Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Elementary Art Lesson Plans

I was hopeful we'd all be well by the time this week started, but that was not meant to be.  Maybe I'll tell that story tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm sharing the art lesson plans I just finished putting together.  My strong points are math and science and I feel like I've really neglected art in our homeschool.  With Sedona starting kindergarten this year, I decided we needed to have specific lesson plans laid out.  I'm much more likely to get out the supplies and do the project if it's on a schedule. 

The dates are approximate, but I planned lessons twice a week from late August through mid-May.  I added in some fun crafts around holidays.  Most of the projects are geared toward kindergarten aged kids.  There are a few days where I have included a complementary, but different project for Sierra (3rd grade).  Most of the time, I will have them both do the same project though and I'm assuming Sierra will understand the theory more and have a more detailed end product.  I may add in some library books for Sierra when we talk about certain artists. 

For each lesson, there is a title for the lesson and the materials needed for that lesson.  It's art with a focus on creativity, so few of the materials are written in stone.  You can substitute where needed based on your available resources.  The directions and examples of each project are on pinterest.  I have set up a board with links to the websites where I found each project.  I can't organize the board into a specific order, but I have matched the description on my lesson plan to the description I used on pinterest, so they aren't too hard to find.

I didn't have specific objectives, but a few focuses are to: develop fine motor coordination, including cutting, gluing and writing skills; learn primary and secondary colors and where they are on the color wheel and why; and explore multiple mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and mixed media.

You can find the lesson plan for free here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Sickies

Still sick here.  Right after Secora got over her second bout of hand, foot and mouth disease, we all started getting sick with a cough/sore throat/headache thing.  We focused on fever control and rest until Thursday, when Sierra spent the entire morning on the couch sleeping. 

Sierra does not nap, certainly not voluntarily, so we took her in to the pediatrician.  Turns out she has a mycoplasma infection.  That's a bacteria that causes walking pneumonia and it's contagious.  She got some antibiotics and perked up the next day.  Friday I went to my doctor since I had been sick for a week and now knew it was a bacterial thing.  She said I was wheezy and should've kicked it by now, so she put me on antibiotics too.  Then Secora was suddenly feverish with a gunky cough Friday evening, so she went to the doctor this morning.  She may have the worst of it, she has some gunk in her lungs, wheezing and an ear infection starting.  Went to the pharmacy again to pick up yet more antibiotics and some albuterol for her. 

To the surprise of no one who knows her, Sedona has bounced back the best.  She needed some advil and breathing treatments (not unusual for her ever since she had a really tough time with the flu when she was 2), but she seems to have beat it all on her own with no anbiotics.  Josh has a very mild form of it, so we're holding out hope he doesn't really get sick.  We should be fixed up and not technically sick by the end of the weekend, but apparently the cough will likely hang around for weeks.  Fun times. 

Moral of the story: Josh and I have been doing a lot of nighttime parenting this week and I've been too tired to put together the blog posts I was planning on. 

A few random pictures I want to share while I'm here though:

We have never been successful at growing melons, but this year things seem to be going rather well.  I wanted to get the melons off the ground to keep them from sitting on wet dirt or attracting rolly pollys.  I tried just putting a paper plate under them, but that didn't work.  Then I decided to try using pantyhose as a sling and hanging it on a stake.  This seems to be working out really well.
Our watermelons still aren't doing much, but the canteloupes are producing really well!
The other things still going strong are the okra and peppers.  The okra is as tall as me in some places
We really need to do some late summer/early fall planting, but no one has the energy right now

Inside, Secora had a grand ol' time grading school papers.  We gave her a stack of old papers to color on, thinking she'd color on the back.  Nope, she found herself a red pencil and started making marks through the words on the front while jabbering about something very serious sounding.

Hopefully things are more normal around here next week!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sick Leave

We've got a whole lot germs floatin' around this house.  I haven't decided if Secora is patient zero or if the rest of us picked up a totally different germ at the pediatrician's office when we took Secora in a while back.  Either way, it sucks. 

I remember a time in my life when there were these magical things called sick days.  You got to stay home from school or work and lay in bed and focus on how miserable you felt and how unfair it was that you were all grown up and had to take care of yourself because your mom wasn't around to do it.  Oh how I long for a sick day. 

