Monday, December 14, 2009

Today

We had some errands to run (really rare for a Monday morning). Now that I passed my Personal Training Exam (YAY!!) I can again focus on HS...well if it wasn't like 10 days to Christmas! But since neither my DH nor I get paid until Friday there isn't much I can do on that front. During HS today I knitted the youngest cousin a Cuddle Bunny, so I did whittle the list down a little bit..lol...

While driving home from Walmart X-man felt compelled to sing carols. Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells and Roudolf. He had 80% of the words wrong, so I worked on them with him. It was really cute.

For school today we learned about the job of an illustrator. I read the stories The Frog Prince and The Peach Boy (a Japanese Folk Tale). Then the kids drew an illustration that represented the story. The Peach Boy was supposed to by for DJ while the Frog Prince was for Xman but they didn't agree and each drew a pic of the other story...lol... We also learned about the Ice Age and the history of people who lived during that time - how were they different from us.

I have to say, even I doubt myself sometimes. I've always been very relaxed in HS. I've never been a teacher who read something and expected my boys to remember it. I tried it a couple of times - using a chalk board or dry erase board - and it drove us all crazy when the kids couldn't remember what I had said. So I let it go. I also never pushed them to do work they didn't feel ready for (even though I often worried about laziness coming into play). But I will No Longer worry! After I read these two stories out loud, DJ repeated them almost word for word for my DH when he came home. Apparently he's ready to move onto some more traditional learning!! Xman is still into the 'out of the box' learning, but that's ok he's only 5!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giving the Gift of Life!

Ok like everyone I stress and fume about what to give everyone during the holidays. Well, maybe I'm a little different in that I have a hard time parting with a dollar for any reason. I hate the fact that most gifts are garbage or junk no one uses and they are things that someone won't appreciate, nor will they remember who gave them what 6 months from now.

Generally I get away from the headache by making all our gifts. We do 1 main family gift then get the kids something less than $10. All our extended family (cousins, aunts & uncles, etc) get ornaments the kids made. Typical stuff.

But this year I'm too busy to make anything. I'm studying for 2 new personal training certifications (so I can get a new job as I've been without one for a month now...yikes!). I take one of the tests this coming Saturday, but that would leave me with only a couple of weeks to plan and make EVERYTHING! And my sewing machine died before Samhain (Halloween) so I can't even pop something out fast. So I started stressing (as if I needed more stress with my cramming for my exams...ugh).

As you're aware I've been really focusing on charity with our homeschooling this year. I've really been trying to help my children understand that while we don't have a lot we're WAY better off then some, and we should be thankful that Dad has a job, and we're all pretty healthy. So the idea of spending a few hundred dollars on the holidays was even more frustrating. When my kids started telling everyone, "I'm getting this, and this and this and this for Yule." - with utter confidence I was even more horrified. How could I make them understand this time of year was about GIVING not GETTING?

BUT - I've finally figured everything out!! Yee-Haw!! While giving my poor brain a rest over this past weekend, I tooled around on the internet. I wanted to research ways of getting companies to donate bolts of fleece so the kids and I can make blankets for Project Linus before our Feb 18th deadline. Then I decided to search out something to get my mother in law for Yule. I sat back thinking about each person in our family, what would MEAN something to them, what would touch their hearts....and then it hit me. Our family has been touched by a lot of cancer - my grandmother lost her 22 year battle with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2003; my husband lost both of his grandparents in the last 10 years to cancer. My grandfather is currently battling as is one of my uncles. So how wonderful would it be if we could donate money to the American Cancer Society in their honor? I went to their website and found even more - an entire catalogue of gifts where the money above cost goes to the society. So here's what we're doing this year -

  • I decided to start my own team for then next Relay For Life that happens in my area - this will raise more money then I could ever donate on my own.
  • Luminaries of our family members - both those that are still fighting, and those that lost the battle - will line the track during the race.
  • All of the children in both of our families will be receiving t-shirts from ACS, to help cheer me on during the race.
  • All of the extended family - aunts & uncles, etc; will be receiving ornaments from St. Jude children's hospital.

I've also begged for gift cards to Walmart & JoAnn Fabrics for me for this holiday, so I can buy the supplies for Project Linus. Now I feel wonderful about the money spent, and I'm really looking forward to giving these gifts - seeing how touched everyone will be.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Organization

Well, one of the questions I've heard the most is about organization. How do I find the time? As most of you know I am a mom of 2, I homeschool both, I'm a personal trainer, I teach kickboxing, I write articles, I teach Sign Language, make blankets for the Linus Project, and I run several online support groups (over 7500 members world-wide now!! Whoot!)...on top of normal cooking and cleaning... so I'm often asked how I fit it all in. I'm a total type A personality so I'm naturally a bit anal about organization. But I believe I developed some good tips & tricks while I was an engineer. So, to help out my non-type A friends, I'm developing a website dedicated to becoming a true Domestic Goddess - with tricks on organization, cleaning, cooking, shopping, scheduling, living within a budget, and not forgetting to dedicate some time each day on MOM! You'll be able to check it out at

http://www.madgetoday.weebly.com

M.A.D.G.E. stands for - Me? A Domestic Goddess? Eeck! (lol)

Let me know if there's anything you'd like to see me add. I'm calling in favors from all my super organized friends so it won't just be my advice!

Yule-Tide Greetings!







Ahh the Yule-Tide season. The time of family, friends and giving. We put up our Yule tree today (after 3 days of rearranging our home..lol). Here's hoping everyone has a safe, happy and Healthy Yule-Tide!
(sorry for the stupid special effects on the pic, but DH had control of the camera..lol)












Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nutrition

I had a conversation today with a woman at the Wellness center where I teach Sign Language. She stated she always gave her kids food whenever they asked for it. So that her family were more grazers then sit down eaters. As a nutritionist, I have to say I partly agree with this sentiment.

