Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 21 & 22

Sooooo....about 20 days have gone by since I last posted.  I thought it had only been a week, maybe two.  I've pretty much determined I can't keep up with anything, except feeding my family.  And some days it comes down to the last minute with that!  There's always toast.  Well, maybe.  We are no longer buying bread...so that means if I don't make it...we don't have it.  Yes, I'm making all our bread now.  I use to keep a loaf of store bought in the freezer for back-up, but then I got lazy about making bread when I had a backup.  I have no idea why I'm writing this.  This is suppose to be about school and it really doesn't matter whether I make bread or not.  Except that is where some of my time goes....feeding my family whole foods.  We've been slowly ditching boxed and processed stuff at home and we're pretty much there (except for cereal, some healthy snacks, and the occasional Dr. Pepper).  But that doesn't mean we won't eat it, you can still feed it to us if we come over. Oh, we just bought our first packages of Ramen in forever, so there's some packaged stuff in the pantry.  The kids have never had it and are looking forward to trying it when we study Japan.  Oh...we lived on that stuff in our early married days when money was tight.  Ramen, Hamburger Helper, and cheap frozen pizzas.  The kids had no idea what Hamburger Helper was.  They also don't know what Twinkies are.  They live such a sheltered life (except they know what mangoes, avocados, brussel sprouts, pomegranates, quinoa, and chia seeds are...but not chia pets!).

Goodness...back to school.  I really need to make some bread tomorrow.  Sourdough is easy (once you have a starter), except the kids eat a loaf up in one day, they like it that much.  It is really good.

Aargh...back to school.  I have no idea where we're at and I'm pretty sure I'm lacking on the photos.  Let me go look in my harddrive.  I found a couple.

Week 21

We entered Saudi Arabia.  I don't really remember a whole lot about it.  I hope the kids remember more than I do.  We've been slacking on the art.  Well, I've been letting the boy slack as long as he practices his guitar.  The girl has been crafting like crazy.  She made melted crayon wax paper hearts for Valentine's decorations.  Then she made a tissue paper lantern out of the Global Art book.  She's a crafting fiend.  Her brother even got her a Martha Stewart Holiday Crafting Book for Christmas.  That's where the heart idea came from.


In our other viewing, we watched two episodes of the Magic School Bus.  We saw "Sees Stars" and "Gains Weight."

The kids have not been real impressed with science this year.  I think most kids would like it, but compared to all the experiments we did last year...mine are not thrilled with this year.  They don't think there are enough fun experiments.  They have a science teacher mama to blame for that. To be fair, the curriculum has one about every other week, but my kids were use to 1 or 2 a week.  So this crazy science teacher homeschooling mama is writing a life science curriculum for next year with loads of hands on stuff.  I hope I can finish it, I didn't do so well finishing my last one!  Yes, I'm a wee bit busy and staying up past my bedtime a lot.

Week 22

Still in Saudi Arabia.  Oh, we built some Nanoblocks this week.  No photographic evidence.  The kids built a Banyan Tree.  That puppy was little frustrating at first.  I had to even get in there and help get the base put together.  But we did it!  Cooking at the end of this week was hummus, but the kids are pretty familiar with hummus.  They've been having it since they were wee little things.  They're just waiting for the ramen, though we'll probably try some other (more authentic) Japanese food also. 

I am fairly confident that we skipped art this week.  The girl crafted on her own.  We viewed the Magic School Bus episode of "Makes a Stink."  I think we had a ski weekend in there too, somewhere.


Whew.  I'm stubborn enough to keep up these weekly reports, but I just don't have my heart in it anymore.  Less than 60 days of school left and I'm already planning next year.  We figure things out more and more each year.  I am enjoying the time with my kids and wouldn't trade it for anything.  So less blog posts, but more kiddo time is a win.  And I'll still document our school stuff as time allows, so someday they can look back on it and tease me about it (or I can tease them).  They are pretty incredible kids and I'm lucky they let me teach them!

