Friends, it is COLD here in Wisconsin.
Even the trees are shivering.
But before we talk about shivering trees,
please take a tiny peek at some of our recent school activities:
We did a little exploring at our local nature center.
Unfortunately, we didn't see any animals, but we saw plenty of animal tracks!
The forest was beautiful.
On New Years Eve, our little downtown had it's own special celebration,
complete with it's very own ball drop.
We've never gone because it's always too cold.
Instead, we watch on tv.
This year, they let Chinese lanterns go.
We live very near downtown, so we raced to our backyard to take a peek.
The bigger lights are from my neighbors house, but
the tiny specks up in the sky are the lanterns.
It was sooo pretty- my picture doesn't do justice.
We've been learning about creation lately.
We recently talked about fish, and how special they are.
We learned how their silvery lining reflects their surroundings.
We made fish out of aluminum foil to make it a little more hands on.
The boys enjoyed experimenting with reflections.
They had so much fun with their fish, in fact,
that they wanted to make aquariums. Hehe.
We are extremely low on boxes at the moment,
so we made due with what we could find. Ha.
I love how the boys were able to do 99% of this project on their own.
I LOVE having creative boys!!
Close up of The Fantastic Okapi's aquarium.
One fish is hiding in the Hormel Meat castle. Ha. The other is in sea weed.
There's even a clam, complete with a cotton ball pearl!
One of the Fantastic Okapi's fish, reflecting off of my camera case.
Here is The Green Owl and his aquarium. Let's take a peek inside:
Ha. I love the expressions on the fish!
He thought they needed a blanket,
so he threw one of my great grandma's doilies inside.
Yep, it's that cold here in Wisconsin!
Even the fish are freezing!
We are learning about graphs in math. Fun stuff.
We read this book today, before completing our math pages.
Our Bible verse for the week!
We've been learning about sight as well.
Here's our little diagram of an eye.
Excuse my messy handwriting-
small writing just doesn't work for me!
And here is one of the Green Owl's recent doodles. So sweet.
Ooo! And here is one of my recent thrift store finds.
SO excited about this! And it's in mint condition.
-18 degrees. Feels like -48. Shiver.
Yep, it's that cold here!
We'll be stuck inside for a few days.
The only exciting thing about this weather is that it's from the North Pole.
Is it weird that that's exciting to me? Ha.
Other than that, it's not much fun.
We've been praying for the mailmen and other people who work outside.
This weather definitely makes us appreciate
our little house, heat, and warm clothing.
Here are a few photos taken from (inside!) my house:
Insane ice build up in our gutters.
The icicles get so heavy they actually pull our gutters off of our house...
so, we have to break them off every once in awhile.
Our cold backyard.
Even the squirrels are snuggling up today.
It's approximately 120 degrees warmer in Sanibel, Florida right now.
(My most favorite place in the world)
One. hundred. and. twenty. degrees. WARMER.
I'll be dreaming of Sanibel tonight.
The dogs won't leave the warmth of the vents.
As soon as they come in from outside, this is where they end up, ha.
In other news,
The Fantastic Okapi and Green Owl received awesome
super hero costumes for Christmas.
I'll show them off as soon as I'm able to do a decent outdoor photo shoot.
As some of you may know, my word for 2013 was PERSPECTIVE.
(Check out my 10,000 Reasons link to read more about this)
I have a new word for 2014... and it's:
I want to be more intentional with my time.
I want to spend more time in the Word, reading my Bible.
I want to be intentional about having this special Bible time with my family.
I want to limit my time online.
(Yes, this includes blog posts)
My faith and my family are my top priorities.
We have a tiny house, and it's easy to become discouraged by it,
but I want to be content with what I have.
I hope to be intentional in keeping my house clean,
so the contentment is easier to come by.
Well friends, if you had to pick a word to focus on this new year,
what word would YOU pick?
Once again I've been stinky with taking pictures.
I've also been stinky with blog updates.
But, I do have a few fab things to share with you today.
I was happy to spend some time with my beautiful nieces.
The boys enjoyed their time with their cousins, too.
We started our Advent calendar.
Every day we open a package from the white basket.
(Next year I hope to sew burlap sacks)
Each day has scripture, an ornament, small treat and an activity.
Here are a few of the ornaments:
There are a lot of fun activities, too-
like writing our names in Emperor Augustus' record book,
family game night, making Christmas cards, sleeping under the tree
and creating our own little nativity scenes.
