Saturday, June 30, 2007

God's Beautiful Creation

We saw this beautiful, clear, double rainbow (the 2nd is hard to see in photo) while in Oklahoma. I was amazed at the strong colors in the rainbow.

Then, I went in the backyard and saw this beautiful sky. Wow! The night before had been beautiful, too, but by the time I'd gotten my camera it had changed. I was glad I got these photos (I actually took a lot more).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lightning Bugs!!!

As a child, I loved catching lightning bugs. We would go outside and fill up a Mason jar. My family tells me a story from when I was very little - probably 3 or so. My big sister and I had caught a lot of fireflies and my mom let us bring them inside. Next thing they know, the jar is empty and they asked me where the fireflies were. I told them I'd "set them free".... down the toilet! (Oops!!!)

We don't see lightning bugs here in TX, so we were excited to see some in OK. This is only the 2nd time Alexandra has gotten to catch some. We only caught 4, but we had a lot of fun! And, we set them free... OUTside.

Lots of Rain, Means Lots of Mushrooms!

While we were in Oklahoma recently, they were receiving LOTS of rain. And, around the house, there were LOTS of mushrooms! The last day we were there, about 30 new mushrooms popped up! Alexandra and I were just amazed at the size of this one! If we would have stayed around longer, we would have loved to study them some more. They were beatiful!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beach Finds

We recently went to the beach with some friends. We had a great day that ended all to soon. There was an unusual amount of seaweed on the beach. But, with the seaweed came some interesting "finds."

There were 2 large branches (trees?) that were in shallow water. We waded out to them and were surprised to see them covered with barnacles. I was showing the girls how you had to be careful around them or you could get a cut, and I got a small scratch myself when a wave came in.

The girls found several small crabs. I found one that a bird dropped as I approached. But, our neatest find of the day was this strange looking fellow with a red stripe down his back. While at the beach, I really was pretty clueless as to what he was. When I got home, it took quite a while for me to figure it out, but I believe he is a shrimp! And, the girls found another one, too - both alive! I've never heard of finding a shrimp on the beach. It was very cool to watch him. I held him and he has very small pinchers that he tried to pinch me with - but it only tickled. What a great way to learn!!!

Campaign Trail

Once again I'm sorry that it's been so long since I blogged. I guess this is just how summer will be this year. I also haven't been reading blogs like usual. Guess I'm just taking a break! I have started our Japan KONOS unit and I think we'll be using the online co-op next year. I'll try to post more about that tomorrow.

Last week, we helped a relative on the campaing trail. One of my relatives was running for office and we went to lend support and help out. I helped phone potential voters, stood at an intersection holding a sign and waving, and went to several rallies.

This was my first political experience. I am now more aware of how a campaign works (and so is Alexandra!) and will be kinder to those who call me about campaigns and will wave to those who are campaigning. I also just plan on being more informed and supporting the candidates that I agree with more in the future. Unfortunately, our relative lost, but it was a wonderful race and I am so proud of everyone who worked so hard.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Preparing for Japan

We are doing a 3 week trial of a KONOS online co-op group as we are considering it for the fall. We'll be starting Japan a week from Monday, but we were doing some planning today - and, we kind of went ahead and started on a few things. Alexandra has made lots of dolls from Making Friends, so we made these Japanese dolls today.

We are planning on making a kimono for Alexandra to wear. I am VERY new to sewing as I've only made one dress (for my niece about 8 years ago with LOTS of help from my mother-in-law) and a tote bag (a few weeks ago with a friend). So, I decided to start by using some scrap material and making a kimono for Alexandra's doll. The material we'll use for Alexandra's kimono is above (grand total of $9 at Walmart!).

And, above is her doll in her kimono - it looks more like a robe because of the material. We're planning on making her a nicer kimono from Alexandra's scraps. And, I figured out a few things I can do to make the "real" kimono nicer. But, I was pretty proud of the job we did!

I'm very excited about the online co-op. You are able to view a video each week that guides you as to what you will do the following week. It also lets you know what materials you need for the week, and for coming weeks. And, you get to join a yahoo group to talk with other moms who are doing the same unit as you are. I'm loving our group! I've already gotten some wonderful ideas. And, I like that this will keep me more on tract and I'll get to get ideas and share ideas with other moms. If we do it next year, we'll be doing studies from Volume 2 with an emphasis on early American History, which was my plan for next year anyway. I'm very excited and we both can't wait to really get started with Japan!

