Friday, March 26, 2010

Print Rich Environment

Today while I was making dinner, Sophie was sitting in the front room telling me all about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was reading a biography that I had picked up at the library a few days ago. We recently finished Little House on the Prairie and my kids had wanted to know more about Laura and Mary and where they would go next. This week we have been listening to On the Banks of Plum Creek in the car and Farmer Boy has been our read aloud. The kids didn't quite know how Farmer Boy fit in with the other stories but when Sophie read the biography she figured out that Almanzo's last name is Wilder and that he and Laura later get married. She was so excited to tell me she had finally figured it out.  I love it when my kids pick up books and get excited about what they are reading. All I need to do is provide the books and they do the learning! 

Sophie has also really loved looking through The New Way things Work, which is another book I picked up at the library to go along with our history chapter next week. She has been taking it to her room and reading it late into the night. The next day she tells me all about some of the new things she has learned. 
The boys have been so Star Wars crazy it is amazing they pick up anything else in their free time but I picked up Calamity Jack at the library for them. I should have picked up both copies that were on the shelf because these two boys have fought over it ever since it came home. Henry informs me it is a little more scary then Rapunzel's Revenge.  I still haven't read it (My husband has read it to the kids as their bedtime book) but I think I will have to look through it before we return it. I have already been told that we need to buy it. I guess we need a copy to sit next to our Rapunzel book. 
I don't know why it surprises me to see how much my kids enjoy books. They really enjoy stories. Then the stories always get incorporated into their artwork, their lego or Knex building and any other play. Tonight for dinner we ate "bandersnatch" (It was actually Salmon) that they had caught somehow. I know a Jabberwocky was involved but I don't know the whole story.  And while they waited for their catch to cook, they drew pictures of Laura's dugout house with an ox falling through the roof. They all thought that part of the story was hilarious. 

Once your kids love stories they just seem to soak up information. It is a good thing too. I can't say I have had much time or energy to do much else recently. School for us, the last few weeks/months, has consisted mainly of reading. Me reading aloud to them or listening to audio books. Sophie also has been good about reading books to the boys and even Ian has started to read a bit too. 

It is a print rich environment in which we live, and we love it! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being Outside

It is getting harder and harder to compete with the Spring sunshine. My kids are spending more and more time outside everyday.  It is getting very difficult to bring them inside to do any school work. They especially enjoy the days we head out to the park but are just as content to stay home and play in the yard or just go for a bike ride in the cul-de-sac. I think they just want to be outside getting plenty of sun.

I don't blame them. Why would you want to be stuck inside when the weather is so perfect. Why do math drills when you could be coasting down a hill on your bike or swinging on the monkey bars.

On our many rides and walks around the block the kids have been looking at all the spring flowers that are popping up everywhere. They are watching as the trees sprout their green leaves on branches that just the day before looked bare.

We had to make a trip to the dollar store to buy sidewalk chalk which is always one of my kids favorites. They have been busy drawing all over the driveway. There are a few racetracks as well as a very tall Indiana Jones mixed in with the Hopscotch and other markings.
For the last several days my kids have been excited as I have taught them what they call "old time games". I have shown them how to play hopscotch. Not just how to draw the hopscotch board on the sidewalk, but to really play it by throwing a pebble onto the numbers and skipping those numbers with the rock on it. We also brought out a jump rope and I turned it for them as they tried to jump in and get a few jumps. I have also taught them a few basketball hoop games like "pig" or "horse", and poison.

Molly of course can't be left out of the fun. She hears the laughter/ and often fighting coming from outside and feels she has to join her siblings. They left the door open one day and she quickly crawled to the door and then took a dive onto the doormat. She has a nice rug burn on her face after that fall. But we are trying to teach her how to turn around and go down the stairs backward. It is going to take some time. She loved the little car that I pulled out of the back. She was thrilled to be pushed around by the big kids.  I just had to remind them to not go too fast. These boys can't seem to do anything slowly, it always has to be at full speed.  Sophie is very good about watching Molly as she crawls around getting very chalky.  Molly is all grins while she is out playing with the kids.
So much for doing school. We are itching to be out in the sun. Sophie has already told me she can't wait until we get to go to the beach again. I guess they are ready for Summer to be here already too. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Opal Wheeler's Mozart the Wonder Boy - Spring Cleaning Giveaway.

