It's A Wrap!! (11-16-12)

Hammock Tracks totally inspired me today to write a weekly "wrap-up" post.  I've been so busy, and I sometimes feel like I can't post our current stuff until our old stuff is caught up.  But, after visiting Hammock Tracks, I decided that I can do a weekly wrap up and still work on getting our trip to Phoenix and our Halloween posts up as we go along!  So, this weekly wrap up might be about a novel long, but we've had a good week!

Today we made resist paintings using oak leaves.  I taped the leaf onto sketch paper and they painted the whole page.  When we removed the leaf, it left a white spot on their painting. This picture was from pretty early in the process!  We've had a lot of fun talking about oak trees and gathering acorns during the last two weeks!

Our outdoor adventures have been limited to late morning and late afternoon...Kaia and I just prefer to wait until it's well over 50 degrees before we play outside! Her favorite spot lately is on top of the monkey bars, and Harry has started loving swinging all the way across the monkey bars!  He is (finally) waiting to make sure that I am underneath him before he begins now!  We also got rid of the baby swing this week...oops!  No picture!  We switched the swing out for a normal one...and put the baby swing in the garage for a while.

Our Romaine Lettuce is perfectly ripe this week!  We enjoyed picking it for a few days, and then designated one plant to "make seeds" while picking the rest for home-made lettuce pesto (seriously amazing stuff!).  

Harry is growing six molars right now and has decided that he has enough teeth to chew lettuce!  Yay!! I'm not sure if he's more excited about it or me!

We've also seen some interesting bugs this week.  My kids are a little obsessed with bugs (okay, I am too!), and they've enjoyed watching "giant wasps" and "green ladybugs" (actually cucumber beetles) come and go.   

Kaia's been very upset at the cold weather for driving all her ladybug friends into hibernation!

Our "inside time" during these frigid mornings (we've seen 40 degrees many times this week!) has been fun too.  "Restaurant" and "picnics" have been very popular:

We've played games, made marching bands, and built "robots."  Harry spends a lot of time getting rid of "bad dragons," but he is rarely an arms reach away from his cars. He has a bus that he likes to sleep with at nap time too!

We've been doing art projects 2-3 times a week.  On Tuesday, we were going to make Turkey Hands, but the kids had so much fun finger- (and hand-) painting that I let them decorate their own hands however they wanted!

We added some scarecrows to make our decorations a little more Thanksgiving-y, 

and have spent a lot of time talking about being thankful and kind.  Kindness was a theme that I felt inspired to focus on this week, and I think we have seen a lot of good things because of it.  On Monday, we introduced the word, talked about what it meant, and learned "The Kindness Song:"

I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see.
So I say to myself, "Remember this: Kindness begins with me!"

During the week, it has given us a new slant to talk about behavior too:  "That was a very kind thing to do!  Thank you for being kind!"  or "Uh oh.  Was that kind?  What should you do now?"  I like how it's becoming part of our vocabulary (especially for the boys!).  

We've also spent some time talking about the pilgrims.  Kaia can read this little pilgrim mini book pretty easily, and enjoys the sequence of events in it:

In math (Right Start Mathematics), she's been working on partitioning, or breaking numbers apart.  She's getting very good at it, and at writing her numbers...though some still come out backwards!

We've also had a really positive experience reading the book "Ish" and talking about the dilemma Ramon faces because it is the exact same one she has been feeling: she wants to draw pictures, but they don't turn out as good as she wants them to.  I, of course, think she is a marvelous little artist, but she was very stressed out about not being able to draw a pony the right way.  This book has really helped re-build her confidence, though, and we are starting to see more of her artwork popping up...yay!!  Today, she sounded out the word "choo choo," and then I drew a train to go with her little sound effects.  She told me she would draw a "real train," and this is what she made: 

Check out the engine with a smokestack, the "toys and dolls" car, the food car, and the sleeping car!  Yeah, I love it when she draws!

I just love these guys!!  They are so full of energy and love that being around them is invigorating...

...even when they pull stunts like this! 

 Well, that's my big wrap up post!  Literally!  There's so much more I could talk about, but at least some of it is recorded!  Hopefully, I can start keeping up better soon!!

Wordless Wednesday: Adventures With Cousins

Once again, weeks have gone by without me posting.  I'm doing a little better on my preschool blog, but I really intend to post here on my family blog at least 1-2 times per week...ha!  At least this time, I know where some of the time has gone:  my sister and her kids spent a week with us before we rented a "big car" (as Harry called it) and drove to Phoenix for my brother's wedding.  I plan to put up a few road trip and wedding pictures soon, but today's "Wordless Wednesday" will be a neighborhood adventure we had with our cousins before the big trip.  The "forest" is about two blocks from our home, and on the other side is the "duck park."  Kaia and Harry were both very excited to share them with their cousins, and I just can't ever get enough pictures of kids and ducks!


Wordless Wednesday: Harry to the Rescue

"It okay, Kaia!  I catch you!"

Kindergarten Common Core

Do any of you work with kindergartners?  The Kindergarten Common Core Workbook contains more than 600 worksheets, activities, and more to help teach math and literacy to kindergarten students.  I am always looking for teaching resources, especially since we are homeschooling our kids right now.  This workbook has worksheets and activities that address every single English and Math common core standard for kindergarten!  You can learn more about the Kindergarten Common Core and workbook by clicking here!

Disclaimer:  I am looking forward to receiving my copy of the Kindergarten Common Core Workbook through their free giveaway event.  All opinions are 100% mine.  I am so excited to use its resources and I truly think others will benefit from it too!

