Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Amazing! Picture Books online!

Check this out. Lookybook

Carrot and Sweet Potato Smoothie?

Have you read the The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine? Wow! I love this book. We have one picky eater in our house. Of course, I'm grateful that he love broccoli, but that's the only veggie he'll eat. Well, today, thanks to the Sneaky Chef, he had carrots and sweet potatoes in his strawberry smoothie, and he LOVED IT! They are having cauliflower and zucchini in their broccoli and cheese soup tonight, too. Besides all of her clever ideas for sneaking healthy food into our kids "kid food", I love her ideas about how to get your kids to actually like the foods that you are sneaking into their foods. Click the link above to order a copy of this amazing book for yourself.

Here's what went into our smoothie:

1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 banana
2 capsules of fish oil supplement (without the capsule - poke a hole in it and squeeze the oil out)
1/4 cup sweet potato/ carrot puree
handful of frozen blueberries


Monday, February 25, 2008

Today's Learning

This morning, Andrew and I began rowing Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. He like the book and thought it was fun to find the mouse in the last few pictures of the room. When Nicholas joined us, we put paint (the three primary colors) on paper plates for each of them and we colored balloon pictures to match the 4 colors in the story. They enjoyed mixing blue and yellow to make green.

Next we read Follow the Drinking Gourd for Nicholas' FIAR book. It was so neat to see N realize that the drinking gourd is the Big Dipper. Both boys were spellbound and enjoyed the book so much. When we finished, we looked at a map of the United States and talked about the route that was probably taken in the story. Next, the boys packed a lunch of cheese and crackers in a bandana, tied it to a stick and set out to follow the drinking gourd. They played as though they were following the route. They slept in trees (climbed a tree in the back yard and "slept"), drank from the river (hose) and slept in barn cellars (in the workshop). They had so much fun, that they did it again when we were finished. Then they asked for their playmobile sets to play underground railroad. I just love when a subject catches their attention so much.

We looked up slavery and the slave trade in the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History and looked at some of the links ( p 325 ). We also found the song Follow the Drinking Gourd online and we listened to it a few times. We've found ourselves singing it through out the day. They also used glitter glue to make a Big Dipper constellation on black construction paper. It amazes me how much they enjoy this sort of thing.

We are doing this experiment right now and as I was explaining that the calcium carbonate and acetic acid combine to make carbon dioxide, they boys were reminded of baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, so they are currently outside making volcanoes for their Lord of The Rings characters to play in.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I think I know Why

I think I know why I'm so mentally exhausted. I recently read that the average 3 year old asks 400 questions a day. What about the average 8 year old? Anyone know? Me either. But, my (very soon to be) 8 year old asks question after question all day. I decided today to get an idea of how many he asks, so I counted. During one 5 minute period, he asked 23 questions (almost 5 per minute!). During another, he asked only 15. Here is how he does it.

Cute 8 year old: "Mom, why does water put out a fire?"

Mentally Drained Mom: "Water cools the fire and deprives it of oxygen, so it dies."

C8YO: "Why?" (sounds like a 3 year old, here?)

MDM: "Why do you think?"

C8YO: "I don't know. Do you think yogurt would put out a fire?"

MDM: "What do you think?"

C8YO: "I think it would. Mom, why doesn't Obi Wan just use water to put out the fire on Anakin?"

MDM: "I don't know."

C8YO: "Do you think its the Jedi way not to help someone?"

MDM: "No, I guess not."

C8YO: "Me either. How do you think the "lava robot" can hold boiling lava without melting?"

MDM: "Maybe its made of something with a higher boiling point than the lava."

C8YO: "Like what?"

Okay, you get the idea - each answer begets a new question. So, of course this is in now way scientific, what with the small sample size and all, but if he asks only 3 questions a minute for 1/4 of the time he's awake each day, he would ask 720 questions! (16 hours/4 = 4 hours * 60 minutes = 240 minutes * 3 question per minute = 720 questions).

