Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five in a Row: Weeks 5-12

We are finally caught up after missing a week of school in October due to two bouts of stomach flu - not pretty. So I wanted to update you on all our goings-on in our little schoolhouse. We've enjoyed many books through Five in a Row and have really enjoyed using our world map on a regular basis. Some weeks we do a lot of activities inspired by the books we read and some weeks we do the minimum as our schedule allows. Without further ado here's what we've been up to. :)

Week 5 - The Rag Coat
This was the week that Asher was sick so we did the minimum. We enjoyed reading about the Applachian experience through reading The Rag Coat. The only activity we did during this week was quilting. Yep, I let my little boy use my sewing machine - with LOTS of supervision. Plus he was terrified of getting stuck with a needle so he was pretty respectful of the machine. We took old scraps of fabric and sewed them together and added a piece of fabric to back it. It worked out well but I don't think I'll scare him with the sewing machine for a while. :)

Week 6 - The Glorious Flight
 We really enjoyed this book and learning some French names was a highlight (Blair-You). The boys loved laughing like French men, "Hugh, hugh, hugh!" :D Made me laugh!! We colored paper and made them into paper airplanes flying them across the yard. We also took a trip to the local airport to watch planes land and take-off but since this is a relatively small town, there wasn't any action. The boys were disappointed but were equally distracted by the McDonald's we picked up on the way. We also took a little trip to the grocery store and bought a French baguette. They thought it was so fun to be able to just rip off a chunk. If I had really been on the ball, I would have made this airplane as a craft, but again, some weeks are better than others.

Week 7 - A Pair of Red Clogs
 This was a book that interested my boys as they were so interested in the little girl's clogs. We talked about taking care of our things and being responsible - even with our shoes. I was preparing them for winter when they have to keep their tennis shoes out of the snow. We tossed our shoes to "predict the weather" and then we waited til the next morning to see if our "predictions" were right. I had him draw the Japanese flag in his journal along with drawing different facial expressions. Overall it was a good experience and I would recommend reading this book again.

Week 8 - The Clown of God
 This book, on the other hand, I had a little more trouble with. I found some activities but I had a difficult time explaining the meaning of the book. I talked about how important it is to be a light everywhere we go. And that our light shines to show Jesus' love as the monks showed love the the clown. When the clown dies in the end of the book (sorry to give away the ending) I explained out important it is for us to do our best for God all through our life. That we can give glory to God until the day we die. And I left it at that. I didn't want to go into the details of the statue changing its face and I'm glad they didn't ask for an explanation. :) I got a kit from the library with a CD and different color scarves so we danced and jungled along with the CD. The boys had a lot of fun with that. I had him draw pictures for the vocabulary words: juggle, eggplant, zucchini, torches, and monks (brothers). I don't know that I would necessarily teach this book again, but after reviewing what we did I think it was sufficient and they seemed to enjoy the activities we did through the week.

Week 9 - How to Make Apple Pie and See the World
 We really enjoyed this book as we had been on a field trip to the apple orchard a few weeks earlier. We enjoyed "traveling" around the world for all the ingredients to make and apple pie since the grocery store was closed. I printed out a world map and we used a ruler and red marker (like Indiana Jones) and drew out our trip to each country. We also journaled all the countries and the ingredients we picked up while we were there. I found pictures of each mode of transportation, each country, and each food item. We pasted them into the journal and recorded the details of the trip. We made apple crisp on Friday to enjoy as dessert. It was a great week and we had so much fun traveling the world together.

Week 10 - Sick Week
 This is the week I had the flu, so needless to say, we didn't get much done. We rearranged some things so that I could rest and the boys could play instead of having school. Lots of books were read while cuddling on the couch. Also, dad cooked dinner almost every night. :) That's looking at the glass half-full.

