Monday, December 21, 2009

Every Day is a School Day

Even on picture day! Every place we go there is some kind of opportunity to learn. This picture was taken as I was explaining to them the difference between the dam at the lake where we take our boat and the kind of dam that a beaver builds. This was closer to what a beaver would build, but I am not sure that is what it is actually supposed to be. It made for an interesting conversation though! And now they can tell you the difference between the dam at Lake Conroe, and the kind of dams beavers build!

This is just proof that every time we are somewhere and they show an interest we have least to the best of my ability right off the top of my head!
Thanks again Kimberly for a wonderful photo session!

Friday, December 18, 2009 pictures!

I have been putting off getting pictures taken of the kids for a couple of reasons. First, I really didn't want your typical studio posed shots. They are both outside kids, so it just fits with me that we should do pictures outside. Second, I kept hearing that our homeschool group was going to have school pictures at a park, and I could do pictures that way. Well, I never actually heard of a date for that so it obviously never happened!

I was lamenting to my friend, Mrs. C, that I didn't have recent pictures of the kids and I didn't want to fight the crowds for the one guy at the most popular local studio that I will allow to take my kids pictures. She suggested that I contact Kimberly with Robbins photography & design. Am I ever glad I did! I have known Kimberly for a while, but didn't realize that she was such a talented photographer. Click here to see a few of the pictures she took. She really was able to capture their personalities. I am looking forward to having their bright shining (more grown-up) faces on my wall!

For the family (or friends) who might want some of these, let me know and I will share all of them with you and let you pick your favorites!

Little TD is growing up!

My sweet and precious little baby boy is growing up so fast! He recently celebrated his 4th birthday! I just can't believe it has been 4 years since he was born. He has the best energy and the sweetest heart. Happy 4th Birthday Little TD! We love you!!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pictures with Santa

We made our annual trek to visit Santa yesterday.

Princess TD was afraid to talk to him again this year, which is why they are standing in front of him instead of sitting in his lap. She was amazed when he came to talk to her and knew her name. She then decided she was on his "list" and then told him what she wanted for Christmas. I had her cut her wish list down to 4 items: a little Ariel baby, pink Trio blocks, a bike, and a keyboard.

Little TD was so excited, he couldn't wait to tell Santa what he wanted. His only request was for a 2-wheeled scooter, which he mentioned at least 4 times that I could hear. He also added that he would like the water cars that change color, Trio blocks, and a guitar.

I find it funny that they both asked for the Trio blocks and musical instruments. We received a small sample of the blocks as a free gift in a package that was shipped directly to Little TD for his birthday. It seems that it was a big hit in our house! For the instruments, I guess I need to do a little more for music lessons in our school!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Giving Thanks

We had a wonderful, quiet Thanksgiving holiday at home. The highlights of our weekend were our meal on Thursday and playing at the park on Friday.

I have received many funny looks and comments over the years about how I cook a turkey, but trust me, it is always delicious! Grandpa Forney always cooked the turkey this way, and it was never dry, so I have adopted this and use it in our family. The turkey is always stuffed with turkey stuffing, the skin is rubbed with butter, and it is slow cooked in a paper bag. Yes, that's right a paper bag. No, it doesn't catch on fire, even in a gas oven. It is always tender and juicy and looks beautiful. I have included a picture for proof.

Our table was set with my Grandma Ruff's china and silver. The table was beautiful. A good friend made fun of me a few years ago when they came over for Thanksgiving dinner because I used my grandmas china and silver, but used disposable cups. She said my table needed crystal. Well, since I didn't register for those things when we married (I didn't think I would "need" them), I didn't have any crystal. My mom took that as her idea for Christmas for our family and over the next few years, completed a set of water goblets and smaller glasses for the kids. Now, Mrs. C, I have the perfect table set up!

Here are some pictures of our day and our trip to the park:

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It seems Princess TD is more like her mom than previously thought! When I was close to her age, my aunt and uncle took me to one of the water slide parks that was built into the side of a hill. My uncle, now known as Uncle H-E-(r)B (after the new grocery store by our house), carried the rubber mat up the hill EVERY time I wanted to go back up, which from what I remember (and have been told) was A LOT! It seems that Princess TD loves riding her scooter DOWN the hill, but not back up...I am pretty sure I know where THAT came from! But unlike my sweet uncle, I was not going to be talked into carrying her scooter back up the hill for her! The last picture of her on the slide show, is her expression after I told her I wouldn't help her carry it back up! She managed to do it just fine without my help!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just in case...

you didn't know why we call Princess TD "princess," here's the all the proof you need:

Only "princesses" need to sleep with an eye mask made from a Little Mermaid costume for her bears!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crazy Busy

Things have been crazy and busy around our house this last couple of weeks.

