Friday, June 29, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 6/29/12

I'm back! I've taken a much-needed hiatus this past week. I've been organizing, working on projects, and playing. Of course, we still continued with all out regular weekly stuff, so I've got lots to eventually blog about. In fact, I have over 20 drafts going right now! Lots of ideas, little time. 

But I always make sure to take the time to smile!

1. Alyssa: "Is 29 a real number?"

2. Going geocaching through the "jungle." (forest)

3. Jake walked out of his room all dressed for church. Alyssa saw him and said, "Hey, handsome boy!"


5. Alyssa, while looking at her lip glosses: "I don't ever want to use this one."
Me: "Why not?"
Alyssa: "Because it's so pink and sparkly. It's my favorite."
I find this humorous because I always had that attitude as a child. For instance, if I had a favored candy bar I never wanted to eat it, because once I did, it would be gone and I could never enjoy it again. But if I never ate it, I couldn't enjoy it anyway. It doesn't make sense, but I still do the same things now.  

6. Zac got a boo-boo on his lips and needed me to kiss it all better.  

7. Alyssa: "When can we watch that one movie again?"
Me: "Which movie?"
Alyssa: "The one with the little girl and two boys."
Me: "What little girl and two boys?"
Alyssa: "They were wearing hats . . . and the next time we saw them, they weren't wearing hats."
Me: "What else did they do besides wear hats?"
Alyssa: "They talked."
Oh, that explains it.

8. Zac, while looking at a book: "Look! I'm trying to read!"

9. Jake: "Cookies are better than candy, especially your cookies." 

10. Alyssa, while watching me mop the floor: "You're a good a good mopper. A veeery good mopper." 

What made you smile this week?
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 6/22/12

Hello, Friday!  This was a week of celebrations - Fathers Day on Sunday and our anniversary yesterday. For our anniversary, we bought a Garmin eTrek 20 GPS. We've been wanting to go geocaching for a while and now we can! We loaded up the kids last night after dinner and headed to 4 caches. It was so much fun! They've been bugging asking me all day if we can go again tonight. It was definitely a good purchase.

Just a reminder, as a convenience, you can now receive all Raising Leafs blog posts directly in your email. Just add your address in the subscribe via email box.

Let's smile!

1. Jake: "Why do you have to go to a wedding tonight?"
Me: "We don't have to go. We want to go?"
Jake: "Well, why do you want to go? Oh, because there's going to be wedding cake!"

2. Me: "I am tired."
Zac: "No you not."
Me: "Yes, I am.
Zac: "No. You not have pajamas."

3. Jake: "That's fancy picnic talk."

4. Jake: "Tyler just said his second word, 'uh uh!'"
Me: "If that is his second word, what was his first?"
Jake: "Hey."

5. Listening to Alyssa laugh out loud in her sleep.

6. Taking the kids to the park for a picnic.

7. Carrying on a "conversation" with my 2 month old.

8. Jake, while looking at LEGO sets online: "I am not going to buy that one until I have enough money."

9. I was sitting on the couch reading my Bible when Zac climbed up and asked, "Mommy, may I read with you?"

10. Alyssa asked, "Mom, can we organize?" She is so my girl.

11. Zac was hugging Tyler and said, "Aww, he loves me. Baby Ty Juice, you wanna kiss? Yes. He said 'yes!'"

12. My surprises.

13. Jake: "What kind of job should I have?"
Me: "Whatever job God wants you to have."
Jake: "I hope He doesn't want me to go to outer space. All you do is stick a flag in the ground and come home. That's no fun."
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Tasty Tuesday: Ice Cream Soda

Did you notice that today is Friday and I am just now getting to Tuesday's post?


Good. Then I won't mention it.

About a month ago, I explained what it means to jinx someone, like when 2 people say the same thing at the same time. The kids were watching a movie when a character said, "Jinx! You owe me a soda." Now that they know what it means, they are constantly trying to get people - each other, me, Leighton, anyone - to say something so they can jinx them. But since we call it pop, the only soda they know is cream soda. So they always say, "Jinx! You owe me a cream soda." Then they laugh hysterically. It's pretty comical to listen to. 

I thought it was appropriate that June 20 is National Ice Cream Soda Day. For days now, we've been saying, "Jinx! You owe me an ice cream soda."

