Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cooking up Italian Style

We're studying Italy this week. As a part of our study, we made an Italian meal tonight. We made the sauce from scratch, with a recipe from a friend. It was delicious, as usual.
Since Kate had chosen a familiar meal for our study of Italy, I wanted us to be more adventurous with our dessert. We made modified cannoli, using sugar cones instead of the fried pastry, trying to make it so that Kate could do it more independently. I got a recipe for the filling. It was runny, so I added a little more sugar. Still runny. I added more sugar. Runny. I pulled out my corn starch. It thickened up a little more than the previous runny mess, but not much. I stuck the would be filling in the freezer in hopes it would help. Perhaps I should have drained the cheese, but I've not used it before and it didn't mention it in the recipe.

We learned a lesson today--sometimes things go your way:

And sometimes your cannoli filling runs all over the plate:
But Redi-whip and a maraschino cherry can make anything better.

A Visit

The kiddos and I spent the weekend at my parents and got to spend some time at the church I grew up in on Saturday and Sunday. Justin was home slaving away on his dissertation--or enjoying the quiet working on his dissertation!

They had their 47th annual ice cream social on Saturday. Who would we be not to support such an event with our presence? I got to take my grandmother over, as both of my parents were working--my dad manned the grill (where they provided hotdogs and hamburgers for between 450-500 people) and my mom worked in the kitchen for the first hour, making sure that salads, sides, and desserts were kept out. So we had a good dinner, and of course enjoyed some homemade ice cream.

The girls also got their faces painted

and Miss Kate played in the inflatable.

Nate and I hung out with my Grannie--he liked her cane!

Evidently Kate got tired of answering the probably silly question, "Is this your little brother?" (seeing as most people knew this was indeed her brother). So what's a creative four-year old to say? "No, he's a purple kitty-cat."

Then sitting in church on Sunday morning, the minister was talking about the difference in a truthful story and a fictitious one, and he referenced I and II Chronicles and The Chronicles of Narnia. "How does he know about The Chronicles of Narnia?!" asked Kate

Of course, the children are never spoiled when we're there. So my nine month old wouldn't have possibly been begging the way he saw the dog beg for cake.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Manic Monday

Well, have you ever had one of those days?  I took the kiddos to the store, which is routine.  We grocery shop together every week, just the four of us.  There was nothing special about the time we went or anything, but today, oh today...

It started off simply enough with the regular, "Don'tClimbThat's" and "Com'ereRightNow's".  We were hunting for the number five--she'd had some trouble with it last week and I thought it would be good to practice it.  We we having fun finding 5's, 15's and 50's.  Then about a third of the way through, Gabriella decided that walking was just too much.  I had put Nate in the cart, so there were no other options, as I couldn't push the cart, pull down groceries, and carry her.  Along with two other important facts--my back couldn't do it anyway and she was just being difficult, her new favorite pastime.

I walked ahead and she would come catch up.  Then the screaming began.  Somewhere around the bread aisle I had to pick her up and carry her a few feet, screaming the entire way.  I didn't put her on my hip, but carried her in front of me.  She didn't like it, which was the point.  I had to carry her like that a few more times.  She cried when I carried her, she cried when she stood still, and she cried when she had to walk.  She cried all the way through the checkout.  She cried in the car until she fell asleep, and then she cried at home when she realized that she had lost the reward for being good at the store.

I hope I got everything we needed at the store today because I don't want to make another trip to the store if I can help it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Setting Goals

So what do we hope to accomplish as a home school family? We've been talking about our goals here--over arching and short term. Why did we pull Kate out? What do we hope to do that she wouldn't have gotten at school Thankfully, while we fell into homeschooling by accident, we had at least considered it as a possibility, you know in the days before we met Kate and her tornado like personality.

We want our kids to love the LORD their God. To seek after Him, worship Him, and devote themselves to Him. I know for many people, this is the reason they choose home school or private school. It wasn't the reason for us. We have been teaching our kids about Jesus since they were babies. I know that the people of the world, and even the children at the school up the way, will not always behave the way that we would like our kids to see, but neither do their siblings, the man at the store, that lady screaming profanities in the parking lot, or (much more embarrassingly) even us, as their parents. I can't control the whole world, and I won't try to. I would love it if schools were still founded on Christian principles, thankfully our home school can be, so now that we have that opportunity we will use it.

We want our kids to love learning. That's the big reason we withdrew her to begin with. After going to orientation and hearing about all the academics, it seemed so dry and dull. Hours of drudgery. We have to do some things that Kate doesn't care for. I've spent the past two years waiting for her to want to read and write and it hadn't happened, so I had to push it eventually. She can do it, but she didn't want to take the time--it slows her down. But, in so much as I can, we 'do' learning. We read aloud, we explore, and we look at things on the computer.

