Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Even Steven and Odd Todd Gingerbread Cut Outs

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We have been enjoying the Christmas season here at our house. We have also been doing a lot of learning. We read the book, Even Steven and Odd Todd by Kathryn Cristaldi which teaches children about odd and even numbers. We decided to make a Christmas themed craft about Even Steven and Odd Todd to reinforce the odd even pattern. We cut out a ginger bead chain out of paper. The original intent was to use brown paper, but we were out of brown construction paper and we did not have a paper bag so we improvised and used yellow paper instead. Even Steven all looks the same with a white button on his right arm, black button on his left arm, and a blue heart in the middle. Every Odd Todd looks different although Little BBQ did not want him to look too different because he wanted Odd Todd to have friends and dress nice. I think my little boy is already very socially conscious.

Posted on virtual refrigerator

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Marigold Necklaces

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El Dia De Los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico to honor the dead (for a more detailed description of this holiday click here). Marigold garland is traditionally made to decorate alters and homes because it grows wild in Mexico. The festive orange blossoms look great when strung together. For our El Dia De Los Muertos Party, we had the kids make marigold necklaces. Marigolds were one of the last things still growing in my garden, so I picked all the marigold flowers the morning of the party and put them in a bowl for the kids. We took yarn and taped a toothpick to the end to make a child friendly needle, then we had the kids string the flowers on the yarn. The girls at the party were very into this activity. The best part about the activity was that it was very frugal because I already had everything in my house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How I Taught My Preschooler How to Multiply

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Little BBQ has been asking to learn multiplication, so I decided to give it a shot. Little BBQ already has a good grasp of addition and subtraction so multiplication seemed like a logical next step for him. Little BBQ seems to have a way with numbers; he can quickly pick up a new concept if I teach it to him visually and hands on.
Little BBQ in some ways is your typical child. He wiggles all the time and his attention span is short, but when he focuses his attention he can learn a lot in a short period of time. I taught him to multiply by using what I call the bucket system. I told Little BBQ that he has a choice: (a) the first number can be a bucket and the second number can be the number of beans or (b) the first number can be the number of beans and the second number can be the number of buckets.
He told me that he preferred option ‘b,’ so from here my example  will use the second number in a problem as a “bucket” and the first number represents the number of beans needed.
For this simple method a child sets up buckets that need to filled with a certain number of beans. For example, 4 x 5 would require 5 “buckets” filled with 4 beans.

Little BBQ used a tablespoon to fill up his buckets because he is a very hands on learner.  After working several different problems he quickly began to pick up a pattern. Within 20 minutes he was able to deduce all of the twos times tables and recite them.  We have used this method with numbers up to 13 successfully.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 10/21/2011-11/4/2011

In my life this week…

We have been doing lots of partying lately. I love this time of year with all the fun parties that the kids get to attend, and we even hosted a party ourselves! We very rarely host parties, so this was a fun treat. We hosted a Halloween/El Dia De Los Muertos party. The kids had a blast. We did sugar skull decorating and made marigold necklaces from flowers from my garden. To prepare for the party I did a deep fall scrubbing on my house. I washed the floors, baseboards, walls, and cabinets. Even my oven is clean right now! I am loving having a super clean house. Now I just need to get a little more organized, and I will be a happy woman.

In our homeschool this week…

We have actually been picking up some history which is great. We got a cool nonfiction book from the library called, Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson. Little BBQ for once has not been fighting me on history. I am working on easing him into history lesson for awhile now, and he has resisted, so I decided to change strategies and teach history about things that he found interesting. I figure in our pre-k year we can splurge and spend time on odd and fun history.

I am inspired by…

We went to our friend's El Dia De Los Muertos party, and I was really inspired by her cool decorations and pinata. I did not decorate much for our party, but it was neat to see her interpretation of the holiday especially since the holiday has so much meaning for her because her first daughter was still born on El Dia De Los Muertos. As she elegantly put things in her facebook status, her baby has her own special holiday.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We were suppose to be a field trip today, but Little BBQ is sick so we stayed home instead. We have, however, gotten out of the house a lot lately. We went on a nature hike a few weeks ago which was a lot of fun.  We have also been bowling with our homeschooling group twice which is another fun every other week event. We also did our Halloween tradition with one our friends. We bring over a big turkey to their house and enjoy a big meal together after a full night of trick or treating. Little BBQ was a tree fairy. I made the costume myself. Miss Bubbles was a pink dinosaur. Both kids looked so cute.

