Monday, July 29, 2013

just a little duct tape...

I am constantly amazed by my daughter's creativity and ability to follow-through on an idea that she has in her head. I see her creativity play out in SO many ways as she spends time with her brother - she can come up with a hundred different imaginary games to play using an old scarf as inspiration or make fifteen different gadgets with one shoe box. It is what captivates her little brother and keeps them playing for hours together.

Her most current project is no exception.
She has an American Girl doll that she saved for about two years ago. It remains one of her favorite things to play with - by herself or with fellow girl friends that come over with their dolls. In the latest American Girl catalog, she was taken with an art easel/art set that she saw. Rather than wait to save for it (it would take awhile, those things are pricey!), she decided to make one herself. Unbeknownst to me, during quiet hour, she was back in her bedroom creating. She comes out and has transformed a few popsickle sticks, drinking straws, scraps of paper and pieces of duct tape into an art set for her doll. In addition to an easel, she made a folder with school papers inside, a few letters written back and forth between (doll)friends, as well as a little satchel to store those things inside of.

What an amazing job, even down to the littlest details!

Friday, July 26, 2013

blueberry picking

Sometimes the impromptu trips are the most fun :)
This morning we got a text from a close friend asking if we wanted to go blueberry picking. Yes!

The bushes were prime for picking. The owner said it had been a late season for blueberries, but that this was probably the last week for picking. How do they know when the season's over? When the sparrows fly in and devour the crop! No sparrows here yet today. Just a bunch of blueberry pickers!

My daughter said she taste-tested a berry from each bush before she picked from it. After all, she had to make sure they were suitable for picking. :)

Sometimes the blueberries on the inside of the bush are the best ones (or at least that's what Z thought)!


In our home, we don't have a separate school "classroom" space. We float between the kitchen table, the couch, a hammock outside, or sometimes my daughter will work at an antique desk in our entryway when she needs a distractions-free space. Since "officially" beginning preschool work this summer, I've wanted to be able to hang some ABC/123 posters up for Z. Since we don't have room in our kitchen (and I have to draw the line on "acceptable decorations" somewhere, lol), I turned to his bedroom. We just flip-flopped his furniture around, which opened up a new wall to decorate. Wellll... yesterday I went to the dollar store and scored some posters. Very classroomy looking, traditional brightly colored and all, however sometimes the 2 for $1 price tag makes the decision a no-brainer. In his bedroom, I will sacrifice "style" and go with "it works!" I also snagged a pack of large clips from the clothespin section and was able to hang by just using pushpins through a hole already in the clip! Easy-peasy!

Actually, I'm pretty excited to have them in there. He's proficient on much of what is up there, but having it in front of him will ensure review, review, and more review! My L is a natural teacher and when she saw them hanging, she was like "Great! Now we can play school!" I have no doubt she will refer to those posters when they are playing together in his room.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

weirdest tomato award

Picked this lil baby last night. Surprisingly, it's my first odd-shaped tomato, so we're awarding it the "Weirdest Looking Tomato Award." ;)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

alpha jump

What's better than practicing your ABC's and their letter sounds? Well, getting to jump around while you do it!

We have a set of soft, interconnecting letter blocks. As well as the ABC's, they contain numbers 1-9. My daughter and son have done about a zillion different things with them, however I got an idea from a homeschool convention I attended a few months ago for yet another use. Today we played "Alpha Jump" (or whatever you want to call it, that's just what I came up with). I spread the letters out across the floor and called out a letter or a letter sound, and had my son jump to the appropriate square. He then called out letters/sounds for me to jump across. Giggles that came from challenges to jump further and further ensued. "I can't go that far, mom!" Or, "C'mon mom, you can do it!"
We had a sweet learning time this morning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

when big sis is away...'s up to Mommy to play!
And, as far as Z is concerned, the best thing to play with is cars!


Big sis is away because each summer, my L has a week at (usually, each) grandparent's house by herself. This is something that I had the privilege of doing when I was young and love that my children have two sets of grandparents involved in their lives that desire to continue the tradition. What a blessing! This week my daughter is with my parents. We went up for the weekend to visit as a family, but L was disappointed that we were sticking around. She was ready from the minute we got there for her mom, dad, and brother to leave! :) Well, we left her around 5pm yesterday and she was arranging "her room," hanging up her clothes for the week in the closet and didn't even bother to come outside to see us off. I say all that in jest, but I really do delight in the fact that she is eager to have time with her grandparents. It's a good time for both big sister and little brother to have time apart. What's that old saying? "Absence makes the heart grow fonder?" In small doses, I do believe that is true. They will have the most adorable reunion after the week is over.

Friday, July 19, 2013

let's see...

50 colors?! Oh the choices!
While we were out at Target the other day, my MIL purchased a new set of markers for the children. It happened to be a 50-color variety pack. We have been seriously lacking in the washable marker department. Well, no longer!
My 3yo wasted no time in testing them out...

On another note, I scored a couple of phonics-goodies in the dollar section of Target. A few flash card sets plus a workbook, that my son and I can start to work out of for reinforcing letter sounds, etc.

I am always sucked into that dollar section. Good thing I don't make it to Target that often! Anyone else find anything good there recently?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

servant's heart: baking

Dinner. That dreaded hour when the magic of prior planning collides with food on the table. Or, that's what it should look like, and does, most days... Yesterday I wasn't sure what we were going to have for dinner. However, each week, we usually have a "breakfast for dinner" day and we hadn't had one yet this week. Most days that means pancakes, or like tonight, omelets with muffins. Occasionally we'll have a waffle night (but that waffle maker is such a pain to clean, lol!)
I had asked L to pull out the ingredients to make the muffins and by the time I was done washing the dishes in the sink, I found the process almost completed! She did absolutely everything, even down to putting them in and later pulling them out of the oven. Yummm... loving my sweet girl's servant heart this evening.

