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Friday, April 1, 2016

BLOOM



Sometimes a winter freeze comes along and it may feel cold, lonely and isolating...but the cold period is needed before the spring bulb can bloom and bring forth a fresh, new season.

"Live with a constant awareness of the ever changing world and your ever shifting self."-Mencius 

Sometimes we go through transitions and we may not know why, relationships, connections, attitudes, purpose, health, passions, jobs, whatever it may be.  You may have been going just fine in one direction and suddenly you don't know what direction you're going but you know it's not the direction you thought you were...things start changing and shifting for whatever reason. it can feel like a cold isolating heaviness when we don't understand what is going on behind the scenes, but if we trust and be patient, God works all things for our good, and suddenly, the ground begins to warm, we push up through the heaviness and we enter into a new season as beautiful spring flowers. The Spring Flowers are there to rise up, give hope and look around as honored guests and see what the master gardener is doing all around them as the rest of spring follows suite.

If you feel lost, in transition, discontent, unsettled or anxious ...start to warm the cold ground around you through trust and gratitude and then look up, push up, rise up and BLOOM!!!

Look up - acknowledge and praise your Lord
Push up - seek and ask with faith, confidence and quiet patience
Rise up - let go of your cares and trust with all your heart and know He is sovereign 
BLOOM- realize you are HIS beloved, that He IS working (no matter the outcome) and you are starting to see and realize it a little more each day as each petal begins to open as his plan unfolds to your view and then rejoice and praise in His work and sing for the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, from the love which from our birth over and around us lies, Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise as you Whitness from the ground first hand the Lillies of the fields and the birds of the valleys being anxious for nothing.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 week 15


Timeline
We are alacking on timeline....(just keeping it real!)

History
1400s-Henry the Navigator established colonial rule in Africa leading to slave trade between the Portuguese and the Ashanti...

Reviewed and memorized song using the CC app and making up actions.  Continued reading The a Royal Diaries: Nzingha Warrioir Queen of Matamba.  It isn't about Henry the navigator but is about the villages working together to fight off the Portuguese in Angola, Africa set in the 1500s. (Bonus on this book both my daughter and son are enjoying hearing about the way the clans and villages are because they are relating it to Clash of Clans which they sometimes play...)

Science
Each continents highest mountain 
We reviewed this video with actions on YouTube.

Then we practiced using skittles on a map.  They just needed to put the right mountain on the right continent.

Geography
Middle East

We rented a short video about Isresl from the library that I found to go along with this section.

And of course visited our MAPS book to explore that region.

English grammar
More helping verbs...we honestly don't get a lot out of this or do much with it...we just cover it and move on

Latin
Noun endings (1st Declension) 
Same thing...don't go too much into it we just learn it and move on and hopefully if they take Latin or when the learn other foreign languages later on this will help some things click. So for now just settin' the lil' pegs in place and keeping it low key!

Fine Arts
This weeks artist was Angelico, however we did not ever get a chance to get an Angelico inspired art project done like I had planned. (This isn't what we were going to do but it's a good idea you can do with kids for Angelico http://www.thatartistwoman.org/2008/12/pastel-resist-madonna-art-project.html?m=1 I showed them some pictures of Angelico paintings in an art book but that's as far as we got.  We did a lot of other drawing and some YouTube watercolor painting tutorials to practice for our nature journaling this week...CC is not the only thing we do and sometimes we do more with CC and sometimes we do less with it to make time for other projects or activities we are focused on.

Vase of Tulips by B age 5

Loose Watercolor Tulips by J age 8

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Best Ticket Deal for Sea World Orlando for a Family of 4 or more

Sea World 
Orlando
best ticket deal




We just got back from a weekend trip to Orlando, FL for a gymnastics meet and wanting to do something else while we were there besides the meet and without spending a fortune, we researched out options and figured out the cheapest way to do sea world for 1 day.  Without getting suckered into a timeshare for $39 sea world orlando tickets, the next cheapest way to go for a family of 4 or more is to go online and buy a season pass for one person for $168.  If you have AAA, the price goes down to $140 ($149 after tax).  Buy this pass online before you go and bring the voucher with you for free parking (save $16).  Then all you have to do is go up to the self serve kiosks and scan your voucher to get your seaworld annual pass.  After the pass comes out, you can then use it to purchase up to 6 tickets for the rest of your family at 50% off. $49 for adults and $47 for children.  
If you have a family of 4, it would cost $79/ person if you buy the tickets on the seaworldparks.com website ahead of time or about $99 at the gate the day of.  

