Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Care package from Grandparents

The kids are excited, we received a care package from my parents. I could barely get thru the door before the kids ripped the package open to see what was inside. First thing taken out was the candy. It was eaten before I had time to get myself organize. But I did find the wrappers for the pictures:)

Next they read the highlights magazine and worked on some of the puzzles inside. When Daddy called (my husband is out of town) both kids read the funny stories they had created using stickers in the magazine. They love getting magazines!

My parents also sent some Bandz which my kids and I had never seen or heard of. My Mom also included an newspaper article about the guy who invented them. They are in fashion now. I wish I could think of something so silly and simple and make millions. Now that we are homeschooling I no longer have any idea what the latest trend is and I plan to keep it that way. The kids had fun sorting and figuring out what letters and animals shapes they could find. They also quickly discovered the real purpose of them (and I didn't even tell them) wearing them:)

Next the kids wanted to figure out the magic tricks my parents sent. The kids had a blast figuring out the tricks and it kept them entertained while I cooked dinner.

First up my daughter doing the magic string trick. taking 3 ropes of different lengths and make them into 3 ropes of the same length. Little tricky but after several tries we got it. I don't think David Copperfield has to worry about us taking over the magic world:)

Next up my son learned how to cut a rope. Much easier to learn. My daughter figured out how it was done pretty quickly. We will have to keep practicing and when Daddy returns home have a magic show.

Thanks Nana and Poppa for the great package. The kids really enjoyed seeing what was inside. Love and miss you!!!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Baking with the kids

This week the kids wanted to do some baking, however each had their very own idea of what they wanted to make. So today I will post their favorite recipes. First up--Princess she wanted to make Fruit pizza.
Sugar cookie mix (make according to directions for drop cookies)
variety of fruit
Vanilla yogurt

First prepare cookie dough. Split dough in half and spread out into 2 pie plates and cook until golden brown.

Let cookie cool and spread a layer of vanilla yogurt over cookie and cover with fruit. Should be served immediately. Freeze extra cookie until ready to use or....

Try this variation...not so healthy but good. Melt chocolate and spread or drizzle it on the cookie. Kids love to make crazy designs on the cookie. Wait until chocolate hardens and serve. I had some left over chocolate drops from girl scouts that I used as I want to get rid of them. This freezes fairly well once cut into squares.

Next up Little Man wanted to make his all time favorite-- Banana bread. He is the only one in the house who likes it. I am more of a pumpkin bread gal. This is the recipe I use because it is simple!
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cup flour
Mix all together and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or until golden brown

I just love this face!

Yummy! Yes, I know he is wearing a halloween shirt but he dressed himself this morning:)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

I thought I would give this topic a try. Put into words all the things we have accomplished this week. Living overseas I am not following any state guidelines and England doesn't have any requirements for home schoolers (for now). I keep my own records but they are just notes to myself that I write down in a spiral notebook. I also keep an accordion file for each child with copies of the their work for each month (we school year round). I have been looking into various planners but haven't given them a try yet. I have a general idea of what I what the kids to learn and the topics I wish to cover, but it is all in my head. Not the greatest of organization but it is working for us for now. I know as the children get older and when I return to the states I will need to do lesson plans, goals and the such but for now I am enjoying the relax approach.

So what have we accomplished this week for my kids Princess age 8 and Little Man age 6:

1. We have started All About Spelling book one and have completed a lesson every day. This book is really too easy for them but I want to start at the beginning. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. We could probably do more but I don't want to move to fast. I am hoping to be on Book 2 in a month's time.

2. Powerspeak (http://www.powerspeak.com)- computer Spanish class done daily both kids love this program and it is a good beginner program that they can do independently. At least once a week I review the vocabulary words using flash cards. We review any words they need help with. So far I am happy with this program and since I can't find a Latin Spanish teacher here it is the best I have for now.

3. Reading 1001 Arabian nights to my daughter. We read 2 chapters a day. I read one chapter to her and she reads a chapter to me. For my son, he is reading Disney read along stories, a book we checked out from the library. He is reading one chapter to me every day. I will ned to pick out a harder book for him next week this one he breezed thru with no trouble.

4. Piano lessons we are using PHONICS 4 PIANO and we love it. Both children are learning to play real songs, we are still on book 1 but I am so impressed. This is something they can review on their own and only needs assistance when learning a new song or note. As I am not a piano player I am learning along with the kids and it is simple for me to follow.

5. Math - 1 worksheet per child. My daughter is working on multiplication and division facts. My son is working on adding and subtraction numbers up to 20

6. Unit studies - My daughter is working on a unit study of Mystical Creatures. I found a Notebook unit study about Dragons from home school highlights that we completed. One lesson per day. My daughter on her own is reading the Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke. Next week we will begin the lap book from hands of a child that I purchased.

