Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Cookies?

I saw these on the Crafty Crow (again, I know...I need help, I can't stop!). I thought they were too cute, so I gave them a try. As usual, I "tweaked" the recipe a bit to fit my baking abilities and time (or lack thereof).

I used a Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix, some of that "cupcake-icing-in-a-squirt-can" stuff to frost the cookies. And I couldn't find any orange or black icing in the little "Cake Mate" tubes. So I made my own out of some Betty Crocker Butter Cream cake frosting I had left over from Trey's birthday cake on Saturday. I just used food coloring to make it the right colors.
Then we decorated them with candy corn and Mini M&M's. They turned out too cute. The kids decorated some as are the pictures:

Lindsay is a Cookie Decorating Diva!

Lindsay's Cookie (looks like he knows what's in store for him tomorrow!!)

Addison took her job very seriously! She could be my next chef!!

Addison's finished cookies
Trey was not as interested as Addison, but did well anyway. He thought they tasted good though, which is why I don't have a picture of his finished cookies!! (Except for the group picture below - Thanks Trey for waiting at least that long!!)
And here's one of each of our finished cookies. Can you tell who decorated which turkey?
Clockwise from top: Mom's, Addie's, Lindsay's, Trey's.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving T-Shirts

I got this idea from the Crafty Crow, who got the idea from One More Moore. It was supposed to be a reverse applique type thing, but since I am beyond incompetent with sewing, I decided that I could "tweak" it a little to fit my abilities (or lack thereof). If you want directions for the reverse on one of the links above. They also have pictures and step by step directions.

So, this is what I came up with. I traced each of the kids' handprints onto white paper. Then I cut them out. Using that as a pattern, I used my pinking shears to cut the fabric. Then I pinned the fabric to the shirt, and used my sewing machine (yes I actually have one and can manage to operate it enough to sew a line, albeit a crooked one), to sew around the outline of the handprint.

Then I got out my needle and thread (even more shocking, I know), and sewed on buttons for the eyes and little gobbler thingy. Last, I got some black puffy paint that I had left over from our pumpkin shirts, and drew on the feet. The pictures are below.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Week's Lessons for Trey

Last week, we finished up all of our units on Washington (see lapbook below...very cool if I do say so myself!) We didn't get to the plant experiments that I wanted to get to because we had a rushed week. For some reason, my brain went all crazy on me (happens a lot, I know), and I didn't account for the last section in each of the units in my lesson plans. So there I was thinking we were in good shape. Then Wednesday rolled around and we only had two more days to finish up everything, and I was STRESS-IN!!!

My original thoughts were to have my mom-in-law do a lesson with Trey on plants, parts of plants, greenhousing, etc.; because my thumb is completely black, and she could grow a plant from a piece of charcoal and a paper clip. Ok, small exaggeration, but the woman can grow anything, and my plants always seem to commit botanical suicide when they see me coming!

Anyway...I was so proud of Trey. I know a lot of mom's don't take grades on the work their kids do, but I have chosen to because Trey may one day re-enter public school. And while Texas is currently completely unregulated with regards to homeschoolers (that is, we don't have to report anything to anyone, once he's appropriately withdrawn from public school), there's no guarantee that it will always be that way. SO...with that possibility in the back of my mind, I thought it safer to go ahead and document everything, even attendance...JUST IN CASE.

At the end of each of our units (we use Alpha Omega LIFEPACS), Trey takes a unit test and we tally his scores for each subject. He already had A's in every subject, but he brought each of them up at least 4 points last week. He worked extremely hard so that we could take our entire Thanksgiving Break off. Sometimes he had a "working lunch," and sometimes he worked through his afternoon breaks. He now has at least a 99% in each subject. I couldn't be prouder of him!!!

This week, all we have planned are some Arts & Crafts projects, and some cookies to take to my mom's for Thanksgiving. He will also be writing a letter to the soldier he "adopted" in Iraq. And of course, we will honor our tradition of reading Thanksgiving Poems, telling Pilgrim Stories, etc. while we're doing our projects. There will be plenty of lessons to be learned this week, but the kiddos will never suspect they are actual lessons!!

This Week in Tot School

Tot School

We're taking it a little easy this week in Tot School. Addie is out of public school for the week, and since I revolve his schedule around hers so that we're all on the same page, that means that I, too, am on a "break" of sorts. Not that homeschool moms ever get a break - especially around the holidays, but it is a technicallity that I cling to.

