Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mmmm Nommy

For Christmas I got the kids candy canes filled with Runts. Because when you are a parent and you walk down the aisle filled with stocking stuffers you become spell bound by their cuteness.  All rational thought leaves your head.  No other time of the year would we look at a tube filled with candy and think, "Wow the kids will love getting sugar high off this...lets get it!"  So, we have these candy canes filled with candy.  I have to open them.  They need to come with directions.  First I tried pealing the paper off, which failed.  My 6 year old said, "Maybe its because you have sausage fingers."  I laughed, which embarrassed him.  Finally I did get the top off, which sent candy flying in every direction.  Yea, that was a great gift.

Gift #2 was not much better, and that works out to be a great pun as you keep reading.  I bought these Reindeer, Santa Clauses and Snow Men that poop out candy.  Not a typo, they poop out candy.  Apparently the reindeer poop tastes sour.  "Which poop do you like better?  The red or the green?"  And thats not the worst of it. They sing.  Loudly.  I think we were drugged.  Its the only explanation.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review: December 2011

With all the holiday stuff I only got to read 1 book this month.  I might make up for it this week though, I started on Bill Cosby's book: I Didn't Ask to be Born, today and am already half way through.  Its hilarious.

The one book I did read this month was Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation. About the generation who produced the baby boomers, the men and women who fought during WW2 and created the America we know today.  It isn't overly syrupy in its reverence for that generation, but it is a good read and nicely broken up into segments.  I love those types of books because if I have to leave it for awhile I can come back and not have to remember what was going on.  It was a best seller when it was written.  I would love to read another book like it, but written now post 9/11.  I see my own grandparents in this book, part of the greatest generation.  I see where Brokaw got his revere from.  Those that see the hard work, the drive, the spirit of those who lived the Great Depression and survived the War, see the greatness.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Christmas Crafts

We aren't having school this week, so no crafts.  But I figure all the wrapping and baking will suffice.  If you need something to keep the kids occupied this week, try these crafts:


Nativity Scene 

Snowflake ornament

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Craft: Snowflakes

I hope everyone here knows how to do this.  The kids requested it so I figured why not.  They were already attending another crafting class in the evening they didn't need 2 involved crafts in one day.

And if you need a little something extra to go along with this craft check out: http://snowflakebentley.com/index.htm   For all sorts of beautiful pictures and great information about snowflakes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Craft - Wreaths

Today I wanted to do Japanese Woodblocking but I didn't prepare enough.  So I thought I would try something easy.  I should have gone with the Japanese craft.

I got my craft from All Kids Network again.  For this I suggest you start at least a day ahead of time.  It takes about an hour to cut everything out if you have a bunch of kids.  I needed like 16 pieces of green paper and a ton of glue...a TON.  You will need way more than you think you do.  You need to stick the leaves to the plate and then to each other because they overlap.  Or they will fall off.  I suggest something better than Elmers.  Also, have the kids write their names before they start work on it.  Esp if you are doing this with a homeschool group with lots of kids.  I also suggest putting down newspaper because of the amount of glue you need to use.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent/Count Down Craft

Sorry I didn't post Monday, but I had to wait to finish this craft till I got to the store for chocolate.

We made our own Count Down/ Advent calendar.  I looked around for different crafts.  I wanted to do one we could use every year but there is some problems with that.  For one I need enough space for 8+ kids inside each day.  Not a lot of crafts are built for large families.  Procrastination was the other problem.  I suggest starting crafts at least a week before you need them!

So this years I got from Design Sponge.  Of course I had to put my own spin on it.  I had my kids decorate the envelopes.  I have 8 kids who can color so they each got 3.  YMMV depending on how many kids you have. You can also do stickers, stencils, painting, etc.

Inside the envelopes I put Hershey Kisses.  One for each kid.  I do recommend doing the same thing and not a mix.  Because then you will have kids fighting.  Unless your kid is abnormal...I mean nice.

I used garland instead of string (cause thats what I had), and I used tacks to hang the garland .  I wrote the numbers on every day cause I didn't have stencils or stickers. But you can get really creative and do the pictures inside giant numbers.  Or you can have each kid create a number out of reindeer or hearts or whatever.  Like I said, get creative.

 Make sure you number your envelops so you have enough!
If your craft is heavy you may need more than  tacks.  Mine was pretty heavy with our choice of chocolate. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whats on your Nightstand or Book Reviews November 2011

Once again joining 5 Minutes for Books for this month's Whats on your Nightstand.