Where is your time going lately?  Fast?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 19 & 20

Time is a flyin'!  Way too fast.  Plus, I haven't been taking photos of our school activities.  I just get too caught up in them. 

So, let me do a quick recap of Weeks 19 & 20, all while we're finishing up Week 22. I still can't keep up.

Week 19

We're still in Africa and specifically, Kenya.  Though, I've been trying to add on some additional countries and studying them a bit more.  I feel like we're glazing over things or spending too much time on some things.  I'm subtracting and adding to the curriculum so much, that I've decided to just make up my own curriculum again next year (by piecing my own stuff together).  It's the teacher in me.

We had a field trip to the zoo this week to see African Animals.  I had the kids take photos of African animals (and they added some non-African ones).  We had lessons on focusing and composition with photography. The kids each took nearly 200 photos.  You gotta love digital cameras!

Here are some of the girl's photos:


And some of the boy's photos:


We skipped art.  Actually, the girl did some stuff out of the Global Art book, while the boy practiced his guitar.  Good enough.

Our weekly viewing included Planet Earth: Grassy Plains and Magic School Bus: Spins a Web.

Week 20

Kenya, again.  We had 2 pages to read on Egypt, but we added a bit more in.  We even built the Great Pyramid of Giza out of Nanoblocks.  The Nanoblocks are always a highlight.  The kids are getting much better at building with Nanoblocks!  They can be kind of frustrating the first few times, until you get use to how the directions are written and how small the pieces are. 


We did a sweet potato activity.  Ummm....it's beginning to look like a fail, as of right now.  Let's just say...this former science teacher is not real happy with the science this year.  I should be adding on more things, because the kids really like science.  And one little activity a week is not cutting it.  There is plenty of reading, but it's not engaging enough for my kids.  Yes, I'm a tough cookie when it comes to science curriculum.  If only I had more time to write my own!

Art this week was suppose to be tye dying.  Scooter wasn't real excited about it, but Chewy was.  Instead, I bought fabric crayons and the girl decorated a canvas bag.  She now uses the bag to hold her script for the musical that she is in at church.


Our extra viewing included two Magic School Bus episodes: Gets Lost in Space and Out of this World. 

This was the end of Africa.  Both kids tested super well on placing the countries that were included with this curriculum.  (Though, I did add on Morocco, because that wasn't included!)

Oh, we also had some snow.  The public school kids have had at least 4 snow days.  Mine...Zero.  They get a couple hours to play in the snow, but then we do school work.  I just tell them we're banking days so we can take our trips.  We still have to get our 180 days in, regardless of snow.


How's your year shaping up?  Hard to believe it's already February!  In other news, I'm way ahead on my Valentine card collage this year.  I just need to actually get them in the mail, which means a trip to the post office.  So they might not make it in time, because I won't be getting to the post office until Tuesday.  Maybe, maybe, they'll make it in time.  Watch for your card, grandparents!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 17 & 18

This is going to be quick.  I seem to have a fast forward button for my life, rather than a pause button.  Since when have my children gotten past my waist in height?  I think they're going to surpass me soon.

And apparently, I've been lacking with the photographs on school stuff.  I'm way behind in labeling and organizing my photos, but what have I been taking photos of?  Seriously, I've got nothing for these weeks.  I managed to put 2 collages together quickly, but that's it. 


On with our school recap:


Week 17

We finished up Germany and Europe.  I added in an English tea party for lunch one day.  We ate that while watching a PBS show on Germany and the Neuschwanstein Castle.  We also built the Neuschwanstein Castle out of Nanoblocks.  Fun for the kids and me.  We finished off the week with having bratwurst for dinner.  We skipped art.  Or rather I let the kids chose what they wanted to do for art.  Chewy drew and Scooter built stuff with Legos.  That was fine with me.  We didn't need to do Framed Pressed Flowers that would eventually end up in the garbage or shoved somewhere. 


Our viewing for the week included the Magic School Bus episode of "Rocks and Rolls." 

