Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scrapbook Give-Away

Leslie, over at  Joyful Mother Of 6 Children, is hosting a scrapbook giveaway. She's giving away two fantabulous scrapbooks in an effort to help raise money for a family that's in the process of adopting a little girl. For every $5.00 (USD) that you donate you get one entry into the giveaway. You'd better hurry though, entries close on June 30th (EST)!

Battle Blitz!

Yet, another grainy photo! Mr Scarecrow has the good camera with him today so you'll have to settle for a grainy photo until I can take a proper one. Battle Blitz! Is a file folder game from our Revolutionary War study. Despite it's lack of color, we'll have to deal with that later while watching an episode of Liberty's Kids, we had a lot of fun playing this game!

The idea is to conquer as many battles around the board as you can. You simply move in a clockwise position and answer trivia questions. A correct answer means you've won a battle. The boys had a blast playing this and the questions are all things from what we've studied. Which meant play was pretty equal around the board!  In fact, the hardest part of this game for them was keeping quiet while someone else answered a question.  I'm really impressed with exactly how much information they've retained from this incredible study we've done, and I'm pretty sure anything that might have "leaked out" will be enforced with this fun game.

Monday, June 28, 2010


You'll have to excuse the grainy photo, I took it with my mobile. However, this little Tassie Devil was found on Sentry duty around the house today. Jayden has been so taken by the British with our Revolutionary War Study that he was determined to make his own RedCoat. The coat is actually from his circus master Beanie Kid, and it even has "gold buttons" on it. The sword is from his knight Beanie Kid, and the little hat is actually from a Buzz Light Year toy. I love how the sword is attached to the belt though! I'm not sure you can make it out in the picture but attached to the yard belt is a yellow paperclip, and the sword is sheathed in it. Wait until you see his little wooden soldiers we made this weekend. They're all just waiting for their hats and then they'll be ready for a photo opportunity!

Bento Boxes

Not that long ago on a homeschool message board people were sharing ideas that helped their days run smoother. One mother mentioned that she actually took the time for a while to fix all the lunches and pack them in lunch boxes. Now, my first mistake was finding the idea outlandish, because I did. I remember thinking that was totally crazy! Then, for whatever reason, the conversation popped back into my head and I started thinking it was actually quite an interesting idea.

See, around here we get going with our studies and we're usually neck deep by lunch time and pulling away can be hard. When it takes me 30 minutes (or more) to make lunches and then we have the clean up time (because I refuse to let the mess wait) we've lost ourselves into a world of something totally different. Then there's those days when I'm standing there thinking, "I forgot to put down the lunch menu!" Because, honestly I have to make a list of lunches as much as dinners or my brain goes into overdrive. Really.

Needless to say I decided to try packed lunches after two weeks of really rough lunchtime rituals around here. Only, I'd been spotting a few Bento Box ideas that seemed incredibly clever and colorful. I'm not so much into the entire Asian inspired theme, which is where Bento comes from. The word is Japanese, but I won't bore you down with all that info.

In the morning when I pack Mr Scarecrow's lunch I end up packing lunches for the rest of us too. In fact, I even ended up packing morning snacks too. If you've ever seen our Morgan try and make a choice over something you'll understand the valuable hours I saved us just in having it laid out in front of the kid. Seriously. Love him as we do, choices can overwhelm him at times.

Our boxes are filled with whatever we have on hand. We don't often have luncheon meats around, but last week the boys were lucky enough to discover some ham in their boxes. Sometimes I just plop leftovers in there, all dressed up in fun silicone cups (varying sizes and shapes) and plopped in our BPA free lunch boxes. We don't often do sandwiches around here either, but I'd love to get a few of the funny Sandwich cookie cutters I've seen. The things are huge and are suppose to reach all the way to the crust.

There is an incredibly large amount of stuff you could get if you went all out with Bentos. So the fact that I'm unaware of any Bento shops really close to me is, at least in Mr Scarecrow's mind, a very good thing. Seriously though, you can get egg shapers, sandwich shapers, tiny bottles for condiments, minute cutlery, foodpicks, and the list goes on!

I doubt that I'll post our weekly Bentos, because I'm not so sure our lunches are all that interesting. In fact we're kinda "plane Janes" around here and can eat many of the same things. You know.. homemade crackers, chicken, and tossed salad. My kids were in awe the day I chopped up those pears for them. The same pears, I might add, that no one touched at dinner the night before! Anyway if you're interested in seeing a bit more about it you can check out some of these sites:

Wendelina posts weekly about the Bentos she's makes for her two young sons. So colorful, and making me wish watermelon and strawberries were back in season around here.

Another Lunch only posts Bento stuff. You have to check out her box full of Foodpicks. My boys would go crazy for those fun flag ones she's never used!

Yum Yum Bento Box does some amazing things with her lunches. I think they are super cute, but I have no intention of sculpting my kids foods into amazing structures before throwing it in the box. Honestly, though, it's cute to look at but I'm much more of a simple food person.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fourth Of July Lapbooks

We're loving every minute of our Revolutionary War study and we're quickly nearing the end. You'll have to wait just a wee bit longer to see the finished results of their notebook and lapbook they've been working on. However, if you're looking for a quick and simple lapbook for the your family for the 4th, I've spotted two freebies over the past couple of days.

