Monday, August 31, 2009

It's a....


After 10 guesses...

5 for Boy


5 for Girl

....there were 15 names to draw (I put in the name of each correct guesser twice).

My Little Buffaloes gathered around...

Alan drew a name...
Dale read it...
It said....

Jaynee from The Lockwood Family!

Of course, Jaynee's odds were doubled, because she guessed correctly.

Congratulations, Jaynee! Email me at bzcookieATyahooDOTcom with your address so I can get your prize in the mail!

By the way....

In case you were wondering....

she guessed...


Yes my friends, another Buffalo will be joining the herd! :)

Somehow when I wasn't looking....

(Be sure and enter the boy/girl contest below! Today (Monday, Aug 31st) is the last day!!)

For quite some time now I have spontaneously and randomly showed Alan various alphabet letters and the sounds they make.

Sometimes it is a letter magnet on the refrigerator. Sometimes an odd puzzle piece, or page in a book. Sometimes it is written while we color and doodle.

There has never been a formal sit-down lesson. No workbook pages. No curriculum.

Sometimes he has seemed to listen and care and take it in, sometimes I have wondered if he even heard what I said. Never had he seemed to grasp the idea.

Sometimes these letter-sound conversations came up daily, sometimes weeks would pass without even a mention of them.

But then.... one day.... without warning....

It clicked.

Alan and the letter 'M' have bonded. Everywhere he looks he sees them, and points them out with excitement.

"Mama! Mama! Look! Look! I
found one!"

"mmmm... Mimi! mmmmm.... mmmmilk! mmmm.....Mama!"

Look! I found another one!"

Who knew? 'M's are everywhere!

Just for fun we made this little 'M' project from No Time for Flashcards. Alan loved it! For a while, every marshmallow he glued on had a "mmmmmarshmallow!" to go with it.

And from there, he's begun to ask what other letters say. I tell him all he wants to know, but for now, we're mostly sticking with 'M'.

And that my friends... is pre-reading! My only concern is... can we get him potty trained before he really IS reading on the potty??

Friday, August 28, 2009

A little fun?

I announced recently that we are indeed expecting a new baby. Thanks for all your comments and congratulations!

A lot of you already know whether this little one is a boy or a girl, but quite a few of you still don't.

So.... let's have a little poll. ONLY IF YOU DON'T ALREADY know, leave a comment guessing 'boy' or 'girl'. (Or in our case 'buffalo' or 'butterfly')

Every one who guesses will be entered to win a prize, and everyone who guesses correctly will be entered
twice. One of the little buffaloes will draw a name on Monday evening and I will announce the winner (and gender!) then.

Now, don't get excited about the prize... it won't be anything big, but hey.... everyone loves getting a little something fun in the mailbox now and then, right?

So... start guessing! :)
(and remember: No cheating - no guesses for those who already know!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The ABC's of our homeschool.

A is for Amy. That'd be me. The lone female in our little school. We are in our third year of homeschooling, but because we took it lightly for preschool and kindergarten I have spent almost as much time reading about it as I have doing it thus far! This year (1st grade) is definitely already much more doing than just reading and planning, but my oldest and I were both ready!

B is for BOYS. Our oldest just turned 6 and is first grade. We are following a Classical / Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum. You can read more about that (with links!) in this post.
Our second son will be three in a few months and is beginning to really enjoy reading books together and "reading" them on his own. He is also really getting into doing his own "school" whether that comes in the form of art projects, just-for-fun worksheets, or choosing an activity from our "Fun Box". I will be blogging more about that soon!

C is for Collect & Change. Probably two of my biggest lessons so far.

I have learned that for a smooth day I need to Collect myself by making sure my lessons for the day (or even better, the week) are all in order before we start each day and week. I plan by the week, and although I am a big planner, I often get lax after several weeks of routine. Then things can easily slip into chaos and we aren't getting nearly enough done, whether it is school work, house work, or both! Must, must, must, stay up on my planning! We are currently tweaking our daily schedules for the most efficient running of school and home and I hope to blog about those in the future, too.

Change: my second biggest lesson. I have to give myself permission to change things when they aren't working, whether it is the day's schedule, the current activity, or an entire curriculum choice or approach. Flexibility is a great asset!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Homeschooling! What have been some of your biggest homeschooling "lessons" in your journey so far?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dale had a birthday!

