Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hey, friends!

Don't be blue...

I'll be back to blogging soon!

But until then, 
have a Merry Christmas! 

I miss you all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Journal: lots of Baby this time

In Our Homeschool This Week
Schoolwork has been a little dull around here the past few weeks due to traveling and other activities. The majority of our school time has been spent on workbooks, worksheets, and reading.

Dash's reading ability has progressed significantly the past few weeks. We're so proud of him, and it makes accomplishing his assignments so much easier. Suddenly, he can read all of the directions on his math pages, etc. On the flip side, he can now read what I'm reading on my phone or in random magazines, etc. This is a game changer.

I'm hoping for a relaxing weekend in order to reset, plan, and get things back on track.

Some spider activities lately: labeling the parts, 
a "can/have/are" activity which led to spider reports. 

Here is what I posted earlier today of our recent language activities, including Contraction Surgery.

 Places We're Going and People We're Seeing
The kids were thrilled to have a movie night with Googie Saturday night. Baby even stayed part of the time so that Ryan and I could have a little date. (We don't even get to talk much these days.) We bought coats and other necessities for the two youngest kids. Googs took this picture.

On Sunday afternoon, we dropped Daddy off to watch Cloud Atlas while we headed to the Arkansas Arts Center for a children's theater production. I didn't tell them where we were going until we were in the car. I brought along Bunnicula and read the first two chapters to them on our drive.

They enjoyed the Bunnicula play. I had to almost restrain Tornado he was laughing soooo hard (which results in body rocking and arms wriggling around). It was very true to the book, which we finished reading this week. It's a very funny, cleverly written book (and fairly short). I actually laughed out loud while reading it during several parts, which Dash noted was interesting. They are looking forward to reading the sequels.

We had a few minutes before needing to pick up Daddy at the movie theater, so we walked into MacArthur Park for a bit to enjoy the nice weather and the birds.


When we did not go somewhere was the night of Oct. 31. The kids were supposed to go to AWANA that night dressed as Bible characters, but by midday...I asked the kids if they'd rather go out that night (therefore having to figure out what they were going to wear) - or stay at home for a movie night. They chose staying in, much to Ryan's and my delight. 

I made them goody-bags (because Sissy had told me she really wished they could have treats in goody-bags with their names on them plus "maybe some hearts and flowers on the bag, too") with our nerdy/ organic/dye-free/vegan candy, and they ate popcorn while we watched Because of Winn Dixie. And Sissy thanked me no less than 14 times for her "very pretty" treat bag that, yes, had hearts and flowers drawn on it.

What's New With the Baby This Week
I took some pictures of Baby wearing the white jacket Tornado was photographed in when he was about 4 months old. Of course, Baby is 9 months old now so it's more of a hipster fitting jacket on him.

Not yet crawlin'. 
He'll pose like this for two seconds then flatten to his belly.


That's a pretty unanimous feeling around this house.

What We Cooked Up This Week
Vegan Chocolate Chip Pancakes

No recipe: just throw in around 2 cups of flour (I used 1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat pastry.), 1 little organic applesauce snack cup, around 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. or so of baking powder, 1 tsp. or so of baking soda, don't be stingy with the ground flax seed, more than a handful of chocolate chips, and enough almond milk to create a batter consistency. 

A Link To Share
Last few days to sign up for free handmade dresses from Africa. Check out the post even if you don't have a girl sized 3T-5T. In the future, they may offer more sizes, and this is a chance to help create a business for those living in impoverished areas.

Language Lessons #2

A few of the recent language related activities I remembered to photograph:
 Contraction Surgery (idea from Fun in First Grade)

I got out some of their doctor-play toys, printed off the contraction cards and surgery notes sheets, gave them a couple of boxes of cheap band-aids, and let them go. Sissy is checking on one of her patients, Mrs. Could Not.

They had to perform surgery on their patients like Mr. Have Not and Mr. Has Not. They could cut or fold the paper to eliminate the "o" from not.

 Then, they had to use tape and band-aids to put the words back together as contractions.

 Every doctor has to keep records, so they recorded the results from their surgeries.

 They got really into this for over an hour, giving their patients shots and medicine, etc.

Tornado is carefully extracting the o with tongs to be taken to the "medical waste" dump, which was their pile of trash they created.


other activities:
We've always enjoyed Brian Cleary's parts of speech books (and he has so many other fun books!), but I came across his website, which offers lots of online activities, lesson plans, and printables. My oldest son loves mad libs, so he enjoys the Crazy Cat Tales on adjectives, nouns, and verbs.

We went through our Awesome Adjectives Unit from Teachers Pay Teachers. In this particular activity, they had to use 4 adjectives to describe themselves plus draw self-portraits. These were their word choices:

Tornado - fast, loving, strong, smart, and funny. I like that Tornado described himself as fast and strong, two words I wouldn't have picked for him. I'm glad he thinks this about himself.

Sissy - sweet, graceful (I helped her with that word because she said "likes ballet.", outdoorsy, and hungry (That one made me laugh - but it's true! She is always hungry.)

Dash - fast, strong, shy, and athletic. When I suggested "stubborn" or even "strong-willed," he would NOT write those down. He didn't want anyone to see that written about him.

While learning about adjectives, we also did this activity. I would say the names of crayons in our big crayon box (which I like buying for the kids because it makes me think of my great aunt Mert's house, the only place we ever got the big box). Without seeing the crayon, they had to guess which color the name went to, for example: periwinkle=blue, so I wrote it under "blue."