Lapbook #1 is geared more towards the younger crowd with lots of fun little booklets in color to print and fill in. From hotdogs to fireworks they seem to have covered it all. This might be a fun review for my younger one next year. There's also some fun links for other shaped booklets if you're interested. You may, or may not, have to sign up for a free account to access that one. I'm not entirely sure as I'm all ready a member.

Lapbook #2 is geared more towards the older crowd. There are a great range of booklets, from Francis Scott Key to Benjamin Franklin. This lapbook even covers The Sons Of Liberty, Patriots, Fireworks, The Liberty Bell, How to care for your flag, and the Boston Tea Party. Lots of fun and learning in this nifty free lapbook!

I also spotted these fun Free Crafts:

  •  Pledge Of Allegiance bookmarks: They'd make cute party gifts for the 4th.
  •  Stars & Stripes Pin Wheels: We love pinwheels around here, and they'd make great little decorations too.
  • Patriotic Drink Parasols: my kids are gonna love these, they are always begging me to buy umbrellas for their parties..
  • Patriotic Fans: these would also make cute decorations, with or without the stick handles.
  • Firework Tutorial: I promise no one will get burned with these festive firworks, we're hoping to make a few as the closest we'll get to "bombs bursting in air" is going to be some hand held sparklers.
  • Adorable Eagle T-Shirt: When the boys were younger it was traditional to give out at least one or two handprint crafts each year. T-shirts was often high on the list!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Subtraction Track

Last week to help Jayden get a better hold on subtraction we played a new game called Subtraction Track. I can always tell when we've found a good game to play because not only does the intended participant enjoy the game, but everyone else in the family wants in on it. Jayden had so much fun with this game he showed everyone how to play it over tea one night. It's really simple to play. All you need is paper, pencil, and two die.

On your sheet of paper (we made three boards out of one piece of scrap paper) write the numbers 0-4 on it. Underneath it, draw three x's or circles. This is your board game. The object is to get all the numbers crossed off without using up all the x's or circles.

Roll the two dice. Subtract the larger die from the smaller one, the answer you get is the number you will x off on your paper. If, your unfortunate enough, to have all ready x'ed off the number then you need to color in a circle or x off an x. If you use up all three x's/o's then your out of the game. Other's can continue to play until they have either marked off all numbers, or until they've used up all three of their x's. 

This was a fun game and a great way to learn some basic subtraction facts. You could add more numbers to the paper in an effort to reach more numbers, but you'd have to swap the dice for cards. We had a lot of fun with this and due to it's quick nature to play I suspect this one will be creeping up quite often during "dull" moments this winter!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Potato Head Cake

Jayden had been planning on having an Olympic Birthday Party ever since he got himself all caught up in the Winter Olympics. He wavered a bit over the many months it took to arrive at June, but he always returned to his original plan. Then one day, while he was playing with his beloved Mr Potato Heads he asked if he could have a Potato Head Party. The idea seemed really fun and we ran with it.

I spent several days thinking about his cake and the best method of attack. My plan had been to make a couple of bowl cakes stacked on top of each other, but I didn't have the right sized ones that I felt safe baking with. Which sent me back to the drawing board. I ran a few ideas by Mr Scarecrow and we decided to try bread pans. Yeah, well in the middle of the night I woke up and realized it wasn't going to work due to flat sides. Don't ask me why that thought woke me up, but it did.

I decided that I'd try something different and muddled with new ideas. One of which included dashing to the kitchen supply store and picking up this cute giant cupcake pan. I still had to solve the Potato Head cake though. I decided cupcakes would work. So I made up a batch and used the batter to make 4 jumbo cupcakes and a dozen regular sized cupcakes.

This was the end result. His body and hat are completely edible! There was much laughter and squeals of delight from the birthday boy when he spotted it. We took 2 jumbo cupcakes and sliced off the rounded tops; spread icing on the freshly cut spots and stuck them together. I sliced the rounded top off of one regular sized cupcake and spread icing on the cut part and then stacked that on top of the two jumbo cakes. Because my guy is wearing a party hat I didn't need a rounded crown to his head. Then I spread coconut sugar icing on the fellow and shoved him in the freezer. Once his icing was firm and hard I smoothed it out with my fingers (it melted on contact so I had to work quickly.) I spread extra icing on his shoes and plopped the body on. I used well washed eyes, hands, etc. to decorate him with. His hat is an ice cream cone which had icing spread on the tippy top and the base; I then rolled it through sprinkles. 

This silly balloon made an appearance at our party too. Jayden spotted this ladybug at the party store while I was trying to find some fun stickers (never did find them) and asked if we could get it for his party. He was sure it would be perfect to make everyone laughed, and the lady offered us a discount because it was all ready blown up and they had no more on the shelf.

