Friday, December 3, 2010

No more vacation time for us

We pretty much spent the last 3 weeks using up every last bit of vacation time we had for our school year. Were okay with that too. I needed a week to adjust to my new medication, which made me very drowsy, and gave me weird side effects. I'm pretty used to it now, and can still feel the side effects, but they don't bother me as bad as they did in the beginning.

I started feeling better towards Thanksgiving, so of course I was up for some black Friday shopping with my best friend. We went and had our traditional Thanksgiving with my in laws, and then we hurried back home. I thought I was smart by wearing a thermal, a sweater, and taking a blanket.... Boy was I wrong! Next year I'm wearing a double pair of socks, and taking a beanie, some gloves, and an extra blanket lol. I'm super excited with the deals I got though (I saved us a ton of money), because I went prepared. I stalked the black Friday ads the whole week before, and made a list. I shopped during the week, used coupons and compared deals. Target was a gold mine for us this year! We splurged a little this year, and got our oldest boy a desktop computer (can't wait to see his face!).

This last week we've been reviewing a bit what we did the last week we did school, so when we return to our studies next week it won't be a total shock lol. And we've been painting more wrapping paper. The kids have loved painting. I brought out all of our Christmas cookie cutters, sponge brushes, and regular brushes and let them go at it. I'm thinking of cutting up some cheap dollar store sponges into Christmas shapes for them to stamp as well, but we'll see.
Here they are painting up a storm. We used some packing paper that I've saved throughout the year that has come in our amazon packages. The key is to take a hot iron to them to get the wrinkles out. The other paper were using is a really inexpensive (around $3), but huge roll from Ikea.
Here's the first section of our wrapping paper roll laid out to dry. After it dries, I roll the dried end in on itself and paper clip it, so that the roll is in 2 separate parts (painted, and not yet painted). The kids have really loved adding in a lot of their hand prints, finger prints and painting in the cookie cutter shapes.
Our first wrapped gift of the season! This was a birthday gift for my niece. I was being extra cheap ( I meant thrift!), so I glued the open ends shut instead of using tape, and tied the package with a piece of yarn. He's kind of smudgy so you probably can't tell, but we cut out a gingerbread man out of the paper and used him as a card. The kids were super proud of their wrapping paper, and that makes me proud :)

We'll be back to our regular posting next week for sure, and I've got lots of fun links to share with you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adjusting and Recovery

I had a follow up appointment with my regular doctor last Tuesday, and it turns out that I had a stroke. Thinking back, it fits, and I was in denial. Migraines build up, and mine wasn't a build up.... but more of a sudden rush of pain. The right side of my face was drooping, and I was in denial. Let this be a lesson to not ignore your symptoms!

This week I spent sleeping, so no school for us :( I was put on a few daily meds (for preventative reasons), and I'm still adjusting so they make me really sleepy. And I haven't been eating (side effects), food just hasn't tasted the same :(

I'll be back to regular posting tomorrow! We've made some awesome pumpkin chocolate cookies, painted our own wrapping paper, and are getting ready to start making some great Christmas presents for family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

modifications and migraines

Sorry I've been m.i.a for the week, I had a lot on my plate. Tuesday I had Orion's SST meeting (that I've been crazy preparing for), then it was the sit and wait game. At the meeting we talked about making modifications for dyslexia, and it was pretty much what I've been doing with him. Wednesday afternoon we got the call that they indeed are going to evaluate him for learning disabilities, and I was supposed to go back on Friday to sign consent to evaluate forms... but yeah I started not feeling well. I'll write more about the meeting soon. Saturday morning Orion was throwing up, so we missed his football, and in the evening my husband took my Babe to his game. My sister in law picked me and the Littles up, so I can help her and my mother in law get ready for cheer competition on Sunday.