This was one penalty that I rewarded. 

Leighton and the kids are obsessed with root beer floats. They love both components - root beer & ice cream -  separately, but put them together and they're infatuated. Instead of making their beloved concoction, we decided on the original. So, step back in time as we make an old-fashioned ice cream soda.

 Start by mixing milk and chocolate syrup in a glass.

Add vanilla ice cream. Two generous scoops, please.

Fill to the top of the glass with club soda.

We used our SodaStream to make our own. Not at all old-fashioned, but that's ok.

 Top with fresh whipped cream. Add a straw and a long spoon and you're ready for a treat!

Make sure you share with someone you love.

Maybe even 2 someones.

Ice cream sodas taste best when you share.

Now, don't you want to make one for yourself?

Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Soda
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 scoops vanilla ice cream 
club soda (cold) or seltzer water (cold)
whipped cream (optional)

1. Pour the milk into one tall 16-ounce glass.
2. Stir in syrup.
3. Add in ice cream and enough soda water or seltzer to fill almost to top of glass.
4. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe adapted from
Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Place a medium bowl and your beaters from your electric mixer in the freezer for 10 minutes (this helps the whipped cream stiffen faster.)
2. Pour all ingredients into the chilled bowl and start to beat. Start off on low and gradually work your way up to high until it is the consistency of whipped cream. (Don’t over-beat, or you'll have a repeat of THIS.)
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 My kids are geeky. It's ok, they come by it naturally. Their father's a geek, too. They love all things electronic and techy. There have been days when one child is on the iPad, one is on the computer, and one is on the laptop. I do allow them to play games that are purely fun, but I prefer them to play that are more educational. Some of the learning games are more learning than game and produce groans from my oldest child. 

The past few weeks, we've been practicing math skills with IXL. It's not a game, but surprisingly, no complaining accompanied it. Did you catch that? No complaining. I know. I was pretty shocked myself.

IXL is a math review site for Pre-K through algebra. It is broken into sections for each grade level. Each grade is then divided into different skills. Jake (6 yr) practiced using the first grade level, and Alyssa (4 yr) reviewed the Pre-K. After looking at sample questions, I realized that Zac (2 yr) could easily answer some of the questions. He also practiced at the Pre-K level. 

I sat at the computer with the two younger ones when it was their turn to practice. I read the questions for them and clicked the answers they chose. The program is set up so that the parent does not have to help though. There is a little volume button that the child can press and it will read the question to them. Another thing that is helpful is that you don't have to click directly on the circle to choose an answer, but instead can click in the general vicinity and the answer will be selected. That makes it easier for the child who has a hard time controlling the mouse.

 There are 41 skills for Pre-K and 151 skills for first grade, so the student can practice a looong time before ever getting bored or even seeing all the questions. Also, the questions will increase in difficulty as the student improves.

IXL tracks the student's progress. There is a section on the site where the parent can see exactly how the children are preforming, what skills they practiced, and even where their trouble spots are. You can also get email updates to keep you informed. There's also a way for the student to keep track of his own progress. As he answers questions and advances skills, an award will show on his board. My kids all loved finding the star and clicking on it to see what they "won." They also liked comparing their awards to their siblings'. It's the little things.

IXL memberships start at $9.95 a month (plus $2 each addition child) and $79 a year (plus $20 each additional child. Benefits include:
  • Membership benefits:
  • Complete coverage of math curriculum from pre-K to algebra. 
  • Unlimited questions in over 2,000 skills.
  • Fun and colorful practice formats.
  • Questions that adapt to your child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve.
  • Immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept.
  • Audio for all pre-K through first-grade skills.
  • Weekly e-mail updates on your child's progress.
  • Informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and trouble spots.
  • Awards and certificates for you and your children to print out as they reach important milestones.

If you're looking for a way for your kids to practice their math skills . . . and have fun while doing it . . . IXL is for you!

Don't forget to stop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews of IXL.

*Disclaimer: I received a temporary subscription for this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pantry Surprise 6/21/12

Today is our anniversary! It's amazing how fast the past 9 years have flown by.

This was actually my second surprise of the day. First of all, Leighton brought home a dozen roses yesterday so I could enjoy them the entire day today. Then, I found a card when I opened up the laptop this morning. 

