Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bake Day..

After an afternoon at the beach the rest of the day was spent baking. It's not exactly wonderful weather for baking, but it's much easier to do the baking for breakfast and snacks and such on a Saturday or Sunday. We tuck it away in the freezer until we need it, which is really great for things like bread because it seems that we go through it like crazy around here. In fact, there's another batch brewing on the counter downstairs and promises of bagels tomorrow after we restock on honey. Today we made Mom's Applesauce Cake, which is a recipe we haven't tried yet with our natural sweeteners. We decided to use coconut sugar, and we can't wait to try it out.

Then there was a batch of large Honey Bran Muffins for our Monday Muffin Madness breakfasts we have around here. I omitted the raisins (I was out) and walnuts (we don't like them) and I split the honey and molasses 50/50.

There's also a dozen and a half raspberry muffins for our Monday Muffin Madness, they were highly requested by the guys so I decided to make them a batch.

Whole Wheat Pancakes, the boys love having these for breakfast. I usually use 3 "scoops" of stevia in place of the sugar and I swap the white flour for our whole wheat.

Cherry Oatmeal Bars, the fruit in the middle isn't always the same. Depends on what we have on hand or what might need using up. We had a bowl of cherries we needed to use, so we did. I have to say Oatmeal Bars tend to go over way better in the summer then a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal. Especially when they get a smoothie with it.

Homemade Chocolate & Vanilla pudding. The idea was to make pudding pops. Our ice cream maker isn't working at the moment and it dawned on my children have never indulged in a pudding pop. Unfortunately they aren't going to be greeted with one at snack time tomorrow either because their popsicle mold still had blueberry popsicles in them! This pudding never lasts long around here. We often use Laura's recipe from Heavenly Homemakers, but this time I went out on a limb and used stevia for the chocolate pudding. No one's eaten it (more then a lick) and the lick passed the test. Which means we'll be making both forms that way (in place of the sweetener called for use 1/4 t of stevia & 1-2 T coconut sugar or maple syrup, you may need more for the chocolate depending on how sweet you prefer your chocolate..)

Tomorrow it's bread baking and bagel making, not to mention another batch of breakfast cookies for the weekend. Not to mention tortillas and a few marinades for dinner(s)


Our guinea pig, Cookie (the black and white one) was all alone. Remember the friend we bought her? Yeah, well that friend turned out to be a her and not so welcomed in her cage. He also passed away rather unexpectedly a few months ago. Cookie is a very personal piggie and will even come running when her name is called, most likely because she thinks we'll give her a treat but it's still cute. We like to spoil her and the other day we decided to see if we could find her another, more suitable friend. We were in luck and found this cute little brown piggie in need of a home. She's very tiny compared to our all most 2 year old piggie who usually happens to look rather petit. It took us 2 days to find an appropriate name for our new pet. I had to knock down names like Gus, Toadette, Princess Leah, Mustard and even hotdog. So I suggested a few names and we settled on Nutmeg with the option to call her Meg for short if we choose. Both our piggies are quite happy now. In fact within a short time of being introduced to each other they were snuggled up to each other enjoying the sunshine and the few sparse blades of green grass that could be found. We're hoping our new piggie will soon learn to come running when she hears her name too, after all what's better then one piggie trotting out to greet you when you call their name? Two of course!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Homemade Christmas Finale

On Australia Day we exchanged the last of our homemade goodies with relatives as a belated Christmas. The marshmallow guns were a big deal around here, and our boys can't wait to make them for themselves. They were a slight pain to make, but only in regards to getting supplies. Apparently it's really easy to buy 15mm t's, elbows, and end caps but finding the PVC pipe it fits on is another story. 3 stores later and we walked out with enough to make 5 of the fun things! The best part? The man refused to let us pay for it. I didn't want to give out marshmallows because I knew if I did my kids would want to eat them, and I also knew that the chances were pretty high that the marshmallows would get lost and I didn't want to be responsible for mice and ants running around eating sticky ooey gooey treats. So we gave out pom-poms instead. Because we gave away two of these we color coded the "amo" so that if they were used at the same time/place it would be easy to know who's was who's. I made the silly tags on my scrapbooking program and the plastic bag was simply left over for some other craft supply. I decided that rather then throw it out I'd recycle it.

