Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cookie Exchange Photos

Just a couple photos of the yummy goodies at the exchange I co-hosted on Tuesday..Enjoy!!

Christmas Cookies....MMMMMMMM

"While thoughts of Christmas cookies danced in their heads." Ooops, that isn't right is it? Well, for me, I have had thoughts of Christmas cookies over the last 5 days. Last year I attended my first Christmas Cookie Exchange and it was so much fun. This year I'm going again and then my girlfriend and I decided to host a cookie exchange together the day after. Cookies, cookies, cookies. If you have never attended a cookie exchange it is a fun way to fellowship with friends and also get a wonderful selection of cookies to give as gifts or serve at the holidays.

At each exchange we were to bring 6 dozen cookies...we take 5 dozen of the variety of everyone's cookies home since 1 dozen is cut up for tasting at the exchange. Yes, you read it right. I attended 2 exchanges, making 6 dozen each...that is 144 cookies. It took all day on Saturday but it was such fun! I did the baking at the home of my dear friend. She and I were attending the one exchange together and co-hosting the 2nd exchange. I made Peppermint Wands ( a reciepe from Gooseberry Patch) for both that means 144 lovingly hand rolled wands! While my pal and I dipped the finished wands in melted chocolate and then sprinkled them with crushed peppermint candies the kids decorated Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs. I wish the holiday festiviteis could last all year long!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Traditions

We took part in a new Christmas tradition at our house this week- this is our 2nd year making faux gingerbread houses. Sissy is in Girl Scouts and each year they have a mother/daughter gingerbread house decorating morning. The base of the house is an empty milk container and you decorate it with frosting and graham crackers. Last year I inquired if I could take a few empty boxes home to do a craft with the girls - we did and it was much fun. This year we decided to do it again.

We got the added bonus this year that grandma happened to be visiting with us, so even she was able to help. I enjoy watching the girls create memories and especially enjoy when they can do it with extended family members.

And of course, aside from being a fun activity that we could classify as "art class", it provides needed nutrition, right??
Here they are with their completed houses....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Christmas Play

Last year Sissy tried her hand at acting. She decided to try out for our church Christmas play and she really enjoyed it. She only had 3 lines last year and wished she had had more. This year when they asked how many lines she wanted to be responsible for, she said she wanted more than 3. So, imagine her excitement when they gave her 20 lines! (Yes, she counted!) This year our church put on "Bucky Brekenhiemer's Christmas Miracle". It was a hilarious production about a hillbilly family at Christmas. She did really well and had a fun time.
I loved that she played the "twin" sister Bucky who was played by one of the teens at our church. We have an AMAZING teen group with kids who truly demonstrate their love for Jesus. "Bucky" never made her feel like she was "just a kid" and treated her with respect and kindness. We are blessed to be part of a church where the teens serve as inspirations to the younger kids and even the adults.
Here "Queazy" is at the end of the performance standing in front of the hillbilly Christmas tree. See the decorations??? Toilet paper and stapled "strips of bacon"!

Crafting Like The Big Girls

You may or may not know that I am a Stampin' Up! demonstrator and am in my 6th year of doing it. Many times throughout the year I hold classes in our home and the girls are almost always around while my customers are taking part in class. All the girls refer to my customers as "the ladies" and having them come in and especially enjoy seeing the projects I create for the

m to make. We are taking a laid back approach to school this month and baking, decorating, crafting, cleaning and just hanging out together. The girls wanted to send Christmas cards to a few friends of theirs so I had an idea.

I had the girls sit down and have a "consultation" with me about the colors they would want to use on a Christmas card and the pictures they would like to use. I then designed the card, just like I do for "the ladies" and they all sat around creating like my customers do.

We all had a great time and I really enjoyed seeing them feel like grown ups, working the same way "the ladies" do.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who is Most Blessed?

