Thursday, October 31, 2013

Progress Report 2 on Our Fall Bucket List

Well, we haven't been crazily working on our Fall Bucket List. However, we have finished a few more items to tick off the list. 

Saturday we went to a couple of "safe" Halloween events (number 11). One of the places was a trunk or treat put on by the business owners of our nearest shopping center. The kiddos got dressed up, considered it a dry run for Halloween, and we went to get goodies. They almost filled up their little buckets in about ten minutes time! Two of the three also decided that they needed more layers under their costume choices for the "real" thing, and another may be changing her costume back into last year's because it's warmer. It's been really chilly up here in Michigan and so the ability to layer underneath the costumes is really important, and it's supposed to be raining. As I write this, twelve and a half hours into the 31st, it has been raining almost steadily for 9 and a half hours. I know because Peanut was up and down almost all night long. 

We then went to our local hardware store that was holding a little celebration for Halloween. There was face painting (which only Peanut was interested in), painting pumpkins, making pumpkin magnets (which now adorn my refrigerator), a coloring station, free popcorn, and a free hot dog stand. While we didn't do everything that they were offering we did do most of it and stayed there for about an hour. The workers were all dressed up as well and the kids had a blast. The best part for my pocket book? You guessed it! Totally free event!!

 We also just did our carving of the jack-o-lanterns and making of the pumpkin seeds. We do this most years of course. Don't mind my appearance in these pictures ... I included them to show the kids doing the work (and Mommy's not always at her best lol ). The tradition in our home is as follows:
Mom - takes the top off the pumpkin and separates the seeds from the orange "ick"
Kids - clean the pumpkins out and design their faces with marker
Dad - makes sure the pumpkins are cleaned out and transforms the marker designs into wonderful jack-o-lantern faces

 Our recipe for pumpkin seeds is one of the easiest out there. We rinse the seeds in warm water to get the rest of the "ick" off. Place them in a bowl with about three teaspoons of warm water and however much salt we sloosh into the bowl. Mix and let stand for two to three hours. After that we spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet and pop into a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, mix them up, turn the heat down to 200 and let "finish" for about twenty more minutes. Sometimes we add more salt before baking once they're on the pan and sometimes we don't. This year it worked out that the seeds were made after swim class (as well as dinner) and that the Cracker Jack's were old enough to help out with making the dinner sides while Daddy BBQ'ed the meat.

 We also (finally) did our leaf rubbings... This was the first time for Peanut to do them and she had a blast. We used some of our "homemade" crayons and some of our "good" crayons. ** Please if you don't like the way certain crayons color be advised that they will NOT color better if you re-make them. **

This means that we've finished exactly one half of our Fall Bucket List! There's a few things on the list that are in progress such as learning to swim (swim lessons are still going on and one out of three kiddos has learned to swim) and learning the rosary (they know all the prayers but haven't got the order down yet). And there's a couple of items I'm not sure we'll finish such as painting one of the kid's rooms and visiting the Detroit Zoo, but we're sure going to try!!!

Do you have a Fall Fun Bucket List? I'd love to hear how you're doing on it!

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What's Working Lately

Today I'm linking up with Our Busy Homeschool for a new link up called: Sharing What Works!

Every one knows that each of their children learn differently. Some people call these learning styles, some call it individuality, whatever you want to call it we've certainly run into it here at Homeschool Camper. I've done each of the kid's preschool here at home, never having wanted to pay the prices most preschools ask. Elder Cracker Jack would fly through sometimes twenty pages a day while his then two year old sister played around him and he always seemed to "get" it. Younger Cracker Jack, who's eight now ... no longer two (pout pout), was a bit more difficult and preschool took her a bit longer but if you set whatever you were trying to teach to song then she instantly learned it. She still knows many words that way because she learned how to spell them to song.

Peanut, oh my precious Peanut. This is my "other" child. You know, the one that doesn't fit neatly into any of those styles the experts talk about. Where one thing will work one day or week and won't work the next. She's taught me to just go with the flow and be as creative as I can. Some concepts she just "gets" ... things that I thought that she might have issues with. Other concepts need to be shown in different ways and talked about and integrated into our daily living until she does get it.

