Special birthday gift

Submitted by Sara on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 6:20pm

This year for my birthday Scholastic brought its warehouse sale to my town for the first time! What an amazing birthday gift. They even gave me a coupon for an additional discount off their already low prices. So guess who went on a shopping spree for her birthday? That's right! I had the best time loading up on homeschool materials, Christmas gifts, and award winning young adult novels especially for me. I found some read-alouds that I absolutely adore. It's no wonder that my kids love books! Eliana is already getting to be quite a reader. She is able to use context clues, illustrations, and the letters she knows to figure out a lot of words! I'm so proud of her!

My family gave me a lot of other wonderful gifts today. I got to sleep in! When I finally rolled out of bed, William had already written a book for me for my birthday! And Eliana had made me a lovely card. They did all of this before breakfast! Then I was able to go get some shopping done while Darren hung out with the kids. He had the day off. I got home to a delicious lunch of turkey/bacon lettuce wraps with avocado. YUM!

Soon we are heading out to dinner. What a happy birthday it has been!

My birthday book

A grown-up flap book :)

Part of my bday haul

Eliana makes me laugh Facebook compilation

Submitted by Sara on Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:30pm

... and one new one for all my Facebook friends who have already read these stories.

Tonight: Eliana came out of her room after bedtime excited to tell me that she turned on "princess music!" Sure enough, she had found MPR on the radio dial and was listening to classical. I'm sure she fell asleep dreaming of beautiful princesses in fancy ball gowns.

Yesterday: Apparently Max cut Eliana's hair using doggie scissors he hides in his fur. At least it was only one snip and barely noticeable.

Friday night: Took the kids out to dinner at Olive Garden. Eliana asked me, "Is it your birthday?"

Thursday evening: As I stand at the stove frying hamburger, I feel a ninja sword in my backside. Then a soft voice says, "She's making us dinner. She's on our side." Later the small ninja, taking me under her wing, assigns me an attribute saying, "I am fi-ya and you ah ass." What?!?! "Ass." You mean Earth? "Yeah."

Thanksgiving morning: This morning Eliana is having the same breakfast as her daddy. I said that I bet his wasn't in a princess bowl. "No, he has a Dora bowl actually." (Not really. She sure is quick!)

A time to give thanks

Submitted by Homeschool on Sun, 11/20/2011 - 3:59pm

We've been into art projects lately. You saw the sea life stencils. Then I found some fun turkey art on a homeschool blog (http://minnesotahomeschoolersalliance.wordpress.com/) that we tried out with reasonable success.

Samples and Eliana's projects

William's turkeys

Either my kids aren't quite ready for scratch art or they needed a little more help with technique. They tended to rub the scratched off bits of oil pastel back into their picture while scratching. Teaching them to remove the scratched off bits would have turned out a better finished product, I think. Plus it would have made much less of a mess! But they loved the oil pastels and did some of their best coloring, so that may contribute to my disappointment with the scratching. It's always hard to color over a beautiful picture with black. [Edited to add: After looking at the demo piece again, we should have outlined the picture with Sharpie first. I think coloring the background would've helped, too. Noted for next time.]

The turkey drawing project, on the other hand, was a huge success! I decided I need to do more drawing projects. The step-by-step process turned out the best drawing I have ever seen from my 3-year-old and the 7-year-old was happy with his results as well. The 3-year-old could hardly mess up the watercoloring. I did the sharpie over the top with her input on colors. The 7-year-old completed the entire project on his own and the results were awesome!

My personal project for the week was sorting through our extensive picture book library. I amassed quite a book collection during my years of teaching and the kids have continued to add to it. I hadn't done a complete overhaul of the kids' bookshelves in several years. I realized this when I could not find a Thanksgiving book to save my life. Now the books are in their age-appropriate rooms and I have a better idea of where to start when looking for books on specific themes or by certain authors. Don't ask "how" I sorted them, like my husband did. Just know that I did. Because realistically, the kids' bookshelves are never going to get put back exactly the way they found them. And that is just fine for my abstract-randomness.


Submitted by Eliana on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 10:01pm

Today while we were driving in the car, I was counting... "1, 2, 3, 4, 7." Mommy and William tried to tell me that I meant "5." But I straightened them out. I declared, "Hey! I have an imagination!"

After learning from William's friend Ivy at church this morning that boys are "'gusting" (what does 'gusting mean?), I decided that my room is for girls only. I am sad about Daddy. He is a boy, so he can't come in my room. Neither can Michael or Skippyjon Jones [today's favorite book character]. But William can come in to jump on my bed.

This evening William and I were playing clowns. William called us the "Undies." That's funny, right? We wear silly things on our heads like pillows, pencils, and roses tied with ribbons. We put on funny shows. I might include some of my great [completely random] knock-knock jokes in the show. They always make my family laugh.

Yesterday's field trip, today's art

Submitted by Homeschool on Tue, 11/08/2011 - 11:46am

We were able to go on a tour of the Sea Life aquarium at the Mall of America with a local homeschool group. The discount rate was really nice and going along with friends was lovely, too! It also allowed us to get a behind the scenes look at the tanks, the lab, and the kitchen where the food is prepared for the animals. What fun!

