Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Famous Quote

"When your grounded, 'pizza' is just about the worst news you can get."~ Alex

This blog should be called "I have a toddler"

This morning I have:

Been pee'd on.

Cleaned up an entire box of ZipLock baggies.

Cleaned up every plastic lid we own off the floor (and one out of the garbage).

Reorganized the cupboard. Twice.

Locked that same cupboard, twice.

Gotten the baby out of the garbage.

Gotten the stuff the baby has put IN the garbage, out of the garbage.

Stopped him from eating paste.

Cleaned up his basket of plastic bowls, cups, and sippies at least three times. (They are on the floor again.)

Read three books... all featuring animals that talk, one sings twinkle twinkle little star at high pitch and high volume at the end. That has been running sparatically in the livingroom all morning.

Gotten the baby off the table more times than I can count.

Picked up the cd's.

Found the DVD folder.

Been a spotter while he climbs on the couch, bed, table, counter, stool, bathroom toilet, and computer chair.

Stopped the paste eating contest. (yes, again)

Cleaned up peanut butter and jelly out of his hair.

Stopped him from nearly killing Cyan's catepillars by taking the cup and trying to open it while making the 'food' sign.

Hid in the shower while husband took over for about 2 minutes.

Listened as he SCREAMED because the children actually pushed in the chairs like they were told.

Looked up "m,m,m,m,m ,moikoj" on Google.

Changed my internet settings back to 'full screen' and resurrected my 'info bar'.

Pulled him out of the fire place.

And it's 9:20am.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Creative Math (ie: Anyone used Fred?)

Life of Fred

I am thinking this may be our 6th/7th grade math next year.  Any one tried it?  Love it?  Hate it?  I need some opinions.  THANKS!

This was a fun puzzle I made.  In Singapore Math they have a puzzle like this... and Cyan did so well at it, that I thought I would make her some more to solidify her skills.  She thinks they're great!

A turning point for math with her was last week.  She was sent to clean her room and came out with a pile of books.  Annoyed that she had been reading books instead of cleaning, I took the books from her.  She said "Don't mess them up!  I put them in order."  And when I looked at the books, there were all the Magic Tree House books, 17 volumes, books #1 - #32... all placed in numeric order.  So I helped her with her bookshelf, and we had a great time talking about 'order'.  So today, I introduced Alphabetical Order... and she got it nearly right away.  Up to 5 words at a time, and up to three letters into the word (although she was really confused when some words only had two letters and she had to go off that.  I had to mark on her paper where the "no letter here" spot was (before A).) 

All in all, it has been a great homeschool day.  Both little are sleeping now, and I am going to get some much needed down time (off the computer) before I run errands tonight.  (I get to take a meal to a family with a new baby.  You know what that means?  I get to snuggle a new baby!)

Have a great day blogfriends!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting Creative

I made a game, in which Cyan has to put the short vowel word 'leaves' on the correct page of "vines".

My reluctent reader is driving me crazy. It is amazing that when Alex was this age, I was completely ok with him not reading... but now that it is Cyan, and I am soley responcible for her education, the fact that she doesn't want to read is a constant struggle for me. I am trying not to be a killjoy. I really am.... but sometimes I just want to PUSH... really hard. She can do it. She just doesn't care. That, more than anything, drives me crazy.

So I get creative whenever I can:

And another thing... she can name which ones are proper nouns, and which ones are common nouns... but she can't read them.

It was fun to play with her though. :)

We are also as creative as possible with math. After working with all the kids at the Math in the Garden class, Cyan was more interested in our Garden Graph... but nothing came up. She kept going out there, and no seedlings to be seen. She was starting to get discouraged.... when... peas started poping up everywhere! And then, today, sunflowers!!!

I can't wait to see what the next week will bring. Her whole graph should be full in about two weeks. :)

Math in the Garden Follow Up

It has been a little while, and our mini garden box is starting to show signs of life. First up, of course, was the radishes. They are always very rewarding for the less expeirenced gardeners with how fast they sprout. The kids just LOVED watching them come up. Then were the sunflowers... and then Logan knocked the whole thing over. lol... so we had to carefully adjust them, so that the seeds were in the right places again. Now the carrots are coming... and the whole box is truly looking alive!

