Sunday, December 29, 2013

Smile! Sunday #6

Yes, I'm still alive. I've been dealing with a sucking black hole of depression, but I'm still alive. I'm taking something that is starting to help, and I hope to be back to blogging in January. Lady Bug is doing awesome and is the prettiest, happiest little baby girl I've ever seen. We've been dealing with off and on sickness this whole month, so we didn't make it to church this Sunday to get our picture taken together. But Daddy took this picture of us today, and I love it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Smile! Sunday #5

Pictures taken with, and blog post made from, Daddy's new phone/Christmas present. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Smile! Sunday #4

We went to church last week but I forgot our camera. Daddy and Lady Bug were sick and stayed home this week, but we still got our picture taken. When I committed to doing this, I didn't think about how boring the winter pictures would be if we never took our coats off. We need to fix that next week...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

Traveling for several hours or more to Thanksgiving this year? Then do I have the lesson plan for you! Check it out at my latest addition to my holiday lesson plan series at Sandbox to Socrates!

I forgot to mention on the post that one great way to teach in the car is with audio books. I've never used them before, but if you like them and they work well for you, Jen Bardsley over at Teaching My Baby to Read blog has a bunch of good ideas for what she has termed "car-schooling."

MasterChef Birthday Party

Last Saturday we celebrated Builder Boy's 7th birthday with a MasterChef themed birthday party. Builder Boy is a big fan of the MasterChef and MasterChef Junior shows and lately has been very interested in learning how to cook. For his birthday presents I talked with his relatives and together they got him a bunch of his own cooking supplies including an awesome Fruit and Veggie Prep Kit specifically made for kids. Looking at all the presents he said that it was a "dream come true!" I asked for some recommendations from other parents for teaching to cook cookbooks for kids and from that he was given Elliot's Extraordinary Cookbook and Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens. Elliot's Extraordinary Cookbook teaches kids about cooking and food through a story with a few, simple recipes while Clueless in the Kitchen is more instructive and has more recipes. We're going to cook our way though one and then the other.

So proud of his cheesecake with blueberries on top!

This spring when Builder Boy watched the cheesecake pressure test on MasterChef Builder Boy asked if he could make a cheesecake for his birthday. Not would I make one, but could he make one. I told him if he still remembered and wanted to do it then, he could. He remembered and all he could talk about when his birthday came up was that he was going to make his own cheesecake all by himself! I found an easy Bisquick recipe and while it's not perfect, it was easy enough for him to make without me touching anything and he loved it. And he was so very proud of it. He ended up making two; one for his birthday during the week and one for the party.

I had big plans for the birthday party. Those plans half way fell apart, however, when Principal Daddy got sick and I ran out of time. The things that did turn out: customized aprons for the party favor, kid chefs making their own pizza dough and learning how to toss it, and a blind folded taste test. The things that did not turn out: photo booth and pin the mustache on the chef. Because Daddy stayed in bed to keep from infecting our guests and my friend was helping with Lady Bug, I did not get many pictures. But the kids still had a good time, and that's what counts.

The aprons I got at Walmart and Joanne's Fabric. They were 3 aprons/$11. The Walmart ones were bigger and I found them in the craft section. Those I gave to the older boys. The smaller ones (for the same price) I found at Joanne's. I used red puffy fabric paint and painted on each person's name and the MasterChef logo. Same price (or less) than what you would normally spend on a bag of party favor toys and these will probably last longer.

Before the party started Builder Boy sliced olives with an egg slicer and pineapple rings, mushrooms, and bell peppers with his kid safe knife from the veggie prep kit. Principal Daddy searched youtube and picked some pizza tossing videos to show the kids so they could try it themselves. The kids had a lot of fun trying it out, and I was prepared for dropped dough. Everyone was a chef and made their own pizzas. For drinks we made the chose your own flavor drinks that we discovered from Pinterest last year.

When the pizzas were in the oven we did a blindfolded taste test with two kids at a time. They were pretty quick to pick up that we were using leftover pizza toppings as the ingredients so I pulled some other random veggies and such from the fridge. Builder Boy had really wanted a competitive component to his party and while it was informal with no "winner," he loved it.

I had wanted to make a photo booth with fun cut outs as another thing to do at the party. I purchased a roll of wrapping paper for the background and some cupcake boarder at the dollar store. Learn from my mistake: one roll is not wide enough. You have to double it to make it wide enough so you're not too close to take a picture. I did not figure this out until the night before the party. I know better now for next time.

