Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A little late in sharing...

I have been meaning to share for a few weeks, but this spring has been busier than I thought it would be! Any way, a few (OK, it was SEVERAL) weeks ago, I commented on Sarah in the woods' blog The Forest Room. She was giving away these:
NecklacesAND I WON! I don't often win things. And these are beautiful. And they have such a great story! The beads are handmade from paper by Ugandan widows with HIV. The proceeds from the sale of these necklaces goes to support Ugandan orphans. How cool is that?

I have been admiring the necklaces for a month now, and their beauty does not diminish. Check out Sarah's blog, too. She has SO many great ideas (I am a huge fan of her Vittles for Littles! Can't wait for strawberry season to start around here!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Robin Nest "cam"

Over at The Toby Show, they have been watching, and sharing their observations of, a robin's nest. They named the female robin Clementine and the male robin Abner. They also named all 4 eggs. They have been updating with pictures, and will continue to update. They anticipate the hatching of the eggs around June 2, so keep checking in! You know Kiddo, Kutey, and I will be watching!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Themeless

It's Muffin Tin Monday again! Given the holiday, I opted to go without a theme. There wasn't one specified and I lacked the time and energy to do anything creative. Besides, my kids actually like hodge-podge in a muffin tin! So here it is:
Muffin Tins

Here is a closeup of Kiddo's:
Kiddo's Muffin TinDown the left side: pretzels
Next column: cheese, salami, cheese
Next column: strawberries, "Bright Pink Fruit Dip" from Pretend Soup, strawberries
Right side: ham cubes, yogurt, ham cubes

And Kutey's:
Kutey's Muffin Tin
I really enjoy Muffin Tin Monday. The themes require me to be more thoughtful and creative with the kids lunch. It also means I always know what is for lunch on Mondays, which is great! Even if all we have is hodge-podge, the kids love it because they are eating out of a muffin tin. It doesn't get much better than that!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Books, Books, and more BOOKS!

I sometimes feel like my house is being taken over by books. I love books, don't get me wrong. But I live in a not so very big house (bigger than some, but still) and the books are EVERYWHERE! They are filling the shelves. They are in piles on the floor. They are sometimes found in beds! Still, I can't resist when I feel like I have found a good deal. And's Smart Start sale was a good deal.

bookcloseouts booksEach item in this picture was 99 cents. Yep. I bought lots. And still I feel like I missed some stuff! I keep hearing what others got and thinking--drat! I didn't even see that! Still, I got a lot of great items. I can't really complain. I got things I thought I could use with both Kiddo and Kutey, so there are some pre-K and some K and some early grade items. I have barely started looking at them, there is so much there! Kiddo is really excited about Counting Money. Coincidentally it would make an excellent workbox item! There are probably others in there that would also, that is just the only one I have had a chance to look at in depth!

The sale ends TODAY! Go take a look!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009



cookbooksIf you aren't jealous, you either already own these WONDERFUL cookbooks, or you have never heard of them.

If you've never heard of them, let me explain.

Pretend Soup and Salad People are cookbooks for KIDS! They are written by Mollie Katzen (She wrote The Moosewood Cookbook, in case you think the name is familiar). They are FABULOUS! Each recipe is 4 pages long. The first two pages are the adult pages. They give the recipe the way we are used to seeing a recipe, and give you tips and pointers for working with kids on the specific recipe. The next two pages give the recipe in pictures and simple words for kids!

These cookbooks came highly recommended from a friend. She had told me about them a while ago, and I kinda let it go. Then when I was reading about workboxes, and someone mentioned they put a recipe in one of their child's boxes for the day. I got to thinking. Kiddo loves to cook. I don't always like to cook with him. So I looked into these cookbooks again. I got them from the library first. They have been a HUGE hit. Tiny Tacos quickly became a favorite lunch. There are so many recipes I still want to try! I let Kiddo choose a recipe each week. The recipes would make great workboxables for younger kids.

There is another cookbook, Honest Pretzels, that is for 8 and up. I am looking forward to getting that one in another year or so!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Choose your own theme!

Today Muffin Tin Monday's theme is "Choose Your Own Theme." So I let Kiddo choose. I think he called his "The very, very, hungry worm." Kutey kept referring to hers as "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," which was last weeks theme. I like to call them "What's in the fridge?" Because I felt like we raided the fridge and pulled out a bunch of stuff and called it a muffin tin.

Here they are!
Muffin Tins

There are long stories they wrote while putting them together about what ate what and when, but I never really got the order. It was cute to listen to them make up stories, though! Kiddo really liked being able to put it all together himself. So I guess I could also call it "Choose your own Muffin Tin!"

Kiddo's Muffin Tin

Kutey's Muffin Tin

You may notice I again lined Kutey's pan with the repurposed applesauce cups. Her pan is in rough shape. I'll be buying a new one soon, until then, I feel better using the cups!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Children's Literature

Yesterday (Monday) was one of those days that as homeschoolers I try to avoid. Too much in too little time. We were not home for lunch. We ate our sandwiches in the back of the van--I laid out the picnic blanket and everything, so the kids thought it was a huge treat! But Muffin Tin Monday had to become Muffin Tin Tuesday!

PhotobucketThe theme this week was Children's Literature. Oy. Talk about a tricky one! I brainstormed a long time and finally came up with The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Lots of food there! Kiddo was feeling more inspired than I was, though, so he came up with his own lunch recreating a rainforest scene from The Umbrella by Jan Brett. I was quite impressed with his creativity. I did have to help him with the sky--I suggested the blue food coloring in the yogurt because he really wanted something blue.