Cost Breakdown for a Family of 4

AT GATE PRICING (before tax) $396 plus $16 parking

ONLINE TICKETS (before tax)   $316 plus $16 parking

ANNUAL PASS purchased online before with 3 tickets purchased 50% off at gate (Before tax) $311 plus FREE PARKING and other discounts on food, merchandise and encounters in park.

ANNUALS PASS purchased through AAA online with 3 tickets purchased at 50% off at gate (before tax) $283 plus FREE PARKING and other discounts on food, merchandise and encounters in park.

This is the no gimmick best deal for going to Sea World for 1 day with a family of 4 or more!  

It's still not cheap, but it might be your cheapest way to spend a day at any theme park in Orlando, FL.  

Other things to keep in mind:

If you are military, you may be able to get free admission through Sea World's Waves of Honor Program. (although my brother who did this was not happy about the extent of personal information required to get his free ticket was worth it).

Preschool Fun Card for children under 5 who are residents of the state that Seaworld is located can get in free.

and FYI my one beef with the Annual Pass was that they scan your fingerprint at the entrance. Apparently they need to do this to verify that you are the season pass card holder on each visit, however I would think a photo ID should be sufficient.  I mean seriously?  I need to have my fingerprint scanned for a theme park?  I thought that was weird and was glad that the scanner was not working and so they had to let me in without getting my fingerprint on file.  I thought that was straight up stupid. 

All in all we had a great time and made lots of fun memories!  The Journey To Atlantis was the first real ride our kids have been on and it was so fun to experience that thrill with them, and even more so...since we got in park discounts with the annual pass, a couple of us did the dolphin encounter which was around $14 regularly but less after our discount (sorry can't remember the exact numbers there) but it was so amazing!  Holding onto a dolphin's flipper, petting it while making eye contact...simply amazing!

Our kids wanted to get splashed at the One Ocean Show with Shamu, we sat further back hoping to not get soaked and got there 25 minutes early and secured seats in the center of Shamu Stadium.  It was a great show however the kids kept complaining they weren't getting wet whenever the audience was getting splashed...until the end of this video clip.  ur 2.5 year old wasn't as excited about it as his siblings!  But he has since forgiven the Orca and enjoys his squeeky Orca Suvenier and talks about when he got splashed.



This was about 5 minutes after the One Ocean show....Getting splashed by an Orca was just too much!  Time for a nap in the ERGO!  He woke up later in the middle of Turtle Trek 3-D adventure and was very happy!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Classical Conversations Week 14

Ok I am way behind in posting but life happens!

HISTORY

Went over Timeline Song and History Sentance.

Tell me about the Songhai.

Here are our actions that we came up with to go with week 14 History Sentance.

And we read through this book a bit.



GEOGRAPHY

We covered Ancient Africa and made up a little rhythm to say it to.

Followed by looking in our MAPS book and any corresponding sheets in the MAPS activity book related to Africa.

Continued reading Nzingha, Warrior Queen of Matamba Angola, Africa 1595, from The Royal Diaries series. (Started to compliment week 13 geography of Western Africa.

We also picked up this book from the library.


MATH

Linear Equivalents-we didn't do anything extra really, just covered it and used a ruler to compare centimeters to inches and 12 inches = 1 foot.  It was very cold otherwise we would have gone for a walk at a park and maybe walk/ride scooters around the track for a mile.  We will probably do this when it warms up.

We are doing CTC Math now and the kids are loving it and I just feel such a relief and joy over how that is going!  We will still incorporate living math, which was going really well but required much more of me as far as preparing, planning etc and while I was enjoying that and will continue, it just takes the pressure off knowing we can do that more for enrichment than our core since they have taken such a liking to CTC Math and are excited to zoom through it, competing with eachother to get more platinum certificates and get to the next grade level since a CTC Math membership provides access to all grade levels from K-12.

ENGLISH
Nothing fancy here.  Just went over the helping verbs together.

LATIN
Our frog puppet "Latin Leo" helps teach the Latin.

