Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tea with Felicity

 Merry Christmas!
And Happy New Year!

Part of April's American Girl history fun was to have a tea party.  So, just before we went on Christmas break we did just that with her American Girl dolls.  It was a tea/picnic by the Christmas tree.  We also didn't have any tea, so we used apple juice :-)  I think the boys enjoyed this almost more than April did.  Oh well....

She at least dressed her dolls up in their best dresses, and got them all set up...


Can you see her (April)?  She's hiding right there behind her brother. 
It was a nice Merry Christmas picnic/tea.  Hope you have had a wonderful Christmas, and are enjoying a little break.  We sure are!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For the dogs field trip/service project

We  watched a great movie on Sunday night called "The 12 dogs of Christmas." We decided after watching it last year that we really had to watch it again this year, and it was just as good this time around.  I think we may have to buy it.  Anyway, while watching the movie I got to thinking about something that we could do that related to dogs and Christmas to tie in with the movie.  Maybe a craft, or a project.  I thought of several things, but then it clicked.  We could go visit some dogs in an animal shelter.  Then I thought wouldn't it be nice if we could do something for the dogs while we are there.  So, I did a little bit of searching.  One shelter was doing a dog food drive, but it was closed on Monday.  So, I searched the animal shelter up North, and it was open on Monday but no food drive that I could see.  I did a little more searching, and found a link on their webpage for volunteer things that kids under 12 could do.  Perfect!  There were recipes for homemade dog treats, and they said we could bring them in anytime.  I wasn't sure if we'd get to feed them ourselves, but when we got there the lady at the front desk asked if we wanted to feed them to the dogs ourselves.  I was so glad!  All she said was to watch for the dogs that had a sign that said "no treats, allergies."  There weren't very many with signs.

So, we made 2 kinds of treats.  Cheesy dog cookies, and Peanut butter dog biscuits.  I never realized how easy it is to make homemade dog treats!  By the way, the cheesy ones were the favorite.  I could tell the dogs would go for those ones first, but they all were gobbled up.


Alex loved this!  He was pretty generous with those treats too!  As soon as he gave one to a dog, he was ready for another one.

It was so fun to walk through and see all the dogs.  I wish (so did the kids) that we could have taken one home with us.  I just don't know if we're quite ready for a dog again.

I'm not really sure why the chihuahua's were in these types of kennels.  We couldn't give them any treats.
This dog that April is feeding was my favorite.  Her name is Sandie.  It was fun to get to know all their names.

A close up of Sandie.  She was happily munching on her treat.
Alex getting in on the action.  He wasn't scared of the dogs at all, I had to watch him close.  We didn't have any problems though.
All gone!  We gave every last treat away.  Here the kids are standing in front of April's favorite dog "Ben."
Oh, and we visited the kitties too.  Actually we picked one to play with for a while, her name was Roxy.  It definitely wasn't this one, miss "I'm stressed" kitty.  Yeah, you can see that paw out ready to strike at any unsuspecting passer-by.  This cracked me up! IMG_2440
This was such a cool field trip, and service.  If we lived closer April could go and volunteer regularly when she turns 12.  I think she would like to do that, she loves animals.  We will definitely be making more treats for the animal shelter again next year!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas star chalk pastel art

We did a great art project last Friday with chalk pastels.  I found the tutorial at Hodgepodge, and it was easy to follow and do.  Even my 4 year old liked doing it.  I'm always excited to find chalk pastel art projects because they are fairly new to me, and I think they are fun to work with.  They are pretty messy though, just a warning!  I love how they turned out!

4 year old picture (Aric)
11 year old picture (April)
Mom's picture

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homeschool mother's journal: December 14, 2012


In my life this week...

In our homeschool this week...we had a pretty awesome week this week!  I know I've said we were taking it lightly this month, but this week we didn't have much going on for Christmas activities so I felt like we should really have a good full week in at least before we get to Christmas vacation time.  Anyway, I tried some new strategies (more on that later) that have really helped my kids to focus.  I'm looking forward to coming back from Christmas vacation and really fine tuning it.  So, it made for a great week, and I think we all learned a lot.  Here are some highlights of our school week in pictures because I like pictures :-)

Christmas stuff:

I found this fun Christmas lights project on Pinterest, so that was a fun art project one day.  It was a big hit. (all ages)

We started out every morning putting their daily lego advent creation together. (all ages)

Aaron completed the gingerbread boy draw write now page.  That lovely printable (which helps him with writing) is from 1+1+1=1
(1st grade)

I played a Christmas cookie battleship type game with Aaron.  He loved that.  Found that game at Walking by the way.
(1st grade)

We also started the 12 days of Christmas lapbook at Homeschool share.  I was excited to find religious ties to the song!   (all ages, but the lapbook was worked on by the 6th grader)
Christmas pattern block pictures (preschool)

Oh Christmas tree Bauble counting.  The number on the star matches the number of ornaments on the tree.  This is a game that I printed and laminated last year (sorry, can't remember where I got it), so glad when I can re-use things like this. (Pre-K)
Christmas puzzle.  (Pre-K)

Everything else:

I started the you can read sight word printables with Aric just to see if he was ready.  I think he is.  He got these words down pretty good.  I think it will help him on his way to reading.
He glittered them today.  (Pre-K)

