Friday, November 30, 2012

8-Mile

This is my husband.  For those of you new to this planet, his name is Nick. 

Yeah, he's pretty great.  

He's a Bear's fan so this is one of his many, many Chicago Bear's hats. 

Yeah.  

When we are out choosing a Christmas tree in miserable weather, this hat is appropriate.  

When you wear in in the gym after swimming, your wife will call you "8-mile".  Just so we're all on the same page here.  

Thought I would write about Nick because, well, quite frankly life has been all about homeschooling and Christmas decorating lately, and a smaller amount about this guy.  

Not that he minds.  He's not very whiny.  Usually.  Slide a plate of beef towards him around dinner and he's usually complacent with whatever is going on around here.  

Oh there's a giant 2000 piece puzzle on the dining room table?  No problem.  

Oh you washed plaster down the drain?  No problem, I'll take care of it.  

Oh you put radiator fluid in our transmission?  thanks for letting me know.  

Seriously, all things considered, this guy puts up with a lot from me.  

That latest has been that Nick has this teeny-tiny problem called snoring.  So much so that I haven't been able to sleep and therefore function and therefore get along with anyone in the whole wide world.  

So Nick has started wearing Breathe-right strips to bed.  You can tell he hates wearing them but he does without complaining.  I love this man with my whole heart ladies.  

Yesterday Nick got a ticket on our street for not using his turn signal.  We live in a neighborhood and our street is short...on our side of the street there are only 3 houses for crying out loud.  Oh yes, and it was 4 in the morning.  lots of people out, ya know.  Anyway, I'm not mad about the ticket or anything, we just find it kind of weird.  But we also find it nice to know that the police are out and about protecting us while we are all sleeping.  

Anywho, Nick just felt really stressed about it and I feel bad that he feels stressed.  He shouldn't have to worry about things.  He works so hard and does so much for all of us.  

Including listening to me nag him. 

And he lets me call him 8-mile. :)



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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eddie the Elf

This year we began the Elf on the Shelf tradition.  It's popularity is spreading like wild fire.  In case you haven't heard of it or you've heard of it but don't know about it, here's the scoop.  The elf "appears"  every year and is around on a mission from Santa to find out if the children are behaving.  The children can name him but they can't talk to him.

Our elf appeared while we were out getting our Christmas tree the day after Christmas.  He came from Santa with a book, which we eagerly read.  The book instructs you to name him, so we gave him the name Eddie.  Isn't that cute?  I love our kiddos so much.

Anyway, Eddie likes to roam around the house.  I've got to tell you, I was a little skeptical about the elf.  I was a little scared that they would figure out that he wasn't really moving, but so far, they are over the moon for Eddie.  They absolutely think that he is moving on his own and it is so fun to watch them.  When he "moves" one of the children announces to the other that "Eddie's moved"  and then the other instantly drops what they are doing to join their sibling on the hunt for Eddie.


Here's Eddie in Cal's transom window.

Eddie's checking out the turtles
Here's Eddie from a different angle...he's just "hanging out" by Susan and Anakin, the sleeping turtles.  
Love this one.  Here's Eddie telling Jesus stories.  The kids told me that babies love stories so Baby Jesus must have loved stories...pretty neat to think about =)
In a handle on our secretary.  
Marshmallow bubble bath.  Love this one =)

All of the little people nativity pieces listening to Eddie tell stories.  Evidently Eddie is quite the story teller.  


Had to show you this one too.  Eddie was in my mixer one time and he left these footprints in some flour when he moved.  The children are now absolutely convinced that he walks around our house :)  

We are having so much fun with Eddie and I just can't wait for it to continue!  Are you doing an Elf on the Shelf this year?  Please let me know what fun things your Elf has done :)

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homeschooling it up at Ho Ping

We are studying the Medieval period this year in school and for the past two weeks we have been studying China.  It's really been fascinating.  I've learned so much too...about what colors mean, why there are lions outside of buildings, folklore about Panda's coloring, and so much more!  

Last night we went out to eat for what else?  but Chinese food, of course!  We sought out a truly authentic restaurant, not just fried rice and fortune cookies.  

