Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Our Way

Just about every time we make it up to my parents house, holiday or not, this is what the guys all go out and do.
The woman stay home and watch the kids and make the dinner and the men go out and play.

Grandpa seems to be well stocked with some of the classic models.
We start them young too. Here is my 11 year old nephew taking his turn. Ian has gone before but he didn't this time. He was having too much fun playing with his cousins.

When we did pull the men away from the club they did join us for some Thanksgiving dinner.
A little silliness.
And they helped eat some left overs the next day as well.
The kids mostly did this. It is a good thing grandma has two computers. And many of the families also brought laptops. Hurray for the Airport!
It was an enjoyable holiday. A lot of work and a lot of noise but it certainly was fun to see all my siblings and their families.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prayer of Thanks

While our kids are little and learning to pray we, my husband and I, take turns "helping" them say prayers. We will whisper phrases in their ear and then they will say it out loud. Ian is almost 5 years old and still requests "help" with his prayers. I am really trying to encourage him to think of his own things to say in a prayer. He has shed a few tears because he just doesn't want to say the prayer. Mostly he just doesn't know what to say. Over the last week or two when it is his time to voice the prayer, we have started taking a moment beforehand to think together of things we want to thank Heavenly Father for and a few things we would like him to bless us with so that Ian has these things in his head when he says the prayer.

Ian often lists things like soccer, the park, his knights and pirates as well as food. But he also almost always says he is thankful for "Henry who plays with me". Henry usually throws in spiderman and his football. Sophie is a little more thoughtful and adds in family, friends, and activities. Sophie often will ask for Heavenly Father to help Ian with his reading and Henry with his potty training. I love to hear them pray for and about each other.

Each time Ian is asked to pray he is getting closer and closer to "doing it on his own". He is a very sweet little guy and has always taken his time doing and learning most things. He didn't walk until he was 15 months old and didn't talk until he was over 3 years old. When he started walking, he was quickly off running. And complete sentences came out of his mouth when he finally started expressing himself with words. He just always waits to do things until he can do it well. But this experience, with him learning to pray, has been good for us as a family, especially at this time of year. It has helped us focus more on what we are grateful for and who gave us all these good things.

We do live a very blessed life. We are truly grateful for it.

For more Wordfull Wednesday posts visit Chocolate on my Cranium.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brrrrrr...... it's cold

With temperatures rather cold this week (I know in California we don't really know cold) it has been fun to start our study of our next biome, The Arctic Tundra. The kids got all excited when I pulled out the books about polar bears and and I am sure we will have to read some of our many whale books before this unit is over.

On Monday I brought our globe down from the high shelf and we all enjoyed finding the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic circles. We discussed why it stays so cold in these regions and that sometimes it says dark for days during the winter and light for days in the summer. We have only started reading our huge pile of books.
I can't believe how many books there are about this subject. We of course found a Jeff Corwin video where he goes to Alaska. We haven't watched it yet but will shortly I am sure. My kids have been really excited about a DVD I found at the library called Growing up Arctic. It has a number of episodes of an Animal Planet show called Growing up. Each episode shows how some baby arctic animal is rescued and either sent back out to the wild or finds a new home in a zoo. We all enjoyed watching the baby polar bear and the baby seal. We still have the Walrus and Penguin to watch.
I still need to figure out some sort of fun project to go along with this science unit. I know when we did our FIAR unit on the book "The very Last First Time" we made sugar cube igloos and they kids loved that. We may try that again.

On a side note... I went to look for this book at the library to read again for this unit and the library doesn't have it anymore. If I remember right, our library system had only one copy of the book. Now it is gone. They get rid of books that nobody checks out. It is always so sad when good books get taken off the library shelves.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Castles, Sand and Stories - Weekly Report

This week has gone very well. Most everything I had planned to do was done. There is still more we could be doing but at this point I feel good about what we have accomplished.

