Friday, September 23, 2011

Sweet Diaper Cake

We recently had a baby shower for my sister-in-law, who is expecting their first baby. It's a little girl (according to the ultrasound), and everyone is super excited! I had some diapers in my gift stash left-over from a previous diaper cake so I decided to put them to good use.
A new hooded bath towel, folded into a square and set on a cardboard piece, became the base, and then 3 tiers of rolled diapers, the cake. I found a pack of washcloths on clearance at Wal-mart so I used those to "ice" the cake. Pretty pink ribbons and a little bear finish it off.

In keeping with the diaper/bath theme, I used my Cricut to dress up an ice cream 1/2 gallon storage container to become a diaper wipe holder. (I made homemade baby wipes for both of my kids and saved so much money!!! Not to mention, hurried trips to the store when we ran out of said wipes!)
 Here's the top! Pink and brown to match the nursery. Ladybugs 'cause they're cute!
I tucked a recipe card with directions on how to make homemade wipes along with Baby Magic baby wash into the wipes container. The "cake" went into a gift bag, topped with more pink ribbon! Only a few more weeks before we'll get to meet our sweet niece----can't wait!

Linking up to some of these great parties! Be sure to stop by!

Weekly School Summary - USA (Sept. 19-23)

 I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!

Our full 'book basket' for upcoming studies on Mexico and the desert biome.
Another full week---completed! I can't believe we've already been "in school" for a month and that we've finished 4 weeks worth of work. Time is absolutely flying by in the midst of our busy weeks. Or perhaps because we're busy, the time seems to move faster and faster. Or it's because I'm getting old??? Nah, it must be because we're having fun. Yeah, yeah, that's it. :)

Here's what we did this week:

Math: Same as before. Tenor had 5 lessons while Soprano did 4 and played games at on Friday.

Reading and Language Arts: Tenor continues doing well although he really struggled with his Language Arts quiz on Friday. I had graded it and then remembered we needed to give him a spelling quiz along with it. I asked him for his Section 2 spelling words but he said that he didn't do section 1 yet. Wait, what? How did we miss section 1 spelling?? Oh brother! No wonder he hadn't done well on his quiz! I had given him section 2 but he was supposed to take section 1. After a quick spelling quiz and quiz re-do.... he scored much better. Phew! I thought we were in for some serious review.
Soprano is doing better with her Language Arts. We've found it helps if I have her read the instructions out loud before working on an exercise and if I help to clarify the steps she needs to follow. I also gave her "permission" to talk out loud as she goes through her work (which she didn't need but she's so used to traditional school and not being allowed to talk.) Being able to sound things out aloud is helping. She's still have a little difficulty with it but she's not as frustrated. I think we'll stick with the curriculum for a while longer. Given more time, I think it will start to click.

The kids spent some time on for their typing instruction.

They did a health worksheet about what types of food are in the fruit group.

Tenor continued with reviewing and practicing cursive letters: Ww, Xx, Yy, Zz, and the whole alphabet and numbers review.Next week we're on to words and Bible verses. I also found a handwriting workbook in our yard sale items that is at Soprano's level. She needs a little help remembering the direction of g and q's tails as well as which letters go below the base line. Each letter has 4 short exercises so she'll do 1 letter a week (4 days) as a refresher.

Phys Ed.: More outdoor play including riding bikes and scooters and a strange version of street hockey (with a half deflated soccer ball and badminton rackets.) The kids won with a 5-point bonus shot at the end. Final score: Daddy- 10, Kids- 11. (Mommy- 0 because as scorekeeper I ended up with a mosquito bite on the one place I didn't spray.... the bottom of my foot!)

Bible: This week included:
Reading about the Navajo People
Reading Matthew 1:1-25 and 2:1-18
Memorizing Matthew 1:23
Reading about Harriet Tubman and her compassion, joy, and perseverance

Geography: We read interesting facts about the USA and worked on learning all of the state names. Tenor did super on his state quiz---100%.
Soprano was really, really close on some but ended up with 38 correct. For a 2nd grader, I'm impressed. The book "The Little Man in the Map," which we borrowed from our local library, really helped them both with memory tricks to remember the states' locations.

We colored in the U.S. flag and wrote some facts about it on the worksheet.
Tenor's pages from World Geography this week were 'Bodies of Water in North America' and 'Islands of North America.'They also did their vocabulary cards this week (badland and butte.)

