Monday, October 8, 2012

"Cloud Dough" {Tutorial}

Our children LOVE playing with messy crafts!! 
We usually try to do a Messy Monday craft.

~~Here is a little poem I have posted before and try to keep in mind whenever I have the daunting task of cleaning up after a very "Messy Monday!" LOL.~~

MY MESSY CHILD


As I sit and watch him play
I'm fully there in every way
A pour, a stir, a splish, a splash
I'm witnessing a joyful bash
Mistakes are made, and even praised 
 
He problem solves, my child’s amazed
Through play he learns of his self-worth
Something I’ve instilled since birth
No shame, no correction, just free to discover
The wonders of this world he will uncover
The day is done, his hands are red
There’s sand and shaving cream on his head
A passerby stares in dismay
“Oh Dear, why does he look that way?”
I smile with pride, and the comfort of knowing
That all this “mess” is helping his growing
From blue toenails to purple knees
I smile at my child.....who is so PLEASED.


AK 


This week, we made Cloud Dough again.
It is really simple. 
Cloud Dough
8 cups flour
1 cup Baby Oil (we like the lavender scented kind)
Just mix it together for 5 minutes and, voila!
Messy Monday Funday!

Be a blessing,
Aria:)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

{H.E.E.T} Fall Apple Farm Tour!

My Homeschool Tour Group {H.E.E.T}=Home Educators Exploring Together took a tour
of a nearby Apple Orchard. It is family owned and operated and has been around since 1919. The current apple growers are 7th generation apple growers!! All of the apples are picked, sorted and packed BY HAND!! It was an amazing adventure!

We were able to tour the farm, the orchard, the museum, the packing/sorting area and the warehouse. 
We were also able to pick our own apples to bring home! We also had an informative slideshow presentation in a classroom setting and drank fresh apple cider, too. It was really a neat tour!

We have been to this orchard several times as a family, but it was much more interesting
to view it from the operations end. I have a whole new respect for how hard farmers work!

The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we had an absolutely gorgeous fall day to 
enjoy spending some time outside!
{click on photo to enlarge}
Since it was so beautiful outside, we attempted to have
a picnic lunch at the farm.

Unfortunately, the bees wanted our lunch as much, if not more than, we did!
LOL. 

So, we headed to the minivan and ate there before driving back to town. 

Until next time..be a blessing,
Aria:)

Friday, October 5, 2012

*EASY* Contact Paper Collage!

Ready for a really easy, inexpensive and fun craft?
Well, just pull out some clear contact paper and tissue paper!
That's it!
{No messy glue to contend with either, LOL}

For the younger kids, tearing the tissue paper is a great way to build their fine motor skills (and pre-writing and cutting skills) and for the older ones, cutting the tissue paper is great practice!

The girls really enjoyed this project!
Be a Blessing,
Aria:)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Math Estimations

I found a really cute idea for a Math Estimation Craft on Pinterest 
{hop on over and follow us there} 
and decided to give it a try!
Our girls love math and love eating, so it was the perfect combinations, LOL;)

First,  just printed off the estimation worksheet and let the girls get the O's going.
We just traced their hands and let the girls estimate how many O's would fit in each.
Em really underestimated hers, but Elle was really close to her actual number!
Definitely a hit and a great follow up to our {H.E.E.T} Apple Cooking Class, where we 
played an Apple Estimation game as well!
Hands-on learning at its finest--so fun!
Be a Blessing!
Aria:)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Art Museum Visit

Our children love going to the local Art Museum.
We have been studying various artists in homeschool (Brueghel, Inness, Bierstadt, Jacob Lawrence and Piet Mondrian, most recently). We have learned about how artists use various mediums to create different pieces of art and also how they use shapes and lines in different ways.

It was really fun to take the girls back to the Art Museum armed with knew knowledge about art. They were really interested in looking at the various creations and also creating some art pieces of their own!
We had a really nice visit and a lively dialogue about the various artists and their work. Practical application, in a hands-on manner, has always been the best part of homeschooling!

 I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the artwork of Elijah Pierce. I was introduced to his work over 20 years ago by a Professional Mentor of mine in college. I was so happy to see a whole gallery of his works at our local museum-what a treat!
They have a really neat kids' area where they can create funny animals, make sculptures out of wooden dowels, create funny faces using metal instruments and play with dishes (and more)!

We even packed a healthy lunch and enjoyed it at the museum!
It was a wonderful family outing and very educational!

