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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Knight Costume DIY

Watching Early Bird "fly" around in his beloved Super Why costume that I made him last year for Halloween I realized that what I had done for that costume would also work as a knight's costume. Early Bird has spent a lot of time pretending to be a knight lately; especially now that he has Princess Lady Bug to save. So I went to the store and got two gray shirts for $3.47 each, some fleece in blue and red for $2 each, and a $5 "Warrior Kit" from the Halloween aisle that came with two small swords.

I wanted to paint a crest on the chest of the shirts so I sat down with the boys and the American Heraldry Society's website and let them design their own crests. I only insisted that they each have their birth order insignia as part of it.

To paint the crests I first cut out a paper shape to trace. I used one of my favorite Pinterest tips, to put a glue bottle cap on a paint bottle to "write" with. I traced around the paper shape with the glue cap paint, then using a brush I extended the outline some. The metallic paint that I purchased specifically for this project was much less metallic than I had hoped, and was a very thin paint that soaked through. When doing this project make sure you put paper inside the shirt to prevent bleeding through to the back.

I let that dry for half an hour and then got to work on the inside of the crest. I made the full background and then once it was dry painted the insignia on top. This was a mistake. The paint was so thin that even after several layers (letting it dry before adding another) the background pattern still showed through. If you are going to do this, make the insignia first and then make the background pattern around it.

I free-handed the pattern. The grid being so small made it difficult to paint. If I had to do it over again I would make the checks much bigger.

Once the paint was dry I hand sewed on the capes. I used fleece so that I would not have to hem any edges. I did Early Bird's cape first, sewing the cape at the shoulder seams. I didn't quite like the way it turned out so with Builder Boy's cape I folded the edge over at the ends which ended up giving the cape a flared look.

I used just a regular stitch going one way and then doubled back to reinforce it. I did the same with Early Bird's Super Why costume and it's been going through tough boy play and the washing machine for a year now and has held up.

Early Bird's cape was only half a yard. I think it would have looked better if it had been wider, like Builder Boy's.

Still, not too bad for only about $5.50 (not including paint and sword costs.) We're wearing them while learning about knights and we'll also be using them as our Halloween costumes.

The painting job took several hours just because of the need to dry in between layers and colors. The sewing took 30-45 minutes by hand I think? I consider this to be a fairly easy and quick project. My only regret is the insignia is not clear. But the boys don't care! They love their new knight costumes. And I made sure the shirts I got were big enough that they could be worn over jackets for cold weather trick-or-treating.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pinterest Homemade Halloween Decorations

Bats and spiders and ghosts, oh my! This weekend my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law came to meet Lady Bug. They drove a long way to spend just one day, so I wanted it to be a full day. I have been saving ideas on my Halloween Pinterest board and this weekend we decorated the house with home made Halloween decorations. We made ghost that blow in the wind, bats to put in the windows, cut out jack o' lanterns, silly monsters, a spider, and we turned the door into a monster face.

Builder Boy's "Daddy Ghost"
This is what I was originally going for with the ghosts. But that was before I realized I didn't have any more white trash bags, and I could not find the balloons. So I improvised and cut a regular 8.5x11 white piece of paper and drew a face on it. Since these things turn in the wind it's better to make the face on both sides. Then I put a small, clear trash bag over them. (I did not have to gather them at the top because they were already like that. If yours is not you may want to gather it.) I taped the paper on the inside of the bag so that you could see the face better. Then I taped a string to the top of the bag and hung them outside. We will see if it holds up in the wind.

For the bat silhouettes I did one from memory and Builder Boy tried to copy me. I wish I'd looked one up online as a reminder of what they're supposed to look like. We folded a black piece of construction paper to make them, drew, cut, and then opened. Builder Boy reminded me that the bats needed big ears.

The monster door was an idea I saw on Pinterest. It was originally going to be a bunch of eyes, but it morphed into a monster face. For the eyes I folded a piece of paper in half and made a half circle with a long, skinny rectangle on the flat side of the half circle. The nose is an uneven blob with warts drawn on and the teeth are uneven triangles.

We also used dollar store googly eyes and puff balls to make silly monsters on colored construction paper.

Nana and Builder Boy together worked on this spider idea that now decorates our wall. There are also some extra monsters, jack o' lanterns, and ghosts around the house that Early Bird made.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do concerning scary things for Halloween. I don't like to encourage the idea of being scared. But the boys have had enough culture exposure that they knew ahead of time what symbols are associated with Halloween and were perfectly fine with making them. I also made sure they knew what is real and what is not. And we tried to be silly throughout the whole thing. I'd say mission accomplished!

Friday, October 18, 2013

2nd Week in Review

I am not in trouble yet; I can do this. I am not in trouble yet; I can still do this. I am not in trouble; yet.

I keep telling myself that this is only the second week of school; we're still figuring out our schedule. But it's October! I just had a baby. She's almost 3 months old; how long are you going to use that excuse? They're young and early learners; we have time. Now is the time their brains retain the best. If they were in public school they wouldn't be learning history yet anyway. Isn't that one of the reasons why you're homeschooling?!

