Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Sale!

     I sold my first item on Etsy today.  Just a little thing, but I'm thrilled.
      I feel like years ago when I sold my first painting.  I had some hanging on the wall of the little coffee shop where I worked, and someone came in and asked if one of them was for sale.  I said yes, and just like that, a little piece of me was going away with a perfect stranger. 
     I put a lot of myself into anything I make, whether big or small, and I like to think that in some way, the recipient will be made a little happier by my contribution.  

Nature Study - Toads

     After playing in the kiddy pool today, Anna came running in to tell me that she had caught a frog!  I went out to look at it, and this is what I saw.
     Ummm... That's not a frog. I was surprised Anna couldn't tell the difference between a frog and a toad, since we've had both as temporary pets before.  So this little guy seemed like the perfect subject for a nature study.

     I broke out the Handbook of Nature Study, while the kids took turns holding the toad.  We found out that a toad's "warts" are actually poison secreting glands.
     That it actually has five toes on it's hind feet, even though I swear it look like it only has three. 
    That when a toad is sleeping, it's eyes pop in, so that they are flat, and many more interesting fact about toads. Not the least of course, is that when it wants to, it can hop away pretty fast.
This is Anna's Nature Journal entry.

     I don't think she'll mistake a toad for a frog again, and we certainly had a lot of fun getting to hold and learn about this toad.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Starting the count down to back to school

     August is right around the corner, and I have all my curriculum for this coming up year, but somehow I don't feel as "set" as I have in years past.  I guess part of the reason is that I am comfortable enough with homeschooling now, that I haven't spent the entire summer researching and planning.  Still, I keep feeling like there is something that needs to be done before we start school in a couple of weeks. 
     Anna is entering the 3rd grade this year.  I sometimes wonder if I'll have the stamina to keep going through middle school and high school.  I think every year I wonder if I have what it takes to teach, but I always make it through the year, loving every bit of it.  It helps that Anna is easy to teach, and she likes doing school.  I want to always keep it that way.  Right now she feels she is good at every subject, and that school is fun.  Not that we don't have those days.  You know, the ones where you've explained something fifty bazillion times, your child is crying, and you're right on the verge of melting into tears as well. But thankfully those are few and far between.  Very thankfully. 
     Some new things we are going to be doing this year are Rod and Staff English and Spelling.  English is not my strong suit.  I was never actually taught English, so I will be learning along side her.   I like what I've seen of it, and it looks like it wont be hard to teach.  The spelling is pretty similar to what we used last year, so I don't think that will be much of a transition. 
     Another new for us, is that she will be doing science along with nature studies.  We will be going through the book Science Lab in a Supermarket. I was all set on using Apologia science this year, until I looked through this book.  It's engaging, funny, and it teaches you about stuff you see and use every day.  She has learned a surprising amount about the natural world just through observation and nature studies, so I think this book will be great compliment to that.  I am also so very happy that it's only $10 on my Kindle. 
     All in all I''m excited about this new year.  I just hope I can remember what it is that I need to do!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Etsy Shop

    After much planning and procrastinating, I have finally (Drum roll please...) opened my own Etsy shop!  There isn't a lot in it as of now, but I am steadily working away on new projects. 
     The above banner was a collaboration between Abriel and I.  The background was part of one of her wet on wet water colors. The kids turn out reams of these, and so I've started thinking of other ways to use them, so when I was in need of a banner, it hit me that one of their painting would be perfect.  I painted the stones and the dragonfly, and after Abriel got over her initial horror of seeing me paint on her picture, she is now thrilled that her picture is on the computer.   Abriel and Samuel have also been very understanding about seeing me make toys that are not for them.  The concept of me making something for a person whom I don't know, is beyond their comprehension, so I have had to make up stories about the boys and girls who will get to have Mommy's toys. 
     So, if you would like to see what I have so far, here it is! Stepping Stone Toys  Comment, and tell me what you think.  I would love any feed back.


Product Details     Here is a belated review of Seabird by Holling C. Holling.  I loved the story, (I found myself tearing up at the end) but I had a hard time gleaning much geography from it.  Everything I've read from other CMers who have read it, raved about all the geography nuggets in it; so I kept thinking, "What am I missing?" 
     I think the only thing Anna got from it was what the equator is.  However, through coloring the map, she got a pretty good idea of what Continent is which.

     She used her beeswax crayons to color the map, and I think they made the map very beautiful.  It's still hanging up in our school area, although it wont be long before a new school year starts. 
    And speaking of that; I am very excited about studying Marco Polo this year.  I have always been fascinated with him and his story, so I can't wait to share that with Anna.  I think that is the best thing about homeschooling.  Getting to share your passions and interests with your children, and see them take their own things from it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our New Pet

     Meet Katy, our katydid.  The kids found her a few days ago, and she now lives in a coffee tin.  At least she is suppose to live there, but keeps turning up all around the house.  The kids love her, and carry her around everywhere.  For some reason she has yet to flee for her life.  We'll see how long she survives all this love.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Foods

    I usually plan a menu each week before I go to the store.  It helps to know what I'm going to cook every day, and to know I have the ingredients I need to make it.  During the summer I keep my menu loose to incorporate what ever local vegetables are in season.   I usually just hit the local produce section in my grocery store, but today on the way to the store, I saw a produce stand set up, and thought I'd see what they had.  I was looking for zucchini and summer squash, but ended up with a lot more, including some vegetables I've never had before.  I love trying new food, and this white pattypan squash looked too neat to pass up. 

