Sunday, December 23, 2012

Making Butter (kind of)

The girls and I are reading through Little House in the Big Woods together.  In the process we are working on a lapbook.  For one of our sections last week, we made (attempted) butter in a jar and made paper snowflakes.  We happened to be making the snowflakes as it was snowing outside.  It didn't stick, but the girls still had fun watching it come down for a couple of hours.  Our butter turned out more like whipped cream.  I added powdered sugar and let the girls eat it afterwards.  Not sure where the butter went wrong.  Perhaps too much vigorous shaking.  Better luck next time.   

I threw this one in her just because she is ridiculously cute

Nutcracker Ballet 2012

We went to the Nutcracker in Portland again this year.  Madison has gone for three years now and it was Kenzie's second year attending.  The girls get to go when they turn three. This year we went with all of the girls' best friends.  We took the girls out for lunch at the Spaghetti Factory before going to the Nutcracker.  The girls have the ballet memorized by now and perform it constantly at home. 
New Nutcrackers


It was nearly impossible to get 7 girls, ages 3-5 to smile at the camera at the same time.  One of the moms asked the girls a question to get them to smile and focus but instead they raised their hands.  It turned out being one of the shots with the most girls smiling and looking. 

Eating lunch on the train car in the Spaghetti Factory!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Late Night Cuddles

A couple of hours after we put Ellie to bed the other night she woke up crying.  She is an awesome sleeper, so this was very uncharacteristic of her.  We think it may have been her 3 teeth that were coming in that was bothering her.  We were thankful for the extra 15 minutes to hang out with our baby girl one on one before putting her back to bed. 

Gingerbread Castles

I found these Cinderella Gingerbread Castles on clearance just before Thanksgiving.  The girls were so excited to decorate their own princess castles.  Truth be told, I am pretty sure that they ate more candy than they put on the castles.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Concert 2012

This was the girls' third time singing in the Christmas Concert at Church.  This year there were no nerves beforehand.  The girls were both excited to get up and sing.  You can tell in the video (which won't currently upload) that Madison is a little nervous, but she is definitely much more confident than previous years. Next year Madison will graduate to JOY Kids (the big kids choir).  They meet weekly to practice and have a big performance at Christmas and again in the Spring.  She loves singing, so I can see this being something she really might enjoy.

Spoke to soon...

I think I spoke to soon when I said homeschooling was going so well.  This week, if one kids isn't crying or whining about something, another one is.  They are fussy, cranky, arguing, crying, whining, fighting, tattling, complaining messes.  What happened?!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Homeschool Check In

I thought I'd check in with how our first official homeschool year is going. 
So far, it is exceeding my expectations.

I am actually doing it, for one.  There was a part of me that thought I might not be diligent enough to make it happen day in and day out.   The girls wouldn't let me, even if I wanted to.  I love the routine of it, and we do it most days.  We average three to four days each week, which was my goal.  However I also love that if our week has been crazy and the girls don't seem up to it, we have the flexibility not to do it. 
  Another benefit: The girls and I are closer than ever.  They are growing in areas where they had weaknesses.  Madison especially has grown so much in terms of her confidence and her ability to recover from difficult situations/frustration/failure/insecurity,etc.  If we made strides in only this one area it all would have been worth it. 
Academically it is going really well.  I feel like I set us up for success by keeping our schedule super light.   I have also been blessed with awesome kids that beg to do school, even on Saturday.  Madison finished in just three months both the math and spelling curriculum I had planned on using all year.   I light of this, I have decided to add in a few subject for the second half of the year. 
In addition to Copywork, Math U See and All about Spelling,  we will be doing Story of the World (History), Roadtrip USA (Geography and History), and various lapbooks including Little House in the Big Woods, Money, etc.  I also plan on teaching Kenzie to read in January.  I am not sure if she is ready but we  will give it a shot.  If she picks it up great, if not, we will try again in a few months.
The challenges of homeschooling so far:
 have been the vast amount of homeschool curriculum and information out there.  I am a researcher, and have found myself second guessing my homeschool curriculum choices and philosophy.  It shouldn't be a scary thing to take your child's education into your own hands, it should be normal, but for some reason, it is scary.   So, the self-doubt is a challenge.  Another challenge is the lack of a break from the kiddoz.  They are always around, and while I think that the benefits of this will be HUGE in the long run, sometimes it can be a bit taxing.  I long for 3 to 4 hours to myself to run errands, grab coffee, plan homeschooling, etc!  It's not that I don't get out, because I do, my trouble comes when I start comparing myself to all of the moms that have their children in school and get a beak from at least one or two of their kids for a few hours each day.  Sometimes I get a little envious of that part of it.  But I don't wish that our roles were reversed. 
All in all, I am very pleased with our first few months of homeschooling and thankful for the opportunity to do it.  I am super excited about what the rest of the year has in store.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Traditions 2012

