Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

From Rosie the Riveter, the Witch, the Fire Fighter, the Pea Pod, and the Soccer Player (behind the camera).

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Family Pictures 2010

Marissa Redder, my old college roommate and Kara's sister-in-law, came to Vegas recently and agreed to take our family pictures. I was so excited - I love her pictures. She did an awesome job and I can't wait to get them all printed out! Thank you, Marissa!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letter C

{The kids loved helping make the crepes. I let them each crack an egg for their first time and it was a success. No shells in the batter!}
Monday: We read The Carrot Seed (BFIAR book) and The Whole Green World. We read both books twice. We tore up little pieces of orange construction paper and glued them to a big letter C. As usual, our art activity ends in Eva drawing all sorts of things. This time she wanted to draw the library storytime lady, Miss Shelly. She drew a picture of her with a head and legs. I said, "How about some legs? Does she need legs?" And Eva answered, "Um, no. She can just walk." Then she drew a squiggly line around and through all her pictures and letters saying, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" Like the line was interrupting the other things on the paper. What a crack-up. We did our Kumon cutting workbook and Leighton cut all the way through the paper for the first time. Then Eva did tangrams to make the letter C. We sang a song about the seed cycle (to the tune of Farmer in the Dell) and did the actions of planting and harvesting seeds.

Tuesday: We read Carrot Soup, and re-read our books from yesterday. Eva did her C pages in her workbook, along with a few extras working on size sorting. We went outside to play catch and draw with chalk. I traced the kids outlines on the patio and drew in the details of their faces and clothes. I found a Mr. Rogers video on how they make crayons, which was cool because Eva had asked me while coloring what crayons were made of. We made cookies after dinner (leftover dough from last week's M&M cookies. They were better after sitting in the fridge for a few days!) and I let the kids have 2 each. I had...a few more than 2.

Wednesday: We read Clumsy Crab and drew pictures based on C is for Crab. We clipped clothespins to a can (great motor skill activity for Leighton - his first time to get the clothespin open by himself) and a page in our Kumon Sticker and Paste. Although the stickers were supposed to go on a girl's apron, Leighton insisted she needed some stickers on her shoes, too. Then I let Leighton draw with markers while Eva did some alphabet workbook pages; he figured out how to draw balloons and literally sat without hardly lifting his head for over an hour straight. His paper is completely covered with little circles he drew and meticulously colored in and lines going straight up the page. A masterpiece - I'm saving that forever as his first intentional drawing. Ever since that day he has had this amazing focus while drawing and stays at it for LONG periods of time. We went in the backyard and did the crab walk later that evening. I intended to have a race, but I didn't take into account my out-of-shapeness or the kids' lack of competitive drive in things like that. So we crab-walked for about 2 minutes until I couldn't do it any more and the kids resorted to tackling me instead. Oh well. :) Also, we had cold cereal for dinner. (Not because of the letter C but because of the word LAZY.)

Thursday: We started the day by making delicious crepes for breakfast. I read them Crepes by Suzette and used the recipe in the back to make the crepes. Yum! My first time making them - definitely not my last. (How sad that someone who lived in France for 3 years has never made crepes, right?) After breakfast we read The Mixed-Up Chameleon. We drew chameleons (Andrew and I even got in on the art action and made it family drawing time - it was so fun!) and did some math workbook. Eva wanted to show Daddy her mad workbook skills, so we pulled out a bunch and let her do what she wanted for a while.

Friday: I had no books this day as my theme was caterpillars and my library book didn't come in time. Oh, and our copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is torn in half after a few years of love and hundreds of readings. (Whoever thought board books were sturdy should come take a look at our bookshelves - R.I.P. Goodnight Moon.) So after circle time we went straight into crafts - making caterpillars out of pompoms and popsicle sticks. (I can't remember where on the internet I found this idea - sorry.) The kids LOVED the caterpillars - I even got out the googly eyes for them. And that was pretty much all we did that day for preschool.

Saturday: I finally got all the books I was waiting for - I need to request them earlier, I guess. So we just did reading today. The Monkey and the Crocodile, If I Ran the Circus (didn't make it all the way through that one), Coco the Carrot, and the Crunching, Munching Caterpillar.

Next week: Letter A

Monday, October 11, 2010

My new constant companion

{Photography brought to you by: Eva Webb. Big cheeks brought to you by: Genetics and too much ice cream.}
Here is a little riddle for you:

I am small and black and hang around your neck. My wires will hang down the middle of your chest and make weird bumps under your shirt. I beep if you leave the house without my other half. I am...

a heart monitor.

And I am the lucky wearer. Along with the Holy Ghost, this little baby is my constant companion. For 3 whole weeks. For better or for worse.