And it took 4 days to celebrate!

We started with a family party, complete with volcano cake, per Dale's request, at the suggestion of a certain genius, which prevented me from having to come up with yet another cake designed around cars and/or racing. Whew.

Dale and I were both pretty pleased with how the volcano turned out!
Then, of course, there were presents.

I'm not sure Dale liked any of them.

What do you think?

And then yesterday we had a little cupcake gathering with Dale's friends.

Look what our
awesome friends/landlords/neighbors set up... a gigantic water slide!
They bought it as a birthday gift for one of their kids a few years ago, and it comes out fairly often for summer birthdays. We were honored for it to be set up for Dale's!
Alan has been enjoying all the birthday festivities.
I'm sure he's taking notes so he knows juuuust what to expect when his comes around in November. I just hope he doesn't ask for a water slide! Brrr!

Another year is past, along with another party (or two). And now my firstborn is SIX!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mama said there'd be days like this. She really did.

I had plans for a blog post tonight full of pictures recapping Dale's birthday.

Or maybe one with more about how we are approaching first grade.

But today has been One of Those Days.

One of those days when one of my children (who will remain anonymous) was obviously replaced by some look-alike mood-swingy banshee just before he got out of bed. I certainly did not recognize the hooligan I saw in my child's body all day.

One of those days when, by the end of it, I had begun to question why on earth we had decided to be parents, and especially what on earth were we thinking to bring another one into the world.

One of those days when I was certain the NICE thing to do would be to leave my parents house and take my hooligans home, but dreaded having to face them alone!

But face them, I did, and promptly got them into bed, praying that tomorrow would be a better day.

I'm not kidding about that praying part.

I really did.

And I'd love to report here that I went in and sweetly looked down on my sleeping cherubs and breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks. But the truth is, I'm fairly certain they are both still lying in bed awake. So I will NOT be opening that bedroom door. Talk about a can of worms...

So anyway... that picture-full or informative blog post just ain't gonna happen tonight. As much as I love 'em, the combination of their bizarre behavior and my full day has left me wanting to do not much more than this:


So I think I'll go now... put on my PJs and cover myself in pillows and not think of much else until tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bloggy Announcement and Quiz

Okay, friends.... I have added a little something to the sidebar of my blog.

Does anyone see what it is?


(And to spare you the math, 140-some odd days from now is around January 12th.) :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Grade Curriculum

Dale and I are just about to wrap up Week 3 of first grade.

We school four days a week, with the 5th day built in as a catch up or make-up day. I plan on blogging more about our scheduling later, as we get the bugs worked out.

For today I wanted to discuss our curriculum. I've had a lot of it picked out for almost a year! Most, if not all, of my curriculum decisions were influenced by a combination of the classical method and the ideas of Charlotte Mason.

Bible - For our Bible study we are going to spend the school year learning key people and events by going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. For our basic framework I am using the lesson plan layout at Calvary Chapel. We cover one Bible story each day and add one page to Dale's notebook for every story. So far, this is one of Dale's favorite parts of the day.

Math - We are starting out with Singapore Math to see what kind of fit it is for Dale.
In my research of math curricula I liked the idea of Singapore involving a lot of mental math. I think that is an important skill to have, and practicing it from the beginning makes sense. One of the big criticisms of Singapore was that there wasn't enough review - that topics were covered once to never (or rarely) be revisited again. However, other sources of information point out that the common text and work books are only part of the curriculum actually used in Singapore. The rest of the program supposedly involves a lot of intensive work and review. So, we will be supplementing (as I believe is intended) with workbooks, worksheets, and math games. In addition to liking what I read in reviews and samples of Singapore, a huge plus was the affordability of the program. Of course, "no cost is too much for your child's
education: (said with booming voice and furrowed brow), but practicality is a necessity. Singapore is among the least expensive of the available programs out there.

Science - Our science curriculum is following the classical method as outlined in "The Well
Trained Mind". We will spend this year learning about living things, starting with 12 weeks studying insects and other creepy crawlies. We will follow that with four or five weeks studying birds, then 12 studying various animals (probably arranged by habitat), 4 weeks on the human body, and 4 weeks on plants. This plan also works well with the seasons, which I like. Bugs are in abundance right now, and we can spot examples of almost everything we read about. We will get to birds about the time the weather turns cold and our feeder starts becoming a popular place again. Our study of plants will coincide nicely with the planting of next year's garden.