This last month I read Laura Bush's book: Spoken from the Heart and Adventurous Women by Penny Colman.

Spoken from the Heart was great to read after I had read George Bush's book Decision Points.  Its like a his and hers commentary of the 8 years in the white house and some of their time before the presidency.  If there is ever any doubt men and women are different just read these two books for the perfect example.  Her book is an inside view of things that go on at the White House that you never hear about.  The cost, the intense schedule, how little time the first couple actually get to spend together despite "working from home" together every day.  She chronicled her time spent working with charities and how she chose the decorations every Christmas.  It was so enjoyable and warm.  Aptly named, her book truly is Spoken from the Heart.

Adventurous Women is a great book for pre-teen and teen girls.  The book showcases 8 women who not merely were adventurous because they were women in a mans world, but they did things even men didn't do. From exploring the arctic to changing laws on citizenship. Its a short book and not too in depth, just enough to give an overview and peek your interest.  I am going to write up a unit study on it for my girls to do, when its complete I will post the PDFs.

I have already started on The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw and if I can fit it in with all the holidays, Onward by Howard Shultz.  I have about 10 books sitting here though so I might change my mind. Like that ever happens.  I have a cute little book about Leonardo da Vinci I picked up for the kids for school.  Its a translation of an Italian book about his paintings.  I was hoping to wait till next summer to read it but its just so cute I might have to do it after Tom Brokaw's book.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

American Heritage Festival

We love us a good history lesson.  My poor 2 year old was scared of the canons.  The shooting didn't seem to bother him too much, but he still held his ears for them.  The baby didn't flinch.  We enjoyed the music and fashion show.  I really loved hearing about gun making.  And I am always reminded about how great it is to live when we do, to have the things that we have.  Here are some pictures from the event.  If you are in AZ next November, its a great event.

 Yea, we bought a toy hatchet.  Cause you know, the kids don't have enough stuff to hit each other with.
 Fashion show. Thankful we wear only 2 layers of clothes, maybe 3 when its cold.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Craft - Old Fashioned Turkey

We only had 7 pieces of construction paper to do a craft today.  Seems someone forgot to buy some.  *cough*

So we had to improvise a little.  We were going to do a more colorful version that my 2nd son picked.  But we settled for just tracing hands on construction paper, cutting them out and taping them on a picture they drew.  Suggestion: make a couple of samples for the kids to get ideas from.  Also, rolling tape and adhering the turkey to the picture that way makes the turkey pop and looks neat that way.

 They can make more feathers if they want a fuller turkey.  Or add scraps of construction paper between the fingers.
 We had a lot of farm scenes.  My oldest had a cornucopia, one of my sons had a snowy scene.  You can draw a thanksgiving table or woods.  Whatever your little heart desires.  An oven would be funny.

 Cutting skills is hard to learn.

 My oldest's and my 7 year olds.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Craft - Puzzles

You can buy blank puzzles for your kids to make, but I prefer not to spend the money.  It also gives you kids a chance to practice their scissor skills.  You need blank paper or poster board.  Construction paper will also work.  Draw your puzzle shapes on one side. 

 You can get creative or go traditional.  Kids can do their own but be sure to supervise so they aren't making pieces that have no way of being cut out.

 Like this one here.  He did cut it out but it was rather hard to fold up and store afterward.  When the pieces are done, flip it over to make a picture.  Here is my 2 year olds.
 Once the design is done just cut the pieces out.  He didn't seem the least bit upset his picture was cut up.
 Here is my 11 years old put back together.  The kids had a fun time challenging each other.
 Store in plastic baggies or small boxes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What I learned today

I learned that to a 4 year old "Ankles" and "Knuckles" are very similar, and honestly they look a lot alike.  My 4 yr old came to me with his pants on and asked, "Are my knuckles showing?"

I learned that if you leave the window open on a breezy day you will most likely have to dust.  ALOT.

I also learned if you use a wet sponge to clean it up you make mud.

I learned that you might think that recycling a container into a tool box is a great idea until your neighbors ask to borrow a tool.  Then it looks more hillbilly than hippie.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review - All Creatures Great and Small

My oldest daughter read All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriet and wrote a wonderful little review on it.

