Tuesday, November 12, 2013

KiKi's Progress Report (11-02-13)

Kiki's main focal points over the last three weeks have been playing with legos, "reading", sorting stuffed animals, and lots of pe time between thumping, jumping, donkey kicks, and running. He's also back to playing on his Kindle Fire more, so he's logged several hours on the Dr Panda games, pertaining to logical thinking/reasoning skills, matching, puzzles, and problem solving.

List of materials Kiki used in the last three weeks:
     Science:
          Activities:
               water exploration
               star gazing
               dog anatomy investigation (mouth, eyes, ears)
               cat anatomy investigation (mouth, eyes, ears)
               nature observation
               play dough - cause and effect exploration
          Kindle Fire Programs:
               pepi tree
          Television Programs:
               how it's made
     Math:
          Activities:
               sorting stuffed animals
               lego building
               puzzles
          Kindle Fire Programs:
               dr panda's restaurant
               beck and bo
               cubistry
               cutie monsters preschool
               dr panda's hospital
               awesome memory match
               puzzingo
     History:
          Activities:
               social interaction
     Language Arts:
     Health:
          Activities:
               routine exercise (running, jumping, thumping, donkey kicks)
               stationary bike riding
               hiking
               park play dates
     Reading:
          Activities:
               free reading with ZoKo and B
          Kindle Fire Programs:
               wubbzy's train adventure
               istorybooks
     Art:
          Activities:
               coloring with crayons
               play dough
          Kindle Fire Programs:
               kids doodle

Kiki's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 566.25/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (100.50)
               math (241.00)
               history (26.00)
               language arts (22.25)
               reading (63.50)
               art/pe/health (113.00)
               home ec (0.00)
     Total hours left this year: 433.75 hours in 240 days/34 weeks
               Hours left averaging 13.00 hours/week or 2.00 hours/day

ZoKo's Progress Report (11-02-13)

ZoKo's main focal point continued to be reading.

List of textbooks and reading books ZoKo used in the last three weeks:
     Science:
          Observing God's World (ABeka)
          Animals You Will Never Forget (Reader's Digest)
          Cricket
          Secret Life Of Plants (Peter Tompkins)
     Math:
          Arithmetic 6 (ABeka)
     History:
          New World History (ABeka)
          Land Of The Buffalo Bones (Marion Dane Bauer)
          Minstrel's Melody (Eleanora E Tate)
          Under Copp's Hill (Katherine Ayres)
     Language Arts:
          God's Gift Of Language C (ABeka)
          Expeditions (Houghton Mifflin)
          Creative Writing (ABeka)
          Mountain Pathways (ABeka)
     Health:
          Choosing Good Health (ABeka)
     Religion/Spirituality:
          The Bible
          Spirits, Ghosts, And Guardians (Ted Andrews)
          Faerie Charms (Ted Andrews)
     Classic Literature Reading:
          Moving Picture Girls Under The Palms (Laura Lee Hope)
          Tale Of Fatty Coon (Arthur Scott Bailey)
          Little Prudy (Sophie May)
          Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch (Laura Lee Hope)
          Little Prudy's Dotty Dimple (Sophie May)
     Independent Reading:
          Dead As A Doornail (Charlaine Harris)
          Second Summer Of The Sisterhood (Ann Brashares)
          Dark Visions (L J Smith)
          Zombies Inc (Michael Chambers)
          Definitely Dead (Charlaine Harris)

ZoKo's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 449.75/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (45.75)
               math (64.25)
               history (100.25)
               language arts (62.25)
               reading (138.25)
               art/pe/health (30.00)
               home ec (9.00)
     Total hours left this year: 550.25 hours in 240 days/34 weeks
               Hours left averaging 16.25 hours/week or 2.50 hours/day

Monday, November 4, 2013

B's Progress Report (11-02-13)

B is my third grader. Her main focal point over the last three weeks has been working on reinforcing grammar and basic math skills, as well as working on her accuracy levels pertaining to direct copywork.

