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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pirates and New Year's Eve

What a funny New Year's Eve Day we had. Elias was all excited to "see the ball drop". We bought some little snappers and blow-things to celebrate with the East Coast at 9pm our time.

Brian went to a Pirate Mystery Murder Party for the evening. This inspired all of the kids, the whole day, to dress and play pirates.

Here's Sebastian. He got ahold of the skull cap and looked so cute in it! Darn the boy has a big head! The cap almost fits him!

Elias has to get in the picture hugging his brother. He loves him so much.

Later on in the evening Elias decided HE needed some tattoos so he could be a pirate. It started off innocently enough. A cross tattoo on his arm. Which led to another cross tattoo on his arm...which led to cross tattoos all over his face and arms AND chickenpox marks all over his face! He said he's a pirate with the chickenpox! It's so cute. Today they are still there and he's had folks ask him if he's contagious. Too cute. Shower tonight!!

Here's Brian and many of his friends dressed as Pirates. Brian is barely visible, in the back row, far right. Yes, it's "foggy". They even brought in a fog machine!!!

The moms that decorated the area went all out. Here's the Pirate Ship. They really had it decorated to the hilt (Pirate joke intended)

Everyone had a very nice night. Yeah, it's 2009! A brand new year! Hope everyone makes the most of their time, whether a new year or not. But it is a good time to use the phrase, "out with the old and in with the new"! New attitude, new whatever you need.

Little Lovely and his shoe fixation

My Little Lovely seems to love everyone's shoes! He even carries his own around with him, hoping someone will put them on for him.

He's put on Daddy's work shoes, my high heels, my sneakers, Elias' shoes and most frequently, our little neighbor girl's shoes. As she comes into the house she drops her shoes at the front door...right in "play zone". And, to boot, nearly every day they are a different pair of shoes! Well, that's fair game then isn't it in little kid language?!

Sebastian constantly walks around the house in her glittery shoes. It's enough to make his dad cry. So, here you go, honey...just for to always remember it! (perverse sense of humor!)

He's so happy!!

Oh, and the added bonus of his facial markings! He "plays" with the kids on the whiteboard...although his marker always ends up on his face and hands. The picture of a good play day, right here!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Our plans for the day changed about 20 times, due to weather and illnesses (not us, thankfully!) But when all was said and done, we had a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Day was much anticipated by Elias. We baked cookies for the neighbors all day, then took them around in the late afternoon. Then we went to our friend Angela's church for candelight service. Then we came home and did a rush job on the Gingerbread House. Elias wanted to make our Gingerbread House that evening, so it would be fresh for Santa. Last year, Santa ate our entire Gingerbread House for a snack! What a crazy Santa! He did it again this year too!

We also had to make notes to leave for Santa and Mrs. Claus. Elias also left carrots and a bowl of water for the reindeer.

Then off to bed for a very restless night for a very excited 7 year old. He was up and down and finally ended up in our room. By 7am, when we looked over at him, he was laying there awake, just waiting for us to wake up! Crazy boy! So, we woke the big boys up and slowly made our way downstairs!

Here's Forrest. He didn't want any presents, just money. Well, he's smiling about it, so that's good! We are pretty strict about staying to a certain budget for each child, if they want something more expensive they need to save up for it, and ask for money! Brian did the same thing for his birthday and Christmas...he had very little to open this year as he saved and bought a very nice SLR digital camera. Yes, he's also very happy!

Here's Sebastian finding his new Puppet Theater, I figure this will come into good use in our house...lots of kids!

And Chris...with his new Ironman hat on, holding up his surprise present...The Gillygufang. He has such fond memories of this book. He was the first one to check it out of the library when he was little and remembers reading it over and over. I figure it will be a nice tradition for him to read it to his sons. He was all smiles opening it!

Here's me helping Sebastian open his presents.



Elias took this picture of us. It's a tad blurry, but not bad! Chris truly surprised me this year. He's kind of hit or year getting me socks, one year buying me the exact Glider I wanted for nursing our newborn...This year was a hit! He had bought me an external hard drive that I had asked I figured that would be pretty much it. But he kept telling me he had gotten me something else, and it was GOOD. Well, it was! It was good, because it was a good gift, but it was also good because he put time and effort into it. He got me a 2 hr massage! He researched places, AND he bought it way ahead of time. VERY impressive! Thanks honey.

