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Week 8: Pumpkins

Lessons continue to be a little scattered because of substituting, but we managed to do quite a bit for this theme. We actually got started on Sunday, which helped get more in.

Sunday
We had to go to Walmart to pick up some cookies for a service project that I signed us up for, so while we were there we picked up some Halloween decorations. They’ve been asking when we would “get ready for Halloween” ever since seeing their cousins’ decorations when we went to visit. They had lots of fun making little ghosts to hang in the bushes outside (we haven’t made the plastic bag pumpkins to put out there yet because the leaves were too wet) and putting up the pumpkin window clings we found.

Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

We also took some time to watch a few Youtube videos of Halloween songs. I should have kept a list of what ones we watched, but I was just winging it (hadn’t really planned to start that day), so we just clicked through as we saw ones that appealed to us. Afterward, I pulled out some finger puppets and other Halloween themed crafts that my MIL got for them last year that we didn’t get to back then. We then used the finger puppets to sing some of the songs we’d looked at.

Finger Puppets

Finger Puppets

Monday
I had checked out several books from the library about pumpkins and one of them talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin. So of course, we had to make our own life cycle book using a template from a Pumpkin Mini-Unit by Mrs. Rica’s Kindergarten. It didn’t print correctly (I ran out of ink), so I made the kids draw their own pictures based on the pictures in It’s Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern. They weren’t the best drawings, but the fact that they even tried was great. Kyla tried to have me “help” (ie: do it for her), but when I refused she did do it.

Life Cycle Book

Life Cycle Book

We then did a pumpkin investigation from the same unit. We measured the height of our pumpkins using legos, counted the lines around it, tested if it would sink or float, and finally opened it up to count the seeds (we decided there were just too many to count! LOL). Of course, since they were already cut open, we turned them into Jack O’Lanterns!

Jack and Jackie O'Lanterns!

Jack and Jackie O’Lanterns!

Tuesday
Monday night as I put Kyla to bed I realized she was running a fever of 103.9. So Tuesday went a little different from our usual. I had to sit in the car with Kyla while Lucas went to speech, then we took her to the doctor instead of dance, and spent a quiet afternoon before dropping Lucas off for soccer practice and coming home to make dinner until it was time to pick Lucas up. So while we had a lot of time, with Kyla feeling crummy, we did not get a lot done. I did manage to read The Christmas Pumpkin by Debbie Reece (who spoke at our AMAMOM meeting) and colored some coloring pages from it. The kids really enjoyed the book and said they wanted to find green pumpkins so they could make Christmas pumpkins too.

Christmas Pumpkin

Christmas Pumpkin

Wednesday
I worked on Wednesday, so I left an activity for N to have the kids do. I used the life cycle pictures from the Pumpkin Unit and made a “Search and Trace” activity like we did for the Pirate unit. I used a handwriting practice generator to make the worksheets for them to trace and taped the words up around the house again. N said that they both did well. No pictures, though, since I wasn’t there.

The rest
Thursdays are Speech and Zoo School day (Kyla was well by then). Which means there really isn’t enough time to get any sort of activities in. Friday I worked, so we didn’t do anything that day either. However, we got to go to a pumpkin patch with friends on Monday to continue the pumpkin fun!

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

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Quick Summer Summary

Yes, we’ve been busy. Which might be part of the reason I haven’t posted practically all summer. Or it could be that I just was too tired to post when I did have the time. Either way, you’re going to get the quick version of our summer so that I don’t feel bad. Then tomorrow I can post about our first week of Homeschool!

June
June is always super busy because of birthdays. The first weekend of the month we went down to Houston for their cousin’s 6th birthday party (at a dinosaur museum! Coolness!). Then the following weekend the family all came here to celebrate Kyla & Lucas’ 4th birthday. I believe I did write that one up, so I won’t go into detail.

N and I actually got to go out of town for our anniversary (12th) this year. We went to Fredricksburg. We were only there 2 nights, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Before you ask, no we did not do any wine tours. Instead we got gypped by the main street shops! LOL We bought way too much wine and the real kicker was when N found almost everything we bought there for WAY cheaper here at home. Ugh! Oh, well. Fun was had anyway, so that’s the main point.

