Thursday, July 28, 2011


Thanks to everyone that looked at our blog, we have over 500 hits! Thank you from Mr. Jeff, my Mom Kathy, me Hannah, and Elinore!

Fortunately, Unfortunately

After many days in a row of Code Red weather alerts with hundred degree weather and heat indices at, like, 115, the weather breaks, and the electric goes off. Power company says it should take around four hours to fix. Four hours with no air conditioning, no fan to even move hot air around, and no computer. Boo, we Americans are so spoiled.

Hannah's grandma had already planned to take her bowling and swimming, and she arrived minutes later and offered to let me and Elinore tag along.

No one foresaw Elinore would understand and want to participate in bowling, and in the few minutes of scrambling to leave, I didn't grab socks.

The lady at the bowling alley had a three year old and looked the other way while Elinore wore her bowling shoes with no socks.

Elinore dropped the ball on her foot.
She was wearing those ugly bowling shoes.

She got bored wandering around the bowling alley.

We were going to McDonald's for chicken nuggets- one of her best pronounced words.

And the rest of the story is fortunately:

I remembered everyone's swimsuit and sunscreen (though Hannah didn't use any) and towels.
Jeff finished work early.
Aunti Di was willing to pick him up.
Jeff brought home about five dozen doughnuts.
He borrowed trunks (what?! I didn't know he would finish early).
We all played in the pool together, Elinore's first time in her Grandma's pool.
The electricity was back on when we got home.

Hannah likes water play

Doesn't she look like she's having fun?

Elinore and Aunti Di
Elinore only bowled six frames, but she was in the lead at frame 6 with a score of 60. She quit while she was ahead. And she used her bowling score sheet to pay the lady at McDonald's for her chicken nuggets.


Camera found: check
Algebra I good news: check
Headache almost gone: check
Ink for the printer: check

Must be time for a new post.

The camera was just where I thought it was, I just didn't have access to look for it myself. So here is Hannah at her parade earning her Bronze award.

On the Algebra front, we went from, "I changed my mind, I don't want to do Algebra" to "It's too easy, I know the answers without writing down the steps" in just two short lessons. Phil also never understood the need to write each step when the answer "popped" into his head. I tried to explain it is to cement the steps in the brain with the easy ones so the brain takes the same path for the harder ones.
Or, "because I said so" just might have to be why.

Monday's therapy was awesome, as usual. Elinore had trouble focusing, even long enough to choose her swing.
This is her first time on this platform swing, and her favorite of the day. She even let go to balance while she was swinging.
The yellow and blue swing helps build core muscles and she gets to let go and crash to the mat. It gets big smiles. The tire swing requires a little more work for Elinore to balance, but again, she doesn't mind falling on the big, soft, mats.
She also worked on fine motor skills picking up tiny bugs with tweezers and cutting on a line, pasting lines in a pattern, and tracing the pattern with horizontal and vertical lines in the shape of "t," which helped her cross her midline. When she does sitting down work, she sits on a special cushion for her low muscle tone. She used the scooter again, too, to build upper body strength.

This week also included physical therapy. I do not have her therapist's permission to use her picture, but Elinore did steps, a great obstacle course, and used a scooter in a different position with weights on her ankles. I like how the therapy is like a game. The obstacle course used farm animal on one end and the farm on the other to give purpose to the exercise. The scooter exercise used blocks to motivate her.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tot School

Well, we are one month away from our official first day of school on August 23, when Elinore will be three years and 2 days old. She would have graduated from the Infants and Toddlers program, but Maryland is at present the only state to use an extended version to ensure continuity in instruction.

For speech therapy, Elinore is working on asking questions. She can now hide something behind her back and ask, "Where is it?" And for the first time she asked, "What's this?" and I told her it was a carpet cleaner and she repeated it, and asked again! Now I know almost 3 yr. olds ask a lot of questions, but this is unquestionably progress for Elinore! We are also tackling concepts, such as size and color.

Comparing animal sizes
Rice bin
Popping bubbles with daddy

For Tot School, we painted, read Bible stories from Bible Stories to Read (Rod &Staff), used ABeka's language cards,visited the Starfall website, sang the alphabet, put N on our coconut tree, worked on sizes, made blueberry pie, used pencil erasers for stamping, did a body parts race, explored what magnets would and would not pick up, practiced fine motor skills with tongs and pom-pons, and covered poetry with A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Wow, that sounds like a lot when I write it all down!