I always love to receive something in the mail that I wasn't expecting. Over the past few years I have been lucky and won a few of the giveaways that people have held on their blogs. I often forget I won them until they show up on my doorstep. And it is always so exciting to win something.
 Well I have decided to join in to The Curriculum Choice's Spring Cleaning blog hop.

As I scanned through my shelves to see what I have that I no longer use or don't need anymore. My eye fell on a book of which I have a duplicate.

I have an old library discard copy of Opal Wheeler's Mozart the Wonder Boy.

It is rather worn but still in good shape. The binding is strong and the pages all still look great.
My kids love these Opal Wheeler Great musicians biographies. We own several of them and they really add a lot to our music studies. They not only tell the story of the musician's life but also include the sheet music of many pieces by the artist.  I have enjoyed playing them on the piano, or at least trying to. 

So if you would like to win this book. Please leave me comment and on the 22nd I will randomly pick a winner.  

Then you too can receive some fun mail.

Check out all the other giveaways going on by hopping to some of these other blogs as well.
MckLinky Blog Hop

A Few Good Things

The last few weeks have been especially difficult academically. We do school but rather haphazardly. My kids do some work and then quickly run off to do something else as soon as they can get away. I read aloud to them and after one chapter they ask if it can be done because they would rather play Legos or outside.

We have had a number of tantrums throughout the day when I ask them to do anything. I am feeling more and more like a schoolmarm and less like my kids are learning because they want to learn. So I have pulled back my expectations a bit and we read a bit and play a lot. We have even taken a little time to just go for walks and play at the park.

There are a few things that seemed to have gone well this week and hopefully will become habits.

One of the things we have been reading this week is The Children's book of Virtues.  After our scripture reading each morning I had been reading an article or two out of the Friend magazine. When we finished it I needed something else to fill in that space that would lead to some character training and discussion so I pulled the Children's book of Virtues off the shelf. The kids seem to have enjoyed the stories we have read from the book thus far. They really loved the story about the little please that lived in the boys mouth. Henry often asks me to see if I can find the please in his mouth now. The book isn't that long so I think I may jump to the actual Book of Virtues when we have finished. Of course when the April issue of the Friend comes we will read that again as well.

 Sophie is often asking me to let her make some thing. When I ask her what she has in mind it is always dessert type things. In my quest to eat more healthfully we haven't been baking cookies or cakes or any deserts really but Sophie still wants to cook something.  So we tried a new recipe for a treat that is a little more healthy but still fun to make and eat. We made Granola bars. I got the recipe off of a blog I had read (I wish I could remember where I got it and give her credit. I often just copy and print recipes without labeling them with where I got them).

Here is the Recipe as I copied it. 

Chewy Granola Bars
For Granola:
2 cups oats
3/4 cup puffed rice cereal
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, salted and roasted
1 cup crushed peanuts, salted and roasted
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

For Chocolate Sauce:
1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening

Spread oats on a baking sheet and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir them every few minutes to avoid burning.  Once oats are done toasting, set aside and turn off the oven.  Line a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with wax paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.  
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, mix the brown sugar, honey, butter and vanilla.  Stir frequently, until butter is melted and brown sugar is dissolved. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and sugar mixture and mix all ingredients very well.  
Spread the granola out into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Add a sheet of wax paper to the top and press down firmly to make sure your bars are well compacted.  Let cool completely (about 2 hours).
Add chocolate chips and shortening to a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Drissle chocolate over granola.  Allow to firm up (about 20 minutes).
Carefully transfer granola onto a large cutting board and cut using a very sharp knife and pressing down firmly to make a clean cut. Store in an air-tight container.