We had a few party games planned, but only ended up playing this one. The idea was to put equal Potato Head parts in a box. Blindfold two players and let them put together their potato heads. While the goal was to put it together correctly we were hoping for some really funny looking potatoes, but most participants did a really good job!

Notes: Coconut Sugar Icing is something I've been playing with for a while and I seem to have finally come up with a method that is really nice. To make you'll need to put your coconut sugar in the blender and let it whirl around for a while. The amount of time depends on how much sugar your grinding. For this particular cake I used roughly 1 cup of sugar in the blender. I let it whirl around for 5 minutes or so. It will be super dusty so I let it sit for another 4-5 minutes so I don't get completely engulfed in a puff of sugar when I open it.  Mix 2 ounces of butter with 2 ounces of coconut oil (I use organic, and if you don't like the taste of coconut use refined) and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in 1 tsp of vanilla essence, and 1-2 T of milk until well combined. Mix in the coconut sugar until it reaches the consistency of buttercream frosting.  This will be nice and smooth and creamy if you whirled your sugar long enough. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Funny Conversations

I keep baskets of books handy for a variety of things. Two particular baskets of books sit by our fireplace, which is rarely in use so there's no fire risk here. One holds the books pertaining to our current school study. The other is a box of picture books or easy readers and such for the boys. I can then say, "Go get a book from the reading box to read to me!"

Being big fans of Franklin there are several Franklin books in the box waiting to be read, as well as Curious George, Clifford, DK Readers, Lego Readers, & so on. Now, these books have been in this box for sometime. As the kids read them I swap them out, but certain books have been sitting in that box for a while. Library books, after all, take a higher seat of importance for reading then do books we own.

As you also know, we've been studying the Revolutionary War. Jayden is quite taken by many famous Americans like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Paul Revere. However, he's equally taken by the British soldiers (I think the fancy uniforms suck him in), and as long as he's not trying to tell us how highly unimpressed Ben Franklin was with the way a British judge treated him in parliament (that's totally Liberty Kids talking there..) 

Morgan was flipping through the box of books when I reminded him the reading challenge started on Monday. He happened to flip past this Franklin book when Jayden let out an audible gasp. We all stopped thinking they'd discovered something terrible in the book box when Jayden says, "MOMMY! Quick! Why on earth is Franklin a British Solider?"

Now, I was attempting to clean up party remnants and plan school stuff in my head, not to mention come up with a weekly menu, remind myself I signed up to host our local homeschool group twice in the upcoming months ahead, and plan out another craft kit. So I really didn't have a clue what Jayden was talking about. Which means I responded with a dumbfounded look.

Jayden took my dumbfounded look for pure stupidity and grabbed up the book and promptly shoved it right under my eyes before saying, with great disgust, "SEE! Look, he's wearing a red coat!" Once I removed the book enough to actually see what was on it I had to suppress a giggle.  I then responded with, "Jayden, he's a nutcracker in the school play, not a British solider. Promise." "You're wrong Mom, look, he has a red jacket with gold buttons, black books, white pants, and.." He paused for great emphasis here, "a sword." Oh the envy,  Jayden wanted us to buy him a real sword for his birthday. I offered to help make him a proper wooden sword, but he informed me a wooden sword could not chop down trees and such..

I opened the book and showed him that Franklin was in a school play, which seemed to pacify him for a while. Then today, I sent Morgan to the reading box to fetch a book to read to me. Jayden followed him and quickly scarfed up the Franklin book which we found him staring at for a long while before he said, "I still think he's trying to be a Redcoat otherwise, why would he get to have a red shirt and a sword?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Dad..