Math in the Garden box, April 28th

Alex is an avid seed collector. Sometimes he will collect seeds or seedlings and put them in pots. This time, he has been rewarded with a few Calendula seedlings coming up for him, and starting to grow at an alarming rate! He is very excited that he has his own little pot of flowers. :)

Alex's Calendula Seedlings

The big garden is showing signs of life too:

Black bitter current flowers (the sweet ones are not near so pretty, but I have two bushes and they cross polinate each other).

Spinach seedlings. Aren't they cute??

Garden sunflowers. Ready to bring bees right where they need to be.

Did you ever wonder the difference between "Fall Baring" and "June Barning" Raspberries? It is pretty clear this time of year:

Fall baring raspberry patch

June baring raspberry patch, right next to it

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Schooling

We have a very loose idea of what school should be around here. Being eclectic with a very strong "unschooling" vein in my schooling, I take whatever opportunities I can to teach my kids. Utilizing such experiences as a dog bite, a episode of MeerKat Manor, or a weekend Master Gardeners class for extra learning opportunities has become second nature to me this year.

The Master Gardeners class was yesterday. We picked Alex up from his Spring Boy Scout Camp Out, and were off, with just enough time for him to change his shirt, to "Growing At The Fair", put on by the Master Gardeners in our area. The kids got to go see a really nice children's garden, and then got to sit through an hour long talk about pumpkins, garden styles, how to enter your produce into the fair, and how plants grow. After that, they got to plant a pumpkin and hear a talk about how to make seed tape and then they got some of their own carrot seeds to make seed tape with at home. It was fascinating... and I was only in their for half of it as Logan was bored after a while and we went to walk about the gardens again.

With the kids plants growing in my main produce garden, in Cyan's mini garden that she planted during the Garden Math Class sprouting radishes like mad, and their pumpkins on the window sill, this house is starting to be full of Spring life. It is neat to see how many learning opportunities you can get from just one task: growing your own food.

Art is also something I really encourage. I am not a fan of painting... I find it much too messy for our tiny house... but I do encourage drawing, clay art, and fiber art (creative sewing, those little beads that you iron shapes out of, decoupage, and collage). So when Cyan got into the rainy day box today and found these blank puzzles, she had a blast planning, and then finishing her puzzles for her penpals while listening to Shakespeare for Children on CD (I LOVE audio books!):

"A moose on a hill and a log"

"A fisher girl, her house (A frame), and a sunset."

Kids are so full of natural creativity and they want to learn, they want to suck things up like sponges. It is hard for me to say "You HAVE to learn these things" and have them sit down at the table. I would much rather have her write a story about one of her puzzles here, and then have her write a letter to her penpal about it, all while sitting in the yard outside. lol... I feel like that is plenty of 'direction' for most subjects. Especially at the younger grades. I find it fascinating what their little brains come up with. The other day, while we were waiting for her prescription for the dog bite cream, Cyan was looking at the glasses in the display model and trying them on (I wear glasses)... I had her try on a pair, and as she put them back she said "I like them, but I think I will keep looking for the ideal style for me." 'Um, ok.' (As I think "You're six!) 'Knock yourself out kiddo.'

Alex, right now, is using the Perler Beads to make a man mowing his lawn, and a lady behind him in a very sweet, (and very short) purple skirt. I will show that tomorrow when he fills it in and I get it ironed. Yay for rainy day activities and audio books!

Kids are amazing!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nature... and my daughter

And here is one of me from last summer. My mother in law took this one at Watershed Park.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Crash course in dog etiquette

Cyan got bit by a dog yesterday. She was playing with him and they both went for the same toy at the same time. He bit her face. I know it was an accident, but the owner of the dog is being less than understanding about my asking them to train the dog, so my daughter is being trained instead. (And of course, she is not allowed to go over there anymore.)

