Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Legend of the Candy Cane unit study and lapbook

The kids and I are continuing on with Sonlight core 1 and P3/4 but we wanted something a little bit festive to add on for the holidays. I saw the Legend of the Candy Cane free unit study and lapbook recommended on the Sonlight forums, and it seemed just the thing. I printed out a lot of the materials there, and we started on it yesterday. What fun! Zach especially is loving it and doing the entire thing pretty much. I scaled it down with some extra cut/paste and coloring for Lily and Noah to do their own versions at their own level but still have something that looks like Zach's "big guy" lapbook. We aren't done quite yet, but we are having a great time. I also didn't know where candy canes originated, so it's fun for me too. If we get the time (and mom has the energy), we will be making our own candy canes too later on. The recipe is on the linked site.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: If you Find a Rock

Yes, indeed, I'm catching up on reviewing some of the books we have read lately. I love finding blog opinions on books, so we're sharing ours of some of our books we read lately.

I picked this book up as it appeared on our recommendations from Amazon. I admit I probably wouldn't have chosen it for my son myself. I was wrong though as he loved it. He read it four times in a row, slowly looking at each picture and reading the text a couple times. He is 7, a very fluent reader, and honestly drawn to mystery/adventure books, but this really appealed to him. The pictures are read photographs with real kids and real rocks, in nature. The text is in poetry format, lyrical and well written but simple enough for a child to enjoy, hear the rhythm and understand. What was his favorite part? All the types of rocks shown and discussed and the uses. It elevates a simple smooth rock to something to be savored and explored, excellent book to excite the child's imagination.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: Follow My Leader by James Garfield

Zach and I read this booktogether, my reading it aloud to him and then he chose to read it again himself. As I was reading, this was one of those where he always asked for another chapter, more. The book features, Jimmy, a typical preteen boy, who is blinded by an accident involving a peer. The rest of the book describes his journey through approximately the next year, as he struggles to deal with both the realities of being blind and the emotions surrounding it. So many children's books do not do adequate character development, and even kids can pick up on that. This character is very real, with realistic emotions, weaknesses, strengths and fears. The other characters, particularly his peers, are also fairly developed. Jimmy in the story receives a guide dog, which I understand would not actually occur in someone his age (that young is not allowed a trained guide dog). However, the story makes the event seem plausible and realistic. Topics explored included blindness, Braille language, guide dogs, how peers may treat a blind student and, a very big one, forgiveness and hatred, and what those feelings can do to a person if not adequately dealt with. These are big topics for little readers, but the book does an admirable job with them. The book is also a great discussion starter for going further in depth with any of those topics and more. We highly recommend it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday

IMG_5215, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

My fairy baby girl, and the whole family, wish everyone a Happy Halloween (she is showing off her costume here). And we wish her a happy 2nd birthday. I can't believe it has gone so fast.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Year of Miss Agnes - Review

Zach and I read the Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill as part of his core 1 Sonlight curriculum. Yet again Sonlight came through for us and picked a winner. Zach loved it, and I enjoyed reading it with him.

In the novel, our main character is a little girl growing up in a remote Alaskan Indian village. In the first pages, we see yet another teacher in their one-room schoolhouse has quit, but not before insulting the children and expressing her disgust at their culture and customs (such as eating lots of fish). There is apprehension as they wait to see who will be next to teach them. Fortunately, that "who" is Miss Agnes. She brings with her fresh ideas, shelves the old books and opens up a whole new world of thoughts and ideas to the children, inspiring not only the children but the parents to shift some of their ideas. A strong theme in the book is who needs school and how much, including teaching of the deaf, schooling beyond the basic (college) and attitudes towards schooling in a native culture. I won't spoil the ending for you, but suffice to say it leaves open a nice discussion and some thought. My son still likes to come up to me (weeks later) and discuss this novel.

Do *You* Doodle? Or Write? - Review and ideas

We absolutely love the Do You Doodle? series of coloring books in our house. It gives gray line drawings, or partial drawings, to get a little one started, but not complete pictures. So the pictures have to be completed, often in fun or creative ways. Then they can be colored. That is clearly a step up from the basic coloring books. And the themes are not just licensed characters or simple things, but really creative or fun activities, some making the kids think a bit and some just silly and fun, bringing forth a giggle or two. An example from this week in the book was a line drawing of a boy and the instructions to draw him covered in measles! Or a drawing of a boy in a large box or hole with instructions to draw a way for him to get out. My son, age 7, loves these.

