Friday, November 30, 2007

Another excellent week of homeschool!

We had a fantastic week of school this week. The weather has been gloomy, but at least the rain and wind has been tolerable, allowing us to play outside quite a bit.

We have hit the halfway mark of the reading lessons book. Joshua is really coming along. He sounds out words all the time. In fact, today I was running up to Wal-mart and Keith asked me to bring him back a s-u-b and Joshua sat there for a minute and said, "hey, I want a sub, too.". Yup, our days of spelling things out are limited.

Math is focusing on patterns right now. We also just started using Two days this week, the planned lesson ended up being much too easy for Joshua, so we have decided to forge ahead in search of something a bit more challenging and came across Rainforest Math.

Reading Comprehension is coming along great. We've read many stories this week. One of the stories - Caps of Many Colors was a huge hit. We actually have a episode of Between the Lions (a PBS reading show) on DVD that reviews that story, so we were able to read the story and then watch the DVD. I bought a Between the Lions Christmas ornament last year during the after-Christmas sales. I plan on giving it to Joshua this year. Ordinarily I stay away from those types of ornaments (trendy kids television shows), but this one has a classic look of one of the lions reading a book.

Joshua is also learning about naming words (nouns). We've been creating lists of things - our favorite games to play, different types of animals, etc.

We had a few fun crafts this week - we made 'stained glass' decorations by ironing crayon shavings between two sheets of waxed paper.

Science is discussing healthy habits and important things we must do to take care of our body.

We finished reading Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary and added it to our book bug. We are about to start Stuart Little by E.B. White, thanks to Grandma for sending us some great chapter books. I bought a fabulous hard backed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis today at one of the local stores. The pictures are fabulous - not cartoon and not from the movie. I'll be wrapping it up as one of Joshua's Christmas presents.

We studied about Benjamin Franklin today. We learned about his inventions - bifocals, wood stove, the firetruck that holds gallons and gallons of water. We talked a little bit about electricity, since we just finished a unit on storms and lightening. Then we made paper lanterns, which turned out to be a great cutting-on-a-straight-line activity for Joshua.

I finally decided to start doing some Christmas shopping today. I ordered each of the kids a monogrammed robe. Megan's has ballerinas on it, and the boys robes are matching. I picked up a huge box of Melissa and Doug wooden blocks (for half off!) today - there are over 100 different size blocks for building. Daniel loves to build with things and when he runs out of blocks, he finds other things to build with. I got Joshua a huge 50 states floor puzzle today, too. I ordered a 4 pack of puppets for Megan from the same company I'm getting the kids' robes from (Lillian Vernon). Megan and Daniel love to play puppets. This pack comes with a knight, a princess, a king and a horse. I've drawn out a plan for sewing them up a hand-puppet theater. I'm thinking it'll be something that I can hang in the doorway on a tension/cafe style rod. And if that isn't crafty enough - I'm making a felt board and felting out some of our favorite stories, to make things a little more interactive. I'm hoping that will help divert some traffic away from the art easel. I also scored on a beautiful ballerina Christmas ornament for Megan. I'm going to give it to her after her last Nutcracker performance. It is so pretty (and it was drastically marked down due to a flaw of some extra glitter on the ballerina's leg - but hey, it's for a 3 year old, the more glitter the merrier!). I was so excited to find it, since I really wanted to get her a ballerina ornament this year, but not a cheesy Barbie one.

We were watching Annie tonight. Megan loves the Let's Go to the Movies song, and watching the Rockettes perform...I see a trip to New York in our future. Joshua noticed at the very end of the movie, when they are singing the last song about Annie, Daddy Warbucks says "I'm richer than Midas" then Joshua explained to Megan who Midas was, since we read the story about Midas and the Golden touch this week.

O, Christmas Tree, O, Christmas Tree ...

Two weeks ago our 'movie night' movie was The Swiss Family Robinson. The kids sat motionless through the whole thing. Okay, not really, we tend to do movie night broken into two nights, but they were captivated by the movie on both nights. We paused for our 24 hour intermission right after the boys get back to the tree house and they are all singing 'o, Christmas Tree, o, Christmas Tree'. Now, Megan has not stopped singing that song. I got out the Christmas music yesterday and when that song came out of the CD player, she just about came unglued with excitement. Another funny about the movie is that since then, the kids 'play' Swiss Family Robinson. I didn't realize what they were doing and I kept hearing Daniel say 'help me, help me' is his sweet little falsetto voice, and I'd say 'Daniel, do you need help?' and he'd say 'no mom, I'm playing'. After investigating, the little ones were laying on the floor pretending they were in the water and Joshua was rescuing them - they were re-enacting the first few minutes of the movie when the ship is wrecked and they are getting on the raft to get to the island.

