Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smelling Spices

Today we had a spur of the moment smelling and tasting project. AJ took a particular interest in a container of curry spice I had left out, so I let him smell it. He seemed to really enjoy sniffing it, so I pulled out about 12 spices from the cabinet that I thought would be mild smelling/tasting. Both boys had a blast taking a whiff of the spice, pouring a tad onto their paper and tasting it. H got a nose full of ginger spice which was pretty funny; I pulled out some coffee grounds for him to sniff after that to ease the ginger-y pain. (That worked well, until AJ stuck his hand into my coffee grounds and took a big taste…it was NOT decaf). When we finished, AJ was ready to do it all over again, he really enjoyed it. I think we will end up doing this activity again using herbs. A word to the wise...cloves smell really good, but taste VERY spicy. LOL

Alphabet Pretzels

Today we started our zoophonics program. We started with the first 5 letters of the alphabet, focusing on their phonetic sounds instead of the name of the letter. The kids had fun learning the names of the animals and the sounds they make. Then we did an alphabet walk, laying out the entire alphabet from A-Z and walking along singing the alphabet song. Then I removed a few of the letters and handed one to each child to relocate into the alphabet. It was short and sweet, but we are easing into our program. A little while later we extended the activity by making alphabet pretzels. They were delicious!

¾ cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup baking soda
10 cups water
Sea salt
Cinnamon/Sugar mix

1. Combine water and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes)
2. Add flour, salt, melted butter, and knead dough until it is no longer sticky.
3. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and let rise for an hour.
4. Separate into four to eight sections. Using your hands, shape the dough into ‘snakes’ and allow the children to create their favorite shapes. Challenge them to create a traditional pretzel knot.
5. Transfer pretzel to a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
7. Bring water and baking soda to a boil, and drop a pretzel in one at a time, boiling for approximately 30 seconds (great chance to practice counting).
8. Remove pretzel and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzels. Top with a bit of melted butter and sea salt or cinnamon/sugar mix.
9. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Zoophonics Video from You Tube...I'll try to make our own, once they have it down. :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Last week at our house

The week in pictures:

                                          Magnet play (cut up pipe cleaners and paper clips in jar)

                                         Bean shapes (I drew shapes, they glued beans)
                                          Mud baths

                                          Gak revisited with dad

Homeschool Choices

I’m so excited to enter into our first year of really homeschooling.  Last year we did a local program called HIPPY (Home Instruction Preparing Preschool Youth).  It was great.  A teacher came out and gave us lessons once a week and all the materials were provided.  Unfortunately, they had to put Hudson in the 3 year old curriculum because his birthday is at the end of October and he didn’t really care for the program too much; I think because it was below his level.  We also had some scattered goals like count to 100, identifying numbers, and beginning phonics.  I purchased some books recommended for his age level and did a lot of considering and trying out an unschooling philosophy  (more here).  We also have been involved with some social activities with local homeschool groups.  My conclusion is that something more organized than unschooling would be most fun for all of us and better suited to my personality at this point, but may be something worth considering when Hudson has a grasp of the basics and more self-direction in the future.
                         The kids were so excited to get the first half of their homeschool books. 
                               They both settled down to read, but I only got a picture of AJ.

This year we have settled on the Sonlight program for his core academics.  It is a literature based Christian program, but I feel like I can work with the Christian part and incorporate some Unity concepts and skip over the parts I don’t like (specifically, “it makes God sad when you….” And things like that).  For math we have chosen Math-U-See, a sequential and hands-on program (so I’m told) and will probably throw in some ideas from Family Math since I have heard good things about that too.  I feel really comfortable teaching reading, so I will be doing my own thing with that, beginning with Zoophonics and moving onto BOB books and word games.  Perhaps H will be reading in the Spring?  Who knows?  We will continue our social events with the homeschool group and I will be alternate hosting group ‘class’ days with other homeschoolers.  I have purchased tickets to several shows at the arts center for some enrichment and both boy’s will be doing soccer this fall and probably spring.  We are still trying to figure out some music lessons though; we would love to get our hands on a decent piano, but may have the opportunity to get H some violin lessons, so we may start there. 

It is kind of tricky figuring out what will work best and of course is an ongoing process.  I really liked the Sonlight program and they had great catalogs that were easy to see what I was getting.  I am also very interested in Oak Meadow, but found their materials to be less accessible and possibly not as structured as I am.  My thoughts are to try Sonlight this year and possibly next because I really like their Kindergarten books as well, but maybe move into Oak Meadow or something different in the future.  I really want to get our family to a big homeschool conference this year sometime and have a chance to look through some different programs.  It is such a fun and exciting journey to be taking with the kids; I’m really looking forward to it. 

If you homeschool, what program do you use (if any)?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chores: Finding Peace in Everyday Activities

Have you ever read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp?  It is about finding the magic or God in everyday things and really appreciating everything around you fully.  She is brilliant with words, you can get a taste of her writing here:
Anyway, there are a few chores that bring me peace, including:

      • Sweeping: I love the rhythmic nature of it and can easily get lost in my thoughts. I especially like sweeping outdoors.