Christmas fell in here somewhere.  The kids got some DVDs, "Life" and "The Blue Planet."  Hubby got "Dukes of Hazzard."  The kids also got a variety of books from "Wimpy Kid" to "Fox Trot" to "Mercy Watson." We enjoyed a family Christmas Eve hike up the mountain and snowboard down.


Week 18


We entered Kenya in Africa.  On to a new continent.  Again, we skipped art.  Rather, I let the kids be crafty on their own instead of doing what was assigned.  They prefer that.  It's fun to do the assigned art projects, but it also get tedious.  And we've had so many fails, that I don't want the kids to dislike art.  Scooter already dislikes arty stuff and Chewy is my crafty kid by nature, she just likes to craft things. 


Magic School Bus episodes included "Flexes Its Muscles" and "Works Out." 

We've gotten a wee bit of snow, that the kids play in right away before it melts.


Whew!  Now that we're actually in week 20 of school, I've almost caught up!

That's all I've got. I really need to get to bed.  Are you on fast forward, pause, or rewind?  Or maybe just the standard "play"?  What's happening in your corner of the world?

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 15 & 16

Playing catch up, once again.  The story of my life.

We're currently into week 19.  So I have a bit of catch up to play.  I'll have to catch up with the rest of the catch up stuff later. 

So, excuse my quickly typed...half thinked...half written...replay of our weeks.

Week 15

We will still in Europe and studying France.  We did get to build the Eiffel Tower out of Nanoblocks.  No photographic evidence.  I should take a photo of all the models the kids have done.  We're amassing quite the collection.  They are proudly displayed on a shelf in our school room. 

For art, we made profile silhouettes.  I put my own creative spin on the project.  We already had some silhouettes I made of the kids displayed in our photo hallway.  For this project, I put the kids in charge of making the silhouettes, but we put them on a tile.  We made the tile into a coaster that the kids use in their rooms to put their water bottles on.  So, the steps were:
  1. The kids took photos of each other.  Side profiles.
  2. We printed the photo out in a size that would work on the natural stone tile.
  3. The kids cut out the photo.
  4. They traced the photo on to black cardstock.
  5. The cut out the blackcard stock tracing.
  6. They glued the photo (with Modge Podge) to the tile.
  7. They slapped a coat of Modge Podge all over the tile.
  8. We let the tile dry and then put more Modge Podge on.  I think we did 4 or 5 coats.  
  9. Spray with a clear cover.  I think I still need to do that, but the tiles have held up so far.
  10. Cover the back with felt.

Another successful art project.  I find the successful ones are ones that we tweak.

On our last day of studying France we had crepes for breakfast.  Yum!  I made cooked apple pieces with cinnamon and butter to put in the crepes.


Our Magic School Bus viewing for the week included "Gets Energized" and "Gets Charged."

Week 16

Germany.  Yum.  Brats.

We entered Germany.  Our art project for the week was suppose to be beeswax modeling.  I again changed that.  I purchased a beeswax candle kit and the kids went to town making candles with some visiting Grandma help.  Okay, the boy didn't really want to to it.  He never wants to do the art projects that are assigned.  But I did get him to make one when I said he could make it look like a light saber.  There was a dual purpose in this art project.  It fell at a wonderful time to do an art project and make some handmade for Sunday school teacher and Children's church workers (plus lesson instructors, neighbors, grandparents, friends, etc).  We had plenty of candles to give away and quite a few left for our little family.  We've even been burning them.  So, I'd call that a successful art project.


Our alternate viewing for the week included watching "Planet Earth: Freshwater" because we were studying freshwater and the Magic School Bus episode of "In a Beehive."  That was to go with the beeswax.  I'm so good at planning those things out (sometimes). 

We even had a field trip to the science museum.  We'll have to do that again soon.


I'm seriously rethinking what we're doing next year for homeschooling.  I do that every year about this time.  I'm still scouring the web, reading reviews, marking down prices, and doing my research...and once again I think I figured out what we're doing next year.  And it's not what I thought we were going to be doing.  How's that for a cliffhanger?

