Monday, December 28, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

Today was our first day back to school after Christmas. I know that traditional school kids are not back until after the January 2nd, but the kids were asking me about school, so why not? It beats letting them play video games or watch movies all day; they get enough of that already. School went well today with language arts, math, and history. In language arts, the kids are both studying poetry. For math, Princess started division and Spike is working on telling time. As for history, Spike is finishing up his unit on Julius Caesar and the Romans (he learned about Julius Caesar's death today), and Princess is learning about the French Revolution (today she learned about the guillotine and how it played a, huh?).

I thought I would share with you today something that we did during our Christmas break...gingerbread houses! I had started this project full force. I spent a couple hours making the dough, cutting out pieces (with some help from the big kids), and baking them up. Sprout kept me company while I was doing this, but only because she really liked the cookie dough.

So I had all the pieces ready when we went grocery shopping for the week. I was planning on picking up candy and stuff for the royal icing. But then, at Costco, we saw the gingerbread house kits for 5 dollars, which was half off. I caved when I realized I would be spending more than that on supplies. So we made houses from a kit, and not my elaborate, entirely homemade plans. The kids did have a great time, and that is all that matters with these things, right?

While the big kids decorated their houses, I gave Sprout a couple of gingerbread men and a bag of frosting to squeeze on them. After I showed her that she could decorate the cookies, she promptly bit off one's head. The frosting was squeezed on for the purpose of licking it off, and when that got old, she ate it straight from the bag. No candy had a chance to decorate her gingerbread men. Princess and Spike thought it was hilarious.

Sprout with a mouth full of cookie.
Spike's finished house.
Princess's finished house.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Spike

Yesterday was Spike's 8th Birthday. We celebrated it pretty simply, which was actually his request. I had been asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday or where he wanted to go and he said that he wanted a family Wii night. What a sweetie, huh? His birthday actually encompassed the whole weekend, which was a nice and laid back way to enjoy spending time with the birthday boy.

On Saturday we had a party at our house. Me and Spike spent much of the day making his birthday cake. He wanted strawberry cake with blackberry filling, and wanted it to look like a present. It was a lot of fun to make. He enjoyed cutting the stars and dots out with a cookie cutter and putting them on the cake. Grandma Brenda, Aunt Randie, and the kids' cousin Raidon stopped by later in the evening. I let Spike pick what we would have for dinner, so we had pepperoni pizza (and I picked up a stuffed pizza as well) from Papa Murphy's. We had made the poor kid wait to open his present until then, and so we finally gave it to him over dinner. He got the new Super Mario Bros. game for the Wii. Since he loves video games, he was really excited. Grandma Brenda brought him birthday money and a jar of pickles (he loves pickles). We all had an awesome time playing Mario for the rest of the night.

On Sunday we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa Metcalf's house for a triple birthday party. Spike's uncle and cousin both have birthdays in December. His Aunt Emily and Uncle Tyler got him a silly book called Sir Fartsalot fights the booger (he has already started reading it) and Grandma and Grandpa got him two books that are about Peter Pan before he meets Wendy, and a remote control helicopter that has been buzzing around our house since Sunday.

On Monday I sang Happy Birthday and threatened him with kisses throughout the day. His sisters and Dad joined in the singing too. We all gave him birthday spankings. He pretty much got to do what he wanted, which was to play his new game and some other games we have on the Wii. I also measured him on a spot in our garage where I keep measurements of the kids on their birthdays. He was very happy that he is about 3 inches taller than Princess was on her 8th birthday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Romans

Spike has been studying the Romans, and more directly, Julius Caesar in history lately. A few days ago he was learning about the term Veni, Vidi, Vici and how it applied to Ceasar who conquered many places where he went. I gave Spike this worksheet to complete while I left the room for a couple minutes. The object was to take each of the pictures with the Roman word underneath and fill in what it meant in the thought bubble. I returned to this. He filled in all the thought bubbles well, except for mispelling conquered...which I let slide. He apparently thought the saying lacked a certain something though, and therefore added his own part. The drawing on the righthand side is a Roman showing you his bum with a thought bubble saying, "I pooped." To complete this, he added his made up Roman word of Vode (said vo-dee). To give the worksheet the perfect finishing touch, he colored the Romans green. He shared this valuable new saying with his older sister and they spent a good remainder of the day saying, "Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vode," or "I came, I saw, I conquered, I pooped," in other words. Ahhh...I am so glad I am trying to share some culture with them...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A normal day

So the subjects of the day were math, language arts, and science. During math Spike learned how to count change and Princess took her multiplication unit assessment. For part of language arts we had a wonderful puppet show by Spike featuring the story he read yesterday. Princess really enjoyed reading a magazine article about sea lions and filling out a worksheet on them.

