Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homeschool Update: Kindergarten Continues

I remember being in kindergarten, back when it was really just a half day for everyone. My best memory is of playing with some beans at my desk.

Yep. Not some cool art project, or a field trip, just the simple pleasure of dried lima beans and a wooden desk.

Now I'm helping my kiddo create some kindergarten memories of his own, without the beans...at least so far.

Immersion in nature is one of the biggest priorities of our homeschooling methods. Just like last year for preschool, we do a lot of talking about the seasons, where we are with our wheel of the year. We use our waldorf style nature table. We go on nature walks and sit on the porch watching and listening to the woods behind our house when we need shelter from the rentless fall rain showers of Western Washington.


We also do a lot of art projects.


I'll admit that this keeps getting edged out since this year it's officially kindergarten and all the reading and writing stuff feels even more important than it did last year.

So there's letter writing and number making. We're still plugging along with our Bob Books and working off of a literature based math activity book to reinforce Chobie's number sense and early math concepts, like making and recognizing patterns.

























So it continues. I wish that I had some deep insights to share, or kindergarten life hacks to magically make your kid two years ahead of her peers and simultaneously reorganize and galmorize your learning space. Instead I'll leave you with this list of links to projects and resources that we've used recently...

 These free printables from In Lieu of Preschool to go along with our Bob Books. We've been using these for the past week and they are awesome. It's fun to change it up from just reading and re-reading the books over and over. We used this dough recipe from Buggy and Buddy with the word mats in the printable packet.

We've been practicing our sign language with these printables. I've had this clip art pinned for a while that could also be helpful for making sign language learning tools.

How are your learning at home adventures going? 


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Let the Handmade Cat Parade Begin!

Welcome to the Handmade & Eco-Friendly Giveaway Hop, hosted by Happy Mothering, Easy Green Mom and Brittleby’s Corner through the Green Moms Network! To help raise awareness about the importance of giving eco-friendly and handmade gifts, we’re offering giveaways to help you get started (or continue) with your holiday planning. We hope you’ll discover some brands that would make wonderful gifts during the holiday season. After entering my giveaway, be sure to hop around and enter all of the other giveaways listed on the linky at the bottom of this post for your chance to win more handmade and eco-friendly giveaways!


After months of preparation, my new Etsy shop Handmade Cat Parade is opening its (virtual) doors!!!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/HandmadeCatParade


In honor of our grand opening, I am doing a giveaway of one of the Cat Softie Dolls from my shop. I've joined up with the Handmade and Ecofriendly Holidays Giveaway Hop to promote ecologically and socially conscious gift-giving this holiday season.

This is Leo, not quite a lion, he is an upcycled little fellow that spent his previous incarnation as a t-shirt. Now he's as a cat softie doll instead...



Like all the other friendly little cat softies at Handmade Cat Parade he's made from eco-friendly and recycled materials.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you've entered here, don't forget to continue on with the giveaway hop, featuring this gorgeous grand prize:

http://www.happy-mothering.com/?p=21641

Be sure to enter the grand prize giveaway! One winner will receive a $300 handmade, eco-friendly dress from Janelle Funari New York . A second winner will receive an eBody Cloth Set from e-cloth and a $50 BuyGreen.com gift card and a Berglund Cotton Women’s Scarf - a $154 value!

Disclosure: This contest will run through November 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm PST (11:59 pm EST). The winner will be chosen the following day and announced on Lydia's Handmade Life. No purchase necessary. US entries only. Must be 18 years or older to win. The sponsors provided me with free samples of these products to review, and I was under no obligation to review them if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to this blog and not to Facebook. Please note that Happy Mothering, Easy Green Mom, Brittleby's Corner, the Green Moms Network and the Handmade & Eco-Friendly Holidays event bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Skeleton Softies: Pinned It...Did It!


I found these adorable skeleton softies on Pinterest a while back. When we were on my Halloween board seeking some decoration and crafting fun inspiration, Chobie picked these out as a must have.


http://www.tutitati.com.br/

The original link from the pin is just the picture, but the top is watermarked with this Brazilian blog Tutitati, which is totally worth the visit because it's full of all kinds of other cuteness, even if you need to brush up on your Portuguese. There is also a Tutitati shop where these skeleton dolls and other adorableness is available for purchase.


