Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Morning!!!!!

This is what Logan says every morning. This morning his variation was "Say 'good morning' mama... Say 'good morn-ing'." while sitting 2 inches from my sleeping face. LOL! This morning I was tired. I have had a kick your butt week and weekend and I was just tired. So that little trick didn't work at 6:55am. So he came in with cats. First Bo, then Samson... and then he pushed Taio down the hall to 'seep' with us. Bo and Samson, being the kittens that they are, decided that chasing each other around the bed sounded better, but by 7:15 Bo was sleeping on one side of me, and Taio was on the other side of Don. Samson was nowhere in sight. When Logan realised that his cat trick had failed, he moved on to stomping as loudly as he could in Cyan's riding boots saying "Good Morning!!!!!" around our bedroom. When Don asked him to go out and shut the door he said "But I need pet kitty!" and dashed to pet Taio... who started purring and lifted his tail in delight... right in Don's face. lol! When Don was insistent about him leaving and shutting the door he said "I Iron Man!!!" and ran out, SLAMMING the door behind him.... only to come back maybe 3 minutes later with a stocking cap pulled down over his face, one glove, Cyan's riding boots still on his feet and a very large, plastic harmonica.

I am up now. See me up?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kitten Education

The kittens have started climbing trees out back. Usually I would say to leave them alone and just let them, but I don't feel like getting a kitten out of a 100 ft oak tree, so my kids have been trying to give them practice in how to climb down:

I only let the kids put them up there twice, but the kitties were tired after that. Apparently, the kids put them up farther than they had gone by themselves before.

Tuckered out kitties:

So far the education is going well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A running education...

We are done with the school year. Not necessarily done with the grade levels but done until at least we move. It is too stressful to try and pack away things and trying to stay organized for school. So I have given myself a bit of grace and said that we can do a couple weeks of school sometime this summer (...because we do. We don't actually stop... who actually STOPS homeschooling??? Once you are actually a homeschooler every piece of carrion on the side of the road is a possible unit study. No one just stops. You spend WAY too much of your time explaining things to get out of the habit for just three months a year.) So today, I told my kids that their 'school' assignment was to go outside and play in the cool, sunny weather while I organized the garage. And this is what my daughter came up with:

What happens to a leaf, stuck in a jar of water, flipped upside down. (Notice there is no lid on this jar... and it looked like this for the next 6 hours.)

What happens when you mix Insta-snow with floral sand. (I bet that would make the BEST sand castles ever!)

What happens when you try to grow a tomato plant upside down (hint: it's still growing up).

What happens when toddler baby brother decides to mangle the 'control' tomato plant. (I think this one is self explanatory...)

Here is her picture of Alice in Wonderland, which is the theme for her birthday party we are planning for July (Notice the card men paiting the roses red. We just finished the book last week.):

The beauty of homeschooling for me is that it can be a fluid education. A running conversation that happens between Marley and Me, the Hawk we saw dive for a catch on the side of the road, and the blessing of our garden by bringing beans in for dinner. You don't have to sit at the table to learn. You don't have to have the perfectly structured day to make sure they are learning the things they need to know. Sometimes the best 'educational jumps' they get come from happenstance watching the cat eat bugs and Bill Nye the Science Guy videos on the same day. The running tally of the things I HAVE to teach my kids gets shorter and shorter as I realise, all they really need to know is how to read and that learning is fun as all heck... and whatever they need to catch up with in between... well I am sure they will be alright.

Early Ed ~ Sand box

This box was intended for Cyan's handwriting skills lessons... and she used it... for a day. Then Logan got ahold of it and hasn't given it back since. When they sit and do their schoolwork at the table, he is right there, either drawing, or playing in the sand handwriting box I made out of a sheet protector box and a handful of floral sand.

He has been more and more interested in 'doing school' in the last few weeks. So much so that I have started to make a list of very early ed activities and I think I will add him into the homeschool schedule so he has his own time for 'writing' and doing his school work.

He is very intent on his work too... pulling all the sand to one side of the box here.

Right in with the big kids:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A funny for Sunday

I found this image looking on Google Images for a wool felted alphabet of all things! lol!

I just thought it too funny not to share.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Impromptu picnic ala Cyan

Cyan decided we were going to have a picnic dinner today. She was completely convinced. So when she asked to make tea and sandwiches, I told her of course... thinking it would dwindle and the sandwiches would be eaten and tea forgotten minutes later. Oh no. I should know better with this girl by now.

This picnic basket is complete with mugs of hot tea covered with plastic bags. Fully 7 yr old style.

Of course, after all that work was put into it, how could I say no? So we headed out to the park and abandoned the regular menu for tonight, eating PB&J sandwiches, carrots and humus, Tim's potato chips, chocolate cookies, and hot tea.

She was pretty darned excited that she had made this all happen. We played for a while, put everything into the car, and took a nice long walk.

Cyan stepped in a puddle with no shoes on, she is not happy in this picture. Alex took the pic though and I thought it was a good one aside from the sad look Cyan has on.