Sunday, I spent the day at cheer competition, and as we were heading home my head started hurting. I took a migraine pill, and didn't feel any relief :( About an hour later I took another, and tried to lay down to rest. I got up 10 minutes later, because my eye was throbbing.
This is me, when we got to the hospital. The whole right side of my face was swollen! Then we started hearing scary words like meningitis and stroke. Not good :( They gave me a cocktail of benedryl and compazine, which only made me sleepy and barely took the edge off of my migraine. I was so sleepy I said it was good enough (since it was now at least tolerable, and I wasn't blubbering like a baby), and we left. Monday wasn't spent any better, since I started feeling the pain in my head again. I left the hospital with a prescription for more compazine, and took that. It really doesn't help any :(  As of now, it's tolerable, but I can feel it building up. I have an appointment tomorrow with a new Dr (since our insurance switched), and hopefully I'll feel some relief soon.
And here's a nifty picture of my arm after my I.V. See the paper under my arm? That's the next printable I'm working on, Fry's first hundred words!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bits and pieces

I'm a little late on this, because I've been really busy getting ready for my son's SST meeting. Last week Bunny worked on the letter F, number 6, color green, and a some other concepts (cutting, coloring, tracing).
Here she is working on her Kumon coloring book. I really love this book, and so does she. We use pages from this book on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with the Kumon cutting.
Cutting from the Kumon book. I was very leery of letting her use scissors, but I found a pair that weren't very sharp, and fit her small hands. She's doing very good so far, and almost cutting a straight line now. Not bad for a 3 year old :)
Bunny loves working on her shape sorting game. She's really good at matching the shapes, but could use some work on identifying the names of the shapes. Were working on that!
Number tracing practice. I laminated this, and she uses a dry erase marker to practice her numbers. Another favorite of hers.

Working on magnet pages. I've been seeing the magnetic pom poms on other blogs, and decided to make them also. I got the pom poms from the dollar tree, and the magnets from walmart. They were very easy to make, all I did was hot glue the magnets to the pom poms. We laminate the pages, and place them on a cookie sheet (from the dollar tree). She's entertained by this activity for hours at a time, which is great!

Letter F practice. Do-a-dot page, sorting activity, and lacing letters. We do these every week with each letter.

Color matching cows (from Creative Learning Fun), and recognizing the color green.

We did a few other activities, but towards the end of the week I dropped the ball and forgot to take pictures. This week is shaping up to be a bit slower too, since we have that important meeting tomorrow morning. The boys have been working on air for science, and pilgrims/thanksgiving/mayflower for history. I'll post more about that tomorrow, till then!
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evaluation for learning disabilities

Last Thursday I submitted a formal letter to our local public school, requesting an evaluation for learning disabilities. I was told (when I called the school district, to ask about the process), that they cannot test for specific learning disabilities (like dyslexia), so I had to state what my concerns where in the letter. I don't know if all states have the same rules as California, but I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, if he doesn't have dyslexia (or if there are other disabilities), I'll finally know. On the other hand, it leaves me wondering how "spot on" this test will be, since it's not specific.I plan on blogging about our journey through this process, and hopefully someone will find this information useful.

I got the call today (from the school psychologist), that our SST (student success team) appointment is scheduled for next Tuesday. In California, the school district has 15 days upon receipt of a request for evaluation to schedule the initial SST meeting. If anyone wants, I can share the letter that I turned in requesting our evaluation. I was told that since I am homeschooling, I need to bring with me:

All of the curriculum my son is using
Samples of his work
My grading system
Any other methods that we have tried

That list leaves me a bit nervous, since I have no real grading system (except a pass/no pass), I teach green (we don't always do work on paper), and I use a lot of different internet resources. So, what's a concerned parent to do? I've decided I'm going to bring in every last book my son has used/is using/supplements from, bring in the science journal I've been making using all of his observation pages (they include writing and drawing), I will type out my pass/no pass grading system, type out a list of the different websites I pull resources from, and I'm bringing in our file folder games.

I'm hoping that they will view all of the above, as the different methods I have tried to help my son succeed. I am also making a chart, listing my concerns and how they impact him in different educational areas. My goal is to provide the school with a copy of my chart, and to remind myself of things I want to address. I can post the blank chart here also, for anyone interested. The psychologist informed me that, at this meeting the SST members will determine whether or not to proceed with evaluation, based on the information I provide. Maybe I'm being a bit excessive, but you can't take chances when it comes to your child's success :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baked Ziti

works for me wednesday at we are that family

As part of my contribution to what works for me Wednesday, I'm sharing one of my family's favorite dinner's. It's also my go-to recipe for potluck parties :) It's really quick and easy, and I usually make it during the day on days that we have football practice (that means we get home late), because it heats up nicely. Days like today!

