Monday, August 29, 2011

St. Louis

We spent the weekend with family in St. Louis.  JA had qualified for a market research study, so we decided to spend the whole weekend just hanging out enjoying the city.  We went to the zoo and saw a bunch of animals we had missed on previous visits.  We also went to Grant's Farm and enjoyed the afternoon there before heading back home Sunday afternoon.

In other topics, JT is 4 1/2.  I had forgotten how bothersome 4 is to me.  I actually really enjoy two year olds, unlike many people, and have recently discovered that 6 1/2 is a joy, but 4 is such a difficult age for me.  JT wants to be either completely independent or be babied.  Rules abound everywhere (if something occurs once, he makes it into a rule.)  But, the most bothersome thing at the moment, is his need to talk at all times, interrupting everyone, and starting over mid sentence to repeat himself, sometimes 3 or 4 times, until he's convinced you are giving him your full, undivided attention.  I do love him, no different than when he was 3, but he is making things a bit more difficult than usual around here.

JT y la bici

Being short means that certain skills have to wait until the minimum height requirement is attained.  Bike riding happens to be one of those skills.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Zoo

We went to the zoo to meet up with friends from Bloomington.  Everyone had a great time despite the heat, long drive, and lack of sleep.

Looking at fake snakes hatching

Watching the school of fish in the hippo tank

JT was so intrigued by the hippo, but also afraid.  He kept backing up when it got close to the glass.

My favorite picture of JA

JT didn't want another picture

It was really loud in the penguin house! (and cold, too)

Family Games Night

Papi and I love board games and card games.  So much so, that we actually included several board games on our wedding registry!  Well, they aren't so fun with only 2, and the little preschooler games are boring.  We recently discovered that JA and JT are old enough to play several of our favorite games.  Yeah!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hand Washing


Focusing sunlight to burn a small hole in a leaf.
JT couldn't concentrate the sunlight  in one spot.

Observing a fuzzy caterpillar we found while on a walk.

JT's Lego Mariner 10 (as he imagines it.)

JA's version of Mariner 10.

Friday, August 12, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to go home.  We camped out in our still-hasn't-sold house, ate at our favorite restaurants, went to the zoo, went to our home church, and visited friends.  It was wonderful!

We all miss it there very much, especially seeing our friends regularly, but we are confident that God has a purpose for bringing us here.

English, Spanish, and ???

I am continually amazed with how well the children are doing with both English and Spanish.  What a blessing that they are able to learn both language simultaneously, and seem to be age appropriately fluent in both.  I knew from my bilingual education courses that this is what "should" happen when children are raised in a bilingual home, but what a wonderful experience to live it out.

Since beginning ballet class at 3 years old, and learning that the ballet terms are in French, JA has been asking to learn French as well.  JT, of course, wants to learn anything JA does, so he's on-board. So, we've begun by listening to stories on Tumblebooks in French, playing their favorite DVDs in French, and we borrowed "Bonjour les amis" level 1 from the library. 

I, however, am intimidated at the thought of learning a new language.  It's been 20 years since I began learning Spanish, and I'm not sure if I really remember how to go about learning a new language.  I mean, it's not quite the same as teaching my children, we're living in Spanish and English, it's not really a subject around here. 

I've heard a lot of great things about teaching (and learning) Latin.  It's supposed to be great for vocabulary development, and it would also be a bridge to several other languages.  I've considered it, but Papi isn't sure.  He thinks the benefits from Latin are no greater than already knowing Spanish.  Then, too, would Latin be any less intimidating for me than French?

There's a terrific giveaway at Life in a Shoe for Visual Latin.  This is a video Latin program on DVD or online.  Somehow this sounds slightly less intimidating...

What do you think - French, Latin, or a different language altogether?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Banana Bread

We had 3 bananas that were aching to either be turned into bread or thrown in the trash.  Well, since banana bread is a fairly simple recipe, I thought I'd let the kids make it.  I was right there, but busy giving JMC his bottle (yes, he still takes a bottle before nap and bedtime or he just won't sleep...)  Since JMC holds the bottle himself (but prefers to be held while drinking it) I had one hand free to take pictures.  I also handled everything to do with the oven, of course.  So, here's how the kids made banana bread, as told through video and still pictures. (You get the idea with just the pictures, but their little comments are so cute, I just had to include the video clips for you.  They aren't long, I think the longest is just over a minute.)

This is the recipe we used.  I color coded for who should do each part.  Also, I wrote in the utensils they would need as well as missing steps that were assumed in the recipe.

JT's so goofy!

Did you hear that code-switching (AKA Spanglish)?

 Isn't he cute? :)

 JA is in her element here.  She can read the recipe, so she's in charge! :)  At least she's being kind about it.  And look at that toddler taking advantage of my being distracted.  He really was planning on climbing up that step-stool.  Good thing I caught in him the act - we don't have stairs here, so he hasn't had the opportunity to practice such a dangerous feat.

Both JA & JT love to play with and eat raw flour.  I don't understand it and wish they didn't, though most of the time it doesn't really bother me.  I guess the difference is they usually eat the flour left over from kneading bread dough, and this is my whole container of flour. 

So, while the oven was preheating and JA and I were putting things away and loading the dishwasher, JT decided to add extra oil to the pan.  He thought it would be okay to add more, since that was his job at the beginning.  Well, about 14 paper towels later, I soaked up enough oil that the bread should be ok.  We had a nice little chat about following directions and asking forgiveness.

JA did an excellent job reading the recipe, and they both truly did quite well, considering it was their first time baking more or less on their own.  They definitely still need supervision, but I can see the possibility of there coming a day when JA and JT will be able to cook for the family. Yeah!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


There are many things I love about homeschooling - tailoring to each of their needs and learning styles, having the time and authority to determine what is important, watching them grow and learn, being able to enjoy spending time with my children - but as a teacher, at the top of my list is getting to choose our curriculum.  Not an exciting topic for many, it is great fun for a teacher.  In my previous life as a public school teacher, I had to teach from whatever curriculum the district could afford, and then piece together what I could to make up for the lack of substance in the approved text.

Well, now that I have the authority to choose, it has been great!  Here's what we're using this semester for 1st grade with JA:

Language Arts-
    along with lots and lots of reading.  JA usually reads during afternoon quiet time, and we also read various chapter books after lunch as a family.  We finished Dr. Dolittle, and are working our way through Las telaranas de Carlota (Charlotte's Web). We have also begun Scientific Spelling.

The bulk of her math curriculum is Mathematics Enhancement Programme (finishing level 1 and beginning level 2.) It begins fairly easy, but introduces advanced concepts in a way that's easy to understand.  A huge bonus is that I can print off the pages at my convenience, and at times, we've even worked with a white board, looking at the page on the computer screen.

We love this curriculum so far!  The kids are enjoying the new-to-us method of note-booking, as well as the experiments we've done.  We are supplementing with various websites and library books, in addition to the Evan-Moor book; which is geared toward younger kids and helps ensure they are understanding the main points.

There is a noticeable lack of Social Studies, but for a good reason.  This semester we're focusing on science and then next semester we'll focus on Social Studies.  Of course, I'm working in geography, map skills, culture, and history, as much as it fits into our daily routine, and Papi is doing his part with culture by including the kids when he watches "Bizarre Foods" on Netflix!