In truth, this 'training' is needed for any child who loves animals as my daughter does. She would often rather be around a neighbor friends dog, than around that neighbor friend. She LOVES animals... esp dogs. Talks constantly about how we are getting dogs when we buy a house, etc. So this was coming. But I wish it didn't come with discourse and frustration of her being hurt and them not being understanding about that. I took the high road. I can only hope that it will come back to me in the hereafter, because right now I feel like a dupe... but a dupe that is keeping the neighborhood peace.

Anyway... Cyan's 'training' will include Loki & Alex, Not Afraid of Dogs, Good Boy Fergus!, and May I Pet Your Dog. It is also including a few volunteer hours with a vet we happen to know, and hopefully (if my email proves fruitful) some time working at the local Shelter with dogs (with me of course, she is only 6 after all).

I am sorry this happened... but I am grateful for the ideas it gave me to help my daughter understand the dangers of dogs, and yet not be afraid. Trying to see this as a blessing. Hopefully it doesn't scar.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day


The sickies are finally gone! We have had the sickies in our house this last week. Cyan got a throat infection and then Logan got the chicken pox. He is still all scabby, but doing great as far as mood is concerned. Cyan is still recovering. So we are taking it light on school today.

Earth day... my favorite holiday. It was fun to do all this stuff with her, but she gets these reminders all the time... so it was sort of boring. lol...

Checking her sprouts from the Garden Math class was better. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Elephant Art

So in our study of Africa, we have worked on a lot of different amazing animals. Last week, we researched the "Honeyguide" bird and figured out that the bird will guide other larger animals to honey bee trees and hideouts. We found out that the bird eats wax and pupa of the bees, so this "guiding" also gets it it's dinner, as well as a sweet snack for the larger critter that knows to come along. That is amazing, isn't it?

But this? This blew me away:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cyan's review for April

Language arts...
She is making great progress with reading this month. We have been working on nouns and short vowel sounds. She has left the 'sound out every letter' phase and is moving on to reading more quickly with sounds ('un', 'in', 'an', etc). Currently, we are reading aloud "Dick and Jane Look and See" (her to me) and "Prince Caspian" (me to her) as well as about 12 books on Africa for our Science studies and books on tape as well.

We have crossed the place value mark! She is able to add and subtract numbers up to 30 and we are working on making it to 100 before the year is out. She is doing great, and we will be moving to geometry next week to work on some shapes, then fractions and then back to addition and subtraction review just before the year is out. We are also graphing the garden on graph paper as the starts come up and making a table of the dates they popped out of the ground.

We have been working with Math and Science in the garden (Life Science/Life Cycles of Plants). On May 1st we should be getting our caterpillars as well as the manipulative's we ordered. We are also working on growing a small garden for her in a large planter box and recording our findings in a notebook she and I made on the growth of the roots and the above ground growth.
Social Studies...We have been reading African Folk tales that go along with our African unit study. She is also working on 'the golden rule' or ('the shiny secret' as she calls it). We are still with our homeschool group at least once a week... more like three times a week now that the nicer weather is chasing us all outside more. :)

Lots of talk about nutrition lately. Lots of talk from her like "I know it isn't good for my body, but it won't hurt my body if I just eat it this once." lol... we have PE play dates with our homeschool group every other Friday. She is also starting swimming lessons, and plays endlessly outside every day. In the last month, she has learned to skate, and ride a bike with no training wheels. She is doing great in this area.

Fine Arts...
'Drawing Fest 2008' still continues at the Rose Garden Homeschool. She draws/colors/sketches something every day... sometimes all day long. We are drawing the flowers we see outside, we are drawing the measurements we make inside, we are drawing and taking pictures of the birds that are showing up to the feeders we made this winter. Her handwriting is amazing for first grade, and she is now learning cursive and 'princess letters' which was an idea we got from a fellow 'nimble fingered' first grade homeschooler in our area.

This month she has learned how to get on You Tube to look up different artists. She only does this with my permission, of course. She uses technology such as a compass, measuring devices, humidity gauge, propane lamps for outside evening study, my stand mixer, thermometers, the freezer, hammer and nails, and the computer at least once a week each for all of the activities listed above with apt supervision.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Math in the Garden Class

I am doing a math in the garden class with the 6 1st graders in our small homeschool group. Today was the first class... and omgoodness... it was a bit scattered, but SO much fun! The kids had a total blast making their journals and planting their seeds. I sent them home with basic, but very loose instructions so they could continue their observations throughout the 5 weeks between the two classes.

