Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sept. OPAM

This month's OPAM (one project a month) was my garage sale - and it is OVER!! I really do like having garage sales - even though they are a lot of work. We did a really great job going through stuff so I feel like I got rid of a lot! My sister, mom, and a friend all participated and we ended up making a total of $432! We still seemed to have a lot left over - we took most of it to Goodwill. I am going to take some books to the library and a few clothes to Once Upon a Child.

I am thankful for all the help - Alison, Jenny and Mom! I am exhausted, but glad we did it.

The girls had lots of time with my nephews, Ryan and Will, and Grandpa Steve! They wore each other out - but had a great time!!

Kevin was fabulous about keeping the dishes clean and getting food put away! Thanks Kev!

Next month's OPAM is Halloween costumes and beginning Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Night One Recap

The girls did great!! Norah slept all night! She was quite proud of herself this morning and excited to put a sticker on her chart! Lucy woke up about 9:45 crying very hard. If Kevin hadn't been around, I might have given in to her because she looked so pitiful. He kept reminding me that breaking both of their habits is easier on us in the long run - I know he's right, but Lucy looked so sad and she just doesn't understand. She cried for about 15-20 minutes - even with me rocking her or rubbing her back. She was awake again about midnight - this time for only a few minutes. She woke up this morning around 6:30 and couldn't wait to take her gloves off! She was also excited to put a sticker on her chart - however, she ripped hers off several times through out the day. She's obviously 2.

Lucy didn't nap - I tried, but she cried and cried. I gave her about a 1/2 hour and then let her get up. It was a long afternoon for all of us - but we survived and Lucy fell asleep tonight within 15 minutes!! Yea!!

Norah just went to bed - so we'll see what happens tonight!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Night One - Breaking the Habit

Well, we decided to try to break the girls' habits of finger-sucking.  Tonight is the first night.  We have been talking about it for about 10 days so they knew it was coming.  We decided not to take their blankets away.  I don't think it would matter with Lucy, but with Norah we'll have to see.  Her finger-sucking has almost always been triggered by something/anything silky.  

They both are wearing pink gloves with athletic tape around the wrists.  So far - it hasn't been too bad (knock on wood).  They were both EXHAUSTED today.  They had MDO and didn't nap (Norah doesn't nap very often anymore, but seems to need one every so often).  We read several books and after rubbing back for awhile, we shut their doors by 7:15.  Lucy started crying right away - no surprise.  Norah started crying, but when Kevin went up there to talk to here, she was upset because one glove needed to be fixed on her fingers.  That was the last we heard from her.  Both girls were asleep by 7:45!  I know Lucy sucks her finger often throughout the night (every time I get up to go the bathroom - several times these days - I hear her).  I anticipate Lucy being awake in the night - but we'll see.  Here they are - sleeping angels!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Elephant in Review

Norah's science theme this week was elephants. We always start our week off with a K-W-L chart - we list in a journal what she Knows, what she Wants to know, and later, what she has Learned. After visiting the zoo many times and going to Grant's Farm a couple of weeks ago, Norah already knew a lot about elephants - I am always amazed at the little details she remembers.

Each week there is a math page for her to do. She draws a number from a cup and then draws that many items on her paper. This was fine to do when she writing number 1-5, now that we are up to 15, she gets frustrated. She starts drawing and then has to keep going back to count how many she has. I made up some math boards. I used boards like this when I was teaching and I thought it accomplishes the same thing.

I made up boards for 1-20 (she is really good at 1-to-1 correspondance, so most of this is review, but I can use the boards for Lucy, too). I shuffle them and turn them upside down and Norah picks out 2 or 3 boards and then counts that many objects onto her board. This week she used zoo animals. She is much happier to do her math this way, than the worksheet.

We also played a visual memory game this week. I put out 4-5 animal pictures and she named them all for me. Then, she turned her back to me and I took one away. When she turned back around, Norah had to guess what picture was missing. I could just as easily do this with the zoo animals - we may do that next week.

We read some interesting books this week.
1. 10 Things I Know about Elephants
2. African Elephants
3. The Elephant Who Couldn't Forget
4. Stand Back, said the Elephant, I Think I'm Going to Sneeze

The book African Elephants talked a little about elephants being in danger because people want their tusks and because people are cutting down the trees and building homes in their natural environments. Norah was quite interested in that - all week she has asked me questions about it.