I don't make them exactly as they are described here. I don't usually use rice cereal since I couldn't find any that didn't have HFCS in it. So instead I broke up Multigrain Cheerios instead and they seemed to work just fine. I am sure any kind of cereal would work. I also didn't like the taste of the sunflower seeds (I don't think the ones I used in the first batch were salted and roasted. That could make all the difference!) So I just put some mixed nuts in the food processor and ground them up and put them in instead.  I have also put in dried apricots or craisins in place of the raisins. My husband took some of these bars to work and got many complements on their taste. My kids eat them and they seem healthier than cookies so I am thinking they will become a staple around these parts.

With the lovely Spring like weather I am not surprised that doing school is getting harder. But there have been a few things accomplished and that IS A GOOD THING!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Fun Reason to Review

The last few months have flown by. Molly is already getting so big and so mobile and the kids are always thrilled to see her do something new for the first time. This has lead to many discussions about each of them when they were babies. They want to know what they were like at her age and when they did the same things.
It has been a lot of fun to dig into my memories of each of them and pull out little things I remember about their first years. It is sad to think how much, I either don't remember and/or didn't document. A lot has come back to me as I am experiencing many of these firsts again with Molly.
I haven't been able to keep up on our family scrapbooks but the kids love to look through the ones I have completed. They look at those pictures and "remember" the events they see.

Sophie loves to see pictures of her dressed in the clothes that I now put on Molly. Some of them have actually lasted the 8 years between girls.

Ian is excited that Molly often crawls a lot like he did, with one knee and one foot.
Today Molly crawled over to the dishwasher and pulled herself up to play with the dishes inside. It brought back memories of Henry doing that very thing. He would cry and cry when I either took him away or closed it up. It was always one of his favorite things. It looks like a magnet for Molly as well. I don't think I had a dishwasher when Sophie and Ian were small so it doesn't bring back memories of them, just Henry.

Sophie is the only child I actually remember her first word. She loves to tell people that her first word was Bubble. I guess I took her outside a lot to blow bubbles because that was the first recognizable word. Ian has asked what his first word was and I have told him that he made signs and gestures for a long time and then around age 3 just started speaking in sentences. So I don't remember his exact word but he loves to tell people his first word was a sentence.

Henry doesn't seem to mind that I don't remember his first words. He loves the stories I tell of his many climbing adventures. Once he could crawl he was everywhere. Even up the ladder to the top bunk.

Sophie, Ian and Henry sure love their little sister. Molly is never happier then whey they are all on the floor together playing little people or legos. She wants so badly to be a part of the excitement around her. She is soon going to be just one of the gang. I don't know if I am ready for that.

My kids are growing up too fast!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We're Really Movin'

Henry decided it was finally time to take the training wheels off. He tried last fall but just couldn't quite do it. Yesterday he asked, so I did. With out much work on my part he was up and going.There were a few crashes but Hen got right back up and tried again.
It took him a little time to figure out how to get going on his own but soon even that was overcome. He is now joining the older two on their bike rides in the cull-de-sac. He is trilled be on a two wheeler!

Molly too has taken off. She has been scooting around backward for a bit but this last week she figured out how to get going forward. She actually crawls like Ian did. She uses one knee and one foot. She is getting really fast and the baby proofing is now a must.
We have to be very diligent about picking up books and papers because anything left on the floor is going to be eaten or ripped.

Yeah things are hopping around here.

I Can't seem to finish a Post

For the last few weeks I have started a number of posts but never get them finished. I get interrupted, for what ever reason, and then when I come back, I just don't feel like finishing what I had started. The muse of the moment had flown. Not that any of the posts would be that exciting. The ones I finish and post haven't been that enthrawling lately either. Here is a quick run down of those posts I never got around to finishing.

