Saturday, September 21, 2013

"If You Give A..." Unit--Day 3: "If You Give A Moose A Muffin" Part 1




Welcome to day 3 of our "If You Give A..." series by Laura Numeroff Homeschool Unit!

Be sure to check out the other days in this unit...

Day 1, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Day 2, If You Give A Pig A Pancake



For Day 3, we read If You Give A Moose A Muffin from the Mouse, Cookies, and More: A Treasury book. I also have an individual paperback copy that I put in Ezra's reading chair in his room (side note: I need to take some pics of his room for the blog).

Click the image to buy the book on Amazon--it's on sale for less than $17!!
Ezra had been dying to use the manipulatives he saw me preparing ahead of time for today, so I let him do one of the learning games next. These Upper and Lower Case Letter Matching Cards were found here. He looked at the upper-case letter above the moose and then clipped a clothespin onto the coordinating lower-case letter muffin. I was in for a major surprise--he got EVERY letter right, except one. He had trouble figuring out which was the lower-case 'Q' and he did question the lower-case 'B,' but I showed him a few tips (covering up the top loop of the upper-case 'B' makes it look like the lower-case one and the loops go in the same direction) and he was able to do it.

Almost done!
We had Music Time in the living room and did two fun songs from the Treasury CD. "Making Muffins" was more of a chant than a song. During this song/chant, you do lots of fun motions to 'make muffins,' like scooping the flour, sprinkling in the sugar, and putting on your boots (when you need to go pick berries for your jam). "Doin' The Moose" is a hilarious song that asks you to make moose antlers with your hands and dance around. I tried desperately to get a good picture of the kids dancing, but Ezra was just moving waaaaay to fast!

Of course, we needed to make muffins! I pinned this extremely easy recipe on Pinterest a few days ago. I had a big can of Libby's pumpkin that I bought for something last year and didn't get around to, so I doubled the recipe. All you need is a 15 oz. can of pumpkin, a white cake mix (I used Pillsbury white cake mix--it was $1), and a cup of chocolate chips. Since I had the big can of pumpkin, we doubled the recipe and it made about 46 muffins.

I have to say, these are about the most wonderful things I've ever baked!! They melted in your mouth and they tasted like Autumn, love, home, and happiness!!

They may or may not be almost gone now... (a day later)...

A double batch filled two of these containers and then some.


YUM-O!
We aren't done with Mr. Moose just yet, but that was what we fit into the first day of If You Give A Moose A Muffin!

On the agenda: making sock puppets, more learning games, and more dancing and reading!

Friday, September 20, 2013

"If You Give A..." Unit--Day 2: "If You Give a Pig a Pancake"

Monday we started our 'If You Give A...' series homeschooling unit, based on the 'If You Give A...' book series by Laura Numeroff. Additional days in this unit are linked at the bottom of the post!

Tuesday I had a meeting in the morning and then we headed to the park for a playdate with some friends. By the time we got home, we didn't have lots of time for 'school,' but we did manage to re-read the story, do the "Mouse Cookie" dance a few times, and Ezra used some large felt 'chocolate chips' to make paths and jump across the floor, which I am adding to Monday's post.


Our next book in the unit was If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Early Wednesday morning, Ezra and I were up before Ellie and we read the book before making pancakes for breakfast. Ellie must have known we were going to make a special breakfast, because she was up in a few minutes!

My nearly naked kiddos...don't judge me, it was morning and they don't like clothes!


My mom found this pig pancake pan at TJ Maxx a few years back.
I still spy one every now and then there. I think it's made by Nordic Ware.
How perfect is it for this unit?!

I only made two 'pig' pancakes because they took longer.


He didn't look especially pig-like. You could just do a regular pancake with two smaller 'ears.'
(Much like we do to make 'Mickey Mouse' pancakes...)



mmmm.....

Ellie approved!

Always sure to blow on her bites...

For our activity, we made a pig face from shapes, an idea I got from the Mom 2 Two Posh Lil Divas blog. I made a letter 'P' for Ezra to trace. He traced it and then wanted to make some of his own. After he was finished, I wrote, "P is for pig," across the top.




note the tiny hand that is about to steal his crayon, hehehe...

Next, we played a game, using the pig and some 'pancakes' I'd made the night before. I just used a cup to trace circles onto brown construction paper, cut them out, and wrote letters on each one. Then I used a small plate and Ezra's toy spatula to make the game play more fun. He would scoop a pancake, tell me the letter, and feed it to the pig. He surprised me with how many letters he was fluent with. The few he didn't know went back into the stack and rotated back through until he could name them correctly. Later I laminated the letter pancakes so they would be more durable (a tiny sister wanted to wad them all up, not surprisingly). He enjoyed showing his Daddy how he played this game when he got home.