This year we took it a step further though. As background, I have a wonderfully creative, sometimes silly little guy. He loves to tell magical, creative stories full of adventure. But when I ask him to write I'm lucky to get one dull sentence. Without adjectives or adverbs. As dull as he can possibly make it. Ninety-nine percent of writing prompts leave him cold. This year we have tried combining his Do You Doodle? book with his writing notebook with much better success. He can do as many Doodle pages as he wants. Then his assignment is to pick just one and write about his picture. He still has not become some amazing writer here, but I get a lot more detail from him, and some of his creative skill is coming out. Just a tad some days. More other days. But a huge improvement! So if you want some fun and creative writing prompts combined with art, give this book a try.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exploring Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology

In our Sonlight core 1 right now we are deep into ancient Greece and Greek Mythology. What fun Zach and I have been having with this!

I actually got very lucky in that Zach picked up from the bookstore over the summer a fiction book that has a mythology theme, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1), which is part of a series. He has since went on to read the next couple in the series, and loved those as well. If you have an advanced reader and are doing mythology, those may be very fun for you as well, to do a comparison of where the author got the characters, how much is "factual" (well, at least an accurate rendition of the mytho), and how much is Riordan's own imagination and expansion of the character and so forth.

In the free realm, the internet is, of course, full of facts, games, websites, "educational" material (some yes, some no) and everything else you could want about Greek Myths. I did some major searching last week for a few select sites for Zach to explore. He loves the computer, and loves games. I wanted to connect that love of the computer with some reinforcement with what we were learning. One site I found that I really liked for content and style, and Zach really liked for the fun factor was Adventures in Ancient Greece. It has too much content for me to list it all, but it had a god/goddess Greek/Roman name matching with what they oversaw, a nice map, exploration of different areas and a quiz at the end where Zach had great fun proving how much he knew, with no prompting by me to take the quiz. :)

And right now both boys (ages 7 and 4) are deeply engrossed in a mythology audio CD Greek Myths, thus giving me the time to write this post. LOL. We all love Jim Weiss. We have seen and heard him in person each year now for 3 or 4 years at the California Homeschool Network Family Expo in Ontario, California. He is such a fantastic storyteller, and we have purchased several of his CDs. I really can't recommmend them highly enough, highly educational and highly entertaining. Our minivan always has a few stashed, and usually one in the CD player.

Back to some more interactive schooling for Zach and I as his CD winds up, but I wanted to share these resources, as I benefit greatly from all the blogs and posts of other homeschoolers sharing tips and sites with me to make education really come alive for students.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My baby girl

My baby girl, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Just a good picture I got of our baby girl today.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New outfit for me!

Whole outfit, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Today I sewed for me for fall. I did McCall 5434, which has an asymmetrical hem wrap top and pull-on pants. I really like how those came out. The pattern also included a strange tube top for underneath. I skipped that, and instead made a camisole style top from Ottobre Woman magazine, issue 2/07, pattern #1, the tank top. I did lace edges instead of binding on the top for a cami look. We'll see how long a white top lasts with the kids, but for now I'm pleased.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Birthday boy

Birthday boy, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Happy birthday Noah! I can't believe you are 4 already.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tomatoes just starting to come in.

IMG_4488, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Lest I feel sad about the waning cucumbers, I also snapped this photo of the tomatoes, which are just starting to come in. I'm looking forward to lots and lots in the coming weeks. This are just the beginning of them. These are "Better Boys." Our heirloom varieties mostly have fruit set but not ripe yet so we are still awaiting those.

Cucumber bounty!

IMG_4487, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

I took out our slicing cucumber vine yesterday as it was waning, but two weeks ago I snapped this picture of just one day's harvest. Wow! What a lovely year it has been for cucumbers from our garden. Yum, yum.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

kids 4th of july

kids 4th of july
Not the greatest of photos, but it is HARD to get 3 kids all smiling at the camera at the same time. So here is at least 3 sitting still at the same time. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Book Review: Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates

This is another gem of a book Zach and I read together as part of our Sonlight Core 1 curriculum. I have to admit, yet again, that I probably would not have chosen it randomly from the book store shelves. In fact, in the start of it, I was worried Zach would not enjoy it due to the vocabulary and content.