So, since I consider all pins on Pinterest an invitation to DIY (I'm actually like that at any craft fair, vendor's booth or even retail store...) I made my own version. Since this one is not actually a tutorial, I won't do the whole thing where I review the project and whatnot.


I added a little hat to one of the skeletons and gave them both hearts.


These were actually the only Halloween decorations that I got done this year, so they're the centerpiece of my decor, along with the fake spider webs that Chobie is obsessed with.



What have you been making this year? What kind of Halloween decor did you come up with?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Ultimate Phonics Chart

Chobie's reading journey continues: he's half way through his first set of Bob Books . Hooray!

But his biggest road block is still letter recognition and consistently remembering the sounds that each letter makes.

So I've recently devised the ultimate phonics and letter recognition chart.



Part of the confusion with letter recognition is that they don't always look like same. "A" for instance looks totally different in serif or sans serif fonts.



And "G" becomes an unrecognizable creature.




Since printed materials vary with font types, this is really confusing for new readers. So I used both types of fonts in my chart.


The capital letters are also in bold, because Chobie learned them first, it makes them easier to recognize.

At the end I added the digraphs and vowel teams at the bottom too, so that he can practice those.


Now every morning when we do our morning circle, we go over the phonics chart for practice. I hand lettered the chart above on a piece of poster board. It's not the prettiest, but it gets the job done. If you would like to use the chart without the trouble of creating one from scratch, I've made one for you.

You can get a PDF version here. 

What have you been learning lately? 

**This post contains affiliate links. **

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Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Make Dandelion Vinegar



Dandelion vinegar is my favorite digestive tonic. Both the apple cider vinegar and the dandelion lend their magic to support digestion, blood sugar balance, and liver support. Plus, if you love pickles and ferments like me, the flavor is yummy too.

Better yet, it's really easy to make.

First, dig and clean your dandelions. Fall is the perfect time to dig dandelions, since it's the time when the plants are actively growing and a lot of the plant's energy is in its roots, where all of the potent liver-supporting bitters dwell.





Chop them up into tiny pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more surface area is exposed, and the more easily the medicinal constituents from the dandelion get into the vinegar.



Put all of your chopped dandelion into a mason jar. When the jar is full of dandelion pour raw apple cider vinegar over the top.

Screw the lid on and shake.


Now you'll need to store the jar in a dark place for about a month. Take it out periodically (up to once a day, at least three times a week) and shake it up.


After a month passes, strain out the dandelion pieces and bottle your vinegar. It should keep as long as regular apple cider vinegar. According to the Braggs (makers of the raw apple cider vinegar I use) site this is officially 3 to 5 years but according to research it will keep indefinitely when kept out of the sunlight.


I like to take a tablespoon right before meals. It has a really strong flavor, so if you aren't feeling that hard-core about it, you can just mix the tablespoon into 4-8 oz. of water and drink up.

Enjoy!

Do you have any digestive tonics that you enjoy? Have you made any medicine lately? I'd love to hear about it!



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Friday, October 24, 2014

Spooky Handprint Trees

All week, Chobie has been waking up in the morning and asking to make more Halloween decorations. He has been chopping up every piece of construction paper he can get his hands on to turn them into various haunted entities, most recently a haunted ship.

As part of the homemade Halloween decoration extravaganza, we made the spooky tree paintings.


This project is easy to do and even worked for my two-year-old, Bee.

Step one:
Mix paint with water to make a wash. I used red and yellow.



Step two: 
Brush the wash across a piece of paper to cover the whole sheet of paper, or at least as much as your toddler can handle before he is putting more paint on the table than his paper.


Step three:
Allow plenty of drying time. I let ours dry over night, since it was a kid project and the paint is so watery it took that long for the paper to dry.


Step four: 
Trace hands on black paper, then cut out.


Step five: 
Glue hand to the painted paper.


Ta-dah!




Chobie's (middle) is acutally my favorite. I helped him cut out his hand, but I followed his kind of shaky, uneven line and it really makes it look like a knotted old tree.


