Monday, September 27, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: The Letter M

Awhile back, I won a blog giveaway for ABC Twiggles preschool curriculum. This curriculum can also be used for kindergarten; it's great for Dash and Sissy to work on together. They suggest starting with the letter M so that's what we did. The kids ate their meal before heading off to Veggie Tales Live! Thursday night.

Our Muffin Tin theme, therefore, was the letter m:

muffins, frozen mango cubes, and macaroni

For the macaroni, I used a gluten/dairy free box mix from Road's End Organics and also added garbanzo beans.

We baked the muffins right in the silicone butterfly cups so that was easy! The muffin at top is Banana Walnut Oat, and the one on the bottom is Pumpkin Carrot. I can't find the recipe for the pumpkin/carrot ones, but there were lots of veggies hiding inside. It also used whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of oil.

Banana Walnut Oat Muffins
2 1/2 small bananas
1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (but I just used regular ww flour)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar (I only used 1/2 cup.)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS. olive oil
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and water. In a separate bowl (I actually didn't use a separate bowl.), mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring well. Stir in walnuts and oats. Spoon into muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned. (I think I actually baked them for slightly less than 20 minutes. I always bake for less minutes than it calls for because I think it tastes better that way. Or maybe my oven is just hotter.)

3 Happy Muffin Tin Meal participants

To see other happy muffin tin kids, visit Michelle, the Muffin Tin Mom.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Preschool Tot Activities

Sissy: age 3 1/2 and Dash: age 5 1/2 (not their real names),
with occasional Tot School/Preschool Corner appearances by 10 year old Tornado

Our biggest excitement this week was attending Veggie Tales Live! at a (huge) local church. They were giddy before the show began.

And if you're wondering about Dash's "fancy" necklace (made even fancier while worn with his tie-dyed homeschool co-op t-shirt - it's like he's copying my style from 1994), that's an old Lion King necklace I had gotten at Disneyland in...well, 1994. Dash just immediately latched onto it when he saw it and has insisted on wearing it everywhere lately. I love his sincerity.

I think Sissy was the first person to start dancing in the aisles. Many soon followed.

There was no stopping her. She was rockin' out. She was feelin' it. I had this vision of her dancing on tables at a club when she's 20...

And I was actually proud of Dash because he (gasp) was dancing, too. He wasn't too cool or embarrassed.

It was a fun show!

Dash angrily declared in the car, "I didn't have a good time!"
Me: "You didn't?"
"I didn't have a good time because I didn't want to leave!"

On to school/play time...I wrote in my post Friday a little more about Dash's kindergarten homeschool is more about some of his activities but focusing more on Sissy's side of things:

This was her first day (a few weeks ago) attending the homeschool program at a local (fabulous) arts academy. One day a week, she goes to art, music, and ballet back-to-back.

She also goes with me one morning a week to the baby/preschool room while I teach at Dash's homeschool co-op. She thinks of this as going to school, as well, because she gets to play with the other kids and also do little activities.

She wanted me to take a picture of her very special arrangement of toys she worked on. And I also love this picture because of how cute she looks in her panties, with her arms by her sides.

There were a couple of sidewalk chalk days. They enjoyed discovering what a nice effect the wet driveway had on the chalk. It made it almost like paint. I think I'll tell them to take water out with them next time it's dry - or hose down the pavement first.

They did some other painting...

using these finger stampers.

I love it when they come up with activities on their own. (Takes some pressure off of me!) They found these extra pigs I'd printed off accidentally and took it upon themselves to make their own art projects out of them. (That's Dash's glued to the white paper.)

She practiced name recognition (I deleted her name
s.) by using the stamp that my friend Annette from Live, Learn, Love made when Sissy and M were blog swap partners last summer. Here is her post about how to make your own personalized name stamp.

On the outside of the back door, they drew pictures...

using window markers.

Brother Tornado helped Sissy figure out how to play her Spot It! game. (You have to figure out which cards have "things in common.")

We did several workbook pages. She still struggles with her color and shape recognition. I'm afraid she struggles because I think she couldn't care less. I think she'd rather dance on tables.

This is a animal memory game made out of wood tiles. Sissy is matching up the pictures to the corresponding spots on the colored sheet that came with the game.

