Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thankful Heart...

Happy Thanksgiving from The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls and our family to yours!! I truly hope that it is an amazing day full of love, fun and food for all.
Charlie the elf is back! He has built a staircase out of cardboard and snuggled up in a big black chair with a slice of pie, Hot Coffee his reindeer, Inside Out the movie and his letter to the kids. The kids are beyond excited to see him and cannot wait for the season of Charlie antics! Keep up in this main post HERE with everything he has going on this year. 
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Charlie The Elf 2015

It's the time of the year again! Time for you to follow our Elf on the Shelf Charlie and see what he is up to! He arrives on Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas Season and my kids are beyond excited! Creating a suitcase is as easy as a jewelry box and pipe cleaner and these little details always have the children tickled! I will try and keep this post updated throughout the season, so you can always find all of his antics posted daily in one spot!

Michael's craft stores has a new batch of Christmas sweater ornaments and they fit the elf perfectly! Be sure to check them out, as they are much cheaper than the official elf merchandise and so much more unique! Not to mention they come with their own little hangers!! They have hats this year too and we will see if they fit him.
Use google for Elf on the Shelf stationary and you will find some good stuff! I am predicting that he will most likely show up with this one!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

Check out our other ideas:
2013 (we bought a new house and did not keep a document of Charlie's antics)
2011 Ideas HERE

2015 from arrival to departure:
He's Baaaccckkk! Charlie & Hot Coffee have arrive with a cardboard staircase built to reach a chair so that he can eat a slice of pie and drop off his letter. He also brought the movie Inside Out!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crafty Kids Love London

Today we decided to take snack a bit early and have our art class while I read The London Eye Mystery to the kids. This book is absolutely wonderful and as we are huge London lovers, I decided the kids would work on a Christmas craft while I was reading.
My kids always love being read to and I find that during the course of a busy day when they get a bit too wild or cannot focus on the tasks at hand, then it's time for a book! They are eagers to listen and sometimes only 1 child will do the craft while the others lounge and listen and sometimes they all will listen or all will craft. There are no rules, you just do what feels best at that moment.
Today's craft requires peg style clothespins, black and red sharpie markers, glue and black pom poms in a medium size (not pictured). Have the 'legs' of the clothespins colored black and then the top will be red with black buttons, add on any type of facial expression and then glue the pom pom to the top of the you know what they are yet?
The pom pons should be a bit bigger than the top of the peg, so that they look big and fluffy. Do you know what they are yet?
How adorable are these little Palace Guards?! We love them and even after Christmas, they will have a place in our home! Standing alone in a tree makes them adorable ornaments and they can just slide on the branches.
Wooden stands fit their peg feet perfectly and now they can be used anywhere else! My kids want to paint a castle for them to guard and a Queen and so many other goodies. I love that they enjoy getting crafty! We were debating on what color to paint the stands.
We went with black to match the legs! We will need to use a thin paint brush and black paint to get in between the legs, since the sharpie did not fit.
Enjoy every minute my friends!!!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday School Post #11