I must say, we had so much fun!  The children were remarkably well behaved and it was just a lot of fun.  You could tell that Emma was really paying attention and kind of "getting it".  


Do you like these guys?  They were outside of the restaurant.  Emma thought the one on the left resembled the Warlord from the book we had read:







 The Warlord's Puzzle, which was a really good book.

The kids LOVE hot tea so they were thrilled that they could have it.  I think Cal is kind of drunk on tea...four glasses in :)
This was one of our dishes...beef and scallops...yum!  We  did have to talk though that in Medival China meat was very rare and so they really would have just had vegetables.  They were kind of like "um, yeah, okay, pass the beef."  
Here's Emma happy to use a fork after trying to use the chop sticks.
This is basically what Emma looked like too!  They are so funny and had so much fun.  Did you know that the Chinese invented chopsticks?  And gunpowder?  And the crossbow?  And steel?  

Fascinating, huh?  

Anyway, all in all, we had a great time.  We really enjoyed the dinner and if we have to drop some money for the lesson to really SINK in and make some memories  I think it is worth it.  
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Day with Dr. Sheldon Cooper

I had a very nice post about science project day on the back burner...

Then I realized I must have deleted all of the pictures I took off of the camera! 

Bad Mommy! 

So you get this post. 

By the way, hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving.  We had a very relaxing day. 

The day before the big kick off to the holidays, Cal had an early pick up at preschool.  I picked him up and to our surprise they sang some Turkey songs for us.  So stinkin' cute!

Here he is showing the tail feathers.  Goodness I love this boy!  It is so super hard to get him to look at the camera so this is a good picture!

The dslr can record video too and the whole time I thought I was recording him, only to find out towards the end that I in fact, wasn't.  Bad Mommy again :(  But I got to see it and experience it and he was really proud of himself.  That's what matters, right?  But I did realize that maybe it's time to take a class to figure out how to work this computer/camera thing I've been blessed with.

This weekend the kids spent the night at my parent's house.  My sister was home from MBA school and was staying with them.  She texted me "your son keeps telling me he's smarter than me.  Oh my gosh, he's Sheldon!"

And she is so right!!!


I mean, we can't be the only ones who see the similarities, right?  Cal acts like him ALL of the time!  

Even soft kitty.  I sang the song for him ONCE and now I have to sing it when he's scared.  I should mention that he has never seen the show, of course.  But it never fails he makes me start from the beginning if I stop in the middle.  What is with this silly boy?

And like Sheldon he has to have everything EXACTLY the way he thinks in his head it should be.  We've even caught him telling Emma "you're in my spot."

Oh goodness!  Sheldon is definitely based on someone with Asperger's and oh boy, they got it dead on!  

Hope you and your family had a great holiday...whether you are blessed with a Sheldon or not :)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nerds Eating Turkey

I will be back writing next week...

This week I am busy.

Being a Nerd.

Eating Turkey.

God Bless you :)
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How I Teach Spelling...for FREE!

Last year when we began homeschooling, I approached the entire process with an air of caution.

After all, it was our first year and we had no guarantees that this was going to work with Emma.  And quite frankly I didn't really want to sink a ton of money into a bunch of stuff that, if homeschooling didn't work, would inevitably sit in a corner somewhere collecting dust.

Anywho, in my quest to be a big cheap-o, I decided that I would get everything for free or as cheaply as possible.  After all, we are teaching a Classical Education here.  And if Laura Ingalls didn't need an entire curriculum set mailed to her every year, then neither did we. 

So to the old internet I turned (because of course Laura Ingalls had that, right?).  Let me tell you there is a ton of curriculum available for spelling.  There are also tons of free programs for spelling.   I stumbled upon a really neat website called Super Teacher Worksheets.  They offer 3 types of worksheets which are, word copying, an alphabetical order activity, and a word scramble.  I used these for about half the year last year and then they up and started charging membership rates.  While the membership is only $20.00 a year, I am still too cheap to pay it.  And while I no longer have access to printing their worksheets, I can still see the spelling lists and access a few of the other worksheets for other subjects (it will be indicated with either "free" or "member"). 

