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:)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer 2012 Updates!! {Puffy Paint Tutorial}

Hi! I hope this post finds you well! I wanted to post a quick update on us.
{Click on any of the photos to enlarge them}
We have continued to do homeschool work this summer (mainly math and phonics) in preparation for officially starting our school year in a few weeks. I am so glad we never got totally out of the "school flow" so that it won't be such a shock when we delve back in 100%. Elle is about half way done with her first grade math work book and Em is starting to really get a hang of reading. She will turn 4 next week!

Here are some of our recent adventures and fun while learning!

Our family spent some time at the State Fair and had a wonderful time!
We all were shocked that the baby, Ce Ce 26 months, wanted to ride all of the "big girl" rides! None of us were prepared for that. She is the one that never even goes on the little pony ride at the grocery store, LOL. I guess she really is growing up!

Elle made a really cool obstacle course and all of the girls had a great time playing with that!

We have been doing lots of crafts this summer--tons of painting, collecting things on nature walks and observing beauty all around us. We made bird feeders out of rice cakes, peanut butter and bird seed and the girls hung them on the tree in our front yard. 
The birds really loved them-we need to make them again.
We also made Microwave Puffy Paint. 
We always love creating fun art using this technique!
You should try it! 

Microwave Puffy Paint Recipe
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • food coloring
Add small amount of water to make a smooth paste.  
We like it pretty thick so it really puffs up well:).
Paint on pieces of cereal box cardboard and microwave for 20-30 seconds. 

 We L-O-V-E going to the library!!!!
We always check out 100 books and spend some great learning time down there.
We have strung popcorn for movie nights and such, but seeing this on Pinterest reminded me of making these cereal and pretzel bracelets. The girls had a ball making them and eating them! It kept them occupied in the mini-van for a long time!

We will be rounding out the summer with a kid's Cooking Class for the big girls, as well as Gymnastics Camp for Em (future Gabby Douglas maybe:) and a Church Day Camp for Elle! 

I pray your summer is going well and you are enjoying it!!
Blessings,
Aria:)
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