How's your New Year going?  We're enjoying nearly every weekend on the ski slopes, though the snow is starting to get thin.  We're putting the boys being able to get free lift tickets to use this year.  And I can no longer keep up with the kids.  My daughter only started snowboarding a little bit last year and she's now faster than me.  The kids are kind enough to wait up for me at certain places.  But I'm sure I'll be on my own before I know it.  And that's okay, I knew that day would come. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 13 & 14

We are into week 16.  Time to play catchup. 

On with the homeschool recap.

Week 13

Week 13 found us finishing up Norway.  My kids are part Norwegian, from their Daddy's side.  Who knows...maybe there's some on my side?

For art we made Lapland Felt Squares out of yellow, blue, and red felt.  Some ribbon was thrown in there and I'd call this a successful art project.  At least we can't mess up gluing felt to felt. 


Our Norwegian cooking for the week suggested finding Lefse in a store.  Ha!  It's a tradition on my husband's side to have Lefse on Thanksgiving.  It's not easy to find in the state we live in.  Tortillas...Yes.  Lefse...No.  Most people have no idea what lefse is.  So, since our Norwegian unit came pretty close to Thanksgiving....we decided to surprise family and make Lefse.  Easier said than done.  We watched a YouTube video on how to make Lefse and got an easy recipe online.  Our dough was made from instant mashed potatoes.  It went great.  We made the dough, rolled the balls, and put them in the refrigerator to roll out into round lefse things later.  Later we got them out and all our balls had melted into a bowl of mush.  So I must have poured in a whole bag of flour until I got a dough that I could roll out and cook.  Thankfully, they still tasted like lefse.  I think.  I've never really been fond of the stuff.  But if you cover anything in butter and cinnamon sugar, it's gotta be good.  So we had homemade Lefse at our family Thanksgiving.  Maybe we'll try it again next year.


We also made a nanoblock model of the Spanish Cathedral "Sagrada Familia."  Fascinating history.  I don't think I have photographic evidence.  Someday I'll have to take a photo of the nanoblock models.  The kids sure do enjoy building those together.  At least, until it gets frustrating!  We have found that tweezers help.

Magic School Bus episodes this week included "Butterfly and the Bog Beast" and "Goes Upstream." 

Week 14

This week found us going to France!  Ohh la la!  Our global art found us making soap.  We've collected small soap pieces since earlier in the year, knowing this project was coming up this school year.  I'd call this project a half fail.  It took FOREVER for the soap to melt in a double boiler.  We added some coconut oil to the soap bits.  When it was mostly melted we added some avocado oil.  After nearly 40 minutes, during which the kids were playing Lego People, I finally decided the mostly melted soap was close enough.  Scooter chose to add peppermint oil for scent.  We pushed the chunky stuff into silicon molds.  We had thought we'd give some of the soap away, but deemed it not worthy.  We've been using it.  It's a little chunky and falls to bits, but the fun part is that if you add a little water...it squishes back together and you can play with it like playdoh.  It's kinda fun.  Maybe that's why the kids want to take baths lately.


We finished up Compare and Contrast essays.  The kids have been loving their typing program and enjoyed trying to type up their papers.  Our keyboard was so used that many of the letters were missing on it.  I printed some out from our label maker.  Apparently, Biker Boy thought our kids deserved better and ordered them a new keyboard for Christmas.  I'm typing on it now.  He's a wonderful, thoughtful man!  


The kids got to spend some of the money they had been saving up and purchased new Lego sets (hello...Cyber Monday).   As soon as they were finished with school work, they had the sets covering the dining table.  They sure do love Lego sets. 

Our video entertainment of the week included the Magic School Bus episode of "Going Batty" and the Planet Earth episode of "Caves." That's because we studied caves.  We love caves.  We're planning to go to another one for spring break, if all works out as planned.  But things happen, so we take them as they come. 

Thanksgiving fell in the midst of these 2 weeks.  It was a fun time!  BB guns, figure skating, movies at home, food, food, and more food.  We made 16 dozen of our annual turkey cookies.  That's a tradition from my family (the gingerbread cookies with candy corns, not the candy ones).


