Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

Our week:
We had our fall/pumpkin/Halloween books set out.
We brought out the autumn decor for the house.

This weekend, after Dash's soccer game, we drove to Illinois to visit Ryan's family. There was a slight incident involving...needing fuel on the interstate. I know this was not one of Ryan's shining moments, but he has given me permission to mention it. There was a long stretch where there just weren't any gas stations, we were running late because of the soccer game and looking for lost items, and we weren't adequately prepared for the trip, in general. (We also couldn't find the key to our Yakima luggage holder, therefore we were stuffed into the car with our luggage. I found the key in the dryer after our return.)

It's okay, though, because being our hero that he is, he ripped off his pants, pulled on his shorts and cycling shoes (I was trying to keep a straight face because I honestly thought he was going to put on his cycling shorts, too...which might have been overkill.) He rode off toward the next exit (We could see the one mile sign in the distance in front of us.) determined to save the day. I waited with the kids far, far away from the highway (I'm saying this for my mom's (who is surely panicked by now) benefit.). We cheered when we saw him, in record time, soaring back in on his bike, gas can in hand.

On Sunday, Ryan's parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law plus niece joined us as we headed over to Champaign, Illinois to catch the Orange & Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall.

It was really fun! The kids (so did we!) loved how they turned off the lights and smoke poured out as the players were announced. They cheered loudly, "I-L-L!"..."I-N-I!"

I think Ryan may have fallen in love with me all over again because I actually got tears in my eyes when the players were running out. Isn't that weird? I don't know; I just felt like a proud Mom or something. (Weird that I am "technically" old enough to be these boys' mother.) I've only really been an Illini fan for about a year, but I've gotta say - I felt the pride.

Sissy was ELATED to watch the cheerleaders and dancers in action.
She actually cheers for the cheerleaders at games. She says, "Go cheerleaders!"

It was nice to spend a little time with Cousin "K."
We never get to see her, and now she's (at age 2) as big as Sis.

The next day, Grandma Nona had pumpkins for the kids to decorate.

their finished creations
Grandpa took the kids for a little ride on the 4 wheeler.

They attempted to break through some walnuts to eat.

Back at 5 year old and I have just been continuing to work on his Abeka phonics, handwriting, and math. For social studies, we've been learning about maps and Asia. (I wrote about our Christopher Columbus, maps, and passport lessons yesterday.) Other than's just felt really busy and overwhelming (putting the car in the shop one day, chasing the dogs down the road, parent-teacher conference at my oldest son's school, my mom rushing my gate opener over to me early one morning because I'd left it in her car...just things like that, and the idea of a staycation sounds more appealing by the day...One fun moment this week: Dash had his last soccer practice, which was bittersweet...we've all had such a good time with it this season. We had a parents vs. kids scrimmage at the end of practice.

Dash also had a field trip with his homeschool academy class to the pumpkin patch. Sissy and I spent a fun hour together at the library, gathering books to prepare for the learning aspect of our Northeast trip next month.

This was Sissy at ballet this week.

And this is what she made at art class.

I knew I was going to be taking Dash out on a special date this week. I made sure to take the other two kids out for a little time on their own, as well. Sissy chose to get smoothies. We also went to Wal-Mart together to pick out flowers for our porch.

Then we planted them when the boys got home.
The jack-o-lanterns are courtesy of Papaw. (Thanks, again!)
He carved one for each of the kids.

This is Dash and me, leaving for our date Wednesday night. We went to a Kris Allen concert. The concert was really too late for the other two kids (It started at 8.), and my 10 year old isn't as interested in "pop culture." Dash sort of latched onto the whole American Idol thing (He totally loves Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.) when Ryan and I were watching it this season, which is why I only took him.

This was a benefit concert for Blackbird Academy, which is where my kids take classes. (They raised $100,000.) For those of you who don't know, Kris (who was the winner of American Idol last year) is from our town. Seriously, could he be any cuter?

Dash took this picture. It was a fun night out for us.

Last night, Tornado and I went out on our date. He chose Hastings (as I knew he would). We spent most of the time at the kids' comic books. It was nice for him to be with Mom, unrushed. When you get him alone, he talks nonstop; it's exhausting but wonderful. It's nice for him to get individual time since his younger brother and sister can be so...loud. We also went to Hobby Lobby to get the materials he needed to make his Halloween costume.

Have a good, safe weekend, everyone!

Pei Wei and Gifts from Asia

I was going to post all of our Chinese activities for the Geography/History link-up today, but I thought this post I'd already started for this week's Field Trip Friday would work, as well.