It wasn't until 1:30 pm that I found this second card. And I even had to close the pantry door when I got up this morning because he left it open, but I didn't see it! Of course, he says he left it open on purpose so I would see it, but he always leaves the door open so I didn't think twice about it. I eventually found it as I was closing the door after the kids left it open. 

I think we need to practice closing doors in our house. And when I say we, I mean the rest of my family.

Regardless, it was a pleasant surprise. 

Want to catch up on other Pantry Surprises? You can find the entire list here.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Creation Illustrated

I've mentioned many times how I'm a hold-it-in-your-hands type of girl when it comes to my reading material. Sure, I'm coming around to the e-book craze, but I was very excited to review some tangible
magazines from Creation Illustrated.

Creation Illustrated was founded 19 years ago by Tom and Jennifer Ish. It is a quarterly nature journal dedicated to sharing biblical truth through the blessings of God's creation. Each issue is divided into 3 sections: nature, scripture, and living. It has rightly been called the Christian answer to National Geographic

Their mission statement is to
"share the wonders of God's creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bring renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigors of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope."

When we received our 4 issues, I was impressed with how beautiful they are. The  magazines are printed in high gloss on quality paper and are filled with amazing pictures. I especially liked the biblical truths embedded throughout the pages. It's refreshing to read articles that acknowledge God for the beauty all around us instead of worldviews.   

I greatly enjoyed reading the articles and, of course, finding new recipes! My kids (6, 4, 2 yrs) briefly flipped through the pages and enjoyed looking at some of the animals pictures, but were not overly enthralled. However, they did enjoyed listening to me reading. There's even a children's story in every issue that kept their attention well. I can see them enjoying these magazines even more as they grow older.

You can purchase Creation Illustrated for $4.99 an issue or you can receive 4 issues a year and save with a subscription.
  • 1 Year $19.95
  • 2 Years $37.95
  • 3 Years $53.95 
(Add $5 a year for Canadian postage and $10/year for foreign postage.)

If you subscribe now, you can save an extra $5.00. That's a free magazine!

Still not convinced you'd like it? You can request a complimentary issue to see the beauty for yourself. Also, don't forget to stop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Creation Illustrated.

* Disclaimer: I was given this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 6/15/12

I hope you all had a great week. We've had something planned almost every day. The summer schedule is always so busy. Lots of fun, of course, but busy. So busy in fact, that we haven't even gotten our garden planted yet this year! We usually start with seeds, but with a new baby in March, I just didn't feel like going that route this time. Hopefully, we'll get a few things planted tomorrow. It'll be a smaller garden this year, but small is better than none. We did go strawberry picking early this week. So, expect some yummy recipes soon!

Oh! I almost forgot! My wonderful husband set up FeedBurner for me. So, to ensure you never miss a post, you can sign up on the right hand side where it says subscribe via email. Just enter your email address, and our posts will automatically be delivered to you. Yea! Easy peasy!   

Now, on to the smiles!

1. Zac: "Rarrrrrr! Rarrrrrr! RAAARRRRR!!! I'm a turtle." 

2. Jake spending the day at work with his daddy.

3. It makes me laugh when kids use cliches. I find it especially humorous when my kids use cliches that neither Leighton nor I use. Here are 2 instances from this week:  

Me: "Are you ready?"
Jake: "Ready as I'll ever be."

I was helping Alyssa get dressed. As I pulled the shirt over her head, she said, "Hey, who turned out the lights?"

4. We were playing with a bunch of toy people. Zac had a little girl and was making her talk. Jokingly, I told him, "You have to talk like a girl." He looked slightly perplexed as he thought about it for a few seconds. Then, his tone went up an octave as he made the girl talk more.

5. Jake, talking about Tyler: "He's so, so cute. I just want to rip his head off so I can keep it with me and look at it all the time."

6. Alyssa had been playing outside. As she ran through the kitchen on her way to her room, she said, "Mmm, dinner smells delicious!" (dinner = corned beef, potatoes, carrots, & cabbage)

7. Zac: "This is my buttley bellon." (aka belly button)

8. Watching Jake chase a squirrel all over our yard.

9. Jake, talking to Tyler: "Just wait until you get teeth. Then you can taste all the yummy stuff Mommy makes."

10. Alyssa: "Tyler and me are best buddies."

11. Alyssa: "What is this?"
Me: "Heavy whipping cream."
Alyssa, lifting it above her head: "It doesn't feel heavy to me."