The kids and I then went to San Antonio with my sister and her 3 kids (ages 6, 22 months, and 22 months at the time). We stayed in a cabin and did a day at Sea World, rode a train through a petting zoo, rode a glass bottom boat, went swimming, and just spent time together. Overall it was a lot of fun and I know the kids enjoyed it. My sister and I were, of course, ready for a vacation from our vacation, but we knew it would probably be like that going in. I love how close in age our kids are and that they get to see their cousins frequently. The best part, though, was that after all that time spent together, her twins and I bonded. 😉 They used to be kind of afraid of me, but now the immediately recognize me and play our own little secret games. I love those little guys!

To cap off the month we got to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday swimming in his new pool! The kids have become amazing swimmers now that they have Papa’s pool to play in! They are such fish!

July
July started out with a fun 4th of July celebration with N’s cousins and their families. We don’t get to see them very often, but N was close to his cousins all through growing up and feels like they are his brothers more than cousins. The kids got to see fireworks on the way home and still talk about it!

Kyla started taking a ballet/tap class at an actual dance studio and really enjoyed it. She says she really wants to be on stage. Part of me would love for her to try it, but at the same time I’m pretty sure she’d freak out when it came time to preform.

The kids had their first ever dentist appointment. Our insurance makes us use a primary dentist (who won’t see them until they are 4 unless there are problems) and if we want to take them to a pediatric dentist we have to get a referral. Thankfully, they seemed fine with the regular dentist, so unless there are problems later we’ll just stick with them. Neither of them had any cavities! Woohoo! They took them both at the same time, which was great for neither getting bored waiting on the other one, but meant that I was in the hallway between the two rooms trying to catch what was going on in both at the same time. I felt like I must have missed something, but the kids did great, so that’s the important thing.

I got to spend time with many of my pre-kid friends in July, which was great. I don’t see any of them nearly enough (maybe once a year if we’re lucky). I feel like such a bore, though, because all I have to talk about is my kids. LOL Thankfully, they all like hearing about them (or at least, they pretend they do), so it’s not too bad. 😉

August
The first day of August was very different for me this year (compared to the last 4). I went to work. Sort of. I had substitute orientation. I’m still waiting to get the go ahead to set up my SubFinder account, but in theory I’ll be subbing for the local school district this year. I should be able to work at least 2 days a week. More if I can find a sitter on days N works. Of course, if I never get that darn email…

The kids and I all had VBS the second week of August. This year was very different for us. I was asked to do the preschool story time this year (I did the K-3 story time last year) and the kids were finally old enough to be in the actual VBS classes and not just the nursery! Of course, with me doing the preschool groups, that meant they came to me every day. I was nervous about that at first, but it worked out fine and I enjoyed seeing how they behave in that sort of setting. The other part that made it different is the fact that we now have friends at the church that we hang out with outside of church! We actually went out to lunch with a huge group of moms and kids 3 out of 5 days. I know we all loved that.

Right after the last day of VBS we got in the car and drove down to Houston for the “little twins” birthday. We got to spend Saturday with my mom, sister, and her 3 boys, then Sunday we celebrated the birthday at Chuck E. Cheese and got to see my brother, his wife, and their two girls. I’m not generally a baby holder, but I did enjoy spending time with my littlest niece (5 months old). Big sister (2 years old) had never been to CEC before and absolutely LOVED dancing with the mouse! It was adorable. And the even better part is that she’s finally warming up to other people and not clinging to her parents like she used to. She came up to me! 🙂

We had to head back home right after the party because Lucas was signed up for sports camp the following day. He spent 3 hours playing games and learning various sports Monday-Thursday. He loved it. Kyla, on the other hand, was not so fond of being away from her brother for that long. I tried to come up with fun things for us to do while he was busy, but even sitting in a movie she whispered to me “Can we go get Lucas now?” And while we were at their friends’ birthday party she cried for her brother rather than going to play with the other kids at the party. The one day that she didn’t ask about him was when we went to get a mini/pedi (her first) and then had a tea party with N’s grandmother and aunt. Can we say girly-girl?!