Imagination is in full bloom at our house these days. Megan and Daniel love to play with the nativity set. At first I was thinking it should be 'hands off', but I so enjoy hearing them tell the Christmas story - or their version of it. The latest story had the baby as Moses, and the shepard as David and the angel standing on the top of the barn was tall, so she was the good witch from the Wizard of Oz. And the three wise men are the people that bring the gifts from grandma....seriously, I couldn't even try to make this stuff up. It makes me count my blessings that I am home all day to hear this.

The mention of me moving the train table out into the garage was met with tears. So the big bench was sent out and the train table took over that position to allow the Christmas tree to be placed in a corner for it's own safety. I must have moved it a half a dozen times to figure out where to put it. I wanted to put it in front of the big window, but the kids love standing there looking out the window (they are the neighborhood watch).

It just occurred to me that I better get my behind in gear with filling in our Advent quilt. I found a great advent countdown posted on-line. This one is posted by a person with the screen name Nana on the Cutting Board - a craft message board. However, I have seen a similar countdown on Danielle's Place (, a site that I adore for great Christian oriented crafts to tie into our lessons. The Danielle's place poem is copyrighted, so I cannot re-post it, however, I will post the Cutting Board version for those of you that would like to count down to Christmas with us....
Advent Countdown
1. Quarter
2. Grape gum (or candy)
3. Smiley sticker
4. Gummy fish
5. Birthday candle
6. Bell
7. Fish crackers
8. Cotton balls
9. Piece of a map
10. Soap
11. Heart sticker
12. Cross
13. Packet of salt
14. Sand
15. Flowers(silk)
16. Raisins
17. Seeds
18. Christmas carol
19. Small rock
20. Crumpled foil
21. Mustard seed
22. Dove
23. Small square of woolly material
24. Blue marble
25. Picture of a baby.

December 1 - A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44

December 2 - Grape Gum! Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10

December 3 - Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.

December 4 - Fish! Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7

December 5 - A birthday candle? As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16

December 6 - You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37

December 7 - These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21

December 8 - These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27

December 9 - People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6

December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7

December 11 - Hearts. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41

December 12 - We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Phillipians 2:1-11
December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).

December 14 - Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.

December 15 - Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.

December 16 - Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.

December 17 - Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.

December 18 -Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.

December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.

December 20 - Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.

December 21 - The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.

December 22 - We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.

December 23 - The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.

December 24 - A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.

December 25 - Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Card Out-takes =)

While working on uploading pictures for the annual Holloway photo calendar, I ran across some great out-takes from two years ago. Last year taking the Christmas photo was so easy, we were at the park with Keith's parents, and they took a great picture of the 5 of us and we used it for our Christmas cards. The year before (represented in these pictures), I got overzealous one day when Keith had duty and decided to get the house decorated and the Christmas cards done. I was not prepared for the task of trying to photograph a 3 1/2 year old, a 19 month old and a nearly 2 month old. (Yeah, I can't believe we survived!) This one was cute, but it wasn't all three, so it didn't make the cut for the card.

Joshua was like "um, Mom, I don't think he knows how to smile".

I gave her a jingle bell thinking it would make her smile. It captivated her attention, so I decided to work on Daniel - who ended up falling asleep right after nursing...

So I woke him up, and he wasn't very happy with me. And then Joshua walked away from holding him up and down he went. I caught him, I'm pretty fast. (Well, I've gotten much faster reflexes since I dropped Megan shortly after she was born.)

I won't post out-takes of this year's Christmas photos until a few weeks after our Christmas cards have gone out. I'm working on getting some pictures done and it is frustrating and fun at the same time.

We are going to try to get some Santa pictures done this weekend, just for the novelty of it.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Don't worry, we don't make everyone take their shirts off for dinner. Daniel had on a nice white shirt and I didn't want him getting pasta sauce on it. He cries if I make him wear a bib, so the tear-free option was to pull his shirt off and let him dig in to dinner. We decorated for Christmas this weekend. I really wanted to wait until at least the first weekend in December, but our schedule is absolutely crazy for the entire month. Megan and Daniel put out the Nativity set. They play with the figurines for hours. I can remember when Joshua was 3 he came up with names for each of the wise men, one of them was Twinkle.
Joshua helped to put the ornaments on the tree. He did a great job and put all the ornaments that he thought his little brother would like to see down on the bottom branches.

Taking a break from decorating, we made snacks tonight. Joshua and I made pretzels. He had a great time rolling out the dough like snakes and then shaping them into pretzels.