All Creatures Great and Small was a unique book that showed the life of a young man making a hard living was still content with what he had. It helps us understand the value of any life, and to value our own, no matter what we do.
     Despite his hard job in the unknown countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, James Herriot was a determined young vet who put up with everyone he met, no matter their attitude. We should learn from him, looking ahead at dangers or rewards, and always try to do the best you can even if it isn't the best outcome.
     The book itself was special; it brought us to many different areas and times, helping us learn and letting us see how good we have it today. It didn't follow a single line, but let us see his memories in parts.
     We see that Herriot teaches us to respect, be content, always try, and value all life, whether great or small.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Craft - Crayola Color Explosion

This weeks craft was out of a box.  I know, the shame of it.  It was $3.50 on sale and I had a 30% off coupon.  So for 8 kids (I had to buy 2 of course) it was $4.90.  Pretty decent price right?  Wrong.  There was a reason these were on sale.

The pros: It was easy to do even for little kids.  All prepackaged ready to go. Cheap.

The Cons: Smells horrid. Stains terribly.

It has a ton of warnings on it about the staining.  Don't let it touch anything.  And why oh why if they knew it would bleed did they give us paper that it could bleed through?  It even says not to let finished product touch just about EVERYTHING.  So what the heck are we supposed to do with it once done?  I hung mine up anyway figuring we can throw them out tomorrow.

It does not however have warnings about how badly these things smell.  And it doesn't go away when it dries.  I have such a headache.  My 9 year old won't go anywhere near them.

Aren't you glad I bought these before you did?  Awful things.  Do not recommend.

Fort Verde, Arizona

Last week we visited Fort Verde, an Arizona State Park.  Its about a 90 minute drive from the Phoenix area.

There is the main museum where you pay admission.  There is a video in the last room and artifacts from the Fort throughout.  Of course my kids, being the boys they are, they loved the guns.  I wanted to stop and read all the biographies of the people who had served there but my kids kept pulling me away to see this gun or that gun. You also get stuff for the kids to do.  A type of scavenger hunt and when you have found all the answers you get a pin.  

There are also 2 buildings you can walk through.  Be prepared for some steep steps!  I wonder if they used baby gates back then.  It was very educational for the kids.  The last time I went I was 16 or 17.  So it was neat to see this from a mothers perspective this time. There were a few things only a mom of many would appreciate.  For one their tiny kitchens.  There were no cabinets.  They stored all their pots and pans at the stove.  Each size pan sitting neatly in a larger one.  The creaky boards used as flooring, would be great today to listen for sneaking kids.  Those made a lot of noise as my troop tramped over them.

Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves and hope to go back for some other activities like their ornament making class in December.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Apology

Frequently, when we go out altogether, people want to talk to us.  I know there are so many questions, from our religion to their ages; and even more stories about their own children or upbringing.  I do love to talk to each and everyone who is curious but so often I am unable.  Those precious children you are curious about?  They are ready to knock down a display rack or push the buttons of a nearby unattended cash register.  While they aren't bad kids, they are kids.  And they will act accordingly when they are out.  So, for the sake of the rest of the patrons, I must forego polite conversation to turn my attention to the spilled water that is about to send someone hurling into the air.  I am not intentionally being rude, I just figure you and I would rather not end up cleaning up whatever it is my son is trying to pull off the shelves.

Thank - you for your understanding!

I wonder if I can have this made into a business card.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whats on my Night Stand or Book Review October 2011

Once again joining 5 Minutes for Books for their monthly Whats on your Nightstand post.

This month I read The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived as well as The Broken American Male.

101 was rather annoying.  It was written by a few different people so as you went from one fictional person to another the writing style changed.  One was even written from a dogs point of view.  They also interjected political opinions into some of the essays, and not in any way to enhance their essay.  It was just cheap jabs, and I didn't appreciate it.  However, there was some good information in the book and it was a fun and easy read. Out of 5 stars I would give it 3.

 The Broken American Male is a must read even if you don't have a Broken Male in your home.  I learned just as much about myself as I did men in America. His respect for women is refreshing, I wish every man could read this book and realize what true respect is.  As a parent I walked away with great ideas on how to help my boys become wholesome men and not broken men.  A great book.

For next month I have already started on Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush, and hope to fit in  Adventurous Women.  Spoken from the Heart has so far been very enjoyable.  I was actually sad she had to leave her childhood and grow up.  It was simple and beautiful, calm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Craft: Window Craft

My youngest daughter found days craft in The Halloween Book pages 8 and 9.

