Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Countdown to Christmas!

In the past few months I think I may have spent a bit too much time on Pinterest, due to the fact that our usually sufficient good ol' paper chain countdown with Christmas activites written on the links seemed lacking pazazz.  I was inspired by this cute advent countdown garland and created my own version. 

The link to this advent garland has a free printable of the cute numbers she used to label her envelopes which I printed and cut out.  I didn't have any open-ended envelopes and was shocked after learning from a trip to Office Max that they cost $25 a box!  I decided to improvise and use cardstock, which I cut in half width-wise.  After writing each activity on a blank index card and fancy-ing them up with stickers, I taped (lightly in case I need to switch activities around to a different day) them to my cardstock.  I folded the cards shut and used another small piece of rolled up tape to close.  Glue the adorable numbers to the outside, and voila!  Finished!

I like how the original project was hung horizontally, but hanging it on the door was a better use of space for me.

Our December Activities
1.  Tell the Christmas story and act out with Nativity figures
2.  Homeschool Christmas get-together and watch Santa Buddies
3.  Parade of Lights and Live Nativity
4.  Go see Harold and The Purple Crayon
5.  Decorate Gingerbread House
6.  Make salt dough ornaments
7.  Go to the library to borrow Christmas books
8.  Family movie night:  The Polar Express (with cocoa and popcorn)
9.  Family Game Night
10.  Holiday Magic at the zoo
12.  Picnic dinner in front of the Christmas Tree
14.  Family Movie Night:  The Santa Clause
15.  Make Paper Snowflakes
16.  Camp out in front of the Christmas Tree
18.  Watch Miracle on 34th Street
20.  Doing Unto Others Day
21.  Make Ice Sun Catchers
22.  Bake Cookies for Santa
23.  Make ice cream
24.  Go to church and celebrate Jesus

We are also doing a Jesse Tree Devotion as a family, which I will post about later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, sweet baby.

My littlest baby turned one today.  I'm sure most mothers will agree that a child's first birthday is bittersweet.  So many last-firsts were experienced in the past year and I think the clock speeds up a little more with each year that passes. 

To say that having LD in my life has been a blessing would be inadequate.  There are times I stare at his perfect little cherub face and can only silently thank his Creator for allowing me this time with him.  He has such a sweet, joyful curiosity that I adore, even when he is pulling all of the tissues out of the box or all of the toilet paper off the roll.  And he has this amazing laugh!  This laugh that pours out from his belly like he is just bursting with happiness!  You can't help but laugh with him. 

I'm thankful that tomorrow is the beginning of a new year to watch him grow and discover the world, and I'm even more thankful that I get to be the one holding his hand while he does it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Night of the Moonjellies

This week we rowed Night of the Moonjellies, by Mark Shasha.  This has been my favorite Five in a Row book so far, both because of the story and the way we learned.  The first two books we rowed, I based our studies more on lapbooks and this one more on the FIAR manual.  I realized that I really love the lapbooks because of the creativity involved and the nice way everything comes together in a little package.  The kids don't really care about that stuff.  Since this is their education - I need to teach in the way they learn best.

Night of the Moonjellies is the story about a little boy who lives in New England with his Grandma.  He finds a moon jelly on the beach one morning as he is walking to the diner which is his family's business.  After working at the diner for the day, Mark's Grandma takes him out on a boat to release the jellyfish back into the ocean.

What we learned:


This was a fun opportunity to learn about jellyfish!  Or, "jellies", as we decided to call them since scientist agree that they aren't really fish at all.  We read several basic books about jellies from the library.  The kids narrarated back to me what they learned and I recorded it in their science notebooks.  EM's favorite fact about jellies is that some can kill a person in minutes.  We also watched videos of jellies on youtube.  EM learned the life cycle of a jelly and made a neat wheel chart I found on homeschool share.  JR was very cute when he demonstrated how a jelly moves through the water and not much beats a five year old with a stuffy nose saying, "tentacles".

Language Arts

Per the manual, we discussed the contrast between the busy, noisy description of the diner with the calm, serene description of the boat on the ocean.  We also used the term contrast to lead our discussion about the artwork.


Mark Shasha's artwork in this book is stunning.  The gorgeous drawings spanning the pages of the story were my favorite part about this week.  The kids and I discussed contrast in the illustrations of light and dark as well as warm and cool.  We talked about how Shasha achieved the feeling of warmth or coolness through the colors he used.  I asked them each to draw a picture using warm or cool colors.
EM's drawing of a princess castle using cool colors.  I like how she added the flag blowing which  makes the scene feel cool as well as the yellow window making the castle seem warm inside.  

