A Mostly Homemade Christmas (part 3)

I first read about Discovery Bottles from the amazing Theresa at La Paz Home Learning. I decided they would make a great Christmas present for Fritz. So Santa enlisted my help to make a dozen. I am so excited for Fritz to get them and really play with them (okay, so he’s done some “testing” of them already).

The basics for all of them are the same. We got a dozen of the little 8 oz water bottles and drank the water and removed the labels (and used a little Goo Gone to get rid of the little bit of glue that held on the labels). Then I filled them with various things to make them lots of fun. I hot glued the tops on so Fritz can’t get them off.

discoverybottles1Crayon Shavings Bottle – crayons shavings and water
Bubble Bottle – water and a couple drops of dishwashing liquid
ABC Bottle – pom pom filler and alphabet beads
Eye Bottle – corn syrup, yellow food coloring, and googly eyes

Ocean Bottle – water, mineral oil, and blue food coloring
Lava Bottle – water, mineral oil, red food coloring, and a little glitter
Sound Bottle – pony beads
Quiet Bottle – corn syrup and pony beads


Jingle Bottle – pom pom filler and jingle bells
Beach Bottle – sand, shells, and a little glitter
Viscosity Bottle – pink hair gel and marbles
Glitter Bottle – water, green food coloring, and lots of glitter

Handwriting Without Tears… Again

I am so totally not sold on Handwriting Without Tears even though we use it. I do think it has helped Ani’s handwriting, but that could also partly be just that she is getting older and has more fine motor control now. She still writes in a weird mix of random capital and lowercase letters. I’ve heard from a lot of HWT users that because of it’s capitals-only first year that this is a common problem and some children seem to just get stuck on the capitals.

Cameron despises Handwriting Without Tears. While there are no tears, he simply refuses to write the letters. With Cameron, once he is set on something no amount of cajoling, begging, or bribing will change his mind. He does a lot of handwriting practice in his regular Sonlight Language Arts K. He has copywork twice a week and random letter writing in the Explode the Code books. I’ve decided to drop the Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. Those are what he is most resistant to and I don’t think they are helping his writing at all. We’ll keep on using the wooden pieces for making letters (we have the regular ones for capitals as well as the extra pieces you can get on eBay for the lowercase letters).

In a few months Ani will finish the last Handwriting Without Tears printing book. I’m planning on giving her a “year” (or rather, the amount of time it takes us to finish a Core) off of specific handwriting practice. She writes at least one assigned story a week, usually two, and writes random stuff regularly on her own. After that year off, I want her to learn how to write in cursive. I figure at that point she’ll be about 8 3/4 or so and will have gained even more fine motor control. I’m not sure if I will use Handwriting Without Tears cursive or not. I’m not overly fond of the way Handwriting Without Tears letters (printed or cursive) look. I’m just not sure about Handwriting Without Tears in general. It’s okay, but I definitely don’t love it.

A Mostly Homemade Christmas (part 2)

I have two younger cousins who are almost 19 and 14 (side note: this officially makes me old… I was their nanny when they were tiny). This year we are giving them mini scrapbooks all ready to have their pictures added to the pages.

To make these, I bought 6×6 scrapbooks at AC Moore. I cut 12×12 patterned paper that I already had in my scrapbooking stash into 6×6 pieces. The first and last pages in each scrapbook are single sheets and all the inner pages are double layouts. I added stickers from my stash that struck my fancy to every page. On the covers I used alphabet stickers to spell out their names.

Revising a Goal

I had made a goal of being done with the all day “morning” sickness at 12 weeks. Of course I know I can’t just turn it off like that, but I find it much easier to make it 2 or 3 more weeks than a possible 28 more weeks.

Well, I hit 12 weeks Saturday. And the nausea hasn’t gone away. It’s better. I’m still throwing up, but I feel better after I do. I think I am nearing the end of morning sickness, or at least I hope I am. I’ve had to go off the B6 due to some unpleasant side effects that of course only I would end up with. So I am revising my goal to 15 weeks. I can do this for just 3 more weeks (again)!

A Mostly Homemade Christmas (part 1)

Every year I make most of the presents we give. It takes a lot of time and probably doesn’t really save much money, but I enjoy making things for people. My minor love language is quality time and when I make something for someone I think about them and spend time with them in my mind. Somehow it works out for filling my love tank.