Remember how I said I was going to make a quilt kit? Well, we decided the recipient might prefer something a tad more "grown-up". I considered ways to modify the quilt kit, but in the end changed directions completely and made a Build Your Own Bird Kit instead. I actually took the freebie pattern that Skip To My Lou had up for grabs. Her use for it was different, but I really liked the pattern. I used the pattern to cut out 4 total birds, each in a different color. I also cut out the wing, tail feather bits, heart, and beaks. We put it all together in a kit with a bit of ribbon and the instructions as well as the cute little hand sewing stitch book that Sew Mama Sew & Crafty Crow had up for grabs. I made the silly top tag myself and reused yet another empty bag. Ever notice how we try to make handmade look store bought and store bought look handmade? Unfortunately we missed pictures of the other goodies once they were finished, but all were well received which makes us super happy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Australia Day

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Monday, January 25, 2010

FFWW: Australia Day

Tuesday, January 26, is Australia Day! So this week, we will be celebrating Australia Day with family and enjoying a shorter and more simple school week. We haven't delved too deeply into Australian history yet, and so the question arose this week of, "Who first found Australia." Needless to say we'll be reading about Captain Cook this year while we make our Aussie shaped burgers! We'll also be continuing forward with our ocean studies as we bring them to a close this week (or so we hope) because next month we start our Westward Ho! journey.

  • Finish up reading and experiments in Awesome Ocean Science; interestingly enough each question the boys have had about the ocean has been explained via this book and an experiment!
  • The Seaweed Book: this one arrived late last week and we haven't had the chance to explore with it yet, so we're looking forward to that this week.
  • Starfish Exploration: We'll simply read a small bit about starfish and jot down pertinent facts for our lapbook. The boys have asked if we could learn about starfish, so we'll use a few books from the library to do so.
  • Finish reading about the Seashore in The Wonderland Of Nature. We've had a lot of fun with this book so far and everything is so wonderfully written!
  • Add the James Cook pocket to our Explorers History Pocket Book; this will also give the boys more information and fun as they learn about James Cook.
  • We'll also be listening to: Chris & Amy Meet Captain Cook for our audio book (it's only 28 minutes, so we'll probably listen to it in one sitting..)
  • Our Read Aloud for the week will be Ned's Kang-u-roo which is a fictional account of a young boy who sails with Captain Cook. We're hoping it will be as good as I Sailed With Columbus, which we enjoyed immensely around Columbus Day..
We may or may not wrap up our ocean studies this week, and if we don't we may chose to carry on with them through February or we may chose to lay them aside until next January. We'll have to see where we are by the end of the week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Planner

At the beginning of the year I decided to make a new planner for myself. There was no particular need for one, the old planner was working perfectly fine. It was one of those "new year new planner" type moments. You get them too, right? Anyway, this one is in color vs the old one which was black and white silhouettes. I also found a clear pouch which wasn't hole punched. That probably seems like no biggie, but I've honestly been looking for one for some time now. It fit through the ProClick so I can now keep my pen, post-it notes, memory stick (for shifting things from one computer to another), pencil, reusable tabs, and other odds and ends with my planner. I love that small feature because I'm always looking for these things. I decided to go with a garden sunflower theme this time. I love sunflowers! We even had sunflowers at our wedding, in our bouquets... I ended up adding a new page for myself too where I could jot down our weekly memory verse and a quick to-do list.

The pages have a bigger border when I print them out because I'm actually using an American program and Australian paper is longer and thinner then the typical 8x11 American paper, but I'm still happy with the results. I also added another paper where I can jot down notes on what goals we have for each of the boys to learn over the school year, as well as another page for math lesson notes. That's another plus for me, I'm constantly jotting down notes or coming up with ideas and losing them. Having a place for them is better!

This planner isn't up for grabs yet, but I couldn't resist sharing it all the same. I really love the color this time around, and the sunflowers, and ....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Squids In The Bath

We had more fun with our Awesome Ocean Science book the other evening. After reading more about molluscs in The Wonderland Of Nature we decided to try an experiment to see how the cephalopod molluscs move about the ocean. Now, if you don't know what a cephalopod is, it happens to be the group of molluscs (creatures who have a shell as part of their body) who happen to either have no shell or their shell is inside out. Meaning the shell is on the inside of their body. Now, the really cool part about this is, all those cuttle bones you stick in your bird cages are really shells from the cuttlefish, and yes, even squids have shells. The boys are now desperate to see if they can find one washed ashore, which I agree would be quite interesting. The idea was to make squids and let them swim around the tub, the boys had a blast with this experiment.

First fill a balloon with water. We only filled them up to the size of an orange or grapefruit. Then you need a pop-top. You need to pull the neck of the balloon up the pop-top. This is a two person job. I let the boys pinch the balloon closed while I pulled them neck of the balloon up. Make sure the pop-top is CLOSED before the pinched releases his pinch on the balloon! You'll be quite wet otherwise.

