Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Preparing for 2009

I'm not big into New Year's Resolutions only because I'm not good at keeping them. It's not that I don't consider them but follow through is often difficult.

This year my focus is on home management and getting better organized. Here are some sites I've recently come across.

From Simple Mom here are Reflection Questions for 2008 to help prepare yourself for 2009.

Here's a good Master Checklist - again from Simple Mom. You can't make changes to it but you can at least get some ideas.

If you need a suggested booklist for 2009, here's one from Mt Hope Academy. I always like to see what others are reading - especially to their kids.

One thing I'm working on this weekend is a home management binder. Here are some ideas of things to include in it.

Some FREE do-it-yourself planners. Gotta love these.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Mickey!

Wow, How can you be 4 already! My little darling.

Mik (as Mason calls you), Mickey, Mickey Mouse, Mikhaila, Doodle Bug.....



Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Fantastic Christmas! Hope everyone had the same. Lots of Playmobil....which we LOVE! Mommy got a guitar. Find the earplugs! New oil paints for Mommy - yippee! Clothes for Daddy, and just so no one feels sorry for him, he loves getting clothes!

Hi to Heidi, Wayne, Jeremy, Toby and Miranda in Australia. Hope you guys have a fantastic New Year! Hi to Oma and Opa in Germany. We missed you this Christmas!

Health and happiness to everyone for 2009!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tradition #3: Present Opening

I'm jumping the gun a little here but I'll back up in the next post! The first gift the kids open is Santa's. In the past we've always had this one out of the box and/or assembled. This year they will open this gift and while I'm getting breakfast ready they will do the assembly with Daddy! I've heard rumblings from some Elves that they're getting Playmobil! This way they can savour Santa's gift! When the present opening starts we open one present at a time. I divvy out a gift to each person and they get opened one at a time so that the present gets our full attention. We make sure that the kids know who the present if from since some are from special relatives who are out of the country. We try to take a photo as well to share with the missing relative or friend in a thank you card. By opening them one at a time this slows the process down. It's also a chance for the kids to see that it's not just about them but about everyone being appreciated on Christmas.

Last year we put some of Mickey's gifts away after Christmas because she got a fair bit between her birthday and Christmas. Throughout the year we pulled them out and she loved the idea of a new toy in the middle of the year. We may try to do this with both this year. We'll see what a sales job we can do!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tradition #2: Baking

Baking. Lots of Baking. We cannot have a Christmas without pressed shortbread cookies. You need a GOOD cookie press for these. A good one will cost approximately $50 (perhaps more). Lots of fun for the kids to decorate. Here's the recipe:

Mrs. Mac's Pressed Shortbread

1 lb butter - softened slightly
1 tbsp shortening
1 cup icing shortening
4 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter and shortening. Mix in icing sugar. Gradually add flour. Sometimes it's easier to mix with your fingers rather than a beater. Use a cookie press. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet after they've been decorated. Bake at 300 degrees F for 13-15 minutes.

Amy Butler Fabrics

I've been feverishly working on some Christmas gifts which I still can't show. I will however show a photo of some of the fabrics I've been using. I purchased them from ETSY and love them. They're Amy Butler fabrics and I'm in love. I just may take up sewing on a more regular basis! Yah, right!

Wooden Snowmen and Easy Christmas Tree

A easy craft that looks good too!
1) Cut square based blocks of wood in different sizes.

2) Drill holes 2/3 the way down on both sides (for the arms)

3) Prime and paint white.

4) Place a sock (kids size) on top. Knot end.

5) Take small branches and hot glue into the holes.

6) Tie a small piece of ribbon above the holes/arms.

7) Using hot glue, glue buttons down centre.

8) Glue on a nose (orange pipecleaner would work)

9) With a black felt tip marker, draw on the face.

1) Take a wooden skewer and place in square of plastercine

2) Cut out 6-8 concentric circles in green felt or bristol board.

3) Centre the circles on skewer and place them on from large to small (to form a tree).