The content involves a boy, Peter, who lived in the past (specific dates not given in the book), in a remote mountainous area, on the outskirts of a village apparently. Peter's family is a farming family, primarily involved in raising sheep. The entire story revolves around Peter and his relationship with his cosset, Biddy. Now my own son is a city boy who has never been really close to a sheep honestly, and the farming life is completely unknown to him. He is drawn to action-packed tales of detectives, robots and sci-fi adventures. So you can guess I was hesitant about this book. However, the simple story of a boy and his pet easily transcended the differences between Zach and Peter, and Zach sat enthralled day after day as we read this book aloud together.

Which brings me to the other point about this book, the vocabulary. It is a rich, complex book in terms of both the word choices and the syntax. Sonlight made a good choice to make this a read-aloud rather than leaving it to the student to read on his/her own. We stopped often during the story to explain the meaning of a word, or to reread a passage if I saw he was looking a bit confused. The exposure to this language was wonderful though, and added many words to his vocabulary that he would not have normally encountered, even in his spelling words or workbooks.

So, I have to give this book a high recommendation from boy my son and myself. It is a lovely book to read together.

We enjoyed this selection so much in fact, that we requested from the library, A Place for Peter, which is the sequel to Mountain Born. In the sequel, Peter is older now, and is struggling through that difficult period between being a boy and a man. The writing is as good as Mountain Born, but the story is not quite as engaging to Zach at this period in his life. It is a nice followup though; we love to continue on with series we enjoyed together.

A cute note about A Place for Peter is I did get it from the library here, and there was only one copy in the system in storage at Central Library. We had it sent up to our local brand and picked it up. It didn't even have a call number, just "storage" on the spine. It still has the old envelope for the check-out card, on which is printed library rules, including a note of a 4 cent per day overdue fee, or 2 cents per day for juvenile books. LOL I tried to find a date it was put into the library system, and apparently it was Nov 24, 1952 by stamp, and the copyright on this edition is 1952. What a neat treat to hold this old book and think of all those who have read it before us.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I won!

I entered some blog giveaways sponsored through Sew Mama Sew a couple weeks ago. And I won a couple things! This arrived in the mail last week, and it is just gorgeous! It was made by TickledPaisley, who makes these gorgeous bags also for sale in her Etsy Shop. Stop by and take a look! I can vouch for the fact that her sewing is beautiful, and the style/size of this bag is fantastic for me. It fits nicely on my shoulder and holds all my junk, err stuff, plus a spare diaper and wipes if we are out and about.

Thanks again, Susan!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lily accessorizing

Lily accessorizing , originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

A funny of the day. I brought Lily down to play this morning in the family room. She rounded up a yellow fleece hat and her plush yellow doggy purse and put them on to coordinate today. Note her hat - she still has trouble putting that on herself. LOL She was proud of herself though!

A Work in Progress and a Look Back

Yard in progress, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

I snapped this picture from my office/sewing area the other day. Here is our lower patio. You can see where the kids play if I'm sewing or in the office. I can see them and hear them through the window right there. They love to play down there.

Beyond that is the area where our little sprigs of chamomile ground cover is starting to fill in. The left side got planted a month or so before the right so it is filling in more.

The next tiers have our roses. The smell is soooo sweet out there. All the regular size roses are very fragrant. I pick mine based on smell! LOL Tucked in between we have some of my father-in-laws mini roses and some lavender plants. The uppermost slope is still very much awaiting attention.

For the look back, I grabbed a photo when they are working on it, digging the trench for the wall. Rich and his dad did an incredible job didn't they?

Yard "before" picture

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Deals, Deals and more Deals at Target

I had a bunch of coupons to use up so went deal hunting today. I had the Pullups $3/1 coupons to use, expiring today, and found some 15% off at Target. Not a great deal, but we needed them and I had the $3 coupons, which are not that common (they usually put out the $2 coupons).

I had the Electrasol $2.50/1 coupons to use also, expiring tomorrow. I checked the Wal-Mart and three Targets, all in about a 10 mile radius thankfully. The prices of Targets within a couple miles of each other do vary. At the last one I found the Electrasol on 15% off clearance for $3.64 a box so that is what I went with, using my $2.50 off coupons and getting it for $1.14 per box of 20 tabs.