The souvenir I purchased from the gift shop was a Melissa and Doug stencil set. William wasn't excited about it at the time with all the other "cool" stuff to look at. But sure enough, today he spent a good hour making all the different critters and they turned out awesome!

We also discussed the W questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) and he answered them about the tour in his journal for a writing activity.

I think we need to go on more trips! It really inspires learning. Today it's the local radio station with another homeschool tour. William also has a Lego class this afternoon through community ed. What a busy day!

It's all fun and games...

Submitted by Sara on Thu, 11/03/2011 - 1:44pm

Until someone gets nipped in the butt :)

Max thinks our platform swing is the ultimate rope toy!

The Fortress: A ghost story

Submitted by William on Sat, 10/15/2011 - 6:25pm

Once upon a Lego, there was a dance show. After everyone was asleep, a magic wift of secret went through Lego City and it hit a Lego City gun and the stage, recorder, and the camera. The stage, recorder, and the camera came alive. They all connected and then the massive machine (called the Fortress) shot off a guy in Lego City's head.

The Fortress

Headless Guy

And then the gun turned around and it shot a ray at the Garden of Glow. It lifted the Garden of Glow up and threw it off the edge of Lego City. That's when it turned around two times back to its ray and shot the headless Lego guy with its ray quickly. And then (here's the scary part) the headless guy came alive! The next day, the Lego City guys built up the Garden of Glow and with 20 more Lego guys, they lifted up the Garden of Glow and put it back in its place. That's when the headless Lego guy came out the first morning. It hid behind the Garden of Glow's garden.

Lego city

EPILOGUE: A Lego guy came that night to examine the tracks and it found the guy's head! It brought it back to the Garden of Glow and threw the head on the guy. It fit! And Lego City wasn't haunted anymore.

THE END. That is a false story. (But it's true that I made it up.)

Lava Boy and Poison Girl

Submitted by Sara on Sat, 10/15/2011 - 6:22pm

Look out Blue Man Group! Here's Lava Boy and Poison Girl!


Submitted by Homeschool on Tue, 10/04/2011 - 12:07am

After my last entry, I feel the need to clarify my feelings about curriculum. I'm very thankful that there is a lot of good curriculum out there. It is great for classroom teachers, especially when they are new to their grade level. There are always way more good ideas than anyone could ever use. It is great that a teacher, unexperienced in education, can pick up a curriculum and teach the necessary concepts. The dangers with curriculum are many. They can easily turn the learning process into a dry, rote method of completing work. I have also seen them do the same for the teaching process. They often have great enrichment ideas that are never even explored by teachers who get into the rut of daily lesson plans. Teachers who are in a rut are not inspiring to learners. In the education world, teachers are too highly trained to depend so much on curriculum. I believe it does a disservice to our children, our teachers, and our education systems when we adhere too strictly to them. In homeschool, we have the luxury of being able to go at our own pace, do what we are interested in, and spend large amounts of time on a project that we can delve into deeply. I know what my child needs to know, in large part because of my education background. Also because I know my child. A lot of homeschooling parents haven't been trained in how to build a foundation of understanding in each subject area. And for that, I'm thankful for curriculum.

In our case, my son just completed the Peabody Assessment which was administered by a woman locally in her home while I observed. It took a little over an hour. It took a little longer than average for us because William likes to take his time. And also because he is well above grade level in all subjects and in this test they need to get a certain number of questions wrong before each section of the test will stop. After a while, I was rooting for him to get questions wrong so he could be done - especially in the reading comprehension section. I'm assuming if we do this test again next year it will take less time since she knows where he was at this year. But my point is that the last thing my son needs is a second grade curriculum or even a third grade curriculum, thank you very much :)

My son needs real life experiences. He needs to take his hard earned money and go to Target. He needs to play the piano. He needs to run outside and ride his bike. He needs to play with his friends. He needs to train his new puppy. He needs to learn to behave appropriately in a variety of situations. He needs to learn to greet people. He needs to learn to take turns when talking. He needs to eat well. And sleep well. He needs to be loved and cherished. He needs to realize his talents. And accept his faults. He needs to learn to persevere through frustration. And know when and how to ask for help. These types of goals are ones that we believe we can work on best at home and it's going great!

Maximus / Max / Gunner

Submitted by William on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 8:08pm

Meet our new dog. I call him Max. Mom calls him Maximus. And he was first at the Humane Society December of 2010 as a new puppy and that's when he was called Gunner. I treat him like he is in toyland because he basically really is in toyland! Sometimes I throw all of his toys all over the living room floor. He came with all those toys, and detangling spay for dogs, a poop bag dispenser, a kennel, a brush, another brush, a comb, food, two dishes, a bell for him to ring when he goes outside, a collar, a leash, a blanket, and a microchip. He is a really good dog. I like that his other name was Gunner (which sounds really tough). He is a talented dog. When I hold a toy up high where he can't reach, he jumps up really high and gets it! His eyes are brown, his nose is brown, his fur is mostly white, but there's a little bit of light brown. The end. That is a true story.

Eliana's reading Max bedtime stories