Sunday, August 21, 2011

Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog HopLast year, I really enjoyed participating in the Not Back to School Blog Hop. I intended to join in again this year, but August was pretty crazy, so I'm going to be a little behind. Let's start catching up with Curriculum Week!

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This year, we are 2nd year homeschoolers. We're in that stage where we've learned a little more about what works for us and what doesn't and are also still finding our way on some things. We are only following a curriculum for our oldest, who is 6 years old (though she prefers to say she's 2 months from being 7). Our middle child is 4 and does a much more child-led school day, usually only working when she asks to and stopping when she decides she's done.

Without further ado, here is what we're using this year:
There are also some extras we'll be doing on a less regular basis:
Hop on over and check out the other entries on the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop for more great ideas!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

There's a WHAT??

We had pest control come out a few days ago. That means we are seeing more bugs around. They're dead bugs, but there are still more of them out in the open right now. And here in Texas, one of the most common bugs we get are 2-3 inch cockroaches (that fly when they haven't had a date with the pest control guy).

Sedona has made great strides in her speech, but still has a fair amount of articulation errors and assimilates at times (pulls the ending sound of a word to the beginning). Especially when she's talking fast and/or excited about something.

These two things collided this morning when Sedona ran into my room and said, "Momma! Momma! There's a giant crotch in the kitchen!!!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Attention: I Need Your Attention

The girls finished swim lessons today. Sedona jumped into the deep end (with a life guard catching her) for the first time. Actually, she allowed another life guard to pick her up and drop her in, but it was huge progress because she's been scared of that all along. Sierra made it about 1/3 of the way across the pool doing free-style, with her face in the water (also a huge deal).

But sadly, another memory also sticks with me. It's the memory of a little girl about Sierra's age standing in line waiting for her turn to go down the water slide. She turned around toward where the parents sit and yelled, "Mommy! I'm gonna go down the slide!" She moved one space closer and yelled, "Mommy! Watch me!! I'm gonna go down the slide!!" another space closer and again, "Mommy! Mommy!! Watch me!!" At this point I turned around to see who her mom was. Mom was sitting in a chair texting or checking facebook or who knows what. The little girl yelled out to her again. Mom never even looked up, just distractedly nodded her head. This little girl was literally begging for attention. Put down the damn phone and watch your kid do something they're really proud of. Clap and cheer and give them a hug when they're finished. And if you can't handle looking out for their emotional health, at least keep an eye on their physical safety. The life guards are good, but they're still working with 4 kids each, on average, so it really doesn't hurt to keep an eye out and make sure your kid hasn't slipped off without someone noticing. I know the "Look at me! Look at meeee! Look at meeeeeeee" bit can get old, but don't you remember being a kid? It's really not hard to just look and say "great job!" I promise, your kid's gonna remember if they weren't worth 2 seconds of your time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From The Mouths of Babes

I'm still picking up someone's non-password protected wifi signal. Only in one room of my house and it comes and goes. I've also been running all over town. We've seen friends almost every day, we've been doing daily swim lessons, we've been eating mexican food, we hung out at the local library for a while (oh how I missed it!) and also made a trip to Half Price Books. We checked out a new place in town--The Fried Pie Shop. Which sells nothing but fried pies, in both sweet and savory varieties. On our very first trip into Target, we ran into friends. Later in the day, we made our very first trip to HEB, where we also ran into friends. The girls have spent some time hanging out with their new baby cousin. Secora ate food. Voluntarily. It was an oreo.

We are getting along better than I expected, but parenting 3 littles by myself all day is still tiring, so I just haven't taken the time to blog. Future posts I plan to get up at some point: the start of our school year, the vacation we plan to take soon, pictures of the oreo based baby diet (you're so much more laid back with the 3rd baby), directions on the brownie, chocolate peanut butter cookie bar I made a long time ago and never posted about, and a lot more snippets here and there that I keep saving but not posting.

In the meantime, some recent quotes from these short people that keep following me around

Sedona: Momma, do apples come from apple trees?
Me: Yes, apples grow on apple trees.
Sedona: Then.........babies must grow on BABY trees!!!

Sierra (while watching Antiques Roadshow): Momma? When was daddy born? 17-something? No, wait, he was born in 19-something. Was it 1917??

Sedona: Hey! I was gonna ask for crackers and you just gave me crackers! What a lovely day!

Overheard at swim lessons while the teacher was quizzing the kids on pool safety: Okay, does anyone BESIDES SIERRA know the answer?

Friday, August 12, 2011

9 Months!

Secora is 9 months old today! She had her 9 month check up and weighed in at 17#4oz. That's the same she was at 8 months, but since she was weighed on a different scale, it's hard to say whether it's accurate or not. I'm eager to get my own scale down here so I can put her on that and have an accurate comparison.

She got her finger stuck to check her iron levels and that came back just fine. That surprised me, actually. Usually if they put off eating this long, their iron dips quite a bit.