Dear Dad,
Remember the time you helped us build the bridge to cross the pond? I still have to wonder if it’s hanging out there behind the Bright Blue house that’s no longer bright blue.
Remember the time my room was so messy you said I couldn’t go swimming until I finally cleaned it up? As I recall it took me past lunch time, and I managed to find a missing library book! I might have to try that on the boys next summer.
Remember the time we planted that huge garden in NY and you couldn’t figure out why any of the green beans were growing? We kept snitching them right out of the garden, but I promise we were not at fault for that cantaloupe fiasco!
Remember the time you helped me build that green volcano out of an orange juice can when I was studying Hawaii? Then we had the Hawaiian Luau and exploded the thing with way too much baking soda and vinegar? I’m pretty sure Mom hasn’t forgotten the mess she found!
Remember the time I came home and found my room painted all purple? Sometimes, I still dream of a purple room, but then I wake up and see I’m still surrounded by boring white walls.
Remember when Mindy got hit by a car and I woke up in the middle of the night and came running into your room because there was rust all over the basement floor from the water heater? I was convinced the poor dog had bled all over the basement floor!
Remember how every time we had peas you use to say, “I eat my peas with honey..”? I quote that same poem every time we have peas, the boys wish I’d stop but some traditions really must live on!
Remember the time you built a little house to cover the main box to the electric fence and then you let me paint it bright blue? I sat on the can lid and had a ring of blue on the back of those pants forever. 
Remember the time you built that cage for the guinea pigs? I walked out on the porch and asked what you were making and you made up a story on the go. That was the best guinea pig cage ever!
Remember how I use to say it was terrible to eat frog legs because the poor frogs wouldn’t like it? You always said it was okay because they gave the frogs little crutches and they were quite happy with them. I use to envision little froggie wheelchairs too!
Remember the time I helped you stack the wood up in Spencerport? We had to pass it through the basement window, and then you gave me a red beaded necklace. I’m pretty sure I still have that necklace in a box in the attic.
Remember how every time we had mashed potatoes you’d always poke Mom’s and then she’d say, “Stop playing in my food!” I always consider poking other people’s mashed potatoes when they are served, except I never make gravy so it would slightly defeat the purpose.
Remember that time you bought the pink and purple bicycle for me? The one with the little bag that could velcro on the front of the bike? I still have a pink and purple bicycle, it just doesn’t have a bag on it anymore!
Remember that time we made homemade salsa and then you accidentally rubbed your eyes after cutting a jalepeno? You get the same terrible effect if you rub your nose after cutting jalepenos too!
Remember when R was in the hospital and Mom was staying with her so I was suppose to make sloppy joes for dinner? They were most likely the worst thing I’ve ever cooked in my entire life, and I’m pretty sure they tasted terrible too! 
Remember when we were on vacation in NY and every time you parked the car you ended up nudging the car in front of us? I haven’t started nudging other cars yet, but I’ve hit the sidewalk on occasion!
Remember that time I just couldn’t wait to watch Beauty & The Beast, and when when you turned it on it turned out to be a terribly scary show instead of the story I’d envisioned? I’ve never forgotten that hideous show! 
Remember the night you brought Libera home? That was the year I had a Mickey Mouse cake and the dog promptly thanked me for adopting it by emptying herself on the floor.
Remember how you taught CPR classes and you had to take Annie with you? I saw an Annie laying on the ground recently and when I said, “Oh look it’s Annie!” I got some really funny looks.
Remember when you bought Mom her first cockatiel and she promptly named it Emily only to discover it was a boy? The neighbor’s named their cat Molly and it turned out to be a boy. I laughed for ages when they told me, I’m pretty sure they thought I was slightly mental.
Remember how every Christmas everyone use to make you peanut butter cookies and then hide them away until Christmas Day? When we made some this past Christmas and I told the boys that story they decided that you were right Peanut Butter cookies are the best!
Remember how much I use to love eating Grapenuts and you use to say that they were all the seeds from the grapes that people saved up. They don’t sell Grapenuts here, I guess Australians must like to eat their grapeseeds instead of saving them up!
Remember the time we were watching a Bills game and you were down at the second barn and knew something good happened because you could hear us screaming? I saw this fellow in my local grocery store this week with a Bill hat on, apparently I was grinning more then I thought because he stopped to stare at me for a minute.
Remember that time D and I were playing outback and the power flickered inside and you came out to see if anything was a miss? Yeah, well we’d kicked the soccer ball and managed to hit the power wire going into the house. I’ve always been convinced that’s why it flickered.
Remember the time you changed out the water heaters and I was helping and managed to smash my finger between the water heater and the spout? Now, when the boys ask if I’ve ever broken a bone I can tell them all sorts of funny stories about broken fingers and arms.
Remember that time Mom was working at the ambulance and you had to take all three of us into Dr Garcia (I’ve always remembered her because of that fun strawberry shaped toy box she had. That's saying something too, because I have no idea what my current Dr's name is, and it was like playing Guess Who with another Dr to get to the bottom of who my Dr is!) and we all had to line up for that terrible throat swab? I can’t remember if it was positive or negative, but I remember everyone lining up.
Remember when you decided to use oil lamps at night to cut back on the electric bill? I remember everyone scrambling when the wicks kept catching on fire and shooting up the chimneys. It’s hard to tell that story without laughing!
Remember the huge picnic bashes you use to throw on the 4th of July when we lived in NY? Remember that time the entire firework supply got set on fire and we all thought it was this amazing spectacular show and it turned out to be a total accident! They don’t do fireworks here on the 4th, so we have to settle for sparklers.
Remember when we went out to see the Harlem Globetrotters at Tech and we came home and the house was completely covered in a gray film and there was a burnt piece of firewood laying in the yard? You and Mom fessed up to ordering pizza and burning the box which led to that chimney fire. I recall being more concerned about the possibility of dirty unders laying around when the firemen were rushing around the house.
Remember those stick horses you made for the boys and mailed to them? They are used for horses, hockey sticks, rockets, and anything else they can imagine them to be. The boys are also convinced that grandpas can build anything in the whole world.
Remember that Farting Monkey candle you sent us? Yeah, I was the only one brave enough to actually sniff the candle! Because I survived, the rest of the gang gave it a whiff. Then of course everyone wanted to know if that’s what a monkey really smells like...
Remember that chocolate mint pie I wanted to make? I was too wimpy to go into a bottle shop and buy the liqueur so you stopped off on your way home from work. Yeah, I’m still too wimpy to go into the bottle shop and I’m trying to convince people to go buy me a bottle of vodka. But don’t panic, I’m only going to make vanilla essence out of it!
Remember how you use to have a mustache all the time? Well, the boys stumbled across a picture of you with one and they laughed for about 20 minutes over it. When I asked what was so funny they started all over again.
Remember the big green family tent we use to take out every summer and go camping in? We now have a big blue tent to take out camping and I’m pretty sure the risk of it snowing on the 4th of July here are way greater then it was there!
Remember when I got married and you were so worried it would rain and ruin the whole thing? Not a drop fell, but boy was it cold. There are certain family members who’ve dubbed it the coldest day of the year. Which was, of course, followed by one of the warmest days of the year.
Remember how you use to flip through all the satellite channels to try and find a New Year’s count down? The year where we missed the apple falling by seconds and aimed to watch the peach fall were quite memorable. There is no falling fruit here, but an awful lot of fireworks!
Remember how we use to pick on you for wearing your knee socks pulled up even when you wore shorts? We ended up taking pictures of it and marking it for all times in one of the scrapbook albums laying around here.
Remember the toy box and awesome puppet theatre you made? We wish, all the time, we had them here. The boys have to make do with a rubbermaid box and a curtain instead.
Remember when you worked at Kodak and we use to go each year and see the movie? I don’t remember what movies we saw, but I remember the huge screen and the giant stash of suckers we got afterwards. 
Remember how much I love you? I do. Happy Father’s Day! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun Book Finds