We also got a little extra Latin lesson this week reading from Classic Myths to Read Aloud.  Often the end of a story will include a short paragraph about the meaning and origin of a certain word we use today. We started out with Greek and Roman Gods at the beginning of this cycle and also to incorporate some of Ambleside Online into our study, year 3 include covering Greek Mythology so we haven't left that behind.

SCIENCE

Types of Rocks: Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic. 

We turned to one of our favorite books Nature Anatomy on the section about types of rocks and the rock cycle.  The kids copied the illustration of the rock cycle from the book into their nature journals. We also used the book to identify some of our rock collection and talked about our granite countertops.

Science kits with rocks and earth science are great this week.

FINE ARTS
We used the book Discovering Great Artists and did a project based on Ghibertti.



Monday, February 8, 2016

Living Math




This year as I prayfully researched all the great homeschool math programs out there, I could not settle on one.  When I embarked on this homeschool journey and originally started reading and researching I really gravitated towards the Charlotte Mason living as well as the words of John Holt like this gem...

Kindergarten with 1 child was fun and easy with a napping toddler but come first grade and a third baby on the way, I started to feel pressure to make sure I was doing "real school" with her.  So I bought an open and go boxer curriculum and signed up for Classical Conversations.  However, other than feeling good that I had something "to show" for our days in published bound books and folders...that was about it.  I got so caught up in trying to do school and get it all done and forgetting one main reason we were led to homeschool in the first place!  My daughter is smart but it was obvious in preschool she wasn't a typical student who fit the classroom mold and we thought she would do better in a more relaxed , flexible environment with the freedom to cater to her learning style.  However, teaching her systematically during "school time" at home wasn't helping her that much, but more just making me feel like the worst teacher and worst parent in the world.  It would take do long to get through simple assignments that I was resenting her for taking up so much of my time in which I had to keep distracting the younger ones.  All in all...things were not right.  I had 2 little ones but the oldest was taking up all my time and energy and although I had planned to do more preschool activities with my son, he really ended up just doing puzzles or whatever off to the side because I had to be on top of my daughter the whole time!  It wasn't fair to anyone and by the time we got through our day I was spent and had no interest in engaging with them to do all the fun creative things that I really wanted to do.  The worst part was the resentment...why couldn't she just copy 5 words without taking an hour and all my emotional energy? Why couldn't she just remember what we had already learned? How can we keep going on in our curriculum when she keeps forgetting what's 7+2 and can't figure it out after a year of practicing it? I just wanted to give up (started learning about dyslexia).

Then I came across a video by Sandra Dodd, an unschooling advocate and she was answering the question of how much time do I need to give to my kids each day and she drew a simple graph...

Basically the youngest need the most mom time so no wonder doing a traditional homeschool curriculum felt wrong, I was spending my time backwards!  How often on homeschool pages do you see the question "what do I do with my little ones while we are doing school time?"  Now I'm not a full blown unschooler but leaning that way gives our family lots of grace to spend our days in a meaningful purposeful way together, without the stress that can lead to resenting the older children and having them under constant pressure while not spending enough time with the littles.  It allows us to improvise and do more learning all together with everyone included, which you will see in our examples of living math further down this post. And yes as I realized this mom time problem, I did consider and pray about putting my kids in school, but that wasn't the answer so last year I still struggled to let go of traditional school style and culture around education and step into the unknown so I bought the 2nd grade curriculum.  It was actually going pretty good a little easier than the year before as kids mature a little more each year but  something still wasn't jiving.

Sandra Dodd also said don't let your home become some miniature copy of a school...which resonated with me and the first book on homeschooling I ever read, The Thomas Jefferson Education.  I just kept coming across all these reminders of the original things The Lord had brought me to in my original quest into homeschooling but had forgotten due to insecurity and worrying what other people think...(a major weakness I have been overcoming).  She talked about creating and maintaining an environment where natural learning can thrive, creating a nest where it's not just the home environment but the family relationships within the home are crucial.  She encourages parents to learn about learning, not about school, but how real natural learning happens.  Be their partner (and mentor as Thomas Jefferson Ed  puts it) not their adversary.  Encourage, facilitate and assist.  See all that is good about your child (which I was having a hard time doing with the way I was doing school with her).  Be the kind of person you want your child to be, nurture your own curiosity and joy, find gratitude and abundance in your life....don't do what you don't understand, read a little, try a little wait a while, read a little more, try a little more, wait a while more...don't pull your plants up by the roots to see if they are growing.    That's not good for any plants or any children.  Be patient and trust that learning can happen if you give it time and space. Observe your children.  Are they calm? Happy? Curious and interestied in things? Don't mar their calm or happiness with arbitrary limits, shame or pressure.  Learning can't happen when people feel afraid or hungry so feed your children happily, share food and smiles and laughter. Watch movies and listen to music together, explore...follow information trails, play, make connections and touch your children sweetly, smell their heads, relax into an appreciation of each child in your life.  If you can envision the kind if relationship and life of learning you want to have then every time you make a choice, choose the one that takes you nearer to that goal.  Learn to make many choices a day and when possible choose the more loving, peaceful options.  Choose to make your life more positive and less negative.  Choose optimism, choose joy. Create good memories with your children.  Look directly at your children without filters or labels.  Babies are born whole people, help then to grow up and remain whole people, unmared by shame...paraphrased from Doing Unschooling Right by Sandra Dodd.  