So I took a cue from Carissa at 1+1+1=1, and gave Lindsay some activity options and let her choose what she wanted to do. She chose water play, so I got out all the old recipe books, tupperware, measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas, and let her go to town. I showed her how to measure very carefully, and then as I began to cook our lunch (soup), she also made several dishes (of the most delicious water I've ever tasted). She carefully put them in the refrigerator, one by one; and then when the soup was ready, she carefully transported her dishes to the table for everyone to enjoy! She was so proud of her new found culinary talents! Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of this moment because I spent most of the time trying to mop up water out of the floor.

After lunch, we played with the Play-Doh at our craft table. She used her rolling pin and cookie cutters like an old pro. We talked about Thanksgiving, and being thankful to God for all the blessings He's given us. I think this was a little above her level, but she likes to talk with Mom, so she didn't mind. :)

No, I don't allow my children to run around all day in their underwear; I just usually strip Lindsay down before craft time so I can cut down on my laundry. I had intentions of putting her craft shirt on, but she wasn't having any of it. On the table, you'll see one of my favorite things! It's a Dora the Explorer disposable placemat. I bought these a couple of years ago from Target. They come in a box of 12, I think. They have peel-off type tape on the back. You peel off the backing and tape it into place. I bought them to use in restaurants (because I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe), but since we don't go out much anymore, I use them for craft time. It doesn't damage my table, and it keeps my little artist from making too big of a mess.
For other Tot School reports from other mom's this week, go visit Carissa's blog, 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our First Lapbook

For those of you who know me, you're already aware of my love of scrapbooking. You probably also know that I haven't had time to do any of it since Lindsay was born. Somehow she takes more time out my day than Addie and Trey ever did. So imagine the immense joy I felt when I ran across this idea of "lapbooking." It combines the creativity and unique design aspects of scrapbooking with a new kind of learning that my kids really enjoy. So I get to scrapbook and call it a lesson!!! YAY!!!

Since we're wrapping up our unit on Washington State, I felt it appropriate for our first lapbook to be centered around Washington and all the things we've learned about it. I surfed around for different templates, etc., and even downloaded some. In the end, I found that it was easier just to do it myself. My primary inspiration came from some of the lapbooks I saw on I also downloaded the Washington State Flower/Bird mini-book there (I think). So I'll give them credit where it's due. :) The coloring book under the red flap was downloaded from the Washington State Legislature.
I also added a special sliding title flap, so I could have a way to keep the book closed without using a bulky ribbon or grommets.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tot School Anyone?

Ok, I admit it: I'm a serious blog-stalker. I was surfing around trying to find ways to get Lindsay (3 years old) involved in our home-school lessons. I knew she wasn't ready for the types of activities that Trey (9 years old) was doing, but I couldn't stand seeing her just sit around all day watching cartoons - waiting for Trey to get finished with his work so they could play. I felt like we were wasting valuable time! So I started making out lesson plans for me to work with her on while Trey was working on his lessons. This created a few problems: 1.) Trey is ADD and does NOT work independently. 2.) Lindsay wants all the attention for herself and gets extremely aggitated if I have to stop working with her to help Trey. 3.) While Lindsay had loads of extra time on her hands each day, I couldn't seem to find enough!

Ladies and gentlemen, I've found my answer. The great news is that I don't have to spend the entire day doing it. I can work it into our morning schedule before Trey starts his lessons. It's called Tot School. It's just a group of moms devoted to their toddlers, trying to make a difference by spending one-on-one time with them while sneaking in a little education. You can learn more about it here:

Tot School
As for our first day of Tot School, it went really well. Of course, Lindsay likes to be the "teacher," so I let her run with that. We couldn't quite make the 1 1/2 hour mark because, well, Lindsay was the teacher. So that will be one of my goals as we progress. I'm a former Pre-K teacher (Jack of all Trades, I know), so I like a little structure in our learning time. I think this is good for Lindsay because most of the rest of her day is unstructured. So I made her a make-shift "desk" from our piano bench and a little chair of hers. This is the way that she and Addie play school in the afternoons, so I thought that I shouldn't mess with a good thing. All that being said, I do like Carisa's approach to child-led learning. This week we are doing a mini unit study on the letter A. We are learning all about apples, doing some arts and crafts, and singing songs. Here's a little bit of what we did today:

Floor Time:
Talk about the Letter A and apples.
Learn Song: Ten Shiny Apples -by Victoria Smith
(tune: Angel Band)
There was one, There were two, There were three - SHINY APPLES!
There were four, there were five, there were six - SHINY APPLES!
There were seven, there were eight, there were nine - SHINY APPLES!
Ten SHINY APPLES in that tree!

Arts & Crafts:
For Arts & Crafts, we colored a picture of an apple and the letter "Aa", and pasted it on red construction paper.