You need Tissue paper, Construction paper, pencils, scissors and tape.

Draw your panned window on the black construction paper (or other color if you prefer something more cheerful for autumn).

Cut out the panes and tape the tissue paper to the back.  You can use different color tissue paper for a more natural look.  Orange for pumpkins, blue for sky, yellow for lights.

Tape the finished product in the window.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Make My Kids Change Diapers

So when they become parents they actually know how to change a diaper.  I know, its such a stretch.  Teaching a kid to do something so when they become an adult they know how to do it.  Thats like school or something.  And you know what else I teach them?  How to cook, and do laundry and clean and exercise and eat healthy.  Its a very simple program, its called chores.  Amazing right?!

To be fair, I do not MAKE my kids change diapers.  They can do it if they want to but they HAVE to learn how.  And for the most part I do the cooking but my kids help.

What are parents for if not to raise children who can be productive members of society?  To give back instead of take.  To care of themselves and others.  What are parents for if not to keep them healthy and safe?  So they will live long healthy lives with which to serve others. When my children leave the home I want to look at them and see that all the work I did was good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sacrifice or Responsibility

When we were struggling financially we had to cut back on everything.  That meant any luxury had to go: cable/satellite, home phones, eating out, etc.  It felt like such a sacrifice.  Like we were missing out.

When we were able to afford those things again we indulged.  To be sure we don't need any of those things.  Life was fine with out it, except in our mind we weren't enjoying ourselves as much.

So why is it that we decided to do without again?  Because even though we can afford it, we don't need those things.  The best way to keep your money is not to spend it to begin with.  Not to mention there are few things worthwhile on tv, eating out isn't that good for you and I don't even talk on the phone so having 2 is worthless.

A surprising thing happened when we got rid of stuff again.  I didn't miss it.  I didn't feel like I was missing out.  The extra money in our bank account is nice too.  Instead, I feel responsible.  I did the right thing.  And some other benefits: you can buy or watch your shows for free online minus all the commercials.  Especially all those commercials which kids probably shouldn't see.  No more sales calls at all hours disturbing sleeping kids or school.  In the pursuit of food as good as a restaurants, I have become a better cook.  A skill I can then  teach my children.  And in all things we have gained more time.  Time is valuable you know.

Yup, I feel responsible. I feel good that I made a good decision.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Craft: Mosaic Pumpkin

My oldest came up with this craft, and I should have taken pictures because I don't have a link for you to follow today.

She used 8 pieces of paper and drew a giant pumpkin and raven on it. Just the outline in black marker.  You can do whatever you like but the point is that its one big thing split into smaller pieces.  We used 8 pieces of paper for the 8 kids who would color but if you have 4 kids do 4 pieces of paper or 20 kids do 20 pieces of paper.

Next you need to number each section and assign a color to each number. That way the kids know what color to make that section.  She wrote the number/color combinations on the white board.

Once everyone has colored their sheets you need to tape it altogether for the big reveal.  What will it be?  The kids got so excited since they had no idea what they were coloring.

My 9 year old said this has been his favorite craft.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Atmosphere for Learning

My home is less of a showpiece and more of a classroom.  My decorations consist of maps and posters of the alphabet.  My dining area is where we do our school. Its also the main room we host parties in.  I felt a little bad that its not very formal.  I don't know how guests feel when they come over and eat while staring at a multiplication table.  Its probably not the most relaxing environment, most likely reminding them of their own school days.  But isn't that the point of homeschooling?  That learning happens everyday, in every place.  We never stop learning.  6 Things Every Smart Home Needs was an article in USA Weekend today, talking about just this thing.

I was happy to see, based on that list, we are 6 for 6.  Some of my kids favorite toys are dominoes, our walls are plastered with maps (not to mention the quizzing globe), and our entire living room is designed to allow for a quiet reading space.  We have no TV in our living room, with plenty of seating (not necessarily NICE seating but its a place to plop your butt) and a nice ottoman where numerous kids can put up their feet.  Also the only toys allowed in there are baby toys.  And do they ever take advantage of the area.  It has become the go to place for not just myself but my kids as well.  You are almost always certain to find someone in there reading.

So while guests might not get why my home isn't like theirs, I feel confident knowing I am providing the best atmosphere for my kids to learn. And learn all the time, not just at school time.  (if you don't want your pics to look like mine, don't let your baby slobber on your phone...just a suggestion)