We got to go see a children’s theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland, which both kids thoroughly enjoyed. For days afterward they pretended to put on a show (usually Alice in Wonderland) and have both said they want to be on stage. As thrilled as I am, I think they may need to wait a few years.

Things looked like they were going to wind down, but we still seemed to find ourselves with something do do almost every day. Play dates, trips to the movies, family visits, and more! Is it sad that on the few days we didn’t have anything to do my kids asked “Where are we going today?” and when my response was “nowhere” they cried? They love to be out and about. But sometimes Mommy just needs a PJ day!

Coming up
Kyla ended up deciding she didn’t want to continue in the ballet/tap class she was taking. I’m pretty sure it was because she is so shy. But I let her try out the ballet/jazz class one of her friends is in and she decided she liked it, so she’ll be doing that this year.

Lucas wanted to be in soccer with his friend (the twin of Kyla’s dance friend), but the teams were already full. So instead he’ll be playing soccer through the church.

They start speech again September 3rd (2 days/week) and are enrolled in the whole series of Zoo School this Fall which starts September 12th (I’ll have to fill you in on that in a later post).

Because we still can’t afford to put the kids into preschool I decided I should buckle down and get more serious about our homeschool efforts. I’m trying to plan literacy, math, dramatic play, art, science, and social studies activities each week around a theme. I’ll try to post at the end of each week what we did and how it went. We’ve already completed our first week (which I’ll post about tomorrow) and I’ve got weeks 2 and 3 pretty much planned as well as themes through the end of October. I’m really hoping I can stay on top of this and that the kids will stay as interested as they have been this week. They keep saying that today is the “last day” of homeschool, even though I’ve told them it’s just the last day of this theme. Hopefully they won’t be too upset when we start up again on Monday! LOL

This “quick” update has ended up really long. Sorry about that. But at least now you know I wasn’t lying about being busy! 😉 As we fall into our school year rhythm I hope to be better about posting again. Thanks for sticking with me through the dry spells!

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Four Year Olds

Really? I have four year olds? How did that happen?

This past month has been busy busy as we’ve finished up the school year in speech and zoo school, played with visiting family, traveled to Houston for W’s 6th birthday, and prepared for K & L’s Sugar Run birthday party. Things won’t slow down for a few more weeks, but I wanted to at least post something about their birthday.

Back in March the twins decided they wanted a Wreck it Ralph birthday party. They’ve been seeing Daddy run in obstacle races, so we thought it would be fun to have a race for the kids at the party. It fit well with the theme, since Vanelope von Schweets is a racer. Granted, she has a car, but close enough. 😉 We decided to host the party at a park. I handed the task of race planning to N and he really ran with it. I’ll admit to thinking he might be going overboard, but in the end I think he did an excellent job and the kids really had a blast.

We're gonna Wreck it!

We’re gonna Wreck it!

Candy Cane wickets

Candy Cane wickets

Kit Kat bridge

Kit Kat bridge

Candy Slolam

Candy Slolam

Jaw Breaker toss

Jaw Breaker toss

Life Saver Shake

Life Saver Shake

Gum Drop Cross

Gum Drop Cross

King Candy attack

King Candy attack

Cybug egg stomp

Cybug egg stomp

Ooh!  Water balloons!

Ooh! Water balloons!

Everyone loves an adorable winner

Everyone loves an adorable winner

You Wrecked it!

You Wrecked it!

Cupcakes by Aunt D

Cupcakes by Aunt D

After the race: ring fun

After the race: ring fun

Present time!

Present time!

Thanks for all the presents!

Thanks for all the presents!

Diet Coke and Mentos Beacon

Diet Coke and Mentos Beacon

The whole party was a success and much less stressful (for me) than previous years. This is the first year that we’ve had organized activities for the kids and they did really well. The ages ranged from 2 years to 6 years old. I think we’re going to have to set up the race in our back yard to continue the fun!

