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December 31, 2009

AFO (Braces) Are Here!!

This is how Superstar's feet where back in June when this whole process started:
He was NOT able to put his heels to the ground! No matter how hard he tried! It has been a trying summer and long fall with MRI and other testings. We finally after a delay due to illness were able to have surgery done. Surgery result in Superstar wearing casts for the last 6 weeks. However it was all worth it after seeing him today! This is below is him standing today!!!
Can I just say that I'm thrilled and overjoyed to see him stand flat footed! He has NEVER done that his whole life!! It's really amazing thing to see. In the picture above he IS wearing his new AFO (braces) and long with his NEW shoes. Can I just also say I was shock and taken back when we were were told we could get him a 5 mens! We were told a 5 Kids is the same as a 5 mens. We got from the kids department because Superstar liked the choice better. PRIOR to surgery he wore a 2 1/2. So I was shock to know his feet grew so much. If it wasn't for the brace he would have been in a 4 1/2. So 2 size in the last 6 weeks is A LOT!!!

Just so you can have a better look at Superstar's AFO! We love the turtle on the back with the rocket attached to its back. It reminds me of the looney toons cartoons I grew up watching with the coyote always trying to get the roadrunner! LOL Superstar will have to wear braces now for the next 2-3 years.

December 30, 2009

Paper Mache Masks

First I wished I took pictures of the whole process. We over the course of the last two weeks have made Paper Mache Masks. The over all process is simple but it is MESSY! So you have to have a bit of patience with this and you need a good place for storage while you wait for things to dry out.

You'll Need:
  • A balloon (1 for each child)
  • strips of paper, newspaper is most likely the best, but I didn't have any so I used some left over Christmas wrap (see picture below)

This is the side of the paper that was touching the balloon.
  • flour
  • water
  • salt
  • Paint (we used washable poster paint)
  • and Paint Brushes
The Process:

First blow up the balloon to as big as you want your mask to be. I told the kids to blow them up to be slightly bigger then your head. Once it's blown up tie a not in the bottom.

You'll also want to make your paper strips at this time if you haven't done so already. I did mine about 1-2 inches thick and about 5-6 inches long. Honestly I didn't measure them. You'll want them to be a thickness and length that is easy to handle for the kids, but also makes covering the balloon easy.

Then make the Paper Mache Paste. The Paste is made with the flour, water, and salt. It's about 1 part flour to 2 parts water and some salt added to help avoid mold. (Of course there are more detail instructions on how to make the paste.)

The process is really simple from there: Dip the paper into the paste, let it drip off some (although  the kids didn't really follow that rule), and lay it on the balloon and smooth it out. Repeat the process until about 1/2 of the balloon is covered. When laying the strips be sure they overlapping some. Seeing we were using Christmas wrap I told the kids to lay the Christmas Print towards the balloon so the underside of the wrapping paper was on top.

After this is done you need to find a space to keep them stored for about a week. Waiting a week allows them to completely dry out and allows the balloon to naturally deflate some which makes removing the paper mache from the balloon easier.

After about a week has past it's time to remove the mask from the balloon. This step is easy, but a bit messy. I found I had what looked like potato flakes everywhere when handling the mask. I have the feeling it was just the extra flour flaking off. Superstar's balloon deflated nicely and his mask just came off with no issues. Web-princess's balloon did deflate but not as much so I had to aid the process of removing the balloon by carefully puncturing it with a push pin. I did NOT want it to "pop" I just wanted more air out. As soon as the balloon deflated more I was able to remove the paper mashe easily.

We then put a base coat of white poster paint on the masks and allowed them to dry over night. We did this to help stop the flaking of the flour, which it did help greatly. We also did it to help cover the Christmas print that did bleed through and to cover those pieces that did get laid the "wrong" way. (Print side up). If you use newspaper the white coat would also cover up the newsprint.

Then today we finished up the mask by painting faces on them! Again we used washable poster paint and as I type they are sitting on the table drying.

This is web-princess's mask

This is Superstar's mask

I MIGHT cut out actual holes in them for eyes and mouths and add some srting so they can be worn as a "real" mask. I'll just have to wait and see how they are after all the paint has dried. I'm not sure if they will hold up for that or not.

