Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wood, paint, boys and creativity!!

Well, my guys were very busy this weekend creating all sorts of things.  The big teen did his latest art project based on Jackson Pollock.  Here he is creating the work of art outside.  When you are doing splatter art, it is a must to be outside.  

Here is the finished project.

The boys also got into woodworking.  The big teen loved working with the jigsaw, circular saw and scrap wood.  He made a medieval sword for himself and a small axe for Tom Sawyer.  Here is a pic of the big sword.  It is really heavy.

Tom Sawyer (5) loved making his very own wood deer.  He had a little bit of help from Dad but he did a lot of the nailing and all of the painting himself.

I just love how kids are always learning!  The girls did a lot of cooking with me and spent a great deal of time playing with the newest dollhouse furniture I found at a yard sale this weekend.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics!


Check out this giveaway!

Wow, what a great event going on over at homeschoolboutique .  She is offering a t shirt from her shop to those who will post about her store.  How cool is that!  I love all of her t-shirts.  One of the coolest is the Homeschool Social butterfly one.  Go on over and check it out.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our first fall crafts.....

We had so much fun doing two of the crafts and one of the activities out of the Family Fun magazine. My Tom Sawyer can't wait for this season to arrive and had almost worn out the magazine looking at all of the activities.  We will do some more once I collect the supplies.   My kids absolutely loved making the pumkins and they turned out great.  I didn't have all the supplies but was able to find everything around the house to adapt the project.  You know whats under the fabric on those pumkins?  TOLIET PAPER!!! I think they came out great.

Next we made oragami bats.  My little Tom Sawyer will probably want me to help him make a whole bunch of these before Halloween.

Then we did a trick.  Did you know that you can stand on Balloons without them popping.  YOU CAN! If you manage to get on them perfectly balanced.  THis is about our 3rd attempt.  THe balloons held the weight of each of my kids.  Pretty cool trick.  (Do excuse my messy floor).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lessons in loss and grief ...

Well, Friday was a really sad day around here.  We were awoken by the screams of our outdoor pet rabbits.  My husband and I discovered a raccoon killing them.  He had managed to unlatch the cage and was in full attack mode. We fought him off but he had already killed Duchess.  The other rabbit Duke was shaking like crazy.  To make a long story short, Animal Control felt that the raccoon likely had rabies so we had to put Duke down.  The entire day was spent talking with Animal Control and vets, bleaching the cage and enclosure, and helping the children understand what had happened to their beloved bunnies.  The rabbits were actually our big teen's pets and he was crushed.  For those of you who follow this blog, you know how important animals are to our big teen and that he is planning a career in wildlife rehabilitation.  He got up close and personal to the realization that sometimes an animal can't be saved and must be euthanized.  Obviously, we didn't get any formal lessons done, but it is amazing all that you learn every day if you are aware. We learned so much from this tragedy.

  • The little kids didn't know what a raccoon looked like, so we looked at pics on the Internet.
  • We all learned more about rabies than we ever wanted to know.
  • We learned up close and personal about stewardship.  That was the hardest part of the day when my big teen realized that we may have been responsible in part for the rabbits' deaths because we hadn't secured the cage well enough.  Such a hard lesson in being good stewards.
  • This was another opportunity to process grief as a family, and I learned that teenage boys really do like hard physical labor more than talking to help them process their anger.  My son weed whacked, painted the playhouse and moved several heavy things for me.  He said it helped a lot.
  • There is nothing wrong with wrapping up a rotten day with ice cream sundaes for dinner at our favorite ice cream parlor.
My dd (6) thinks we should replace the rabbits with a unicorn or horse, and the big teen thinks we should get a really large snake.  I don't do snakes.  We have a fur policy in this house ~ No fur, not living here.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

First "official" piano lesson with Mom ...

Ugh!  I am still sick and had almost no voice this morning.  I am going to bed very early tonight!!  It was a great day anyway.  We had our first official piano lesson today.  Tom Sawyer loved his first lesson.  Having cerebral palsy, it was really hard for him to separate a few of his fingers, but he was determined.  His occupational therapist says this will be great for strengthening the muscles in his fingers, and he does seem to love it.  Little Red Ridinghood also gave it a try.  Separating her fingers was much easier than it had been for Tom Sawyer, but she lost interest quickly.  No big surprise there, since she is only 3.  I like the books we are using.  The series is called Piano Adventures by Nancy and Randall Faber.  For each level there are three books: theory, performance, and lessons.  I like how the child is learning to read music, play a fun performance song and get lessons in finger control all at the same time.

In the afternoon my big teen started his out of the home Ancient World History class with four other homeschooled teens.  It is being taught by a college professor who is semi-retired.  He loves it.  To quote him, "The class totally rocks, Mom!"  He talked about it all the way home.  This is only a six week course, and then the teacher will decide with all of us if we want to continue with the next period of time.  It was nice to see how tickled the teacher was, too.  She really enjoyed working with a small group of homeschoolers.  We are her first and she says these teens are more interested than her college students!

