Saturday, March 30, 2013

Trying out 3 Different Egg Dye Kits

Easter is coming, which means it's time to color some eggs. Our hens are laying like crazy right now & we are getting at least a dozen eggs every day. I thought it would be fun to try out a couple different egg dye kits.

Hard boiling fresh eggs can be tricky. The shell tends to want to stick to the egg when you peel it. There are a variety of methods to try to fix that problem. The method that works best for me is adding 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the water. My husband prefers to steam the eggs.

We've had these egg dying cups for years. It makes me happy to get them out each year. We have regular ol' dye tablets in the cups.

Mr. T made a couple eggs like this. The oval shapes in the middle of the egg are his fingertips from holding one end of the egg in the pink dye after dying the other end green.

Their fingers are usually just as colored as the eggs.

Our dark brown Marans eggs produced rich, jewel toned colors.

A pretty one made by Princess K.

I bought an egg kit that came with camouflage stickers. It also came with dye to color the eggs first. But, I just stuck the stickers on our brown eggs. I don't love these eggs as much as I thought I would.

We've been incubating & hatching chicks, so naturally I had to take pics of them with the colored eggs.

The other kit I tried involved rubbing metallic paper on colored eggs. I love how these turned out, but the kit only decorated these 5 eggs. There was one extra piece of metallic paper, but the glue was out. I tried decorating the eggs first, before giving the metallic paper to my kids. It ended up being quite a chore for me to do it that I never ended up letting my kids try. So yes they are pretty, but I'm not sure they're worth the effort.

When it comes right down to it, I don't need the fancy dye kits. My favorite eggs are the one that are plain & only one color. And, since our eggs themselves have a range of colors, one set of dye tablets produced a large variety of colors.

Wishing everybody a Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learning State Capitals 10 at a Time

I moved this post to our new website. I apologize for the inconvenience.
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I shared this original post with the Hearts for Home, Share It Saturday  & Hip Homeschool blog hops.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Break

It's Spring Break!
Yippey, yippey, yippey!

Ok, technically, Princess K still has school for another week before spring break. But, the boys & I are off from school for the next 2 weeks. Yippey! {Insert Happy Dance} This term has gone very well, but I'm still happy to have a break. I'm hoping to do a little in my gardens & finish the digital scrapbook from our road trip.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life in Plymouth Colony

Way back in November we learned about Life in Plymouth Colony using Evan Moor's History Pockets. This was a great way for the kids to learn a little more about the pilgrims. There was reading, vocabulary, crafts & activities with very little prep from me, which was nice.

The book is made from the larger pieces of construction paper. The bottom of the paper is folded up & stapled to make a pocket to hold all the goodies. This book had 8 pockets.

Each pocket had "words to know." We would read the information pages to figure out what the words meant & then the boys would write down what they learned.

Each pocket had a fun activity, like this puppet...

... or this game. We learned that the pilgrims would make this game out of wood for their kids.

The boys pretended they were the town crier. They had to think about news worthy events of the time & then stand at the front of the room & read them to the rest of us in loud voices. They loved doing this!

We learned about different quilt patterns.

We learned about what a keeping room was.

We even made hasty pudding, which none of us really liked.

At the end of the unit they wrote an acrostic poem to the Pilgrims, using the words thank you.

Sharing this post with the History & Geography Meme at All Things Beautiful.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Learning State Capitals - Week 5

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Disney Goodie Bags

As part of our road trip that I keep talking about we spent three days at Disneyland. It was a surprise to the kids. They had no idea Disneyland was on the itinerary. You have no idea how ecstatic I was that it was able to stay a secret. I thought for sure some how they would find out. I figured by the time we drove up to the hotel they'd have it figured out. But we got to the hotel late & apparently we wore them out that day. They had all fallen asleep in the car. We stayed at the Best Western Park Place Inn. This is our second time staying there & I think it's great. The rooms are nice & clean, the breakfast is good & it's literally right across the street from Disneyland. From the parking lot to the room the kids couldn't see any Disney stuff. So, they didn't know where we were until morning. It was a great surprise! And, as happy as they were with the surprise, I was just as happy (if not more so) that we were able to give such a fun surprise to our kids.

Each day the kids got a few goodies before heading to the park.

• Disney Day 1 •
Mr. T's Birthday
This day was Mr. T's birthday. This was going to be a different birthday than normal since we were a few days into our road trip and no where close to home. He knew we were going some place fun, but he didn't know where. That morning the kids actually were sleeping in & I woke them up by jumping on their bed singing, "It's your birthday, get up! Get up, it's your birthday!" A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. I told Mr. T to answer it & surprise!, there were Grandma and the kids cousin joining us for whatever fun we had planned for his birthday. The surprise destination was Disneyland!

