Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lucy's Story

One of my favorite things about having a kindergartner is the inventive spelling! I love watching a child's reading/writing skills emerge in the very beginning! Lucy is totally into writing right now. Usually we get a sentence or two here and there, but today she actually wrote a story and was quite proud of herself.

See if you can figure out what she wrote.

Need some help?

"I bought a monkey. It was crazy. I didn't know what to do so I put him in the store. He was sad so I bought him again."

Countdown to Christmas

After searching pinterest for Advent calendar ideas, I finally settled on an idea that I loved!! I wanted something that could be part of our Christmas decor, but didn't take up a ton of space. While my mom was here at the beginning of the week, she and I got started on it and I finished it up yesterday. I love how it turned out and the girls are so excited for December 1! I have a feeling I will have a reader in my house who will be peaking at the tags, but that is okay with me. I love that they are excited countdown to Jesus birthday!!
Inside each pocket is a little card with a Christmas activity (mostly things we will do as a family - a couple that the girls and I will do during the day without Kevin) on one side,
and a clue from Truth in the Tinsel on the other side. Our plan is to start our day at breakfast reading the Bible passage that goes along with each clue. Then as Kevin heads out the door for work, the girls and I will work on the ornaments and chat about all that we are learning.
There is so much chaos this time of year and so much emphasis on presents and Santa. We want our girls to know without a doubt that we wouldn't have Christmas if it wasn't for God sending His son to Earth. I know creating an Advent calendar can be time consuming so check out this one that my friend, Nicole, has in her etsy store. Adorable!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Truth in the Tinsel

My plan for school for December is to take the month off from some of our normal activities and spend time really focusing on the meaning of Christmas!! I had hoped to have my plans written out by now but the craziness that is our lives has kept me from getting anything done. I don't want my plans to be so grand that I can't actually get everything accomplished. Enter Truth in the Tinsel. This e-book is so great and this totally covers our Bible and craft part of our day! I am so excited about this book. It is so well put together that anyone can use it!

Today ONLY the book is $2.99! Check it out and trust me it is worth way more than $2.99!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stay Fit and Lean During the Holidays Part 3

Is Thanksgiving night the best night to talk about eating during the holidays (or anytime really)? Maybe so - if you are really full of food, you may be motivated not to feel this full again!!

First, go here to get some great tips so you are prepared for those upcoming holiday parties.

While exercise is really important to burn calories, strengthen your heart, and tone your body (as well as many other benefits), the food that you consume is actually about 75% of the game. In other words, you can exercise all you want but may not see any results and actually may put weight on if you aren't careful about what you eat. Here are a few suggestions to get started on the right path:

1. Try to eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 bigger meals. Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps you to stay ahead of your hunger. You won't have major cravings later in the day if you are constantly fueling your body with the right foods.

2. Try to incorporate a lean protein at each mini meal. Protein helps to build/repair muscles as well as helping you feel satisfied longer. Protein digests slowly so you won't be hungry right away. Nuts are great options for a snack!

3. Balance your carbs and protein. Do NOT cut carbs out of your diet! Yes, you need to eat healthy carbs - not soda, candy and other refined sugars. Your body NEEDS carbs - this is where you get your energy to get through the day!! Don't believe me? Watch this video by the Boot Camp Challenge CEO.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables!!! This one is a little easier to understand because we all know that you get so many great nutrients and vitamins from your fruits and veggies!!

5. Again, keep a food journal. You will be much more successful if you keep track of your foods!!

Stay tuned! My next post will include a giveaway!!

At BCC, we are offering a really great Christmas special !! 15 class for $99 - click here if you are interested!!

Random School Stuff

The girls seem to really enjoy history this year. We are using My Father's World for 2nd grade history, but Lucy joins us for almost everything. She doesn't want to be left out of this part of our day! The first couple of months, the girls learned about the history of the United States. They learned about various explorers, Pilgrims, Native Americans, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, 13 colonies, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War, etc.

Here is Norah writing with a quill pen. . . after talking about the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock. My mom picked up the quill pen and ink set when they were in Pennsylvania this summer.
Now the girls are learning a little bit about each state - in the order in which they joined the union. While talking about the New England states - we enjoyed some clam chowder. Well, Kevin and I enjoyed it. Norah and Lucy did not (Daphne can't have it because of her food allergies). Norah reluctantly ate the little bit we gave her. Lucy gagged and spit it out! It was slightly amusing - she has never done that before!!
We made a peach cobbler when we talked about Georgia - that went over better than the clam chowder.
When talking about South Carolina (and briefly about the Civil War) we talked about food the soldiers may have eaten. We made some hardtack - which is basically a hard biscuit, made with flour, water and salt. Sounds yummy, right?