I had one $1 off Post Trail Mix crunch. Target had it for $3.34, so $2.34 for the box. More than I EVER pay for cereal, but DH loves that brand and that brand only the best. I can't deny our breadwinner his Trail Mix Crunch. He takes one box a week to work for breakfast and it lasts a week perfectly per him, with one carton of soymilk to go with it ($1.04 for the soymilk at Costco). So total then is $3.38 for one week of breakfasts for DH. Pretty darn good when I look at it that way.

My BEST deal today though I owe to Jane4girls. If you don't read her blog and are a deal hunter, you need to check it out. She put a heads up that the Kashi GoLean waffles at Target were $1.79 per box and there were $1.50/1 printable coupons, making them 29 cents a box!!! I checked, and mine actually locally were down to $1.77 per box. I used the printables and some Vocalpoint coupons for $1.50/1 and got 6 boxes at 27 cents per box. What a deal! The kids love those.

Vitaminwater 10 is $1 at Target, and I had one more $1 off coupon to use up, so that just cost me the 5 cent CRV and tax.

I found some Yoplait Go-Gurts on clearance with soon dates for $1.88 each, and I had a coupon $1/1 coupons I got from a coupon trading buddy. Score! on the 88 cent Go-Gurts, again something the boys love and rarely get. Our newspaper gives the measley $0.75 off when you buy 2 boxes, so I don't buy them. At $1 off one box from her newspaper plus the clearance price, the boys got two boxes of those.

Revlon nail files are 1.29, and you can use the $1 off 1 Revlon tool coupons, making them 29 cents each. To make it better though I got a $1 off Revlon Target coupon in the mail and stacked that on since you can use a Target and manufacturer together. So I got 5 packages of nail files free.

Lastly, I have a $4 rebate, again from my generous trading buddy, when you buy 1 Softsoap Ensembles pump plus the refill. The pump was $5.99 and the refill was $2.89 (OUCH regular price), for a total of $8.88, but of course I had coupons too. I had a manufacturer coupon of $1.50 off the pump set and $0.75 off the refill and a Target mailer $2 off Ensembles to bring the total down to $4.63, and then I will send in for the $4 rebate, so final cost is $0.63 plus tax and the $0.44 stamp, so a little over $1. I'll pay that for the pump and refill. :)

A GREAT couponing day at Target.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Review: Gooney Bird Greene

We are still working along on Sonlight Core 1 with Zach. This week we finished up Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry. I was a little worried honestly about this one. First of all it has a picture of a little girl on the front in a pink tutu. That just isn't a cover that catches Zach's attention honestly. Thankfully though, it was a read-aloud rather than a reader, and hence he didn't have a choice.

It started a little slow and seemed a little bland in the first part. Zach, however, did start to enjoy it rather quickly, enjoying the funny tales Gooney Bird had to tell. He seemed to easily find the humor in the wording, and grasp why it was funny.

I honestly still didn't particularly like it through the middle of the book. This book is better for an independent reader than a read-aloud, as is scheduled in Sonlight. I can perhaps see why it is scheduled as a read-aloud, as the parent can be sure the student fully grasps the humor and why, and perhaps use it is a leap-off discussion of how to write a good story. However, the font changes and so forth that are used to indicate to the reader that what is a "Gooney Bird Story" from regular text are completely lost when done orally. That alone made it a bit of a problem for a read-aloud.

By the end of the story, I too was sad to see it end though. Zach, and even Noah, were enjoying the book. As it wrapped up, I really saw it's value as we read the last chapter. That chapter talks about how each of us has stories to tell and how to find them, using specific concrete examples from the stories Gooney has already told so well. So, a young reader is left with the message that he/she has stories in her own life to tell, and reminded that there are specific storytelling techniques to utilize that will make it the most interesting it can be for the audience. That is a great message to leave with the reader.

Now that we have read it as scheduled, my own independent reader will get a chance to reread it and see the written techniques used as well. He loves to reread, thankfully. I'm very glad we had exposure to this through our curriculum, because honestly I would not have picked it out for my son, nor would he have chosen it for himself, based on the cover art or description on the cover. It really was an excellent book though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zach and Lily reading together

IMG_3831, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Zach is working on his homeschool history and Lily is joining in for a peek at the book too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

YES, a cleanser that doesn't give me a headache.