Week 11 - Papa Piccolo
 This was not what I expected at all. I expected this book to be about music, but it was about cats as the cover easily displays. And my boys LOVE cats (I am very allergic so I don't really enjoy them too much). We found Venice, Italy on the map and looked at pictures online of their "roads" which are really a series of canals. We talked about how much fun it would be if we traveled by boat instead of car. Or if we had to walk nearly everywhere. They thought that sounded like a great idea. We journaled drawings of the vocab words: canal, sardine, chime, carnival, glum, and gondola. We made a color wheel and practiced our addition using kitten counters. The boys loved talking about kittens and next time I would like to take them to the Humane Society to visit some kitties and cats.

Week 12 - Grandfather's Journey
We didn't really get into this book. It was a little more difficult as the timeline of the book moved quickly and I don't think they realized that the character was the same because he aged so quickly through the book. We did take another look at Japan and made some hats out of paper - origami. We talked about days in a week and months in a year to note how time passes. We also discussed family generations - Great Gramma, Grandpa, Dad and them. And how each one has their own experiences because of the years they lived. We didn't really get into WWII but did discuss how each generation has ties to different parts of history.

And last week we played catch-up from the week when I was sick. So, we are back on track and that feels so good!! :) We've had a lot of fun incorporating other fun activities into our school days including:

Hi-Ho Cherry-O!
The Farming Game Kids

Star Wars
Read, Build, Write
Super Mario Brothers

site word games and counting lots of objects.

It's been a great experience so far and we are really looking forward to our next books: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

What are you learning in your homeschool classroom? What are some good books that you recommend?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie is about the easiest pie you can make. I always use my Betty Crocker recipe and it never fails to satisfy us. It's a simple recipe out of my first cookbook - Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence. I received this cookbook from my parents upon moving into my first apartment and it has served me well. It would make a great gift for a high school graduate or a new bride.

Anyway, on to the recipe...

Pumpkin Pie
from Betty Crocker

1 frozen deep-dish pie shell
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 can (16oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
whipped cream or Cool-Whip

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Set out frozen pie shell to thaw.

2. Beat eggs slightly in a large bowl with a wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pumpkin and milk.

3. To prevent spilling, place pastry-lined pie shell on a cookie before adding filling. Carefully pour the pumpkin filling into the pie plate. (There will be extra so don't let it overflow - I put the extra in a little ramekin to enjoy later.) Bake 15 minutes.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake about 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire cooling rack after baking. If after 4-6 hours the pie has not been served, cover and refrigerate.

5. Serve pie with whipped cream or Cool-Whip. Cover remaining pie up to three days.

Easy-peasy. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Prepping for Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving my sister and her two kids are coming!! We are so happy to host them in our new home and are so thankful for the extra room so they can stay with us. Therefore, I've been cooking up a storm! And I love that kind of weather. :)

First of all, I did all my non-perishable and frozen shopping last week and this week I picked up the fresh produce and my regular items. It made the shopping a lot less overwhelming. 

And I've learned that it is ultra-helpful to have a plan when you have guests coming. So, here's the plan (and some of the recipes) for Thanksgiving:

banana bread (bake on Wednesday)
cinnamon rolls (refrigerated from the can)

11am - appetizers
BLT dip with Wheat Thins (prep on Wednesday and mix together on Thursday)
veggies and dip

1p - Thanksgiving
turkey (Thursday)
mashed potatoes (Thursday)
sweet potatoes (cook on Wednesday, bake on Thursday)
green bean casserole (prep on Wednesday, bake on Thursday)
stuffing (prep on Wednesday, bake on Thursday)
dilled corn (Thursday)
brown and serve rolls (Thursday)
cranberry sauce (Wednesday)
7-layer rainbow jell-o (Wednesday)
layered lettuce salad (Wednesday)

3p - dessert
pumpkin pie (Wednesday)
scotcheroos (Tuesday)
chex mix (Tuesday)


It's been fun using all the pots and pans in my kitchen. Finding my casserole dishes still packed in boxes and using my Pampered Chef chiller veggie platter. My boys have also been handy in the kitchen and we've had lots of fun learning together. They're learning how to pour and stir without spilling, how to clean up as you go, how it's important to taste everything (they really like that part), and how to have fun. I've been learning how much they love being in the kitchen and that they're more likely to eat the food that they helped make. I've also been learning to let them have fun, and that includes being messy. I am teaching them to be careful, but I'm not the neatest cook in town so I shouldn't expect them to be either. And it's been fun singing to Christmas music while we cook.