Fill a bucket or tub with water. We filled our abnormally large tub with water. And yes, it's abnormally large. Two adults and two children can easily fit in this tub. The boys have been seen using pool floating rings in that tub before! (See the first picture for proof of said floatie..)

Place your "squid" in the tub and pull open the pop-top. Your squid should shoot around the tub while the water rushes out. Be prepared for lots of giggles and squeals of delight while the squids bob around the tub.

Retrieve your squids and do it again if you want. We decided to also see what it would be like for a moonjelly to "swim" around the ocean. We learned that jellies are at the mercy of the wind, waves, tides, etc in regards to where they travel for the most part. So, to demonstrate how that would work for a jelly we opened our pop-tops while they were still in the neck of the balloons. Blow up the balloon with air. Close the pop-top. Place the balloon in the water, and open the pop-top. For added effect swish the water and watch your jelly bob up and down on the waves as the wind blows it around. This was a great experiment to go with our Night Of The Moonjellies Book.

Be prepared to refill the balloons a LOT. I played along for an additional twenty minutes and then left the boys to it on their own. They couldn't manage to refill the balloons well with water, but had a lot of fun making tidal waves to move their jellies around the tub. They played with the squids and jellies until they were dragged, dripping wet, off to bed. Did we mention that we're really loving this book?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Small Obsession

The boys have a small obsession, can you tell? They don't collect them for their monetary value, but for their fun value. The toothfairy seems to leave them tucked under pillows quite often, and they get one in their Christmas stocking each year as well. In fact they have a few mini's they didn't even sneak in the photo so they debated all day on how many they owned. Their favorite part? Taking the costumes off one beanie and slipping it on another. This brings a lot of giggles and snorts to their day. My favorite one is hidden behind the police bair, but he has wild hair and funny eyes. He's suppose to be a "mad scientist" but I just find him down right funny! I really like that colorful clown too, but the boys have no particular favorites. They love them all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Awesome Ocean Science

Excuse the slightly over exposed picture there, but this is our very awesome science book that we've been using with our ocean study. The book far exceeds the potential I was hoping for and we're just head over heals loving this book! The book is loaded with information on just about every possible subject in regards to the ocean, and most of them have several experiments to help convey the point. It arrived late last week, but we dug in right away despite it's tardy arrival. The boys were watching a Bill Nye video on weather. The topic of El Nino came up, in typical Bill Nye fashion. Which, in short, means they talked about it at completely odd and random moments. People were just shouting out, "El Nino!" Then they blamed the lack of anchovies on the pizzas for, deep funky drum roll, "El Nino!" The boys found it completely funny, but were also slightly confused. Enter, Awesome Ocean Science. There's a small section on El Nino and it explains how El Nino effects the Humboldt and thus makes all the anchovies disappear. We also learned why it's called El Nino which was fun and interesting. Then we tried an experiment which helped the boys visualize how El Nino works. Want to try it out?

You'll need two wide mouthed jars, a spoon, cold water, hot water, blue food coloring, yellow food coloring, and a piece of card stock or index card, page 35 wouldn't hurt either!

Have a handy helper put cold water in one jar with a few drops of blue food coloring, this is now Humboldt.

Have another handy helper pour hot water in another jar and put in a few drops of yellow food coloring, this is now El Nino; make sure both jars are well mixed. Yes, our 2nd helper wears a bow-tie, he wanted to dress like Bill Nye in order to do his experiment..

Wet the rim of "El Nino" (yellow jar) and fit the paper on. You may need to press down. Our jars were a tad wider then needed and we had a slight issue with our paper, but we got it in the end..

Place El Nino on top of Humboldt (Hot on top of cold) and then carefully remove the paper (it helps if someone holds the bottom jar while someone else slips out the paper), watch as the blue and yellow meet but don't mix except ever so slightly in the middle. Wanna try it again and put the cold on top?

We did!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Popcorn Day

Remember the Monthly Kit Christmas present? Well my niece celebrated Popcorn Day which is in January (19th, but I messed up and told my niece the 13th) and she made this terrific popcorn tree! If you'd like to celebrate popcorn day you might enjoy this website which has lots of recipes, games, coloring sheets, and more. I'd love to try the chocolate popcorn truffles my niece made, but I'm not suppose to be eating chocolate (migraines) so I'm thinking about the popcorn covered apples which look scrumptious! To make your own popcorn tree you'll need popcorn, paint, and a straw. The idea is to blow the paint around your paper with a straw until you get the desired shape and effect you want. Then glue on popcorn to finish the tree effect.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

FFWW: Ocean Week 2

We're still continuing along with our Ocean Study here at the Pumpkin Patch. Last week, while not covering everything planned, we learned about quite a bit. Morgan was highly impressed to learn what sand really is, and is oddly determined to dig as far as he can to see what might perhaps lay on the other side of it. Jayden was equally amazed to hear that rocks have salt in them, and he thinks perhaps if they weren't so greedy with the salt that maybe the ocean would taste better. That was the results after he stopped fussing over people putting salt in the ocean. (Misinterpretation of a salt harvesting picture!) We also had great fun learning about the 5 categories of shells and then seeing how many we could locate on the beach (4 out of 4 isn't bad!) So we're quite eager to enter into another fun week of ocean school!

