Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Freezer Finds

I found this in my freezer!

This was in there, too!

I struggle with my freezers. I love being able to cook ahead, and it's even easier now that we have an extra freezer in the garage. Unfortunately, though, once I put something in there, it may or may not see the light of day again. That pork loin in the first picture? It had been in there for more than a year! The blackberries for the pie? They were picked last summer. (Ha! I just noticed that I said I would use them in a pie in that last post!)

Tracey passed on a link to some great household organization sheets the other day, and I printed off the freezer sheets and went to work. I was amazed at what I found in there! Hopefully having a current list will help me to make better use of what I have. I've printed off a list for the pantry--which may even be more of a trouble spot than the freezers are, if you can believe it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I don't know about where you live, but here, it looks like spring. I've been working on a bit of spring cleaning and decluttering.

This book came highly recommended by two friends, so I ordered it. I was a bit intimidated by the cover--if a woman has gotten rid of the vowels in her name, you know she's hard core. It's actually a really good book. She has a web site, too, which I will check out one day when I am not squashing ants or wiping noses.

I was also inspired by some of the Spring Spruce Up blog entries I read earlier in the week. I was shocked to find there was a blog all about laundry! I actually don't mind laundry, but when the laundry room gets cluttered, it makes things rough, so that's where I decided to start.

After many long years, I have a laundry room that is actually a room--not a closet, not a hole, not a walk-through room from the garage, but a real room with a window and everything. I love it. When we moved, we got a new washer and dryer and they are both top-loading, which means I can't sit stuff on top of the dryer, like I used to do in the last house. And every apartment we've ever had.

But never fear! There is a counter top to clutter up! I am working on it slowly, and believe it or not, this picture is an improvement over what it has been lately. The cabinets above hold all the art supply stuff the kids use; the cabinets below hold Bobey's litter box.

Now I even have a bar for hanging things! I really do love this room.

Now I'm on to the school room--I got inspired by Amber's notebooking post and I have some other ideas to work on to cut down on clutter.

Happy spring cleaning!

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

Truthfully, I think Alice is more of the Ramona in the family, but when we were reading Henry and the Clubhouse, he thought Ramona's imitation of Smokey Bear was so funny he had to try it himself!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nature Study: Baby Style

In case you weren't aware, it's a law that you have to "do" nature study if you're a homeschooler. Well, maybe not a law, but I would guess that 90% of homsechoolers would tell you they do it, and probably at least half of those actually do.

We're all for nature study around here. Both kids love being outside and exploring. We used to attend a nature study group on a regular basis, but a couple of things have deterred us lately: the weather and Alice. Honestly, I'm just not up for taking two kids out in freezing temperatures when it's guaranteed that one will want to run far ahead where I can't see him and the other will poop as soon as we're in the middle of the woods. There's a lot to explore around the house, though, where kids are free to run and diaper changes are easy!

While Jack was playing with the neighbor, Alice and I had some neat finds in the flower bed. She loves the caterpillars--but she still won't hold one.

We came across a snail! He was still in the same area when we checked the next day!

We also found a dead wasp and of course, an ant. There are always ants here. Always. Later in the evening, we dug around and found a giant worm--at least 3 inches long.

There's lots to find in your own yard, so take your kids out--however young they may be--and enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Fever

My children have been felled by the vicious Spring Fever. Symptoms of this disease may include (but are not limited to):

Trips to the playground in flip-flops

Ditching footwear altogether at the playground

Twirling around the yard for no apparent reason

Digging out the Easter baskets and finding new uses for them

Having school outside

Trying out sunglasses

Excessive use of the swingset, even after the sun goes down

Should your children experience any of these symptoms, put them outside immediately and for as long as possible. The disease should wind down once temperatures reach the 90s.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Did you know that March 20 is Very Hungry Caterpillar Day? Me neither, until I happened across it online one day last week. I started thinking of all the stuff we could do, but I realized that Alice is still too little for most of the ideas I had, so we'll do it up big next year--if I remember.

We found some caterpillars outside Friday. Alice was very intrigued.

She watched this one crawl around for quite a while and wanted to hold it, but couldn't quite work up the courage.

I picked it up to show her how easy it was, and as a reward, I was pooped on. Alice was a little shocked and kept saying, "pewwwp!" all drawn out, over and over. She declined to try holding it herself.