Field Trips:
...Hot air balloon tethered flight and learning about how hot air balloons work
...Hospital visitation learning about various medical procedures, conditions, and hospital procedures pertaining to health and hygiene.
...Park play dates at various parks with various other kids

List of textbooks and reading books B used in the last three weeks:
     Science:
          Exploring God's World (ABeka)
          Into The Sea (Brenda Z Guiberson)
          Dinosaurs
          Black Bear Cub (Alan Lind)
          All About Horses
          Chimpanzee Family Book (Jane Goodall)
          Prehistoric Life
          We Read About Electricity And How It Is Made (Harold E Tannenbaum)
          All About Monkeys (Robert S Lemmon)
    Math:
          Arithmetic 3 (ABeka)
     History:
          Our American Heritage (ABeka)
          This Country Of Ours (H E Marshall)
          Children's Book Of America (William J Bennett)
          Ice Mummy (Mark Dubowski)
     Language Arts:
          Language 3 (ABeka)
          Worlds Of Wonder (ABeka)
          Cursive Writing (ABeka)
     Health:
          Health, Safety, And Manners 3 (ABeka)
     Religion/Spirituality:
          The Bible
     Classic Literature Reading:
          Wind In The Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
          Tale Of Nimble Deer (Arthur Scott Bailey)
          Tale Of Squirrel Nutkin (Beatrix Potter)
          Tale Of The Pie And The Patty Pan (Beatrix Potter)
          Tale Of Ginger And Pickles (Beatrix Potter)
          Tale Of Samuel Whiskers (Beatrix Potter)
          Moving Picture Girls (Laura Lee Hope)
     Independent Reading:
          Kaya Keeps Her Cool (Gaby Hauptmann)

B's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 320.50/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (30.75)
               math (89.75)
               history (61.00)
               language arts (51.75)
               reading (35.75)
               art/pe/health (47.50)
               home ec (4.00)
     Total hours left this year: 679.50 hours in 240 days/34 weeks
               Hours left averaging 20.00 hours/week or 3.00 hours/day

Monday, October 28, 2013

Instilling A Sense Of Selfishness


After getting sick of hearing from the girls that they do things "to make someone else smile" or "to make someone else happy", I'm reworking this whole self-image concept. Trying to instill a sense of selfishness. Yes, I said it. I want to girls to be MORE selfish. Not in the traditional sense though. I'm trying to get it through to them that doing stuff "to make someone else feel good" makes them feel good. And that feeling that they get (self-accomplishment and pride) is positive energy they should feed into. There's too much negativity in this world, they need to learn that they have the opportunity to create their own positive energy within their own world, despite what is going on around them or what the rest of the world thinks/feels. They need to be able to acknowledge those selfish feelings of pride as something they are worthy of feeling, and let it blossom into something they can cherish and use to accomplish even greater things. They need to learn that that urge to do something that is right "because it makes them feel good" outweighs the urge to not do it just because someone else might tease them or not agree with their solution. They need to understand that the most important thing they are capable of is changing their own world for the better because that allows their world to touch and influence everyone else's in a more positive way. And that's something worthy of selfishness... Peace.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

B's Progress Report (as of 10-12-13)

B is my third grader. Her main focal point over the last three weeks has been working on reinforcing grammar and basic math skills, as well as working on her accuracy levels pertaining to direct copywork.

List of textbooks and reading books B used in the last three weeks:
     Science:
          Exploring God's World (ABeka)
          How And Why Wonder Book Of Birds (Robert F Mathewson)
          Whales And Other Sea Mammals (Anita Ganeri)
          Bilby's Burrow (Steve Parish)
          Nature's Children: Polar Bears & Skunks
          Nature's Children: Red Foxes & River Otters
          Nature's Children: Wolves & Whales
          Nature's Children: Walruses & Hawks
     Math:
          Arithmetic 3 (ABeka)
     History:
          Our American Heritage (ABeka)
          This Country Of Ours (H E Marshall)
     Language Arts:
          Language 3 (ABeka)
          Worlds Of Wonder (ABeka)
          Cursive Writing (ABeka)
     Health:
          Health, Safety, And Manners 3 (ABeka)
     Religion/Spirituality:
          The Bible
     Classic Literature Reading:
          Dr Dolittle's Puddleby Adventure (Hugh Lofting)
          Tailor Of Gloucester (Beatrix Potter)
          Tale Of Brownie Beaver (Arthur Scott Bailey)
          Wind In The Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
          Tale Of Nimble Deer (Arthur Scott Bailey)
     Independent Reading:
          Sable (Karen Hess)
          Princess Ellie's Secret (Diana Kimpton)
B's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 253.75/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (22.25)
               math (67.75)
               history (49.75)
               language arts (35.50)
               reading (29.00)
               art/pe/health (45.50)
               home ec (4.00)
     Total hours left this year: 746.25 hours in 261 days/37 weeks
               Hours left averaging 20.25 hours/week or 3.00 hours/day

ZoKo's Progress Report (as of 10-12-13)

ZoKo is my sixth grader. Her main focal point has been reading, as always. I have to make sure to remind her constantly to do textbooks or she'll do nothing but reading all day. It can make for a long day, but there are lots of worse things she could be addicted to than books.