JR used warm colors to draw a campfire and a tent.  I love that this is his "warm" place.  
We also did a fun project with watered down paint to paint jellyfish.  JR loved this one, especially the splattering of bubbles!
EM has difficulty letting go of her perfectionism to create a messy project.  

JR really got the idea though!

They also made some jellyfish!

Social Studies

The kids and I had fun creating our own diner this week.  We talked about responsibilities of having a job and a business.  They compromised on a name for their diner, "Chef Pasketti and EJL's Diner", and talked about what should be on the menu and also discussed value and how much the menu items should cost.  Then they got to work!

Our friendly Host welcoming the surprise customers.
The waitress taking orders.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Best Friends

EM and JR were born 20 months apart, so they have been best friends for a long time.  They play together inside and outside, with toys and imaginary friends, with trains and polly pockets.  Even though EM is less than two years older than JR she is very motherly toward him.  She makes sure he understand what's going on by explaining things in simpler ways and usually lets him win when they play a game.  JR adores his big sister just as much and always needs to know where she is and what she's doing.  He will play any game she comes up with- he is just happy to imagine with his favorite playmate.

When LD was born almost a year ago, Josh and I talked about how we hoped EM and JR still enjoyed "playing" when LD was old enough to join them.  Were they too far apart in age to be friends?  Would LD be left out of their big kid games and miss out on having his siblings as his best friends?

The day we brought LD home from the hospital our worries began to fade.  EM read a sleeping newborn LD her Kindergarten reader.  JR brought his Puffle and Pirate Club Penguin (his most prized possessions) to sleep by the side of his two-day old brother.  As weeks passed they attended to his every coo and whimper.  I worried that once LD started crawling and getting into their things that this precious honeymoon phase might come to an end.

Boy, was I wrong!  Now the newly mobile LD is even more fun to this loving big brother and sister!  He is the Spy Baby to their Spy Girl and Spy Boy.  He is the Land Baby to their Lava Boy and Water Girl.  He is the baby owl in their nest, the Godzilla they build towers for just to hear his giggle when it crashes, and the third player in their video games (with an unplugged remote so he doesn't feel left out).

My worries once again are calmed by the love and friendship I see growing between my three.  I imagine the years we have ahead of us and smile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm a runner.

For as long as I can remember, I have admired runners.  They are strong and healthy, and usually a fun-loving bunch.  I was born into a running family - both of my parents are runners (even though some health issues keep Mom from running these days - she's still a runner at heart).  As a kid I remember handing out water at many-a-water station and having pancakes with the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club.  Sometimes I even got to help make the pancakes! 

My husband, who is naturally athletic, is a runner too.  He's one of those people who can go out and run a few miles with little to no training and make it look easy.  (Well, just so you know, it's not easy.)  So, Josh asked me a few months ago if I would like to run a 5k with him in November. 

"Sure!", I said.  November is a long way away - I've got plenty of time to train!

So I began the journey to my first 5k.  Thank goodness it cost $55 non-refundable dollars for the entry fee because my body did not enjoy this new request I was making of it.  It was rather accustomed to the non-running we had going on.  But, I would not let myself down!  I trudged through the first few weeks of the Couch to 5K and it started to get a little easier.  I gained confidence and thought maybe this was something I could do after all! 

And here I am today, 3.2 miles later.  I know in the grand scheme of running-kind 3.2 miles isn't very far and my finishing time wasn't very impressive, but now I know what it feels like to cross this finish line.  It feels pretty great!  And you know what feels even better?  Calling myself a runner. 

At the finish line!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Random Favorite Moment this Week

Playing "Tackle the Neighbor"  :)

This little squirrel has been visiting our porch this week.  Yesterday he carried off an entire bag of fruit loops that was  left outside by accident, so today he brought reinforcements.  He and two other squirrel friends enjoyed the pumpkin seeds the kids left outside for him!  

First time having candy!  Hey, he wore an eye-liner mustache to complete his costume, I think he earned it! 

LD loves to walk across the room with his little car!  It's the same car EM and JR learned to walk with and they are always so proud when they can do it!

Our Bible verse for the week was: "My God is my rock.  I go to him for  safety."  2 Sam  22:3

EM and her rock.  

Cleaning the kitchen is not an easy task these days with so much "help".  

LD's cousin came over this week to play and he was happy to share his toys with her!  Just don't ask him to share his Daddy!  

EM drew and colored some of the leaves we collected on our nature hike last week. 

JR made crayon rubbings with the leaves. 
He finally wears his hat!  Yay!

Let's carve jack-o-lanterns!

LD 2011

EM decided she was going to carve her pumpkin entirely by herself this year!  It took her about half an hour to cut the top off, but she kept going and didn't give up.  She was so proud when it came off!
JR still won't touch the inside of a pumpkin!