Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A week in the life of....

A few years ago, I started doing a scrapbook a year for the kids.  It's a week in their life review and includes a snapshot of their lives in a typical given week.  I usually do this in February, but for some reason, I seem to have skipped 2011 altogether.  I vaguely remember taking the photos for it, but it seems that I never got around to making the actual scrapbook.  I'll have to come back to it later...

To start this year's "A week in the life of..." scrapbook, here is the first page.. Tennis Lessons...


And the second page....  Walking the dog...


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Happy 3rd birthday Little Lady Doggie!

Today is Little Lady Doggie's 3rd birthday! For this day she'll get taught a new trick, and get plied with a bag of treats. The kids will temember how much they love her, and she'll get an extra long walk.
Newborn doggie - here still with her litter mates...
Little Lady and doggie- 8 weeks old 
Doggie and the fam... shown here at 18 months.
Lady doggie fully grown.  Isn't she a beaut?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Permission to Pin

Browsing Pinterest is a great way to pass the time.  Ok..well... it's an awesome diversion and time waster, but one can truly find some amazing ideas and resources on there.  I'm addicted, as I'm sure that if you are on it, you are too.

I came across the post about pinning with permission, and decided to read it.  I wanted to make sure that I was doing it right.  I also wanted people to know without having to scrounge for info, that my personal blog (this one) is ok to pin from.  (Click the image above to see the original blog)

Here is an excerpt from that blog...

Recently, I read a disturbing article, Pinterest Users Need to Read the Fine Print, and I learned that when we signed up for Pinterest, we actually agreed to the following terms:
  • We own the rights to images we are pinning. 
  • We grant full rights to Pinterest to use those images in any fashion! 

So... Here's my permission for you to pin!  

xx Happy pinning! (Click the pinterest Logo to see my boards!)

-Jennifer

Sunday, 26 February 2012

My gorgeous little lady...

When I'm really truly upset about something, my pick me up is shopping... For clothes for my kids... So that I can stage a photo shoot! In order to get the new clothes, they must willingly participate in the photo shoot. :). They get to decide when..that way they are in a good mood. And they smile... and pose... As they are told!

I went to start a mini one today and realized I hadn't charged the batteries of my nice camera, so as she was dressed, we did the sensible thing and took some pics with my phone.

Isn't she lovely?


Saturday, 25 February 2012

marshmallow fight

Inspired by the Pinterest blog from Celebrate Everyday with Me... I decided to stage our own Marshmallow Fight.

In preparation, I picked up 4 bags of marshmallows..(in the UK they are small bags)   --I couldn't find the mini ones, but these were small enough. I separated them into ziploc bags for easy storage, made my sign for hubby to read as he comes in the door
and taped his ammo under the sign.


I briefed the kids when they got home from school, I can't even express how excited they were!

Here we are waiting for Daddy to come home.  Little man kept checking the windows to see when the car was pulling up.


Oops! Lost some ammo as the kids decided to snack... Oh well..  less for them to pelt me with! :)


Here we are watching Phineas and Ferb while waiting for Daddy's long drive home.


What we learned:

Little man has pretty good aim!  There was more than one marshmallow that bounced right off mommy's head!  Little lady is a collector.  She had the most marshmallows, as she kept running around and picking up all the thrown ones.  Daddy is a great sport!  Jumping right in and having a good time right from the get go.  Both kids are good at hiding, not coming out until they had to, and not making any noise so Daddy couldn't find them.  

Friday, 24 February 2012

Awesome magazines

One of the things (in my opinion) that the UK does right, is it's educational magazines.
Take this for instance:


In the US you'd never get such an awesome thing.  Build a skeleton in 34 parts and learn about your body a little each month.  What an awesome idea!  And it doesn't stop there.  I saw Learn to Play chess magazines where each issue gives you a piece and you slowly build your own chess board.  There are quite a few of t hem, and I have to say I'm really impressed!  So.. of course.. I bought one.  (yes, just one - they CAN share!)  

Lets see if we can build Billy Bones!
This is what he will look like in 34 issues when we are done!
Little man is pulling off the teeth and putting them in the upper mandible.
Little lady is reading the magazine and learning about her body!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

We Give Books..and more books...

I love online books!  Some of them are so whitty and funny!  I came across the parody Goodnight Ipad on a pinterest board and it got me thinking about how awesome the digital age is where books are concerned.  I love the interactive books on the Ipad as well as the internet for making books even more fun and exciting.