Summer Incentive Charts

We haven't been "doing school" this summer, but I did want Alexandra to continue to work on her math facts and reading. So, after a couple of not-so-good weeks, I came up with the above "incentive chart." We are using Quarter Mile Math, which Alexandra really enjoys. Each box represents one "race" - both for addition and multiplication. And, each box under "reading" represents 10 minutes of reading. Her goal was to complete this chart during the week and then she'd get her prize: movie (at home with mom), pizza and popcorn. She finished Saturday and got her reward. We'll be doing this again this summer, but I think I'll add typing to her list.

This second chart is one my friend, Ms. S, made for me. Her girls are doing this 1000 minutes of reading chart this summer, and we saw it on their fridge. So, here we go! Both of Ms S's girls chose a Webkinz as their prize for when they reach their goal, and that is what Alexandra wants, too. She's really motivated - she's completed 3 hours of reading in less than 48 hours!!! And, this is amazing as she hasn't been reading much for the past few weeks.

So, I hope these chart ideas might help someone! I'm thinking about using something like this all year long. We'll, see!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Aquarium

On Saturday, Alexandra and I went to The Aquarium.

We rode the ferris wheel twice, the carousel, and she rode another ride 4 or 5 times that is just too much for me. The lift you up (in a "chair") and drop you over and over - kind of makes you tummy fly.

It was a hot day and Alexandra cooled off in the sprinklers - she didn't get too wet, though.

We toured the aquarium and saw lots of neat fish, etc. I liked this exhibit - Alexandra crawled under the exhibit and came up in the sting ray touch tank. We also saw a live feeding of some archer fish that was really cool. I got a video that I might try to put on the blog tomorrow.

We rode on a train ride through a shark exhibit - the train actually goes through a building and stops in a tunnel where the tank is on top of you and beside you. Our favorite was this sawfish. How do you like that face? (I mistakenly identified this as a swordfish earlier. Oops!)
From this website: Sawfishes are a group of extremely large shark-like rays which haunt the muddy shallows of tropical bays, rivers and lakes. Though fearsome in appearance, sawfishes are very docile. Due to decades of incidental capture in nets set for other species, sawfishes are in serious trouble and populations worldwide are severely depleted...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dance Mat Typing

I guess we are kind of unschooling this week. I haven't had an agenda and I'm amazed at all Alexandra has been doing.

On Sunday and Monday, she was my teacher and taught me subjects like math, spelling (and I was impressed at the words she spelled!), drawing, etc.

The only work I did have her do was Quarter Mile Math 2 days to brush up on her addition and multiplication facts. But, both days she wanted to also work on her keyboarding skills so we did.

Then, yesterday and today, we re-discovered Dance Mat Typing (someone recommended it on their blog - thank you!! I just don't remember who right now) which is a free on-line typing program. She spent about an hour on it today! She really wants to learn to type. Then, tonight, she spent an hour writing me a letter on Microsoft Word.

So, I'm impressed at how she can lead me to where she wants to be, and I also wanted to share about this typing program that she's really enjoying. Hope everyone has a good weekend! - Dana

Irwin Family Weekend

Animal Planet is having "Irwin Family Weekend" which starts tonight. Tonight they're showing My Daddy the Crocodile Hunter. Saturday is the first episode of Bindi the Jungle Girl. Then on Sunday they'll show Planet's Best with Terri and Bindi. We watched some preview clips on Animal Planet's website and they shows look great! I'm setting my DVR and hope you can catch it, too! - Dana

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Locks of Love

Yesterday, I had 10 inches of my hair cut off to donate to Locks of Love. I'm not sharing this to brag about something I've done, but to raise awareness for this group. I donated because of examples I've seen -my hair dresser, one of Alexandra's friends, and a boy in the newspaper. If they hadn't spoken up about what they were doing, I wouldn't have known about this organization. So, I'm hoping the more exposure it gets, the more people will donate.
Locks of Love helps financially disadvantaged children under age 18 who suffer from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. It takes from 6 to 10 donated pony tails to create one custom hairpiece!
My hair is shorter than it has ever been at about chin length. I'm really enjoying it and getting to speak out about Locks of Love since the change is so apparent. I'm even thinking about growing it out so I can donate again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