Blessings,
Aria:)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Our History/Herstory Timelines

We are using Heart of Dakota's History Curriculum and the girls absolutely L-O-V-E it!
I love it as well. It really allows us to use the Bible as a History book and teaches us to view all of timre from creation forward through the lens of God.

As a part of one of the lessons, the girls made their own personal history/herstory timelines. It was so fun (and bittersweet) to see the girls' baby pictures and their lives all put on paper.
They loved having their own "history" and proudly display them in our home!
Elle had so many years, she had to use 2 papers (sniff, sniff:0).

This was a really fun project for the girls!
Blessings,
Aria:)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{H.E.E.T} Kids' Apple Cooking Class

As a part of our Homeschool Curriculum this year, I decided to start teaching Kids' Cooking Classes!
It has been so fun planning all of the various themes and menus for the classes and our girls are having a wonderful time testing the recipes at home!

Cooking is chock full of so many opportunities for learning for children (and adults:). 
We talked about the 3 states of matter, measuring, fractions (parts of a whole), nutrition, food groups, math/estimation, and counting. We even included a Story Time with an apple-related theme and a 
letter A coloring page!

We recently had our very first Kids' Cooking Class and it was a huge hit!
{click on the photo to enlarge it}

Our theme was "Fall into Apple Fun!"
The menu included: Apple Poppers dipped in natural Peanut Butter, 
Chicken Waldorf Sandwich Skewers w/Greek Yogurt Dip
 and Apple Crisp with homemade Whipped Cream.

The kids were so happy to have hands-on lessons and were amazed that they could change cream into homemade "cool whip!" I was energized and inspired by the young kiddos. 
They were so smart, so fun and really great listeners!

I received excellent feedback from the kids and their parents and plan 
on teaching more classes in the future!

Stay tuned!
Be a Blessing,
Aria:)

Monday, September 10, 2012

My SIMPLE Weekly Menu Planning {Sneak Peek}

It's no secret~~~~I LOVE to eat :D!
I also love to cook, so it usually works out pretty well!

With marriage, homeschooling, parenting, working from home and all the other life tasks that overwhelm our schedules, I needed a SIMPLE Menu Planning Process that works for me. I usually plan to have "Taco Tuesday", along with 2 chicken meals and a fish meal each week. We sometimes throw in "Brinner" {breakfast for dinner} if the week is extra hectic.

I love to browse Pinterest for new food ideas!!!! {Hop on over and follow me there!} I also love to look for ideas in cookbooks I check out from the library.
I usually try to put a new recipe or 2 into our rotation as our schedule allows. 
I can usually pretty much plan to cook 5-6 nights per week and do a
 double-batch cooking session on Sunday.

This makes eating healthy foods easy and we also eat the leftovers for lunch during the homeschool week, which simplifies things there as well.


