Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Eve Photos

Alexandra and her aunt's now one-eyed dog, Sunny. She sure loves dogs! We also played a game of family football while we were outside. I almost knocked over our 86-year-old great grandfather! It wasn't exactly my fault...

Our dog, Pandy, checking out her Christmas gift.
Alexandra opening one of her many gifts. She mainly got books & movies from us. We only gave her 2 toys - a little electronic game which turned out to not be very much fun and a ball that you sit on to jump which we haven't blown up yet.

The toy that she got that have been used the most today: PlayStation 2 from Santa! She got The Twelve Dancing Princesses which she's played quite a bit and now her and Daddy are playing the Tiger Woods golf game that Daddy got from Santa.
She's also been enjoying: her metal detector (found the property line marker outside), a Pogo ball to jump on, and a nerf-type rocket (it works really well).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

2 Days Until Christmas

(Photo above: I've been playing around with my in-law's camera which is almost the same camera I'm planning on buying - this was one of my favorite pictures I took yesterday of their decorations.)
Today, the rest of the family arrived here in Kansas for Christmas, so we are ready for Christmas. In my husband's family, they open the gifts on Christmas Eve after dinner, so we'll be opening them tomorrow. Then, since Santa comes during the night, we get to open some more on Christmas morning!

Alexandra and her Nana made some peanut butter kiss cookies this morning.

Lots and lots of goodies... for just 9 people! (This is just a "sampling" - and sample I did!)

This dog is Pandy's cousin - Alexandra has really been loving on her. She had surgery a few days ago to remove her diseased eye. I was so glad that although it was pretty cold, it was very sunny and perfect for playing outside for awhile. (I miss our Texas weather!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Prairie Dogs & The Polar Express

Yesterday, we drove to Kansas to spend Christmas with my in-laws. Today, us "girls" (me, Alexandra, and her Nana) drove to go see an IMAX film of The Polar Express. Alexandra & I actually saw it for the first time on our TV a few days ago. I wasn't very excited to see it - it didn't look very interesting to me, but I loved it! So, when I saw it was at the IMAX theatre near here, we had to go and see it!

Near the theatre, out in some fields near Lowe's, are lots and lots of prairie dogs! I had seen them years ago, but Alexandra has never seen them. We watched these cute little guys that act so much like meerkats. And, when I got out of the car, one of them sounded a high-pitched warning that sent the others scrambling towards their holes. They were so cute!

Monday, December 18, 2006

More Goodies...

Today, my SUV is in the shop so we were "stuck" at home. We spent the day cleaning, doing laundry, and making more goodies - yum! Tonight, I need to finish up my gift-wrapping.

By the way, we've been having unusually warm weather here - it's been in the 70's and low 80's for the past week - short weather!!! I know it doesn't get people in the Christmas mood, but I love being able to play outside!

Icing the sugar cookies

A table full of sugar cookies - Alexandra wanted lots and lots of candy cane cookies

Using the blender to break up peppermints for peppermint bark - I'm the only one in my family that likes it, but I've gotta make some!

Christmas Preparations

I thought I'd just share a few photos of how we've been getting ready for Christmas:
Pinecone Christmas Tree made at Keepers
Gingerbread House made at Keepers

Foam Gingerbread Man made at Michael's using foam paint (pretty neat - we'd never seen it before)

Cutting out sugar cookies

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Spring Schedule

I have really been doing a lot of research, thinking, and praying about our spring schedule. I am really getting excited about the changes we'll be making! Here's m planned schedule:
  • Math - continuing with RightStart C (we're about 3/5ths through)
  • Language Arts - switching to Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Yellow Book -Alexandra's spelling has improveds a LOT from Saxon Phonics 2 this year, but I'm ready for a change
  • Handwriting - we'll be using a workbook by Evan Moor - we have been just creating our own materials - she'll also be learning cursive from LLATL! (this actually might be too much writing for Alexandra... I had just bought the Evan Moor workbook and then decided on LLATL a few days later, which also includes lots of writing - I'll have to watch Alexandra and see if it is too much)
  • History - continuing with SOTW but I will be adding my own activities - 2 times a week
  • Science - we'll be using Living Learning Books to study the human body - I'm excited because this curriculum is laid out just how I like! It lists both fiction & non-fiction books to read, a few activities, and some internet sites - 2 times a week
  • Bible - continuing Romans with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)
I'd like to do more (especially art), but I think this system seems very doable. If it goes well, we can add some more later if I think it would work. And, I'm going to put everything else away so I don't feel like I have so much to do! :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Advent Reading

This Advent season, we are reading a wonderful book called The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader by Donna W. Payne & Fran Lenzo. Alexandra and I both are enjoying it.

Each day you read about 3 pages and then listen to a track from the CD of Handel's Messiah which is included. I've learned so much from the readings! For example, the 1st day explained why gentlemen were not allowed to wear their swords to The Messiah. The 2nd day explained how the Dead Sea scrolls were found & what they contain. And, the 3rd day talked about O. Henry's story, The Gift of the Magi.