Sometimes my inner voice isn't very nice.

The goal for this week was:

4 Grammar lessons
4 Handwriting lessons
4 Math Lessons
4 Reading lessons
Finish Knights Unit Study

Instead we got 5 grammar, handwriting, and math lessons done because the boys think they have to do them to get computer time and they want computer time every day. It doesn't matter to them that 1 day a week is supposed to be different. So that gets done, and afternoon lessons don't. Because I'm tired, they're tired, the baby need to be fed, and we're all useless after 3:00.

I have company over this weekend, I have other out-of-state visitors on Monday and Tuesday. When exactly am I going to get anything done?! (Don't get me wrong, I am very excited to see our guests.)

And Lady Bug's been too sleepy for a month to do Slow & Steady with her! And this month if we weren't tying to do school, we were sick. I know I'm not expecting too much of myself....right?

At least I successfully integrated grammar into the schedule.

I thought Builder Boy's sentence "Jumping is fun, fun, fun!" was funny.

5 Minute Microwave Breakfast

 I am not a morning person. I also do not like eating breakfast. But I need to, because I'm not just feeding myself, I'm feeding Lady Bug, too. The boys are pretty self sufficient when it comes to breakfast, so making a whole lot of effort to just make breakfast isn't only impractical, but it's just not going to happen. I take quite a while to wake up. So I need something filling, nutritious, and easy for breakfast. Something yummy enough to get me to eat in the first place.

I love the Pinterest ideas of making things in a mug in the microwave and I figured out a way to cook an egg in the microwave that turned out really yummy.

1/4 cup (or less) water
1/4 teaspoon chicken bullion
1 egg
garlic salt (to taste)

Put everything in the mug and beat it all together with a fork. Then stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes. That's it. The texture is soft and fluffy and very flavorful. I eat it right out of the hot mug, but I put it on a plate (sliced twice) so you can get a better look at it. There is still some broth remaining, so you can use less water and base if you want to. No added fat, tasty egg!

This by itself does a surprisingly well job of keeping me full for a while. But it's not enough to produce enough milk for Lady Bug, so I prepare oatmeal while the egg is cooking. Since it's fall I put together:

minute oats
brown sugar
drizzle of water

This seriously tastes like apple pie for breakfast.

Together they take only 5 minutes to prepare and cook. I use two dishes and no pots or pans. Easy, tasty, and a complete meal.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Homeschooling an Early Learner

Early Bird makes me really glad we homeschool. I enjoyed homeschooling even when it was just with Builder Boy. But I could never put Early Bird in a regular brick and mortar school. I have read too many personal stories of people who tired to work with a gifted child in the pubic school system and had a miserable time of it. And honestly, grade acceleration isn't what young, early learners need when their output levels don't match their input needs. Early Bird finished kindergarten level reading on his 3rd birthday, but a year and a half later still can't write. He can read at a 2nd/3rd grade level, but isn't ready for a whole chapter book. He's working at a 1st grade level in math, but still needs kindergarten manipulatives. And science he's....I'm not sure what grade level, but he's learning everything Builder Boy (2nd grade) is learning, but can't do the writing and worksheets and such that Builder Boy does. He's 4 and half years old. So we're homeschooling, and we'll probably be homeschooling until the kids are through high school.

Early Bird's first word read at age 2 years, 10 months
Concerning finding the perfect reading curriculum for a 2 year old who is learning to read: there isn't one. I looked for one, I asked around, such a thing does not exist. And waiting until your child is old enough for the curriculum that do exist is not an option when your child is begging to learn. After you're done freaking out about this development, teach them. They've already started learning, keep doing what you did that got them there. Teaching My Baby to Read has a lot of really wonderful ideas for using with young children that are inexpensive and DIY. Her blog is where I found out about the LeapFrog Word Builder that I bought for Early Bird when he had learned his letter names and sounds at age 2.5.

One of the best pieces of advice for teaching reading I learned from The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer: don't tie reading to writing. Some kids are ready to read long before they are ready to write. But if you tie the two together it can frustrate the early learner. I extended that to all learning for Early Bird. I'm not keeping him from learning something just because he can't do any accompanying worksheet or assignment. We do everything verbally and will continue to do so until he is ready to write. This makes doing 2nd grade history and science possible with an interested 4 year old.

When you do find a curriculum that you like remember: you are not a slave to the curriculum.You do not have to teach everything in that one curriculum, you can leave parts out that don't work for you. Needing to leave out a writing assignment or something else does not mean that it's necessarily the wrong program for you when you're using it with an early learner.

Reviewing 2nd grade words at 4 years, 7 months old
Concerning gap fears: you're probably going to have them. Both the fears, and the gaps. When a child is galloping ahead in interest and ability, some things do get left in the dust. Sometimes you don't find the gaps until an embarrassing time. Sometimes you figure them out. My favorite way to find gaps in the mos gaps areas is to occasionally do a grade level (of your child's age) general skills workbook that you can get at Walmart or the dollar store or If they can do one of those with no problem, then you're probably okay.