  • Continue reading The Wonderland of Nature: the seashore section in this book is absolutely loaded with information. We've only read the info on shells thus far, and it was broken down into really manageable bites for the boys.
  • Beach Collage: which will give them something to do with the shells we collected. We'll use them for our collage after we finish graphing them.
  • Awesome Ocean Science: water cycle experiment, Ride a River into the Ocean experiment, salt water experiment, deep water currents experiment, plankton experiment, and possibly more. We're really LOVING this book (a post coming soon)
  • Artistic Pursuits: this has been on the menu for a while and things keep bumping it off. It's a top priority this week! We may also pull out another fun art project, we shall see..

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sea Glass

Living across from the beach has a lot of advantages. One of the biggest advantages we like to enjoy is a daily walk along the beach. Because it's not a busy area Buster likes it too because he gets to run around and act like a crazy pup. He likes it even more when his friends Lucy, Big Max, & Little Max all show up for a good romp. Which usually leaves the rest of us exploring what the tide rolled in. We tend to find a great many things along the shore; shark heads, sting rays (alive and dead), puffer fish (usually dead), huge array of seaweed (sometimes in great chunks) and then there's the sea glass.

We all love finding pieces of sea glass along the shore and we seem to find the same typical colors on our stretch of sand. The boys are holding out hope that I'll find a piece of red or purple, which would be very amazing, but extremely rare. As you can see in the above picture we find a lot of the clear, but what you can't see is a large amount of the blueish hue as well. our tiniest piece (not visible) is more like a shard, where as the largest piece is (in the back) is quite thick. We've found a few pieces that honestly look the shape of Tasmania (see picture below) and our most treasured piece is the amazing blue sea marble.

Sea marbles are quite rare, but sometimes they wash ashore perfectly round. While walking on one of our daily walks along the beach a blue/green sea marble was laying amongst the rocks. It was the well coveted prize of the day and now there are many cries for finding more. The fact that they are rare hasn't deterred the looking and probably only increases the longing of a little boy I know.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mysterious Art For Kids..

I nearly forgot a fun website we stumbled across, Portraits For Kids. You view famous pieces of art and figure out what's missing in the portraits. You'll learn about the significance of the portrait and interesting tidbits while you're at it. The game works with flash, but they do have a version you can use if you don't have/want flash on your computer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cool Freebies & Fun Links

While searching for some things this week I stumbled upon quite a few fun free printables. I thought I'd share them here because surely I can't be the only one who would enjoy them!

Happy Tickets -- they were designed by a mom for discipline issues, but I think they could come in handy for a lot of other things too!

Book Plates -- whimsical and cute enough even for kids. All you need is your xyron sticker maker or a stick of glue! She's also offering up some free Christmas labels which are quite cute. Don't you love the name of her blog?

StarWars Tags -- these fun little things can even be personalized. While we don't need them for school stuff, I'm pretty sure my boys can find uses for anything starwars!

LollyChops -- this blog is so full of great stuff I got lost on there for a while last week. Beware, I did warn you. She offers lots of freebies, recipes, tutorials and more. Really love her blog!

Treat Coupons -- these aren't just cute, but would be a lot of fun on a dreary day.

2010 Calendar -- the artwork is beautiful on this one. I also love the simplicity of it. We printed one of these out all ready!

Free Stationary -- some of it's free and some of it isn't. Lots of fun stuff too!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes..