Now I understand ::::yawn:::::.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Lately, our learning has had many references to seeds. We had a presentation on the parable of the mustard seed. We read Down, Down the Mountain in which the children planted turnip seeds. We read The Carrot Seed and talked about how long it takes carrot seeds to germinate (on average 21 days) and we watched as our carrot seedlings began to push through the ground. We read How Flowers Grow this morning and today, we found a sprouted acorn in the garden. Don't you just love it when life provides so many opportunities to explore a concept.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A poem

I always wanted to be a Caterpillar

I always wanted to be a caterpillar,
I always wanted to make a cocoon.

And when I’m in a cocoon I will wait until spring
to become a butterfly.

Then, I will spread my wings
And soar.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Today's Learning

Today's learning started at 7:00 this morning with Andrew's request for read aloud time. Nicholas was still asleep, so we chose some things especially suited for Andrew. When Nicholas was Andrew's age, we read through the Usborne Children's Bible and used it as a guide for science reading. For example, when we read the creation story, we read books about the sun, moon and stars (and did corresponding projects), then plants (and projects), animals (and projects) then the human body (and more projects). I thought Andrew might enjoy this, too, so today, we read the creation story then read a book called Sun, Moon and Stars, which is also an Usborne Book. We also sang:

I see the moon and
The moon sees me.
God bless the moon and
God bless me.

Andrew really enjoyed this, especially the song, which he has been singing ever since. We also did another lesson for him in Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Andrew is really enjoying these lessons and learning well from them. Its so funny how different each child is. We had this book for Nicholas and he hated it. So, I sold it - lol. Then had to get it again for Andrew when he ended up liking it.

Once Nicholas got up, we read Down Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle and talked a little about the author Ellis Credle. It turns out that she had to work and rework this book several times before she could find a publisher willing to print it. I love how her experience with persistence on this book is also the theme of the book. I told the kids the story and am hoping that they will make the connection. If not, I will mention it on Thursday. Nicholas also noticed several things in the book, such as the poetry mixed in with the prose, onomatopoeia, personification (the tables groaning with vegetables). I love how Five in a Row introduces all of these things because it helps our children to be more observant when reading or being read to.

We then made log cabins out of Lincoln Logs and talked about how in the story, their log cabin was snug. We put a candle inside their cabin and blew on the outside to demonstrate how air went through the spaces in between the logs. They remembered from reading Little House on the Prairie that Pa Ingalls chinked the log cabin to keep it snug, we we chinked our log cabin with play-doh. Pictures will come as soon as I get my computer photo editor working right again.

We are taking a break to run some errands and will return this afternoon to finish reading our books. I'll try to update later if time permits.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


This afternoon, I put 4 of our spinach seedlings into the garden. Since I'm new to all of this gardening stuff, I'm really not sure if now is the right time to put them out, so as an experiment, I only put out 4. If those four make it through the next week or so, I'll put a few more out.

Friday's Learning

Our four picture books for Friday were, Down Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle, which is our Five in a Row book for the week (we started rowing it Friday), P is For Pelican: a Louisiana Alphabet Book, It Was Disgusting And We Ate It and Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints (requested again).

We read Down Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle first and then talked about the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian culture and growing turnips. I'd like to try to get a turnip this week for the boys to try tasting.

Next we read P is For Pelican: a Louisiana Alphabet Book. Because we are from Louisiana and we read a lot of picture books about Louisiana culture, they were familiar with many of the things in the book. And since B is for beignet, we made some, which were yummy.

It Was Disgusting And We Ate It was both fun and disgusting. The boys really enjoyed about half of it, but after that, it started getting a little too gross for them (chicken blood soup was, I think, what pushed it over the top). I think we're all glad we read what we did as it was interesting.

We saved Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints for last. Thursday afternoon, I had pulled out our jumbo animal tracks stamps that came with our What's Happening At the Zoo Kid Kit. This kit is really cool. Each stamp is mounted on a clear see-through top for easy, exact placement. Andrew found them and stamped animal tracks on the floor in the foyer (thank God that jumbo stamp pad is washable ink!). After I stopped hyperventilating, I realized that our big paper roll, taped down in the foyer would be a great place for those stamped animal tracks. So, after reading the book, we stamped tracks all over the paper on the floor. Then Nicholas labeled the tracks.