We sprinkled half with cinnamon and sugar and sprinkled the other half with sea salt. They were a deliciously warm before-bed snack.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Second Nursing Degree

"So, why do you need another nursing degree? Aren't you already a nurse?"

Ahhh, the question I get all the time. Yes, I really am a nurse. I have an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. That is a two year degree. I won't get into the timing of taking 4 years to get a two year degree. There were some hiccups along the way, along with a change in my major after my first year of college. Does anyone really know what they want to be for the rest of their life when they are 18 years old? Or even at 31 years old?

Which brings me to where I am at now. Just about two years ago, I missed interacting with my nursing peers. I was working a fun job, but it wasn't enough. I yearned to be around nurses that wanted to make a difference in the world of nursing. I wanted to spend time talking to nurses that belonged to professional organizations, read nursing journals (for more than just the continueing ed. credits), went to conferences, sought out different certifications, etc. I needed to be around more driven nurses, I was falling into the mundane role of just getting the job done.

Then one day, a friend that had graduated nursing school with me put me down as a contact person as someone that might be interested in Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences new RN to BSN distance education program. Sounded good to me. I can go to school in the comfort of my own home...sign me up! I began classes in May of 2006. So to answer the frequently asked question of why I'm back in school - honestly, it started just for personal enrichment. I missed being a 'real' nurse - a nurse with a job description, annual reviews, staff meetings that accomplished things, policy and procedure manuals.

During some point in the past two years, the kids got busier, classes got more interesting, I became more involved in grass roots nursing organizations, and I began to think that perhaps I could continue on with this distance learning stuff. So now my focus for returning back to school has switched from just personal enrichment (which has been wonderful, I really remember why I love being a nurse) to now the idea of going to graduate school. Graduate school for nurses gets pretty interesting - the possibilities are endless - public health, education, nurse practitioner, midwifery, research, anesthesiology, and many more amazing areas of focus. I am currently researching two very different possibilites. One of which is a safe choice - inexpensive tuition, serious shortage means gainful employment, good working hours. The other option is risky but something I could really see myself doing - the hours may not be so good all the time, tuition is a little higher, liscensure and eduational requirments might be more challenging than I'm used to. I have a scheduled phone call with both possible programs coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I'm hoping to have made a decision soon, so I can get on the ball with the application process. I already feel myself being pulled in one direction over the other, but I need to get just a few more questions answered.

So back to the BSN (my new degree), vs. RN (my current degree) - will my new initials mean anything? Well, in my situation, yes. I have a unique situation of being outside of mainstream hospital work for the past 5 years. I had a great, solid 5 years of nursing experience before moving to Kodiak. Had I continued to do hospital work during our time here, there would be not doubt that I'd go right back to working as a bedside nurse at the hospital. I love patient care. However, there are rules about being away from the hospital setting for a while, I can still work patient care, however, I need to have a very thorough orientation. My BSN will allow me to also consider non-bedside care positions, such as infection control, employee education, teaching clinical nursing and a whole host of other fun possibilities. However, I might just follow in the footsteps of a great nurse I know that has her masters in nursing and continues to work at the bedside because that's what she loves and she is fabulous at it.

Did I learn anything new in my BSN studies? You betcha! I loved learning about research studies, leadership skills, more in-depth looks at pharmacology and pathophysiology. Yes, being in school has helped the nerd in me to blossom. The difference between upper level nursing school now and beginning level nursing school almost 10 years ago is that the emphasis now is on becoming a leader in the nursing field. It's not about learning to be a nurse all over again, but about figuring out what you want your contribution to nursing to be and giving you the education and the skills to be able to make it happen.

Stay tuned for more details about our series of crazy life-changing decisions.... =)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Be-Lated Thanksgiving!

Sorry, no pictures today, just updates.

We've had a busy past week or so. The excitement came when my mom was in the hospital for a few days and things were looking pretty serious for the first day. The Coast Guard and the Red Cross were fabulous and offered to get me tickets and send me down to Florida. However, by the time I could get our lives together with travel plans, changing Thanksgiving plans, was extubated and able to talk to me on the phone and she ordered me to stay put. While I am so appreciative of the services that would allow me to go home, I really feel as if I should save those services for if the sitation worsens before the kids and I can get there (as in our upcoming move that will happen sometime between January and July). Mom is home and is in great spririts.

I cooked a fabulous (if I must say so myself!) Thanksgiving meal. Keith invited a single young man to come over and have lunch with us. He had a really good time, and really loved hanging out with the kids. We had lunch around 1pm and then Daniel went off to take a nap. Joshua, Keith and Zach (our guest) played some tennis and golf on the wii. Megan decided she wanted to brush my hair, so I layed down on the couch and she made me beautiful. We all stayed up late and watched Transformers.