I suffer from severe migraines, and scents can trigger one, such as perfumes, added scent to things, etc. Home cleaning products are some of the strongest scents around. Typically I'm okay, but sometimes some products really trigger a whopper of a migraine. And I never know what products will do it, which makes me a bit cautious on some new products, even though I do love scents in my home.

Through Bzz Agent I got to try the new Natures Source Cleaners. These are FANTASTIC! Really, I would buy these again even without the free coupons. Maybe even without a coupon. Maybe even without a sale at the grocery store. Okay, maybe I would wait for a sale. I'm frugal after all. LOL

Seriously though, these cleansers are really nice. There is little to no scent at all. Your house just smells clean, as in absence of stink rather than presence of perfumey scent. There is a bathroom clean, toilet cleaner, general purpose cleaner and window cleaner. I have tried them all, and had very good results with all of them. And honestly our house gets pretty dirty. We have 3 small children, one dog and are home most of the time since we homeschool. Our house takes a beating, and these cleaners did an excellent job cleaning it up again. As an example from today I moved the chest freezer to clean under it - YUCK. It was gross down there on the linoleum, truly nasty. I spritzed on the general purpose cleaner, waited a few minutes and scrubbed it with a rag, no elbow grease or scrubby sponge required.

I haven't even mentioned that these are good for the environment, something we all need to be concerned about. Many of the older cleansers really shouldn't be in the water cycle, going down your drain to be treated and out to the ocean. These cleaners are biodegradable. So they work great, smell good and are ok for the environment. Definitely good stuff.

I know I sound like a commercial, but these are nice. Give them a try yourself - they are also often on sale at the supermarket and there were coupons in last week's paper so they won't break the budget either. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Sewing Blog

I'm moving my sewing posts to it's own space! So, if you are interested in my sewing but not the other stuff, visit my new blog, which will be updated soon with lots of new sewing projects. I haven't been posting much, but I HAVE been sewing and am going to be getting some pictures soon. :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

One of Zach's creations

One of Zach's creations

This is one of Zach's creations from K'Nex. He loves to build and create new gadgets and vehicles. This, per Zach, is a special type of vehicle that can go over things and stand up on its back wheels. It thought the addition of the red rubberband really added a lot.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A thought process of a 3-year-old

I forget sometimes how much is going on in the head of a 3-year-old. Really, it is fascinating. They have so many connections going on in their brains that adults just don't. Here is a funny one from yesterday I want to get down before I forget:

We are outside, I'm pulling weeds from the rose bushes and Noah is riding around the patio on his tricycle ....

NOAH: Mom?
ME: Yes?
NOAH: Do dinosaurs have butts?
ME: Well, dinosaurs don't exist anymore. But they did have butts I suppose.
NOAH: Oh, okay. Then dinosaurs rode bicycles?
ME: [pause] They could have ridden bicycles I guess if bicycles had been invented then.
NOAH: Okay.

This morning, one more serious but gives the idea his mind is always working:

NOAH: [studying the ketchup bottle] What does this say?
ME: [back turned to him doing something] Ketchup.
NOAH: [pause] K ... says kkkk [makes K sound, looks a bottle] ... doesn't say ketchup
ME: [surprised] Show me the bottle.
NOAH: [Shows it to me and points to the word]
ME: You are right, Noah. That says Hunts.

He is really reading better now and asks me all day what things say. I recall Zach doing this too at the same age as he started to read and was suddenly curious what every single sign, cereal box and book said. The 3s can be trying with tantrums, but it is amazing when I step back and realize how fast they are acquiring knowledge.

Shhhh ... don't tell Zach

Look, look, look what I got for Zach for his birthday from Buttercupbloom on Etsy. Isn't it just the cutest little owl? It is even cuter in person too. I purchased it for his birthday in June and have it stashed away until then. It even has a tiny little pocket on the back. He will love that secret little pocket, just his thing. Can't wait to give it to him! :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Zach's new pants

IMG_3623, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Today I finally finished up Zach's new pants, Ottobre 4/2008 #24, "Kalle Outdoor pants" done in a nice soft brushed twill. These are elastic waist, just like he likes, but with lots of fun details and pockets. Those same "fun" details and pockets, plus loads of topstitching, are why these pants have taken me the greater part of this week to sew. He is happy though, so it was worth it. :)

