Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lazy Day Recap

Well, my lazy day wasn't as lazy as it could have been. We hung out, cleaned up a bit, finished up all the laundry, put clean sheets on the beds... standard stuff really, but not the laying around in my pj's that I had in mind. We're pretty sure we are moving soon so I have also been purging stuff... I'm one of those crazy people who LOVES downsizing... I find it super freeing to get rid of my stuff. And since I'm selling bunches of it, I'm enjoying putting a bit of cash in my pocket too! With the proceeds from selling my elliptical machine :) I took the kids to the thrift store. We came home with a few books and games (I went in search of sundresses for me, but no luck... if only I were a size 2, then the selection would have been awesome). Someone in the store gave me a coupon, so I saved $3, too. Bonus!

I have a lot of deep thoughts to share, and big plans I am working on, so hopefully I'll get some time tomorrow (Owl Poppa is home the next few days).

Lazy Day

I don't have anywhere to go or anything to do today. I will just be hanging out at the house, playing with the kids! Envy me! (or invite me over, lol)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nickname Party

After the backflip class this morning, our Capoeira group had a nickname party.

I wish I could find some good links to Capoeira and its history, but I can't... and I am not willing to spend anymore time on it. So there! Although this is a really nice kid's book about Capoeira.

Anyway, because Capoeira was illegal in Brazil, players were given a Capoeira nickname to help keep them anonymous. This tradition is still around today (not necessarily the anonymity, but the nicknames).

J's nickname is Piao, which means spinning top, because of his head spins!
K's nickname is Princezinha, which means little princess, because, well, that's what she is.

And best of all, I got a Capoeira nickname too! I don't play Capoeira (yet), but I feel like a self-appointed Capoeira group momma (or is that groupie momma?)! So my nickname is Mae, which means Momma! YAY!

Here's a cool Capoeira shot from the website for his Capoeira group... J is the one on the right...

So Much To Say

I have some many things running around in my head, just waiting for me to blog about them. But not this morning. We're off to a 9 am backflip seminar (for J, not me, don't worry).

Maybe later. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today's Lessons and the Redbox

NOTE: I typed this up last night, but was having trouble with the photos.

We had a GREAT day of school today! Like, totally-and-completely-everything-I-could-have-hoped-it-would-be-make-me-thankful-we're-homeschooling-and-sure-we're-on-the-right-track kind of GREAT. Here are some of the highlights.

J is making amazing progress with his reading skills. I am super proud of him.

We did a great math lesson (combining two lessons from the Saxon 1 book; we're gonna hang out with that one for awhile longer... no more debating myself, at least on this issue. I'll need to find another excuse for posting pictures). We sorted peanuts into 10 piles of 10. We counted them by 10's to find out we had a hundred peanuts. We laid out 10 peanuts and counted by 2's to find out how many were inside. We shelled 100 peanuts and made peanut butter, practicing following a recipe and talking about standard measurments. We served the peanut butter on bread that we sliced in half, then in quarters... intro to fractions.

We finished our history narration, map work, and coloring page for Hammurabi. The kids like Hammurabi. They do not like Sargon and Shamshi-Adad.

We went to the park and did a field study for our science curriculum. We discussed living and non-living things, looked at dirt under a magnifying glass, and drew some pictures of what we found. J and K both LOVED drawing pictures of roly poly bugs!

We also read tons of books today... Aesops fables (does Aesops need an apostrophe? I keep staring at this and just can't decide), Angelina Ballerina, The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story, and a few others.

We did some free painting. And then did a painting project to wrap up our Monet lesson. We got the idea here. Here are a few pics from our painting session (note: if you try this at home, masking tape stuck to the construction paper and was really hard to remove. Letting the paint dry all the way and then removing it really slow helped alot)
W had lots of fun with the painting. We had to rename his Rudolph, though!

J worked hard and carefully.

He made sure to include a flower garden (the purple spots at the top)
and a water lily in the bottom corner)

K was really excited (and couldn't stop smiling for the camera)

Here is her finished project

And then we got the whole house clean, mopped the kitchen, got the laundry done, the kids folded socks, J folded W's pajamas (I know... I was shocked... J NEVER voluntarily does work LOL) and everyone had a bath before we had our family night!!

