Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fun Math Games!

We are having FUN practicing our math facts by playing math war. Here's how we play it. All cards are dealt out evenly among the players. This particular game can be played by two players at a time. We usually have the next person play the winner. The players stack their cards and each flip over the top card in their stack. These cards are added (subtracted, multiplied, divided). If the product is an even number, one player gets the cards. Odd goes to the other player. We usually play through one stack then count the cards to determine the winner.

Something else that has helped us with math facts has been using them for copywork. Nicholas will copy each fact two or three times, depending upon how much practice he needs with that particular fact. This has gone so far in helping him with memorization. Its so funny. When I was a student, we also copied our math facts, but since copying math facts was so often given as a punishment, we thought of it as an unpleasant task. I guess that's why I never even considered using math facts for copywork. Then I read the suggestion on a yahoo group I belong to and slapped my forehead! It makes so much sense. Nicholas enjoys copying his equations. I guess its all depends on perspective. :o)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fairy Tale Cookbook!

We found this fun book at the library last week. What a wonderful book for homeschoolers like us who want to add fun an enrich the learning experience, but need a little help in the creativity department. The author, Sandre Moore has included fun recipes based on many of the classic fairy tales (Red Riding Hood's Basket of Goodies, Big Bad Wolfe's Favorite T.V. Snack (Pigs in a Blanket), Sleeping Beauty's 16th Birthday Cake). What I find the most fun is the other stories she uses to create fun food. There is a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Pocahontas' Thanksgiving Feast, Bilbo Baggins's Eleventy-First Birthday Dinner, The Who-ville Christmas Feast and so many more. This is definitely one we want to own.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Story About Ping and Medieval Chinese History

We are starting our study of Medieval Chinese History this week. The Story About Ping, from Five In A Row will dovetail so nicely with our study. Here are our plans:

Day One:

Read The Story About Ping, then talk about Ping's experience when he tried to hide from his responsibility. A few things for the kids to ponder:

* I wonder how Ping felt when he realized he was all alone.
* I wonder what would have happened to Ping if the little boy had not set him free.
* I wonder if the black fishing birds like having the ring around their necks and working for the fishermen. Would they rather work for themselves and get to keep the fish they caught?

Geography - locate China on the globe and put story disk on globe.

Read Chapter 8 (part one) in Story of the World. Color the map of the Yellow River, Yangtze River and Grand Canal. Dig a "canal" in the garden or sandbox.

Make jade beads out of blue/ green Sculpy and bake them.

Add up all of Ping's family members for a quick math lesson. Its a nice practice with adding multiple numbers including double digit numbers. In addition, do some copy work of math facts to help with penmanship and memorization of math facts.

Listen to traditional Chinese music from this site.

We will also try to learn one or two Chinese words per day.

Day Two

Read The Story About Ping then talk about discernment relating to things that look better than they are (the rice cake crumbs that lead to Ping being captured - from the lesson in Five in a Row). Once we talk about the story, have the children give examples of things that look better than they are.

Literature: Talk about fiction and define it ( a story that comes from the author's imagination). Talk about "Once upon a time . . . " as a story starter and work on a story of fiction either together or individually. It would be nice if we also illustrated our story(ies).

Read Yeh-Shen: a Cinderella Story from China.

Do a few pages from Explode the Code and practice reading aloud.

Day Three:

Read The Story About Ping then look at the illustrations and talk about the art medium (colored pencils). Practice drawing water with colored pencils and try to achieve the effect of movement and reflection in the water. I would also like to look at some Chinese art, both in books we own and online.

Talk about reflection and look at reflections in different things (mirror, water, glass).

String the jade beads (from day one) to make a necklace or bracelet.

Read Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. Also, read The Three Wise Kings by Tomie DePaolo.

Copywork: Practice writing Chinese "sayings" (a few a day for the next 3 days). These will be cut apart and put into homemade fortune cookies.

Math U See math lesson. Read Two of Everything.

Practice reading aloud.

Day Four:

Read The Story About Ping. Practice counting/ adding Ping's family again. Also, count the black fishing birds and the rice cake crumbs. Practice Math U See lesson.

Read Chapter 8 part two in The Story of the World. Look at pages in Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. Look at the links.

Create a small bowl out of sculpy. Bake it. This will be an lacquered bowl (from SOTW Activity book).

Do a few pages from Explode the Code. Practice reading the new words. Practice reading aloud.

Read aloud The Emperor and the Kite.