A parody of Goodnight Moon is Goodnight IPAD.. check it out at http://www.wegivebooks.org/books/goodnight-ipad?bookmark=1

I like the website We Give Books... it has a bunch of great online books for reading

Here are a few of my other favorites:

http://storybird.com/       A site where the child (or adult! :) ) chooses pictures then writes a story to go with those pictures.

www.storynory.com  One of my all time favorite sites for downloading free audiobooks.  They have classics as well as their own original books.  You can read online as well as download these, and they allow for ITUNES formatting and even have a podcast so that you can auto-download them.

If your looking for leveled readers two of my favorite sites are
RAZ kids and A to Z Reading



Here are a few others that I've heard about but haven't tried out myself...
http://readingeggs.co.uk/

http://www.magickeys.com/books/

http://www.starfall.com/  ( I think Little Lady uses this one in school)

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/interactive/onlinestory.htm

http://www.storyplace.org/storyplace.asp

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

No mess magnet painting

I spend a lot of my time finding ways to amuse my children and hopefully teach them something new.  I then spend a lot of time cleaning up after the activity.  So when I saw the no-mess painting ideas, I was intrigued.  How could I turn that into a fun educational idea?   After mulling it over for a few days, I decided that by combining paint colors (blue and yellow, red and blue, etc) to reinforce primary color and color mixing; and by dropping in a paper clip so that they could 'paint' by magnet, that I'd be fulfilling my mission.

So here's what I did.  I took a freezer ziploc bag (I bring them in from the US, so I only had the freezer kind in Pint size) and I squeezed in crayola washable paint in 2 colors.  In dropped the paper clip.  I added baby oil on top of the paint in about the same quantity as the 2 paint colors and sealed the bag.  To reinforce it, I taped the bag down to card stock and taped the card stock on the top and bottom end.  I marked the top part TOP (just in case!) and then gave each kid a magnet and had them paint away!  When they got tired of the magnet, they used their hands, and then tried moving the paint around with other objects as well.

The best part was that I didn't have anything to clean up afterwards!!!


Washable crayola paint, baby oil
                                              In the bag goes paint, baby oil and the paper clip.

I made 4 - two for each kid.

Little lady trying the magnet on the bottom.

Maybe it'll be easier on top?

forget the magnet!  We can move this with our hands!


Those of you who hop over here from my science blog will see these in this week's lesson.  It's all about Magnets!!  

Monday, 20 February 2012

Corn and beans part 2!

Part 2 of our growing Corn and Beans experiment.
Our sprouts have now grown roots, secondary roots,  and root hairs.
We were able to identify their root caps, the coleoptile (on the corn) and the hypocotyl (on the bean).


Here is little man weighing his now sprouted beans and corn.  In the second picture he is preparing the Vermicilite bedding for the rest of the experiment.

Little lady is carefully examining her bean sprout.  She's interested in the secondary roots.  In the second picture, she's planting her sprouted beans and corn into her prepared bedding.

Here is a picture of Little Lady's planted bed made out of a milk carton and a egg carton.  The other picture is the sprouted beans and corn getting ready to be planted.  

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Natural History Museum

We attempted the rediculous over the weekend. We tried to go to the Natural History Museum on a weekend! After the over 1 hour drive to get down there, we had to stand in the drizzle for 1/2 an hour before we could get in. Unfortunately, I had not fed the children before leaving the house, so a good part of our trip involved finding food, fighting our way through the crowds, stealing seats and eating. Once that was done the kids had only enough patience for a few exhibits before they wanted to go home.

Here are a few of the things that we saw.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Homeschooling debate

There are  few things that truly get me hot under the collar.  The Home-schooling debate is one of them.

The majority (not all) of the schools in the US are horrible places where kids are lost in the shuffle, taught to the test, and if bright, expected to teach themselves while the teacher works hard to reign in the others.   Parents are yanking their kids left and right to home-school them, and provide them with a 'better' education than their local schools can give them.

1.  Do I believe that parents have the 'right' to home-school their children.

YES!  As a parent of two school aged children, I totally believe that every parent has the right to home-school their children.  Should you be forced to send them to an unsafe or improper school? NO!  However, I think that this trend of, well.. I don't like my school, or it's to far for me to drive....  etc should be put to a stop.

a.  I feel that parents who home-school their children need to have some rules.
     a.  you can be allowed to home-school your OWN children through elementary school if you show your high school diploma.
     b.  you shouldn't be allowed to teach your children middle school or high school without a bachelors degree.
     c.  If you join a co-op of parents home-schooling, each parent in the group must provide these requirements.
     d.   I truly believe that parents should have to register in their school district (and get a piece of paper) in order to home school their children.  There needs to be accountability.
      e.  At the end of each level (elementary, middle and high school) home schooled students should be given exams (orally, written, scantron and other ways to show competency in all areas) that show their abiltiy to perform at each level.  Personally, I'd take it a step further and have the parents bring their kids in yearly for testing to make sure that they are passing the minimum requirements for each year.
    f.  parents should have to re-register their kids each year with the district.
    g.  Parents who home-school should have to prove (via tax records) that at least one parent does not work during the school hours and is therefore actually at home to teach the children.