All three girls ate a whole piece, but decided they were glad they didn't have to eat it again!!

We also made yarn dolls - but I never took a picture of that.

The girls enjoy telling Kevin what they have learned about each state. The second day of our state study (Pennsylvania), he asked the girls what they learned about the sports teams in PA. I think their response was, "Mommy didn't teach us any of that." Since then I have tried to teach them a random fact about a sports team - but they can't seem to remember any of it. Either that or they think it is funny when Kevin questions them and they don't answer. When we talked about MA, I told the girls about the Boston Red Sox. They couldn't seem to remember anything I told them and they kept saying "stinky Red Sox" which was okay with Kevin!

We are only 8 states in, but so far the way this curriculum is put together has been great for both girls! We are taking December off from our regular history to do some extra Christmas stuff, but I think we will all be excited to get back into the study of the states after the first of the year!!


As a former preschool teacher. . . . I know that sensory/art experiences for kids are important. It was easy with Norah to paint - I only had to clean up one kid. No big deal. Adding Lucy into the mix made things a little trickier, but I still made the effort regularly. Then Daphne came along. Wow. The thought of getting the paints out now is overwhelming. Norah and Lucy paint frequently . . .when Daphne is resting, but I am pretty sure that at almost 3, Daphne had never painted before. Oh, wait, there was the one time when someone drove through our fence and Kevin put up a piece of plywood so the kids could still play outside safely - we let the kids paint the plywood.

I saw this cute idea and knew this would be the perfect project for Daphne. I loved it because the first step was to paint a 18x12 sheet of paper with fall colors. The only goal was to cover the whole page with paint - didn't matter what it looked like.

I thought the best method with the least amount of mess would be to strip her down. Daphne was not a fan of this - but as soon as I handed her the paintbrush, she was over it!

She Did It. . . Again!

For the second time, Lucy has broken her finger sucking habit! Hopefully it will stick this time!! The dentist suggested letting her pick out a toy as a reward for not sucking fingers. She picked out that horse (she is serious about her rewards) and we put it on the piano so that she would see it everyday. She kept a chart and every morning when she woke up if she had kept her gloves on all night, she put a sticker on it until she filled it up. Sunday was the last day of the chart so we gave her the horse. She did fantastic - she didn't really even whine/argue much after the first night.

Two down, one to go.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stay Fit and Lean During the Holidays Part 2

Assuming you have found an accountability partner (or are going to soon) and that you are logging your food, let's talk about exercise.

First of all, if you aren't exercising - get up and get moving! If you are inactive, anything is better than what you are doing!! Walk, jog, bike, swim - tons of options!

Here is a really great article about setting up an exercise program if you can't afford a personal trainer.

There are quite a few really great dvd's out there to get you going:

Insanity (this one is a little pricey, but we got ours off Craigslist - brand new for very cheap!)

You can also sign up for a group exercise class (My sister is taking a zumba class and loves it. I took a kickboxing class and loved it) or a Boot Camp Challenge class!

Or you can join a gym or local community center and take advantage of their equipment! I like variety so I like a combination of going to the gym, running, dvd's, and group exercise!

We all know that regular exercise helps you lose weight (or maintain your current weight) and strengthen your muscles. And most of you probably have heard the basic benefits to exercise such as lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of several major diseases, but did you know that it also stimulates your brain? Read this for more information!

Now that the holidays are HERE, move your body so you don't put on the normal weight gain that happens this time of year!

Weekend Away

We spent the weekend in Nashville visiting the Morrison's. Just before we headed out on Friday to make the trek south, Daphne fell and split her chin open. Thankfully, she just needed a quick trip to our doctor for some dermabond and she was good to go.

The girls did great travelling on Friday - they read, watched movies, drew pictures, listened to music, etc, so I slept and Kevin drove. Daphne actually napped - probably as a result of a slightly traumatic morning.

Kevin and Ryan headed to a basketball game on Friday night so once the kids went to bed, Heather and I were able to spend time catching up (plus, she showed me some of her homemade Christmas presents - amazing!!).

On Saturday we went to the Nashville Zoo - it was a beautiful day! Daphne was exhausted because she didn't sleep very well - so she was slightly on the feisty side.
Sunday morning the kids played and played (and several cried from exhaustion - lol) and then we headed home. The ride home was not quite as relaxing since we had some sleepy kiddos but we made it in one piece!!