I really took to the Super Teacher word lists because the words are words that kids will actually use.  After looking at several curriculums for spelling and talking to other moms, I was very aware that there are a lot of spelling programs with some really stupid word lists.  I care more about if Emma can write "Dear Grandma" than I do about her being able to spell the word "anemic".  Because seriously, how often do you use the word anemic, and other stupid words like that? (Sorry if you're anemic, it's not stupid...leave a comment.  I'll pray for you)....

Anywho, last year when Super Teacher pulled the rug out from underneath us, I had to scramble to find what to do for spelling activities.  Here's what I've come up with. We have a spelling schedule:

Monday-I make flashcards for Emma to study with while she copies each word two times.  After she's written them all out, she reads them to me so I can make sure she knows the correct pronunciation.  Emma copies her words out on a sheet I make on the Handwriting Without Tears website.  It allows me to type in the words on the correct sized lines depending on her grade, and then leaves lines for copying.  I print off 4 of these, as she does this copywork throughout the week. 

Tuesday- Emma copies her words and then she does a word search.  She LOVES word searches so that is what spurred me to find a template.  Honestly if you search out what kids are drawn to, do you find that things are just so much easier?  Or is it just me?  Anyway, I make our word searcher guys at Discovery Education's site .  I haven't explored all of them but it appears there is a whole slew of free resources under "classroom resources". 

Wednesday- we are usually in a rush on Wednesday's to get Emma to her art class, so we just copy words on this day.  If we have time I try to think of fun ways for her to spell them out.  We've used letter flashcards, magnets, writing in shaving cream.  Yesterday I dug out the old Aquadoodle mat and had her write the words with the water pen. 
She seemed to really enjoy that.  Honestly I figure any way they can get more face time with the words and the letters and figuring out how they all come together to make words, that's what it's all about here. 
 
*On a side note, I know Aquadoodle's have kind of fallen off the radar in terms of advertising "I can doodle, you can doodle, everyone, Aquadoodle!"  but if you are looking for a Christmas gift, I highly recommend them.  You just use water, it drys, you go again.  It's great, they make different ones, and my kids love them!
 
Anyway...
 
 Thursday- By today she's getting pretty close to mastering the words, or is just getting bored with the whole writing two times bit, so I often will let her just write them once.  Or we may have a practice test to see which words I can encourage her to study a bit more with the flashcards.  She then unscrambles the words with a worksheet I make at The Teachers Corner. 
 
So there you have it.  That's a general guideline of what I do for my spelling curriculum.  It really seems to be working for us.  Emma loves spelling, I'm not getting huffiness when we do it (you know what I mean!) and she knows how to spell stuff! 
 
A lot of times I switch the days we do stuff so it doesn't get boring or let her choose which worksheet to do.  I should also tell you, just so you know the method I use...I go through the spelling word list, site, Super Teacher Worksheet, and make giant lettered word lists for each week.   I then have these lists printed off and I have them on the desk in front of me while I make the copywork sheets, the word scrambles, and the word searches.  SOOOO much easier.  
 
I then paperclip all of the papers from each week together and have them all in a "spelling" folder so I can just pull out a week and go.  I refer to the giant lettered word list come spelling test time or, if she is really super bored, I can just hand it to Emma and let her cut out the words and glue them on construction paper in alphabetical order.  Then we're all big Weeners. :) 
 
Sorry this is so blah, blah, talking head. Hopefully it's helped you out.  Not just made you want to pound your head into something concrete.   
 
Speaking of concrete pounding, I'd better run.  We've got  Speech Therapy this morning for Cal.  I am SOOOO sick of therapy for him, I could pound concrete on head.  Grrr.  Oh well, thankful I guess that it's available and we can provide him with the best care. 
 
Happy Thursdaying to you :)  And spelling as I am sure that is just totally wrong, tee hee!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is My Grown Up Christmas Wish...

All I want for Christmas is...
 
To have half the length of eyelashes these children of ours have! 

I'm so jealous!  They got their eyelash length from their father. 

I'm the only one in our family with poor little stubs for lashes. 