I try not to be annoyed by it. When I get irritated by the electrodes and the stickiness they leave on my skin, or want to scream when I turn over in the night and it wraps around my neck the wrong way, I try to tell myself that it's for a good cause. It will read my heart patterns and detect whether or not I have something wrong.

After an appointment with my cardiologist (if that sentence doesn't make me feel 85 years old, I don't know what will), I was relieved to hear that he would do lots of tests to get to the bottom of my weird problem, if there is a bottom. And if there is a problem.

Last week I went in for an echocardiogram (which, I learned, after sounding really foolish to the nurse, is different than an EKG) - an ultrasound on my heart. It was kind of strange going into a room with an ultrasound monitor and seeing something on the screen other than a fetus. In fact, that may be the last ultrasound I ever have, come to think of it. Normally when I have an ultrasound, I am thinking about the miracle of life in terms of my baby. This time, I was struck at the miracle of life in my OWN body. I watched my own heart beating (regularly, thank heavens) and the valves opening and shutting. It made me grateful to be alive.

So I guess if the worst thing I have to deal with is walking through the grocery store beeping like a senior citizen with a bad hearing aide, then life isn't so bad.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Letter M

Scripture: Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
We started out reading our BFIAR book, Caps for Sale. The kids really enjoyed it, so we read it twice. We went outside in the backyard and walked around balancing plates on our head, pretending they were caps. We did Kumon Cut #4 - we worked on opening and closing scissors without taking our fingers out of the proper position. Eva was great, and Leighton is getting better every time we practice. He insists on holding them upside down, which makes it harder. Eva, after doing her "assignment" of cutting on the gray lines, cuts her scraps into miniscule squares, like confetti. We sang 5 Little Monkeys swinging in a tree. We did Kumon Uppercase Letters #7-8 and traced our alphabet tracing cards with dry erase makers. (Leighton now thinks everything he colors can be wiped off. A few days later, after coloring with a pen on paper, he yelled, "Wipe it, Mommy!" and couldn't understand why I couldn't wipe it off. :) ) Leighton drew straight lines all the way down his card for the first time, and Eva kept writing Ms and turning them into pants (flipping it upside down and drawing a line on the top). That morning we also took Andrew's parents to the Thunderbird museum on-base. The most educational thing that happened there (for the kids, anyway) was learning that Mom can ask them to stop jumping off benches and tell them to be quiet an infinite number of times. How's that for a math lesson?

We read Monkey and Me (Emily Gravett) and then Caps for Sale again - my other monkey library books were late coming in. We made a monkey mask - the kids colored it and then I put some string around their heads and cut eye holes. (Not in that order, though!) They thought they were pretty fancy wearing masks. They traced letter M on the cards again. (Well, Eva did. Leighton loves the letter H and insists on using that card.) Mammy and Pappy were with us that day, so we cut preschool a little short to spend time with them.

Marshmallow day! We read Marshmallow (Claire Turley Newberry) and The Marshmallow Incident (Judi Barrett), both of which were way too wordy and over the kids' heads. Marshmallow Kisses (Linda Crotta Brennan) was much better for them. We went outside and carried marshmallows on spoons in our mouths (like an egg race) and then came in to sort piles of big and little marshmallows. We glued mini-marshmallows on the letter M (Leighton picked them off and ate them, dried glue and all!) We did Kumon Sticker & Paste workbook - they are loving just putting stickers wherever they want - and then Eva did the M pages in one of her Costco workbooks. They ate WAY too many marshmallows that day, but it was all in the name of education. :) That afternoon we went to the aquarium at Mandalay Bay, which, coincidentally, also starts with letter M. Didn't plan it that way, but it worked out. Andrew refused my requests to buy a book on manatees from the gift shop. (Maybe I'm taking this letter of the week a little far...)

This was another great preschool day - actually, this whole week was terrific. Several months ago I bought a treasury of Laura Numeroff books that came with a CD. Though we have read the book a hundred times, we had never used the CD. I saw it when I opened the book and decided to give it a try. The kids LOVED it. I had the CD read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School to them, and we danced to the songs that went with the books. It was adorable, and now I'm going to find more books on CD for them, just to change it up a bit. We also read Mouse Paint (Ellen Stoll Walsh) and One Monkey too Many (Jackie French Koller) (one day too late!), which were both awesome books that I want to buy and add to our library. After reading, we did the M is for Mouse craft, which involved me gluing down capital Ms and the kids coloring all over them. I was too lazy to dig out the pipe cleaners and googly eyes, so we'll chalk it up to more art practice. Eva just ended up writing "mouse" a dozen or more times, and all of our names. We did M&M color sorting, which I thought was our best math manipulative ever. Counting AND eating chocolate. Can it get any better? I submit that it cannot! I was even surprised at how little M&Ms were consumed in the the kids, that is. That night, we used those M&Ms to make cookies. I let them stand on chairs next to me by the mixer (which normally drives me crazy, so this was a big step for me) and dump things in. Despite the constant pleas to lick the spatula (which Eva calls "the dough") and the mess, it was fun.