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Pen Pals

Recently I came across a blog that is organizing pen pals for kids ages 1-12. Stephanie of Twodaloo created a “Snail Mail Pen Pals” group for parents to have their kids matched with kids similar in age. I didn’t even hesitate to sign my kids up. I had pen pals when I was growing up and loved it. It’s exciting for them when they get mail. Plus, what a wonderful opportunity to teach them about how the mail system works and a little bit of geography?!

I’m really amazed at the work that Stephanie put into this. She could not have had any clue how big this would become. But she patiently matched up every child. We got our matches last Wednesday and I immediately sent our address to our new friends’ parents (or in one case, teacher).

Then I started thinking about what we would send to their pen pals. My kids don’t write much more than their names yet and drawings still don’t resemble anything concrete. I’d seen posts from people sending “stuff” like stickers and small trinkets, but I really wanted this first one to be more about “getting to know you” type stuff. So I use their love of taking pictures!

I had them take pictures of things that would tell their new friends more about them. That evening after putting them to bed I printed out some of those pictures (I did not see the point in printing a picture of the ceiling fan 😉 ). I had the kids glue the pictures onto construction paper and tell me what to write beside each picture. I also printed up a map of Texas and we put an X to show where we live.

It might not have been much, but at least it was a start. We got to put them in the mail today. One is going all the way to England! It will be very exciting to see how they react when they get mail in return.

KylaMailbox1

LucasMailbox1

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Friendship {Letters to our Children}

It’s that time again! Time for another Letters to our Children Blog Circle.

Dear Kyla and Lucas,

As you get older you are developing more in your ability to play with others and create friendships. I love watching you with your friends. Sitting back and just watching your personalities and how you tackle play together is so telling about who you are as individuals.

Playing with friends.

Playing with friends.


Reading with friends.

Reading with friends.

We’ve been trying to go to the rec center’s Open Gym every week (though we haven’t been the last couple of weeks, due to illness) and I see you reaching out to the other kids and playing less with one another. It makes me both happy and sad to see this. I love the bond the two of you have, but I’m glad to know you are able to branch out and make new friends.

Lucas, it seems to be easier for you to approach new friends and start to play than it is for Kyla. You fit in right away and play with enthusiasm. It worries me a bit when other kids start saying “No girls allowed” and you follow suit. I hope you understand why I tell you that you should not say that. Your sister feels left out all too often with your cousins and I hate for her to ever feel like you do not want her around. I know you’re just trying to fit in, but remember that she will always be your sister. Those boys won’t always be your friends. You’re going to need to be her protector. Take care of your sister and give her the help she needs to make friends.

With Cousin Wyland

With Cousin Wyland

Kyla, you may have a hard time approaching new people, or even responding when they approach you, but you give your whole heart once you do. Hearing you talk about your new friend “Anya” for two weeks after you met her at the park almost breaks my heart. Not because you hold onto that friendship so tightly, but because I didn’t think to talk to the child’s mother and arrange to see her again. You are so much like me and have a hard time feeling like you fit in. It’s hard for me to hear you say “Nobody likes me” when I know it isn’t true. At only 3 years old you already feel so intensely. I know that is going to stay with you, as I still feel that way now. I suppose the reason we butt heads so often is because we are so much alike! I want for you to have confidence in yourself and your ability to make friends. You’re so likable and kind. There’s no reason for anyone to not like you!

I look forward to seeing your friendships grow over the years. I hope that some of the friendships you have now will continue throughout your life. But even if they don’t, I hope you are learning from them how to be a good friend.

Friends (and Mom).  Kyla is the photographer.

Friends (and Mom). Kyla is the photographer.

I love you always, always!
Mom

Some of my friends in my moms group and I have decided to create a blog circle where we will share monthly letters to our children. Please check out my friend Carolyn’s beautiful letter to her daughter here and then follow our circle around until you get back to me.

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Budding Photographers {Letters to our Children}

Sorry I’m a couple of days late. We’ve been busy, busy around here!