How do your kids participate in the holidays? Do you dare ask them to help in the kitchen? :)

Happy Thanksgiving to "all" my readers!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Planning a Superhero Birthday

This month my youngest turns four! He's been requesting a superhero birthday party for a few months (without changing his mind - a miracle) so we're going with that. He's requested a "Scooperhero" birthday cake since we received this as a gift from two former students:

He uses this delightful spoon to eat his breakfast every morning but I'm wondering how that's going to make it onto a cake. And he's also requesting that we change the colors to cardinal and gold for Iowa State (his favorite team). So I've been trying to accommodate his requests while not driving myself to the loony-bin.

Here's a few ideas I've been focusing on...

We want to keep it simple so we're thinking cupcakes, a few snacks and some drinks.

chocolate cupcakes with toppers (from Fabulous Features)

other fun snacks with these "labels" (from 3 Sweet P's)

I thought about bottled pop so I can put a cute "FIZZZ" label on them, but we're dealing with preschoolers so we might be sticking to juice-boxes instead...or sippy cups. :)

Again, focusing on keeping it simple, we're going to have a few signs around and maybe a banner or two. And food is always a great way to decorate simply.

great signage (from Love the Day)

Party Favors
In our area it's customary to send home some treats/favors for each child attending the party. I don't want to spend a lot of money on this but I still want it to be fun.

a mask for each guest when they arrive, adults too? (from 3 Sweet P's)

a Superhero lollipop (from Zakka Life)

and maybe a Superhero bookmark and some Pop Rocks all in a cute Superhero bag.

And then I'll purchase some plates, napkins and cups and we'll call it good. That means I have some work to do.  :)

Have any great Superhero-party-planning advice for this Super Mama?
These next two passages of Scripture speak about worshiping God with our thankful hearts through music. It's a great thing to be able to praise God with our voices when we listen to music, sing along, sing with a group, or when we make a joyful noise. :) 

No-Complain November :: Day 3
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:15-17

No-Complain November :: Day 4
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
      Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
 Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
      Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
 For the Lord is a great God,
      a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3

May you be blessed today as you worship God in whatever you do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Every autumn the song Come, Ye Thankful People, Come gets in my brain. I think a lot of it has to do with growing up in a farming community. The writer (Henry Alford) of this hymn is calling the people together to praise God for the bountiful harvest He has supplied. But it's also pointing us to the future harvest when Christ will make is triumphal return. I am blessed to have grown up singing this hymn and now I want to share it with you.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home. 

I get teary-eyed every time I sing that last verse. "Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin" - I am anxious for that glorious day.

Do you have any special songs that you enjoy during the harvest/Thanksgiving season?

No-Complain November

You've seen our family's experience with No-Spend March and No-TV February so now I introduce to you:

No-Complain November

I thought November was the perfect time to focus on all the things we are thankful for (pretty obvious) and it's a great time to put my whiny voice away. We want to set an example for our boys who have been bitten by the "Complain-About-It" bug. And honestly, I've been dealing with my own infestation of the dreaded CAI bug.  God's been so good to us and we want to focus on His blessings this year instead of our worries, doubts, and wants. I will be posting verses (and also on Facebook) as daily medication for the CAI bug.

No-Complain November :: Day 1
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

No-Complain November :: Day 2
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
  I will tell of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
  I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2

I pray that this month you can overflow with thankfulness to God for the many ways He blesses you. It's gonna be a great way to get into the Advent season.

So, wanna play along? :)

Something to get you started: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
(on sale now at DaySpring - One Thousand Gifts and God In the Moment perpetual calendar set)