Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Learning Scissor Skills

This little dude amazes me!  He's always been an observer.  He will quietly watch and absorb everything and then surprise us with what he is capable of.  Well, here he did it again.

He will be 4 at the beginning of the New Year.  Up to this point, I have not given him much opportunity to practice using scissors.  Every time that I have let him cut out something, I needed to  very actively help him cut in the right way.  

Yesterday I was doing an art project with the boys and I was having him draw a shape, then I would cut it out, and he would glue it on.  When his project was done and we hadn't cleaned up yet, he declared that he wanted to do some cutting.  So I gave him some construction paper scraps and let him have fun.

He tried both right and left hands and proudly announced what a good job he was doing, but I didn't think much of it because he was just doing haphazard confetti.

But then today he insisted that he was going to cut out his star for today's project all by himself.  And he did it!  I didn't have to help one single bit!  He did a great job of staying right on the line!  I'm super impressed!

Where did this kid come from?  What other surprises does he have in store?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Baby Oil Sensory Bag

This fun activity was inspired by this post:  Definitely head on over there to read the how, why, and precautions for this activity.

Quartus had so much fun with this!  I taped his bag to the kitchen window so I could keep him close by while the older 3 worked on math at the kitchen table.  

The kids and I declared that this was his "science" time.  He squished, smacked, observed, and explored his bag and excitedly announced his findings.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Day In the Life

9:40 PM- The 3 big kids and I arrive home from theater rehearsal (its tech week which means late night rehearsals on the stage with costumes and lights 3 days in a row.)

9:50 PM- They climb into bed and fall asleep quickly without even changing into pajamas. I clean the table and start to fill pretzel orders.

2 AM- After finishing dipping and bagging pretzels, I finish typing our monthly learning record and send it to our supervising teacher.

2:15 AM- Quartus sleepily wanders out of bed and crawls into my arms. I turn off lights, check doors, and get him and I settled in bed. 

7 AM- I wake up and go to the kitchen to do more work on my business.

8:45 AM- The kids start waking up and slowly dragging themselves into the kitchen to eat pie with lots of whipped cream for breakfast.

9:45 AM- We all pile into the car and go to our mommy-and-me music class.  Four out of the five of us are still wearing what we fell asleep in last night.

11:15 AM- We're back at home.  I announce that since I am stressed out, over-scheduled, and haven't been getting enough sleep, school is cancelled for the day.  I can't be a good mommy when I'm this tired.  (So glad we did school work on Veteran's Day instead of taking a holiday like we were "supposed" to.)

12 PM- The kids eat lunch while watching Horrible Histories.  They're given a list of tasks to complete after lunch (clean up lunch, clean bedroom, shower, do one extra chore of your choosing, and play Just Dance.)

I lay down for a nap.  Daddy arrives home from work soon after.

4 PM- I wake up, feeling refreshed, to find the pleasant surprise that the kitchen/laundry room/kids bedroom are much cleaner than I expected!

4:30 PM- Canned chili is warmed and eaten for dinner.  Then make-up is put on and things gathered for rehearsal.

5:30 PM- The big kids and I head to rehearsal.

9:40 PM- We arrive home, the kids go to bed, and I prepare for another long night.

Obviously, this is not a typical day-in-the-life for us.  But as we all know, life gets busy.  And this is my busiest/craziest week of the year, I'm so glad it's almost over!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deep Thoughts from "The Secret Garden"

The kids and I recently finished reading The Secret Garden.  The following is quoted from the last chapter.  Emphasis added by me.

"In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered.  In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before.  In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light.  At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done-then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. 
"One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts-just mere thoughts-are as powerful as electric batteries-as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison.  To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet-fever germ get into your body.  If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.

"..surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one.  Two things cannot be in one place.
"...there was a man wandering about certain far-away beautiful places...who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heartbroken thinking.  He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones."

As I've applied the 12 Steps of the Addiction Recovery Program in my life, one of the most important things I've learned is that Faith and Fear cannot coexist.  They cannot occupy the same space.  And that's exactly what I thought of when I read this section from The Secret Garden.

Every day I have to choose to be courageous and replace negative, fearful thoughts with positive, faithful thoughts.