What's working this week is my handy-dandy button stash. She learned to count with these a few weeks back and then lost interest in them. Now, we were struggling earlier this week with "one less" and "one more" but mostly the one less part. Out came the buttons when a light bulb came on over Mommy's head. I put five buttons on her left side and four buttons on her right. I talked about how many there were on each side and we counted them. Then I slid one button away from the left side saying, "Now, we'll make 5 one less so that it's..." I held my breath... no answer. "Count them..." Peanut counted both the right and left side buttons and said, "They're both four Mamma..." GIANT PRAISE. "Now, how do you think we could make one of these piles one less than four?" She thought about it and thought about it and then shook her head. We did this over and over again until there was one button on each side. Again I asked, "How do we make one side one less?" ... Holding my breath, YCJ looking on, and suddenly the light came on in Peanut's eyes. She reached out with her little hand and slid one of the buttons up and to the big pile across the table. "That's one less, Mamma. Zero is one less than one." HUGE GIANT PRAISE. We danced around the room, we clapped, we announced it to Daddy who then took the opportunity while she helped him with dinner that night to ask her about one less without buttons. She knew it! I absolutely love my button pile.

We've also moved ECJ back to his own desk in his room instead of at the kitchen table. He'll be in there next week as well. He'd been slipping behind in his History lessons and taking much to long to do his book work each day. So, we removed the distractions by having him move his work back to his room. Sometimes he needs to work away from everyone else, sometimes he needs to be right under my feet in the thick of things. With Halloween coming up and the "newness" wearing off of the school year he was allowing himself to get distracted. The ADHD monster had reared it's ugly head again. For now this is working for him... next week? Who knows.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Reasons to Relax

We're linking up to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers again today for their List It {Tuesday}. 

This week I'm sharing Five Reasons to "Relax"

  1. It lowers the blood pressure. Yup, that's right. Even "forcing" yourself to relax will lower your blood pressure by a couple of points. When you're blood pressure is lowered you're more likely to remain relaxed. Take up yoga or some other exercise, meditate, read a good book, or simply take deep breaths. All of us could pretty much stand to lower our blood pressure from time to time.
  2. If you're relaxed, they're relaxed. If you don't allow yourself to freak out about things then the children won't freak out as much either. Instead of looking at what you haven't gotten done, start looking at what you did get done. Child freaking out because "math's too hard"? Deep breath, break out some cereal, and show them the problem with the cereal pieces. Make a game out of it. You'll be showing them that not only is math not "too hard" but that there's other ways of trying to figure the problem out.
  3. You'll have more fun. Yes, you did just read that correctly. If you can get yourself to relax then you'll have more fun. Instead of stressing out about whatever the issue is you can "goof" around instead. Did your dinner burn? Shrug your shoulders, grab your child, do a silly march and song about burning the dinner because you got distracted, and make banana splits for dinner. Ut oh! Your telling me you've never had a banana split dinner night? Try it! Not every night, not even every week (though that won't hurt anything in the long run), just every once in a while when you need, or your child needs, that break with the ordinary ... that reason not to throw in the towel ... make banana splits for dinner. You'll be amazed at how much fun you'll have.
  4. You can't learn when you're stressed. Well, I suppose that you can learn when you're stressed out ... but in most cases the information will be kept only so long as it's needed and tossed out on the next garbage night. "Jenny! 2+2=4! Don't you get it?!?!?!" stressed out mommy bursts out in frustration. Dutiful Jenny pipes up with "Yes, Mommy, 2+2=4" and then when she's trying to figure it out again when you ask her to get out four forks for dinner she simply counts out four forks because the information didn't stick. Grab some dolls, dishes, and cookies and teach that there are four dollies that each want a cookie ... 2 cookies are chocolate and 2 are vanilla ... is that enough cookies (without simply counting 1, 2, 3, 4) 2 on one plate and 2 on another. This will keep the stress out of the situation and you can bet little Jenny will remember that 2+2=4.
  5. They're only little once. OK, deep down we all know this. "My how little Jenny has grown, wasn't she just a toddler when I last saw her? Now she is sooo big!" The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and little Jenny would rather be making mud pies than learning the rules for phonics. You know that she needs to know this eventually but she just can't stop herself from looking out that window. RELAX mamma she's only little ONCE. Pack up those books for the day and go outside. Or take a book with you and read it to her while you sit next to her as she discovers just how much water that dirt needs to make mud pies. Take pictures. They're only little once.
I remind myself of these things all day long every day. Some days it is harder than others. Today Peanut needed to learn "one less" ... she didn't like using the pictures the concept was too abstract. Out came my button bag and we started with 5 on one side of her and 4 on the other ... I kept removing a button from each side until one less was equal to zero. She then did the workbook page with no problem and was so proud of herself when she "got it". And this was done while I was reading spelling questions to Younger Cracker Jack at the same time. 