The Mouse, Cookies, and More treasury CD came out once again for Music Time! We sang, "Flippin' the Flapjacks" several times and did the "Piggy Polka" too!

They are both 'flipping flapjacks!'
Thursday, I had errands to run and we bought some of our groceries, so we didn't have a whole lot of school time. We did play the pig pancake game some more and I wanted Ez to practice his letters (M and P, since that's what we've been focusing on this week), so I got out one of our small dry erase boards (sold in a two-pack on the Target dollar aisle during back-to-school) and a marker out. I wrote the upper and lower-case M for him and then had him copy. Unfortunately, the bulkiness of the dry-erase marker made it hard for him to do and he got discouraged. I'm going to try to remember to pick up some thin markers when we go to the store this week.




We've started our If You Give a Moose a Muffin day today, but we took a breather so I could work on this post and Ezra could watch a Leap Frog movie. Now Miss Ellie needs some lovin' (and a NAP), so I'd better get us some lunch and get her to sleep!
If you have any questions or additional activity suggestions, please let me know! :)

Check out the other posts from this unit!

Day 1, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Day 3, If You Give a Moose A Muffin (part 1)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reasons I'm Thankful To Be A Full Time Mom: Late Nights

Reason #1 (as in the first I'm listing, not priority) that I'm glad to be a stay at home mommy--late nights are inevitable when you are a mother of small children!

The following takes place at 3:30 am...



I'm up with a precious boy having growing pains...now he is sleeping peacefully. I'm so thankful that I can comfort him without thinking I have to be up and at work in just a few hours on so little sleep. Nights like this used to have me in tears for both of us, but now I treasure them (I did then too, but it was mixed with guilt from not being able to give him my all and dread for the upcoming morning where I would need to be at my best for 20 something other little people, no matter how much sleep I did it didn't get). I didn't want my baby to feel like he was an inconvenience and I never wanted my students to know I'd had a bad night. I'm glad for the simplicity I have in this season of life...as simple as being a wife, mom of two, and so on, that is... :)

Just a few moments after he fell back asleep, I heard his sister stirring. We went back to bed and I nursed her back to sleep. With a smile. :)


What's your favorite part of being a mom??

Monday, September 16, 2013

"If You Give A..." Unit--Day 1: "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"


"If You Give A..." Unit

Welcome! In case you didn't know, I'm a former Elementary teacher, turned Stay-At-Home Mom/Homeschool Teacher. I have an almost 4 year old son, Ezra, and a 1 year old daughter, Eliana (aka, Ellie), and I'm just getting started with more structured learning activities for Ezra. Right now Eliana is a distraction/sidekick/little learner tagging along!

When I was in college, we had to present an entire unit's worth of lesson plans over one subject/theme. I chose the If You Give A... series, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. If you aren't familiar with these books, I suggest you borrow them from the library or buy them--they are sure to be a hit with your kids! When I started to get serious about my son's schooling, I thought I'd go with something I knew well, and I already had ideas and supplies for some of the activities with this unit, so I started there! We will be adding more activities as we continue through the book series. I hope you can stop by for each installment! Additional days are linked at the bottom of this post! :)

Day 1: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie 


First, we read the story. I have the individual paperback and the Mouse, Cookies, and More: A Treasury has the story in it as well. We read from the treasury edition and I made sure Ezra knew where the paperback was in his book corner so he could 'read' it himself later.
Ezra enjoyed the mouse's antics! Even Ellie stayed still for the story and paid attention.



Immediately after the story, the treasury has 3 cookie recipes. I hadn't actually planned on making cookies because I didn't have the ingredients for our favorite, chocolate chip, but one of the recipes was for peanut butter cookies, and only needed 3 ingredients (one egg, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of peanut butter). My personal teaching motto is, "Monitor and adjust!" I thought, "Hey, why not? That's one of the great things about homeschooling--being flexible!"

FYI, these illustrations are also in "The Best Mouse Cookie," another great Laura Numeroff book!


Baking cookies together is full of learning and relationship skill building. It also helps me build my patience! I'm working really hard on staying sweet when cooking or baking with Ezra, because he makes it...in a word, challenging, to do so! Ah, little boys! :) Ellie and I donned our aprons, and I thought, "I really need to make Ezra a boyish apron." Maybe that will happen in the near future! I am also in love with Ellie's apron and I may have to make more (I didn't make this one).
I have a few pics of the kids while the cookies were baking. They were being amazingly sweet with each other--I just love those moments!!
{Reality check: There were also moments of Ellie screaming because she wanted me to pick her up instead of roll cookie dough with her brother.}

Hmm...maybe you were doing something worthwhile...