My favorite thing this week was…

My favorite thing this week was our Halloween/El Dia De Los Muertos party. I made all the food vegan friendly since we have so many vegans in our homeschooling group. I loved seeing all the sugar skulls that the kids decorated.

Things I’m working on…

I am working on a care package for two friends right now. One of my friends just got divorced, and the other found out that her baby has an enlarged heart. Both will be getting a care package soon.

I’m reading…

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Issacson. I am really enjoying the book. I never knew that Einstein had a daughter out of wed lock with his wife before they got married. I am surprised by the great length that the scientist went to keep this a secret.

I’m cooking…

As usual I am cooking lots of things. I made four different types of Povitica, which is a Eastern European bread. I made the traditional walnut filling, chocolate strawberry filling, pear apple butter filling, and raspberry filling. I also made lots of vegan goodies that I am working on blogging about in my cooking blog as well. Currently, there is an excellent smelling roast in my crockpot which is perfect for a day with a sick kid.

I’m grateful for…

I'm grateful for my healthy family.

I’m praying for…

I am praying for my friend's sick baby. Her daughter has been transfered to a hospital in a larger city where I am hoping that the doctors can figure out what is going on with her daughter. I am praying for my mom to a new job as a public school teacher. She went on two interviews this week, so I am hopeful that she will get a new job.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Our vegan Halloween party!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Thursday, November 3, 2011

El Dia De Los Muertos Toddler Craft

This year our family threw the annual homeschool Halloween party at our house. To add a twist to the party I also made the party an El Dia De Los Muertos party as well since there are always tons of Halloween events every year. For a very brief background on El Dia De Los Muertos please visit my other blog here.

Since the party had toddlers to high school students, I wanted to include some toddler crafts at the party as well. I decided to make Q-tip skeletons from the blog Bee in Our Bonnet that I originally saw on Pinterest. No one at the party actually completed a Q-tip skeleton, but I did do the project later with Miss Bubbles. This was one of her first experiences with glue, so it turned into a messay affiar, but we had a lot of fun.

For the Kids Friday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Elephant study using Elephants Can Paint Too!

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Little BBQ chose the book Elephants can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold at the library. I decided to turn this short and easy nonfiction book into a small unit study for him. Elephants can Paint Too! is appropriate for early elementary school students. The book will capture the imagination of young children as the elephants in the book learn how to paint just like humans. The book has lots of elephant facts spaced through out the book without reading like a dry textbook. For our small unit study I read the book to Little BBQ first just to enjoy the book. I did not stress the facts sprinkled in the book. I just let him enjoy the book. Then, we visited the web-site, The Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project, that the book was benefiting. The conservation project helps rescue Asian elephants that are on the endangered species list. We read the profiles of various elephants in the project, and we admired their paintings. To teach Little BBQ computer skills we copied some of the pictures on our computer, and I taught him how to make layers on GIMP (a free version of photoshop.) I have chosen not to include this photo on this post because the elephant painting images are copyrighted.

We also watched videos of the elephants painting. Next, Little BBQ mimicked elephant paintings.

Then, Little BBQ reread the book to me and he dictated to me the facts in the book while I wrote them down on a piece of paper.

Finally, we found the locations of all of the Asian elephants on a globe and colored a map of Asia where the elephants were located.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mothers Homeschool Journal 10/30/11 - 10/14/11

In my life this week…

We have had a busy past two weeks. I have been working on canning apples and grapes. We are finished with the grapes now, but we will still have some more apples to can. I am looking forward to a break.
In our homeschool this week…

We have had a busy two weeks. Last week we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch with our homeschool group. The corn maze was huge with intricate patterns of a pumpkin, owl, witch, and other designs. The pumpkin patch was also very large. We were allowed to take home a medium sized pumpkin (I love living in area where pumpkins grow abundantly.) This week I organized an event in our homeschooling group to go on a hike along a river. I made a last minute decision to put together this event because we had an Indian summer at the beginning of the week which was fabulous. A lot more people showed up than I previously thought would show up.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Go outside as often as you can. Good weather does not last forever, so you want to enjoy it while it is here.