And that is another 2 weeks in the book blog.  Hard to believe that Christmas is next week!  Enjoy!  Are you all set?  I'm not, but I'm going to call it good.  Cause I've got my pants off this year.  (Ha!  Have you seen the Christmas episode of "The Middle" from this year?)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 11 & 12

So, I've basically determined....I can't keep up.  I'm trying.  We're only on to week 14 in real life and I'm writing about weeks 11 and 12.  That isn't too bad.  I'm definitely not one of those blogging moms who can do everything.  And I can't even do the stuff I do that well.  Oh well.  I'm enjoying my kiddos!

Here's the quick recap of weeks 11 and 12.  I can barely remember what we did to write in their baby books.  So here goes nothing:

Week 11

We were still studying South America and Brazil.  For art Scooter chose to make a Hemp Rope Figure and Chewy chose to make a Carnival mask.  The mask was a success, the Rope Figure was a frustrating chore for Scooter.

For science we continued to study rain forests.  Our added Magic School Bus episodes were "Cracks A Yolk" and "Taking Flight."  The "Taking Flight" episode went along with finishing reading about Nate Saint, who was a missionary pilot.  I added a lab to go along with "Crack A Yolk."  We studied eggs and then dissected an egg to find the parts of it.  Luckily, I use to do this lab with my seventh graders when I was a teacher, so I was able to find that lab in my teaching materials and use it with the kids.

Week 11 ended our "trip" to South America.  I gave the kids a test on the countries and they were both able to locate all of the South American countries!  

We celebrated with a dinner of quinoa mixed with sweet potatoes and green peas.  For dessert we finished off with a Brazilian chocolate treat called Brigaderiros.  Yummy!  Your suppose to coat them in chocolate sprinkles, but we chose to put toasted coconut on them.  They were delicious!

In extracurricular activites, the kids each built an item out of Legos and then had to use the Lego Digital Designer to show how they built it.  We have to print those out this week and then each child will try to build the other's design from the directions they made.  Should be fun!

Chewy is practicing for a Christmas figure skating show.  She's also designing her own outfits and I've been sewing a few!  I've made a skirt and now we've made two dresses.  The black and yellowish one in the photo below was of Chewy's design.  She designs and I execute (meaning I sew it and try not to botch it...though the definition of "killing" is probably more suited to my sewing skills). 



Week 12

We entered Europe this week, specifically, we entered Norway.  The kids have some Norwegian heritage, so this was rather exciting for them.

Our art for this week included rosemaling.  Earlier the kids had picked out wooden objects at Hobby Lobby to rosemale.  Scooter chose a "pirate treasure chest" to keep his Lego figures in.  Chewy chose a small jewelry box with a mirror in it for her dolls.  We watched a YouTube video on rosemaling and looked at the family item that his been passed down to us that has rosemaling on it.  Then the kids went for it and pretty much painted however they wanted to.  They at least had fun doing it!  I'd call that a successful art project!

We added on the Magic School Bus episode of "Shows and Tells."  We're still reading "The Indian in the Cupboard" a couple of times week for reading.  The kids have really been enjoying that book.  Our audio listening slowed down, but we did listen to "The Great Brain." 


There...that's the recap of those two weeks!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We sure did and I'll hopefully recap that during my Weeks 13 and 14 recaps.  Hopefully.  No promises.  I've got three bazillion and one other things to do.  What a busy and fun time of the year!  Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Making A Skating Skirt with Makemyskatedress.com

Busy, busy, busy.  Aren't we all?!  This poor blog gets neglected over my other one, but the other one has been neglected too.  'Tis the season.  But isn't it fun?

My girl and I have been having fun getting our sewing on.  Chewy started skating not too long ago.  Figure skating.  When I say "skating," people always ask "roller or figure."  Roller skating is more popular in a land without water and ice.  We're lucky enough to have a family member who lives by that is a figure skating coach.  Chewy gets private lessons!