Either way they enjoyed the process. The reason it took two weeks was giving it time to dry out. Laying the paper on that took the kids only about 20 minutes and the paint took them about 30 minutes. This easily could be a 2 weekend project. One weekend to do the paper the following weekend to do paint.

December 26, 2009

Out With The Old-In With The New

I enjoy Christmas at my relatives because I don't have the stress of making room in my small but modest house. Although the toys are enough to drive me bonkers. I would be so much happier if my relatives would each just do one nice gift vs. many gifts. Mainly because we have a small house and the kids are left with twice a year deciding what MUST go and what CAN stay!

You see each child has a toy (bin) shelf in their room. The only toys they are allowed to have are the ones that can "fit" in their bins.

I insist that the toys be grouped by like things. So they just can't have a mess of stuff. Now there might be a few things that are naturally too big for these bins and that is okay. I do make allowances for some things like that, but even then there is a limit.

This is the reason we don't allow them to open things while at our relatives' houses. You see in order to get the item the kids have to make room for it in their room's by getting rid of OTHER stuff. If they don't want to get rid of anything then they can't get anything "new". 

My son as gotten rid of one 13 gallon garbage bag of stuff and has only "earn" 1 new toy.  My daughter has gotten rid of half of 13 gallon garbage bag of stuff and has only "earn" 1 toy. They have a TONS more toys and will have to get rid of a lot more things to make room.  I have a feeling that when they are done they both would have gotten rid of 3-4 garbage bag EACH!!

We do a similar thing in the summer. In the summer they will get rid 1-2 garbage bags EACH. The main difference between Christmas and summer in the summer time there is less stuff and it's POST birthdays. So kid's do have a bit of an overflow of toys for a few months.

What's sad about the whole process is the only time my kids get new toys is on their birthdays and at Christmas.  So often the stuff they got at their birthdays are gone by Christmas and the stuff they got at Christmas are gone by the summer.

In other words the toys here will only stay for 6 months!! This is because often the kids rather keep the newer stuff then the older stuff. This is really the reason we only get them 1 toy each (and often wish other would do the same), because in 6 months we know it's going o be gone because it broke or because the kids got rid of it to make room for their new stuff.

So what do you do? Do you make your kids get rid of their old stuff regularly?

December 23, 2009

It's almost a cast off party!

One of the things we told superstar is when his cast come off we will have a cast off party! He is so looking forward to going to chuck e cheese!

Well we are almost there! As you can see from these photos superstar had his casts cut and they are ready to be removed.

However he STILL has to wear them until his braces (AFO) come! He was fitted for braces yesterday and it will take about 1 1/2 weeks for them to be made and ready for use. So we get to pick up the braces (AFO) on New Years' Eve!! We are so excited! (Normally this would only take a week, but with it being Christmas Week....)

In the mean time STILL no baths/showers and he has to wear his cast 24/7 until the braces come. The casts are being held on his feet with an ace bandage wrapped tightly around the cast. I did remove the top half on the one for the picture. :) However he didn't walk on it and as soon as I was done snapping the picture I put the top half back on and re wrapped it.

I'm sure that it was fine for a a quick snap shot like that! :) We just wanted to be able to show you how we are almost done with these casts! So next week we get to celebrate the new year with a cast off party!!!

Merry Christmas
Nikki (aka SAHMinIL)

December 19, 2009

Making And Capturing Carbon Dioxide

Recently in science we have been discussing gas, along with other things like solids and liquids. We have been discussing how gas has a volume; how it takes up space. One easy way of showing this to the kids is to make and capture carbon dioxide.

To make and capture carbon dioxide you will need:
  • some narrow neck bottles (we used some beer bottles, but any narrow neck bottle will work)
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Balloons
I'm sure most of my dear readers are aware of the bubbling, explosive reaction that baking soda and vinegar have together. That same bubbling, explosive reaction makes a carbon dioxide and you can capture that gas by placing a balloon over the bottle as soon as you mix the vinegar and baking soda.

Web-Princess after doing the vinegar and baking soda several times wanted to see what happened if we mixed the baking soda with other liquids: Water, Milk, and Apple Juice. She chose these other liquids because it was what we had here at the house.