Tonight we had caterpillar cupcakes for dessert and we will do a few simple caterpillar/butterfly crafts this week to get our school room looking like spring. Go here to download a free activity guide!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hanging In There

Our resident monkey has mastered a new skill.

For a while now, she has been able to hang from various places--my parents' treadmill, bars in elevators, and pretty much anywhere she sees a bar or handle. This week she decided she was brave enough to try it on the climber bars. It's quite a difference from last year.

Now she gets mad if she sees Jack hanging on them.

She doesn't look quite so sure in this shot, does she?

I'm glad that we have almost made it through winter and we are so looking forward to the beginning of spring!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A little family St. Patrick's Day trivia: Alice was going to be named Patrick if she had been a boy. But she wasn't, so...

The kids woke up to a treasure hunt this morning. Well, Jack had to do all the work, but Alice tagged along.

He found one clue in his shoe!

The clues eventually led to the living room, where he went around and around before he found the leprechaun's pot.

In the pot was one final riddle. (Please note that I am NOT a poet, especially when it's late and I'm trying to get stuff printed off before bed!)

Jack had to rearrange the letter stones (based on these sight word jewels I found linked from Phyllis) to solve the riddle. I made a set of them so we can use them for spelling practice and word games.

Tonight we had rainbow jello for dessert--Alice said it was awemoff!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 11, 2011

All in a Day's Work

I got a job. Before you spit your Coke on the screen, it's just a freelance writing gig from my friend Mari, who is the editor for Metro Family Magazine, but the way Jack acted when I told him, you would have thought I was never going to see him again. "You'll never have any time for us!" he wailed. This from the child who could count the moms he knows who work regular full-time jobs on one hand.

Anyway, once he discovered that I would, indeed, still have time for them, he was excited. I am supposed to visit several places around Tulsa and do some short articles so people in Oklahoma City will know what we have here. We have some pretty cool stuff!

The Jazz Hall of Fame is in downtown Tulsa. I had never been there before, so I was interested to visit. Did you know that Swing Low, Sweet Chariot was written in Oklahoma? You can also visit the Center of the Universe (the first picture here) which is right next door. Jack loved it!

Our next stop was Philbrook, which we visit at least once a month, but I had a depressing realization on today's trip. After Waite Phillips built Villa Philbrook, he donated it to be a museum after living in it for only eleven years. So if a bajillionaire can't build a custom house he likes enough to live in it for good, how are we ever going to do it? Ugh.

We took a lunch break at the arboretum, where I got a lovely farmer's tan--actually it is more of a farmer's burn.

Our last stop was the Tulsa Children's Museum, which the kids love.

The kids wound down with some yoga moves. We didn't leave until they closed. As Alice would say, it was awemoff!*

*Alice-speak for awesome!

I began the day around 5:15 when Alice woke up (totally NOT awemoff, by the way) and just put Jack to bed at 10:00. The kitchen is in shambles and I have yet to write a single article. I think it's a good thing that this isn't a full time job!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


We use a lot of games for learning here. It seems like a lot of them involve beans or some other tiny thing that can be scattered around the school room by a one year old in under six seconds. Games are a great way to sneak extra practice in on a kid and hearing laughter instead of moaning. It even works on fifth graders!

I picked this magnetic hangman game up in the travel section at Target a while back. Yesterday we used it while we were at the dentist's office. Jack is getting to be a good reader, but his spelling needs a lot of work still. He got in a good twenty minutes of practice making CVC words for me to guess. It turns out those can be pretty tricky to solve. My poor man hung many, many times.

Today we played a compound word game. (I don't know how that pajama collar isn't driving him crazy. I'm twitching just looking at it.)

Each player got to turn over two cards and was trying to build the compound words they had in their pile.

Even Alice liked it.

I downloaded cards for this Chutes and Ladders game from Finally in First, which I found thanks to Amber. The math facts are good review, but Jack also got even more practice with adding and subtracting 10 and 5--and he was surprised to find it didn't work the same way as it does with a 99 or 100 chart!

We recently played The Game of Tens and Ones--printed it off and covered an old die with stickers and we had a good half hour of math practice!

This (sideways) game is from Mailbox magazine. I love their ready-made and easy to make games!

Many of our games come from the fabulous Peggy Kaye books. Tomorrow's reading practice will be from the reading games book!

And of course there are tons of great games you can buy! I picked these two up at Mardel and we'll be giving them a try soon.

What are some of your favorite learning games?