For Family Night, we watched The Tale of Depereaux. It was cute, though a bit intense for my crew. But it's a sign of my new obsession... Redbox. Seriously... I can go to Walgreen's and rent a movie and it only costs me one dollar! This is dangerous folks! Do you hear me, dangerous!!!! Think of all the movies I can rent, for less than my late fees when I inevitably return my DVDs late to the library (the late fee is $2... highway robbery). We watched Bolt from the Redbox the other night, and whole new realms of movie rental possibilities opened up for me. I had visions of all the amazing things we could watch together. I tried to justify renting movies by reminding myself that the kids watch so little TV anyway. But really, it's a slippery slope folks. If I start renting movies more than once or twice a week, someone reel me in. :)

Yummy Pizza Idea

So, it's Wednesday which means it's Family Night here at the Owl Nest. We made our "famous" pizza crust recipe, with a twist! We cut up some string cheese and folded the crust over it. Instant stuffed crust pizza! The kids, who don't normally eat the pizza "bones" (they try to pawn them off on W), munched cheesy bread crust with dipping sauce. Oh so good!

Oooh, and on half of the pizza, I mixed pesto in with the pizza sauce. Delish!

Let me know whatcha think!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Because

I don't have anything super interesting to blog about, but I'm trying to blog more often, so this is what you get! :)

I am actually in the throes of a dilemma over moving the kids up to the next level of math in an effort to keep them challenged. The alternative is to keep them in their current levels and work with the theory that "repetition leads to mastery" and use the easier lessons to help them build discipline in their studies.

But man, I am tired of arguing with myself about it! So if anyone has wise words of wisdom I'd love to hear them. Otherwise I will continue looking through old photos in an attempt to disctract myself. And in the meantime, I leave y'all with these:
J and K, Halloween 2005
(J is Max from Where the Wild Things Are
and K is (what else) a Fairy Princess)

J and W, Fall 2008

K, newborn, Sept 2004

J and his first set of wheels, Oct 2005

J, proving he's always been cute, Spring 2003

J being "helpful" with K, Fall 2005

K's "being pretty" obsession started early, Jan 2006

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Homeschooling Plans

We're one of those freakish homeschooling families that does things our own way because, well, we can. No, actually, it just took us a long time to figure out what will work (from a curriculum stand point) and we're still working out the kinks. And because of fall birthdays (have I mentioned that all five of us have birthdays within six weeks of each other?) and other holidays in the fall, we figure we'll start our new schooling each January and wrap up around September... leaving us free to do a light schedule (probably holiday-type unit studies) for the fall and early winter.

So... while everyone else is winding down for summer break, we're just hitting our stride.