'Cause once kids enter the picture?  No sick day.  The absolute best it gets these days is if Josh takes a sick day and I hide in our room with a pillow over my head in the clearly misguided attempt to block out the sound of 3 shrieky girls.  The last true sick day I had was when I hospitalized because I was starving to death from hyperemesis gravidarum.  I slept all day and all night while various nurses came in periodically to switch out IV bags.  It was 95% major suckage and 5% bliss. 

But for a regular ol' "my head feels like it's going to explode and I'm coughing so much I'm surprised a rib hasn't broken" sickness?  Eh.  Suck it up, buttercup.  Especially once the kids catch it.  No matter how sick you are, you will jump up at midnight to rock your child when you hear that unmistakable bark of a croup cough.  And if your own coughing is keeping you up anyway, you might as well be the one to share a bed with said child for the rest of the night to make sure her breathing treatment is doing it's job and the wheezing settles down to a reasonable level and stays there. Never mind the feet kicking you in the back, that's just a loving attempt to break up any congestion for you.

I'm optimistic that we're just getting this out of the way now so everyone can be healthy for the vacation we have coming up.  In the meantime, we've got to work on this benefits package stay at home moms get, there are some serious oversights in the time off category.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our History Curriculum

I have finished creating the history curriculum I'll be using with Sierra next year.  Just like last year, I am making this available for FREE to anyone else who wants to use it.
If you have questions about any of it, feel free to email me.  If you are new around here, this plan will be used with my 7-8 year old 3rd grader who is a strong reader and enjoys hands on projects. I planned the lessons with her in mind, so it may not be appropriate for children who learn better in other ways.  Even if the plan as a whole won't work for you, there are some interesting resources worth checking out.  Everything from learning about dymkovo toys and making your own clay whistle to trying your hand at the art of ebru.

Early Modern History Level 1 FREE Lesson Plans

*All of the amazon links in the book list are affiliate links

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sedona Turns 5!

This little lady turned 5 years old yesterday.

The night before her birthday, I told her she would only be 4 for a few more hours and she said she was gonna miss 4 because it was SO much fun.  That about sums up her personality. 

Sedona finds joy in every day. You may think that's pretty easy when you're 4, but she goes above and beyond in the "looking on the bright side" category.

She missed out on birthday parties when she turned 3 and 4 because we were in Montana, so we had a big pool party yesterday for her and 16 of her friends.  She loved every minute of it and has repeatedly told me she had the best day ever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fig Bars

After I made the fig jam, I had to give fig bars a try.  I'm sure you know what commercial cookie this recipe is mimicking.  You could use any jam for this, but you want it to be a pretty stiff jam or preserves.  Like the jam, this recipe is based on one from The Complete Book of Small-Bath Preserving*.

Spiced Fig Jam Bars
Makes 36 bars
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2cups fig jam

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl
2. Cream together until smooth
3. Combine flour, salt and baking soda and add to the bowl
4. Stir until combined
5. Divide dough in half.  Roll one half of dough into an 8"x12" rectangle.
6. Cut the dough down the middle
7.  Spread about 3/8cup of jam down the center of each rectangle
8. Fold each side of the dough over the jam.  Make sure the edges of the dough overlap.  A pastry scraper* works well for things like this.
9. Cut each roll into 3 sections
10. Repeat with other half of dough
11. Place on baking sheet folded side down and bake about 12-13 minutes.
12.  Cool completely on wire rack, then use serrated knife to cut each bar into 3 separate cookies

*Affiliate links

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fig Jam

I've been collecting figs as they ripen and dehydrating them.  Last weekend, while we had the canner out to process pickled cucumbers and peppers, I decided to make some jam from the figs too.  This recipe is from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving*.

Australian Spiced Dried Fig Jam
Makes 5 half-pints
1/2 pound dried figs
2 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 box powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Combine figs and water in medium bowl and let stand 8 hours, or overnight.
2. Drain the figs (save water).  Remove and throw away stems.  Finely chop figs (I used a food processor).
3. Add reserved water until you have 3 cups of fruit
4. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.

