Hurray for Tomatoes!

We finally got a few red tomatoes out of our garden!  Hurray!

The plants have been sitting with some beautiful green tomatoes on them for what seems like foreeeeever…  We also got some lovely peppers.  I smell a bowl of fresh salsa coming on!

Gma stopped by a few days ago for a short visit and was kind enough to bring us some produce from her AMAZING garden.  My mom is a dedicated gardener, always growing a huge variety of veggies and fruits, as well as prize winning irises.  She brought us some tomatoes and peppers, a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes that Mic and the kids devoured, cucumbers, and some plums.  Yum!  Lala found the bag of plums and started chomping them down.  She missed the cherry tomatoes though. Hehe

All this wonderful produce has me fired up to have an even better garden next year.  I know it’s a ways off, but I have discovered that things sneak up on me and I need to make my plans well in advance. We totally have to plant strawberries, cucumbers, and corn next year. Hmmm…  What other yummy things will we have?  Where is that seed catalog?  🙂 Here’s to fresh tomatoes and gardening dreams!

14 Weeks… & An Ultrasound

We have hit a new milestone and crossed a bridge in this pregnancy – officially entering the second trimester!  Hooray!  We ‘celebrated’ by having our first ultrasound.  The pictures we got are awesome!  Probably the best ultrasound pics I have ever seen.

It was such a relief to see a tiny baby with all the appropriate parts.  The baby was very active, rolling, kicking its legs, and at one point even reached out and showed us its perfect, tiny hand.  The tech told Lala that the baby was waving at her.  Lala then proudly announced that the baby waved at her and she waved back.  🙂

The technology that makes this possible is just amazing.  The place we went is very family friendly, with a large, comfy viewing room and toys and little chairs for the kids.  They were able to run around a little and entertain themselves.  We did keep diverting their attention to the big screen where they could see the baby.  Lala was very interested in what was happening.  Tbear was mostly just playing, but at one point he ran past the screen, pointed at it, and said ‘baby.’  I’m glad he understood!

It took the tech a while to get the shot she wanted, but after some looking, having me turn on my side for a bit, and looking some more…  she finally got the picture she wanted…

I bought this outfit a couple of years ago to use as a baby gift and then decided I couldn’t part with it.  It looks like we will finally get to use it!

I am always a little skeptical until the baby arrives, but so far everything indicates…  It’s a girl!

Both kids got pink lollipops to celebrate and we followed up by getting ice cream from Cold Stone.  (Thanks to a dear friend for the gift card!)

Lala is over the moon!  She has a brother, so a sister was her request.  She was so excited to tell Gma when she called.  She is alternating between being a baby and being a mommy in her pretend play.

All in all, it was an awesome day.  Though there are never any guarantees in life, we received a lot of great news.  We are looking forward to meeting more milestones and crossing more bridges.  26 weeks to go!

Painting Pottery

We joined our homeschool meet-up group a few weeks ago for a pottery painting party.  We met at a local pottery studio that provides all the supplies for painting a ceramic item of your choice or glass fusing.  After looking at their offerings, I decided to have the kids decorate small tiles.  I am thinking of going back every 6 months or so and having them create another one.  Over time, I will have an amazing ‘gallery’ of their work that I can use for the backsplash in our kitchen when we build our dream house.  🙂

The kids had a great time.  So many colors and stencils to choose from!  They had glaze in bottles with fine tips for writing too.  Lala loves to paint, so this was right up her alley.

And Mic had fun helping Tbear create his masterpiece.

The finished projects were awesome!  And only cost us about $20.

I’m looking forward to our next painting party!

Marvelous Mathematics!

I’m a math nerd…  I admit it proudly!  🙂  I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mathematics.  I had planned to major in Civil Engineering, but it makes sense that I switched to math, since I took more math in high school than any other subject.  I know math is a scary subject for most people.  When people find out my major and that I have worked as a statistician for years, they usually get a look on their faces somewhere between revulsion and awe…  LOL!  I always joke that I try not to tell people about it at cocktail parties because they suddenly need to speak with someone on the other side of the room…  😉

Teaching math is a huge concern for many homeschoolers.  I’ve seen lots of threads about it and am amazed at the volume of different curriculums and methods that are out there for teaching and learning.  I’ve seen comments from radical unschoolers that the only ‘subject’ they do ‘every day’ is math.  Why math is so scary would fill-up a whole post of its own, heck…  probably an entire doctoral thesis or two.

