Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bananas, Mangoes and Coconuts!

"Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, Come my pretty Mama..." Now that I have that song stuck in your head I will begin :) I think buying a coconut at the store for our week was one of my highlights! I have never purchased a real coconut and had so much fun thinking of all the activities that we would do soon. Yesterday, after the kids enjoyed bike riding for about an hour we started in on our lessons. Our theme this week is centered around the book, " Call It Courage". It is about a boy, Mafatu, who has an intense fear of the ocean due to losing his mother to it when he was a young boy. He is growing up a couple of hundred years ago in the Polynesian Islands where the ocean is their life. He decides to show everyone, as a now older boy at age 12, that he can move past his fear by confronting it. So, on a solo journey into the South Pacific he begins with only his dog Uri for company.

While reading each chapter, or half a chapter, we are enjoying a light snack of mangoes ( Hannah's new favorite), bananas, pineapple and yesterday, coconut. I placed the coconut high up in a tree where the boys had to think up a way to maneuver it down or climb the tree to obtain their source of food and water for that moment. They were pretty cute to watch, commenting back and forth on what they felt would work and shimmying up the tree like monkeys.

After they retrieved the coconut, we drilled one hole and then two holes into the shell to get the coconut milk out. We talked about air flow and why two holes allowed a faster flow of milk. Finally, much to the boys delight they went out front and smashed the coconut on a rock to break it open. They brought it inside to eat as we read.

Today, I had the kids close their eyes and using each sense: taste, touch, feel, hear and sight describe what their deserted island looks like. What they hear, the birds, animals rustling in the bushes, what they see, etc. We then made a list of what we would need to be able to survive on the island if we were all alone. Jayden immediately thought of knife, Austen mangoes and Riah drew some pretty intense pictures but I'm not quite sure what they were of :)

Finally, after each reading yesterday and today, I am having the kids color pictures of what I am reading about ( this book is a bit above Riah and probably some of Austen's level) and describe it to me when I am finished. Today, we talked about how we would feel if we were Mafatu, stranded now in the middle of the South Pacific, after a huge storm with no sail, mast, knife, coconuts and fishing spear. Hopefully, if I can keep track of all their pictures I will make a little book of what they were able to take away from the book, when we are completed.

Now, off to put makeup on for the day- its a new record, makeup and shower before 2 pm! We will then finish math and language arts and Spanish.

Oh Perfect Fall Day!

Definition of a perfect fall day: cool, crisp, clean air, golden rays of sunlight, crunchy leaves, wet leaves, laughter, bike riding, stillness, warm, cozy, red, brown, yellow, crinkly, refreshing. Ahh, fall!


beautiful sister love

wet leaves stuck to wheels

beautiful fall sunlight dancing through the leaves

" Hannah, smile at me"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

button picture

Temper Tantrums and Ink

Today the kids and I arose early to get ready for our local Heritage Festival. This is put on once a year and goes from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War with many volunteers who are dressed in the traditional uniform, extremely knowledgeable about their particular time period with fun music and activities to participate in and watch.

I grabbed a box of granola bars, the kids had all eaten breakfast and we set off. Upon arriving I should have known that this would not be "our" day as Hannah refused to sit in the stroller. We strolled up, handed the lady our tickets and walked in. I am pushing a stroller while holding Hannah who is screaming bloody murder at 9 AM!!!!! What on earth! There are so many cool tents and places to learn and hear about but I have a toddler screaming hysterically in my ear! I felt so frazzled!

We arrived at the first tent and I set her down. However, Hannah was not interested in listening to the man describe how to load a musket, no she was interested in venturing to the nearest smoldering fire to take a look. So, I was constantly picking her up and moving her to safe location only to have her two seconds later venture back out again.