Quite possibly my new favorite picture.

Once we had the first batch of cookies in the oven, we headed to the living room for some music time! The Mouse, Cookies, and More treasury includes a CD with celebrity readings of the stories and songs to go along with each story. We did the "Mouse Cookie" dance, which includes lots of silly actions to repeat, and lots of "wiggle your nose and dance on your toes" time! :) My picture of Ezra doing this isn't great because he was doing a lot of wiggling! Oh, and Ellie got to dance too, so she loved that!


The cookies came out of the oven and I let Ezra help me put fork marks on the tops--for some reason, they just aren't real peanut butter cookies without those little marks!


They were no chocolate chip, but they were really good!

The treasury collection also has a few activity suggestions after the stories, and one suggestion was to draw a picture of your family like Mouse does in the story, so we worked on that. This was a big deal, because Ezra rarely enjoys drawing or coloring. It's just not his thing...yet. He does love using paint (of course--it's the messiest!), so I let him choose paint for his picture. Another test of my patience!

Posing with his masterpiece!
(Yes, he removed his clothes. He'd rather paint in his underwear than wear
the upcycled t-shirt I turned into a painting shirt for him, lol!)
While browsing Pinterest, I ran across this awesome blog with lots of ideas for projects and learning activities to go along with children's books, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. :)
One of her ideas was to make these "Tape Resist M's". This one was a bit challenging because Ezra isn't one to color an entire page of anything, as mentioned before, and for the 'M' to show up, he had to cover the rest of the page with watercolors. I ended up helping him and he painted a lot more. I guess all that blank space overwhelmed him at first.

Just getting started...

Hints: Don't let them put too much watercolor in one spot, particularly near the tape, or it will soak into the 'M' area. Ezra's did this a bit, so I plan on outlining the letter before I peel off the tape to be sure you see the letter when you look at it! Also, the water from the water colors did soak into the paper underneath the tape, but the dye didn't (except in the areas where we had too much paint close to the tape).
Oh, and I made these watercolors with water and food coloring. It took quite a few drops of food coloring to get deep enough colors to paint with. I've had them in these little storage tubs forever though, and they still work great! :)

drying time...
the finished product (I didn't make ours into a mouse like the other blog)

Ezra was dying to do one more 'Mouse page' after lunch, so I let him do the Color By Numbers page from Making Learning Fun. I printed more of them for when we read If You Take A Mouse To School. I will be doing plenty of cutting and laminating between now and then!
Hard at work...and still undressed. ;)

Since we haven't really learned color words as sight words yet, I thought this would help him.
Cool learning moment of the day: Ezra and I were admiring his 'M' project and I was telling him that 'M' said, "mmm, mmm," and asked what words started with 'M,' fully expecting him to say 'mouse.' Instead he said, "Mommy!" :) Then I told him it also said, 'mmm, mouse; Do you know any other 'M' words?" He cocked his head to the side as if he was thinking really hard, and looked at me very seriously, and said, "Do you?!" (hehehe...) I looked around and saw the floor mat by the door and said, "Oh, mmm, mat." He said, "That's just like on my game on your phone....with the turtle. He says, 'mmm, mat,' too!" I had no clue what he meant, but he went to find my phone and brought it back and showed me a game he hasn't played in a looooong time that helps you sound out words by blending the letter sounds. Sure enough, the turtle was blending the word, 'map.' So there was a slight error in translation there, but I still thought he was really bright to have put all that together! :)

We pretty much summed everything up before lunch (aside from the coloring sheet). I thought of doing more, but by then we needed a break, Ellie needed a nap, and I still had household chores to do. I think our 'school' will probably be a few hours a day for now, anyway, since preschool is mostly about playing to learn and learning to love learning!



Playing a learning game and showing Mouse how it's done :)


Right now I'm working on putting a few more If You Give A Mouse A Cookie activities together for tomorrow. I have a meeting in the morning (more on that later, hopefully), so our school time will be shorter and interrupted a bit.

UPDATE: We re-read the story, danced to the songs again, and Ezra had fun doing one more If You Give A Mouse A Cookie activity, jumping on 'chocolate chip' paths! I cut out large circles from brown felt and let him make paths on the floor to follow. He made some for me, I made some for him, it was a fun time, and a good way to get him moving while we were stuck inside on a rainy day.

