Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Creating New Traditions

Ok, so I have Christmas on the brain.  I have some exciting new things that I will be doing with the kiddos next month, but first to let you know what we have been reeeeeeeading!

First is Titch.

Titch by Pat Hutchins
Juli was completely engrossed by this short story.  I think it is because the main character of the tale is the youngest of three children (sound familiar?)  His older siblings had everything bigger and faster and stronger than whatever he had.  Except the one thing that he had that was the smallest was the most important of all.  I will not spoil it for you, but this is fabulous for those of you who have youngsters who are jealous of the things that their older brothers and sisters have and that they get to do.  Moral of the story:  sometimes the smallest things are just as necessary, if not more so, than the bigger ones.

To tie in to the story, Abby, Juli and I did a little gardening (just like Titch) with this fun thing from Fat Brain Toys.
Fairy Triad Dome Terrarium from Fat Brain Toys

Abby got this for her birthday and we finally planted it.  Should be interesting.  I really like Fat Brain Toys.  You should check it out.

We finished reading Genesis in this book:

Family Time Bible in Pictures
Now we are on to Exodus.  Starting, of course, with an introduction to Moses, the baby who was rescued by a princess.  Now, tell a child you are going to read her a Bible story may get one reaction, but tell her that you are going to read her a story about a baby who was going to be killed by an evil king but was then rescued by a princess - you get a whole 'nother reaction, people.  I'm just saying...

And we re-read this book, just for good measure

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
This one will never.get.old.

On to the fun Christmasy things we will be doing! 

The first thing is a Christmas Book Advent, which I picked up from Elle Keeps Moving.  What you do is take 25 Christmas/Holiday/Winter themed books and wrap them up individually.  Put them under your tree and then let the kiddos pick one out each day to unwrap.  Then you read it to them.  This is easy and cheap!  Use books you already have.  If you don't have 25 books that meet the criteria, reserve some from the library and just make sure that they are opened and read before they are due back.  I always put away the holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, etc.) books right after the holiday is over so that they are exciting again the next year.  This should be a lot of fun.  Yippeee!  I am excited to see how this turns out.

The next thing we are doing is this:

This is from Creative With Kids.  Each night leading up to the 25th, the kids and I (and hopefully Dan) will be doing a different Christmas craft.  The supply lists and activity names are emailed out ahead of time, but you don't really find out what you are doing until that day when you receive your email.  So kind of like a Christmas Craft Advent, if you will.  I, in all of my craft amateurishness, will be blogging our efforts.  Yegads!  We have already made a trip to Michaels to pick up our supplies for the first week.  Most of them we already had in the house.  Nothing exotic here, people.  Just glue and glitter and some other stuff.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ideas for Stocking Stuffers

Ok, I am in Christmas overdrive.  I think it is due to the fact that I am only working part time and because I am heavily procrastinating finishing my portfolio project for the old masters degree.  It's ok.  It was only due a month ago.

After trolling the web and compiling some lists, here are some stocking stuffer ideas...

For men:

cologne samples
protein bars
lottery tickets
mini bottles of booze
hand cream (Dan needs this for winter hands)
coffee samples
tea samples
golf balls
gift cards
USB device

For women:

lottery tickets
jewelry in general!
gift cards
nail polish
hair accessories
USB device
body lotion
shower supplies
gift cards
coffee samples
tea samples
kitchen supplies (spoons, towels)
pocket mirror

Do you have anything to add?


Monday, November 26, 2012

I Read a Book...

and it wasn't a children's book!!

Night Road by Kristin Hannah
This was a good one.  It is about friendships, tragedies, grudges, forgiveness, teenagers, teenage pregnancy, teenage drinking, and being a mother (both good and bad).  Great read.  Emotional.  Give it a whirl.

I am reading another book or two right now, but I won't tell you about them until I finish them, ok?

The kiddos and I read these:

I Hear by Helen Oxenbury
I See by Helen Oxenbury
I Touch by Helen Oxenbury
We read all three of these at once.  These, again, tie into the "five senses" lessons that Juli had in school a few weeks back.  She enjoyed these books and was able to connect them to the knowledge she gained previously.  This, connecting new information to past knowledge, is a huge key to learning.  I love to see it in action.  Those lightbulb moments are priceless.  These are really cute books (board books, and cheap!!) that have only two pictures per spread and boost the reader's self-esteem in that it is very easy for them to read (guess) what the words are saying, since there are only one or two words per picture.  Great for beginning readers.

