Thursday, February 28, 2013

February In a Nutshell

Here is our busy yet fun month in review....

Missy was playing outside enjoying all of the ice in our field from the big melt then big freeze. She slipped and fell on her head. But as you can see she healed quickly.

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Here she is at a birthday party at an ice skating rink learning to skate. Her brothers are in the background. The kids love skating so I have been on a quest to find skates for them. It also helped that a portion of our field turned into a rink. Pete had the best time and went out every chance he could.  Oh why didn't I get a picture?

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My Valentine Chalkboard. Not an original design. I am good at copying things and putting my own spin on them.

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I found this idea online (of course) and it was perfect for John. I pretended I was sleeping when he woke for his shower and snuck in the bathroom to put love notes on the mirror. He was so surprised and loved it! Would be fun and such an encouragement for your husband for any occasion. 

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And of course our Valentine meal. We also had a "red meal" at my parents house the Sunday before. After all the idea originated with my Mom but the pictures must be on her camera.

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And the highlight of our month was the 4H Music and Drama Festival. The kids worked so hard for this and they WON!!! I'll post more on that when the video is online.

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Pete and RePete wanted to have a kids birthday party last year for their 10th but being that there wasn't any snow and they wanted to go sledding it didn't happen. Last month when it was their birthday the snow had melted but we were not disappointed and got enough for a lot of fun a month later.

I was looking for a Hobbit theme and came across a Settler's of Catan theme they liked better. She even had printable downloads to use to label the food and such.

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The boys (12 in all) and one little girl went sledding first then came back to play Settlers of Catan and snack on food.

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Then it was back outside to play "war". A favorite thing to play around here. And of course Little Miss gets in on the action too. John and I thanked Pete and RePete for including Missy and Seppy too in their party and they looked confused saying "Why wouldn't we?" I LOVE that everyone is included!

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Here she is with her pink gun in hand. Makes me smile. :)

Maybe next month I'll actually get my pictures into individual posts. Haha!

Monday, February 25, 2013

TOS Crew - Handwriting Without Tears

Over the years I honestly haven't focused much detailed instruction on handwriting. All of the boys learned their letters when learning phonics and then I used another program that has a lot of copywork which worked well. But now that I have reviewed Handwriting Without Tears it makes me wish I would have gone this direction with everyone.

Handwriting without Tears Logo

Handwriting Without Tears is a multisensory curriculum that engages the student helping them to learn and is fun too. It is "easy to teach, and easy to learn, in just 15 minutes a day".

HWOT Kindergarten Workbook     HWOT Kindergarten Teacher's Guide

How It Worked for Our Family

I used HWT for the Kindergarten level mainly with Seppy but also somewhat included Missy. The Teachers Guide is packed full of information and activities that at first I was overwhelmed. I am used to copywork and what I liked about this program is that it was much more than copying letters on a page and includes setting foundation skills.

With Sep I started having him learn to draw MatMan which was interesting to see how just going through a simple exercise and online game taught him in minutes how to add more detail to his drawing. What starts as an attempt at a circle for a head with two legs sticking out suddenly includes a body, arms, etc. And that is the beginning of learning to form letters.

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There are so many things you can do with this program and one of them is using wooden pieces to spell out letters. You can purchase them but there is also a pattern in the book to make your own. I made my own out of craft foam although did improvise as I only had the small pieces of foam. The smile face in the top left corner signifies the starting point. Seppy and Missy had fun seeing all of the letters they could make out of the various pieces.

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What I Liked

My children have all written letters backwards or interchanged them. And this is a common observation I've heard from Moms. What I like about Handwriting Without Tears is that they teach writing letters in such a way that prevents reversals. They begin by having the child print in a gray box starting the letter at the top left corner with the first line being on the left and the next part of the letter on the right. Always the left to right formation. I am curious to see how Seppy does in the long-term after he has gotten through all of the letters. You begin with the capitals so we haven't gotten to the point of letters that reverse.

I also like the catchy songs and phrases to help remember things like "Where Do You Start Your Letters? song (at the top). And the phrase "frog jump to the top" to remind the child to jump back to the starting corner as in the letter F.

