Thursday, May 31, 2012

Even the Best Mothers Lose Their Cool

I saw this video clip on a random blog I follow (This Little Miggy Stayed Home) and couldn't resist reposting it.
Not that I'm glad to hear or see other mothers lose their cool, but I run out of patience with my children way more than I should! I always feel terrible after I've yelled at the girls or been too hard on them but it's so hard in the heat of the moment (especially when they've all been screaming at me). I guess that should give me a better appreciation of why it's so difficult for them to control their tempers... I mean if I find it challenging to remain calm and patient how can I expect them not to struggle? Too bad I'm not always quite so logical and reasonable when I'm feeling like I'm at the end of my rope...
In anycase, it's always reassurring to hear other mothers feel the same frustrations or fall into the same traps as me. Sometimes (more accurately frequently) I feel like such a failure! Today has actually been one of those rare super awesome, I can't imagine anything going more smoothly and my children are wonderful and perfect little creatures sort of days (sure wish I had a lot more of those days :). It's so easy to be a loving and patient mother on a day like today! :)
Having said that, there is never a day so perfect that I don't regret losing my patience on a previous day and can't appreciate the humor in this video where the quintessential cool, calm, collected and perfect mother loses control of her temper. So this is for all you mothers out there. Please watch, enjoy and know you're not alone in your frustration with your wonderful (maybe not quite so perfect) children! I guess we all lose it, even Claire Huxtable! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jewish Harvest Muffins

Chapter 6 of Story of the World is titled "The Jewish People." One of the book recommendations for the week was "Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays" by Leslie Kimmelman (Harper Collins Juvenile Books, 2000). The book discussed all the Jewish holidays as well as games and recipes that were associated with each holiday. A recipe for "Harvest Muffins" was provided in association with Sukkot, a harvest holiday. Even though it's not a harvest time of year this recipe looked so yummy we had to try it out. We were right, it was super good! The recipe did call for quite a few ingredients (12 to be exact), however...
 Reagan grating carrots
 Kennedy decided she wanted to assist too (although she was very particular about what ingredients she would add)
 Adding the carrots and apples
 Kennedy was more than happy to help Reagan add the chocolate chips :)
 Reagan with a baked Harvest Muffin
 Jackson loved these muffins so much he ate 3!
Because of the number of ingredients (not to mention chopping and grating that was involved) I wasn't sure I would want to bake these muffins again. After looking at these pictures, however, I'm thinking maybe I do need to make a copy of this recipe before returning the book to the library!

The Kid's 1st Movie Day

The week before Memorial Day Tim went to DC for training. On Sunday afternoon after he left for his flight the kids and I decided we would go to the $1 theatre (or $2 theatre as the case may be :). I use to baby-sit for a family who introduced me to the idea of "movie days." You have to go to at least two (preferably three) movies in a single day to qualify. We had taken Jackson to the "Lorax" previously and he did so well I thought it might be worth seeing if he would sit thru two movies. It was actually the first time any of the kids had been to two movies in the same sitting so I really wasn't sure how it would go (especially by myself). We saw the "Lorax" again as well as the "Secret World of Arrietty" and all three kids were awesome! Here are the girls with their large popcorn and cherry coke (our movie drink of choice). Kennedy likes the booster seats they provide for little kids to see the movies better.
 I couldn't manage a picture of all three kids by myself at the theatre so I had to take a picture of Jackson when we got home. He is such a "Coca Cola" boy! Coca Cola is one of the things he says most clearly. lol :) He loves these enormous cups of coke!
 Jackson agreed to hold up all the tickets for me to show off our movie day success! :)
I know we were lucky to find two movies the kids would all three be interested in at the same time but I am excited that they're getting old enough to do these types of activities with. I miss those tiny babies but having bigger kids is lots of fun too! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chicken Mummy - Day 7 & 11

We have discovered to make enough Natron for proper care of our chicken mummy we need approximately 4 boxes of salt
2 cups of baking soda and 2 cups of baking powder
1 full container of cinnamon and a sprinkle of either nutmeg or cloves
I don't know if the girls have more fun dumping or mixing
Reagan decided our Natron mixture looked good and she wanted to try it. I told her I didn't think it would taste very good but since she insisted I decided there wasn't really any harm.
She decided it didn't taste so great...
Then it was time to get busy with the chicken and Reagan has really started to warm up to helping clean off and refill/cover the chicken.

