Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ikea Ektorp Sofa Review: Nearly 6 Years Later

Whew!  6 years!  Time flies!  I had a comment about my Ektorp couches the other day and I looked up when we bought them....and it's been nearly 6 years!  I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old now.  The kids were 5 and 2 when we got the couches.  I don't think we had the dog when we got the couches.  We had the cat, but she has since passed on.  Gosh, I need a pause button.

Thus with the most recent comments, I was prompted to catch up on all the comments.  You all have been so wonderful and gracious to leave comments about the Ektorps (good and bad) and to help other folks out who are interested in them.  It's wonderful to hear from those who got the Ektorp and from those who decided on a different IKEA sofa or a different brand altogether.  I finally updated my post where I log all the comments for ease of reading.  You can find that post here.

So, what do I think after 6 years?

Overall, I'm still pleased with the couches.  They have held up well to family life, kids, and pets.  We don't tiptoe around these couches.  They reside in the center of our open home, so they see all the action.  The dog lays on the back cushions, the kids flip themselves over the backside of the sofas to get on to the front.  Sick people have slept on these sofas.  There have been muddy dog prints, food spills, and other items of unknown origin on the slipcovers.  For the most part, they have held up beyond my expectations.

I change my mind about style, well....pretty often.  But I hang on to things too because I don't like to spend lots of money.  So while I sometimes wish I would have gotten a sectional or went with the IKEA Kivik (no wrinkles)....I know if I had those I'd be wishing I had something else too.  I'm still very happy with my Ektorps and have no regret about buying them.  I think I have gotten my moneys worth out of them.  We'll probably keep them for quite a while yet.

People think I'm brave for getting white couches.  I get that comment a lot when people visit our house for the first time.  I'm not brave.  Just practical.  Bleach is my friend.  Yes, I've started washing these slipcovers with bleach.  I have a front loader with the little dispenser for bleach, so I put it into that.  I also use Oxi-Clean.  Maybe that's overkill, but my couches come out pretty clean.  When it isn't windy outside, I'll let  the slipcovers dry outside in the sun.  Otherwise they're hanging on racks in my dining room.  I have not yet dried the slipcovers in the dryer and I don't think I ever will.  According to many numerous comments, it's not a good idea to put them in the dryer.

Yes, there are a few stains on the slipcovers that didn't come out in the wash.  I'm so bad at pretreating stains.  If I see one, I'll spray some Resolve on it when I'm stripping the couches.  Then I just throw it in the wash.  That's all I do.  I bet if I was better at pretreating the stains, those stubborn ones would come out.  But they don't bother me.  You don't even notice them from far away.  Only if you're right on top of the stain, do you notice it.  Or rather, I probably notice it because I know it's there. There aren't too many of those.

The zippers on the slipcovers have become pretty stubborn.  Every once in awhile I'll have to run some beeswax over the zippers and that helps for a bit.  Or I just have my husband manhandle them.  None have broken, they just get difficult.

The slipcovers are still as tight as ever.  I feel like I'm going to rip them when I put the slipcover back on the sofa.  I have my routine down for how I get them back on, but it's a workout still!  And no, I haven't ripped any yet.  And yes, they are still wrinkly.  I don't take the time to iron them.  I try to lay them out flat to dry, but again....I just don't have the patience!  

As far as comfort six years later, the sofas are pretty comfortable. I lose some feathers every time I change the slipcovers, so that makes me wonder how long the cushions will last.  Six years in and they still feel pretty comfortable.  The back cushions maybe sag a bit more than when they were new.  I guess I'll have to compare photos.  But the dog does lay on the top of them and the kids are continually squishing them down by rolling over the cushions or flopping over the couch during a heated Nerf gun battle.  So I guess they've held up pretty well.  All the cushions still fit tightly together.  I never have to push the bottom ones back in or rearrange the top ones (unless I want to flip it around because of dirt!).

So to sum up things....still pretty happy with my Ektorp purchases!  Totally worth the money!

Since I'm not a paid blogger, what you see is what you get.  No tripods, styling, or prettying things up.  And because I like to keep it real...the living room isn't always that clean.  My family was away for the day, so I got to get toyless photos.  It usually looks something like this:

All my previous Ektorp posts are these ones:

White Sofas and Children: IKEA Ektorp Sofa Review
Ikea Ektorp Wash and Review
Another Ektorp Review: Tullsta Chair 
IKEA Ektorp Review Continued: 2 Years Later

What do you think of sofas?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Life Science Grades 3-6 Curriculum Weeks 1&2

I'm writing a science book for my kids and I thought I would keep track of all that they do.  At least in a short and sweet blog post with photos.