We had a couple of cooking projects this week. We made chocolate chip cookies one night (but were only able to make half a batch because we only had that much Earth Balance margarine - how sad is that?). We also made two batches of muffins for Papaw's birthday - Banana Oat Walnut and Pumpkin Carrot.

My darling, darling daughter has been giving me headaches lately. She is going through such a whiny/crying phase. She might fall apart over the smallest thing. If we try to discipline her, she comes unglued. She'll throw herself on the floor and kick and scream (and has bumped her head a couple of times doing this lately). She's such a typically pleasant, sweet girl. If things are going her way, you'd want to be with her all day. But if she doesn't understand why she's not getting her way, especially if she's tired, look out.

I know this phase is not unique so if anyone has any ideas on how to get through it (and overcome it!), I'm all ears!

Of course, she had to smile when she realized I was taking her picture.
She doesn't want to disappoint her public.

Tot Schoolpreschool corner

If you get stuck for ideas to teach or even simply occupy your baby, toddler, preschooler, and even kindergartener, check out the fine ladies' links at 1 + 1 + 1=1 and Homeschool Creations.

"See" What's New!

There was a big addition to our family this week! Tornado got...


Isn't he handsome?! I was so relieved by what a perfect job he did at the eye doctor. He seems to be very excited about wearing them and loves that he can see better (his prescription is pretty small - 125 or is it 1.25? - but he had been squinting at the television lately).

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Little Bit About Homeschooling My Kindergarten Kid

Our fall schedule is in FULL swing. Here is a basic view of what Dash's life is like right now. One day a week, he attends a music class at a local arts academy. I like this for him a lot, his teacher is fun, and he really enjoys it!

He is also playing soccer for the 3rd year. He continues to love it deeply. He has practice one night a week and games on Saturdays.

He would rather be out on the soccer field than anywhere else. It reminds me why I never turned into a hardcore athlete. It's so hot out, and I'm thinking wow, I'd rather be sitting down, relaxing right now. But not him. He's fully invested and thrives in it.

I love that Dash and Sissy get to spend so much time together while homeschooling. They have so many fun moments (like above - they are so alike in so many ways). However, they fight as hard as they love, which isn't easy on me.

Dash is attending a local homeschool co-op two days a week. The classes he attends are Abeka Phonics, Abeka Math, and P.E. (I am teaching 1st grade Saxon Math at the co-op.) The teacher does lessons with them, and then he has homework to complete at home with me. This was his first day of school. See - he looks pretty proud and excited, right? Honestly, it was pretty awful for me the first couple of weeks.

He has NEVER been good with drop-offs. Even when he was a toddler, he would scream and protest. He would also RUN. HE is the reason our church nursery has a child safety knob. (We bought it for them.) He has gotten no better about new situations. I do believe he wanted to go. He has been talking about "kindergarten" since last year. He just gets really shy and nervous, and it comes out of his body in the form of running and protesting.

Fingers crossed - his last three or four drop-offs have been SUPERB. I think he has started making friends and is comfortable now. He has around 5 or 6 kids in his class, which I think is perfect. He also has P.E. with his class and the first and second graders, which I also think is really great.

Reptiles, amphibians, and insects still make their way into our home on a regular basis. This is one toad he brought in to show me. And the other day, I opened the toilet lid downstairs, and there was a pudgy toad sitting on the seat. I hollered. I'm not actually scared of critters; it just took me off guard. The toad hopped to the floor, and I was having a hard time catching it. Dash came to check what was going on, he declared, "I've got this!" And he did. After the toad peed on my floor.

We are using The Workbox System. I actually purchased Sue Patrick's ebook with printables and the plastic tubs the year before last when we were still homeschooling Tornado. We used them for a couple of months, then put them away last year after Tornado started public school and Dash was in preschool.

They work really well for Dash. He is a child who needs constant activity, or he gets himself into "T"rouble. Now he can see right in front of him what is expected. I fill each box (between 8-12) with a variety of activities - workbook pages, mazes, file folder games, puzzles, alphabet cards, etc.

This is his completed magnet building. I love that he made it symmetrical on his own. And then of course, we could talk about the definition of "symmetrical."

When he completes the activity in the box, he takes the velcro number off the box and puts it on his chart.