Here is Kiddo's--Based on The Umbrella by Jan Brett
In the top row: Whipped cream cheese clouds, blue sky yogurt
Middle row: Trees made of pretzel sticks standing in whipped cream cheese with spinach leaf tops stuck on with peanut butter, lettuce standing in for rainforest foliage, salami flower (mostly he wanted all the spaces filled, and this was something Kutey had, so he wanted)
Bottom row: pretzel stick branches that fell off the trees, watermelon spear flowers, strawberry flower.
Pretty creative, huh?

Here is Kutey's--Based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Basically all of the "good for you" foods the caterpillar ate, without the "sometimes" foods. Apple, spinach (one nice, green leaf), pears, dried plums, strawberries, oranges. One slice of swiss cheese, one pickle, one slice of salami, and one slice of watermelon. I obviously needed a larger muffin tin, but the recycled applesauce cups are standing in nicely.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Mother's Day Nature Walk

For the last couple of years, I have made it my Mother's Day wish to go hiking with my kids. I grew up camping and hiking, so I want my kids to have the same experience. While we live in the burbs, opportunities abound nearby for nature walks.

Today we drove to a nearby lake that has a path all the way around it. The path is over 3 miles long, so Kutey rode in the stroller, but Kiddo walked almost all the way around. As we walked, we identified a multitude of things from the landscape. We tried to remember what we had identified, but I am not sure we got all of it!

Here is what we remember:
Aspen trees
Norway (red) pine tree
The song of a red-wing blackbird
The call of a crow
A turkey vulture
Sumac (with the seeds from last year still attached)
Great blue herons
A duck (we think it was a coot)
Canadian geese
Beaver cut trees
Huge rabbit
A swarm of little bugs
A crow
The song of a cardinal
A cardinal

I know there was more. I also know that we walked past a lot of things that we did not identify. It took us plenty of time to get around the lake as it was! But it is so much fun to see kiddo so interested in identifying things. At one point he said "Let's identify EVERYTHING!" obviously that wasn't possible, nor is that what he really meant...he meant let's identify everything I want to identify :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


For the last couple of months, we have been using SpellQuizzer, a spelling software that helps kids practice their spelling and vocabulary. It is not based on a specific curriculum, which means it works well for us. We don't have a set curriculum that we use, so I have been able to adapt SpellQuizzer to our needs with ease.

The software is fairly simple and straightforward. You create a list of words and record each one in your own voice, choosing to add a reminder sentence or not. It would also work well for vocabulary, recording the definition of a word and asking the student to supply the vocabulary word. We aren't quite at the point of needing that function yet, but I can certainly see a time when that might be useful!

Kiddo has enjoyed using it to work on word families the last couple of months. For example, I might create a list that is all -at words, and he then listens and spells them out. This has helped him to see the similarity in all of the words, while at the same time determining how they are different and how that changes their spelling.

I have also downloaded some of the lists available on the website, which we will be using in the next couple of months.

I can see the program being very useful for students who memorize weekly spelling lists. The parent reads them once and the student can practice them as many times as needed. I usually set Kiddo up near me so I can see how he is doing, but I am free to do other things as I need to, also.

The only drawback to the software is that you will need a microphone to record the words, even if your computer has a built in microphone. Even with an external microphone, I had to be very careful to enunciate carefully in order for the words to be understandable. The software is usable without a microphone by entering reminder phrases, but I don't think that is quite as useful as having the recording. It would work, though, if it was the only option you had!

Check out SpellQuizzer! It has so many uses for spelling and vocabulary!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Cinco de Mayo

Muffin Tin Monday--Cinco de MayoThis week Muffin Tin Monday is themeless, so we themed ours for Cinco de Mayo tomorrow! We had "Tiny Tacos" in a muffin tin!. The recipe comes from the book Salad People by Mollie Katzen. Kiddo LOVES "Tiny Tacos," and he LOVES Muffin Tin Monday, so today's meal was sure to be a hit. When he saw what it was, he deemed today "the best day ever." Tiny Tacos, Muffin Tin Monday, and water table play--it doesn't get much better!

Here is Kiddo's:
Muffin Tin Monday--Cinco de Mayo Kiddo
Here is Kutey's:
Muffin Tin Monday--Cinco de Mayo--Kutey's

(They really like to see their muffin tins on the blog, so I have to put up individual pictures :)).

Water Table Weather

Water TableA few years ago, I splurged and bought a Sand and Water table. I rarely buy my kids things like this fresh from the store. I prefer to get them gently used, they are just too expensive otherwise. But I saw this table in an ad and I thought it would be perfect! And it was marked way down at a discount store.

Once we got it set up, we realized that if we put sand in it there would be no way to move it. In addition, if you put sand in one half and water in the other, well, really, you were just going to have wet sand. That was not terribly appealing to me. Besides, I managed to pick up a Little Tikes sandbox for $2 on a garage sale, so we already had the sand part taken care of. Thus we wound up with a water table. Fortunately for me, my children LOVE a good water activity, and a water table is absolutely perfect for them. I am not sure what they would do if there was sand in half of it, to be honest.

It winters in the shed. The kids have been antsy about their summer toys, particularly Kutey, who has asked incessantly since January if Daddy has put up her pool yet. It won't be warm enough for that for a bit yet, but the water table seems to have satisfied both of them for the time being. We got it out yesterday. I haven't seen much of them at all today as they have been happily playing outside in the warm, fresh air, spilling as much water as they like.

As you can see there are many, MANY toys in it. Some of them were intended for the sandbox, and got sidetracked to the water table. Some of them were repurposed for it. Their favorites are the small boats, the water wheels, and the plastic medicine droppers.