Green Owl (left) and Fantastic Okapi (right)
It's fun to see the Fantastic Okapi drawing his own people/animals this year,
and the Green Owl's coloring skills are lookin' good!
I found the Fantastic Okapi reading a book on his own for the first time.
Woo hoo! Hehe.
Love the independence and confidence, too.
He did some writing on his own today, too (sorry, no picture!)
He wanted to write "Ashton's fish," but wrote "Ashton is fish" instead. Heh.
So, that gave us a little something to talk about.
I love those moments, and am so thankful I get to be part of them.
We started another Arnold Lobel book, Mouse Soup.
We started learning "or" words in spelling.
I decided to try something new and had him spell the words before seeing them.
His smile says it all- he got them all right,
with the exception of the capital "H" on horn.
And we had some fun playing in the snow, too!
The Fantastic Okapi had a hard time sleeping tonight,
so he kept me company making Christmas cookies at midnight.
Okay, not quiiiiite midnight- it was more like 1030pm.
It was nice to have his company, and I'm thankful we can sleep in tomorrow.
And we'll be eating cookies for breakfast, yeah!
The Green Owl will help decorate them tomorrow.
After we finished making cookies,
I asked him to go back to bed while I cleaned up.
Awhile later I found him in the living room reading his Bible
in the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights.
Definitely a moment to treasure.
Confession: I have not been very super at photo documenting our days.
The memory card insert thing on my computer quit working. (Boo!)
If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know.
I'll even give you a high five!
I'm usually semi good at figuring these things out,
but haven't had any luck with this.
Anyway, since the memory card insert thing is no longer working,
I have to use a USB cord.
I really miss my memory card insert thing.
Things were so much quicker and easier when it was working. Sniff.
We took a field trip the the local post office.
It was a "behind the scenes" field trip and it was SUPER awesome.
Er, let me correct that-
it was suuuuuuuuuuuuuper awesome!
If you know anything about our house, we love our mail!
For Veteran's Day, The Fantastic Okapi wrote this note to a veteran.
We finished our chapter book on Squanto and watched this dvd to celebrate.
The Fantastic Okapi has been a reading whiz lately.
Our current read aloud is The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
The Fantastic Okapi is reading Small Pig by Arnold Lobel.
Mr. Lobel is one of m favorite authors.
We read his book Owl at Home earlier this year.
The Green Owl's been busy writing me lots of little love notes.
He's also been enjoying lots of play dough time.
We tried making our own play dough but it turned out very sticky.
I kept adding additional flour and salt, but it was still a sticky mess.
I've had success making it in the past, but not this time!
So, thanks to "Playdoh" for making awesome playdough.
We've had some fun using a bunch of free Thanksgiving worksheets
from the "Teachers Pay Teachers" website.
Aren't we all cute? Heh.
We almost always do school in our pajamas.
This was a fun math activity.
We're learning how to do addition/subtraction with double digits.
I placed a certain # of Lego guys in each cup.
The Fantastic Okapi picked a cup and counted the Lego guys inside.
Then he had to do some math to figure out how many were in the other cup.
It was fun.
Here is the coordinating worksheet that I made.
Excuse the dog hair. White dogs shed. A lot!
We made some fun art, too!
This was a "follow the directions" task.
I drew something on a white board and asked them to copy it, step by step.
After we finished, I traced their drawings with permanent marker.
After that, they were free to color 'em up with oil pastels and watercolors.
I think they're really cute.
We also made postcards to send to our Chemo Angels.
Last week, the boys received SUPER cute letters
from their penpals in Missouri.
Photos coming with my next blog post,
so please stay tuned!
Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.
What are you feeling thankful for?
Okay, so- I just realized something:
I need to be better at taking "regular" photos.
Sometimes my brain only thinks in "photo shoot" mode,
and then, when it comes time to post about our school week-
I realize I don't have many photos to share with you.
Part of the problemo is definitely in my head-
I wanna make every picture frame-worthy (d'oh!)
and the other problemo is the fact that I've had my zoom lens on my camera.
The zoom lens makes it difficult to take pictures at a close range.
Sooo, when I try to snap a picture of our school day,
I pretty much have to stand in another room, or on a chair, or...
well, you get the picture!
It's time for me to change my camera lens and
stop stressing over the "quality" of pictures I take;
that way, I can share more fun adventures with you- yahoo!!