Yesterday was one of the best days ever. You know, one of those days that you never want to forget. It was one of those days where you heart felt good and you see growth and maturity spring up in your children (at least 2 of them). Today the girls and I visited a local mission in downtown Flint, the goal was to help wrap Christmas gifts. We talked a little bit about how the parent(s) of the children were not able to purchase gifts for their kids themselves so the mission gets the gifts and wraps them up so the kids would recieve some presents. We talked about how by helping we are the hands of God and we are showing His love by working in His name.

We arrived and there were huge tables just FILLED with toys. Everything you could imagine. Sweet Baby couldn't resist grabbing the toys and checking them out. But both Sissy and Peanut were just anxious to get to work.

I think the most enjoyable part of the process for the girls was that they actually got to choose the gender and age of the children and then they got to choose the gifts to give them. There was an information sheet on each family that listed the child's age and some wishes for their gifts. We were able to find a couple sheets that had 7 year old girls in the family and then Sissy chose a family that had a 10 year old and 14 year old girl. It was so sweet to watch my children choosing carefully and putting a bit of themselves into the choices.

Peanut was thrilled to find that one of the girls wanted art supplies (Peanut is my little artist) and the little girl's favorite color is pink (also Peanut's favorite color). Imagine her delight when she discovered that the child likes to read as well (Peanut wakes up from her bed nearly each morning carrying a book with her to read before she does anything else!). I was shocked that Peanut was able to do all the wrapping by herself (except cutting the paper to size, the rolls were too big for her to manuver). Sweet Baby even helped place the tape on many packages.

For me, Sissy (10) impressed me the most. She was sitting next to me wrapping and at one point she said, "Mom, this is fun. I think next year, I don't even want to get any Christmas presents for myself, I just want to come here and do this again for the people who need it." I had to work very hard not to cry. It was at that moment that I realized that as parents, we must be doing SOMETHING right. Her maturity in that statement was amazing.
On the way home Sissy said, "Mom, did you have a funny feeling in your stomach when we were at the mission? Because I did, it felt really good to be helping." This isn't the first time her dad and I have felt she is old enough to be helping people who need it. Our church runs a center that gives free clothing and food to the community once a week. Once a month they do it in the evening so we are able to take her up there, she helps and loves it, but for some reason - yesterday was a day that touched her a bit more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dioramas Completed

The girls completed their rain forest dioramas on Friday. Here is Peanut's. She is obviously my most artistic child! The only thing that mom helped with was hot gluing the rocks in, and suggestions for how she could do her water. Otherwise, she did it all. Now, where to store it???
Sissy is showing the various layers of the rain forest - the floor, understory, canopy and emergent layer. Notice the little piece of brown fuzz across from the anteater? It is an ant made out of a pipe cleaner.
This week we have left the rain forest and are on to Norway....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Eggs are Good for Your Body and For Supporting Books Too?

I had no idea how strong an egg shell is! We have been talking about various animals in the rain forest and one of those things were birds. We were supposed to do an experiment this week to demonstrate to the kids that egg shells are much stronger than we think and the way God used the "arch" in nature to lend stability. The older girls tried to crush an egg over a bowl by just squeezing didn't work so we cracked 2 of them by tapping them lightly on the edge of the counter (this became mom's breakfast) and then set the 4 pieces of shell on the table with the end up. Then we stacked various books on top of them to see how many the egg shells could hold. The girls guessed 4 and 6, they were shocked (as was I) to see that they were able to hold 11 books! Some of those books were pretty thick too!

Tears of Excitement

No photo to go with this post, just a mom's thoughts...

With last year having been our first year homeschooling, mom is still using the learning curve when it comes to confidence. Her own that is...I struggle with feeling that I am doing enough and not hindering the girls by keeping them home. I will admit that this year there are frequent things that the girls say based on what we are learning this year, that I am gaining confidence that they are doing just fine.