And this picture is strait out of the camera. Can you believe his eyes? I just get lost in them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo Friday

Bee Farm Tour

Today we went to the Trees N Bees farm. They sell Christmas trees in the winter and honey and related products in the summer. We got a guided tour of the place, along with a slide show of a bees live and how the bee keeper keeps safe and does her job.

I wish I could say that I was able to sit with my children and listen attentively.... but for Logan, today was an off day, so for much of the presentation I was outside with him, trying to help the others inside hear more than just his whining.

What I did hear though, was fascinating! A worker bee only makes 1 lg drop of honey in her lifetime? Did you know that? 1/10 of a TEASPOON. A queen bee can lay up to 2000 eggs A DAY. That is labor for you! The drones (boys) get kicked out of the hive in the winter and they all die. Wow. The whole trip was incredible...

This is my favorite picture from today. The bee up to the left has a HUGE load of pollen on his legs for the hive. It is the only shot I got of the bees actually getting pollen. So impressive!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recycled Crayons and Testing Day

Today we had our yearly testing for homeschoolers in the state. I never make a big deal of it, because their scores really don't matter. In fact, we don't technically have to do it. But I like making the school system happy... the happier they are, the less you have to deal with them. ;) Anyhow, I don't make a big deal of testing at all. In fact, between the two kids tests, we decided to make recycled crayons for Logan out of crayons I found in the garage while decluttering for our move.

Cyan was the official peeler and breaker. With the help of a shovel (don't ask) she got all of them chopped into tiny pieces and ready to melt.

Then we set the oven to 175* and put them in it. We used tiny muffin tins I found at Goodwill for this project. We also use these for paint cups with tempera paint.

When you let these cool, they will start to pull away from the sides of the pan all by themselves. When they were completely cool I just turned the tin over and all but one fell out instantly. The other was a bit more stuck, so I stuck the tin in the freezer and it popped out in less than 20 minutes.

Logan was pretty thrilled and he and Cyan decided to color while Alex was taking his test. It was a great way to use the old crayons, and a fun activity to offset the drab testing day stuff.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Early Ed ~ I Spy Bottle for Logan

My friend over at Her Cup Overfloweth made this last week and I couldn't wait to try it. Everything about it I already had. I used a large tall quart mason jar... I know it's glass, but they really are sturdy and I don't keep plastic around much (even Logan has glass drinking glasses).

First I wandered around and picked up tiny things. I have an obsession with tiny things so it took all of about 4 minutes to gather the things up for this jar. In there I have tiny things like carrots, milk jugs, and wooden books from their doll house stuff (anyone who wants to see my craftiest crafts... check out the doll house pictures), tiny shells and stones from the nature table stuff, small rocks and heart shaped glass pebbles, a tiny clothes pin, a couple of glass marbles that had peace signs and quotes on them (for the older kiddos), and a sweet little glow in the dark frog. Then I filled the jar 3/4 of the way with short grain rice. At first I over filled it, thinking that it would be better, but it really doesn't uncover the stuff quite as well when there isn't a bunch of headroom, so if you try this, bare that in mind.

After that, it just takes mixing it up for a few minutes, giving it to a toddler and watching the delight!

Logan had a blast with it. He spent about a half an hour just turning it and looking for the frog. He would find the rock and I swear he called it three different things. One was "a bug!". lol! It certainly was a perfect Eco-friendly craft.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday ~ Unit study on Apples and Peanuts

Top Row: Cyan's strawberry Applesauce, toast with Alex's peanut butter, string cheese (trying to balance the meal).

Bottom Row: Apple cider (homemade), watermelon (first from the west coast), celery with Alex's peanut butter.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth this week was Make Your Own Theme Week! As with all things for us, we made it into a big fat homeschool lesson! This morning the kids woke up to notes for school that said that we were going to make peanut butter and applesauce! The kids were really excited and finished their morning chores quickly, wanting to move on to the 'fun school stuff'. :)

I had gotten books on both George Washington Carver (the 'inventor' of peanut butter) and Johnny Appleseed, and then a speical treat... the PBS special on Johnny Appleseed with Shelly Duval, Martin Short, and Molly Ringwald. Cyan and Alex made everything themselves with me standing their giving direction (I like to take over, so this was a challenge for me too).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cyan's newest fairy house

Tucked away in the corner of my yard, every now and then, pops up a magical fairyland.

This time she asked me to help her make the fairies a swing:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Plants, visitors and fun with books

All our experiments. The hydroponics plants and coffee plants are my personal plant experiments (like for the last two years), but then comes Cyan's apple seedling, a cutting from my grandma's old plant that grows REALLY slow, and our egg shell herb garden. All the egg shell garden got planted in big pots yesterday. It was starting to really outgrow it's shells. ;)

This is my teacher friend Carley... she came to visit with her family and goodness it was nice to visit with her! The kids loved dragging her around the house showing her all their favorite stuff, and of course, the kittens. Her son Sam was quite enamored with the babies.