What made you smile this week?
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father-Son Day

Last Saturday was a day of just Daddy and Jake. I already told you about Jake at Work with me. Later in the day we went up to the church for the annual Father-Son Cookout. It is a time when all fathers and sons are invited to come for food, fun, and fellowship.

When we arrived at the church I looked over at Jake and he was out. It had been a long day already and we had a long time left before the end. When I shut the truck off he startled awake. "My eyes were tired," was his immediate statement. "A little tired, Aye?" "No! I'm fine! Just my eyes are tired." Right.

Food was the first thing on our agenda. It's simple, bring a side dish to pass. The church provides hamburgers and hot dogs; if you want something else grilled, bring it. We stuck with the hamburgers and hot dogs, and brought mommy's awesome Cole Slaw to share.

After lunch we found this great little game that one of the men brought called box hockey. This is a game that will get your heart rate up without going real far. You just stand next to this eight inch tall box and try to hit the puck throught the walls and into your goal. Believe it or not it is a very exciting game.

There was also Ladder Ball, Volleyball, and some other activities; but Jake ended up on the playground with a bunch of other boys for quite a while. They were having a blast. The majority of the time they were on a car play thing that they were pretending was an army jeep with a machine gun in the back. When an argument broke out as to who was in charge the idea was put forth to take turns being in charge. The response was, "Then we all be in charge, that won't work." In the end the idea of taking turns was used. As I was sitting there I was able to gather a few quotes I found humorous. At one point the driver yells out, "There is a dinosaur in the way!" Which was followed by the response, "Just drive over it!" Later on when the driver, a different boy on rotation, finished explaining that the jeep was stuck in the mud his comrades responded in unison with, "Just hit the gas!" A little later they were all ducked down in the back one peeked up and yelled, "BOMBS! Jump up!"

Over all we had a good time. Jake had a blast playing with the boys. They normally sit in Sunday School and maybe run around a room together, but Saturday they got to interact on their own.

It was a fun day. I enjoyed being able to take my son to work and actually show him a little of what I do. And then to be able to go and watch him have so much fun exploring his imagination with other boys doing the same thing. It was awesome!
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Theory Thursday: Mini Volcanoes

I saw this idea on Pinterest, though the link led to only a picture and not a blog. It is such a simple activity and takes seconds to set up, yet the result never get old. The kids always find the reaction of vinegar and baking soda fascinating. Vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) react to form carbonic acid. Since the carbonic acid is unstable, it immediately breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. The bubbles are the result of the carbon dioxide escaping.

The kids don't care why it works. They're just happy that it does.

You'll need vinegar, baking soda, food coloring (optional), something to contain the baking soda, something to hold the vinegar, and something to dispense the vinegar.

Mix the vinegar and food coloring in the cups and dump baking soda on the plates.

Next comes the fun!

 Squirt the vinegar on the baking soda to make it bubble and foam.

The more vinegar you use, the bigger the reaction will be.

And the bigger the smile!

It'll make little craters all over the plate.

Continue making volcanoes until they no longer form.

Then you'll need to dump it and fill the plate with fresh baking soda so you can do it all over again!

And again. Until you empty your baking soda box and need to purchase more.

Of course, they weren't done though. They dumped it all in a bowl, like the rain in a jar experiment, and continued experimenting.

 And just like before, they made a big mess and we transferred outside.

They added grass, sand, sticks, water, and whatever else they could find. They tested theories and mixed potions. For over an hour. 

The analysis? Lots of hands-on learning fun.

So, whether you're erupting mini volcanoes or continuing further exploration, take time to investigate the laws of science.