Off to plan for penguins!!

Thursday Cooking

This week I had a cooking activity for both girls. I think this was the first time that I have let Lucy help. Cooking with Lucy is much messier and takes much longer, but I knew she would love it.

Lucy and I made Oatmeal Squares from this cookbook. They have a ton of butter and brown sugar - so I need to figure out a better way to make them, but it is super easy.

Oatmeal Squares

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 T corn syrup
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup raisins (we did 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup dried blueberries, & 1/4 cup dried cranberries and apples)

Preheat oven to 325.
Grease 7 x 11 pan.

Melt butter, sugar & corn syrup in saucepan over low heat, stirring carefully until butter is melted.

Take off heat and add oatmeal and dried fruit - stir well.

Pour into pan and press it down. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool, then store in airtight container.

Norah and I made Cinnamon Apple Muffins. The recipe is a combination of several and I have adjusted it to make it a little healthier.

Here is our recipe:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
2 T. milled flaxseed
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup finely chopped apples

Preheat oven to 375
Grease muffin tin
Makes 12 muffins

Sift flours and milled flaxseed into bowl. Add sugar, baking powder, & cinnamon and stir. Add remaining ingredients and stir until flour is moistened. Spoon into muffin tin.

Bake 18-23 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Toddler Theme Thursday

Teaching Tinytots at Mommy School has started a toddler theme Thursday challenge. This week's theme was shapes.

Some of our activities included:

1. Read I See Shapes

2. Made shape collages with circle, square, rectangle, & triangle cutouts and star stickers

3. Shape peg board

4. Copied this idea from Chasing Cheerios

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our Sweet Little Lucy

This was Lucy's prayer at bedtime, "Dear God, Please help the baby in mommy's tummy to be healthy and poopy."

I don't even know what to say about that one.

Her new favorite phrase, "You drive me cazy, Mom."  She says this ALL the time - if I make her sit on the potty for more than 2 seconds, if I give her some sort of direction that she doesn't like, etc.

Her new favorite question, "Who do you like the best?"

Finger Sucking

Any of you who know our girls, know that they are both finger suckers. They both suck the index and middle fingers. Norah sucks hers with her palm towards the ceiling, while Lucy sucks hers the normal way. Our pediatrician said we don't need to worry about it until she is 5 or 6 or until they start losing teeth. I'm pretty sure I was in Kindergarten when I lost my first tooth (okay, I'm positive, because by my 1st grade pictures I totally had HUGE goofy teeth). Since Norah is 4 1/2, she could be getting close to that.

Anyway, I am looking for a few suggestions. Both girls basically suck fingers at bedtime or when they are sick or hurt. They both have silky blankies that trigger the finger sucking. We told Norah that when she is 4 1/2 (which is next Tues.) we are taking her blankie away. I know this is a process we need to begin, but to me it seem so cruel to take away her comfort item. I know my mom used some nasty tasting stuff (used for nail biters) on my thumb - I guess we could try that. I know some people put mittens/gloves on their child's hand for bedtime - I just don't know if I can do that. Any other suggestions or success stories are welcome.

Also, we have only talked about doing this with Norah, but maybe it would be easier on everyone involved, if we work on it with Lucy, too. I'm sure the younger the child, the easier it would be. After all, children who have pacifiers, often get rid of them before 2. Any thoughts?

20 Week Ultrasound

Last Thursday I had my ultrasound, and no, we don't know what we are having.  We didn't know with the girls so we decided to go the same route this time.  If Kevin hadn't been with me, I might have been more tempted to know, but I know he prefers not knowing.  

The doctor said everything looks great!  It is hard to believe that we are over halfway now - especially since I will be having a c-section about a week or say early.  

Norah was excited to get to see the baby - Lucy didn't care either way.  The technician doing the ultrasound printed a picture for each of the girls with the baby's hand above its head with the palm out as if the baby is waving.     

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just a Normal School Day

After being away for a 3 day weekend and MDO yesterday, it was nice to get back into a normal "school" routine today. The chore can is going really well. Only once have the girls complained about having to do a chore (knock on wood).

The girls really like our devotional book, The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers. The pictures are really sweet - which is why Lucy likes it. The story is totally age appropriate for both girls - we love it!!

