Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Cuteness

Yesterday was our church's Christmas Eve Eve service and the children's church did a little play called "One Silent Night". Buzz was a wise man and Boo was a sheep. Buzz told a friend of mine last week that he was worried about remembering all the words to "Angels We Have Heard On High", so she told him to mouth the word watermelon over and over again. He definitely utilized that tip ;) Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family Traditions: Christmas

Our family is big on traditions and Christmas is full of fun traditions for us. Throughout the year we save all of our spare change in a jar. At the beginning of December we talk and pray as a family about where the money should go. This year we felt God was leading us to bless a sweet couple from church who are saving to adopt internationally.

Every year we spent Christmas Eve at home as a family (our church does a Christmas Eve Eve service). We bake cookies (although this year Boo suggested we make Jesus a birthday cake) and the kids open their present from Mommy and Daddy, new jammies all washed and ready to wear. We wear our jammies while we watch The Polar Express. After the movie we read Luke 2, leave out milk and cookies for Santa, and the kids head to bed. In the morning we eat cinnamon rolls before opening gifts.

I hope that our Christmas traditions lead to wonderful memories for our children as they grow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas School

We have been taking a break from our Five in a Row studies to do Christmas school for two weeks. We are using printables from 1+1+1=1, Confessions of a Homeschooler, and Musings of Me. I laminated a lot of the pages to be used again by Bean when she is older. Laminating the pages means that Boo gets to use dry-erase markers on them, which is one of her great joys in life.
Buzz went nuts for the Christmas pattern block patterns. He even broke them out again after dinner for Daddy to enjoy.

On Friday we went to our homeschool group's holiday party(yes, holiday, it's a secular group). The kids decorated gingerbread men, played dreidel, made ornaments, played bingo and ate a lot of sweets. Boo spent most of her time at the craft table.

Buzz played game after game of bingo(that's him in the greenish shirt laying on his belly)

Our book basket was filled with Christmas books:

The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden
Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate
Who was Born This Special Day? by Eve Bunting
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

Buzz's favorite book was The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and Boo loved The Story of Holly & Ivy (though I should warn you that it is a bit long to read in one sitting).

Buzz and Boo also spent some time working on their homemade nativity by adding shepherds and wise men.

We had a great week!

Muffin Tin Monday: A Cowboy Christmas

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This is week two of the holiday theme, I based our tin on a book from this week's book basket: A Cowboy Christmas by Audrey Wood.
Top row: Christmas tree brownie with powdered sugar snow and bananas with cowboy pick (Buzz made all the picks)
Middle row: mixed veggies with horse pick and mozzarella cheese cowboy boots
Bottom row: peanut butter sandwich cowboy hats and pretzel stick fire wood

Happy Muffin Tin Monday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Nativity

I am NOT a crafty mom. I would love to be creative and crafty and make tons of fun projects with my kids, but that's just not me. Thankfully there are lots of creative mamas who blog about the fun projects they do with their kids so that no-so creative mamas like me can borrow their ideas. I saw this nativity on Pink and Green Mama and I knew my kids would love to make their own. I was right! I gave some direction, but they did most of it on their own and they had a great time. Buzz set it proudly on our entryway table for daddy to see as soon as he got home.
Buzz made Joseph and baby Jesus. Boo made Mary and the angel. They both rounded out the scene with some critter counters serving as the livestock. We had a great time working on it together and it turned out much cuter than anything you can buy at the store :)

Grandfather's Journey

Last week we rowed Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say. It is about the author's grandfather's journey from his homeland in Japan to America. Buzz and Boo enjoyed the story but they enjoyed the go-along book Tea with Milk (also by Allen Say) even more. It is the story of Say's mother, who was raised in America, trying to adjust to life in Japan when she relocates there with her parents after graduating high school.

The kids both enjoyed making a few lapbook components to go along with our study. Their favorite was a seven continents layer book.

I feel like we've finally hit our stride with Five in a Row. The first few weeks I was trying to do so many go-alongs and additional lessons they I felt rushed to fit it all in. I've discovered that Buzz and Boo both learn very well by just doing the lessons from the manual conversationally. I throw in a few go-along books and maybe a lapbook component or two, and we've got a great week of learning!

One of the things that I love about Five in a Row is that we can just touch on subjects now and go more in depth when we re-row these titles in the coming years.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: Christmas Traditions

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

The theme for the next three weeks of Muffin Tin Monday is holidays, any variation. We usually do muffin tin lunches, but we had a lunch time playdate to go to today, so I made a breakfast tin. I decided to focus on some of our family's Christmas traditions:
Top row: cookies (we bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve) and milk
Middle row: pears, train shaped toast with Nutella (we always watch The Polar Express on Christmas Eve)
Bottom row: cinnamon rolls (our traditional Christmas morning breakfast) and bananas

Obviously this breakfast is in no way a healthy, balanced meal, but the kids enjoyed it. And I threw in some fruit so that's got to count for something, right?

Happy Muffin Tin Monday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town?