I know a day at Disneyland is plenty for a birthday shin dig, but I wanted to do goodie bags as well.

Of course, most everything in the goodie bags were Disney themed: coloring books & posters to keep them busy in the hotel, activities to keep them busy once we're on the road again & glowsticks to use at the park once it gets dark...

The bags also had the autograph books I made...

... and Lego Star Wars t-shirts.
I chose these shirts because three out of the four kids were boys & I wanted to get them shirts they would actually like & want to wear again. Also, we were wearing Star Wars costumes the next day & I like stickin' with a theme. And, they would wear the shirts again when we went to LegoLand a couple days later.

This wasn't in the goodie bags, but Mr. T likes games (just like me), so I wanted us to play at least one quick game for his birthday before heading to the park. Pin the Tail on Perry was perfect.

• Disney Day 2 •
Mickey's Halloween Party

Again, another surprise. The kids obviously now knew we were at Disneyland, but today's surprise was that we were going to Mickey's Halloween Party. We were going to go trick or treating at Disneyland!

I had been making Star Wars themed costumes for the kids, but they had no idea I brought them with us on our trip. So, that day's goodie bags included their costumes & light sabers.

I also included Halloween Mickey items I found at Joann's.

I printed a few of the playsets from Disney After cutting out the pieces I added a magnet to the back so they could play with it on their cookie sheet during the rest of our road trip.

• Disney Day 3 •
California Adventure
No goodie bags for the last day. But, they did each get a Mickey tshirt.

Three days was not near long enough at Disneyland, but we made the most of it & crammed in as much as we could. It's probably a good thing we don't live closer. I think I love it there more than my kids.

I'm sharing this post with the Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Decisions, decisions

Does everyone struggle with the decision to homeschool or is it just me? I mean, I really struggle. It's like each decision is a hurdle. Probably the biggest hurdle was deciding to pull Capt. N from public school in the first place. You can read more about that here. It was the best decision I've made for my son. Homeschooling really works for him & most likely will always be a great fit.

Well that's great, but I have 2 other kids to think about. Is it the best decision for them? How do those that know it is the best decision know for sure? I want my kids to be happy, healthy & have a joy for learning.

I told myself I had to decide by Spring Break if my kids were going to public school next year or keeping with homeschool. I mean for the rest of their schooling years. Am I going to fully commit to homeschooling them forever or should they go back to what's "normal?" It made me crazy trying to make that decision. I worried about it way, way too much. We had 3 weeks off at Christmas time & I told myself I couldn't do or think about anything school related for the first 2 weeks. I needed a break from school.

At some point I, obviously, needed to get back into school stuff, but I couldn't allow myself to think about the following year because my brain just wasn't ready to take that all on again. Well, it's nearing Spring Break & I've got to make decisions.

I gave up on trying to figure out what we should do forever & decided to focus just on next year.

I'm almost positive I'm going to keep homeschooling Capt. N. He wants to be homeschooled & he does learn better in this environment... But really, I'm just putting off the inevitable question one more year. Should he stay homeschooled even in to high school?

Princess K will be starting kindergarten in the fall. She would love going to school. And, if I'm going to be honest, I know she's going to give me attitude as her teacher. She's very independent. But, I think I've decided to school her at home, too... at least for next year.

Now, onto the hard one: Mr. T. He will be going into 2nd grade next year. He would probably thrive in a school environment because he's competitive. He wants to do better than the person next to him & it motivates him. He's also very social. I know homeschooled kids still get plenty of socialization. But, it's not the same as seeing kids 6+ hours, 5 days, every week... which is exactly something that bothers me about sending them back. That's too long to be away from your family. He would be with others more than with us, his family. In my dream world he would go to school 2 days a week & be schooled at home 3 days every week.

Here's my real struggle. I don't know if I'm the best mom I can be when I'm their teacher. I feel like all I do all day is just be their teacher. I spend hours schooling them, then more hours figuring out what to teach them. We used to go to the zoo or other outings just because we like to go places. Now we go because it fits into school somehow. I have always been a crafty mama. I'm not afraid of a little mess from craft projects. But, now it seems we only do craft projects as they relate to school. I don't have the ambition or time to throw in craft projects "just because" anymore.