I've been working hard getting together a number of Montessori inspired activities for Lucy. Right now I have a toothpick sorting, noodle sorting, bean scooping and pouring, pitcher pouring with beans, dust pan and broom activity, and a wooden matching game. I'm currently working on a sound game and a toddler handbag activity. I would like to add an activity or 2 every week so that I can rotate things more easily. I've decided to have everything available on the shelves during school time, but then I pick it up when we are finished with school. It takes a little more effort, but if left out - Lucy could make a HUGE mess of things.

Norah is doing well with school. Several mornings she threw a little fit about doing certain activities (mostly the paper/pencil acitivities) so I have changed up a few things which has helped. I really like the MFW curriculum as a guide, but as a former preschool teacher I don't like all the activities that are supposed to be done at the table. I can understand Norah's frustration. My girls both have a lot of energy - they are always dancing, jumping, and tumbling so I am trying to incorporate A LOT of physical activity into our morning - it totally helps Norah concentrate on her handwriting and cutting.

Here are a few pictures of our new activities for Lucy. This common Montessori pouring activity is by far Lucy's new favorite activity! Look at my cute pitchers!! They are from my grandma. I told her I was looking for 2 little pitchers and she had me pull these down off of a shelf at her house. They are PERFECT and the girls love them!! Today the girls (Norah wanted to try out all of Lucy's new stuff) poured beans back and forth. Lucy did great - very little spilling! I will probably put rice in them next week and when she can pour the rice w/ little spilling, we will switch to water.

The idea of this activity is mostly a sensory experience - listening to the different sounds as she scoops bean with a metal spoon in a glass bowl. Lucy played with this a lot longer than I expected.

This is a Montessori "practical life" activity - learning to manipulate a dust broom and pan. Norah wanted try it - but wasn't too interested once she started. We used that moment to talk about finishing things we start - even when we don't like what we are doing. She completed the task and quickly put it back on the shelf.

I thought the Lucy would really like this activity, but I think she was so interested in the pitchers that she only sort about 1/3 of the toothpicks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pumpkin Fest . . . Rainout!

The girls and I went to my parents this weekend for the Pumpkin Festival. Unfortunately, it rained basically the whole weekend! There were some brave people who enjoyed the festival in the rain, but not us.

Luckily, the rain held off Saturday morning until the parade was over. All Lucy could think about was candy and, boy, did we get candy! There were very few kids around us (which is unusual, guess the look of the gray sky kept people away) so people in the parade literally dumped handfuls in front of us. I did a terrible job taking pics - hopefully my mom and sil took some good ones. Here is one of the girls at the parade.
We did have fun hanging out with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, niece and my grandma. Contessa was so excited to see Norah - it was very cute. On Friday afternoon when Norah got up from her rest time, Contessa squealed and hugged Norah tight!
Maybe next year the weather will be better!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A New Favorite Activity

I've decided to take a little different approach with Lucy - sort of Montessori style. I have about 4 different acitivities on the shelf in the basement and when Norah is working on her reading lesson, Lucy chooses an activity. She puts it on a tray (if necessary) and carries it to the floor. When she finishes, she picks it up, puts it away and chooses a new acitivity. The activities will stay out for a while, unless she acts bored or they are totally theme oriented. I will add new ones as I have them ready.

Today was our first day to try things this way. I think it worked well because she could take ownership of what she was doing, instead of being told what to do. The activities that are available for her now are noodle sorting, matching blocks, puzzle, and farm animals and blocks (these 2 are together).

Her new favorite activity is noodle sorting.

I just bought a bag of Wacky Mac and then added some noodles that I already had. Lucy worked for about 20 minutes - I was just hoping for over 5. She went back to the noodle sorting between all the other acitivities. In the Wacky Mac there are purple, orange, green and plain (yellow, as Lucy called it). I added plain twisty noodles. Lucy wasn't sure how to separate the plain shells and the plain twisty because they were the same color. I ended up dying the twisty one blue - that made Lucy quite happy.

Muffin Tin Tuesday

Since the girls go to MDO on Mondays, we had Muffin Tin Tuesday. I had just read this and decided to copy her idea and do a Children's Literature Muffin Tin. As previously mentioned, the theme around here has been farms. Really, is there and easier theme for putting together a lunch? It was a good one to start with. We read Big Red Barn and The Little Red Hen.

The girls had toast, vegies, ranch (I'm sure you will notice ranch in almost all of our muffin tin meals), mozzerella cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and apples.