2. Do I believe that home-schooled children get a better education that they can get in a public school?

     That's a tricky one, that depends on several factors.  Does the parent have the education level appropriate to teach the children?  Does that parent know where to find materials and supplies that they need?  Can they afford to purchase these materials?  This is a big one, because remember, as parents your still paying for your local school in your taxes; can you afford to purchase all the books and materials it takes to home-school your children on top of that?  Is the parent taking the time to make sure that their child gets a proper day's schooling each school day?  Are they (the parent) able to setup the routine and are the children willing to listen to instruction from their parent?

3.  Have I ever considered home-schooling?

     Yes.  Many times.  I will probably continue to consider it for years to come.  Why?  Little Lady's first grade year was abysmal.  She was literally LOST in the school by her teachers twice.  She's bright, so she gets lost in the shuffle while the teachers pay attention to the kids who need it most.  I don't always feel that her teacher 'sees' her.  I don't always feel that my son gets the best education he needs because he's not the demanding type.  He sits and waits for further instruction, never bothering the teacher and won't do anything else that might get him in trouble (like pick up a book and read it to fill time).

     I believe that I could give my children an amazing quality education at home.  I already supplement about 40% of their education at home, so it would probably be easier on me to do all of it.  It would give us the opportunity to move where hubby's work is and not live where the school is.  We could travel and build it into the curriculum not worrying about spending a fortune by going when school's out.  There are hundreds of reasons for home-schooling.

4.  Then why don't you?
   
     Socialization, both with other kids and adults.  Co-ops work better than traditional home-schooling for this, but still not as good as a public school.  Children need to be able to see multiple points of view.  They need to  respect adults and learn to temporarily adjust themselves to different situations.  A home-school environment does not give them this skill.  Socialization with other children is very important too.  I've been in classrooms where children were home-schooled and for whatever reason were now back in public school.  These children were very bright, obviously had been truly taught at home.  However, they had trouble 'fitting in' to the school environment.  This wasn't because the teacher forced them to sit still, but was because they were used to being one of a VERY small group of kids, gaining a lot of attention from their teacher and were more hand-held through activities than children who had not been home-schooled.  These children (in my experience) cried in school more often, felt frustrated and unsure of themselves because they had to do things mostly on their own.  Their interactions with other students showed them to be easily upset and unable to cope with the demands of 17-23 other kids in the class and what that means for them.

     I'm not saying in any way that home-school parents do not teach their children to respect adults.  I am talking about the exposure to a mass number of adults that are to have a respected role in your child's life.  To teach them, to guide them.  And while the tennis teacher and the swimming coach count, these type of instructors do not have the level of impact that a teacher does.

     Also - unless the parent is keeping up on all the trends and nuances of the education system, it's easy to skip out of teaching the things necessary to pass state exams.  A parent might miss out on something awesome because they weren't watching for it.  For example, I think LAMDA is an awesome thing that my kids get in school here.  Currently, there is no way for them to take the exams for that if they are not enrolled in school.

5.  I have a hard time with the MY kid thought process.  I'm going to pull MY kid and give them the best education I can give them.  I'm going to let all the OTHER kids suffer by not giving my ample time and support to a system that obviously needs it.  I'm going to permit the OTHER kids to fail because MINE will be safe from it.  I understand the thought process.  I understand wanting to be the best parent and give your child the best you can give him/her.  However, this is, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems with society.  Everyone is thinking about themselves and their own without processing the impact of this.

If every parent who homeschooled, instead took a stance in the school system, helped out in their child's classroom, supported their PTA (don't like what they have to say - CHANGE IT!), and lobbied their school district for changes, our schools would be a better place to be.  Yes, there are fundamental things wrong with society that permeate in the school system.  Our teachers are scared and forced to teach in a way that they don't like.  (Lobby and change it!).  Bullying appears in the schools, the education system is low, the school lunch is horrible slop.  CHANGE IT!

And for those of you who feel more strongly than others - go back to school, be a teacher, an administrator or a school board official.  Make the changes you want.  Don't pull your kids and let the others fail.