So I have decided to track down all the resources I can to help make math less painful for homeschoolers.  Math should be fun, not onerous!  My goal is to write a post every Monday with resources, ideas, comments, suggestions, anything that might be helpful for teaching and learning math.  I am also going to create a resource page on this site, just for math ‘stuff.’

Here is the beginning (links below will open in new tabs):

Math-related TV Shows

  • Peg + Cat – PBS & streaming on Netflix
  • Monster Math Squad – streaming on Netflix

Curriculum Lists and Reviews

‘Fun’ Math Books

(The links below are Amazon affiliate links.  If you use them to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)

Interesting Articles

Hopefully these will get you started!  Check back next week for more resources and information!

Technology… the Downfall of the Summer Reading Program

We just finished our third year of participating in our local library’s summer reading program.  When I realized Lala could participate three summers ago, I was thrilled.  Totally, ridiculously tickled at being part of the fun.  Almost silly actually…  🙂  Sadly, this year was a total bust for me.  What changed you ask?  Well…  the summer reading program went “online” this year…

The first two years, we were given a sheet with pictures to color to mark off the books we had read.  As they hit various numbers of books read, the kids could come in for little prizes.  If they read the number of books required to complete the program, they were entered in the ‘grand prize’ drawing at the end of the summer.  If they read more, they qualified for more entries.  The kids were absolutely tickled to get a coupon for a free ice cream cone, a pencil, a sticker, a free book…  And I was delighted to tell them over and over that they earned that by reading books.  Last year, at the end of summer ice cream party, Lala won a backpack with paper and art supplies.  She was thrilled.

This year, the program was run online.  I created a “parent” account and then added accounts for the kids.  The system awarded points for each minute of reading, as well as for attending library events.  I had to enter the number of minutes, as well as the title and author of each book, for both kids.  Kids earned “badges” for attending events and hitting various levels of “points.”

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To complete the program, the little kids had to accumulate 720 points, or the equivalent of reading 20 minutes a day for 36 days.  The program lasted 57 days.  And you could earn additional points for attending events.  All the events we attended were worth 20 points each.

I sent a message to the library about half-way through the program, because I was confused as to whether the kids still earned the little prizes along the way.  The response indicated they had moved away from the ‘trinket’ type prizes to things they thought would more directly motivate reading: badges, online games, and drawings.  The first 200 people to sign up for the program got a prize, there was a drawing part-way through if you had enough points, a drawing for those who completed the program, and door prizes at the end of summer party.  The prizes they offered were pretty cool.

The program kicks off with a pancake breakfast, which is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we were out of town and couldn’t go, nor could we be among the first to sign up.  We also didn’t earn enough points before the first drawing to be eligible.  And in the end, I grew so discouraged, that we didn’t complete the program or even go to the end of summer party.  It was scheduled for earlier in the day and indicated food would be available, but wasn’t billed as an ice cream social.

It probably sounds like I was only in the program for the prizes…  And I have to admit they are a fun addition to the activities…  What got me though was the lack of interaction for my kids.  They couldn’t color their sheets and take them in to get a prize.  I had to enter the info.  And the badges were meaningless to them.  Earning points did unlock some online games, but my kids are mostly too young for those kinds of things…  I think it is probably likely that older kids enjoyed it a lot, but for little ones…  it seemed to me like there was little point.

I’m sure the library has a lot of good reasons for making the changes to the program.  And I’m sure it worked well for many others.  Personally, it was disappointing.  I found it too time consuming to do all the “data entry.”  I couldn’t just remember how many books we read at bedtime or even just the titles, but had to corral them up and record the authors as well.  I know…  probably just me being grumpy…  🙂  Anyways…  not sure if we will participate at all next year…  The kids are still always begging me to read books to them, so the experience this summer didn’t really have any effect on that, thankfully!  We did enjoy attending a couple of “story time” events that featured people from our local fire department, sheriff’s office, and National Guard.  I just miss the joy and enthusiasm I felt about it during the previous two summers.  I’m certainly not “anti-technology.”  I’m just not sure it is always an improvement on things…

Did you participate in a summer reading program?  I hope you enjoyed it if you did!  We are certainly still reading!