We had planned to take a 4 day weekend from school, but Joshua really wanted to do some school work today, so we had a very successful day of homeschooling. I need to bring his progress report and some samples of his work to the homeschooling office. I meant to do that earlier this week, but with all the excitement surrounding my mom, my telephone has been extreemely busy! Joshua shows adequate progress in all subjects, and I will go back to posting weekly school updates starting next Friday. The past two weeks were pretty light on actual curriculum school and heavy on crafts, field trips and stories. We are back up at full speed now.

Megan had Nutcracker rehearsal on the main stage today. She had a serious case of stage fright. She stood there like a deer in the headlights. I think they are in their costumes for the next rehearsal and the audience lights will be down, so there will be less distractors. I purchased our tickets for the show (yikes...they were pretty expensive...I don't remember paying that much for the matinee show when we lived in Boston!). I am working backstage for the Saturday night show. We are taking the boys to see Megan perform for the Sunday 2pm show. We will be taking two vehicles in case Daniel decides he's done sitting still, Keith can take him home, I'm pretty sure he'll only make it to the intermission. Megan performs in the first act only. In fact, the bunnies perform about 10 minutes into the show.

I registered for my last two classes this week. Yippee! I'm officially approved for graduation in April. I'll write more about that another time.

Plans for this weekend include putting away the harvest/fall decorations and starting to pull out Christmas stuff. I think I'm going to pack away our Thankful tree to put up again next year. I think the kids will get a big kick out of seeing what they were thankful for this year.

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I'm especially looking forward to hearing about Keith's parents trip to Savanah and eating at The Lady and Sons. Yummy!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Out in the Snow

We enjoyed making our foam turkeys this weekend. The kids put them on the table to get ready for Thanksgiving. Keith invited one of his single co-workers to come have dinner with us. This is the first year in a long time that I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for us, we've traveled to visit friends or family every year since we've been in Kodiak.

Joshua's cough wasn't as bad today, so I let him come out with us to play. He spent most of his time up in the clubhouse watching the neighbors play on the frozen lake. I told Joshua I didn't think the lake was frozen enough for us to skate on it yet and that he had to wait for a little while longer.
We barely have any snow in the yard, but it is enough to keep the kids happy. Daniel wasn't so sure about the sound of the snow crunching under his feet. After about 15 minutes he warmed up to it and started running around the yard.
Megan enjoyed her sleigh ride. She managed to talk Keith into pulling her all over the yard.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Bowling Trip

The first thing Joshua told me when we woke up this morning was, "Today is bowling day!". So, I kept my promise and we went out to the bowling alley on base. The bowling alley doesn't open up until 11:30 am, so we spent our morning tidying up the house before we took off for our adventure.
I even let Daniel play. I walked with him up to the line and put the ball down and he pushed it. We had the bumpers up so that it would go down and knock the pins over. He stood there after every turn watching his ball go. The ball was moving so slow, Daniel's turn lasted forever.
Megan enjoyed bowling, too. She didn't get the concept of how to hold the ball, but she did like rolling it down the lane. As you see, they insisted on wearing their Indian head dresses.

Megan danced after every turn. She was so excited to see the pins get knocked down, she'd shout "yes!" and start her victory dance. Joshua was much more reserved. He was studying a group of active duty guys bowling and was trying to mimic their technique.
We stayed for lunch. Sadly, the bowling alley only offers fried foods and the serving sizes were enormous. The kids had chicken fingers, french fries and water. I was able to split 2 meals between the 4 of us, and it was still way too much food. I think we'll be packing our lunch for future field trips.

For our friends in warmer places that don't know - Kodiak is the island that is colored red on this painting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Learning about Native Americans

Joshua had a little bit of a cough on Sunday. By Monday morning he was achy, feverish, and complaining that his ears, throat, head and belly hurt. Today was supposed to be our bowling field trip, but we decided to postpone it until Joshua was feeling a little better. He feels good now, still coughing quite a bit, but no other complaints. It is definitely winter in Kodiak and the crud seems to be everywhere.

Today we studied about Native Americans. We learned about many different kinds of Native Americans - long-house people, plains people, and the Natives of Alaska. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind for the kids when they see the pictures of the tee-pees are the Disney-induced images of Pocahontas and Princess Tiger Lilly (from Peter Pan). We looked at many different pictures of Native Americans, including some modern pictures of Native Americans today. Then, of course, we fell back on the fun kindergarten/preschool activity of making feathered headbands.