HOWEVER, many in our society are boredom eaters, and I can often see it peaking out in my children. We have our main meals and our snacks scheduled. Breakfast at 7am, snack at 10, lunch at 1, snack at 4, dinner at 7. Eating every 3 hours is optimal to organ development and keeping blood sugar level, according to research. So, I don't always respond to "Mom, can I have a snack?" I'm also of the mindset that leaving something on your plate is better than licking it clean. I can't tell you the amount of times I heard about those starving kids in China when I was growing up - and I never could figure out how my being stuffed to the gills would aid them in any way..lol.. I see my hubby sometimes falling into this pattern as well, reprimanding the kids for not finishing all their dinner. I always say, that's fine but you get nothing else. This keeps the kids from not eating just because they prefer something else, and yet doesn't get in the way of the bodies signals that they are actually full.

That being said, kids often go through growth spurts that require many more calories. If I notice 2 days in a row of the kids asking for more, sometimes immediately upon swallowing the last bite, then of course they can have more - be it meal or snack. Of course I don't allow sugary or many processed snacks so it's ok to have more apples or carrots..lol..

Much of the obesity in America is due to 3 things: 1) serving sizes are obscene in America today, and the whole cleaning the plate syndrome. 2) the amount of easily accessible processed foods, which slows metabolism and increases fat. 3) training our minds to forget it's cues. Many people no longer recognize hunger, thirst, nor fullness. They don't 'feel' hungry until they are starved, they don't understand the body is asking for water and often reach for a snack, and many people don't recognize their full until their stomach is stretched to bursting.

What a Wild Ride

Boy parenting is such a wild ride! It's amazing to me to look at these 2 young men I'm raising, and see their personalities emerge. How much is nurture versus nature? I always wonder. I mean they are raised in exactly the same environment, and yet they are such complete opposites. I'm so proud of who they are becoming. A part of me can't wait until they are grown men and I can watch them change the world, and yet a part of me mourns the loss of the bright eyed innocence of those chubby infants I held. Can't I have both?

Morning Blahs

Am I a bad mom for not being a morning person?

I think a part of the job requirement for being a mother is worrying about the dumbest things (and the important things too). I can't tell you how many thousands of women I've heard doubt themselves. Even as I always sigh and give a shoulder to lean on, I know I too am guilty of self-doubt.

I have a strong voice, and have no problem with raising it to curb bad behavior. I know I probably scare everyone in a ten mile radius (just joking), but I know my kids ignore me if I try to keep my voice level. I don't like spanking - reserving the corporal punishment for when one child puts another (or themselves) in physical danger. I know there are some days it seems I'm spending every other moment with my voice raised. I hate it too. I know that if my kids are acting out (fighting with each other, sneaking tv time in their room, etc) then I'm not keeping them stimulated enough...but as much as I blame myself for some of their behavior, I won't punish myself because they're choosing to break the rules...if that makes sense.

I had a tragic and horrible childhood. My dad is my rock, he became a single father of 4 kids when my brothers and I asked my mother to leave and never come back. I have very few good memories of my mother. I know she couldn't always control her actions (she is a very low functioning Bipolar). But that doesn't sooth the many hurts. But as I raise my voice in reprimand, I worry about what my children will remember of me someday. Will they only remember the loud voice? The boot camp exercises for repeated bad behavior? Will they remember the cuddles and the love? My mother insists there were many many times of happy existence, but I have none of those memories. My brothers and I are all missing large chunks of our memory and for a while we would meet to sit and try to fill in the blanks for each other. Then my younger brother and I decided to leave the past in the past. It's enough for me to know I have my dad and my brothers.

As I stated starting out, I'm not a morning person...and yet my children took after my hubby and are up at the crack of dawn raring to go. I just know that it would be perfect for them to get in some school work during that time, but there is no way. Even before they were born, when I was an engineer, I couldn't get up before 8 and wasn't really functional before 10. When my kids were just a bit younger they would try to sneak as much as possible before 8 am, as they know I wouldn't even remember yelling at them.

It's so strange. I can stay up all night fine. I have no problem at 2 am. But between 4 am and 8am I'm in a strange fugue. You can try to wake me, I'll talk to you, but I'm not really coherent. Weird. So I sometimes wonder what the kids are missing by having a night owl mom. This morning I'm early. Preparing to teach Sign Language at our local Health & Wellness center. The kids are listening to books on tape.

If I could write a letter to the adult men my boys become, I would want to say the following:

Every moment of every day I have loved you. I'm sure I've made mistakes - it's how we learn and evolve in this existence- but even when making errors my love for you consumed me. You have amazed me from the moment you came into this world. Brothers together from the start - and yet so inherently different. DJ with his sensitive soul. I look at how open and loving he is, and am jealous that I've been guarded since I was younger than him. Xman is so strong. So funny. I see myself stamped on every inch of his personality. Live life to the fullest my beautiful boys. Don't be afraid to love - even if it doesn't work out your soul will be the better for having tried.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ahhh We're Baaaaack!

Independance Hall (where the Constitution was signed)
Liberty Bell


We're now back on track after our vacation. The kids and I had a fantastic time. We first visited my BFF in Ohio (yup that's a 10 hour dive from my house to hers!), where we stayed for 4 days. Then we drove to Philadelphia for an afternoon of visiting the Liberty Bell and Independance Hall. The kids had a good time, and it was nice to get out of the car for a bit - but the drive is 1000 times worse having to drive up through NJ and NY.

So this week we're focusing on finishing our Liberty Lapbook - which covers Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell as well as touches on Thanksgiving. Fun Stuff!





DJ & The Liberty Bell



DJ & X-man looking on to the bell (Xman was nervous of the park ranger tour guide so refused to get his pic taken with the bell itself.)



Abraham Lincoln Stood Here!!! This was a great segway into learning about Thanksgiving, as it was shortly after Getteysburg that Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday - to help bring the country back together.


Playing on the grass at Independance Hall Visitors Center.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's an Emergency

A part of our anatomy & physiology lesson plan I decided to do a section on first aid, CPR and emergency preparation. I made a list of everything I could think of to put in a home emergency kit, a car emergency kit and a first aid kit...especially with winter coming on, and a 10 hour drive ahead of the kids and I next week I thought it important for the kids to have a clear understanding.