Poor Lily with a boo-boo

Poor Lily with a boo-boo, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Lily was cruising around the office on Tuesday, tripped and fell. Unfortunately, there was a hard metal object between her head and the floor and she hit it. She had a deep gash in her eyebrow. After calling her pediatrician, it was determined she likely needed stitches. I called Rich, and he took her to Children's Hospital ER while I stayed with Zach and Noah at home. My poor baby did need stitches. They sewed her up and put the strips on there. Thank goodness, they are disolvable and the paper strips will fall off on their own. I can't imagine her having to go to the doc to have them snipped out in a few weeks from now. She, remarkably, has left the whole area alone the last couple days and hasn't been pulling at the strips or her stitches. Hopefully she will heal up quickly. Poor little thing.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ottobre 2/2009 camisole

New camisole, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Next up from the scrap bin is a top made from the newest Ottobre Woman issue, 2/2009. This is from pattern #1, the camisole top. I added a shelf bra to the design but otherwise no changes. It was so easy to sew, and I'm happy with the fit. Both the outer paisley crinkle cotton knit and the brown cotton lycra for the shelf bra were from my little knit scrap bin, so that was fun! :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

New summer dress

New summer dress, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Yes indeed, it is from the scrap bin fabric. Lily has herself a new summer dress. It was a super simple pattern, a freebie pattern from the SewingMamas website/forum, called the Jayme dress. It fits her nicely and is perfect for summertime. I can't believe how little fabric she still takes, even for a dress. :)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Knit scrap bin

Knit scrap bin, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

What is this you ask? Laundry? A huge mess? It is my knit scrap bin. Anything knit fabric with odd size cuts out of it, less than 1 yard, etc., goes into the knit scrap bin. It has, ahem, gotten a bit out of hand. So March I'm going to be working on sewing up my scrap bin, starting with the knits. If I gain some ground on the knits, I'll be moving along to the woven bin, which is even larger than this one! Wish me luck. :)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ottobre 3/05 sleeper

Otto 3/05 sleeper, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

I'm sewing again. Lily grew inches in the last month or so and her sleepers are too short, especially those with feet in them. So, I'm sewing away. If nothing else, I'm going to get really good at zippers. Here she is modeling her new one tonight. The pattern is from Ottobre Magazine, the Autumn 2005 issue (3/2005). This came out really nice, I think. It has the crotch gusset like the Kwik Sew one I was using. That gives great fit for cloth diapers. I added the little snap tab at the top to the pattern because she is starting to unzip herself. I plan to make more of this style.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lily in her new jacket

Modeled shot, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

I finally finished Lily's jacket I started two weeks ago. I ran out of binding and had to order the brown binding from Canada. Yes, Canada. Talk about hard to find a match. I should have measured better before I started so I would not have run out. In any case, I finally finished it with the last 8 inches of binding I needed.

She liked it and didn't want to take it off. That is a miracle given she had stomach flu hit in the predawn hours this morning through mid morning. She napped and got her new jacket when she woke up. She perked up as she likes new things. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Medical - it pays to make the phone calls

One of the things I really dislike doing is arguing over errors in bills, especially medical bills. It often involves calls, return calls, faxes of paperwork, on and on. And you would be surprised at just how often I have to do it ... or maybe not.

Are YOU checking every single medical bill for accuracy? You should. Even if you have insurance, every single penny matters. From an insurance perspective, if your insurance is being overcharged, your rate WILL go up. Maybe not this year but it will be inevitable. Insurance companies are in business to make money, lots of it. If you or your group of people (speaking in terms of corporate plans) are costing them money, they will raise your rates. It is really that simple. So if you want to keep your premiums low, be careful users of your insurance. Go when you really need to, and scrutinize that bill or explanation of benefits (EOB) that you get from your insurance company detailing what was charged from your provider and what was paid. If there is anything incorrect on there, contact your insurance company and/or your provider right away. If something was charged incorrectly, even if you personally were not charged but your insurance paid, it will effect you in the short run or the long run in terms of increased premiums.

Also, make sure if you get a bill from your physician you are correlating that with your EOB from your insurance company. That this week saved me $68.24. I got a bill in that amount from a provider for my son. I matched it with the EOB from your insurance company which clearly stated we only were supposed to have paid the copayment on that visit (which we already had). I then got on the phone with the provider, leaving voicemail (as nobody ever seems to be actually at their desk) and explaining concisely that the bill did not match our EOB and offering to fax it to them so it would be easier for them to look into it. Of course, when I call I speak clearly, give all our account numbers and so forth. This helps quite a bit so they have all the information needed. It took a week but I finally got resolution that our account has been corrected and we didn't owe them anyway. Moral of the story is something we have learned over and over again - reconcile your paperwork and call right away if something is wrong. It may save you a lot of money because there seems to be a high error rate in medical bills.