I am inspired by…

I am inspired by the leaves changing color outside. I have finally got into the fall spirit. I finally stopped lusting after the summer that has passed, and I am now fully enjoying the fall that is here. I am a summer baby, and I have never lived somewhere summer is so short, so I find myself feeling like summer never go started around here. I am slowly learning to adapt to my environment. I am focused on schooling the kids, wrapping up canning, and throwing our homeschool Halloween party.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We visited the corn maze and a park along the river. I think it has been for our kids to see some of the same kids over and over again. We were supposed to go to another pumpkin patch yesterday, but the event got cancelled due to rain.

My favorite thing this week was…

Dr. Lazy Palate and I were discussing what to get the kids for Christmas. I mentioned that I wanted to get Little BBQ a keyboard because he has been taking in interest in piano, but I did not think that we would be able to fit a piano into our budget. Coincidently, Dr. Lazy Palate and I were looking at dressers on Craigslist to try and modify for Miss Bubbles to turn into a doll house when we found a good condition organ on Craigslist for free. We contacted the gentleman, and he even delivered the organ to our house. The organ came with a bench, a light, and all the manuals. We plan to surprise Little BBQ with the organ for his birthday. It is amazing how life just works out sometimes.

What’s working/not working for us…

Little BBQ finally seems to be enjoying reading. He used to fight me when I mentioned sitting down and reading. Today he sat down with me to read three books including one longer book. I am very happy with his progress. With nonfiction he seems to be coming around there as well. He fought me on doing some activities based on a very short nonfiction book that he picked from the library. I wanted him to practice picking out facts out of a nonfiction book. I do the writing for him since he is a slow and messy writer, so I did not bog him down with handwriting, and he fought me. We ended up putting the activity down for a day. After discussing why he did not want to finish his school work with Dr. Lazy Palate, he told Dr. Lazy Palate that he did not like the book. I do not know what changed Little BBQ’s mind because the next day he reread the nonfiction book and picked out the facts for me write down. Then, he was upset when we returned the library book to the library. Sometimes it just takes time.

Questions/thoughts I have…

Please show me your best Halloween crafts, food, games, and decoartions!

Things I’m working on…

I finished canning grapes this week. We made Concord grape juice concentrate and grape jelly. Both are fantastic. I love grape juice. This just leaves apples to can for the season. I am switching my focus from canning to our homeschool Halloween party.

I’m reading…

I am still reading Chiles to Chocolate. I am almost finished with the book. I have been focused on so many other things that I have not had much time to read lately.

I’m cooking…

My cooking group this month made mu-hsu pork, Chinese pancakes, and hoisin sauce which came out amazing. The hoisin sauce was the best hoisin sauce that I have ever tasted. The sauce had the perfect sweet and spicy combination. Plus, the sauce was super simple to make. I can see myself making the hoisin sauce again with stir fry for a fast meal. I also made ground cherry pie filling from our ground cherries in the garden. The ground cherries taste like pineapple, and they are very easy to grow in the garden. They were Miss Bubble’s favorite thing that we grew in the garden this year. I also made a fruit kimchi which was spicy and excellent. I like the spicy fruit kimchi for breakfast. Lastly, I made a moussaka or Greek lasagna from garden produce for the freezer, so I can have some easy nights of cooking.

I’m grateful for…

I am grateful that I live somewhere with fall foliage.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mothers Homeschool Journal 9/16/2011 - 9/30/2011

