Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Light Of Normalcy is Ahead!!!

Yesterday I finally saw a little bit of normal routine possibly coming back to us!

This past month of June - I don't know what happened to it. I know it was here, but I couldn't tell you were it has gone! In all seriousness, the plans I thought were so well laid and that were going to be easy to accomplish were completely blown out of the water by the end of the first week of June. In my post about our summer plans, I thought I had everything pretty neatly laid out, with a little room for last minute changes. Boy, did I have another thing coming!

Our month of June started out with two weeks of Vacation Bible School, one at a family member's church, with my husband out of town the same week, and then another week of VBS at our own church, which was even busier because I was an assistant teacher in the 3-5 year old class (imagine 9-12, 3-5's in a room that couldn't have been much bigger than 11'11 - and then add to that the fact that 1/3 of them were visitors that weren't used to our church - you are beginning to see the picture, I'm sure....).

I had already planned on not 'having school' during these two weeks, because I knew they would be busy and really, the  kids AND I needed some time off. What I didn't anticipate was the sad week that would follow these two busy ones. A very dear lady, that my children and I were very close to, from our church lost her battle with cancer and instead got the better end of the deal- she went home to be with the Lord. That third week of June was spent trying to help what I could, and visit her a couple times before she past away. 

Then, this past week my husband was once again out of town. There - now that the month has been laid out for me week by week, I see what happened to it! But there was no room in there for school, obviously. Thankfully, the beginning of the return to routine came somewhat unexpectedly this past week. We have rather neglected our library (and double reading programs) due to the busyness, and it was becoming a looming monster over my shoulder - reading logs left too blank, books that were horrendously overdue - and I was trying to catch up with that this week. The same day we planned on going to the library anyway, I found out that the Mad Scientist was going to be there. My children had never seen him, so I knew they would enjoy a special surprise. Of course, I have tons of pictures to show - NOT! My beloved camera made it all the way to the library, and then sat in the truck, completely un-used for the entire time. That's the way it goes, I guess.

However, we stayed after to turn in reading logs, and get more books, and by the time we got home, I realized that the trip was just what we needed!

So today, we started things off right!

Another trip to another library, to return yet another set of reading logs, pick up prizes and books, and then off to cash in our the prizes gotten from the previous day:


 And what's a trip to Chick-Fil-A without some play time???

This one was actually quite the interesting photo. My intention was to get a picture of Bug coming down, and at the last second, she moved right into the glare. Just as she did that, Buddy Boy was in for a photo bomb, except this one went awry when she almost sat on him! :) I almost deleted this one, and I am so glad it was safely saved! 

I am hoping that we can kick off some Fourth of July fun next week, and I am also wanting to re-create some of the science experiments that we saw this past week again at home, where they can get some hands on experience with them! 

I hope you all are enjoying your summers and staying cool! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reader's Review - My NO, NO, NO Day!

My NO, NO, NO Day!
Written by
Rebecca Patterson

This is the story of a little girl who has a BIG, BAD day!

Let's take a moment and be real and honest with each other - we ALL have these kinds of days! We just don't express them the way kids do. Starting with a bad start to the morning, her day goes from bad to worse....
(I can definitely relate to this picture! When all five kiddos go to the store with me, it's a busy time! And occasionally we are there longer than Buddy Boy can handle!) If you notice in the picture, all the other people in the aisle seem to be inadvertently staring at :that: mom with the screaming little girl - doesn't it seem like, even when the truth is no one is watching us at all, when our children are being loud it feels as if the whole store is staring at you as you do your shopping? Or is that just me.... :)    

The day continues to get worse, as social skills fly right out the window in the face of a grumpy mood, and nothing seems to be going right!


And the final straw! I've never had one roll around the floor, but I do have a couple that still vehemently refuse to be happy about bedtime most of the time!