With just over a week until Thanksgiving, we are trying to talk about being thankful each day. We read one of our Thanksgiving themed books and created a Thankful Tree. Today each of the kids told me one thing they are thankful for. Daniel is thankful for his knees.
In celebration of National Children's Book week - I've been researching more 'chapter books' to read with Joshua. Today we snuggled on the couch and watched Reading Rainbow (on PBS) for inspiration to learn about other books. As luck would have it, today's episode was all about the bowling alley and books related to chain reactions (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was one of the of our favorites!).

As far as big kid books, I am really not impressed with the books that encourage sass or make fun of smart kids or talk about school as being lame. Last month at the book fair I had the chance to read parts of both the Junie B. Jones and the Captain Underpants series books (I can't figure out why these are so popular). I was not impressed with either set, so for now we are sticking to Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle series, and we have had some luck with E.B. White's books. I'm hoping to spend some time at the library alone this week and investigate more big kid books. Perhaps some C.S. Lewis?

Monday, November 12, 2007

We're Off to See the Wizard!

Today I took Megan and her friend Ava to see the Wizard of Oz performed at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium. While it made for a fun girls afternoon out, my ulterior motive was to get them to see how fabulous live performances are, in a feeble effort to prepare them for their Nutcracker debut. I was absolutely shocked at the level of talent here in Kodiak. Everything was magnificent - from the set to the costumes to the singing and dancing. Absolutely amazing!
Megan informed me that she needed a dress like Dorothy's. So there it is. Unfortunately, ruby slippers were not to be found anywhere in Kodiak, so she made do with her pink sequined shoes (thanks Grandma!). As luck would have it, we sat in very good seats. The characters kept coming up and down the isles, which the girls loved. They both got a little scared at the flying monkeys scene because of the shrieking. But at the end, they were clapping wildly and jumping up and down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Little Turkeys

The only time he slows down is when he isn't feeling well. Monday morning, Daniel was stilling feeling yucky and we decided to do a movie day. Of course, this is after I was able to honestly tell his doc during the well-child check that I am confident that Daniel does not watch much TV. Here we are on a sick day and he spend the day on the couch watching Cars and Curious George. Notice how pale and pitiful he is looking...he's totally got me wrapped around those sweet little fingers. And yes, that is one of Keith's old pillow cases probably from the early 80's.

Because we were taking Monday as a resting day, the kids and I did not do our weekly trip to the library. This meant I needed to find a substitute for Tiny Tummies (Kodiak's infant and toddler nutrition group). Tanya totally stepped up (she'll be taking over as of January 1st), and it was a trial by fire situation for her. She picked up the infant scale at my house and showed up to the library to a packed room! It was one of the highest volume days the group has seen all year. Fortunately there was another mom there that had also taken the breastfeeding peer counselor course that was able to help answer some questions. I'd love to see the group change locations to an area that the toddlers can run and play while the moms talk. I've made a few phone calls and will hopefully get something figured out soon.

By Tuesday morning, everyone was back up to par. We went to another homeschooling family's house for a play date. Between the two of us, there were 6 kids ages 7 and under. Angela told us the story of Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. It had a great lesson to it about being happy with what you have. In the story, oobleck is a substance that falls from the sky after the king gets bored with the weather and wants something different. Then this sticky oobleck become impossible to clean up and is everywhere and will only go away after the king declares that he is sorry for not being happy with what he has. Angela then helped us to make some oobleck out of green food coloring, corn starch and water. It was really cool - it moved like a liquid, but when picked up, felt like a solid. I'm going to have to learn more about the science behind it, because it was really fascinating (or I really am that boring). I brought the camera, but forgot to take pictures. Angela sent us home with a couple of great books to read. Joshua and I are working on a Focus on the Family book, and I am reading The Power of a Praying Wife.

Joshua woke up Wednesday morning with a red, goopy eye. It ended up just being part of Daniel's cold which now went to Joshua. So Joshua missed out on AWANA Wednesday night and I know he would be so disappointed if he knew they played hockey with mini-pumpkins.

School this week went great for both of us. I'm working on a gigantic paper about public health nursing. We are studying about global healthcare issues and the impact that nurses can have in helping to educate the public about preventative care. It feels less like work right now and more like just reading about things that interest me. I printed out my application to grad school and it is sitting on my desk staring at me. My goal is to complete the application and submit it (and have a plan for paying for grad school - yikes!) by January 1st. If I don't have it all together by the first of the new year, then grad school will move to the back burner until after the big move.

More importantly, Joshua is such an awesome learner! Seriously, I can take no credit for this, because he pretty much teaches himself. He has so much of Keith's creativeness in him.

