Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The Tooth Fairy has been visiting our house frequently. In addition to these 3 gaping holes, Sunshine lost a tooth earlier in the summer. Wow!

When the TF comes to our house, she/he leaves a HUGE mess of fairy dust. This time, Belle decided to take the advice of her cousin. She put her tooth in a container of water, so when the TF dove it to retrieve it, the color of the fairy dress/clothing would come off in the water. Man, am I glad she told me about that! Ya know, just because it's a great story. ;o) Well, the TF was wearing a blue-green dress, and also left the golden dollar at the bottom of the container.

Most importantly, check out this toothless grin!

First day of School: 6th & 2nd

The first day of school was a great success. We started about 9 and were done by noon (both kids, all subjects). Yet another benefit of homeschooling: it doesn't take nearly as long as you think! (We did so much more, but these are the pics I remembered to take!)

Moma-Teacher with her sweet students:

Belle "meeting" her Social Studies book:

Sunshine working on her history assignment:

Sunshine working on her new vocabulary program:

Back to math:

Ginger warming the floor:

Spelling ( and typing (Dance Mat Typing):

How can you *home* school if you're never home?

Home school, public school, private school, preschool, unschool. It doesn't matter where it is, if you're kids are excited about learning then you're doing it right. Our kids were incredibly excited about getting back to school. We had a fantastic summer, in spite of the heat. I figured they would rebel and suggest that we continue summer indefinitely. However, they've been asking for a few weeks when our start date would be. Ummmm...hadn't thought about it. Oops! Hubby and I looked at the calendar and picked a day that he'd be home to run interference (a.k.a. entertain Punky): August 29th.

That meant I had to get serious about figuring out what they needed to learn, what they wanted to learn, and what we could fit in to our calendar. Let's face it, we have lots of fun activities and we don't want to scrap any of them.

On Saturday, we sat together and made a list of all of the girls' activities, and this is how it breaks down:

With SAIL (our homeschool group):
American Girl Club
Book Club(s) (separately)
Girls' activity
Park day
Chemistry lab (Sunshine)
Art club
Math circle (Sunshine)
Robotics (Sunshine)
Classic Movie Night (separately)
Preteen Movie Day
Various Field Trips

On our own:
Soccer (separately)
Gymnastics (Belle)
Girl Scouts (separately)
Church related activities
MOMS Club Activities

...and other things that have escaped us.

Plain and simple, we're busy. We don't want them to miss out of any of the great activities and they don't want to cut anything. I did make them rank these in order of priority, just in case we need to make some changes. We're always on the go, and we don't always sit at a table and learn the way you might assume...but look at al of these wonderful learning experiences!

We do some car schooling activities. This basically means that we take our lessons with us. If we have an appointment or one of the kids has an activity, we'll take books, small games, puzzles, workbooks, etc. in the car. We also listen to a lot of audio books and read to each other in the car. We practice spelling words, play trivia games, do math problems, tell chain stories, etc. We do not have a DVD player in the car and rarely do the girls take their electronics on trips around town. We are never bored in the car!

'Twas the night before home school...

Our work table ... ready for eager students! (more pics below)

'Twas the night before home school...
...borrowed from another homeschooling blog,
edited to fit our family...

'Twas the night before homeschool's first day of the year;
All of the boxes of books had appeared,
Exciting the children so they hardly could sleep -
They would have gladly began school last week!

Dad is oblivious - he hasn't a clue
How many things I have yet left to do -
To make sure the day's special, the best I can do,
For a girl starting middle school and one in grade two.

There's the kitchen to straighten and table to clear,
Crayons and markers to be gathered near.
Paper and pencils and scissors and glue
Notebooks and binders to be brought out too.

Now the rest of the family are snug in their beds,
And me? I must be out of my head
For still sitting and blogging when clearly I know
The tasks that require me to get up and go.

Once they are done, only then may I sleep
Until two little children into my room creep -
Earlier than need be, I haven't a doubt,
Ready to get all of their new books out!

A few pics from "Meet the Materials" night. When Belle started homeschooling with us full-time (this is her 3rd year) she asked if we could have a "Meet the Teacher" night. I stifled a laugh and told her that we'd figure something out. We want the kids to feel like they're having a full experience, and the little things like that make them feel like they're missing out on something. That year, I started having a special time the day before we started school, where they could come into the classroom (which was usually off limits because I was working to get things ready) and check out their materials. I don't have everything we will use all year, but they can flip through new text books, novels/chapter books, see science materials, etc. You would not believe how exciting this is for these kids...and I LOVE It! It definitely sets the tone for the beginning of school, and their excitement is contagious!

We also set up a little play area for Punky in our breakfast nook in the kitchen (since our kitchen table is now in the family room/library/school room). The girls call it her learning spot. I got her a few new things (shape/color blocks, a puzzle, some sorting toys) and stuck them on the shelf. She was excited to check it all out, too! :)

Nino besh!