What have you been creating lately?

This post was shared at:
Creative K Kids

Coffee With Us 3

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Day in my Handmade Life...Two Perspectives


I did a day in my life post a while back. You know, like three years ago, so I thought we were due for another.

So yesterday, I photographed and took mental notes all day so I could show you just what a day is like around here.

In the morning we wake up, usually all stuffed into the same bed, even though Chobie is theoretically sleeping in his own bed now. This morning, I had the rare opportunity to wake up before the kids and get some work done before they were up. When they woke up, I took a break from work and went back upstairs. We said our morning verse from one of my favorite parenting books, Seven Times the Sun (affiliate link).

The light opens up and I walk in
The day invites me to begin
I ask the day, how shall I start
Says the day, with a wish upon your heart.

Then we talk about what our hopes are for the day before heading downstairs for breakfast. On this day, I wished that we would have lots of good homeschool time. Chobie wished that he would get to make Halloween decorations.

After breakfast, I finished my morning shift of work in the office while the kids played and read books.




After work, it was time for chores. When I finished a few dishes and wiped down the table and counters, it was yoga time.


Chobie helped me take some pictures.


Next we went to run errands.


Normally, we would do homeschool right after chores. But this morning, I had some time senstive mailing to do. So we got in the car and headed to the post office.


 We also stopped at the local thrift shop to pick up some hot mom jeans for me and look for a board to turn into our new homeschool calendar that I plan to work on in the next couple of weeks.

Back at home. Its lunch time. Quick quesadillas baby.


Also pop this chicken from the freezer into a stock pot for future chicken soup. The kids woke up with sniffles and coughs, so I know that chicken soup is in order for the week.


Next we do our homeschool morning circle. Except at this point it's well into the afternoon. We talk about where we are in the lunar cycle and where the sun is in the wheel of the year, almost to Halloween. As part of my method of teaching history (which I do plan to tell you lots more about later) we talk about where our Halloween celebrations come from.

We sing some songs about Halloween: "Horns and Fangs, Knees and Claws" to the tune of "Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes" and "If you Ever See a Monster" to the tune of "Did you Ever See a Lassie?" Then play some chalk board games.



Chalk board games are my main strategy for making letter and number practice more fun for Chobie. Although, now that I think about it, maybe that's a lie. Maybe my main strategy is not allowing TV until he can already read. Anyway, I made this little Halloween picture and number connection game for him to do.


After homeschool, I get some more work done while the kids do more independent play. They got new bikes from Grandma for their birthdays and it's been the inexhaustable outdoor activity lately.



I find a spare moment to get these pieces glued together for Chobie's transportation mobile that he designed as part of his science/math work for homeschool. 


And put a few more stitches in Chobie's Halloween costume.

The kids continue to be content playing, so I squeeze in a workout.




When I've finished up working out, we head back outside to dig up some dandelions. Right after we moved in at the beginning of September, I planted some kale in this part of the garden, knowing that it was late for my lattitude, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

This is what is looks like now:



The mustard greens are doing much better than the kale.


Anyway, we get the trowel out and start digging. I tell Chobie about how the days are growing shorter as father sun grows old and tired this year, and plants start sending their energy back down into their roots and do a little bit more growing for the year.



I point out the difference between young dandelion leaves and old ones, and explain that it's because it's fall that we see both of them growing together. I show Chobie how to loosen the soil around the plants with the trowel then follow the root down with his fingers as deep as he can before pulling them out.

We get a nice pile then walk across the back of the yard to the creek to check the water level for today. We've been helping the Department of Fish and Wildlife with some research on the fish populations in the creek by taking daily readings of the water level in the creek behind our house.



We stand and look at the creek for a while and talk about what we see and the salmon that will be swimming up stream soon.

Inside, I cook dinner while Chobie does activities in his math workbook with his papa and Bee helps me in the kitchen.

I also took a moment to chop up the dandelions we harvested for dandelion vinegar, one of my favorite digestive tonics, that I've been out of for a while (recipe and details coming to the blog soon, don't worry!). 