In my life this week…
In the past two weeks we have finally fallen into a homeschool groove. Little BBQ has been taking initiative to start some of his school work on his own, and he has chosen to do more educational things during his free time which is a really nice change from my constant nagging and worrying that I am doing enough with Little BBQ.
In our homeschool this week…
We have been doing lots of reading and math because it has been raining outside. Little BBQ will finally sit through books and make predictions about what is going to happen next. I am excited to see his reading comprehension grow. He asked to take a break from addition problems to learn subtraction. I was surprised when I showed him to subtract that he was able to do it correctly with bean counters after me showing him just one time. He now takes out his addition and subtraction flash cards and works out the problems by himself out loud. I can hear that he is getting the answers correct. I am pleased with his progress.
I am inspired by…
I have been really inspired by all the wonderful things that I see in pinterest. I have been saving ideas, photographs, and articles on topics that we are covering now and topics that we will cover in the future in our homeschool. I have also found lots more books that I want to read. I also found a fairy costume that looks fairly easy to make for Little BBQ's halloween costume this year.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We went to visit our friend’s farm this week to help them install some math and language software on their computers. Last week we went to the park with our homeschooling group. It was nice to get outside on one of the few nice days that we have had. I have also enjoyed seeing Little BBQ grow socially. He used to be socially awkward and have trouble making friends, but lately something just clicked with him socially. He has no problems walking up to other kids and asking them if they want to play.
My favorite thing this week was…
I enjoyed getting out of the house last week to have dinner with a friend. It was nice to get away and be an adult for a few hours. I am also looking forward to working on Little BBQ’s Halloween costume tonight with my craft group that meets about once a month. Little BBQ wants to a yellow and orange fairy while Miss Bubbles wants to a pink dinosaur.
What’s working/not working for us…
Little BBQ seems to be resisting listening to music right now. I am not sure what to do about it. He requested piano music from the library last week, but now he refuses to listen to the CD. I have tried to put the music on in the background while doing other activities, but he does not want to listen to that CD. The only music he wants to listen to right now is pure moods.
Things I’m working on…
I am working on Little BBQ’s Halloween costume. I enjoy making the kids costumes. I am also in the process of compiling a list of the DIY projects that I want to complete before Christmas. So far on my list is to make more felt board pieces, decorating some cloth bags to use as grift wrap for Christmas, and to make a dress up center for the kids.
I’m reading…
Chilis to Chocolate: Food the America’s Gave Us edited by Nelson Foster and Linda S. Cordell. The book is a series of essays on native food from America. I stumbled upon the book at our local library which was a coincidence because Little BBQ had told me that he wants to grow his own garden next year. I wanted to do something that lined up with our homeschool studies, so I was considering having him grow a Native American garden next year. This book has been a lot of fun to read about the different foods grown here in America and how the foods have changed over time. For example, amaranth used to grow only 1-2 feet high, but now the stalks grow 6-8 feet high!
I’m cooking…
I am always cooking lots of things during this time of year. Last weekend we smoked a brisket on the grill and we made the leftovers into chili which I am going to enter into a virtual chili contest. I have also been canning a lot. This week I canned plum sauce, plum butter, watermelon jam, canned whole tomatoes, and apple pear butter. Canning season is winding down after apples, and I am looking forward to a break.
I’m grateful for…
I am grateful for all the wonderful produce that we were able to can this year. This winter will be a real treat with all of our fun canned foods that we made.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
I have started using homeschool skedtrack to document our homeschooling. I like that the program is free on-line and very easy to use. I have been documenting our homeschool on pen and paper, but I also like knowing that our records are also in another location if something ever happens to our house.
I have also been inspired by seasonal bucket lists, so I decided to make my own. I love fall.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mothers Homeschool Journal 9/16/2011

In my life this week…
Wow it has been a very busy few weeks. We spent a day in Indianapolis. We went to the Scottish Rite Cathedral which has beautiful architecture and stained glass. We also went back to the Conservatory. We took a very short vacation to Michigan a few weeks ago. We have now seen Lake Michigan from the Illinois side, the Indiana side, and the Michigan side. We like the Michigan side the best. I climbed another sand dune while Dr. Lazy Palate and Miss Bubbles only made it about 25% of the way up. Little BBQ did eventually climb up the sand dune to watch the sunset with me, but in reality he was more excited to roll down the sand dune. Other than our short vacation our life has been filled with lots of canning. We have been canning peaches and tomatoes. Today we get 3 bushels of apples from a local orchard, so we will be canning tomatoes and apples next week. We are also making chili all week next week for freezer meals. We will be making several different variety of chili to give us some easy freezer meals.