Copy work: more Chinese sayings for cookies. Practice drawing Chinese words.

Day Five:

Read the Story About Ping.

Read some Chinese Poetry. Here is a nice site with the poems in Chinese and with an English Translation. There are also other sites with audio of the poems being read.

Practice eating with Chopsticks. We may also set up a Montessori style tray with a transferring activity using chopsticks. This would be a nice activity to have available for the entire week.

Go to the park and feed the ducks. Talk about ducks and other birds. Take pictures of the ducks or draw the ducks for nature journal.

Bake fortune cookies. Eat some and share the rest with friends.

Paint the sculpy bowl from day four and "lacquer" it with 1 part white glue and 2 parts water. (from Story of the World Activity Book).

I'll try to take some pictures.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tummy Trouble?

Mom: Son, I think your pants are too tight.

4 Year Old: No, they're not.

Mom: You look uncomfortable. I think they are too tight.

4 Year Old: No, they're not - that's just my tummy trying to bust out of them.

It seems I get corrected a great deal by my 4 year old.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Little Encouragement for the Arts and Crafts Challenged

For the last few weeks, the kids and I have been enjoying some of the fun ideas over at Serendipity. What a fun place! In particular, my boys have enjoyed Gnomes andGnumbers: A Mathematical Tale.

I like to think of myself as creative, artistic, talented . . . I'm not. When I find sites like Serendipity, my mind fills with the wonderful fun we will have making the little gnomes and how cute they will be when they are done. Then the reality of what our gnomes will look like sets in as I begin to make them. I am not artistic nor talented in that way. As I worked on the gnomes, I really began to come down hard on myself with that mommy self-talk; "These aren't as cute as the one's on Serendipity.", "What was I thinking?", "The boys will be so disappointed - these gnomes look stupid.", "We should just quit now" etc.

Then the boys walked through the room I was working in and saw the gnomes. They said things like, "Mom, these are awesome.", and "I want the blue one. Nick, you can have the red one". The boys LOVE THEM! Even though they are not perfect, the boys love the gnomes (and the little felt Saint Andrew and Saint Nicholas). Our kids don't care if things are perfect, as long as their learning is joy-filled. So, if you are doubting yourself, go ahead and do it anyway. As long as it will bring you and your family joy in learning, perfection isn't necessary.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Usborne Black Friday Sale!

This email has been sent to you from Usborne Books at Home on behalf of Lori Babineaux,
your Usborne consultant. To ensure receipt of our emails, please add to your Email Address book.

Usborne Books at Home | 10302 E. 55th Place | Tulsa, OK 74146.

Works for Me Wednesday

Here's a Works For Me Wednesday tip for remembering to read those books the kids check out from the library. We've been putting one book each day on a book stand on top of the bookshelf in the living room. It looks neat and organized (and a little like a bookstore or library) plus we see the book throughout the day so it is remembered when its read aloud time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Journey of a Mother's Heart: Grrr-Attitude Does Not Make for a Happy Thanksgiving

The Journey of a Mother's Heart: Grrr-Attitude Does Not Make for a Happy Thanksgiving

This is a lovely post and a wonderful reminder of what really matters.

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is a little tackle, but it was really overdue. My email inbox was crammed with THOUSANDS of unread emails. Thousands! Most were unread Flylady emails! That may give you some idea of the condition of my home and office right now. I love flylady and her system really helps me (when I follow it). Today, my tackle was to clean out my inbox. At first I actually tried to weed through the emails, just in case any of it was important. That all stopped when I got to unread emails from February! Now its done and I feel great! Maybe I'll be able to get back on track with following Flylady.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Four year old logic

4 Year Old:
Mom, can I watch a movie?

Mom: Let's read a book instead. Books make us smart.

4 Year Old: You can read a book, Mom. I'm already smart.

Should have seen that one coming.

Money Making Monday

This is what I do from home. I've been an Usborne Consultant for 5 years. It has allowed me a part time income with just a few hours a week (on average, less than 5). For more info, click on the picture below.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

What started out with such promise at 5:30 am while I was planning, turned into murder and mayhem by 8:00 am. Okay, there was no murder but there was a great deal of whining and a raised voice or two. The plan for today was to read some of the kids favorite books, including Grandfather's Journey, which we are rowing this week. We were going to work on a mini book for our lapbook and then the plan was to start on another fun learning idea. Well, before I could even finish Grandfather's Journey, my youngest was whining. Did I mention PMS? Grrrrr. It was not pretty. One wanted to learn, the other didn't and wasn't afraid to try to blow it for the others. Okay - I give up!

