Wednesday, February 27, 2013

homemade playdough

Well, if you have ever wanted to make your own playdough, you are in luck! *grin*

I'm sure that most people have done this at one time or another, but I thought I'd post the recipe for fun!

*1 cup of salt
*2 tablespoons cream of tarter (you can find it in the spices at your local grocer)
*2 cups of flour
*2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
*2 cups of water

** food coloring, glitter, small beads

*Combine dry ingredients in a medium pot and stir thoroughly-- do this BEFORE you put it on the stove.
*Add liquid ingredients and stir.
*Put the pot on the stove over low heat and stir. Keep stirring until the mixture is very thick. (This can take a little while. Most recipes say just a couple of minutes, but it takes mine longer.)
*Remove from the heat and allow it to cool enough to handle.

Now here is the fun part! Add glitter and/or food coloring or whatever to make your dough fun! It will be white in color, so if you just add white glitter, it looks like snow! We pull out small portions and color them different colors. You have to knead it thoroughly to work the fun parts in, but the kids love doing this! It can be a great lesson in mixing colors, too!

Store in an air tight container!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It breaks my heart....

My oldest, Super J, has some special needs. He has apraxia which causes a significant speech delay as well as fine and gross motor skills delays. He is 6 1/2 and still can't ride a bike- that type of thing. He can't write legibly at this point. There is a disconnect between his brain and the movements. Be the movements speech or motor. It just doesn't happen easily for him.

And it breaks my heart. I hate to see him struggle. I just hate it.

The other day we were working on the number '9'. He just could not write it. I broke it down to him just making a "c" for the first part. He just could not make his hand write the "c" in the right direction. He got so frustrated and could not understand what is wrong with him. And it is so hard to explain it to him.

He was due to test for his red belt in tae kwon do. He worked so hard to learn his pattern. It was really hard and we have poured so much into him learning it. I have dragged him to the studio every day. I have practiced with him every day. His brother and sister have had to sit through all the classes. And he was doing great! He had really gotten it down pat.

Until the day of the test. No matter how many times he practiced it, the movements never flowed. He couldn't make his little body go the right way at the right time.

And it breaks my heart.

Other kids have a hard time understanding him at times. He can't keep up and never wins at their games. It is a tough burden for one so little. And he is frail and sensitive, much like his mama.

And it breaks my heart.

Wanting things for your kids is bigger than anything you ever though your heart could hold. You want them to be so many things. Especially "normal". You want them to fit in. Especially if you know what it is like to be on the outside.

I love that kid.

Friday, February 22, 2013

popsicle sticks!

Popsicle sticks can be such fun! We even built a whole castle out of them when we were studying knights/ castles/ medieval times. (The catapult was AWESOME!)

Lately, I have been making shapes and having Tornado copy my shapes and then make his own. He also sorts by colors and counts them and returns them to their container. Plus, they are wood. And anything wooden is just fun to touch.

I found these printables here for popsicle templates:   sol da eira

Thursday, February 21, 2013

sieze the day!

How many times do we say to someone, "Oh we have to get together!" Only to let another week, month, year pass by.

The other day we had dinner with friends that we haven't seen since our Christmas party. We usually see them a lot more in the summer, but it just felt that it had been too long.

This got me to thinking about ALL the people that I want to spend time with- and time has gotten away.

Life gets us all so busy. I think I have good intentions when I say these things or when they are said to me. But there is life to get around. And every single day is a new adventure.

But I decided that once every three weeks or month or so, we are having someone to dinner. I immediately contacted some very, very dear friends and asked if they were available to come to dinner this weekend. And they were. We have seen each other, but we haven't sat down and spent time together in so long. years. Our five children have never even been in the same room together.

I have decided that this will be a priority for us. We will make time for what is important. Before we turn around and there is no time left.

Like a well oiled machine...

I have decided that for me to be the best wife, mom, teacher, etc, etc, etc (just how many titles could a mom give herself?  hmmm.) my house should run like a well oiled machine.

Fantastic solution! The problem? I have NO IDEA how I'm going to get it there! Too be honest, with three kids and homeschool and dinner and activities and all that goes along with this stuff-- I feel like I can barely keep my head above water, much less get ahead!

