Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Fun Times and Potty Training

We had a pretty relaxing week this week.  I think we were all recovering from another Birthday Weekend!  We really like birthdays around here.  This post is mostly going to be pictures because, well I like pictures alot too.  And who really wants to read about all the fun we had when they can see it in pictures?

Oh, and before I forget to brag, Little M decided this week he would like to use the potty.  He has a love hate relationship with his potty.  He loves to talk about it, sit on it, even carry it around the house.  But until this week he really hated to "go" in it.  He's asked a number of times to start using the potty but all previous attempts have ended in tears (sometimes his, sometimes mine).  This time it looks like it might stick!  We didn't have official school this week at all.  I really wanted this potty thing to work this time so he had my full attention any, and every, time he needed to go on the potty.  Fingers crossed!!

And now on with the fun:

We spent the weekend at the campground (we have a seasonal site in Cape May Courthouse NJ).  Saturday night was Wildwood Boardwalk Extraordinaire!



Momma's yearly dose of funnel cake

And more rides

Ms Q and Fred

Little M fell asleep amid all the noise and lights

Baby C did too

Sunday we went to Sunset Beach where you can hunt around the in sand for Cape May diamonds.  The water current brings alot of pebbles to this beach and polishes them up something sweet.

Next week we are back to the grindstone.  We are switching to our summer schedule with free time in the morning and school after lunch.  Ms. Q is really excited to start a unit on space for science and, as silly as it sounds, I can't wait for our field trip to the post office next week with our homeschool group.  Little M will not have any Tot School because after lunch is his nap time.  He will start Preschool in September.  I guess that's it for now.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Favorite Recipe: Cake Bites

Last week I posted a picture from Ms. Q's birthday.  She did not have a cake but a strawberry shortcake trifle and chocolate covered cake bites instead.

I promised a recipe for those cake bites and here it is. 

Chocolate Covered Cake Bites

candy coating or chocolate chips

First of all what is a cake bite?  This a really simple and delicious idea. I tried to frost a cake before I should have and it it started to crack and fall apart.  The kids started scooping up the mess with spoons and rolling it into balls to eat.  And viola - cake bites!  

Basically you bake a cake and when it is slightly cooled you crumble it up in a big bowl.  Then you add 2 cups of frosting and mix it all up. The warm cake will melt the frosting and make it easier to shape. Next use a small spoon to scoop out the mixture and roll it into balls.  Place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 8 hours).

When balls are set, melt coating and dip balls.  Place on waxed paper and then into the refrigerator to harden.

You can use any combinaton of cake, frosting, and coating.  Use your imagination and your taste buds.

The cake bites I made for Ms. Q's birthday were strawberry shortcake cake bites.  Here are the ingredients I used for these.

Strawberry Shortcake Bites

cake - yellow cake
frosting - mixture of 8oz. cream cheese, 5.9oz vanilla pudding mix, 2c. milk
2c. sliced strawberries tossed with granulated sugar
coating - 2 bags of chocolate chips

Follow the directions above and enjoy!

It's a Keeper.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Osprey Nest

In April of this year the residents of Maurice River, NJ got new neighbors.  A pair of Ospreys have made their nest and a few weeks ago their babies hatched!

Ospreys are birds of prey who migrate to wetland areas in the northeastern United States in the spring. They dine on fish and are fun to watch as they dive feet first into shallow water then take their catch to  a nearby perch to eat.  They build their nests on tall (usually dead) trees and special nesting platforms built especially for them.  Their numbers were declining due to pesticide contamination of waterways however thanks to new pesticide regulations and habitat protection they are making a comeback!

Maurice River is one of our neighboring towns and we can see Osprey flying overhead and fishing while on nature walks or even just driving to the shore.  The kids and I have really enjoyed watching this nest camera placed in a nest in Maurice River, NJ.  We figure we have another 3 weeks or so before the babies are ready to leave the nest.

Outdoor Hour button

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: More Birthday Celebrations and More Springtime Colds

No school this week!  Our birthday celebrating continued with Ms. Q's birthday this week.  We were finally able to make it to the campground last weekend.  We haven't been there in weeks since we didn't have our van.  We finally have a rental van and things are starting to get back to normal.  Most of us just went for the day but Ms. Q stayed at the campground with her grandparents through the weekend and came home on Tuesday.  Just in time to celebrate her 9th birthday on Wednesday!

If you're wondering about those chocolate balls look for a post early next week with a great recipe for chocolate covered cake bites.

On Thursday we all went to Barnes and Noble for Ms. Q's  free cookie/cupcake and birthday book.

Little M, Baby C, and I took the week easy.  They recovered from their colds but unfortunatley gave it to me.  They have watched alot of movies on TV this week.  Netflix is a sick mom's best friend. 

We have some really fun plans to celebrate Ms. Q's birthday this weekend.  I can't wait to share it in next week's wrap-up.


Monday, June 13, 2011

What I Have Learned

We are finishing up our third year homeschooling.  Although I would not consider myself anywhere near an expert or even a veteran homeschooling parent, a recent post from a new homeschooling parent in our homeschooling group email list got me thinking about a few things I've learned over these last three years.  When we started homeschooling I didn't really know anything about homeschooling and I certainly didn't know anyone who actually did it.  You can read about why we made the choice to remove Ms. Q from public school HERESo we started our homeschooling adventure re-creating school at home.  I purchased the same books Ms. Q was using in school and we set up a pretty rigid schedule.  I spent alot of time and effort "teaching" Ms. Q and becoming frustrated that she was complaining about it the whole time.

