Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Preschool Today

Frog's preschool co-op has just been wonderful this year.  There are just four kiddos in it, and they are all easy-going and tractable.   Having preschool here at our house doesn't stress me like it did when I did this with Bean so many years ago, partly because it's a small, well-behaved group and partly because I have so much more experience under my belt. 

I also have a house full of fun toys and activities that are great for preschoolers, since I have been collecting homeschool stuff for all these years.   And then there is Pinterest, my go-to for fun crafts and projects.  

I also have Roo and Rabbit, who both love to help.  Having an extra pair of hands is so helpful, especially with a tricky craft or when serving snacks.  I feel very lucky to have two girls who are old enough to help and who enjoy it.

Today we had preschool here and it was fun.  We played with Wikki Stix and blocks.  We made little booklets about the letter R.  We read a book about rain and a book about a rabbit.  We ate bananas and graham crackers.  We put together an ABC floor puzzle.  We played Zingo.  It was simple and fun.  Other weeks I have done more complicated things like making shaving cream rain clouds and snow dough out of baking soda and hair conditioner.   I always overplan, too, and have to remind myself frequently that simple is best, lots of unstructured play time is so important, and it always takes them longer to do stuff than I think it will.

Peanut loves participate also, and it's great to have her in the group too.  One of the other moms is also a homeschooler, and her oldest is a Kindergarten-aged boy, so she has been letting Peanut come to her house the weeks she teaches so her son will have someone to play with.  Peanut loves that, and those weeks are so nice because then it's just me, Roo, Rabbit, and the twins for a few hours and we really get a lot done.  I also love the weeks when just Frog goes and I have a little more attention just for Peanut. 

It has been fun to watch Frog grow and learn this year.  He is catching on quickly to his letters and numbers.  He can handle scissors better and better.  He is still working on learning to write his name, but he will get there soon.  

I am so grateful for the preschool co-op!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Circulatory Activities

This year I have been really trying hard to do better at science.  In the past, science has been the weakest part of my homeschool, usually devolving into simply reading aloud the text of the Apologia science books and that's it. 

I love the Apologia science books and there's so much in them.  This year I bought Roo and Rabbit each one of the notebooking journals that go with the texts, and I have been requiring them to fill them out.  They are a really excellent supplement to the text, and the girls have done pretty well with them. 

I also have been doing my best to do as many of the activities and experiments in the book as we can.  We have done most of them, and they have been really fun and memorable. 
We just finished up the unit on blood, circulation, and the heart.  We got to make a "model" of the heart out of graham crackers, frosting, and marshmallows.   Kind of silly, but it really makes it memorable for them.  They loved it, even though I was out of red food coloring and we had to use purple.

We were also encouraged to buy blood type test kits and use them.  I ordered some from Amazon and the girls bravely let me prick their fingers and squeeze out four drops of blood.  The Rabbit's results were no shock: A+, which is the same type as both her parents.  But Roo's test was a fun surprise.  Turns out she's O+.  My mother is O, so I knew I carried that recessive gene, but apparently the Badger carries it as well, or else Roo could not be O.  I must figure out where he got that gene. 
It really doesn't take that much more time and effort to do these extra projects, and they sure make science a lot more interesting and memorable!

Puzzles and Pizza

Looking back through my recent photos, I just realized I never shared New Year's Eve on here.

We were all so sick over Christmas break, and when New Year's came, we were still recovering.  So we knew we were just going to keep things low key at home with our family.  The Badger never likes to stay up late, even on New Year's Eve, so wild parties don't happen.  But I like New Year's.  I like to stay up, and I like to make the evening fun and special.

Pizza is a pretty standard party food around here, but this time I took it to a new level.  I had heard about a local place that makes a huge 30 inch pizza.  I determined to get one, but I didn't tell anyone what I was doing, just that I was getting something different.  It was fun to see their faces when I showed up with this enormous box.

That pizza was so big that even our huge, pizza-crazy family couldn't eat it all.  We had enough leftovers for all of us to have lunch the next day.

After that we watched movies and put together a puzzle.  I got out one we haven't done in years: my map of London puzzle that I bought in London when I was there on study abroad in college.  It's a pretty tricky puzzle, but it's fun to remember London and all the wonderful places there.  I'm getting old though-- it was hard for me to read all the itty bitty writing.

There were various movies going on, but the one I watched was the new Pete's Dragon.  Bean really wanted to see it.  I didn't want to-- I often end up disappointed by movie remakes.  But it was playing in the room where I was puzzling, so I ended up watching it.  To my surprise, it was absolutely delightful and I loved it.

And that's how we welcomed in 2017.  It blows my mind that it's 2017.  I hear dates like 2012 and 2009 and even 2003 and I think "that just barely happened" and then I realize it was years ago... I guess that's a pretty universal feeling for people who have lived on this earth awhile, but it still feels fresh and bewildering to me.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tree Making

When Frog's preschool had their Christmas party, we were sick and couldn't go.  I was so sad, and Frog was too.  Luckily, the mom in charge of the party sent home stuff for us to make and do when we felt better.  The main project was making Christmas trees out of ice cream cones, green frosting, and various candies.  The kids were so excited!

I set the stuff aside for when we were better, but then we were busy and it got forgotten for awhile.  Finally, it happened, and here are some pictures of our experience.  Such a fun craft!  

Divide and Conquer

Guess who gets to go run errands with Mom and who is staying home?

This was the other day when it was really cold outside.  I only have on of those snowsuits, so I'm glad I can usually leave one or both twins at home when I go places!