Sissy has workboxes, too, but she doesn't really like to do anything by herself. And she's going through a "crying when frustrated in the least little bit" phase. I give her about 4 boxes a day and then to prepare to pretty much do it right along side of her. Dash is actually really patient with helping her, too.

This particular box: he had to go through the book and make all of the letters with the foam pieces provided. I was proud of him because he took it upon himself to also form the lower case letters, too, even though they aren't included in the book.

This is the book.

He doesn't always agree to me taking his picture, though.

Here is just an activity the kids have done several times with Daddy. I bought the Mentos experiment package (for around $5) at Hobby Lobby a couple of times, but I know you can do it without that.

It makes it easier with the string to pull, though.

You pull it, then run out of the way. You can read the scientific explanation here.

This was actually one of their wimpier "explosions."

It never gets old.

Linking up to Weekly Wrap-up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. I hope to start joining in regularly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thank Ya Much

What's been going on lately:

My niece and nephew came to stay with my parents for a few days this month while their parents went on vacation.

Check out the "ornery twins" in the background. Winnie was being very feisty and wouldn't pose for a picture with Sissy, in their matching outfits -

no matter how hard Sis tried.

Rush was feeling "under the weather" during the visit and wanted to sleep a lot of the time. He kept falling asleep in funny places. This was the first time I caught him snoozing. He was playing with the other kids on this chair. One of them said, "There's something wrong with Rush." I always think a kid has died when I see one fall asleep like this. My heart seized up in my chest, and I ran over to him and shook his arm. He looked up at me, like, "What?! Let me sleep."

Winnie was being hilarious. She'd get on top of skinny little Tornado and wouldn't let him up. So, yeah, lots of wrestling going on, as usual.

Of course, he didn't mind.

The "ornery twins" (seriously, can you see the resemblance?) had lots of fun jumping on the bed.

I have no idea how he ended up wearing a striped shirt with plaid shorts.

Sissy played "Momma" to her younger, sick cousin.

On that Saturday, we took Winnie to the library. She was chanting in the car, "Going to the library and the farmer's market!" over and over. We'd hoped to be there for Story Time, but it was cancelled due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. We played in the children's room , anyway, and checked out books.

After we bought some pears and an aloe plant at the farmers' market, the kids unexpectedly were treated to some balloon animals. Sissy could not have been happier about her PINK dog.

Winnie got a little animal, too, but she immediately started rubbing it vigorously on the asphalt. It didn't last long.

I rather enjoyed that everyone thought all 4 kids were mine. I got a lot of, "Are the girls twins?" and "They all look just alike." kind of comments all morning.

Last weekend, the kids and I ventured over to the park, where Eco Fest was taking place. The boys loved this gigantic appliance box maze. Sissy was too scared to go through it.

While we were waiting for the Mayor to speak, a drum circle was playing music. Tornado immediately got up and started dancing. Sissy joined in. They were the only ones dancing. Dash was sooo embarrassed. He was hissing at them, "Stop; you're embarrassing me."

They also enjoyed going through this "cave" with their headlights. I think there were "bats" hanging up in the cave.

They gathered the kids around for a butterfly release.

The kids really got into this boy scout exhibit. I was afraid they would be bored and not want to finish. However, they went through this whole "raise your right hand and repeat this pledge" thing about how to take care of the land while you're hiking or camping. Then the scouts took them around to the different spots with reminders about what to do to protect the wildlife. They talked about it all day.

I don't know what the hat had to do with protecting the wildlife, but Sissy was totally game.

There was a downpour that morning so we assumed the festivities would be ruined. I thought I'd take the kids over for just awhile to see what was going on. This is the kind of "festivity" I'm interested in, so even though I didn't particularly feel like getting out, I made myself go. I'm so glad we did; the kids had a great time!

The one damper: I was afraid it was going to be all muddy; I wore my big rubber boots. However, they are lined, and the sun came out in full force. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack because it was so hot, and my feet were sooo hot, they couldn't breathe. I had to rip them off and carry them around all day. I barefooted it like the true Arkansas that I am.

This is what Daddy looked like all last week. He had...the beginning of a corneal ulcer or something like that. He got new contacs, and they were too tight. He was in sheer misery for a couple of days before he went to the eye doctor. I thought we were going to have to visit the ER late one night. He said it felt like he had something in his eye, and he was really sensitive to light. He had to wear the paper shades and hang out in our dark bedroom for a few days.