List of textbooks and reading books ZoKo used in the last three weeks:
     Science:
          Observing God's World (ABeka)
          Animals You Will Never Forget (Reader's Digest)
     Math:
          Arithmetic 6 (ABeka)
     History:
          New World History (ABeka)
          Riddle Of The Prairie Bride (Kathryn Reiss)
          Land Of The Buffalo Bones (Marion Dane Bauer)
     Language Arts:
          God's Gift Of Language C (ABeka)
          Expeditions (Houghton Mifflin)
          Creative Writing (ABeka)
     Health:
          Choosing Good Health (ABeka)
     Religion/Spirituality:
          The Bible
          Spirits, Ghosts, And Guardians (Ted Andrews)
     Classic Literature Reading:
          Moving Picture Girls: Snowbound (Laura Lee Hope)
          Moving Picture Girls: Under The Palms (Laura Lee Hope)
          Tale Of Tommy Fox (Arthur Scott Bailey)
          Tale Of Fatty Coon (Arthur Scott Bailey)
     Independent Reading:
          Dead To The World (Charlaine Harris)
          Dead As A Doornail (Charlaine Harris)
          Second Summer Of The Sisterhood (Ann Brashares)
          Dark Visions (L J Smith)

ZoKo's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 369.75/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (38.50)
               math (53.25)
               history (81.75)
               language arts (49.00)
               reading (115.75)
               art/pe/health (22.50)
               home ec (9.00)
     Total hours left this year: 630.25 hours in 261 days/37 weeks
               Hours left averaging 17.25 hours/week or 2.50 hours/day

KiKi's progress report (as of 10-12-13)

Kiki is my "unschooler". His main focal point over the last three weeks has been legos. Which means lots and lots of math hours. Math includes logic, thinking skills, problem solving, deductive reasoning, etc. And because of the extreme scrutiny he puts in to building his lego towers exactly how he wants them, he tones almost all of those skills while "playing" with legos... He also has gotten in a lot of p.e., between hand thumping, banging, and jumping. As of right now, they've replaced about 85% of his head banging out of excitement. He still head bangs a lot out of frustration and anger, but I'll take what I can get at the moment.

Kiki's hours log update:
     Annual hours completed 436.75/1000 hours
     Total hours completed so far this year:
               science (91.00)
               math (158.00)
               history (24.75)
               language arts (22.25)
               reading (49.75)
               art/pe/health (91.00)
               home ec (0.00)
     Total hours left this year: 563.25 hours in 261 days/37 weeks
               Hours left averaging 15.25 hours/week or 2.25 hours/day

Homeschooling Progress Report (field trips)

I'm planning on resuming the progress reports on here. I tried weekly ones and it got too bothersome. I tried monthly ones, and it was too awkward because that's not how I file my paperwork. So, I'm going to try posting progress reports every 3 weeks instead. Why every three weeks? Because that's how my book-keeping is set up, in three weeks intervals. It's an hours log I created, and three weeks of info was what would nicely fit on one page. Go figure... Anyway, I plan on (hopefully) posting updates which include total hours accomplished/left for each child, as well as what their main focal points, fun field trips, etc were for the week. Probably won't be many (if any) pictures involved, because I tend to not take very many in the first place. I thought about scanning their hours log sheets to post, but that may be a pipedream; we'll see...

Let's start with field trips over the last three weeks...

1) The NRA gun museum and archery museum in Springfield, Missouri. Visit time: 45 minutes, would have been longer but we only had that long before they closed. The kids learned about early gun styles, various marksmanship medal winners, and that past Miss America winners have used archery as their talent. They were most impressed by the Texas Rangers display in the gun section and Geronimo's handmade bow and quiver in the archery section.

2) The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Visit time: 2 hours. The kids learned a lot about the forming of early missions, and the start of the Texas Revolution. They were most impressed by the giant tree in the middle of the gardens, and the artifacts from Davy Crockett.

3) San Jacinto Monument in San Jacinto/La Porte, Texas. Visit time: 2 hours. The kids learned more about the Texas Revolution, as well as the role Texan military forces have played in other battles throughout U.S. history. We did pay for a ride up the elevator to the observation deck, which also has about a 15 minute video playing about the history of the monument itself. Well worth the extra money. The kids were very impressed by the view from the observation deck, and how impressive the USS Texas was from the observation deck of the San Jacinto Monument. Which brings me to the next destination.