Princess TD lost her first tooth! We had a very busy day with our homeschool park day, grocery shopping, AHG and then for me, ladies Bible study. So, as a special treat, I took Princess TD and Little TD to the doughnut store for breakfast. OK, really we were out of milk and at our house you can't have breakfast without milk! So we sit down to eat our doughnuts, and on the third or fourth bite, Princess TD has this strange look on her face, and I just know when I see her reach into her mouth, that she lost her tooth! She was thrilled and very proud to be catching up to all of her friends who have lost teeth!

Poor girl...she's just like her mommy...her adult tooth came in behind her baby tooth, and it really doesn't look like she lost it! The tooth next to it is doing the same thing. I am just very thankful that we didn't have to get the teeth pulled (I did).

Princess TD has also joined American Heritage Girls (AHG). This is a Christian based scouting organization. She is so excited to start earning badges. I just hope I can keep up with everything she wants to do. She is a Tenderfoot and will be in this level until she completes 3rd grade. It is a great bunch of girls and they are homeschooled as well. The leaders are great and I think we will all make some good friends in the group.

We took a field trip with our homeschool group to Dewberry Farms.

We had a great time and learned a lot about pumpkins and how they grow. Our guide was farmer Dewberry himself. I enjoyed listening to him talk about the area when he purchased the 100 acres and how he created the "farm" for kids. He explained to the curious homeschoolers about how the pumpkins grow from the flowers, showed us the start of pumpkins and pointed out the babies for us to avoid stepping on.

We all enjoyed the hayride....despite the looks on the faces!

I just had to take this picture of Justin looking out of the wagon. He was so excited and mesmerized by everything he saw on our ride. It was just so precious!

This past weekend we walked with our dear friends the DeCarlo family in the Houston Buddy Walk. the Buddy Walk is held to raise money and awareness about Down syndrome. We had a great time and got to see many friends we haven't seen in a while. It was so great to see all the people in blue supporting the families of those in red (the participants with Down syndrome wore red shirts). It was very emotional to say the least!
Princess TD was so happy to see her friend, S, again!

The TD fam after the walk. Thanks to Mrs. C for taking this great picture!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween Camping

This year we decided to go camping with some friends for Halloween weekend. The weather was absolutely beautiful and perfect for camping! We went to Jellystone Park in Waller, Texas. It was so much fun and geared for kids. We didn't let our kids run free, but they still had a great time. I do think they would have had a great time no matter where we went camping!

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

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We stayed until Monday, so Sunday afternoon was very quiet. By late afternoon, we were one of 3 or so campers left in the park. At that point, all of the flies and bees in the park figured out we were the only campers hanging out outside and swarmed us! It was so bad that we had to spend a couple of hours inside so they would all go away! We even went so far as to put a cup full of kool-aid on the next campsites table to draw them away. It didn't work and then a park worker came by and cleaned it up...I felt kind of bad about that!

We had to change our our wrist bands after Sunday at Noon. On the way to the office, I rode with one of the workers. We talked a bit and he and his family lived at the campground. He worked there to spend more time with his family (he was a truck driver). His 15 year old son was the one who played Yogi for the kids. Guess what? He is homeschooled! Yogi Bear is homeschooled! Princess TD was a lot more interested in talking to Yogi once she found out he was homeschooled like her!

This was the weekend of the fall time change. It really throws you off when you are somewhere that you don't actually have to BE somewhere! Sunday evening, it got dark, we got the kids cleaned up and ready for bed. We decided we'd let them stay up a "little late" and watch a movie before going to sleep. We got them all set in bed watching their movie. Mr. TD and I settled down on the couch, talking about what we should do until the movie was over. Thinking they might fall asleep early since it had been an active day, and it was getting late, I looked at my watch (which I wasn't wearing) and saw that it was 6:30 pm! Yes, we put our kids to bed at 6:30!!! Needless to say, that explained why Mr. TD and I weren't tired! The kids stayed awake for the whole movie and then went to sleep at their normal time!