Ian is starting to read! We checked out Jen the Hen and the others in the series from the library this week. We gave them a try and Ian actually did really well sounding out the words. I remember looking at Bob books with Sophie a long time ago but she was already reading beyond that level so she wasn't that interested. Maybe they would be good for Ian.

Ian did two letters this week in his Get Set for the Codebook. And he is almost done with his Early Bird 1B math book. I think I need to purchase the next two math books. Sophie also mentioned that she want to do Explode the Code too. So maybe i will see what level she would be on and see if that would be helpful for her.

Sophie has been doing well with her math. We went back to adding and subtracting and she just gets herself flustered and just starts to loose her cool while trying to finish her math. But she does do it eventually and she does it well. She just really doesn't enjoy doing problem after problem. Maybe I need to change things up a bit. She loves the feeling of accomplishment she gets when she finishes an exercise and especially when she finishes each book. So far so good, but I don't want her to start hating it just because it feels like busy work.

History has been great this week. We have read a whole slew of Castle and Knight books. We didn't do the next chapter of SOTW. I thought we would just finish reading all the different books we have gotten from the library recently and it has been lovely. We all pile into the reading chair and go through 3-4 picture books each day. Still no projects however, much to Sophie's shagrin. Sophie has been wanting to build a paper castle but I just can't bring myself to do a major project like that right now. Maybe next time we do the middle ages and I don't have 2 small boys to help along the way or keep out of trouble. We will just have to settle for playing with our play mobil knights and castle. They are always doing battle at our house. Usually with pirates.

Science has still been all about deserts. We watched another video about deserts and yet again they talked about the same cacti and animals found in the desert. I am glad we are moving on to another biome next week. We did do an art project this week somewhat related to deserts. We made pictures with colored sand. A few weeks ago we made these sand filled bottles.
We didn't use all the colored sand so I saved it for this project.
The kids enjoyed squirting on the glue and spreading it around with a paintbrush.
Dumping on the sand was fun but not as fun as shaking off the excess sand and seeing the image left behind on the paper.

I didn't tell them to, but they all decided to make a desert scene with a cactus. Ian and Henry got creative with the sky, while Sophie made sure her cactus had pink flowers on it.

Sophie is getting more cooperative with dictation. I try to do dictation on Monday and then use words from that for "spelling words" for the week. We don't have a test or anything. Sophie just uses those words in a story she writes. This week she only misspelled two words in dictation so she only had two words that she had to put into sentences of a story, Cloud and Float. She wrote and illustrated a story about a bouy floating in the sea getting rained on by a big cloud. It was very cute. The next day our Language lesson was a picture study. We looked closely at a picture and answered in complete sentences some questions listed in the book. After doing the assignment she requested to write another story. Since the picture was of some kittens in a basket she wrote a story about those kittens. She really enjoys writing stories and then does countless illustrations to go along with it. We are also making our way through the McGuffey Reader. Sophie usually reads the passage and then tells me about it, informal narration. These little stories are so good and they teach good principles. I have the primer as well. Maybe I should be using it with Ian?

We are making our way through the New Testament. The boys usually look at the reader which has the pictures and Sophie and I take turns reading the passage each day. We are moving very slowly but are enjoying it.

They boys can almost recite the pledge of allegiance. They never let me forget to start our day by standing at attention with our hands over our hearts looking at our tiny little Stars and Stripes.

What a fun way to spend our days. We learn a bit too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies

Last week at the library I picked up Good Masters! Sweet Ladies for our medieval studies. I was really lucky to also pick up the audio CD of this book which was on the Library shelves. It must be brand new, just released, because Amazon doesn't even have the audio book listed. Or at least I couldn't find it. They do have an audio download. But getting the CD was so perfect. We had attempted to sit down and read these short little monologs a few weeks ago and didn't really get anywhere. I returned the book eventually and thought I would get it again later.