First Aid Kit:
  • medical tape
  • butterfly tape
  • scizzors
  • 4" guaze sterile pads
  • 3" guaze roll
  • Elastic bandages
  • cotton swabs & balls
  • towels
  • tweezers
  • eye patch
  • arm sling
  • popsicle sticks (tongue depressor or small splint)
  • 12" Rulers (good for splinting)
  • breakable ice packs
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • rubbing alcohol
  • bandaids
  • pain reliever
  • ipecac syrup
  • Skin creams: hydrocortozone cream / calamine lotion / antibiotic cream
  • Rehydration Fluids
  • Eye Wash

Home Emergency Kits:

  • 3 Gallons of Water & water treatment tabs
  • 3 day supply of non-parishable foods
  • Battery powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • dust masks
  • moist towelettes
  • garbage bags & ties
  • mini-tool kit & mini axe
  • can opener
  • 3 day supply of medicines
  • pet food
  • sleeping bags
  • copies of important documents
  • cash & change
  • extra socks, blankets
  • hats, mittens, jackets
  • chlorine bleach
  • fire extinguisher
  • water proof matches
  • candles
  • personal hygiene items
  • mess kids (plates, bowls, silverware, napkins)
  • paper & pencil
  • books, games, puzzles for the kids

Car Emergency Kits:

  • jumper cables
  • large fleece blanket
  • hats & mittens
  • large flashlight
  • batteries
  • 2 x 20 recovery tarp
  • folding shovel
  • canned goods or meal bars
  • bags of sand
  • bright cloth
  • candles & waterproof matches
  • metal coffee can (good for melting snow)
  • pocket knife
  • mini-tool kit
  • rope/tow chain
  • ice scrapper
  • flares
  • whistle
  • maps
  • phone charger
  • emergency water packets
  • emergency flat tire fixer

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!!


Boy did we have a great time last night! DJ has been slaving away with me for the last month or so on his costume..see, up till this year the whole family would dress up in a theme (last year we were pirates, the year before we were the 3 Musketeers and a Princess, etc), but this year DJ insisted he wanted to be a mummy and X-man wanted to be a Fire Chief. So Dan and I let go of the child withing (a little) and let the boys reign supreme. Let me just tell you what a pain in the rear making a mummy costume is! It took forever to glue strips of cloth to the sweat-suit. X-man's was much easier. He was given the rain coat as a hand-me-down about 2 years ago. So while roaming Walmart we found the hat. So I just made a dress shiry and dress pants with orange satin stripes down the legs. Easy peasy!



Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's The...FLU!!! AHAHAHA

Ok, seriously? I think this whole swine flu is a bit insane. Yes I worry about any type of bronchial thing going around every year, since my oldest has a compromised respiratory system - with severe asthma. But really people with perfectly healthy family members are the first in line to get these immunizations. I just don't understand the freakout. We have the flu go around every year - and every year it's a crap-shoot as to whether or not hte vax will be the 'right' one for the strain of flu that does the rounds. The medicines used for the swine flu were last used over 30 years ago...hmm...no thanks.

Here's some truth's I've dug up. I have no say in whether anyone decides to get the vax (although now they're almost impossible to find - and what's up with that? 'They' Said it would be a pandemic then don't make enough shots for everyone? Did they forget how many citizens we had? Ugh)

According to Dr. Sherry Tenpenny of Global Research here are the ingrediants of the Swine Flu vax:
1. Egg Proteins (which are in just about every flu shot every year, another reason my kids can't take them as they're allergic) this vax also includes avian cantaminant viruses
2. Gelatin- also known to cause allergic reactions especially in those with egg allergies
3. Polysorbate 80 (Tween80) can also cause extreme allergic reactions including anaphylaxis
4. Formaldehyde - known carcenogen
5. Triton X100 - a strong detergent
6. Sucrose - table sugar
7. Resin - also known to cause allergic reactions
8. Gentamycin - an antibiotic
9. Thimersol - 49.6% ethyl mercury (still found in multi-dose vials)

Who doesn't the Flu Shot work for?
1. Babies - a review in 2006 of more then 55 different studies spanning ver 200K children found there was no real decline in babies between birth and 24 month contracting the flu after vax.
2. Kids with Asthma - at the 105th American Thoracic Conference it was presented that children who had received teh vax were more likely to be hospitalzed with the flu than those who were not.
3. Adults (it only works in 6%)
4. Not in the Elderly another review of over 64 studies spanning 94 flu seasons determined there was no appreciable difference between hospitalizations/doc visits for the elderly who had taken the vax.

Even Scarier?

Our own pharmacutical companies might be trying to poison us. Seriously. I'm not a conspiracy theorist normally, but I came across a blog from The Alternative Doctor Blog Network told a story of the avian flu outbreak last December. It seems that Baxter International (a leading US pharmaceudical company) attempted do distribute a Flu vaccine to over 18 countries. Luckily During shipment the Czech Republic tested some of the vax on ferrets. The ferrets ALL died. Oppsie. It seems the vax was accidentally contaminated by H5N1, which is a form of the avian flu virus classed as a bioterrorism agent - oh and it has a kill agent of over 60%.

So it's a little scary to me that the story has been brushed under the carpet. And now Baxter is one of the leading producers in this H1N1 vax. You couldn't pay me to put that poison in my kids.

Anatomy & Physiology Visuals

So, not everything can be learned in a lap or Combo book. *gasp* Yup I said it...er...wrote it...lol... To help my boys get a better understanding of our subject matter (since we don't use traditional school books) I like to find little video clips or animations on the internet. Since I'm waaaay frugal I prefer them to be free. :-D

Here are some cool anatomy & physiology animations/clips:
http://www.visiblebody.com this is a really cool animation site that allows the student to travel within the body to check out how systems actually work!

You Tube Vids:
Your Circulatory System
Respiration
The Digestive System
The Muscular System
The Nervous System1 / Nervous System 2
The Glucose Song (Nutrition)
The Food Groups Song (fun nutrition)
Cookie Monster's Healthy Food Rap (fun nutrition)
Timon & Pumba Healthy Food Adver (very short but fun)
The New Food Pyramid
Bill Nye The Food Web Song
Skeleton Macarena (great for learning the actual names of the bones)
Bill Nye - Just Wash Your Hands (germs)
Bill Nye on Germs
Bill Nye on Skin
Bill Nye "It's Called Genetics" Song
Bill Nye on Genetics (I just love this show!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dance Mania!