So......here is my "Ever So Elaborate" {not} Menu Planning Process.
~~~~{insert drum roll here}~~~~
 Yes, that is IT!!! A simple notepad from the Dollar Store!!
See.... told you it was SIMPLE :-D. 
So, this is what I do every Sunday-usually while the kids nap. I make a nice cup of tea, gather my cookbooks, pull up my Pinterest food ideas and write out what I want to make each day and make a grocery list for the week.
It really is that SIMPLE!!

What are your menu planning tips?
Please do share them with us!
Be a blessing,
Aria:)

Friday, September 7, 2012

{Messy Monday} Rainbow Spaghetti!

I saw the idea to make Rainbow Colored Spaghetti on Pinterest
{hop on over and follow me there} 
and decided to give it a try!

But....I also wanted to see if we could somehow come up with some mock turkey meatballs:)
First, I used some white craft foam balls and had the girls paint them brownish/red.
{click on photo to enlarge}
 I think they looked more like chocolate, but hey, the girls didn't mind.

While the meatballs dried, we made the colored pasta.
It was really simple to make.
I just used some cheap white spaghetti noodles, placed in boiling water and added food coloring to the water. I cooked it to al dente and let it cool. I then tossed it in some oil once it dried to make sure it didn't stick together. I think adding the oil was a really necessary improvement on the original Pin b/c the spaghetti would've just been a dry, sticky mess otherwise.
*Since trying ours, I have read that you can let the spaghetti soak in the food coloring water to get a more vibrant coloring. We didn't want to wait that long, but may try it next time.*
 The girls had a really, really great time playing with the colored spaghetti!!!
I was SHOCKED at how long this kept them occupied. 
Seriously, they loved it!
And, yes, our silly girls wanted to EAT it, LOL:)
I didn't let them, but it was so hilarious to watch them pretend to eat it!!
I was even able to cook their actual meatball and spaghetti dinner while they happily played with their rainbow spaghetti!!! That NEVER happens!
Whole wheat spaghetti and home made chicken and spinach meatballs---yummy!

Gotta love a cheap, fun and messy craft!
Are you going to make it?
Let us know how it turns out!
Blessings,
Aria:)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Science Center Visit

We have  a membership to our local Science Museum and LOVE going there!!

I am realizing that it is {finally} getting much easier to venture out with all 3 girls on fun adventures. I can pack a healthy lunch (and not have to worry about nursing a baby/toddler). It is actually becoming enjoyable for me, too LOL.

Can any other Moms relate to this?

Anyway, I digress....

Of course, Elle wanted to watch surgical procedures and child birth videos. 

I had to post this picture separately. I cracked up at Ce Ce telling us what was happening in the video. 
Elle was watching a c-section procedure and Ce Ce, very smartly, showed the baby being taken out of the Mom's belly:)

Silly girl---She cracks me up!!!

Ce Ce's favorite activity was the water table area! She never wants to leave there. I finally started packing a change of clothes for her because she gets totally soaked---and loves it! I guess she is like her Daddy with loving water!
Em always loves anything animal-related and loves playing in the kitchen area.

This visit was very bittersweet for me, though.

Elle is getting too big to play in the kids' play area.
She had to sit on her knees to play in the kitchen--sniff, sniff....
 Fortunately, she still loves playing Doctor with the baby dolls!
 You see, we have had a membership to the Science Museum since Elle was 1 or 2 years old!
This is Elle at age 2. I was pregnant with Em.
This makes me CRY!
Elle has always LOVED playing Doctor.
Maybe she will actually become a Doctor some day.
Maybe not.
No matter what...she will always be my BABY!!

Blessings,
Aria:)

Monday, September 3, 2012

{Impromptu} State History Center Visit

Our family loves exploring new places. Last Sunday after church, my husband and I decided to check out our local State History Center. We had never been there before, and the girls had a BLAST!!
Mind you, they were dressed in "church clothes", and I was totally unprepared with our snack bag and waters, so we only spent a couple of hours there. 

I think this would be a PERFECT location for a {H.E.E.T} TOUR!

Here is a sneak peak of our History Center visit.
Enjoy!

It is a really neat museum that also has a Village set up just like it would've looked in the late 1800's. 
There are houses, a church, a school house, a government building, bank, funeral home, pharmacy, town center, hotel/boarding house, community garden and more. 

It was so fun!
Imagine me trying to explain what a Telegraph was!!! 
I think I learn as much, if not more, as our children do while homeschooling:-)!

Blessings,
Aria:)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

{H.E.E.T} Popcorn Factory Tour!

I arranged for our Homeschool Group called {H.E.E.T=Home Educators Exploring Together}, to go on a tour of a local Popcorn Factory. 
The kids had SO much fun on this tour--maybe because their favorite snack is popcorn:)!

The kids watched an educational video that described the history of the family-owned business and also the production process. The owner then facilitated a "Q&A" Session and the kids got to samples lots and lots of popcorn! The store has over 70 different flavors, from mild to sweet to savory and spicy!

We even picked up bags of recycled popcorn to feed to the birds, ducks and squirrels!
It was loads of fun and well worth the trip! 
Plus, it was FREE!

What kind of fun outings have you all been on lately?
Blessings,
