatting them for online. E is hanging out with the guys here giving his thoughts on the pictures and overall support. : )

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Few Food Links

Being homebound for much of this week apparently brought out my adventurous chef side because I tried three brand new recipes. If you ask me they were all winners although different family members had different levels of enthusiasm. : )

First, I made these oatmeal breakfast bars from Cooking During Stolen Moments. I loved them. I put half raisins and half dried cranberries in there, and I think next time I make them I'm going to sprinkle in a little coconut as well as play with the sugar (maybe use a bit of honey?) The girls weren't too fired up about them because they don't look like "regular" granola bars, but I think if I put them in front of N2 & B enough times, they will really like them.

The second recipe was chosen by Noelle as she was flipping through my recipe book one day. She picked out this recipe for gingerbread waffles and according to her, they were the best! waffles! ever! I have to say they were very good and I'm not a huge waffle fan - they smell exactly like a gingerbread cookie while baking and everyone gulped theirs down. I only made a single batch of these, but next time I make them, I'll definitely be doubling them so I have some for the freezer.

Third, I made this recipe for Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup for dinner tonight and it was Goodness gracious. I really can't say enough about how fabulous it was other than I may be making it again in a few days when we have some young couples from church over for dinner. Two thumbs up! Five stars! A++! Whatever your rating scale is, it goes at the very top. : )

Happy cooking. : )

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Read Aloud Thursday ::: Owl Moon & Mandy

We've been reading a little bit of this and that of late and thought it time for a Read Aloud Thursday update. Our recent snow has made it perfect weather for lots of reading aloud and we've definitely done more than normal the last few days which has been nice. I've been tweaking our schedule to rearrange when we read-aloud ... aiming for less time at the table while we eat and more time on the couch all together (or at least while little people draw or color and I read). So far (three days of this) it's working better. Anyway, several fun books have captured our attention of late.

Owl MoonI may be the last person to read Jane Yolen's Owl Moon but it is such a cool story. A father and child go for a moonlight snow tramp in search of owls that live in the woods. You have to be very, very quiet when you go looking for owls under and owl moon. By the time they find a giant owl resting above them in a tree, I was a mesmerized as the child in the story by the detailed illustration of the bird and imagining how exciting (and probably a little bit scary!) it would be to see one of these giant birds above. We are reading this book in conjunction with a moon study that we are working on in bits and pieces and while it mentions the moon, I think it's a better fit for a winter-themed book basket which is where our copy will end up.

Mandy (Julie Andrews Collection)Right now, our current chapter book is Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Yes, that Julie Andrews). This was a favorite childhood book that I recently remembered and rediscovered and N1 chose this for our first read-aloud of 2011. Mandy discovers an abandoned cottage behind the orphanage that is her home and she is consumed with the desire to fix it up and make herself a little secret hideaway. Unfortunately, as you read the story, you find that Mandy employs a few ways of getting things that she needs for her little home by way of lies and "borrowing" items from the orphanage.

"-And besides, I didn't exactly steal the knife," Mandy told herself. "I really only borrowed it for a while. When I earn enough money I can buy one of my own." And so she justified her actions and felt better. 

We're still in the first section of the book, but we're all eager to find out what happens to Mandy and her little cottage ... and if the choices that she is making are going to work out for her by the end of the story.

For more Read Aloud Thursday visit Hope is the Word.

52 Photos ::: Independence

The theme this week for our photo was independence. As you can see, there was much independence on the part of this girl as she picked out her own outfit this morning. : ) And easy choice for a photo to pick as B was most proud of her self!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When it snows...

You watch Daddy unbury the truck so he can get to work.

You bundle up (multiple times) to go outside. And you are thankful for hand-me-down ski pants!

You sit in the warm house and work on your full body smile while waiting for the sisters to come back in.

You make snow angels.

You leave a trail behind when you come in thaw out.

You play make believe. You pretend your horse is hanging out with a rough and tumble gang of dinosaurs!

You make hot chocolate over and over and over, with a cup of hot tea throw in for good meausre.

You read some books for school and a little learning about the moon.

You make snow cream. Yummmmm!

You watch as more snow comes down and down.

You hold an impromptu tea party and invite everyone you know.

And you fall fast asleep after all that excitement. : )

Photos taken over the last two days of our snowy confinement. Anticipating another day at home tomorrow as well as we enjoy this winter weather.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project Life Tuesday

I mentioned that I'm tacking Project 365 again this year. I've been wrapping up last year's album over the last several evenings and am so glad that I did this last year! So many little random moments captured that would never make a full layout are included in that album.

As part of that project, I'm going to be participating in Jessica's Project Life Tuesday when it fits and post our week in pictures. My album week will run Sunday through Saturday, but since I started it on January 1 (which was a Saturday) you get a bonus picture this week. : )

January 1 - the first picture of the new year. From my birthday party that was New Year's Eve, I rang in the new year with three sleeping babies (the fourth had gone home with Grandpa & Grandma around 9:30 p.m.

January 2 - The family celebration of my birthday after church and Sunday lunch. I had lots of little helpers to blow out my candles. : )

January 3 - One of my birthday goodies from Travis was this book. I haven't read a whole lot this fall, what with the new baby, surgery, etc., so I have thoroughly enjoyed being engrossed in this story.

January 4 - Meeting with our realtor to go over some papers as we make house plans. (More on that later!) : ) Buddy-Boy looks on and helps out with the big decisions as best he can and generally just looks adorable. (As a side note, we borrowed the bumbo chair from a friend because we've never had one. This thing is fabulous and Ethan adores being able to sit up and watch the girls play and see what everyone is doing. And, he was completely supervised at all time as he sat there next to Daddy.)

January 5 - 13 week shot.

January 6 - Today we lost our hot water and discovered that the hot water heater was shot as well. Bummer. However, I am very thankful that they were able to get new one installed quickly.

January 7 - Ethan is three months old today - how can this be? By our attempt at weighing him at home, we're estimating he is around 16 lbs., more or less. He is a chunk. : ) He has been sleeping a 6-8 hour stretch most nights, sometimes at the same time I want to sleep, sometimes not, but any extra sleep has been welcome!

January 8 - Today, some good friends and I drove out to visit our friend at her super cool house and eat an amazing tortilla-y, taco-type chicken soup, brownies AND she sent us home with the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. What a friend! Not to mention it was wonderful getting face-to-face adult conversation with some of my oldest friends.

And, there's week one!