First, we made notebooks:

These are made with a cardstock front and back, and on the back, there is a 7 inch ruler. The stick is held there with one rubberband that stretches the length of notebook that comes thogugh two holes punched in through the book. It is one of the cuter designs for a seasonal notebook that I have seen so far.

Here is Cyan with her notebook. She is also holding the leaves that we measured with our rulers that are on the back of the notebooks.

Then we planted the kids own mini-gardens:

Every one of the kids were completely thrilled with this. Even Cyan, who has done it a million times before. There is something about doing it with your friends that just brings out the fun.

The second part of this class, that isn't happening for 5 weeks, we will pull up all the seeds except for the sunflower and parsley. We will be measuring out the roots of these plants, and talking about the contrast between above the soil, and below. As we planted today, we talked a bit about the art of planting seeds. How the tiny ones need to be barely in a depression in the soil, but the larger ones need to be deeper down, so they each get the right amount of sun, water, and protection. About how seeds are like babies. After this talk, the smaller the seeds got, the louder the girls would exclaim as I pulled them out. "And here is some carrot seeds... the smallest seeds of all" and all of the girls would "Awwwww!" like they were looking at a newborn kitten. It was completely adorable!

It was great! And I can't wait for the second part of the class after they have made all their observations, and written in the notebooks we made a little bit. It will be SO much fun to graph the seeds growth (and be able to do it very loosely, by whatever these kids have wanted to document) and pull them up and see full sized radish, and half sized carrots. Just so much fun! It was a great class. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The glory of the first sunny day...

Today it is warm. For us, that have been in freezing tempratures up until last week, it is down right hot. The kids are in tank tops, the pool has been filled (even if they only went in it up to their knees), and we are having all sorts of fun with the sun... my dad, Margret, and I top dressed the garden with smelly compost soil, it took about two hours. And the kids occupied themselves:

"Something is in here... I know it is..." (perhaps mostquitto larve? Blech!)

Flower collections for all (my neighbor and I were both given one).

"What do your kids do when you are hucking soil?" my neighbor asks... "They light things on fire." I say without a hitch.

Alex is currently writing on dry leaves with a magnifying glass... sort of burning/writing... I told him he was allowed to move up to paper if he kept it on a plate and had a hose handy...

Homeschooled kids are the coolest!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What I do when I am sick

I am sick today. Luckily, it is Nature Day, and so the kids spent the morning drawing nature outside... keeping a loose eye on their baby brother while I sat in here (inside the picture window) and vedged on the computer with tissues and a cup of tea.

When I get sick, I feel useless. It is a hard mix... because uselessness makes me restless... and restlessness makes me do stuff and tire myself out. And tiring myself out, usually makes me more sick. So I am constantly finding the balance between being a lump who just thinks of a million things to do, or doing them all and being sick for a week.

So today, all I tackled was the homeschool closet, the homeschool shelf, and the living room. It was a big job... but I didn't fold laundry. I held back. lol...

I wish I had some 'before' pictures. But I don't. So you will have to suffer with only imagination to see what it looked like before. (A well organized, but cluttered tornado would be a good estimate.)

Here is 'after':

There was four times the stuff in here. I had all of the prop boxes for Nutrition/Body Studies, Life Cycles/Butterflies, Sign Language, Pioneer Days, and Astronomy. These are huge boxes... sometimes with things from 5 different families studies in them. So they took up a LOT of room. Now they are taking up a lot of room, in the garage. And just the stuff I use daily (or weekly) is left in here. It looks SO much more accessible than it did. I can even find my Yoga stuff at the bottom with out digging under blankets (which were retired to Goodwill).

Ok, the homeschool shelf:

This is pretty much the way it was. It was just on the other side of the room, and in this spot, was a 6ft sewing table, which has been retired back to the garage again. I have finished the two quilts I was working on... and it has just been clutter (except for Cyan's Sewing Thursdays) for the last month.