After needing to keep up with our chicken pretty consistently the first week we were able to take a few days off the second week. Having said that, we've done the mixture enough times now the girls pretty much know what they need to do on their own and can accomplish it in a relatively short amount of time. Our day 11 change probably took 10-15 mintues to complete.
Busy mixing
 Reagan has become much braver in her interactions with our chicken mummy during this process. On day 11 she decided on her own she wanted to smell the chicken. I have to say that surprisingly this chicken does not smell bad. I'm not saying anyone is going to be producing a chicken mummy fragrance anytime soon, but it really doesn't give off much of a smell. It smells more like cinnamon than anything else at this point.
 Kennedy decided she could move the chicken from the bowl where we clean it off into the bag to be covered all by herself. Way to go Missy K!
 These girls were using great teamwork skills while working on their chicken mummy!
 Re-covering the chicken with our Natron mixture
So far so good with our chicken mummy so we'll keep on going!

Cut & Paste

The girls like doing cut and paste activities (like most kids) but I'm not good at intentionally planning opportunities to exercise these skills. When I was recently purchasing new Kumon writing books for Kennedy I noticed these Jigsaw Puzzle books. They cut out the puzzle pieces (which are put together incorrectly) and then rearrange and glue them on the following page to complete the puzzle. 
 Kennedy hard at work

 Reagan hard at work too

It's nice to have learning activities like this on hand that require minimal to absolutely no planning on my part!

"Fun Math"

Since our posts have been primarily focused on our Story of the World activities lately I thought I would post a couple of other things we do.
Along with our our Kumon math workbooks we use this Hands-On Standards book and manipulatives for our math work. The girls refer to this as "Fun Math." It does tend to be easier than the workbooks and they love using manipulatives during a lesson and then playing with them afterwards.
There have been several especially creative ideas lately for addition and subtraction. I know I have more pictures of different math lessons but I can't figure out where I saved them... The pictures below used grasshoppers from our colored bug manipulatives to hop forward and backward on number lines. The girls had a great time adding and subtracting as well as making up stories for each other on how many spaces each others grasshoppers needed to travel.  
There were a couple of times when Kennedy had a little trouble going one space at a time so Reagan helped her out a bit.
We did several activities with various manipulatives to discuss the concept of whole/part math. One afternoon we decided to use one of the girl's favorite snacks to help us out. I setup the problem using Goldfish and they wrote the numbers and symbols below the fish to solve the problem.
The girls enjoy the standards book because it has numerous creative ideas for learning preschool and kindergarten math skills for each topic/concept. I like it because it makes me feel confident we're not missing skills! :) Both of these are good reasons I need to make a better effort at using this on a consistent basis instead of just a fill in on days we have time for an extra activity.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mesopotamian Food - 3,700 Year Old Recipe