In our homeschool this week…
Our homeschooling group has been revived after a turnaround in the leaders in the group. Everyone seemed enthusiastic, so I hope this enthusiasm continues and field trips actually get planned and executed. I would like to do more as a group. I also hope that some younger kids join the group so Little BBQ has some more kids closer to his age since all the young kids have moved away.
I am inspired by…
I have found Pinterest really inspiring. I like searching for topics that I plan to teach Little BBQ for ideas on activities that we can do since he is very hands on.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
This week we stayed close to home. Tonight we will be going to an open gym at a gymnastics center which is one of our favorite activities.
My favorite thing this week was…
It has been a long few weeks. Last week Miss Bubbles was sick. This week Little BBQ and Dr. Lazy Palate were sick. This has left me running myself ragged trying to keep up with everything. My house is a mess right now. So far my favorite thing this week was harvesting a bunch tomatoes, peppers, okra, and ground cherries out of the garden. I always enjoy working out in the garden outside. Too bad it rained a lot this week, so I did not get to work out in my garden as much as I would have liked.
Things I’m working on…
I have been working on the kid’s felt board. I have made several pieces. The kids seem to love the felt board. Miss Bubbles has used the felt board to learn a lot of different farm animals so everything is not a puppy any more. Little BBQ has finally started using the felt board to tell stories which is why I made the felt board. Now I have Little BBQ begging me to make more pieces.
I’m reading…
I read Intelligence and How to Get It by Richard E. Nisbett which was a great book to read. The book goes into a lot of detail on how we school and things that we do at home can affect intelligence. This book is perfect for a lay person. Nisbett uses a wonderful critical eye to examine the studies in the field and does his best to give a nonbiased report on the latest research. I also read Quirkology by Richard Wiseman, PhD which I really enjoyed. The book covers the psychology of quirky things in life like how to detect a lie, how to tell if someone is really smiling or not, and how superstition affects our society. I am currently reading 1491 by Charles Mann. This book is an alternative history on how Native Americans lived before the arrival of Columbus. The book really resonates well with me. He argues that Native Americans were not merely submissive characters in mother nature’s story but instead they alterned the land and became the master of their own destiny. He argues that the population of the Native Americans was much higher than historians originally thought. He argues that Native Americans routinely practiced controlled burning to keep their land fertile and they planted trees. It seems that their society was a lot more complex than we originally thought.
I’m cooking…
I have been canning tomato soup, ketchup, peach BBQ sauce, tomato consommé, peach sauce, peach pie filling, sugar free peach jam, pizza sauce, and tomato sauce.
I’m grateful for…

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, September 9, 2011

Microscope pictures of sea shells from Lake Michigan

Last week we visited Lake Michigan, so Little BBQ picked up a few tiny sea shells at the beach that were perfect for looking at under his microscope. I have had a few questions lately about what type of microscope we use at home. We use a Bresser Junior Digital Hand Microscope that can be purchased at Toys R Us. The microscope has terrible reviews on-line, but we have been very happy with the microscope. The microscope takes pictures at either 20x or 200x zoom. There is no eye piece to look through to focus the image because the image shows up on your computer screen making it much easier for a parent to teach a child how to focus a microscope. There are multiple light settings including white, red (Little BBQ's favorite), and red and white together. To capture an image you just click the blue button on top of the microscope. From there you can save the image to your computer. Little BBQ has found the microscope very easy to use. We use windows, and we have had no problems loading or using the software. For less than $20 I consider this microscope a steal.

Here are some images of his sea shells:

Taken at 20x magnification:
Taken at 200x magnification:
More shells:

Little BBQ's favorite setting with the red light:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Crystal structures and catching CO2 with Sponge Candy