We are giving my uncle a cross stitched farm scene. I found the instructions in an old cross stitch magazine of my mom’s.


This was my first experience using 28 count cloth. The Xs ended up being 14 count since they were stitched over two squares. The barn in the background is a Mill Hill button as are the pigs in the pig pen. Those are sewn on. The roosters are also Mill Hill buttons hot glued onto the frame. The apple tree has red Mill Hill glass bead “apples” sewn on.

O Christmas Tree

On Thanksgiving the big kids decorated the tree. It was decorated like a normal tree with ornaments distributed all over it, top to bottom. Since then the ornaments have magically moved up. The decorations have been too much of a temptation for a certain little toddler. As he pulls one off we replace it a little higher. He’s getting smart and standing on tiptoe and reaching up as high as he can to pull them off now so I suspect by Christmas we will have ornaments on just the top third of the tree.



We are hosting Thanksgiving this year. There won’t be many people. Just us, my sister’s family of three, my parents, and maybe my aunt. Six or seven adults and four kids ages 1 to 7. Because of this, I insisted our house had to get clean (I’m pregnant, have had several weeks of morning sickness, am still nursing my toddler a lot, and homeschool my older two, so cleaning has just not been high on my list of priorities lately). I also decided we had to rent a steam cleaner because I had become convinced that our carpets stank (really, I was probably right).

So Friday night we emptied out the living room and went and rented the Rug Doctor. We cleaned the living room carpets when we got home. The difference really is amazing. Saturday morning started with me throwing up rather badly. That didn’t bode well, but I pushed on through being tired and nauseas and we got all the other carpets in the house cleaned. For upstairs that was a lot harder than downstairs since one bedroom had become a catch all for whatever we threw in there and the kids’ room was an absolute mess. But now the floors are clean and today we can put stuff back where it belongs since the floors are dry now.

The big kids really helped a lot with the cleaning. So we wanted to reward them somehow. I thought Taco Bell sounded good so we went there for dinner. And then we went to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. There’s something very nice about being able to watch a movie and not cringe at anything that is said because your kids are watching too (it’s rated G). All three kids loved it. Even Fritz sat nicely in his booster seat for most of eating popcorn and Reese’s Pieces. Jamie and I enjoyed it very much, too.

All in all, yesterday was probably the most productive day I’ve had in the last 6 weeks. I’m sore today from all the working, but I took some arnica yesterday so I’m sure it could be worse. Looking around the living/dining room is much more pleasant now, too. Now if only we could figure out what the smell in the refrigerator is we’d be good.

Isn’t this a homeschooling blog?

Why, yes, it is. And we actually are homeschooling here. At least we are most days. Being pregnant is more on the forefront of my mind at the moment, though.

We’re still loving Sonlight. The kids love the read-alouds. Cameron doesn’t like learning to read since it’s not so easy for him like sitting and listening to me read is. Ani’s annoyed that Cameron gets to do all of his language arts and math with me while she has to do most of it on her own.

We are currently reading Hero Tales. Many Sonlighters think it is above the heads of their Core Cers. My kids are a little older for doing Core C than most (but right in the range Sonlight gives, actually). They have no problem with the book. It is interesting to read, though, since missionaries means a very different thing to Protestants than it does to Mormons. Our read aloud is Dr. Dolittle. The kids are absolutely loving that book. We’re learning about bugs in science. Of course the kids love that, too.

Cameron’s still having issues with reading. Thank goodness he’s not in public school where he’d be forced to read in their way on their time. He can remember all the letter sounds, but sometimes I have to remind him what the letter is for him to remember what it says. He is not at all consistent with the letters he forgets. He’s getting better at blending the sounds into words without guessing.

He definitely does not “get” the “families” idea that was a huge hit with Ani. Ani had these sliders shaped like something (like, say, a cat) and it would have the family letters (at) and a space for a letter strip before that and we’d move the strip up and down and she’d read all the words (cat, sat, mat, etc.). Cameron doesn’t think that way. For him to read the word cat, he does it the other way. He figures out that c-a says /ca/ and then puts together /ca/-/t/ to make the word. It works for him so I let him go with it. One day I figure it will all just click. In his own time and in his own way.