While dinner cooks, we work on our art project for the day. Again, I would have normally done this earlier in the day, but the errands and shopping this morning really threw things off.


 Bee really got into the painting and felt inspired to do a few light strokes on his face, tee hee hee.


Dinner time is next, followed by stories, and the bedtime routine and rhyme.  Once the kids are asleep, I come back downstairs to spend some time with my husband. He goes to bed, then I do just a bit more work before retiring myself.

.....


Sounds like a lovely day right? Very busy and full. Not that my life looks like a magazine, by any measure, but I've seen lots of posts on people's blogs that do. And it makes me think about how much work goes into blogging and creating the "inspiring" images that people post casually on their blogs like it's just how their life is.

So below is the full disclosure edit, in case this post, or anybody else's post like this somehow brings up some feelings of inadequacy.

My comments for full disclosure are inserted in bold. 

Over the weekend, my husband's cousin and her family were visiting, so I had already cleaned my house top of bottom before I did this post.

In the morning we wake up, usually all stuffed into the same bed, even though Chobie is theoretically sleeping in his own bed now. This morning, I had the rare opportunity to wake up before the kids and get some work done before they were up. When they woke up, I took a break from work and went back upstairs. Chobie wipes his newly running nose on the pillow case. We said our morning verse from one of my favorite parenting books, Seven Times the Sun.

The light opens up and I walk in
The day invites me to begin
I ask the day, how shall I start
Says the day, with a wish upon your heart.

Then we talk about what our hopes are for the day before heading downstairs for breakfast. On this day, I wished that we would have lots of good homeschool time. Chobie wished that he would get to make Halloween decorations.

After breakfast, I finished my morning shift of work in the office while the kids played and read books. And interrupted my work a bajillion times to ask me to get toys or sit in my lap and talk to me. If they weren't in here looking for me, then I was getting up to check on them.




After work, it was time for chores. When I finished a few dishes and wiped down the table and counters, it was yoga time. I'm a bad yogi. My tranquil atmosphere is punctuated with conversation with our lovely landmate, and Bee crawling on my legs. He did sit down next to me at one point to try out the seated forward fold. 




Chobie helped me take some pictures. It took about 30 extra minutes to try to get these still-depressingly poor images of my yoga practice. 

Most of his pictures looked like this...


This is about the fifth time that I've actually managed to do yoga since we moved to our new house in September.


Next we went to run errands.



 My car is as old as I am. This is somewhat by choice, but still. My car is as old as I am.


Normally, we would do homeschool right after chores. But this morning, I had some time senstive mailing to do. So we went to the post office and the local thrift shop to pick up some hot mom jeans for me and look for a board to turn into our new homeschool calendar that I plan to work on in the next couple of weeks.

The hot mom jeans are REALLY hot. Like I can't even begin to explain how thrilled I am to show off my two-year postpartum body that I keep naively believing will magically melt back into my pre-baby body, and with a little effort, my body from my freshman year of college.





 

Don't get me wrong, I honestly love and appreciate a good postpartum mama body. I just have different standards for myself. It's a big old multilayer issue, and one that I avoid on this blog like it was a dinner recipe (because you all know that I don't blog about food).

Back at home. Its lunch time. Quick quesadillas baby.



I also pop this chicken from the freezer into a stock pot for future chicken soup. The kids woke up with sniffles and coughs, so I know that chicken soup is in order for the week. I meant for this to be dinner, but it's an old rooster so it didn't cook in time and I had to pull out some backup chicken for dinner.



Next we do our homeschool morning circle. Except at this point it's well into the afternoon. We talk about where we are in the lunar cycle and where the sun is in the wheel of the year, almost to Halloween. As part of my method of teaching history (which I do plan to tell you lots more about later) we talk about where our Halloween celebrations come from.

This is what the kids are doing. 



Not that I mind that much, as long as we are spending time together and they are hearing what I say on some level, I don't mind them writhing on the floor if that's how they want to engage with my lectures about the origins of Halloween. We talk about it every year and I know they will pick it up eventually.