Later in the day, Chris had to go to work, so we mostly relaxed and played with new toys. Elias got the "Guess What I Am? " game. It was very cute, and from an educational standpoint....has critical thinking skills involved, very cool! Here's Elias with his "face"

Brian played with us...can't ever get a serous picture from the kid

Later on in the afternoon we went to a friend's house to exchange presents and eat dinner. She makes the yummiest turkey and's to die for! Here's Sebastian getting a "cell phone" from her. He loves buttons that make noise!

After a good meal, and a good night sleep, we got up this morning to play with our new toys some more! Sebastian LOVES his new bowling set! It's plastic "milk jugs" and the ball is a cows head that MOOOOSSSS as it is thrown. He just thinks it's so cool!

Hope you all had a blessed few days also!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas House

In a neighborhood about 20 minutes away, an older gentleman, with his white beard, big belly and crinkling smile, puts on a big Christmas display every year. His whole front yard, side yard and back yard are filled with great scenes of Elves making presents, Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting before a fire, Disney Characters ice skating on a frozen lake, and of course a life-sized Nativity scene.

There were so many decorations and things to see. They even had a countdown to Christmas! Very cool...every house with small children should have one

There's also a train that circles his front lawn. Elias just loved going on this! We went on a night early in the season before the crowds came. It made it so Elias could get on, hop off and get back on! Finally I ended up taking Sebastian for a spin...he wasn't too sure, but at least he was in his momma's arms.

What a great night, and what a great heart that kindly older gentleman do this each and every year as a service to the community! Oh, and said gentleman also has a job posing for pictures dressed in his finest red and white gear!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good Thrift Store Day!

Yesterday we went to a local thrift store and hit the jackpot! I try to keep a running list in my head of things I "need"/want and try to look at yard sales and thrift stores for the items.

My want items included:
felt board stories
Peter Potty Urinal
Magic Tree House books
anything for the upcoming preschool class (craft items, educational toys, etc)

Yesterday I found, of course, loads of books, 2 puppets, a toy for Elias, but best of all.....a croquet set and a tunnel! I spent a whopping $17.

Coincidentally, the night before I had been looking at a Croquet Set on Craigslist. Growing up my parents had a set...I don't even remember how to play, but it's good memories, and should provide hours of fun! And it was $3!!!

This tunnel was $2! It's already been loved and used by my kids...but will come into great use for the preschool class! (I'm planning on teaching one next year) Here's Elias

Sebastian was at first hesitant, but now he LOVES it! He brings his trains in with him.

Elias and Sebastian

Love thrift stores!!! Who knows what you'll find!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dinosaurs Part 1

This is the 1st week of our book club. I decided Dinosaurs needed to be broken into 2 weeks. Sadly, my camera died during these weeks, so there are few pictures available...sorry, it gets better in later weeks, I promise!!

I've included the links where I could. My notes are in italics.

Dinosaur Outline

Explain book club, create cover for binders
I provided each child with a binder. They can leave or bring.

1. How did students like the book? Favorite Parts.

2. Read Scholastic First Discovery Dinosaur Book

3. Discuss what students know about dinosaurs.

4. Who Am I worksheet
Answers are on the Random House Lesson Plan Page. You can turn it into a game, cut out each segment, go around, have each student read a section, etc

5. Discussion of Living vs Non Living

6. Classification
4 main criteria for being LIVING
* Contains DNA
* Energy-conversion of to sustain life and growth
* Sensing & Responding to Change (receptors)
* Reproduce (either alone or together)
I started to lose my little guys here. My class ranges from age 5-12. Would you believe I had actually planned to start some light Classifications with them? Here's a cool taxonomy worksheet.

7. Chart some living and some non-living things
Because I was losing them, we didn't do this section.

8. Compare Dinosaurs to modern day reptiles

9. How are dinosaurs born?
By egg. This went into a discussion of pregnant mommies,etc..

10. Life Cycle of Dinosaur
New members of a group are born (hatched); they grow to mature creatures; they mate and have babies; then they get old and die. Repeat
A life cycle is like a pattern.