We want them to have a good basic foundation. When I was teaching high school, I found that the students that were in my peer tutoring class didn't have basic skills that I had expected they knew as juniors and seniors, like how to write properly. Having the kids here, we can work on those skills that will carry them through high school and into college if they so choose.

We also want them to know that they are loved and valued. We care enough about them to want them around, even when we could send them off to school, where I would have less children to care for and I could eventually return to work. While home school isn't for everyone, I know that, this is a way we say we like you enough that we don't mind having you home all the time too, if it is how we believe that you will be best educated and our family will be best served.

For kindergarten, there are a lot of little things I have in a list to check off as we get them, but our big goals are to read a short story solo, add and subtract numbers under 10, and have her find interest in hands on science and have a basic understanding of people groups.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You Create: ID card

So, I hear that homeschool teachers can often get the same discounts that public school teachers receive at stores.  The catch however is to prove that you are indeed a teacher.  I have the paperwork from the district, showing that we are homeschooling, but who really keeps the 8 1/5 x 11 sheet of paper (suitable for framing filing) on them at all times.  I've read several places that an ID card can be helpful, both for the parent, and as they get older, for the child.

I took that idea and ran with it.  After reading one of the comments some one posted about using their children's initials, I though of King.  My family disagreed.  They (Justin and Kate) thought that the idea of the initials was good and all, but they didn't like the name as much as Knights.  So we had our mascot.

I don't have any fancy editing software, so I just put our ID's together in PowerPoint, since I can do basic layering and cropping there.  Then I used self-sealing laminating pouches from 3M ($4.99 for a pack of 5) at Target.  I figure I'll save a dollar a year with it anyway.

The finished product looks like this:

That's the back with it in the laminate pouch:

I haven't tried to use it for a discount yet, but when I do, I'll let you know if I should have just laminated our paperwork or not!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


We are having entirely too much fun learning together. In the morning we do our 'paper' work--handwriting practice, memorizing numbers, math problems, and reading from a reader. I try to keep that at around two hours. At minimum, we have to have four hours a day to count the day, but I can tell you we aren't having trouble with that, at all. Usually we spend a good chunk of our afternoon reading books, measuring in the kitchen, working on science, or creating art projects. We've been going to the library and visiting the discovery museum.

Then Justin gets home. I'm sure in many families time with Daddy is spent in other things, but Justin loves education--he's a scientist, of course, so he cares about the kids education in math and science, but he's an academic in all areas. He loves literature and history. So he reads with Kate and we talk about all sorts of things. He plays guitar and we sing, tap out simple rhythms, and practice listening for tone.

Last night was the last night before classes begin, so we took a picnic to a nearby lake.

We cataloged the animals that we saw, observed the foliage, recorded the temperature, and took a little hike through the woods.

We saw deer, ants, butterflies, worms, and turkeys. We heard some geese too.

Kate got to bring along her camera to take pictures too.

Gabby even let me get a picture of her, a rare occurrence these days.


On a Saturday: I need to be schooled.

Referring to Gabby: Did you just hear your daughter?!

To Gabby: No one is gonna want to marry you because you whine all the time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Princess Band-aids

I bought princess band-aids. I should not have bought princess band-aids. I was called back to the girls' room last night to hear, "I have a cut!" This was not the sad, distressed whine I generally hear from my oldest child when she has some teeny-tiny abrasion. No, this was an exclamation filled with glee. There was no cut.

I found myself having to say, "There will be no princess band-aids if you cut yourself on purpose tonight." I've turned my daughters into self abusers--all for the love of pink band-aids with Disney princesses. I was wondering if any of their mothers ever had to deal with this, but then I realized none of them had mothers...maybe they all went crazy!

Monday, August 23, 2010


I've been looking online for homeschool resources. It is truly overwhelming. I've been asking other people for their insight into materials, reading online reviews, and flipping through the preview pages on Amazon. And this is just for the books, not to mention whether to join a home schooling group!

I am so glad I decided to not buy a whole curriculum set for kindergarten. We're doing fine for now with a few odds and ends. Like, I picked up some handwriting practice sheets the other day. I made my own number line and I'm spending a good bit of time creating worksheets of our own to be sure, but I can tailor it to target her weaknesses. She needs more practice on patterns that have 2 of one shape followed by one of another, no problem. My marker and I can make her another one every day for the next week. She has trouble with the number five. Well, look at that, her practice sheet has four different ways to add to the number five so she has to keep practicing it. Our library card is getting a definite workout already. We checked out over a dozen books from the library this past week. I'm sure we'll do that again (and again).

Don't get me wrong, I fully intend to get more curriculum for the future...it would be prohibitive to do this in all subjects for three children, but to get an idea of where she is and what I think she needs, I'm glad for it. Plus it buys me time to procrastinate weigh my options before I have to make a decision about all the many choices in texts, workbooks, manipulatives, and more.

Not Me

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

* * * * * *

I didn't let Kate play Curious George games on the PBS website in an attempt to get some rest on Saturday while the younger kiddos were resting and Justin was at work. I also didn't find that she needed too much help to actually let me get any rest and found it to be more work than her having done something else.

I didn't have to tell our children we weren't going to church yesterday because one of them had a fever, despite having been up since 5 AM to be sure to have everything in order so we could go.

I didn't let my girls eat the marshmallows that we used to work on halves and counting in math time the other day. Kate, who had been begging for marshmallows, didn't decide that she didn't like them after all, so I didn't tell my husband he could eat our manipulatives the next time he sugar crashes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Girl-isms: Email addition

The girls got to write email to my mom yesterday. This was Kate's first attempt at typing a note, so it's pretty phoneticly spelled, but a good first try. When I asked her what would make the 'a' in rain long she told me "another 'a!'"

I luv you. It is goinnng to raan.


* * * * * *

Gabby's is, well, full of our little gal's silliness.

I'm scribbling on my paper. I want to build a tower. First my carebear is gonna sleep. I want my penguin to fall asleep. Kate's reading in the book. We got our nails trimmed. My bread hurts . I'm just silly.


We have been studying the five senses this week. Today we used our sense of smell (with a blindfold) to figure out what things will taste like. Here's Kate with her: sour, sweet, salt, and bitter snack:

She likes black coffee. Go figure. Maybe her bitter taste buds are broken. But then again she just sat there eating the lemon too.

Gabby had a more normal response, "I jus' don' like it."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You Create: Princess Dress

Kate's dress up dress had seen better days.

It was starting to fray and she's probably grown more than a foot since it was purchased. I'd looked at other dresses at the store, but they aren't inexpensive and the quality is pretty poor.

This week I went buy fabric for a new dress for Kate. I just winged it (wong it?). I didn't buy a pattern or anything and made it a little big for room to grow. I do think I should have pulled the bodice in just a bit more, but she doesn't care.

I present to you princess Kate:

Now Gabby wants a pink dress. Her dress is in great shape so I offered to make her a skirt out of the scrap, but she really wants a dress. Now to see if I have enough to pull it off.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Me, well Tuesday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

I'm participating in MckMama's Not Me this week. If you'd like to share (or read what every one else has NOT been up to), click on the link above!

I would never get so busy on Monday that I didn't write a Not Me, but get up early enough on Tuesday to do it. Not me!

I certainly did not upend the entire plan for the school year in one fell swoop in deciding that home school was the right thing for our girl.

I also would never decide that the curriculum for kindergarten would be a waste of money, since she's already through much of it and I could just pull the core content off of the internet. No way I would take on all that.

I also would never have to stifle laughter as our middle child tells me that, "De words won' come outta my mouf," when she was in trouble for acting up the other night.

Monday, August 16, 2010

We Decided...

(Sorry for the formerly blank post...evidently when I lost the post I started this morning due to a computer freeze up, my signature was posted. I don't know why!)

After a successful trial run of home school Friday, we decided to go ahead and pull her. We filed the withdrawal form from the school and drove to central office (which doesn't seem so central--it was a half hour drive) to turn in the home schooling paperwork. The clerk was thankful we brought all the required paperwork and pleasant. Justin said the school secretary was asking a lot of questions (hence the reason I sent him, so I wouldn't be tempted to offer to donate the copy of The Hurried Child I procured as a part of my Intro. to Eduction class to the principal). After giving several vague responses, he finally asked if the questions were necessary--they weren't.

We are officially a home schooling family. Kate had lessons this morning. We took a late morning trip to the grocery, resumed lessons this afternoon, and then took a trip to the discovery museum (since we were close by at central office). There we found a little bit about our lesson in phases of matter from last week written on the wall over the water table. We still have a little more to do tonight, since Justin is doing some music with her tonight.

It's definitely an upside down week. I thought that I would be sending my gal off to school and have more time to focus on the little ones, and instead I'm working more intesely with Miss Kate than ever before. And she's reading. Sentences. The little ones are going to have to adjust some. Gabby gets to play or sit and do preschool pages, as she wants--due to her birthday she has three years until she's eligible for kindergarten.

I have my lessons planned for the week, ideas for experiments (one a week until December so far), and some ideas for several units in the works. I got the academic expectations from the state education website and I'm writing plans from those. It's taking all that is within me not to annotate them all with the corresponding code, but I'm just making do by checking off as we accomplish each of the items on the student skills list. So, life is crazy, but it's fun to be a teacher again (and quite busy--someone forgot to relieve me for my planning period today), especially when my children are my students. How can you beat reading Where the Sidewalk Ends with your kiddo and seeing her smile at the same things that make you smile.

Of course Kate, who didn't want to go to school last week, is complaining that she's missing out on the playground this week. The grass is always greener...

Oh and can I just say that I am thankful for William Holmes McGuffey, (He wrote the McGuffey Readers.) and my mom's mother for buying the reprints. They are perfect for teaching Kate to read.

Friday, August 13, 2010

9 Months

The Little fellow is 9 months old today--on yet another Friday the 13th (He was born on Friday the 13th.).

He has three teeth and has another one cutting through now and two more very close. He's wearing size three diapers and 6-9 month clothes, though he can still wear 3-6 month shorts.

He's eating finely diced big people food as well as some baby food. He really likes peanut butter. He's starting to use a sippy cup too.

He's starting to say Katie in a whisper and he makes the "Guh" sound when we tell him to say Gabby.

He is in to everything. He likes to climb and pull on blinds and electrical cords. He also likes to do handstand push ups on the changing table. He's standing for a few seconds at a time and cruising like a champ. He's not figured out to move his feet to walk yet, but he sure does lunge at you!

He's been sleeping until 5 AM most mornings. I am hoping that we can push that back until six one of these days--a girl can dream. I am getting him more on the girls' bedtime schedule, so he goes down close to when they do, which is very nice.

Now What?

I love to read and learn. I have been so excited, looking forward to Kate's first day of kindergarten. She's been a bit hesitant, but the other night when she was up crying, I pulled her into my lap and whispered sweet nothings about dress up corner, drawing in shaving cream on the table, and circle time.

Then I went to the parent orientation.

Evidently gone are the happy little kindergarten days where children learn to play, share, and oh yeah learn to read along the way. The schedule itself disappointed me--an hour of math, 90 minutes of reading, another unit of language arts in the afternoon, they get a grand total of 30 minutes to do both social studies and science (of course the chemist loves this one). The only free play was during a 20 minute recess.

Then I get the list of skills she will learn. As I look through it, I see that she already does three-fourths of the list. And I wasn't trying. And it sure didn't take 7 hours a day.

Next up the teacher informs us that there will be homework. In KINDERGARTEN! Not occasionally, but weekly packets. And they will have a thirty minute rest time, right before they come home. As the year wears on and they are less tired, she'll pop in a movie. What?! Isn't everyone screaming to turn off the TV? You'll let her watch TV at school (using up her allotment, so I feel guilty about turning it on if I want to while I cook dinner), and send home homework for her to do in her few minutes of free time.

I have Kate reading already. The only thing she has left to do on the language arts is learn some words on sight (rather than sounding them out) and write a 3 word sentence. I was a teacher and I'm pretty sure we can be there at Christmas with half an hour (not 2 hours) a day. That leaves a lot of extra time for math, science, social studies, art, music, and time to live in the world of being four. We have a little more to do in math, but she's still about halfway through that list too.

We had decided to go ahead and try it, but as the night wore on (Kate woke up upset about school again.) and we prayed about it. I'm really considering yanking her before school starts. Part of me wants to try it, so we can say we gave it a shot, but my gut is saying un-enroll her and run for it. Justin is behind home school 110%. Financially, it stinks--I could go back to teaching here and make a nice salary, but I want my kids to love learning and to, well, actually learn something. Besides, teaching other peoples' kids really stressed me out! I was always afraid I'd make a mistake and mess someone up--goodness knows I've already messed up with my kids, so another mistake or two along the way won't ruin us.

So today will likely be decision day, as to whether we try the first grading term or just start learning (which is totally not true, since we've been teaching her since she was born) at home from the beginning. Teacher that I am, I have on hand lots of resources from when I was a classroom teacher, so wish me luck today as I try a sample day. Then we'll have more information to base our decision on.

Also in play is that we moved to Timbuktu to be in a nice school system for Kate, so if we can take that out of the equation it will be easier to find a house close to work for Justin when we're ready to buy. And it will have a home school room. Definitely not a deciding factor in our choice, but a side benefit.

I'm praying to make the best choice for this sweet little girl.

I bet we can put all sorts of cool things in that backpack here too. Not to mention her cute little head.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Header

As a part of Gitz's You: Create this week I made a new blog header. The kiddos are growing (at an alarming rate) so I thought it was time to put up new pictures of them.

Here's my origional header--Gabby was smaller than Nate is now in some of these pictures!

Bye-bye old header:

Look at that little-bitty guy.

Hello new one:

I know you can't see Gabby's face, but between the fact that this picture is so representative of her personality and the fact that she doesn't like to have her picture taken these days,

(She's either blurry--trying to get away--)

(Or refuses to look at me)

I decided to go with it.

Kate has been hamming it up lately, so it was hard to choose for her:

And the baby is always precious:

Sometimes he even gets to wear clothes

Like when hasn't pooped through them.

In news related to that--my laundry hamper stayed empty for about an hour yesterday before he decided it was time for a change.

Happy Thursday!