My son wanted to learn more about trains and I downloaded a free Train theme book from www.schoolexpress.com for free. I needed to break it down so we did a little every day. We also watched you tube videos of different types of trains, played with his train set and read the story of John Henry and watched the Disney movie on John Henry. I think this was a little advanced for him so I had to do a lot of modification in order to make it work. However he was able to recall some information and tell his Dad about it over the phone so I think it worked. Next week we are going to do a lap book "all about me" that I downloaded for free on www.liveandlearnpress.com

7. Both children are working on Embroidery projects.. I found them at a local craft store and they are very simple 4 by 4 squares with easy designs. I found my kids do better with art projects that are more crafty in nature. They work on it for about 15 minutes every day. This project will continue into next week.

8. Horse riding lessons was the only outside activity this week. Both children are learning to ride.

Wow, writing it all down makes me realize we accomplished quite a bit. Our school day begins between 9:30 and 10 and ends around 2:30 or 3. I work individually with each child as needed. Some days I feel like a ping pong ball going between the kids but we somehow make it work. This was the first time I had the children do their own unit studies and it work better than I imagined so we may continue that for awhile. So that was our week in review.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I'm struggling today. I don't feel very good. I woke up with a head ache, sore throat and sore neck all signs that I may be coming down with something. So in addition this morning to getting breakfast for the kids and starting school work I am trying to locate medicine for myself. I can't locate exactly what I want in the medicine cabinet so that means I need to go out at some point today and go to the store. It is raining and I am not looking forward to it. What does any of this have to do with the title of my post well...

My husband is out of town for a month on business. His job requires a fair bit of traveling and well, I miss him. If he was home I would simply call him up on the phone and say "Honey on your way home please pick of such and such" I would muddle thru the day as best I could and then he would come home with my meds and take over the parenting duties and cook dinner. I would crash on the sofa or bed in a medicated haze and take a nap. That thought would get me thru the day. But he is not here so I am on my own:(.

This has got me thinking that whenever he goes away on his business trips I suddenly lose an extra set of helping hands around the house. I appreciate all his hard work with his job and with raising the kids, but I do admit I forget this when he is here. So I want to take a minute and acknowledge my dear husband and list all the things he does around here. Things that I now need to do in addition to my already busy schedule.

1. Brings in the milk every morning and puts it in the fridge. (we have a delivery service) I left Monday's milk out until nearly 11 am because I forgot about it.
2. Helps me cook dinner (most nights) and if I am too tired or worn out takes us to dinner which is even better!
3. Fixes things -- Something always seems to break or need fixing when he leaves. This time I had to replace our phone as it wasn't charging anymore. It took me forever to figure out what wires were what behind the sofa (what a mess) I had no idea the sofa was that difficult to move. I did get it figured out but not without a web cam help from hubby.
4. Tech support for the computer, I swear this thing hates me:)
5. Help with bed time routine, bathing, brushing of teeth/hair, and story time
6. Taking the very large trash can and recycling bins out and bringing them back in on trash days. I hate that job!
7. Going to the post office and picking up the mail (we have a PO Box) I haven't seen the mail in over a week. If I want the mail then that means loading the kids up and driving 18 miles to the Post office. Time out of my day where I could be doing other things like school work.
8. Filling up the car with gas (that's right I haven't filled up the gas tank in over 2 years because of the system over here) I will have to fill my own tank up once we are back in the states but I am enjoying it for now.
9. Carry the laundry basket up the stairs. I never have to do this for some reason he always carries it up if he sees that the laundry is folded and he even helps puts some of the laundry away (most of the time).
10.Listening to me talk about my day, the kids, school work and reassuring me it will all come together some how

We have another 2 weeks to go before he returns home. So I will forge on being grateful that I have such a wonderful partner and friend. Hurry home Babe...We love you!!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Horse Riding lessons

Princess trotting around the ring on her horse Joe. She has been taking lessons for about a year.

Little Man on his horse Tammy. He just started lessons in June and is still a bit unsure of the whole thing:)

I should say we don't own these horse they are the horses the kids use during their horse riding lesson . The children are learning to ride English style.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Neither one of my kids are big on coloring. I have bought tons of coloring books over the years and they sit unused. I have tried sitting with them to color or adding it to their school work. For example they are to write in their fieldwork journal and draw and color a picture about what they did on their field trip. My daughter will draw pictures but refuses to color them. My son refuses to draw without a lot of prompting and help from me, coloring is just not even in the cards at this time. Now my kids are only 6 and 8 so I am not expecting too much of them really, I just want them to slow down a little and be more careful with what they are doing. My thought process is to have them work on fine motor coordination and improve their writing skills. It must be the former Occupational Therapist in me.