It was fun to hang out with Morrison's again and look forward to doing it again!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stay Fit and Lean During the Holidays Part 1

I know I don't post much about my new career adventure in personal training - oh wait! I don't post about much of anything these days! Ha! I am writing a 4 part blog post and at the end of the 4th one will be a giveaway!!

Anyway, with Halloween just leading us into the season where most people are too busy to exercise and don't worry about their eating. I mean, why not just eat what you want and lose it after the new year? This is a great article that talks about how much most people gain during the holiday season (which is, surprisingly, only about 1-2 pounds!) AND it talks about what happens to that weight after the holidays! You may not actually be gaining a lot of extra weight, but, as the article suggests, your body composition may change!! Which could be why some of your clothes just don't fit as well by the new year!!

Now I am going to give you a couple of tips for this holiday season:
1. Set a goal for yourself - be specific (could be about your weight, how a pair of pants fit, etc), make it attainable, track your progress, and set an end date to see how well you did!!

2. Find someone to keep you accountable! I have several friends/family members who I am helping to keep accountable - you will do better if you have someone to talk to about your frustrations, habits, and to encourage you!!

3. Keep track of what you eat. My favorite website is My Fitness Pal because it is so easy to use, it has an app so you can scan the barcode on the food that you eat for nutritional information, and you will find ANY food imaginable in their database!! Research shows that people who keep track of their food intake are more successful in meeting their weight-loss goals (which, in the long run, helps you maintain, too, because over time you will become VERY familiar with the food you eat).

4. My last tip for today - drink more water!!! You should be drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces. That may seem like a lot of water but it is so important - it helps eliminate waste, increases your metabolism, and helps you retain less water! It will also help you feel more satisfied between meals!!

As I said before, I will be offering a giveaway at the end of my series of blogs. Stay tuned and invite your friends to read!! Feel free to ask questions along the way - I would love to help you out!!

If you live in the St. Charles/O'fallon MO area, check out this website for more information about Boot Camp Challenge. It is a great program that combines personal training, group exercise and nutrition!!

Also, for more nutrition information about some of the vitamins and supplements and I love, go here!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Camping Trip - sort of

We planned a camping trip with Kevin's parents this fall. We didn't want to go too far from home because the last time we took Daphne camping, she woke up in the middle of the night and screamed hysterically and would not go back to sleep so I eventually took her home. Kevin's parents stay at KOA campsites all the time so that is what we went with this year. Our lives have been so crazy this fall that we didn't do a lot of research before we decided on a place to stay so we made reservations at the Granite City KOA. Once we got there - we realized that it wasn't quite what we were expecting. It was in the middle of an industrial park - so no hiking and not many trees in general and no fire pit. That was probably the more disappointing aspect because the girls were looking forward to roasting marshmallows and it just isn't the same over a charcoal grill.

The cabin was clean and nice but in the end we decided to just stay one night and head home for Saturday night. We spent a little time at Eckert's on our way home and then the girls just played and played with Grandma and Grandpa! The weather was beautiful so we still spent a lot of time outside - it was just at home in our own backyard!!

Here are a few of the pics from the weekend:

Yep, we are letting our kids watch a movie on the I-pad while we are camping. We figured if we can watch the Cardinal game (game 5 of the NLDS against the Phillies - so worth it!) while camping that they could watch a kid show on Saturday morning.
The girls all wanted to ride the ponies at Eckerts. They have a fascination with horses right now so this was their highlight!!

Silver Dollar City

We had so much fun last year at Silver Dollar City for the homeschool weekend that we decided to go again. Only this year, I didn't fill Norah's whole day with classes (last year we were racing to get to each class that we didn't get to do much of the normal theme park stuff until Sunday).

My parents were already in Branson - visiting with a cousin of my mom's. They joined us on Saturday at Silver Dollar City.

Here are some highlights:
(pay close attention to Lucy's face in the first 2 pics)
This ride looks like it is going to be fun!!
Maybe not as much fun as I thought!! This was typical for almost every ride!! She is not very daring - not that I mind it most of the time. She was very picky about what rides she thought were acceptable! If it went a little too high or just a little too fast - she didn't want to have anything to do with it!!

Daphne thought she was big stuff this year since she could actually ride several rides!! She loved it and she has NO FEAR!
I had to post this picture for 2 reasons: 1 - my mom's face is hilarious! 2 - it looks like she and I are the only ones on the teacup ride!

hanging out with Grandpa Steve

The little school house is probably Norah's favorite place to go at Silver Dollar City. We basically had to drag her out of there!!