In science, Spike is still working on simple and complex machines and Princess is studying solutions. They are both reaching the end of these study units. I am proud of how well they pick things up. Spike's science activity for the day was me giving him a list of things around the house to classify as simple or complex machines, and which type of machine they are. Some examples were the blinds, a doorknob, can opener, shovel, nail, and toy car. He took right off with the list and I only had to help him a little (he thought can opener consisted of a wedge and screw, instead of a wedge and wheel and axle).

Princess had an assignment on solubility and saturation. Her first experiment involved using a filter (a paper towel) over a cup. The solute was placed on the filter and water was poured over. She then analyzed what was left on the filter and what dissolved in the water to determine if things were insoluble, somewhat soluble, or completely soluble. The solutes we tried were sand, cornstarch, and sugar. This experiment did get a bit messy. Spike seemed to sense that and wanted to join in. Princess's second experiment was about saturation of a solvent with a solute. She had a jar of 100 mL of hot water and kept adding sugar 1 tsp. (5 mL) at a time until the sugar would no longer dissolve. Princes thought this was a lot of first. She fizzled out, along with Spike. In fact, we were supposed to repeat the procedure with cold water, and then again with hot and cold water with salt as the solute.That was a no go, although they did seem to get the point of the exercise so it all works out. They did want to drink the ultra sugary water. I did let them, but only one sip...not the whole bottle. Spike said that there was enough stirring involved that it was quite a workout, and so he had to take off his shirt and just wear his undershirt. Silly kid.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time off for Thanksgiving

It has been a while since I posted an update, eh? You know how life goes some weeks. Brady had the week of Thanksgiving off work (he had to take it off, not optional), so we spent a lot of time painting the basement and getting it finished. This is especially exciting since one of the two bedrooms that will soon be done is our future schoolroom! Hurray for designated desk space! Hurray for not working in the family room where they are used to being able to play! Hurray for getting to hang up silly school posters and not have people think we are nuts! I am really liking how the room is looking. I picked a light sage green colors for the walls which feels calming, and therefore seems like a nice choice for a room of learning.

The other bedroom that will soon be finished is my husband's future office/writing room. His choice in colors tends to be a bit more on the darker side than mine. I also really like how his room is turning out.

After the construction is complete, we will also had an additional bathroom in the basement, but I did not take any pictures of that.

The week after Thanksgiving, it was mostly back to school as usual, expect for being sick. They were feeling lousy, and I was feeling lousy, so we had several sessions of snuggling up all together on the couch for math. They did pretty well, and I only had to give them one day off when I felt they both really needed extra rest.

There was a field trip opportunity on Wednesday to go to the Festival of Trees with other kids from Washington Online. Wednesday was a no go with sickies, and Brady wanted to come with us anyway, so we went on our own field trip on Friday. The Festival of Trees here in Utah is a huge event. We did not make it through the entire thing to see all of the trees, but enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. We all decided the best part was the gingerbread houses that were on display. These were some of our favorites.

A pretty bird house.The house from the new movie Up!
This gingerbread castle was huge. I think I would have paid money just to see how they carried it in.

In the kids' area, the girls both bought elf wands which they were playing with in this picture. Sprout wore the princess dress every day this week. She had a total meltdown when I said they she could not take a bath with it on.

And Spike got to stand in a really big bubble.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clark Planetarium

Today we had the opportunity to join some other homeschoolers at the local planetarium. The kids had never been so I thought that it would be pretty cool. Turns was pretty cool! We did not head out of the house until a quarter to noon though, so during the morning we had language arts. The kids both had spelling tests (they passed), Princess did some vocabulary work and exercises with identifying pronouns, and Spike read The Ugly Duckling from his reading book and answered questions to make sure he understood. He was rather peeved with that since he assured me he had already read the story in another book, and yet I made him do it again. Feel free to imagine my evil mom laugh now.

After language arts, we ate some lunch and packed up to go. But I could not just let the kids sit and vegetate during the 40 minute drive, could I? Of course not! They got math work to do while I drove us there. Amazingly, they did not seem to mind. After all, they were really looking forward to the field trip. So, today I explained to Princess how to do multiplication of a three digit number by a two digit number during the car ride. How productive I feel.

So now we were at the truly fun part of our day. We arrived at the planetarium and awaited the rest of the homeschoolers. The kids really liked the big globe thing at the entrance. It is actually a big white ball in which images are projected onto from three sides. Spike liked when it showed all the earthquakes happening around the globe during one day. There are more than you would think. And yes, in this picture Spike is pulling weird eyes at me. The kid won't look normal for a picture if he can help it.