I did hear some interesting facts and encouraged the boys, especially, to ask questions. However, my time was predominately spent with a determined 15 month old who cared nothing for the reenactments and everything for the most dangerous object within arms reach. We moved over to a tent where there was mountain men from the time period prior to the 1830s. The men who explored the Rockie Mountains. I am not sure if this was Lewis and Clark era but it was pretty interesting. Again, Hannah gravitated to the hot, smoldering coals.

To be polite we stayed and listened as an older gentleman, wearing the traditional mountain man outfit, began on a lengthy story telling spree. Three of my kids were staring into space and Hannah was screaming, screeching, tripping, eating mouths full of dirt and squawking. Wow, this is LOADS of fun!

My goal, at that moment, went from wanting to make it to 4pm to just get us to the Revolutionary War skirmish and then I wanted to leave. Hannah then, went ballistic. She was so bad that everything was quiet except her screaming. I put her in the stroller, told the kind gentleman "Thank-you." and we took off to the parking lot. I was hoping that I could give her a granola bar to settle her down. She was strapped into the stroller yet was hanging her body as far out as the straps would allow her, screaming, thrashing and snotting everywhere.

The lady at the gate said, " Oh, I'm sorry...I hope you aren't leaving." My reply, " We'll see." Why do I have expectations?? Why, oh why???! I find the granola bars, and gave her two, She needs one in each hand, you know. I gave her Jayden's water bottle, she screams because it kept falling out of her hands, even though she insisted on holding both granola bars at the same time. Finally, she manages to slurp the water as it drips all over her making the dirt on her clothes now mud all the while still maintaining control of the granola bars.

We set off, back into the festival and she starts to scream again, Riah starts to cry because she is hungry- this is 10 am ! I just stop. I'm like, " Either we all stop crying or we are all leaving." Riah decides to join the " no tears club" and we continue back in. Hannah, again, refuses to sit. All for the love of my boys, I hold her when all I wanted to do was throw her into her carseat, strap the heck out of her and leave.

We walk around and she smiles at me like, " Wow Mama, holding your hand with my muddy shirt and dirty granola bars is the absolute best!!". I smirked at her, I'm sorry- smiling at her was more than I could muster at that moment.

Finally, we ended up over at the Gold Rush era and a lady there was so helpful and knowledgeable. The kids, with a couple of their friends ( I told the kids we would not join their friends if Hannah continued to scream. There was no sense ruining the experience for everyone) ground coffee, talked about winding wool into yarn, wrote their names in calligraphy with a feather and ink, and saw some very cool blacksmiths at work. The kids then jumped around some bales of hay and visited an out west school room where Hannah managed to tip an entire ink holder with black ink all over a bale of hay and coated her hands. This was the third day of the festival and we were the first to add black ink to the hay.

Finally, oh finally, the Revolutionary War skirmish began. The boys ran up to the front while I sat back with the girls. This was  very cool, loud and authentic. I hope that the kids enjoyed it as much as I did and the funny thing was that the loud cannon and gun noises did not even faze Hannah Lou. Not one bit. The kids watched the entire battle, it was very well done. The whole show was well done but I was just a tad distracted the ENTIRE time. I do not think I will take an one year old with me again.

I bought the boys coon skin hats and Riah to go along with our upcoming out west and Revolutionary war study. We left, picked up a $5 pizza at Little Caesars and now everyone is napping/quiet time.

Oh, and PS. I must mention that Hannah required her white and pink sleep blanket with her at all times. This is whether she deemed it necessary to whip on the ground, under the stroller, roll around on the grassy field or hold it. It must, at all times, be under her control. I ran into the pizza place and Riah had given Hannah a chocolate chip cookie, while holding her blanket, with ink all over her hands and grass stuck in the blanket. I then gave her a piece of pizza with cheese and sauce, in her carseat with chocolate on her hands and ink all over them. Then, came the water, drinking, slurping, spilling. We come home, I wipe her down, changer her diaper, put her down for her nap, thee end. Some days, are just meant to be "toddler" days. She's lucky I wiped her down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Joan of Arc and Pow Wows?

making a flag with fleur de lys on it

Yes, you read that right. We traveled back a couple hundred years earlier today at our local Pow Wow and then we traveled 700 years back to learn about Joan of Arc. This morning was a lot of fun. We visited our local Arts Center and were surrounded by hoards of school children. I was laughing to myself thinking of how, when I was in school, I would have looked at us and thought, " Why is that Mom and Dad with those kids". Hannah definitely stood out in the crowd. She was entertained for about five minutes of the performance and then I had to keep going in and out as she kept calling out, " Mama!" at the most serene moments of the Apache Indians story telling.