There weren't many recommended activities for Chapter 5 of Story of the World, The First Sumerian Dictator. What was suggested didn't strike me as something we could manage successfully. As usual, however, there were some good book recommendations, among them, an activity guide called "Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors" Marion Broida (Chicago Review Press, 1999). We learned that like many ancient people, Mesopotamian's ate a lot of bread. Additionally, and amazingly, we learned some recipes have been discovered that date back 3,700 years! These recipes were written on clay tablets which is why they have been preserved for so long. Since the girls enjoy baking I decided this would make a great activity for us. How awesome to be making bread, specifically Sebetu Rolls, that have been eaten for nearly 4,000 years!!! They point out that some of the ingredients are slightly different but for the most part it is true to the original recipe. Here are the girls mixing up their Sebetu Rolls.  
Mixing the wet ingredients in with the dry ones
The girls making their rolls
Along with bread, we also learned ancient Mesopotamian's had a decent variety of fruit to eat. Two things that we typically don't include in our diet but were recommended as standard food to try were dates and figs. Here are the kids ready to try out this unusual (for us) snack of dates, figs and Sebetu rolls before heading to gymnastics.
Only Tim got excited about the dates, but we learned Jackson and Reagan love figs and everyone thought the Sebetu Rolls were pretty yummy.
We decided to purchase "An Illustrated Treasury of Read-Aloud Classics for Young People" edited by Becky Koh (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2003) from the reading recommendations list. It includes condensed stories of many famous stories. The ones which were specifically recommended in relation to this chapter were two stories from the Arabian Nights retold by Andrew Lang. We are going to be enjoying this book for a long time to come!
Another book the girls enjoyed from this week was "The Golden Sandal (A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story" by Rebecca Hickox (Holiday  House, 1999). It is a bit different from the American version (instead of a fairy godmother there is a very special red fish) but the girls enjoyed the story and did recognized it as Cinderella. It was funny when they tried to relate all the different characters to the Cinderella we're used to but they couldn't quite place a couple such as the rooster (a pretty minor roll) from "The Golden Sandal."  
I liked the book "The Three Princes: A Tale From the Middle East" by Eric Kimmiel (Holiday House, 2000) even better than "The Golden Sandal." It is about a princess who is trying to decide which of 3 princes she should marry. She sends the princes on a quest to bring back the most rare item they can discover for her. One finds a crystal ball that can show anything, one finds a flying magic carpet and the last one finds an orange which can heal any disease. The three princes work together and use their gifts to save the princess' life. Since they each play an equal role in saving her life how can she decide who to marry? I highly recommend checking this book out to learn how the wise and beautiful princess makes her final decision!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seed Experiment

The "Seeds Sprout!" book had a science experiment recommendation we decided to try out. During the course of the book there was a discussion on the coats of seeds. The coats need to soften in order for the seeds to sprout. The experiment was to soak some seeds in warm water for an hour and then compare their growth with seeds which had not been placed in water. We decided to try this experiment with watermelon and pea seeds.
 Here the girls are removing the seeds from the water to place in damp paper towels. We also placed dry seeds in damp paper towels.
 All three kids checking out the results on Day 2. The watermelon seeds had done nothing. The soaked pea seeds looked like that might be in the beginning stages of sprouting but it was a little difficult to tell.
 By Day 3 there was no doubt regarding the peas (although the watermelon seeds had still done nothing)
 Examining the results
 On the left are the dry peas while on the right are the seeds which had been soaked. Clearly the soaked peas won the race!

Berries On Brian Station - Week 2

Visiting the farm to pick up more fresh vegetables and see how everything was growing seemed to fit right into our science theme for the week as well. As always, the kids had a fabulous time checking everything out, especially the chickens. Farmer Erik showed them how they could pick grass and clover for the chickens. Then he showed them a special space in the chicken wire to feed them. All three kids had a fabulous time feeding the chickens and the chickens came running as soon as they realized what we were up too.

 Jackson was determined to get his grass through the chicken wire all by himself
 Jackson loves Good Boy
 Farmer Erik gave both the girls beautiful flowers for their hair

 Missy K with "chicken feed" in hand
 Farmer Erik showing the girls how to use a blade of grass between your hands as a whistle (look at those blackberry bushes behind them - I can't wait to be enjoying those!!!)
 Jackson loves cats too! He gets so excited everytime he sees one of our cats as well. I think Jackson is going to be our animal lover because he goes nuts over any animal he sees everytime he sees them.

 When we got home I made "ants on a log" from the fresh celery we had picked up from the farm for a snack. Reagan came up with her own concoction and decided she wanted "ants on the ground" instead. 
 Kennedy wanted a super huge "ants on a log" snack to enjoy

We're loving our fresh local produce!