Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homeschool Organization

This year I will be home schooling a third grader and a first grader.  Although we haven't grown out of homeschooling at the kitchen island yet, the overflow of books have made in necessary to invest in a new five-shelf bookshelf.   Our curriculum uses "living books" instead of textbooks and well, I am a bit of a book-a-holic.  The amount of books has become somewhat overwhelming, especially when curious little girls take them off the self so often.  My solution is to color-code our books by grade or topic.

Yellow for Aliah's 3rd grade, which will be focusing on Countries and Cultures this year:
Red for Annabelle's 1st Grade:
and Blue for our materials from 2nd grade, which focused on US History:

Since the girls like to pull books off the shelf to peruse at their leisure, I printed off three different colored cardstock pages for each girl.  After laminating them, they serve the purpose of "holding" the books spot so that they can return the book to the proper spot.  This system will hopefully make less work for Mommy re-shelving books.

Here's our kindergarten books in a file cabinet of books organized by weekly themes that is also accessible to the Punkettes:
In addition to our own collection of books (which totals more that twice of what you see here), we also heavily rely on our local library's inter-library loan system.  Any given week we have about 15 books checked out from the library. 

While on the topic, I might mention that although I hadn't intended to officially start school until August, we actually started yesterday.  I realized that Aliah was quickly forgetting her math facts and other math skills, so rather than spending 6 weeks reteaching (as public schools do), I decided we had better start reviewing now.  So she does about 45 minutes of math a day.  Annabelle is taking off on her reading, and has been begging me to teach her all of the quirky phonics rules of the English language.   So rather than putting her off any longer, we began working on the phonics section of her first grade curriculum.  This morning she did 6 days worth.  I figure if she is ready for it, why wait?  It's not a problem finishing her curriculum in a few months as she did last year, since she sits in on Aliah's too.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Going to the Zoo

I took the girls and my nephew to the KC Zoo for the first time this week.  It was a perfect day to meet some friends and enjoy the sights with Aunt Caylyn.  

We got some hands on action while feeding the lorikeets:

Our friend Amy was a good sport:

Violet thought she was being attacked by the feathered friends:

We rode the new Sky Saffari to the African exhibit.
Violet and Aunt Caylyn up above the trees:
Watched the Sea Lion show:
Our favorite exhibit was the polar bear.  He showed off by doing back flips off the window sill into the water.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How the Garden Grows

Harvesting kale for the fourth time this summer.  Aliah couldn't believe how much there was- two big bowls full!

One of our tomato plants is as tall as Aliah.
 Harvesting our first pepper.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hands On Fun

Sometimes I forget that I have a three year old.  So in an effort to provide more age appropriate activities, I have been taking advantage of playing outside with some hands on sensory play.  First up:  the always loved and simple water play with food coloring, syringes, and eye droppers. 

Of course after about 10 minutes, the water was no longer a rainbow display, but all brown.  Time to bring out the frozen blue stars and some fresh water:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mikey's Birthday Treats

 Last week we celebrated my Dad's birthday.  I was in charge of deserts and I have had some requests for recipes.  First off, I made his favorite, German Chocolate Cake with this recipe from All Recipes.  For the frosting, I used this German Chocolate Frosting Recipe. 

For his big party, I made 4 dozen cupcakes.  I used this recipe, Extreme Chocolate Cake, which was a bit tricky for cupcakes because the batter was so runny.  I think it would be fine as a layer cake.  For the frosting, I knew that I wanted extra, so I used this recipe since it made a lot, Rich Chocolate Frosting. 
To balance the chocolate, and since it is summer, I also made Lemon Cream Cupcakes.   Although I didn't get to taste a completed cupcake, I sampled both the cake and the frosting separately and these were my personal favorites.

Now that that sugar high is over, it's time to go exercise!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Scary and Stinky

Last weekend, our neighbor came over in a panic asking if Ricky could come "kill" a snake for her.  Instead we transferred this garter snake from her bushes to our brush pile by the creek.  The big girls had fun examining it. 

Violet was not so impressed, because it was "scary and stinky," in her words:

A successful snake rescue.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Makes a Mommy Smile

Yesterday morning, I went into Violet's room to start cleaning up the daily tornado that hits that proximity every morning between 6-7 a.m. when I saw something that made me smile.  My three year old, who has never in her life picked up her clothes off the floor, much less put them away in a drawer, had removed her American Girl Doll's dress and neatly hung it up on a hanger up high next to her dresses.  Amazing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Berry Breakfast Cake

Last night I couldn't sleep so I got up, folded laundry, read my bible study, looked through some magazines and baked a cake.  Odd, I know, but it's better than laying in bed thinking about all that I have to get done the next day.

I was trying out a new recipe from  Meal Makeover Moms called Raspberry Breakfast Cake.  I altered it to include a variety of frozen berries, so I will call mine Berry Breakfast Cake.  It was a huge hit! 
Sorry I didn't take pictures before it was almost gone.  Wasn't planning on blogging about it until everyone dug into it this morning.  Then I realized it was so good (and healthy) so I just had to share!

Berry Breakfast Cake
Makes 8 Servings

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup 1% lowfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen berries
1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the canola oil until well combined. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

4.  Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange the berries evenly over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

5.  Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool in the pan and serve.

Our First Garden!

We live in the perfect lot.  It's big (3/4 acre), beautiful, and gives our girls lots of room to explore and climb.  Did I mention there are trees?  Lots of trees, about 300, but who's counting.  Because of that, we have lots of cool shade.  Good for spending time outside, but not so good for a growing veggies. 

I decided that the girls were old enough to learn to grow a garden.  After all, I would consider gardening a life skill and I am very thankful that my Mom taught me how to get my hands dirty.  She tells us a story about when we were young and had just harvested some fresh asparagus from the garden.  While prepping the asparagus, she dropped some on the kitchen floor.  My brother and I were fighting over who got it!  Raw asparagus?  I asked what happened to her asparagus and she said that my brother ruined it when he turned the asparagus patch into a play dump truck area. :)

So back to the Haighs.  We have no where in our yard for a garden so we were excited when they started a community garden just a few blocks away.  When I told our wonderful neighbor about our plans, she offered  her sunny yard for our garden!  It is great because the kids just run across the (dead end) street to watch their garden grow.  Aliah is posing with her potato plant.  You might notice that the garden is covered with grass and leave clippings.  We are using the lasagna technique of layering newspapers with grass clippings and dried leaves for weed control.  As an added bonus, it will compost over the winter and help amend the soil for next years garden.

Speaking of our yard, I would love to show you how beautiful it is, but for blogger anonymity sake, I will only include a picture from the back yard.  This is Annabelle's new tree swing she got for her birthday.  Behind the fence is the creek and the trees the girls climb on lazy spring and summer days.  What a wonderful place to raise kids!