4) USS Texas Battleship in La Porte, Texas. Visit time: 3 hours, it would have been longer but parts of the ship are currently roped off for maintenance/repairs. We went down two levels and up three or four levels from the main deck. Got to see where the crew slept, ate, showered, got their mail, and saw the doctor. The kids watched a 12 minute video on the engine room and how everything working inside to get the ship moving. The girls got to climb into the beds and see what it would have been like to try to sleep in them. As for what they learned, I wouldn't even know where to begin. There's so much history and information packed into that ship that it's unreal. The girls were most impressed by the information on the plaques throughout the ship and the big guns on the main deck, where they could actually sit and aim the guns at things.

5) Miscellaneous park play dates. This one isn't technically a field trip since, in Missouri, field trip hours are only counted for core subjects (science, math, history, language arts, reading). We managed to make it out to several parks over the last three weeks. Sometimes to meet people we already new, and sometimes to meet new people. We've started carrying a plastic tub of stuffed animals with us and leaving it out during our visit for other kids to take home a new friend. In the last three weeks, we've managed to give out 13 animals this way. Also, I've been keeping Kiki off the swings due to his refusal to part with them on graceful terms. He's been doing pretty well at taking a "no" from me most of the time, and I'm considering seeing if he's ready to try swinging again soon, hoping maybe he can handle the transition a little better now. We'll see.

6) Shooting range. Again, not technically field trips. These are p.e., although one could argue that they're life skills, but that's still not core. Not that I'm concerned about the core hours when it comes to any of the kids. We managed to get out target shooting three times in the last three weeks, between the shooting range and one trip to a friend's house. ZoKo got a new scope on her AR, and it has improved her accuracy because she can see the markers easier. B finally tried the AR, but is sticking to the .22 for now.

I had the progress reports typed and ready to put in here as well, but then decided that separate entries for each child might be prudent, if for no other reason than to make it easier to look back and follow how each kid has been doing over the past however long. So, this post ends here and the actual progress reports for each individual child shall be listed shortly. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

ZoKo's Accomplishments... with a full disclosure of household values

     My baby girl had a party yesterday. A celebration. One that can be described as just about anything but typical... She finished all of her 5th grade textbooks, and graduated from 5th grade to 6th grade. That means that as of today, I have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader, and an unschooler... We had several friends come over (old & new) and the kids played games and splashed in the kiddie pool, while my Mutt grilled out. Then, everyone took a break for lunch. There were balloons and squirt guns and floating rubber ducks. A swingset and a spinning wheel. Beach balls and bean bag toss... But, most importantly, there were smiles and hugs...

     And today she enters into 6th grade, she starts on new textbooks and builds more onto the foundation she's been working on since she was borne 9 years ago. We're still going with ABeka as a primary for textbooks, with just as heavy of an emphasis on classic literature and supplemental reading. This grade level, however, we're breaking away from "secondary" textbooks. As she finishes the ABeka 6th grade textbooks, we will pick up extra science and history readers to go through during family time, with verbal comprehension questions instead of anything in the written form. We're going with books from Christian Liberty Press for these reading books, as I like their format and viewpoints more than most of the other publishers available. They seem to be a good "fit" for our beliefs...

     She's continuing on the Young Person's School of Magic And Mystery series, currently on volume 5 (Spirits, Ghosts, and Guardians). She's picking back up the Moving Picture Girls series, which she had taken a break from for the last few months. She's also continuing with Arthur Scott Bailey's animal tales books. For history reading, she's on a few American Girls Mysteries that are historical fiction, and Stories From The Greek Tragedians. Then there's science, which is Animals We Will Never Forget and Fairyland Of Science...

     What that leaves is independent reading, which I'm sure most people would object to my philosophy on. She is always allowed to pick out her own reading books. ANY topic, ANY reading level. We want her to enjoy reading it. When she first came to us and asked us about starting a new series, I pawned the decision over to Mutt, who quickly bounced it back to me. Great. After about five seconds of indecisiveness, we both agreed to it, under the one condition that any questions about anything got brought directly to us. For anyone who knows ZoKo's history, she's being raised in a very liberal house that doesn't believe in censorship or "pushing things under the rug". It simply doesn't work in the long run, and creates a lot more issues. That being said, she is now on the 4th book of the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead To The World. Yes, this is the series that True Blood is loosely based on. Yes, it is for mature audiences. No, we would not let B read this same series at this same age. Why not? She's not ready for it. For lots of reasons. Her reading and comprehension abilities aren't high enough yet, she's not ready for the content yet, and (most importantly) she's not that into vampires! She'd have no interest in reading them.