And have fun!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jake at Work

Some workplaces have special days when parents can take their children to work with them. For some reason the company I work for doesn't have an official day to do this. I suppose it has something to do with falling debris, moving machines, and extremely loud noises. That is only naming a few of the hazards. I don't labor any more so I am not always in all of the dangers as much. I spend the great majority of my day behind the wheel of a 20,000 lb (when empty) truck delivering the tools so others can tear stuff up. Every so often I will have to go in at night to make a quick drop of tools. There have been a couple of times when I've made a single drop Jake has gone with me. I've just never taken him for more than a single run. But when he asked to go with me this past Saturday when I knew I had at least three runs and possibly an hour at the yard, I thought we might give it a try. He did awesome! He had hoped to watch me take down a wall and possibly help, but he wasn't too disappointed when it didn't happen.

We started the morning with an extra stop on the way in at 7-eleven to grab a donut and strawberry milk. When we got to the yard the questions began. What's a time clock? Why do you check the oil everyday? What does the oil do? But when I pulled the hood open to check the oil, . . . "Whooooooa! That's a huge engine!" I cleared out the passenger seat and gave him a place to sit. He got to watch me dump a load of steel from the cab. Which of course brought about more questions. Please don't go thinking I'm upset about the questions. I like the questions. I like him learning. Just with as quick as they come I wonder how much he hangs on to. But then he amazes me and brings it up later. He gets it.

Once we hit the road he was quiet, for the most part. There are a lot of things that a six year old can see from the cab of a big truck that he can't see from the back seat of a minivan. We dropped some tools off and picked some up. We talked about how concrete breakers work and how Bobcat skidsteers move. He asked what oxygen and acetylene tanks were for, and why I had to put so many chains on the machine when it was on my trailer.

When we got back to the yard he patiently waited until I unloaded everything and then loaded what I needed for Monday. One of the bosses showed up and needed some help getting a couple of things together so Jake began to explore. He started finding little things that fit in his pocket to bring home. Rocks are always finding their way home, but he even found little pieces from old power tools floating along the edge of the lot and put those away for safe keeping.

Just before leaving I had to load a bunch of small pipe into a dumpster with a Bobcat. Jake loved watching the machine. I had him waiting on a trailer to keep out of harms way while I was doing the loading. When I finished what I could with just the machine though, he hopped right down and helped me pick up the last few pieces of pipe by hand and put them in the bucket of the machine. That made me proud. We have men working for us that can't manage to figure out to do that even when they are told to. But my little guy got right down to help without me saying a word to him. I wasn't even going to have him help with it.

When all the pipe was cleaned up, it was time to put the machine away. He climbed up in my lap and I let him drive it into the building. It was a slow go with the throttle down, but he was grinning the whole way. I've got a slight feeling he enjoyed that part.

By the time we went home he actually looked as if he worked for us and finished a good days work, he was filthy. We washed up a little and headed home. It was a fun day, and he made it through the whole day without once asking when it was time to go home. Oh, I didn't tell you, the day started when I woke him up at five-thirty am. He jumped up and was ready to go. He made me proud!

Have you taken your kids to work? Did they get to learn lots as well? What are your stories?

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Antioch Grand Prix

The past few weeks have included many nights with me secluded out on the porch doing more woodworking. I wasn't finishing the dollhouse, nor was I making any more beds. I was carving pinewood derby cars, three of them. It was supposed to be four, one for me, but I ran out of time. I thought about doing a step-by-step of the process, but they took enough time as it was. I couldn't imagine how much longer they would have taken. I'll tell you what I did. I just won't be able to show you.

When I asked Jake what kind of car he wanted he told me, "A race car that the hood opens." Really? Do you understand how this race works? Opening hoods don't matter, you're not going to do anything to the engine. It won't have an engine! After some talking we determined that winning a race was more important to him than the car looking cool. So we looked at other low profile cars for ideas. We decided on a design and cut the shape. I didn't start carving right away because I was more concerned with how much work I had to put into Alyssa's, so I started hers first. When Jake saw it take form, he decided looking cool was much more important. A completely new idea, and a new block of wood later; we were on our way. I decided on the Camaro aspect, he chose the black with green flames and the red number six.

Alyssa's design was easy to come up with, "I want a pink My Little Pony car!" "Pony Car!" A Mustang! Idea, easy; following through, not so much. I decided on basing it off the 2013 model on Ford's website and Alyssa decided on Pinky Pie being the art work.