Listening to the different actors read the parts was wonderful. When the author says they are plays she means it and plays are meant to be performed. My kids loved them. Sophie sat with the book in front of her and listened while she followed along and looked at the illustrations. Ian requested to listen to it again and then also wanted us to take it out to the car so we could listen to it as we drive around. So if you can find the Audio CD of this book it is well worth it. Great little stories that really bring to life the different people in a medieval village.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Memory Lane

Liz at My Ice Cream Diary posted a few of her Senior pictures today and dared others to post theirs. Since I dug out my box the other week I knew where to find mine. I thought I would take a look at them again and see how embarrassing they would be. Would I be willing to share them? They actually aren't too bad. These are the pictures that made my husband tell me I needed to grow my hair out again. He loves seeing pictures of me in high school because I had long hair through most of it. I chopped it about chin length a month after these pictures were taken. When they were finally printed and ready to hand out everyone commented on how different I looked. I don't know why a few inches made that big a difference.

So without further ado here is my 17 year old self, big grin and all.

My mom made this great suit for me. It is blue with green stripped plaid skirt and jacket and it went so well with my blue felt hat that I just loved. I don't know what ever happened to that hat. Did I take to college? I can't remember. I don't remember wearing again after high school.

Here is my thoughtful, studious pose.
I must really have liked plaid. Here I am wearing another wool plaid skirt. I know I took some pictures in jeans and more casual dress but I didn't pick them. I remember changing my clothes a number of times and taking tons and tons of pictures. I was so tired of smiling and posing. My eyes even started twitching.

This is the picture that hung in my parents house for years next to all my siblings senior pictures.

I actually don't mind this one except for my hands. Something has always bothered me about my hands in this picture.

Just to complete the Senior picture show. Here I am on Graduation day.

Yeah the pictures are dated. But they actually aren't too bad. I was never too extreme in my styles and the photographer was good about doing pretty classic poses. Can you guess what year this was?

Liz, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Books, Books and More Books - Weekly Report

This week started off slow. Sophie was still not totally herself on Monday but I went ahead and did our normal Daily work. I had a little more resistance than normal but we made it through. There was some crying because for some reason Sophie couldn't remember how to add and subtract. We have been doing multiplication and division for a few weeks and then we hit the end of book review and she had completely forgotten how to add multiple numbers together or how to borrow in order to subtract. I think she was just tired or not quite well because she did the work just fine she just complained a lot. But we did finish her Singapore Math 2A book and will be moving on to the 2B book. We are chugging away at math well.... most of the time.

History is always a favorite subject. We have been reading Castle Diary all week and have almost finished it. We also really loved Aliki's Medieval feast. The kids were fascinated by the different dished that they made. Sophie has been drawing pictures of the long tables covered in the fancy dishes.

We are really enjoying this part of our history studies. I don't want to rush through it so we may not move on to the next chapters of SOTW yet. We have a whole bunch of books about castles and this time period. I can't say we have done any real projects related to our castle study but the kids don't seem to mind. Reading books is fine by them.

We haven't read through all of these yet and I actually took this picture before we went to the Library on Thursday. I returned the ones we had already read and got a handful more so they aren't all pictured here. My kids of course love the Ms. Frizzle's adventures, Medieval Castle. Each of the kids has poured over this book.

Along with Castle books we have also been reading a bunch of books about Deserts. We have found that most of these books seem to talk about the same animals and plants.
We have really enjoyed some of the videos on Deserts that I found at the library. Jeff Corwin videos are their new favorites. But they also really enjoyed the Reading Rainbow episode I found Alejandro's Gift.

We have been reading a few books about photography as well.
Again, we haven't read all of these yet but plan to before the end of the month.

Ian is doing great with Explode the Code. He finished the Get Ready for the Code primer this week and is excited to start the next one. He is also happily doing a bit of math each day and is working through his Earlybird math book each day.