While the big teen was in class, I took the little ones to a nearby bird sanctuary.  We didn't see any birds but we did see a bunny, caterpillar, butterfly, ducks (oh! I guess that is a bird), and lots of frolicking squirrels.  We also saw cattails, and the kids really loved those.  Unfortunately, I forgot the camera and the nature books, but we had fun anyway.



Monday, September 17, 2007

Great day despite Mother/teacher being sick ...

Well, the mean old cold that has been going around got me! My throat is so sore and after a full day of teaching my voice is about gone.  I knew I would lose my voice, but I had to keep teaching.  This is one of the only days that we are home for the entire day this week, and I couldn't let those teachable moments go.  Besides the kids had to be entertained one way or the other.  So my big teen finished up U.S. History II today.  This course had just a few hours left over from last year, and I had told him that the last two hours of the course were reserved for a final exam/project.  So his final exam today was to prove to me through oral questions and some kind of project that he remembered a lot.  He decided to cut up magazines and paste them down with explanations and a model of the island Iwo Jima, where the six marines raised the American flag during WWII.  Considering his learning difficulties and the lack of warning he was given, he did great. 

The big teen and little kids also got into studying camouflage today.  We decided to do an experiment and see how camouflage works.  The big teen boiled 12 eggs.  He left 6 of them white and colored 6 of them to match the grass and leaves. Then he hid them outside and we let the little ones go out and find them.  They found the white eggs easily and 5 of the camouflaged eggs with more difficulty.  However, we never found one of the eggs! That camouflage really worked well.  It was a fun hands-on activity that really got the point across.  Here you can see how the white egg stands out next to the camouflaged egg.

We also had fun with the Amazing Dinosaur plant  We talked about how plants, such as a tulip bulb, can become dormant.  The neat thing about this dinosaur plant is that it can go to "sleep" for years and then "wake up" in only an hour.  Perfect for kids that like things to be instant!  We have had this same plant for two years and have done this twice with the big teen, but this was the first time with the little ones.  They were amazed.  I love watching their faces as they discover God's world.

Well, I wish I was done for today, but I promised to discuss my big teen's layout of his International Night project so that he can stay on schedule.  So off I go and then I'm going to cozy up on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blast from the past! My babies!

I thought it would be fun to post all my babies when they were about the same age.  I was able to easily find photos of three of them when they were between 4 and 5 months.  Of course, I do not have a photo of Goldilocks because we didn't get her until she was 20 months.  So her baby picture documents one of her first real smiles.

The big teen at 21 weeks.  He loved to suck on his fingers so this pic is perfect!

Goldilocks (2years old) showing off her winning smile.

Tom Sawyer at 4 months of age.  Look at that serious look on his face.  He still is my serious child.

Little Red Ridinghood 17 weeks.  At this point we were more likely to call her the Hungry Caterpillar or pudge.  Check out those rolls.  My first and only truly chunky baby.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Summer Milestones

It is amazing how many milestones pass by with every season.  I thought I would list what my little ones have accomplished this season. 

Goldilocks (6) - She has made great strides on healing her heart (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and is able to show some nurturing skills and enjoyment of babies.  Until recently, even playing with a doll was undesirable. (The photo below is of a baby we babysat recently.)  She also learned how to tie her own shoes this summer and to keep her bedroom very tidy.  She has also learned the days of the week and several little songs by memory.  She also learned how to float by herself in the pool.  What a busy summer of growth for our little girl!

Tom Sawyer (5) - My little guy is just growing by leaps and bounds.  He learned how to write his name this summer and how to hold a pencil correctly.  He also learned how to pump himself on the swing.  This is a major feat for my little guy.  He was so proud when he finally got it.  He also learned how to put his face in the pool and blow bubbles.

Little Red Ridinghood (3) -  My baby isn't a baby anymore!  But it is great that she is thriving.  She learned to dress herself correctly this summer.  She is also enjoying her new dance class.  For those of you who know her, separating from Mommy has been really rough.  But when it came to this class, she walked into the room on the first day with no trouble.

The Big Teen - There was one huge milestone for our big teen this summer.  He showed great responsibility and commitment to the Comedy Revue he was in.  His acting teacher said that he really had talent and that he was very reliable and responsible.  He did not have any stage fright and really loved the experience.

Well, hopefully, recording the milestones of our lives each season will help me remember more of them.  They go by so fast, especially in the early years.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Our Goals for the Next Five Weeks ...

I thought I would list our goals for the next 5 weeks and how we plan on putting them into action.

Big Teen - He will simply be plugging away on his seven classes.  I do hope that he will be able to complete 18 hours of school a week on top of his internship.  Also, if all works out, he will be starting an Ancient World History class with other homeschoolers in about a week or so.