This curriculum is simple to pick up and go. The only confusing part for me was all of the introduction before getting to any writing. But I found that you simply do what is needed for your child depending on where they are at.


You can purchase the Kindergarten Student Activity book Letters and Number for Me for $8.25. This workbook has black and white simple drawings and is not overloaded with color and graphics which I really like.

You can purchase the Kindergarten Teacher's Guide for $9.25. I did find this helpful at least for the kindergarten level as there is so much information on letter formation, helpful hints, online links with video demonstrations, etc.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Schnitz Soup & Greble

Two weeks ago was the beginning of lent and we had our traditional meal of Schnitz Soup and Greble. My Mom was telling me that each family serves this meal at their own choosing and some had it for Good Friday or at other times of the year. I posted about that years ago along with the recipe for the soup.

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In looking back I see I never did post the recipe for Greble which is the only part of the meal most of my family will eat. I change the recipe of course and I'll make note of that.

5 eggs
1 pt. sour cream (I use half yogurt)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 c. flour (I use 1/2 fresh ground pastry whole wheat flour)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2T sugar
1 stick butter
1 qt. cooking oil (to fry in)
powdered sugar

Beat eggs; add soda to sour cream and blend. Sift dry ingredients, add to egg and cream mixture. Melt butter and add to mixture. Mix until creamy smooth. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Roll out on floured board fairly thin. Everyone wanted to help out and even Zippy got in on the action.

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 Cut in rectangles; make two slits in center of rectangle. 

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Twist by lifting up center strip and pulling one side strip through...

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...and fry in deep cooking oil until lightly brown.

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George tries to do fancy shapes and here was attempting a heart.

Place in pan with paper towels on bottom. One batch that goes fast in our family!

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Top with powdered sugar and enjoy!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

TOS Crew - Song School Spanish

Hola! Yo me llamo Amy. Como te llamas? Yes, we are learning Spanish and enjoying it.


We reviewed Song School Spanish from Classical Academic Press. I have seen the Latin version for a number of years and always had it on my list but when we saw the Spanish version George especially asked if we could learn. Anytime a child wants to learn that makes it all the better.

Song School Spanish is a "gentle and engaging introduction to Spanish". It is geared for Kindergarten through third grade with 30 weekly lessons. Each chapter consists of new words to learn that are part of our every day life. There are songs to listen to that reinforce the new words, practice writing of the words, and a review of what you have learned.


How It Worked for Our Family

While it is geared to K - 3rd grade we all used Song School Spanish, even George (13) and I enjoyed it.

We went through one chapter per week which is what is recommended and that worked well for Tank, Missy, and Seppy (my K - 3rd kids). I introduced each new word or phrase for the chapter by playing the pronunciation guide that you are able to download from the Classical Academic Press Song Spanish page. I was very thankful for that or we would be learning an entirely different language! We then listened to the songs that correlated.

The next time we would review and practice writing along with listening to the songs. Listening to the CD wherever you go is recommended and while I wondered if that might get old I found the songs to be very entertaining and catchy and while geared for children my teenager had fun with it too. Now I wake up in the middle of the night singing songs in Spanish and wanting to clap along. What a great way to learn! And the games and activities are also a nice way to reinforce what was learned and apply it. There are puppets Conejo and Tortuga that you can make from the back of the book but we never did do that, although I think we will yet as Missy and Sep might enjoy that. They are used in songs and activities throughout the book.

Personally I like us all to work together whenever possible so if you want to use Song School Spanish with a large age range I found it best to have the older children taking charge of it and going at their own pace. The three older boys enjoyed having practice on their own and could breeze through faster just learning the words and songs and writing them out. George took the initiative and started having lessons with the younger ones and that worked really well also.

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Here are George with Pete and RePete practicing all of the words and phrases they have learned so far. I suppose I should have included a picture of the younger kids who it is geared for but the video I wanted to post of them singing wasn't "approved" (by them) for audience viewing. :)

Classical Academic Press also has a website called Headventure Land that was created for practice and review of what has been learned. It includes videos, stories, and games.