I really love science, and I love cooking, so it seems natural that I keep teaching Little BBQ lots of science in the kitchen. This time I took my Daring Bakers challenge which was candy this month and turned it into a science experiment for Little BBQ. Sponge candy is a very simple candy to make with lots of interesting science.
Basically sugar is heated to a high temperature where it turns into the “soft ball stage” then baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate [NaHCO3]) is quickly added to the hot sugar. The heat from the hot sugar causes the baking soda to release carbon dioxide bubbles. Then, the candy is quickly cooled and the carbon dioxide bubbles get trapped in the candy and the sugar does not have time to line up into ordered crystal structures. Another trick to sponge candy is that you add an interfering agent that contains high levels of fructose like corn syrup or honey. The interfering agent helps to prevent the sugar from lining up and making hard crystal structures that gives some candy a grainy texture.  Instead the sugar will look glassy and disorganized under a microscope.
For our little experiment we took microscope pictures of sugar as our control. Then, we made the sponge candy. We made sure that we had holes in our candy. Then, we placed the sponge candy back under the microscope to see if the sugar had enough time to make organized structures. It appears that we made our sponge candy properly because we found air pockets from the CO2 and glossy, disorganized sugar structures.
Little BBQ got so into this experiment and the science behind it that he wanted to know more, so I drew a picture of sugar at the molecular level. I let him color all the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms different colors, and we counted how many bonds each atom has connected to it to make general rules about hydrogen bonds, carbon bonds, and oxygen bonds. I am very proud of Little BBQ on this experiment. For the sponge candy recipe, please see my cooking blog post on sponge candy.

More microscope images of sponge candy:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eric Carle Style Art

This week when I exploring some new art options for Little BBQ I came across Eric Carle's web-site where he has short videos on how to make the caterpillar found in the Very Hungry Caterpillar. How cool is that? I thought that the technique was a little too difficult for Little BBQ and a few too many steps at this age, so I modified the technique to have few steps for him. The modified technique did not have the rich textures that Eric Carle's caterpillar had, but it was still a lot of fun and came out nice.

For the modified Eric Carle caterpillar technique we used colored tissue paper instead of white. This saved us from taking a white sheet of tissue paper and having to paint it a solid color. I also pre cut the shapes for Little BBQ since I did not think that he had the patience to cut delicate tissue paper without tearing it, so this saved us another step. We taped out caterpillar onto a piece of string to hang on the wall because the caterpillar was too large to fit on a piece of paper, but you can easily glue a smaller caterpillar on a piece of paper.

For reading about caterpillars we read Waiting for Wings by Louis Elhart along with the Very hungry Caterpillar because Waiting for Wings went into more detail about butterfly anatomy and was a little more detailed on the life cycle of butterfly than the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I also like that the book was simple enough for Little BBQ to read out loud to me. The sentences are short and each page contains a single sentence making the reading bite size.


Colored tissue paper
Paint brush
Bubble wrap, small piece


1. Cut the tissue paper into caterpillar parts. You can use circles or another shape for the body and head of a caterpillar. You can have the child do this part if they are gentle and coordinated or you can have an adult do this part.
2. Put a little paint in a dish and add a little water. Mix well.
3. Have the child paint a design on the tissue paper shapes. Eric Carle usually does zig zag lines. My son did blobs.
4. Allow the tissue paper to dry.
5. Add a little more paint and water to a dish and mix well. Use a different color than you did with the first paint.
6. Add dots to the caterpillar parts.
7. Allow to dry.
8. Add a little more paint and water to a dish and mix well. This should be a unique color that has not been used before.
9. Dip the bubble wrap in the paint and stamp the paint on the caterpillar pieces.
10. All the tissue paper to dry.
11. Arrange the caterpillar in the desired order. Flip the pieces over. Measure a string two inches longer than the tissue paper pieces.
12. Tape the tissue paper pieces to the string. Leave 1" on either side of the caterpillar.
13. Flip the caterpillar back over and glue an eye on the head and with a marker draw a mouth.
14. Hang up your creation!

Posted on Kids Get Arty

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Butterflies and Dinosaurs out of Foam