The second year I read up on homeschooling methods and tried things a little differently.  I decided to try out Charlotte Mason's ideas.  I purchased curriculum for homeschoolers, followed a more relaxed schedule, and allowed some child directed learning.  We had much greater success.

This year we are still following our Charlotte Mason/Classical mix approach and have relaxed even more on the scheduling.  We've joined a really great group of other homeschoolers and enjoyed many learning and social opportunities we were missing.  I finally feel comfortable as a homeschooling parent.  I don't worry that Ms. Q might not be learning what her peers in traditional school are learning.  I don't worry that she's "behind in math,"  or doesn't know the rules of kickball.  I feel confident that she's becoming an independent learner, that she seeks out knowledge and will Google anything she wants to know about.  I know that a day at the beach or a trip to the grocery store can provide just as much opportunity for learning as a day of "book work" at home.  I now know what I was missing that first year - there is learning everywhere not just in books.  Homeschooling has become our way of life not just how we spend our weekday mornings.  My advice to that new homeschooling parent looking for help was to do some research on homeschooling methods and check the state laws.  Then take a deep breath and try to relax.  Enjoy the extra time with your children that homeschooling them gives you because they grow up in the blink of an eye.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Strawberries and Springtime Colds

The highlight of this week:  Ms. Q went strawberry picking!  The strawberries came early this year due to a warm, wet spring and then summer-like temperatures.  The farmer told us that the strawberries would most likely be done for the season come next week.  Unfortunately, the boys and I did not get to go.  The boys were still suffering with their springtime colds so they had to stay home.  Dear hubby was kind enough to take the morning off and went with Ms. Q and our homeschool group.  They had a blast and picked enough strawberries for us to eat at every meal all week and freeze a bunch for smoothies and ice cream later.

The Strawberry Field

Strawberry Shortcake

We still don't have a van so we spent most of the week at home.  Ms. Q did get to go to her guitar lesson, karate practice, and girl scout pizza party.  In history she learned about The Hundred Years War and the Reconquest of Spain.  Unfortunately neither of these topics provided much in the way of a hands-on activity.  She continued her study of magnets in science this week.  Thursday we decided to try a little problem solving with the strategy game Qwirkle.  We love, love, love this game!

Friday we spent some time in our garden - trying to save our plants.  A tree next to the garden was struck by lightning during the night and a large branch fell into the garden.  Some of the plants were destroyed and some others we'll have to wait and see if they make it.  Ms. Q was really upset but that's nature for you!

Little M took the week off recuperating from his cold.  We are off school next week but Little M really wants to finish his study of the letter E and elephants so we may do that.  He and Baby C were feeling up to a little painting though.

We are off school next week because of Ms. Q's birthday.  We have plans to relax during the week then spend the weekend celebrating!  It should be lots of fun.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Elephants and The Plague

Usually this is the spot where I write how fast the week went by but this week was quite the opposite.  This week just wouldn't end.  All of us seemed to be counting the minutes as they ticked by and I am pretty sure I saw Little M marking the days with tally marks on the white board.  There are a few reasons why this week was so torturous for everyone.  Here's why:

It all started last Saturday on our way to the shore.  The kids and I decided to go to the campground where we have our seasonal trailer.  My parents stay the whole summer there and the kids really wanted to go swimming.  So we packed up the van and headed out shortly before lunchtime.  The traffic was fairly light for a holiday weekend and we were making great time.  Until the driver in the car in front of us decided to start driving on the shoulder of the road and then pull out right in front of us causing a collision that sent us off the roadway and into to woods.  Thankfully no one was injured but I had the children transported to the Emergency Room to be sure. 

Our van was totaled and we have been without it all week.  My husband was kind enough to lend me his car to take Baby C to his well visit at the pediatrician and to take Ms. Q to girl scouts this week but otherwise we were unable to leave the house during the day. 

There has also been alot of construction this week.  We are getting the kids' playroom refinished and finally getting the deck that we have been talking about for years.  So in addition to being stuck home all day, the kids were not able to play outside or in their playroom due to construction equipment and supplies.  We are all going a little crazy!

Playroom Before

Playset Before

Deck in progress

We did manage to get some school work done though.  Little M learned about the letter E and elephants.  We used The Story of Babar for our spine book and read lots of other books about elephants.  He learned what sounds the letter E make and words that start with E.  We also talked about the things that are alike between people and elephants and other mammals.

In history Ms. Q learned about "The Black Death."  She really didn't understand the devastation to the population (the number was too great I think) but she stated she was glad that serfs didn't have to work for lords anymore.  The next day she told me she was suffering from what she thought was a cold but told me she would watch out for anything growing in her armpit.  A few minutes later she came out of her bedroom with a baseball hidden in her shirt near the armpit and told me it was definitely the plague.  Then she started chasing Little M around the house telling him to watch out or he would catch the plague.  I think it's really funny how so many of our topics in history end up being topics for play.

In science Ms. Q learned all about magnets.  Here she is learning about the north and south poles of a magnet as well as how pole attract or repel.

We did not get to our homeschool group playgroup this week but we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can make it strawberry picking with them on Monday.  We all seem to have caught a cold now.  Not sure how that's possible given we've been inside the house with only each other for most of the week.  But I guess it's just one of those weeks.