Next week will be a little trickier - elephants. I guess we will have to find out what elephants like to eat.

Field Trip #1 - Grant's Farm

As mentioned before, Kevin and I took the girls to Grant's Farm. This was our first official field trip. Norah's science theme for last week and this is farm animals - so we thought Grant's Farm would be the perfect place for us to go!

We grabbed lunch on the way and headed out. Lucy was totally freaked out by the tram ride - no idea why, but she cried for the first 5 minutes. Once she realized it was no big deal, she wanted to sit up and see the animals!!

The tour guide called this cow an "oreo cookie" cow. Norah thought that was quite funny!

Once we got off the tram we headed straight for the goats. Kevin and Lucy went into the pen to feed the goats. Norah and I stayed outside the pen and Norah fed the goats through the pen.

Besides the farm animals, Grant's Farm also has zebra, elephants, kangaroo, buffalo, and ostriches. We saw the elephant show - Norah loved this part - which is great because next week her science topic elephants.

Lucy started to have a meltdown (understandable since it was after her naptime) - but we had already seen everything so we headed back to the car. Before we headed home we made a stop at Ted Drewes - we can't be that close to Ted Drewes and not stop, can we? Kevin and Lucy shared the Apple Pie Conrete and Norah and I shared hot fudge, cararmel sundae with whipped cream. Yum!!

The girls fell asleep on the way home. Norah woke up when Kevin carried her to her room, but Lucy was out cold!

Weekend Recap

We had a pretty crazy weekend around here. Kevin spent Friday and Saturday at the BMW Golf Championship. So the girls and I went to the Diehl's on Saturday morning to play. The kids got along great and it was nice to see Nicole!

Saturday night (after we got home from church) Kevin and Norah camped in the basement. They talked about camping outside, but the street behind our house is VERY busy and we were afraid the noise would keep Norah awake. Norah was very excited, but couldn't settle down when it was bed time. Then she got to the point that she was over tired and kept asking to go get in her own bed. The were sleeping on an air mattress and about 1:30 a.m. Kevin carried Norah to her bed and said the mattress was losing air and neither of them were sleeping well. Unfortunately, Norah is too much like me in that we CAN'T miss much sleep. We are NOT fun people to be around when we are tired so we knew that Sunday would be a rough day.

Sunday we went to Grant's Farm. More on that in the next post!

We are all still recovering from lack of sleep and being busy!! Hopefully, today will be a good napping day!!

First Day of Mother's Day Out

Yesterday was the girls' first day of MDO. They were both very excited to go, but once we got there, Lucy was very hesitant. We dropped Norah off first and she walked right in and hung her backpack in her cubby. Lucy cried when I dropped her off. It was like the drama scene that Norah used to put on, it was more of the silent tears with her lip sticking out.
Both girls seemed to have a good day. Lucy didn't nap and had an accident. When I picked her up, she was sort of crying - probably exhaustion!
I banned myself from the computer yesterday because I have this goal to be VERY productive while both girls are gone. I went grocery shopping right after I dropped them off and then I cleaned my house. I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom. Between the grocery shopping, cleaning and washing sheets, the day flew by much too quickly!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Making Butter and Having a Tea Party

This week Norah's science topic was farm animals, specifically cows (letter c). We talked about dairy cows and things that come from milk. We made butter by shaking whipping cream in a baby food jar. It took about 20 minutes for the cream to solidify, then we poured out the excess liquid. The girls were quite amazed at this process.

When the girls woke up from their naps, Ihad a surprise tea party ready for them at their little table in the basement. We had crackers, the butter we made and V8 Fusion Strawberry Banana juice. We used the china the my grandma gave me when Kevin and I got married. Seriously, the china has only been used once, I think. It was perfect for today. When the girls woke up I told them I had a surprise for them and they needed to put dresses on (this alone made Norah's day!). We went to the basement and they saw this:

They were both delighted and enjoyed having a tea party! Norah said, "I know! We could do this everyday."

After we had our little snacks we read Winter Days in the Big Woods (talks briefly about making butter) and The Best Tea Party Ever.

If anyone knows of any other books about tea parties - let me know. Although we won't have a tea party everyday, I would like to do this maybe once a month or two.

Cooking on Thursday

For our cooking project yesterday, Norah and I made Chicken Alfredo Pizza. This is one of Kevin's favorite things to eat. He occassionally gets it at Olive Garden or Uno's Pizza, but we decided to attempt to make it at home.