A lot of our science is based out of our Christian Liberty Nature Reader, Book 1, and heavily supplemented with weekly trips to the library, and occasional internet searches.

History - Again following a Classical bent, we are using "The Story of the World" for history.
This too is supplemented with reading from our local library. Admittedly, history has gotten off to a slow start for us and hasn't yet sparked Dale's interest like I had hoped. After debating off and on for months, I have finally ordered the Activity Guide that goes with SOTW. My hope is that some hands-on activities will really bring these stories to life for Dale.

Handwriting - We are using copy work to improve Dale's handwriting. So far we have alternated between McGuffey's Primer and a set of large print, very easy science readers we own.
Dale simply copies a passage (or page or two) from these and gets practice with forming correct letters and adding in punctuation.
For now, this also serves as our spelling curriculum. I was very pleased to give Dale a "spelling test" (I didn't tell him that's what it was) of 10 words from his first two weeks of copywork and find he only missed two.

Phonics - With Dale having a solid grip on reading both silently and aloud, we aren't focusing heavily on phonics. We have a jumbo work book we plan on completing several pages a week from, just to cover all our bases. He will also be exposed to more and more proper mechanics as we get into more complex copy work pages.

Grammar - I have almost committed to adding on grammar in a week or two. This is another element I have spent weeks waffling and debating with myself on. I own a copy of "First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind" and love the simple layout and gentle introduction to grammar.
My biggest concern has been Dale being able to grasp the abstract nature of the concepts. However, the lessons are short and simple, and as long as we are getting everything else done the exposure to the concepts can't hurt, even if he doesn't yet completely master them. Then when we delve in more deeply in a few years he will have at least heard of these things before. So, when we get our routines and other subjects more firmly under our feet I will probably add in grammar later this fall.

If you have actually read this far, thanks for sticking with me! I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the materials or methods I mentioned above, or about your favorites!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dale's latest observation

The boys and I were riding along in the car today. It had been quiet for some time; I guess we were all lost in our own thoughts.

Just moments after we passed by a pickup truck on the side of the road with it hood up and steam pouring out, Dale interrupted the silence with this observation:

"He needs to do that 'Cash for Clunkers' thing!"

I have to say, I'm pretty sure the guy standing on the side of the road in 90 degree heat would probably, at least in that moment, agree!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Feelin' crafty

Several months ago the ladies of our church hosted a baby shower. When responsibilities were being divided up, Mom and I volunteered to come up with a centerpiece for the refreshment table.

We searched the internet and decided to make a diaper cake. It turned out to be fun to do, cute to look at, and a real hit with our fellow hostesses and even the mom-to-be.

SO..... when plans for a wedding shower started being discussed a few weeks ago, Mom and I were "assigned" the centerpiece, based on the diaper cake success.

Well, being a wedding shower, another diaper cake wouldn't do.

So we turned to the trusty internet again for some ideas and then headed to Hobby Lobby.

This is what we came up with:
That is a glass pedestal cake stand, topped with a mirror, an assortment of candles, and some glorious gems. The cake stand we already had, along with some odds and ends glass lids, boxes, and candle holders to vary our candle heights. Everything else was bought just for the shower. The pink gems were in the bride's wedding colors.

A different view:
This turned out to be fun to put together and was again well-received by other ladies at the shower.

Which is all well and good, except for we just may have earned ourselves a permanent position as center-piece makers.

You know what we said to each other?

"If you notice, no one ever asks for our cookie recipes."

I guess we'll stick with what we know, hmm?

To see what works for others, visit We Are That Family!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A day in the herd

I am certain this post would be much more interesting with pictures, but I didn't take any today because I hadn't thought of doing this post until about 3 minutes ago. So. There you have it.

Daddy left earrrly early for work today. The boys got started playing around 7:15 and I didn't get up until closer to 7:45. Apparently I am still on a summer schedule. That and it's possible I stayed up until ... way past my bedtime on Just $2 more and I could get free shipping on my order!! Finally, one extra book and $4.99 later, I went to bed. Anyway... back to this morning...

