Friday, June 24, 2011


The first book I decided to "row" was Corduroy, by Don Freeman.  I picked it because I remember it being a favorite of mine, and since it's about a teddy bear I figured there would be lots of fun and engaging activities that would hold the kids' attention.  

Our Bible verse for this week was Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times.  We talked about what it means to be a friend.  ("To be a friend is not to pull Abby's hair or hit her in the face."  Wow.  I'm so glad we are covering this first!)

The kids were thrilled when I told them that in order to start reading the book they needed to find their teddies. 

We took a trip to the store to find food items that were bear related...and he found Teddy Grahams.  I told him in order to do another activity he needed to find the Gummy Teddy Bears.  He found them no problem. 


We went outside and on the cement I drew bear prints and wrote in the vowels.  We played a modified version of hop-scotch...bear-scotch!  

We reviewed specific letters - the vowels and the short sounds they make.  This was a piece of cake for him, as he has all his letters and sounds mastered.  We also played a letter version of "Go Fish" where you have to match the capital letter with the small letter.  

For a bit of math practice we did gummy bear sorting/graphing.  He sorted his dish of bears out according to color and counted the number of each color.  He was very patient while doing this, as he really wanted to eat them.  After sorting and coloring I let him eat them.  

 We made a teddy bear puppet.

The weather here has been sweltering, so we took a day and went to the beach to cool off.  Abby was insistent that p.e. not be left out, so she did a bit of yoga on the beach.  Look at the way she holds her legs - so straight!  This beach babe has certainly mastered the Downward Dog!  Way to go, Abby!

We also started something new - animal classification.  The animals shown are the animals that were in the Corduroy book.  Each card has a picture along with a characteristic of the animal.  ("Giraffes are the tallest land animal.")  I'm planning on making a book of all our "rows" so I glued the animal cards on construction paper for better organization.  

We talked about feelings, since Corduroy felt sad and then at the end of the book he felt happy to have a friend.  William decided that this day he felt happy!

We made a rhyming book that did a great job of summarizing the story.  He had to match the rhyming words with the correct picture.

The kids colored Corduroy bears (okay, the picture on the right was colored mostly by me, since Abby insisted on "more help!").  William colored the "friends" bear and they also made a pocket to hold name cards. 

No week of learning about bears and "studying" Corduroy is complete without munching on a bear's favorite food - Honey Comb! 

(I also had William give me an oral narration of Corduroy.  My plan was to write it down and include it in our book, but I ended up asking questions to prompt him, so I took a video which I'm not including.  Sorry!  Let's just say he can pretty much retell the story perfectly.)

I think we all enjoyed this book and I know I am looking forward to our next row!

A retraction

I'm still learning about the whole gardening thing and calling each veggie by it's correct name.  So, if you'll excuse me while I make a retraction of sorts, I'd be much obliged.  Our cucumbers, which were growing so great, aren't exactly cucumbers.  We have been enjoying fresh garden salad with our "cucumbers" and last night I sliced them and poured vinegar and chili powder over them for a salad of sorts.  Every time John would eat one he'd comment on how odd they tasted...that maybe they weren't ripe enough...that they were so dense.  But I assured him that they were huge and therefore ripe, and that maybe our ultra organic soil was causing them to be extra dense.  I mean, really - they were labeled cucumbers on our garden grid so obviously they are cucumbers.  (How's that for logic!) But last night John again commented on how dense they were, so I jumped up and got out the seed packed from the fridge.  Sure enough, they are NOT cucumbers but zucchini.  We now have zucchini coming out of our garden like you wouldn't believe.  I'm thrilled, actually, since I have lots of recipes that call for zucchini.  (Our cucumber plants are still fairly small, but there are quite a few baby cukes growing.) zucchini. blog.

William helped me harvest some of our greens, and when I said, "Smile for the camera!", this is what I got.  Gotta love those forced smiles!

And see this beast of a plant?  (Actually in both corners.)  It's our cilantro.  I'm sure of it, so don't worry.  Who knew it would grow so humongous!  It's so big we can almost park a lawn chair next to it and get shade from it.  You can sort of see our basil plants are thriving as well (there are a few rogue basil plants in with the chives that I need to take out before they squelch out the chives).  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Before Five In A Row

I'm SO excited about this I can hardly stand it!  I know William is young, and Abby even younger, but I do want to do something with them that's a bit more than just playing.  That said, I do realize that young children learn so much simply by playing and pretending so I don't want to cut into that precious time.  However, I don't think that 30 minutes or so each day of something a tad more "structured" isn't going to hurt, either.  With that said, after a lot of research, I've come across something I think will fit with our kids - Five In A Row.  FIAR starts with age five, but Before Five In A Row (B4FIAR) is suitable for children between ages 2-4.  PERFECT!  Abby will be two in July and William will be four in September. 

I ordered the manual and a few of the books and my order came in last week. 

The idea is that you "row" a book for five days, each day reading the book and then talking about various topics/ideas in the book, doing a craft/art project that corresponds, cooking food that goes along with it, learning about a country/state that is mentioned in the book, talking about character qualities brought up, etc.

I will be using Homeschool Share for activities and lapbooks.  All last week I printed out the activities that go along with the books that I purchased, and filed them.  That way I'm all prepped and ready to go!