But I am trying! I know one day (one day probably far, far away. But one day nonetheless.) I will get it there. I can see it all in my head. And every single day I try to get a little bit closer. Of course, something always sets me behind. But I'm inching my way there. And that feels better than slipping farther and farther out to sea, away from the shore.

One thing we implemented at the New Year was meal planning. That has helped tremendously. My friend, Beth, was a great inspiration. (And with all she has on HER plate, I feel totally guilty whining that I can't get things done.) You know, even taking the pressure away of trying to decide what is for dinner helps SO much! Man, I think that was the worst part of my day!

We get a lot done. And we get a lot of things done that I feel are important. But, oh, how I would love to have a perfectly organized home/ school life!

One day. I'll get to the shore.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leapin' Lizards!

Yesterday, we decided to head outside to do some science. We keep a little science kit on the porch. Super J came up with the idea to look for and study bugs. Since it does still get quite cold, I wasn't that hopeful.

But we scored and found a handful of snails! It was pretty cool! I got up to go locate a bug box for our finds and suddenly! movement! I saw a green anole lizard dart into the bushes. He neglected to pull in his tail, though. These suckers are fast, so I went into stealth mode! We are rarely able to catch them. I crept up ever so slowly and extended one finger. I very gently applied pressure to the tail before he was able to scramble away. I had him!!! I yelled for the kids and they came running over. We only could see his tail, so Super J brought a net. I very carefully pulled him out of the bushes and grabbed hold of him and got him in the net. His feet digging in the whole way. The strength in that little lizard was awesome.

We kept him in a bug box for about 45 minutes or so just observing him. We got to locate his ears, see his ribs while he was breathing and see the red part of his neck. We had very lengthy discussions about little Greenie, as he was affectionately named.

After all of this, it was time to return Greenie to his bushes. I opened up the hatch on the bug house, but he didn't seem to know how to get out. So, the boys took turns sticking their hands in and petting him very gently. I told Super J to hold out his hands and I would drop Greenie onto them. I warned him that it would be a quick event, as I was sure Greenie would dart back to safety with super speed.

I was wrong. This lizard let the boys hold him and he hung out with us of his own free will for about ten minutes more. And even when he did jump away, he did it slowly and stayed where we could seen him for quite awhile.

I love the hands on life that we get as homeschoolers!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A hard one to write

So, I got called out on homeschooling by someone. Someone I don't even know. I've never met, never conversed with before, never heard of... until they called me out. And it bothers me. I don't know why, but it does. All over one sentence.

I was reading an article about a little girl getting checked out of school by a stranger that claimed to be her mom. And, well, horrible things happened to that sweet baby. I very, very rarely comment on any online articles. The anonymity of the internet leads to too many bullies. I commented and simply stated that while this wasn't the norm, it made me happy that I homeschool.

And then she came out of the woodwork. I was accused of "not equipping my kids for the real world" and doing them a "disservice of placing my fears on them". This stranger, that knows what my family needs better than I, called me out.

And I consider what she said laughable. My kids spend WAY more time in the "real" world than a public/ private school kid. So, it doesn't even make sense. And it isn't true.

So, why does it sting?

I have been way too close to violent tragedies. I have had a family member brutally murdered, one mugged and I have been raped. I will certainly admit to being skittish about a lot of situations.

But, this is not why I homeschool.  Is it a perk? Sure. I don't have to worry about a lunatic walking into my kid's school with a weapon. I don't have to worry about them being abducted from the playground. But it isn't why.

So, it stings.

I know people judge the fact that we homeschool. Some do it quietly. Some do it loudly. Some do it with a look. Or a "well meaning" question. And it does bother me.

I know, I mean I KNOW, this is what is best for us. It just sucks that I have to defend it.

And it is so hard to defend against ignorance.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You can do it!!

I truly don't know if I have ever been more unsure of myself and more daunted as I was when I started on this homeschool journey. It is a terrifying venture, to say the least.

And then I started researching- which in a way, made it worse! There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers! And I really had no idea where to start! Or what curriculum to use! AHH!!  I have to figure out a curriculum, too???  Most of the time I'm just trying to not screw up my kids! Now I'm in charge of molding their entire education??? 

See what I mean?

And you want to know a little secret? I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing. But I read a lot and I keep reading. And I decided to let my kids lead me.