We are still reading Bible stories, too.  We are up to Joseph in Genesis.  Along with reading Bible stories to Juli, I have even picked up my own Bible and read the "adult versions" just to keep up.  Racy book, this one!  Who knew?

Had a wonderful time with Kylie, Samara and the rest of the family this weekend.  Thanksgiving, indeed.  We gave lots and lots of thanks.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We are Thankful for Reading

This week, which is a short week for Abby and Juli both, we are reading.  We love to come together at night for "Mommy School".  Don't be put off, though.  Daddy is a big part of it, too.  I would say that we meet at least three or four times per week to read a Bible story and do some curriculum for Juli.  Abby loves it as much as her little sister, though.

That said, I cannot wait for summer when I can do Sonlight's first and fourth grade curriculum as a review for Abby and Samara.  As a teacher, I always fear that parents let their kids' brains stagnate over the summer and then we have to spend the first month of school re-teaching them what they do not remember from last year.  Please, folks, review with your kiddos.  Encourage them to read and practice some math.  At the very least, go out and buy them a grade level workbook and have them do a page or two each day.  Help them keep it fresh - it really is for the best.

Backing away from the soap box...

Ok.  This week, we read this:

Freight Train by Donald Crews
This book is wonderful for a few reasons.  First of all, it reviews colors with the kiddos.  It also reinforces patterns and train vocabulary.  The illustrations are simple and the use of white space really sets off the gorgeous artwork.  Very cool book.  My girls loved it.

Then we read

A Boy, A Dog and A Frog by Mercer Mayer

This, like Noah's Ark, is a story told by pictures.  It is about a boy and his dog, who set out to catch a frog, with hilarious results.  It introduces humor in books to preschoolers with ease and we enjoyed looking at the pictures and taking turns telling the story in our own words. 

Finally, a personal favorite of mine...

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

This book is amazing!  I like it for so many reasons.  First of all, we have a personal connection because we, in the St. Peter hacienda, are always trying to outdo each other with the "this is how much I love you" talk.  "I love you to heaven and back," is Abby's fave.  Mine is, "I love you to Pluto and back."  Juli's is, "I love you to sixteen."  Hmmm... we'll have to ask her about that one.  Anyway, it is about a young rabbit (nutbrown hare) and his parent (father) who try to outdo each other with demonstrations of their love for each other.  Juli literally smiled while I was reading it and then we had lots of fun showing each other up with our "bigger love".  Also, this book can be used to ease into teaching opposites - little nutbrown hare vs. big nutbrown hare, etc.

Thanksgiving is going to be busy this year - we will have a special guest (the girls don't know she's coming yet) and it is the first one in our new house.  Yippeee! 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Tardy Thank Yous (and some lunch pics)

Birthdays are a big deal in my family.  The Boyer women have actually figured out a way to make it a birthday week rather than just a single day - I mean, what's the fun in just one day?

Anyway, here are a few of the things I got...

These guys are from my mom.  She knows how I feel about owls.  I have named them Dumbledore and Gandalf and they have a prominent place in my living room.

The man got me this...

 He is a good boy.  I will keep him, I think.

I also got money towards this

I want this very badly for our bedroom.  I already have the walls painted the right colors and I have the perfect lamps for this.  Just the bedding is missing.  I am slowly amassing enough Pottery Barn gift cards to buy this.  I will have it. 

Still feeding Abby somewhat healthy lunches.  There is usually something sugary included, and they tend to be heavy on the fruits, but I still believe that they are better than school lunches.  Sorry, school lunch ladies.  I know you are trying very hard.  Please don't be mad at me for saying that.

I have fallen behind on posting these, but rest assured, she is getting a lunch from home everyday. 