Yup, you read that right...she still doesn't eat. Same ol', same ol', every time I hold up anything to her she clamps her mouth closed and backs away. If you touch the food to her lips, she makes a gaggy face. I try baby food about once a week and it's been so long now that half the time when I'm eating, I offer that too....french fries, ice cream, whatever, she wants no part in any of it. The pediatrician agreed that she's doing just fine without it and said to just keep trying, but only put it in her mouth if she opens up for it. She gets another 3 months and if she's still not eating anything at all by the time she's 1 year old, she goes to occupational therapy to evaluate for texture issues. The only part of all of this that really bothers me is that at this point, I highly doubt she will eat a smash cake at her birthday. Maybe we'll do one for her 2nd birthday to make up for that.

She is very mobile now. She finally figured out how to properly crawl, but you can tell it still takes a lot of concentration. She did it the first time while I was in the post-surgery daze, but Josh got it on video. She has gotten herself from a laying to a sitting position on her own 3 or 4 times. She is pulling up to her knees a lot and a few times a day, she'll pull all the way up to standing, but she doesn't cruise yet.

No real progress on talking this month. That doesn't really surprise me since her sisters were pretty late at that. She still babbles strings of dadadadadada and yayayayayaya and every once in a while a mamamama. She hasn't picked up any sign language yet. She grabs for me and says, "mmmmmmmm!!!!! mmmmmm!!!" when she wants to nurse and will quiet down and wait if I do the sign for "milk", so I think she's understanding it, just not using it yet.

She has gotten to hang out with her new (1 month old) cousin this week. That's cute to see. She'll crawl over to Emrie and stare at her as if she's thinking, "why don't you DO anything??"

She still just has the 2 bottom teeth, though the doctor pointed out to me today that another bottom tooth is poking through. Still nothing on the top though.

She is definitely very interested in what her sisters are doing. She's starting to try to crawl after them and she never wants baby toys, she goes after their stuff instead. Won't be long before she's chasing after them!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just a Quick Note

Tomorrow will be Secora's 9 month birthday and I've been thinking about what to put in the blog post for that, but I don't have my scale with me, so I can't get her weight until her doctor appointment (which is tomorrow) and I haven't taken a picture yet, and I'm currently picking up a random internet connection that I may or may not have access to tomorrow. So I haven't forgotten and that post is coming, just no promises on when ;-)

The Mammoth Site

When we arrived at our hotel in Hot Springs, SD, we saw this next door. I had never heard of The Mammoth Site, but I picked up the brochure in the hotel lobby and it looked worth a visit in the morning.
We did have some excitement in the hotel that night though. Turns out a can of dr. pepper will explode in the freezer section of a little dorm fridge even if there's no door on the freezer section. It takes longer than in a regular freezer though, so it didn't happen until around 3am. It sounded like a gun shot and actually blew the door of the fridge open. The kids slept right through it, but I had enough adrenalin to keep me up for another hour!

But back to the mammoth site. Apparently, this is a place where mammoth bones were discovered and they just built a building around/on top of the dig site and you can go in and see it.

In the gift shop area, the kids were most excited about the Children's Room, where there was this sandbox and they could pretend to dig for fossils

Josh is always joking about "bear bait", so I had to take a picture of this for him:

We signed up for a tour of the site, but I can't say too much about it because Secora got fussy and I missed out on most of it

I did still walk around and take pictures of everything though. Here is a diagram of one of the mammoths

And the actual fossils the diagram is pointing out

Here's another pretty complete mammoth fossil

Once you leave the dig site, there is a museum type thing. I thought the mammoth bone hut was really cool, but the girls were fairly terrified those wax figures were going to come to life!

Since the girls wouldn't go inside it, I did. I thought it was really cool how it was all put together

There was a small kid's section with casts the kids could pick up and play with. This first picture is a mammoth tooth

This one was a chance for them to play archeologist and try to piece bones together

Overall it was pretty neat. If you're in the area, it's worth stopping at.

Once we got on the road again, we made it into Nebraska

When we got to Alliance, NE, we made a short detour and stopped to visit Carhenge. I wasn't feeling so great, so I just stayed at the car and took a few pictures, then my friend took the big girls around to look at everything. It's a neat 10 minute stop if you're driving by.

After this point, everyone decided they were just ready to be done, so we didn't do any more fun stops after carhenge.

Overall it was a good trip! I'm glad we took a different route so we could see some new things this time around!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jewel Cave National Monument

The next stop we had planned was Jewel Cave National Monument. I was pretty disappointed when we got here. You have to be on a tour to go down into the cave and while there was an easy "discovery tour" that I and the kids could all handle, the website suggested getting reservations to be sure to get in. Well, I tried. I called them multiple times and never got an answer on the phone. At the time I figured it must not really be that big of a deal and it would all work out.

I'm not sure what to tell you about HOW to get reservations, but you do need them. Perhaps if you showed up in the morning, you could buy tickets for later in the day, but we didn't have that long to hang around. When we showed up around 4pm, the tours for the rest of the day were already sold out. Big bummer. The adults and the kids were all looking forward to seeing the cave.