Lesson 1: What is Life Science? 

This was an introduction to life science and what life science is.  The kids read it on the tablet and took a couple of notes.  We also watched BBC Life: Challenges of Life.  That was a great show, we all really enjoyed it.

 Lesson 2:  Tools for Life Science

This involved reading about tools that are used in science and doing an extra worksheet.  We looked at some of the tools that we have and some of the materials we'll be using this year.  The kids also did a hunt around the house looking for abiotic and biotic things.  They made a list that they would check again in Lesson 4.

Lesson 3:  Characteristics of Life

We actually ran out of time to do this lesson on a separate day, so we combined Lesson 3 and 4 together on one day.  That works well.  This was about what characteristics all living things share and what they need to live.  We also watched Magic School Bus: Hops Home.  We did all the Magic School Bus series the previous year and the kids enjoy it, so do I.  So I'm just matching some of them up to what we are studying.  The kids usually watch it while eating breakfast.

Lesson 4: Is it Alive?

This is a pretty easy lesson and fun!  The kids checked their abiotic and biotic lists to see if they needed to make any changes.  Then the fun began with mystery objects!  I had 5 paper bags with something inside.  The kids used their senses (hearing, smell, touch, and then sight) to see if they could guess what was in the bag.  Then they had to decide if it was living.  The fifth bag was a bonus bag and contained chocolate coconut covered almonds that the kids got to eat for a treat!  We also watched the Magic School Bus: Gets Eaten, a show about habitats.

Lesson 5: Microscopes

This was hopefully a good review for my kids.  It covers some of the history of the microscope, the parts of a microscope, how to use a microscope, and how to calculate magnification.

Lesson 6:  Using a Microscope

This was a detailed lesson on how to use a microscope and how it works. 

Lesson 7: Cells

This reading lessons covered the discovery of cells and many of the major parts of animal and plant cells.  The kids each drew a plant and animal cell and labeled the parts.  I tried to give them some hints to remember the cell organelles, though I don't expect them to memorize it.  I'm happy if they can just recognize the words later on and know that the organelle belongs to a cell. 

Lesson 8: Cell Models

This lesson involved making cell models.  Now my kids can tell you that the gummi worms are the smooth ER and the sugary gummi worms are the rough ER.  I'm not sure they can tell you what ER means or what it does, but they know that was the gummi worm parts of their cell!    I think my kids chose to do the edible cell, because candy and jello are a rare thing here.  We try to avoid food coloring, but make exceptions at times.  I made an exception for this.  And to be honest, they each only ate about 1/4 cup of the jello and we threw out the rest.  They did enjoy taste testing all the "cell parts!"  The boy did a plant cell and the girl did an animal cell out of jello.  My girl and I also made cells out of clay.

That's our first two weeks of science!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

HomeSchool Curriculum 2015-2016 Third & Fifth Grade

Now that we're well on our way into our second week of homeschooling, I should probably get up our curriculum choices.

Our first year we did a mishmash of things.
Our second year we did Our Father's World as the core, with some of our own things thrown in.
Our third year, this year, we're back to a mishmash of our own things.

While we liked Our Father's World, it isn't for the teacher in me.  I changed a lot of stuff, didn't use a lot of the suggested stuff, and that can add up in expenses fast.  I like to plan.  I like to try different things and be able to change things.  I really like to plan.  I've got this whole year already pretty  much laid out, but with enough flexibility that I can change things as needed.

The girl is in third grade and the boy is in fifth grade.  For the most part, I have it pretty easy, because they work on the same things.  The only area that they differ in is in math.

So here's our line up for this year:

Bible: Case for Christ for Kids 90-Day Devotional by Lee Strobel and the 4 Gospels.  We alternate between reading a devotional and a chapter of the gospels (which works out to 90 days!).

Journal: The kids each picked out a journal to write in.  We do this 3-4 times a week.  Making cards for family is included in journal time.  If I let the kids pick what to do for journal, they pick "squiggle stories."  I draw some squiggles on their paper and they create a drawing out of it.  Then they write about their drawing.

Handwriting:  Handwriting Without Tears.  So far, so good.  We're trying to improve the boy's handwriting, he can't even read his own handwriting!  The girl just likes to do handwriting.