For years, I hauled all my kids with me almost every time I went anywhere.  Especially since I homeschooled.  My kids learned to roll with it, and they became good travelers and shoppers.  Most of the time I didn't mind packing them around with me.  People said, though, "just wait until you have one old enough to babysit!  It is such a game changer!"

It was nice when Bean was old enough to tend a little bit, which was around the time that Frog was born.  But I still didn't mind taking all the kids with me places.

Until I had twins.

I can't tell you how grateful I have been over the last two years for all my older helpers!  If I have to take the twins with me somewhere, I have help getting them in and out of the car.  And usually, I don't have to bring both of them with me.  In fact, often I don't have to bring either one with me!

I like to take just one of them along though.  I like to separate them for a bit and give me a chance to just enjoy one of them on their own and the other a chance to play at home without always having someone their same age right there.  Of course that companionship is a blessing of being a twin, but I think sometimes they need a break.  I know I do!


We were supposed to get this huge ice storm, right?  They were giving us all these dire warnings and we were running around making sure we had supplies to be housebound, possibly without electricity.  
And luckily, the storm was much more gentle than what was forecast.  We woke up this morning to a quarter inch or so of ice on the trees and bushes, but the roads were in decent shape and there were no worries about power outages.  

With our fears assuaged, we could just enjoy the beauty of the ice.  It was so pretty!  I wish I had had time to go around and take a bunch of pictures, but I'm glad I at least snapped these few.  

A Perfect Birthday Party

Recently we had a combined birthday party for Peanut and Frog.  I waited until after the holidays, so it was a few weeks after their actual birthdays.  This was the first time either of them had had a friend birthday party, and I wanted to make it really special for them.  We usually give them their first friend party when they turn four, but for Peanut that happened right when the twins were being born.  I don't think she really noticed at the time, but I did.  So I wanted her to have a really fun party.

When I thought about what to do with a hoard of kids between the ages of 3 and 7, I thought, "well, they need to be able to run and jump and scream."  So I rented one of those places that are full of giant inflatable things you can jump and climb and slide on.  They allowed me a generous amount of guests, so we ended up with twenty or so kids, in addition to my eight kids and the adults that were there.

All the kids ran and jumped and screamed to their hearts' content.  Many of the adults did as well.  I, myself, did a fair bit of running and jumping (maybe not much screaming though.)

It was just so much fun.

Here's Frog blowing out candles...

One of my friends MADE Peanut and Frog these adorable dinosaur tails as their gift... Twig loves them too!

Fish and Bean didn't want to come to the party.  Oh, teenagers!  Just a couple years ago and they would have just died to be there.  Well, I dragged them along anyway.  Once Fish got jumping around, he had a marvelous time.  Bean jumped a little bit, then curled up in the corner with a fantasy novel.

But see, that's why I wanted to do this.  Because I know that one day they won't want to anymore.  I gotta milk these years for all they're worth.

The giant slide was a blast.

The twins had the time of their lives.  It was great having a venue where they could have as much fun as everyone else.  There was a toddler jumping area and they enjoyed that a lot, but they also tried all the big kid stuff too, even the big slide.  They loved it.

Happy birthday, sweet Peanut!  I am so glad I could celebrate you with this fabulous party!

The Badger had so much fun.  In addition to shooting hoops with Fish, he enjoyed racing through the obstacle course.  He beat me both times I raced him.

It was just a wonderful, wonderful time for all of us!

Best Friends

Aren't they darling?

A Frog on a Moose

Happy Sabbath!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Friend Spotify

I am in love with Spotify.

I am not exactly up on the cutting edge of tech, so I didn't know about Spotify until recently, when a friend mentioned it on Facebook.  He said he loved it for finding obscure classical music pieces.

THAT piqued my interest!

I downloaded the free version to my PC and started out by looking up old choral works: songs I'd sung in choirs years ago that have stayed in my brain and my heart but which I had no recording of.  AND THERE THEY WERE.  "Hail, Gladdening Light"!  Healy Willan's "Three Kings"!  Just a few clicks of the keyboard, and there was more John Rutter music than I could listen to in the next decade.  A few more clicks and there were dozens of Bach albums.  An avalanche of Handel, a tsunami of Tchaikovsky, a mountain of Mozart.

It was exciting and overwhelming as I came to grasp the magnitude of this music collection.  If the classical collection was this thorough, other music genres were going to be as well.

That concerned me a little bit, if my children were to start messing around with it.  I told the kids to stay off of it.  That didn't last long, of course.  But so far, it's been fine.  If it ever becomes a problem I can find some way to block their access to it, but my kids at this point have no interest in listening to stuff with explicit lyrics or whatever else I was afraid of them finding on there.

Fish discovered movie soundtracks.  Bean got on too.  Now they each have their own playlist and they love it.  I love it that Bean listens to Bach to perk up his brain when he has to do homework late in the evening.

I loved it at Christmas time... endless new Christmas albums to explore.  

Now I am making Sunday playlists and mood playlists.  Every time I get on Spotify I have so much fun.  And I am just scratching the surface.

I may upgrade to a paid subscription at some point, because the ads are kind of annoying.  But the free version is pretty great, and I am still just awestruck at the incredible amount of music I now have access to.

Isn't this an amazing time to be alive?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Oh, Twins!

I was having some good homeschooling moments this morning with the Rabbit.  I was feeling pretty happy with how well things were going, and then I walked into the kitchen and discovered what the twins were up to...  how did they get ahold of that loaf of bread?