A fact you might not know until now:
Little Mama is a VERY emotional girl. As in, she would cry - at the age of 2 - when she heard sad songs, even if the song just 'sounded sad' to her and really had nothing to do with something sad! At that point, I knew we were in for an emotion-filled ride with her! 
Which means that sometimes, she may not have a day like this one (she is, after all, almost 9 years old and can control herself better than this!), but by the end of the night she may be ready for the day to just be over and know that it's been a rough one. Which means that the conversation that you see played out below on one of the last pages of this book is very similar to some I have had with her before bedtime. Which makes it very sweet to me to see this in a book - a nice reminder to kids that sometimes bad days do happen, but that's okay because everyone has a bad one now and then! 

AND..... you will have to check the book out to see what the last page says!

I would have to give this book a 3 star rating. It is a very cute book, and while my children do like it when we read it, they don't go back to it as often as some of the others. The illustrations have a very kid-like feel to them, which are cute in their own way, but not something I would use the term 'beautiful' to describe - more like FUN - which fits the story very nicely.

I would, however, recommend this book as good one for anyone, especially because it does hit on a real emotion for anyone - we all have to learn to live with bad days as well as good, and it would be a fun way to wind down from just such a day with our children and help them see that it is OKAY to feel overwhelmed sometimes and that there are good and right ways to deal with it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reader's Review - The Little Engine That Could

One of the best things we get monthly, came in the mail today.


In case you can't tell yet, we are a book-loving family. My husband is not much of a reader, and neither are most of his sisters. I, however, LOVE to read, and one day hope to have the time to get back to being able to have my own reading time. As it is, whenever I have time to read, it's usually reading something that will assist in teaching my children! 

We heard a few years ago about Dolly Parton's Imagination LIbrary, but when I first checked into it, we had lost the support for it in our local area. Sadly, I chalked that one up as an opportunity we didn't have and forgot about it. Until the beginning of this year, that is - when I found out that we had indeed gotten the support back for it, if we had ever truly lost it in the first place. So the first thing I did was get online and get my youngest two signed up - fast! Unfortunately, by this time, my oldest three were already too old for it. In case you don't know, The Dolly Parton Imagination LIbrary is a program that is locally sponsored, which allows children from birth to age 5 to receive one new book every month until their fifth birthday. So even though we missed out some, we are still guaranteed a few good years of new books coming in! That, my friends, is very exciting!

Today, when one of our two new books for the month of June came in the mail (Bug gets one, and Buddy Boy gets one, and they are age appropriate, which means we actually get two new ones each month), I thought it would be neat to start a Reading Review series that will hopefully be on-going throughout the duration of their new books (yehap - that means
the next 2 1/2 - 3 years), show-casing a different book each time and highlighting the pros (or cons) of it and how much we enjoyed it as a family. The purpose (because there is always a purpose) would be to hopefully give some inspiration for good books that others might like to invest in, or - even better - to encourage you to look up the program for yourself, if you haven't already, and if it is available in your area, to get yourself signed up! That part is VERY easy :)

For the first book of this series, I just had to start with the first one we received. The first month was the only month where we received the same book for both children (so far), and the first book is :

                             THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD 

                                         by: Watty Piper

This is the only book that we have gotten duplicates of this far, and I am glad we did! Due to the fact that our children like books so much, they always end up being very well loved - and well used.

So I pulled out the second copy, which has been safely stored in the top of a closet in my room, for the nice pictures - the 'broke-in' copy is kept with the kids books. Usually a stickler for getting rid of excess, this is one book I'd like to keep for grandchildren one day!

I LOVE the beautiful illustrations in this book! The colors are in the most comforting, deep, rich hue that just tells a story all it's own of beauty. 

The story tells of a small engine who just couldn't make it over the mountain. Dismayed, a small clown and various other toys try to find another engine on the tracks that can pull them over the mountain, to reach 'all the good little boys and girls' on the other side. 

After several disappointments, refusing to give up, they finally find a small engine willing to give it a try. Through encouragement and determination, well.... I can't give away the whole story! 

A timeless classic, this is a wonderful story of never giving up. I love that through the pages of this book, the reader can incorporate lessons of being a helper to those in need, and the determination to succeed. 