I can't find my camera cord, so the picture of our delicious dinner will have to wait until the morning. Here's what you'll need:

1 box of ziti noodles (brand doesn't matter, but I like Barilla)
1 lb of ground hamburger meat
12 oz roll of pork sausage
1 large jar of spaghetti sauce (we use Prego)
1 large white onion
2-3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
salt and pepper
a brick of mozzarella cheese

Chop onion, and grate garlic (I feel like we taste the flavor more this way, than chopping). Combine onion, garlic, sausage and hamburger meat, and cook in a frying pan until done. Drain off fat. I boil my ziti noodles at the same time as I cook my meat, and drain. Grate mozzarella cheese. Pour ziti noodles in a baking dish, cover with meat mix, and spaghetti sauce. Mix until everything is blended. Cover in cheese, and bake in oven at 325 degrees, until cheese is melted.

Serve with garlic bread, and enjoy! Quick, easy, and cheap :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween Week!

 preschool corner

We didn't get much school work done this week, because we focused more on fun family activities. That was okay with me, and definitely okay with the kiddos :) We did do some undercover learning though!

We started the week off by doing our pumpkin seed experiment (you can find the chart we used on my printables page). The kids were really into tapping on the pumpkins, and examining them to see if they could guess which one had the most. Boy were we way off! Bunny guessed that there was 1 seed in the big and small pumpkins, and 11 in the middle one. Raymond guessed 50, 60, and 100, respectively. Boo Boo guessed 100 for all of them.
I scooped each pumpkins guts out, one by one. As soon as I would scoop them out the kids would sort through it to put the seeds in a bowl. Thankfully, I put down a cheap table cloth I picked up at the dollar store. Bunny touched the pumpkin guts once, decided it was gross, and watched a movie until we were done.
The results were pretty close. The small pumpkin had 432 seeds, the middle had 307, and the big one had 480. We found out that size sort of matters, the bigger the pumpkin the more seeds it'll have, but most are not mature enough. The small pumpkin had no immature seeds, whereas the large one had a ton of them. We only counted the ones we could eat.
The fruit of our hard labor... lots of yummy roasted pumpkin seeds!
When we were done with the seed experiment, I took the smallest pumpkin, cut it up and put it in the refrigerator. The next day we baked it in the oven, scooped out the cooked pumpkin and pureed it. Yummy, pumpkin puree! That little pumpkin made a ton of puree, which was refrigerated again (so we could drain off any excess water that would rise).
After portioning the puree out, we ended up with 2 home baked pumpkin pies, and enough for 2 more  placed in our freezer. The kids have loved our pumpkin week!
Right before football practice, we took our butterflies to the park to be released. That was a ton of fun, but somewhat sad. 4 out of 5 of our butterflies survived. The first one out of it's cocoon didn't fully develop it's wings. Raymond nicknamed it Butter, because it was all butter, and no fly.

Each of the kids took turns taking out a butterfly and releasing it. These are my favorite pictures of the week.

The last thing we did this week, was carve our pumpkin. Daddy did it, and the kids picked the template. We love our spooky pumpkin :) The kids can't wait to go trick-or-treating tomorrow night, so Have a Safe & Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Give me 5 minutes please....

Or, what works for us Wednesday :) When your homeschooling 3 children at different grade levels, "give me 5 minutes please," is something I would say quite frequently to my kids. My oldest is pretty independent, and thanks to our work strips, they always know what their supposed to be doing. My younger 2 however, need a lot of direction. I try my best to stay organized, and set things up ahead of time, so that everything runs smoothly. It just doesn't always happen like that. There's days when certain lessons run longer or shorter than I account for, which then leaves  someone sitting there waiting for my help.

My kids were getting into trouble playing fetch with the dogs (using their pencils), so I came up with activity bags. These have been a huge help to us all! The kids love them, and they've actually become more productive (they look forward to the bags).