     For those of you reading this and just now getting to know my family, please don't let our differing perspectives deter you from getting to know my wonderful children. I promise they don't bite, and they won't "taint" your children. Too badly. Unless you consider their generosity and mostly self-less demeanors to be a bad thing. We believe in being honest and open, above and foremost, and that tends to get us into trouble. A lot. We don't believe in hiding things, but we do believe there's a time and a place for everything. My kids are allowed to swear and read and watch whatever they want to. But they also know how to keep their mouths clean in public (and when we have guests), how to ask their friends what they'd like to watch on TV (and double check with mommy that it's okay), and how to use some common sense about which books they take into the waiting room or to read under a tree at the park with friends. There's a difference between modesty in public and total exclusion of anything that doesn't fit in a pretty little box. We attempt to find a way to survive in society's box, without losing ourselves in the process.

     For those of that made it all the way to the end without fuming, kudos. I look forward to seeing you at the next party! For those of you rushing to "unfriend" me on Facebook, I probably won't miss you too much. For those of you with heads spinning in confusion and unanswered questions, ask away... As I tell my friends, we don't do normal. We also don't do boxes, labels, or stereotypes. We don't do typical. We don't do conformity... We do us. It's all we know. And we're not complaining.

Friday, June 14, 2013

General Update

     So, I got on here this morning knowing exactly what I was going to say. Some long ramble about absolutely nothing really. About how the kids are doing, about still not having anyone to meet up with for coffee, about now having over 200 books to give out for the Stocking Stuffers Project, and about our new turtle named Boxer (or Boxtur, depending on the moment)...
     Then I signed in and read my comments awaiting moderation, which I hadn't checked in several months. And you know how sometimes the simplest things can confuse the heck out of you? This was one of those things. I'm not going to hit the "all clear" button and post it, there's no point. Every story has two sides, and this is my site, my story. I really, sincerely, don't care about anyone else's at the moment. Why? Because you have no clue what my life is like, or what the heck you consider "trying"... She loved the birthday card, by the way. And the Christmas card. And the photos and letters. All so heart-felt and meaningful... There's your daily dose of sarcasm for those who require it. Back to reality...

     ZoKo is working toward wrapping up her 5th grade school year, set to start 6th grade in September. She's acquired almost 1300 hours at this point toward the 2012-2013 school year, which ends June 30th. The state minimum is 1000 hours. I think she'll make it.
     B is determined to join the homeschooling flock next year, so we've been busy doing prep work for that overhaul. So far, so good.
     KiKi has been discharged from speech theray and physical therapy. He continues occupational therapy and feeding therapy, both once a week. His JabTalk (picture communication) program on the Kindle Fire decided to erase its memory, so we're switching over to real photos ASAP. Hopefully he'll continue to make progress during the transition, without falling behind too terribly much.
     We got a new turtle, he goes by Boxer or Boxtur, depending on the moment. He loves swimming and has his own pet goldfish, six feeders he decided he'd rather admire than eat. Oh well...
     The cow is still a cow, the same with the cats and bunnies.
     The quest for friends is still a monumental failure. If anyone knows anyone interested in a cup of coffee, a play date, browsing flea markets, or learning more about homeschooling in MO, let me know. Seriously.
     We started a new financial incentive. I add a 10% bonus to everything the girls earn, and put it in a dolphin coin bank I got from a church sale on bag day. This money will go towards family outings like ice skating and movies. :)
     Oh, church sales.... Hit three of them last weekend, went back on bag day. Snagged 75 kids books for $2 total, all headed toward the Stocking Stuffers Project. Also got a box of 65 short clear glasses with holly on them that are going to be votive candle holders for the Stocking Stuffers recipients that give an all-clear on breakable contents. Hopefully lots of them do, I'd like to give out one candle per family, it'd make a nice Christmas dinner decoration. I also bought a huge assortment of bisque ceramics from a yard sale a few months back. Several thousand pieces for $50. The girls are going to paint those to hand out to friends and include in Stocking Stuffers as appropriate. :)
     I've been working on organizing things for the new school year, starting July 1st. Have all my book-keeping set up, including several new forms that I personally created from scratch to use as hours logs and assignment lists for documentation. I also have been prepping an excellent bible study program I found for free online, and correlating it to go with the chronological bible we bought so we plan on starting at-home bible studies in the first part of August. Oh, and ZoKo is on book 2 of the Young Person's School Of Magic and Mystery (Dreamtime Magic) for her spiritual studies curriculum. She's loving the series. :)
     I'm sure there's plenty more I should post since it's been so long. But I can't think of a darn thing at the moment. I have several new poems to post on my other blog, which I will attempt to remember to do this weekend. Cross your paws... Peace.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rottie-Wiley