If you know me personally, you know that I'm a breastfeeding advocate. And, yes, I still nurse my almost 21 month old daughter. And she's a nino besh addict. Her 3rd word was "ninny" (our name for nursing). Several months ago she started asking for ninny fresh, or nino besh. Now that she has become a mommy to her doll (Sadie-Emma), she also feeds her baby nino besh. Frankly, it's quite interesting to nurse a toddler who is also nursing her doll (at the same time). If Punky is wearing an outfit that doesn't allow her access to her own nino besh, she will pull on it until we help her unsnap it so she can nurse.

This does not bother us at all. We are proud that she is imitating this natural, wonderful process. She's already nurturing her baby. So sweet!

Friday, August 26, 2011

NOT Back to School!

Every year, on the first day of public school, our homeschool group has a NOT Back to School Party. This was our first time to attend. We went to a fun, indoor amusement facility. The kids had unlimited access to laser tag, rock climbing, go karts, bumper cars, air hockey, bowling, miniature rides, and video games. They had a wonderful day! We were at the facility for about 9 hours, and had access to their pizza/pasta/potato/salad buffet. Bonus for Mom: no cooking! Hubby was at work, but he joined us when he was finished for the day. The girls can't wait until next year! :)

Dog days of summer!

Keeping with tradition, Punky brought a virus home from her well-check at the pediatrician. Fortunately, it was a summer cold and not the nasty tummy troubles. Unfortunately, she passed it to me and I was down for the count. It's never good when Mom is sick! Never fear—Ginger Pye to the rescue! She was more than happy to cuddle with me and lift my spirits. (Remind me later that she's not allowed in the bed.)

Later, after my nap, the big girls went to Kids' Night Out where Belle takes gymnastics. That meant a special date with Punky and Hubby. She provided endless entertainment! She chased Avery Copper around with this doll-size straw hat. Every time Avery would stand still, Punky would put the hat on her head and say, "Yeehaw!"

Tae Kwon Do

Belle has expressed interest, more than once, in taking Tae Kwon Do. Unfortunately, there's just no way to fit another thing into our schedule or budget. :) The girls were so excited to be invited to our friend's 10th birthday party, where he takes TKD. The girls had SO MUCH FUN! It was a great party! Punky even helped out by doing some toddler stretches.

Do ducks eat raisins?

We're going to have to lock the pantry, otherwise this kid is going to eat everything in it. She found this bag of raisins, shook them out all over the floor, then ate Well, she started to eat them and Daddy scooped the rest up and put them back in the bag. Five second rule!

Then she found my cork trivets and thought they were great new toys! She put them in front of her legs and told us that she was Donald Duck. She loves her Shakey Mouse & friends!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food is energy!

Last week our MOMS Club toured Whole Foods. We do a lot of our shopping at WF, so my kids are very familiar with the store. This time was a little more exciting because we got free SAMPLES! Yum! We started in produce with a sample of a yellow carrot. I will be honest and say that I never knew those existed. They were sweet, but we learned they're not as nutrient rich as their orange cousins. Up slices, tomatoes, and a banana. But wait, save your banana so you can slather on some freshly ground honey-roasted peanut butter. Mmmmmm!

Next we moved on to the seafood counter and learned how WF rates their seafood (based on the producer's eco-friendliness) and had a sample of shrimp (the girls' fave). We also tasted sausage, cereal, and vanilla almond milk. Our tour ended up in the restaurant section of the store where we grabbed a pizza to share. Everyone had a slice (or two) and left with full bellies.

The tour touched on many topics that are important (nutrition), including several relevant to our current study of global warming (eating local, sustainability, etc). It was a great field trip!

Catching some Zzzzzzzzzz's

Punky isn't a good napper. Well, she's a decent napper as long as she's being held or in the car. Some days are too busy for me to spend 2+ hours sitting in the chair while she naps. I try to get her to sleep but she fights it, and then this happens while I'm making dinner —and I let it...because she's the 3rd kid and I've realized that sometimes you just can't force things on them. Plus, it makes for adorable pictures. Am I right?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vitality meatloaf!

The girls and I are active in our homeschool group's American Girl Club. We spend a few months studying the historical dolls and their time periods. We are currently 2 months into our study of Molly McEntire, a young girl who supported the WWII effort on the homefront. During our study of each doll, one meeting is dedicated to the food of the time period. Each girl is responsible for making and sharing one dish from the doll's recipe book. Yesterday we shared fried bacon (YUM!) and Vitality Meatloaf.

Since frying bacon is pretty dangerous, I let both girls help with the meatloaf. Then Belle helped me put the bacon into a container after it was cool. They love helping in the kitchen, and I love having help!

Through this activity, they learned that people on the homefront truly believed that by eating healthy and working hard would help the American soldiers win the war. V is for vim, vigor, vitality, vitamins and VICTORY!!

Sunshine and Belle with their ingredients and tools:

Belle chopping an onion (great way to relieve stress!):

Sunshine chopping parsley (they were shocked that I let them use the big knife):

Ready for the oven!

Presenting their recipe to the group:

Another recipe that they tried (made by another family) was Vitamin A Salad:

Punky enjoying some 1940s menu options. ;)

Drawing on the board...this is just before she started drawing on the wall. And then our friend had to call her husband to bring a magic eraser to our rescue. Whew!!