Malto-meal for breakfast because it is quick and easy and we are out of bread and milk.

Started some laundry and Dale and I worked together in the kitchen cleaning up.

Dale sat down to work on his handwriting. I don't think I've mentioned that we've already started school at our house. We started two weeks ago when Daddy did (summer practices), so we are into week 3 of first grade now. Dale and I are both loving it! Handwriting is up first every day. More on that in another post.

After handwriting and a 5 minute living room clean-up the boys played while I had a quick shower and cleaned the bathroom.

After that it was on to some history stuff to finish up from last week, and then today's Bible lesson. Which we followed with math.

We were over halfway through today's math and I could tell Dale was getting close to his limit on sitting down and working well.

Which turned out just fine, because about that time Mimi dropped by for a surprise visit on her way to work.

After Mimi left we had lunch and then headed for the library for this weeks stash of school books. Today's checkouts included books on: ancient Egypt, night sounds, fireflies, and camping. The camping ones are for Alan. More on that in another post, too. :)

While we were at the library Alan had a little potty incident which I will not describe further because, really, you don't want to know. Really. Let's just say we haven't been as dedicated to the potty training as we should be. "We" meaning Alan and his parents.

Home from the library and it was Alan's nap time. Dale was hungry so we had a popcorn and gatorade snack then read books together, then watched youtube videos of volcanoes erupting. Dale's birthday is coming up soon and he is having a volcano cake. So we wanted to see some of the real thing in action. :)

Alan woke up in time to be around for an online chat with Daddy after work and before evening practice. Not sure he knew it was Daddy, but he liked watching all the animations they were sending back and forth.

While the boys were busy with that I made a potato salad and a dessert to carry to my parents' house for supper. We ate bbq chicken with them and my dad's parents.

We visited for a little while and then it was time to head home. Dale has been asking for a while to spend the night, so we left him behind. It took Alan until I put the car in reverse to realize that Dale wasn't with us, but he handled it well... after several questions and answers about where Dale was (still picking up toys in Mimi and Gramps' den), Alan announced, "Aw man! We forgot Dale!"

But he went to bed without a fuss, even if we did forget his brother! Maybe it helped that he got to wear Dale's spongebob tshirt to sleep in. So both boys think they are getting away with something without the other. :)

And now, if you will excuse me, I have some Amazon-yawns and another full day tomorrow, so it's off to bed with me!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Waste not, want not, right?

Despite the high price of groceries these days, we still choose to keep fresh fruit on hand for breakfasts and snacks.

Bananas are a huge staple at our house; we very rarely leave a wal-mart or grocery store without them! We also usually have apples in the fridge, and, depending on the current price, grapes. Each spring we are always excited to see strawberries go on sale for the first time of the year, and we generally keep them on hand throughout the spring and summer.

Of course, fruit doesn't last forever, and can go downhill quickly if not eaten soon enough. Especially the bananas and strawberries!

And seeing how I hate to simply throw away anything we paid good money for, we have found a few favorite ways to use food that is past its fresh-eating prime, but is still just fine for general consumption.

In other words, I cook with it. :)

Bananas and strawberries are both good for chopping or mashing and adding to pancake batter or muffins.

One of our favorite snacks is to take a ripe and/or spotty banana (too mushy for eating alone for our tastes!) and mash it up with peanut butter and syrup or honey. This is yummy with any kind of cracker. We like ritz best. Animal cookies work too.

Today I had almost half a carton of strawberries that had seriously started to wilt, so I made strawberry syrup out of them to go with this morning's pancakes. We all enjoyed the treat!

I'm going to leave you with my favorite banana muffin recipe, but first I want to know:
Do you make the most of your not-as-fresh fruit or do you just chunk it? If you're frugal with your fruit, what are some of the ways you use it up?

Really Good Banana Muffins
1 egg
1 small-med ripe banana, mashed
1 c buttermilk
1/4 - 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 c quick cooking oats
1 c + 2 Tb flour (any combo of white and whole wheat - I like half of each)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 400.

