Week In Review

It's hard to believe that another week has passed.  This week we had "travel school" since we spent part of the week in Yuma, AZ with Daddy.  I can admit, knowing that the temperature would be over 100 degrees and that we would mostly be in the hotel room made me a little nervous, but honestly, other than the fact that the kids don't sleep well in hotels, we had a great time!  I for one was surprised by how much there is to do in Yuma, and I would love to go back as a "tourist" some time.  

We started each day with a little outdoor fun, before it got to hot.  Luckily there was a little park right across the street from our hotel.  Naturally that was where the children wanted to go, and as a result Lettie had her first swing ride.  I think it would be an understatement to say she liked it.
Everyone had lots of fun swinning together, too.
 Later in the day Manly and I went back out to ride in the swings, and before I pushed him I asked, "Ready, spaghetti?"  Of course he answered with a resounding yes!  A few minutes later he was starting to slow down, and he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm spaghetti sauce!"  It took me a minute to realize he wanted me to push him some more, but now he goes around telling us he's spaghetti sauce.  :)

Bitsy is our wild rider, and she had a blast running from animal to animal.

And of course we had good family fun, going up and down the slides.  

After our outdoor fun we went inside and read books, and played with the different things in the activity bags we had for our conventions.  Just before lunch everyone was restless to run again, and I was glad I had anticipated it, because it was WAY to hot out to do any running anywhere but in our room.

Manly has been working on his shapes some, and Bitsy likes to review, so a few months ago I made up these matching shape cards.
The kids wanted to color, so I gave them scraps of paper and they went to town.  Once they were done I cut out the shape, and let them pick which color of construction paper they wanted them mounted to, then they practiced gluing, and I laminated them for durability.  Manly and Bitsy each have their own set of four.  We've used them for lots of things, but in the hotel this week we used them to run a race.  I sat at one end of the hotel room with the shapes, and the children stood at the door (don't worry, it was a one story hotel, there was no one listening to us from below) and they ran to pick up their shapes from me.  When I handed them the card they yelled out what shape it was before running back to the door and putting them in a pile.  A good time was had by all!

With all of our activity packs, and books I never once heard, "I'm bored."  It was a great trip, and worth it to see Daddy every evening.

Back at home Bitsy asked if she could get some flowers to arrange, but before she put them in the water, she and Manly decided to dance around the living room.
Manly helped me make our new playdough, which you'll see more of later.

We went to the beach, and made some new friends.
We got all cleaned up.  (Okay, it wasn't really school, but Lettie was so cute I couldn't not include it.)
And for Family Home Evening we painted our Accountable Kids Boards.  (I'll be writing a review in a couple of weeks.)

So that was our exciting week of travel, and now we're happy to be home and getting back to our routine.  This week we're going to be doing a trial run of our school schedule for the year, so we can see what we need to tweak.  


Week In Review

So, this week took us to another homeschool convention.  This week we headed over to Ontario (no, not Canada), to join CHN at their annual Expo.  It was a completely different experience then the CHEA convention.  It was very family oriented, and there were tons of things for the kids to do.  That being said, I spent the beginning of the week unpacking, and doing laundry from CHEA, and then the middle of the week repacking, and the end of the week at the convention, soooo...  there are no pictures of the kids.  We did very little in the way of school this week, other than lots of life experience, and mommy was so busy with life experience, the camera was hard to keep up with.  :)

Were it not for our AMAZING friend Tessy there would be no pictures at all. Our one slow and "boring" day was Wednesday, but it only stayed boring until the mail came.  The mailman brought us the most exciting package we've had in weeks, all the way from Hong Kong!
Tessy sent us candy, coins, a lantern, and a red envelope for Chinese New Year, and some incense from Thailand for Mommy.  She also sent us a note from two sweet boys that she knows, and they sent the Bitsy pencils, the little jumping men, and a picture of themselves.  (This isn't the full contents of the package, just what I was able to get back from the kids long enough to take a picture.)  Notice the candy boxes are open, that's because the kids loved them so much they had already eaten EVERYTHING!!!  In their defense, Bitsy did see her little neighbor friends outside and took some out to share.  She wanted to tell them all about her new friends in China!  (Sweet, right?)  So, thank you, thank you, thank you Tessy, we all loved our package.