We used the CD from the Mouse Cookie book once again to listen to a reading of If You Give a Moose a Muffin. We danced to the songs and acted out making muffins. We also read Moosetache (Margie Palatini). We did some alphabet workbook, too.

This was probably the best week yet - I feel like it keeps getting better. Maybe we're getting into a groove, or maybe my planning got better over time, but this is awesome. I don't know what we did all day before we did preschool. It has saved my sanity! And it's not a bad gig for the kids, either.

Coming up next: Letter C!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Letter H

Can't believe it's been another week already! I keep meaning to blog in between my preschool posts but haven't done it yet. This week went by too fast, but we had fun.
Scripture: Mosiah 2:17

Reading: Our BFIAR book was If Jesus Came to My House. It went along with our memory scripture and has a great message. Unfortunately I think it went a little over the kids' heads. They were so confused about Jesus being a little boy in the pictures and I don't think they understood the end, where the little boy narrator explains that he had imagined Jesus that way and instead of really spending the day with Jesus, he could treat everyone he sees with kindness. Leighton kept pointing to the pictures and saying, "That's Jesus?" So it may have been a little too abstract. But still a great book. I hope as we keep reading it and talking about it they will understand it a little better.

Letters: Kumon Uppercase #5-6

Fine Motor Skills: they poked holes in a letter H on paper with thumbtacks. This was great activity for both of them.

Play/LMS: Hula hoop! Walmart charges $8 per hula hoop, which Andrew thought was highway robbery, but I think it was worth it. The kids loved it and have been playing with them every time they go outside. I tried to show them how it worked but couldn't successfully get it to stay up longer than about 1.3 seconds. But they have improved at the general idea over the week.

We didn't do preschool that day; instead, we went to the Children's Museum for some hands-on learning, if you will. We went with the Culvers and the Alleys, and Andrew even had the day off and got to go with us.

Another bad preschool day. We did circle time and then I read a few books before I rushed out to a dentist appt. We read The Napping House (Audrey Wood), A House is a House for Me (Mary Ann Hoberman) and The Little House (Virginia Lee Burton). The House is a House for Me one was great, even though I think I liked it better than the kids. The illustrations were engaging. This was our second attempt with The Little House, and for some reason my kids just don't like this book. They won't sit through it, which is extremely rare for them. Maybe it's because there's no interesting characters - I don't know. I think it's a good book, but we'll have to wait a while before checking that one out again.

Reading: Are You a Horse? (Andy Rash) - this was a cute idea for a story, but I didn't like the writing. Would have been better if it was more predictable, so the kids could follow it better. The Wild Little Horse (Rita Gray) - I liked the pictures in this book but really wasn't crazy about the writing/story.

Art: H is for House, h is for horse - we didn't do the whole foam thing because I wanted Eva to be more involved in the process. I cut the letters out of paper on my Cricut, glued them on sheets of white cardstock, and Eva drew on all the parts with markers. Her favorite thing is writing words and she is always asking how to spell things; she loved writing the words "horse" and "house" on the page.

Math/FMS: workbook p. 15-19, then hammered golf tees into blocks of styrofoam. Another awesome activity, esp. for Leighton. He was occupied for the better part of an hour with NO throwing!! We did our cutting and sticker workbooks, and Eva kept asking to do "more preschool." I couldn't say no, so we just kept going and doing workbooks - our new Kumon Maze and Number Games ones are great and we did the first 2 pages in each. We went for almost 2 hours straight.

Music: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Peter Hammers, All the Pretty Little Horses, If You're Happy and You Know It

Reading: The Hiccuping Hippo (Keith Faulkner); Hidden Hippo (Joan Gannij); Hippo Goes Bananas (Marjorie Dennis Murray)

Math: Hippo Size Sort and Hippo Color Word Match - these were both awesome for Leighton. I was surprised how easily he matched the colors. The size was a bit more of a challenge (better for Eva) but he still tried and got a few in the right order. I think the hippo is adorable and I'm glad to have these laminated and around for multiple uses in the future.

Letters: We did workbooks and she breezed through them. I sometimes feel we do too much "workbook" stuff and I want her to have freedom, but she loves them so much I can't take them away. So I'll just have to deal with my feelings of being too "schoolish."
Next week: the letter M