      • Hanging laundry: I love hanging my laundry.  I feel like it is almost a priviledge that I live somewhere where I can hang my laundry outside on the line.  I love the look of the clothes or sheets billowing in the wind.  I especially love when all the little boy’s shorts are lined up together, it makes me feel very nostalgic and appreciative of my little men.  I LOVE MY CLOTHESLINE. 

      • Folding laundry: I know some people HATE this chore, but I don’t mind it .  I usually save it for the end of the day and sit with the kids watching a movie or something while I fold.  Honestly I have actually given up the ‘folding’ of most of the kids stuff, since it doesn’t get wrinkled and they just rifle through the drawers anyway.  Giving up folding was actually difficult for me because I like things to be orderly (at least a couple times of year I happily organize all the drawers folding underwear and matching socks, lining them up like in the movies-seriously weird and OCD, I’m trying to put an end to it). 

Okay, maybe that is it.

Less than peaceful chores:

      • Dishes: In her book, there is a whole passage where she discusses the beauty in washing the dishes and looking at the bubbles glistening.  Honestly I think if I had a window in front of my sink so I could look outside while washing, then I would be able to find a lot more enjoyment.  As it stands now, I loathe doing dishes and it seems like the thing I do most.  I have found one way that makes doing dishes and kitchen work easier and that is having a little helper.  If I have one of the kids (Especially H though), ‘helping’ me wash dishes in one sink while I wash in the other and load the dishwasher, it is so much nicer.  I like to lean over and kiss his fuzzy head while I scrub the dishes.  Maybe it is just the feeling that I am not doing it alone.
                                          Hudson putting away silverware, AJ doing dishes

     • Scrubbing: Floors, windows, showers, etc.  I don’t like scrubbing, maybe I just hate hard work.  I have found an awesome game that I like to call ‘spot detective.’ I give each kid a wet rag and have them look for spots on the floor, when they find one they yell, “Found one!” and then scrub it and yell, “Got it!”  The kids also will ‘scrub’ the shower walls if I give them a sponge while they bathe.
My 'spot detectives' (a little blurry, they were running around so fast the camera couldn't focus)

Painting the tub with colored shaving cream (followed by scrubbing with sponges)

     • Picking up: My dislike is probably just because my back hurts and the repetitive bending over to pick up toys or bits of paper-y trash aggravates it.  We have a daily clean-up time every night before bed, where we pick up the toys and dishes from around the house.  It requires a lot of adult guidance, but it gets the job done. 

Even if the kids may not do the work at the same ‘level’ that an adult would, I think it is important that they are contributing and learning that they are a valuable part of the family system.  It also makes me feel better because I am not doing everything by myself.  Also, it is so adorable to see them ‘working.’  I read a really great article on children and chores here:
I would really like to avoid setting up a rewards system for something I feel like they should be doing anyway.  Also, if I teach them that they should be rewarded for doing it, will they see the joy in it?

How do you find peace in everyday activities? What do you love and hate? What chores do your kids do?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


For this week's playdate we made Gak (a gooey playdough like substance).  There were just 3 kids here for this experiment and they were ages 2-4.5.  I would say that this project was fun for all the ages, but the end product was most fun for H (the oldest).  It was a simple enough project found here:

Ours didn't come out that stretchy, but I think I just added too much borax too quickly.  H is still playing with his a few hours later.  The good news is, it also doesn't seem prone to stick in things like carpet or pets fur, make sure the little ones keep it out of their mouths though.  I would even try this again to see if I could make it come out more stretchy.

                                                           H with his Gak!

Magnet Board

I have been noticing that my kids have been a bit restless lately and especially wanted to make something that AJ would enjoy for some hands-on learning play.  I came across the idea of a magnet board (here).  I use a white board that is about 12x20inches, but the fridge would do just fine too. I printed out some characters that I liked and used colored pencils to draw the extras.  Then I had them laminated ($2.00 for 5 pages) and put magnet tape on the back.  (Print on cardstock for extra durability)

I made:

5 Green and Speckled Frogs (Click here for Clipart)
 5 Little Ducks (Click here for Clipart)
 There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly (Click here for Clipart)
 5 Little Monkeys (Click here for Clipart)

I sang the songs with AJ and taught him how to move the pieces around accordingly.  He seemed to enjoy it and I hope soon that he will be able to play with the pieces independently while H and I do dishes or cook meals.  H also enjoyed the activity, though I feel it is a little immature for him and he will tire of it more quickly. 

Doctor's Visits

Sorry for the lack of posts last week.  It was a very appointment full week for me.  I had a doctor’s appointment 4 out of 5 days last week.  I guess that is what happens when you don’t go to the doctor for the first 6 months of your pregnancy.  We will most likely be using a midwife for this pregnancy and choosing another homebirth.  I dislike the whole hospital and doctor part of giving birth and it is so much more peaceful afterwards to be at home and in my own bed.  I do plan on having this figured out by next week or so and beginning my regular midwife visits and hopefully some chiropractic visits will be in the not too distant future.  So, for those of you that haven’t heard (and no one has yet seen)

It’s a boy!!! Baby boy number 3 due November 24, 2012. 
To quote Hudson, “What am I going to do with another brother?!”  He was a little disappointed, as was I, but I have warmed to the idea now.  I can’t wait to make them shirts.  I am thinking 1,2,3 and “If you think I’m cute, you should see my brothers.”  Everything looks good with this baby and I am doing well.