To our surprise we had a reaction, a gas produced, when we mixed the apple juice and baking soda. The picture ABOVE shows that. The bottle in the middle is milk and baking soda, the bottle at the end (left side) is the water and baking soda. The bottle at the other end, with the green balloon, is 100% apple juice and baking soda. So when you mix baking soda and apple juice you get a gas too.

However baking soda and vinegar produces more gas as seen in this picture BELOW:

The bottle with the  blown-up yellow balloon is vinegar and baking soda. The bottle with the green balloon is vinegar and apple juice.

Of course we wonder now if would get a gas with baking soda and other juices like grape, cranberry, orange. However we don't have any more juices in the house. So we would have to wait until we get one of those juices at our next shopping trip. OR you could try this at your house and let us know the results!!!

FYI: We had to shake the juice and baking soda really well after we put the balloon on to get the result we got. If you decided to do this please blog about it and share your results with us! It will be fun to see what others did or what they observed!

Another Side Note: It was great that we decided to do this today when Daddy was home. It was great because often Daddy doesn't see how they react to the hands on activities such as this. It was also great because Daddy got to see our daughter get excited about the reaction of apple juice and baking soda. She went on and on how she discovered it. (After all it was her idea to mix the two items.)

I'm sure they would have had the chance to mix baking soda and vinegar in brick and mortar school. However I don't think they would have had the chance to say okay now lets see what happens when we mix the baking soda with other liquids. Homeschooling allowed us to take this to the next step and start mixing the baking soda with other liquids to see what happens!

Of course you could just blow up a balloon the "normal" way to show how gas has volume, but frankly it's more fun to mix vinegar and baking soda and capture the carbon dioxide!

December 17, 2009

I could never homeschool!

One of the most common things I hear from non-homeschoolers, family, other bloggers, and friends is "I could never do that!"; "I don't have the patience to be with my child 24/7"; "I need adult time: Time with other adults"; "I need me time"; etc.

First, I would like to say I'm not a saint, nor am I super human. I have my days where I'm pulling out my hair, stressed to the max, and saying "Why?" Then I have my days were everything is peachy keen and right with the world. Those days make everything worth wild!

I understand where my relatives, fellow bloggers, and friends are coming from. I was in the same mind set at one point in my life and at times slip back into that mind set. If a person chooses to homeschool then they are choosing to take on some personal growth.  Growth that up to that point they may have been resistant to do and growth that at times they may fight even with homeschooling.

Choosing to homeschool is like choosing to get married. It requires some personal growth and determination from everyone evolved. Like marriage, it takes hard work, some days are better then others.  Everyday I get up and everyday I make the choice to love my husband and to homeschool my children that day. Some days it's an easy thing to do; other days it leaves me pulling out my hair. At the end of the day I'm glad that I made that choice. It's a choice I have to make everyday.

Homeschooling like marriage is not for everyone. It takes some deep soul searching to find out if you got it within you to do. It also takes daily work and a renewal each day to hold fast to that commitment. It, like marriage, also requires you to grow....

What about me time? Time with adults and all the rest?  Well honestly most homeschoolers network with other homeschoolers. Those networks allow you to connect with other parents (i.e. adults). How much interaction you get is totally depended on you and how much you want or need.

If you connect especially well with another family then you will find yourself making play dates with these other families above and beyond your homeschooling group meetings.

For me time? Make arrangements with your husband. Perhaps he can watch the kids for a hour or 2 on a Saturday and you can just take off doing something you like: walking in the park, reading a book at the library, window shopping, just grocery shopping without the kids in toe. Or just go for a walk around the block without the kids, join a gym if you can afford it. Whatever really. Honestly even if you worked outside the home you would still need to find that little bit of alone time at some point. If mothers and fathers that work outside the home can find that little bit of alone time so can homeschooling parents. It just takes some creative planning and cooperation with your spouse on making it work.

December 15, 2009

Do you want to join us for a pizza?

I know not everyone approves of homeschooling and thats fine. Everyone has to decided what is best for THEIR children. If you feel that sending them to a public school is fine, then great. If it's a private school, fine. And if it's homeschooling, so be it. All schooling methods have pros and cons, plus and minuses. What works for one child might not work for another.

However some people have such hatred for homeschooling and Christianity that their OPINIONS are over heated and they share those OPINIONS as if they are facts!