One thing that was freaking me out about this year was the knowledge that I would have a kindergartner doing school. A child that needed to be taught to would I do that? Well, in my opinion, Sweet Baby is doing fine. So fine in fact that the other day she came to me with a chapter book in hand (she loves to pretend to read them) and said, "Mom, does this word say 'pond'?" Upon taking a closer look I discovered that yes, it did indeed say 'pond'. I was so excited that my eyes welled up and I nearly cried. I was so proud of her!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creating the Rainforest

We are in our last week of studying South America (specifically Brazil and the Amazon Rain forest). Two of the girls needed new church shoes so we had several shoe boxes in the house. I decided maybe they would have fun making a rain forest diorama. I remember making a diorama or two as a child. The girls have LOVED it. Here is Peanut working on her box. She has was making a bromilliad for her box.

Sweet baby wanted to to use pipe cleaners to make trees so here she is trying to shape a tree from her pipe cleaners.

Sweet Baby chose to use some stickers we had in the house to decorate the inside of her diorama. She had so much fun building her rain forest and adding all the different animals and insects to her scene. The other girls should be finishing up later today, I'll share their finished boxes with you then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fun and Learning at Co-Op

I know that last year I told you about the Co-Op that we are lucky enough to be a part of but I thought I would share some photos of what the kids are doing this year. If you do not already know, a co-op is a cooperative group of parents working together to teach their children. Our co-op has approximately 30 families and is only about 7 minutes from our house. We meet every other Tuesday and my kids just love it. It was a draw to me as a new home schooler who was terrified that I was going to be harming my children if they were not "socialized" (know I know how crazy a worry that was!) It was also a draw to get to know other moms who are doing what I do. The kids LOVE co-op. They get to take classes that I would not otherwise do with them (like Gym). Here are the classes that my girls are taking this semester:

Sissy (5th grade)

Life Skills (pet care, first aid, cooking, etc)


Kinex Levers and Gears

0-Einstein (science experiments)

Peanut (2nd grade)

Recorder (learning to play the recorder)
Great Artists (art history/creating art)
Kinex Levers and Gears
Sweet Baby

Kinder Art


Circle Time

I have a few pictures from some of Peanut and Sweet Baby's classes that I thought I would share.

Here is the Kinder Art class working on a project they started a few weeks ago using primary paint colors.

Sweet Baby showing off the "bugs" she created with her paint blotches. The kids had 5x5 pieces of white paper that they chose 2 primary colors to put blobs on each side. Then they folded the paper and let the paint smear. They then cut the "bugs" out and decorated them.

This week they talked about neutral colors and were supposed to use neutral colored paint to paint an animal. I had to laugh as I looked over and saw Sweet Baby plugging her nose. She said that the paint stunk. Now, for the record, we have used paint at our house before! She has smelled paint before this me!

Here is Peanut in her Kinex class. This has been a class that all the kids have really enjoyed. They are using Kinex to learn about levers and gears. On this day they built a balance.

When they had finished the balance, they were shown what happens when you move the "buckets/tires" along the arm and change the weight on each. Previously they built an old fashioned egg beater to watch the gears move to make the beaters move, a ferris wheel (talking about axles) and a wishing well (to see how pulley's work).

If you are a home schooling parent and do not belong to a co-op in your area, I highly suggest you try to find one or better yet, start one yourself!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sweet Baby has been cruising through her reading program. We are using Sing, Spell, Read and Write and she has enjoyed it immensely. She practices writing a lot...she needs to practice because she gets very angry at herself if she does not form her letters correctly. She crosses her arms, pouts and says "It is too hard!" The son of some close friends was turning 11 this week so all of the girls decided to draw him a picture. Sweet Baby wanted to write him a letter so here is what she wrote, "I like to sit by you at church." Believe it or not, she sounded everything out herself (with a tad of help) except for "you". She could not have been prouder!

Lots to Do

This week was a busy week. The older girls had art class on Monday, Tuesday was our field trip and Wednesday and Thursday were full days of school. I thought I'd share some of what we were doing yesterday...