Math has moved into the second unit of study which is shapes. Not your run of the mill shapes, but 3-D shapes. It's not just a circle anymore, but a sphere. Joshua likes that, since he thinks in 3-D.

During reading comprehension this week we read a story called The Country Mouse and The City Mouse. Of course, it is an Aesop's fable. This story opened up a great discussion about the way we live now and the way we will probably live when we 'live close to Grandma'. We talked about traffic, streetlights, thunderstorms, ants, squirrels - all the things we saw at Grandma and Grandpa's house that we don't have here. Then we talked about bald eagles, whale watching, fishing boats, snow, dirt roads - all the things that we have here, that we don't really see much of at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We agreed that there are great things about both the country and the city.

Joshua just completed lesson 40 in his reading book. The story included the word hate. Joshua usually reads the story twice. He reads the story, then we look a the picture, then he reads it again. Today he asked if he could only read it once since it had a 'bad word that I shouldn't be saying because it's not very nice' in it.

We learned about word webs this week. Joshua decided to make one about Daniel. So Daniel goes in the center of the paper and webbed around it are words that describe Daniel. It was sweet.

Joshua is still learning about the 5 senses. But we are also adding some science from the Core Knowledge Series. This week we talked about the weather. Today we discussed the wind. Last night it was very windy and our thermometer that is hanging on our porch blew off. So Joshua put on his clothes, his hunting vest, and grabbed his pop-gun and headed out in the back yard to search for it. He is so funny!

And just for fun today, we make Hand Turkey T-shirts! They are so cute! I traced around each of the kids' hands and then let them color them in with fabric markers. I found Daniel coloring on his actual hand and not the hand on the shirt, so I say, "Daniel, not on your hand, color on your shirt." Oh, yes, you all know what comes next - he colored his shirt that he was wearing not the one on the table! But that's okay, because it was his Superman pajamas and those things take quite a beating since he insists on wearing them almost every day.

Joshua totally got into the project. He is quite the artist. He is a very visual person and enjoys seeing the results of his work. Joshua's turkey is the colorful one, Megan's is the one with dots all over it and a friend drawn near it, Daniel's turkey is the one with the yellow feathers on it. We have plans to go bowling on Tuesday and I think I'll let them all wear their matching shirts, because it will be so cute!!
And because this post isn't long enough, I thought I would add more. Joshua did a phenomenal job helping me shop for items for his Operation Shoebox box today. We went just the two of us during nap time, since Daddy got home early today. I took Megan and Daniel to the commissary for some groceries when they woke up from naps. I did just about all of our grocery shopping for the month today, since I don't want to have to drive back out there again before Thanksgiving, and I really don't like shopping at giant grocery stores, so Safeway drives me crazy. Kodiak could really us a Trader Joe's. I leave you with pictures of the kids I took tonight to show off their adorable fleece hats I made them a couple of weeks ago. They also have matching scarves, but it really wasn't cold enough for that today. Daniel is shaking an empty box of raisins.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Another successful week of school

I guess it really depends on your definition of success. My thoughts are if we had some fun this week and learned a little something along the way, then we did good this week on this crazy journey of homeschooling. With all of the Halloween activities , sugar, missed naps and now runny noses, I think we were pretty darn successful this week.
We added The Trumpet of the Swan to Joshua's book bug. This summer he came up with an idea to try to keep a record of all the chapter books we read together at night. Every time we finish a book together, we had another part to the bug. Joshua picked another Beverly Cleary book up from the library this week, so we are back to reading from the Mouse and the Motorcycle series.

We've been learning about authors and illustrators. Joshua was an author and an illustrator this week writing a book all about himself.

He was asked to draw a picture of his family.

This is the page of his favorite animals. He really wants a dog and a horse right now. We are in no position to add any more living creatures to our family. I'm already worried about how Meow-Meow is going to handle the trip back across the country with us.

These are my favorite foods. Grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, pickles and strawberries.

When he grows up he would like to fly airplanes and space ships. He told me he is going to be a pilot and an astronaut.

We love to go to the touch tank. It is a great place to sneak in lessons about counting, colors, touch, being quiet in a public place, etc. Joshua just likes to go to check out the big crabs.
This week our science lessons finished up with talking about the differences between a baby and a 5 year old. We are now introducing the 5 senses. We are learning about sight. In a few days we will start to learn about touch.

For history, we finished our studies on the continents and map reading. We are now moving into learning about our country. In the next few days we will be learning about the American Flag.

Math remains non-challenging, but still fun. This week we did many sorting activities and played a lot of games - Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land are the top three favorites right now. Hullabaloo is another big hit, but totally unrelated to math or numbers.