Recently I read an article that can pretty much be summed up in the opening statements:

Until the 1980s homeschooling was a benign activity that effected very few children. After homeschooling became dominated by right wing Christian theocrats, millions of vulnerable children (estimates are suspect because of poor reporting requirements) became virtual prisoners in their own homes, pawns in a scheme to overthrow the United States Government and replace it with a theocracy. (source)

See what I mean about hatred for homeschooling and Christianity? I shared the article with some of the ladies at THL: The Homeschool Lounge and asked them if they wanted to go out for a pizza when we are done overthrowing the USA government. LOL

So I really just wanted to post this here and ask you my dear readers: Do you also want to join us for a pizza when we are done overthrown' the government?? LOL We've decided that we are going to meet in Chicago because Chicago is the land of pizza! (Chicago Style Pizzas IN Chicago are the best).

Seriously anyone that thinks that homeschoolers homeschool to overthrow a government has some issues. It's really not worth debating with him because honestly when there is so much hatred you can't reason with them.

So what do you want on your pizza?

PS: going out for pizza is a bit of scarcism if you haven't caught on yet!

December 11, 2009

About 1/2 Done!

I've before have listed what we are using for the 2009-2010 school year. I can't believe that we are just about 1/2 done with our books. Wow 1/2 the school year is almost done!

With 1/2 the school year almost done, I've realized that I haven't really been posting lesson plans like I wanted too. Honestly I haven't been making lesson plans like I wanted too. I just the night before look at our books and decided what to do next. Some of it also is just routine. I tell the kids to do math and they will automatically do 4 pages. I tell the kids to do grammar and they will automatically do the 1 page. There really isn't much planning to be done. We just are working through the books. From the beginning to the end! LOL

Althoug I want to be better planned out and have more of a schedule or weekly planner for them, so they know this is what needs to be done this week. With perhaps the goal of them being able to plan out their days accordingly or their week accordingly. That if they have to do 4 page of grammar all week, that it's okay if they do it all on Day 1 or they can not do it one day and do 2 the next, etc. That it really wouldn't matter as long as at the end of the week the work was done.

Anyway we are about 1/2 way done and it's AWESOME!! It took us 5 months to get here and that was with a month of no schooling do to flu and surgery. So I imagine that it will take us another 5 months to finish. That means we should be done some time in May. Which is cool seeing the public schools here go to school until Mid June! LOL

December 10, 2009

A Winter Wonderland

Just some pictures of our winter wonderland. We had several suggestions for some lovely people that said that we should put Superstar's feet into some plastic bags and pull him around a sled, etc. However Superstar was not comfortable with idea...So we brought the snow inside. (I'll have those pictures posted later.) In the mean time enjoy the pictures of our winter wonderland. :)

All of these are pictures of our backyard, taken from the kitchen doorway! LOL

December 8, 2009

Winter Wonderland Blues

I know this week many other people have already gotten their winter wonderland. Now it's our turn! The snow is coming down. We already have about an inch and will get 10 inches before the system is done later tonight.

I know many kids are happy and thrilled to have the snow, especially that first major snow fall. However, I have one little boy that is feeling blue today! He can't go outside and play due to the casts that are on his feet. They can't get wet!

So no outside fun for us today! This is one of those it sucks moments!

December 4, 2009

Update: ITW Surgery

I've had a few people ask how's Superstar doing? Is he stir crazy? Well he's doing FINE! NO more pain meds. He's been off of those since about Nov 23rd. That's almost 2 weeks no meds.

He started walking on Nov 27 and has not stop! He really does everything on his own. Everything but bathing that it. I have to give him a sponge bath to avoid getting the casts wet. We were told that we could put them in trash bag and duct tape the bags shut around his legs/casts. However after talking it over we were afraid that was too risky! We really do not want to get these things wet.

Around the house he does great. If he wants a drink then he gets one; If he needs a bathroom break then he goes all by himself. At meal times and school times he sits at the table with NO wheel chair. As a matter of the fact the wheel chair has found a permanent home in the trunk of our car. It is only used now for church, shopping, and things of that nature where it would be easier to use the wheel chair vs having him walk.