I am a thrift store shopper. I enjoy going in and checking out the bargains. I tend to head straight for the book cases and the clothes racks. Last week we had the opportunity to pop into a couple of local thrift stores & while scanning the book shelves I stumbled across two fun math books on top of other goodies. These little math books are really cute and just right for Jayden. Morgan all ready knows the info inside of them, but will most likely enjoy the stories.

One is about fractions and is called The Missing Invitation. The second book is about subtraction and is called The Famous Pie Story. They are really quite simplistic stories, but we enjoy reading a book about a new subject we are learning. It's equally fun to read books about topics you now understand in order to better understand the story line. So needless to say I grabbed both books up and we'll be reading them this week for school. The pictures are so cute I couldn't help snapping a few pictures to share with you!

Jayden will love that this is about a bunny; he's obsessed with bunnies.

 I like that they used quarters without it all being food based!

I'm loving that they show how to add the fractions!

This story is a bit typical of a subtraction story, but they'll like it all the same

Don't you just love that little Pig?

Liking the way the pattern is laid out

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Birthday Fun

Jayden successfully stuck with his idea of waking us up super early on his birthday. So much so, I sent him back to bed. That lasted for 30 minutes. At which point I told him it still wasn't morning yet, and I got away with that one because it was still pitch black out there! After that he had to wait until Daddy woke up before he could tear into his presents. The boys usually wake up to a decorated table: party cloth & their presents. He wanted to be sure the table would be read for him, apparently after 7 years of life this is something he was worried I'd forget about!

He was beyond excited to open up his presents, even if he was disappointed at the prospect of no lego. You see, the problem with lego is that kids usually know they are getting it because it makes so much stinking noise in the boxes! So we opened up the boxes and added padding to it so they wouldn't shake. Honestly, I don't get the big giant boxes for a handful of lego, but that's another rant.. Anyway, when he opened up the very Buzz Light Year lego he'd been waiting "years" for he sat there for a minute before saying, "I can't believe I actually got one!"

We were suppose to go camping that afternoon, but due to a holiday weekend (Queen's Birthday) the camp sites were full. There was a pinch of disappointment around the house, but we made the best of it. In fact, we decided we'd just camp out in the living room. We did consider setting it up in the yard, which we were all game for, until we remembered that Mr Scarecrow & I didn't have air mattresses and I wasn't willing to risk my hip on the cold ground over night. Might sound wimpy, but if I agrivate my hip I won't even be able to touch it without excruciating pain.

The boys had a blast camping in the tent, and yes my living room is missing all it's furniture. I had to put the lounge chairs in the dining room and shove the couch off to the side, which is half blocking the kitchen entrance. The dog was equally content to sleep in the tent, in fact he was delighted when Jayden gave him his own room instead of having to sleep in the entry way. And no, our tent isn't normally so "see through", we just didn't put on the other bits. It was quite the effort to get those massive poles up without breaking a window or knocking a computer off it's desk.