I highly recommend Song School Spanish! What a fun way to learn another language and it is so easy to use!

Would You Like to Know More?

Song School Spanish workbook is available from Classical Academic Press for $24.95 and that includes the "lively musical" CD. The nice thing about the workbook is that the child can do the copy work on the pages and lines designated for it. But if you have more children they could easily copy it onto lined paper. There are sample songs and chapters available for you.

I did receive the Teacher's Edition which is also available for $24.95. This book contains all of the pages that are in the student edition just smaller. It also has helpful hints in teaching and has additional activities and worksheets for those who are ready for more study.


Find out what the rest of the Crew thought of Song School Spanish... Adios!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde Toddler

The last three weeks with Zippy have been.... interesting. What began as a cold that made him unhappy turned into me wondering where my for the most part happy little guy went. He reminded me of Jekyll and Hyde in that he'd scream for awhile and suddenly would stop and be happy. We knew something was up because he did not want to go to Grandma or even Daddy. Zip was sometimes content with Pete but I was his main source of comfort but he always wanted me.

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It is during these times I feel like Zippy is my first child all over again. I see him pulling his ears and think maybe he has an ear infection but then again, he seems to pull his ears when he is tired. Then he'll pass some gas and I figure it must be an upset tummy. But then it also looks like he is cutting teeth. Or is he just getting naughtier and screaming to get his way? Ahh, the list of questions is endless.

In the end... I couldn't tell you for sure. Zippy did cut a few teeth so maybe it was that. But today I am so very thankful that my normal little guy is back! It sure was a trying few weeks and I am sighing a huge sigh of relief today! So happy that it was "something" and not just a new phase of behavior!

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Make-It Monday "Crocheted" Ruffle Scarf

There are so many wonderful ideas I find on Pinterest! If only I had time for all of the fun projects. For Christmas I was looking for gift ideas and came across one that caught my attention right away. A crocheted scarf without knowing how to crochet! Sounds right up my alley! My Grandma taught me to knit a long time ago but I never progressed past making dishrags. I sure wish I would have though as she was an amazing knitter! Well, in looking at this project I saw this indeed was something I could do as the yarn is already crocheted for you and all you have to do is bring it together to form ruffles.

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I am not going to give you step-by-step instructions as you can find them online. The best instructions I followed were from Maggie's Crochet shop on Youtube. I did find that there are various ways of doing this and various numbers of loops to pull through. The first one I made I used 10 loops on the crochet hook which seems to give a bit fuller of a scarf and that used almost a whole skein of yarn. Another tutorial said to use less and so I tried 6 - 7 loops instead and then I could get two scarfs out of one skein. I prefer it that way. The only problem I occasionally had in the beginning was pulling the loops over the initial loop on your hook. If you aren't careful it may all slide off the needle and the scarf begins to unravel. I now did find out that you can buy stitch markers to resolve that problem.

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I love all of the colors and I think I have made about 10 of them so far. But I found two more skeins of yarn that are pretty and it is so much fun so I guess I'll whip out 4 more.

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I "crocheted" my scarves while the guys watched football and such. I had a helper in that Pete would sit on my left unraveling the yarn for me so it made the process that much faster. Now I am able to make one in about 1/2 hour. I often told the kids how my Grandma would sit on the couch while we watched a movie at their house with her knitting needles clicking away and now I can do the same thing.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Update on Zippy

I never did do an update on Zippy when he turned 1. But now that he has changed so much I need to update. I began writing this the beginning of December so even in that short time he has changed SO much! I'll update where needed. Amazing how fast they change and learn new things. Wow!

Where to begin?? Picture taken at 16 months.

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Zippy has grown taller as evidenced by the fact that he doesn't fit under the table anymore when standing and bumps his head quite often. He was measured on Grandma and Grandpa's door and was 31 inches. And sitting on their bathroom scale he weighs 24 lbs. He is still on the smaller side being about in the 25% which is how his brothers Pete and Re-Pete always were. He wears size 18 - 24 month in a one-piece or onesie shirt. Pants he is in 12 months.