Checking how long to set the timer for...

And, licking the bowl ;) ...a reward for a job well done!

'mater madness

It's only fair for my tomatoes to get their own blog post, since they are thriving like my cucumbers. I have five plants, planted in formation like a "5" on the side of a dice. We planted an "Early Girl," 2 "Better Boys," a hybrid cherry-sized called "Juliet," and another cherry-sized called "Yellow Pear."

These were our first tomatoes. Having never grown these types, we decided to have a taste test. My husband thought the Early Girl was better, but both were great. My family likes them sliced up with a little salt sprinkled over. I like them chopped over salad or sliced up in a sandwich.

 I thought this yellow pear was the cutest!

So what do you readers think? Do you have a favorite tomato type?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

humming right along...

 So, here's a look at what we're up to today...

Big sis is playing Math Blaster on the kindle. I think that electronics definitely should play a part in homeschool learning. We utilize the kindle apps as well as online sites on our desktop computer. I will have to do a post later regarding some of our favorites websites - for preschool learning, as well as elementary learning. They are just great for reinforcing our regular lesson concepts.

Little bro is busy working on the letter "c" this morning. Instead of gluing cotton balls on the letter like Little Hands to Heaven instructed (for some reason, he really opposes that idea - he totally balked at gluing cheerios on the letter "a" a few weeks ago), we used q-tips to just paint it.

We also have Grandma (my MIL) here visiting for a few days. It has been so great to have her here! Having spent nearly 20 years in the public school system, she loves reading books to the children as well as spending time doing some of the kindle apps with them and even going through Z's busy bag activities with him. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

cucumber craziness

Well, my garden continues growing... and overflowing. Due to the amazing amount of rainfall we have had this summer, my garden is thriving. Here's a shot of one of the 8' long sides... What you are seeing is climbing/ pole beans, colored peppers in the foreground (still only green, they haven't turned yet), then cucumbers and tomatoes at the very end, standing tall.

I thought it would be fun to take a few photos of the varying states of cucumber growth. This is my first time growing cucumbers and the whole process has amazed me.

From small plants, they quickly began growing and spreading! They are vines, so they needed somewhere to go. I had read somewhere to just use tomato cages. Since I had a couple extra (plus another given to me by my dad, thanks dad!), I used them. Well, they have worked great. Here's how they looked a few weeks in... LOTS of pretty yellow flowers.

Flowers fell off and these little baby cucumbers began growing.

And growing...


 And fatter!

Until finally, I just couldn't wait any longer, and I picked one (that was ready)! My daughter and mother in law agree, they are a hit!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a little...

...girl time! My daughter and I sneaked out for a few hours this weekend by ourselves. Where did we go? BOOKSTORES! I have an avid reader, like both her daddy and I are, which makes me SO pleased. First, we dropped off her summer reading form at Barnes and Noble and got her free book. Then, we headed toward a local used bookstore that also had a summer reading program. From there, she received $5 in store credit. Well, her $5 in credit, plus an existing $7 credit, plus $5 cash, and we left with 18 books in our bag!

Half of the books are for her future Sonlight Core E (which I hope to hit about mid-year this year). 

All that book-looking can make a girl hungry! Well, I had a $5 gift card to Trader Joe's in my wallet from Christmastime, so we headed to the nearby TJ's to see what yummies we might be able to find. As you might have guessed, no problem finding something to satisfy our sweet tooth!

And, yes, believe it or not, we opened up the tailgate of our station wagon and sat right in the parking lot and wiped out the whole box... in about 2 minutes flat! I must admit, despite being a stay at home mom, this was my first-ever experience eating bon bons. I am tempted to indulge in the stereotype in the future. They are delectable!

Monday, July 8, 2013

b says...

More letter work today! Using Confession of a Homeschooler's "letter hunt" for the letter B along with 1plus1plus1's letter tracing to get him working on his uppercase B's. 

No photographic proof, but we also completed a Pinterest project and made it rain in a jar, to go along with the Bible story of Noah and the ark, which LHTH has us reading this week.
While it took some time for the steam to build up on the underside of the lid and slo--w--ly drip down, the concept worked. 

My favorite activity with rain, was to then simply just put my kids in their bathing suits and send them outside to play in the real rain! We have had DAYS of rain and they love to go out and splash around in the water coming down the gutter downspouts and stomp in the mud puddles. Mom loves it too ;) Outside time is always a good thing!

Friday, July 5, 2013

red, orange, yellow, green...

On Unit 2 now... learning about Noah and that precious symbol of a rainbow, promising a future of restraint from a mighty, powerful God. He will no longer destroy His earth by flood. "I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 9:11)

What makes more sense than making a rainbow of our own? Plus, a little fine motor skill practice.

I honestly thought my 3.5 year old would enjoy ripping paper a little more than he did for this lesson! He made it through one color, so instead, I ripped, while he glued. The end result: a mosaic-like rainbow. (And mom getting that fine motor practice!) :)

Also on the plan for today - more tape on my carpet! This time... a lowercase b, covered by 'b'locks (and even some 'b'lue ones in there too!) Who knew the letter 'b' could be so much fun... especially when it leads includes block-playing time too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

day of independence

This past weekend we went to a colonial Independence Day celebration at a local historical park. Z (& daddy) even got to pretend to join the militia and shoot off a musket! Touring some of the buildings, watching a blacksmith create a twisted metal hook out of a long straight piece of metal, eating hand-churned ice cream, and seeing some WWII era vehicles and items (I know, go figure, slightly out of time period, lol) wound up being a hot, but fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon together as a family.

Can't wait until we get to the colonial days in school (Sonlight, this year) to refer back to these memories!