  • I had one about a t.v. show that we had been watching on DVD that we really liked and were sad that we came to the end. It got cancelled too soon. If you want to look it up it is called Joan of Arcadia. It ran for two seasons and was building up to a third and then didn't get picked up again. But the two seasons we saw were great!
  • I also started a post explaining my history with baby sleeping or non sleeping. Molly hasn't been sleeping well and so I was reviewing my history to see if I was the problem. I think it is all me!
  • I have a post about costume dramas like the new Emma that PBS just showed on Masterpiece a few weeks back. I read a few other people's reviews and just didn't feel like I had anything new to contribute to the discussion. I liked it more than I thought I would and need to watch it again.
  • I actually have finished a few books over the last few months and really enjoyed a few of them.

My kids are up and I am having trouble even getting this post finished. My kids are awake and fighting already. I guess I better get some food into them and hope things calm down.

Friday, March 5, 2010


We have had a pretty normal winter here in California. It has rained quite a bit and it gets a little chilly, especially when the wind blows. The last few months have been rather nice. I actually prefer the winter over the hot summer months. Going inside, out of the cold, is easier than trying to cool off on a hot summer day. But one of the things I have really enjoyed most about this winter is that the sky is almost always filled with big billowy clouds. I have noticed them more this winter. It may be that we have had some really big storms and therefore really impressive cloud formations. Or it may be just that we seem to be getting a lot of rain this year so there is just more moisture in the air. Something has just drawn my eye upward and I just love looking at the play of light through the layers of clouds. It is really exciting to watch as the wind blows in storm clouds. But my thoughts aren't solely contemplating the beauty but also the chemistry and physics that are required to create such a wonder.

I guess since we have been studying the elements that make up this world the last few months my mind marvels at creation. It is so amazing to think how few elements make up the earth and yet how diverse it is. The elements are combined in so many different mixtures and all work so seamlessly together to form the earth with an atmosphere and all life on it.
Recently my husband and I came across a show on PBS (I wish I could remember what it was called) that talked about the earth and how precise the location and size of the sun, the moon, the earth, and the other plants have to be in order for there to be water, and therefore life, on earth. Everything is so intricately interwoven, organized and balanced. Our Heavenly Father is certainly an amazing scientist!

As I take walks around the block, watch my kids play at the park, or just drive from place to place I can't help but look up at the clouds overhead and think how much fun it must have been to create such beautiful world.

None of these photographs are mine. I just googled clouds and these were some of the lovely images I found there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writing without a pencil

Since Sophie has been fighting the physical act of writing lately I have decided to be a little more creative and at least play some word games. We have made crossword puzzles and used our magnetic letters to make words. Today I broke out our Scrabble game and we played one round of it. She loved it and wanted to play another round. The boys wanted to play too but they mostly just wanted to play with the letter tiles. I told Soph that she needed to play Scrabble with Grandma because it is her favorite game. I can remember my Mom and my Grandma play a few scrabble games each time we went over to her house.

I have also finally got out the Happy Phonics games to play with the boys. I don't know why I have put these off so long. I now have them all cut out and they boys seemed to have fun. Playing games sure works better with Henry then trying to do workbooks. He just isn't the type of kid that is going to sit and do workbooks.

I have plans to break out the Boogle game tomorrow. I have Boogle Jr. also so the boys will have something for them to play too.

I can't believe I forgot about Upwords. That is in my closet too. It just happens to be at the bottom of a stack of games. I will need to get that one out soon too. She may like that one even better than Scrabble.
So we are having a lot of game time. My kids think it is fun and I feel good that we are playing with words.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LDS Homeschooling Blog

I just heard about a new homeschooling blog to help LDS families to connect, share ideas, receive encouragement or just giggle. Today I read the post the post called The Joy of living in Holland. I couldn't help but grin as I read the linked article called Holland Schmolland. Having grown up with a sister with Downs Syndrome I had read the Welcome to Holland Story before but the Schmolland version just rang true.

I checked out the author page and found that I only knew two of the authors that are listed. I am looking forward to reading their posts and adding to the discussion when I can. At the moment they are having a giveaway as part of their Grand Opening so go check out the prizes and join in.