Friday, February 26, 2010

(Just In Case You Haven't Seen Enough) Snow Pictures!

This was the view outside our window this morning:

So of course I had to bundle up, go outside, and take pictures of the neighborhood!
Riverside Drive...

And in the other direction...

Riverside Park...

Heading up towards Broadway. Look how buried the cars are. People were busily shoveling and blowing the snow off the sidewalk.

Broadway, looking up towards the entrance to Columbia University.

In the middle of Broadway looking downtown...

The Presbyterian church down the street...

The book store across the street...

I thought it would be fun to walk around the Columbia campus and take pictures with all the snow. This is the library.

Looks like someone threw away a lot of perfectly good snow!

Boy, does this guy look chilly!

The chapel...I've still never been inside, although Jeremy tells me I need to see it.

I hope no one needs to use this any time soon...

Back on the west side of Broadway, looking back towards the Columbia entrance...

And back on our street. Looks like some progress is being made on the sidewalks, but the street itself is still pretty deep! Where are the snowplows?

I tried to take a short cut across the street here. The holes in the snow in the foreground below the front of that car are my foot prints. After sinking in up to my knees, I decided to try to find a better route!

Back on our side of the street looking down towards Riverside...

I scooped some snow into bins for Joseph and Josiah to play with at the table while the older boys did their school work. It was a hit!

No, Josiah! Don't EAT the snow!!

Joseph built a "snow dinosaur" that he was very proud of!

Ah, here's the snowplow! Unfortunately he had to sit there for over an hour...

Because this bus-type thing on the right got stuck in the middle of the street. That flatbed truck full of sand (on the left) finally came and rescued it after several men spent a LONG time shoveling in vain in front of the bus.

Jordan and Josiah stood in the window watching the drama unfold, lol. Anything involving trucks (and a snowplow is a particularly cool truck) draws the boys in like a magnet!

It's still snowing hard and is supposed to continue to do so for the rest of today and all day tomorrow. The boys are SO ready to get out and sled in it! Hopefully over the weekend we'll be able to do just that!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three Months Old!

And time for more pictures!

I had her all dressed up in a cute new outfit, but Joanna decided to play the part of Princess Crankypants tonight and only stop screaming if Daddy was holding her. So what we have here is a small collection of shots either over Daddy's shoulder or being held up in the air. I guess she's saving up her smiles for next time! :)

She has grown so much. I can't believe she's been here a whole quarter of a year already!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Preschool Activities

We are 8 school days into our new schedule and for the most part things are going well! The biggest change I've instituted is having everybody together at the table for an hour and 15 minutes in the mornings. Previously I had just Joshua and Jonathan at the table, and the other 3 boys would just play wherever they wanted. More often than not, that arrangement would lead to chaos and messes, and I would have to squeeze in Jordan's schooling during nap time.

Having everyone together is doing wonders as far as reducing the mess and chaos in our home, but it comes with it's own challenge: How do I keep 2 preschoolers, 4 years old and almost 2, sufficiently occupied (and preferably learning something!) during that time?

Last week I dug through the toys we have on hand and came up with several activities they could do at the table. We colored with crayons on blank paper, did lacing cards, strung wooden beads, and played with plastic counting bears. But since each activity holds their attention for only 15-20 minutes or so, I knew I needed to come up with more! I know there are many wonderful activities I can buy for them, and I probably will end up buying some, but for now I wanted to see what I could come up with using stuff I already have on hand.

Over the weekend I made 3 different simple activities: home made play dough, colored pasta, and just some simple cut-up squares of construction paper to glue mosaic-style onto plain paper. I've posted my play dough recipe before here. I colored the noodles using food coloring and rubbing alcohol. I played around with the proportions some so it's not exact, but basically ended up doing this:

1/8 c. alcohol
5-8 drops food coloring
1 c. dry noodles

Mix alcohol and food coloring in a ziplock bag. Add noodles, then squish them around in the liquid mixture for a few minutes. Then I lined a cookie sheet (with sides) with paper towels, scooped the noodles out of the baggie with a slotted spoon, and allowed them to dry overnight.

I made purple, red, yellow, and blue. I found that because of the pasta color, I actually ended up with an orangey-pink color, a brown-ish purple, a greenish color, and the yellow isn't much different from the original noodle color. Here is the finished product, ready for stringing, sorting, or whatever...

And here they are in action--Joseph and Josiah strung them first, then when that got old I gave them egg cartons to sort them in...

Joseph did a good job sorting them by color...

Here are the construction paper squares. I wrote their names really big on 11x17 paper and gave them each a glue stick. I showed them how to glue the squares on their name, but they ended up just gluing them everywhere...

These were some pom poms I had on hand. I've printed up some coloring sheets on the numbers 1-10 and we're learning a different number each day.

Josiah enjoyed the home made play dough...

As did Joseph...

I've been looking through a couple of catalogs for other activities. Before I jump in and start buying things, I want to see what else I can make with what I already have on hand. I'm thinking about trying to make a flannel board with felt items to "stick" on it, and maybe making up some matching/sorting/categorizing-type activities as well.

If any of you have any great ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Here's one last shot of my adorable Joseph having a great time with his play dough!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Our Days in Order...Finally!