I was thankful Ben was with the other three kids as if you read our previous post of the 12 Dancing Princesses, where I had to keep leaving the kids. Anyways, the men did hoop dances and an Eagle dance which was very cool to watch! The kids really enjoyed the beat of the drums and the rhythm of the music. Overall, a really good experience for them. The best though, for those of you on my facebook, was my five year old's very innocent political incorrectness. After all of our prepping him about what we should and should not say, we were walking out, surrounded by a crowds of Native American students and Austen yells, " Was that man an Indian because he had long hair?"- Ohmigosh Austen!!!! You are going to get me in trouble one of these days!!!

We arrived home and enjoyed some Annie Macaroni n' Cheese "Arthur" style and then we started in on our Konos lesson. The book and theme we have next week is really exciting so I'm trying to stay steadfast with our study of Courage. We read a book on Joan of Arc and talked about her courage in the midst of war and death. I would like to learn more about Joan of Arc. This link, Joan of Arc biography, has a lot of painful information to read about a young girl who "screamed the holy name of Jesus" as she was burned at the stake. Again, I was never enlightened on this historical character and it just shocks me and makes me rethink the definition of courage and if I would have it in that moment, I truly believe I would- my prayer is that my children would also.

We created a flag that Joan held by gluing on the fluer de lys ( lily flowers) that symbolized the trinity. The flag is hanging in the boys room as a reminder, that as with anyone in the Bible or throughout history that trusted in God, the battle is the Lord's!

The Courage of Sarah Noble and the Matchlock Gun were two more books we read a chapter out of. Both of these books again, reinforce courage and display to my boys, especially, how courage looks in different situations. I asked the boys questions like, " Is it courageous to lay in a sleeping bag full of rattlesnakes? or go in a barrel off Niagara Falls...." to show the different between daring and foolish and daring and courageous. Finally, I shared with them a couple of experiences in my life where I needed to show courage. Spanish ended the day and robot creating at the library ended our night! Thank you God for rotisserie chickens and sweet potato fries! Off to spend the evening with my husband!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The BOB Books

Austen is in full swing with school this year and its a lot of fun! Math is pretty relaxed especially since I honestly cannot handle doing Saxon full time, at least for the early years. I am following " What Every Child Should Know..." as more of a guideline to make sure that I am teaching him the appropriate material for first grade but using mainly games and hands on activities over workbooks.

ANYWAYS, I asked the boys the other day what was their favorite part of school this year. Austen's answer, " the Bob books". He said this with such a confident smile that it melted my heart and I thought, if you like the BOB books baby, we will do BOB books as much as you want!

If you do not know what the BOB books are I highly recommend them. They are a series of five with 12 or so books in each series. The first series, the blue set, start off with " Mat"- " Mat sat. Sam sat."- and then progresses through all of the short vowel sounds until you reach "u" and "o".

I enjoy these books because they are simple yet effective. We sat today, in their " hiding place" and read four books in the first series. The excitement I see in him grows daily from the set of books. This has been really good for me to watch as , at this point with Jayden he was already reading quiet independently on his own. .

I'm thankful Austen is different because it makes me approach reading from a different angle. Earlier this year, we averaged about 45 minutes to complete one book- these books are quite SMALL friends. Now, we can complete a book in about two minutes! That to me is progress. We are progressing at his pace and he is loving the books.

