Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies

It's that time of year again; the days are shorter, the nights cooler, there's a crisp feeling in the air, and at our house pumpkin cookies are in the oven.  Autumn is one of my favorite times of year and you just can't have autumn without pumpkins!  Doesn't the scent of a lit pumpkin candle or the sight of brightly colored mums on the front porch or putting the squishy comforter back on your bed just make you feel all warm and happy inside?!

I thought I would share my favorite recipe for pumpkin cookies just in case any of you are having a little difficulty letting go of summer and needing a gentle nudge getting into the fall spirit.  Special thanks to my beautiful sister-in-law, Kristi, who shared this recipe with me a few years ago!

Pumpkin Cookies
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup plain pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine wet ingredients in a bowl, add dry ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese and butter then add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until creamy, add milk if needed to desired consistency, keep thick.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Highlights of our First Week of School!

JR drawing shapes in shaving cream.
JR and Dad building a geoboard.
This week my main goal was to ease into our new routine.  We begin each day with breakfast and Curious George.  Hey, you can learn a lot from that little monkey!  After the usual morning stuff (getting dressed, brushing teeth, making bed, ect.) we do a few morning chores and get started with our Calender Time.  The kids have caught on quickly to this because it's similar to what they have done in school.  JR loves to use the pointer and EM really enjoys "making the date" with coins.

In Math this week JR learned about circles, rectangles, and squares.  I really wasn't if he was picking up what I was putting down, as my husband would say.  After a slightly rough day on Thursday we sat down for dinner and he held up his tortilla chip.  (Yes, he had chips for dinner -  I said it was a rough day.)  He asked me what shape it was and if we could count the sides and corners.  This homeschooling mama's heart soared!

EM quickly breezed through the first chapter of her Math book.  Thursday I chose to skip a few repetitive exercises because she seemed bored with the review.  She is SO smart!  I had an idea, but WOW!  I can't wait to see how much she learns this year going at her pace.

EM also practiced the first 26 phonograms and segmenting words in All About Spelling.  She also read a beginning reader library book several times and really got a boost of confidence as it came to her more easily the more she read it.

We had LOTS of outdoor fun this week as the weather has been soooo beautiful!  It seems all of the critters are coming out and enjoying the cooler weather too!

EM has been keeping a log of the cool things she finds in nature by sketching them in her Nature Notebook.

One morning we woke up to a praying mantis warming up on our porch light.   What a fun opportunity to learn about mantids that we would have missed completely if we were rushing to school!  Did you know after they are born they sometimes eat their siblings as a first meal?  The kiddos thought that was especially funny.

EM decided this week she was ready to ride her bike without training wheels, so she did!  This was one of those milestones that remind me how quickly she is growing up.  Every morning this week since then EM has woken me up, bright and early, fully dressed, asking if she could go outside and ride her bike.  Can we at least have coffee first, please?

LD is also working on his motor skills.  The whole family has been on "Crawl Watch" anxiously awaiting those first momentous crawls.  What will he go for?  This morning we thought maybe the cat would be his first target!

He has also been working on cutting FOUR top teeth!  Needless to say, he hasn't been at his best.  We did a little happy dance for him this evening when we saw the front two have broken through!  I sure will miss those gummy smiles though.

Josh had the day off today so we decided to head over to the Will County Fair.  We were able to get up close and personal with cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and hand sanitizer.

And of course since we were at a fair we *had* to partake in the American pastime of consuming fried goodness and treats served on a stick!
I'm looking forward to next week and beginning our Adventures!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of Homeschool!

Today was the official first day of Our Homeschool.  (We'll have to think of a more creative name - I'll be accepting suggestions!)  I decided to begin this week with Calender Time, Math, and Language Arts.  Next week we will start our first week of My Father's World which includes Bible, History, Science, Art, and Music.  

Our morning began bright and early and most of us were excited to start school!  (JR isn't excited to start anything until about 10am - he gets that from me.)  Cinnamon rolls were our special First-Day-of-School breakfast!  After LD was tucked in for his morning nap, the big kids and I started exploring our Calender Board.    

I don't remember what was so funny, but I love that laugh!
JR is doing a Geometry Chapter in Math, so today he studied circles.

Stamping circles
EM began a review of numbers this week.

The kids did awesome in their Language Arts lessons!  I was amazed at how quickly EM picked up the new phonogram sounds we practiced today and JR enjoyed the silly "A" poem we read.  

EM and I ended the day with our favorite thing...Arts and Crafts!  We made some pretty "stained glass" butterflies to brighten up our school room (aka dining room ;) )

EM told us several times today how much she loves homeschool and how she wants to be taught at home until she's a grown up.  JR mentioned a few times that I am not a teacher and this is not school.  He is a guy that thrives on routine and takes a while to adapt to change, so in time he'll come around and do well with the structure our day provides.  All in all, the day was very encouraging and I'm super proud of my big First Grader and Pre-Kindergarten-er!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Curriculum - 2011/2012 School Year

This is our first year homeschooling and I am so impressed with the amount of awesome curriculum available!  I had so much fun choosing what we would use this year.  EM will be in 1st grade and JR in Pre-K.

Together we will be using:   Adventures in My Father's World as our main study.  It includes:  Bible, US History and Geography, Science, Music, and Art.  The program is aimed at EM's level, but JR will be able to participate in much of what we study and learn.  I think he will especially love the Science experiments!

EM - 1st Grade  

Phonics, Spelling, and Reading - All About Spelling - Level 1  

Math - BJU Press - Math 1

Handwriting-  A Reason for Handwriting

JR - Pre-K

Math - BJU Press - Math K

Big Skills for Little Han

All About Reading

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Calender Time

This week I have been hard at work (well really it was more fun than work) creating a Calendar Board for the upcoming school year.  After printing, cutting, laminating, cutting again, arranging, and pinning, it looks like this...

I'm very excited about all of the fun learning we will do with this tool!  My kiddos will be practicing the days of the week, months of the year, weather, seasons, concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, address and phone number, adding change, place value, graphing, counting, addition, The Pledge of Allegiance, and weekly Bible memory verses.

Thanks to Mama Jenn and Confessions of a Homeschooler for all of the inspiration and awesome printables!