Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless (Shameless) Wednesday

(I have added shameless because I will shamelessly parade the photos I love of our family!)

Our pictures are like our life right now: blurry at times, mostly imperfect with lots of movement!

I love how they hug in every picture but fight every minute!

The perfect family picture illuded us (as it should!)

Cohen's 1st Choir performance

My Christmas apron from Mummy Nuggle?

I made these clip boards as gifts for my students and friends.  I got this idea from  here!

My mom gets upset when I say I can't stand this THING!  Couldn't they make a black santa and little girl that looked a little less scary?  I mean come on!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wii Got It!

What I enjoyed and savoured about the holidays were the experiences I had with my children, friends and family.  For the first time we celebrated advent.  I found this practice very meaningful because we were able to really emphasise Christmas in it's true sense.  My children were reminded throughout the month about the story of Christmas and why we do things like gift giving.  Lovely isn't it?

(I feel like there should be some loud electric guitar music playing to introduce the next paragraph.)
As my children get older they are getting more and more into the holidays.  This year I had to take a few steps back and catch my breath.  There was more fighting over hot wheel cars, chasing (big no no around these parts), lying, and out right rebellion.  I would ask myself (barely out loud) "What is going on?  Who are these children and how did I end up with them?"

My mother was there reminding me that they did indeed belong to me and something had to be done about their behaviour.  The more we tried to tighten the reigns the more we lost grip.  They were just wild little animals.  My mother and I chatted about the holidays and came to the conclusion that things weren't really that bad.  I mean none of these horrible things happened:

1. No (fully decorated with glass ornaments) Christmas trees fell on top of any toddlers (happened 2008)

2. The children didn't march out the front door when brunch almost turned into dinner

3. My husband didn't sleep in and miss opening presents (2009) (Oh yes people!  This actually happened!  Let's move on shall we?)

4. Our babies were not found CHEWING on glass ornaments. (2007)  (Don't send me hate mail- I've gotten the lectures about glass ornaments from my brother in-law.  Moving along!)

5.  No great, big, loud, uncontrollable tantrums... by the adults.  (We won't hang out here on number 5 too long.)

So looking back.  We had a great day.  We celebrated Christ's birthday.  Ate our traditional Dominican breakfast and played with our new toy... The Wii.  Cohen was so thrilled to join the millions of boys he knows who have had video games their whole lives.  I am hopping this will be something the family can do together for fun.

All in all I think we got it - big time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Year's Resolution- Home School Style

Lately I have been reading a lot of blogs about New Year's resolutions and I have decided to plunge in with some ideas borrowed from others.

1. My New Year's Theme: (I got this idea from a blog and I can't remember who.  If it is you come forward I would love to give you a high five! I promise I'll be gentle.) Speaking of gentleness- that is my new years resolution.  Being gentle with my words and actions.  This is a biggie for me.  If you were on the other side of my screen you would see my children nodding their heads in unison.

2. My New Year's Resolution for the body: Do Wii Fit with my mom at least once a week.  (Yes we bought one...shhhh...don't tell the kids! It's their Christmas present!)

3. My New Year's Resolution for my faith: Start my mornings with God.  No matter how small. Amen.

4. My New Year's Resolution for our school: Do a weekly plan.  Even if I don't end up following it.

5. My New Year's Resolution for our home: Put away laundry once a week.  If you don't think it is a big deal, check out this post!

I'm keeping it to 5 things.  I almost feel like 5 is too much but at least I am sure to get something done next year! (Even if it is one load of laundry!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Firsts

I was born into a very Catholic family, so it amazes me that I don't remember much about Advent.  I had to do a little research on the computer. (Well not that much - I just googled advent for dummies!) I found a very brief article that describes the practices and reasons behind it.  One of the main things this article emphasises is the need for Advent because it slows the season down for us. Unlike Christmas (commercial style) advent is supposed to be slow and reflective.  I love that!

So when I visited one of my favourite sites, Impress Your Kids, I was thrilled to find simple advent activities.  We were 2 weeks behind but no worries we jumped right in.  At Impress Your Kids, they talked about reading the scriptures related to the birth of Jesus.  We got a chance to act some of these out and it was fun.  We also visited a site recommended by Impress Your Kids and made baby Jesus out of a pink sock!  Lots of fun!  Here is how it went:
We started off by reading the Christmas story.  Then we read the verses for week 1 and 2.  Cohen and Kiran already knew the verse for this week because it was John 3:16.  So thankful for Awana at that moment!  We lit the candle and moved on to our dramatic play.