These are the squares I made for comparing sizes. This is actually my second set. I didn't laminate the first ones, and they got ruined. I just used my handy-dandy paper trimmer, and laminated. Right now, we use the ones with the most size difference, and identify the colors. The biggest one is ten square inches and the smallest is one square inch. I want to make a set of circles, too, when I feel like digging out my Creative Memories circle cutter.

For the body parts race, I just used pictures of body parts. She identified them, or repeated after me, ran to put them on her table, then threw herself on the couch. Repeat. This gives her some of the sensory input she needs, as well as a little exercise since we have had record high temperatures this week.

Sadly, we have not done any Tot School printables because we are out of ink. The Do-a dots are Elinore's favorite.

I am still not accustomed to using Hannah's camera, and most of my shots come out blurry. I hope my camera turns up soon.

In Which Jeffrey Makes a Discovery

I adamantly insisted one can't use laundry detergent in the carpet steamer. Jeff insisted on asking Google, and even though it was just average people claiming laundry detergent is acceptable, as opposed to professional cleaners or the websites run by, say, Bissell, I was just too under the weather ( hundred degree weather) to insist I was right.

I was wrong.

Jeff used hot water to dilute the cheap but free-of-dyes-and-perfumes (all the littlies have sensitive skin) laundry detergent. Then he sprinkled it on the carpet and used a scrub brush on the high traffic areas, and used the solution in the machine, and we have the cleanest carpets ever. The carpet is still damp (in hundred degree weather?) but sooo clean. By the end of cleaning, he just scrubbed the whole carpet with the cleaner and the brush, and used clean water in the steamer till the water actually rinsed clear. Wow. The difference is amazing. And Elinore's feet aren't so dirty anymore.

I am sorry, sweetie, that I gave you such a hard time about the laundry detergent. You were right. I love you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Warming Up for Back to School

Hannah finally, reluctantly agreed to do lesson 1 in Algebra I for me so I could get a feel for how this textbook is set up. Cate was a great big sister and played along as co-student and co-teacher. We are using Prentice Hall Algebra I and after lesson 1, I really like it so far. This algebra course from Calvert comes with the textbook, solutions manual, lesson manual, a download for a graphing calculator, and a lesson manual to learn how to use a graphing calculator. I am pretty sure graphing calculators did not exist back in the early eighties during my high school math career. So I will be refreshing my knowledge of algebra and learning how to use a graphing calculator for the first time. Isn't that beautiful? I will be learning right along with my daughter.

This textbook comes with an online copy of the same textbook. On the Chapter title page is a list of vocabulary. The online text has an audio pronunciation of each vocabulary word. At the top of the page for each lesson is Check Skills You'll Need. You need to be able to perform these skills to complete the lesson. If you can't, you are referred to the Skills Handbook for practice. In teaching the lesson, the text includes a Quick Check to make sure you understand. This helps you pinpoint where in the problem the breakdown in communications occurred. Then we have practice for each section where something is explained and finally, a practice section where you put it all together. If you are still having trouble, some pages have a Homework Video Tutor. If all else fails, this is a Calvert course and you the teacher or you the student can call Calvert Education Services and talk to an Education Counselor. I am beginning to feel like there is no way to mess up with this course!

Hannah still had some time where she was staring off into space, but trying to compete with Cate kept her focused most of the time. Because Cate did Algebra more than ten years ago, she challenged Hannah to finish her assigned odd problems while Cate, having finished the odds, sped on through the evens. This kept Hannah from being too discouraged that Cate finished so quickly.

Lesson 2 includes a lesson from the Graphing Calculator lesson manual, and I'm hoping Hannah lets us work through this lesson, too, to see how that all plays out. Also, we are not actually working ahead because Hannah wants the lesson numbers from Algebra and seventh grade to match. I told her on the first day of school, we would skip math to "ease into" school without doing all the subjects the first day.

We are hoping Caitlin can be here often for Algebra and we have our eyes on Jabari Lyles as well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Like to be Organized (But I'm not OCD) Part 2

My first series, who knew?

The two top containers go on the shelf, the two large ones go under the table at my feet. I find the less time I spend chasing down supplies, the less likely I am to lose Elinore's attention.

Round container:brads, paper clips, Q-tips, eraser caps, cotton balls

Square container : Top layer:wiggle eyes, pom-poms, glue sticks, 4 oz. glue, pencil sharpener, scissors, magnifying glass; the tweezers were also there until Elinore snapped them in two
Middle layer: weather stamps
Bottom layer: fat crayons
When Elinore needs her crayons, I just snap off the bottom layer and she uses them right out of the layer and to put it away, it just snaps back on.