Mash banana against side of bowl. Tip bowl to other side and beat egg. Combine egg and banana; add milk. Stir in brown sugar and oil (and a splash of vanilla if you want).
Sprinkle with oats. Cover oats with other dry ingredients. Gently mix dry ingredients on top of oats until baking powder and soda are combined with flour, then mix all until flour/oat mixture is just moistened.

Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 hearty muffins. Also good with chocolate chips added!

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Deere green, and other things

My little man cumbersomely crawled out of the car the other day, careful to keep his hands cupped together in front of him.

Dale had already noticed the cupped hands while riding in the back seat together and I had overheard him asking Alan about it, so I knew before I asked what he would say. But I wanted to hear it for myself.

"What do you have there, Alan?"

"A turtle."

He was happy to show off his little turtle to everyone, and even told us his turtle's name...


And while I am on Alan stories, I have a couple more I want to tell... if for no other reason than the fact that writing them here may be the only way I remember them!

Riding in the car today Alan piped up from the backseat: "I saw a tractor on my side!" (Alan loves tractors)

Me: "Oh wow! A tractor! What color was it?"

Alan: "John Deere."

So I guess that means it was green, don't you think?


And finally... a little Alan treasure, one of those toddler / preschooler things that disappear as suddenly as they come, but something about this one is so sweet to me, one of my favorite Alan-isms...
Alan will cover his face with his hands, remove them with a big grin, and say.... "PEEK-A-BYE!!"

Of course, everyone knows one doesn't play peek-a-bye while holding Turtle. You can't cover your face with your hands when they are full of turtle!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Have you ever...

....seen a single shoe on the highway and wondered how it got there?

Me too.

And while I don't have the answer to that, we do have a missing shoe mystery of our own around here.

The long version (hey, why not?):

We had plans to go out to eat for our 9th wedding anniversary last night (thank you, thank you, very much). We've had a gift card for Cheddar's since Christmas and it was definitely time to use it!

Got a late start leaving because the internet guy came by at 5:00 to fix our connection here. Yay! So nice to finally have internet at the "other" house again. It was definitely worth the delay.

Meanwhile, Alan put on his sandals "all by myself". They were on the wrong feet and not that loosely fastened, but that is ok for a guy just learning, right? Besides, I knew we'd fix them when we got to the restaurant.

As the boys were climbing in the van I realized that in addition to our gift card we would need cash for a tip, so I ran back inside to get a few dollars. On my way back to the van, POW! out of nowhere a wasp attacked me from behind and stung the back of my arm. Not only did it hurt like the dickens, I was incensed because I WASN'T DOING ANYTHING TO HIM!!

So... more delay.

Finally all buckled in and beyond ready to go, we set out.

And when we arrived, Alan was only wearing one shoe.

We searched the van high and low and couldn't find it. By this point it was already an hour later than we'd planned to eat, so we took him in with one shoe. That way, it at least looked like we'd tried. ;)

(Completely random side note... and I'll go with the short version on this one: While we were eating, an ambulance was called for a young woman at a table around the corner from ours. Not sure what the problem was, but we decided any night out that the ambulance is not called on your behalf is a good night!)

As far as the shoe goes, we felt it must have fallen out of the van during the distraction of the wasp sting. Alan was standing in front of his seat playing with the seatbelt and an open door.
Sadly, the shoe has not shown up, even in daylight today. Best guess is one of the dogs has carried it off somewhere. We can only hope it shows up, and not too chewed up when it does!

But if you happen to see us at church Sunday and Alan is wearing only one shoe, you'll know why. ;)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Does this fall under "do unto others"?

It is not uncommon for Dale to appear at my bedside in the middle of the night once or twice every couple of weeks.

Last night was one of those nights.

Usually he has lost whatever stuffed thing he went to sleep with, or wants to be tucked in.

Last night, though, he threw me for a loop:

Would you come do one nice thing for me?"

Because I had been pretty much sleeping - soundly I might add - I may have asked him to repeat himself.

After he asked the same question again, I wanted to know, "What do you want me to do?"

His response?

You can choose."


My only guess is the boy must have been pretty sound asleep himself.

I followed him to his room, tucked him back into bed and kissed him good night. I guess this satisfied him as a 'nice thing' because we both went back to sleep without another word.

So, my friends, head out into the world this week and do "one nice thing" for someone. But remember: You can choose. ;)