Science: We learned more about forests and their layers. We didn't have a tree field guide handy and had so much other work to do, I pre-found pics of the types of trees on the worksheet. I printed them out and then had the kids cut and paste. We did talk about what questions you can ask yourself as you try to identify a tree. Down the road, we'll definitely try it for real but this week just had too much going on.
We talked about deciduous and coniferous forests, illustrated animals that live in the canopy and on the forest floor, and talked about the chaparral. Soprano finished up the North American Animals sheets from The Complete Book of Animals.
Soprano's illustration of a flying squirrel. She thinks it would make a good "Peleoopet" (Pillow Pet.)
Tenor's illustration of the Ichneamon wasp. Every time I look at this, I get the willies!
Other MFW: We continued with Wee Sing Around the World listening to Eentsy Weentsy Spider as well as The Crooked Path (T's request) and Hello to All the Children of the World.
The book basket was overflowing with library books and a few from our own shelves. It took the full 2 weeks but they read most of them. I also found a few Reading Rainbow DVDs about areas in the U.S. and a DVD called U.S. Geography for Children: Greetings from the United States to supplement. My younglings are both somewhat visual learners and respond to videos. Our library system is pretty extensive and the inter-library loan process is really easy so we are very blessed to have great resources on hand.
We're looking forward to our American dinner tonight. On the menu: hot dogs, chips, fresh veggies and dip, and the Boston Pumpkin Cake (from A Trip Around the World.)

Dinner will be a rushed affair though because the kids have the monthly children's ministry event at church tonight. The leaders are going to keep our kids after while Bass and I go to a Keith and Krystn Getty concert (at the college where he works) for our anniversary. Can't wait!!

Linking up at and

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly School Summary - USA (Sept. 12-16)

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!

This was our first 5-day school week and it went well. Friday is a lighter day for MFW work so that helped us get done a little earlier which was nice after 4 full days.

Here's what we did this week:

Math: Tenor had 5 lessons while Soprano did 4 and played games at on Friday.

Reading and Language Arts: After 4 days of lessons, Tenor had his first language arts test. He did well so we're moving on to the 2nd LightUnit. Soprano is still struggling with her phonics and some of the pronunciation key stuff. It's still up in the air whether or not we'll keep going or if we'll start looking for a new curriculum.

The kids spent some time on for their typing instruction.
They did a health worksheet about the differences between white bread and wheat bread (complete with taste test.) It was funny to watch them record their observations and act like scientists but keep sneaking little bites of bread. I guess they were hungry!
We did a PA History worksheet about the first settlement in Pennsylvania.
Tenor continued with reviewing and practicing cursive letters: Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, and Vv. One more week of individual letters and then we'll be ready for words and Bible verses. I think he'll like that more.
Civics... sigh... I'm required to teach Civics (for our state's homeschool regulations) but it seems strange to have it be it's own subject. Maybe I'm missing something here. :) We're going the easy route this year just to have something to put in the portfolio. I found a set of Community Helper flashcards at the local education store. So every other week, we'll talk about a Community Helper along with what they do and the tools they use. We'll also get a couple of library books about that career for our book basket. This week, we started with dentists. We talked about what they do and why they're important for the overall community as well as us personally.
A new addition to our school room! 2 pocket charts from the $1 bin at Target. These currently hold our Community Helper of the week but will also hold info about different habitats/biomes that we'll study this year.

Bible: We started reading in Hero Tales about Dwight Moody. We read several stories about his life as well as a short biographical sketch and learned about his repentance, boldness, and strength. We're using the copywork printables from Mama Jenn's blog to go along with all of the character traits in Hero Tales.
Micah reads the Kingdom Tales stories at night as part of bedtime. Although he said he likes to start them in the morning after reading the Bible so he can leave the kids with a cliff-hanger.

Our 'Greek' Matthew bookmarks.
Geography: We used the Classroom Atlas to talk about various features and info about North America and then the United States and identifying different locations. We also started learning state names and large bodies of water while labeling them on a US map .
Tenor will be doing a selection of pages from World Geography to learn more about North America. I went through the book and copied pages that I thought were at his level and then divided them out for our 6 weeks studying North America. It amounts to 2-3 pages per week. This week, he did 'Physical Features of North America' and 'Rivers of North America.'
They also did their vocabulary cards this week.
Soprano illustrating isthmus for her geography vocab cards.
Science: We learned about forests and their layers. We also colored a world map representing 3 types of forests and where they exist (mountainous, deciduous, and coniferous.) We did our nature study at the park. They each picked a tree to write and draw about. They both collected a leaf specimen so we could come home and try to identify the type of tree, and Tenor did a bark rubbing. Soprano started working through the North American Animals sheets from The Complete Book of Animals.
Other MFW: We continued with Wee Sing Around the World. Gotta say though, 'The Crooked Path'... not my fav song. For our art project, we did the motion picture flip books. Mainly because I had the supplies on hand, and it wasn't messy!