5. Mix figs, pectin and lemon juice in stainless steel pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
6. Add sugar all at once (yes, it's a lot of sugar.  Jam is like that.)
7.  Return mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
8.  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
9.  Ladle into prepared jars and process for 10 minutes (the fig jam is on the far left, we also did bread and butter pickles and bread and butter jalapenos this day)
Tomorrow I'll be posting a tutorial on how to use the jam to make your own fig newtons!

*Affiliate Link

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pickle Relish

I've been getting plenty of cucumbers and canning one or two pickle recipes a week.  With plenty of dill and bread and butter pickles made up, last week it was time to do a batch of relish.

Cucumber Relish
Makes about 6 pints or 12 half-pints
8 cups finely chopped cucumbers
8 cups finely chopped bell peppers (half green and half red is nice, I didn't have any reds ready)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup canning salt
3 cups white vinegar
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp celery seeds
3 tbsp mustard seeds

1. Chop your cucumbers, bell peppers, and onion.  Combine in large stainless steel or glass bowl.  If your cucumbers have big seeds, you may want to seed them.  I have tried using a food processor to chop and the pieces ended up too fine and the relish was too mushy, so I prefer to chop by hand even though it takes forever.

2. Mix pickling salt in with the vegetables, cover and let sit in a cool place for 4 hours.
3. Pour veggies into a colander, rinse with cool water and let drain thoroughly.
4. Prepare canner, jars and lids (visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation if you don't know how)

5. In a large stainless steel pot, combine vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds.
6. Stir well and bring to a boil.
7. Add vegetables and bring back to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently until vegetables are heated through, about ten minutes.
8. Fill jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (for both half-pints and pints).
After I chopped cucumbers all day, I still had some leftover, so I made more dill pickles.  I sliced these length-wise so I'd have good sandwich slices.  I highly recommend a mandolin (ours is a cheapie, works just fine) if you're going to slice things like this on a regular basis.  Makes life much easier!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Overdue Garden Update

We've had some interesting weather around here lately!  Normally, mid-July in Central Texas is full of 100 degree days and drought.  Not this year though. For the last week we've had rain every single day and temps in the low to mid-90's.  The garden is loving it.

Here is the first watermelon:
We have several cantaloupes hanging out too.   I needed to get the melons off the ground, so I tried putting paper plates underneath them, but that's not working out so well, I need to come up with something better. 
Remember my weird bug I was finding?
I had sent pictures to our local ag extension and they were passed around a bit and finally identified by Ms. Crystal Ernst up in Canada as a Texas bow-legged bug.  (Actually, the determination was "Hemiptera Alydidae genus Hyalymenus and perhaps species tarsatus".   H. tarsatus is a Texas bow-legged bug).

Well, now I'm seeing the adults and it appears the identification was correct:

The hugelkulture bed did alright without watering, but definitely didn't hold enough water to make it through early summer dry stretches on its own.  Perhaps it will be better next year as the wood breaks down some?  With all of the rain recently, the black beans decided they'd go ahead and bloom some more:
The okra is happy and starting to put out more blooms:
This bed with all the giant plants is the okra bed.  There is another section of okra in another bed that's doing just as well.
The bell peppers are happy and producing well.  The leaffooted bugs that are still in the garden (there aren't as many since I started attacking each cluster of nymphs with fire) are trying to feed on the peppers, but they don't do nearly as much damage as they did on the tomatoes.
This little moth caught my attention because of its wings.  I noticed in the pictures it almost looks like it's smiling too.
Last, but definitely not lease, everything we harvested today.  I need to update my garden totals, I have a lot to add.  I've decided I won't be planting pickling cucumbers again.  Regular straight eight cucumbers have worked out so much better for my pickling plans.  They get longer without getting so big around if I need to wait to harvest.  The pickling cucumbers need to be picked at just the right time, or they get really fat and aren't much more than seeds.  I'd have to have a lot more plants to be able to harvest them when they need to be and have enough to make pickles.  With the straight eights, they can hang around for a few days while other cucumbers grow and I easily pick enough for a recipe of pickles once or twice a week.
As frustrating as it gets being stuck inside with the kids, it is kind of nice to have all this rain in the middle of the summer.  Normally we'd be watching everything die and planning the fall garden, but this year we're still going strong and just looking forward to adding to it!