We are going to be adding a lot of the things to our continent bags that are in the works, and this week we're going to be writing letters back to the boys to say thank you.  All of the things from China have also peeked Bitsy's interest in Chinese, and she has been asking Daddy to teach her some.  If anybody knows of a good program for teaching Chinese to little ones, I'd love to hear about it.

I am hoping to be better with the camera this week...  We still won't be home, but we are going to be camped out in a hotel in Yuma, AZ, so things won't be quite so busy.


Craft Time

So, I like to make things, and I LOVE to make things for my children.  It just makes me so happy.  In any event, here are some of the projects I have finished over the last few weeks.

First up is the Spinny Speller.  When we were on vacation in San Diego last month I saw one of these at a little store, and I about choked when they wanted $10 for it.  I thought it would be fun, but I wasn't sure enough that Bitsy would love it to spend that much for it, especially since it was plastic.  Imagine my joy, my bliss, my over the moon excitement then, when I saw THIS at Counting Coconuts!  Not only had she made her own spinny speller, she had made a tutorial, so I could make my own!!!  I was in love!  Needless to say the very next morning I took myself right down to Michael's to pick up the supplies I needed for this and the next project I will show you.
This one is Bitsy's and while she doesn't love it, she does like playing with it.  I think as she gets a little further along with reading she is really going to love it.  I won't include a tutorial, because I followed the one over at Counting Coconuts, except I didn't ask her husband to drill holes, I asked my sweet husband, and I didn't sand the edges.  I even used the same letters she did, because it was easier then looking through a list of Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) words and coming up with my own.  I made another one in blue and green for Manly when he gets a little bigger.  For the price of the one in the store I could have made six with leftover parts, and I really love that!

My next project came from Counting Coconuts as well.  Manly has been frustrated with buttoning his shirt lately, so I thought I would give this a try.  I let him pick out the ribbon, and the buttons he wanted, and this is how his "button snake" turned out.
Originally it had a button at one end and a handle at the other end, because I thought the handle would be enough to stop the felt from slipping off.  It was... for one day.  The felt stretched out as it went back and forth over the buttons, so the pieces slid right off.  Manly got really frustrated with that, so I put the button on the other end, and that has resolved our trouble.  I just used inexpensive sheets of felt from the craft store, and I think if it had been higher quality we wouldn't have had that problem.  

My final project is for Lettie, and right now it's educational value is to make sure she knows she is loved, although as she gets older I am sure we will use it to learn animal names and colors.  

My sweet sister in-law bought me this fabric when I was pregnant with Manly, but I was to afraid to try and quilt anything before now.  It took me about two days to do all of the stitching, and make the binding, but then I decided to slip stitch the binding on the back.  It was my first time doing that, but thanks to an excellent tutorial from my friend Theresa over at Joyous Home I was able to do it.  It took me about two weeks working on it for a while after the kids went to bed each night, but now it's done, and we both love it.

Can I just tell you again, how much I love making things?!


Activity Packs

Since we are going to two homeschool conventions this year, and I knew I was going to need ways to keep little ones busy but quiet, I was thrilled when I started seeing Activity bags on other blogs.  I originally saw them at Chasing Cheerios and Counting Coconuts, and I knew I had to make some up.  They will be great for trips to see family, and for moving as well.