As I've mentioned in other posts, I didn't feel led to sign up for Classical Conversations this year and my kids didn't seem to care but they did request to do the memory work at home.  My daughter loves learning through song and hand motions so we decided to do CC at home along with following Ambleside Online for a guide for each grade, leaving plenty of space for project based learning and to just be curious and spend time in the moment together, and being able to seize the teachable moments in a natural, unforced, meaningful way.  This year has been our most productive by far but I was still having my daughter do her Singapore math...that is the area I felt the least confident and bringing to life the way I was everything else.  

I poured over homeschool math options and was praying and seeking, but I couldn't settle on any one curriculum, even though I know they are great.  I knew in my head which math curriculums I liked and thought would fit our family but in my heart, I couldn't to it.  Why? I kept seeking and praying.  Then The Lord brought me to info about living math.  Well I'm not good at math so how can I teach without a textbook???  This seemed like more work for me not less! Shouldn't I just do Teaching Textbooks or Math U See?  Well who knows what the future holds but the answer and conclusion I came to was Living Math.  This means I have to face my insecurities, look at the how and why and incorporate what needs to be learned in hands on, fun ways.  Followed by some worksheet and or online practice after the concept is understood through hands on play, activities or life experience. This was a definite experience in learning to read a little, try a little, trust and see.  What I've found is that we can actually ENJOY Math together and it is sticking better than when we just stuck to the workbooks.  Also it's easy to include everyone and then take the concept further with my oldest while my Kingergarteb age son is still getting to play around and be introduced to math concepts beyond his level but enjoying it because we are having fun.  There is a website callee Living Math that I found the book Family Math and have been enjoying using that.  We also having been purchasing used through amazon or borrowing from library living math books. For worksheet practice we use either the math section of the big Brain Quest workbooks by grade or Math Mammoth worksheets, among other sources and practice online using websites like ixl, matific, starfall, and xtramath.  But mostly we are learning through hands on projects, games, role play, or just living and bringing out the math in our daily activities or things we cone across.

Here are a couple of the fun times and ways we've encorporated living math, just a sample not exhaustive of every single thing we do :) My point in sharing is to inspire some ideas and feeling freedom to step outside the box a bit if traditional methods are working as well as you like.  The great thing about homeschooling these days is we have do much information and resources at our fingertips and therefor can totally individualize and cater to our individual family needs and styles!

Making up stories for Remembering Odd and Even Numbers

Place Value


We love playing the game Dino tracks.  You can make the game more advanced with the playing cards giving lots of opportunity for more advanced math thinking or keep it simple to just becoming familiar with place value.


Millions of Cats - we borrow from the library frequently the book and audio cd set because they love this one! Especially my 5 year old! Now he's ways he can tell me how much he loves me first with a hundred much, then a thousand much up to millions, billions, trillions and finally infinity and beyond ;)

Geometry -Tangrams 


Cut out Tangram pieces using pattern and activity ideas from Family Math.  My kids kept going back to that book and their Tangrams daily for over a week on their own, fascinated by the puzzle and the culture, architecture and clothing in the book.

Wood Pattern Blocks


Megaformers 



The Book Nature Math and the section about shapes and patterns in nature.


