Yesterday my facebook feed was filled with first day of school pictures and statuses that covered everything from “Missing the kids. It’s too quiet.” to the seemingly ever popular “Kids are back in school, I’m free!”, which was a proverbial kick in the rear to get going on the blogging front again.  This is actually our third week of official Kindergarten so I figure it is high time I list out what we’re using.
David (Kindergarten, age 5)

Reading: We’re continuing on with The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. It’s nice, simple, and gets the job done. Supplementing with BOB books, various other readers, and starfall.com.  Also I’m encouraging him to start reading on his own/outside of school and I’ll (of course) continue to read to him. I’m hoping to build the length of time he can sit and listen so that I can start reading chapter books as read alouds.

Spelling: All About Spelling 1 – I don’t anticipate starting this until after Christmas break

Math: Finish up Singapore Essentials B and start Math Mammoth 1 – I’m hoping/thinking that we’ll get through 1A at least.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears K and once we’re done with that we’ll probably start doing some copy work.

Science: Elemental Science Exploring Science – we haven’t started this yet (planning to next week) but I think David is going to love it.

 

That’s it. Nice, simple, and hits all the basics. My goal is to spend between 30 minutes and an hour on school each day to leave plenty of time for him to draw, paint, play, and explore.

 

We’re still not completely back in our groove, but we’re getting there. Slowly but surely. We had to run our errands on Wednesday due to the fact that I’d forgotten some things the past Thursday when we’d gone shopping. Wednesday will definitely not be our shopping day. It throws us off too much to have our week broken up like that.

Still, even with shopping disruptions we managed to get formal (bookwork) school done on three days and had a light “real world application” day on Friday.

Reading: We finished up lesson 47 and completed all of lesson 48. Outside of “school time” David practiced his reading by reading multiple books (or at least parts of them) to his brother. As Alan is perfectly content to sit in a child sized lawn chair for extended periods of time he was perfectly willing to go along with “Story Time”. He’s also starting to read all the signs at the grocery store and many of the words off the signs we pass on the road. It’s all clicking and I LOVE IT.

The current favorite at our house right now, which makes me nervous. I love this book but the last time it was read this frequently the boys took their artwork to the walls...

The current favorite at our house right now, which makes me nervous. I love this book but the last time it was read this frequently the boys took their artwork to the walls…

 

Math: Moving right along in Singapore Essentials B. We finished up the section on “Tens and Ones” and zoomed through the first bit of “Numbers to Twenty”. I expect we’ll finish up that section next week – or possibly even skip the rest of it as David is pretty solid on the stuff covered in this section and I could tell he was kind of bored with it on Thursday.

Daniel and Alan are plugging along. Daniel’s made the leap to talking in full sentences 90% of the time and part of me wants to go curl up in the corner and cry over that fact. He has got his alphabet down pretty well and is at the stage where he is starting to try and write letters on the driveway with chalk. Alan has mastered climbing up on the couch and into chairs and – more importantly perhaps – has also figured out how to climb down without face planting it.

The weather was nice this past week so we spent a lot of time outside, which has made for happy boys. We even took a trip down to the park near our house and had fun there, both playing on the playground and taking a bit of a walk around the “lake” (large pond). The most exciting part of that outing was walking over the bridge that spans the small waterfall where the lake overflows to a small pond and then meanders out into a stream. Because of that we’ve taken a rabbit hole and talked a lot about dams and waterfalls and looked at pictures and videos of them.

 

I will admit that this is one of those things that I have failed at in the last month, and it’s hurting me.

I love reading. I’ve loved reading since I was seven years old and my mom – I think in a fit of desperation to get me to stop saying “I hate reading” – bribed me into reading a Nancy Drew book. By the end I was gone. Hook, line, and sinker. I had a similar head-over-heels-here-is-my-soul-just-take-it reaction when my dad bribed me into reading The Hobbit a little over a year later.  Something I think he privately regretted because I spent the next ten years “holed up in my bedroom” with stacks of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Some of my dearest friends are books. The characters within them have molded my life, my understanding of the world… I am who I am because of the books I’ve read.