No matter what craziness is going on around me, I can find peace in the faith and knowledge that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me.  He loves me, he knows me, he knows my struggles, he knows what I need to learn, and he knows how best to succor me.

Fear and worry are nothing but unproductive, dark, heartbroken, poisonous wastes of energy.
Faith leads me forward.

Monday, November 28, 2016

You Don't Hate Math

This comes from a discussion I had with the girls recently:

It's unfair and inaccurate to say that you hate math.  You only find the parts that you're learning right now difficult.  And of course they're difficult!  They're new!

You don't hate the part of math that you're good at.  Simple addition and subtraction are easy.  You don't hate doing that because you learned it so long ago so you've become really good at it.  But at the time when you were first learning it, it was hard and it wasn't fun.

The "hard" stuff that you "hate" that you're learning today may become your favorite part of math in just a few weeks or months!  With some practice you could become really good at this stuff the same as you got really good at the easy Kindergarten stuff.

Just because you find something difficult, doesn't mean you should avoid it.  We only learn and grow in life when we're challenged.

I don't want you to label yourself as "bad at math" or "hates math" because that automatically limits you.  Don't put limits on yourself when you're still learning and still so capable of learning so much!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quartus' Drawing

The study of children's drawing development has always fascinated me.  It's so interesting to see them go from mindless scribbles to intentional drawing of people with multiple body parts.  

Since I'm familiar with the typical development steps, it blew me away when both of my boys seemed to skip steps.  This drawing is from Quartus when he was 3 1/2 or less.  Before this day, I hadn't noticed him attempt to draw any people.  And now suddenly he had drawn two characters, with multiple body parts (even if some of those parts were made up of scribbles instead of clear shapes), with multiple and intentional color choices.  

So if I scored this correctly, according to the first link below, Quartus supposedly has a mental age of 6 years.  Cool!

If you're interested in learning more, here are some good links:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Homeschooling Means...#25 8 year old knows who Rosie the Riveter is.  

This girl cracks me up and I sure do love her!  

She has always loved to pose for the camera.  People often tell me that we may have a future model on our hands.   Usually she does sweet, head cocked, "aren't I adorable?" type poses.  But this is her new favorite.  I think she needs to be Rosie the Riveter for Halloween next year.   

She first learned about the character of Rosie because of a President's Day event we go to every year.  In addition to all the other things going on at this living history event, there are 5 women dressed as historical figures walking around.  You have to find them, learn a little about them, and then get a sticker.  Once you find all 5 and get your 5 stickers, then you get a prize.  We look forward to it every year!

(This series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Touching Raw Meat = Stink Face

I really don't like touching raw meat.  I don't avoid cooking meat, but I do avoid touching it whenever I can.  

I taught Primus how to make meat loaf, which meant she got to be the one to squish the stuff by hand.   She really did not enjoy it.  She's making the same faces I do!

Poor kid.  Don't you feel sorry for her?  :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Baking Soda and Vinegar Fun for Preschoolers

This was a fun, easy activity to throw together for Quartus.  And it gave him opportunity to work on fine motor skills!

Put several drops of food coloring on the bottom of a cake pan in random places.  Then cover the whole pan with baking soda.  Put a thick layer of it so you can't see the food coloring anymore.  

Next, give your child a bowl of white vinegar and an eye dropper (along with an admonition to be very careful not to get any vinegar in their eyes.)  

As he squirts vinegar on the baking soda, it will bubble up.  If he squirts it over the place where food coloring is hiding, then the bubbles will be colored.

This kept Quartus entertained for quite a while.  And then when he grew bored, the big kids took over and enjoyed it too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Best Compliment

My oldest is my mini-me.  We've been told ever since she was a baby that she looked just like me.  

When people say that, and I think about how beautiful she is, I take it as a huge compliment!  If I'm half as beautiful as her, then that's pretty great!

Monday, November 14, 2016

T-shirt Bags For Kids

My kids love bags of all sizes.  They have a whole tote full of purses, messenger bags, cloth bags, baskets, buckets, and backpacks.  I find them laying around the the house and car filled with all kinds of random toys or books.  

Here is a fun way to make a cute bag out of a t-shirt, without sewing a thing!  I often use size 6-8 shirts and fill them with new or gently used books for inexpensive, easy, personal, and practical birthday party gifts.