Mr. T & I struggled a lot during our second term. I don't know if they were just growing pains or what, but Capt. N & I didn't go through that. Mr. T is quite smart & likes to be right. He had a hard time accepting things when he was wrong. If he got an answer wrong & I explained to him why it was wrong it was like he couldn't even listen to me because he couldn't believe he was wrong. And, he would actually get mad at me for it. This happened enough that it made things difficult to teach him. It just wasn't working. It's more important to me to be his mom than his teacher. And, if being his teacher meant he was going to hate me as a mom, then I have to throw in the towel. I will refuse to be his teacher.

Amazingly, after Christmas Break all that tension went away. Mr. T & I are getting along again! But, I still wonder if he'd be happier at public school.

Should I send him to school & keep Capt. N & Princess K home? Or should Princess K go too? Or should they all stay home so we can really see how it works to be a completely homeschooled family? Last year Capt. N was home, Mr. T went to public school for kinder & Princess K went to preschool. This year the boys are home & Princess K goes to preschool. Part of me wants to keep everybody home just to see how it goes. The other part of me is nervous that I won't be able to do as good of teaching job as I would like because I would be spread too thin. If Mr. T goes to school, I could easily teach only Capt. N & Princess K. But if I do that, then I have to run to the stinkin' bus stop or the school. We aren't lucky enough to have the bus drop our kids off a block away. No, we have to drive to the bus stop... and it's about a half an hour trip. We have to drive there, be there early in case the bus is early, then drive back home. The school is about 20 minutes away. The bus ride is about an hour. We are the first stop in the morning & the last stop on the way home. That's 2 hours on the bus + 6 hours at school. Plus, we will drive back to town most days for somebody's activity. That's enough to not want to send them to school.

If he goes back to school there won't be as many of these moments:
In his protective gear before doing a science experiment.

Doing an animal report on badgers just because he wants to.

Making a dollhouse for his sister & decorating paper towels to use as blankets for Barbie.

When I think of these moments & the time factor I think I would like to keep him home. But, what if that's not the right path for him?

I could go on forever about my internal struggles, but I will quit rambling. One day I'm sure I will look back on this post & think what a fool I am.

 Do you struggle with the homeschooling decision or do you know it's exactly right for your family?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Learning State Capitals - Week 4

I moved this post to our new website. I apologize for the inconvenience. 
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Friday, March 1, 2013

February in Review

Wowzers, another month gone by! We only have a couple more weeks to go in our 3rd term. We are finally starting to get into a good groove. We started school at the end of July & it was hard to get into it when the nice weather had finally made it to Oregon. Second term was rough & I was overwhelmed. We started our third term in January & it's going great. Hopefully the rest of the year goes as well.

• MATH •
The boys made tessellations. I love them. Capt. N made something similar last year. Click here to read how we made them.

We've been using All About Spelling this year. It really works for us. I love the tiles. I think they especially work well for Capt. N. I started Mr. T at Level 1, but skimmed through the first few lessons which seemed to be stuff he already knew. Mr. T just finished Level 1! Yippey, an accomplishment!

Capt. N works at Level 4. It's the perfect fit for him. He's doing amazingly well with it.

Capt. N finished reading Henry Huggins this month & made a collage to go with the story.

Mr. T has read a variety of things, including this Amelia Bedelia book.

As a writing assignment, Capt. N wrote about Lego Robotics. He loves making a web chart, but isn't a fan of the actual writing process.

The kids read books from Reading A-Z. Sometimes they just read a story & sometimes we do the lesson plan provided with it. To go along with How Many Rhymes?, Mr. T wrote his own poem in a similar way that the author wrote.

Another book he read from Reading A-Z was Ants, Ants, and more Ants. He also read National Geographic's Ants & made a few collages about ants in his nature journal.

The ant collages inspired him to make other animal collages, which I love.

Mr. T has been working through this geography workbook.

One activity was learning about a map grid. When I started explaining what that was he told me he already knows because of a Wild Kratts game. Well, that made my job easier. I had him show the game to me & he was right it does show coordinates.

Last year when Capt. N was learning directions I told him when I was younger I was taught to remember Never Eat Shredded Wheat as a way to make remembering the directions easier. He wanted to come up with his own saying & came up with Never Eat Squirmy Wormies. So, I taught that one to Mr. T and he made his own compass rose.

Capt. N finished learning all 50 state capitals with worksheets & flashcards I made. To get them, click here.

There is a new Lego challenge hosted by All Things Beautiful! The first weeks challenge was to create something 2 dimensional. I gave Capt. N the added challenge that whatever he made had to do with something we were studying in school. He knew right away that he wanted to make a lego version of our skeleton guy.

Check out our Valentine's Day activities here.

And, to see how President's Day activities, click here.

Now that February is over, we can think about Spring. Yippey!

I'm sharing this post at All Things Beautiful.

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