I know I have waxed poetic over my love of Ambleside Online... I think I'm over it. I do love the lesson plans and the literature selections, but it doesn't seem complete enough to me. So it's back to the beginning. We're taking what we liked from Ambleside, combining it with what we liked from The Well-Trained Mind, sprinkling in a few random things, and calling it a (school) day. So how do I celebrate? I bought a science curriculum! How cool is this?!?! Starting Monday, we'll be doing science, along with our regularly scheduled programming, three days a week. We're using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, level one. It looks really cool and pretty thorough. I can't wait. So our newly revised new schedule is below. I feel like I do a "new" schedule every week or two... I think I have a short attention span... wait, what was I saying... oh, schedules, right... here it is, more for my own benefit (seeing it in print makes it official, know what I mean?) than for anything else, though I hope it is at least a bit interesting to others.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday will continue to be school days, and days where we don't use the car. This is regardless of Owl Poppa's wacky work schedule (probably our biggest roadblock in developing any kind of homeschooling routine). Every school day, we'll cover the following:
  • Math for J and K: J is still in Saxon 1 and K is in Saxon K. I am thinking of bumping them to the next levels without finishing our books first... we're all a little bored. Waiting for the routine to kick in before making this decision. I am also thinking of mixing up the format a little, separating the math meeting and the math lesson. (One quirk of Saxon math is that the teaching is separated into two sections, a meeting that covers review, calendar skills, and some other stuff (<---how do you like that technical description) and then a lesson that introduces new topics and ends with a review sheet). Still pondering this, and will probably do a bit of trial and error to see what works.
  • Reading for J and K: Continue on with Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Deferring the decision on what will follow until until we're actually done.
  • Copywork: Continue as we've been.
  • Poetry: We're giving up A Child's Garden of Verses. None of us are really enjoying it. We'll probably move on to Mother Goose and then A.A. Milne.
  • Story of the World (SOTW): We're working at an erratic pace. Lately, we've been listening to the CDs in the car. We might listen to 3 or 4 chapters at once, and repeat this every time we go somewhere. The kids are really enjoying history like this, since it seems like a story, and they are retaining what they are hearing. Our summer plan is to continue this way, following what's interesting. During school days, we'll go over review questions for the chapters we've listened to, and coloring pages, mapwork, and narrations for their notebooks. We'll also continue to read the literature tie-ins. I am reserving the right to limit hands-on artsy projects if the kids don't seem interested or it seems like it will be too much mess (c'mon, people... I need to be practical here).
  • Aesops Fables: Continue reading one or two fables per day. Once we finish our book, we'll probably move onto mythology (it should be about the right time in our history studies anyway)
  • Science: We'll start the REAL Science Odyssey book and work through one chapter every two or three days.
  • Composer Study and Artist Study: We'll continue to incorporate our literature-based composer and artist study. We're starting Bach and Degas, and will then cover Joplin (Scott not Janice) and Cassat (who's birthday was yesterday).
  • Nature Study: I am also commiting to doing the Outdoor Hour challenges laid out here. Not sure when we'll fit them in, but fit them in we will!!

Now that you are all bored to tears, assuming you've actually slogged through this far, I will leave you with a great quote (I'm not beyond bribery, lol):

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
---John W. Gardner

ETA: I went back and added the link for the Nature Study website. It's worth checking out since it's totally cool!

My 25 Things

I've been meaning to post this here... and well, since we're all a bit under the weather I am lacking in other inspiration and I'm taking taking the easy way out. Sooooo... with that kind of intro, here's my 25 Things About Me

1. I like to think I am funny... I'm probably not, though.
2. I enjoy the gratuitous use of elipses... I really do.
3. I went to an all girls public high school and graduated second in my class.
4. In college, I only took a Latin class because all the sections for Spanish were closed, and Latin has no oral proficiency requirement. I ended up being a Classical Studies major.
5. I also majored in the Biological Basis of Behavior (biopsychology).
6. I proposed to my husband, twice... and was turned down both times.
7. I can't sing, or dance, or play an instrument, therefore I can never be a beauty pageant contestant.
8. I didn't learn to drive til after I was married... I was 22, with a house, and two vehicles that I couldn't drive parked in the garage.
9. After learning to drive, I once drove my car into the wall of that garage.
10. I used to do sleep deprivation research. It was the coolest work I've ever done. I sometimes dream about getting my PhD and doing research again.
11. I chronically lose things, especially my keys. If I ever come to visit you, I will probably leave something behind. Just expect it.
12. Before I ever had kids, I knew I would be a crunchy parent. Some things have worked out the way I expected (cloth diapering, homebirthing, tandem nursing, etc) and some things are so much harder than I thought they would (like being patient).
13. I love to cook. I hope to some day make all of my own food from ingredients I have grown myself.
14. I dream of owning a Christmas tree farm in Maine.
15. I have thrown more than one party that no one showed up to.
16. I always wanted six kids... and six dogs. Current count: 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 fish.
17. There was a period of time when I was known as Princess Hippo, and it didn't bother me. I used to own pajamas with ice-skating hippos on them!
18. I love the smell of coffee, though I don't tolerate the caffeine well anymore. When I was pregnant, I loathed the smell of coffee.
19. I can jump double dutch.
20. I was the statue of liberty for Halloween in second grade.
21. I think grammar lessons are cool... diagramming sentences, that's where it's at, baby!
22. I get hyper when I am tired. If I seem extra spastic, I probably didn't sleep well the night before.
22 1/2. It has been seven years since I've had a good night's sleep. I am usually spastic.
23. I am not a native Texan, but I REALLY wish I was. As a birthday gift, my husband once awarded me a certificate of honorary texan-ness. Then he rescinded it. He would mock me that even the dogs were native texans. When my daughter was born in PA, it became clear that the girls would just have to stick together.
23 1/2. Ironically, my daughter and I are the only ones in the family who do not like snow and want to stay in Texas. The boys (who are all native Texans) want to move somewhere cold.
24. I love watching stand up comedy.
25. I would love to meet Chris Berman, and hang out with him for an afternoon. I used to dream about working for ESPN.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Night in the Woods