I have one educational goal for Austen this year and that is to be able to read and write- with patience, consistency and love- I am confident we will accomplish this together. I am thankful for the opportunity to be the one to teach my child how to read. There is no greater feeling than to see growth in my children.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Take Time

Take time to breathe, to play, to laugh, to read, to enjoy, to slow down, to rest, to giggle, to be silly, to learn about new things, to revisit old things, to see life in your child's eyes, to enjoy the wonder of their world, to see life in the eyes of someone who wishes you would slow down.

Take time to pray, to trust God, to rest in His peace, to believe, to be refreshed, to grow stronger.

Take time to bake, to create, to make mistakes, to make messes, to learn, to imagine, to build, to name ants " Slammer, Tammer, Racer", to sit with an empty water bottle and fill it full with leaves, sticks and grass, to run, to walk.

Take time to enjoy your children- they are a precious gift worth investing in. Take time to say no to activities and say yes to quality one on one time.

Take time, before the time takes you by surprise.

Praying For Snow

Yes, you read that right....this year, I am actually praying for snow! I am so excited to go up north and have the kids go sledding, cut down their Christmas tree, drink hot cocoa, and best of all- dress in their jammas and ride the Polar Express!!! I am so excited!!!! This is something I've wanted to do for four years with the kids and finally, this year- we are doing it!

snow man in a hat
I grew up with snow, in snow and once I hit college age, I started to hate it. Now, I am excited to partake in it for as much as I want and then leave it again for as often as I would like :) The beauty of our state! I am taking the idea above and can't wait to make a snow man with the kids!!!!

There are so many books I want to read, Little House In The Big Woods, Little Women, Polar Express, etc. I am so excited to continue with our traditions and incorporate some new ones. Traditions are what bind us and bring us back to nostalgic memories. I LOVE traditions and I LOVE my family!

I definitely want to revisit this website, http://familyfun.go.com/winter/ for more winter fun activities. The weather is cooling off and what better time to start thinking of snowflakes, snowman, cold and cozy mornings and evenings than fun, family, winter activities!!! I will let you know which ones that I try! Yeah, I am soo excited for this upcoming month!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sports and Lessons Too Soon???

My Son Jayden is 7.5. He has just started soccer through a great organization and it is his first time back in almost two years. This past Saturday, we battled the high 40s, wind and cold to cheer on our beloved Jayden from the sidelines. With the promise of hot cocoa from Starbucks and the library after the game, I had a very enthusiastic crowd free from bad attitudes despite the wind ripping at our chapped faces.

I had the boys in soccer two years ago, this January, and they were 5 and 3. After seeing Jayden play hard and enthusiastic I was almost laughing at his earlier years at 3,4 and 5 where he pranced around the field yelling, screeching and dancing. Then there was Austen where he would saunter through the field on soccer, walk the field in flag football and did ok with his shy smirk in t-ball.

Moriah has done well in dance and has really enjoyed it so what I am about to say is a rule of thumb, but there can be exceptions. Here is my knowledge gained based on time, money and energy spent. Sports are fun to play and watch....but, how much of us putting our kids in sports at an early age is more for us, then for them? Just a thought. Jayden has gotten so much more out of soccer in the past few weeks than he EVER did as a three and four year old. I think, for us, I would rather wait until age 7 or 8 to play a sport. Honestly, maybe they'll be a little behind the first season but I guarantee you they will catch up quite quickly given the age and coordination that was gained between age 4/5 to age 7/8.

Soo, I cannot see me putting Austen in sports for the next few years and you know what, I am very ok with that. Moriah, she loves dance and enjoys it fully so I can understand that - but unless you LOVE it....its too much of a time commitment and money and energy and balancing act to do something for my sense of " look, my child is in a sport" mentality :) Just a thought.

Cabin Fun!

 The kids had a great time at the cabin, up north. There are so many reasons I love Arizona- these pictures above are just a few! Snow! There was snow! Arizona is so much more than a desert! Its is incredibly beautiful!