One thing we have begun doing early in the morning is bible journaling. My kids love being able to doodle but the most important part is that we are reading the bible together and they draw what they hear that passage telling them. I will share more on journaling in a future post. 
My latest obsession are these cuter than cute Tiny Saints! Not only are they beyond adorable, but through a desire to collect them all, my children are reading up on the Saints even more! I always tell them if they want us to buy them a new one, they have to tell us which Saint they want and why and then 3-5 facts about that Saint! It is a wonderful way to motivate kids & they learn as they collect!
The week was full of crafting as we worked on creating new games, one reason that I let the kids help me create the games, is that they are learning without realizing it!
My middle child is tackling the Books of the Bible in his Religion class and what better way to learn than by hands on painting, crafting, playing and creating? I found these sheets at Catholic Icing and printed them out, but I wanted more than just generic flashcards. I went to Michael's and just had a gander up and down every.single.aisle, until I could find what pieces could possible work and once I gathered all of those in my cart, I went with these fat and short popsicle sticks. I needed 3 packs as there are over 70 books in the Catholic Bible, but I was well prepared with 3 kids and plenty of 40% off coupons. A little paint, some scissors, mod podge and we were having fun as we were spending time together.
I started the kids off with 1 game. They have 2 sticks that say New Testament & Old Testament, they must make 2 piles of books by placing each title under the correct location. Once they have done that, they consult their bible to then place them in the correct order. Each time a book is placed in a pile they must say the title and if it is going to the NEW or OLD testament section out loud. When it is time to put them in order they must say the title and section again and then it's order number in that section. Repetition is key to mastering anything and this is perfect! As they have progressed through the game, I hear them creating different ways to play. My youngest likes to take one of the peg Saints he painted for his Altoid shrine and walk the Saint through all of the books of the Bible as though they were stepping stones.
As I mentioned before, we found the perfect case for our Saint Dominos and I let the kids decorate it themselves. They used all of our old MagnifiKids along with our stack of old Family Christian advertisements to cut and create the box, they also used sharpies to color it up bright and pretty. 
All of our hunting never found us the right size month stickers, but we did find the numbers, so we had to handwrite the months in. They may not be pretty, but they were made with so much love and all of us working together. These are just the saints for November and December. The kids learned so much while researching the Saint and looking for their feast day to put on the domino.
Because we already have a pretty awesome Saints Bingo game from Illuminated Ink, I decided to use the BINGO calling cards from Shower of Roses for this activity. I printed them out in black and white, so that the kids would be able to color them on their own and in figuring out what colors to use, they had to do research to find out more about the Saint!
We used the Illustrated Book of Saints, along with several other Saint books we own. I will definitely have to share a photo of our Saints shelf in the classroom soon! I try to avoid letting the kids look online, as I find it to be an easy out. They still learn how to use electronics and such, but I want them to be comfortable looking in other places for things.
You can tell from the above photos and these that we started out without painting the dominos and I was not a fan of how they turned out, so we decided to paint the rest first and then color the Saints.
After the Saints were colored, they had to figure out the feast days and write those down and find the correct date sticker. A little modpodge goes a long way with our week of crafting and in the background, we had the rosary playing on Rosary app as we listened, laughed and loved! The idea with this was mainly learning as we crafted and let the kids play with them as they will but it is also working out that they like to put them all in the box, shake it up and then have 2 of them try and guess which Saint the 1 child pulled out as they list some facts about the Saint that they look up or just the feast day. They like to put them in feast day order as well as just look at the ones we have for each month. Many ways to play and learn!
My favorite part of the case the kids decorated is that the Books of the Bible sticks fit in the same one as the Saint dominos and a few tiny peg Saints too!
My youngest is also in the process of preparing for First Communion, and will have his First Reconciliation in December! There are so many versions of the Act of Contrition that it can be overwhelming just to search for one. Since my youngest has trouble memorizing too many things at once, I decided to go for this shorter version. Each of my 3 kids has memorized a different version. To help him memorize it, I created this worksheet with the full version and then copies of a fill in the blank version. The first one he will fill out while looking at the written prayer as he works on memorization but the following ones will be worked on with 2 colored pencils. The first one he will attempt to fill out from memory with one color and then fill in the blanks with the other color as he corrects any he got wrong or did not know at all. This has been a daily exercise until memorization finally has caught on!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Right Now...

Right Now I Am:
~Drinking iced tea and watching the snow fall
~Still laughing from our family game night
~Counting down the days until we go away for the upcoming holiday
~Praying nonstop for friends and family
~Wondering what the future holds for my husband and littles and I 
Right Now I Am:
~Smelling cinnamon pinecones
~Listening to Christian Christmas songs
~Watching my kids reading next to me as they too watch the snow
~Hoping that there is not enough snow to ruin our road trip plans for the weekend
~Loving who I turned out to be 
Right now, I am forever grateful and happy 
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Feeling Creative and Cozy