4) Decorate!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tradition #1: Sentimental Ornaments

I'm a big believer in traditions. I think it gives kids security and something that can be passed down through the generations. I love our Christmas tree and all of it's ornaments. It is not a designer tree. The colours are not all coordinated and some ornaments are just downright gaudy. Every year, in the months leading up to Christmas we usually pick up 2 or 3 ornaments that represent a time in our year. It may be a trip, an activity, or a special memory. At least three quarters of our ornaments (and we have A LOT) have a memory. When we go to trim the tree our family talks about each ornament and the memory they represent. Eventually these ornaments will be divided up between the two kids and passed on to their families.

A bike to remember Heinrich's mountain bike outing with Humpy DOWN Blue Mountain. CRAAAAZY!

An ornament in memory of a very special student of mine and Mason's namesake.

Our trip to Nova Scotia in an RV.

This ornaments remind us of some of our favourite Jan Brett books.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Design Challenge!

To celebrate the end of a difficult unit in our grade 8 science program at school I decided to offer my students a design challenge. They had to design a sail boat made only of paper products. They could bring the paper materials from home but if they didn't bring anything, then the only material I supplied was paper. For fasteners I supplied tape, glue sticks, hot glue sticks and staples. Paint was supplied for decoration only and I applied contact cement to each boat for waterproofing. The boat was required to have a sail and to travel 8 feet. It's dimension could not exceed 5" in width and 12" in length. They had 100 minutes to design and race the boat down a river made from an eavestrough. The students competed for the fastest, most attractive and the one that held the most load (loonies). They had a blast. Even the MID kids who find the regular requirements of the curriculum beyond their abilities, delved deep into their designs and many produced boats at home on their own and brought them in for the race.
We had some titanics, some that resembled paper airplanes on water, but overall the designs were great.

When I taught high school technology we were fortunate enough to have a pool in our school. I did a similar project with my grade 10 design & technology students but instead of making a model, they had to make a boat out of cardboard that they could fit into and paddle the length of the pool. Very fun project! Bathing suits required!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our girl, Emma

We've had our girl Emma since we were married. She'll be 11 in January. Can't believe it. She's a typical Rotti, or I should say, what a Rotti really is. She's sweet, loving, gentle, and incredibly loyal. She has always been MY dog. Heinrich is her playmate, as are the kids, but she's mine, all mine! She's never been much of a guard dog but has on occasion demonstrated some potential. Rotties have a terrible reputation but the fact of the matter is, they're really nothing like what the uninformed think of them. When Emma was younger we had to get our neighbour to come into the house to let her out when we were away for an extended amount of time. Karen came in and couldn't find her. Eventually she found her hiding under a desk in one of our bedrooms. Quite the guard dog!

So last night we were out with friends for dinner and we left the kids with a new sitter. A sweet fellow homeschooler who is 20 days away from her 12th birthday!! Anyhow, she was thrilled to have Emma keep her company. We imagined that Emma would be glued to her side until we got home. When we came home, Emma was laying between the front door and the hallway to the kid's bedrooms. She was in the precise location that would enable her to have one eye on the front window and door and one eye on the kid's rooms. I've always wondered if she would protect the kids and low and behold, I guess she would. Who needs a sitter when you have a Rott! She's awesome!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Crafting

We have been busy little elves over the last month. I've decided that we are going to make some of our gifts this year. This always turns out to be way more time consuming and costly that I had originally planned. But it's the thought that counts and I love thinking about each receiver and what suits them! We're working on lots of stuff but I'll only show a few photos because I don't want to give away any surprises. After the holidays I'll post more photos and instructions! Here are some photos of the glycerin soaps we've been working on. I don't have pictures of our "best" soaps because I gave them away before I had a chance to get some shots of them. Really easy project to do with young or old!

Winter Birds

A few weeks ago we had a great day with friends learning about what birds do in the winter. After a little discussion the kids crafted a 3D bird - feathers and all! I love them! I'm tempted to have the kids make some more after the holidays and have them hang them from the dining room window. Perhaps we'll try an owl!

Basically cut out two bird shapes. Paint and decorate one. When it's dry, put the two pieces together and glue along the top edge. Stuff with crumbled paper or cotton balls and then glue the rest of the unglued edges together. Hang with string or twine. Thanks Laura! Love the idea.

Blog Catch-Up!

Volcano building accompanied by a drawing of the interior of an active volcano and a Magic Tree House book about Pompeii. When we find time we'll talk more about active and dormant volcanoes and find their locations on our big floor mat.