Before I really *ahem* raised my voice, I decided to remove myself from the learning room. I retired to the kitchen to make a pan of brownies (which definitely solves every problem). Look what I returned to when I went to check on my little learners.

And we managed to salvage at least part of our learning (at least in my mind, this is considered learning ). Yes, those are brownies. They were delicious!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

St Nicholas Day gift

This is what the kids are getting in their shoe on St. Nicholas Day. The bag is made of brown felt (I cut it into 4 rows, cutting the longer sides into fourths. Then I folded it in half and blanket stitched the two sides closed. The drawstrings are pushed through small cuts in the bag. They are made of brown ribbon.) and the coins are chocolate mint. Since the kids would really love to make these, we might make extra to give as gifts to friends and cousins.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Less Television!!

We're going on 48 hours with no television - woo hoo! It has been an incredibly difficult "de-tox" for my children. They have cut back their viewing time to about half an hour a day, and I think I could live with that amount. Of course, I'm still thrilled with even less and would love zero television. Here are some pictures from a few days ago and what we did instead of a video.

This first picture was taken at 6:30 a.m. - yes, a.m. Playing Clue Jr. kept them busy while I fixed breakfast.

Look what we did after breakfast.
This one is Nicholas raking leaves, still in his jammies. Who knew a second grader could love raking leaves?

Here's Andrew imitating his big brother. I am so grateful that he has such a wonderful big brother to look up to and imitate. What a blessing.

Ahhhhh . . . a job well done!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Did you see what's HALF PRICE?

Usborne Books is know for our art books, both Art Appreciation and How-to Art books. The most amazing How-to Art book, The Complete Book of Art Ideas is less than HALF PRICE right now on my website! What a great Christmas gift for the art lover in your life!

This book is a combined volume of three separate books, Art Skills (which shows how to use many different art media such as pastels, oil paint, water colors, and more, plus how to create different effects with these media), Art Ideas (which includes many more techniques to create fun art effects) and Art Projects (which includes projects to make using the techniques learned in the other books). Each of these books retails for $!8.00 so separately, you would pay $54.00 for all three. The combined volume sells for $40. 0o but right now, you can get it for only $18.00! This price will only be available for a short time as we are sure to sell out of this book at this price!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yesterday's Learning

Here is what we did yesterday.

We started out day with the Good Morning Song followed by read aloud time. We read In November by Cynthia Rylant and The First Thanksgiving by Tomie DePaola. After that we traced our hands (like in The First Thanksgiving) and made turkeys. While we decorated our turkeys, we listed to some phonics songs and sang along. Andrew (age 4) made a robot out of Zome Tools while he waited for Nicholas to finish his turkey.

Next, we made squares out of felt triangles, then used the felt to make other shapes. We listened to the Prima Latina CD (prayers through Lesson 3) while we worked.

After that, we read the story of Noah and added the appropriates symbol to our Jesse tree. Nicholas continued his copy work from Isaiah 11:1.

We took a break here and danced to some Cajun Christmas Music. I think this was our favorite part of the day.

To get everyone back on track after the break, we read aloud, Max's Chocolate Chicken and Yoko, both by Rosemary Wells. Andrew requested Sushi after reading Yoko, which we will try to get today. We had nice soothing music playing in the background during this part of school.

Next we read aloud Merry Go Round by Ruth Heller. We are using her books in our language study. Nicholas copied a rule about Nouns and then drew a picture illustrating the rule. Andrew just drew a picture.

We counted to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's.

We read from Little Acts of Grace and practiced.

Nicholas read aloud from his word lists and also read to himself.

We took a longer break here to have lunch, run errands and go to one of the kids' favorite places. While we were out, Nicholas lost another tooth :o)

When we got home, we made numbers and some letters out of salt dough and baked them. The boys used the left over dough to make snowmen, which we also baked.

We read aloud a little more as requested by the children. Nicholas requested Poems for Little Children and Andrew wanted Puzzle Pirates. Nicholas asked for a tumbling lesson and then he spent 2 hours(!) making his own felt characters.

I'd have to say that yesterday was an almost perfect day! I promise to include a not so perfect day, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wow, was I ever wrong!

Before I even had children, I dreamed of homeschooling them. I pictured lessons, lovingly taught and lovingly accepted. I pictured days spent engrossed in exciting projects, with my children learning in sheer joy. (hahaha - I also thought my baby would sleep when I wanted it to - clueless!).