A few weeks ago I took the kids camping overnight with some friends of ours. Owl Poppa was working, and to be honest, he is not overjoyed at the thoughts of packing up our stuff to go to the woods and pretend we don't have a house. So, it was just me, the three little owls, and another family.

I used to camp alot as a kid, and it is something I always wanted to do with my children. I had great dreams of hiking through the woods, teaching the kids about nature, cooking over a campfire... ahhh, memories. But, like I said, Owl Poppa... well, not so much. My awesome artist friend Brendy was kind enough to share her family camp out with us, and to overlook how neurotically nervous I was about the whole deal :) I just really wanted everything to go well, both for me and for the little owls.

And it did! YAY! With help from Brendy's husband, we got the tent pitched, got gear unpacked, set up camp. We took the kids to play in the river, cooked dinner over the campfire, made s'mores, and spent our first night sleeping in the woods...

which is much harder than I remember it being. First of all, all four of us were sleeping in a 7 x 7 tent. And it was hot. And quiet. I had alot of trouble falling asleep. There was the racoon in the middle of the night who was trying to open our coolers (which had to be moved to the cars). There was the guy a few campsites down who kept coming and going on his motorcycle. Then K's eczema was super bad that day (before we even left, not due to the trip) so she scratched and itched all night long. And W is still nursing over night, so there was that variable to consider.

But we made it!!!! We were up before 7 am, excited at surviving our first camp out! (I think the other campers were not so excited about us being up SO early) After a yummy camp breakfast, we packed up and spent the day relaxing by the river.

I could say more (of course) but I'll just leave you with a few cool pics from our trip:

Isn't this place beautiful?

J doing what J does

My water baby, W

And of course, J and K with their first S'mores!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Super Shout Out

My friend Dawn is the super coolest person ever... she made this awesome blog layout just for me. YAY! I promise I will make some super cool thing on my blog to honor her... but not tonight. W is sleeping in my arms. He is sounding awfully croupy and is very unhappy.

I also promise I will update my sad little blog soon. Really. We have had so much going on lately. Just hang in there... I'll have updates soon (because I know so many of you are on the proverbial edge of your seats waiting to hear what else I have to say, lol).

In the meantime, just keep checking back to admire the super awesome owl theme.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Schooling Never Stops

Owl Poppa and J are watching the basketball game... at least the game is on. Right now they are involved in a deep discussion about advertising and how it tries to trick you into buying things! I love it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

More On Mother's Day

Hope all of y'all had a great Mother's Day. With the kids at MILs, Owl Poppa and I took W out to lunch on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, the food was good, the company was terrific. The bigger kids brought me home paper flowers they made for me. :)
On Sunday, we woke up late, had a lazy day, went to lunch at my favorite Tex Mex place. Nothing says I love you like chicken burritos!

It's back to our regular school week this week. Today also starts my first week of trying not to leave the house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Though this week we need to adjust for the fact that K has her final ballet practice on Wednesday.