Besides the weather here as been a bit on the wet side with snow/rain. So we like to keep him from walking when outside to help avoid the moisture. He has his boot and sock to put on over the casts and that does help, but the less walking where there is moisture the better. (In our opinion).

There are even moments that Superstar walks without the walker. Often it's when he's not thinking about it. It just happens. Sometimes he even startles himself when he does that.  So things are going good. Honestly, if it wasn't for those strange green and blue things on his legs you wouldn't even know! LOL

I even forget sometimes. For example I took them to the gym with me the other day and left them in the child care room. When I came back to get them Superstar was crawling around. (He does that when he's super tired of walking). I looked at him and told him to get up and walk, totally forgetting for a moment WHY he was crawling. He just looked at me and said but Mom I'm.... and before he could finish I said "It's okay. You can crawl here, I just forgot for a moment that's all". He did speed up the crawl after that.... LOL

So things are going really really well!

December 3, 2009

Nature Explorations for Homeschool Families

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County invites homeschool students and their parents to join us for “Nature Explorations for Homeschool Families.”

Where: Kane County, Illinois

When: Dec. 15, from 10-11:30 a.m. at Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve in Elburn.

There also will be a session in January at Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve and a third in February at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve.

Cost: $2 per person per session or $8 a family of 4 or more.

Registration is a must! For more information please read this press release.

2009 Homeschool Blog Award Winners

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!
Congrats to all of THE WINNERS!!!

December 2, 2009

Advent: Jesse Tree

Like so many other families we are doing a Jesse Tree. This is our first year doing an Jesse Tree. We are using Holy Heroes: Advent Adventures. I get a daily FREE email from Holy Heroes. This email includes a video, the scripture readings with a suggest symbol for the daily ornament, coloring sheets, and crossword puzzles.

We have not done the crosswords because my kids are not into crosswords. However we have enjoyed reading the scripture passages, making our ornaments, and coloring the color sheets. We didn't have a tree so we just made one out of a large piece of paper and taped it to the wall. Actually we made 2; one for Superstar and one for Web-princess. The ornaments are just circles drawn on paper. I used a drinking glass as the template for the the circles.

The kids are enjoying drawing their symbols. Actually they have taken to drawing little scenes that depict the scripture passage that was read. I think it's great that they draw little scenes. It shows that they really did listen to the scripture passage. Here are pictures of our Jesse Trees!

This is Superstar's Tree

This is Web-Princess' Tree

For my fellow Catholic-Christian Reader's: What do others have to say about Holy Heroes? This is what Patrick Madrid had to say on his blog:

I personally know and admire the people behind this apostolate and, while I am in no way involved or associated with the organization and derive no benefit of any kind from them, I can vouch for their orthodoxy, quality, and the effectiveness of their materials for the kiddos.
Source: Patrick Madrid's Blog

Personally, We have loved it this year! I will admit I was a little worried seeing we struggled to do Holy Heroes' Summer program. So I wasn't sure if I wanted to even give it a try. However, I'm glad I did!

I don't think it's TOO late! We are only on Day 4 and you can easily double or even triple up the activities until you are completely up to speed.

Even though we are only 4 days in I see that this is something we will do next year. I think for next year I'll buy a small 2-4 inch tree to hang our ornaments on.

December 1, 2009

Silver Spoon For Baby

I know there was a time when giving a silver baby spoon was a popular gift for baby. I know that I have from my own childhood a silver baby cup and at one time there was a spoon as well. However the spoon is long gone. It may not be a widely popular gift these days, but you can still buy silver baby spoons.

I know there is the saying "born with a silver spoon in their mouth". This saying suggest that a person is able to get way with thing or have opportunities given to them based solely on their wealth or families wealth. However did you know that silver has antibacterial properties?? It's true I learned it from watching the Silver Video made by periodicvideos.

Hum?? I know back in the day those of wealth overall were healthier and I'm sure a lot of that had to do with the fact they had money and thus access to better things. However, after learning about silver's antibacterial properties, I wonder if the fact they ate with silver had something to do with that as well?

I have a set of fine "real" silverware sitting in the bottom of my closet in its case. It's been sitting there and has been sitting there for the last 9 1/2 years. It was a wedding gift and we just never used it. I wonder if I should drag it out of the closet and start using it, just because of its NATURAL antibacterial properties.

Here's the video:
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