As the mother of two boys I've heard some really funny, and disgusting, stories before. Those usually happen over tea. I've even answered some tough questions, like the time Morgan asked why boys couldn't have babies too. I'm also pretty use to walking over, under, and around two boys who can't stop wrestling, climbing, and scaring the daylights out of each other; and me. So when a girl can steal a few minutes of quiet time she does. This evening while taking down the laundry, yes I consider that quite time as long as the birds don't drop lizards on me, I was blissfully enjoying the noise of birds and trying really hard to ignore the sounds of thumps and shouts omitting from the boys bedroom window. Really, and truly I was. So much so, that I picked up a rock and chucked it smack at their window. No, I didn't break the window but they stopped long enough to make sure a possum wasn't trying to get in. Five minutes later Morgan was downstairs and out the back door talking, quite loudly, about something that had just happened upstairs in his room. Once convincing him that I truly could hear him if he was quieter he repeated the story to me. It would have been easier to listen to this story and answer his question had the neighbors windows not been open. Or if at least their backdoor wasn't wide open. Or, if maybe my son had been giggling when he told it. He wasn't. He was straight faced and completely serious. I'm pretty sure the neighbors heard our conversation too because their house got awfully quiet.. The story went like this:

"Mom, while we were upstairs getting on our pjs I accidentally blew (I've no idea where this term came from, but it could be worse..) and Jayden told me it was disgusting. He said that it was probably the most disgusting smell ever and that I shouldn't do it because Jesus would have never ever blown. Is that true? Do you think Jesus ever, you know.. blew?"

I choked on my own spit, tripped over the bucket of laundry pegs, scarped my leg on the rose bush and nearly tumbled down the back stairs to the deck. I waited for far too long to see if he was going to giggle or snort or give me any indication he didn't truly expect me to answer such a question about Jesus' personal hygiene. I mean, he asks some pretty tough spiritual questions, but honestly this one...

When I realize just how serious he is, which I do realize because he's now staring at me with his head tipped to the side and he's standing on one foot while he concentrates, and worse yet he's nibbling on the tip of thumb. There's not a hint of a smile grazing his face and I'm seriously tempted to tell him to go ask Daddy when images of recipes from Israel pop through my head. I take a deep breath, match up the last pair of socks, and innocently grab a washcloth to fold.

"I guess He probably did. I mean, it's not like it's a naughty thing to do. It happens, it's part of life." I threw a couple of rags at him and he ran off to put them away. I breath again, noise resumes in the neighbors house. Morgan pops back out the back door, "So, you mean I'm right and Jayden's wrong, right?" I sigh and resort to the fact that laundry time is no longer going to be peaceful in this house..

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Challenge

Last year Michele mentioned a few book challenges put out by J. Kaye's Book Blog, I was sorely tempted to join up, but didn't for a variety of reasons. This year, when Michele mentioned it again I thought, 'why not?' Okay, so there's probably still a million reasons why not, but I thought it would make for a fun and interesting way to keep track of the books I read and listen to this year. Not to mention the ever growing pile of non-fiction books I need to read, but often find an excuse to put aside for something a tad more fictional.. Interestingly enough, at the ate Morgan's reading he could probably succeed at this challenge. It might be fun to keep track of his books too, but we'll have to see about that.. As for me, this is where I'll keep track of my books. Which will include, for now, books that we read aloud to the kids as well. If you're interested in more information about the challenge you can check it out here.