Symmetry, Mirror Image, Patterns Measurement and Perimiter

Concentric Circles-studying patterns and shapes in nature from the book Nature Math

Familiarity with a Grid
This game from Family math called Animal Crossing

Battleships - Santa brought it for Christmas


Inequalities
Card games such as war and they are starting to learn poker (with their dad) soon we will introduce the chips just for family fun no real money...not trying to teach gambling but it is fun playing some Texas Hold'em at a family gathering! The chips make it fun even if theirs no real money involved)

Also a print out activity from one plus one plus one equals one with an alligator mouth for the > and < symbols for practicing.   

Multiplication 
All the skip counting songs from Classicsl Conversations memorized up through the 15s has made multiplication so much easier to learn!  

Little homemade Montessori multiplication grids are great too



This monster dice game is great for practicing addition, subtraction , multiplication or division 

Critical Thinking, Memory, Strategy
Playing Poker and learning/memorizing the different versions, rules, hands while having fun and bonding with dad!

Making Donuts for Division and Fractions 
we have 12 donuts and can make as many toppings as you like as long as we make an equal amount of each type. You want 3 toppings? Ok then how many donuts will be in each group? What if we did only 2 types of toppings? How many donuts in each group? What if we do 4? Etc?  Also when they are measuring ingredients I often hand them a smaller measuring cup so they have to figure out how many "scoops" of 1/3 cup to make 1 cup like the recipe says.  Casually practicing division and fractions while having fun making donuts! 

Money- counting, dividing, percentage, and life skills money management 

Counting out all the money and change, making dollars with different coin combinations of $0.25.  Introduce percentage and how to figure out 10%.  (We recently  did hymn study of Because I Have Been Given Much- not intentionally but it worked out to a good intro o this).  After taking out 10%, divide money in half, or 50% for spending and 50% for saving.  Child then has to work out how to divide the money into each jar.  We wrote in the too lid with a chalkboard marker how much is currently in each jar so we can easily erase and change the number as needed for keeping track.  I told my daughter she can give her money however she wants, to church, orphans, missions, or other charity collection boxes and coin rolling things at stores or if she knows of anyone she wants to give to.

For all these resources and more great living math resources, check out my Living Math Shop.


Road Trips with Kids -12 Easy Car Activities & Tips






We aren't exactly what you would call fulltime "Worldschoolers" or "Road Schoolers" but we do try to take advantage of the flexibility homeschooling gives us to take a family road trip as often as we can. Over the past couple of years we have taken multiple family road trips where we drive between 6-10 hours in the car.  We have a DVD player in the car when all else fails but it's fun to have other things on hand that keep the kids busy and happy.  My kids are between the ages of 5-8 and my 2 year old old does his own variation on some of these activities.  There are plenty of ideas for car rides on Pinterest, however these road trip tips all require minimal preparation.  One thing I've learned from preparing things like sensory bins, basket, and other car trip activities...it can sometimes take way more time and effort to prepare than it's worth. Why run around collecting materials, assembling, printing, cutting, etc when it will only occupy the kids for a minute or two? So here are the easy car activities we resort to when we are planning a road trip.

1. FINGER LOOMING
When going on a road trip with kids, one of our kids' favorite activities that kept them busy on and off for great lengths of time was looming on their hands with craft loops.  Before a family road trip there is enough work to be done to prepare than hunt down craft loops and other little activies.  So, if you want to make life easy for yourself, take advantage of Amazon Prime, mom's best friend! Order just a few days before a family road trip and enjoy that 2 day shipping and save yourself the extra running around and preperation!  For me that gives me time to focus on all the gluten free baking I do to prepare for a road trip!



Family road trips are so fun when you can hold off on the DVD player or iphone and watch your kids get creative in entertaining themselves! After looming bracelets and scarfs, they starting looming with their toes and making "flip flops" and other various creations.  It doesn't look like much but it kept them happily entertained and it is such an easy thing to bring along!  I have all our craft loops in a gallon zip lock bag and I just throw it in the car!



2. SCRATCH OFF ART

Another great activity that will kill lots of time on a road trip with kids are these ocean animal rainbow scratch things.  I got them on amazon and they came in a pretty big pack so I'm just keeping them in the glove box for future road trips.  This was really an awesome one to be able to pull out.  It takes a long time if they want to scratch off the whole surface, or if they want to get into a meticulous design, either way...it's great for all ages and they can't seem to resist the rainbow goodness that starts to show through and it keeps them occupied!  Which makes it a fun road trip activity.  They come with blue cord to hang them up and the kids loved being able to hang their finished rainbow ocean animals on the hanger hooks next their seats.  If you don't trust your kids with the pointed untensil that comes with these, they could use their fingernail, a penny and such.