Aria:)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1st Day of School! {Smart Cookies}

I thought it would be fun to start a "back-to-school tradition" and since I am so health-conscious most of the time, I really wanted our children to get excited about it!!

So.................I came up with the idea to make "Smart Cookies" and use the positive affirmation phrase of "I am a smart cookie" to get the girls super-excited about another great year of homeschool!


Needless to say, the girls LOVED the idea of baking cookies!!!

We used this super simple recipe for Vanilla Wafers and adjusted our oven temp lower for the bigger letters. Elle came up with the idea of making letters/initials for their first names and since I already had the cookie dough in the piping bag, it was super easy and quick to pipe out the rest of the "smart cookies!"

I still cannot believe how fast our girls are growing up!! 
I keep trying to find the "life brake," 
but, to no avail....*sigh*. If you locate it, please steer me in the right direction!:)


Yes, you can see it here-Elle is more mellow/serious and Em is all about having FUN!!
Ce Ce tries her best to keep up with the big girls, so this year should be quite interesting! I need to take some extra vitamins to keep up!!

What kind of special back-to-school traditions do you all have???
We'd love to hear about them!

Blessings,
Aria:)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Elle's Cardboard Box House

We had some leftover cardboard cereal boxes from our Microwave Puffy Paint Craft, so Elle pulled them out and decided to create a little house for our "Little People." 


 I let her freely create and have fun designing their house. 
I love how she made books for them to read and she had her family co-sleeping!
 Elle did an amazing job problem solving how to get the legs on her tables and chairs to work.
She got a bit frustrated with it at first, but came up with a great solution and kept plugging along!

 She really enjoyed making this--all from some cereal boxes, LOL!!

Sometimes, simple is better. {NOTE TO SELF}
 Elle even made a blanket for them:-).
She authored two books, "The Book of Hugs" and "Different Hugs."
They are really cute stories!
Elle said she wants to decorate the house with pictures for the walls, 
she just needs to find the right stickers for it.
Now, I just wonder how long she will want to keep this before we can "recycle" it?

Hey, is there a 'rule' on how long you all keep your children's crafts?

As you can imagine, we easily gather a TON of STUFF. 
How do you rotate it out and know when it's time to throw things away?

***Update to add her wall pictures.***




Elle's house is really coming along nicely!

Blessings,
Aria:)


Friday, August 24, 2012

Em turns 4!

I still cannot believe our middle child is 4!

Em is one of the sweetest, funniest and adventurous kids you'd ever want to meet!
She was such an "easy" baby to deliver {3 pushes and she was OUT}, but she really keeps me on my toes {and on my knees in prayer} at times! She is just FULL of personality and has the best attitude. If something doesn't go her way, she says, "that's OK, maybe tomorrow I can do/have/eat that." She really is a blessing to my soul and I learn how to have FUN with her!


I also love and appreciate how Em is her own individual. She really enjoys playing and creating things on her own and she definitely has her own sense of style. I believe she has a very strong self-esteem and I love that about her. I will tell her, "Em, your outfit sure is colorful/creative today" and she will say, "I know, thanks!" Ha, ha!!!!!!!

One thing that is absolutely true about this girl is {just like her Mommy} she LOVES to EAT!! 
It's a good thing I feed her healthy foods and no fast food, or else she would weigh 300 pounds!
She eats non-stop! 
For her birthday, Em requested Daddy's special stuffed french toast for breakfast, smoothies and popcorn for lunch and broccoli with cheese sauce and asian chicken for dinner. 
I made carrot-zucchini muffins with cream cheese frosting as her bday cupcakes-everyone LOVED them and they were much healthier than store-bought cupcakes!


We surprised the girls with a trip to the zoo for Em's birthday. My brother gifted Morgan a trip to the zoo--thank you Uncle Teddy!  

I got up at the crack of dawn and packed up the minivan with everything we needed, included all of our food, water and snacks for the day. The girls had NO idea what was going on. We told them we needed to go to the store and when we ended up at the Zoo, they were overjoyed!!!!!!


We all had an amazing time at the Zoo!

What time of birthday traditions do you all have??
I would love to hear about them!
Blessings,
Aria:)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Summer Fun! {2012 Part 2}

We have been having glorious weather here and have continued to spend a lot of our days outdoors. 
The girls and I will be so sad when Winter comes:(

Most recently, Elle and Em both attended Cooking School for a couple of days. They LOVED it and it reconfirmed my interest in teaching a Homeschool Kids' Cooking Class this fall! The girls are going to absolutely love taking the class and also assisting me in teaching it! I am so looking forward to it!


Elle attending a church Day Camp for 3 days while Em attended Gymnastics Camp {maybe the next Gabby Douglas}! They both thoroughly enjoyed their camps and it was good for them to have some time pursuing their separate interests and building new friendships while there.  They DID miss each other terribly, though!! And, the baby-----well, she was UNDONE every single day! I had a hard time keeping her happy! She was ready to pick the girls back up (or never leave them) by 10am daily!  CeCe and I took trips to the library,{where she could roam around}, the pond, feeding the ducks, mall play area, and doing some fun crafts. When I had both Em and CeCe, we went to "Ladies' Lunch"