Be the change you want to see in the world.  - Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, 17 February 2012

Parent Child Date Nights

I loved the pinterest idea of the date night with daddy cards.  We've been doing this for years with daddy and daughter, although they are usually large planned out affairs.  I wanted to change this to include smaller and more intimate deals.  Also - Little Man wanted in.  I think he feels jipped that he's stuck with me when his big sister gets to 'date' her father.  When I saw the idea above, inspiration struck!  I'd make these as Dates with our children cards!  So I sat down to do it!  I had these index cards I picked up in the $1 section of Michaels and have had for well over a year wondering what to do with them.  They say BIG IDEAS on them.

I divided her plan up into 12 sections:  Adventure, family, parents/kids choice, sporty, playful, games, educational, outdoors, other, indoors, and days out.

These cards got tabs and numbers  (in the order above).  Ok...well, to be honest, originally I had 1-12 and Little Lady noticed that in order to use the dice, you couldn't ACTUALLY ever roll a 1.... so 1 became 11 and the parents choice and kids choice get combined!  (smart cookie, eh?)

These cards went into a box that I labelled "Dates with Children" that I picked up from IKEA a long time ago.

The idea is that the kids get dates with us... when one is with daddy the other is with me, and then they swap.
They roll the dice  and whatever number they get that child has to look in that section to find what they are going to do.  There are several choices, so they then get to choose what they want to do.  When that's done, they move that card back to the "completed" in the back so that we don't do that again.  (until they are all done and we put them back)  Each card is written with it's corresponding section number on it so that when I need to put them back I know where they go.

Here's the things that I wrote.  You'll have to change them to fit your family's budget, values, resources available and where you live.  I used several of the ideas from the other blog and repeated them here.  Then I added a bunch of my own!

2 - Adventure Cards
 Take a drive - make 3 turns that you've never taken before - see where you end up
  catch minnows or tadpoles in the water - let them go  * summer only
  have a picnic in the woods
  take a hike together
  go roller blading together
  go ice skating together

3 - Family
  Day out at the beach
  Go to lego land
  go to an amusement park
  visit a historical landmark


4 is Parents or Kids choice
    There are instructions on this card - it says " roll the dice again - if the result is 1-6 it's parents choice, if it's 7-12 it's kids choice"

5 - Sporty
     play soccer together
     go miniature golfing
     go swimming together
     play tennis
     go bowling
     go canoeing

6 - Playful
     go to the playground - play on the equipment together
     run through the sprinklers outside * summer only
     wash the car - get into a water fight * warm weather only
     devise your own code - mail a letter to someone using it
     have a coloring contest
     make a lego tower
     look up 10 jokes (books or internet, library) tell each other & laugh

7- Games
     play a game on the wii together
     research a magic trick - practice it and show others
     picture drawing or painting pictures
     play catch
     have a bubble gum blowing contest
     play a board game together
     play a video game together

8 - educational
     go to the library - pickout books - curl up there and read one
     make shapes and fun stuff out of toothpicks and mini marshmallows
     research an artist - draw paint or otherwise create a piece in that style
     visit a museum

9 - outdoors
     build a treehouse or fort in the woods or backyard
     outside fun! skip rope - 3 legged race, bean bag toss, bag jump
     catch fireflies- make jars to put them in
     play frisbee - try it in the dark with a flashlight
     find the smoothest stone in the river - throw it - skip it
     climb a tree - see how high you can go!
     go bike riding together
     make bubble solution - have a bubble blowing contest

10 - other
     do a sewing, threading, knitting or crochetting project together
     pick a place to either plant flowers or put a planter - shop for flowers then plant them
     go to the pet store - buy a new toy for one of the animals
     get dessert out!
     get dinner out!
     see a movie in the theatre
     go to the candy store - buy candy - build a candy monster & photograph it

11 - Indoors
     cook dinner together
     do a craft together
     rewrite a short story - change the names to yours - change the ending
     watch a movie together - in the house
     do a science experiment
     go pick 2 stories - have them read to you
     make an indoor fort, play inside it
     put together a model kit
     do a puzzle together
     build a house of cards, then play a card game
     bake something together *includes shopping if necesary
     put on a puppet show!  - shadow, finger or hand puppets

12- Days out!
     Go to the zoo or animal park
     go to the aquarium


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hey Girl - Part 3

So my obsession is now over... at least for a good long while.  The majority of the dreamy guys on my list now have their place in my motivational word hall of fame.  The only one missing is my hubby :)  but I don't think he wants me to post his on my blog!

So, here are the last 6 that I'm going to do..

Orlando Bloom

Jared Leto

Josh Duhamel

Chris Pine

Ian Somerhalder

Ryan Reynolds