Sophie's language lessons this week went pretty well. On monday we did a bit of dictation and she fought it but did it alright. The words that she didn't spell correctly I wrote down. At her next language lesson she was to write a sentence using those words. She asked to do this since she didn't like me telling her what to write. She wrote the sentences without a fight. We may try this again.

Along with our school work we also had a lot of play time. The kids have had the Knex out everyday. They are getting very creative with them.

There was also a bit of outside time each day.

So life here isn't all books but they certainly play a prominent role!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Outdoor Hour challenge #38 - Ash?

Over the past few weeks we have, or at least I know I have, really been looking at all the different trees we have in our neighborhood. We have learned a few of their names but there are so many still to learn about and really look at so we can identify them. This weeks Outdoor Hour Challenge was to find an Elm, a Hickory or a Chestnut tree to study. I looked up each one and I really don't think any of those are in our neck of the woods. I may be wrong there are so many different trees around and I certainly don't know them all. Since we couldn't study one of the assigned trees I thought we would just pick one to look up and identify. This is the tree I picked.
It is a beautiful tall tree standing in the yard one of the many houses that are for sale on our block. But each time I pass it I am surprised. It looks so big, beautiful and green but when you get up close to it you notice that there are all sorts of fruits, my kids and I call them seeds, clustered in the leaves.
The leaves grow in leaflets with usually 7 leaves on each. But the fruits are what my kids are interested in. Like the Box Elder we identified a few weeks ago, when ever we pass by this tree we have to gather up a handful of the seeds and throw them into the air to watch them spin. It is especially fun on a windy day and we have contests to see who can throw their seeds into the air and go the farthest.

Here is the bark of the tree. I had to get a photo of the bark. It struck me as beautiful. Maybe it was the late afternoon light and shadows dancing around on the gray pattern. I just thought it was worth taking time to look at it.
After visiting my field guide a few times I still can't tell you which kind of Ash it is because only one kind is supposed to grow in our area but the leaves don't match. So I am happy just saying it is an Ash tree and going with that. I know there are other ash trees growing in our neighborhood. We have seen the same fruits and leaflets on other trees but the leaves are smaller than this big trees leaves so they are probably different varieties of Ash.

Here is Sophie modeling the leaves and fruits off of the other ash tree we found.
My kids don't care what kind of Ash tree it is. They just want to play with whirling seeds.

Here is Henry gathering up another handful.

It has been a fun few weeks with our focus on Trees. We have added a number of new trees to our list. Now as we walk through our neighborhood my kids can name quite a few of them. There are still many more to go so we keep looking and trying to find identifying features of the trees. My kids this week have really enjoyed the colors of the leaves. The reds and yellows have slowly been coming out for over a month but this week in particular has really made the colors pop. Whole trees are yellow or "on fire" with red. Before it was just patches here or there.

We certainly enjoy our daily walks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top Ten Tuesday - Things I Want

My symphonic band's Christmas concert is coming up and we have a number of fun Christmas songs that we are playing. One member of our band arranged a version of "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". This song always makes me laugh. If you don't know this song here is one version.

Over the years there have been things I have wanted and only that item will do. But I have hopefully gotten a little better about distinguishing between real needs and wants.

I was talking to my Mom yesterday about gifts that each one of us may want or need. She likes to get all her shopping done early and since where she lives there isn't much shopping she does a lot of it online. She doesn't like to wait until the last minute. My husband and I have also been talking about making a list of all the things we need or want personally or for the family. So today I am sitting down and just listing a few (Lets see if I can come up with 10) realistic wants that I wouldn't mind finding under the Christmas tree with my name on it.

1. A new food processor - This was one of the things I told my mom I needed since I just killed mine last week. I had a very tiny little chopper and burnt the motor out trying to chop up basil leaves for pesto. Luckily I did the pine nuts and garlic first so they were allready chopped up. The leaves did alright in the blender but a good food processor would be nice. Especially now that I know how much better fresh made pesto can be. It isn't difficult but I do need a food processor to make it as well as a bunch of others. I don't have much space so a small one would be nice.