Kyla and Lucas,

Boy am I glad we live in the age of digital photography! You two have taken a shine to taking photos, probably because I take so many of you, and you certainly capture a unique perspective. Right now all I have for you to use is my point-and-shoot and you have to share. I’m considering seeing if I can find another so you can each have one to use.

With the pretty weather the last couple of weeks we’ve made two trips to the zoo and one to Gramps and Jan’s house. You both took tons of pictures while we were in the great outdoors. Some were great! Others were a bit difficult to decipher. It’s interesting to me to see what you view as important. It reminds me that even the things I take for granted are new and exciting for you.

Here’s a small sampling of your photography skills:

Kyla
Kyla, you’re a bit more “into” photography than Lucas at this point. I think he mostly does it because you do. You even came up with the game “Hide and Seek Pictures” where one person hides and the person with the camera takes a picture when they find them.

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Lucas
Lucas, you take photos like you do everything else in your life. With enthusiasm! You might not get it “just right” but you give it a go and have fun no matter what the outcome.

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I love my little photographers in the making!

Love,
Mom

Some of my friends in my moms group and I have decided to create a blog circle where we will share monthly letters to our children. In a world where we all get so busy with life, for me it is an opportunity to slow down and hopefully record some of our moments together for them. Please check out my friend Carrie’s beautiful letter to her children here and then follow our circle around until you get back to me.

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October Book Club

Yes, I know it’s November now, but we really did do these activities in October! I just haven’t gotten around to posting.

October’s author was Amy Krous Rosenthal. While I was familiar with some of her work, I discovered several new books that I absolutely love! I actually did one set of activities with just my kids and another set with our friends. Both days were a lot of fun.

Al Pha’s Bet

This book is all about the “invention” of the order for the alphabet. Al Pha makes a bet with himself that he can win the King’s contest for putting the letters in some sort of order. It’s cute, and with my kids’ enjoying singing the alphabet all day, every day, I thought it would be fun to do some activities relating to it. After we read the book we put our letter cards in order.

aphabetical order

Putting the letters in order

Then matched the letter magnets to the cards.

Matching Letters

Matching letters

We also ate homemade alphabet soup (kind of hard to see, sorry).

Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup

Spoon and Chopsticks

I was so delighted to discover these two books. They are super cute for kids, but also have a humor for the adults to pick up on. I loved the puns and visual jokes. Really. If you haven’t read either of these books, you need to.

Spoon

In Spoon we are introduced to a young spoon who feels like everyone else (fork, knife, and chopsticks) have it so much easier than he does. In the end, of course, he figures out (with help from his mother) that being a spoon is actually pretty special after all.

For this book I gave each of the kids a fork, spoon, knife, and set of chopsticks. I asked them to figure out which utensil would work best for transferring water from a cup to a bowl. They quickly figured out that the spoon was most effective (though N was determined to use the chopsticks). And then N decided that the easiest way was to just pour the cup into the bowl and all the others followed suit! LOL

Chopsticks

Will chopsticks pick up water?

Chopsticks

I especially liked Chopsticks. It really spoke to me because of the fact that our kids are twins and do everything together. I’m not sure that the kids picked up on that, of course, but it was there. In the story, one of the chopsticks breaks and must rest so he can heal. He encourages his partner to go off and find ways to play alone. At first he is hesitant because he’s never done anything alone, but in the end he finds all sorts of new things to do. And when they are together again, they are stronger for the separation.

My kids have enjoyed the game Wok N Roll since we got it last Christmas and I knew it was perfect to bring with us for this book. E & N had never used chopsticks before, so they were a little slower than Kyla and Lucas, but they were both determined to master them. It’s a game we’ll have to bring with us again.

Wok N Roll

Wok N Roll, baby!

As we prepared lunch I had these place mats for the kids to color and they placed their utensils in their places and tried to use them to eat their food. It was cute.

Placemat

Join us and others in the Virtual Book Club
Virtual Book Club

I’m also linking up to Read Explore Learn.
Shibley Smiles

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