Every story hasn't been incredible, but a lot of them have been. I got chills tonight as I read about Anna & Simeon who had both received the promise that they would see the Messiah before they died, and both saw baby Jesus at the church when they were very old.

This advent reader doesn't have any activities other than listening to the CD, but I think I might create some activities next year if we read this again. I'm just very happy with this book, especially as I was so disappointed in the book we tried to use last year.

Friday, December 15, 2006

SOTW Ch. 14 - 10 Plagues and the Exodus

In SOTW, we've been studying Moses this week. We continued the past 2 days by reading about God's 10 plagues on Egypt and the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt.
For the 10 plagues, we colored cartoon pages from the following website:
For the Exodus, we read a great book called Exodus from Egypt by Mary Auld. We also created a scene of the Red Sea parting that I found at this site: . (They also have a Joseph's "coat of many colors" we could have used earlier.) We love these Making Friends dolls and we used these to act out the story.

Jumping Rope

Alexandra learned to jump rope this week - she went from 2 jumps without a miss to 22!!! Way to go, Sweetie! (She also got her first bloody knee from jump roping...)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baby Moses

We've moved on to the next chapter in SOTW and we are studying Moses. The first part was about Moses as a baby. We enjoyed the story and then we made our own "basket" out of Model Magic.

We then put the basket in the pool to see if it would float! We did this BEFORE we put baby Moses in the basket, because we didn't want her to sink. :-) After seeing it WOULD float, we added our baby Moses (who is actually a girl doll playing a boy)

The basket floated for a few minutes, and then started to fill with water. Alexandra saved "baby Moses" by picking her up by the hair. I guess it's good our Moses had plenty of hair! (the photo is kind of dark, but hopefully you can make it out)
Tomorrow, we move on to the "10 plagues" and the "Red Sea." I've got some neat things planned and I'm excited! I'm so glad Alexandra enjoyed history today. Trying the basket IN the water was a spur of the moment idea, and I'm glad it worked!
Good book we read: Moses in the Bulrushes retold by Hutton - I espeically liked the illustration of the basket - it's what we used when we made ours

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Keepers Christmas Party

This afternoon we had our first Christmas party with our Keepers' group and the Contenders, too. Besides getting to play outside some (it was in the mid-70's today!), here are the fun things we did as a group with 15 kids.
  • read the Christmas story from the Bible
  • sang Christmas carols while I played the piano (one of the girls also played a song)
  • decorated sugar cookies
  • had snacks (summer sausage, cheese, crackers, chips, and lots of sweets!)
  • played a game of making the kids into snowmen with toilet paper & scarves & mittens, etc
  • made Christmas trees out of pine cones which were spray painted and decorated with glitter
  • decorated small gingerbread houses (made of graham crackers)

It was a wonderful time and we are really enjoying our new friendships this year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

SOTW Ch. 13 - Hatshepsut & King Tut

We've been doing SOTW (Story of the World) Vol. 1 this year which covers ancient history. We have the workbook, but I just haven't been very inspired with the activities so far. We've only done a few. So, in an effort to make our school days more fun & memorable, I decided to do what I usually do on a subject - research on the internet. So, to spice up learning about Hatshepsut & King Tut, and hopefully learn & remember more, here is what I found:

In Dallas, I saw a sign for an exhibit about Hatshepsut! It closes Dec 31st, so we probably won't get to see it, but I found a slide show of 19 of the objects that are part of the exhibit. This is from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:{92C8F718-137B-4AE6-9FAA-C8DA6CCE72CC} If this link doesn't work, I just googled "hatshepsut museum". On the site, there is a button that says "view a slideshow." I also read about Hatshepsut at the Kimbell Art Museum site from Fort Worth at

Also, we played a great game online called Hatshepsut's Revenge. It's actually about King Tut being haunted by Hatshepsut. It takes about 45 minutes or more, and my daughter enjoyed it so much that she wanted to play again! We "spiced it up" by going all over the house as we "looked for clues." I just took my lapbook along with me and when it says something like, "you go to the bedroom..." well, we went to the bedroom. You can find the game by googling: "Hatshepsut's Revenge."

Our next chapter is about Moses and I have some great plans for us! :-)

Great book about Tut - Tutankhamen's Gift by Sabuda - this really reinforces this part of SOTW and we enjoyed finding the 2 cats on most pages

homeschool schedule

I've been having trouble sticking to any kind of homeschooling schedule lately. I know one of the reasons is that we do so many extra, out-of-the-home activities. But, even on other days, I've been really struggling lately. So, I thought I'd follow one day and see if I could figure out how to improve our school and get more schooling done.