We started at the beginning of the summer, because I was due with my third baby, Sugar Britches, at the beginning of the school year. And at first I did "SCHOOL"! It was as much like a classroom as I could make it- just at home instead. And we worked all summer that way.  And it was fine.

After the arrival of Sugar Britches and our time off and I had to have surgery... blah, blah, blah. I just didn't have time to "SCHOOL"! So we started to drift off of that course. And I've been really glad that we did! Now, the kids pretty much are leading what we study. And it has been a beautiful thing!

"Mom! What kind of animals live in a desert?" turned into a study of habitats. Complete with us building our own desert! And an ocean and studying wetlands....

And don't you learn more when you are studying something you are interested in learning? Well, so do kids! Imagine that.

We take it day by day. And the kids are learning! A lot! And so am I!!!

It has been the most rewarding experience. It isn't easy. But most things that are worthwhile seldom are.

But, if you want to homeschool, you can! It isn't for everyone. But if you want to do it, you can!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Homeschool kids are weird...

Kids that are homeschooled are weird. It's true. They are.

But so are public school kids. They just have the "weird" shamed out of them (usually) long before homeschool kids do.

Do you remember back in school, when you were a wee one? Maybe one day you came up with an awesome new hairdo. Or you made a really cool bracelet. Or coined a sweet new phrase. And you went to school and rocked that phrase, hair, bracelet.

And it turned out it wasn't so cool. You were the butt of  joke because of it. One of the cool kids didn't approve. You were mocked.

And it hurt. A lot.

So, maybe the next time you came up with some great new idea, you kept it to yourself.

If you did something different, you were weird. Maybe you didn't eat your peas the right way. Who knows? But whatever it was, we would build a defense mechanism to be more like the herd. To be the same. To avoid anything that made us different or stand out. There were very few that could handle being different.

Homeschoolers? We don't really have that. All of us are different.

And that's why we have weird kids.

And you know what? We kind of like it that way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Busy, Busy Homeschoolers!

We have a really busy week planned! Today we had a Chemistry Magic Show, that we hosted in our home. Thirteen kids and a mad scientist and his assistant make for a lot of fun! And the mad scientist is a long time friend of ours, so it made it especially sweet that we got to catch up with him. I will post some pics soon!

Tomorrow we have a trip planned into downtown Atlanta! We will be going to the Children's Museum, the High Museum of Art and possibly Ikea, if time allows. I'm not big on going into downtown, but luckily my husband took today and tomorrow off to "school" with us!

Wednesday is Homeschool Academy at Zoo Atlanta, which is a ton of fun! Super J loves to go-- especially since he gets to touch animals! Last time one of the animal encounters was with an alligator!

And on Thursday, Valentines Day, we have a field trip to the fire station and will be giving the firemen some appreciation for all they day!

We will be running around like crazy this week, but it should be a ton of fun!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

squishy fun!

We made a new kind of sensory bag tonight!! I had found several "recipes" for this and decided to try it. You take hair gel (The kind from the dollar store works just perfect!) and put it in a ziplock bag. Add food coloring and let your littles squish it all around. Then I let them choose what they wanted to put inside! We have dragonflies, beans, jewels, glitter and spiders and more! I put duct tape all around the edges to give them a little more stability and to reinforce them.

And let me tell you--- they are addictive!!!  It is so much fun to squish and smoosh them! The idea was for Sugar Britches, but the boys loved them just as much!

Happy learning!

Friday, February 8, 2013


AHH! I'm so stinkin' excited!!!  We are going to go on a Schoolcation! I really love to plan things, so this is very far in advance, but Spring 2014 we are going on a Schoolcation!!  (You like that word? I made it up and keep telling my husband how clever I am. He just mocks me.)

When I was a little girl, I got to go on this amazing trip to Florida. It was the summer after my biological mother had died. My Granny (we were best friends!) took my siblings and I on a 9 day trip across Florida. We went to Disney World, Epcot, Sea World, this live mermaid show... all manner of amazing sites and fun experiences!