  1. Mr. Monk Goes To Hawaii (own, audio)
  2. Night Of The Moonjellies (own, school)
  3. Peter  & The Star Catchers (audio, with Morgan)
  4. Aunt Dimity is Snowbound (library)
  5.  The Tale Of Hill Top Farm (audio, own)
  6. The Tale Of Holly How (audio, own)
  7. Lewis &  Clark & Me (own, school)
  8.  Little House On The Prairie (own, school)
  9.  By The Great Horn Spoon (audio, own, with boys)
  10.  Book Of A Hundred Days (audio, own)
  11. The Waterhorse (audio, own)
  12.  Eragon (audio, own)
  13.  The Tale Of Cuckoo Brow (audio, own)
  14.  Chris &  Amy Meet Captain Cook (own, audio, with boys)
  15.  Mary Poppins (own, audio)
  16. Everyday Talk (own)
  17.  Just Call Me JP (library, with the boys)
  18. Peter And The ShadowThieves (own, audio) 
  19. Beezus & Ramona (own, with the boys, audio)
  20. The Doorbell Rang (library, with the boys, math)
  21.  Ten Red Apples (library, with the boys, math)
  22.  The Parable Of The Lily (own, with the boys, Easter)
  23.  Benjamin's Box (own, with the boys, Easter)
  24. Scripture Adventure An Easter Adventure (own, with boys, Easter, School)
  25. The City of Ember (own, audio)
  26.  Tale of Hawthorne House (own, audio)
  27.  Warm As Wool (own, with boys, School)
  28. The Merchant Of Death: Pendragon Book 1 (own, audio)
  29. The Liver Cleansing Diet (own)
  30. The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate (own, audio)
  31. The Help (own, audio book)
  32.  Wooly Jumper: The Story Of Wool (library, school, with boys)
  33.  Three Names (own, school, with boys)
  34. Anzac Cottage (library, with boys)
  35. My Granddad Marches On Anzac Day (library, with boys)
  36.  One Hundred & One Dalmatians (library, with boys)
  37. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone (audio, own)
  38.  The Tale Of Briar Bank (own, audio)
  39. Why Don't You get a Horse Sam Adams? (own, school, with boys)
  40. Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? (own, with boys, school)
  41. The Declaration Of Independence (own, with boys, school)
  42. The Story Of The Star Spangled Banner (own, with boys, school)
  43. The Veggie Tales Bible StoryBook (own, with boys)
  44.  Shh! We're Writing The Consitution (own, with boys, school)
  45.  Then What Happened Paul Revere (own, with boys, school)
  46. Will You Sign Here John Hancock (own, with boys, school)
  47. Where was Patrick Henry On The 29th Of May (own, with boys, school)
  48. The Story Of The Liberty Bell (own, with boys, school)
  49.  Picture Book Of Revolutionary War Heroes (own, with boys, school)
  50. Adventures in Colonial America: Boston Tea Party (own, with boys, school)
  51. Frog On A Log (own)
  52. Ted In A Red Bed (own)
  53.  Fox On A Box (own)
  54. Fat Cat On A Mat (own)
  55. Mouse Moves House (own)
  56. Hen's Pens (own)
  57. Ted's Shed (own)
  58. Shark In The Park (own)
  59.  Sam Sheep Can't Sleep (own)
  60. Toad Makes A Road (own)
  61. Anne Of Green Gables (own, audio)
  62.  Percy Jackson & The Lighting Thief (own, audio)
  63. Amber On The Mountain, (own, school, with boys)
  64. The Rag Coat (own, school, with boys)
  65. Heidi (own, with boys, school)
  66.  The World According to Humphrey (with boys, audio, own)
  67. The Cinderella Deal (own, audio)*
  68. Mr Monk & The Two Assistants (own, audio)*
  69. Fed Up (library)*
  70. Make Way For Ducklings (own, with boys, school)
  71. Cook The Books (library)*
  72. The Ruins Of Gorlan (library, audio)
  73.  In Search Of Eden (own, audio)
  74. The Burning Bridge (audio, library)
  75. Spy Dog (own, with boys)
  76. The Enchanted Woods (library, with boys)
  77. Friendship According to Humphrey (own, with boys, audio)
  78. Trouble According to Humphrey (own, with boys, audio)
  79.  The Anybodies (library)
  80. Ghost At Work (own, audio)
  81. Mr Monk & The Blue Flu (own, audio)
  82.  Archer's Quest (with boys, own, audio)
  83.  Truman's Aunt Farm (with boys, own, school)
  84.  The Bee Tree (own, with boys, school)
  85. Icebound Land (audio, library)
  86. Merry, Merry Ghost (audio, own)
  87. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (library, with boys)
  88. Jotham's Journey (own, with boys)
  89. The Christmas Mystery (library, with boys)
  90.  A Christmas Carol (own, audio)
  91.  OakLeaf Bearers (library, audio)
  92.  The Very First Christmas (own, with boys)
  93. God's Precious Gift (own, with boys)
  94. The First Christmas (library with boys)
  95. Monster & Frog All-In-Together Cake (library, with boys)
  96. Aussie A to Z (library, with boys)
  97. The Adventure Bible (Luke Chpt. 1-2) (own, with boys)
  98. When Jesus Was Born (own, with boys)
  99. This is the Star (own, with boys)
  100. B is for Bethlehem (own, with boys)

Notes: Red means finished; Green means in progress; Black/Blue is a hopeful intention. All books are linked to a source, so if you click on them you can see more about them. Read why we link to Book Depository here.

* indicates the book contains language or adult content/themes. I only feel it's fair to warn, because honesty I can't stand that in a book!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