The Wellness center in our neighboring town had a free dance day today. So I took the kids. X-man was a little tired so didn't join in until it was almost over, but (of course) DJ was all over that!!


video

video

Mad Hatter Day


Tuesday this past week was Mad Hatter Day, like in Alice in Wonderland. So the kids and I celebrated with a tea party outside wearing hats!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Qua es nos? - Where are we?

Since we're learning Latin this year, I thought it only fair that the kids learn a little about where the language origionated and was used the most. So we're going to be learning about Rome and Greece. We're also learning about their Myths and Deities. Here's some of the plans I have for learning about these fascinating places...

Travel For Kids: Rome
Travel For Kids: Greece
National Geographic Kids: Italy

Books:
Around The World in 80 Tales
If I Were a Kid in Ancient Rome
The Best Book of Ancient Rome

Lapbooking like:
Homeschool Share
Jimmies Ancient Greece
Digging up Ancient Civilizations
Sugar Plumbs Lapbooks

And We'll Listen to Ancient Roman Music like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzy5DYhkUAI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV0oA3YUiw8

And we'll watch the BBC's :
Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire
As well as the student documentary - Rome: A Look at an Ancient Society

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Awww, Good Bye Summer




I was just cleaning up my Facebook pages and was reminded that my boys learned to do much on their own this past summer. They no longer use training wheels on their bikes. They learned to ride scooters and skateboards, and They Learned To Swim!!! Awww they grow so fast!






Death Warmed Over!

Ug. I've been sick with this flu for going on 2 weeks now. Each week is a little different- last week it was upper respiratory (sniffles) this week it's all about the cough apparently. Because I've been so sick, it's difficult to keep on top of the kids' education.....that's why they made workbooks IMO. We don't normally use many workbooks, but I found a few at the dollar store last week, on math and language arts and we've been all about them! So the kids have done reading, spelling and math. We've fallen behind on Science and History. Latin the kids do on their own, so no worries there.

Another friend found this reading website as well: Literactive it's a bit like time4learning, but it's FREE (my favorite word!)

This week:

DJ:
  • Geography - hemispheres
  • US History/Geography: Connecticut lapbook. Colonization of America
  • Economics: Save, Spend, Donate
  • Art: Making Halloween costumes
  • Music: Piano lessons
  • LA Arts: Paragraph writing
  • Speling: next list as usual
  • Math: Multiplication (5 & 9)
  • Notable Person in History: Pasteur
  • Science: Anatomy & Physiology

X-man:
  • Geography - hemispheres
  • US History/Geography: Connecticut lapbook. Colonization of America
  • Economics: Save, Spend, Donate
  • Art: Making Halloween costumes
  • Music: Piano lessons
  • LA Arts: Word Families
  • Speling: next list as usual
  • Math: Addition (sum to 50)
  • Notable Person in History: Pasteur
  • Science: Anatomy

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fair? Schmair!


X-man


DJ

I am now in utter agony. We spent all day at the Durham Fair (our local Big E) it was a fab fair, I haven't been to it in like 10 years. I was excited because a client of mine got us free tickets (as she had a booth there), and you were supposed to be able to get bracelets for unlimited rides for only $15/pp. Well of course the bracelets were 'unavailable' today....the face painting cost (wait for it) $10 - per child!!!! Can you believe it? Ten Bucks? Over my dead body. Food for lunch (Corn dogs for each boy child, fries for them to share, a burger for hubby and a bowl of chili for me cost us $45) But the kids had a great time. The horses were outside in the paddock so DJ didn't suffer from too much of his deathly allergy. (and we doped him up on allergy meds like every hour).


This is what's known in the north east as a Farm Fair - put on by the local farmers and craftsman. They had multiple buildings just for arts & crafts then a building for cattle, one for sheep/llama's and another for fowl & Birds & rabbits.


DJ & Xman in the Cattle House


There was also a Discovery Center building that had some scientific findings here in CT. For some reason there was a representative from NASA here who had brought some space rocks and a space suit. Xman made me almost pee myself when, after staring at the suit for some time turned to me in a loud whisper and said -
"So, that guy's dead?" Apparently he thought the suit was like a mummy.....LOL!


DJ & Xman at the NASA exhibit


Sadly, like 80% of the rides were set for people 48" and taller - which disqualified my youngest. So I allowed DJ to go on it with me, but refused all the rest of them since it was totally unfair to let him have all the fun (even though they all terrified him beyond words he still wanted to ride them...LOL). So I finally found a single ride they could both go on (aside from bumper cars and obstacle courses) it was a whirl wind thing, it didn't go up in the air but the 4 cars spun around and around. It was the dumbest set up imaginable. The seats were twice the width of my hips and they only allowed one person per seat. Well when the thing started to spin I was sliding all over and had to brace my legs on the center island. But my 5 y/o couldn't reach the center island and slammed his head into the arm bars several times before I had a chance to grab him. DJ went sheet white about 1/ way into the ride. The guy on the other side of him thought he was sick, but it was just sheer terror. So at least they had fun on one ride. My head still hasn't recovered. LOL...

DJ & Xman on the Swings
Xman on the Bouncy Obstacle course


DJ on the bouncy obstacle course

Xman (beating the bigger kids) on the bouncy obstacle course












Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sick House

Ugh.... Yesterday we were celebrating the first day of fall. We talked on Monday about how the seasons come to be (astronomy) and we even pretended each of us were the sun and earth in order to 'orbit' each other.

The kids are pulling my hair out with worksheets lately. They've always love to do school, and had no problem with doing their vocab while at the gym's daycare before playing. But lately they just drag their feet. We'll have to nip that in the butt right away as there are only so many hours in a day for schooling = especially on mornings that I work.

For honoring the day we went to a local orchard and picked some apples, pears and peaches...the kids had never done it before - with my vascular disease, I have a hard time with all that walking - but we had to do something harvest related. The kids had a blast! The apples were in sad shape after all the hail and tornado's we've had this year. But the kids took the hunt for healthy apples seriously! Today we're doing apple stamping.