This book receives an over-the-top, 5 star rating from my children, and myself. I would highly recommend this one to anyone!

Where you can find The Little Engine That Could:

There are also many spin-off books that are available to add to the collection!

I hope you have enjoyed the first in a series of Reading Reviews!

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

DIY Sound Bottles

I thought I would share another DIY that I have had on my shelves for quite some time, just haven't had the chance to take pictures and share it with you. I have been so busy lately, and almost felt a little guilty for not paying more attention to my blog, but first comes family, then comes blog. :)  

Introducing: DIY Sound Bottles   

I made these quite a while ago, and had done some research before making my own. I read a post long before making these from Mari-Ann at Counting Coconuts where she spoke of buying Montessori sound bottles, only to realize later that she really could have made them far less expensive, and it would have been easy. That was my first introduction to them, reading that article, so I decided then and there that I would NOT purchase them, but find the best way to make them for little money. I looked through many great ideas for  making them from the sensorial link at What Did We Do All Day's ultimate DIY materials list and from Deb Chitwood's DIY round-up post , both of which have many wonderful ideas and links to making DIY materials for many different areas of Montessori.

In the end, my inspiration came from tweaking some of the ideas, and thinking about what my children love. Yogurt. Yehap - that was deep, I know.

They love the Danimals smoothie drinks, but we don't get them very often (they can clear out the package in no time, and still ask for more!) I bought a 12 pack of Danimals smoothie drinks, and told the kids to drink up! Then I found 8 out of 12 bottles that were left in the best condition, and set to work. I already had some very pretty red and blue satin material, so matching the colors of the traditional sound boxes, like these from Montessori Outlet , was easy enough. I cut (I believe) a 4x4 square for each one of these, so that meant 4 red and 4 blue. Then I filled them with four different fillers - I believe I used black beans (dry), green split peas, macaroni pasta (dry), and rice. For the inside of the bottle I cut approximately a 3x3 piece of card stock, red for the red-topped bottles, blue for the blue, and rolled it into a tube shape, think enough to slide in the bottle and then used my fingers to work it back out wide enough to form the inside of the bottle. I didn't know just how see through the yogurt bottles would be - turns out they AREN'T at all - and I didn't want them to be cheating by seeing any of the filler. Then I poured in approximately 2 tbsp or so of each filler. I tried to take my time doing this, making sure that each bottle was as close to the same weight, so that they wouldn't be using the weights to differentiate - that's a great exercise, and one I would be interested in doing much the same way, but it's not what I was going for here.      

Afterwards, I took the bottles and the material for the topped, and had to figure out how to keep the material on. I was afraid if I used hot glue, it would drip into the bottle and have a bad effect on the material inside. So I got a wonderful idea to use my daughter's tiny hair bands. You can find these at the health and beauty department at Walmart, or in the kids section where the accessories are. This way, they would hold tight enough to not come off, and if I want to switch out the fillers later, I don't have to rip the material off and do it all again. That being said, I haven't needed to yet, but I like knowing that I have the option. I am sure the kiddos will enjoy it if I do. 

I wasn't sure how I wanted to mark the bottoms of them. I tried using colored dot stickers, similar to the ones you might use at a garage sale, and they worked great until Buddy Boy got this work out one day, unattended, and decided to pull them off. Which left me sitting there for a few minutes, tryiing to make sure I found the matching ones exactly correct, so I could re-mark them a different way to use as a control for the work. I ended up just using a black Sharpie marker to place matching dots on the bottles that match each other. Why I didn't do that first, I'll never know.... I tend to make things much harder than they have to be most of the time!!!

So now you have my idea for great DIY sound bottles. Miss Priss still picks these up occasionally, although she would actually be heading in to the lower elementary classroom were she in a Montessori school, and would not be using this work. These are wonderful for Bug, and I think given just a few months of development, Buddy Boy will enjoy them as well. I hope this is a help to someone!!! 

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