We had a great weekend! We love Silver Dollar City - it is such a family-friendly, clean amusement park!!


(trying to catch up on blog posts while watching game 7 of the World Series - Go Cards!!)

Once again we went to Morton for the annual Pumpkin Festival. Thankfully, this year it didn't rain so we saw the whole parade. The kids walked away with more candy than is necessary for 3 kids but they were thrilled, of course.
Collecting candy. Looks like Alex is already digging in!!


Daphne and Alex is standing as the American flag goes by.

My favorite part about P-fest is hanging out with family and catching up with friends!! My cousin's little guy was hanging out at our usual spot while his parents were busy at Eli's, so of course, I grabbed him as soon as I could!!

I have no idea what Daphne is doing - probably praying for peace. She was a little overwhelmed with all the excitement!! My parents eventually walked her home a little earlier than the rest of us. She enjoyed a little extra attention from them!!

After the parade, we headed back to my parents for lunch then we took the kids to the festival. They all rode some rides and then picked a "treat" to enjoy before heading back to my parents. All the kids - including my niece and nephews - chose cotton candy, except Lucy. She chose ice cream - a girl after my own heart!

This year we we only stayed until Saturday evening. We headed home shortly after dinner so we could enjoy some time with the Morrisons - who were in STL for the weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where To Begin

Well, as usual, life has been crazy. From talking to everyone else around me, this seems to be the norm. Some days, I wish life would slow down, but I don't think that is possible with 3 kids!

We have had a lot of fun over the last several weeks/weekends - but we are looking forward to several weekends at home!!

Some brief updates -
Norah continues to LOVE reading. This girl spends HOURS a day reading! She usually reads about 30 minutes during our school day, then at least an hour during their independent quiet time and then about an hour before bed. She totally zones everyone and everything out while she reads (gets that from me!!). The tricky part is finding books that are challenging enough, but has age appropriate content for a 7 year old. She loves the Boxcar Children! She insists on reading them in order so she often has to wait for one to be returned from the library! She also has read several books from the Classic Starts set and Illustrated Classics.

She also continues to question the need for spelling in her school day. I am constantly telling her that spelling is one of those things that you just have to do to be a better writer. My question - would anyone really say that spelling was their favorite subject? However, it is still important!!
Norah is really into sewing right now. My mom bought her this book for her birthday and Norah read through it cover to cover. She made a pin cushion and has
her eye on several other projects to make for gifts for people. She is surprisingly patient and doesn't get too frustrated when she makes a mistake. I
hope this continues!!
Norah is really into making tents or forts. She often has blankets draped over pieces of furniture! Kevin made the girls a teepee this year so they play in that often too!

Lucy is slowly adjusting to her school schedule. 5 days a week has been a major adjustment for her - by Friday she has lost a lot of focus and really doesn't want to do much school!! She loves math - totally the opposite of Norah! She is really doing great with her reading. She has read all of the Fun Tales and is working her way through the Bob Books.

Lucy's most recent fascination has been with making paper dolls. She literally makes them from scratch on cardstock and they are so cute! She has about 40. Yes, 40. She worked so hard!!

Lucy is 3 nights in to breaking her finger sucking habit. . . again. This time seems better already! She seems to get it this time and is really trying - even during the day. She is wearing gloves - just like Norah did. I know it seems cruel, but the dentist confirmed that this is the best way to go about it and knowing Lucy is probably not far from losing teeth, we knew we needed to start working on it.
Lucy LOVES to dress-up and dance. She usually has a princess dress on and is twirling to the music. Her favorite cds right now are this one and this one. Let me tell you how funny it is to watch her twirling to God Bless America in her princess dress or leotard. She belts it out as she sings too!!

I don't even know where to begin with Daphne. Wow - she is a spit-fire. She has tons of personality and she is constantly cracking everyone up!!
Some recent quotes:
"Mom, you go to p**pcamp today?" She says this everyday and cracks herself up every time!
"You not feat me. I mustateer!" (quote from Barbie "you cannot defeat me for I am a muskateer").
"On guard. Huh-uh" while pointing anything resembling a sword
"I not weawy hungwy!!" - She tells me this at every. single. meal. not kidding. However, when you are almost 3 and still only weigh 21 pounds - we do not negotiate at meal time!
"I not have to go p** p**" - She tells me this whenever I tell her to sit on the potty. every. single. time! Oh, and she screams it!
"You want bwaid or pigtails?" Brushing my hair is one of her favorite things to do right now - and she is surprisingly gentle.
"I don't like it. I LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it."
Daphne LOVES to pretend and by herself. If I try to play with her or talk to her while she is pretending, she usually tells me, "I not talk you. I talk to my peoples. I play myself."