Last summer I came up with the idea of doing a forest animal mural.

What I did was search the computer for all the forest animals coloring pictures. I also had the children decide what to include and how the mural should look. My daughter surprised me and really got into it. My son on the other hand still needed lots of hand holding. I made this a school art project that took us several weeks to complete.I did get him to do cut out the tree, leaves and apples so we worked on his cutting skills instead.

Next my daughter decided own her own that she wanted to do a mural about the Ocean. She choose the coloring pages that I printed off the computer, and I helped her with the lay out. She worked on it, on and off all winter. To be honest I wasn't sure she would ever complete it:) I think I missed an opportunity to do a Ocean unit study. We hung this one up in the bathroom:) My son only helped with the painting of the background.

Next my daughter decided to work on a Mystical creature mural. One of her favorite topics. So this summer she began working on the mural. I found all of the mystical creatures that she wanted to include on the computer. There were some creatures she asked for I had never heard of! She reads a lot of Greek and Roman mythology. She came up with the entire layout on her own. I only helped when she asked. This one she did in record time. I was so proud of her. She has also decided she wants to do a unit study on Mystical creatures. We start this unit study and lap book this week. My daughter wanted this mural to hang over her bed! Didn't she do a great job. If you look closely she included a Elf in the tree dropping drops of red paint on the fairies. Because she says Elves are always playing tricks. I have to say after hearing her talk so much about this mural and the creatures on it, I am looking for to studying this topic myself. I think my daughter will be teaching me more than I will be teaching her! Isn't that the wonderful thing about homeschooling!

Fairy and Pixie Day at Wicken Fen

At least once a week I try to have a field trip scheduled. Sometimes it relates to what we are studying and sometimes it doesn't. This week the kids and I went to Wicken Fen a Nature Reserve Park not too far away. It is summer break for children here in England so many of the nature reserves have a kid day planned. We have been to several and they are always a hit with the kids. My daughter wants to do a lap book on Mystical creatures beginning next week so this was to get our juices flowing for what is coming up next week in school.

First up was a Fairy hunt through the grass land. We found 10 out of the 20 Fairies in the time allotted. It was much harder than it looked. While looking for Fairies we also found lady birds (ladybugs), crickets, damsel flies and dragonflies which we had to observe:).

While looking for Fairies we found a Troll house. Luckily the Troll was not home:)

Next we went to an old cottage where there was a woman dressed up as a fairy who told fairy stories to the children. I wasn't able to get pictures of this as it was too dark and I was asked not to:)

Finally we went to the art and craft den where the kids made clothes peg fairies or pixies, magic wands and clay fairy pots. Lots of glitter was used:)

The kids had fun and it was a nice day. The only school the children did for the day was write in their fieldwork journals of what they liked about their day at the reserve.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Mommy's Homework

Well they finally came in. My husband ordered me computer books. That was nice of him wasn't it. Before he left he even took the time to circle the chapters in one of the books I am to read. Do I not sound excited...well that is because reading "how to books" are very difficult for me. I have never been a person who sit down and read the instruction manual of any new appliance. I just turned it on and fiddled with it until I got it working. I only opened the instruction manual if and only if I couldn't get the appliance to work. My approach to a instruction manual is very simple and straightforward. Look at the index and find the page that deals with whatever it is I want to do and read that page and only that page!

My husband on the other hand enjoys reading instructional manuals. He will take one to bed and read it from the first page all the way to the end. If I did that I would be asleep faster than you could say Chapter one!

So what are the books that my wonderful husband ordered for me (and expects me to read, I might add).
Windows 7 Simplified--starting with Chapters 2,3, 4, and 6. I can skip chapters 1 and 5 for now, wasn't that nice of him:)
Google blogger for Dummies -- this one I wanted as I want to learn more about blogging and get my site up to the standards that I see others. I am envious of their sites but in a completely good way. My husband hopes this will motivate me to read my new books.

So I guess I need to get started: Chapter 2 How to start a program....ZZZZZ

Monday, 16 August 2010

Our School Room

I spent all day Sunday tidying up our school room, which is also the dining room. I sorted, purged, organized and cleaned everything. I have come to the conclusion that I am a secret hoarder of educational books. My hubby did not think I purged enough. While I thought we just need another book case to store it all. But as my dear husband pointed out there is no more room. So after nearly 4 hours here is the result.

Our bookcase which is overflowing. In front of it is our white board which is currently being used for AAS (all about spelling) which we just started using this month.

This is what can't fit on my book shelf. In case you haven't noticed our school room is the conservatory. So it is freezing in the winter and hot in the summer.

My art supply corner.

The window sill holds completed art projects that I just can't seem to throw away as well as pencils, markers, scissors, tape and glue. Don't know if in your house this happens but kids scissors are a lot like socks in the dryer, they always go missing:( I must need to run out every month to buy another one.