Soprano's flag flip book

Tenor's fish flip book

Phys Ed.: We've been having nice weather so they got a lot of outside play time this week. We also went to a local park that has several climbing playgrounds and 2 good size rocks that can be climbed for an afternoon.

I'm impressed with all the other MFW homeschoolers out there who are looking for additional activities to do and extra creative ways to present the material.... it takes us a long time to get everything completed each day. I feel like I have a new full-time job. Phew! It's good but it's a lot of work!

Linking up at and

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly School Summary - Maps (Sept. 5-9)

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!

We made it through our week 3! Woo-hoo!
Yup, those are the same words I started last week's school summary with. I'm sure I'll get to the point (hopefully) where I'm not amazed that we make it through a school week, but for now, I'm excited that we're getting schoolwork done, and we're not ready to kill each other.
I haven't even gotten a "Mo-o-m, do we HAVE to do school today?"
That makes me happy.

We finished our 3rd week of school but with our shortened weeks we've only completed 2 weeks of schoolwork. We started the week visiting family for the Labor Day holiday and then planned a field trip day for Friday. Here's where we're at:

Math: Both children are doing well. We're still in the review phase of previously learned concepts. Soprano feels very successful at math which is a great motivator. She's also enjoying the manipulatives that we use for her lessons.

Reading and Language Arts: Tenor had a little trouble with his first reading quiz. We had to discuss how they weren't looking for him to come up with his own synonyms or thoughts but to find that actual words used in the sample reading passage to answer the questions. Soprano is still struggling a little with Language Arts. I'm going to sit with her this week and actually "teach" her each day's lesson to see if that will help.

The school computer is still down. :( We're just going to put Spanish on hold until it gets fixed or we decide to load it onto another computer.
The kids spent some time on for their typing instruction.
They did another health worksheet this week which consisted of coloring in the various phases of the bread cycle, cutting them out, then gluing them in the correct order on a piece of construction paper.
Tenor continued with reviewing and practicing cursive letters: Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, and Nn. Interestingly, there was a great article in our Sunday paper about how cursive writing instruction is dying out and how it's not taught as much in schools today. One of the arguments for continuing instruction said that some of our historical documents (ex. Declaration of Independence) are written in cursive and kids should be able to read them, as well as, be able to create a signature. I think it will help his overall handwriting legibility so we're going to continue with it.

Bible: Bass has taken over the Bible reading each morning before he leaves for work. We're continuing to use the Narrated Bible in Chronological Order (NIV).
We also read in various passages for our MFW studies that the good news is for all people, and
that in Heaven one day, we will worship God with people from all over the world!
We also read briefly about Judaism.

Geography: We discussed physical and political maps, local maps, and different kinds of maps. We drew a map of our community and the younglings "drove" a car following my directions to get to various local places on Wednesday. On Thursday, the younglings used a map that I drew to search for 'treasure' in the house. It actually took them a little longer than I thought it would but I purposely didn't include any key or written any labels to make it harder for them.

We really liked the "Maps and Globes" book but I think we'll be glad to move on past the basic geography info to studying different countries.

Science: Our nature walk got postponed as we dealt with a week of Tropical Storm Lee. (We live in the Northeast and had some major, major flooding in our county.) I finally had them write and illustrate something about the rain they observed from the living room window. Somewhat fitting since we had discussed the water cycle the day before. Soprano continued with her Farm Animal sheets from The Complete Book of Animals and finished them along with the Pet sheets.
They also finished their observations of the earthworm niche. It didn't go as well as expected perhaps because our worms were so tiny. But the soil, sand, and oats did mix together somewhat which was the projected outcome.

Other MFW: We continued with Wee Sing Around the World and made our world cake. Soprano begged to have Australia on it so we decided to ice the Eastern Hemisphere on our cake. It was pretty tasty!
Phys Ed.: With all the rain, the kids did some Wii Fit on Tuesday and got out for a soggy bike ride on Thursday.