We also finished William's ABC book last week.  That was quite the undertaking, but I'm so glad we did it!  He now knows all his letters (capital and small) and the sounds they make.  We'll be working more with this during the summer as well, and more specifically, using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and The Blue Backed Speller.  He has such a desire to learn...the problem isn't convincing him to sit "five more minutes" but, "you need to go outside and play more school!"  I love it!  

Here is the finished book!  He's quite proud of it, and loves to peruse the pages, saying the letters and sounds.

I cut out every letter, upper and lower case, and together we came up with a picture to represent the sound it makes.  (For the vowels we stayed with the short sound.)

Olive Owl and Pee Wee Penguin
 Isn't there some sort of machine that makes these letters FOR you?  I'm cringing at the thought of doing this with any more kids!

Xylophone and Yancy Yak.  He had no idea what a xylophone was, so I found several neat YouTube videos and we watched a couple of those.
The work for me was time consuming, but I think William had a lot of fun with it, and learned a lot!

I'm hoping to blog about our reading adventures with B4FIAR, so stay tuned!


It's been hot here.  Nice in the evenings still, but during the day it's toasty.  Because of that we are out early enough to enjoy the shade that we have in our front yard...then in the afternoon we are out back to enjoy the shade back there! 

The pool I bought last year has a leak in the top layer. Bummer.  That didn't stop the kids from getting a quick dip, though. 


Last week we went cherry picking!  We got there at an insanely early hour of the day and were pretty much the first ones there...and only ones there until we left.  I wanted to beat the heat and the crowds, and we beat both.  I took my camera along, only to get to the furthest region of the cherry orchard and realize that I left it in the truck.  Oh well...

We picked two pounds less than last year which was my goal.  I had cherries coming out of my ears last year and didn't want quite so much this year.  We still ended up with 9ish pounds, though. 

 After William washed and pitted them we laid several pans out and dried them.  Then we placed the whole pan in the freezer and froze quite a bit.

We did save some to eat and make a cherry crisp!  Yum!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Our garden has exploded since we've been gone.  I'm simply amazed, and quite frankly, excited about it.  The spinach is doing great, as well as the cilantro.  Everything is still growing and will be harvested soon.  We've enjoyed spinach salads, spinach smoothies, spinach omelets, and spinach on sandwiches.  I also cut some of the beet greens off and sauteed them in a little olive oil and minced garlic - yum! 

Yesterday John and I put up the trellises for the peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  We made them from scratch, so it was quite the project.  I'm glad we won't have to mess with trellis netting until next year.  What a pain! 

 The kids like to help with cutting the veggies, so here is Abby with a strainer full of, yes, spinach. 

She knows that after we cut some we usually make smoothies, her favorite.  In this one we put in an orange, a nectarine, spinach, a banana, ice, and water.  It was SO good and refreshing!

 Do you see what I see?  That tiny thing is our first cucumber!  John pointed it out to me and the kids and I'm quite excited about it.  This beastly plant is slowly overtaking our garden box, but as long as it's producing something, I think I can be okay with that.

Here is our first cilantro (along with, yes, spinach).  I'm thinking cilantro-lime rice is in our future.  I've been doing a lot of recipe searches, just to find different things to put our veggies in.  I hate to waste anything, since it was a lot of work to get it all started. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


It's been a busy few weeks!  We are now home from a long vacation visiting family back east.  Here are just a few highlights of the last three weeks:

On Memorial Day we went to a parade.  It ended up being super long.  Abby was quite the social bug, waving and smiling to everyone.  Both kids ended up with tons of candy - so much so that we had to ditch the ridiculously small baggies and use large grocery bags.

Later that day we braved record-setting crowds and went to Lake Michigan!  I love this picture.  And since I know that my bro reads my blog I'm sure he'll get a kick out of this picture, too.  I mean really, who doesn't enjoy watching a little bit of PDA! 

My dad taught William the necessary skills of hockey, a sport that is highly regarded in my family. 

His hand-eye coordination was pretty good, and he nailed the ball right back to Grandpa!   

Here are the six, I mean, five of us at my brother's graduation from medical school.  Anyone need work done on their feet?  I can recommend a good doctor!  Congrats, bro!

After a celebratory lunch we headed over to my brother's condo to help him pack up so he could move to where he'll be working.  No ladies, my studly brother is taken.  I'm sorry.  

Another day we went to the Air Zoo.  There were indoor rides, simulators, and a 4D ride, along with many airplanes and helicopters showcased from various parts of history. 

We had a great trip! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It's been awhile since I've posted, but things have been busy.  My younger brother got married a week and a half ago, and Abby and I were in the wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding, with the bride being absolutely radiant!  It was such an honor to be a part of it! 

What surprised me the most was that Abby actually walked down the aisle (with her most favorite person in the world, of course!) and stayed there the whole ceremony!  If you've been around her anytime recently you would know what an amazing feat that is.  If you look closely in the above picture you can see her off to the side of me.

I know this is hard to believe (for me at least!) but tomorrow we are headed to watch my newly married brother receive his medical degree.  Yes, he is a doctor and I just can't believe it.  I think there are more tears in my future.  I am so proud of my brother and what he has accomplished.  Congratulations!

I just had to add this little pic of cuteness!  Abby and the ring bearer, who at the eleventh hour decided not to bear it past the third row, but whatever!  He still looked handsome in his tux.

I have lots of other pictures that I may share later, but now...cable tv is calling me!  Since we don't have it at home I'm taking advantage of it here.