FFWW: Ocean

We really enjoyed our moon jelly study from last week, and this week we're continuing on with our ocean study. Last week, while we enjoyed moon jellies we didn't focus in on oceans that much. That's okay, the idea was to get their creative juices flowing for wanting to learn more about the ocean. This week, we'll focus in on molluscs as well as oceans themselves. Morgan all ready knows the names of all the oceans and it'll be fun review for him, where as it's all new for Jayden. Plus, the age old argument reigns in this house.. is it the Southern Ocean (still cracks me up), the Great Southern Ocean (a tad pompous..), or the Antarctic Ocean (which may explain some of those icy cold spots when we're swimming!) The plan this week is to read a book or two at home and then go to the beach for exploration. We'll have to see if the tide agrees with us this week.
  • The Wonderland Of Nature book & Cd: we'll start reading the Sea Shore section which starts with an amazing section on shells, mollusks, & cuddle fish. Lots of amazing information in there that we'll dive right into. We'll also be using the mollusc and shells printable papers to go with it.
  • What Lives In A Shell: I love the Read & Find Out science books, and we were happy to see our library had this one in the series. I don't know that we'll use it, but I stumbled upon this pdf to go with the book
  • Free Mollusk Lapbook from Homeschool Share (HSS): We will use these components as part of our giant ocean lapbook (pictures to come) which will hopefully make a great resource for the kids when they are done too. I know Morgan especially loves to pull out a lapbook to "look something up!"
  • Free Ocean Lapbook Pieces: these pieces come from a lapbook based on a book about the Atlantic ocean, which appears to be a beautiful book, but, unfortunately, isn't available at our library. Instead, we'll be using a variety of the components for our own ocean lapbook.
  • Escape From The Carnivale a Neverland Adventure: We listened to this book last year and really enjoyed it. The main character, and her family, are a mollusk tribe, & her best friends are mermaids. While Peter Pan makes no appearance in this story plenty of other Peter Pan regulars do. I think the boys will find the book even more fun considering this weeks study.
  • Why The Whales Came: this is our ocean read aloud book. While I read the boys will have ocean pictures to color of the current animal we're studying. I picked up an amazing coloring book of ocean wildlife and I just put a picture for each of them in the box. They like to color while we read books.

We're still waiting on our ocean science experiment book to come, and if it does we'll have a few fun experiments to try our hands at as well. We're really hoping it arrives this week!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Number Neighbors

Taking a month off from math and reading wasn't our intention, but when life creeps up sometimes you have to let a few things go. So, during our Christmas break we were truly off from everything. Which means, when school stared this week I received a few blank stares, a couple of "this is boring", and my all time favorite comment, "What does this have to do with oceans!" Thankfully I speak Little Boy, and I knew that what they really meant was, "I'm confused and I don't remember how to do this." So, rather then continue to frustrate them I asked for chalk. It took some digging and a few cries of, "But Mom there might be a spider in there.." I'm not sure if they really thought there were spiders in there or if they were trying to distract me, but we located the chalk all the same. We then marched off to the only flat space of our driveway (it goes uphill) and I started writing numbers down at random. The boys were utterly confused and pretty concerned that I'd forgotten how to count. There were some giggles coming from their way too when Jayden pointed out how whacky my number line was. Thanks for that Buddy.. Once I had numbers written down from 0 - 20 I was satisfied. I wasn't pleased, but satisifed. What I really really want is one of those awesome playground/schoolyard 100 charts. Have you seen one? They are so awesome! We should really petition out council to install one at one of the various parks in town..

Next I told the boys we were going to play a going to play a new version of Number Neighbors (we play a card version of this from time to time..) and that there were a few minor rules to listen to. I told them I was going to call out a number and each of them must run to it's neighbors. They could not stand on the same number and they could not, no matter what or why, push each other. Then I started calling out numbers. We had a few tears at first because one child had been intently studying the "board" to know where numbers were. The other one hadn't considered this and was looking for order with the numbers. It frustrated him that there wasn't any. The dog decided to join us and was eventually fully chastised for barking at us while secretly eyeing the neighbors cat. Our dog has issues. He hates cats. I'm not talking dislikes and will bark at them. I'm talking hates them so bad I think he could seriously use some therapy for it!

To keep things fair we let them call out numbers while Daddy and I raced to the correct spots too. Morgan found Daddy's inability to locate the correct numbers the first time amusing while it caused Jayden to slap his own forehead. This also works for calling out even and odd numbers or having them go to any number that can be said while counting by 2's, 5's, 10's, etc.

Yes, putting them in order would have made more sense, but I wanted to challenge them a bit more. Besides, if I had put them in order I probably wouldn't have stopped at 20, but covered our driveway with 1-100. Honestly though, I'm considering picking up a chalk line to make our own nifty 100's chart out there. The boys had so much fun with this that I heard a lot of cries for, "No, we're not hungry for lunch let's keep playing!" Best part? We only had to do a review that one day and since then they've had no struggles with the number neighbors...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chores & Schedules

Quite a few months ago I purchased and read the book, Managers Of Their Homes (aka MOTH) after hearing some rave reviews about it. I'd felt the need, and we'd been trying to implement one for some time, to use a family schedule. Remember, I have warned you in the past that I'm a bit Monkish.. The book has a lot of great information in it, and it was interesting to see how so many different people manage their days. It was also equally interesting to see how each family chooses or plans to prioritize the day. For us, that's what it came down to, was figuring out which things were more important and shifting things around. I'm also going to state right from the start that we do NOT use this schedule every day. We are NOT rigid and bound to it. However, on school days we like to try and keep within the lines as much as we can. It's not only helpful for the adults, but super duper helpful for the kids.

