Friday, January 21, 2011

She's 5!!!

Golly, how the time has flown by!

 Wasn't she just a delectable bit of sweetness?  ...and she was a GOOD baby too (no indication of what we were in for later! ;-)
 Here she is at 1 year old. You can't tell I was behind her keeping her from climbing right off the table.  She thought that was a delightful game!  (The photographer and I both were a bit twitchy and in need of a drink afterwards)
 2 Years old...gosh I miss those baby cheeks! What I don't miss, though, is the messes.  This girlie and her brother both went through the mayhem and destruction phase at age 2.  Her most memorable?  Dish soap and grape jelly in the carpet.  Good times!
 Mmmm...peanut butter face and a rare calm moment, Age 3. The inevitable 3yo "quotable phrases" begin, and we end the year with my favorite. "Mommy...I'm thankful for my stuffed alligator, because he gobbles up my bad dreams and farts them out good dreams." Yes, she has a unique perspective on life...
 Yep, this is more like it...on the go at age 4...
 ...and such a generous spirit!  Who wouldn't want even a slimy snail when it's accompanied by that smile?
 She goes and goes until...she crashes.  HARD.  Don't bother trying to wake'd get more of a reaction out of a sack of potatoes.  Get comfy Oma (she actually looks like she's enjoying herself, though...doesn't she?)
Happy Birthday Chloe!  You bring so much life and laughter into our home!  Yes, you're a BIG GIRL now...but don't forget you'll always be our baby <3

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Monster Hats

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Frugal Snow Day Clothes for Southerners

We just got a ton of snow here in GA...five to six inches where we live! It's an unusual amount for sure, but we usually do get some snow over the winter. Every time it snows I am so thankful that we are prepared with our mismatched winter gear. It's not as pretty as the co-ordinated snow sets that you can find on Land's End or Eddie Bauer, but we really go for function over aesthetics when it comes to snow play. The main goal is to stay warm and have fun. For a long while we used seemed silly to invest in snow clothes when they'd be worn once or twice a year, but they got soaked SO fast in our wet snow & slush and once you're wet cold sets in very it was such a drag to get the kids dressed in so many layers and have to go through several sets of clothes every time they went out. It made for massive amounts of laundry!

Two years ago we went to Michigan in February. Snow clothing is pretty much a necessity if you want to be outside for long & enjoy yourself. Luckily it was all reduced to "end of season" prices, but the selection was crummy so we made do with stuff that was too large (WAY too large!). I was disappointed at the time, but it turns out that it was a good thing. They've been able to wear their reduced price snow gear for multiple years and have plenty more room to grow. So here's what we've got in our snow essentials:

Adult size Medium blue ski bibs (hand me down, no cost ;-)-this is what I usually wear, though the shoulder straps can be adjusted to fit T if the pants legs are rolled up. (Note: the plastic clips on the shoulder straps just broke, which is understandable as plastic gets brittle with lots of exposure to cold...they will still function but will have a belt used with them and the straps tucked in. :-/ Snow pants have less points of failure and can thus be used for much longer).

Junior size Large black snow pants (I bought these as a young adult for a ski trip, reduced at REI $18 They are ~12 years old and still going strong)-T(10) can wear these with a belt as the waist is large. She's been wearing these since she was 8 with the pants legs rolled up. She's still got several years to grow into them and they will not get worn out as they get used maybe 1 week out of the year at most.

Junior size Medium black snow pants (purchased in MI for $10)-B(8) wears these with a belt also. These were passed down from T who wore them for several years before. Last year B grew out of his size 6 blue snow pants that we purchased in Mi for ~$8 and I consigned them. I'm kicking myself for that now as C could start wearing them next year when she grows out of her current gear.

Size 4T blue snow bibs (the tag, still on them, says I paid $9.97-marked down from $19)-C has worn these for 2 seasons now and will probably not be able to wear them next year. The younger ages are difficult as they grow so fast, but that also means that if you get a good gender-neutral color at a reduced price they will resell at consignment or be able to be passed to a friend with a little one. I'll get her a size 6 pair of pants when they hit their reduced prices at the end of the season. With any luck she'll be able to wear them for 3 seasons before she grows out of them.

It is so important to keep the younger ones warm because they don't always know when to tell you that they're getting cold. I'm convinced that young children don't FEEL the cold like we do. I don't ever remember being cold when I was little. I remember, when I was 6, getting frostbite...after the fact. I didn't know that my toes were almost frozen off until AFTER we got home from being outside for hours. The thawing process was memorably painful, but the actual freezing, not so much ;-)

Snow pants are the most essential part of our snow gear. I'd say a good pair of thinsulate gloves are next on the list. Ours have been misplaced and we're working with the knit kind you generally find in our area. They get soaked so quickly and have to be traded out for dry ones frequently, so next year we will make sure we have good gloves. Hats and scarves are a no-brainer ;-)

So what are the non-essentials?

Snow shoes, for one. We've found that if you're wearing snow pants with a bit of length then they cover the tops of whatever shoes you're wearing. Shoes with decent traction are important. Tennis shoes work fine.

I tend to think of heavy weight coats as optional also, unless your child spends a LOT of time laying down in the snow. What you need is something that is water proof or water resistant. A windbreaker over a sweater/fleece works well...we've even used rain coats. Anything that is slightly absorbent (fleece, fur, sweaters or sweatshirts, denim) is going to grab the snow & keep it close to the body where it will melt. It's harder to get a heavy coat that will last several years b/c it's a more difficult area to have something with extra room or length, so you pretty much have to go up a size every year. If you can get them discounted or at a consignment sale then great, but if not just go for something inexpensive that will resist the water and that you can wear for more than one season a year.