1. First, cut off the collar.  Keep your scissors close to the seam.

2. Next, cut off the the sleeves.  Again, stay close to the seam.

3. Then you need to cut strips on the bottom about 2 inches long.  I start by cutting it into 4 equal-ish pieces (no need to measure.)

Then I cut each of those 4 sections into thirds.

Don't forget to cut up the side of the shirt so you have 2 strips on each end.

4. Finally, tie square knots with each pair of strips.  This will close the bottom of the bag.

The finished product!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Homeschooling Means...#24 10 and 8 year olds know who President Nixon is.

Today in the car the girls started talking about various Presidents of the United States.  This was prompted by seeing a street named Orlando, which reminded one of them about Nixon (I guess I can thank the Minion movie for that?)

Primus authoritatively reminded her sister that Nixon was a bad president and so he left office because he thought he was going to be thrown out.  And therefore he gave the office of President to Ford.

It warmed this homeschooling mama's heart!

(This series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Interesting Anecdote About Teacher Training

I have a friend who is working toward a teaching credential at a well-respected university and so is doing his Student Teaching.  Recently he was told by his supervising professor from the college (after only observing a small portion of one class period) that he talks too much and should really just give the kids more reading assignments.

This really upset and confused my friend because he likes to give lectures and engage the students in discussion as he goes and was very proud of the PowerPoint presentations he had come up with.

(He could write a whole essay himself as to why he thinks engaging lectures > textbook reading assignments and worksheets.  But I feel it's fairly obvious and will leave that for another day.)

A week later, he was assigned a different supervisor.  When this new professor observed his class (on a day he decided to give a reading assignment, as he was told he should), she was concerned with what she saw.  She asked if he often gave mindless reading assignments with worksheets, because clearly that was a bad idea and not something that should be done frequently.

A few weeks after that, he mentioned to this supervisor about the progress he was making on his PACT.  (PACT is a big huge project that must be submitted to determine if one has earned a teaching credential.  Lawyers take the bar exam, teachers submit a PACT.)  Her response was, "What's PACT?" Record scratch.  Jaw dropped.  Head desk.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what these sorts of exchanges say about the state of public education (and how we educate our educators) in America today.  It sure is fascinating to hear about it from this unique perspective!

Monday, November 7, 2016

No, son, there are NO spiders in the grapes...

I'm a serious arachnophobe.  Sometimes it's just ridiculous.  I'm especially scared of Black Widows because those are plentiful here.  Money may be tight, but I still consider regular pest-control spraying an absolute necessity!

Meme created by Hubby. He doesn't like spiders, either, but he's a good man who always comes and squishes them for me. Once he helped me tear apart our entire bed/bedside table area at 10pm to look for spiders because I had the not-founded-in-any-real-evidence notion that there might be one trying to kill me in my sleep. True Love.

I had this conversation with 6 year old Tertius.  He was supposed to get the bag of grapes out of the fridge and wash them while I did dishes.

T: "Mom, do you think there's a black widow in the grapes?"
Me: (momentarily panicked) "Is there a spider in the grapes?!"
T: "No."
M: "Then why would you ask that?!"
T: "Because remember that lady who found a black widow in her grapes?"
M: "What are you talking about?"
T: "Remember!  You told us that story of that lady." (It was something in the news a couple years ago.)
M: "Well, I didn't remember that until now because I had worked so hard to not remember it.  Why would you bring that up and remind me of that possibility?  Freaked me out!"
T: (giggle)
M: "No, there probably isn't.  The chances are very low that would ever happen." (shudder.  so glad he's the one washing the grapes and not me.)

Friday, November 4, 2016

TV-Inspired Halloween Costumes

This year the kids' costumes were based on one of our favorite shows, Wild Kratts.  

Secundus was Koki and Primus was Aviva.

Tertius was Martin Kratt and Quartus was Chris Kratt.

My friends and I also did costumes and a trunk inspired by a favorite TV show: Call the Midwife.  We had so much fun!

We had lots of baby dolls, a wooden crib and high chair, a bike, a British flag, and a Nonnatus House sign.  Of course, only a few adults actually understood the significance.  But we joked all night that that was how we were determining the "cool" people in the Stake.