We're finally getting back on a schedule for our school week. Yay! I had been putting it off in the interest of getting more sleep in the morning, since that was when Joanna slept best, but the daily chaos was definitely getting to me! We were getting everything done each day, but I felt like I was constantly running in circles because we weren't very organized, and any time the boys aren't working on a specific task, order tends to disappear quickly!

Last week I finally decided enough was enough...I was going to start our day much earlier and schedule our school subjects at the very least. So this is what I started last week:

6:30 I wake up and feed Joanna
7:30 Boys get up and do morning chores
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Table chores (Josh, Jon, and Jordan)
8:45-10:00 School at the dining table for everybody--Josh and Jon do math and grammar,
Jordan does math, grammar, and phonics, Joey and Josiah do preschool activities
10:00 Jordan and Josiah play together, Joey stays with me, Josh does piano practice, Jon does
10:30 Jordan and Joseph play together, Josiah stays with me, Josh does writing, Jon does piano
11:00 Josh and Jon do spelling or Latin/Greek root words (depending on the day) with me while
the 3 younger boys watch a 30-minute educational show or video
11:30 Josh and Jon do Latin while I read to the 3 younger boys
12:00 Lunch
12:30 Table chores
1:00-3:30 Naps for Joseph, Josiah, and Joanna
1:00-2:00 History or Science for older 3

That's pretty much as far as we've gotten so far. Of course this past week and this week we're replacing some of those subjects with our Olympics unit study. Next week I need to work our last few subjects into the schedule, as well as afternoon chores. And I'm still trying to figure out how best to work Joanna into the mix. Some of our activities are easier to do with a nursing baby than others, so getting her on a fairly predictable time table will be helpful.

As we've gone through this schedule, I'm noticing a few little glitches. My plan is to keep it up until the end of next week, so that I can see how it works once we're done with our unit study and back to just our regular work. At the end of that time, I will begin the tweaking process. I'm thinking I will eventually want to back everything up half an hour and start at 6:00 am--once I'm getting a little bit more sleep!

In case you're interested, I'm using a program called Managers of Their Homes to create my schedule. I had bought this book a few months before Josiah was born, and implemented a schedule shortly after he was born. However, since our lives soon became crazy with preparing to move and then moving, it was soon abandoned. I've been meaning to come back to this resource for quite some time, so I'm pleased that the time has finally come! I've been feeling so much more on top of things now that our time is neatly ordered, and the boys are so much less likely to go crazy if they don't have to wait for me to tell them what to do next! I just love a calm, smoothly running household and school, and I know we are getting closer and closer to accomplishing that goal! :)

I've also been working on time-saving techniques for meals and on activities for my preschoolers to do at the table while my older children do school. More on those later...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Winter Home School

We've been trying something new this week in our home school--a unit study of the Olympic Winter Games. I'm usually a text book kind of gal, so this is a big departure from the norm for me. But so far we are enjoying ourselves and learning a lot! Of course it doesn't hurt that this particular unit study has given us the opportunity to watch as much of the Olympics as we possibly can AND be able to count it as school! Woo hoo!

Joshua updating our medals board. The flags represent the countries the boys have studied so far, and the United States. We started with Greece since it's the birthplace of the Olympics, then Canada because they are the host country. The others seem to be added randomly.

The unit study is a pdf file I bought from . It outlines what to study each day and covers many subject areas. I'm modifying it quite a bit for our use, since I wanted to use it in addition to our own curriculum. (Remember, I have to have my text books!) We're basically doing math, grammar, Latin, and piano as usual, then replacing our history, science, and writing time with the Olympics unit study. Each day the boys are learning about a country participating in the Olympics, learning the history, rules, and terminology of 1 or 2 of the sports being televised that day, using the dictionary to define related words, etc. It has been so much more interesting to watch the events after studying their histories and learning the rules and terminology of the sport. The official NBC Olympics web site has a decent amount of information about each sport. If there are some you enjoy watching but are curious about how they are scored, etc., I'd suggest you go check it out!

Jonathan reading about Sweden on the National Geographic Kids web site. The boys have enjoyed being able to use the computer for research! We haven't really done much of that in our school yet, but I intend to do more of this.

Our favorites so far? Well, Joshua says he has enjoyed curling the most, Jonathan has enjoyed hockey, and Jordan snowboarding halfpipe. My favorite events to watch have always been figure skating. We'll have to see what the next week's favorites end up being. With the boys, you just never know, but we intend to enjoy watching the next 9 days!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's our little sweetie all decked out for Valentine's Day!

I learned two important lessons:

1. Don't try to make a whole outfit the day before it's meant to be worn, especially if you are a very novice sewer and are trying things like applique for the first time! Even after finding out I needed a special needle for knits, I couldn't get it to work out exactly right.

2. Make sure at least one of your daughter's pairs of white tights are clean before the morning you actually intend to put them on her...the pink ones don't exactly work here. Good thing she's so cute, though!

The J-boys had a fun Valentine's Day as well, which basically means they had more sugar than they needed and didn't get in too much trouble for being wild because of it. They enjoyed giving the felt hearts they had made to several ladies at our church, and we went out to lunch with friends and had Thai food, which is a big favorite of the boys. I'd say they had a good day...hopefully they will be ready to get back to their school books tomorrow!
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