Since we have been learning about Asia, I recently took the kids on a little "field trip" to Little Rock. We first went to an Asian grocery store. We just took our time, walking down the aisles, paying attention to all of the writing on the packages, comparing it to products we are used to.

A couple of funny things I heard while we were in the store:

Tornado kept saying (in his typical excited way), "Look! Everything's Spanish." He was referring to the Asian writing. Dash would hiss (in his typical embarrassed way), "It's not Spanish! It's Chinese!"

Dash later said, "When I grow up, I want to be Spanish." I think he meant he wants to learn to speak Spanish.

I let them buy fun kid chopsticks and two snacks. They liked these Star Popeye snacks (chip-like ramen noodle pieces and little balls of sugar). We saved the Peanut Mochi for dessert. What I realized is...I would have a hard time living in Asia. My OCD food label reading (I must know what I am eating!) and picky vegan ways would not lend themselves well to living in another country.

Next, we met Daddy at Pei Wei. So...not necessarily authentic Chinese, but like I said, I'm very picky about where and what I eat so we went the mainstream American Asian diner route. Pei Wei is one of our favorite places to eat out.

Tornado was getting used to using his chopsticks with the finger holes.

They got the hang of it. You know who's good at using chopsticks? Ryan. He eats his rice and everything with chopsticks.

They really liked the Peanut Mochi. (It's basically glutinous rice flour, water, sugar, and peanuts.)

Another fun part of our Asian studies arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Ryan and I have a friend (we met in college) who now lives in Taiwan with her husband and her children, who were all born in China. Madonna is super sweet and fun (here is her blog), and when she found out what we were learning about, she offered to mail us some treats!

The kids were so excited about seeing the box arrive, examining the writing on the box, and opening it.

She included, along with a catalog from Taiwan, moon cakes (to go along with the celebration of the recent Moon Festival, which I'll mention more with our Chinese lessons), dried wasabi peas, dried plums (which gave me dejavu from the salty sweet taste of different candies my Asian step-grandmother would bring us back from San Francisco trips to see her family), seaweed paper (which the kids thought was fun because we love seaweed paper, but the kind we get is in a different package), and another kind of crunchy snack with seaweed on it.

What was the kids' favorite? They really liked the mooncakes. And they liked these crunchy ones. Dash liked the wasabi peas, but they were too spicy for the other two. It wasn't even about the taste so much as the sheer excitement of receiving a package in the mail from another country. So, thank you, Madonna! You're a great friend!

<span class=Join me the 1st Friday of each month for Field Trip Friday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Geography/History Lessons

We started our social studies lessons this year by using a combination of Galloping the Globe, Abeka kindergarten Children of the World, and many other random books and activities - trying to piece together an experience that will benefit the range of ages 10, 5, and 3.

I wanted to preface our multicultural studies with a basic map overview so we have been looking at a lot of maps. We also read this book, Follow That Map! A First Book of Mapping Skills, which they enjoyed. It has information about direction, map keys/legends, topographical maps, scales, etc.

We've also been looking at the globe.
They will look at it for the longest time and ask a lot of questions.

Their placemats also always generate a lot of geography discussion at mealtimes.

We don't want to study about countries just because it's part of school curriculum or because I love traveling so much (although those are reasons, as well). We hope that each study will go back to the idea of Matthew 28:19 (Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations...). I plan for us to pray for the people in each of the countries...maybe even send a love offering to someone in need in each of these places...if anyone has any ideas on that one, I'd love to hear them.

I wanted to introduce the idea of "Explorers," since that's sort of what we were becoming as we learn about the world. We read What is Columbus Day? by Margot Parker and A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David A. Adler.

We made boats, using this idea as a reference. We cut out bottoms from an egg carton. They each made three boats to represent the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria.

Just stick toothpicks into squares of paper, then stick that in the modeling clay pressed into the bottom of the "boat."

Sissy took a little longer to finish her boats because, all on her own, she began pressing a craft stick onto purple stamp ink, then using that to decorate her sail and the clay.

We used our boats to sail the path that Columbus and his crew took.
We used our large board book, My Big Book of our Amazing World.

Then, they wanted to continue playing "ships" for awhile.

I told them that now we knew about a famous explorer, we needed to get ready for our own explorations. We read Dora's World Adventure (gotta pull the 3 year old in somehow). Dora visits France, Tanzania, Russia, and China. (It also tells you how to say hello in each of these countries.)

I also got Ryan's and my passports out for them to see.