Busy day ahead... hope everyone had a restful weekend and a happy Mother's Day. Here's looking forward to this week!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Mother's Day Present

My house is soooo quiet (or at least it was until Owl Poppa turned on the basketball game). My mother-in-law took J and K overnight as a present to me, and W fell asleep at 7:15.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Family Night Pizza Recipe

When we have our weekly Family Night, we almost always make homemade pizza (the other default is taco party... letting the kids assemble their own tacos at the table). Homemade pizza is fun, because we can either make one big pie, or several small ones, and can change the toppings around as we feel like it! Oh, I love versatilty. So... here is the recipe for quick and easy homemade pizza crust. This is a no rise pizza crust... yes you read that correctly... no rising... no need to start thinking about dinner in the early afternoon (who has time for that, anyway?)... no getting to 5pm and thinking, "oh no! I forgot to make the pizza dough, we'll have to order out!"

1T (or 1 packet) yeast
1 T sugar or honey (we use our yummy raw honey from the farmer's market)
1 C warm water
2 1/2 C flour
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt

In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar or honey in the cup of warm water. Wait until the whole mix is frothy and bubbly, about 10 minutes. This step is otherwise know as "proofing the yeast."
Add remaining ingredients, and mix with your hands until it forms a ball. Dough will be somewhat sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes (this is a great job for the kids).
Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl while you assemble the stuff to top the pizza, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle a baking stone (it really does taste better cooked on a pizza stone, but you can use a baking sheet if that's whatcha got) with cornmeal, and roll out the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough with additional olive oil before adding toppings.
Add desired sauce/cheese/topping combo and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for around 15 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe comes out really well with whole wheat flour. You can substitute some or all of the white flour for whole wheat. For each cup of whole wheat flour, add about a tablespoon of water to the dough before kneading. And don't skip the drizzling the top with olive oil.

Favorite toppings at the Owl Nest:
shredded barbecue chicken and sliced shallots
riccota cheese dropped on in big blobs
canadian bacon
whole cloves of garlic (they roast right on the pizza and cook up super soft and mellow... yum!)
leaves of fresh spinach
sliced baby portabella mushrooms

Buon Appetito!

Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

These were the May Day cookies we baked! This is a fun recipe for getting little hands (and thumbs) helping in the kitchen.

1 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
2/3 C cocoa powder
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
strawberry jam

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Stir in vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients (does anybody really do this step?) and combine with the sugar/butter mixture.
Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Using your thumb (or your kids thumbs, lol), make an indentation in the top of each cookie ball. Using a teaspoon, add a small amount of strawberry jam to fill each indentation.
Bake for 9-11 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
Yield is approximately 2 dozen cookies

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy May Day!

Yes, I know May Day was yesterday. We just do things differently here in the Owl Nest. We stretched May Day into a two day fiesta!

Yesterday, we made May Day garlands. We used pipecleaner and strung them with pony beads and flower petals from the craft store. Pipecleaners worked beautifully because they were stiff... it was even easy for W to string his beads. We even made a mini-crown for Bianca (K's doll).

We read a few cute May Day books. The kids love The Morn of May Fest. We also read The Rainbow Tulip, which was especially nice for its hispanic cultural references.

This morning, we made paper-cone May Day Baskets. We spent all morning singing "A Tisket, a Tasket, we made a May Day Basket." We baked some chocolate jam thumbprint cookies (will post the recipe tomorrow... must get to bed), and delivered the baskets to friends and the new neighbors across the street.

Here are the kids (and Bianca) modelling their May Day crowns before going out to deliver the baskets. There are no pictures of the baskets, or the delivery, because my camera stinks!

J had a demo this afternoon, so he is in his capoeira uniform :)
K and Biance... the Princesses of the May

W thought he was cute... we agreed!

Oh, and did you know that in Hawaii, they call May Day... Lei Day. We're planning our luau for the end of the month! :) Happy Spring everyone!


I’ve got five pockets in my overalls
Got five pockets in my overalls
I got two on the back,
one on the bib
and two in the ordinary, everyday,
regular place
In the front.

I just downloaded this album for the kids today! Hooray! I remember being a little girl in Catholic school, listening to this record in our classroom. It is still as awesome as I remember it being. The little owls are loving it! And yay for downloading albums... talk about instant gratification :)

You can preview all the tracks at the Amazon link above, but you can listen to the full track of Pockets here... just watch out... it's really catchy!