     We ate it tonight stuffed with brown rice, italian sausage, and mushrooms.  It was very good, but if I had to do it over again, I would have cooked the squash without the stuffing till it was mostly done, then finished it up with the stuffing.  It took a long time to bake, and could have baked longer, but I was tired, and the kids really needed to go to bed.  Or should I say, I really needed them to go to bed. 
     I love trying new foods, and having the kids try new things.  They all really liked it, which goes to show that children like vegetables as long as they are used to eating them.  My kids find the typical "kids foods" gross.  Abriel refers to American cheese as, "That yucky square cheese."  I love it, because quite frankly, it is pretty yucky.   However, pattypan squash is delicious!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summertime Picnics

   I spent this weekend up at my parents, celebrating the Fourth with my family.  The day we decided to have a picnic turned out to be unbelievably humid, so we all just steamed. Even so, it was a lot of fun getting together and seeing most of my family.  I used to be the only one who lived any distance away, but my two oldest siblings now live too far away to make most family gatherings. 

      I brought my camera, even though I am always too busy to take pictures, but my sister in law, Christine took a few with my camera, so now I actually have pictures to show!

     Nathan and Christine baby sat for us last week end, (yes, we will actually drive two hours for a baby sitter) and now the twins are absolutely gaga about their Uncle Nathan and Aunt Christine.
     Here's the rare picture of me, as I am usually on the other end of the camera.  Paper towel roll in hand of course.  Did I mention there were six toddlers there? So yea, lots of messes.
    And here's one of them eagerly awaiting a piece of very goopy rhubarb crunch.  I had never made one before, but the recipe said you could cut it like bar cookies, and eat it by hand.  It didn't exactly turn out that way, (you could eat it with a spoon) but it was good, and MESY.  David's girls have such beautiful hair.  Isabel is only two, but she has a full mane of golden curls.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Planning for Pre-school

     First off;  I can't believe I'm having to plan anything for pre-school.  It seems like there's no way the twins can be this old already.  I probably would have held off a little longer anyways as it is, but since they are both begging to do school, I thought I would do a little something with them.  I also have an ulterior motive with wanting to entertain them while I am doing real school with Anna. 
     I have decided to go with Before Five In A Row, as it seems to fit in with what we are doing.   I am doing it very low key.  As much as I love seeing the elaborate activities that others are doing with their pre-schoolers, I know that when it comes down to it, I just won't end up doing it if it isn't simple.  So basically, we are going to "row" a new book each week, and keep the activities very simple.  I like the suggestions in the BFIAR book, since everything is very non-academic and there is a bible lesson to go along with each book.   
     However, all the lessons require me to be right there with them, which means I'm not teaching Anna.  So I am going to arrange Anna's schedule so that she is doing her independent work while I am with the twins, and then I have worksheets for the twins to do while I am helping Anna with her school.   I am using a lot of the BFIAR resources from homeschoolshare.com, and also just coloring pages and what not.  I am trying to keep everything at their level, and not stress anything academic.  I made the mistake of doing that with Anna, (Those poor oldest children get to be the guinea pigs for everything.)  only to realize that she would learn her letters and numbers when she was ready, and trying to force her to before, was only adding unnecessary stress. 
     I am curious to see how my first taste of juggling more than one student will go.  Hopefully I will be able to stick with my plan, and it won't go all to pieces on me after all the work I've put into the planning.  You never can tell how things will turn out.
Summertime is the pleasure of a popsicle, when it's too hot to enjoy anything else.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hoping for some more sleep

     Summer time has grown to mean sleep deprivation for me these past couple of years.  The twins wake up at the first glimmering light of dawn, which in June and July is around 4:45.  Dave, however works until 11:45 pm, and usually we don't go to bed until after 12, which means 5 am rolls around way too soon.  
      Yesterday, being July 4th, we took the kids to see fire works.  It was about a half mile walk to get there, then the kids danced for at least a hour to the band that was playing.  After walking another half mile back to our car, and getting home at 11:00, (when their usual bed time is 7:30) you would think that they just might sleep in a bit.  But no; not our little sunshines.  It's pre-dawn and Samuel is standing next to my bed just like every morning, asking for breakfast.  I can't see at 4:30.  My body just doesn't want to function at that hour in the morning.  Something had to be done.   So today I made quilted shades.  (Thank you Elisha, for your idea!) 
These are button shades, so they can be down like this, ...

... or up like this.  
     You could put another row of buttons in the middle for another shade height, but this window is so small, I didn't see the point.   I mounted it by screwing a 1"x1" board to the ceiling above the window, then put adhesive Velcro to the blind and the board.  Couldn't have been easier.

      For the button loops, I just strung a bit of yarn through the bias tape and tied it in a loop.  This was the best thing I could think of with what I had on hand, but I might change it at some point.  Or not.
     I've never done any quilting before, so this was a learning project.  Not being a quilter, I didn't have any batting on hand, so I used an old fleece throw.  I doubled up the layers so it would block out all the light, and boy, does it! It looks like night in their room when it's down.  The fleece, being stretchy, probably isn't the ideal batting material, but I had fun with it.  I can't wait to find something else to quilt.  I also can't wait to see if this works for it's main purpose.  Getting the kids to sleep in past dawn.