On the way home, she surprised me and we stopped at the Okefenokee Swamp!!  I had had a life long obsession with the Okefenokee!!  And do you know, that is really the only specific memories I have of that whole trip? I got to ride in a tiny boat with an outboard motor (that was distinctly saying "I think I can. I think I can.") and alligators would come right up to it! I mean serious stuff! You couldn't even put your hand over the side because of the risk of it becoming gator food! So, this will be the highlight of our trip-- a tour of the Okefenokee Swamp!! 

We have some other fun things in mind, too! And I think Super J is just as excited as I am!


Well, not really bribery. I guess it is more "incentive".

I have a treasure box. It is filled with trinkets and candy. Mostly just dollar store stuff.  If the boys do all their school work for the whole week, they earn a trip to the treasure box on Friday.

I know there are a lot of varying opinions on whether you should do this or not. But, you know what? It is something my boys get really excited about! And, in my opinion, if it is something about school that really excites them, then I'm all for it!

I've read articles about we shouldn't "teach kids to work for stickers or small tokens". That we should teach them to do the work because they are supposed to. That they should complete their work for the sake of completing it and that should be the reward. And I get that. I do.

But don't adults work for reward? Research suggests that recognition is ranked as the #1 motivator in adults to do a good job! Don't we work for pay checks, bonuses, recognition?

I believe that kids should feel great about doing good work and completing it. But I also don't see the harm in them getting a little reward for doing so!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Out in it!

We had an ENT appointment for Super J today. It happened to be near Fernbank Science Center-- One of our favorite spots to school! The day was so lovely, I kind of hated to do anything inside. But because we were so close, we felt the pull of the long ago calling us.  And it actually turned out perfect! We played inside the halls of the 'bank for awhile. And before we left we got to go outside for a snack. We sat on some cement type of risers things and basked in the sun! It was just perfect! And the museum was so uncrowded that we practically had it to ourselves!

Fernbank was also running some kind of promotion and we got a free Weather Science kit!  SCORE!! So we came home and measured the temperature with it. We tested the difference in the sun and the shade.

I love that life as a homeschooler lets us get out in the world. We are learning the world by being there! Not just reading about it or researching it-- but tasting it, breathing it, touching it, loving it and BEING in it!  Bliss!

sweet sensations!

Tornado and Super J made a bunch of sensory bags yesterday! (One for each of them and some for friends)

They had as much fun making them as they will playing with them! Next up, we will be making some for Sugar Britches to play with, too! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

School on the go.

Our plans this week will change, due to a sick Sugar Britches. We had to unexpectedly take her to the dr yesterday and will have to go back today and Super J has his appointment tomorrow to follow up on his deafness.

Since we weren't finished with school yesterday and spent about three hours in the dr's office, we had to school on the go. Luckily, the dr let the boys observe and ask questions. And we even got to see a new test. They were testing Sugar Britches to see if she had scratched her eye. They put some kind of drops in her eyes and turned out the lights. Then they put a black light over her and her eyes glowed neon yellow!!  It was simultaneously the coolest and creepiest thing I had ever seen!  And of course I was all like, "Hey Doc! We homeschool!  Can my boys watch??"

You can learn anywhere!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

free range science!

I created a "science box" for Super J and Tornado. It included a microscope, some test tubes with tops, forceps, and the like. And then I set them loose outside to see what they could find. They really enjoyed exploring and playing in the dirt. We took some of their finds and taped them to some paper for a display.

I can't wait to let them do this when it isn't freezing and February. It will be so much more fun when it is warm outside and there will be lots of critters to find!

But it did let them enjoy the outdoors and nature.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I really wanted to do some homeschooling for Sugar Britches. I know she isn't even six months old yet, but I was still itching to get at her.  And since we do a lot of unstructured learning, I figured it was never to early to start.

So, the boys and I made her a texture board. She absolutely LOVED it! She sat in my lap playing with it for about 30 minutes. I wish we would have done a better job about picking things out. I tend to get really excited about a project and don't necessarily have the patience to wait and do it perfect. But I figured we could always make her another one! It is pretty cool, though! We also made one for a friend that has autism and sensory processing disorder.

To make your own board, just get some foam board (I got a big sheet- poster board sized- at the dollar store) and cut out a little rectangle and glue different textures to it. (I used a hot glue gun. Oh, how I love my hot glue gun!) Instead of foam board, you could also use the top of a shoe box.