I think one of the things that Chewy likes about skating is the outfits.  She's the "fashionista" in the family.  A very original fashionista.  She's got a taste in clothes all her own.  A polka dotted shirt with a  striped skirt and neon tye-dye knee high socks is something she would wear.  Fortunately,  Chewy has gotten a handful of hand-me down skating outfits.  But I also wanted to get her something.  But I'm the thrifty type, so spending $40 on a skate skirt or $90 on a dress from the pro shop is not in my budget. Especially when she'll out grow the stuff in no time at all. She's growing like a weed!


After some internet research, I discovered Jalie patterns.  They have figure skating outfit patterns.  Except I wasn't quite sure I could just jump into sewing a figure skating anything.  On the Jalie site I came across Makemyskatedress.com.  Jack pot!  A blog on sewing figure skating stuff, a store with fabrics, patterns, and pre-cut outfits, and help for crafting figure skating outfits!  Just lovely!  I know figure skating is only a small niche in the world, but you could even check it out if you have girls who like to wear pretty outfits!

I ordered a pre-cut skating skirt in small and a pre-cut skating dress in small for my Chewy.   They just fit her, so I'm guessing next year we'll be getting mediums!  She's already excited at that!  I have to admit, it's kinda addicting sewing these, once you get going.  I might even venture out into pairing some of Make My Skate Dress's fabrics with the Jalie patterns.


I'm just going to show the skirt first.  The dress will get billing another time, once I can get some photos of Chewy in it.  That shouldn't be too hard, considering she likes to wear it.  The lighting just hasn't been great and I don't want to pull out my studio lighting to take a few photos.

Everything was packaged nicely and cut nicely.  Much better than I could do myself.  Each piece is also labeled, so you know what it is.  Totally worth it!  Sorry that the photo isn't the best.  Again, low light and I didn't put on my speedlight.  Lazy Busy photographer homeschooling mom.


The directions were easy to follow.  I'm not an expert sewer, I wouldn't even call myself an intermediate sewer.  I'm a basic sewer.  With a basic sewing machine.  Nothing fancy.


Here's a few hints that helped me:
  • You don't need a serger, but an overcast foot is so helpful.  It cost me about $7 for the foot for my Kenmore machine and makes zigzagging the edges of the fabric together a breeze. 
  • Stretch needles are worth it.  I have ballpoint needles and I'm cursing/hating/mumbling not nice things under my breath every time I use them on stretchy fabric.  The fabric bunches and doesn't go under my machine nicely.  Then I read about stretch needles and decided to get some and try them.  I love those things.  Stretch material doesn't bunch anymore when I use those.  I have broken a few, but that's par for the game with sewing. 
  • Use nice thread.  Not the cheap stuff.  My mom gave me that hint (thanks mom!).  It doesn't shed as much, doesn't break as much, and doesn't muck up my machine like the cheap stuff.  I've become an expert at cleaning and repairing my machine, unfortunately.  
The overcast foot on my machine.
Both Chewy and I were impressed with how well the skirt turned out.  I'll admit, I'd do a few things differently next time.  But those were my own mistakes, such as having the seams lie different ways once I got everything sewed together.  Little picky things like that, I suppose it comes with experience or not being a type A person.  The directions were easy to follow and the skirt turned out looking like it could have almost been store-bought.  (Almost...again...I'm not the best sewer, so I'm pretty stoked at how well this skirt turned out.)



So pretty much....Chewy and I love Make My Skate Dress.  It's affordable, easy, and just plain awesome.  $10 to sew a skating skirt over paying $40!  Yes, please!  The material is all pre-cut, that is a huge time saver and made this project easy.  Plus, it all came with a matching scrunchie for Chewy's hair.  I grew up in the era of scrunchies and it's a time those things made a huge comeback.  Love the scrunchie! 


I'm just sharing an exciting find with you....Make My Skate Dress.  Awesome service, awesome shop, awesome place.  I'm happy to share it with anyone willing to listen!  And Chewy is happy to wear what we "create," so that's make me a happy mom.   What exciting finds do you have to share?
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