11. Dino Jokes
I found many such jokes online. Printed out the ones I thought they'd "get" the most, and cut them out. They all took turns reading a batch. This went over GREAT! I had printed out SO many and we used them all. SO corny, but so much fun!

12. Triceratops Craft
Don't bother with the toothpicks. They are too hard for regular glue to hold on. They came out cute though.

13. Measure a Dinosaur
50 feet of string; Children hypothesize as to the size of dinosaurs. They measure 50 feet on a sidewalk with the string; Compare to strings their size.
This was kinda a downer. Very slow..didn't get much out of it. But it got us outside, so we improvised and came up with the game below!

14. Dino Tag (T-Rexs & Baby Dinos = Sharks & Minnows)
This has become the game they want to play every week! 1 person is "it" this case the TRex, and everyone else is a Baby Dinosaur, on the other side of the street. I say GO and TRex has to go catch babies. Then we re-assemble with those captured who are NOW TRexes themselves, to eventually capture all of the babies. Once everyone is caught, a new TRex gets chosen.

My previous posts on this subject are:
Forming a Co-op
Magic Tree House Index

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow, again?!?

Am I still in Las Vegas? Not only has it snowed once this week, but it snowed again today! So badly that they literally closed freeways and various other roads. Everyone is being asked to stay in if they don't need to go out. It's 7pm, and it started snowing at about noon. It tapered off into rain for about an hour, but now it's snow again! They're even talking about closing the school district tomorrow! In Vegas!! It's supposed to snow all night! Who knows what we'll wake up to. The kids are so jazzed!!

Here's Sebastian and some of our friends playing in front of our house.

Here's Elias and some of his friends coming in from out back.

Crazy huh! Look for more pics of snow in vegas tomorrow! Oh, and because this is such a "big deal" here, they're having live tv coverage all afternoon and evening. Meaning, none of our sitcoms will be on! Ok, there's only so much news one can watch!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Magic Tree House, Index

I'm finally getting ready to start posting about our Magic Tree House Bookclub! I've been teaching it for awhile now, but I hadn't saved all the links of things I'd used. Trying to find everything, upload our photos etc. It's slow going!

So, the basis for the co-op, is the Magic Tree House books. You can read more about forming a co-op in a previous post. Basically, we get together once a week, for 2 hrs. The book is read at home prior to the class. Big kids can read on their own, little kids get read to, etc.

When we assemble together, I've got tons of hands on activities for them to learn about the topic of the book. As a framework, I've used the Random House Magic Tree House Lesson Plans, free online!! It has things from activities, to worksheets, to certificates for finishing.

I've wildly supplemented with other activities, crafts, etc that I've found online. I'll try to be as specific as I can in the following posts regarding where I've found everything. When you read what all we do, remember, I'm NOT craftsy! I HATE CRAFTS!! I'm NOT CREATIVE! I am, however, a GREAT "googler". I can google "3rd grade , ancient egypt", or "knights, activities" or "ancient rome, food" etc and find all sorts of great things to incorporate!

I have a huge binder, with page protectors in it. I've started it off with the Index, below, then a separating page for each book and Unit. Then inside each book I have the various activities I've found, worksheets, etc. The last few pages of each book section are the outlines I've drafted up. I overplan for each week so we never run out of things to do. Sometimes you start explaining something and it's all Greek to you stop and move to something else. Sometimes the thing you've planned to take 1/2 an hour takes 5 minutes, or vise versa! Then at the end of the week I write down what we actually DID. So, you'll likely get the version of "what we did" with "extras" being the extra things we didn't get to. PLEASE feel free to copy what I've done! That's why it's here!

Below is the Index that we're following. It's not in book order, it's broken up by the publisher, into different themes/times. I like it!