I love celebrating advent in a multitude of ways in our home each year in December.  I have so many advent calendars and activities that I have made, purchased, or inherited from my mother.  We can't possibly do them all (well) each year.  This year we are focusing on: 

The blog linked above is an awesome Jesse Tree Advent with paper ornaments for your kiddos to color each day while you read the Scripture passage. I have each girl color one ornament and then glue them together so that they are double sided. Then we hole punch it and hang it on our Jesse Tree. I have seen blogs where 28 moms get together and make 28 of one of the 28 Jesse Tree symbols. The ornaments are adorable! I couldn't get it together for this year, but I am hoping to round up 28 moms to have it done by next Christmas.
These aren't in print anymore.  I have no idea why.  My mom used them with my brothers when they were small.  There are 12 ornaments, each with a symbol for the different names of Christ.  There is a story and a scripture passage to go along with each ornament.  We hang the ornaments on our Jesse Tree.

Jotham's Journey

Saving our Change
This isn't an advent tradition, but it is something we will do each year.  We didn't start until September this year, but in the future we will save all year long.  This morning the girls and I sorted and counted the money that they had to spend.  Then we looked through the catalog and the girls selected things to send to people in extreme poverty around the World.  They chose things like baby chickens, blankets, clothes, and stuffed animals.

Candy Advent Calendars

Felt Christmas Tree
Not and advent thing, but I made it hoping it would keep the girls away from the real tree.
Playmobil Advent Calendar
The girls got a Playmobil advent calendar last year from their Grandma and Grandpa Brasil.  They loved it!  They still play with all of the pieces.  This year for Christmas the girls are getting the Playmobil Princess Castle.  This advent calendar coordinates with the castle perfectly.  They take turns opening a new piece of the set each day. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Tree Hunting

We went back to our favorite tree farm this year.  The first year we went was the first year this sweet old man had owned the place.  He comes and cuts down the tree for you and takes it to your car.   His trees are beautifully trimmed and even more beautifully priced.  This year is his third year and the place is really developing, complete with blow up Santa,  complimentary mistletoe and candy canes!  This is one of our favorite events each year.  My brother and sister in law came with us this year.  Unlike my Dad, who takes an hour to find the perfect tree, we both found ours within about 2 minutes. 

My brothers beautiful little family!

Um seriously, I can't get over her cuteness.  She talk now and I swear everything she says is the most adorable thing I've ever heard. 

Thanksgiving 2012

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year.  My mom and dad and little brothers came down from Washington.  Josh's brother and my nephews came from Washington as well.  And my oldest brother and his wife and my two nieces were here too.   I love Thanksgiving, don't get me wrong.  But it sure is a ton of planning, work, time and money that goes into a 30 minute meal.  It kills the deal-loving, cheap-skate part of me just a little... 

My nephew with his Crayon Turkey.

Kids Table.  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we have a full kids table at holidays now.  I remember being at the kids table what seems like a few years ago.  And the adults seemed so old.  I am that "old" adult now...when did this happen?!

This picture takes me back to when my cousins and I were younger.  We have so many pictures of us sucking our thumbs at holiday events...