Kwik Sew 1037

KS 1037, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

I finally made Lily some sleepers that I am really happy with. This is from Kwik Sew 1037, made in a really really stretchy aqua Malden Mills fleece.

I made a second pair then in a very thick fleece with little stretch, and those also came out quite well. I love being able to replicate our favorite PJs from stores.
In other news, note our model is standing so nicely. Lily began walking last month (at age 15 mos) and now is a walking pro, gaining speed by the day ... all the better to catch up with her brothers!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Point site - Swagbucks

There is a new point site I'm trying called Swagbucks. It works like MyPoints and many of the others. From all I have read from people using it, it is reputable and the prizes actually come. I'm pretty skeptical as a whole on point sites and just use a couple. I can't resist the lure of free gift cards and such though, especially in this tough economy.

This one you do searches through their search engine and randomly get awarded points. You don't sign up for anything (except the Swagbucks site itself, which is free). You just search regularly like you would through any other search engine ... and collect your points, which you can then trade in for merchandise and gift cards. Quite easy, and no spam suddenly appeared in my email either so that is always good! ;)

Referral link if anyone is interested:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Noah got new shirts too

IMG_3493, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Lest you all think only Lily gets new clothing sewn by mama, I have to show you a new shirt I made for Noah last week. He got two of the same style, both from my favorite patterns (Ottobre). He is wearing it today so I was reminded to make a post showing it. Since he is out in the mud, it may very well be the last time he wears it too! He manages to completely destroy a shirt every other week or so lately (I threw out THREE today after trying OxyClean and then a bleach pen). He wasn't all that happy to model it that day, but he was all smiles when he put it on this morning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Small climber ...

Hmmm, what now ... , originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

Yes, she managed to climb up there all by herself while mommy was in the garage a couple minutes putting the laundry in the washer. She is quite agile to say the least, following right along in her older brothers' footsteps for getting into mischief.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ottobre 1/09 #6

Modeled picture

The newest Ottobre children's edition had the cutest little tunic for babies/toddlers. It was a little fussier to make than my usual super duper simple tees and leggings, but it was worth it! I did it in a very lightweight pink paisley jersey knit for summertime, and used some aqua polka dot ribknit that had been in my stash for about 6 years for the neckline binding, cuffs and leggings. I really like how it came out. It covers her arms and legs for crawling and exploring but is very lightweight for spring and summer evenings. I used my snap press for the little snaps on the front. I WISH I had some to match the aqua but just didn't have a similar enough color in my assortment so the dark pink was the best I could do.

I'm eager to make this one again in different fabrics, but I'm going to do a few other projects first. So many patterns so little time .... :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Review: The Well Trained Heart

Time for another book review, I think. So what have I been reading lately? It should come as no surprise that it falls into the classification of a homeschooling book, a parenting book, or both in this case. I have been reading The Well Trained Heart by Ray and Donna Reish. I saw this recommended by a few families, but honestly was a little hesitant as Christian parenting books often are not a great fit for me. Some of them come off quite preachy and harsh in terms of types of discipline suggested. However, I decided to give it a read, as the more suggestions and advice the better for us. Then I weed out what I think we can use and forget the rest.

First off, the authors come across quite sincere and humble. They talk of their own journey to find a parenting style that works, of successes and failures, of struggles. That was a refreshing change from books that state right off that "if you do my program your kids will be perfect." Blech, not likely. In any case, the Reish book was definitely a winner in that regard.

I was also impressed by the very balanced viewpoint offered. Everything was backed up biblically, as I expected from recommendations. However, it was not excessively "spare the rod and spoil the child" type of biblical, meaning absolute obedience or else and little logic. Yes, they expect obedience from their children, but go into great detail explaining the core of their philosophy, which is a "relational" approach, meaning that everything hinges on the relationship you develop with your child, a relationship that is very warm, open and caring. It is not a one-way type of relationship where the children always obey and don't question. They talk a lot about debate in terms of formal debate, and how that can be applied to logic in parenting and rules.