When my first was born, I started researching homeschooling. Really, up until that point, I assumed that homeschooling meant "schooling at home" complete with everything but standing in line for the bathroom. My research led me to all of the many home education philosophies and I waded through them one by one. The two that appealed the most to me were Montessori and Unschooling.

Most people base their judgment of our homeschooling on our children's ability to read. Its just a fact, so reading was something I felt pressure to get Nicholas to do a.s.a.p. To this end, I tried to expose Nicholas to as much literature as possible. Experts tell us that children will learn to read if exposed to words, books, letters and such. In our home, we did all of that. We played with words, read poetry, read books for hours at a time, looked at letters, talked about letters, played games with letters, read alphabet books, colored letters, well, you get the idea. In addition, dh & I are avid readers, so the kids had many opportunities to see us reading for enjoyment and to learn as well.

Dh didn't do any of this research with me (or even really listen when I talked about it - lol) and has really concrete ideas about what learning should look like (hint: nothing like unschooling). So, to prevent many arguments, I set up a Montessori style cabinet in my home when my oldest was 2. It contained lots of practical life activities, sensorial activities and even a few language trays. We had fun and Nicholas learned alot, but it got to where he was working through the material faster than I could make it (buying it was out of the question - have you ever priced Montessori materials?). Even so, he wasn't really interested in learning about reading (more stress!). At that time I also had a new baby who took up much of my time. We needed a new approach.

It was time to try something closer to Unschooling. I ordered Five in A Row and we spent several months (close to a year) just rowing the books. We loved it! We read aloud for hours every day. We did many of the go-along activities and even went on some field trips (like sushi when we read "Grandfather's Journey). It was lots of fun. I also introduced "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons" at this point. Dh and the some of the grandparents were starting to put real pressure on us, asking Nicholas to read this or count that, and asking when we were going to put him in school. By the way, he was only 4-5 at the time (no pressure, huh?). So, more research.

Next I discovered The Well Trained Mind. I love this book and this educational philosophy, although the work load is, I believe, a little much. We began applying many of the ideas in this book with much success. We really like the history and science ideas in this book, especially the go along fiction reading that corresponds to the history study. Still though, there was stillsome resistance by my littles to "doing school". One of the things I did not like about The Well Trained Mind was the recommendation of drills for Math and Reading. My research before TWTM had convinced me that my children would be bored or feel too pressured with flashcards, math drills and word lists. So, I left out those parts of the program and just kept doing what we were doing already. For the most part, this went well, but Nicholas still was not reading. As a matter of fact, he hated reading aloud to me, even the little readers or Dr. Seuss. He would panic if I suggested he read something like a living book about Robots (his favorite subject). School was becoming very unpleasant, with me insisting he read or do worksheets and him resisting, and dragging his feet. Again, change was in order.

Where was I wrong? Well, it turns out I was completely wrong about flashcards and word lists for Nicholas! This time, our change came without my prompting. I had checked out "Why Johnny Can't Read and What you can do About it" (again). While reading it, my youngest called me out of the room, so I placed the book down on the coffee table. When I returned to the book, Nicholas had it and was reading the word lists to himself. I watch, as he read pages of these lists. He was stumbling over lots of the words as he was still sounding out most letters in the words he read, but I was thrilled! He was reading unprompted, and with joy and enthusiasm. When he finally noticed me watching, he positively beamed and said, "This is fun, Mom.". What?

Yes, I was wrong about drilling (he loves to race the clock with flashcards - who knew?), flashcards and word lists. We learn so much from our kids! I wonder what my next one will have to teach :o)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Do You Moo When You Chew Your Food?

I try to read aloud to my children each morning before we start the day. Its a nice little routine for us and I love to sit on the sofa with my kiddos next to me for a few extra moments of cuddle time. Most day, each of my kids chooses one of the books we'll read and I choose a few as well. Today, someone chose one of my favorites, the Usborne Book of Poems for Little Children.

Here is my favorite poem from this book:


Sometimes I moo while I'm chewing
I hope you don't think that it's rude
But mooing and chewing
Are what I like doing,
Do you moo when you chew your food?

Giles Andeae

Love it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

That was fun!

I'm back and its done and I feel 10 lbs lighter. I didn't realize how much it was weighing me down, knowing that I needed to get it done, and that I was putting it off. Tegdirb92 posted this comment:

"that's a great tackle--go and do something special for yourself while you are out!! Happy Tuesday!"