You can find these on amazon here


3. ART JOURNALING
Another great activity for road trips with kids is art journaling. Bring colored pencils, colored tape, stickers etc and let them just draw, doodle or do art with different patterned strips of tape and make a mixed media piece.  Even the baby liked this activity, he figured out how to plant his paper on the bottom of his car seat and hold it down with his feet while coloring with a colored pencil...he was like a little monkey!  Bringing an art/nature journal is not just great for the car, but can easily be pulled out to document or illustrate the various places and things they see on the road trip.  I recommend a smaller art pad for traveling as it's more portable such as this 5.5 x 8 inch pad. And the crayola twistables are the best!  You don't have to worry about marker or crayon on the car upholstery or worrying about the pencil breaking and needing to be sharpened! (or the kids coloring each other's face's in a ridiculous manner that may not easily come off once you have to get out of the car! it's happened)


Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils Kit 65pc Set
Crayola Twistables Kit keeps 'em nice, tidy and portable!

Let them get creative in the car with colorful washi tape!


For those 6 and up, they may enjoy these Drawing on the Go! books to go with their art journaling on the family road trip! They are super inexpensive and my kids love them!




 My kids also enjoy having these little doddle books that are easily stashed in the glove box.



4. WAVING AND THUMBS UP
 My daughter made up this game on a family road trip.  She looked at cars licences plates and if they were from the same state as us she would wave and give them a thumbs up.  That entertained the kids for almost and hour.  The baby was cranky and fighting the nap but he started giggling and waving at cars too and then everyone was happy!  It was also during rush hour traffic so my daughter liked the idea that she was spreading good cheer to all these bored people as everyone that noticed her would smile and wave back.

5. BOOKS ON TAPE
My kids don't like watching the DVD player that much on family road trips, I wish they did sometimes!!! But they don't so I have to find other things to keep them occupied and then have the DVD player ready with a really good movie just in case things start to fall apart!  Some books on tape we have enjoyed are audio disks.  This is a great way to get some educational value and enrichment out of the long boring stretches of a road trip with kids.  Whether you homeschool or not, these disks are great to listen to for the whole family!
Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer
Product Details


And better yet, keep the car clutter down! If you have a smart phone you can download the Audible App through amazon and then listen to audiobooks through your phone. If your car allows you to adapt your phone into the sound system such as this or a built in USB port...even better!
I don't have an Audible membership but if you search for books you can usually find some free or very low cost to download. Some larger volumes will cost a bit more but you can determine if it is worth the cost buy the audio download or sign up with audible to get it.  Since we don't download TOO many audiobooks, I prefer to order them a la carte, without the membership!


6. TALKING - CONNECTING
Seems obvious, but...I was getting cranky on one particular road trip with the kids and couldn't stop wishing they would just be quiet! However, something came up that I could have brushed off, turned the music up and tuned them out...instead, I turned the music OFF and we talked about random things. Several great teaching moments came up and I just listened to and went along with the kids random and odd/creative questions while trying to be more creative and playful in my answers since normally those Q and A sessions can get tiresome and I often get impatient when I'm already tired and the questions can feel exhausting...But, I just need to go with it and enjoy them, even if I secretly want a moment of silence.  If all we hope for is silence when they are young, that may be all we get when they are big, so take the opportunity to just gab and listen about whatever is on their mind, with no parental agenda in our mind.  Let them get bored and see what thoughts start to come out of them.  

7. HANG A FEW TOYS
When I took the kids on a long road trip by ALL BY MYSELF when they were both younger, I took their various toys and tied strings to them and then tied the other end of the string to different parts of their car seats or around their car seats.  That way if they dropped their toy they could pull it back up.  Or drop a toy to play when tired of it to play with another, just pull the string up.  It worked out really well and I felt pretty clever!  It was one of those things I thought of last minute when packing the car the night before.  This setup really saved me because when go on family road trips, normally daddy is driving and I can turn around and give them things and tying things to their seats and making them accessible helped them be independent so I wasn't reaching around searching while driving or listening to a child cry because he dropped his triceratops!