The huge square container from my mommy for my birthday has a layer of pre-cut cardstock in various sizes that was from sweet Amanda, a layer of colored 12x12 and 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, and a layer of supplies: coffee filters, craft sticks, paper bags, paper plates, pipe cleaners, foam shapes, tissue paper, and pre-cut little squares for mosaics

The rectanguler one is full: letters for the Chicka Chicka tree, two-part puzzles, All About My Body pieces, Phonics center pieces, Alphabet puppets, Early Learning Centers, calendar parts, laminated Tot School printables, Leapin Lily pads, velcro dots, most everything sorted in ziplock bags

I know I already have a lot of school tools, but I find I have a little bit of curriculum junkie in me. I enjoy browsing supply catalogs, curriculum advertisements, and all kinds of websites. If someone has a "must have" suggestion, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Like to Be Organized (But I'm Not OCD)

Being organized really makes the day go more smoothly. The important thing for me to remember is that once I've spent hours (or days) organizing, I still have to spend time maintaining. It seems like once it's straightened up, it should stay that way. That is never the case. My goal is to train my children "Everything has a place, and everything in its place." This was my Nana Hickman's favorite motto. There was never anything out of place in her house. Never. Of course, she was an old lady with no littlies running around making messes faster than they can be cleaned up. That, naturally, is the real reason you make toddlers help you clean up their messes, so they can't be making more disasters faster than you can run behind the little tornado. But I digress.

This is the bookcase literally at my left hand as we school. Up top is Hannah's microscope from Grandparents White, counting cubes, 12x12 scrapbook paper and my Cricut cutter.

Top shelf: Calvert school boxes with markers and Unifix cubes, Fiskars  paper trimmer, moon sand ( I really don't want that out without supervision), laminator, and behind that, the super long stapler for making books,  three hole punch

Second shelf: envelopes, dominoes, pattern blocks, Crayola dry erase board, white cardstock, laminating sheets, Tall Stacker, Lauri alphabet puzzles

Third shelf: paint, Cricut cartridges, card games, Kumon small workbooks, chalk pastels, watercolors in a tube, Fit a Space, stickers, Do-A-Dot markers, Bible storybooks, triangular crayons, crayon tower, clay, counting bears, sorting bowls, sharpies in the green bag that should be higher up

Fourth shelf: magnetic letters, Elinore's school books (mostly Evan-Moor and ABeka), finger paint, and the red bin full of pens, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, erasers, oil pastels, and other odd goodies we can't school without

Fifth shelf: Hannah's 7th grade Calvert textbooks, and few miscellaneous workbooks, Crayola Tadoodles toy, and the ABeka language cards in the wrong place.

Sixth shelf: Bibles, pencil sharpener, the loose crayons in a container that are currently in use

Bottom shelf: reference books, Model Magic, scraps of scrapbook paper, Elinore's copious amounts of finished school work/projects

This is the "after" picture. I just reorganized yesterday. There is no "before" picture because it was just too embarrassing. I don't actively scrapbook at present. I just don't have time or space. However, I strongly prefer cardstock to construction paper. Construction paper deteriorates faster, the glued-on things seem to fall off easily, and the color selection is more limited.  I do have both, though. One day I hope to get back to paper crafting.

I know a lot of Tot Schoolers have chosen the Scotch laminator, but I wanted the ability to laminate 12x12 scrapbook pages. I used a 50% off coupon at AC Moore, and got the 13" Purple Cow one that came with a starter set of laminating pouches. Jeff made me buy some refills . I only wanted one box, but he insisted on two, and he was right! I'm already on my second box.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elinore Made Blueberry Pie for Dinner

Pre-made pie crust in my Longaberger pie plate
Adding sugar (or flour)
Stir, stir, stir
Sampling the pie crust (where on earth did she get this idea?)
Finished product

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tot School

Elinore is still kind of vacationing because Hannah was gone all last week at her Aunt Cindy's. Hannah will be gone this week to Miss Tracy's. That's three weeks on vacation out of the last four. But less structured doesn't mean learning isn't taking place.

Today was occupational therapy. Elinore worked with scissors, glue stick, playdough, and Fisher-Price Trios. She spent time in the swing, and completed a puzzle from on top of a therapy ball. Her therapist pulled her on a scooter to work on upper body strength.

She was fast at the puzzle.

Her favorite at therapy is swinging. This is one of four swings she uses.

Working on fine motor skills.

Developing upper body strength.

These are her AFO's (ankle foot orthotics) from Sure Step.

This is our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree. (Note to self: replace with clearer picture)

I was really inspired by this tree I found on the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler. We are up to the letter Mm and sometimes Elinore takes the letters down to rearrange them.