The boys ended up playing with all the balloons from the birthday morning surprise plus some other ones I added and that was plenty to keep them occupied for the rest of the party.
I made a MasterChef Pinterest Board with some other ideas that I had considered doing if you're interested in throwing your own MasterChef party.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another Birthday Morning Surprise

Last week was Builder Boy's birthday! He is now 7 years old and he has such a loving spirit and is a joy to teach and parent. I am immensely proud of him.

Builder Boy really enjoyed last year's birthday balloon surprise. So I upped the ante and did another balloon surprise for this birthday. Last years' balloons formed a curtain to walk through. This year's is a catch of balloons that cascade down on the unsuspecting birthday child. I used regular party streamers to hold up regular sized balloons, using tape to keep it up. I started at the bottom and criss-crossed up adding one balloon per streamer. The whole thing from blowing up the balloons to putting them up took less than 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Baby Bow DIY

This past two weeks have been...well, that's a whole lot of blog posts that are in the making. In the mean time, here's an idea I tried out today.

Lady Bug doesn't have much hair on top, except for a long patch on the top that reminds me of Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. I love ribbons and bows, but the headbands I have are either too small now or still too big. So I made a little ribbon bow and stuck it on a sticky Velcro dot . (I love those things!) I cut away the extra and stuck in on. Doesn't it look cute?!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Veteran's Day Plan

Have you been enjoying what we've been doing learning about holidays? Would you like to do it along with us? The plan for Veteran's Day is now up at Sandbox to Socrates! Check it out so you can prepare ahead of time! What we do with it will be posted here the day of or the day after. I would love to hear from others who do it, too! You can comment on the post when I publish it, or you can send me info to include at

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Candy Chart 2013

Builder Boy's first chart, Early Bird's first chart

Last year I realized that Halloween is pretty much the only time my kids eat candy. It's been interesting this past week reading online about different families' Halloween candy strategies. (Some people just throw it away?!) Ours strategy is one piece after lunch and one after dinner if they finish everything on their plate. Last year the candy lasted until almost Christmas. I had a homeschooling parent point out to me that not everything has to be educational; but my kids like doing the candy chart! And this year we are going to not just chart the textures and flavors. We are going to compile and analyze the information to see what things they liked in candy, what things they didn't, and decide what their favorite candy actually was.

I've got a guest post at Sandbox to Socrates! I'm going to be giving the plan for the our "celebrations" from The Big Book of Holidays Around the Year a few days ahead of every holiday for anyone who is interested in doing it, too.

I dropped the ball on it for October, but for November we're doing Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving. Here's 9/11, Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week from September.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Daily Thankfulness Garland

This year they boys will be participating in the daily thankfulness challenge that you often see on facebook every November. Only instead of just putting it on facebook (which I'll be doing on the Sceleratus Classical Academy page) we will also be making a fall leaf garland with our answers.

I searched our local dollar store trying to find die cut fall leaves that I could have sworn I'd seen there before. But they did not have any, so we went on a Leaf Treasure Hunt around our neighborhood to find as many different shapes, sizes, and colors of leaves we could find. We'll be using these for various activities this week.

Once we got back home we each chose a color. Daddy is orange, Builder Boy is green, Early Bird is red, and I am yellow. I chose various leaves and traced them onto colored construction paper. After I traced the leaf I folded the paper as many times as I could make fit to make multiple copies of the leaf shape. This was the only way to accomplish cutting out 120 leaves in one hour or less.

Step 1: Trace
Step 2: Fold

Step 3: Cut
Or fold, then fit, then cut.
Make sure you have 30!

If you can find pre-cut leaves, use them! If you have kids old enough to cut nicely, use them! But once I got into the groove, it wasn't too bad.

Once you've cut them out you can write what you are thankful for that day and add it to the garland. I used staples to attach the paper leaves to a ribbon. I am hanging the garland on the wall in our dining area. The paper color will likely fade over time, but this is a decoration I could possibly save and bring out next year.

PS. It's okay to start this project a few days late!

Added later: I had the thought that if you wanted to make a decoration with your thankfulness answers, but didn't want to do all that cutting, you could write your answers on strips of colored paper and make a paper chain instead.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Smile! Sunday #3

Wahoo! We made it to church two weeks in a row! Yay for no more sickness!

Picture taken by Early Bird on our leaf hunt walk.

Picture taken by Builder Boy
 And here are some pictures the boys took while we hunted for fall leaves. (Daddy stayed home with Lady Bug because it was too cold.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Baby Ladybug Costume DIY

aka Why you shouldn't wait until Halloween to dye a costume.