Now I'm ill - I think I have a sinus infection, so instead of sitting with the boys while they do their work I'm typing away on this blog... I need a nap.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last week & This

Ok it's happened already. Only a month into our curriculum and I've deviated from the original.. . But DJ was struggling. He can't stand math - neither could I at that age. SO when ever I'd give him a worksheet that was just review addition he would drag his feet over it for HOURS! (I'm not exaggerating either!) So, instead of reviewing addition then subtraction then introducing multiplication and division, I decided to do our addition review then introduce multiplication (since it's just repetitious addition) then we'll do our subtraction review before introducing division.

So, last week I started with short cut multiplication - those little tips and tricks we all use....
  • n x 0 = 0
  • n x 10 = bouncing n over to the left a place value and add a 0 at the end
  • n x 5 = everything ends in a 5 or 0
  • n x 11 = n n (write the n twice, we're not doing adding the places yet so the n is usually a ones number)
  • n x 2 = everything ends in a 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8

Then there are the checks - like n x 9 = the answer, take the place values and break them up adding them together should equal 9 {for instance, 2 x 9 = 18.... 1 + 8 = 9}

He had a neat little workbook I printed (sorry I can't remember from where) that explained the cheat and then gave a worksheet where he had to write out the 'cheat' then do some equations. Well, the first sheet was on 10x. When asked to explain the above cheat on his worksheet he wrote (I kid you not) "It's easy". Now at first I thought he was writing that it's easy to remember or to execute but then I realized I'd introduced the whole 'cheat' concept as an 'easy way to do multiplication'.... he's so friggin literal!! LOL

SO here I sit, at nearly 8pm on a Sunday night struggling to figure out how I can reintroduce the whole concept to him this week. I came across this website. They actually have a little video lesson explaining how multiplication is just repetitive addition and they have flash cards and everything! Multiplication - no no, no need to thank me...lol...I also found these vid links for explaining the communitive property of addition and multiplication. Furthermore, I was frustrated with the lack of comprehensive worksheets explaining the topic and introducing multiplication. So I'm making my own (of course...lol) Here's the intro worksheet: Cumulative Property. (remember to use the user name: kickbutttidbits and the password: kickbuttmama) I'll continue this week working on completing the mini-workbook. I hope to have a sheet for each number through 12 explaining the skip counting process and going from there.

X-man is flying through his Hooked on Math. My only complaint with it is the material they used for the flash cards. It's that really shiny laminated material. It makes it difficult to flip the cards as fast as the CD dictates, so he becomes frustrated. He's doing amazingly well. If you ask him an addition equation he stares blankly at you, but if you give him a worksheet or hold up a flash cards he's all over the right answer....Whoo-Hoo!

So we're doing more of the same this week. They'll do the next chapter in their horrible Latin book....I'm so disappointed. I've been wanting to use the Minimus series for years and was excited to find a relatively cheap used copy. But there are no worksheets. The 'book' is only 70 pages long. The first thing they learn is "Who are you? My name is...." It lists a bunch of examples. For instance under a pic of Minumus it said "Minumus sum, mus sum" It took me an hour of repeating it with the kids before I realized mus wasn't something they should be tacking onto their responses, as it means mouse! There are no colors or numbers, no alphabet....maybe I'm strange when I think they should learn these basics before learning the conversations?

Spelling is status quo, both kids are used to the process so it's a blissfully easy means of learning (at least one part of our day is!).

As I stated in a previous post instead of learning about the ocean first the kids decided they wanted to do their anatomy & physiology. As long as they want to learn who am I to gainsay?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Picasso

Boy did the kids LOVE learning about Picasso today. They each picked "Cat and Crab on the Beach" to draw on their own....here's their work:











DJ's Picasso



Xman's Picasso



Egg Spiriments (LOL)

So we've been working on our Anatomy and Physiology. Even though I had planned on studying the Ocean first, the kids vetoed the decision.

We did a really cool experiments with eggs. One cup was full of water, one with vinegar and other with Coke Classic. Into each cup we placed an egg for twenty four hours. An egg's shell is made from calcium carbonate - much like our teeth. So we were trying to determine what effect certain foods had on our teeth if we didn't brush (as DJ has his first cavity! Even though he brushes every single day).

The kids were shocked and appalled. The vinegar completely dissolved the shell, and the Coke permanently stained the shell brown - no amount of scrubbing could clean it off. My kids aren't allowed Coke to drink now they think they understand why (we haven't gotten to sugar's impact on the body yet..lol).

So DJ was writing to his friend (an e-pal) and he said "we've been doing egg spiriments".....LMAO I think he meant egg experiments or else experiments, but both my BFF and I laughed and have decided all future experiments should be referred to as egg spiriments!

Patrick Swayze - RIP

It's amazing to me the imact some people can have on the world for very little. Seriously, movie stars aren't pivitol in creating world peace, they don't work to cure hunger (although many do do a lot of charity work). They basically get paid lots of money to play dress-up for a couple of hours in front of a camera....but we love them for it.

Dirty Dancing is right up there with Beaches, Grease, and the Breakfast Club in movies I watched a billion times in my tween and teen years. I absolutely wanted to marry Patrick Swayze when I was about 16 y/o. Grrr .

Sadly he passed away a couple of days ago...and I find that I really am somewhat sad, and I'm forced to ask myself - Why? Sure it's always sad to realize we're getting older, each of us another day, minute, second closer to the time when we'll pass - so I'm sure that's part of it. I'm sure some of it is that these actors are made to be somewhat super-human in our esteem...we're all shocked when they exhibit the same behaviors as us mere mortals - things like getting sick or dieing. But I didn't really know him. I know he had a drinking problem for several years and there were rumors of his infidelity......so really what did I admire about him? Only his tight buns and perfect biceps? Am I really that shallow? I don't recall if he ever did any amazing charity work or was an ambassador of peace or anything...so I guess I really am that shallow...that I'd be sad that the world has one less pretty person in it. So, now I'm somewhat ashamed. I think from now on I'll strive to only be sad when the world is deprived of a beautiful soul rather than a beautiful face......