And I miss it.

I miss spending hours or even days immersed in books. Normally I’m pretty good about making time to read, if only for 30 minutes or so, each day. Not only because I love reading but because I believe that it is important to exhibit the fact that reading is fun and good to my kids. Despite the fact that I largely give credit to my parents for getting me hooked on reading (see above) I have no memories of either of them just sitting down and reading for them. They read books to us. And they read their scriptures… but I don’t think I’ve ever seen either one of them read books just to read them. And I don’t want my kids to have that memory of me.

But this past month I’ve been busy with other hobbies – gardening, writing, sewing (new crafting blog here so that I don’t overrun this one with sewing thoughts) – but still. I miss the reading

Even more so because Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance came out at the beginning of March and it has been languishing on my bedside table since then (I’m only about 100 pages in. I feel like my nerd card should be revoked). I love Brandon Sanderson. I daresay that he makes my “Top Ten Favorite Authors” list. Despite being just a nice guy (I’ve met him a few times and it is the biggest regret of my life that I wasn’t able to take his writing class while I was at BYU) he is an outstanding writer with absolutely incredible world building.

This morning I also got sent into a hysterically happy nerd tailspin by Robin Hobb’s facebook update that she has finished the galleys for her upcoming book Fool’s Assassin, which is due out in August. Which I promptly pre-ordered because if you’ve ever asked me for book rec’s then you know that her Farseer/Tawny Man trilogies hold a very dear place in my heart, largely because of the two characters (Fitz and the Fool) that they center around. It’s no secret that the Fool not only makes my “Top Ten Favorite Literary Characters” list but is frequently occupying the #1 slot. So. Buying a book, especially one that promises such beloved characters, is always a good start to the day.

I dissolve into giddiness every time I look at it.

So.

In addition to all the other things this month I am bound and determined to ramp up my reading so that I’m getting in at least half an hour each day. Because really, I need that half hour of reading for my sanity. Even if I’m sacrificing sleep for it, though honestly I’d prefer to do at least some of it during the day so that the kids can see me.

 

This.

This.

 

 

After taking two weeks off – one intentional and one not – we attempted to get back in the swing of things. I say attempted because Daniel and Alan picked up a germ somewhere (I’m lookin’ at you, Church) and after a great Monday spent Tuesday puking.  I think I existed on the verge of a panic attack until Wednesday evening, waiting to see if the “simple” twelve hours of “I don’t feel good, let me vomit all over the floor a few times and sleep the rest of the afternoon” was going to spread to others and morph into another Week of Puke. Thankfully, it didn’t.

We have also recently acquired a second vehicle (yay! minivan!) and so we are also attempting to find a new groove to our week. Because now, you know, I can take them to the library and the park and do the shopping…

As a result between illness and van our normal routine has been blown up …[insert BOOM and image of mushroom cloud here]… and as we (at least the kids and myself) very schedule orientated people this week has been exhausting and we are all running a bit short tempered because of it.

School accomplished this week:

Three pages of Math, most of a reading lesson, and on the days that we didn’t do school/no one was throwing up – so W, Th, and F – I had David read to us while I made lunch.

We’re hoping for a bit more of a normal week next week. (Please, god, please).

 

Highlight of the week: we (and by we I mean David and myself) got ridiculously excited over lettuce and tomato sprouts.

Low point of the week: a very tired, cranky Wednesday. And Friday.

Math: We completed eight pages of Singapore Essentials. We are inching into addition and subtraction (well, we’re there actually) and talking about things like “two more than five is seven” and “three less than four is one”. It took him a bit to get what I was talking about (Monday he just kind of looked at me like I’d lost my mind) but then the light bulb came on and now he’s applying it to non school things. “Mom, I had eight candies but Daniel wanted some so I shared and gave him four and now I have four candies left!”

Reading: We completed lesson 46 in OPGTR.  Nothing exciting. We can probably pick up our pace a little bit, at least for the next little while.