Friday, July 13, 2012

HFMD Redux

Wednesday night, Secora woke up just about every 30 minutes crying and whimpering. Then a fever started. We figured she had an ear infection, so we called and made a doctor appointment for the next morning with plans to hit our pediatrician's after hours walk-in clinic if needed.

She didn't eat all morning and then when she tried to eat lunch, she started throwing up. I don't think any of my kids have ever had fever and vomiting at the same time and I was worried something more serious was going on, so we called the doc and they said they were fully booked, but bring her on in and they would find time to see her.

After an exam and a strep test, the verdict was hand, foot and mouth disease. NO! I told the doc, I know there's more than one virus that causes it, but the whole family just had it back in February. He said the CDC has reported that we currently have THREE viruses that cause it going around our area. So not only is it totally possible to have it again so soon, but it might actually hit a third time as well. Thankfully only one of those strains usually affects adults, so since Josh had it last time, maybe we can avoid the whole family getting sick.

So far it's only in her throat this time, but it takes a while for the blisters to pop up, so we'll see what happens. Because of her problems with eating (she has sensory issues that make it difficult to get food in her even when she's not in pain), the doc prescribed a steroid for her to take. It's a pretty large volume and has to be forced on her and then makes her dry heave, but once that's over, it sure seems to help her feel better. She did go back to what's normal eating for her and she's acting much happier.

We'll see if everyone can keep their fingernails this time around. Would you believe my post about Sedona losing her's last time is my most frequently visited post? I would've taken much better pictures if I'd had any clue so many people would be searching for information about their nails peeling after HFMD.

Speaking of Sedona, that poor girl's birthday is in only 1 week. It's the first year she's getting a real party where she got to help plan and pick which friends to invite, so wish us luck on getting through with this before then! I'm holding out hope this particular strain is one the big girls already had when they were babies so they can stay well and we won't have to cancel the party.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some Randomness

Long time no blog. We had a busy weekend running Sierra to the theater for her latest play. She had 3 shows Friday and Saturday and lock-in party Saturday night. She did a fabulous job and at one point, we'd walk in the door and someone would yell out "the star of the show's parents are here!" To say she's found a niche and is doing well is an understatement.

This week we are back to a pretty normal schedule. All of the big summer camps are over with. We're down to a few small things here and there and swim lessons now. We switched from evening to morning swim lessons and I'm so glad we did. The morning lessons are at a different pool that is meant for lap swimming and diving, so for Sierra's classes they have more space to really practice. Sierra's done really well and can now swim the full 50m length without touching the bottom (right now they're doing free style, then rolling on their back and floating when they need a break, then they keep going). Sedona's swimming on her own for short distances now too and SO proud of herself! Even better, all our favorite instructors from last year (that we thought had maybe moved on) are at the morning lessons! I don't know if they were just gone during June or maybe they only teach in the mornings, but it was nice to see them out there! The only downside is that with the rain and cloud cover we've been having, it's pretty cold for the girls at 8am. Everything else works out so well though that I think we'll stick with morning lessons if we do another session.

A little randomness. A friend sent me this yesterday and it's so great I had to share. If it doesn't make you smile, you need to loosen up. The full talk is on youtube in 10 sections if you want to go watch it, but this part is great

And even more randomness. Bread was on sale (like 55% off sale) last week, so the girls begged me to make frozen sandwiches. They're just homemade uncrustables. For some reason, they love them straight out of the freezer.

Easy to make, the only trick is to put peanut butter on both sides of the bread so the jelly doesn't soak in. I have a plastic tool I picked up for $1 at the store that cuts off the crust and squishes the edges of the bread together. Don't waste peanut butter by spreading it all the way to the edge of the bread, it'll just get cut off and the edges don't stick as well. Once they're all made up, I wrap them in saran wrap and put them in a freezer bag so we can "grab and go". Sierra thought this spread of sandwiches would last a month. HA! More like 4 days. I did make about a month's worth all together though.


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