Thanks :o) I did! I bought myself a cheesecake, lol. So much for the 10 lbs lighter :o)

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Wow! I clicked on to Homemaker of the 21st Century from, I'm not sure where, and discovered Tackle it Tuesday. What a great idea! Spending Tuesday working on something you've been putting off - I love it! I discovered, after clicking around for a while, that Tackle it Tuesday originated at a place called 5 Minutes for Mom.

Well, I have so many things I've been putting off that I could choose to tackle today. My first thought is to try to tackle as many as I can. The problem with that is that I'll choose so many things to do, that I'd probably get none of them done and I'd end up frustrated and beating myself up - sigh. So, I'm going to force myself to take baby steps and choose one thing - I'm going to return the cable modem to the cable people so that they will stop charging us for the cable service we are no longer using and the rental of said modem. Phew! I feel better already. I'll post again once its done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Your Baby Can Read will be featured on ELLEN!

One of the products I carry through Usborne Books, Your Baby Can Read, will be featured on the Ellen Show on Monday, November 5th. Be sure to check it out. And to find out more about the product, check out my website .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reluctant Reader

As mentioned in another post, we have a reluctant reader in our home. He can, he just doesn't want to read, and it causes many tense moments. The primary way that most people judge our homeschooling success is on our children's ability and willingness to read. In our homeschool, we've got one of those (ability), but not the other (willingness). Which leads to me stressing out, worrying what our family will think when they ask him to read and he says either, "I don't want to", or "I can't"(gasp). My stress leads to me being much harder on him than I should. When I can manage, I'm starting to sneak reading into his other work (sort of the same why I sneak veggies and protein into his diet; he's also a picky eater - imagine that).

One thing he loves is puzzles, both jigsaw and solve it type as well. Some days, I will give him something that I would like him to read and ask him to find all of a certain phonograme, blend or digraph (for example, we did /dr/ yesterday). He happily reads the page, paragraph or book, searching for these items, the same way he would a solve it puzzle. When ever possible, I try to find things for him to read that I can print so that he can circle or underline the things for which he's searching, making the activity kinesthetic as well as visual.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History and monkeys

Today in history, we read about the "Rise of Islam" ( Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History) and the kids were introduced to Mohamed, Mecca, the Arabian Peninsula and Mosques. I asked our oldest to draw a picture of something we read about today that caught his attention. We are putting a caption under the picture. He decided to draw a Mosque. In true Nicholas fashion, his Mosque is quite realistic (he really drew it well) and is filled with monkeys and rope ladders (so the monkeys can get down from the top, of course). Our oldest is quite obsessed with monkeys and when he heard that Mohamed lived on the Arabian Peninsula, he immediately associated it with Aladdin and thus monkeys. Too funny!
The Internet Linked Encyclopedia of History has wonderful internet links to go along with each topic, so today, along with reading the wonderful text and looking at the appropriate pictures, we were able to take a virtual pilgrimage to Mecca. Really neat stuff!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our First Chemistry Experiment

Our kiddos love science and history, so we are usually a little "ahead" (for those who also follow TWTM) in those subjects (we are also "behind" in some things, like reading, but that's another blog post - lol!). According to The Well Trained Mind, Chemistry is to be studied in Third Grade. We, however, have explored Earth Science and Space (second grade science) as far as my children are currently interested, so we moved on to Chemistry. We're using 4 Usborne Books and one non-Usborne book. We read about Atoms and Molecules in the Children's Encyclopedia and also in the Usborne Science Encylcopedia (internet linked). My kiddos are enjoying See Inside Science, because the flaps allow them to see inside an atom and peek into the period table. 100 Science Experiments includes many fun and educational chemistry experiments. To fill in around the edges, we are also using Science Wizardry for Kids by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams.

Today, we tested to answer the question, "Do molecules move?" We used water and a drop of food coloring to see if the water molecules move. When you drop the food coloring into the water and leave it alone for a while, you can come back to find that the food coloring is completely mixed with the water, proving that the molecules do indeed move, and stir the food coloring.

