Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 15

Things are slowly returning to normal around here. Last week we were back to school & it was a welcome distraction for all of us.

We made our way through another set of books, some of which we'd been reading for a few weeks, like the Abraham Lincoln book. It was a fantastic & interesting read complete with tons of pictures from his life, the civil war {preview first a couple were a little gruesome}, & his assassination. The boys now feel they are on a first named basis with this man in history.

Behind Rebel Lines was quite a fascinating read as well. It's about a young woman who joins the Civil War as a man. She goes completely undiscovered & becomes one of their best spies!! She became ill & rather then be discovered she left & checked herself in at a hospital far from her base. Unfortunately she was gone so long she was considered a deserter, & it wasn't until years after she was married that she finally set out to have that charge removed from her "name". It's all a true story & much of the information in the book comes directly from the book she wrote about that time herself.

After reading the facts about Gettysburg I pulled this book off our shelf & we read it last week two. It gave an easier to understand view of the craziness of that battle. It's still hard to comprehend so many lives were lost over shoes. The book does have a sad part in it, which caught me completely off guard, but it was still an enjoyable story all the same.

We finished the book of Matthew last week, & thus wrapped up our page from Picture Smart with it. I really love that the little pictures on the page help us remember what the book was about, & breaks it down to remember what each chapter or specific verses are. Yes, the dots on the crown are intentional & all represent various sermons Jesus' gave. From L - R: M, J, K.

As of the end of last week we'd officially tackled 18 lessons in Sequential Spelling. While I adore the simplicity of Spellwell I noticed that the boys were passing their tests & acing their daily work, but none of it was being carried over into their everyday writing. I switched one child to Sequential Spelling & eventually the second one as well. The difference has been amazing. I can actually read many of the letters left laying around before having to ask, "What does ..... mean guys?"

The boys wrapped up several different notebooking projects all based on the Civil War. Jayden was most excited by the signal flag paper he did & was most upset when I said we needed to put things away for the day & he hadn't made his official flag yet. I absolutely loved the little chest they made at the top. What you can't see is that it opens up & you can pull medicine bottles out to see what kind of treatment sick or injured soldiers might have received during the war. The bowl there opens, the wooden box, & the bottles on the paper, all open up to help you understand more of the treatments used during that time. We also learned that it was the Christian Commission that seems to be more responsible for the typical Dog Tags that military men now wear. The original ones were made of wax paper & wax string & had identifying information on them so that when men were found they could contact families to let them know who was injured, deceased, or well.

The boys also made these fantastic little paper bags that showed what each solider would have carried with them during the Civil War.  Some more trivial then others, but all obviously important to them.

These pieces all slip inside of the bag! On the back of each one explains what it is. It was interesting to read that only the North seemed to care a little sewing kit with them to repair their uniforms. Something I'm not sure they would have actually had time for anyway!

They also continued to fill in their battle map to help them remember which side one which battles. It was also fun for them to refer to this map as we read books about the Civil war. Each one often takes place during only one or two of the small battles, but using this map has helped them see where the battles were. While they have no memory of it, they were also amazed to learn they'd been on some of the very mountains in TN that we read about it & in some of the cities that were mentioned & used as strongholds. 

Thursday we had a package to collect at the local shop/post office. The dog needed a walk & I needed to clear my head so we loaded up The Beast, the kids grabbed their scooters, & we set off. There's a walk track & reserve near the small shop. It was just before dusk when we set out so we didn't go to far, but it was enough for everyone to feel refreshed upon return, & just long enough for The Beast to manage to slip away from us & get covered in gack from the swamp.  We also had fun watching a Cormorant settle down for the night & managed to stir up a heron while scolding The Beast as we dragged him out of the swamp.

Of course we had math this week. Jayden tackled borrowing & Morgan long division. There was reading, Henry Huggins for Morgan & various titles for Jayden.  A library trip in there somewhere, & an RSVP to go with the local home ed group to the science museum in a few weeks time. We also started our Biology book, as it's now officially too cold to be studying insects. All in all a decent week back. 