Take a deep breath Mamma ... and relax.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meet the Campers - He's a Cracker Jack!

This is the third week of my "Meet the Campers" series and this week you'll be meeting Elder Cracker Jack! He's 11.5 years old right now and in sixth grade. Sometimes serious but most of the time he's a big goof, ECJ keeps us all on our toes. He's just getting to that pre-teen stage of wanting a lot of independence but not a lot of responsibility unless it's something that he's going to get something out of. Pretty much a typical kid actually.

ECJ has many hobbies and curiosities that he pursues. He loves working around the house with his Dad and learning new things, like how to hang doors and install light switches. He is curious about all sorts of critters and tries to incorporate them in most of his sketches, not satisfied until he "get's it right". Most of the time he likes to sketch trucks or cars and is actually pretty darned good at it.

ECJ has been an avid reader since sometime in the first grade. He absolutely loves to devour books, sometimes finishing one in less than a couple hours. Currently he's being a little more challenged by The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. That book looks big in my hands and positively giant in his! Don't let this fool you however, he'll tell us he's read to x page but when quizzed on it chances are he's skipped several important things to try to finish the book. He has yet to "get it" that some books are just better enjoyed than devoured.

Sometimes he can be a huge help with his sisters, especially when I'm a little distracted by housework, phone calls, or Peanut. He's quick to jump in and attempt to explain something when I've exhausted every way of explaining it that I can think of and they're still not understanding the concept. This does not make him an angel by any stretch of the imagination, even if in this picture it looks like he has wings.

Because ECJ was diagnosed with ADHD when he was five years old and we took him off of his medication when he was around eight years old we don't follow a "you have to sit still" type of approach with him. He can sit, stand, lay, or dance so long as he's getting his work done and doing it well. He has a rather large desk in his room where he can work if he is distracting the girls or if they're distracting him. Daddy also takes any opportunity that he can to get ECJ hands on with anything.

Today that meant that ECJ took apart an old non-working riding lawnmower almost completely by himself. Daddy supervised but did not do the work for him.

This was ECJ's big project for today. He picked out the tools he would need, he did 99% of the work, and he was sure proud when he was finished! Don't let his age fool you however because he was super excited to be allowed to keep the steering wheel when he was all finished. His father and he will be building a "stand" for it so that ECJ can pretend to drive.
ECJ has been around a lot since he was born in Boise Idaho almost twelve years ago ... when he was less than a week old he traveled from Idaho home with me to Michigan. He loves camping, his bike, bugs, snakes ... in all he's pretty much a BOY.

If you missed my previous posts in "Meet the Campers" here ya go!
Daddy and Moragon

If you haven't found us on Facebook yet you can do so here.
Later this week (only on our Facebook page) I'll be sharing what's "going on" nationwide and perhaps wider for November.

Other posts for this week include:
This Monday's Menu Plan
List It {Tuesday} - Five reasons to "relax"
Weekly Wrap-UP - Friday and we're two months in!
... and ... 
sometime this week - another progress report on our Fall Bucket List

This Monday's Menu Plan

This week I am again joining up with Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday. I'm doing this not because I think you're all that interested in what we're eating this week, but because it kept me on track last week and I always knew what we were going to be eating on what night which is a blessing.