I followed our schedule on Friday, and these are some of my conclusions:
  • clean the kitchen at night - including putting the washed dishes away! (I often leave them out "to dry")
  • get up at 6:30 & shower before Alexandra gets up (I had been doing that faithfully, and I've been slipping - I would like to change that to 6:00 after the new year)
  • give Alexandra her bath/shower at night
  • type up history questions at night
  • check email early & quickly & then stay off the computer until school's over!
  • aim for starting school at 8:30 (maybe 8:45 to start with)
  • consider changing our math routine - should we take a break from our curriculum??? (this has been a big struggle lately)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hansel and Gretel

WOW!!! We went and saw the opera of Hansel and Gretel today. We have been to quite a few children's operas, but this was our first full-length opera. I wasn't sure what it would be like, but it was amazing!

This was a new production in that it added puppets! And, they were incredible. Some highlights:
  • cat puppet that used 3 puppeters to operate it
  • Hansel and Gretel's parents walked on stilts (so they were about 8 foot tall)
  • the "14 angels" were flying puppets
  • the Sandman was adorable and used 2-3 puppeters
  • the witch was 12 foot tall! Incredible! And, she used an additional 4 puppeters (besides the opera singer)! It was just amazing!!!
The whole thing was just larger than life. A friend emailed that she had some additional tickets for tomorrow night, and we would have went again if we didn't have a previous commitment. What a great show!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

1st Eye Exam

Alexandra had her first eye exam this week. She was brave - especially after they told her she didn't have to get the puff of air in her eye. The doctor was wonderful and put her at ease. And, since she didn't need any glasses, he gave her some "silly glasses" to take home - the kind you wear when you've had your eyes dilated.

Math Outdoors

Earlier this week we had a beautiful day and I decided we had to do some school outside. Alexandra is working on skip counting for multiplication. I wrote her facts on the driveway and we had some fun.
  • we jumped from one number to the next while shouting out the number
  • we bounced a ball back and forth while saying the next "fact"
  • we tried to bounce a tennis ball on a racket while saying the facts
  • she rode her scooter around and recited her facts
It was a lot of fun and a great change of pace!

Animal Safari

On the way home from Thanksgiving, Alexandra and I stopped at a drive-through animal park where you can feed the animals from your car. This was the 2nd time she'd been through one of these, and she loved it. What was also neat was that no one else was there, so the animals were really crowding around the car!

Some highlights:

  • seeing 2 baby giraffes
  • having a emu chase us like a little puppy - he just wouldn't give up!
  • feeding & petting 10 donkeys - the only thing we touched
  • seeing 2 pot-bellied pigs - Alexandra LOVED these, and I've never seen one at a drive-through park before
  • seeing a baby iguana (this was inside the gift shop - it was riding on its mom's back)
  • spending almost 2 hours just looking at the animals and the beautiful scenery
  • we had our dog, Pandy, in her kennel in the car - she was silent the whole time EXCEPT when we stopped by a caged lion - she went crazy barking! It was pretty funny. I guess she smelled something to be afraid of!

Leaves & Trees at Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, we went to my brother's house. He has a lot of big trees in his backyard, so Alexandra and her cousin had a LOT of fun playing in the leaves! They raked up a big pile and buried themselves in it.

From childhood, I remember playing "bird's next" with my brother and sister and friends. We would shape a leaf pile like a bird's nest and play like we were a family of birds. I loved sharing this experience with my daughter while at my brother's. We don't have enough leaves to do this at our house.

My brother and I also liked to climb trees. There was a great climbing tree in our backyard. I could only go up a few branches, but my little brother would climb almost to the top! I remember my mother coming out to look for him and he'd be hidden in the treetop. My brother helped my daughter get in the tree - and then he climbed up himself! His tree isn't as easy to climb as ours was, so he didn't get as high. I didn't even try. :-)

The other 2 things we did a lot of over Thanksgiving were singing karoke - what fun!!! - and playing video games - another thing my brother did A LOT OF when we were small. I wasn't very good at them, so I'd just watch.

My brother had a lot of friends over 2 days while we were there and it was a lot of fun. There were even several little girls for Alexandra to play with. It was just a wonderful time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Click Beetle & Our Morning

My daughter and I love click beetles - the little beetles that when they are lying on their back, make a "click" and fly in the air, hopefully landing on their feet. So, this morning as I was getting ready to shower, I found one in the hallway and gave it to her to play with.

After getting out of the shower, I found her crying in her bathroom because the click beetle had went down the drain in her sink. She had pulled the plug out of the sink, so we got a flashlight and looked down the drain. Sure enough, I saw the little guy struggling at the bottom in a little bit of water. He just couldn't climb out.
So, I got some yarn, and tried to put it down the hole. It kept getting stuck, so I decided I needed a weight on it. I attached a safety pin, and it finally reached down to our helpless bug. He started climbing up the yarn, so I slowly pulled him to safety.
He is now sitting in a bug box, but Alexandra wants to put him back up in the attic, "where he came from", with his mom & dad. I'm not sure where he'll end up yet, but what an eventful morning.
P.S. I keep trying to put spaces between the paragraphs, but for some reason it won't let me! Also, the picture is of our click beetle on his back, ready to "click!"
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