Friday, June 22, 2012


I know some people get annoyed the dish drainer is full of clean dishes, but when I turned around last night & saw mine full it made me smile. Instead of seeing it as undone chore I saw something different. I saw the new pants & kitchen appliances Mr S had bought for me. I saw that a yummy {& healthy} lunch had been prepared, a special treat for the guys {because mine go insane if they don't get one at least once in a week}, but more then that it kinda made me feel normal. There's a lot of things that just don't feel normal right now, so it's nice that something made me fell that way. I'm pretty sure the guys in the house were pretty excited too, because there was a whole lot of squealing that, "Mom's making chocolate chip cookies, can you believe it!" "What, no way, she made you hot cocoa today too, are you tricking me?" Normal feels nice sometimes, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 21, 2012


This year we've been using Saxon middle grade math books. One of the smaller reasons I moved the kids away from Teaching Textbooks was so they were messing with the numbers & other mathematical stuff themselves. This was really important to me, especially for Jayden. Thus far we've enjoyed our time with the Saxon math books, but unfortunately in the middle grades you don't get the nifty worksheets like you do in the younger grades.

At the middle grade levels {5/4 - 8/7} the student needs to copy the problems down elsewhere & work them out. For this I've given the boys graph paper notebooks where we've broken down one sheet of graph paper into many graphed rectangles where they have space to copy the problem down & workout the answer.

A few weeks ago, though, I noticed that both boys would copy down numbers & do the math, but often make simple mistakes due to copying down problems wrong. Or, worse yet, they'd copy half a problem down, stop to ask if they'd done something correctly then turn back & circle the number presuming they were done because they'd forgotten what they were doing.

Needless to say, this wasn't encouraging for anyone. While I understand that they will need to learn to do this, it doesn't have to be now. So I started thinking about how it would be so much nicer if Saxon had worksheets or workbooks for these grade levels. Turns out I wasn't the only parent who felt this way, which was comforting but not helpful!

After a disastrous day of the wrong numbers being circled in someone's math notebook I decided to make the worksheets myself. I use to make the kids worksheets to slip in their math journals or I'd leave them problems in their math journals, copying down the premade problems was going to be even easier!

I did it via Pages, which is the Mac equivalent to Word.. only better as Mr S would say. {Except he's never been able to work out either programme & usually calls out for help. You have no idea how much it makes me laugh that I have to assist him with any computer programme, because this guy is computer programmer extraordinaire, but I digress..} It took me about a half hour to make up a weeks worth of worksheets for both kids, & will save us hours of drama. In fact, after our first day of using them I heard a lot of, "Oh, this isn't hard, why did I always think this was so hard?" Both concepts the boys had been working on for some time seemed to click with them, & best of all no silly mistakes.

It'd be fantastic to make the years worksheets up in advanced, but for us it would also be pointless. I don't have my kids do all the problems in their Saxon books. In fact, half the time they don't even do half the problems! I have them do many problems orally with me, like finding the factors of specific numbers, telling me which angle is which, or explaining to me how to check their division work. Sometimes, just to prove they can do it I'll make them solve long strands of number equations too.

Then I choose from whatever is left over. Sometimes they do all of what's left & sometimes they don't. I often pick many problems that would be considered "trick or trouble" problems. Meaning, the ones the need the most work with until they've conquered the concept. I usually give them all word problems to workout too.

Their needs will change as they progress through the book so unless I want to make worksheets with every single problem on them, I think it would be pretty impossible to make up the worksheets for the entire year at one go. I haven't shared any of the worksheets here because I'm pretty sure it would be a violation of Saxon's copyright, after all I am copying the problems directly out of their books.

I made the pages look a little more official by sticking a footer on the page that states which math book the problems came from. It will also help me when filing papers if they take a nose dive out of someone's notebook. We meet with a person from the state every two years, & need to show a little of the kids work at those meetings. I generally hold on to papers for a couple of years to be sure they've been seen & then we tend to empty the file boxes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hot Cocoa

Yesterday was cold, blustery, & very very wet. After our Farewell at the beach we treated the boys to hot cocoa at the local Chocolate Factory. They were very excited as we rarely go there, much less do more then try the free samples.

Don't you just love the two handled cups? I do. You can get hot cocoa in two different sizes & this is the smaller variety. We had a great laugh when the girl brought the boys drinks out because Jayden peeped in his cup & it was empty. His face fell until the girl picked up the small teapots they bring the cocoa in & poured some into his cup.