They each chose their own favorite crayon name and used it for this activity. Tornado chose "Macaroni and Cheese" and wrote "Fall leaves are macaroni and cheese."

Sissy's picture for "Orchid" above says,  "The color of orchid is shining in my eyes."

Dash wrote: The silky pine trees are forest green.

This activity (which I can no longer find the link to at Sunny Days in Second Grade) required the kids to use crayons to create their own new paint color. We first looked at paint colors and paint names on paint company websites.

Tornado named his paint, of course, Crazy Tornado. He wrote: This color reminds you of "a garden after a terrible rain storm." And: This paint is just perfect for "a boys' room because it is all the colors boys like."

Dash created DurWorm. The color reminded him of "digging in the dirt and finding worms in the nice, light dirt," and is perfect for "painting soil on a wall mural."

Linkin' up HERE!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

On Saturday, October 20, the kids and I enjoyed a LOVELY day in Washington, Arkansas. It is located two hours from us. Because we wanted to get there early for a special walking tour, we drove to Hope, Arkansas (birthplace of Bill Clinton) the night before. Hope is 8 miles from Washington.

There are no hotels or fast food restaurants in Washington. Nothing to take away from the wonderful peacefulness. I'm sure there are more crowds on days with big events (like Civil War Days this weekend, Nov. 3-4), but there were only a few other people milling around here and there. We were the only ones on our tour. It was so nice.

We started out at the Hempstead County Courthouse, which serves as the Visitor's Center. I believe it is open every day 8-5 (other than a few major holidays). You need to come here to purchase tickets if you want to go inside the historic buildings (which act as living history museums) in town.

We bought a family pass for $30, which will allow us to come back for a year PLUS visit many other state parks in Arkansas for a year.

A very sweet lady took us on our walking tour. I believe she said she is the town historian. This was the herb garden used for medicinal purposes, behind the Purdom House. (Dr. Purdom practiced in Washington in the mid 1800's.)

The kids got to practice pumping water, which took a lot of muscles.

They also got to try visit this outhouse. But only for pretend. There were different sized holes for adults and small children. I don't think we'd ever seen a multi-stool outhouse before.

We were watching the chickens that were roaming freely around this house. We enjoyed seeing the heirloom variety that looks like it is wearing fancy pants.

All day I felt like I was in Walnut Grove. Like on the set of the television show. And I wanted to never leave.

They learned about candle making and got to dip their own candles.

There were such amazing trees. I think that might have been the kids' favorite part. The branches fall out and down to create the perfect (huge) hideout. One day I may take them back to Washington and just let them play under the trees all day long.

I think this one is the largest magnolia tree in Arkansas. I'm pretty sure the kids wanted to move in and live under the branches.

I think this was the moon tree. It is one of the two remaining trees in Arkansas (The other one is in Fort Smith.) that were grown from seeds sent to space in 1971.

checking out the pioneer home

We spent a good amount of time with the blacksmith. He was a really nice man. The kids (and baby) were captivated watching the fire and listening to the clink-clink. This shop is a recreation of James Black's shop from the 1800's. Black, Washington's most famous blacksmith/bladesmith, created the original Bowie knife for Jim Bowie.

They got to hold these very serious knives. 

You (who are 16 and older) can actually take classes to learn the art of knife making, which I think sounds cool, in Washington. There are all kinds of classes and educational programs available all year for homeschoolers, school kids, and adults.

The kids will tell you one of their favorite parts of the day was feeding treats to this horse. It wasn't actually part of the tour. It was a rescue horse that belonged to our tour guide. She had thought the kids would enjoy seeing it.

After our walking tour, we ate our picnic lunch at a table under the pecan grove. One noteworthy moment: as the kids and I were eating, they started playing around, using their imaginations, and I heard myself say, "Come on guys - eat! We've got to go." 

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I thought, "Weird. Why did I say that? Is that what my life has become?" Because generally, we ARE in a hurry, and we do need TO GO. But we weren't in a hurry at all this day. We were enjoying being in the moment. I immediately said, "I'm sorry; I don't know why I said that. We aren't in a hurry. Have fun!"

I told the kids to choose two additional buildings to tour. There are many more homes and buildings we will have to visit on another trip. They picked the printing shop, which was the original post office and bank. 

The man explained a little bit about the original newspapers and how Washington's was the only paper continually published throughout the Civil War. The kids got to take turns rolling ink on the stamper, then cranking it through the printer.

Their next choice was the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum, which is across the street from the print museum. The man asked the kids to locate the very smallest and very largest guns.

I let the kids use their Car Bucks to buy gifts from the visitor center gift shop. Sissy chose this pioneer bonnet. Dash got a wooden rubber band gun, and Tornado opted for a wooden sling shot with clay marbles.

Here is a brochure of Washington that contains a lot of helpful visitor information.

I mean, seriously, if Ryan could live here for work or if we could profitably open a business here...I would pack my bags in a second. I know this is a paradox to those who know I would also pack up and move to NYC in a second. It's just pretty and clean and idyllic in the way small towns just aren't these days. (And there are picket fences and wood-plank sidewalks here!) And maybe it just gave me a feeling about life that I know Ryan and I have been missing lately. We were able to just walk around, and I felt like I could breathe and relax. We want to figure out how to achieve this feeling in our real lives.

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop