Friday, November 30, 2007

what big brothers are for...

Isn't that sweet? Big brother curled up in a chair reading a book to little sister.

Then see how she repays him...

The girl tortures that poor boy! And me as well... since all I wanted was just ONE good picture to use for our Christmas cards. On a whim I got out my handy dandy Picture Perfect Home Studio to shoot a quick few right after lunch. I did get ONE.... and I worked on my card last night.... so perhaps, maybe, it might be done (at least almost... lol!). I'm loving it though... so not my normal card. I'll post it here after I mail it out so its still a surprise for family when they get it in the mail.

Well... it's time for breakfast... but before I go, I'll leave you with a couple more of the girl....
... not loving my conversion on these... I think I need more contrast.

Happy Friday!

(Meg... I would love the links to the math games when you get the chance... thank you!!!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Math Fun this week!

We're in a really good place with math for Clara now. I will go back to a formal curriculum once she's in first grade, but for now we're having a lot of fun, she's having less anxiety about math and she is still learning.

Tuesday is library day so Alex and I went while Clara was in gymnastics (the library is right behind the gym where her class is). I get a lot of info from the Living Math site... but the Chicago Public Library system is much harder to work with than what I was used to in Texas... so I just get what our local branch has. Thankfully, in the picture book section the books that are number/counting related have a number sticker on the spine. Alex and I just walk through the section collecting random "number" books. It's fun to get home and see what we've got. We also make a stop in the math section in the non-fiction area. You can find some fun stuff there as well.

We got a ton of books but here are the ones we've been using so far...

One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak - Cute little counting book. It just goes to 10 but then goes back down again.

How Many Blue Birds Flew Away? by Paul Giganti, Jr. - This one was a pleasant surprise! It just goes to show that just because it's in the picture book section doesn't mean it doesn't include challenging content. Just read the review on Amazon and apparently the School Library Journal wasn't impressed.... said it was boring with no plot. Maybe so if you were just reading it for story time... but for us it was great. On every two page spread you have to count one item (like oranges), count the second item (like apples) and then figure out how many more of one item there was than the other. We used our Math-U-See blocks and enjoyed our time we spent reading this book.

Math Fables by Greg Tang - probably my favorite book so far. Again, we made it interactive and used the blocks which I think really brings it home for Clara. It covers numbers 1-10 and the different ways to add up to each number through cute little stories. Great practice with simple addition.

I know I homeschool but I think this is a really fun way to help your kids with math without doing boring workbooks and flashcards (although Alex really loves workbooks and flashcards... sigh).

Speaking of Alex... he is in heaven right now! I found out about this cool game on a homeschool message board. Its called Timez Attack and its a great multiplication drill for boys (I'm sure it's great for girls too... but it definitely seems more boy oriented). We downloaded the free version this afternoon and Alex is loving it. You battle ogres and such with multiplication questions. It was a great find for us since he's enjoying his new found skill but it won't be covered in our math curriculum for a while. Its a fun way for him to continue to gain speed and confidence with his multiplication facts without adding another math curriculum into the mix. I think we may have to invest in the full version soon!

Okay... that's it for my homeschool post. I'll be back later with some pictures!

Monday, November 26, 2007

home again!

We made it back home again yesterday! We had a great trip! Here's the recap...

Monday -

It was a beautiful day... in the 70's. The kids played outside most of the morning. Alex rode his bike... Clara rode her bike some and played fetch with the dog....
The plan was to head out to a nearby outlet mall to do some shopping right after lunch. HOWEVER, Clara wiped out on her bike right before we had planned to leave and scraped herself all down her side... from under her arm down to her thigh. So, we left the kids with my dad and mom and I went into Springfield by ourselves. We just stopped at a couple of places. We went to a educational toy/teacher supply store to get the kids some math workbooks. I got Clara another book of dot-to-dots since she's been enjoying them so and I got Alex a third grade multiplication workbook. We went to Talbots but for once, walked out without buying anything.

We came home to find the kids in the brush pile selecting sticks for a bonfire....
This brush pile was just some of the downed limbs from the ice storm they had in Missouri last winter.
Like Clara's outfit? She opted for the "comfy pants" because of her scrapes after her fall earlier.

Once the sun started going down, we had a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks. It was so nice to sit on hay bales out by the fire.

Tuesday -

We finally made it to the outlet mall in the morning to get Alex stocked back up on jeans. That boy has grown! All of his jeans were too short AGAIN!!! We had lunch and then drove back into Springfield. This time we were on the hunt for my Christmas present.... comfy city walking shoes. There was a point in time when I wouldn't wear anything but backless shoes.... city living has changed that. With the amount of walking that we do on a daily basis... I need good sturdy shoes. I ended up with Keen Presidios in Midnight Navy and I LOVE them! I got hooked on Keens this summer with my sandals.

Wednesday -

I have no clue what we did that day... I don't think we did much of anything, but I could be wrong. That night we went to a basketball game at MSU. It was the kids' first basketball game and they LOVED it!!! Alex really got into the game and Clara was enthralled with the Sugar Bears and the cheerleaders.

Thursday -

Thanksgiving! And what's Thanksgiving unless someone is throwing up... and this year the big winner was Clara. At about 5:20 am, Alex came upstairs to tell us that Clara had just thrown up... fun! So, we got up, got her cleaned up and went back to bed for about 40 minutes before we had to get up because we had signed up to do the Turkey Trot in Springfield on Thanksgiving morning. Originally we were all going to do it (us four and my mom and dad) but with the projected temps being in the 20's my parents and Clara had already opted out even before Clara's little early morning surprise. So, Jeff, Alex and I got dressed and got ready to go.

Here's Alex, ready to race....
Jeff ran, I walked and we had planned that Alex could do whatever combo of running and walking he wanted to do. However, he opted to walk with me... especially since a lot of the walkers had their dogs with them. Once he spotted a pug, we had found our walking partners and running was not at all on his radar. We had a great time together though! I think we may make this a tradition! :-)

After we got home and got cleaned up, we went to my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday -

No Black Friday shopping for us! There is just nothing I need that badly! LOL! Mom and I did go to town but not to the big busy places... just a little strip mall where mom had to pick up some bread and a brisket for the next day. I got several little stocking stuffers for the kids, so it was a very productive outing for me.

Saturday -

Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family at my mom and dad's house. Smaller crowd than usual, but it was really nice. Dad got out their old slide projector and we all sat around after dinner watching slides of holidays past. It was a great time.

Sunday -
A full day of driving in cold rainy weather! It was pretty yucky but we made it!!

Well... if you're still awake after getting through all of that... congratulations! :-)

I'm heading to the couch!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

we're off...

... well, at least we are tomorrow.

Nothing much to say, but Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

We're heading to Missouri and we'll be back in a week!!

I did post a layout to the Memory Makers Masters blog.... you can see it here!

Have a great one!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

what's a post with no pictures?

Hhhhhmmmmm..... I haven't written all week because I feel like my posts need a picture and I just haven't had any to post this week. So, I'm writing anyway. :-)

This week has been busy but in a stay at home busy way. We had lots of clean-up to do after my scrapbook supply organizing adventure on Sunday. I had a couple of assignments to work on for Memory Makers. I've been in a crazy curriculum planning mood. And we added some new stuff to our homeschooling so our days have been longer.

Here's one of the things that we've added.... Living Math for Clara. I had used this site a couple of years ago when Alex struggled with some concepts in kindergarten. At the time, I had just used it for book suggestions. This time I actually ordered the lesson plan since we're studying the ancients this year and it would go together nicely. I haven't started using the lesson plan but we've been incorporating some "living math" books into our day already. Here's what we got from the library...

One Potato: A Counting Book of Potato Prints (counting 1-10 and then by 10's to 100)
In My Garden (counting 1-10 and then by 10's)
Ten Puppies (adding to make 10)
100 Days of Cool (counting to 100)

With the exception of the last book, Clara reads the book to me (so she gets some extra reading in too) and we use her Math-U-See blocks to reinforce what the page is saying. For example, if the page talks about 1 watering can, she gets out her one block, if the number is twenty she has to get out two tens, etc. For the Ten Puppies book, she gets out a ten block to start and lines up the other ways to make ten under it so she can really "see it". I'm not sure how much progress we are making (I'm hoping there is some) but she's much happier doing math. We will continue to do an actual math curriculum through Math-U-See.... we may just wait awhile longer before restarting it.

Oh... I forgot... Clara is also doing lots of Dot-to-Dots. She struggles with her numbers. She can count aloud just fine, but on paper she often mixes up 12 and 21, 13 and 31, etc. Dot-to-Dots has been a completely painless way for her to work on this. We were both getting frustrated with her assignments in her book to write the numbers out or fill in the blanks. I'm hoping this kind of practice will make her ready to try writing them out again, without as much frustration this time.

Okay.... I should start my day! Maybe I'll have pictures soon!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

it's gone!

I know Alex was younger when he lost his first tooth, but somehow Clara just seems so young to have a gap toothed grin! I guess that's because she's my baby.... sigh.

She first noticed that it was loose over Labor Day weekend. She forgot about it for a while but last week it got really, really loose. I was sure it was going to fall out any second. Unlike Alex, who wanted his first tooth to come out on it's own, Clara had all kinds of plans on how to pull it out (one of them involved the traditional door and string combo). Well... today she pulled her own tooth.... not just wiggled it until it let loose, but actually pulled it out. She is so excited! She's currently wearing it around her neck in her little tooth necklace Jeff got for her at the dentist last week.

There's another pic here.

Our weekend was rather uneventful. Saturday was Nutcracker rehearsal again. I took a few photos but during violin lessons instead of dance classes. They wanted the pictures on the playbill to reflect that they offer both dance and music lessons.

Yesterday the kids and I spent most of the day organizing the scrap supplies I got as my Memory Makers Masters prize package. We made a HUGE mess and it still needs work.... but we made definite progress. I just can't wait until I get it to a point that I can actually use it all.

Thank you so much for the kind words Bridget! Sometimes when we change things up like that, I don't feel like a good mom for doing it, but a bad mom for not figuring it out sooner... if you know what I mean. We worked on flash card games again today. It's funny.... Clara excels at reading... she was sooo competitive with Alex that she taught herself to read over a year ago. She's trying so hard to compete with Alex in math... but she just can't because math is the subject that Alex excels in (the boy listened to a tape of multiplication songs once on Friday and can now multiply!! and the scary part for me is that he understands the concept of multiplication he didn't just memorize the facts). Clara tried hard to compete with him and has gotten frustrated that she can't... so now she gives up too easily when things get hard in that subject. We're working through it though.

Okay.... I've got to run... it's almost time to get Alex from cooking class.... tonight he's bringing home turkey & veggie pot pie with cranberry chutney... yum!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

check out that attitude...

ahhh... but it's beginning to crack....
it's only a matter of time before she...
bursts into song! She's such a ham.... sigh.

Speaking of the girl... I've been stumped by her in regards to school lately. She is sooo different than Alex. I knew that going in but I hadn't quite figured her out. She's been struggling with math. But in an odd way. She could solve for an unknown in an equation easier than she could do straight simple addition. It just didn't make sense. Then today I found a link to this site about learning styles. And based on this I think Clara is a Concrete Random learner. Thankfully this site gives suggestions on dealing with the different types as well as identifying them. So today for math, I gave up the workbook for her, got out an old box of math flash cards and we made games out them while Alex did his workbook. I think we'll take some time off of the workbook to "play" for a while. Then once I feel she has a good grasp on things, we'll move on in the workbook. I think I'll also start checking out some living math books from the library. I think she will do well in math, we just have to approach things from a different direction with her.

Oh... one more thing about the girl. They found out their song for their tap number in the holiday recital... The Polar Express! It is soooo cute and she LOVES that song. To say that she's excited is a total understatement.

Alex has discovered creating writing and is writing all of the time now. Clara got a Kit doll set from the American Girl Store for her birthday. In the set was the book, Meet Kit. We've been reading it aloud at bedtime. In the book Kit writes her own newspaper for her dad to read when he gets home. Alex thought that was a great idea, so he has been writing newspaper articles for Jeff. It's pretty exciting to watch him get so excited about writing.

This month I got the pleasure of interviewing the fabulously talented Caroline Ikeji for Inside the Scrapper's Playhouse on DiScTalkRadio... well, the interview is up on the site if you want to take a listen.

Okay... time to get back to school!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

just a quick note...

to let you know that I actually scrapped! lol! It's posted on the Memory Makers Masters Blog.

I have pictures to post, but blogger isn't cooperating. Hopefully I'll be able to post them later. :-)

Oh look.... blogger is letting me post pictures now! Not sure what the problem was early.

Just my two and my friend's daughter having fun jumping at the beach... enjoy :-)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

the girl is nuts...


Today we made our second attempt at our Christmas card photo. Still don't have "the shot" and the kids rolled around in the sand at the beach so much that their outfits are out of commission for a bit until I get them cleaned up. I have GOT to get our cards done soon since I managed to never get our cards mailed last year due to the move.

Nothing much to report here.... I've been working on assignments and paperwork so I've been pretty boring.

Sarah - I totally know what you mean about the leaves. I remember playing in the leaves as a kid and loving it. Now, as an adult I find I just know too much about the possibilities of what might be on those leaves. We don't have a yard either so those leaves were at the park... but thankfully they were in the fenced-in playlot that doesn't allow dogs (at least that's what I keep telling myself... lol).

Okay... back to photoshop!


Friday, November 02, 2007


I can't stop sneezing today! I'm hoping it has to do with the activities shown below in the pictures v. me getting sick. Here's to hoping it's just allergies!!

Today was homeschool recess group. One of the moms brought a rake, so the kids made huge piles of leaves and jumped off into them. They had a blast...
Okay... I'm off to take some Nyquil and hope that a good night's rest takes care of this stuffy nose, sneezing nonsense! :-)


Thursday, November 01, 2007

the Halloween report

The kids had a BLAST!!! I honestly think it was our best Halloween ever! We wondered how trick-or-treating would be in the city... but it was great. For the first time we got to go out as a family with other families. In the 'burbs, usually the dads took the kids while the moms stayed home and passed out candy (at least that's how we did it in our old neighborhood). Plus we didn't go out until after 6:00 pm.

Here trick-or-treating started at around 3:00 pm. Jeff took off work early, so we were all out the door by around 3:15. First stop was the salon where Jeff and I get our hair cut. Then we went to a nursing home that was hosting trick-or-treating. It was so neat to see the joy on the residents' faces as they passed out candy to the kids in their costumes. The nursing home was a lot of fun. Not only could the kids get candy, but the rec room had tables of cookies and cupcakes plus a face painter (see Alex's skull and crossbones below). They also had a haunted house set up downstairs. They did a great job! It was spooky enough that Clara would only go through once, but Alex went through twice.Here the kids are checking out the costumes of the staff of the nursing home...
After the nursing home our parade of families headed out to the main street to trick-or-treat at the businesses. This was just incredible! I can't believe how many of the businesses had candy for the kids. The kids loved going into them and it felt safe for us parents (even though, I must admit, our kids did trick-or-treat at a pawn shop and a liquor store... LOL!).

Here are some of the pumpkins in front of one of the businesses....
The kids loved this knight....
After this we trick-or-treated our way towards dinner and home. The kids had a great time. At dinner they were playing Halloween themed songs (like Thriller and the Monster Mash) so the kids had a blast dancing around. Clara was a little shy at first but by the time we left she was busting out some of her moves from her hip hop class. It was too funny to watch our little Minnie Mouse doing hip hop moves! :-)

We finally got them home, but not without employees from random businesses popping out and giving the kids MORE candy. When we got home we turned on Ghost Hunters Live and the kids watched a bit with us before we finally put them to bed. Jeff and I got hooked on watching for a bit longer but there was no way we were going to make it to 2 am when it ended.

Whew! What a night! Thank goodness we have no where to go today... we can stay home and have a nice relaxing day of school! :-)