Our favorite thing we did today was to cut out apple tree shapes out of construction paper. I numbered each apple 1 - 10, and she pasted the apples on the tree while we sang our song we learned during floor time. I typed the song out and she pasted that on there, too.

She also did a worksheet or two from her Pre-K workbook, in which she was directed to color all of the pictures that start with the letter A. I know she's not quite at the Pre-K level, but I like to challenge her. She did great!! She loves the idea of having "school" like Trey and Addison, and even referred to one of her worksheets as her "test". Then she told me to stop talking during school...yep she's definitely got my genes!!

Then she helped mom make her snack of applesauce, graham crackers, and juice.

We have lots of other fun activities planned for the rest of the week as well. And the great part is, that I have tied all of her lessons to coordinate with what Trey's learning about Washington State this month. So she'll be able to help us out with his Washington State Lapbook as well!

Click here for more Tot Reports from other moms!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Halloween/Fall Festival Costumes

Ok, so I'm a little late posting the kids' Halloween costumes...they were too cute, though, albeit a little'll understand in a bit...keep reading. We were trying to save a little money and either make our own costumes, or make do with something we already had. Trey wanted to be a Jedi problem - a $1 remnant of fabric from Wally World and a light saber he already had and he was set.
When I asked Lindsay (who is 3 years old) what she wanted to be, I expected to hear something along the lines of a fairy or something. WRONG...she wanted to be a polka dot. A WHAT??? How in the world am I supposed to make her into a polka dot? Well, the creative juices started to flow and I had a great idea to turn a large piece of cardboard into a giant polka dot with some scissors, paint, and a small amount of duct tape. I was so impressed. Lindsay wasn't. She changed her mind at the last minute and decided she wanted to be a princess. In defeat, I went back to Wally World and purchased a $20 Princess dress (from the dress up section because the Halloween Costumes were already too sparse). She was of course, adorable.
Addison was the eye-opener. She wanted to be a cheerleader. And for those of you who don't know me, cheerleading was my THING in high school. I lived for cheering, but like a lot of teenage girls, I always thought I was soooo fat. I lived on Slim Fast and was totally convinced that I looked like an elephant in my uniform. (I have long since gotten over this feeling, and had realized that while I was not what most people would describe as "skinny," I was a healthy weight and not "overweight" at all.) But I was still surprised to see my tiny little 7 year old actually WEAR my skirt from high school. It actually fit her perfectly in the was a little long, and of course the top was way too big, but she looked cute nonetheless. Wow...what an eye opener! I saw this as a teachable moment for Addie, so I talked to her about self image, and why it is important to love yourself. I told her that as long as she exercised, ate nutritious foods, and stayed healthy, not to ever worry about "fat" or "skinny," and to never ever ever ever, compare herself to others. Of course, she was looking at me like, "HUH?" LOL...
Here's our Halloween costume pics...

Lindsay as a "Princess"

Obi-Trey Kinobi

Go Lions Go!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Week's Lessons

So, I've been a little busy...last week was a rushed, but thankfully we've caught back up. This month, we've been studying Washington State in History class. I realize that a lot of folks do weekly units on states, but our curriculum has an entire month of lessons for each state that we study. So we're getting to do a LOT more projects. Trey has done internet research projects on the state facts of Washington; he will be making a Washington State Flag, and we downloaded a Washington State Ebook that I'm using to supplement the curriculum. We also have plans to discuss the other areas of significance in Washington, such as the Space Needle and Mount St. Helen.

We are doing an "apple" tie-in as well, since Washington is the top producer of apples in our country. Lindsay is getting involved as well and loves helping Mom make homemade applesauce for snack time.

In light of Veteran's Day today, we wrote a letter to the soldier we "adopted," and sent a care package to him, thanking him for his courageous service to our country. Trey read The Memory Box by Mary Bushong, which worked alongside our Veteran's Day mini-unit for today.

For Science, we are studying the different parts of plants and their functions. We discussed how temperature affects plants and what happens when a plant gets too cold. We are growing plants from seeds, and charting the different stages of growth.

Because our boxed curriculum does not include any definite vocabulary words for Trey to be tested on, I have started putting a list of 10 words together that include different words from each subject: mostly History and Science. I have also decided that I don't like the Spelling Words they give him each week, and believe that he can handle a little more difficulty in that area.

Trey began learning upper case cursive letters last week, and is continuing that this week. He's doing pretty well! Lucky for him, his spelling words are extremely easy this week, but there is a method behind my madness. I chose this weeks spelling words based on short vowels becoming long vowels when you add an e. So his spelling words this week will be: at, fat, cut, cap...etc. NEXT WEEK they will be ate, fate, cute, cape...etc. I decided to do this after I noticed that Trey is still having trouble spelling these types of words. That's the glory of homeschool!!! I can adjust our lessons to fit HIS needs.