Jayden chose the normal hot cocoa while Morgan & Mr S chose the creamy vanilla. Sadly, I couldn't indulge as I'm allergic to milk, but if I had I would have been sorely tempted by the Hot Chilli variety.

The larger size comes in a nifty Aztec mug, aren't they cool? Yes, the come full to the brim with your choice of cocoa, & no you can't take the mug home. You can, however purchase them separately in one of the various areas where they sell chocolate & other little goodies.

Do you like his concentration look? Apparently it's hard work pouring your steaming hot cocoa into your fun mug while you debate the where abouts of the balloon you just released on the beach. Which was nothing compared to the concentration he gave the various switches on the wall, but then firmly decided, "I won't touch them because they might not really like that." Too true!

Not sure what he was thinking, most likely wondering where the piece of raspberry cake he & Mr S were suppose to share. Or why people put mustard on ham sandwiches {he thinks that's gross}, or all the things he hopes to do when he's in America. Which mostly consist of going to a Buffett style restaurant, hitting Lego Land if we agree, & telling Gram heaps of stories, & maybe laughing at photos of Mom when she was little. Ha!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Goodbye, how I hate that word. 

It isn't painful until you know you'll never say hello again.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you... 

Do not let your heart be troubled. John 14:27

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.

Good-byes are not forever

Good-byes are not the end

They simply mean I'll miss you

Until we meet again

We only part to meet again.

Precious in the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it's happened. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


One of the things Jayden had requested for his birthday was the crazy Zoku Popsicle maker. After a little checking around I found it on special so we purchased it for him along with the fun little face kit.

It takes 24+ hours to freeze that sucker the first time. I popped it in the freezer, in it's box, & I think the styrofoam didn't help it in the freezing process. So I removed it from the box & left it in the freezer. Then we put it back in the box, wrapped it up & gave it to him. I think he kinda knew what it was considering it was cold.

Our first batch of popsicles wasn't a raging success, but then I don't cope well with picture instructions instead of words. So we considered it a trial & error process & moved on. By day two we knew the slices of fruit for the faces needed to be reasonably thin or they wouldn't get in the popsicle mold. We had a bit too much fun cutting out funny faces!

Once we got our silly faces in the machine {very easy by the way as long as you fruit isn't too thick} then we filled it up with some breakfast juice we had on hand. I really wanted to do something different then the juice, but I decided to with simple. It took longer then the 7-9 minutes it's suppose to for the popsicles to freeze, which meant we only got 6 popsicles made in total before our machine needed to go back in the freezer.

There were no complaints from the boys though, despite that sad look on Morgan's face. I think he was sulking because I told him not to use his harmonica while eating a popsicle. I think it would be pretty funny to get a face on each side of the popsicle, but I'm not sure if they'd fit in the machine or not that way. The boys, on the other hand, want to work on striped popsicles & some flag ones they spotted. Turns out there are a lot of extra tools you can get for this crazy machine, which we kinda all ready knew. We just went with the extra face kit. We've got some watermelon mixture in the fridge today to try out in the crazy machine, I'm excited to see how they turn out.

Craft Therapy

I've been doing a lot of crafting around here lately. I think it's my need to keep busy right now that's driving me.

After finishing the Civil War Quilt I made a Pajama Monster, followed by a second one.

For the record, I still think the leg pieces are a bit fiddley & that if I were to make another hanging one I'd totally make the legs like the arms are made just making them a wee bit longer. It would save a bit of time & lots of energy to be sure.

If you look closely at the lighter monster you'll notice his feet aren't the same shape due to the leg issues I was having. No one notices though because I added handles & they hang from the kids bedroom doors. If you want to add a handle add it when you stitch the back to the front {last step of the project} & just go over the handle area a couple of times before proceeding. I also ignored the rule about not running your sewing machine over the zipper. My zippers were too long & I had to be sure to catch both ends in the seams. Plus, I think it makes the zipper look like it belongs a bit better to not have the official start & end.