There was also our customary birthday oreos that have become quite the tradition around here. While in a local shop earlier this week Jayden picked out some candles. I actually went in to cash in on the sale and pick up a new toaster, but I was most disgruntled that toasters were barely on sale and I refused to pay $80 for a toaster. My family has been venomously complaining that they have to retoast (okay and yes, sometimes triple toast) their toast. What can I say, I'm cheap. In the end Jayden spotted some really cute birthday candles that I snagged for him instead. At bedtime he declared it, "The best birthday ever!" 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Juice Sweetened Cereal

It's always fun to find convenience foods that we can pick up and eat. However, Nature's Path cereal is one we can occasionally indulge in. I say occasionally, because as you can see by the price sticker on the cereal it's anything but cheap, and yes that's a sale price! Generally that cereal runs $7.95 (AUD) per box. It's nice to be able to snag this cereal when we go camping, are on vacation, or just for the occasional treat around the house. CornFlakes are a huge deal around here. They also happen to sell Spelt Flakes that are juice sweetened. Unfortunately, they only have two true fruit juice sweetened cereals and we find that they are hard to keep in stock. So we were delighted to find them, not only on sale, but in stock this past week when we picked up a couple of boxes. Locally you can often find this in stock at health food stores; we've picked it up and three different shops. It's also available in America, but you might need to check their website to find out where.

We've also spotted a few goodies at Woolies that are completely sugar-free treats that we can occasionally buy. The Naytura Blueberry Crunch Bars as well as the Apricot Chewy bars are both sweetened with fruit juice.  Naytura also makes a Chocolate & a chocolate nibs cookie/biscuit that are sweetened with fruit juice, but honestly we're just not into prepackage cookies and didn't like either one. I think we're highly spoiled with our own homebaked goodies!  Naytura also makes a few granola style cereals that are sweetened with fruit juice, we don't usually buy these because we make our own granola, but we do enjoy them on occasion.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Timeline Notebook

When we first started homeschooling, what seems like many years ago, I purchased the Konos wall timeline. I really do like it. I like the visual it gives of how far between years things happened, or in reverse how close actual events happened. We have moved that, very large I might add, timeline from apartment, to house, to house, to house. It's been found hanging on our school room wall, dining room walls, living room walls, hallway walls, and even on a bedroom wall for a short while. We really do enjoy using our timeline, but we're often a bit slack with it.

I'll also be 100% honest and say that the timeline chat comes up frequently amongst homeschoolers. To timeline or not to timeline. To use a wall timeline, or a notebook. Which brand, what graphics, and on and on.  When one such topic came out a while back it dawned on me that Morgan really has an amazing passion for drawing. He rarely goes a day without attempting to draw something, so much so that I'd love to sign him up for some lessons.

One of his very favorite things to do in any given school day is Bible because he gets to draw the story out on a timeline. He's quite the embellisher on his pictures and goes for all sorts of funny faces and emotions in his pictures too. The picture of Mary realizing Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem was quite amusing with Mary's mouth wide open in shock and her hands over it. Yeah, I could also tell you about the picture Morgan drew when he was 7 of me. I'd apparently wandered up to the library and discovered that it was closed. Best part? That picture, for all time's sake, is logged away in one of his many lapbooks.. But I'm getting way off topic here.

The point is, Morgan loves to draw. So, it occurred to me, when someone was asking about notebook timelines, that I knew where one would could get such pages for free. I knew this because we'd used them before. In fact, Morgan had a lot of fun drawing timelines for our Lewis & Clark study, so much so he's asked many times if we'd be doing anymore of it. So I hopped on over to Guest Hollow (formerly Los Banos Homeschool) and printed out the boys Timeline Notebook cover. We then made a trip to our local office supply store and picked up a new notebook for it. I decided to go with a binder instead of one of our fun homemade books because I knew that, if used properly, this notebook would far expand the width of the spines we have for our homemade books.

Generally, we read about something and then Morgan draws a picture that will help him remember. Sometimes he's more elaborate then others. The pictures I've shared he drew last week with a box of crayons vs pencils. He enjoyed drawing timeline pictures while I read our read aloud. The picture above, while looking a tad wild actually has quite a bit of purpose to it. The top picture is a drawing of England and the Pilgrims two ships that left. The triangles with the P's in it were the party banners up for their departure; I giggled on that one. The bottom left is a picture of the Jamestown Plantation, complete with a fence around it. The picture on the right is the men, in the boat, writing the Mayflower compact. 

Notes: We use the blank timeline pages, but you can also get ones with dates all ready written on them. While I had every intention of printing on the front and back of these papers, we didn't. So in the end I've left it like that. When we do a study and make a notebook, I simply copy the timeline pages so that he can store the same papers in both his timeline notebook & his themed notebook.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Revolutionary War Fun

This week, on top of all the Liberty Kids fun we posted, we were also dutifully working away on our Revolutionary War lapbook & notebook. The boys also had some very interesting discussions and questions based on the many things we covered. Jayden decided that he's very passionate about George Washington, which is interesting because he's taken to many presidents as they've come up in our studies.

We also learned about Whigs and Tory's, unfortunately we didn't have the awesome book written by Jean Fritz called Early Thunder. It's not only an amazing tale about the Revolutionary War, but an easy way to learn about Whigs and Tories. All the same, the boys enjoyed the quick lesson. We did not fill out George vs George book because we decided it would be fairer to wait until our books about them arrived so we could have equal information about them both. 