For Tot School this week, we used scissors, and counting bears, visited Artscape, and learned not to wrap things around one's neck. We played with Melissa & Doug magnetic dolls and Lauri's Tall Stacker. Elinore seranaded us with a recorder and her ABC song.

I learned she would rather be naked than paint (Please put this diaper on and mommy will get your paints out!) She told me, "I don't wan pait, I wan be nakey!"

I guess socialization is our next subject to tackle.

Found on Pinterest

I found this idea on  Alex-Holly's pinterest board, and since i got cheap inexpensive clipboards from Walmart, I wanted to try right away.

Gathered supplies.
Adhered the paper, just a little too short.

So I used coordinating paper cut with a scallop edge to cover.
Added a bow to pull out some of the green stems.

Thanks, Holly (I am pretty sure it wasn't Alex who pinned that).

I actually made one before in scrapbook style and discovered it was too bumpy to use for writing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

School Supplies

Items:                                        Cost for each:

10 Spiral Notebooks                         $.20
13 Composition books                        .40
25 boxes of crayons                            .25
 5 bottles of glue                                 .40
 6 double packs of glue sticks             .40
 6 packs of blue pens                           .97
 2 packs of red pens                             .97
27 folders       some .25                       .10
 7 packs of index cards                        .64
10 boxes of markers   some 1.97         .97
 1 pack of erasers                                 .97
 2 boxes colored pencils                       .97
 4 packs of highlighters                       1.47
 3 packs of pencils                               .47
 8 loose Sharpies                                  .50
 4 clipboards                                       1.27
 1 very special purple pen                     ?

Overspending because it's on sale: Costly

Oh, yeah, we still need more glue sticks.

Disappointed at Artscape

First, I have to say it took me a long time to start going to Artscape. This is our third year, and the first time I've ever been disappointed. Previous years were full of kids activities for free that encouraged artistic expression. The girls have done rock painting, easel painting, picked out free books, tried out musical instruments, made winsocks, decorated hats and little back sacks, had face painting, played in the lego tent, picked up free pencils and fans, and the huge Target tent filled with acivities. That was BOTH years.

This year was so much less! One place to decorate a visor, I couldn't find any other free kids crafts. There were Little Tykes style playhouses decorated by artists that the kids could play in, and a mustache ride. As you can imagine, with so few things to do and so many children, there was some wait time for turns.

Waiting at the bus stop
Inside one of the playhouses-this one had a "Drink Me" bottle inside.
A quick break inside the Barnes & Noble
A large interactive musical sculpture
New Orleans style street parade

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maryland Science Center

I just signed Hannah up for a class at the Maryland Science Center during the homeschool days.She is taking the Acid/Base Exploration class. It costs five dollars, but then all four of us get in free for the whole day. Last year Elinore spent most of her time in the room designed for the under 5 set and got all kinds of wet at the water play table. She's such a big girl now, I can't wait to see what attracts her attention.
Elinore 2 years ago at the water table.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Brain Drain

It's easy to veg out during the summer and take a relaxing break from hitting the books. However, I find that for our family, it really does lead to summer brain drain. Calvert's curriculum is so packed, that it's easy to use for over the summer retention.

First, there's math. Just five minutes to do one of the fact sheets. Hannah used to hate them because she couldn't finish 100 multiplication problems in five minutes. So as soon as she finished one, she wanted to do another one while the facts were still fresh in her mind. She always improved her second time. Now we are no longer working to finish in five minutes, we are comparing times on the sheets. For example, between the first one and the second one, maybe she finished four seconds faster. We just use an online stopwatch, set at full screen so she can see from the table. This also helps her learn time management skills.

Spelling is another easy subject to tickle your brain. Calvert's curriculum uses Scott-Foresman Everyday Spelling. Some days for an enrichment, the assignment includes one of the cross-curricular lessons in the back. I just let her pick one of them.

There's rarely an argument when school time includes the computer. Calvert includes a subscription to Brain Pop, so I just let her surf the site for something that interests her. She also has an online computer skills lesson, so I let her do the pre-requisites that are included for that. She enjoys the keyboarding lessons and the one that teaches how to use the Paint program.

With all there is to do with Calvert, sometimes we skip art lessons. When that happens, I just make a list on the inside front cover of the ones we missed, and we can refer to the list to look up one we finally have time for. We also have the Discoveries in Art enrichment program. Our favorite lesson from that so far was using foam plates, a brayer, and ink to make prints.