Joshua's reading skills are coming along great. His curriculum includes some phonetic awareness activities such as rhyming. Then we read together a few Dr. Seuss books. They make my head spin, but Joshua really enjoys them.

Our vocabulary words this week focused around describing things - big, huge, jumbo, enormous, wee, tiny, itsy-bitsy. It was fun to see Joshua trying to work those words into his conversations this week.

Joshua isn't the only one learning stuff this week. Friday afternoon I was trying to take a nap on the couch and Daniel climbed up on me and sat on my stomach. He was really interested in the crabs on my sweatshirt and then he counted them "one, two, three, four, five crabs. Five crabs, Mommy". I was quite surprised. He walked into the kitchen Saturday night and was playing with the refrigerator magnets while I was cooking dinner. Joshua was pressing me to try to get a snack out of me and I told him no, it was too close to dinner. Then he proceeded to push the issue. I use 1,2,3 Magic pretty regularly with the kids, so when I turned around and said "That's 1", Daniel followed up with, "2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10" getting louder with each number until he was yelling and clapping with 10. He can't show me with his fingers how old he is (he keeps holding up 3 instead of 2), but he can count to 10. Now, here comes the tricky part, if I ask him to count to ten, he looks at me as if to say, "I am not a performer".

Speaking of performers, I am a little surprised at the number of rehearsals Megan has to attend for her performance in the Nutcracker. Mind you, she is a bunny...not Clara, Fritz, the mouse or the Nutcracker itself. A bunny. Seriously, they are three year olds, we all know they are not going to get it right anyway. They will attempt to sashay across the stage, point their toes a few times, shake their bunny tales and sashay off the stage in the other direction. The rational person in me knows that the rehearsals are to get them used to performing on the stage. The crazy busy, mother of 3, part-time student in me is feeling a little overwhelmed by the rehearsal schedule. But it will be fun and after all it is the Nutcracker. I have so many fond memories of my elementary school years where we would dress up and take a field trip to watch one of the final costumed dress rehearsals the day before opening night of the Nutcracker. It was a big deal to take the bus into Boston and go to the Wang center. I'm tempted to Netflix the Nutcracker so Megan can watch it and see what it is all about, but there is something so much more magical about it in person. She performs Saturday the 8th of December at 7pm and Sunday the 9th at 2pm.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Daniel's 2 year well child check.

Daniel finally had his 2 year old well child check today. Ironically, he decided to wake up last night between 1am and 3am with a snotty nose and raspy cough. He was grumpy, so I decided to let him come sleep with me for a while. Big mistake...he thought it was play time and before I knew it we were sleeping with Mac, Lightning McQueen and a whole bunch of other cars.

Daniel weighs 30 pounds now. And I can't remember how tall he is (darn, why didn't I write it down while I was there?). I know he is almost as tall as Megan. The rest of the appointment was the same old regular stuff. Daniel's snotty nose and grumpiness is just a cold, no ear infections. However, the doctor did mention hearing a slight murmur today and that I shouldn't worry about it because it will go away on it's own.

I'm amazed at how much Daniel has learned in the past year. He's a quiet little guy, just taking in everything around him. We have 4 picture books that are used to teach colors, shapes, numbers and patterns. Each book has 25 pages and there is at least one or two pictures on each page of different things like fireworks, ambulances, and then more specific things like the planets and different types of careers, etc. Daniel can flip through all 4 books and name everything in each of the pictures. He doesn't actually use most of the words in the correct way during the day, but it surprises me to hear him say some of them. He points to the doctor in the scrubs and calls him a 'surgeon'. He points to the group of houses and calls it a 'neighborhood'. Although, twice this past week he really surprised me. On Monday, he walked up to the lady behind the counter at the library and said, "Hello, Librarian." I thought I imagined it, but both Joshua and the librarian both said "wow, did you hear that" at the same time! I was just surprised that Daniel knew to call her the librarian. Soon, he'll have perfected the Dewey Decimal System and will be searching the card catalog on his own, which sadly is all on computer now. There was something magical about the wall with all the drawers and knowing that there was a card for each book in the library. *sigh* It makes me sad to think of the things my kids will never experience first hand. :)

The other thing that Daniel did that really surprised the moms we were sitting with was spelling 'H-A-P-P-Y'. He's gone to the Kids Fit playgroup since before he was born and the song H-A-P-P-Y (similar to BINGO with the taking away of a letter and clapping, for the old school folks like myself) has been sung every week since the program started. So, he's probably heard the song a thousand times before. One of the moms this week got a big kick out of handing Daniel the H-A-P-P-Y cards with all the letters removed and watching him put all the letters on in correct order.