We sing some songs about Halloween: Horns and Fangs, Knees and Claws to the tune of Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes and If you Ever See a Monster to the tune of "Did you Ever See a Lassie?" Then play some chalk board games.


Chalk board games are my main strategy for making letter and number practice more fun for Chobie. Although, now that I think about it, maybe that's a lie. Maybe my main strategy is not allowing TV until he can already read. Anyway, I made this little Halloween picture and number connection game for him to do.

Whenever we do chalkboard games, I mediate conflicts between Chobie and Bee over the chalk and the erasers. Today Bee was erasing the game as Chobie played. His puzzle that I had pulled out for him was completely uninteresting.

After homeschool, I get some more work done while the kids do more independent play. They got new bikes from Grandma for their birthdays and it's been the inexhaustable outdoor activity lately.



Chobie would rather ride Bee's tricycle than his own bike...more child conflict to mediate each day. 

I find a spare moment to get these pieces glued together for Chobie's transportation mobile that he designed as part of his science/math work for homeschool a few weeks ago



And put a few stitches in Chobie's Halloween Costume.

I meant to do a lot more, but the yellow ribbon I need to continue with this project is lost in the perennial mess that is my office/craft room. As long as the workspace is clear-ish and the floor is clean, I call the room clean, even if it's a stretch to call all of the bins and shelves of projects semi-organized. 
The kids continue to be content playing, so I squeeze in a workout the first since last Tuesday. I've vowed that this week is the week I'll finally get back to it.


When I've finished up working out, we head back outside to dig up some dandelions. Right after we moved in at the beginning of September, I planted some kale in this part of the garden, knowing that it was late for my lattitude, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

This is what is looks like now:



This is also what most of the garden looks like.

The mustard greens are doing much better than the kale.



Anyway, we get the trowel out and start digging. I tell Chobie about how the days are growing shorter as father sun grows old and tired this year, and plants start sending their energy back down into their roots and do a little bit more growing for the year.



I point out the difference between young dandelion leaves and old ones, and explain that it's because it's fall that we see both of them growing together. I show Chobie how to loosen the soil around the plants with the trowel then follow the root down with his fingers as deep as he can before pulling them out.

We get a nice pile then walk across the back of the yard to the creek to check the water level for today. We've been helping the Department of Fish and Wildlife with some research on the fish populations in the creek by taking daily readings of the water level in the creek behind our house.

We stand and look at the creek for a while and talk about what we see and the salmon that will be swimming up stream soon.


Inside, I cook dinner while Chobie does activities in his math workbook with his papa and Bee helps me throw things on the floor in the kitchen.

I also took a moment to chop up the dandelions we harvested for dandelion vinegar, one of my favorite digestive tonics, that I've been out of for a while (recipe and details coming to the blog soon, don't worry!). 



You know that last photo? Yeah the zoomed in one of the jar. Here's the zoomed out version.

 
You might also notice how a lot of the images on my blog, especially inside the house are close ups. Even when the house is looking clean, I still don't have the decorating and organizing thing down enough to make my house look blog-worthy. So the house mostly gets edited out in picmonkey. Of course I want to really decorate (and reorganize my craft room into a dreamy pinnable workspace), but it's about #456 on my list of projects.

While dinner cooks, we work on our art project for the day. Again, I would have normally done this earlier in the day, but the errands and shopping this morning really threw things off. I think this routine that I keep referencing as being thrown off by our errands exists only in my head. I end up packing things in to every tiny spare moment of the day all the time. That is, when I'm not exhausted from constantly trying to do everything I'm excited about, and lying on the couch reading (or staring into space, or in bed with a headache) while my husband cooks dinner.



 Bee really got into the painting and felt inspired to do a few light strokes on his face, tee hee hee.



Dinner time is next, followed by stories, and the bedtime routine and rhyme.  Once the kids are asleep, I come back downstairs to spend some time with my husband. He goes to bed, then I do just a bit more work before retiring myself. I stayed up way too late. Today, I'm tired and sore and grumpy. Today, I'm expecting about half as much from myself because showing you all how fabulous my life is yesterday was exhausting.


What are the days in your life really like? Do you have any strong opinions about "day in my life" posts? I'd love to hear about them!


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