She really likes grabbing the tu-tu fluff!

So for her first Halloween Lady Bug was....a ladybug! I've had the idea for this costume since the ultrasound pregnancy test over a year now.  I purchased everything I needed almost two months in advance....and didn't put it all together until a few hours before it was time to trick or treat. And it was too cold to trick or treat in her costume. Sigh. I should have made it on a black hooded jacket like I did with Builder Boy's bumble bee costume. At least she had a cute bear suit she could wear in the cold and we had a church function to show her off in in the ladybug costume.

I made the tu-tu the day before Halloween. (I put the PRO in procrastination.) I followed instructions from treasures for tots and they were wonderfully helpful. It took me less than an hour to make a wonderful looking tu-tu. I tried making tu-tu's (for a friend's daughters) before, cutting strips of tulle from the stuff you get off bolts. That was a disaster and a waste of hours. Thanks to the tulle cutting instructions, also from treasures for tots, I got a spool and with just a little help from Builder Boy had my strips cut in 10 minutes (or less.) Builder Boy loved being part of a "tu-tu making machine."

I used ribbon instead of elastic to make the waistband, so it would have a bow at the back. If you're wondering (like I was at the store) what width of ribbon to use the answer is: whatever width you want for the bow. Because the tulle is so tight on the ribbon that it makes no difference otherwise. Unless it's an extremely thin ribbon. Don't use a thin ribbon.

That day I also made the wings. I made them out of a cheap rectangle of felt I got in the craft section of Walmart for $0.24. I folded it in half, drew the shape I wanted on it, and cut. (Picture enhanced with Paint since you couldn't see the lines in the original picture.) Then I painted black dots on them, first using a q-tip and finishing with a paintbrush.

Water needed to be "steaming hot."
For the body of the costume I purchased a 0-3 month white, long-sleeved bodysuit/onsie and a packet of Tulip black dye. I followed the instructions exactly, and it came out gray, not black. Because I made it the day of Halloween I did not have time to go back to the store and get another dye packet and re-dye it. If you do this I suggest purchasing two packets and going through the dyeing process a second time. They are only $2-3 each, so it's not too expensive.

This is not the color I was looking for.

Once it was dyed and gone through the wash (as per the instructions) I quickly sewed on the top of the wings to the back of the onsie. Tie the tu-tu around the waist and you've got one adorable ladybug.

Total cost: ~$10.

(Even though I did not finish writing this post until November, I am post dating it to October for easier access in the archives.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lady Bug is Three Months Old!

Here's month two of the month-by-month pictures inspired by Pinterest. The pictures were taken later in the day, so the lighting is different from the previous months.

She certainly makes the teddy bear look like it's shrinking when I look at the first month's picture.

The 9 month sleeper looks like it did two months ago until I realized her top of her head back then is where her neck is now.

This month she learned to smile, though you wouldn't know it from these pictures.

Happy girl!

Monday, October 28, 2013

I wish I'd done this afternoon differently...

...but I'm proud of this morning.

Just about everyone has them: those days when everything seems to be going wrong, even though it's just little things. The weather is gloomy and you are, too. Someday I'll write about homeschooling with depression, but not today. Today I'm just going to say that despite my crappy attitude and my snapping short temper, we got school done today before 3pm. Normally I would suggest to another person on days like this to just take it off and try to take it easy. But I'm feeling so behind that not doing anything would have made me feel worse. So, despite an hour late start, we got school done. Even the knights study unit that has been barley started for three weeks and including our new spelling program. All done before 3 pm. After we were done I collapsed on the bed with Lady Bug and the laptop and did little else other than eat Halloween candy. I wish I'd instead cuddled up with all the kids and some hot cocoa and watched a movie. Because then maybe my son wouldn't have felt like I needed a card that said "Mommy please dont be sad your ar fine." Next time I'm going to snuggle instead of isolate. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Smile! Sunday #2

Oops! Someone forgot to tell Early Bird to smile!
Last month I committed myself to having my picture taken more often. The idea was to have our picture taken as a family every Sunday at church and to post it to keep me accountable. The reason I haven't posted another picture until now is because every Sunday one or both of the boys had displayed sick symptoms and I don't take my children out when they're like that to expose other children. So this was our first day back at church in a month and it was nice to be back.

No airbrushing! No cropping.

But in the spirit of my attempt to be in more pictures I have been allowing the boys to take more pictures of me. Messy hair, messy house, and bad angles all. Here are a few of the results that aren't too bad.
Builder Boy took this picture.

Early Bird took the rest of these pictures! This is my Granny. <3

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