Reading List This Week:

The Memory Box by Mary Bushong (Veteran's Day tie-in)
The Space Needle by Shannon Jackson
Fire Mountain by Joyce Furstenau

Arts & Crafts This Week:

Make a Washington State Flag
Apple Crafts

For Lindsay Only:
Color: Red
Letter: "A" is for Apple
Apple Unit Theme Coloring Pages
"5 Little Apples" song/fingerplay with felt finger-puppets

Poem: Red Apple
A little red apple
Hung high in a tree
I looked up at it
And it looked down at me
"Come down, please" I called
And what do you suppose---
That little red apple
Dropped right on my nose!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Misconceptions about Homeschool

I had to share something that happened to me the other day. I was at work (to help out until they can find someone), and I just had to brag on Trey a little about how well he's been doing. Then someone said, "Wow...that's got to be real hard with his MOM as his teacher. And I bet you're not the slightest bit biased, are you?" I laughed it off, because working in a police department has taught me that most of what people say shouldn't be taken personally; because most of the time, those types of comments are made without much thought. After a day or two, though, it hit me that this may very well be a common misconception some folks have about homeschoolers. So I wanted to take a minute to assure those folks that homeschooling is no "easier" than public school. The academic content may actually be even more difficult, as well as the expectations of "the teacher" being higher if only because she knows your true potential.

Trey was really struggling in public school, and not because of the academic content. He was struggling because the school was unwilling to provide any modifications for him due to his ADD. For instance, they would put all of the math word problems at the top of the page instead of at the bottom. He would get stuck on the first one and was never able to move past it. Instead of nudging him to keep moving, the teacher would let him run out of time, and he would end up failing the test. This was very hard for him (and us) to swallow, because we know how smart Trey is.

Because he is now at home, I can nudge him to keep moving along. If he doesn't know the answer the question, I can nudge him to skip it and come back to it later. I do not give him the answers, and if you ask him, he'll surely tell you what a challenge it is, because when I ask a question, he can't hide in the back of the class hoping that someone else is going to raise their hand.

I test him weekly on the lessons that we have covered in his boxed set of curriculum. There are "Self Tests" at the end of each section, and there are 3-4 sections in a unit. The self tests are NOT open book, and he must score above an 80% to be allowed to move forward. On the rare occasion that he scores below an 80%, I make him review the entire section, and then I give him a separate quiz to insure he has mastered the material before moving on. He has 4 core subjects (Language Arts, History/Geography, Mathematics, and Science), and we also do Spelling and Vocabulary, and extra Enrichment activities that usually consist of experiments, Library visits, mini-units, etc. He doesn't do near as much reading as I would like him to, so I am considering starting a Boys Only Book Club through TEACH so that the boys can have something to challenge them to WANT to read.

Last week, he completed his first round of Unit Tests. He received high A's on everything. I give 2 bonus spelling words a week (just like public school), so his AVERAGE in Spelling is 110%. I couldn't be prouder of my little man! The only drawback seems to be the socialization factor so far. But there are a lot of sweet little boys in our homeschool group (TEACH) that he will get to play with a few times a month, so that will help. And Trey has never been one to have a lot of friends. Due to the insensitivity of most of the teachers he's come across, he has been made out to be the "problem child" and so most of the kids in the public school classrooms didn't want to have a lot to do with him. I realize that he's a challenge, but he is such a joy! He really loves people. He prays for people, even if he has no idea who they are.

I know I've told a lot of folks this story already, but when Trey was in the 2nd grade (last year), a dear friend of our family (Lindsay's babysitter, Karen) had a medical scare. I told the kids that we needed to remember to pray for Ms. Karen. Trey immediately asked us all to meet him in the living room. He instructed us to join hands and go around in a circle one by one and pray for Ms. Karen individually and then altogether. The next day, he went to school and had the entire 2nd grade praying for Ms. Karen at recess.

That is why I am so thankful for him (and all special needs children). Because they end up teaching us far more than we could ever imagine!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tie-Dyed T-Shirts

I totally forgot to post photos of our Halloween T-Shirts. We borrowed this idea from Jenny at Little Acorns Treehouse ( She has such great ideas on her site. I think she said she borrowed this idea from Family Fun magazine. We used some of Trey's old undershirts that he had either grown out of or were stained. That way, we didn't have to purchase new ones...I love re-purposing! Anyway, here are the photos!

The kids drew on the designs for the jack-o-lantern faces (Lindsay had a little help from mom). And then I used black and green fabric paint to fill them in. They turned out soooo cute!