We read about how Mary wasn't married and how special it was that Joseph asked her to Mary him even though she was pregnant.  I'm not sure how much they got from this but they nodded and looked interested.  They had to find Mary and ask her to marry them.  Kiran did the honours!

We made a simple area for the advent candles.  With 2 boys it has to be flameless!

We went on our journey to Bethlehem.  Kiran was good about remembering to bring Mary!

Then we got to the inn and found there was no room.  We landed in the stable.  Cohen loved counting the farm animals.

We went into the stable.  (It never looked so clean.)  There we found baby Jesus!

After we found Jesus we made a baby Jesus doll.  We used this craft from this awesome website that I found through Impress Your Kids.

Baby Jesus was wrapped.

He looks happy don't you think?

We placed Jesus at the dinner table with the advent candles.

The conversations around the dinner table was so rich.  The kids talked about the Christmas story and recited the verses.  They were so taken with the story.  We had a great time.  Thanks again Impress Your Kids!

What do you do to slow down and savour the season?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Eating Our Words

Lately we have been a little slack with the homeschooling stuff.  We have become busy with Christmas and such.  As an effort to bridge the two I went back to cross-curricular teaching.  We wanted to bake these awesome surprise cookies form Martha Stewart and I wanted to assess Cohen's independent writing.  So we baked, talked and wrote.  In the end I was really impressed with Cohen's writing for a senior kindergartner.  He left spaces, used capitals at the beginning, sounded words slowly and recorded what he heard in the correct order.  He even used punctuation.  Cohen did this without prompting.  This activity showed me how much he has learned in the short time together.  He still needs to work on directionality with some letters and staying on task.  I found this activity to be both fun and helpful for assessing what Cohen can do.  He was very motivated by the promise of cookies!

My first time using margarine for a baking recipe!

They were trying to taste the cocoa powder that was floating in the air!

Whipping the frosti

Hiding the surprise!

The mark of a good cookie. 

"When we made cookies we were going to give some to someone else."

The eyes were always on the prize!

We packaged them up for our neighbours.  Hope they like them as much as we did! 

Note: Swimming did not go so well later in the evening due to the high sugar intake!  Oh well! You can't have your cookie and eat it too! (Without any consequences that is!)  If you want more details on the recipe etc... visit me at Myrtle's Turtles for more info!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas for Boys!

So this Christmas I am considering something that will go against everything I have said in the last 5 years. I am not only eating my words but I am taking big gulp full’s of them. We are considering getting a Wii for our children.  My son is home schooled and very active.  It takes huge amounts of energy to keep him stimulated and attentive.  Sometimes I can’t seem to fill our days with enough activity.  Other days I find myself chasing him as we run up and down every wall in our house. My son needs a way to get out some energy while I continue to mother the other three or catch my breath.  

This holiday season Peace on Earth takes on a whole new meaning at our house.  Join me at Blissfully Domestic and read about my journey into video-hood!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

WE Made Butter!

We made butter- yes we did!
You probably thought we had discovered a long lost treasure or something.  But making butter in this family is a big deal.  We are a family who enjoys the warm smell of baked goods in the morning and brimming biscuits in the evening.  We cannot keep butter around long enough.

So when I stumbled upon Mari-Ann's blog, Counting Coconuts and her tutorial about making butter I had to give it a try.  As we made butter we talked about things that turn from liquid to a solid and debated whether or not whip cream was a liquid or a solid. My friend also mentioned that the left over liquid was buttermilk.  I can't wait to use it in my pancakes!

In my teaching days we were always encouraged to include as many subjects in a lesson as possible and this had them all.  Here are some possible subjects you can cover with this activity:

1. Math: It took 20 minutes to make the butter by shaking it.  We discussed how long each of us should shake it.  There are a myriad of possibilities for math in this activity.  You could also discuss weight and volume.

2. Science: We kept checking to see how the whipping cream changed as we shook it.  Next time we are going to stop at every stage and record the changes we see.

3. Language: We will also write a "How To Book" on making butter.  Using words like first, then, next, finally are important.  We will include diagrams with labels.

Our friends helped us shake that Whipping cream!

Make sure you pick a container that seals!  We had a few spills.


Lesson learned: It's always better with butter!