These are the bags I took with us to the CHEA convention last week.
 First, lacing blocks and string.  Manly wasn't real excited about these, but I know Bitsy is going to love them this weekend.
 Coloring books for each of them, with matching crayons, so we don't have to fight over a color.
 Blocks, because everyone around here loves to build.  They also love to knock things down, and this will be prevented with the Legos.
 Each one has their own mini potato head with parts.
 Finger puppets and cars.  Lettie was the biggest fan of the finger puppets last weekend!
 Containers to practice opening and closing.  Manly would spend ten minutes at a time with these little containers.
 Cups and pom-poms to sort by color.  Leave it to children to come up with other ideas though.  Manly put them in the open and close containers to see how many would fit, and he hauled them around in his dump truck.
 A felt button snake to practice buttoning.

After I put these all together I came across The Princess and the Tot, and I really like her ideas, so I may make a few of hers up before we go to our next convention.  I'm thinking about adding some scrapbook paper punches and paper too, but I didn't want the mess in a huge convention hall, this weekend we'll just be in a hotel, and the pace won't be so fast so I might give it a try.

You'll notice that for now my packs are stored in plastic bags, and they totally work, but you'll notice on The Princess and the Tot she has hers in cute pencil pouches, and thanks to my sweet mother and father in-law mine too will be stored in those pencil pouches.  I think they will be much sturdier, and easier for the children to open and close themselves.

I am happy to report that Manly used his activity packs last weekend and sat through three one hour classes with us without be disruptive!  They were really fun to make up, and apparently really fun to use.


Week In Review

If you've been wondering where we've been and why the blog has been so quiet, and you're sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for loads of pictures, I'm sorry to say you may want to prepare yourself for disappointment. 

This week we went to the CHEA homeschool convention.  And other than when Bitsy and Manly took turns staying up from midnight until 5 am, because they were so excited, we had a GREAT time.  Bitsy went to the children's convention and learned about "Riding the Waves" and the importance of following Christ no matter what.  She made these cute surfboards, and has been riding them ever since.
Steve and I went to some amazing classes, that I will be sharing more about later in the week.  

Before we left we were mostly packing and getting the house cleaned up, and while those are great practical life experiences, since the children are still small, I'm pretty involved in helping them with them, so there are no pictures.

The next few pictures are of some trays, and I'm sure you'll be wondering why I have pictures of trays, so I think they deserve some explanation.  I love the idea of my children being independent, but I also realize they are 4 1/2 and 2 1/2.  So in order for them to be independent in a "controlled" environment each week I select three to five activities for them to do, and then place them on the trays on our school room table.  When it is time for school, after we have done our regularly scheduled activities they can choose one of the trays at a time to work with.  The benefits of this are many, but in my mind there are two big ones.  First, they are choosing activities that I am happy to let them participate in, and am willing to help them, so I've helped make the choice (without them even knowing).  :)  Second, they get a choice, and that makes them happy!!!  Now for the trays.
We continued working on labeling the house to help Bitsy get even more exposure to words and she is beginning to read.  Underneath of the labels is a file folder board game from the Knights Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations to go along with the library's summer reading theme.
I made the dice and markers with extra wooden pieces I had from another project I am hoping to write about later this week.  Bitsy does fine with counting, but we are working on number recognition now, and this has really helped.

We got to use our red, white, and blue play dough this week.
We also worked on cutting.  The larger pages are for Bitsy, as she has had more practice, and came from a Kumon cutting book I found at Costco a while ago.  The thin strips are ones I made up for Manly with extra strips of cardstock and scrapbook paper, and stickers.  The stickers are different type of balls, so we did language development learning about different sports, and the type of ball each one uses.  (Hi Uncle Mike!)  We could have used our Uncle Mike this week, since Mommy and Daddy are not big sports fans.  :) 
This week we will play with glue, as we make collages with our star and ball pieces, and glue together our raincoats.  

The coming week brings another homeschool convention, so we won't be doing much around the house, but we will have a few trays out, and I am hoping to get some more pictures of the little ones.  Until then though, here's one for the road.
 Bitsy wanted to ride Manly's bike, but he wasn't real keen on sharing, so they decided to compromise.  I looked outside to them riding in small tight circles like this.  Some days it feels like all of those lessons on sharing and loving one another are working.