We got super artsy this week,
and it was fun.
The boys doodled a giant pumpkins and then went paint-crazy with them.
We wrote mini stories to go with them too.
Here is The Green Owl's (4) story.
He wrote his name and the word "GROW."
And here is the Fantastic Okapi's story.
He decided to try a "fancy 'a'" at the end. Heh.
We've moved into double digit math which is super exciting. And fun!
So far, it's been pretty basic (10 + __)
We visited my parent's last night, and on the way home,
the Fantastic Okapi told me that Grandpa taught him some new math.
He said he could add by 20s.
I decided to quiz him,
and it just about knocked my socks off
when I realized he could add bigger numbers (like 20 + 50, 70 +10)
We haven't "officially" learned that in school yet. GOOD stuff.
In other news, I scored these AWESOME math giraffes
at a thrift store today for a whopping .25 cents.
An entire box of math giraffes. Um, AWESOME!
Basically, you spin the circle, add it to then number with the + sign,
and then flip it over to check your answer.
Both of the boys love them.
In Social Studies, we continue to learn about the pilgrims early struggles.
We're also continuing to read our chapter book about Squanto.
(I think we'll finish it this week)
We mastered some "tricky" spelling words.
(gave, have, save, made,etc)
I thought they would be trickier than they actually ended up being, though.
It was a nice "treat" to zip through them.
We had a few foggy days this week,
so we learned about fog a bit.
We took time to play in it, too.
We baked some yummy bread.
Every week, the Fantastic Okapi arranges
Mr. Mustard Seed's NFL football helmets.
He makes each team face off against it's opponent.
He also finds each team on a map,
and measures how far the team will travel.
He always lets us know which team is travelling the furthest.
(I WILL take photos of this for week 10. Promise!)
And, we did some good ol' trick or treating.
In the pouring rain.
Seriously. It rained cats. And dogs. And even a few chickens.
The boys had fun mixing and matching their costumes.
(They have a huge collection of dress up clothes)
I present to you: Ninja-Pirate-Super hero and Ninja-Knight!
The niftiest ninjas you ever did see!
Our homeschool will be on a vacation next week.
We're very far ahead in our curriculum,
so we're going to pace ourselves a bit.
We'll do some real life learning.
(The learning never stops!)
I'll be sure to take photos.
Thanks for taking a peek into our week.
It's kinda been awhile since I've posted a blog entry.
But have no fear, I'm back, and I have weeks 7 + 8 to share with you!
We learned about Columbus during our 7th week.
Er, well, it wasn't actually part of our purchased curriculum,
but I found a few really awesome resources on the
"teachers pay teachers" website- I just couldn't pass them up.
Best of all- they were FREE!
I'm all about freebies,
especially when they add a little extra fun to the school day.
We counted some syllables "Columbus-style."
The Fantastic Okapi learned how to make tallies and to graph.
Totally new concepts, which we had a lot of fun with.
I love teaching math; it's pretty much my favorite subject to teach.
The Fantastic Okapi seems to loves it just as much!
A tiny Columbus journal entry with some labeling.
The boys each did a little Columbus art.
The Fantastic Okapi made his own ship with Columbus on board.
He had fun "making" Columbus.
This is the book The Fantastic Okapi is currently reading aloud.
We also learned about the equator and different climates.
The Fantastic Okapi copied this page from "Draw, Write, Now!"
I sometimes write his journal entries with a marker
and then he traces over the top.
That way, I can be sure all of the letters fit properly.
Other times, I let him write on his own (as pictured above with Columbus)
And, in Social Studies, the pilgrims finally made it to America.
We found this ship at a local thrift store and just couldn't pass it up,
and it's totally made social studies come to life.
I read our chapter, and The Fantastic Okapi acts it out.
In today's lesson the pilgrims dropped their anchor when they reached land.
We thought it was pretty cool beans our ship had an actual anchor that
WE could drop!
And how about The Green Owl?
What's he been up to?
Well, I was VERY excited to find some old school water paint coloring books.
(Thrift store scores, ya'll!)
The Green Owl did a little water painting last week.
I was surprised to find him looking through our (gigantic!) animal encyclopedia.
He found the monkey section and then....
grabbed himself some SCRABBLE tiles and started spelling!
He started writing "MONKEY."
He's only 4 and we technically don't "do" school yet,
so he's taught himself how to write letters.