8 things about me meme

Robin and Christie have both tagged me for this meme, so I thought I'd play along. Here are the "rules":

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I have a degree in secondary science education but I think I was a lousy middle school teacher.
2. I have since taught 3-5 year olds and love it (and think I'm pretty good at it).
3. I have lived in 3 houses each for 9 or more years, including our current house.
4. I LOVE genealogy research and used to spend 8 hours a day (some days) at the research library before I was a mom. (I worked temp jobs and would do research like crazy in between jobs.)
5. I took speech therapy in kindergarten so I could pronounce my R's correctly. (We had to crow like a rooster, but I enjoyed being pulled out of regular class and being with one of my friends.)
6. I am married to my high school sweetheart.
7. The only sports trophy I ever won was for jump roping.
8. In 5 years of college, I only missed 1 class and was only late to 5 classes.

Well, I'm not sure who has been tagged, but it seems like most of the blogs I regularly read have already done this. If you read my blog and haven't participated, just let me know and consider yourself tagged! - Dana


I forgot one of our projects from MTH's Vacation Under the Volcano. (Above: Alexandra's cat fresco.) We put a layer of plaster of paris on wood (me) and cardboard (Alexandra). Then, while it was still wet, we used paints. I used watercolors (which is what we were "supposed" to use) while Alexandra used some other paints.

I was amazed at how the paint got soaked up. I put many layers - maybe 10 - on my fish. I also painted the background blue to look like water, but when it dried it had almost disappeared except around the edges. I really enjoyed this project as I think Alexandra will really remember what a fresco is and how you make it.

A snake? A worm?

We found this "strange" creature in our backyard. He was about 2 inches long with a "hammer" head and stripes. He looks dark on the semi-dark background, but looked very light when we saw him on a petri dish to view him through a microscope. At first, I thought it might be a very small snake. Then, I thought it might be a worm.

After a little research, I found it was a worm! A worm called a terrestrial flatworm or land planarian. We watched him for quite a while. We loved how his little "hammer head" would go back and forth as he decided where to go. We even got out our digital microscope and took some movies of him. (Photo from microscope below)

After releasing him (we probably studied him for an hour), I read more about him on the computer. This little flatworm is actually an invasive species. He is not good to have around as he eats earthworms. You also have to pour some kind of chemical to kill him because if you chop him up, each piece becomes a new flatworm!!! Amazing, huh?

Monday, June 04, 2007

MTH: Vacation Under the Volcano: Part 2

We did finish up our study using the Magic Tree House's book, Vacation Under the Volcano. It was a great study! We had so much fun and will use this study for some more MTH books.

Here are some of the activities we did for the last 5 chapters:

Made a volcano explode (of course). I actually video taped Alexandra's "show", so I really need to figure out how to do videos! Maybe in the next few days...
Made a sundial. I was surprised when the time didn't match our local time - then I thought about time zones & daylight savings, etc. Our sundial was 2 hours off, but I think it was keeping time pretty accurately. The wind made it a little hard to tell, though. (I love how our dog seems to be checking things out.)
Made mosaics on a board with plaster of paris. This is my flower. I should have laid it out first and planned better. (Alexandra didn't like her finished product.)
Built arches. We used Model Magic, but since it sticks together (like clay), it was too easy to put together. I should have used clay that dries hard and then tried to build it after our "bricks" had dried.

Frog Update

Our 4 leopard frogs are alive and doing well. I'm getting used to the feeding routine (of live crickets) and we even took them with us on our trip last week. They just continue to get bigger & bigger! When's they're full grown, they'll be about 3.5 inches long. One of our local pet shops has some grown leopard frogs and I can't imagine ours getting that big! Ours are just over 3 months old and about 2 inches long. Actually, the largest is at least twice as big as the smallest - and they all hatched the same day!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm back

I had to leave town Monday on a family emergency and just returned. It's been a long, hard week, but we're glad to be home. And, our family member is on her way to recovery, though it'll be a pretty hard road.

We finished school up the Thursday before we left town. We spent Friday at our local waterpark during Homeschool Day with some friends. I'm still unsure what we're doing for the summer, but I think we'll be doing some unit studies.

I do have quite a few posts I need to write to catch up. Hope to get some of them done tomorrow. - Dana
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