I'm not saying Patrick Swayze wasn't a beautiful soul. I never knew him. I just watched Dirty Dancing and Ghost millions of times, crying my eyes out at the stupid line, "Ditto". Wanting to take up pottery, lol. But his death has made me realize that even though I watch very little t.v. and even fewer movies, I still have more growing to do. Until I can pass by then register at the grocery store and not be intrigued by the stupid tabloid mags spouting the latest gossip. I need to banish tv and movies for a while. Get my head on straight. That these 'stars' aren't really stars at all. They don't shine with a brilliance from within (again acknowledging that some really do). They shine because they had a lucky break, a beautiful set of genetics, are able to pay truck loads of money for spa treatments and plastic surgery. I no longer want to be that false.

Time for some soul searching!

And my obsession continues...lol

Is it totally sad that I'm elated to have gotten a label maker? Seriously, my obsession with organization has now reached a whole new level! I've always had a hundred drawers and Rubbermaid containers, keeping everything separate...so was it really necessary that I put a label on the front of each one? I can see my DH shaking his head when he gets home...sigh...but I've craved one forever....I'll know I've reached rock bottom when I label the dish cabinets...LOL..

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dr. Seuss

As you know, my youngest is working with Dr. Seuss and Nursery Rhymes this year. While I designed a full lapbook for The Cat in the Hat (our first book) I've also designed a simple worksheet for each book (just in case I don't finish each and every lapbook,...lol....

Dr. Seuss Worksheet

remember to use the user name kickbutttidbits and the password kickbuttmama to access my files

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Latin Lessons

So it's not east trying to come up with a latin plan for elementry schoolers...there's precious little available. I thought I'd better post the resources I've found for y'all:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chores Galore

I can't tell you how often I'm asked how I do it all: homeschooling, personal training, teaching sign language, and now starting a karate school - as well as normal mom stuff - cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc.

The truth is I'm a total type A personality. Things have to be organized or I start to go slightly insane - this means setting schedules, goals, and acknowledging achievements. You can't possibly do everything. This took me some time to acknowledge. I want to do it all - be the Super Mom...but I've realized juggling too many balls just means I'm missing something (or getting bit$$$ with the family unit).

My solution? DELEGATE! That's right. My boys are now 8 and 5 - totally old enough IMO to have certain chores assigned to them. My darling husband is considerably older, and I firmly believe having a 9-5 job doesn't disqualify him from the chore list either. I guess I run my house like an army unit - but it keeps us from running around in circles.

DJ (just turned 8) Chore List:
  • Clean the litter box 2 times a week
  • Help take out the garbage
  • He's on the dish washing rotation (they each take turns)
  • Clean room
  • Tidy living room - homeschooling clutter every evening
  • Put away pantry items after grocery shopping
  • Occasionally makes lunch (PB & J)
  • Transfer clothes from washing machine to the dryer
  • Mini-vac the bedrooms

Xman (5 y/o) Chore List:

  • Dish washing rotation
  • Help take out the garbage
  • Clean room
  • Help tidy living room
  • Put away pantry items after grocery shopping
  • Put clothes in the washing machine (we have separate baskets for each load)
  • Mini-vac the living room

Hubby Chore List:

  • Dish washing rotation (his job is all the pots and pans)
  • Help coordinate the garbage brigade
  • Tidy the kitchen
  • Help with the laundry - folding & putting away
  • Occassionally make dinner (if it's been one of 'those' days)
  • Help tidy our room

My Chore List:

  • Make dinner (and lunch, and breakfast..lol)
  • Clean bathroom
  • Help with the laundry
  • Sweep & mop
  • Make sure all homeschooling bins, baskets and such are labeled clearly so the kids can clean up after school each day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Curriculum's

Whoo-hoo, I've finally finished compiling the curriculums for the coming school year. Here are the links to the pdf filed. If you don't have a keepandshare username then you can use: kickbutttidbits with the password kickbuttmama

DJ's 3-5th grade Matrix
Xman's 1-2nd grade Matrix

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Awww

When we were at the CT Science Center DJ did a digital survey to find out what type of sports he should do (although I think he answered most as what he thought I would like...lol) then they sent us a copy of his magazine cover..

new link

I was told by my best friend about this link and LOVED it - most of the downloadables are really cheap (or free) which are the only one's I'll use...LOL...so enjoy!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

Reading and things..

So I'm almost finished compiling our curriculum for this coming year...I feel like it's all I've lived and breathed for the last couple of weeks.

For my oldest - DJ - he's using Magic Tree House books as his reading list - reading one every 2 weeks as it takes him a little while to finish a book. THen he'll do a small 1 file folder lapbook on the book he just read. Some of the resources we'll be using for these lapbooks:

For my youngest - Xman - we're using Dr. Seuss and rhymes for our reading, as he's just starting to read independently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great Time Line Site

I found a fab timeline link that I thought I'd share -
http://www.btinternet.com/~timeref/hsttime5.htm

For a US History timeline (through the present) - http://www.aimatedatlas.com/timeline.html

Enjoy!!

This Year

Here's some of the YouTube clips we'll be utilizing in lessons this coming year:

  • Bill Nye The Science Guy (if you search on YouTube you can find whole episodes)
  • Sid The Science Kid (again you can use YouTube or go to PBSKids.org)

I've also discovered Teachers Corner ( www.theteacherscorner.net ) and it's a fab site for lesson plans - especially science!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dinosaur Museum

Hiking the trails. Rawr!!

Yesturday as a part of our Earth Scouts, we went to our local Dinosaur Museum...it was awesome (and it only cost a grand total of $7 for all 3 of us!!!!!!) We watched a really bad movie on the t-rex. Well it wasn't bad, it was just much more geared to adults than children - analyzing the debate between paleontoligist on wether t-rex was really a predetor or a scavenger....boring!


But the kids had a fabulous time. The museum itself isn't much more than a dome. See about 2 decades ago a plot of land was being cleared for a building. But the contractors came upon a fabulous find. Almost the entire plot of land was covered in dino footprints!!! They were everywhere. So the state purchased the land from the private company and built a dome over the find. They've added some info on local geology, and they added some life size dino replicas but that's pretty much it. There are extensive nature trails which have been set up in the Messozoic perion with plantlife, and picnic areas.