We're going to be testing to see if molecules move faster in hot water or cold water this week and next week, we're going to find out if there is empty space between water molecules and we're going to make a water molecule out of marshmallows - yummy & fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Arrivals from Usborne Books

A little commercial :o)

We have several new titles available on the website. They are wonderful! Check 'em out at . Here are pictures of two of my favorites from the new books.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Usborne Book Review: Animal Stencil Book

My 4 year old has been getting so much out of this book! The entire series (Dino Stencil, Animal Stencil, Diggers Stencil & Trucks and Tractors Stencil) is so much fun! The 8.5 X 11 pages are thick cardboard and on each page, there is a stencil that is removable. These stencils have animals cut out (with a picture of the animal on the page, behind the cut out) for your child to trace and he can use the outside of the stencil as a frame. You can peek inside this book by clicking here. My 4 year old is getting practice holding a pencil and with controlling the pencil as well. I love that he is getting this good practice with something that is purposeful to him. Great book and wonderful gift!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Review: Little Sugar Addicts by Kathleen DesMaison

Wow! I picked this book up from our local library, intrigued by the title. For years, we've been dealing with the effects of sugar on our oldest child. We try (desperately) to limit sugar, but unless we keep him in seclusion (that includes no grandparents), we simply cannot keep his diet sugar free. This book, Little Sugar Addicts, offers sound advice and is helping all of us (me included) very much.

She begins the book with a quiz, Are you Sugar Sensitive. You can see the quiz on her website, . This alone helped me to see myself in the whole sugar problem. It turns out, our oldest got his sugar sensitivity from me (DesMaisons says its genetic and if a child has it, then at least one parent has it, too). So, now I know that I have to work on myself. I was actually amazed (in a bad way) at the amount of sugar/ carbs I consume in a given day. I knew I consumed alot, and that I craved it, but it was so great to read DesMaison's explanation and to finally understand that it is a sensitivity and not a character flaw that draws me to carbs.

So far, we've really only been working on her first step, but its making a huge difference for our family. The first step is to eat a protein rich breakfast within a hour of getting up in the morning. I was amazed to find that I and my oldest were not eating breakfast or were eating something late morning (usually very full of carbs). Eating within an hour really sets the stage for the rest of the day. DesMaisons recommends starting out slowly and adding protein to the usual breakfast. For us, the kiddos usually want pancakes, oatmeal, grits or french toast. So now, breakfast looks like this: pancakes or french toast, eggs (for me and the youngest - oldest won't eat eggs), sausage or ham, milk and a fruit or veggie (oldest will only eat broccoli, so sometimes we have broc for breakfast). Other days we might have peanut butter and honey sandwhiches with milk and a cheese stick or a chicken and cheese quesadilla. DesMaisons says that its important to first add things (mostly protein and veggies) to their diet, instead of trying to take away sugar. As we all know, forbidden fruit is so sweet, and she demonstrates how when we forbid sugar, we make it much more attractive to our kids and we encourage them to sneak it behind our backs- after all, it is very addictive. Her thoughts are, if we add protein as often as we can, we will begin to help regulate their blood sugar and cut out some of the cravings. I love that she talks about making the changes slowly, so that our children will be able to see and feel the difference and therefore "buy in" to low sugar living.

So, the first step, and what we've been working on is, get them to eat a protein rich breakfast within one hour of waking in the morning. Wow! What a difference - we went from super-grumpy kiddos (and mama, too) who fought me (and each other) on everything, to - well, moderately grumpy kiddos who only fight about half the time. In my book, thats an amazing improvement!

Following our protein rich breakfast, she advises (in subsequent steps) to include protein rich foods at snack and other meal times. Even though we are really working on step one right now, I decided to include as much protein rich foods in their diet as I could. It has been my experience these last few weeks, that when I offer a protein rich snack before they realize they are hungry, they will happily eat it and maintain a more even blood sugar level. Some of our snacks include, a hand full of pecans (their favorite), a spoon of peanut butter (we like Skippy Natural, although it does have sugar), a cheese stick or slice, hummus and whole wheat pita or veggie sticks, herbs and cream cheese spread on a whole wheat tortilla, rolled up and cut crosswise to make pinwheels (also yummy with ham and cheese or pb&j), yummy organic yogurt with real fruit.

I think the key is catching them before they start looking for something to eat. Once my kiddos start looking, nothing will satisfy them except carbs, and that sets them up for mood swings. Here is a picture of them having a snack of yogurt (not organic and full of sugar; this was day 2, before I had a chance to get to the store to buy better yogurt)- I took the picture because I could not believe how well they were getting along. At the time of the picture, they had been awake for ten hours with no nap, and usually at that point in the day, everyone is grumpy and they usually do nothing but fight (wrestle is more like it). This day, one of the first trying DesMaisons' method, as you can see, was peaceful - and that is definitely what I need - peace!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Now THIS is Fun!