He doesn't form them all correctly, and we need to work on that marker grip,
but we'll get to that when we start kindergarten next year.
Until then, I'm going to let him enjoy these little moments exploring and learning.
The finished project.
Way to go, Green Owl, way to go!
Total delicousness right here, folks!
My menu from last week was almost all "homemade" goodness.
HUGE undertaking- and I wasn't totally sure I'd stick to it,
but I have! High fives, anyone??
I've made the following homemade treats: chicken nuggets, refried beans, chocolate chip cookies, bread, pancake mix, pizza dough, chicken noodle soup,
pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and toaster strudels (pictured above)
Was it a lot of work?
Eh, kind of, but not as bad as I thought it would be.
Annnnd, it was actually really fun.
My house has smelled amazing!
And, the boys have enjoyed helping too.
We recently took a mini vacation to one of our favorite places.
We were able to spend some time with some of God's most beautiful creatures.
DEER! They are so pretty.
We were able to feed them, pet them, and observe them.
After spending time with the local Wisconsin deer,
we were excited to see deer from other countries on our way out.
(Sorry, no photos of these deer. Bummer, I know!)
All in all, the field trip allowed us to incorporate science, social studies, reading
and even a little math, too.
Here are a few candid shots we'd like to share with you:
the Green Owl did indeed spend some time playing with deer droppings.
Science at it's finest, right?
I'd love to know what the deer was thinking. Ha.
I was happy to see the Green Owl's smile in this photo,
I didn't even wonder what was in his hand.
Eh, really hoping it wasn't a deer dropping. Ha.
Heh, is it just me, or does it seem like there are a TON of eyes in this photo?!
The deer loved the Fantastic Okapi.
Future Deer Whisperer, perhaps.
My homies and me.
Mr. Mustard Seed!
How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom, You made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
A friendly fella up close!
Well, thanks for going on this little journey with us.
We hope you enjoyed our photos, and...
don't forget to smile!
We have desks!
...and the boys *LOVE* them.
I made little name (first,last) plates to put on their desk
with verses from the book of Psalms.
We were fortunate enough to go on two field trips this past week.
Friends invited us to tour Great Harvest Bread Company.
It was a thousand times fun!
And today we visited a pumpkin patch.
The weather was a bit stormy (thunder and big downpours)
but I was still able get a few snapshot photos.
The Green Owl has been a bit under the weather,
so our time at the farm was cut a little short.
We still enjoyed our time and had fun creating memories.
A tiny peek at week 4:
We made some fall art and talked about the Fruit of the Spirit.
We also listened to one of our favorite "Go Fish" songs about
the Fruit of the Spirit:
I love this song.
And the dance moves, too!
G r o o v y !
And, we like to get groovy!
In Social Studies, we learned about the pilgrims from England.
They sailed to Amsterdam, Holland so they could worship God freely.
When they arrived in Holland,
they stood on a big hill that looked down over the city.
They could see rooftops, chimneys with storks, windmills and a dike.
We learned that Holland is a very low country,
and the dike protected it from being washed away.
The Fantastic Okapi drew this doodle.
It's a picture of the lesson.
(He's never complained about the social studies
textbooks, but the stories are long and not very exciting.
I sometimes wonder how much he's remembering,
so I decided to have him draw the lessons out.
It's definitely made social studies come to life a little more)
I was excited to find this book at the library!
A friend of mine told me about Hobby Lobby's little history figurines,
so we stopped by to pick up the Jamestown settlers and Powhatan Indians.
Who knew Social Studies could be so much fun!?
Math is pretty independent.
The Fantastic Okapi is busy coloring an addition riddle.
After a morning of school,
we usually sneak outside for some fort building!
And the Green Owl's been hangin' around too!
He's been curious about addition lately, which makes me happy.
Well, Week 4 is a wrap!
Check back next week to take a peek at Week 5!
What have we been up to in school this week?
Well, we finished our first chapter book, Owl At Home.
My parent's stopped by the day we were on the final chapter,
so The Fantastic Okapi was able to read to them.
His reading has really taken off this year, which has been fun to see.
In Social Studies, we've been reading about the pilgrims.
(At this rate, we should definitely be prepared for Thanksgiving!)
Math has been kind of basic.
And some fact families.
I'm ready to spice it up a bit.
Our Bible person of the week is Noah.
It was fun to learn the meaning of his name: rest!