Week In Review

With the 4th of July, and our field trips there was not a lot of school time this week, but we did do a few fun things I wanted to share.  

First, we made these AWESOME bubble makers.  They are so simple to make, it took me maybe 5 minutes to make two, including gathering the materials, and even Manly can blow bubbles this way.  (Most 2 1/2 year olds have trouble blowing bubbles consistently.)  They were so fun that as soon as I get some more bottles I think I might make Steve and I our own.  I will reiterate her warning though, sucking in will cause the bubble to fill the bottle, and your mouth, which puts a damper on the experience, if you don't believe me, you can ask Bitsy.
Manly was just getting started here, he ended up with a bubble snake about a foot long before he scraped it off to make another.

We also started our 4th of July activities this week, with Star Sequencing, and Star counting found here at Counting Coconuts.  Instead of putting stickers on our flags we used extra star confetti from our sensory bin.  Bitsy does great with sequencing, but is still working on her 1:1 counting, so there are no pictures of these activities.  I think it's more important to help them, then photograph them.  :)

After that we went outside with our foam circles, and Red and Blue pinwheels from Pier1 to practice pushing them in and pulling them out.  They are meant to be toothpicks, so they have sharp ends that are easy to put into the foam.  After Bitsy and Manly had both put theirs in Bitsy lined hers all up and watched them spin in the wind, and danced around with them.  It was wonderful to see her expand the activity and find so much joy in it.
Manly's Pinwheels
We took our Giant Creatures out of the water, and they are currently returning to their original size for future storage.

We practiced cutting and gluing with Daddy making tissue paper stars that Pappy brought us.
Bitsy practiced her photography skills by taking this picture!

We read lots of books!
 And Lettie practiced her standing, because apparently cutting her first tooth wasn't enough of a milestone for her.  She scooted over to her chair and pulled herself up into this position, to say she was pleased with herself would be an understatment.
 It's amazing how fast they grow up!

This week will be another "light" school week, as we get ready for Homeschool Conventions the next two weekends.  Hopefully next week I will be able to share some activity bags I'm making up for the kids to keep them busy during the lectures.


4th of July

I realize I'm a few days late, and I really debated whether to post about our 4th at all, but something just keeps nagging at me to do it.  

We had a lovely 4th of July on the beach with several of the other military members of our Church.  And while we did the normal things of having a barbecue and playing in the sand and waves, what truly struck me about the day was seeing God's hand in it.  Part of the reason we were with several other families was to say goodbye to some of our friends who were moving to Japan.  We knew them when we were stationed in 29 Palms about seven years ago, and were sad to say goodbye again, but as our day went by we were so excited to see other friends from our time in 29 Palms who have just moved here.  What a blessing to say goodbye to one family, and hello to another.  We also found out that day that a dear friend is expecting her 4th little bundle of joy, and that this sweet little child will join us in this world just a few weeks after her husband returns from Afghanistan.  This will be the first time he will be present for the birth of one of his children.  In addition to all of this, two days before the 4th while we were at the zoo we ran into friends from our time in Quantico, and were able to meet their two sweet children.  When we parted ways in Virginia she was just expecting their first, and now they have been blessed with two.

So what do all of these reunions, goodbyes, and babies have to do with the 4th of July?  It would be easy to say that these were all coincidences, or just good luck, but I truly believe that these experiences were to show me God's hand in all of our lives.  He places people in our lives, and shows us experiences so we can acknowledge Him.  As we celebrate and ponder the 4th of July, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge His hand in the establishment of this great country.  Even the most basic look into the lives of those who founded this country shows that they were men who believed in and feared God.  I am grateful that these men followed God and His direction, so that we have this country in which we are free to worship Him.  I am also grateful that just as He led individuals in the establishment of this country, He can and will lead me in my life.  