His path

The path I made for him

Please let me know if you have any other ideas or suggestions, or any questions about this unit in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!

Check out the rest of this unit...

Day 2, If You Give A Pig A Pancake

Day 3, If You Give A Moose A Muffin (part 1)

Thanks for stopping by,
Deidre :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On An Island in the Sun...

Florida 2013... so much chaos, so much fun!

Highlights from the drive here...
*Ezra and Juliana getting into a heated debate over whether or not she could be Santa Claus (Ezra said she couldn't because she was a girl...)
*Two out of four cars taking an unintentional detour (all's well that ends well!)
*Ezra, Jack, and Juli all rode in Granpoo and Nana's car...bless their hearts!
*Ellie did pretty well, only getting really upset twice. A massage from mommy, some cuddles, and the VBS soundtrack on CD solved about 80-90% of the fussiness.

Sunday
*Lots of swimming in the pool. As soon as Ezra got his swim rings on, he jumped in the pool and started swimming and he didn't stop!
*It rained off and on all day, making the pool pretty cold, but try telling that to toddlers (Jack and Ezra anyway)...
*Cranium...enough said. I love my in-laws! Oh, and my team (women vs. guys) won! :)

Monday
*Ezra's swimming confidence even stronger!
*Went to the beach for the first time this trip...Ellie was not a fan.
*No Cranium...we were all too tired! I fell asleep on accident when El did (she had barely napped all day and I was exhausted).

Tuesday
*Huge Adventure time...Josh, Jon, Larry, and Spencer took the three amigos for a boat ride to 'pirate island.' Instead, a storm blew up and they had to take a detour, tie down the boats and run for cover with three kiddos 3 and under! Jamie and Colin drove to the rescue. I'm not going to lie, this momma was scared! So thankful for the Lord's protection and provision!!
*Ezra passed out around 6 pm and didn't wake up again until 11 pm!
*Cranium again...and my team (Josh, Colin, me) won again! ;)

Wednesday
*SUCCESSFUL Pirate Island trip...we even made a 'treasure map' for the kids and hid a 'treasure chest' (cardboard box slightly decorated and filled with coins and gummy bears) in the sand. I don't have pictures of this yet, but Spencer took some.
*Back to the beach-We were going to cook out (we go to a National Park area) but there weren't grills at the park (we all swore they had them before), so we played for a while and took walks. There were hundreds of sea slugs washed up on the shore. Very interesting...and slightly gross. One inked on Jack's hand when he was holding it, and he had a purple hand! Ezra played in the waves with Josh and Logan.
*It was our night to cook, so we made hot dogs for everyone when we returned from the beach. I hooked up a speaker to my phone and played the Disney station on Pandora while we ate outside. I took it upon myself to start a dance party with the kids. Jack wasn't very interested, but Ezra, Juli, and Ellie were!
Juliana ended up dancing until she fell asleep and Eliana wasn't far behind her.
*I fell asleep on accident again!

A few of my favorite vacation shots so far...

Ezra and Juli fishing

El and Josh...I just love them!! 
She is so full of wonder! 
Ezra and his first fish! (caught on Juli's pole, lol)
Leaving for Pirate Island (my lens fogged up)
My sweet girl and I stayed home and took some pretty pictures.
She's so precious!
...and yes, in case anyone is wondering, I am taking way more pictures of El than Ez. Why? He is WAY more busy and hard to capture on camera these days! She is much more cooperative (if I can click fast enough).

Well, it's 1 am and I'm only up because I fell asleep on accident when I put Ellie to sleep and hadn't put on pajamas or anything...I think it's time for me to (re)hit the sack!