Anyone who knows ZoKo at all knows Rottie. You've been pounced by him, pinned by him, hugged by him, and licked by him. And everyone knows how great his tail wags are and how perfect his ears are for sopping up wet tears. Rottie has been with ZoKo for around 7 years now, and has seen her through many things, from nightmares to scary movies, to trips to Colorado and my own wedding in Arkansas. He's curled up in her arms every night and reading books with her every day, without fail... This, of course, takes its toll on a dog, even a stuffed one. He's faded and lighter in color than he used to be. His collar is still hanging on by a thread in one place and has become a leash. One ear has a hole, and the other has been sewn up. He's lost a few inches in height from matted stuffing and multiple washings... But all these things take place over time, day by day. You never really notice it much, it's just part of who he is. He calls them "love marks", no regrets there...

So what do you do, as a mommy, when you find Rottie's twin at a thrift shop for $1.48? You call Rottie up (he's waiting in the car with everyone else, seeing as you ran in solo), and ask him if he'd be willing to let his brother come home with him. The resounding "yes" bark can be heard quite clearly and thus you head for check out, right?... Wiley is Rottie's identical twin brother, same manufacturer, same age, maybe even the same lot number (Rottie's tag is faded past recognition, so you can't even tell it ever had ink on it). Wiley, however, has led a much different life. He looks brand new. Fur completely unmatted, unfaded. Ears still held in place by that one lonesome stitch. Collar immaculate and shiny. The only thing that shows his age is a slightly yellowed tag. Yes, yellowed. Not faded. Not ruffled. Yellowed. This boy has spent at least 7 years sitting on a shelf, almost untouched...

I'm not saying that's always a bad thing, some people view their stuffed animals as something pretty to look at. It's just a foreign concept to us. Any time you see us out of the house, I can promise you there are at least four critters in the car waiting for our return. They go for rides, snuggle for books, cuddle for movies, and give tail wags and licks if you're down. They pounce and laugh and roll over and beg. That's just how they are, and I wouldn't change it for the world...

When I first got Wiley, ZoKo was squeezing Rottie (she hadn't realized how much he'd changed over the years) and crying. I tried to reassure her that Rottie was okay, that he liked being her dog and having all those signs of wear he'd so proudly earned. She said she wasn't crying for Rottie, she was crying for Wiley. Because he probably didn't even know what it was like to have a warm bed to sleep in or to snuggle with someone for a book. He was so untouched, that he must have been really lonely all these years... I was fighting back tears. She was right. I'm sure his previous owners loved him in their own way, but that was so much different from our world, the way ZoKo's been raised and taught to "love" these critters. It's amazing how much different worldviews can impact even the smallest things in your life. Nothing you do goes unnoticed, even if it takes 7 years to become apparent.

Meanwhile, the girls have been making new tags for the dogs so they'll feel closer to each other, and they keep assuring Wiley that he's in a good home and will never feel lonely. Here's a picture of the two brothers reunited at last. Rottie is the slightly faded, slightly shorter one on the left. Doesn't he look proud?


PS - For anyone curious, Rottie and Wiley are Rottweillers. Rottie (also callen Rotten) is named for the first part of the word. Wiley (short for Wiler) is the second part of the word. Clever, right? :P ...peace...

Craft Projects & Comic Books for Stocking Stuffers

I recently found some really great deals for my Stocking Stuffers Project, and have been meaning to post pictures on here. The upload feature wasn't cooperating with my pc, however, so it got postponed. Well, it's working again, so I figured I'd show you the new deals I managed to snag.

1) "Works Of Ahhh" 5 Real Wood 3D Stand Ups sets... I got three different styles: Outer Space, Fairy Tale, and Pet Shop. Each one includes five wooden cut outs to color (with stands), six markers, a sheet of stickers, and the box which works for storage and folds out as a playset background scene. We got these for 74 cents each at Target, and figured they'd be pretty small and cheap. They're not. The wood is thick and decent quality, and the bigger figures (prince, princess, astronauts, parrot) are 7-8 inches tall. Good deal in my book.