Today, instead of T.V., we are face painting. With the myriad face painting kits available this time of year, why not make paint the medium and sweet faces the canvas. What a fun art class this turned out to be.

Nicholas painted his own face using one of the suggested patterns in Usborne Face Painting. He's a "Strong Man" as you can see by his curly mustache and beard. Simply adorable!
Andrew's face was painted by Mommy based on the "bat" in the Usborne Face Painting book. Of course, he's "Batman"! The picture at the top shows his "work" on the canvas of his arm. Fun!

Friday, October 5, 2007

More Homeschooling with Preschoolers

Finally, I'm back and sharing Part II of Keeping your Preschooler Happily Learning While You Work With Your School-Age Child.

Here are some more ideas we've used this last month for homeschooling with preschoolers. One of the biggest hits with our little guy has been a listening center. We have books on CD and a CD player with headphones as well as an MP3 player with ear buds for him. I was really surprised at just how much they both love listening to music and books on CD. Here are some of the books on CD that we have in our collection. These are available on my website .

The Story of Jesus is probably our favorite. It has 7 short stories from the life of Jesus. My kiddos love it and it is both entertaining and educational. The other books pictured above are chapter books which are nice for a little extended listening time. They are long enough without being so long that your little one would lose interest.

Another fun activity that has been great for keeping our preschooler occupied while our 2nd grader is getting one on one help with school is a card making activity bag. Our little one loves to make cards for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends and will happily sticker his cards for quite some time. I just took a plastic zip top bag and filled it with cut and folded card stock in different colors (finally, some of that scrapbooking stuff is getting some use - lol!) along with stickers, scissors, a glue stick and pictures to cut out. Later you can show him/ her how you address the envelope and have them stamp and mail it.

When the weather permits, something else that can either be for your preschooler during school or for everyone instead of t.v. would be water play. Sand and water tables are nice, but if you don't have one, kiddos love to water the garden or yard (or each other) with the garden hose.

Or you could have breakfast outside on a makeshift table and chairs.

Well thats all for now. We'll keep experimenting here and post our results as time permits.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You sank my battleship

We're just back from a quick trip to the beach (one nice benefit of homeschooling - we can travel anytime). Here are the kiddos building sand cliff dwellings.

We also had the chance to stop and tour a battleship on the way home. The kiddos had a blast checking the whole thing out.
So today we are back to our school routine. We've been reading about caves for science and have checked out several library books on the subject. Today we used play-doh to make stalactites and stalagmite on a "cave". It really brought the concept home for Nicholas and he had a blast.

He ended up adding action figures to explore his cave and find amazing treasures, plus he added several cave animals (small animal figures) to his cave. If you look closely you can see one of Andrew's "army men" sticking out from behind the "cave".

Friday, August 31, 2007

Homeschooling Preschoolers

I would guess that anyone trying to homeschool more than one child (especially when one is a toddler/ preschooler) experiences the frustration of trying to meet the needs of the schooling child and the young one at the same time. Tough stuff! This is the first year I'm dealing with it because my oldest is now doing second grade work, which is requiring more of my help, and my youngest is, for the first time, not interested in what his big brother is doing! Up until this year, I simply would give my young guy the same materials my older one had and he would happily mimic his big brother until said brother was finished with his work (which usually wasn't very long; after all, it was first grade). This year - no dice.

When you type "homeschooling preschoolers" into search engines, you get lots of fun activities and suggestions returned. Most of them are for things you little one can do independently while your older(s) work. Many suggest having lots of things prepared and ready, either in bags, shoe boxes or even storage containers (one container per activity) so that you can just pull out 2-3 per day for you little one. I love this idea and have begun making several of these with things we have around the house.

One idea (and I honestly cannot remember where these all came from, but must be honest and say they were not my ideas) was to put the numbers 1-5 on index cards and on the back of each card, the corresponding number of dot so that you have self-correcting flash cards. These go into a zip-top bag with several manipulatives (bingo chips, counting bears, pennies (only for children no longer putting things in their mouth), etc.) and the object is to match the number on the front of the card with the correct number of counting objects. You child flips the card over to check their answer.

