Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We haven't started La Befana just yet because the kids have been busy playing and pretending. Lots of pretending. I love it when their imaginations go crazy.

I've been thinking about the way we do things and we are definitely most comfortable as unschoolers. The problem I am having, however, is letting go of what they "should" be doing. I have a list of everything Maeve should know by the end of kindergarten. She knows most of it. But I second guess myself and think about history. Have we covered anything historical? I tried to cover the Mayflower and pilgrims, but it fell on deaf ears. Do I do enough? Should I order curriculum to make sure I'm not leaving anything out? How much does it matter?

It certainly doesn't help that there are oodles of homeschooling blogs, websites and curricula. There are yahoo groups and Facebook groups and groups in the community. Thankfully, I have already found a good group of people and kids so that's one less thing to worry about.

I am confident that everything will fall into place. We will achieve a rhythm. I think I will always be tweaking how we go about things, but that's just how I roll. I am considering adopting a year round sort of school schedule. Three months of learning with a week long break in the middle month. The fourth month we'd have off. The off months would be April, August and December and would allow for putting in the garden, a canning extravaganza and preparing for the holidays. I could also re-evaluate things during the off months and come up with a tweaked plan. Of course this is all slightly funny to me since I plan something and then the kids and I find something more interesting to do. I like to have a plan, but I can't always follow it. Such is the life of a homeschooler, I suppose.

Monday, December 20, 2010


We spent a week learning about penguins and Antarctica. I had planned to cover Antarctica in a day, but the kids had other ideas. Finn adores penguins.

We read lots of penguin books, walked liked penguins, dove for fish in the living room, listened to various penguin sounds on the computer and did a whole lot of penguin pretending. The kids also watched Happy Feet which I thought was a sorry excuse for a movie. The plot was a bit jumpy and convoluted and the ending was weak. Whatever. It was about penguins and made the kids happy.

By the end of the week, Maeve decided to be a killer whale and eat all of the penguins.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Week

This week I plan to have the kids do lap books about the Gingerbread Man. It's one of Finn's favorite books so I'm hoping it'll hold his interest. We'll make gingerbread play dough, gingerbread cookie mixes for gifts and gingerbread cookies (maybe...I'm not a fan of gingerbread). The week after Christmas we're going to talk about the Italian legend of La Befana. Here is a list of the links I'm going to be using:

http://www.tlsbooks.com/dinosaurtally.pdf (not related to Christmas, but Finn will enjoy)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30528 (befana bag puppet)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30526 (Italian kids)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30525&Nty=0&_N=fff&Ntk=Printables_SI&query=la+befana&N=0&No=0&Ntt=la+befana (christmas tree befana)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30524&Nty=0&_N=fff&Ntk=Printables_SI&query=la+befana&N=0&No=0&Ntt=la+befana (christmas in Italy)

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/gingerbread_baby.php (gingerbread lapbook for both kids)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Are you ready for a throwdown?

I love Food Network. The kids and I had just finished watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay when I started making squash soup. I left some leeks and a cutting board on the counter and Maeve came in and decided to make some soup of her own. Her soup contained leeks, lots of salt, water and Italian seasoning. She was so impressed by her recipe that she challenged me to a throwdown. In proper throwdown style, we brought in two unbiased judges (grandparents) to rate our soups on taste, texture and presentation.

I am sad to say that I lost.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This week in the school house

This week and next we are in full force Christmas mode. Most, if not all, of our activities will revolve around Christmas.

Sometimes I have moments of genius. This was one of them. The kids and I watched a few videos about making candy canes and then I decided it would be fun for them to decorate ginger bread houses. Only I hate ginger bread and really had no desire to bake at that moment. So we went to our recycling/craft stash and built houses out of cardboard. I made white frosting and the kids used up a lot of the candy I was never going to let them eat. Somehow quite a bit of the frosting ended up in Finnegan's mouth, but all in all this was a very successful craft. The kids were quiet and busy for at least 20 minutes and they were proud of what they created. Oren pretended to want to help, but was just after the smarties.

Maeve started a lapbook Monday about the Night Before Christmas. She's having fun with it and really enjoys lapbooking.