Not that Sewing Thursdays will not continue. They will, for sure! We are both really enjoying them... but she just got to using thread... so 90% of the stuff I had out here was for my use, and I am not using it. So this, and a small Tupperware in the closet with a needle set, thread and some machine thread is all she will need for a few weeks yet. Then, hopefully I will have gotten my sewing room in the garage up and active again and the living room will be a little less cluttered until it gets cold again.

Ok, that is all. I am going to have a cup of tea, and watch a show with my darling (and patient) husband who has been pampering me all day long. :) Goodnight blogworld.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Our twigs have leafed out! They are beautiful now... all with budding green leaves that are growing in all directions from every branch we cut. A strange thing happened though... most of the flowers died. I think it is too warm in our house for early spring flowering trees. It makes sense afterall, because the flowers are ready to burst into their color now (at 45* outside), and it is 68* in our house... much more of a "leaf" temperature than a cherry blossom temperature.

The only flower survivors were the apple blossoms. And how pretty and delicate they are! I love them... a little bit of lace in all that greenery.

The kids and I all wrote down when we thought the branches would leaf out... specifically the Apple and the Cherry branches. Here is how it broke down:


Alex: 1 wk (bedtime)

Cyan: 2 days (in the middle of the night)

Me: 1 day

Don: 2 days (day time)


Alex: 8 days

Cyan: 10 days

Me: 4 days

Don: 2 days

Alex ended up being right on the Cherry, and Cyan on the Apple. They took a LOT longer than I thought they would! They were so heavy with buds when we brought them in, I was sure they would only take a day or two to burst open. But I was dead wrong... it took 6 days at least for both to even start to leaf.

It was a real fun nature experiment though... I plan on doing it again later with hardwoods like Oak. We are going to make a leaf baby book. :) Document (via leaf rubbings) how big the leaves are every two days in a little book for each tree we find that is leafing. We won't be able to start that until may... so between now and then, our tree ring discovery kit came. Wow is it neat!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Plans for Next Year

My plan is to keep making my own curriculum.  We will have a artist, and a composer each month that we will be studying.  We will stick to the schedule we have now (M- Library day, T- Cooking day, W- Nature Journal day, Th- Art and Sewing day, F- Field trip day (days can change if need be... that is just what worked this year)) and will cycle through the composers and artists we have picked twice total through out the year.  Then we will be using core studies (Singapore Math, Explode the Code, and Cursive Handwriting without Tears for Cyan, and I am still looking for Alex.)

For history, I was thinking about making a curriculum that is based on the Beautiful Feet Ancient History Intermediate packet.  This is mostly for Alex of course, but I can find one craft, or something that links it for Cyan, and all the reading outloud (from books like Aesop's Fables, stories from the bible, Greek myths, Roman myths, and hosts of others) will be for them both. 

For most of this, we will have two things going.  A huge map of the world, where we will mark all the places we are "traveling" to, and a timeline (a notebook form timeline like the Accordion Fold Format on this page).  This will give a base in Geography and world studies. 

That is about it.  It will have to be adjusted of course, as I go along.  But I think it will be well rounded, and leave us tons of room to decide (like we have many times this year) to spend a couple more weeks on one thing, or only a few days on another. 

I would love input from anyone who has done two grades that are completely different like this.  It would be wonderful to get some other ideas on how to incorporate the grades. 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Electric Company

Oh wow. You want to see something really fun? Get The Best of The Electric Company from the library or from Netflix. Goodness... what fun! And what a great idea. We picked up our copy along with Planet Earth and we can't decide which is better. lol... I had never seen the Electric Company before. I am not of the TV generation. I wasn't allowed to watch much tv until I was a teen. I think I saw The Muppets regularly... and then occasionally Golden Girls at my grandma's house on the weekends... that was it.

This video series was recomended for my reluctant reader. It isn't that she is bad at it... she just doesn't care. She is also a very VERY sight oriented person. So things like different texts between books, she will notice. It makes her wonderful at art she already draws subtleties like shadows in the grass and the colors in the birds eye... but switch book series she is reading and the difference between g in one font and g in another font will throw her right off. Same with a and a. It bugs her that they are different. She doesn't understand. And automatically she wants to write them however they are in the book she is working in. It has been an issue with doing Explode the Code, and Handwriting without Tears at the same time. They have very different texts, and both expect you to write a lot. It is like it is a block with her. She can't get past the subtle things that are different. Well the very first episode of The Electric Company we saw was on g ('gu' sound) and g ('ju' sound). She LOVED it... ate it up actually. Laughed and talked about it, and was nodding her head along with the show.