We also did more Math U See and some Explode the Code. Nicholas is still reading to me from the Phonics Readers series.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Today is positively beautiful. The weather is mild, there is a nice breeze blowing and if feels like spring. I was outside hanging laundry (because its a beautiful day, so why not) when I overheard one of my (home schooled) children say to his brother, "Hey, N, check it out. Mom is doing something so cool!". I have successfully brainwashed them ~ hanging laundry(saving money, doing a little to cut out wasted energy, etc.) is cool!

Meatless Friday

Supper tonight is coming from a recipe in a book I found at the library called THe Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons by Maria Helm Sinskey. The recipe is called Spinach and Sheep's Milk Ricotta "Pie". This savory cheesecake will be combined with a light salad and homemade bread to make what I hope is a nice meatless dinner. If you've never seen this book before, I highly recommend it for the wonderful recipes and interesting ways that seasonal foods are used.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Today's Learning

And now for something completely different . . . today during read aloud time, we read about Michelangelo the painter in our book The Story of Painting. N was so interested in his work on the Sistine Chapel and asked so many questions about it, including, "Mom, what was it like to paint lying on your back?". The answer? Let's find out! We taped roll paper to the bottom of the table and had the boys take turns lying on the chairs to "paint" on the ceiling. It was fun, and they talked about Michelangelo through out the day, so I'm betting this lesson is sticking :o)

For Andrew's handwriting lesson, we used the Animal Stencil Book to trace animals onto craft paper. He also wrote his name on his work. We counted this as a handwriting lesson for Nicholas, too as he added the names of the animals and off-the-cuff written comments to his tracings. It was a fun writing lesson. We also talked about what continent the animals they traced live. We looked at a montessori continent puzzle map and talked about other things we know about the continents.

We also had a atrium presentation of the Parable of the Mustard Seed. We started using Moira Farrell's album for ages 3-5 at the beginning of the liturgical year. I am hoping present several parables over the next few weeks because Nicholas' first reconciliation is in a few weeks and I'd love to present the Good Shepherd presentation before that time. While I know that these materials are not official COGS materials, they have blessed my family in such a deep way. The boys have been able to understand, deeply, things that I, as an adult still struggle to understand about our faith. So, while we may not present everything "on schedule" (making the materials is time consuming), everything that we do present has such a profound impact.

Nicholas loves subtraction and was so happy that his Math U See work today was all subtraction. He even completed three pages from Explode the Code.

We had to stop to go to art class, so after supper we will finish our read aloud time. One thing we are planning to read is P is For Pelican: a Louisiana Alphabet Book. Its always interesting to see what else we end up doing once we get started with our read aloud picture books.

Prayer Request

Please keep my grandfather in your prayers. Hospice was called in today. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Today's Learning

Today, we painted with watercolors. Both boys were really into their work and produced several beautiful works filled with beautiful, vibrant colors. At least one painting from today by each boy will be framed to hang in their room.

We read The Weight of a Mass: a Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso which is such a touching book. I was so pleased that the boys seemed to understand the message, and they asked many questions and made several observations. Next we read Yellow Ball by Molly Bang which is a favorite at our house. It is one of the books from Before Five in a Row, so we have been reading it here for many years. We read Castles (Internet Referenced) to go along with our History Study. The boys are really enjoying reading about knights and castles and they have been spending a lot of time playing it as well. I just love how play reinforces the things we are studying. We also read and searched for things in The Great Castle Search. These search books are so fun, interesting, educational and engaging. The kids look at them for hours.

Just recently, Nicholas picked up his Usborne Phonics readers again. He likes to go back to these books again and again. I think its because they are fairly easy to read and are familiar to him. He has enjoyed them for years now and Andrew is starting to show an interest in them as well. Nicholas' favorite is Mouse Moves House.

This week, we downloaded this free copywork notebook from The Homeschooling E-Store. Its been a nice change of pace, and we are getting a nice bit of literature along with handwriting practice. If you sign up for their newsletter, you will get a notice each week of their free item.

Nick has art class tomorrow and had some homework to finish, so he did that, then a few math u see pages and some phonics pages. This evening we will draw a name from our basket and pray a decade of the rosary for that person. Its been a pretty full day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mardi Gras!