Our history time line. I keep meaning to type it up but never seem to get around to it. Since we are living in England we are concentrating on studying European history. There are so many fieldtrips and places of interest just a stone throw from our home. We stopped at Georgian history in May and we will start up again very soon.

This is our Dining room table and we haven't seen the top of it is some time. I cover the table with a vinyl table cloth and if you look closely you can see paint splatter on it from the kids art projects.
After much discussion my husband agreed to another book case (Thank you honey!) Now I need to find a place in our school room to put it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Our Garden

This year I decided to try and do a garden, having heard the theory that if your children grow their own vegetables and take part in cooking of the food they will more likely eat it. Unfortunately my children have very different thoughts on that theory:( This year in Britain the BBC and the Scottish Potato Council (yes that really does exist) gave away free seeds to anyone who sent in a request. Never one to pass up anything free I requested the seeds:) The seeds sent to us were rocket potatoes, french beans, rocket salad, basil, courgette, and Royal Chantenay carrots. I had the children help plant the seeds and prepare our small garden. I quickly learned that the backyard is impossible to dig in and headed to the garden center to buy some raised beds to work with. While there the kids talked me into getting pumpkin and flower seeds. My husband requested we try growing onion and tomatoes. So my little project turned into a big project:). The children and I watered our seeds in their seed tray (which we kept indoors) every evening using only rain water from the rain barrels that surround our rental home. Once the seeds sprouted we carefully moved them into the raised garden beds outside. Now I must admit the kids helped initially but soon got tired of the process so I was on my own after a while. The kids and I tried to keep a journal on what sprouted first but that quickly became overwhelming as we travel a lot and things came up while we were away. But the kids did have fun checking the plants every day to see what had grew, what flowered and how tall the plants were getting. We did do a mini unit study on plants and talked a bit about photosynthesis. We also had a great debate as to what constitutes a fruit versus a vegetable.

Our first crop to harvest in late June was the potatoes. I was so surprised to see how many potatoes we had, 2 large bowls full. We have had several meals from these potatoes and they do taste better when you grow them yourself. My kids still refuse to eat them no matter how I cooked them:(. I found a great potato, green bean and feta cheese recipe that we love.

Next we harvested the rocket salad leaves and made a taco salad, but I must say they were a bit bitter tasting so I don't think they will make the cut for next year. Kids were not impressed and somehow manage to pick out every scrape of lettuce from their tacos.

Our next crop to harvest early August were the Royal Chatenay Red Carrots. Again we were surprised at the results. These are very small carrots and unfortunately the children and I were not good at separating the seedling and many grew twisted together.. I was able to save a few and add them to our stir fry. The ones that were too twisted to save went to the horses that my children ride for their lessons. I was able to get a couple of bites of carrots into the children but again they weren't impressed. Although my husband and I thought they were quite tasty.

We are still waiting for the results of the other vegetables, I must say the beans and onions are looking healthy and should be ready the end of September. We have only one pumpkin that has made it to date. Our cherry tomatoes are almost ready but the beef tomatoes are not doing a whole lot. I am not sure I am cutting them back enough. As for the courgettes they are flowering but then nothing else is happening so I am not holding out much hope.

And that is our garden for this year. I have already sent my request in for more seeds next year, looking forward to seeing what they send and what we can grow:) Maybe the kids will eat more next year...Isn't there another theory that says you have to offer the food to your child 10 times before they will eat it...:) yeah right, they haven't met my two strong willed angels:)

Buckingham Palace Tour

I had the wonderful opportunity to do a private tour of Buckingham Palace in London (just me and 59 strangers). I wasn't able to bring the kids as there was an age limit of 9 and mine are younger then that. My husband volunteered to take the afternoon off work and watch the kids so that I could go. The tour was 2 and half hours long and we were able to see 19 official state rooms. There are 750 rooms in the palace and it has a staff of over 800. The Queen was not in residence during the private tour as during the month of August she resides at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. At the end of the tour we were given a glass of champagne to enjoy in the gardens. Afterwards we were shown the Palace's gift shop (kind of tacky I thought) and I purchased a tin of tea (that the Queen supposedly drinks) and a tin of biscuits (cookies) that she has with her tea. I just might hold my very own tea party at home with the kids.

The Grand staircase that I walked up when entering the Palace.

The state Dining room

The Green drawing room leading up to the Red Throne room

The Blue Drawing room

The White Drawing Room

We were not allowed to take any photos while inside the palace but we able to take a few photos out in the garden. This is where the Queen holds her annual tea party for select people. I am told it can be as large as 3000 people. Here I am enjoying the complimentary glass of champagne:) The other pics are postcards I bought in the gift shop of some of the rooms we visited.