Friday, July 26, 2013

One of those days/The little things

It's not even 9 am and already it's been "one of those days."
One of those days when...
Our bank account balance is terrifying
I was up half the night with Ezra, who had growing pains, rubbing his legs and feet
Ellie was up and ready  to go early
Both kids spent the past two hours crying or whining about 90% of the time
Ellie needed to sit on me and hit the camera as I took pictures of toys I'm trying to sell
A toy elephant scared Elle and I had to hold her for half an hour she was so terrified (side note: toy elephant for sale)
Ellie's diaper leaked and she has some bumps in her diaper area that are wigging me out
Ellie also has a rough pink patch of skin that I'm terrified is eczema on her wrist
My face is so broken out I feel hideous and it's painful (new skin care on the way, praying it gets here asap)
Update: got an email immediately after posting this that my products are on backorder. Customer service rep said it could be one day or a week before they get more to ship out, yay...
It's that time of the month (only the second since having Ellie and it's been a tough one)
I just want a shower sooooo badly
...and some money
...and everything to magically get done today
...and a full night's sleep for the first time in 4 years.
Yup, I went full selfishness on that last one! I think it expresses my current level of ickiness and frustration, though.
Life isn't all bad. I have two beautiful children, a hot husband who I happen to like a lot, and vacation is coming up soon (praying I make tons of money at Rhea Lana to help with that)!
There have been some MAJOR blessings around here lately too. I'm just venting and being realistic for a moment. I know this day will get better, God will find ways to show me how big He is and give me grace and patience to endure, and everything will be alright. I am truly blessed and I know these little troubles are just that-little to a mighty and faithful God who cares about even the little things, thank goodness.
I got a shower, yay! Now my PayPal account won't verify so I can participate in an auction tonight, though, boo. :(
Oh well, gotta get to work instead of being glum!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hi, My Name is Deidre, and I'm a Chronic "Lie Listener"

I am a lie listener. Chronically. But through the grace of God, I'm finally working through it. I came upon the realization that I'm a chronic lie listener through the help of two books (more like Bible studies/toe stompers/heart re-aligners), The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney. If you haven't read these books, stop now, go to Amazon.com or your local Life Way Christian bookstore, and buy them NOW (FYI, if you are male, you should probably buy The Exemplary Husband instead of The Excellent Wife-just sayin')!
{Hint: get them on your Kindle app on your phone so you always have them close by-having T.E.W. on my phone has been a lifesaver when I needed to turn my thoughts around in difficult situations!!}

Ok, so back to being a lie listener. Maybe I should say lie believer...I don't know. Either way, I had no idea I was even believing these lies until they were revealed to my heart as lies by The Excellent Wife, a book I turned to in the bleakest of times, on the recommendation of a dear friend (thank the Lord for that). I'm not sure where else to go with this post other than to tell you what lies I'm talking about, so here goes...

"You're such a great mom!"
Ok, I know, who doesn't want to believe that, right? Not that I think I'm a terrible mom, but I let others' opinion of how I mothered dictate my life at one point. I'm not even sure that anyone else but me was aware of it, but let's just say I felt like an extreme failure at some points because my child never slept (NEVER) and he cried a lot (A WHOLE LOT), no matter what I did. Other moms would lightly laugh and say, "Oh mine did that too, just do _____ and that'll fix it." A few would say, "It's normal--mine did that until they were 4 years old. Don't worry, it will work itself out!" {MAD props to those women!!!}

Even when I found things that worked, I still felt like a failure because others would act like I was making bad choices. I spent the first year of his life in the church nursery with him, gaining criticism and looks from the nursery workers for 'babying' him. The same workers who would bring him back to me EVERY WEEK because he would. NOT. stop. crying! The way I saw it, I was saving them, him, and me a big headache by skipping the middle man. FYI, he now goes to his own class. He still struggles with change, so the transition to his newest class has been difficult at times, but that's just his personality. Some kids change every other day and never miss a beat (so do some adults) and some just don't (neither do some adults).

The other side to this coin was people would genuinely compliment my mothering because they would see my children being well behaved, wearing nicely put together outfits, and doing something talented or smart. This isn't a bad thing. It IS a bad thing when I start to believe I've got it all together, that I've done any of it on my own, or that they'd be anything but wild heathens and I'd be anything other than a complete failure without the help of God. Suddenly, my value is based on how great my kids' outfits look, how many Pinterest projects we've completed together, or whether or not they have a mental breakdown when the regular teacher isn't there for Sunday School.

How I got am getting past it: My children are gifts from God. So they belong to Him. I can do my best to make sure they are dressed cute, that I post pictures of our projects on Facebook, and that I teach them about good manners, etc. but in the end, they are kids. So they are learning. Basing my value on what kind of mother people think I am is not only unreliable (random toddler tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, anyone?), it's unbiblical.  My value is beyond that of rubies, and NOT because of anything I've done or CAN do...because Jesus died for me and values me. Does He want me to be a godly mother? Of course! Is that something I can do on my own? Heck no! I can only achieve that through the seeking of His will, constantly.

This is just one of many lies I've been victim to. When it all comes down to it, I let what others thought of my mothering skills become an idol in my life. I'll be sharing more of my personal struggles in the days to come, in hopes that someone else who has had the same struggles can find freedom in the truth of God's word.

And, seriously, if you haven't already, look up those books. Now...and BUY them!