Also stressed is character training in here prior to academics. I feel character training is not done enough. I don't mean again spanking or whatever of young toddlers. I mean time spent with your children teaching values and how to interact and live in community and society in a way that focuses on others rather than self/selfish needs. I think a lot of children (including mine in some areas!) lack that type of explicit teaching/training. The authors focus on avoiding peer influence more than I personally think is necessary, but they give their reasoning for it and so forth. Their thoughts are well explained on why they have made those choices in their family.

The steps to take to follow their model are well outlined with examples and suggestions. They also do talk briefly about their homeschooling, but that is no the focus of the book at all.

I gleaned several things from this book, and am quite glad I took the time to read it. It is a nice counterpoint to some of the more popular methods out there now including counting to three or relying solely on time outs essentially to get your children to behave. It is an excellent resource if you are like me and want to read and consider a variety of viewpoints on both ends of the spectrum before finally settling somewhere in the middle with a mixture of ideas you have collected.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

We LOVE Diamond Notes

Yep, Zach and I love Diamond Notes. Some of you are probably scratching your head at this point, right? What in the world is she talking about? Diamond Notes are part of our Sonlight curriculum, part of the language arts specifically. Diamond Notes can be seen on the Sonlight website, and probably purchased separately and can stand alone even if you don't use the rest of Sonlight. There are sample pages on the Sonlight website too so you can see what I'm talking about.

Basically it is for students to learn to write paragraphs. When I was in school I still recall we were supposed to do a topic sentence, blah, blah, blah. Well, you still need to do that, but diamond notes gives excellent visuals of a baseball diamond (hence the name Diamond Notes) to fill in first, sort of a brainstorming schematic. From there the student goes to separate sentences based on his baseball diamond. And from there he or she takes those separate sentences and forms the paragraph. The entire Diamond Notes program takes 5 weeks at 2-3 days a week. And it is miraculous for my kid who is ADHD and really has trouble organizing his thoughts coherently to write a paragraph. I really can't say enough good things about it.

So, if you are a parent trying to teach your child to do more coherent and concise paragraphs, this may be what you are looking for. Take a look! :)

Friday, January 16, 2009


IMG_3383, originally uploaded by WeeBeaks.

We haven't had a family photo in a little while on the blog, so here is Lily modeling her new mama-made pants. She is still so small that 1/2 yard gets a pair of pants for her and a little extra for the scrap bin as well.

If you read my past posts, you know most of Lily's clothing comes from a cousin and a friend of a friend. As she gets bigger of course, we get a little less because kids get harder and harder on their clothing! So consequently there is less to hand down. We see this ourselves in passing clothing from our oldest son to our middle. Anything left from that then goes to a cousin, but by then it gets pretty sparse.

In any case, because we have a donated wardrobe we have some pieces that just don't have anything that reasonably matches them. So what I'm doing is pulling out clothing for this season and the next size up and matching up outfits. Then anything hanging around left over I'm looking at my stash fabric and seeing if I have a good match there. Then I sew up a coordinating piece. This cute striped top had nothing to go with it, so I did the brown pants for her.

This past week, she got 3 new pair of pants to go with existing tops. We also have trouble with pants given to us because she wears cloth diapers and typical clothing for toddler girls barely has room for a diaper at all let alone a cloth diaper. Besides, she likes her pants roomy for all that climbing, crawling, cruising and preparing to walk!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year of Savings

Have you read the JANE4girls blog? If not and you are a frugal minded person, you have to give it a read. She is an amazing person who is feeding her family on $800/yr. Yes, a YEAR.

A lot of people follow her blog, and I have joined a newly formed yahoo group of frugal minded people seeking to lower our grocery expenses for 2009, inspired by her blog. Most of us have not picked nearly so low of an annual sum as her, but we are all striving to stay within budget and spend less this year than last. For those of you interested it is "FrugalChallenge" on yahoo groups.

In that spirit, I will share with you our frugal purchase today. My DH LOVES Post Trail Mix Crunch cereal. At $4.xx a box it is not very frugal at regular price. However, it is on sale B1G1 free at CVS this week, and there is a new printable $2 off 1 box coupon at the Post website. It allows you to print two. Take your two coupons in to CVS and match up with the B1G1 free sale ($4.59/box regular price) and you get two boxes of cereal for 59 cents. Woohoo for savings in the new year. Happy shopping.