Unit 1: Prehistoric Times
Sunset of the Sabertooth & RG Sabertooths and the Ice Age
Dinosaurs Before Dark & RG Dinosaurs

Unit 2: Warriors on the Sea and Land
Viking Ships at Sunrise
Night of the Ninjas
Pirates Past Noon & RG Pirates
The Knight at Dawn & RG Knights and Castles

Unit 3: Ancient Worlds
Vacation Under the Volcano & RG Ancient Rome and Pompeii
Hour of the Olympics & RG Ancient Greece and the Olympics
Day of the Dragon King
Mummies in the Morning & RG Mummies and Pyramids

Unit 4: Natural Habitats
Good Morning, Gorillas
Dingoes at Dinnertime
Tigers at Twilight
Polar Bears Past Bedtime & RG Polar Bears and the Arctic
Lions at Lunchtime
Afternoon on the Amazon & RG Rain Forests

Unit 5: America’s Past
Thanksgiving on Thursday
Civil War on Sunday
Buffalo Before Breakfast
Tonight on the Titanic & RG Titanic
Ghost Town at Sundown

Unit 6: Fighting for Freedom

Revolutionary War on Wednesday & RG The American Revolution
Civil War On Sunday

Unit 7: Water and Space
Dolphins at Daybreak & RG Dolphins and Sharks
Midnight on the Moon & RG Space

Unit 8: Natural Disasters
Earthquakes in the Early Morning
Twister On Tuesday & RG Twisters and Other Terrible Storms

Unit 9: The World of William Shakespeare
Stage Fright on a Summer Night

Unit10: Exotic Lands

High Tide in Hawaii & RG Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters

Unit 11: Merlin Missions

Dragon of the Red Dawn
Blizzard of the Blue Moon
Night of the New Magicians
Season of the Sandstorms
Mondays with a Mad Genius
Dark Day in the Deep Sea & RG Sea Monsters

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow in Vegas?!

Las Vegas is one of those places that you should consider moving to if you're affected by SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Our sunny days are so many! This is a very rare day here in Las Vegas, overcast and SNOWING! It's not sticking, but just the wetness on the road is already causing lots of accidents. Good day to stay home!

Here's Elias trying to catch snow with his tongue...good thing he didn't swallow his gum!

Here's Brian, with, what else, his camera!

And here's Little Lovely. He's kinda confused by the big hood. He keeps turning and turning and turning, trying to see what's around him. It's so funny! He's not quite sure what to make of real reaction either way.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

At the Table & Steak

Our Little Lovely seems to be a meat eater. Elias is not really that big on meat...which works very well with their metabolics disorder. It's like built in limiting. Sebastian does not seem to have the ability to self-limit.

Tonight I grilled steak. We've found out in the past that Sebastian LOVES steak. I cut his pieces all up, got his plate ready, turned to the table and found him in a "big boy seat". Brian tried to pick him up and put him in his high chair, but it became very clear that Sebastian wanted to stay put! So, we tried it.

He's got a fork and all! Of interest, he still has not decided what hand he prefers. Here he's eating with his right hand, but often it's his left. Elias is left handed like his daddy. I'm right-handed. It's still up in the air who Sebastian will take after!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Georgia Homeschool Petition

This is something easy and fast everyone can GA they are trying to get a policy changed that restricts homeschool students to using an accredited program, if they want to duel enroll in college. We do not have any such policy here in NV. They are getting a great response. The more signatures the better, especially out of state, out of nation. Please take 2 seconds to help make a difference in GA homeschooling laws! This is truly a grassroots organization at its best!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Shack

Awhile ago one of my friends recommended The Shack, so I picked up a copy. That was back when it first came out and I had to order it from the publisher. Now, FYI, it's widely available.

I love reading. I love reading and learning more about God. This book was so amazing I can't even describe it. I felt all wrapped up and warm. The pure LOVE of God shone through the author's words and left me feeling so blessed.

The way he wrote about the relationship between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and God's desires for was just so thought provoking and REAL!

I seriously can't put into words all the reasons why YOU should read this book, but trust me. Read it.

If you're someone who questions if God loves you, READ THIS BOOK.
If you question, "Is God Love?" READ THIS BOOK.

It will change your life, your perspective, and hopefully help your relationship with a loving Father, known affectionately thorughout this book as Papa. How fitting.

You can read more about the author at his website:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Little Linus, err, I Mean, Little Lovely

Little Lovely has decided he needs a Blankie when he's tired.  Sometimes he drags it around with him.  It's too cute!  It's actually one of my living room lap quilts....he goes up to the recliner and drags it down when he's's so so so cute!  Binkie and blankie....sure signs it's nap time!
(Jene, sometimes it's your blankie! )