Sunday: This is our "something beef" day this week ... bbq steaks, fried potatoes, and fresh tomatoes for supper
Monday: Polish sausage, mashed potatoes, and fresh tomatoes
Tuesday: Rotisserie chicken, garden salad with fresh tomatoes, and buttered noodles
Wednesday: Pork steaks (possibly bbq), au gratin potatoes, fresh tomatoes and baby carrots
Thursday: Oven roasted chicken and veggies, fresh tomatoes and baby carrots
Friday: * Garlic butter oven roasted fish, buttered noodles, fresh tomatoes, and corn
Saturday: Left over buffet - pick what you want from all the leftovers that haven't been changed into a breakfast or lunch during the week

* Recipe for garlic butter oven roasted fish - 

  •   As much white fish (any type, we use Talapia a lot) as you need for your family
  • butter, about 3 tsp ... please use real butter for this
  • garlic sea salt from a grinder
  • about 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
Defrost fish if frozen, pat extra water off with paper towels. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay fish flat in a pan safe for the oven. Add garlic sea salt from grinder on top of fish, as much as you like to taste, add any other seasonings that you like in moderation and to taste. Remember that most white fish doesn't have a strong flavor of it's own but you don't want to over power it with seasonings. Divide 3 tsp of butter evenly in dabs on top of fish. Drizzle 1 tsp (or less) on top of fish and butter. Place in oven when it comes to temp and bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until fish basically falls apart with a fork. Serve with your sides.
     ** Patting the fish dry before baking it will help to make sure your fish doesn't end up soggy. **

I'm sure you noticed that we're eating fresh tomatoes every night this week. We were recently blessed with over 20 lbs of fresh tomatoes, given to us by a friend. I do not have any canning things at the moment where I could preserve any of this so I'm cutting up 1-2 lbs each night with dinner. It's a good thing we all love tomatoes lol!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Workable Weekly Wrap-Up

This week I am again linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Homegrown Learners for the Weekly Wrap-Up and Collage Friday. 

This week during class we had an odd week for us. Monday we had planned only a partial half day, which meant no book work on Monday but that the kiddos still needed to do their lessons on the computers and read. Thursday we didn't have "school" because Peanut had kept us up most of the night with a low grade fever and she was achy. We will be finishing up Friday's book work on Saturday, that's the only day that they still have to finish up with. All of their computer work has been finished at this point for the week and boy is Mom glad for that!

 As you can see from the pictures some days we were dressed and some days we were in our pajamas. With Peanut not feeling well and all of us still suffering from sinus issues and allergies I was not being a stickler for getting dressed. Tuesday half the day most of us were in our pajamas, Younger Cracker Jack was the first to change her clothing because she had to go with Daddy to get her glasses fixed. Of course we were all dressed in time for catechism by that afternoon.

Thursday we weren't officially "doing" school. However all three kiddos still learned. They were just allowed to do what they wanted to do all day and I was pleasantly surprised at what happened. Elder Cracker Jack spent 90% of his day reading; he was able to read over 200 pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, read one of the Avatar books from cover to cover, and quote a few prayers during a random pop quiz. Peanut and YCJ played together with Peanut's LeapPad Ultra for a long time without arguing and then they "taught" the babies how to say their bedtime prayers.

For our extra curricular this week we had both catechism and swim class. Peanut is still enjoying her time alone with Mom and Dad during the Cracker Jack's catechism time. All three of them are progressing wonderfully with their swim classes. This week I was able to find some swim goggles on clearance at the local dollar store and this helped Peanut a lot because she was able to keep her eyes open. The Cracker Jack's will be wearing their goggles next Wednesday at class for the same reason, this week we couldn't get them adjusted in time because we had forgotten about them until the last minute.

In our kitchen this week we made cookies for YCJ's catechism class, which she had volunteered for us to make. Boy, am I glad that there's only ten kiddos in her class! I also made some spaghetti squash to go with one of our dinner's this week ... the taste was fine but we did not enjoy the texture and so we will not be eating this veggie again. We were also given over 50 tomatoes and because I do not have any jars to can these tomatoes we're eating them with dinner almost every night, as snacks when someone has the munchies, and with any other meal I can sneak them into.