More and more lately, this is where I find Logan. I think it is just so sweet!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The binder method that is used in the Well Trained Mind is something that I have always thought was a great idea.... but for me, it lacked the usefulness of a portfolio when looking back on the year. Right now each of the kids have three binders (FYI; I LOVE binders!) filled with their work in different subjects. But by the time the year is over, I want to have it all condensed into one portfolio... this slide show is mostly Cyan's portfolio for last year (1st grade) and shows how well you can see the years work when it is all in a personal binder: (My personal favorite is how well you can see her handwriting improve!)

There are other pictures in there too... Alex and Cyan do have their portfolios started for this year. Each one is a 2 inch three ring binder. Armed with a Costco pack of page protectors and a recycle bin I go through their work quite often (declutter modes come and go), taking out the gems and adding them to the portfolio. All major projects go in there if I can make it happen. If I can't (like Alex's clay map) then I take a picture or print out the blog post about it and add it in to the portfolio. I try to make as accurate a picture of their year as I can. The kids and I both love looking through them and show them to just about anyone who is willing.

Then, honestly, the rest of the stuff goes into the recycle bin. If there are 12 units in one subject, I try to take a bit of each of them (like their botany drawings from each lesson, shown in the last picture) so that shows what they learned or at least how much they did on a subject, but for the most part, if there is a repeat project, it goes. If they had to do the same math lesson a couple times, I don't keep both of them (I don't keep much of their math, it is awfully sequential and shows what they have learned quiet easily).

That is pretty much my system. :) Do you have a successful way to store your kids finished school work? Please leave a comment and let me know. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

MTM ~ The Giant Jam Sandwich

This week the Muffin Tin Monday theme was a piece of children's literature. I love this theme! I think I could plan all our meals around books I love. lol! (On an aside: If you haven't been over to Her Cup Overfloweth to see the other ladies that enjoy MTM, you should check it out... Michelle is amazing and her themes are always a big hit!)

At first, my plan was to make a lot of gum drop bees. But I sent Don to the store for spice drops and he came home with Dots. Out of two boxes of Dots, there was ONE (no kidding, one) yellow Dot. So I printed out these cute little wasps and Cyan put them on toothpicks to eat our pasta with.

Top row: Jam sandwiches (Of course... lol!), wheel shaped pasta (for the carts and wagons it took to get the bread to the field) with grass from the field (spinach cut into ribbons).

Middle bit: Jam spreaders (pretzels with a marshmallow stuck on the end, covered in jam and frozen. All Alex's idea!)

Bottom row: More wheels and 'grass', and a birds nest for the birds that came to take the sandwich away (and ate it for a hundred weeks). Made by Cyan and complete with left over dark chocolate eggs from Easter.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Organized homeschool space!

I am currently in decluttering mode. We are buying a new house, and we have found one, our offer has been accepted, and we have been approved for the loan. Unless something goes terribly wrong over the next three weeks we are moving into our first house in June! Part of me is excited. And another part of me is DREADING moving. Remember, I just moved here in Dec. Two moves in just over 6 months? YUCK! So getting rid of things is my current obsession. Getting rid of, or getting them organized.

On Thursday I had my Homeschool Mom's Meeting. I gotta say, these ladies are a lifeline and a whole world of great ideas! I love having them as my sanity backup, cuz let me tell you, sometimes homeschooling certain little people can be the fast track to Mommy-Meltdown 2009.

One of our mamas (Sarah) is reading a book called The Workbox System. Honestly, I only know what she has told me about it.... but when I heard the basics of the system I was instantly on board and it fit right in with my current obsession. I quickly finished my current list and moved on to declutter my homeschool stuff. For a couple hours and $60 I had a brand new, organized and spotless, homeschooling space.

I also did something that I have wanted to do for the last 6 months in this house. I set up our Nature Table. I can't believe I waited so long to do it. The kids were THRILLED when I told them what I was doing and instantly ran outside to collect bouquets of flowers, rocks, acorns, and other nature things unique to Spring. The set up isn't perfect, but it works (it's two boards on top of the new homeschool drawers) and I am happy to say that even Logan was intrigued and excited to add the things he had found.

More about the boxes: Of course, the best part about the boxes is the way they organize the homeschool stuff. They are not for storing anything in this system, they are for setting out a schedule to our day. The first box (for the past two days anyway) has held the kids chore charts. They check off their chores as they go through their morning (which range from 'brush your teeth' to 'vacuum the living room') and after that they *get to* move on to their first homeschool assignment. Every assignment is broken down into it's smallest components, so for science yesterday we were working on botany, and we had a drawing, a dissection, and a reading section. Each were in their own boxes, complete with every material that they would need to complete it and instructions on a post it note letting them know how to do it, and when to get me for assistance. Very similar to how Alex's math was set up today:

The post it says "Watch chapter 14 on DVD. Do 14 B-C."
And then of course, I had to add in the fun stuff in between the heavy stuff.

It says "Get mom for lesson #2, activity 4. GAME!"

It says "Read to Dad."

These boxes were made for holding scrapbook papers, so they are slightly larger than 12X12X2. Each one locks closed and is it's own box. So, if we have to take a nature notebook somewhere, along with some pens, and a specimen jar, it can all be there, in this sturdy little lap desk sized tote! It already seems like a wonderful investment. The kids were excited to see me filling the boxes last night... and that is always a good sign. :)