When I asked Zac what kind of car he wanted,"I want blue one!" So the design was up to me. I chose to try and win a race with this one. While still trying to keep it stylish, I removed as much wood as possible. Once I finished the cutting, sanding, and priming I let Zac do the painting.
Zac's car did not require any extra wood but the other two did so that they would look real.
I used the standard block of wood you are given with the kit but added a piece of wood 1 1/2" wide and 1/2" inch thick (actual measure) to the car. Before I could glue it to the block I had to cut openings for the wheels.

I measured the distance from each end to the axle cut and mark it on the side pieces. I used a 1 1/4 inch spade drill bit to drill the openings. About one-third of the bit goes over the edge of the board, so clamp it down and go slow. Or drill just enough to get the line to follow the edge and cut it out with the scroll saw. I did some of each. Once the holes are done glue them right to the block with wood glue using clamps to hold it over night.

With the added wood the block would not fit under my scroll saw so I had to use a band saw. I simply cut out the basic shape with the saw and used a Dremel to do all the carving. Most of the work was done with a sanding bit, but a lot of excessive removal as well as much of the detail was done with a variety of high-speed cutters. Use what tools you have, but be PATIENT! Speed leads to mistakes. Trust me! When I was little my dad would cut the basic shape and I would do the rest with a pocket knife. It just takes longer.

I did just about all the priming and painting with sprays. The tail lights and some touch ups were done with acrylics. Use fine sand paper before you paint if you want a fine finish when you're done. A lot of people at the race thought our cars were plastic because of the finish. I also added a coat of clear to make them really shine. Word to the wise though, don't draw any designs with a Sharpie if you're gonna use clear coat. It makes the marker run.

The races went completely backwards of what I expected. I lost one of the polished axles that I prepped so I had to use a spare axle that was too tight of a fit for the wheels so Zac's car didn't go anywhere. Jake's car with it's blunt nose won second for speed and Alyssa's won third. I had assumed that their cars would not do well on the track due to how much wood was on them. But it turns out it comes down to what you do with your axles. Polish your axles, it pays off. But depending on the age, as long as they end up with a car to play with they're happy.

I already mentioned that Jake won second and Alyssa third for speed. But Alyssa also won first for design. I'm sure that had nothing to do with the pony to mustang reference.

Have you made any pinewwod cars? What creative designs did you come up with? Any cool paint jobs out there? Any success tips to share? Make a car and have fun!
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

30 for 30 Challenge: Days 1-7

The first week of the 30 for 30 challenge has ended. How did you do? Did you play with your kids? I made sure it was a priority this week to play the games and with the toys that my kids chose.

Day 1 - Since it was Jake's half-birthday, I spent a lot of time playing with just him for many hours. We played with LEGOs and LEGO Batman on the Wii. It was a special day with just the two of us.

Day 2 - We had a lot of fun racing pinewood derby cars at church.  At home, we played a few rounds of Jake's new favorite game on the iPad, Battleship.

Day 3 - Sunday's are always very busy. We leave for Church at 9:15 am and don't get home until 1:00 pm. We leave again at 4:00 pm for choir practice and the evening service. We usually get home 8:00-8:30 pm. This week though, we had a graduation service and a fellowship afterwards. We didn't get home until after 10:00 pm. Needless to say, we didn't get in any playing with the kids.

Day 4 - We made up for our lack of playing together on Sunday with over an hour on Monday - more Battleship, more LEGOs, Memory, and Polly Pocket people.

Day 5 - Zac loves cars and trains. We drove them around and made them zoom down his Wheelies track.

Day 6 - If you follow us on our Facebook page, you'll remember that we had a lot of fun being pirates. We transformed our couch into a ship and sailed the open sea in search of buried treasure. We battled enemy pirates, loaded the cannons, saw sea monsters, and found the treasure!

Day 7 - We spent a lot of time creating with Buckyballs. It was interesting to see what things the kids could make with them. We also played outside.

I've really been enjoying this time with my children. I also realized that when I made playtime a priority, we often got caught up in the playing and 30 minutes were gone in a flash. We spent well over the half hour time on many days.

What did you play?