April's historical American girl story of the week was Felicity learns a lesson.  She did a lot of things that revolve around this book, and that time in history. (6th grade)

 Since Felicity is from Virginia, and the state bird is a Cardinal April learned about Cardinals this week, and here she did awesome filling out the whole page about Cardinals.  (6th grade)
 I did a science experiment with the boys while April was at art class on Tuesday.  We made crystals!  It was supposed to be a Christmas tree shape, but they didn't work (or we weren't patient enough) so we switched to toilet paper rolls.  The boys were pretty excited to see the crystals growing by the next morning. (Pre-K and 1st grade)

Some other things we did not pictured:
  • read lots of Christmas stories
  • nature walk
  • watched a pbs special DVD called Legendary Lighthouses (yep, we are still finding bits and pieces of lighthouse stuff)
  •  3 lessons of life of Fred for April and Aaron
  • Daily science 1st grade book--he completed 1 week
  • 2 reading lessons from All about reading level 1
Helpful homeschoolin tips or advice to share...when you lose all hope that you're homeschool is failing, just pray.  Enough said.

I am inspired by...the photo-a-day challenge that I am doing this month on facebook.  I like how it has inspired me to take some creative pictures of our memories this month.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...we had the usual art class on Tuesday, and afterwards April's BFF came over as well as her sister.  It was so nice to have both come over, and I was glad that she was so happy to play with the boys.  Definitely more peaceful when there is more than 1 friend to go around :-)  Horse lessons for April was on Thursday, and I took the boys to get enchiladas.  Wednesday we went to Krispy Kreme and had some donuts for 12-12-12, that was a super fun day.

My favorite thing this week was...getting so much done in school.  It truly was a great week for learning.

What's working/not working for us...so I mentioned earlier that I changed some things to help us get through our school day better, and focus.  The 3 things that worked so totally awesome this week were 1. a timer, 2.  a schedule written out each day for April, and 3.  all their books and work in 1 big workbox (their curriculum box, a white plastic IKEA box that I used to hold all their curriculum in).  No more individual workboxes!  This is so much easier.  My good friend Becca gave me the timer idea.  At first I wasn't so sure we could pull it off.  But, I decided on Monday morning to just give it a whirl.  We set the timer for 15 minutes of school work, then 5 minutes off.  And, we just repeated it over and over.  I also scheduled a few other things in there that really helped too, like snack time from 10-10:30.  That was our longest break.  They responded well to this, but it took a lot of reminders.  The schedule for April helps me and her to see exactly what she is doing each day, and she really needs that.  She said she really likes our new homeschool.

Things I'm working on...I finally started our chicken feed bags, so currently working on those.

I'm reading (to my children)...
The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L Sauer

We just finished reading this today.  It was a great link from lighthouses to Christmas, and what a lovely gem of a book!  I enjoyed reading this to my children, and the message about Christmas is absolutely wonderful.  I just have to share a part of it that struck me too, here is the quote:

"The short afternoon drew to a close; the feeling of breathless expectancy that comes before every Christmas Eve began to exert itself.  The comfortable, shining common room with its sparse dignity, the gray-walled tower with its soaring grace, quieted themselves to wait.  Something was to be born anew into the world.  This night the ageless Christmas miracle would repeat itself."

What a great way to describe the anticipation of Christmas eve that doesn't involve gifts.

I'm cooking...homemade "Wendy's chili" was my big meal for this week.  We also made Christmas cupcakes yesterday.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Someone has been reading a lot of Harry Potter.  I came into the bathroom after April had taken a shower to find this...

In case you can't see it it says:  "The chamber of secrets has been opened enemies of the heir beware"


That gave me a chuckle.

To see other homeschool mother's journal posts visit iHomeschool Network.  I am linking this up there.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nature study: Seasonal weather walk

We experienced Oregon's winter weather at it's finest today on our weather walk.  Just in good old Portland, Oregon fashion it was wet, rainy, chilly, misty, cloudy, gray, and drippy.  That didn't keep us back though.  I loved it, and I think the kids did too.  I don't want wintery days to keep us from enjoying a good trip out in nature.  We really needed this!  I'm just glad it wasn't pouring, I might have decided not to be so adventurous.  The weather seemed to work out just perfect for us.  In fact after we were done there was some sunshine peeking out of the clouds, and it stopped sprinkling completely.

We explored a new to us trail.  I'm excited to go here more often.  It's a state park right in the middle of Portland (Tryon creek).  Here is what we saw on our walk...

A map to show us around
some ferns and leaves
Moss!  It's not hard to find moss around here.
lots of space to run!
Pine tree branches that have dropped to the ground.  Those are pretty plentiful here too.

 A hole in the tree shaped like a heart.
Many fallen logs that we had to try out.
Wet leaves.  Kinda surprised at the color of this one.
More logs to stand on.
Happy to be outside loving nature kids!
A bridge.
That went over this creek.
An old hollowed out stump.  Everyone had to try it out, and be a little silly too.
Roots.  Really cool roots, from an old fallen tree.
muddy hills to climb on.  That's super fun for little boys!  Oh, and the egg carton was for him to collect things on our walk.  Notice he collected a pine tree branch too.  I now have that pine tree branch decorating my window mantle in the kitchen.  Love it!
The kids had a good time.  I did too, and it felt good to get out again and explore.  Hope we do it again soon!

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