Graveyard Mall is an awesome place for great deals. They had an after Christmas clearance before Christmas and were selling a bunch of stuff for 70% off. It's $2.99 flat rate shipping on every purchase, every day (as far as I know). So, I bought a ton of stuff for this project from them. Candles, comics, books, etc... Then I got an email saying most of the great finds had been oversold, and thus they were refunding money and canceling the orders. :( ...But, I lucked out and still received part of my order, which is totally awesome. Here it is...

2) "Winx Club Comic" issue number 1... They had bulk boxes of this comic (all issue #1), 100 copies for something like 6 or 7 bucks, I don't really remember. I ordered one box to be able to pass out to girls that like fairies (3rd-5th grade). Well, since everything else in my order was sold out, they went on and refunded the entire purchase price, and sent the box of comics anyway. So 100 copies of Winx issue 1 was delivered to my door... FOR FREE! Talking about customer service! Not that I've ever had any bad experiences with them to begin with, they have always been stellar to deal with. Now I've got 98 copies of this comic sitting in my Stocking Stuffers tubs. Two copies mysteriously disappeared somewhere between my front door and my basement. Funny thing, B and ZoKo each have one of the trading cards that only come in the comic books. So weird, right?...




Friday, January 11, 2013

Homemade Womanhood Gift Sets

I've been working on a side "pet project" for the last few months, making "Welcome to Womanhood" gift sets for the girls. These boxes are going to be identical and will be given out at a celebration when each girl reaches puberty and gets her first period. The girls have already read mulitple books preparing them for this milestone, as well as open discussions in the household. They have also received feminine care products and talked about proper usage. In our family, this means cloth pads and sea spoge tampons instead of the more "conventional" methods.

So far, these kits are a big hit with the girls, and they enjoy helping me find things to add to them, as well as watching the boxes slowly grow...


 
Homemade Womanhood Gift Set



This is a breakdown of each item in the box so far...

 
 
Giovanni brand "Hot Chocolate" Sugar Scrub

Jason brand "Lavender" Satin Shower Body Wash


Butterfly Keepsake Journal - records favorite music, movies, affirmations, and more


Sample page from Butterfly Keepsake Journal
Left side says "These things make me happy:" with lines for writing space
Right bottom says "Happiness is not best achieved by those who seek it directly." -Bertrand Russell
 
10 Secrets For Success And Inner Peace - 20 assorted notecards and envelopes

Love And Power Journal - workbook for the fine art of living by Lynn V Andrews
 

Life Strategies For Teens - 50 card deck by Jay McGraw

Voice Of Knowledge - 48 card deck by Don Miguel Ruiz



I plan on adding more things to these boxes as I find things on clearances, etc. The most expensive thing in here was the body wash for $4. My total expense on each box at this point is about 16 bucks.

The goal of each box is to help them celebrate this transition, and to give them some tools to help make it easier on them, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I also plan on adding Yogi brand Moon Cycle tea bags, and a few of the self heating disposable muscle ache pads (they work wonders for cramping).

The other thing I plan on adding ASAP to these boxes is a personal bible for each girl, with their full name done in the gold foil lettering on the front cover. My husband and I each have one from when we were younger, and figure this would be a good time to present each of our daughters with one they could call their own.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

KiKi's Color Choice Board

KiKi's Color Choice Board


     This is a project that was a long time coming. In that I had the idea for a long time, but took quite a while to get around to actually bringing the concept I had in my head to fruition... What you see above is a blurry (cell phone) pic of my newest creation. This is a color choice board for KiKi. The concept is quite simple, the cards above the unit are placed on three options, and the color button he pushes coincides with the item he receives. For example, you could place the red square on a cd, the yellow card on a puzzle, and the blue card on a Tigger. Whichever button he presses is the toy he "chooses" and gets. Or for food, he can "choose" between rice milk, a butternut squash soup box, or a pumpkin spice creamer pack... I put the word "choose" in quotation marks because at this point it's simply making him take whatever he selects and hoping that eventually he catches on that the end result is connected to the button he pushed. He is very good at color matching, so I'm hoping this process only takes a few months. At that point, the benefits and uses would be astronomical...
 