I think the kids' favorite part was the mining for fossils. You purchase a bag of' soil in the gift shop, and outside the set up a waist high 'stream'. You use net boxes to dump in the soil and water runs through cleaning out the soil and leaving behing about a ziper bag full of stones and a single fossil (like a little tooth or shell or something). The kids absolutely LOVED it.


Xman's hand inside one of the footprints. DJ's hand inside the hand print

Analyzing Fossils!






Science Experiments For 2009-2010

We're doing at least one experiment per week. While many will coincide with our Combo-books/lapbooks, not necessarily. Most of the time we'll just be progressing through common types of science (earth studies, physics, astronomy, etc.) This will teach the kids to study, collect and report findings as well as understanding the scientific process.

Now, as a former scientist myself, I can tell you adults in the field use a 13 step scientific process -

  1. Observe
  2. Classify
  3. Measure
  4. Sequence Order
  5. Infer
  6. Predict
  7. Communicate
  8. Investigate
  9. Control
  10. Hypotheses
  11. Interpreting
  12. Defining
  13. Formulating

For kids we shorten the process to only 5 steps:

  1. Ask Questions
  2. Observe
  3. Compare
  4. Contrast
  5. Estimate

Using this process we'll perform the following experiments this coming year

Astronomy:

  1. The Sun and Us
  2. How Radar Works: Seeing inside a closed box
  3. Day & Night Part 1: Simulating Day and Night
  4. Day & Night Part 2: The differences between Day and Night
  5. The Shape of the Earth
  6. The Tides
  7. Creating an Eclipse
  8. Shadow Lines
  9. Equinox
  10. Star Tracker
  11. Shrinking Sun
  12. Sun Spots
  13. Sunset in a box
  14. Solar Oven
  15. Different Moons (2 parts understand the moon's phases and observing them)
  16. Your Weight On The Moon
  17. Reflective & Refractive Telescope
  18. Making a Parallax
  19. Mapping the Night Sky
  20. Your Age on Other Planets
  21. Green House Effect
  22. Rocket Launch
  23. Satellites Part 1: Simulating Satellites
  24. Satellites Part 2:Orbiting Satellites
  25. Satellites Part 3: Signals & Satellites

Forces & Waves:

  1. Splitting Light
  2. Angled Light
  3. Centrifugal Force
  4. The Sun's Gravity Part 1: Demonstrating the pull of gravity
  5. The Sun's Gravit Part 2: How a spacecraft can escape gravity to fly in space
  6. Escaping Gravity
  7. Watch Inertia
  8. A Pendulum
  9. Pull It Up: Using Levers
  10. Turn It Up: Sound Amplification
  11. Tinkling: See how sound vibrates
  12. Echo, Echo
  13. Water & Light Waves
  14. Shadow Drawing
  15. Rainbow Light
  16. Refraction & Reflection
  17. Turning to White - see how many colors make up white
  18. Falling Over: Energy Transference
  19. Bounce: Energy Transference part 2
  20. The Swing of Things: Every Action has a Equal Reaction
  21. Lifting Higher: Sideways Force
  22. Jumping Up: Static Electricity
  23. Ions in Action
  24. Lemon Batteries
  25. Magnetic Field
  26. Double Magnetism
  27. The Amazing Jumping Man: Relationship between electricity and magnets
  28. Jar Magnet

Earth Science:

  1. Salinity of the Oceans
  2. Classifying Living Things
  3. Breathing Plants: How plants obtain nutrients from the soil
  4. Nocturnal Plants
  5. Mini Greenhouse
  6. Classifying Fruits & Vegetables
  7. When is a Fruit a Berry
  8. Making a Compost Bin
  9. Tree & Plant Encyclopedia
  10. Bird Encyclopedia
  11. How does a Boat Float (It's full of air) Using a jar cap to show how a submarine floats or sinks.
  12. High Tides: Water Volume

Anatomy & Physiology:

  1. Balloon Lungs
  2. At Home Stethoscope

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It Has Begun!!!!!!

Oh the joy and stress of this time of the year. This is the time of the year that super obsessive people like myself, must begin compiling the curricula for the coming year...This means printing endless worksheets, reorganizing entire collections and closets. Trying to figure out how to mesh a 3rd/4th grader's lessons with that of a k/1st grader so that I'm not teaching for 20 hours a day......not to mention the fact that my children are spread across the spectrum of grades....They really spread about 3 grades each depending on the subject. Since my state has no regulations or mandatory testing I never felt the need to push them into a pre-described box or grade. So in sciences they are at least 2 grades ahead of their peers while in math they are the same as their PS counterparts....it all has to do with the ... you guessed it... FUN FACTOR!!!

So, this elusive concept is what has me working for at least 8 weeks prepping the work for the coming year....what lapbooks can we do, what field trips, plays, experiments, etc can we do to keep up the FUN factor while still following some kind of plan....Total unschooling is like stabbing myself in the eye - I'm waaaaay to anal for that, I need some kind of plan...LOL...

So, I'm trying to simplify our lives while trying to increase the difficulty of the lessons, not an easy feat mind you...

I wanted to give you a list of the resources we'll be utilizing this year for both my boys:

links:
enchantedlearning.com
starfall.com
spellingconnections.com
teachervision.com
tlsbooks.com
abcteach.com
aaa(math, spelling, etc).com

workbooks:
America's Story (Books 1 & 2) - history workbooks, book one is US history to 1865 and book 2 is after 1865.
Teaching With Clifford (scholastic)
Brighter Child - we're using several of this brand - "I can tell time and Count Money". Math, etc
School Zone's Super Scholar series (we're using k, 1, 3 and 4)
Hooked on ___ Grade series (we're using k, 1, 2 and 3

Books:
Evan's & Moore's Getting Ready To Read (teacher's workbook)
Macmillan's 3rd Grade Language Arts

That's it so far. I'm still working on the Matrix for both boys, but I'll post them as soon as they're complete. We're trying something new organizational wise this year as well. I have 5 color coded folders. One for each week, and one for fun extra's. Each week this folder will have the blank index cards (for spelling/definitions) plus all the worksheets for that week. I had been using a shelf for each child but things always got messy and lost. Plus we'll have our Lapbook of the week and our Combo Books (which can spread for a month or more)...I'll keep ya posted!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation to VT







my in-laws cabin

We just got back from the longest vaca we've ever taken as a family....5 blissfull days without tv, computers, or thee phone! It was wonderful! The kids ran around outside from sun up to sun down...they rode on the 4-wheeler with dad (and even I learned to drive!). We went to our family reunion on Sat, at the beach. My youngest, Xman, proved he's our sporty child by both learning to ride his 2wheeler and to swim completely unassisted - things his nearly 8y/o bro still can't do!