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th!


Food Fun

I don't remember ever being told not to play with my food as a kid, so maybe that's why I think it's fun to try different things with my food.  I am hoping to post with some regularity (read, when I try something cool and remember to take pictures) about fun things we try with food.  

First, what would summer be without smoothies?  And as much as I love Jamba Juice, with lots of little people that gets expensive in a hurry, so we make our own.  I found the recipe to make these, here, and we all loved them!  The kids asked if we could have them every day if that gives you any indication of how good they were.
It was a great way to add some oats into our diet.  For those of you who have dairy issues, we did substitute unsweetened almond milk for Bitsy, and it tasted great.  I doubled the recipe so we could all have plenty, and there wasn't much more in the blender then what you see here.  I got the cute straws at Pier 1's summer clearance.

Later in the week, I came across this idea, and knew I had to try it!  Since we had postponed our Family Home Evening because of 4th of July, and I had a watermelon on hand, I made it in about fifteen minutes, and we had a fun treat for our delayed Family Night.
The tutorial on Sun Scholars was amazing, and it was so fun and easy.  I let Manly color my tray since he was awake, but putting the plastic wrap on actually made the ink smear, and gave it a very cool water effect.
I didn't have Jello or Swedish Fish, so we just refilled him with chunks of watermelon (because I don't have a melon baller).  I used a big spoon to scoop out most of the inside, before cutting it into pieces.  I imagine we will be revisiting our shark when we have a lesson on Jonah for Family Home Evening, and when we read Pinocchio again.  It was a lot of fun, and the kids begged to grab some food from the shark.

Our final food creation for this time is our Muffin Tin Meal.  I was originally introduced to the idea over at Counting Coconuts, but if you are really like the idea, I suggest you head here for all the inspiration you could ever want.  I am planning on doing a monthly Muffin Meal to go along with that month's school theme, and being July, this month's was "Red, White, and Blue". 

Manly had stars, and Bitsy had circles, and I thought it was fun to have the muffin tins match the theme, but most of the time they won't.  In this month's we had blueberries, yogurt, strawberries, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and chicken, and strawberry swirl cheesecake.  To say they were well received would be an understatement.  Both of them think I should serve all of their meals every day in the muffin tins.  The best part was, it was easy and fun.

So, do you have any fun food ideas?  Leave a comment, and share with us!


Sea World

When the Grandparents are here all bets are off for "regular" school, and I relabel most things as field trips.  Sounds fun, right?  That's because it is, and as a bonus it's educational and build memories!

As soon as we got there Bitsy and Manly saw "Shivers" the Polar Bear and pleaded with Daddy to take a picture with them, so they stood in line, and got to give Shivers lots of high fives and hugs.
  Apparently we've created a new tradition, and anytime we go anywhere with Pappy, Bitsy has to get her face painted.  She opted for a unicorn this time, and as you can see Manly was not real keen on someone putting paint all over his sister's face.  He's very protective, and I'm sure he was thinking, "If I did that to her, I'd be in A LOT of trouble."

After that we were off to see the animals.  First were the dolphins.

Then the seals and sea lions. 
Manly could sit and watch them all day, and he really loves to see people feed them, so you can imagine how excited he was to feed them himself.

They have those cute little feeding tubes to protect your fish and fingers from the VERY aggressive birds.

We all enjoyed seeing Pappy's impersonation of the sea lions.
Bitsy enjoyed touching the Sea Stars, and Sea Snails.
We also enjoyed seeing Shamu, the penguins, some sea turtles, and polar bears, and the little family of ducklings who walked past while we ate lunch, and right before we left we thought we had been transported back to the zoo, when we got to pet two baby kangaroos.

Little Lettie shows best of all how we all felt when we were done.
We had a great time making memories, and learning about the wonderful creatures that inhabit our earth with us.  They truly show the beauty of our Creator.


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