8. BOX OF BAND AIDS
Need to kill more time on a plane or road trip with kids?  Hand your child a box of band aids to put on their "sick" dinosaur, doll, puppy, themselves  etc.  it will take them a while to open up and apply that whole box of band aids to something!  My kids love this! And I love that it occupies them a long time!

9. CLOUD WATCHING
Ask your kids to look out their window and look for pictures in the clouds. This is a good one for when they are getting annoyed of each other and you want them not looking in each other's direction, but out their own windows!  I have to confess this one usually goes like this..."knock it off!  Stop talking to each other, everyone be quiet and look out your own window!!!!"  .....take a deep breath in... big breath out....woosa....then in a nicer voice "maybe you can see shapes in the clouds that look like animals!  I think I see a turtle over there." (Even if I don't actually see anything it will just get them looking for it). 

10. LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL-AROMATHERAPY
This is not really an activity, but it is essential.  I keep it close so when I start feeling stressed or tense I can quickly open the bottle and start huffing it...I mean...use aromatically.  I rub some on the air vents to diffuse into the car to help keep everyone feeling calm.  I don't go anywhere without Lavendar as it is also great for helping everyone relax and fall asleep in a hotel room, or help sooth a sunburn mixed with some Aloe.  Plant Therapy is a great brand that I have really come to enjoy as the quality is right up there with the more expensive name brands but it is less expensive because you are buying it straight from the company so there is less mark up.

Car Essential Oil Diffuser

11. FREE TRIP SOUVENIRS
If you go to a nicer rest stop that had lots of brochures for travel and local attractions, 
let your kids collect some to study in the car, use in their art journal or save as a souvenir of the road trip.

12. DVD TIME
Like I said, eventually we get to the DVD player at some point.  I think my kids favorite DVD's that made for an awesome road trip were the Liberty Kids series! They were so into it and learned a American History at the same time!

or a triple feature such as this has been good as well!

And when all else fails, Curious George is so soothing and relaxing to put on for everyone!


There a million ways to entertain your kids in the car, I've seen plenty on Pinterest... But these are some of our favorites and they are just so simple and easy and don't require much prep, just throwing it in the car with minimal packing and clutter.  Yes it would be great to make a map scavenger hunt of the road trip, make a road trip lap book and every other cool pinterest idea. I love the idea of that kind of thing but I also love just grabbing simple supplies that don't require lots of prep work on my part....sometimes in the past I think I spent more time preparing some awesome educational activity for the kids than is worth the amount of time the kids spend engaged with it....so....rather than kill myself with some amazing idea that doesn't pay off ... I'm sticking with what's easy on me!  Lesson learned!  If it takes all night to prepare some Pinterest kit for my kids and they enjoy it for 15 minutes ... Then it is not worth losing sleep over. And at the end of the day, mamma needs her rest because if mamma ain't happy, than nobody is happy!

K.I.S.S - Keep It Simple Silly!

I put together a list on Amazon to make shopping for great car activities for you family road trips super easy!





 
 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Homemade Gifts and A Christmas Wake Up Call for Me

Well, I was excited to make Christmas gifts for everyone this year and I almost accomplished that!!!!  

For the 5 little girls in my life I made snuggle mermaid tail blankets

For the women in my family I made pure silk pillowcases accompanied by modestly wrap bracelets I ordered months ago during a good promotion.  I was really excited how these turned out and that I didn't have any problems sewing silk with my $50 brother sewing machine from Walmart.  I did use a fresh ball point needle though!  And I learned how to do a French seam which was exciting!  Then my favorite added touch was the label I created for fun with a list if the benefits of using silk pillowcases on the back including care instructions tied on with a raw strip of silk remnants.  I ordered the real silk from dharmatrading.com

For my dad who has ALS, I made him a double layered fleece poncho blanket so my mom can easily adjust his layers when he is up for the day in his chair. I'm really happy with this because dad was always hard to know what to gift other than an REI gift cards to help add to his collection of mountain climbing and surviving gear and a lot harder now that he has essentially no mobility.  


For a fun little Waldorf inspired gift for my little boys, I made a serving wooden minecraft blocks.  I love Grimms colored wooden building toys and my 5 year old lives minecraft (yeah a bit of a contradiction, I'm sure true Waldorf peeps wouldn't even have their kids play a video game...but I have sorta taken all the different educational philosophies that resonate with me and dumped them out of their boxes and onto the floor altogether for a flexible jumbled whatever mix of them all! Rather than climb into any one box lol!)