Day 23

Chinese rice cracker mix
Autumn candy corn
Krinkle Stix
Fruitables fruit/veggie drink
Motts Strawberry applesauce
Chocolate jello pudding
Sugar snap peas with ranch for dipping (she won't touch the ranch)
A prune
Yogurt covered pretzels
Smooshed fruit
A ham and cheese croissant

Day 24

Ghost Peeps
Motts Strawberry applesauce
Krinkle Stix
Rice cracker mix
Rice cakes (apple cinnamon)
Fruitables fruit/veggie juice
Colby/Jack cheese stick
Pretzel sticks with cheese dip
Chewy chocolate chip granola bar
Dried raspberry fruit bites

Day 25
Chocolate pumpkin
Chocolate Teddy Grahams
Whole wheat Ritz crackers with creamy swiss cheese spread
Muenster cheese slices (in Wexy bag)
Sliced apples
Celery with peanut butter
Ham and cheese kabobs
Green grapes
Fruitables fruit/veggie drink

I promise to catch up on the lunches later.  And yes - we are still eating whole foods at home.  We are on week seven.

Here are a few recent pics of the girls.

Juli went with me to pick up the "b'loons" for Abby's birthday party.  They took up most of the room inside the van, making it a very fun place for four-year-olds.

And, finally:

Went on a field trip with Abby's class a few weeks ago.  It was to a pioneer homestead out in the woods.  We traversed a real prairie (man, that grass was tall!) and then got to do fun things like grind corn and make cornbread from it and churn cream into butter.  Very cool.  Here she is peeking at me through a hollowed out log. 



Thursday, November 15, 2012


This one has been home for three days with the flu.  Bless her heart.
She still has a fever, so she is not going to school tomorrow either.  Luckily, I only missed one day of work - I am not scheduled again until next week.  Phew.

We are spending lots of time together and we went and picked up some homework today, so productivity is still happening here.

In the meantime, we have been homeschooling along.  I say homeschooling, but is it really homeschooling if they go to school during the day, too?  What would you call it?  Supplementing their education?  How many times can I write "homeschooling" in one paragraph?

We have read these books lately:

Busy Timmy by Kathryn Jackson
The reasons we read this are twofold.  One - I LOVE Eloise Wilkin illustrations.  She drew children better than anyone else, in my opinion.  Secondly, it is a great book for teaching children a proper bedtime routine.  Every time we get ready for bed now, we ask Juli, "What would Timmy do next?"  Wonderful!

The next one we read was this:

Guess Who Lives Here by Louise Woodcock
This is another book illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.  This one is great for teaching children how many people/inhabitants it takes to make a household run.  It is not just Mommy, Daddy and the kids.  It is the mailman, the milkman (old book), the pets, etc.  Really cute.

Another Eloise Wilkin that we read is this one:

Baby Listens by Esther Wilkin
Luuurve this one!  We read it because Juli is currently studying the five senses at Goddard School and I wanted to tie our homeschooling into that.  This book talks about all of the sounds in a child's day.  In the end, we got out pots and pans and spoons and had a family band moment.  Loud, but soooo fun.  The girls' faces were priceless and Dan could not believe that I let them make so much noise and use my kitchen stuff!!

The next one took us down memory lane:

Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin
This is a book about a little girl and her new baby sister.  We read it and then went back on Snapfish and looked at our old pics of when Juli was born.  So cute.  There were some pics that paralleled the ones in the book beautifully.  It was great for Abby to get to look back at herself, too.  I may or may not have shed a tear during this lesson...

The last Eloise Wilkin book we read was this:

Baby Looks by Esther Wilkin
In case you are wondering, yes, Esther and Eloise were sisters.  Both have passed on, but what a legacy they left behind!  This is the final book that we tied in to the five senses lessons that Juli is getting.  This one illustrates all of the wonders that a baby sees during his day.  The pictures are precious.  Then, we played a rousing game of "I Spy" so that Juli could teach me what she sees around her.

If you have been clicking on the links for the books, you will see that most of them are not available new anymore and the ones that are available as used books are not cheap.  In order to circumvent this financial obstacle, Sonlight sent us this book.

Eloise Wilkin Stories

All of the above classics are included in this book, plus so many more.  Well worth the money.  Get it while you can.

Finally, we read a modern-day classic:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

This is a MUST READ for all children.  It is a fun, rhythmic book that reviews the alphabet in such a fun way.  I think we will be reading this every few weeks or so.  The girls enjoyed it so much that they asked me to read it over and over again right away.

I am really loving this time with the girls at night.  Dan always joins us and it is such a great time for our family.