The downside to all the crafting is the mess! Yeah, my craft room looked like this yesterday afternoon by the time I was done with the second pajama monster. Yes, that's a half deflated weird looking Dorothy the Dinosaur on the floor, & yes my fire alarm is laying on the table thanks for asking. The dinosaur gave her stuffing to those crazy pj monsters. It's been a long time since my boys have been into the Wiggles, which makes me wonder why on earth Mr S & I keep singing Wiggles songs.. As for the fire alarm, well if you missed it on Facebook I was having a Fire Alarm issue. This house is loaded with them & we removed one from the ceiling that was wired into the house because it wouldn't stop beeping. Then Tuesday I thought the hole/wires in the wall were beeping & I was on the verge of screaming when the Postie came. That's not important except I nearly dragged him inside to ask him if he could hear the beeping too before I called for help. As I walked back into my craft room after retrieving my package I looked up when I heard a beep & realised there was a second fire alarm less then a meter from the first one! Obviously it needed it's battery changed.

It didn't take me long to clean up though! I have another list of things to make too & I needed a clean room in order to think straight. Sad, but true. Funniest thing is, that room will probably be all most as bad by the end of today considering the long list of projects I have planned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jammie Dilema

We have had a small problem in our house. It's been going on for at least a year or more. It was all over pyjamas! See, I have this little boy who takes them off, rolls them up in a ball & throws them in the bed he sleeps in. That bed is not in his own room, so at night he just pulls out another pair. The other little boy I know, he just throws his on the floor & when I tell him to pick them up he chucks them in the laundry.

Needless to say it's been driving me insane! A friend shared that she made bedtime bags where her children could stash their pj's, a bedtime story, & a loved stuffed animal. Everything you need to get ready for bed without having to hunt it down.

I thought the idea was fantastic & put the idea on my to-do list. Each time I considered making them I remembered the pyjama bag I had as a kid & debated hunting down a pattern for it. Yesterday while debating which project to start in on next, I stumbled upon the Pajama Eater.

He's much more "guy friendly" then the one I had, & the pattern came together rather easily. I pulled out some old jeans that were in the sewing box & hacked up pieces to use, thus the seams running around his tum & legs. Waste not, want not, right? I did change things a little bit though.

I used felt for the eyeballs. I wanted to keep the project quick & simple and new if I used cotton material I'd feel the need to satan stitch around them. This way, I could just do a normal stitch around his eyes & not worry. I also took the hem off the bottom of one leg of the jeans & used it to make a handle to hang him from a door handle with. I knew that if the bags were in their beds it wouldn't solve the problem. It needed to be at an easier to access area, especially for the little boy who sleeps in the top bunk.

The only quibble I had with the pattern is that the legs turned out to be too big for the base of the monster. However, that might have been my fault because the jean material had a little bit of stretch to it & you need to measure the leg pieces yourself. Then again, I also had the measure out the body pieces myself so perhaps my measurements were off a little there. Either way, I just took the seam of the leg in a little & problem fixed!

I even ripped open an old stuffed animal that was in the box of things to get rid of to snag stuffing for this little critter. There's enough stuffing left for the other one that is nearly done. The only thing I had to buy for this project were the zippers, & the store didn't have the right size but it all worked out. One doesn't complain about $1.60 do they? Now, if I could just drill it in their heads that these are not toys. I've had to remind a certain little boy to put his back 3x since finishing it all ready.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

9 Is Fine

What's your favorite:

Cereal/Breakfast: omelettes, especially with chicken & red peppers!
Vegetable: Pears, Yum! Carrots.
Drink: I have to say juice. Not just juice, strawberry juice. 
Toy: Lego, my new one.
Tv Show: The Zoo
Game: Um, the Harry Potter one I'm playing right now.
Restaurant: Subway
Book: Gusty The Fly
Holiday: Christmas & my birthday because I don't have to do chores!
Animal: dogs, bunny rabbits, lions, giraffes
If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Jac-a-rooty

What is your favorite thing about each person in our family?
Mommy because she makes my dinner. Daddy because he's always so weird, like funny weird. Morgan because he's well.. weird. Nutty, crazy like a nutcracker.
If you could choose where we go on vacation, where would we go?
Britain, but if we couldn't go there I'd pick America, & if we couldn't do that I'd go to France.
What do you hope to do now that you are nine?
I hope I can break through walls.
Do super summersaults.
See through dark caves.
And, my best, make an earthquake by.... burping!