  1. Learning all the sounds of the ABC's.
  2. Learning to count correctly to 50 -- she's about halfway there.
  3. Learning the months of the year.
  4. Learning to think before speaking and only speak if you have something nice to say.
  5. Learning to give her own opinion.  This child will survey the whole family when she is asked a simple question before giving her answer.
  6. Narrating back a part of a chapter in more than one sentence.       
These goals will be worked on using (I love this new phonics website my friend showed me), Leap Frog Word Whammer, counting games, heart-to-heart time and child training for behavior goals.

Tom Sawyer

  1. Continuing to improve his reading skills.
  2. Work on doing chores with a cheerful heart and without argument. (This might be his goal all year.  LOL)
  3. Working on better eye contact with "Yes, Mom".
  4. Working on resolving problems with sibs in accordance with the Brother Offended chart.  He is usually the one being offended, not the offender.
  5. Learning simple adding, subtracting and sequencing.
  6. Learning the days of the week.
  7. Working on staying dry through the night.  With cerebral palsy, this may be a really hard goal, but his doc thinks we may have success.
We will put these goals into action using the Brother Offended chart, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Miquon math, lots of heart-to-heart time with Mommy and child training.

Little Red Ridinghood

  1. Learning to use scissors.
  2. Being able to identify all letters of ABC's.
  3. Improving listening and narration skills.
  4. Working on taking turns and sharing more.
  5. Learning 10 new words in Spanish.
  6. Putting shoes on the correct feet.
  7. Working on identifying all the numbers to 25.  She is about halfway there.
We will put these goals into practice with, FIAR books, reading Charlotte's Web, Muzzy Spanish videos, simple little math games, especially ones with food (food is a big motivator for this child), child training and PRACTICE!

We will continue on with our normal lessons and FIAR books, but these goals will be my focus for each child.  They will also all be doing Spanish, science, music and art just as the previous weeks.



Wednesday, September 5, 2007

5 years ago today ...

We got our little Goldilocks.  We already had her baby brother when the social worker told us she needed to be moved from her foster home to another.  Since we already had her brother we were given first dibs.  She was a tiny child that was in clothing sized for 6 to 9 month olds, even though she was 20 months old.  She was a very unstable walker and did not smile for more than a month after we got her.  We actually spent weeks practicing smiling with her in the mirror.  The picture below was taken about a week after we got her.

Happy Gotcha Day, sweetheart!  It has been a really long road for all of us, but we are so blessed to have you.  We celebrated with pink cupcakes (of course) with white frosting and pink candles.  Our kids Gotcha Day is the day they came into our home instead of the day they were adopted.  After all, they were our foster kids for 2 years before their adoption was finalized, and they don't really understand the difference between being our foster kids and adopted kids.  Once they walked through the door, they were ours, as far as they were concerned.  However, we worried a lot about whether we'd ever get permission to adopt them!



Sunday, September 2, 2007

Busy weekend with a few adjustments ...

After about 5 weeks of school, I found that we were having a few issues.  Most of them revolving around watching little ones and helping the big teen with his lessons.  The parenting style of  tomato staking is very important in our family (we have a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder).  I literally cannot let the little ones or at least that little one out of my sight.  Also my big teen really is distractable and cannot learn with little kid table time activities going on at the same table with him.  The result of this dilemma over the last few weeks has been that the kids often play on the back porch (our sorta playroom), while my ds and I often homeschool on the laundry room floor.  This way I can see them and help him.  YUCK!  It occurred to me that I could move our homeschooling upstairs where ds could work at his desk in his bedroom and I could move many of the porch toys to the bedroom shared by Little Red Ridinghood and Tom Sawyer, so I could be in between them and do it all.  The problem -- there was very little room in the little ones' bedroom.  So this weekend my dh stacked their beds into their original design of bunk beds and moved some furniture and Ta Da! a functional playroom/bedroom.

My other issue has been that I thought my youngest, Little Red Ridinghood, knew some stuff that she does not know or does not have down solid.  Sometimes in the last few weeks this has caused stress for both of us when I have set up things for her to do that were too difficult.  Since we will already have Labor Day off and Tuesday some of the kids start their new classes (Goldilocks - homeschool choir, Tom Sawyer - Occupational Therapy, Little Red Ridinghood - pre-ballet), this is the perfect week to "homeschool lite".  Instead of doing my normal schedule of a FIAR book plus all of our other lessons, I will be assessing what the little ones know and do not know.  I have compiled a long checklist from several sources and, through play, will be finding out what I need to be teaching and revamping goals.  This would usually be our week off, based on the 5 weeks on 1 week off schedule, so I will only be asking a little bit from the big teen, as well.  We fell a little bit behind with his illness but his days will be very light.