One topic of conversation that seems to come up at this time a year among Christian moms is: will Santa be visiting your house? I have some friends who feel that making Santa a part of Christmas takes away from the true meaning and other friends who make a big deal out of Santa visiting their children. Our family falls in the middle. Yes, we "do" Santa. Ruben and I discussed it a lot when Buzz was a baby and we decided that there isn't any harm in letting our kids believe in Santa while they're little. It's part of the innocence and magic of childhood. To me it seems the same as letting your child believe that the characters at Disney World are real (which we also do, again it's that whole magic of childhood thing).
In our house Christmas isn't about Santa, he's just a small part of the way we celebrate. We don't even really mention Santa until Christmas Eve when part of our family tradition is baking cookies together to leave for him. Whether they get presents or not does not depend on whether they've been good or bad and you won't hear us telling our kids "Santa knows if you're naughty or nice". I don't want to imply to them that Santa is omnipotent or in any way on the same level as Jesus. We've told our children that Santa is just a kind old man who brings children gifts to help remind them of what a gift God gave us by sending Jesus. Of course the kids love finding a few presents under the tree on Christmas morning (what kid doesn't love presents?) but we try very hard to focus on the true reason for the season: celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why We Homeschool

I get asked quite frequently why Ruben and I have chosen to homeschool our children. It's really a combination of multiple reasons that all boil down to the fact that it's just the right choice for our family. But if you are curious about our reasons here they are:

1. God: We have known since Buzz was a baby that we are called by God to be a homeschooling family. It was one of those things where God just put it in my mind and heart out of nowhere and we have always felt incredible peace that this is what God has chosen for our family.

2. Logistics: Ruben is in the military which means we won't be staying in one place for our children's entire school "career". Homeschooling means that they don't have to worry about being ahead of or behind their classmates when we move.

3. Family Time: Homeschooling gives us an amazing amount of freedom to spend as much quality time as a family as possible. Ruben travels frequently for work and then usually gets a few weekdays off when he returns home. Because we homeschool we can plug away while Daddy's gone and take time off to spend with him when he gets home. (Yes, we school year-round and it's not usual to do school on Saturdays as well if Ruben's away) We also want our kids to be each other's best friends and being away from each other for 8 hours each day just isn't a great way to cultivate those relationships.

4. Socialization: The question we get asked most often when someone finds out that we homeschool is- Aren't you worried about socialization? The answer? Of course we are, it's one of the reasons why we homeschool ;) Seriously though, people tend to think that having a child spend most of his waking hours in a room with thirty other children his age is the best way to learn social skills. We just don't agree. Our kids have dance friends, karate friends, church friends, neighborhood friends and friends through our homeschool group, so they have no shortage of chances to interact with other kids. They get a chance to spend time with kids and adults of all ages every day and this has made them equally comfortable around just about anyone. Just ask any my girlfriends, Boo will talk your ear off!

5: Academic: What school classroom can beat our student-teacher ratio? Homeschooling allows our kinds to learn at their own pace without have to be dragged along with classmates even if they don't yet understand a concept or having to sit and be bored if they are ahead of their peers. I can tailor lessons to meet each of my kids right where they're at.

6. Love of learning: William Butler Yeats said "education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire". We want our kids to love to explore the world around them and to be excited by the discoveries they make each day. I can teach the kids what they need to do by reading great books, playing fun learning games and exploring deeper the things that interest them, no busy work or teaching to standardized tests.

7. Enjoying Childhood: We want our children to just enjoy being kids without having to worry about what their peers think is "cool". They like what they like and they are who they are.

8. Selfishness: I genuinely enjoy being with my kids! They're neat little people and spending a few hours in the evening trying to throw together dinner and rush through homework before bed just doesn't cut it for me.

I fully acknowledge that homeschooling isn't the right choice for every family. The important thing is to pray about the school situation that is right for your family and following the path that God has chosen for you. We are proud to be a homeschooling family and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth
There was no theme for Muffin Tin Monday this week and I'm not in a particularly creative mood today, so I didn't make up my own:
Top row: turkey, brown rice (x2)
Middle row: string cheese, pineapple (x2)
Bottom row: pretzel sticks, pumpkin roll (x2)

They ate everything except for a few pieces of turkey, and of course Boo needed lots of ketchup for her rice :)

Happy Muffin Tin Monday!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dance Class

Twice a year Boo's dance studio has parent observation week, where parents get to sit in on class and see what the kids have been learning. Boo was really excited for me to watch her and she got a great surprise during class: Ruben showed up at the studio just in time to watch her class after being out of town for a week. Boo was thrilled!
Boo had a great time showing off her moves, but of course the highlight for her was getting to give Daddy big hugs and kisses.

Friday, November 19, 2010

4 Months Old!

Our sweet Bean is four months old! We love you baby girl!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: Healthy Eating/Food Pyramid

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This week's theme was healthy eating/food pyramid. This one wasn't difficult because I try to make healthy eating the "theme" of every meal I serve. Buzz wanted everything arranged in a pyramid shape, so I used disposible liners set on a plastic cutting board. I made two separate pyramids so that Buzz and Boo could each have their own.
Treat: white chocolate chips
Meat and Dairy: turkey rolls, string cheese
Fruits and Veggies: apple slices, carrots, bananas
Grains: whole wheat pasta, wheat toast with peanut butter (x2)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orange Belt!