Unfortunately, with all of the flooding and rain issues, our field trip didn't happen this week either. This time wasn't my fault though. The Hay Creek Festival Foundation completely cancelled the festival for this year. Understandably so. We had over 100 roads closed due to flooding, 1 water treatment plant completely flooded with 5 feet of water, and several nearby towns under a boil-water advisory.
We used our day off to relax, finish up a few things (like last week's Global Art project), and just hang out (and eat cake!)
Linking up to more reviews about MFW here!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wait.... this soap feels strange

So have you ever been to someone's house, gone to wash your hands either to help in the kitchen or after using the powder room, and thought, "Hmmm.... there are 2 different soap things here. Which do I use? How 'bout this one? Wait... this soap feels weird. Aw, gross. I think it's lotion. Or else it's really strange soap. Whatever.... where's the towel?"
Okay, maybe it's just me.
And maybe I'm the only one that has a whole conversation with myself.
At least it's usually in my head!
It's all in me head. It's all in me head.*

Anyway, I've mistakenly tried to wash my hands with lotion instead of soap on more than one occasion, and I don't want any of my guests (or other family members) to have the same confusion. I get really dry hands in the winter so having lotion right at the sink helps me remember to use it and thereby saving my poor hannies from getting chapped and cracked.
I already had a little ceramic dish from Home Goods to corral my bottles, which I got at TJ Maxx. (They're a nice big size that won't need refilling too often; they're plastic which is just plain safer with 2 younglings in the house; they're a nice round-y shape that fits perfectly in my pretty dish; and they're clear so I can see when I need to refill them.)

To help keep things straight in the kitchen, I knew I had to come up with a water-safe labeling idea. I didn't want to paint letters on the bottles and since they're plastic, I didn't think etching would work. I debated on cutting out vinyl letters with my Cricut but I've heard that you need a special water proof vinyl. I wasn't sure how to make this work, but then I found this cool chalkboard sticker paper by Wallies at AC Moore and thought it might be a good solution.

I snagged a box with a coupon (of course) and then got to work.
In order not to potentially waste too much chalkboard paper, I cut some sample size labels from junk paper to figure out a size and shape.

Here we've got too big:

Too small:

Then, just right:

I used my Mini Monograms cartridge to cut the simple scalloped square shape. I left the backing on the chalkboard paper and it stuck to my cutting mat just fine. I set the blade depth to 5, the speed dial to 4, and the pressure dial to 5. It cut through really well! I was a little surprised but very pleased!

I gave the bottles a quick refill and wipe down and then applied the labels. I just need to purchase some hand lotion before the winter season begins.
Now, no more soap/lotion confusion! At least in my kitchen.

Linkin' but not like Abe.

*Bonus points if you caught the "Chicken Run" reference.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekly School Summary - ECC Week 1 (Aug. 30 - Sept 2)

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!
Tenor's geography vocabulary cards
We made it through week 2! Woo-hoo!
We're definitely still the adjustment phase and I think the younglings are starting to see how homeschool is different from their previous traditional-style school but it might be a few more weeks before we're really comfortable in our routine.
Chore time (aka "Team Work") went well each morning. I'm really, really surprised how well they just jump in and get things done as soon as I'm up in the mornings. Minimal fussing! And they just distribute who does what on their own without too much of my input. We're going to start working on really 'finishing' each job (putting away the supplies, not just emptying the dishwasher but putting in the 3 glasses that are waiting in the sink, etc) and being a little more thorough with the work. Overall though, they're being very helpful! (Perhaps it's the lure of using a dry erase marker to mark off completed tasks???)

After chores, we begin our school day with pledges, prayer, and now Bible reading. I was reading a book about homeschooling (The Heart of Wisdom by Robin Sampson) that highly recommended the Narrated Bible in Chronological Order (NIV). I was able to find an inexpensive used copy on eBay which came in early this week. We just began reading the narration and accompanying Scripture passage as part of the start to our day. I really like it. The narration helps give an overview of what's talked about in the following passage. The NIV version is easily readable so together it makes the verses seem more alive and not dry at all.
I think Bass might be taking over the reading part before he leaves for work in the morning to help us get started on our day a bit earlier.
 Locating and identifying biomes
This week, I decided to have another short week to keep things low-key as we begin. We took off on Monday and then jumped in on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, our computer that had the Spanish and typing software is afflicted with the 'blue screen of death' disease. So it went to work with Bass to have his fellow IS department co-workers look at it, and we skipped Spanish for the week. I set Tenor up on my machine and to continue with some typing practice.