13 Weeks and a Heartbeat…

Today I am 13 weeks and 5 days into this pregnancy.  We had our first midwife appointment last week.  I saw an OB for my first four pregnancies.   The care I received was good, but I always felt like just another chart.  Seeing the midwife was refreshing.  It was the first time I’ve had a provider interview me and fill out the medical history form.  The visit lasted about an hour, including all the usual checks.

The highlight of the visit was…

We heard the baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler.

158 beats per minute.

After we left the office, I sat in the truck and cried.  The kids were asking why I was crying.  Michael told them I wasn’t sad, but that sometimes people cry when they are happy.  They were pure tears of relief.  I won’t feel completely better until this baby is safely in my arms, but hearing that heartbeat was a wonderful step on this journey.

We plan to have an ultrasound next week.  I hope to see a tiny, healthy baby with a strong, beating heart.

The First Day of School…

Monday was the first day of school for many of the kids in our neighborhood.  Between the noisy bustle of a neighbor’s landscaper and everyone loading up to take their kids to school, it sounded like a NASCAR race out on the street in front of my house.  There are approximately a dozen kids on our block, attending 5 different schools.

My kids slept through it…  Lala would be heading off to pre-kindergarten this year, if we were planning to send her to public school.  I guess pre-k doesn’t actually start until next week.  I have been thinking about what impact there will be on all of us, if these kids never participate in a ‘first day of school’ experience.  We’ve taken a few cute pictures for their first days of co-op preschool, but co-op is nothing like being dropped off to face a new teacher, new peers, and new challenges.

Two of our neighbors started middle school this year.  I remember starting ‘junior high.’  It was terrible.  We were dumped from the relative peace of elementary school into a world of lockers and rotating schedules of classes, limited time to get between classes, the ‘horrors’ of ‘dressing down’ for P.E… the changes were staggering.  I hated it and within a few weeks refused to go back.  That lead to a lot of changes in school for me, though that is a tale for another day.

Will my kids ‘miss out’ on something by not participating in public school?  I think the answer is yes, they most certainly will.  Some of the things they ‘miss out’ on will be fun, most will not be.  The benefits they will gain will far outweigh the loss.  It’s my job to see to that!

‘School’ Supply Safari!

I ventured out today in search of one of my favorite things… knowing they are usually available for shockingly less during ‘back to school’ time than during the rest of the year…  Spiral notebooks!

I love spiral notebooks!  They are useful for so many things.  I haven’t purchased any in a couple of years, so my ‘inventory’ had dwindled to a couple half-used, slightly ratty ones.  Lala has been trying to steal the last decent one I have.  A couple of posts reminded me about the joy of school supply sales and since school starts around here over the next couple of weeks (yikes!), I knew I better get out and find some!  I scored a dozen of them for about $2. Yay!

I also decided I wanted to look at what other types of supplies were on sale that might inspire the kids.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but figured that inspiration would find me.  We have a fairly well stocked ‘supply cabinet,’ so I didn’t want to get too much stuff…  I decided on some crayons and a couple of small pen sets, along with a pencil box for Lala. Tbear was totally enamored with the box and tiny highlighters, so I decided in the end to get him a set too. He’s young, but they both love drawing and ‘writing.’  🙂

Grand total with notebooks…  about $10.