It was just so nice to focus completely on bonding - w/ no work, groups, classes, or homeschool..although it only took 2 days for the boys to beg for some lessons...lol...I relaxed and focused on developing next years lesonplan. Here's some pic's




xman & dad DJ & dad




Pretending 2 drive




"Look ma, I'm doing it!" Look, Mom's doing it!

video




video

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spontaneous Science Lesson

How my kids and I survived a Tornado:

So, it's been a crazy day all around. I'm hosting a Tastefully Simple party tomorrow for my clients so I've gone through every inch of my house cleaning it all up - even the closets, which any homeschooler will tell you ends up a catch all of homeschooling miscellany.

First thing this morning we did grocery shopping (our usual Friday morning event) then I had to train a client. Then I had to return $26 in bottles & cans (like a years worth..lol)...then our drier died it's slow agonizing death, so I had to drag all our laundry and 2 kids to the laundromat. I tried to get my DH to get a ride home from a friend but, no, I had to stuff all the now clean clothes in to the trunk so I could have both front seats clear for the adults.

They'd been warning of severe thunderstorms all day...it was humid as heck. As we got on the highway to go get hubby I could see a cloud of utter blackness coming in our direction from the west. Now, we live in Connecticut, so there aren't tornado's here. Maybe an F1 at most every couple of years.

As a homeschooler, every unusual occurrence is an opportunity for learning. So, I'm pointing out the different types of clouds. The front of the storm was clearly delineatedin the distance. I'm explaining the clearly visible line between the low and high pressure fronts meeting - producing the storm at it's point of intersection (I took a year of meteorology as a part of my Geology double major). I'm also pointing out the cumulo-nimbus clouds that produce severe thunderstorms and the kids eagerly watched lightening streak in the distance while we baked in the sun, in bumper to bumper traffic...while I pray we're not stuck in said traffic when the storm hits. I even discussed safe places to go if a hurricane or tornado strikes - how if we're on the road the safest place is lying perfectly flat in a ditch, or at home it's under the stairs or in the basement away from windows.

It begins to rain as the sky darkens.

We pull into the parking lot of my hubby's office and I leave him a voice mail that we made it a couple of minutes early. (I can't just walk into his office as you need an electronic key to open the door). As we sit in our usual spot wind gusts begin. Sheeting the rain against the car. The kids begin to get nervous (as did I).

After maybe 45 seconds of darkness, wind and rain the air pressure in the car plummeted - I thought my ears would bleed from the pressure. I decided we'd wait for dad under the car port on the other side of the building (it's reserved parking for the big wigs but they usually aren't there). I had made it maybe 20 yards when quarter sized hail erupted from the sky. Visibility turned to near zero as I tried to navigate around the building. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph battering the car. I keep talking calmly as the kids are no longer enjoying the spontaneous science lesson (and I worry that the windshield will shatter at any moment). We barely made it into the car port without crashing into the pylons (as I couldn't see them until I almost hit one).
Once we're under the car port I turn off the car and my 5 y/o rockets out of his car seat into my lap - completely terrified. The huge air conditioning unit across the drive is visibly rattling. The wind getting much much worse, hail still plummeting.

At this point I begin to worry that the tunneling effect of the carport will just make us more of a target if any of the trees or the blasted air-conditioning unit are tossed around.

So, I give into the kids terrified yearning to get inside...I wasn't even sure if the back door didn't also require a key card...but the cell service had shut down by that point, so I told the kids we were going to run the 8 feet or so to the back door. My 7 y/o opened the door for all of a second before slamming it screaming in terror. I couldn't possibly carry both kids, so I told them to come on, and we ran into the building.

Some idiot (thank all the Gods) had propped open both of the back doors so for a few minutes we stood in the basement watching the sky open up. When the trees in front of us began cracking in half I took them into the stairwell and up the one flight to the lobby, where my hubby was frantically pacing staring out the front of the building, believing we were caught somewhere in the storm as we weren't parked in our usual spot. The power had gone out in his building apparently while I was battling the hail. Which is why none of the calls to his office were answered and he didn't get my message on his cell phone before cell service cut off.

Maybe 5 minutes later it was all over, only still raining. The kids had barely stopped screaming at that point - my 5 y/o telling everyone in my DH's office to run fast before the flood starts. (Huh? lol) He nervously, repeatedly checked the skylights from the stairwell where I kept them - asking repeatedly if they would break.

Our usual 10 minute drive home turned into a 70 minute drive in circles. Almost every back road around his office was blocked off with downed trees and power lines. The highway was at a dead stop since the 2 interstates in our area also had trees scattered across the road (completely blocking access to one of our main state highways).

I still can't believe it! Sure it was only a micro-burst, but I have a whole new respect for anyone who lives in tornado alley. I'll take a blizzardor hurricane over that any day!!!! I think the most amazing part was seeing the utter destruction of nature and property all around my husband's work, none of the street lights working, practically being able to draw the path of the storm from the destruction alone...then driving down our street - about 15 miles away from my husbands work - and not a single leaf had been blown off of a single tree. Apparently just a normal storm had passed over our house while Mother Nature wreaked havoc in the next town over. What an amazingly powerful thing nature is!!!

Here's some pic's of where we were:
Slide Shows
http://www.wfsb.com/slideshow/news/19873659/detail.html
http://www.wfsb.com/slideshow/weather/19874145/detail.html
http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Wicked_Weather_In_Wethersfield_Hartford.html