Spelling:  We're doing what we've used the past 2 years.  The free program from K12Reader. The kids do their list on the first day, I make them a spelling game with sentences or definitions on the second day, their do the reading comprehension on the third day, and the fourth day is a practice test.  If they pass the practice test, they don't need to do another one.  If they don't pass the practice, they get a second chance on the fifth day.  The boy is on the fifth grade level and the girl is nearing the fourth grade level.

English:  Both kids are using Bob Jones 5.  We did Bob Jones 4 last year and loved it.  It's short and sweet and teaches the kids a lot!  I've even learned things.  I like how it alternates grammar with writing.

Read-Aloud:  I read aloud to the kids everyday.  We have a vast list of things this year.  Book of Greek Myths, The CandyMakers, Children's Homer, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Wrinkle in Time, Artemis Fowl, The Frog Princess, and Wonder.

Reading:  The kids also read everyday.  They love to read.  We even had to get a new bookcase to accommodate all the new books.  I love books too! The kids have assigned reading and then if they have free time between subjects, they can free read.  They also read every time we are in the car!  The assigned reading for this year includes:  The One and Only Ivan, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lightning Thief, Number the Stars, Fudge-a-Mania, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, A Helen Keller Biography, Ramona Forever, and 11 Birthdays.

Science:  I wrote and currently am continuing to write a science book for the kids.  I have it in PDF format and the kids read it off of our tablet.  The book covers everything they wanted to learn about life science for 30 weeks.  It has 4 lessons a week and alternates between a reading lesson and a hands on lesson.  It's going to fun!  They love it already!  It keeps me busy!  I have my schedule planned out to keep up on writing it and proofreading it.  The last 6 weeks of school will be spent on the scientific method and having the kids develop their own science experiment.

History:  We're doing Mystery of History Volume 1, Creation to the Resurrection.  We're also adding in some other history books and activities.  I really like how Mystery of History relates biblical stories, people, and places to other things in history.  While we believe in the Bible, we have a hard time agreeing with creation scientists' views on the earth and the age of the earth and what is written in the beginning of the Mystery of History book.  It doesn't say in the Bible how old the earth is.  God's days may be different than human days, so while the beginning of Mystery of History says that the earth is only 6,000 years old....we discussed that with the kids.  They think God's days are different than our days, so the timeline could be different than basing the history of the earth on genealogy. We believe God created the earth and everything in it, but he did it in His way and in His time and I'm sure I will be signing up for God's history of the Earth when I go to heaven.  Whether the earth is millions of years old or 6,000 years doesn't matter...God created it all.  Someday I'll be able to hear all about it from Him.  So to sum it up....we crossed out a few dates in the book since only God knows.  Otherwise, we're hoping for a fun year of history.

Math:  We're continuing with Horizons Math for the third year.  The boy is on Horizons 5 and the girl is halfway through Horizons 3 and will start 4 midway through this year or so, depending on how much math she decides to do a day.

Nanoblocks:  You might have noticed our love of Nanoblocks.  I watch for them to go on sale at Amazon.  We did quite a few last year when we did World Geography.  We had landmarks that matched up to the country we were studying.  This year we have a few that coordinate with what we are studying.  Plus some animals and a few extras thrown in. 

Extras:  PE...we do exercise a lot, with fun things thrown in.  The boy has guitar lessons while the girl has figure skating lessons once a week.  The boy is doing Mindstorms (he saved to help purchase it) and the girl chose an art book to learn some art from.  Though the girl likes to help with Mindstorms, while the boy has no interest in art!

That's it for this year!  I hope the good start to it continues for the rest of the year.  The kids seem to be enjoying what we're doing.  I'm staying busy, but enjoying my children and learning more about them! 

What are you doing this year?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Day of School 2015

We've almost made it through our first week of school!  Yippee!  So far, so good!

I pushed the kids out the door on Monday morning for our traditional first day of school photo.  Nothing fancy.  They each get 2 individual photos taken and 2 together.  And I hope one turns out.

It's fun and emotional to see how much they have changed.  Time is flying by!

I'll have to get our curriculum up sometime.  We're enjoying our choices, for now!  The boy saved up to help purchase Lego Mindstorms and he has been motivated to get his school work done so that he can build new creations and program them.  He actually does it during recess.  I won't tell him that he's actually learning something useful!  The girl has been crafting things like crazy.  Today she made two collages and sewed a doll bag from some felt with my sewing machine.  They're quite the little inventors!

If you have kids in school, enjoy the new school year!
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