He is finally getting hair! Although it is heavier on top and when he wakes up it sometimes looks like a mowhawk.

Zippy is moving like there is no tomorrow. The beginning of December he stopped waddling like a little duck and became more sure-footed and can even run a little.

Zippy babbles and "speaks" with such expression and fluctuation it seems as if we really should know what he is saying. If only we could put it all together. We nod and say "really?" Maybe he'll be a public speaker. :)

The words he clearly says are:
goggy (doggy) but now that he learned the dog's name says Ink-in (Lincoln)
boo-key (a take on his brothers name),
top! (stop) a word you must know with annoying siblings,
all duh (all done),
cah-cah (graham cracker)
Mommy, and Mama which has become the word of choice when whining for something. It seems most of my children have done that. :(

And what I find funny is that he mimics the words we unknowingly say and walks around the house saying oh- kaaay, oh- kaaay or I seeeee. Lately it seems he will repeat any word we ask him to say. George is working with him on his own name. **Update -- He now can say his own name.

I love, having the technology and a video camera on my phone to catch the every day life. Makes me wish I had that with George so I could easily look back. I need to pull out some of those video tapes! The funny thing with technology is that with each baby they are smarter than ever. Zippy knows exactly what to do with an iPod and slides his finger along the screen and walks around saying "i  pot, i pot".

Zippy can be a little stinker! I probably say this with every child or maybe it really is different this time but Zippy gets into more trouble at this age. He enjoys climbing on tables and unfortunately I allowed it one time but that was all it took and now it is all about re-training. Ahh! You'd think I'd know better by now!

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This little guy can throw a fit with the best of them! He isn't even two yet but he'll throw himself back if he doesn't get his way. If he is in your arms watch out as he is strong! And if he is on the ground watch out as he is likely to hit his head! Although, I think he has figured that one out as he has begun to ease his head down in the midst of a fit. **Update --  his fits have decreased considerably since we don't let him get away with it!

Zippy loves, loves music! He has always been one to move to the beat and it continues on. When he feels the beat he'll sway or bop his head or do some other move but he is quite good. For Christmas my sister and her family gave Zip one of those cards that play music when it opens. He loves those and will stand and dance. And this time he sat and included banging his hand on the ground in a large motion to keep beat. I hope he keeps that good rhythm and love of music!

Zippy is such a Mama's boy and I adore that! You know a Mama gets to hold their children for only so long and I'll take it as long as I can get it! I love that he is so cuddly first thing when he wakes up and he always tucks his arms and hands in. Ah, pure bliss!

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I am also thankful that he is sleeping better. It seemed every other week Zippy would wake in the middle of the night. Going in to pat his back wasn't cutting it and I was tired of standing there getting cold so I would bring him in bed with us until he fell asleep again. It is amazing how much room a little guy can take up though. This week it was a night or two. But I honestly don't mind as it is all part of being a Mommy and it doesn't last forever. **We had yet another week of Zippy waking up screaming so he ended up in bed with us again but he had a bad cold too. You just never know with him. He also likes everything just so and needs his sippy cup and something to hold (a pacifier) and sets them in place before settling down. 

Eating -- I still nurse Zippy in the morning and I suspect that will come to end in the near future as in looking back that is when Seppy stopped. He drinks with a sippy cup but refuses milk and even juice and only wants water which he can't seem to get enough of. I am fine with that. He started eating with a spoon which I think I first started in November but prefers his hands. **He is slightly improving with his spoon and while still messy gets a bit more in his mouth now.

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At this point he does not like meat unless it is hidden in things. So for example with a beef roast I'll chop it up along with veggies and mix it into his potatoes. I use my food chopper for many things as with soup to make it thicker, etc. He loves a "nana" each morning and his favorite food is cheese. He will try most everything but he does keep me guessing. One day he'll eat a sweet potato and the next day he turns his head at it and gives me the bowl back. He handles food well and usually the only time he spits it out is if he sees something he wants more like a "coo-key".

**I had written more but accidentally deleted it when adding pictures and then autosave came on. So much for that! I'll try to update again at 18 months -- later this month already!

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