2. Glass measuring cups - I have a glass 1 cup measuring cup but I would love to have a 2 and a 4 cup measuring cup. I have a plastic 2 cup that has a crack and if you don't poor the liquid in right after pouring then some leaks out. Plus I want to be able to just put it in the microwave to warm up the liquids.

3. Earrings - I have never been a material girl that wants fancy jewelry. Where would I wear them? But I am still wearing the earrings I bought in china town in NY while on my mission or some that I bought myself in college. I keep looking for a nice pair and haven't found any that I really like and want to spend money on. Maybe I need to check out etsy to see what I can find. But once I start, I know, I will sit here for a long time just looking and looking at all the beautiful things on there.
A necklace to match would also be nice.

4. Beans Cookbook - I have been going through my food storage recently trying to figure out what we need more of. Those big #10 cans of beans just always seem to sit there. I really need to learn how to use them and get my kids to eat them. Here is one cookbook that was recommended to me and it has been on my amazon wish list so I wouldn't forget about it but that is as far as I have gotten. So if there are any better recipe books for dried beans, I would love to know about it.

5. Bed Pillows - After Sophie's sickness, all over my bed, last week I have taken a good look at my bed pillows. I ran them through the washer and dryer and now they are lumpy. The kids usually end up with the hand me downs from us so maybe all of us could use new pillows to sleep on. Maybe this year instead of pajamas for the kids they will all receive a new pillow with a case that actually covers the pillow and will stay on. Some pillow cases just never stay put and half the pillow sticks out of one end.

I am only half way through my list and I can't think of any more realistic wants at the moment.

How about a few dream ones or at least a lot more expensive ones.

6. Camera - I got a new camera for my birthday about 2 years ago so I should be happy with the one I have but about 3 weeks ago my camera was dropped or bumped and the little door that holds the batteries in is broken. It won't stay shut. I went online to see if you can just order that part and couldn't find anything. The camera works find as long as I hold that flap shut. This is difficult when you are trying to use the zoom or change settings at all. I have rubber bands wrapped around it holding it shut most of the time but it just doesn't do the job that well. But the camera does still work so I haven't asked for a new one yet. I guess I get what is coming when I let my kids take pictures.

7. A new couch - I have wanted a real couch for years. When we got married we bought a futon because that way it can be a bed for guests when they come. The futon has come in handy and has had many different guests sleeping on it. Living in the bay area you get a lot of people that pass through. But I would really like to have a nice comfy couch to lounge on.

8. I pod Touch - This is what my Mom said she wanted but I too have had a secret desire for one or these for awhile. I really have no need for one. I don't even have a cell phone or any mp3 player for that matter. With little item I could read and answer my email while sitting in the park or look up a map for a place I can't seem to find. Or have a game the kids can play while waiting in line someplace. No it certainly isn't a need. But it would be a fun toy to have. Very low on the priority list!

9. Kitchen Aid Mixer - I know many people that consider this a must have. And believe me I would love to have one. It is even somewhat of a realistic want. I just don't have space for it. I will have to stick to my little hand mixer and my hefty muscles to stir and mix my breads and cookies.

10. 24 inch iMac - We have been using our powerbook for about 5 years now. It was supposed to be temporary. The laptop wasn't supposed to remain our main computer. When our PC died we didn't want to replace it with another PC we love Mac but didn't have the funds for it. We still don't, which is why it is a dream wish. Working on a laptop has been nice. We take our computer with us when we go on trips but working on a laptop means we are a bit hunched over and if you sit too long at the computer you notice your back really starts to hurt. So maybe one day one of these will make it to our house. A 2nd computer would really be nice!

So this year I am not expecting any Hippopotamus' but if you plan to get me anything here are a few helpful hints and what I have my eye on. Now I need your lists too so I can get my shopping done.