Off to tend to the girl. 


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Twist and Shout

Today was 1950's day at Abby's school.  Last week, I got a notice that she was to wear 1950's apparel to school today so that they could have a sock-hop and do other 50's-ish type things.  Heaving a big sigh (I mean, didn't we just lay out $75 each on costumes for Halloween??), I thanked my lucky stars that it was during the post-Halloween "get rid of our leftover costumes" sales that I found this cute one.

I got this costume at Kohls.  It was less than $40, which I am happy with.  It is not high-quality, but I just wanted it to last through today, which it did.  I wanted it to make my little girl happy, which it did.  Next year, if she can still fit into it, we will use it again.  But I will add a cuter belt, bobby socks, and saddle shoes.  We will lose the leggings.  Might also lose the scrunchie - did they have those in the 50's? I think not.  It served it's purpose, though.  It's all good.

Now, let's not have anymore costly dress-up events for awhile, ok?  We had a birthday today - (Happy birthday, Sissy-Mara!), we have another one in three days, then Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I will be ready to unleash some fundage again in 2013.


Friday, November 02, 2012

We Are Still Reading...

As a part of our Sonlight curriculum, we have read a couple of new books this week.  The first one was this:
"The Doughnuts" from Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

This is a really cute book, and the last McCloskey tale we will read for awhile.  I would honestly say, though, that it is a bit advanced and too long for a four year old.  After redirecting her attention back to it several times, we finally made it through the story, which is about a boy who goes to visit his uncle's diner and is put in charge of making doughnuts.  A hilarious, Lucille Ball-esque situation ensues and...well, I won't ruin it for you.

We are also reading about Abraham and Lot in our bible stories.  Abraham, for those of you who are not aware or cannot remember, is famous for sharing.  Anyway, to tie the two stories together, we, as a family, made doughnuts and glazed them.  Once they were done, Dan and the girls delivered them to some of our neighbors (along with some homemade tomatillo salsa that I had made earlier that day).  The girls received gracious thank yous and also got to experience what it feels like to share on a grander scale than their own toys with each other.

The next book we read was Katy and the Big Snow.

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Burton
This story is awesome, especially for little girls.  It is about a tractor named Katy who, after all of the snow plows fail during an epic snow, plowed the streets of her town, which allowed for firemen to put out a fire, electricity to be restored, doctors to get to the hospital, etc.  It is a positive role model for little girls by showing them that Katy is the best at what she does.  Also, she does not quit, even when she gets tired.  Good read!  After we read it, we talked about all of the things we like to do when it snows as a family.  Apparently, I am the "lodge bunny" of the group, which for those of you who know me, should not come as a surprise.


It Never Ends...

My typical day goes like this:  wake up, put fresh load in washing machine, wake girls up, get them dressed, teeth brushed and hair done, get myself dressed, my teeth brushed, and hair brushed, feed entire family nutritious (whole foods) breakfast (this morning it was homemade granola, organic milk and a banana), get everyone out the door and into the car ON TIME, drive Abby to school by 8:15, get Juli to Goddard school by 8:40, run any errands (today it was a chiro appt, Barnes & Noble (to get my schedule), donation drop-off at Goodwill, grocery store, and then a pick-up at FedEx), go home, move laundry from washer to dryer and fold and put away load that was in the dryer, unload and reload dishwasher - if needed, unpack boxes and decide what to keep and what to donate, everything gets washed before it is put away or donated and items for Goodwill have to be logged for taxes, possibly get some homework done (most of the time though, this happens after the girls go to bed) and eat lunch, then go get Abby at 2:45, go get Juli at 3:30, come home, help Abby with homework and then, while the girls play, unload and reload dishwasher again and move clothes over to dryer, fold clothes that were in the dryer, put them in the hamper to put away later, start fresh load of laundry, start dinner and have it ready when Dan gets home at 6:00 (last night it was pan seared wild caught Alaskan salmon, corn on the cob, fresh, sauteed green beans and homemade whole wheat muffins). 

Last night, while Dan is in the shower, he says to me, "I hope that you are taking advantage of your free time at home and maximizing your productivity."  This is in response to the fact that the house is not completely unpacked yet.  REALLY??

This is my life - I married an engineer.