With Alex, he was also a reluctant reader. Now he just read the entire "Voyages of Dr Dolittle" in two days. I am not worried that she will not read. Our whole family is filled with avid readers. My dad is a English Professor, his girlfriend is a librarian. Don and I read about two books a week, and the kids are constantly in the middle of something on tape and something in chapter books and usually something on their own (and Cyan is in the middle of something else in lessons). So, we read. A lot. She will read. It is just a matter of when. Once she gets all the subtleties, it will just turn on, like a light switch. I can't wait. But I am willing to be patient for her to have a full understanding of it. It has been fun for this series to address one of her issues right away though. I wonder what the others will teach her?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Books about Africa

We have moved on (...thank goodness!) from the Arctic Tundra to Africa. We started watching Meerkat Manor this last weekend, and I knew the switch wouldn't be long to follow. So I took the opportunity to set up some lessons on Africa this week. This book, Honey Honey LION! by Jan Brett (whom I love) was the first fiction book on Africa we have read. Cyan asked me tonight if the "HoneyGuide" was a real bird. I didn't know... so, in true homeschool fassion, I looked it up... and sure enough: HoneyGuide

And looking that up, I found this on Jan Brett's website.

Who would have guessed? I love homeschool.

Wenesday Is Nature Day

Here is a link to my personal blog:

Wednesday is our Nature day.

Cyan's assignment today is to sketch something living that she can see in nature. She and her sketch book have been having a wonderful time. I will add the efforts later.

I don't have many words today, as I want to be out in this beautiful spring day with my babies... but here is some food for thought (one of my favorites, and my quote for this month):

Four Meditations

My job is not to be perfect.

My job is to participate in the evolution of consciousness.

My job is not to provide a perfect life for my child.

My job is to support him while his own resources are awakening.

When I am strong, I contribute to the Universal Mother.

When I am weak, I call upon Her.

I have more resources than my mother; I do not judge her.

My daughter will have more resources than me; I do not judge myself.

~Holly Keinath Eckert

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fun With Friends

Monday is library day. We didn't go yesterday though. It seems our days have been adapting to people coming to visit a lot lately. Cyan's best friend has moved back close to us after two years with her military family half way across the country.

We had her spend the night on Sunday (it is her spring break this week. Ours is next week.) and she got to "do school" with us yesterday. Cyan loved it SO much. First, they did their date work. They both made pictures of their favorite things , then I had Faith draw a sketch of a fish in a tank (which she did beautifully!) while Cyan did her Explode the Code, and Singapore Math.. then we all read a book about Africa, and watched an episode of MeerKat Manor. After that I printed out a map of Africa and they got to color the country there where the meerkats live. Then they did a ditto I made about meerkats and their habits (Cyan's is below).

But first, a little bit about these friends:

Here they are at 4 years old.

They have been friends since the day they were born. In fact, I was in the delivery room when Faith was born, 6 mos pregnant with Cyan. So technically, Cyan was there. :) It has been a special, almost family relationship. They are as much cousins as friends, as Faith's mom and I have been friends since we were freshman in highschool. They have moved, a lot. And we have not. Even when they were far away, Cyan flew on a plane for the first time by herself to go see them. They have always had a connection, and they fight just like family and love just like family and constantly talk about each other. I really hope that they continue this relationship throughout their lives, as the few really long term relationships I have had in my life have been the most interesting, and often the most rewarding.

Ok, back to the schoolwork we did yesterday:

Here is Cyan's meerkat ditto. She drew a picture of the meerkats doing the things they loved best and then answered the questions. They both loved doing it, and thought that the little critters were fasinating. It was a fun day... and of course, because she had motivation, she was done with school by 10am. So they got to play for the rest of the day.

Oh, the joy of friends.