Thou shalt not covet thy familys eyelashes...

What do you want for Christmas???
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Kitchen Sink Eye Candy

As a mother and wife, I don't think there's any place in the home that we look at more than what's at the Kitchen sink.  We are constantly beguiled by dishes, filling cups, rinsing crap out of things (well, hopefully not literally!).  Then there is always the deboning something, the chopping, scrubbing, disinfecting, thawing, draining, and soaking things.   And as much as I just love gazing at the neighbors house through the window above my sink, I decided to go ahead and jazz up the wall next to the sink a bit.  

 I love this poem.  Mom's often need a little reminder while in the trenches...this is but a fleeting moment in time and soon our babies will be grown.

How do we get this to stop???  Anyone?

While I could not for the life of me find where I got this printable online (sorry!), I did find a similar free printable here at The DIY Mommy.    You should totally check out her blog as it is just up my alley and awesome.
 Here's a view of what's there now.  By the way, I can see that a couple of the frames are crooked...thank you Captain Obvious.  :)   Just wanted to show you how we do real-life around here.

This area is a work in progress.  Each time I find something I love or a picture which brings me such joy I spray paint a frame and find a little spot for it.
 I have to say that my hot husband kissing his little lady is one of my fave sites of all times.  My family just melts my heart.
 This is a watercolor of one of my favorite places on Earth, the Muddy Boots Cafe located in Nashville, Indiana.  If you are anywhere near the Midwest you need to go visit.  Visit now.  Visit often.  Just visit.  Sit and watch the way the sunlight flits through their wavy glass windows.  Just do it.  Go now.  I'll wait here...
 I had to hack away at a wedding photo to make this print but I just love it.  Another random thing I saw online somewhere.  So lucky this man is mine.

On a side note, my husband of nearly ten years opened up to me for the first time the other night and told me about when he decided he was going to propose to me.  It was so incredibly sweet.
Below all of my frames is my Scentsy, one of the favorite gifts I've ever received.  I use it all of the time.  I love how it so quickly transforms the tone of the house and it is so easy to change scents.  When I was using candles solely I always felt compelled to burn the whole stinkin' thing before changing candles.  But not anymore!  Love it!

So that was a view of what I look at every day by the kitchen sink...what do you have to enjoy as sink eye candy?
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homeschooling: Fine Motor Skills

Poor Emma.  

She is such a great student and I could give her any boring activity and she would do it.  And do it really well.  

And then there's Calvin.  

 I have to constantly change things up in order to keep him interested in school.  While it is hard it is also very fulfilling to see him thrive when it works.  

Some of the things we are really working on is fine motor skills.  

Holey-Moley, this kid is so shaky when he writes!  So I've been trying to strengthen those old hand muscles; hopefully that will make it easier for him to write and understand where the pencil needs to be in relation to the paper.  

Here is one of the things we've done.  Putting pipe cleaners (or Chenille stems as my grandma called them) into our strainer (or sieve as my grandma calls it).  One of the things that the photos don't show is the fact that he had these pipe cleaners so jumbled up that he had to practice fine motor just to get them in a state that they could be fed through the little holes.  

 Here's one happy boy with his project.  We did this project in Mid September and he made me keep this upstairs in the homeschool room for weeks!  He wanted to keep it as a hat :)  The keeping of the strainer hat made for some interesting noodle-draining.
 Here is one of my favorite things for Cal...strip puzzles.  Not like strip poker, perv-o!  Just kidding.  These puzzles are you can see are a picture cut into strips with numbers on the bottom.
Kiddos can put them together by arranging the numbers numerically or by putting the picture together like a normal puzzle.  Either way they seem to like it a lot.  I get things like this at this wonderful website called, Homeschool Creations.   Be sure to check out her website even if you are not homeschooling.  These activities are wonderful and we take them everywhere...restaurants, ballet while waiting on Emma, and other places.  They help Cal to learn while not really "learning" if you know what I mean.

So those are a couple of things that we've been doing for fine motor.  We do other things too.  What do you do for fine motor practice?  I'd love to hear your recommendations!
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cutting Myself Some Slack

I've gotta tell ya, if you haven't figured it out yet...

being a mom is some stinking hard work. 