We had a quick brush up on the Pilgrims and I was pleased to see the boys remembered why and when the Mayflower Compact was written. Big stuff for little people there. We then proceeded to make this very cool little booklet for our lapbook. The boys were tickled pink I used paper that made it look "so old", it made their day.

We also had fun working on this British Acts book. It was lots of little pie shaped pictures that had to be taped together; the end result is very elaborate! We had a lot of fun coloring these pictures and discussing what each one stood for. It was also amazing to see just how much the colonists were being taxed, and not a wonder they eventually got completely fed up with it.

We worked together on this fun Jamestown Plantation Replica as well. The boys colored it all up and then I cut it out and helped them glue it together. It went together quite well, all though the lookout spots in the rounded area on the fences were a tad fiddly. Even still, the boys are quite pleased with their efforts, and rightfully so!

We also made a notebooking paper which helped us to visualize the way the government was working before America became it's own nation. The boys enjoyed the pictures that went with it for helping them to remember Upper and Lower house, all though they were a tad disappointed that their envision of certain people ruling the second story of the house and other's ruling the ground level weren't quite accurate. The boys are super excited to start this weeks lessons because there's rumor they'll hear about the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of the actual war... 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jayden is 7

What's your favorite:
Cereal: Squares (shredded wheat)
Vegetable: corn!
Drink: lemonade, but not the fizzy kind
Toy: Buzz Light Year Lego!
Tv Show: Uh, I don't really have one of those kinds of stuffs because I don't really watch tv.
Game: Duck, Duck, Bruce!
Restaurant: Subway
Book: Peter Rabbit 
Holiday: my birthday & Christmas
Animal: lions, dogs, giraffes
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Perry Parkers 
(don't ask, it's his new obsession, and he's even named his lego man this)
What is your favorite thing about each person in our family?
That Morgan can help me build my lego when I need him to.
That Daddy jumps on the trampoline with me!
That Mommy cooks my favorite foods.
If you could choose where we go on vacation, where would we go?
LegoWorld & Lego Store
What do you hope to do now that you are seven?
Ride my bike without training wheels, cook my own food, and maybe learn how to blow up the bathroom.
(You are NOT learning how to blow up the bathroom! But MooooooooM.....)

I love seeing how their answers change each year; and it's true, he doesn't watch tv shows, just movies. So I suspect if we had asked him what his favorite movie had been he would have said Robin Hood (Disney version), because he watches it as often as he can. In fact, Im' pretty sure any day now the library will ask us to stop borrowing it. Jayden has been obsessed with knights, castles, and swords for a few years now. He was in total awe when the library had a Camelot display with REAL swords. In fact, he was hoping we'd buy him a real sword for his birthday, sorry about that one Jayder!  Happy Birthday Pumpkin Pie!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Intolerable Acts

We've been having a lot of fun with our Revolutionary War studies, unfortunately we're still awaiting the arrival of many of our accompanying books. So we've been enjoying watching a few of the Liberty Kids videos and this evening in preparation for tomorrow's reading about the Intolerable "Acts" we checked out the


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Box Cars And One-Eyed Jacks

Here’s a living math confession for you: I’ve been sitting on a wonderful company who sells fantastic books loaded with math games. The games are outstanding and we’ve had so much fun playing the games that I don’t think my kids realize they are working on some valuable math skills.
We’re currently enjoying Shuffle Into Math with Volume 1 while we anxiously await the arrival of All Hands On Deck (Volume 2). We were first introduced to these books when I did a quick google search a while back. I stumbled upon a sampling of Box Cars & One Eyed Jacks games, and we’ve enjoyed trying out many of those freebies. 
This week, I decided to do something unusual for our math lessons. I allowed each boy computer time while I played a game with the other. Normally we play our math games all together because.
I felt Morgan could really use some work on carrying and borrowing because it’s a topic we’ve covered but only lightly. With his ever increasing need to use numbers I thought it would be wise to cover this topic again. So I challenged him to a game of To Sum It Up. The idea is to take a deck of cards and use 0-9. If you don’t have a deck of Box Cars & One Eyed Jacks awesome math cards you can use a regular deck of cards and simply assign certain face cards to 0. Or, use a deck of Uno cards.
The players (we chose to play against each other, but you can easily have as many or as few players as you want) take turns flipping over cards. They then chose to place the number they’ve flipped over between 6-9 boxes on the game board
The game board provided has room for 9 digits to be added together. We chose to only play with 6 digits as we learned how to play. I’m not keen on the game board provided simply because there isn’t room between the boxes for writing down the combined totals. I’ve promised Morgan a revised board game for our rematch.
We had a lot of fun with this game, and while the key of the game is adding I think it does a great job of reminding them of place value. In fact, it reminded Morgan of our Place Value Game and he was questioning the rules lack of tossing out a number.
Because I didn’t feel Jayden was ready for borrowing I decided to play Junior Star Traveler. The idea is to use cards numbered between 1-6 in a deck. Again you can use whatever you have. We commonly use Uno cards around here for math time, but do happen to have a set of official Box Cars & One Eyed Jacks’ math cards zooming our way.
After shuffling the card you’ll make a 4x6 grid of cards face up on your playing surface. The player(s) then roll a die and try to match up cards on the board to numbers rolled on the dice. This can be done with addition or subtraction; and a player can remove up to 3 cards at a time. Unfortunately, if you can’t come up with anything you color one of the five points of a star. The idea is to remove all the cards before you color in your star. 