 at our favorite Thai restaurant! When we were all together, we had a wonderful picnic lunch in the park!

CeCe LOVED having the one-on-one time to explore and have me all to herself!!

We really did enjoy having special time just me and Ce Ce, though. It made me think back to when Elle was a baby and how much I enjoyed having one child. Having 3 in 4 years really has limited the amount of time each child has gotten to spend with just myself and/or my husband. So, we have committed to each child having some special time and we will rotate each month according to when their birthdays are. My husband and I also agreed it would be a wonderful idea for us to commemorate our anniversary on the 5th of every month with a date night {at home or away from the house, once we can find a trusted sitter}. We have already had some special time with the girls and they LOVE, love, loved it!!


The girls really enjoyed this Messy Monday Experiment!

We have also been trying to squeeze in as many play dates with our friends as possible!
So sad that summer is winding down, but gearing up for another wonderful school year!

Wishing ALL students {whether at home or going to school} a BLESSED school year!!!

Blessings,
Aria:)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Our 2012-2013 Curriculum Updates!

Hello! I hope you all are doing well!

I have to tell you, one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is having OPTIONS and flexibility. We really can pick and choose what we want to focus on and how we will deliver the info to our children. I LOVE that!! We also treat each child with an individual approach in regards to homeschooling. "Each child, each year" is our motto. We will see who needs what and make necessary adjustments as we go.

On the other hand, one of the biggest drawbacks of homeschooling is having too many options, LOL. It can be overwhelming. I tend to want to expose our children to all sorts of fun activities and get them a lot of social interaction. Our girls seem to love being on the move, but it can be very tiring. I have to ensure that we ALL get adequate rest! We are considering karate, ballet/tap, gymnastics, music/piano classes, homeschool gym, and will continue with our {H.E.E.T} Homeschool Tours this year.

I have been praying (along with my husband) about what we will do for this upcoming school year and we have made the decision to try different things. While the kiddos are young, why not? What is there to lose? We can stop mid-stream if we need to (another benefit of homeschooling) and re-direct to a better fit.  I love that:-)!

In an effort to streamline things in life, I will probably do less blogging about all 3 children's educational paths individually. I want to keep an online record of their achievements and such, but my heart is telling me to pull back a bit. 
I came across this blog post and it totally confirmed what my heart has long been telling me! 
So......here is our curriculum!
 Along with our weekly Bible Memory Verses, we are using "Leading Little Ones to God" and some really neat Bible Story cards for Tiny Tots!
 Em will turn 4 tomorrow, so we will really be focusing on her reading this year. We are using "Teach Your child to Read in 20 easy lessons" for her. She also really loves using the Starfall website! I am on the fence with her having an August birthday. I am just no sure how to pace her for Kindergarten. This year will allow me to assess where she is and we can decide what is best for her.
 Core Curriculum for Em (age 4) will be "Little Hearts for His Glory (for ages 5-7)." It has lessons plans for the entire year, all Bible-based! We are using "the World God Made" and "History for Little Pilgrims" for history and social studies/geography.  I LOVE being able to have a curriculum that is God-focused so that our children learn from a young age to view the world through the eyes of Christians.
 I am going very lightly with Em in Math this year. Just some fun lessons as we go. 
Em will be working on some handwriting and other fun workbooks as well. 
Of course, we will make our weekly voyage to the library and check out 100 books and do lots of arts and crafts, too!

For Elle{age 6}, we are using an online school that will allow her to advance on her own and get evaluated by a certified teacher. She will continue to participate in our homeschool lessons, most importantly, the Bible Lessons and will let us know when she needs more challenging material. Elle has completed half of the first grade math workbook already, and is also working ahead in other subjects. She just can't get enough!

For CeCe {age 2}, well, I will be busy just trying to keep her occupied while I focus on the bigger girls. She will continue with fun "Tot School" activities, and will likely try to keep pace with the big girls!!

This is my daily prayer!!!

I also want to be a HAPPY homeschool Mom who enjoys educating my children, but also just being their Mom;-). I read this wonderful list and it inspired me to draft my own list of habits I will cultivate this year in order to be a bit happier along this journey. 

Homeschooling is certainly a 24/7 job and I don't want to risk burning out so early in the process! We have a LONG road ahead of us. I need to train like an Olympic Athlete and build up my endurance, pace myself and get enough rest. I am hanging up my "super mom" cape and journeying to abide in the grace of God and teach that to our children.

Blessings,
Aria:)
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