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

We started doing piano lessons for Kaia (and all the other their attention spans last!) with My First Piano Adventure by Nancy and Randall Faber.  It's been a lot of fun, and everyone looks forward to it.  We usually have three lessons a week, but I make the lessons pretty short...about ten minutes (or less!).

Kaia was very happy (and very proud of herself) when she learned to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  She usually performs this for us at least once a day now!  If the video won't enlarge, click here to see it on YouTube.

Harry, of course, can play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star too!  We have some very talented kids!  It's pretty hard for this little guy to wait his turn when his sister is playing the piano, but he sure does enjoy his moment on the camera.  Here's the YouTube link.  Sorry about the background noise...

I think the kids' other favorite song has been the Monster Truck Driver, but I don't have any videos of that one...yet!

Curious George Pancakes

I meant to put this up yesterday when it could have been a Wordless Wednesday post, but since I didn't get to it until today I'll just have to include some more words.

We made Curious George Pancakes for breakfast!  They were a huge hit, of course, and the kids asked for them again today (haha!).  They might, however, become a weekly treat!  Or maybe we'll find something else cool and easy to do with pancakes...

I was inspired by Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, but I did make a few changes.  (You really should peek at her post too, though, because her pancakes look more Curious George-y than mine.  Still, my kids were thrilled.)  I made whole wheat pancakes for the heads, 1/4 a marshmallow for each eye, and carob chips for the pupils, nose, and mouth.  I have nothing against mini-chocolate chips for the mouth and eyes, but I didn't have any at home.

Here's the Curious George crew:

We added strawberries, milk, and homemade syrup for breakfast, and the kids seriously thought they were in heaven...or at least they acted like it for the whole meal!

Delicious Calzone Roll

Wow...where did the last month go?  Wait, wait....I know!  I've spent nap time resting (instead of blogging).  But that's a story for another day.  Today, I have the most awesome recipe to share!  I found the original here, but I doubled it and changed a few steps so I could use my Kitchen Aid.  I also had to add some flour because I live in Houston and the humidity is out of control.  If you don't live by the Gulf, you may want to use about two cups less flour than I did.  So, here's what I did:

1.  Pour 2-1/2 cups warm water into your Kitchen Aid.  
     Add  3 Tablespoons sugar and
             1-1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (Saf brand is awesome!!).
     Let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbly.

2.  Add  2 teaspoons salt,
             1 Tablespoon dry milk powder, and
     about 8 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground is amazing!).  Add the flour gradually (especially the last couple cups) with the dough hook spinning.  Pay attention to how it is mixing.  Stop adding flour when it consistently pulls away from the edges and holds together in a ball of dough.  Let it knead for about five minutes.

3.  Let it rest for about five minutes, and then check the gluten (**see note at bottom).  I finished kneading mine by hand for about 5-10 more minutes.  Let it rest for another 5-10 minutes while you prepare your toppings.

4.  For toppings on one calzone, I chopped 1/4 medium onion, 3 Italian sausages (mild because my daughter won't eat anything spicy!), and pulled out grated mozzarella cheese, and a little bit of pizza sauce.

5.  Divide the dough into two balls.  Each ball makes a foot-long calzone.  Knead slightly, then roll one of the balls out on a lightly floured surface until it is about the size of a 10" x 13" cookie sheet.  Use the back of a butter knife and cut strips like the black ones in the diagram above.  Carefully transfer the dough (still flat) to a greased cookie sheet or baking dish.

6.  Pile your toppings up in the middle of the calzone (the part you didn't cut).  I used very, very little pizza sauce.  You really don't need any (and you don't want very much or it can leak out), but I wanted a little on my meat.  Save the sauce for dipping.  

7.  Carefully fold the flaps, criss-cross on top of each other over the toppings.  Use a tiny bit of water to seal the flaps to each other.  

8.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  You want it lightly browned on all surfaces.  My oven cooks fast, so you may want a few extra minutes.   

9.  Serve with Pizza Sauce and/or other sauces (hot sauce, Ranch, etc.).  Mmmm, I'm getting hungry again just writing this!  It's a good thing we made two!!  

As a side note, I think this would make a wonderful dessert too--you could put an apple pie type of filling in and I bet it would be delicious!  I also used it to make individual calzones.  To do this, go back to step five.  After you roll it out, cut it into 8 pieces.  Fill each piece with whatever you want--my kids loved helping here.  Kaia even put pretzels in hers (yeah...not in mine!).  They loved it!  Then, pinch them closed tightly.  We stuck a pretzel stick in Kaia's and it stayed in while it cooked (about 20 minutes).  

So, so yummy!!

** Note:  To test the gluten, take a large marble-sized pinch of dough and hold it up to the light.  Try to stretch it out thin enough that you can see light shining through the thin part of the dough.  If the gluten is ready to be cooked, this is pretty easy.  If not, a hole will break through where you're trying to stretch it thin.  In this case, knead it by hand some more.  ;) 

Our Houston Vacation

So, yes, we do live in Houston, but there are still things we haven't done yet!  And, since we seem to be staying in town this summer, we decided to go for a boat ride.  

We've seen the paddle boats before, and the lake is just the right size for our kids' attention spans...those 25 minutes were easily the highlight of their day (and possibly week!).  

Since we were right next door to the zoo, we decided to go there too.  They just opened a new water pad--yes, Kaia and Harry loved it!!  It was pretty much a perfect day.