Jayden loved playing this game and did really well for himself. The game is meant to be either a solo version or a team effort, but it’s been played in turns around here as well with all of us working to keep the same star from winning. This game was such a hit he decided to teach Daddy how to play it last night after dinner. He then proceeded to pound on the bathroom door while I was trying to wash my hair to ask if it was okay to show Morgan how to play it this morning. You gotta love it when they love their math lessons so much they ask to do more.

Notes: I've linked up with the Australian dealer for Box Cars & One Eyed Jacks, but there's also an American dealer which can be found here. I believe there is also a Canadian company who sells the game manuals as well which can be found here.  I made the game board for Junior Star Traveler and if you click on it you can snag the "gameboard" we used. When I get the gameboard for To Sum It Up made I'll post an update with a link.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I suffer from migraines. A lot. I remember the first time I had one, it lasted an incredibly long time and my family found me sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast in the dark. When they flipped on the lights I started crying. I was 16. Over the years I’ve had spells where they last for an incredibly long time, and then I have wonderfully peaceful spells where migraines are but a distant nightmare.
When I was pregnant the first time I had a migraine for 3 solid months. I remember doing ironing and wishing the steam would stay off of me because the excess heat made me want to gag. I was constantly dizzy and convinced I’d fall over just attempting to walk to the bathroom. Something pregnant women do a lot. But after three months, it went away and it was the last time I suffered a wicked migraine for a while.
When I was pregnant the second time my migraines came back in full force. My head hurt so much that a few hours after birth when I went to shower it hurt to wash my hair. It was like one massive bruise. Unfortunately the migraines didn’t stay away for a very long time this time around.
Instead I suffered a migraine every day at the exact same time. It took me over a year to finally go to the Dr. He was incredibly patient. I think anyone who listens to a migraine sufferer is patient. 
Over the years I’ve tried a variety of medications for my migraines. Some were simply for the pain and very few of them have worked. Most of them just make me sick. Then there was the preventative medication which was an anti-depressant. It worked quite well for a while, but it also caused me to be an incredibly grouchy person. I’m taking so grumpy I’d wake up biting my tongue because everything was making me cranky.
I finally decided that my family deserved a better attitude and stopped taking the medication. My body wasn’t pleased with that idea and it was a hard process to stop taking it. Another Dr prescribed something else for me, but I refused to take it when I saw that if I stopped taking it suddenly I could suffer a heart attack. She wasn’t pleased with me. The feeling was mutual.
Migraine suffering eventually became something I adapted to. Which is really weird for some people to understand. Thankfully I am not fully incapacitated when I have a migraine. My hands shake something terrible, as in I become a fuddle fingers and I spill stuff or will find my writing to be quite wonky. I am terribly dizzy and my sense of smell is so great that I can tell when someone at the other end of the block is doing laundry. And for the record, I really think they should change brands of soap.. 
I can be carrying on a normal conversation an then completely space out. Not because I forgot what I was doing, but because I honestly can’t remember what I was about to say. It’s quite frustrating when your 6 year old says, “Yeah, and then what Mom? Mom, did you lose your words?”
Over the years I’ve read quite a bit about migraine, but most of it is about learning to handle what’s wrong with your body instead of actually helping yourself. So when a friend told me about a book entitled Heal Your Headache I was intrigued.
Not only was the book fascinating, at least to me, it gave me some incredible insight into my own migraines. Strangely enough, it also helped me gain some well needed control over them. It allowed me to notice some of my triggers, ones I was completely unaware of.
For instance, I knew that artificial scents of any kind can give me an instant migraine. Walking down the detergent isle at the grocery is always a fun game to see if I can get what I need before I have to gasp for air again. Yet, I hadn’t put two and two together to notice that something as simple as yogurt was setting me off.  Yet, once it was pointed out it was rather obvious.
The ideas in the book can be overwhelming at first, it took some major readjusting to our menus. But, we survived and with some amazing results. It’s nice to feel normal more times then not in a given month. I've also noticed that after eliminating some of the triggers for a while I've been able to reintroduce SOME of them without problems, some still need to be avoided.
I still suffer a migraine when the weather changes. As in, when it rains. Which can make winter pretty rough considering it rains more then not each winter here. Which means I still feel the need to get the upper hand on them so I don’t have to dash to the freezer between party games and ice my forehead down. 
At the same time I didn’t want to go back on a synthetic medication for my migraines, now knowing the hassle it had been last time. Which led to some research on a natural help called 5-htp. Which, I must add, was also mentioned to me by the same friend who mentioned the book.  I'm hoping between the two I can finally be fully migraine free, time will tell. In the meantime, I feel for those who suffer. I understand...