After I explained to them what the pendulum was demonstrating (that is, that the pendulum swings the same, but the earth is rotating, so the circle of planks gets knocked down slowly), they seemed to find it much more interesting. Here is a whole crowd of homeschooled munckins patiently waiting for the event of the next little block to be knocked down.

Sprout had little to no interest in the pendulum. She, instead, liked this wheel that could be turned. It was spinning a moon around a model earth, but I am pretty sure she could not see that since it was pretty high up. So, for no point apparently, she just kept turning, and turning, and turning and had a wonderful time doing so.

Although they have done something similar to this before, both the big kids spent a while turning a wheel to see how hard it was to get different types of light bulbs to light up, therefore seeing how much energy is used for each type. They found out they could make the LED and fluorescent lights together glow easier than just the regular one alone.

At this point we all went and watched a movie in the dome theater. The big kids really liked it, and Sprout thought that it was okay.

After the movie we watched the audio-kinetic sculpture, which has a bunch of balls that go through a maze of drops and spins and roller coaster type stuff, sometimes hitting chimes along the way. The whole sculpture is about two stories tall and is a lot of fun to watch. There are also larger balls rolling around on tracks on the ceiling.

The kids took turns standing on a scale that tells you how much you weight on other planets and stars. Spike would weigh in at a whopping 12,620 billion pounds on a neutron star, while Sprout would be a meager 3 pounds on the moon.

And then what else was there? Oh yeah, the kids visited the moon...

and Mars. Princess and Spike had a hard time breathing, and even starting collapsing, but Sprout apparently is an alien who survive perfectly in that atmosphere and could not figure out why they could not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Preschool Time for Sprout

Our little Sprout is the tender age of 2. Although everyone knows the saying "Terrible Twos", I would have to say that she is not all that terrible. In fact, she is pretty darn awesome. She is getting to the point where she is telling us things. Recently, this has included making up something about where her shoes have gone. She has told me that our dog has bitten them, or even monsters took them. Even after I find them, she usually sticks to her story. These things are said in that particular toddler language that only those who live with said toddler can really understand. I love having funny conversations with her and just marvel at her budding personality.

During school days, when I am helping the big kids, Sprout has her assortment of things to do. These include wooden puzzles and educational videos that I regularly change out from the library, coloring, her play kitchen, or her other toys. Every now and then I let her play with some pony beads and cups since she really likes pouring the beads back and forth, although this usually leads to a lot of picking up beads for me. I do try to make things so that she is learning as well. We have started on colors, and so far she has blue and red down pretty well.

Recently, I learned that the library we often frequent has discovery time for small kids once a week. They read stories, sing songs, play with bubbles, do crafts, and all sorts of other toddler fun. What fun! Although I need another trip to the library each week like I need a bump in the head, I decided it would be a nice opportunity for her.

So off we have been heading to discovery time for Sprout. I arm the older kids with some of their assignments and they sit and work at some of the tables in the library while I spend the time with Sprout. She has been a little reserved, but really seems to like it, and is very well behaved. Even just for my benefit, it is fun watching her.

Monday, November 16, 2009


One of the neat things with homeschooling is being able to stop lessons when the mood strikes to do something else. Well, at least some of the time. The kids would be stopping all the time because their mood was more for a board game rather than math if they could, but you get the idea.

When the first snow of the year fell, we postponed starting school in the morning so that the kids could get on their snow gear and play outside for a while. They were so excited they did not even change out of their pajamas before donning snowpants, coats, and all the necessary snow accessories. I felt that the experience of getting a small bit of "snow day" was worth the late start, and the kids successfully had gotten out their wiggles and were ready to start school (while sipping hot chocolate) when they came in.

My husband works from home, and sometimes we go outside and work on things in the backyard during his lunch break. Today we dumped many, many bags of leaves onto the garden. My mother-in-law has wonderfully brought us these leaves which she has picked up from relatives, or just from strangers curbs. It is wonderful to see the ground covered in leaves, knowing that this will help provide the soil which more nutrition for all of our veggies next year.

So now there is a large area just covered with leaves. I would guess it is about a foot deep all over the garden. As you might expect, the kids wanted to go jump around in them. They already had all been outside helping us dump the leaves out of the bags, and so we me and my husband went in I let the big kids stay out. Sprout had to come in with me, since I did not want her to get too cold, but the little stinker kept sneaking out the doggy door!

On one of my excursions to retrieve the little one and bribe her to stay indoors, I noticed that Spike was missing. Turns out that Princess had buried him almost entirely with leaves, per his request. I ran in, grabbed my camera, and snapped a couple of pictures. You have to look pretty closely in the first picture in order to find Spike's face. He told me that being buried in the leaves was, "nice and warm."