We're also memorizing 1 John 4:15-16a and Galations 6:9.
For handwriting, we wrote letters to grandparents,
copied Bible verses
and rented a "Draw Right Now" book from the library.
We've also spent a bunch of time outside
(enjoying every last drop of summer),
visiting with friends,
thrifting, doctor appts and trips to the grocery store.
Sometime soon, I hope to take you on a day by day adventure
through our homeschool... eh, perhaps sometime in October or November!
Portraits of my parents, for Grandparent's Day.
The boys wrote a little note on the backside.
The Fantastic Okapi learned to ride a bike!
We aren't the biggest bikers... as a matter of fact,
Mr. Mustard Seed and I don't even own bikes. (Eek.)
But, we hope to get bikes next year,
so we can cruise around town together as a family.
I think it will be fun!
And how about The Green Owl?
What's he been up to?
Well, he's been writing letters like a letter obsessed maniac
annnnd he made us some Scrabble Soup.
I opened the fridge one night, and was like, "What.is.that?!"
Aha, indeed, it was Scrabble Soup! Ha.
With two weeks under our belt,
I feel compelled to share a few reasons why I love homeschooling.
Of course, the list of reasons is pretty endless,
but here are a few things that stood out to me this past week...
We're able to learn through real life experiences.
Each day. Every day. Together as a family!
We can do school in our pajamas if we wanna!
We have so much creative freedom.
Here is a postcard we made for one of the boy's little friends;
she likes dolphins.
And, perhaps one of my most favorite moments from this week-
watching the boys play and learn together.
Seeing their friendship grow...
hearing them encourage one another.
It really makes my heart happy!
They're even sharing a computer chair. Hehe.
When we're out and about as a family during the school day,
people often ask how old the boys are and if they go to school.
My boys are funny and never know how to answer,
because, technically, they don't "go" to school.
We just "do" school- it's part of our every day life.
After I explain that we are a homeschooling family,
we usually receive one of two responses,
"That's so awesome! Do they like it?!" or
"How are they socialized?"
To be honest, "socializing" my boys has never been a priority of mine.
I feel there are far more important things to focus on like
learning, growing in God's word and likeness, fostering healthy relationships,
and interacting with people in our community.
I've often wondered,
"What's the big deal with socialization...?'"
I stumbled upon a few blogs last night that had awesome articlesabout this very subject.
I'd like to recommend these two blog posts:
"Confession- I don't want my boys to be socialized"http://www.servingjoyfully.com/2013/09/12/homeschool-confession-i-dont-want-my-boys-to-be-socialized/
"Why my kids will never be socialized"http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/2011/01/why-my-kids-will-never-be-socialized/
Simply click on the link and it will (should!) take you there!
Another reason I love homeschooling?
I have the best teacher's helper in the entire world...
Here he is in action:
...He even wears pajamas to school!
The "before" - a wee bit messy!
Gathering materials and things...
definitely working hard!
...and the "after!"
Pretty cool, eh?
It's a TMNT sewer lair!
That's how we "did school" today!
Here are a few close ups:
The best part?
All the building materials were thrifty leftovers from our remodeling.
The cd player is a pencil sharpener, hehe.
Aside from these fun adventures,
we've been kicking butt with our curriculum, too!
(It's what ninja's do, you know!)
So far we've learned a bit about Columbus,
the Spanish settling in St. Augustine, Florida
and the English settling in Jamestown, Virginia.
We're ending our unit on Jamestown this week,
so I am surprising the boys with a Pocahontas dvd and popcorn!
I'm picky and make sure he only uses capital letters at the beginning of words.
(Although, I think I am going to crack down on that next week...
all letters pictured above should be lowercase!)
We got to talk about the importance of straight "t's" this week too.
See word no 7.
Practicing some math on a hand-made thrifty game we recently found!
We learned about David and studied the Psalms a bit too.
Ironically enough, before our school week started, the Fantastic Okapi
made a special request for David to be our "Person of the Week,"
so it was neat to see how he fit into our curriculum, too!
Pictured: our David's with Jonathan's robe and armor.
We baked some homemade biscuits too!
September is National Biscuit month, my friends!
Having Mr. Mustard Seed home to help with school this week allowed
me to make a few homemade deliciousnesses:
(Yep, I just invented that word... do you like it?)
...I also had time to rearrange our school space a bit.
The object in the lower right corner is our kitchen table.
Have a super weekend, super friends!