Both are doing well with math. It's more of a review at this point in the year. Tenor would like to "get to the hard stuff" so I told him he could double-up lessons. He declined. LOL
They're both doing well with reading, and we've done a few health worksheets.
Tenor is moving through his language arts/spelling just fine but Soprano is still having difficulty with it. It seems like she's not remembering the phonics she learned in K and 1st grade. The text isn't terribly clear about teaching it either. I had been thinking that L/A would be an independent subject for her to learn but I'm wondering if I need to be sitting with her teaching it for her to 'get it'. I'm not sure if it's the curriculum or if it's the level that she's at or what..... I'm praying to know what to do. We'll reevaluate in a couple weeks to see if we should continue with it or if we should find something else.

After their individual work, we start MFW Exploring Countries and Cultures. Soprano is in 2nd grade so she's using The Complete Book of Animals and doing on the worksheets from it. Being an animal lover, she really likes them.
This week we read and discussed the book "God Speaks Numanggang". The kids were interested to hear that part of the money we paid for our curriculum went to further Bible translation. We have friends who just moved to work at JAARS (an affiliate of Wycliffe.) Knowing what their role is in that ministry helped bring the whole book into focus for them. Tenor asked me quite intently if the money we paid went to help with translating. When I said that it did, he smiled and nodded like he was approving of our decision. He's so serious; it's like he's a 9 year old body with a 69 year old mind---what a hoot!
We labeled and colored our world map, made a map of their rooms (discussing scale), and did the hand drawing activity. (Soprno did NOT like that at all. She was struggling with it but added a bad attitude on top so it didn't go well. She did end up finishing it the next day which was good. I'm not sure about future activities.... I might need to come up with some more level-appropriate ones so she's not so frustrated but then again.... attitude is half the battle!)
We also went digging in the garden and created our earthworm niche. We didn't find any big fat earthworms so the little, bitty ones we did put in have their work cut out. The oats are disappearing though so we're seeing some of the expected results.
 Earthworm Niche Day 1

Earthworm Niche Day 1 
Earthworm Niche Day 3 --- getting moldy on top, ew!
Other MFW notes: the book basket is not going as expected! I spent several hours looking at library catalogs (public library system and college where Bass works) finding the suggested titles. I requested multiple titles from the public library in interlibrary loan (which is all online----lovely!) using multiple library cards because you can only have 5 holds per card. I gave a list to Bass to pick up at the college. I went to 2 different local libraries to pick up suggested books they had on the shelf as well as other appropriate titles and pick up our holds. I put them in a cute bin with a cute label.
The kids won't read them.
The younglings love to read. They'll read anything! When we went to the library each week this summer, they'd check out 20-30 books (chapter books!) and have them done in 2 days. I thought for sure that the book basket would be devoured in 1 day. But, no. I've had to start assigning them books to read each day just so that they actually look at them.
Is it because they're "required" that they don't want to read them?
Is it just because we're at the beginning and the subject matter is not super exciting to them?
Do I need to move the basket to be more centrally located and not in the schoolroom?
Seriously.... I have enough stress in my life without needing to worry about the book basket. Ya know? :)
I'm hoping to get this figured out in the next week or so, too.
We also did the Kingdom Tales read aloud. Based on other comments from various bloggers, I worried that it might be upsetting to Soprano but she was just fine, and they both were disappointed that I stopped at the end of the first story.
J's geography vocabulary cards

So we did school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Tuesday, we used some gift certificates to go to That Bounce Place for some P.E. time. The kids had a blast running around and bouncing for 2 hours. They were hot, sweaty, and worn out after but they had fun!

Today (Friday) we're going on our first official field trip. It doesn't really fit with anything we're actually studying right now but I thought an outing would keep them excited. We're headed to the Hay Creek Festival at Joanna Furnace in Morgantown, PA. They have a special homeschool rate for today (the kids are free!) and afterwards we'll use our free ice cream coupons, from the summer reading program at the library, at McDonald's.

Update (Saturday)---Mom's a dork! The Hay Creek Festival is not this week. It's next week. We drove all the way down there to find nothing going on. I was confused that there weren't any crowds or signs of life anywhere until I looked down at our info brochure and realized that I was a week early. Argh! We stopped for ice cream anyway on the way home. Then we got back and I had the kids do their next lessons so that NEXT week, we can take off on Friday and try again.
Fortunately, I'm not dippy like this too often but it made for a long ride in the car and hurried schoolwork last night. Because of the time constraint due to my schedule goof, we skipped the Global Art hands activity. I might squeeze it in next week if we have extra time.

It's been busy so we're looking forward to our extra day off next week!

Linking up to more reviews about MFW here!

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