Then we made our own (above). I love how they turned out. I just googled passport images and found this one to print on cardstock (with a white cardstock back cover). I cut out many pages of printer paper to match the size. I bound the pages and cover with glue (would be much easier to staple it, of course, but I just like how it looks this way).

On the inside cover we pasted little photocopied pictures, then added their names, birthdates, gender, place of birth, and their signatures. (We used our real passports as a guide.)

This is our first passport page (on the right). (To the left: one page from my passport, just in case anyone who hasn't been out of the country is curious what it might look like.) Our first country "visit" was China. I had 2 pages of country stickers from some Highlights "Top Secret Adventures" packs (activities to learn about other countries, geared toward ages 7-12). I photocopied a page so that I would have enough for all 3 of the kids (and will just cut and paste those).

The kids will get to stamp (We used that fancy circle stamp I had this time.) something on their page for each country, including the date, then stick on their country sticker.

Next week, I'll post about all of the fun we had in China!


For more story + art ideas, visit A Mommy's Adventures, for Kids' Craft ideas head over to Red Ted Art, and for other Geography & History lesson ideas, visit Children Grow, Children Learn, Children Explore.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up


We spent a beautiful hour and a half at the zoo.
And the boys got their hair trimmed while we were in Little Rock.

Tornado finished another big puzzle. Can you spot the missing piece? It NEVER fails; we always end up with one piece missing. I'm sure it was enjoyed by one of our dogs.

We took another ice skating lesson!

Dash was so shy and skiddish during the lesson with our instructor. Then, as we (the family) were skating by ourselves, he noticed she was giving another kid a lesson. This kid looked like an Olympian-to-be, and I think it was just the motivation he needed. It was surreal. Out of nowhere, he starts zooming down the ice (holding my hand). I could barely keep up! I could also barely skate because I was laughing so hard. He sort of looked like Pheobe (from Friends) when she runs. (But he was doing great!) I think our plan is to have the kids start taking individual lessons from now on. I think they will get even more out of it when it is one-on-one.

Sissy finished up her soccer season. (Her age division doesn't play games; they just have parent-involved practices once a week in preparation for next year.)

Our friends, the Davidsons, spent 24 hours with us this week (the kid members of the Davidson Den, that is). A benefit to homeschooling is the ability to have sleepovers in the middle of the week! This is darling little Atticus and Gabriel. They bunked in the room with...

giggly little Sissy and Saylor. I occasionally peeked my head into the room, then suddenly one child (usually 2 year old Atticus) would quickly scurry back to his place under the covers. I tried to look serious, but it was adorable. There was whispering for an hour or two after I tucked them in.

Especially from the three big boys. Tornado was in the top bunk, and Dash and Noah were in the bottom bunk. Those two...well, it probably sums it up best just to say "those two."

I am thankful, though, for the power of positive peer pressure. The Davidsons are healthy eaters, and so they eat most fruits and vegetables (and anything else I set in front of them). When I brought out sliced kiwi fruit as a part of our breakfast, Noah exclaimed that he loved kiwi, then Dash also declares he loves kiwi, too. Dash is a pretty good eater and likes most fruit, but I'll tell you something he normally refuses to eat: kiwi fruit. I tried to hide my smile as he downed piece after piece, trying to be like his older friend.

Speaking of positive peer pressure, look at my 3 year old princess wearing...jeans! Saylor was wearing jeans (and apparently my high heeled boots!), therefore, Sissy wanted to wear jeans (gasp!), too.

They joined in on a little bit of our Asian studies while they were at our house. Here they are decorating hats like we saw in our China books.

We ended our visit with a big Chinese celebration (more on that another day).

The next day I spent cleaning up the debris created by 7 children. Chinese food (eating with chopsticks), with all of it's little rice and noodle-y parts, is a bit messy - so this is pretty much what the entire floor around the table looked like.

Other than that, our week consisted of the usual: Dash's soccer practice, Sissy's arts academy, Dash's music class, and homeschool academy 2 days a week, etc. Regarding schoolwork, it has been fun watching Dash learn to read.

On a side note...things have been a little difficult with Tornado this week, regarding (public) school. Without going into the whole story - it just wasn't his best week, I would appreciate your prayers for him, any of you who would feel so inclined.

ALSO: Annette from Live, Learn, Love is having SEVERAL giveaways going on right now (to celebrate her children's birthdays). Several great books and a CSN gift certificate, too. Hop on over there.

Linking up to Weekly Wrap-Up, which is being hosted this week by Jamie, while Kris is away.