He also knows the name of all of the Thomas trains we have. And his cars from the movie Cars must be loaded onto Mac in a certain way or he will pull them all off Mac and reload the cars. He's a quirky little fellow. Do I think he's any smarter than the average, not really. Who knows, maybe in a few more months when we are in the throws of temper tantrums, I'll think differently and box him up to send him off to college to make good use of his outstanding memory.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November is here!

There is a chill in the air and the kids are all coming down off of their sugar must be November, my favorite month of the year.

We had an excellent morning at Kids Fit N Fun this morning. Then we came home and made lunch and put away all the Halloween candy that had somehow spread through out the house while I was in the shower this morning.

Joshua played on the computer for about an hour using Megan watched the video she picked out at the library - Max and Ruby, I guess it's a Nickelodeon show aimed at toddlers about a brother and sister that are bunnies. I didn't quite care for it, but Megan loved it. I'm so glad we don't have cable, I couldn't imagine watching stuff like this on a regular basis. :) Daniel slept for 2 hours. I used this quiet time to clean the house. I wish I had more exciting news to report about how I spent my spare hour, but our poor house was starting to look like a disaster area between the arts and crafts and the Halloween outings. Now that I can actually see the kitchen counter tops again, we are ready to clutter them up with more crafts related to turkeys and pilgrims and Indians and cornucopias.

And just to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit -
Q: Why did pilgrims' pants always fall down?
A: Because they wore their belt buckle on their hat!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Fun!

Our day started off pretty late. The kids slept until almost 9am today! Whew...I guess it's a good thing we don't have to rush out the door to get to school. We had a boring breakfast of cereal and bananas and then the kids went off to get dressed for the day. Daniel (still wearing his Superman pajamas from yesterday) grabbed the puppets we made a few weeks ago and climbed back up in to his seat yelling "Joshua, school!". The puppet is a craft from the story of Paul Bunyan that we read a couple of weeks ago. On our weekly trip to the library, we try to pick a biography each week. Paul Bunyan is more of a tall tale, but made for a good craft and more geography lessons. Last week we read about Sacagawea at Joshua's request after watching the movie Night at the Museum. Last week we began our gigantic paper mache pumpkin. I had been secretly adding more layers of newspaper after the kids went to bed, so that it will be strong enough to hold our treats.
Today we finished the project. Joshua worked really hard at painting the pumpkin this morning after breakfast. While dinner was cooking, we popped the balloon and cut the top off, like a real pumpkin. The kids all enjoyed looking inside and singing (it echoes). Joshua added the eyes, nose and mouth.

The finished project!! It was fun and messy. Joshua said he learned that messy crafts are fun. I learned that no matter how distracted I get by Keith putting in a grown-up movie after the kids go to bed that I need to rinse out the bowl I used to make the glue (flour and water mixture). I forgot to do that the first night of the project and woke up to a glued on mess in the bowl. Yuck.
Tonight was a Trunk-or-Treat for AWANA. In the rain and blowing wind. Daniel went as a fireman, so that he could wear his fireman raincoat. Megan fought tooth and nail to wear her tu-tu (again, for the gazillionth day in a row), but lost because I'm still more stubborn (for now). She was finally happy with with a Halloween shirt and bright orange hair-pretty. Joshua decided he was going to be a hunter. Can you tell that by the time Halloween actually got here, they were pretty done with getting dressed up?

The kids had a good time at AWANA tonight and they all came home with lots of treats. Daniel was fussing as I walked by the nursery on the way out to Trunk or Treat with the kids, so I picked him up and brought him out with me. He had a little paper cup in his hand that he had been eating Goldfishes out of. By the end of the Trunk or Treat, he had collected 3 rolls of smarties in his little paper cup. By the time we got home, the cup held 3 chewed-through wrappers.

The parties and not so healthy treats have really taken it's toll on the kids (and me!). They are bouncing off the walls. Poor Joshua looked like he would explode if he had to sit for more than 10 minutes at the table today. I'm pretty sure it would have been a really bad day if he were in a traditional school setting. I think we are all pretty tired and feeling sluggish from the sugar highs and crashes. Fortunately Keith was home this morning to rest up for an evening flight. It was a beautiful day in the mid-40s. I ran down to the beach this afternoon. I wasn't cold until I stopped to look out over the water. Then I ran up towards the hospital and walked home from there. Now that I sit here listening to the howling wind and the rain beating on the windows, I'm glad I got out earlier today. I hear we are in for some yucky weather over the next day or two.