When Bushka (the kid’s grandmother) comes to visit there is always crafting and decorating occurring. I am not crafty or artsy. I try to provide my kids with crafting and art supplies to expose them to the arts, but I am not too great at taking on craft projects myself. I am not the mom whom has a perfectly coordinated house with cute pillows and handmade curtains and painted storage boxes that perfectly accent the painted closet door. I am the person with a sparsely decorated house with blinds instead of curtains.  I do not have the decorating gene either. It seems that anything artistic or musical is completely missing from me, so when my mom comes to visit she always brings with her 10,000 ideas for the kids rooms or craft projects to complete with them.
This time Bushka wanted to make butterflies for Miss Bubble’s room and dinosaurs for Little BBQ’s room. Thankfully this was a fairly straight forward process. She took foam sheets and cut out dinosaur shapes and butterfly shapes. She got patterns from coloring books and from the web. Then, she painted the dinosaurs and butterflies with colors that matched the kid’s curtains that she made. For the butterflies she even added some glitter to add some shine. For some parts of the dinosaurs she made three dimension spots, and she added pipe cleaner antennas to the butterflies. Lastly, she glued on some googol eyes. This fun little project that she completed helped to transform one corner of kid’s room. Here are the results:
Little BBQ's curtain:
Little BBQ's dinosaurs:

Miss Bubble's curtain:

Miss Bubble's butterflies

Friday, July 15, 2011

Homeschool Mothers Journal June and Mid July

 In my life this week…
We have been busy this summer, so I have not updated in a while. We have been doing lots of gardening and lots of swimming since it has finally stopped raining here. Little BBQ has been jumping off the diving boards like a pro, and Miss Bubbles has been progressively getting better at swimming. She keeps trying to swim on her own, but she does not have the muscle mass yet to swim on her own. My garden has produced well. I harvested a bunch of carrots this week. My tomato plants are large, and I am waiting for my tomatoes to change color. I got my first three purple bell peppers this week. I am waiting for many more peppers to change color. This week Bushka (AKA grandma) came to visits, so we went to the Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens in Indianapolis, IN. You can read about it here. It was an amazing trip.
In our homeschool this week…
We have been taking a break from schooling to enjoy summer. I have been busy planning for next year. We will be studying the 50 states, so I have been planning some hands on projects to keep Little BBQ interested.
I am inspired by…
Pinterest. I have found some many good ideas on that site. Send me an e-mail at nirvanaandlazy@gmail.com if you would like an invitation. I still have a few left.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
My favorite thing this week was…
Swimming with Bushka and the kids. I enjoy summer. I love the heat and the sun. Swimming is one of my favorite activities.
Things I’m working on…
Canning. Lots of canning. I made glazed carrots, cherries in apple juice, blueberries in apple juice, blueberry butter, blueberry pie filling, cherry Danish sauce, cherry almond jam and cherry pie filling this week. You can follow my canning adventures here on my cooking blog.
I’m reading…
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser which is good, but I am not enjoying as much as I thought that I would. I just read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study by Howard Freeman and Leslie Martin which were both amazing, so I think Fast Food Nation is just having two tuff acts to follow.
I’m cooking…
Lots of different things. I made homemade ravioli, and tonight we are having a roast with rutabagas from the garden.
I’m grateful for…
I am grateful for Bushka coming to visit. I am grateful that everything in my life seems to be falling in place after a rough few years.

Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden in Indianapolis

We have had a very busy summer this year. The kid’s grandmother whom prefers to be called Bushka since she is too young to be a grandmother ;) has arrived to visit the children. We decided to take a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens in Indianapolis, IN. For one dollar you can tour the conservatory on your own for as long as you wish from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday or from 1 pm to 5 pm on Sunday. The sunken gardens are open from 10 am to 9 pm from April 23 to October 11th and 10 am to 5 pm from October 21st to April 22nd.
I consider this trip to be a bargain. The conservatory has an amazing array of different tropical plants that are all picture perfect. The conservatory has beautiful landscaping with small little ponds and waterfalls. Because the plants are all tropical, it is a very hot and humid location, so I would recommend wearing shorts when you visit. My words can not relish enough praise upon this fabulous location. I think pictures can do more justice to this amazing place. Here are some of our favorite pictures from the conservatory:

Unfortunately, we went to the conservatory first, then we went outside into the sunken gardens. While the sunken gardens were nice, according to Bushka, “they sunk” compared to the elaborate conservatory that puts you inside of a tropical paradise. The sunken gardens are a nice formal garden with nice blooming flowers in large patches, but they just don’t compare to the amazing conservatory.  Overall, I recommend anyone visiting Indianapolis to take a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory. For one dollar you are getting an amazing deal.

Some pictures taken by Little BBQ (he has improved a lot):

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