This year for Christmas we are surprising our kids with a Disney Cruise we are taking next year. I have been collecting and ordering things for the surprise as well as things that I like to call Disney Mail that will arrive once a month until 2 months before the trip and then they will begin to arrive once a week. I like to build the anticipation, so that they are not just looking forward to one day, but what may come before that day. I recently found this Free Printable HERE and knew that it would be easy to find a Disney picture frame to do this. Once the frame arrived, I printed out this sheet and it was perfect! I cannot wait to see their expression as the countdown gets smaller and smaller. I know that they will be excited to count down each day on the frame and erase the previous one. Another idea would be to buy a plane and unfinished wood frame and have your kids decorate it themselves and you can change it out for each vacation that you are counting down to.   
We are expecting snow here in the Midwest this weekend and this morning felt extra chilly. It felt like the perfect day to grab breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and have some hot chocolate and then do our school work for the day right there. I love taking these kids out and about and they enjoy it too. I often times realize that they seem to focus more when we are outside of our home classroom.

I like the DD in our neighborhood as it only seems to get crowded inside during the evening hours and the drive thru is crowded the rest of the day, this makes it the perfect place for homeschoolers! We can usually hang out a few hours and get some work done while chatting and snacking and having fun together.
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Understanding History!

This week has been full of Dr. visits and more travel in the car, I honestly think that my kids must be using backpacks now more than ever! The one thing that my daughter cannot stand about the pediatric cardiac waiting room, is the tables and chairs are too tiny! They sit there for hours doing their school work and have to get creative in order to get comfortable. We are working our way through U.S. History this year and right now are reading a book about the Civil War, as I cannot always be with them, since I am in the testing rooms with the other kids, I have devised a plan that works for us all.

We are reading Guts & Glory The American Civil War by Ben Thompson and it's a great read. He has 2 books in the history series and I hope to discover more as we progress on. The boys are hooked on every word and Autumn loves the way he speaks right to kids with his prose and everyone just GETS it. I usually read aloud to Gabriel while he is having to stay still during tests or we are waiting on results or whatever else is going on and the other 2 work together or alone. I am in the process of making up a study guide to go along with this book, so that they can be looking for answers as they read and this way I can be sure they are truly reading and not just skimming! You can check out the study guide in progress HERE. 
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Plan Monday and More!

Happy Monday my friends! I had a slight glitch with yesterday's post and now I am all of center! All of my words were not posting, so I did not schedule this post ahead of time, just to see if I can figure out the problems. Todays post will be our brief menu sharing and a few some other random ramblings like this photo of our Thanksgiving d├ęcor! Are you excited for the fun holiday ahead of us? Did you know that you can use a keurig pod for crafts? The kids had fun at their library crafter night and created turkeys out of the old pods, what have you made with them? 
I love when new books come into the house and I enjoy sharing them on Mondays. It's been too long and all the new books would take up a library, so instead I will just share this weekend's new books:
1. Veggie Tales Devotions book with a faux leather cover and they are on sale this week at Family Christian!!
2. A-Z Mysteries are fun books that my youngest likes to read, just because they are such quick reads that always make him laugh.
3. Flat Stanley is another book series for my youngest and he truly loves all of Stanley's antics.
4. Waiting For Normal is a book that is an easy read for my oldest, but the story grabbed her attention and she wanted it!
5. Nick & Tesla is for my 9 year old boy who is excited to start this new Science series!
6. The Christmas Arch book is one for our Arch books collection that we enjoy having in a basket in the classroom, these books come up to the living room during the proper seasons!
7. Who Was King Tut is another book for our classroom collection. We LOVE this series of books and use them often in our travels, we are attempting to collect them all and always buy at least 1 whenever we set foot into a B&N!

Monday - Meatloaf and potatoes, served with a garden salad and fresh squeezed lime
Tuesday - Chicken Fajitas served with black beans and cilantro-lime rice.
Wednesday - Wedge Salads and Vegetable Soup.
Thursday - Beef with Broccoli served over noodles.
Friday - Dinner with friends after tree lighting ceremony!
Saturday - Cross Country Banquet!
Sunday - Dinner with Friends!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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