We are definitely celebrating Mardi Gras here today. Not because there are parades here (there aren't) but because Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, and there is a lot of gluttony taking place here today - lol. Gluttony including too many tater tots and much, too much caffeine.

So, here are some thoughts about my sacrifices for lent. First, for the record (to help keep me accountable), I'm giving up the nine minutes of sleep between 6:00 and 6:09 am which is also known as hitting "snooze". Starting tomorrow and going through Easter, I will not indulge in those delightful yet forbidden minutes. Another sacrifice will be no fast food for our family. Its not that we eat it often, usually only a few times a month, but fast food does allow me to be a little lazy preparing for outings with the family. Without fast food as an option, I won't be able to forget to pack healthy snacks for the kids. And finally, at least twice, but hopefully weekly, I'd like to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. The hardest of these will definitely be "snooze".

Monday, February 4, 2008

What do you get when you cross a bag of frozen spinach . . .

. . . a couple of chicken breasts, a jar of white sauce, a pound of bread dough, an end of a wedge of parmigiana reggiano and lots of garlic? A lovely chicken florentine pizza!

I'm still not sure how it will turn out, as this is an experiment, but it sure does smell great. Here's what I did:

Made a one pound loaf in the bread maker on the dough cycle. While the dough was kneading, I cooked the chicken breasts till brown on both sides. Then I de-glazed the pan with a little water to make a nice rich sauce and chopped the chicken. Next I added the thawed and drained spinach, sauce and garlic. Next I rolled out the dough, spread some of the sauce on it and some cheese, then I added the rest of the chicken mixture and topped with the remaining cheese. Its in a 425 deg oven right now. I'll let you know how it turns out.

ETA: This experiment turned out GREAT! This is definitely a keeper :o)

Today's Learning

I wish I could remember where I read the idea of studying the states by learning each state bird. We began this today, of course starting with our homes state of Louisiana. We read several books about pelicans, colored a picture of the state and glued a picture of a pelican on that page, colored a state flag and colored Louisiana on a map of the United States. We also read interesting information about Louisiana. The boys seemed to enjoy this and I'm hoping to take one bird/ state per week although I'm not sure how we will handle those birds with more than one state. We are going to cover the states we know or have visited first before we move on to new territory. Hopefully, we will make a notebook out of the state maps and flags we color.

We also worked with Zome Tools today. A dear friend introduced us to Zome Tools a few years ago and the boys love them. They usually make free form designs from them. Zome tools are great for this but they are also wonderful for making mathematical models, elements and molecules and other fun things. Today, N built a model of a sphere from a kit, then he transformed that sphere into the Death Star (Star Wars). I was even more impressed when he created a model of R2D2 out of Zome Tools. I have pictures that I'd love to post as soon as I get my computer working right again.

Our read aloud picture books for today were, Max's ABC by Rosemary Wells, Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints by Millicent E. Selsman, Jolie Blonde and the Three Heberts : A Cajun Twist on an old Tale by Shelia Heber Collins and 1001 Pirate Things To Spot by Rob Lloyd Jones.

We rounded things out with a little Math U See and a few pages of Explode the Code and then sent them outside to play before the rain starts.


I love this idea for something a family can do for lent. Being realistic, I don't think we'll send out cards each day, but we can definitely pray :o)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Wrong Again?

Imagine that! I think I was, perhaps, wrong again. I've been avoiding letting my littles play video games because I've seen how addictive it can be. Plus, I wanted their learning to be based on the written word, and not as much on images and moving characters. Anyway, about a month ago, we began letting them play their Star Wars Lego game for a few hours a week, provided the week went well. This was mostly an incentive (::ahem:: bribe) for Andrew who, it seems at times, liked nothing better than to destroy learning. Well, its working which is a good thing.

More amazing, though, is that I found Nicholas at the table earlier, writing a list of the things he wants to do on the game. Its like pulling teeth to get him to do copy work, dictation or handwriting practice, but here he was, spelling words he's never even read, many of them Star Wars names. I was worried that video games might rob him of his incentive to learn. Happily, I was wrong :o)