Each bag has a different activity in it, to keep them occupied for a few minutes. I put simple activities in them, that can be cleaned up quickly and easily, and are inexpensive. Each bag has everything in it needed for that activity. Here's a few of the activities in our bags

pattern blocks w/ patterns
water color w/ paper and water container (clean empty pudding cup)
 how to draw books w/ paper
make a sign w/ neon cutouts and foam shapes and letters
noodle jewelry making (dyed pasta and yarn)
search and find containers (dyed rice in clear containers w/ small toys and buttons

The best part, is that everything in our bags came from the dollar tree (including the gallon ziplock bags), or around the house. Super easy, and super affordable way to occupy the kids, to buy yourself those few minutes you need. These have become so popular in my house, that my kids ask to use them during their free time now, instead of playing video games. Yay!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mission of the month

Mama Jenn has started a neat little goal, that looks like it really motivates others, and ... who doesn't need a little motivation at times? I know I do, especially around the holidays when it gets really busy. What a great way to stay on track.

My mission for November is
      make a few more games  for the boys
      get a bit more organized with our school stuff
      do more hands on cooking with the kids

The boys have been loving the hands on learning with the games, so I need to look ahead through their books and decide on a few more topics to make games about. It takes me a few days to make the games, and it would be nice to have them made and already ready to go, when they need them. Our school stuff looks organized, when really, the shelves are bursting at their seams and there is no real order. It makes sense to me, but when I ask anybody to get me something, they can never find it. And the kids love baking with me. I don't think I've ever heard about kids being so excited over black spotted bananas (this means banana bread), except at our house. During the winter I bake a lot anyways, so I just need to make sure I include them into the baking. Wish me luck, I know I can do it!

Mission of the Month

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Games!

As promised, I finally got a chance to pick up some more color ink, print the games, and let the boys play them. Of course they only got to play with 1 of them, because we only had a chance between football games yesterday.

Since we only had time for 1 game, the boys chose to play Medieval Times. I let them play using the jumbo foam dice I picked up at Target (another great find!). We used bottle caps as markers, each cap had a different sticker. All I did, was print it out and glue it to a file folder, but the cards I laminated. The boys had a ton of fun playing this, and Orion tried really hard to practice his time telling. I'm calling this game a success!
I had enough time to print out Your Place in Time, laminate it, and set it up. After laminating it, I just taped the ends together, so that it can fold up after play. I glued the directions and an envelope (to hold the cards in), to the outside of the gameboard, so now we've got all our pieces in one place. The boys can't wait to play this one :)
Click here to download the Medieval Times game board

Click here to download the Medieval Times cards and directions
Click here to download Your Place in Time game board

Click here to download Your Place in Time cards and directions

If you play either of the games, please comment and let me know what you think!

Weekly wrap up

We had a short week this week, because we went trick or treating with our homeschool group on Friday, and our butterflies emerged on Wednesday (we'll have a whole post with more pictures, when we let them go). The butterflies have been our main focus right now, but we did get a few things done.

We started the week with a Halloween art project, making witches hands! Super easy and fun to make. Have children trace their hands on green construction paper, and cut them out. I pre-cut a bunch of small triangles in different colors for nails, and my kids just glued them on. Together we took a black marker and drew lines on the hands to make them creepy. The kids loved this!

After observing the caterpillars on Tuesday, the kids painted and made books about the butterfly's life cycle. They came out amazing!

Olivia worked on the letter E this week. Big and little E sort, and E lacing.
She also did an E collage, where she stamped the letter E with some stamps that start with E. She made stamps with elephant tracks, earth's, and envelopes.
Bunny also practiced her cutting skills, using her Kumon first book of cutting. She really loves her Kumon books, and we use them every other day. I highly recommend them, especially if you have a child who's particularly not interested in cutting, coloring, or tracing.
To practice her counting and numbers, we brought out the bottle caps and cards. The bottle caps I made using water bottle lids and number stickers, and the cards I downloaded from Shannon's totschool.

We also worked on patterns using the pattern blocks and cards. Thanks to swagbucks, these were totally free!

The kids also worked on designing their own pumpkins. Super cute activity! And they had so much fun trying on different faces, before committing to gluing them down.

The boys still had their "normal" subjects to complete, just a bit more relaxed this week. Check back in a few hours, and I should have the downloads available for our new games!

preschool corner

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