One night last week we went to the library for a teddy bear party. (It's Teddy Bear Month.) The two young ones wore pajamas and brought a teddybear. This was Dash, following the leader and dancing around the room with his bear.

I got one of my first glimpses of Tornado heading toward his pre-teen years. He didn't wear pajamas because he said he was too embarrassed. He said he would feel like Peter felt wearing pajamas during his school play in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
Although we try to encourage our kids to be bold in life, I took this as a good sign. Social maturity is one of the areas we pray about for Tornado so it actually just made me smile. He did bring a teddy bear, though.
The kids put all of their bears in the middle of this big sheet and tossed them all around. I would say this was one of the highlights of the night.

Our friends, the Davidsons, happened to show up, too, which we loved. (And the kids were even featured here on Lori's blog.) After going on a bear hunt throughout the library and returning to the kid room to find an actual bear (well, a human dressed as a bear, anyway), they worked on their bear craft.

It was really sweet because after Sissy finished her bear picture (shown here), she said she wanted to give it to Saylor. Saylor, in return, gifted her bear picture to Sissy.

The kids were all playing on the library computers, and little Atticus didn't want to be left out.
When I sat down to work on this post, I noticed there were two looong photo sessions starring Sissy, with Dash as the photographer. Little booger. I have no idea when they did that, but he knows he isn't supposed to play with my camera. And yes, that's how messy my house always is.

Sissy apparently also got to take a turn as photographer.

I love this one that he took. I guess I'll forgive him.

My kids are so used to me taking pictures of them and their creations "for the blog," that they often come to me, saying, "Take a picture of this for your blog." That's Tornado's "tornado." He also really got into this Highlights paper plate craft book he got in the mail from Googie. He cut out pictures to make a scene on the plate. You can't really tell, but the trees and buildings were standing up straight.

Lots of puzzles and projects going on around here lately, as Dash's kindergarten year at home is underway. More about his workboxes another day.

So for Multitude Monday (I know it isn't Monday, but I did actually start this post on Monday. I literally only have time to blog in 3 minute intervals lately. I seriously type a few sentences at a time; that's all I can do right now in my life.), I am thankful for:
#247 - the feeling of accomplishment after putting in the last puzzle piece
#248 - finished projects
#249 - Tornado's excitement in doing art and crafts
#250 - fortunate accidents - serendipity, if you will
#251 - goofy moments with my kids, caught surprisingly on film
#252 - the sweetness of little kids trying to act like big kids
#253 - running into friends unexpected
#254 - little girls giving their pictures to one another
#255 - a bear hunt through the library
#256 - seeing my kids clutch teddy bears in their hands
#257 - a room full of children giggling at their bears being tossed around
#258 - that Ryan's eyes are getting better
#259 - eye doctors
#260 - contacs and glasses
#261 - a red cowboy hat and green frog boots on my little girl
#262 - the sweet boy scouts who taught my kids a lesson
#263 - my little town putting on a festival encouraging environmentally friendly ideas
#264 - all the hard work that was put into it and the fun ideas
#265 - butterflies
#266 - running into Tornado's sweet, sweet friend he made in preschool
#267 - two of my kids dancing even though no one else was
#268 - the smile that it gave me seeing that my third child is just as embarrassed to dance in public as I am
#269 - recycled cardboard box mazes
#270 - farmers' markets
#271- balloon animals - even though they are not environmentally friendly, we do really like them
#272 - seeing all of the kids holding hands while walking across the parking lot
#273 - story time
#274 - big cousins helping little cousins
#275 - jumping on the bed
#276 - kids thinking they are invisible because a sheet is on top of them
#277 - sleeping babies
#278 - sleeping babies in funny poses
#279 - matching outfits
#280 - Cary and Andy making it safely home after a fun vacation
#281 - a fun birthday party in Missouri for Pierson and Clara (more on that another day)

holy experience

If you've never read one of Ann's posts, I recommend it. She does make me consider why it's so difficult for me to find peace and gratitude in the basic pleasures of life. I like what she had to say here about a "hard hallelujah," - a broken-hearted hallelujah.

She wrote: Isn't this our vocation in this world? To give thanks.