There were some examples in the visitor's center of what we could have seen if we'd gotten tour tickets

The kids could still do the junior ranger activity without going in the cave also. Sierra had the regular junior ranger booklet to do and Sedona had an easier "pee-wee" version and then needed to hike the roof top trail on top of the cave (an easy 1/4 mile walk). The ranger that took their packets and awarded their badges was a young guy that was REALLY great with all the kids. One thing that can be simultaneously rewarding and annoying about the junior ranger program is that while a ranger is talking to a kid about their packet, they don't rush through it just because someone else is waiting to ask a question or buy some postcards. I haven't really come across a "bad" ranger doing these, but this guy really went above and beyond. He seemed genuinely excited to talk to them and was really dramatic about presenting their badges, which they loved.

When we went back outside, the girls tried fitting through a crawl space. This concrete box is in front of the visitor's center with a sign saying that if you can fit through it, you qualify to go on a certain strenuous tour that takes you through less commonly traveled areas of the cave. Of course, the girls didn't have much trouble (saw plenty of adults give it a try and back out's smaller than it looks!)

On the way out, we stopped by the park sign to take their picture with their new badges (they were being a bit silly by this point in the day!)

Driving back through the town of Custer, we passed a Flinstone's camp ground! I tried to snap a few pictures

We had considered stopping at Wind Cave National Park, but we didn't get there until late in the day, so we drove on past that one

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mt. Rushmore

Fun Stop #2 on the latest trip: Mt. Rushmore! The whole reason we went East instead of South on this drive was originally to see Mt. Rushmore. My friend and I had never been and it seemed like a great opportunity that wasn't likely to come up again soon.

The drive from Devil's Tower to Mt. Rushmore wasn't that long. We had a quick lunch of pb&j and chips in the car and before we knew it, we were crossing into South Dakota
And we passed this guy that I just had to take a picture of
And every kid (okay, and adult too) loves a tunnel
The first glimpse you catch from the road:
I tried to catch Sierra's face when she first saw it, but I missed. She looks pretty awe-struck here, but this was actually after the fact. Imagine she's 10 times more excited than this:
Once we got there I was a little disappointed to find there is a parking fee that is not covered by the national parks annual pass, so we had to pay to get in. It was impressive to see though and there is also a museum set up to show how the monument was planned and sculpted. I was surprised to find there was a HUGE cafeteria there as well. We didn't eat there, so I'm not sure what all was offered and what the prices were, but you could definitely eat a meal there.

The girls did the junior ranger program again. Sierra had a regular junior ranger booklet that required her to watch a 14 minute film about the monument and do a few worksheets. Sedona did a "pee-wee junior ranger" worksheet with some easier questions. We took their picture with Mt. Rushmore in the background And after they were done with their booklets, they turned them in to the ranger and answered more questions (they usually talk with the ranger a while when they're done with these and then take a little "junior ranger oath" to help protect the park)

Driving south from Mt. Rushmore, our last view was one last glimpse of Washington
We had intended to also stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial, but we were running short on time, so I had my friend pull over on the shoulder of the road and I took a picture with my zoom lens. I felt a little guilty, but I did it anyway. I'm guessing the white lines are where they're plotting the next blasts since this sculpture is still in the process of being carved.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Devil's Tower

Our first fun stop on this trip was at Devil's Tower National Monument. We were headed east on I-90 and Devil's Tower was just a slight detour. Josh had also climbed there years ago and I wanted to show it to the girls.
Here was the view from the highway before we got to the National Park Service gates

Once we got inside, we picked up junior ranger packets for the girls. There were different programs for different ages. At 4 and 6 years old, the girls both just had to complete a scavenger hunt. There was a booklet filled with things they were likely to see and they had to check them off as they found them. For some things they also drew a picture of what they saw. So we headed outside to walk around the trails a bit

While we were walking, I tried to take a self-portrait of Secora and I

It didn't work so well But the girls finished out their booklets and we headed back to the visitor's center to turn them in
This was Sedona's first time to earn a badge and she was SO excited! On our drive back out of the park, we stopped to check out the (very, very numerous) prairie dogs
There are signs that say don't feed the prairie dogs, but I think this little guy was getting some snacks on the side anyway. Or else, it's a little gal that's about to have a bunch of pups.

On our way out, we stopped and set the self-timer to get picture of all of us by the sign (you'll notice the bike in the background...turns out we were traveling through the Black Hills during Sturgis. We passed quite a lot of bikes this week!!)

Definitely worth the detour. The highway out to Devil's Tower makes a bit of a triangle shape with the interstate, so you do have to go a little bit out of your way, but it's not too bad and it's pretty impressive to see!

While we're here, a quick shot of the favorite snack of the trip. I made up a "trail mix" of cereal, marshmallows, raisins and m&m's and then put it in snack sized ziplocs and used clothespins and pipe cleaners to make them look like butterflies (idea from Family Fun magazine). The girls thought they were very neat and liked the snack also. The only problem was that I should have made more because they were asking for them constantly! They collected the clothespins and pipe cleaners and made all sorts of toys out them...airplanes and lady bugs and crowns and anything else they could think of. Definitely a hit!


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