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 6/8/12

Happy Friday! I've really been enjoying our 30 for 30 challenge this week. The kids and I have been having fun playing together. We had a blast yesterday with our science experiment! So much so, that I had to buy more of a certain ingredient today because we ran out. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get it posted this week. Definitely watch for it next Thursday though! Jake's last soccer game was last night, so things should be slowly down a little for us. We celebrated a great season with going out for ice cream after the game. Yea for ice cream!

1. Jake: "I hope baby Ty Juice doesn't grow up too fast. He's so cute. He's cuter than a pollywog."

2. Watching the kids race in the pinewood derby at church. (Leighton's post coming soon.) 

3. Zac: "Hello, Mommy Princess."

4. Jake: "I can't wait til winter so I can wear my footed-pajamas."

5. Zac: "Blue makes me firsty." (thirsty)

6. Alyssa: "Jesus is everywhere. He's even in Jacob's tummy."

7. Zac: "Mommy, you make my blue birtday?"
Me: "Ok, but not today."
Zac: "Not today?!?"
Me: "No, today's not your birthday."
Zac: "You make my pink one birtday? Purple one birtday? Red one birtday?"
He doesn't give up easily.

8. Zac, talking about Tyler: "I wike him. He's my new friend."

9. I couldn't open a jar. Alyssa said, "We need Dad or Jake. Any of the muscle guys."

10. Watching the videos on the Raising Leafs (and our second one) youtube channel with the kids and hearing them laugh at themselves.

11. Jake: "How much is a dollar?"
Me: "A dollar."
Jake: "But how much is a dollar?"
Me: "A dollar."
Jake: "No, how much is a dollar?"
Me: "One hundred cents."
Jake: "Whooooaaaa!"
Me: "It's really not a lot."
Jake: "Oh."

Have you smile this week?

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 6/6/12

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Sentence Structure Fun

We have had so much fun building sentences lately! We've been playing learning sentence structure on the iPad with Rainbow Sentences from Mobile Education Tools. 

 According to their description, 
"Rainbow Sentences is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure."

The easiest level starts with 2 color-coded groups of words. The student drags each group to its corresponding color line. There are many options to increase the difficulty, such as lengthening the sentence, separating the groups of words into single words, un-coloring the lines, and un-coloring the words. The hardest level contains 10 or more single words, all black, and black word lines. 

After the student finishes, the sentence is read back to him. He also has the opportunity to record the sentence and hear his own recording played back. This was my kids favorite part. After playing through a few sentences, Jake (6 yr) said, "I want to hear the boy say it." He had no idea that he was hearing his own voice! He wouldn't even believe me that it was him until I had him record something funny instead of the sentence. Now, every time he and Alyssa (4 yr) play it, they record such silly things along with the actual sentence. There is always much giggling. They have fun while learning. Is that allowed???

The student also earns puzzle pieces as he progresses. Jake likes figuring out what the picture is with only a piece or two. He also likes showing his newborn baby brother the colorful pictures and recording him silly messages, like the one where he goo-goo gaa-gaa-ed then inform me, "I don't think he understood."

The app costs $7.99 and is recommended for ages 3-10. Both my kids really liked this. And I think there may be a typo. Instead of ages 3 through 10, it's supposed to be age 3 times 10, because even at 30 years old, I enjoyed playing the hardest level. Maybe it's because I have an English major; maybe it's the word-puzzle lover in me. Maybe it's just a good app.

You can find more reviews of Rainbow Sentences and Story Builder (another Mobile Education Tools app) on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

* Disclaimer - I received this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Make It Monday: Yo-Yo Balloons

Have you ever played with a yo-yo balloon? I remember playing with them as a child. They were really popular at craft shows and art fairs as a fundraiser. My kids got some last year at my nieces Christmas concert and absolutely loved them. We made some ourselves in honor or National Yo-Yo Day. They're so easy to make and so much fun to play with.

 Grab some water balloons and rubber bands.

Fill a balloon with water until it's about the size of a golf ball.

Blow it up with air until it's the size of a pear (or orange, if your balloons are rounder than ours) and tie it closed.

 Cut a rubber band and tie a loop in one end.

Tie the other end of the rubber band to the neck of the balloon.

Don't be alarmed if your balloons and rubber bands change colors. It's all just part of the magic.

 Now you're all set to play!

I laugh every time I watch this.

Just like any water balloon, these can pop - especially if you smack them on the ground!

Have fun!!!

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