Seriously I didn't make those answers up. I'm not sure anyone but Jayden couldn't make those up! He is quite addicted to pears lately though, & it's a major event if the house runs out. As in major not good because he's sure to tell us. Hourly. He's always been a carrot freak, & most likely only left off saying corn because I rarely buy it these days. He might like it, but it doesn't like him.

The Zoo is a new to us show about the Auckland Zoo. It's been really interesting to watch, & he's very much in love with it considering it's all about animals. That and, you know, he actually gets to watch a live tv show. The day they had a chameleon on he wanted us all to come & sit down because, "You're going to see a real live chameleon won't this be so cool!!" And that, my friends, is why this Mamma doesn't buy toy lizards, frogs, or snakes. Cause I don't wanna bend down to pick it up only to scream when it wiggles. True story. Ask Mr S about the day I had to evict a frog from the kids train box. The man had tears streaming down his face while I recanted the entire incident, including the kids safely hidden behind the couch because Mom was screaming so loud while she chased it around they were sure it was one of the dangerous poison ones. They kept screaming at me to hide with them too. Thank goodness our only neighbors were sheep back then..

As for his name. He had an absolute blank look on his face before busting out with that one. His initials spell the name JAC. Now & again Morgan will call him Jac. When they were much younger Morgan's pet name for Jayden was always Jay-Jay, you know like the jet plane. Jayden never complained, but then again he let Morgan talk him into being Wendy {like Bob the builder & Wendy} once too & then screamed on top of his lungs in the local Wal-mart when I called him Jayden. But one day Jayden said, "Don't call me Jay-Jay anymore." So Morgan didn't, he started calling him Jac, today Jayden decided it's not an allowed name anymore. Why? He has an Aunt who's name is Jacqueline, we have never shortened her name but my brother does. No idea if Jayden knows this or not, but he figured Jac was too much like Jacqueline &, "I am not a girl." Funnily enough, I've always called him Jayde or Jayder Bader & never been told off for it. Yet.

And yes, this child LIVES for omelettes. When there is leftover fajitas in this house he's always heavily conflicted on asking for a fajita for breakfast or turning it into an omelette. The woman he marries is going to have to be an exceptional cook, because the way to this kids heart is through his tummy. Seriously, ask him what he wants to give as gifts & it's generally food related.. in the chocolate variety. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Civil War Quilt & More

I've been busy, amongst other things, with working on that Flag Quilt Jayden requested for his birthday. It was a relatively quick & simple quilt to work on if you ignore the fact that my head wasn't in the game a few times & that I had to put in & pull out the same set of stitches a half dozen times.

I still have a few little stars to hand quilt onto the blue fields, but Jayden really wanted to celebrate most of his birthday today as Daddy was home thanks to the Queen's Birthday. Thus, I happily wrapped up the quilt & presented it to him.

He was delighted with it, even if he all ready knew all about it. He was with me when I purchased the material, & he saw me working on it, but was never permitted to check out the entire/finished project at anytime.

There was much ooing & ahhing over it today when he was finally, at long last, permitted to view it, wrap up in it & inspect every single little detail of all the material.

It made the project even more worthwhile! I'm still not entirely sold on the gold material that separates the flags, but everyone who's seen it in person has fully enjoyed it & think it looks fine. Really it does, especially with the tan edge around it & then the nifty blue binding.

Excuse the blur, I took the photos with my phone. This is obviously the front side. I really love the way the blue binding pulled it all together.

The back, which was given a lot of inspection because he hadn't seen this material before. He was really excited to see all the flags. I quilted the rest of the quilt by following the seam on the flag stripes. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Remember how he wanted that Union Jack throw too? I was all set to make it for him when I stumbled upon this material in the craft store. He was pretty insistent that I pick it up for him. One panel is enough to make four pillows, but I only ended up making three. Mostly because that was all the supplies I had to fill them with.

I contemplated quilting the Union Jack, but with the Civil War quilt & everything else that we've had on our plates I didn't. In the end I didn't care because I really loved the way the pillows turned out anyway.

I love this material too. I was actually planning to turn it into a messenger style back for him, I chose to use it for the cushions so I could make the panel of Union Jack's go farther! Now I just have to remember which shop I purchased it from so I can obtain a bit more. These were two projects that were really fun, but I'm equally glad to have wrapped up. Now on to other projects which are lined up for me!