Pictured here today is another idea - felt play. Make a flannel board from a project poster board (foam core) and a large flannel remnant (we found one big enough to make 2 boards on clearance at our fabric store for .99 cents). We taped ours to the foam core poster board with packing tape. Make shapes from felt squares (the kind that are .20 cents each) in various colors. Your child can be given the assignment to make a town, building, person, pirate ship, etc, from the shapes. In this picture my guys are making "mommies" out of the shapes and some "clothes" I cut out for another activity, clothes line hanging.

For this one, you will need some "clothes" shapes cut out of felt, some yarn (for a clothes line) and some clothes pins. You hang the clothes line somewhere that you know it will be safe (like between two door knobs) and let your little one hang the laundry. Manipulating the clothes pins is a great small motor development exercise and you would not believe the concentration your kiddo will demonstrate with this one! I'll get more of these ideas posted over the next week or two. And please share your ideas!

Edited to add: click here to read "Part 2" with more ideas!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Watching Less TV

I admit it - I use the TV too much to get a few minutes to myself. I know my kids would be better off if they could learn to entertain themselves without the electronic babysitter. So, while I was online looking for some ideas to keep my preschooler busy while I work with my second grader, I came across this nice site. Its called Instead of TV and if you go there, you can download their free 45 page E-Book with lots of great information and some ideas, too. I will blog what I did for my little one as soon as I get a chance :)

So, back to watching less T.V. Today, I decided to give it a try. The kids usually watch 1-2 movies per day at 1.5- 2 hrs each for a total of wayyyyyyyy too much electronic entertainment. Today I told them no T.V. until after supper. Then they can choose one short (and calm) movie to watch. It hasn't been easy. I've spent a great deal of the day curled up in my bed crying and hiding from the kids while they tore the house apart, locked the cat in the laundry room, weeded my plants from the garden (but by some miracle, managed to spare the weeds) and gave each other black eyes (not literally - yet). I really miss the T.V. right now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Celtic Warriors

Here are my Celtic warriors complete with bloody battle wounds. OMGosh, we love history!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Library Thing

A good friend of mine recently shared a website with me called . This website allows you to create an account and catalog your personal library. What an amazing concept! Your library can be added with pictures and tags so that your books are cross-referenced with other members in an amazing database. I decided to try out the free membership to see how helpful it is. You can see my Tag Cloud to the left. When you click on any of the tags, it will take you to my library. Cool! If you create a library there, too, please be sure to share your link in the comments.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bat in our House

So, we have these amazingly cool bats that live near our house. Last week a baby one found its way into our house (He's that blackish brown blob at the top of the brick wall in the photo). We called animal control to come and pick it up. We are all fine - no one had any contact with it. It was a really neat experience, though I hope to never do it again - lol. When our "Bat Man" caught it, we even got to hear our little guy squeaking and clicking as he tried to call for a rescue. That was really neat to hear up close.


We're studying Vikings right now in History (we introduce each time period chronologically). We began by reading from the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, then we read the Usborne Vikings Beginner Series book. We were able to explore some of the internet links together, which was fun. Today, we found our Viking name at this link. The boys are Nikalas Leafslayer and Adwend Bloodaxe (Adwend was particularly pleased with his name). We also made Viking shield's today out of an old cardboard box (the boys are pictured with their shields in dangerous Viking poses - yeah, I know, there was no Star Wars in Viking times ~~ lol!). History is so much fun!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Freezer Cookies

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I cannot stand to cook every day. And since we can't afford to eat out several times a week,( nor would I want to) and convenience foods are so filled with trans fats and other yuckies, I do alot of freezer cooking. The typical way that I fill my freezer is by doubling-up on a recipe when I do cook. Today, we wanted sugar cookies, so I used the kitchenaid mixer (on loan - love it!!) to make 4 batches of sugar cookies - one for today and 3 for later. My intention was to put them in containers in the freezer to defrost later. While the cookies were mixing, I was thinking about those break apart cookies you can find in the refrigerated dough section and wishing they didn't have trans fats. Then I realized I could make them. I used a chop stick to make the "perforations". Now I can't wait to try them out!!

Edited to add: We tried them out today and they worked beautifully! Be sure to break them apart while they are still frozen, as the dough does get softer and sticky once they thaw. It was so fun to have fresh baked cookies in 10 minutes and to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients in them! Have fun!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Science and Marshmallows

We did a fun science experiment with marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti from 100 Science Experiments (Usborne) yesterday. My guys loved it! The basic idea is to build a structure out of marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti and test its ability to support things. Great fun!