So where do you go about getting these snow essentials if you live in the not-typically-snowy-south? Sometimes you can luck out at fall consignment sales. Winter clothing also gets reduced significantly in February and hits rock-bottom prices in March. Watch for online sales by brands that carry cold weather gear. Land's End has a "grow-a-long" brand that is designed to last several years. L.L. Bean, I've just noticed, carries waterproof rain pants that are significantly less expensive ($16.50) than their snow pants and could probably be snatched up very cheaply when reduced. You'd need a few more layers underneath for warmth, and they're not going to protect your shoes like snow pants, but they would definitely protect against the icky "wet jeans" issue. Hit up your family & friends in the North. If they have a general size range to shop in and know when to shop (Feb & Mar ;-) they can probably score some good deals for you, and if you'll see them sometime before next winter you can skip the shipping costs as well. Even if you have to pay shipping, it won't be much as they can be rolled tightly and don't weigh much. (We store ALL our winter clothing rolled up in one only takes up space when it's in use).

Stay warm & Have FUN!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Homeschool: Time

This is a post I've meant to write for a long time. Almost every homeschool Blog has it as a main if an explanation is required if you're going to do something so crazy. People have all sorts of reasons: religious, medical, fears for their children's safety or anti-socialization, or just that they think (wisely) that they can do a better job of it than the public school system. My reasoning encompasses all of those to one degree or another, but there is one single reason that overrides them all.

Today I am celebrating 6 years of being cancer-free. Six years and 3 months ago I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Stage 4B. According to the doctors and their statistics I'm not supposed to be here, not when their calculations gave me a 10% chance of survival. Yet here I am.

My babies were 4 and 2 when I was diagnosed. For the three months of grueling Chemotherapy treatments that dropped my weight to less than 100lbs and in itself almost killed me, there was only one thought, one prayer, one desire on my mind: "Please, God...give me time to raise my children. They are only babies. Please."

Life threatening experiences have a way of shaking you to the foundation of who you are. They change your priorities instantaneously and alter your perspective on life for eternity. I realized very quickly that while there were many things I'd like to accomplish in life, none of them were more important than being the best Mom I could be for my children. As long as I did that I could still walk into eternity fulfilled even if I never climbed Mt. Everest, or helped hungry orphans in Africa or any of the other things on my "bucket list," but if I managed to do everything on that silly "bucket list" without having been a good Mother and raising my children well then I would live with that regret for the rest of eternity.

Now, I realize that I could still be a good Mom while sending my children to public school, but the problem that gnawed at my insides as I faced enrolling my oldest, was the vast AMOUNT of time that she would be gone. And then I considered that the time that she would be home would be filled with homework, and dinner, and extra-curricular activities, and getting ready for the next day...and much QUALITY time would I miss with her?? Life threatening experiences also have a way of making you thankful for every single moment, and they keep the constant thought in your head that these moments are LIMITED. I would miss her.

So, there it is. The simple reason that I homeschool my children is because they are my number one priority and I love having them around. A LOT. I love feeling engaged and involved in their lives. I love that I was the one that was there when they read their first sentences or wrote their first words...and every other first. I love that I know, intimately, their quirks, desires, weaknesses & strengths...and that they also hove the opportunity to really know me.

I wouldn't wish a life-threatening experience on anyone...but I'd not trade mine for the world. I know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I know this because God has a weird sense of humor. After I spent months praying for time...just enough time to raise my kids, (I was thinking 10-15 years know how we bargain with God ;-) just six months after finishing Chemo and being told that my ovaries were fried I was expecting another baby. Maybe it's just my silly way of perceiving things...but I took that as an answer from heaven: "You've got plenty of time."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11 Happy New Year!

As we do every New Year's Eve, we wrote down our hopes and prayers for the new year on colorful strips of cloth.

Bear was having difficulty thinking of things that he wanted to pray for, the only thing he really wanted was for the children in Haiti to be safe and have new homes. I hadn't realized, until that evening, how much of an impression the event had made on him.

Our little tree got some pretty new colors for the New Year.

Wishing you all a Blessed and Abundant New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Owl Hats

Sleepy Pink Hoot

Rainbow Hoot

My desk in the disarray of assembly (a typical sight ;-)

Original Hoot

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lesson: Wegener-Continental Drift-Plate Tectonics

There's nothing really original here, just a bunch of information and activities consolidated from different websites. I thought I would post so that it could possibly save someone the extra work. We certainly had a lot of fun and learned a lot at the same time!

Alfred Wegener:

Slide Show Presentation:

Evidence and Activity for Continental Drift:

Instead of using the printout from the activity, we used tracing paper and an old map to make construction paper overlays of the continents. Playdoh was used to make the connecting mountain chains and we cut out copies of the various fossils to glue in the places they were found. The map underly has the plate boundaries drawn on it which was useful for discussing plate boundaries and hotspots further along in the lesson.

Construction of the Earth
Lithosphere, Mantle, Crust

How do we know?
Seismic waves

Convection currents carry the earth’s crust
Science Experiment:

Types of Plate Boundaries:

Hot Spots: Hawaii & Yellowstone

Why do the continents rise out of the ocean?

This would flow nicely into a lesson on the rock cycle...we've already done that so we got it a bit out of order.