     How I made this choice board... The base the 5 layers of corrugated cardboard, hot-glued together. The end result is stiff, solid, and durable. The top has an envelope to hold the 2" square color cards, and three sound buttons from Build-A-Bear Workshop. The buttons make sound when pressed solidly, to make it easier for the person working with KiKi to know his choice. He does not hear the sounds and has no idea they exist. Each sound button has a 1" color square on it, to match the big squares. The red button is a monkey sound, yellow is a magic wand sound, and blue is children laughing. All pieces are laminated and hot-glued in place, and the envelope is made tight enough to hold the cards in place even when turned upside down. I have 3 back up 2" cards of each color, in case some get lost. The entire board is 2" by 8", small enough to easily fit in most purses (if I carried one), or the stroller basket. This is made to travel with him anywhere he goes, to enable him to choose items when pictures aren't an option. My total cost into this board is at about $15, excluding about 45 minutes of measuring, cutting, and laminating. Overall, I'm very happy to finally have this done. His speech therapist plans on introducing it in the therapy setting on Monday. At home training sessions have already begun. :)

Stocking Stuffers Project

     This last Christmas (2012), I had a last minute brainstorm to get rid of the kids' extra toys. None of the Christmas donation places accept used items, and the thrift shops charge too much for most of what they sell, especially to the people that can least afford it. So a few days before Christmas Eve I posted an ad on Craig's List, offering "stocking stuffers" to people who wouldn't mind getting used toys for their kids. These were stated up front as being used and figuring a value around $5 (if new) per bag, one bag per kid. Just send first names, ages, likes, and an address. I also offered household supplies to those families requesting them (toilet paper, dish soap, and laundry soap were the biggest hits). I posted that we'd be setting up a route and making front porch drop off's sometime Christmas Eve for anyone responding... The results were amazing. Some people asked for things for their own kids, others for kids down the street, or for co-worker's children. Some didn't say how they knew the family. All contacts were kept anonymous, as was I during the whole process. What started as an idea to get rid of extra toys turned into a large scale project overnight.
     Sorting toys, making lists, organizing map routes, and bagging things for each family gave me the greatest sense of accomplishment I've felt in a long time. In the end, with help from close family and friends, we managed to bag toys and household supplies for 31 families in 9 cities, a total of 68 children in the area. Yes, the packages each kid received were small, but that was part of the point. It was not a substitute for a Christmas gift, just a little extra something to show people the world cares. Each family also received a card which simply read "Merry Christmas - Someone Cares!", and a handmade ornament from the girls.


31 bags, filled and ready to go on Christmas Eve, 2012

     Just to give people a better idea of what we're talking about toy-wise, here are some examples of things the kids could have gotten in their individual bags...

          1) A My Little Pony full-size pony (with a brush and two accessories)
          2) Three or four Hot Wheels and two rubber band gliders
          3) A large electronic baby/toddler toy (light up music ball, etc)
          4) Barbie with two outfits
          5) Two age appropriate puzzles
          6) One or two larger toy trucks
          Almost all bags also included either a coloring book (with 4 crayons) or a reading book

     There were lots of other things given out too, those are just examples. All things placed in each child's bag were based on interests the given child was reported to have. One 9 year old boy was said to like "science, bats, and dinosaurs", so he was given a bat stuffed animal I happened to have two of, and three decent-sized plastic dinosaur skeletons...

     Due to the positive response this project had, both in helping me feel a bit more worthwhile, and in the messages about how much the kids loved the things they received, I have decided to continue this project next year... But, if you're going to do something - you should do it right... So, I'm preparing ahead this time. Toys and clothes and household things are being bought on clearance and at yard sales and thrift shops. And things my kids have outgrown (toys and clothes) are being stored away in the basement.


X-Large tubs bought on clearance... Labeled for "boys", "girls", "baby", and "misc/household"

     So far, I've already gotten some great deals to hand out to kids for Christmas 2013. I plan on posting pictures of things and ideas as they come up...

Hot Wheels Foil Pack - contains car, trading card, and sticker (10 for 42 cents each)


Play-Doh 2 oz packs

 
Merry Christmas plastic cups (43 at 2 cents each)

 
     I also already have 2 boxes of kids books set aside, everything from board books for babies to about the 6th-7th grade level, covering a variety of topics/genres...
 
     I'm hoping that by posting this, maybe it'll inspire someone else to get what they can for cheap when they have a few dollars extra, and save it for a similar project in their area. The 2012 bags had an average cost of $5-6 per HOUSEHOLD, once you figure in the household goods that were bought new (toilet paper, lotion, laundry soap, dish soap, bar soap, toothpaste, deodorant, etc). My project budget for this year is set at $5 per week. I'm hoping to have enough things saved up to help at least 40-50 families this year. That should be around 80-100 kids from my area getting a little extra to smile about. According to me, that's money well spent. :)