Funny story - this morning our church had its annual serve day. We were at a local park painting picnic tables. The kids helped part of the time and played part of the time. When we finished painting the kids were all playing and I was trying to round them up. Daphne didn't want to leave so I told her, "Let's go see what daddy is doing." Kevin was down a little hill under the pavilion. I picked her up and started walking toward him. She started yelling, "Not that way, this way" while pointing the opposite direction. I said, "Daddy is down here." She replied, "I not see that daddy. I see my other daddy" and she points at some random man playing with his kids.
This picture was totally not posed!! I walked into the living room and saw Daphne like this. No one else was even watching yet!!

I have tons of pictures to post from the last couple of months so I will hopefully get to those soon!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Soap Giveaway!

My friend, Catherine, is doing a giveaway!! Check out her blog for the details!! The date for the giveaway to end was the 14th, but Catherine would like to have at least 10 entries so you still have time!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Went Dark

For those who have asked to see my dark hair - here it is. Picture courtesy of Lucy.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lucy's Poll

Lucy is working on graphing for her math. Can you take a minute and answer her questions in the right sidebar? Thanks! On the one about vacation - if you choose other, please leave a comment telling us where you would go?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday Follow-Up

August 22-26th

We had a busy week - lots of little "extras" going on, but we still had a great week of school.

Lucy is moving right along with her reading program. It is SO easy to follow/teach and she is picking things up quickly. She will be reading whole books in no time!! The best part is that she is so excited about reading!!!

She did a little sorting and graphing this week and a lot of counting. I briefly introduced her to the number words and she spelled then with letter tiles - while looking at the words. She did a little adding - which is is so excited to be doing!! While I know Lucy knows/recognizes numbers 1-20, I wanted her to practice matching the numbers to sets of objects so she worked with a puzzle similar to this.

Lucy is working her way through the You Can Read sight word curriculum from 1+1+1=1. I love it! You introduce 4 words at a time and there are so many different ways for Lucy to see/spell/read the sight words.
I am still reading Charlotte's Web to Lucy at quiet time. She can only handle one chapter a day (unlike Norah - I would never stop reading if it was up to her), so it is taking us a little while to get through it. We should finish up this week and I am going to read The Hundred Dresses - this is one of my favorite.

Norah's favorite subject this week was writing. She would finish her assigned writing and then would ask for more. Most days I just told her to write something in her journal. She wrote several letters, made some lists and by Friday she had written a little story. She is a great speller, but I still chuckle when I read words that she sounded out but is way off! I love that she is trying and not getting frustrated if she doesn't automatically know. My favorite this week was announcement - she spelled it "annownsmint." We also did a couple of Mad Libs on Thursday to reinforce what she learned about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. You can see from the picture below that she thought they were hilarious!!!
We played checkers this week to work on some logic and problem solving!! Norah's goal is to practice regularly so she can beat Kevin!

I am not sure if I have mentioned this or not, but Norah's least favorite thing to do is math. This is a little heartbreaking to me. Math was my thing. I LOVED it and always did better in math than anything else. She does fine - it isn't hard for her - there just isn't any creating/imagining involved! She worked on multiplication this week - we did a lot of hands on stuff. We used as many different counters/manipulatives as possible - just for the variety.

Norah loves to read so she flies through books. The Boxcar Children series is by far her favorite right now. This week she finished The Caboose Mystery and the Houseboat Mystery. She started Theater Shoes - this is a challenging book for her but so far she is really into it. I just found Mary Poppins at a used bookstore so she already said that is next.

History this week was about Columbus and other explorers. The girls made boats out of aluminum foil and raced them across the pool by blowing their sails. We talked about how wind really play a major role in how quickly the ships moved - which went right along with our science unit on air.

For art this week - we let the girls paint the plywood that is covering the big hole in our fence (a teenager drove into our backyard a couple of weeks ago).

I know I promised a post dedicated completely to Daphne's Tot School! It is coming - just not today!! For now, I will just give you a few pictures of a few of the things Daphne did this week!

a little play-doh time with Norah

putting hair rubber bands around a door handle

a little coloring - a favorite activity!