Daniel: pretty much said “screw it” to the weather and played outside despite the winter weather we’ve had for most of the last week. Each day he lasted about ten or fifteen minutes before he would be done. After that he was pretty much “I’m going to lay on the couch and glare at the outside and if you’re not going to be reading me a story mama then leave me alone because I am grumpy”. Friday it was nice and he played outside for several hours and was content.

Alan: Has morphed to one nap a day – from 12 to 3pm. This is good and bad. Good because it means that all three of the boys are having a rest/nap at the same time. Bad because that is what time Church is on Sunday… which means that Sunday is going to be just a big nightmare. This kid is getting so big, so fast… it’s just not fair.

 

This week was… so-so. It wasn’t a bad week but everyone – myself included – was just a little off kilter.  We all seemed to be suffering from that “frayed around the edges” feeling. I think part of it is that David has been getting up around 5/5:30 every morning so he can play with the kitties and the lack of sleep is getting to him. For Daniel the issues has been that it is once again cold and wintery this week after being in the mid to high 60s all of last week and he is quite disgruntled that he can’t just run and play outside for most of the day. He’s done with playing in the cold after about twenty minutes.

Suffice to say we are all excited that it is Friday.

Despite having an off week we did accomplish quite a bit. It helps that David really likes doing school and the structure of “having” to sit down and focus on something together really helped us keep our cool at times.

Math: We finished Singapore Essential Math A on Monday and started book B. David was quite excited to finish the “red math book”, though he was also a bit sad to see it go.  In B we completed nine pages talking about number comparison – one more, one less, greater etc. I love seeing his brain work to understand a new concept. I love getting to see that moment when it all clicks into place and he just runs with it.

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Reading: After a week off playing with daddy we spent a day in review and then completed lesson 45.

Daniel: We spent lots of time reading stories and snuggling this week. For his sake I hope spring arrives soon!

Alan: Turned one this week. One. My baby is one. He’s been walking for about three months now, has seven or eight teeth, and is speaking fairly coherently – well enough that we understand him anyway.

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Excuse me, I’m going to go curl up in the corner and cry a little.

 

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

 

I think it is no secret that I love cookies. I just do. There are very few cookies that I don’t like. Plus, they are super easy and fun to make with kids. Around this house though we tend to get “stuck” on the simple basic of Chocolate Chip Cookies, sometimes with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip thrown in for a little “variety”. Mainly because they are both David and Daniel’s favorite. But, every now and then, I get to broaden my horizons and I will freely admit to taking advantage of holidays to make sugar cookies with the boys.

I love a good sugar cookie and these are definitely a good sugar cookie – not too sweet (so you don’t get sent into a coma by putting frosting on them) but not tasteless. These things are soft and delicious all by themselves.

I was going to be a good little blogger and link you to the original recipe but now I can’t find it to save my life. I just know that I liked it enough to write it down on a note card and stick it in my recipe box over a year ago.

Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies

  • 6 cups flour, divided
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

Cream together the butter, eggs, and sugar. Add in the sour cream and vanilla. Sift together 5 cups of flour and other dried ingredients and then incorporate into the wet ingredients. Add the last cup of flour 1/4 cup at a time. Divide dough (there is a lot of it!) into 2 sections. Flatten each section into rectangles/circles 1.5 inches thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight  – or for at least 4 hours. Roll the dough to uniform thickness (original directions call for 1/4 of an inch but I like mine a little thicker) and cut away with cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until just golden on the bottom (you want the tops to still be white, but cooked – they stay softer for longer this way).

Makes 2-4 dozen cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutter, thickness of dough, and amount lost to “quality control” before baking :)

If desired, frost with your favorite frosting.

Rolling out the dough!

Rolling out the dough!

Basic Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup shortening (or another 1/2 cup butter)
  • approx. 6 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract (opt)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-3 TBSP milk or cream

Cream fats together with extracts and salt. Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time. Add cream to acquire desired consistency. If it gets too wet, don’t sweat it, just add more powdered sugar. Frosting is very, very forgiving. In every aspect. I eyeball 1/4 sized batches all. the. time. For a chocolate version simply swap out 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar for cocoa powder (more cocoa powder = darker chocolate taste).

Crumbface.

Crumb-face.

 

 

 

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