We made ice cream today. The idea came from a kid magazine called High Five. The directions called for chocolate soy milk (yucko) so I made hot chocolate (2 C milk, 1/4 C sugar, 1/8 C cocoa) and cooled it. We put ice and salt into one plastic bag and then the chocolate mixture into another plastic bag. The chocolate bag went inside the ice bag and the kids shook until their arms got tired. Finn's arms were tired from the very beginning apparently because he had no interest whatsoever in participating. It took about 5 min of shaking to get ice cream. The kids thought it was neat and tasted delicious.

We made a Christmas village out of empty boxes. The kids worked hard to decorate the boxes, but quickly lost interest. The village is sitting in a heap on our dining room table.

I made one batch of Italian cookies and plan to make another one with the my helpers. They are super easy to make and can be shaped into just about anything.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Menu and Grocery list

I've been lazy about menu planning so here is my attempt for the next two weeks. I am also including my grocery list if anyone is curious.

toast and blueberries
leftover mac and cheese
not sure about dinner
*make sandwich bread if time

German apple pancake (if up early enough)
have husband make swiss steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
*make dough

poached eggs and toast
individual pizzas
breakfast: pumpkin waffles, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, BACON (we will have just gotten our pig)

fruit salad and cheese and crackers, sliced peppers
baked penne with meat sauce, broccoli
*thaw chicken, make pork/beef meatballs and brown in oven

chicken with homemade fries
*bake chicken, make cookies in morning, cook meatballs in sweet and sour sauce

pancakes (use shapes)
sesame noodles with carrots
chicken and noodles (or freezer meal if pooped)
*freezer meal group

German apple pancake
potato soup with kale and bacon
*make sandwich bread

hard boiled eggs with bread/toast
leftovers with fruit
Christmas with husband's family

noodles with diced chicken and Parmesan
pork chops, fried potatoes w/onions, broccoli

breakfast: hashbrowns, eggs

toast and fruit
leftover pizza
pasta with green beans

whatever I want to make
chicken noodle soup
*make sandwich bread, soak beans

cinnamon rolls
leftover soup
beans and rice with homemade tortillas

homemade doughnuts

Grocery list:
apples (88 cents/lb so I will get lots)
green beans (69 cents/lb so I will get lots)
carrots (2 bags)
potatoes (2 bags, unless they are super cheap)
green peppers (3 for $1)
eggs (4 dozen)
butter (depends on price)
milk (3 gallons)
ketchup? (check cupboard)
powdered sugar

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week of Dec 6th

Here's what we're doing this week:

visiting friends
Christmas craft: making a hula hoop wreath

Math: read the story of Penny on the computer, name/review the coins and put in order, make a bank
Geography: Australia
Phonics: review the short vowel u and move on to ch, the and sh
Christmas craft: reindeer clay pots
Science: sense of taste, label parts of taste on the tongue

Math: read birth of a coin on the computer
Geography: Africa
Phonics: ch, th and sh
Christmas craft: Buckeye bags
Science: blindfolded taste test

Math: coins for candy on the computer
Geography: Europe
Phonics: ch, th and sh
Christmas craft: shaped soap
Science: put different foods into sweet, sour, bitter or salty groups, taste examples of each and then cut out pics in magazine to sort (I might cut out the pics so the kids don't get too distracted)

This week's links:

http://www.amazingmoms.com/htm/gifts_kids_make2-6.htm (special box and shaped soap)
http://www.usmint.gov/kids/cartoons/birthOfACoin/ (Wed)
http://library.thinkquest.org/3750/taste/taste.html (parts of tongue)
http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/WebLessons/CoinsForCandy/money001.htm (Thurs)

Another awesome link worth sharing:

Easy and Inexpensive Heating Pad

If you don't have a 70 lb black lab sleeping on your bed, you may suffer from cold feet. Have no fear! I have a solution. A wonderful, warm solution.

Rice bags!

We bought a $15 bag of rice from Costco and I used 100% cotton flannel baby blankets that I've collected throughout the years.  I sewed two pieces of flannel together (leaving an opening of course), filled it half full of rice and voila! I like to heat mine in the microwave for 3 minutes.

I feel silly getting so excited about a bag of rice, but it warms me up better than my husband. The warming possibilities are endless:
*lap warmer
*heating pad for menstrual cramps
*relieve back pain
*put on chest for plugged milk duct
*use on face for sinus pressure or to help with drainage
*warm up your baby's bed (or your bed) before sleeping
*warm up cold car seat
*put on child's lap if taking a walk
*use after coming in from playing in the snow

Here is where I got the idea.