The square storage box was $3 at Michaels and I ordered the 1.5 inch wooden blocks from craftparts.com.  I dipped them in food coloring mixed with rubbing alcohol like dying Easter eggs.  The black blocks I dipped them in my black Sumi Ink.  For the iconic grass on dirt blocks I dipped each side in brown food coloring leaving one side blank which I then dipped in green.  I think these will be a gift to both my boys even though my 2 year old doesn't play minecraft but for him they are still cool naturally colored wood blocks.  After they were dry, I dipped them in vinegar as I read that could help seal the color.  So now we have a cool Grimm Toys style natural minecraft wooden blocks! 

And in the works is a balance beam for our little gymnastics daughter that we started building last night and will probably finish assembling today and some snuggle shark tail blankets like the mermaid ones for my boys. They are cut and ready to sew! 

Update with balance beam:


I will say, as I posted on Instagram earlier this month we were going to take a break from our regular style learning for the month so we could basically do a unit study on Christmas time focusing on learning through living, creating, crafting, baking, card and story writing, pouring through as many beautiful Christmas and Winter theme books as we could get our hands on and focus totally on the season.  It's been awesome!  My kids have learned so much, improved their art skills and we've been able to incorporate a LOT of math into everything we do!  The more I learn about living math and understand the concepts and goals myself, the more I can incorporate it into everything we do without it ever feeling like smart lesson!  And the kids are totally getting it without and coercion.  I have still pulled out my daughters Brain quest book for some math page practice but it's been very interesting how mathy we can be outside of a text and have it be fun (VERY exciting for a math phobe like me!).  (Oooo...I just came across a term that describes our month very well...project based homeschooling).

I did have one set back.  It was the shark tails.  I was starting to stress about getting them done to mail in time and this past week my 2 year old must be cutting teeth or something...he's been totally irritable and fussy and it was rubbing off on everyone.  On Wednesday I was literally praying "oh Lord this feels too crazy please help us!!!" My daughter kept begging to go to the library, the baby kept getting up from nap and finally I was like "ugh yes fine lets go I have other errands we can run too then"...then as I and the kids stressed out and in a rush ran out to the car, I realized I left the keys in those house and locked ourselves out.  It was crystal clear what was going on...everything had been going so well with my plan to savor the season with the kids and then I still got caught up in being busy and stressed and suddenly realized what a beautiful day it was and we didn't belong anywhere doing anything else other than being outside enjoying it and connecting with each other!!!  It was The Lord putting me in an abrupt but good and needed "time out" and the kids and I played on the trampoline together laughing and being silly for the remainder of the afternoon  and evening until my hubby got home from work to let us in.  The kids had such a great time with me being completely focusee on them...chasing them around the trampoline and making gingerbread cookies out of them...cracking the egg on each knee (remember that game?) mixing it up with lots if tickles, adding LOTS of sugar (smothered in kisses) rolling then out etc....the said "Can we get locked out if the house everyday!!!!??!" 

The next day was an even more beautiful day and while I felt the pull of finishing Christmas cards and getting to the post office...I said ok I learned my lesson yesterday Lord, I'm not going to waste this nearly 70 degree sunny day to Christmas  errands.  So we went to the library (what the kids had been begging to do all week), stopped at ups to mail the cards and then went to the grocery store next door to buy lunch and snacks and we then spent the day at a little sandy beach that's apart if a big lake that is not far from us. It was like pretty much the best day ever. And guess what? By the end if the week I still got done everything I had been so distracted with...and the days I did do it the weather had changed to cold and rainy!  

Christmas is a joyful time of year but if we let all the self imposed to-dos....even though they are really good to-do's, interfere with the real joy of connecting with those we love and cherish most...then it's not really worthy of all the hustle and energy we put into it.  Now, I didn't end up sending all my gifts by the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery but my extended family and friends know it's coming and that we love them and more importantly...my kids know how important they are to me and how much I love them, and praise God for that when he woke me up by showing me how I was allowing myself to get frazzled by locking myself out!!!  

Seeing these pictures and all our nature finds we brought hone from that day reminds me to thank The Lord for allowing me to be a flexible person and for the ability to be home with the kids so we can even have these spontaneous adventures and be reminded over and over no matter how much we research great Homeschool supplies and resources...that learning is like breathing, it happens all the time!