We are working through our reading curriculum as review even though Early Bird is reading at a high level than the lessons for the express reason of covering any gaps he may have missed. He loves doing this, so it does not frustrate him. This will not hold true for all early learners.

Mostly know that gaps happen with all children and they are nothing to be feared. Once discovered, and you will discover them eventually, children can learn what they need to fill it.

Concerning tests and finding your child's level: for the early stages you can use this blog post to figure out your early reader's reading level. I have also written about other reading assessment options, and I am continuing to look into other option.

I truly understand the desire to test your early learner and validate what you suspect about your child. Before you spend a lot of money having your kid tested, think about your reasons for testing. The Accelerated Learner Board on the The Well Trained Mind Forum has a lot of posts about testing, reasons for testing, and advice from homeschooling parents who have done it. Above all remember that comparison is the thief of joy.

Lastly, you can do it, and they can help. Homeschooling a gifted child can be both easier and much harder than homeschooling a neuro-typical child. Involve your child in curriculum choices and explore the rabbit trails. Let them develop a passion and go as far as they can with it. Try to remember to treat them like their age instead of their age level. And with the really little early learners remember that there is still plenty of time to get to everything.

This post is part of a Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop

Check out some of the other contributions in the hop:

5 Things You Need to Know Before Homeschooling a Gifted/2E Kid –
A Cattle Prod or a Magic Wand? – A 2e Fox Revived
A Dyscalculia Story and Aggressive Acceptance – Chasing Hollyfeld
Acronyms R Us – Buffalo Mama
Before You Teach, Erase Your Memories – Wenda Sheard, J.D. Ph.D. Thoughts on Life & Learning
Homeschooling an Early Learner – Sceleratus Classical Academy
Homeschooling and the Situational 2E – Crushing Tall Poppies
Homeschooling Gifted Learners – Eclectic Homeschooling
Homeschooling My Gifted Children (Newly updated!) – Corin Barsily Goodwin, GHF
Homeschooling my gifted/2e son for one month so far – San Antonio Charter Moms
Homeschooling Your Gifted Child – Modern Homeschooling
Nine things I love about homeschooling my 2e son…and four things I despise. – Laughing at Chaos
What Anxiety Looks Like – Quarks and Quirks

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First Week in Review

Handwriting at the table
Early Bird insisted on his own handwriting

Well, this week didn't go as well as I'd hoped it would. We had our first once-a-month book club meeting at the library which threw our Tuesday into chaos. We're a one car family right now which means we have to dive Principal Daddy to work to get the van. Lesson learned: from now own Book Club Day is an otherwise free day. Principal Daddy was home sick on Wednesday which was distracting and disruptive as well.

Lady Bug listens in on Early Bird's math lesson
I've also figured out that we need to get more done in the morning because our morning things got done, but very little of our afternoon stuff got done. Our Knights Unit Study didn't get finished and our Fire Prevention Unit didn't even get started! Friday is our make-up day, but I don't think we will be able to do everything that we didn't get done. And we haven't even started all our subjects!

Preschooler workbook as warm-up
So I need to learn from this week. And I can't let what we didn't get done discourage and overwhelm me. The kids are young, we're schooling year-round, and we are going to find our groove.

4/4 Handwriting lessons completed
4/4 Math lessons completed
2/4 Reading lessons completed
1/4 Knight Unit Study lessons completed
0 Fire Prevention Week lessons completed

Make-up Friday: 2 Reading lessons and 1 Knights Unit Study lesson.

Hope for next week:
4 Grammar lessons
Making 5 with craft sticks
4 Handwriting lessons
4 Math lessons
4 Reading lessons
Finish Knights Unit Study

Right now I'm letting Early Bird do what he wants with his handwriting workbook. But that's only going to last another week, and then I might actually have to teach him. Builder Boy has forgotten some letters and developed some bad habits during our unschooling period, but he's working through the Zaner-Bloser handwriting workbook and remembering.

Proving 4 doesn't have a middle
So far Right Start math is going as well for Early Bird as it does for Builder Boy. I love its approach and it's fun for the kids. I am comfortable with using the script as needed and improvising at other times. I'm using trains and train cars for manipulatives this week and will be using stuffed animals next week. I take Early Bird and Lady Bug upstairs to the play room for Early Bird's math lesson while Builder Boy works on Dreambox downstairs on the computer. Once Builder Boy has finished 2nd grade in Dreambox (which will happen in probably a month) I'll be doing the next level of Right Start with him. In the meantime however, separating them during this time is working very well.

Identifying the 'ie' vowel teams
Reading happens together, since the boys are pretty much in the same place. Right now it's review, but I'm going through all the lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading to make sure there are no gaps. Early Bird still loves working with words, so he is an eager participant.

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