Our favorite non-Calvert summer school activity is free reading. Hannah has finished The Thirteen Treasures, and is anxiously waiting for the sequel, The Thirteen Curses. Her favorite sixth grade reading book was The Phantom Tollbooth. Now why doesn't that one have a sequel?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Year Olds Say the Cutest Things

I told Elinore I had to turn on the A/C for Daddy. She replied:


Tot School

So this is our very first tot school post, pictures. I will either find my camera or borrow Hannah's. Elinore has actually been on break for about three weeks, since Hannah was getting ready for Georgia, in Georgia, and recovering from Georgia. Hannah is an amazing helper, and she wants to help teach Elinore, and if she ever stays home for a while this summer, I'll let her. This week, she is spending with her Aunt Cindy on the Eastern Shore, but I digress.

We are up to the letter M and are almost finished. We did Tot School printables M is for mouse (ew). I used some of my scrap scrapbook paper to cut small squares to fill in the large letter printable, as Elinore really enjoys glue and gluesticks.

This week at OT, Elinore did shaving cream art, and drew on paper on the wall, and had some swing time. She also worked on upper body strength and some other stuff while I was busy signing papers and then we went down the hall for PT. At PT, I finished signing papers while she worked on balance and upper body strength. The PT also checked her Sure Step orthotics for fit because her shoes are getting snug, but fortunately, they are designed with grow room, so they'll fit for a while longer.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Calvert Pre-K

I can hardly wait to start Pre-K with Elinore. Hannah was three years old when she started and she's now about to start seventh grade. Elinore, however, is not ready for Pre-K, even though she will be three next month. The main reason is her speech delay. Pre-K starts off each day with a discussion. When Elinore is able to hold conversations, I will consider her ready for official Calvert Pre-Kindergarten. Until then, we are using a Rod and Staff Bible storybook, Tot School printables from 1+1+1=1, Early Childhood Themes from Evan-Moor, some Nursery 2's from ABeka, Kumon workbooks for folding, cutting, pasting, and numbers, and the Starfall website.

In September, I want to try the Saxon Math Kindergarten. I picked up the Teacher manual from The Book Thing, and the Meeting Book from CBD and some of the manipulatives from Amazon. The scripted lessons specifically begin in September, so I want to start then. I am not concerned about the academic portions of the lessons. I am just excited for the scheduling and the manipulatives like pattern blocks, counting bears, dominoes, and geoboards.

I figured out I am not as excited about Saxon Phonics K and 1 as I thought I should be. I taught all four of the older children to read using Calvert and they all did well, no struggling, and they all turned out to be prolific readers. Saxon does engage full body participation, good for kinesthetic learners, as I am sure Elinore is, but even in K the student learns phonetic coding, which I think unnecessarily complicates the reading process. So my friend Cindy, at Cindy's Life as She Knows It, is going to locate a recipient for me.

Introducing Myself

Hi! I'm Hannah Sunshine-Daydream King. A lot of people say I am just like my middle name. I'm 10 yrs. old and goin' to be ll on August 3. I love animals. I like all of the colors, but here are my favorites Blue, White, Black, and Lime Green. My favorite band (for right now) is the Beatles. I have short, blond hair and blue eyes. I'd rather have long (almost to my knees), black hair. I love mythology and ancient stuff, like cities and pots and buildings. My favorite subject is Reading, my best subject Math, which is also my least favorite. I like Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams. I love Mashed Potateos mixed with corn and Steak. Mint Chocolate Chip is my favorite ice cream. I also have a terrible memory. So I hope I didn't miss anything!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hannah Earned Her Bronze Award

I wanted to post pictures of the Fourth of July parade float that Hannah helped design and build for her Bronze Award, and that's how I discovered  I misplaced my camera. Again. And yes, I  am pretty sure Elinore helped me misplace it.

Soooo....Congratulations, Hannah!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hannah Returns from Savannah

News Bulletin:
Penn Station
And if the train's on time...
Beloved family member Hannah returns to a noisy celebration at Penn Station after a week in Savannah Georgia. She stands taller, with adorable sun-kissed cheeks and some spunky new freckles. Hannah thanks all those who contributed to her trip: Aunti Di for transportation to countless meetings, Grandparents Rother for the loan of luggage, Grandma Loretta for the cell phone, Jenn for the ride to the train station, Mishi for the ride back from the train station, all the chaperones who took great care of her, and everyone who gifted Hannah spending money. Hannah's favorite hobby is shopping, so thanks to all for the pleasure.
Hannah with a niece of Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scoutin
Adorable, beautiful, so grown up!
Hannah is a beautiful photographer.
For Phil
Group photo at Headquarters
Elinore can't wait to see Hannah
Beautiful welcome!