For Science last week we were discussing exactly how a tree moves water from the roots to leaves. We learned that there are "tubes" inside the trunk and branches called phylem. We did an experiment with some celery stalks to see how important the phylem really is. I pulled the phylem out of one of our stalks of celery (not an easy task) and leaving the other stalk alone. We placed each stalk into a glass of water (I added some food coloring just for fun to see if it would show the food coloring traveling up the stalk) and we left them on the window sill for a few days. We pulled them down yesterday to take a look at them and discovered that yes, phylem is very important. The stalk that we left alone not only sucked all the water up and the leaves were still soft, but they changed color due to the food coloring, this showed the girls that the water was moved all the way through to the very tip of the leaves. The stalk that had been altered had dry leaves and did not drink all the water because the phylem had been removed and it was unable to carry the water through the stalk. Very cool.

We started studying Brazil this week (the rain forest for science) and here Sissy is reading a story to the younger girls. She loved "being the teacher" and being able to read aloud to them.
Peanut began doing problems in her math about dividing items into equal groups, but how do we handle it if the item being divided isn't even? The story was about candy bars being divided among 2 people. I told her to go to the board and give it her best shot. When I looked up I saw that she had not only drawn candy bars, but had a very specific idea of what the "people" would look like. I also have to let you know that she is doing much better with her math facts. She is currently memorizing her 5's but is doing much better!
I continue to be shocked at how well Sweet Baby is grasping reading. She is beginning to sound out simple words and put all the sounds together into words she knows. While I was working with Sissy she wanted to look at some of "her books". She was not content with just looking she wanted to read it. I loved seeing Peanut help her through. This is a joyful thing to see the girls working with one another to achieve a goal, being encouragers to each other and delighting with each other when one of them achieves their goal.
Finally, the girls got to play the Geography Game that comes with their My Father's World Curriculum. They are really enjoying it and it is AMAZING to see how many countries they already can locate when just 2 months ago they knew less than 3 of them!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

We went on a field trip with our Home School Co-Op this week. A simple trip to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch. Other than being a bit damp and overcast, the temperature was fine. We visited Porter's Orchard in Goodrich. Porter's is an apple orchard that makes the yummiest donuts and cider. In addition, they have a pumpkin patch and small petting farm. The kids always enjoy visiting and mom enjoys the tradition of hanging out on a fall day. Here they are just after the tour of the cider making area, they are checking out the Apple Mash that is the leftover after the squish the apples all up.

We all enjoyed a CRAZY hayride (there was ALOT of mud and deep ruts the tractor was pulling us through) to the pumpkin patch and each child got to choose a pumpkin.

We also got to pick an apple from the apple trees. It was the best apple I've ever had! In addition, I learned something I didn't know....when an apple is oddly shaped, it is because the entire blossom wasn't pollinated by the bee. If one side of the apple is dented in, it means that side was never pollinated....Interesting....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beautiful Fall Day

Since our family LOVES living history museums and we are blessed to have a family pass to one of the best ones around, Greenfield Village, we decided that dad should take an impromptu day off of work and we should spend a beautiful fall day at the Village. Weather wise, it was one of the best days so far this fall. Michigan has been so cold and rainy this summer/fall so we wanted to take advantage of projected beautiful day - and it was! Here is a picture of a field right outside the Dagget Farm House (one of my favorite places to visit on the working farm).

Next to watching the glass blowing, one of the things that was most entertaining to me was watching the farmers clip the sheeps toe nails (historically this is NOT something that would have been done in the 1800's - the sheep would have had enough land to grind down their toe nails by their natural roaming). The farmer merely had to grab the sheep and lay him on his back between the farmer's legs. This apparently compresses their lungs just enough to put them into deep breathing and it puts them to sleep! Almost immediately. It was crazy seeing their body get all limp and their head fall off to the side as they drifted off to slumber for a bit!

Here is a shot of some gardens, which were all beautiful and in bloom earlier this summer when we visited, but now they are beautiful this fall as they are sporting their fall colors.

We went with some friends of ours and planned on taking some family photos and shots of the kids. We had a beautiful backdrop to do it too!

Photo of Sissy....

Photo of Peanut...

Photo of Sweet Baby...I love this shot, it shows her sassy spirit!