This weekend Nick worked and Cal was sick with a tummy bug.  Also some genius was burning leaves in our city ,you know,the one that forbids leaf-burning. Which let me tell you that sends Cal into the worst asthma attacks and sends me into one of those Mama wolf attack modes where I want to claw someone's eyes out or punch someone in the face.  Anywho...

Yeah-rah.  Cleaning up puke, trying to keep the kids awy from each other so they don't make each other sick.  All the while feeling sick yourself and just yearning to do something fun like, go to a farmer's market.  Or the mall.  Something outside of the house.

A lot of people could have lost it, but due to my recent change of perspective, I was able to take it all in stride. 

All mom's have hard days.  Some days there is too much going on to do anything you really want to do.  Some days it's too hard to do things you maybe don't even want to do...like workout or vacuum or workout while vacuuming.

I thought this the other day when I was trying to figure out how in the world I would ever be able to work out on our schedule and the sun going down so early.  Last week I went running and was all gung-ho.  Truth be told I had a great run.  But I ran too far from home and by the time I realized I was too far away from home, it was too dark.  I was so scared I called Nick and made him pick me up...yes I am a loser, I know.  I should also note that we live downtown and there are some pretty sketchy neighborhoods.  I am not a total wuss but having to deal with gangs or something in an area I am unfamiliar with isn't my idea of a good time. I like to run, not run for my life :)

Anyway, while pondering when on earth I was going to every be able to work out, I jokingly thought if these kids were in school, I'd be able to work out whenever I wanted.  I could work out all day if my little heart felt like it.   Which it wouldn't, but it would be a possibility you know :) 

And I have no idea why I've never thought of it before, but suddenly I was realizing all of the cool stuff I would be able to do if the kiddos were away during the day. The short list is...

I could make some wicked cool crafts
volunteer
drink wine at lunch (just kidding.  kind of )
Workout (as previously stated, duh!)
I could clean house
This blog wouldn't go weeks on end without me touching it
I would be so much prettier...I don't have specifics, I just know :)
The entire house would be organized. And not just tidy organized.  I'm talking Container Store organized. 
I would  have time to not just clean house, but have a really, really clean house.  Those things are two entirely different things, you know? 
I would be on a first name basis with my hair stylist...you know, the one I haven't seen in almost a year! 
I would have time for more self awareness, devotions, yoga, and stress relief. 

I don't know what kind of ninja-dummy I am, but none of this has ever dawned on me.  And I guess the truth is that Mommy's never have enough time to get stuff done.  Even with kids at day care or in school or something that gives them more time.  We just never seem to have enough time to get things done.

And we really need to cut ourselves some slack about it.  Maybe you don't.  Maybe you're all free and easy with the slack cutting, but I am pretty hard core on myself and have realized lately that I need to cool it with the always being on my back about things. 

Life if short and we need to enjoy it as mother's.  Not constantly beguiling ourselves with guilt and pity, but with grace and forgiveness. Because in the end how we treat ourselves is how our children will learn to treat themselves. I know I want Emma and Calvin to grow up learning to forgive themselves for their shortcomings rather than beat themselves up constantly like their ol' mom did. 

And in the end I think it will be best for everyone if w are all happier and calmer. 
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blogroll


I'm in the Hip Homeschool Moms blog hop...check it out!  Click here and be taken to the magical land of beautiful moms all joined together!
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Happy Birthday/ Election Day

I hate when my Birthday falls on Election Day!  Grrr.  "Happy Birthday now back to the polls..."

But that's just my luck this year.  Today I turn 31 if you are just dying to know.  I don't feel bad about it at all.  God has given me so much and I feel so blessed to be a wife, mother, and homemaker.

I can't wait to live the rest of the life the Lord blesses me with.  God is so good.

I am one blessed lady.

This weekend we celebrates in Door County at the Cottage.  More on that some other time, I'm sure...

Sorry for the short post.  I'm off celebrating my Birthday... :)

Oh yes, and Election Day!
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