I should add - for anyone interested in making this - that it is NOT a healthy recipe. I often try to make a recipe healthier, but since this was my first time making this, I decided to make it just as the recipe says. Also, it is pretty time consuming and messy - there are quite a few steps.

I made the dough for the pizza crust while the girls played, then let it rise while we put Lucy down for a nap.

Norah was an excellent helper and I'm sure she will be a great cook someday. I never tell Norah to pose or smile for most pictures, but she does anyway - even when I am looking for an "action" shot.

I forgot to take a picture after I baked it. It turned out really well. Next time I will add a little more seasoning to the crust - it was slightly bland.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Too Many Art Projects!!

Those of you who have little ones who love to make art projects - what do you do with all of them?
My girls make atleast one picture almost everyday. It can be as simple as a picture they colored or drew or it could be a collage with buttons, foam shapes, glitter, etc. I have a pile on my counter and I don't know what to do with them. I can't save every picture and my first instinct is to toss it all!
Kevin has joked before that he will have to be the one to save the girls "special" pictures and gifts because I am just not sentimental. I know I should save some of their pictures, but can't decide on which ones.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day

We had our first "official" day of school today. Over the last week Norah has begged to do some school, so we did lots of extra projects. She couldn't wait for today - which cracks me up because we have really done stuff all summer. I just felt like we needed a day to say was our first day of school. I think the day after Labor Day is perfect - I think we will try to stick with that at least fora couple of years.

We started our day by having breakfast with Kevin at a local bakery.
Healthy, I know!

The girls pulled a chore from the chore bucket. Norah wiped off the art table and Lucy put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Norah asked, "Do we only get to do one?" Funny!

Our morning went very smoothly. The girls were excited to follow a schedule and to know what was coming next. Homeschooling a pre-k/kindergarten child really only takes an hour to an hour and a half. When Norah finished everything I had planned, she said, "Mom, I thought school would take a lot longer than this!" She was actually a little disappointed. I tried to explain to her that at her age most of our "schooling" happens while we play together. I'm not so sure she was satisfied with that answer.

Lucy kept herself busy with her toddler box for about 20 minutes. In her box was The Big Red Barn, an animal matching strip, and a color matching game. She also colored a picture of a sheep while Norah was working on her handwriting.

This is the color matching game that Lucy used. I colored each lamb a different color, glued them to cardstock and laminated it. Then I colored the end of the clothespin with the same colors as the lambs. Lucy really got a kick out of opening and closing the clothespins. It was great for her fine motor skills.

All in all, it was a successful first day (minus the part of the day when neither of the girls napped).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Homeschool Room - Complete, Almost!

August project (OPAM) is almost complete!! Yea! Here are the before pictures.

And with alot of help from Kevin, here are the after pictures:

My favorite thing here is the magnetic chalkboard that Kevin painted on the wall. The girls are going to LOVE it!! We had some debate about whether this wall should remain tan (it meets up with the stair well, also tan, and NO ONE wanted to paint the stairwell). I think the map really helps to bring in the other colors of the room.

Norah painted the pictures on the wall (I should probably take a close up picture to post) - they are so cute!!

We made the bulletin board that I had mentioned in my post linked above. The dresser had been used as storage in the basement for several years. I had bought it for $10 at a rummage sale before my junior year of college when I lived off campus. I think the blue and the green work great together. The drawers are filled with math manipulatives, language arts supplies, science games/toys, art supplies, etc. I was afraid Lucy would not stay out of them, but really (knock on wood) this hasn't been an issue. My white cabinet to the left is totally organized - I love it!!

This is the one area that is not quite complete. I bought the little bookshelf and Norah picked out the little green basket. In the basket are the books that go along with our current theme - farm animals right now. The other books will be rotated with books from the 4 boxes in our storage room. Ultimately, my sister-in-law, Denise, is going to paint a mural in this area but she is a busy lady. She owns her own foreign language school and just started her new school year. She is going to come down sometime in October to get started. The rocking chair will go back to the baby room when Lucy moves out. My mom and I are going to make a couple of floor pillows with the same fabric used for the bulletin board. We also may bring the girls' beanbag chairs down.

That's that! Now that I feel so much more organized, it is time to start getting ready for my September OPAM - garage sale!!