The book comes with the schedule grid (that's the white thing my colored paper is on) and I trimmed mine to fit on the bulletin board. Thankfully, I can print one off their website if I mess it up so I wan't too panicked about that aspect of it. I had considered laminating it. Okay, I wanted really badly to laminate it, but it was too wide for my laminating machine. I still consider, quite often, taking it to my favorite store in town (aka the laminating shop) to have it encrusted forever in plastic, but there are far more important things to deal with.

The scheduled grid is actually set up so that a family of many (as in 8, but you can actually obtain more for a larger family) can use one grid. Because our family is half that size I opted to make our colored slips of paper wider. Thus, there were no empty white spaces driving me nuts, and we had a bigger rainbow effect. Is that weird? It's okay, you can say it is.. The result was also that I had more space to jot down the tasks in.

In the book, MOTH, the Maxwells tend to be very detail oriented when it comes to their schedule, seriously it's amazing. For our family, we are detailed in some areas and less in others. It simply depends on the area and how we might all ready handle it. For instance, in the book many people wrote on their schedules exactly what they were doing in each or their school blocks. I didn't. We decided on what chunk of our day was going to be school oriented and we wrote "school" there. Why?

Many reasons.. My biggest being that we still use our workboxes. Thus the boys all ready know and see what's expected of them. We school together as a family and very rarely is there work that they must take away, at this stage of our schooling, to do on their own. When there is they see it in their workboxes and know to dutifully deal with it. So, I didn't feel the need to write down every detail of our school day, but rather mark off a chunk of time for it.

The same is true of our chore time. All though you may notice that Mr Scarecrow has vacuum written on one day of the week. Other then that you'll notice that it really just mentions Chore Time. Again, this is because we have a chore system that is working for us and our chores change daily. I didn't feel the need to write all that out in the small rectangles of paper.

Did you notice the flip charts hanging from the base of our bulletin board? Those are the kids Chore Charts. Yes, we use to use something different and yes, I blogged about it. The problem was that we found the x's everywhere and the laminate peeling off. These were inspired by Mr Scarecrow and they work amazingly well for us. Each child has two. One is their daily chores (to the right) the other is their weekly chores (to the left). Generally they'll find only 1 weekly chore per day (Saturday has 2 each..) Their daily chores are broken down into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. The morning chores are the heavy stuff; later it's just tidying up what we've gotten out. Truth be told, if later chores are done properly there's not much for them to do in the morning slots.

An inspiration my children have for not dawdling is extra free time. This is a huge inspiration to them, as they know if they work quickly they will gain extra free time in the morning. They also know that dawdling may end up costing them free time. We also tend to work with timers around here. I know, kinda geeky, but it works for us. Plus, may I just say it's an excellent living math experience and has really helped the kids gain a full understanding of time.

Now, a few side notes.. The book is sold directly through the Maxwell's website. While you can pick it up used you need to know if the scheduling papers and such have been used. Plus, if you're interested in registering your book to give you access to their message boards and other goodies (something I've yet to do) You need a book with the registration form in tact still. They will not reregister a book simply because it's changed hands. This is clearly stated on their website. Would one benefit from their website? I've honestly no idea. While I've poked around it a tiny bit, I've not registered to see what else is available. When we follow our schedule (weeks we school, which means 3 out of 4 in a month) I don't have as much time to fiddle on the computer, and I'd rather spend it doing other things that I feel have higher priority.

Does this schedule work? The schedule is just a silly piece of paper with brightly colored paper stuck to it. That's all it is. It sits there and looks really colorful on your wall. In short, it's just a tool. How well it works is up to you. Our schedule works beautifully for us if I'm up early like I'm suppose to be. That way I can get others up and moving when they need to be.

Are we rigid with the schedule? No way! That'd stress me out and I'd get a migraine. We use it as a guide. There are days when we stick with it more then other times and all those days are fine with us. There are also days when in the evening we may change plans and play a game longer or watch a longer movie starting earlier. Life goes on. I promise, the schedule won't blow up!

Does your Husband like it? My husband helped make the schedule. He likes that his work hours (because he works from home) are set on the schedule. It means no interruptions from the "home office" and that he can give his undivided attention to clients. He was 100% for it as long as it wasn't going to be one of those "we absolutely must do it this way or else it will blow up!" things. In short, it works for us and we like it.