Buzz spent the last two weeks testing for his orange belt in karate and Friday he had his belt presentation. He was so excited that two of his favorite people in the world, Mr. Joe and Miss Heidi, came to cheer him on!

After the belt presentation we all headed over to Pizza Hut to celebrate. The amazing Miss Lyn showed up at the restaurant with a surprise, a giant chocolate chip cookie with a smiley face on it, in honor of his achievement. How sweet is she?!? We feel so blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.

We had a great evening and we are so proud of all of the hard work Buzz put in to earning his next belt!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


We had A LOT of Halloween this year. I know some people don't celebrate Halloween, but we see no problem with dressing up (though we don't allow any scary or gross costumes, and no witches, ghosts, vampires, etc.) and enjoying some candy.

First Ruben's work hosted a Halloween party. Buzz and Boo always look forward to going and playing all the games and getting their faces painted. Ruben also took Buzz and Boo to a party at Buzz's karate studio.

The night before Halloween we went to an open house hosted by a good friend (with LOTS of great food) and then headed around the corner for the Halloween parade. The kids had a blast watching the parade and of course collecting all of the candy that was given out.

The following night was trick-or-treating with friends. Buzz was Batman, Boo was a karate girl (she wore a different costume for each event), and Bean was a kitten.

Two Weeks in Review

Two weeks ago we rowed The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen. Buzz and Boo both enjoyed this story a lot. We read a lot, we've actually read most of the FIAR books before, but this was a new one for us. We were pretty laid back with this one and did most of the lessons conversationally. Boo's favorite part was learning what an onomatopoeia is and she has been pointing them out in every story we have read since then!

This past week we rowed Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. This is one of Buzz's favorite stories (we have this book). We learned about personification this week, so the kids each picked an objected, added a face, and dictated a story to me about their character.

Buzz picked a t-shirt and Boo picked a book:
Once there was a shirt called Bob. When people are asleep, he goes down to the washer and opens it and lets all of his shirt friends out. Then they have great adventures! The End

Once there was a book named Lucy. She lets people read her. She's a nice book. She has big teeth. She has a stretchy bow. She has googly eyes. She has a big nose. The End

The kids enjoyed digging deeper into one of their favorite stories. Boo read the book to herself quite a few times during the week, as well as to Bean :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: Leaves, Trees and Harvest

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This week's theme was a bit tough for me:
We had Halloween candy (it was the day after trick-or-treat of course), provolone cheese harvest moons, apple "leaves", string cheese with raisins (my attempt at corn stalks with indian corn, it didn't turn out as I imagined it would), broccoli "trees", and leaf pb & j's

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Crafts

We took a break from rowing last week to focus on the basics and do some fun fall crafts. I'm definitely not a very creative, crafty person, so I turned to the internet and some of my favorite blogs for ideas.

                             We made paper strip pumpkins

                                      Bean leaf mosaics

On Saturday Daddy and the kids had fun decorating their pumpkins from our hay ride with Mr. Potato Head pieces

The kids had a lot of fun doing crafts with their very un-crafty mommy and we now have some great fall decorations.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I've known about muffin tin monday for quite a while now. I always thought it looked like fun, but never seemed to get around to it. So today I decided why not? I threw something together and the kids were thrilled! I'll definitely have to try to make this a weekly thing. This week's theme was Halloween. Here's what I came up with:
PB & J pumpkin, banana ghost (with mini chocolate chip eyes and raisin mouth), apple jack o lantern, swamp creature (green beans with googly eyes), dragon eggs (grapes and grape tomatoes), cookie

I only had a twelve muffin tin on hand, so Buzz and Boo shared, which is why there's two of each item :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Make an Apple Pie

Two weeks ago we rowed How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. Buzz, especially, really enjoyed this  book.
They colored flags for each country that the girl visited in the story (from here)

We watched an episode of Reading Rainbow where we learned about milking cows and what can be made from milk. Boo loved this and decided she would love to milk a cow. Buzz thought that touching a cow would be gross :)

We made our own butter by pouring heavy cream in a tupperware container and shaking for a LONG, LONG time. I ended up doing most of the shaking.
Of course we finished off our week by making our own apple pie. It may not have been the prettiest pie ever, but it was yummy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3 Months

Bean is now 3 months old! It feels like the time since she was born has flown by, yet I can't really remember what life was like before her arrival. She is a cuddly, smiley, adorable girl and we are so thankful that the Lord has given us this little blessing to raise. Happy 3 month birthday Bean!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Farm Fun!

Today we took a field trip to a farm with our homeschool group. We saw sheep, chickens, goats, donkeys and a pot bellied pig. We also took a hay ride and the kids each got to pick a sugar pumpkin and got a goody bag with gourds and indian corn. Buzz's favorite part was the corn maze. He went through it twice!

Hay ride

The farmer who ran the hay ride stood up on the tractor and danced the whole time

"Take a picture of me as a pumpkin head mom!"