I also picked up a couple of plastic bins on clearance in hopes of getting the art projects and coloring pages that are taking over my house corralled up and in some kind of order…  haha…  🙂  (It perhaps goes without saying that we also had to get a myriad of other things while we were out…  including food for all the pets…  The cart always fills up…  🙂  )

On our way to get groceries, we stopped at the Dollar Tree next door.  I’ve seen some awesome ideas using pool noodles (marble track anyone?) and they had some a few weeks ago.  Of course, August is way too late to get pool noodles… Who on earth would be playing in the water this time of year?!?!?  (We did see a few a couple of other places, but I don’t want to spend four times as much for them…)  But, as is always the case with the dollar store…  we found some other cool things…

I see some awesome projects coming on!  It was a long day, but the kids did well.  Shopping is getting easier as they get older.  Don’t get me wrong though, I still avoid it as much as possible!  But sometimes you just have to go on safari and find those spiral notebooks…  😉

Beginning of August Busy-ness…

It never ceases to amaze me how days can just fly by and a week (or two) can pass before I hardly realize it!  We have been having a lot of fun with all the end of summer kid activities that are going on right now.  Add in an afternoon of babysitting for a friend and a couple of appointments and…  wow…

We have had the awesome opportunity to enjoy some great theater over the last few days.  A couple of the kids in our neighborhood are involved in local youth theater and are performing in ‘Peter Pan.’  We try to do most things as a family, but Tbear is just not ready to sit through a two hour play…  So, Mic stayed home with him while Lala and I had a little mother/daughter outing to the play.

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I gave her a couple dollars at intermission and we shared a little snack she picked out. I like to have her pay for things on occasion to get her thinking about the value of money.  Lala was mesmerized by the action.  My kids are both crazy climbers and jumpers, so Peter Pan flying blew her mind!  She spent the second half of the play saying ‘I want to talk to Peter.’  When the cast came out, she agreed to take a picture with the actress (which she usually refuses to do) and then wanted to just follow ‘Peter’ around. I think she was a little star-struck. 🙂 She wouldn’t hardly even talk to her neighborhood friends…  I felt a little bad about that!  Overall, it was an awesome experience for both of us.

We all got to enjoy the Kids Shakespeare performance of Romeo and Juliet.  It was only an hour and in an outdoor venue, so it’s easier to accommodate wiggly kids.  We have gone every year since Lala was 1 and it is always awesome.  Another family with kids of similar ages joined us.  This year, Lala wanted to talk to Lady Capulet.  They always get the audience involved and had given a few kids masquerade masks and had them come up on stage for a little dance number.  Lala and her friend hadn’t been given masks, but somehow it came up and the actress offered to get them each one.  All four kids ended up getting one and were over the moon!

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Tbear even got in on the action and was ‘chatting’ with Romeo and Mercutio, doing high fives, playing peek a boo, and generally ingratiating himself with everyone. It was hilarious to watch!  We all had a fabulous time!

Our community also hosted a ‘National Night Out’ event with local law enforcement, social services agencies and groups, and other community organizations.  There was all kinds of equipment for the kids to look at, including a CareFlight helicopter.  The kids were most impressed with the helicopters landing and taking off.  Free hotdogs and a bounce house topped off this great event.

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We even got to practice crawling out of a smoky room in the local fire department ‘Safety Trailer.’  I need to get back to finalizing our fire exit plan!

Add in a trip to the state fair and another picnic and concert at my alma mater and you have a recipe for tired kids and exhausted parents. 🙂  But we’ve had fun!

The kids loved seeing the animals at the fair and Lala even got a pony ride.

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Tbear didn’t have any interest in getting on a pony.  🙂

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We ended up being given a couple of carnival ride tickets, so we bought a couple more and let each kid pick a ride. Unfortunately, they weren’t tall enough for most things. Lala loved the dragon roller coaster.

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Mic took Tbear on the bouncy cars despite a small protest. 🙂

On our way out we bumped into the clown and the kids scored a couple of balloon animals…

Dinosaur!  Check out the teeth!

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Horse!

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Ironically, the highlight of the day was that Lala finally got to ride a bus!

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She has been fascinated with buses, especially school buses, for a while and has been wanting to ride one.  There isn’t a lot of parking at the fair grounds, so a local business offered their parking lot for free parking and the local bus system ran a free shuttle between the parking and the fair.  When we got on, she climbed in a seat, buckled her seat belt (I think we were the only two people on the bus using the seat belts!), and starred out the window.  I heard her say, “I’m excited.”  It was so awesome!

What have you been up to the last couple of weeks?  I hope you have been having fun and enjoying summer.  We are looking forward to a little quiet time at home…  for a day or two!  LOL!  🙂