Yes, that entire plate of tomatoes was eaten mainly by the children with their meal. Both the spaghetti squash and giant plate of tomatoes was served on our "something beef" night this week. Where Mom and Dad had a steak each (bought for reduced price) and the kiddos had all beef franks. We also ate roasted potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms that night. Just a side note: Peanut, when asked about the spaghetti squash, said, "It tasted OK but it was a little off the track." Her nice way of telling me that she didn't like it at all.
Peanut doesn't eat cooked carrots
so her's were raw.
Younger Cracker Jack has been doing so wonderfully this week, even with the schedule being "off" from our regular schedule. She is really liking her new placematts for the kitchen table. I found two with math problems on each side and now she'll occasionally go to the table and grab a dry erase marker, within minutes she's showing off that she finished a whole side by herself! (Math frustrates her when you put too many numbers in front of her, but she finds the place matt fun to work with.) She finished reading Green Eggs and Ham and has asked me to help her work through Junie B. Jones, First Grader Dumb Bunny, a book that she got from the library. So we'll be spending about half an hour each night in her room reading the book together and discussing it so that I know where her mind set is on some of the actions in the book. I should mention that this is a book that she's read before, we decided to go back to non chapter books when she kept getting frustrated and we're slowly putting them back into her reading lists.

Elder Cracker Jack discovered that he actually likes The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it just took him a little over 150 pages of the first book to start getting into the story. I haven't let him watch the movies yet (this is something he has to do with us and while his sisters are otherwise occupied) and he's excited that he'll be able to watch them after he finishes the book. He's like me in the fact that he likes to compare the books to the movies and he usually finds that the movies leave out a lot of what the books include. He also caught a daddy long legs this week and was keeping it in his room, without telling me until yesterday. When questioned about it he said that he'd wanted to study it and named it Frodo. He's also getting really tired of the camera. Books he finished this week include: one of the Avatar books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules

Peanut is still on the track to move on to Kindergarten sometime around Christmas. This makes me very proud of her. She only did "school" three days this week and out of those three she only felt good for one and she still managed to finish five days worth of work. She asked for me to read a book to her each night this week coming up so we'll be reading Pinkalicious and the Pinktastic Zoo Day which is one of the books she'd picked out from the library. She LOVES the color pink and LOVES this book series! She also LOVES *smh* having mom read the same book over and over every night for weeks in a row. Yup, that's normal but my poor brain doesn't like it. She's also very adamant about getting her computer time with Elmo every day.

Books Mommy's reading include Fundamentals of Home-schooling: Notes on Successful Family Living by Ann Lahrson-Fisher and Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. Both of these are non-fiction books and I am indeed reading them both at the same time. Some days my brain wants one thing and some days it wants another. I finished reading Meet the Amish by Fred L. Israel this week as well. Meet the Amish is a good read (and quick) that is appropriate for almost everyone from about fourth grade and up in my opinion. ECJ will be reading this before I return it to the library in a few weeks. One interesting fact from the book is that many Amish communities still use the McGruffy Primer! I loved this fact because that's one of the books that we use in our home!

I will be doing a review of Fundamentals of Home-schooling sometime in the next two weeks.

My tip of the week. I found my tip of the week in YCJ lessons today and it really hit home. One of the sentences that she had to correct was:

"I complained about not having any shoes,
until I met a man who had no feet."

It reminded me that even though I have many small complaints that I should be thankful for what I do have, for there are many out there who are less fortunate. Yes, this did turn into a quick lesson for all of the children which will be expanded upon in the next two months as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sometime this weekend we'll be working on a couple of our Fall Bucket List items. Leaf rubbings are at the top of the list, followed quickly by carving our pumpkins and making pumpkin seeds. If I can find a rake to borrow we'll also be jumping into a leaf pile or two.

Our outside time this week did not happen at all. None of us were feeling very well and I made the decision to keep us indoors this week. The temperatures here in Michigan right now are below freezing at night and never higher than the low 60's all week! With the sinus issues and Peanut being slightly under the weather it just seemed like a better idea to stay indoors. That means that our year to date total for outdoor time this week remained the same as last week's: 90.5 hours.

How did your week go this week? I would love to hear about it! If you're a fellow blogger why not join either of the link-ups that I have been joining? I'd love to see you there!!

My other posts this week:
Monday's Menu Plan which was linked up with Organizing Junkie
School Zone or Not? my review on School Zone workbooks for Pre-schoolers

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