All in all, it was a great time! Our family enjoyed the time together and the time of relaxation!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

School Update

School is going so well. Both kids love school and they love doing it together! Sometimes this causes a distraction when Little TD is doing something that Princess TD deems as "more fun" than what she is doing, but we manage to work through it and get it done.

Little TD is doing great! He is having a blast learning his letters and numbers. He is still using both his right and his left hand for everything. He just switches back and forth depending on which hand is easier to use for the particular task. I am beginning to think more and more that he will be ambidextrous. He is moving at a bit of a slower pace. I don't want to finish this program too early. It is my intention to move him toward a Kindergarten level for the next school year, but I don't want to start him too early, since he will be early to begin with. He loves learning and that is what I want to encourage. We will move forward as he is ready. He loves to pretend he's not paying attention. We have a little rhyme that we do every week. He loves to make me think he's not paying attention when I do the rhyme, but by the end of the week, he's saying it with me! Little turkey!

Princess TD is doing great. She is reading up a storm! Her favorite thing to read is her young readers edition of the NIV Bible. I am not going to complain about that, however, she is not good at marking the place where she stops. She sent us looking for the "part she was reading that said, 'Praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord all my life." Well, we had to look through her edition to find it, but we did. This is her favorite passage right now:

Psalm 146:1-2

"Praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord all my life.
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

Her favorite subject is history right now. She loves learning about the Pilgrims and their trek to America. She also loves science and math. Math has gotten a bit harder for her, but she is still doing well. We are about to start Singapore 1B which is the second book in the level 1. I don't know what level this compares to at the public school level. I have heard some say that it is more toward the first part of 2nd grade. It has been too long for me to remember! Her least favorite thing to do is copywork. We are studying various forms of poetry and she is assigned to copy some of the lines. I was having her do 3-4 lines and she was fighting me every step of the way. I cut it back to 2 lines, and have added copying her memory verse for the week, and so far she has given up fighting me. She loves learning too, and of course I want to continue to encourage that!

I love watching them learn and grow. It is such a blessing to be able to homeschool them. Here are a few pictures of our latest projects.

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Playing Catch Up

I am seriously behind in posting updates to the blog. I created a post back in August about Princess TD's birthday, and just got it posted today. If you want to see the pictures, the post is here.

This post will be about our trip to St. Louis to visit Mr. TD while he was working and my family. We had a great time despite living in a hotel room for 3 weeks. It was great to see some family and friends that I haven't seen in quite a while! However, I learned on this trip, that no matter how long you visit somewhere, it is not long enough to see everyone you want to see!

Here are a few highlights of our trip:

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

School Days

It has been a while since I have posted anything about school. This year has started out fabulous! One of our homeschool groups had a back to homeschool pizza party at a local inflatable place. It was a great group and the kids all played wonderfully together! (Note: Any of my local friends who might be considering homeschooling are welcome to join us for any activity. Let me know if you are interested and I will let you know the next time we get together.)

Back to homeschool pizza party!

Unfortunately, I have not been keeping up with pictures of our school days. I have a few, but somehow I keep forgetting to get pictures when we have the dining room/school table all covered with work! It is so much fun and the kids just love what they are learning!
Princess TD loves every aspect of school. Her favorite subject varies from day to day. She always loves doing the science experiments. Here are a couple of pictures of our experiment in seeing how blubber keeps whales warm. Each of them coated one hand in shortening, and the other one was bare. The shortening covered hand was supposed to stay warmer than the non coated hand. With 4 hands in a bowl, it seemed that all hands got somewhat coated, so there was really no scientific conclusion made here. They did have fun! Thankfully Mr. TD got home from work about the time we were doing this experiment, or we wouldn't have had pictures since my hands were coated from coating their hands!

For one of our art projects, Princess TD was to make a shield based on Psalm 18:1-6 decorated with symbols from those verses. When I gave her the assignment, I told her that the Lord is our shield and our protector and when you are scared, you need to trust God to protect you. I then asked her to draw on the shield the things that let her know that God is protecting her. Here she is with her finished product, and a close-up shot of what she drew.
In case the pictures aren't clear, we have a bear, a dog, grass, flowers, a river, the sun, clouds, a rainbow, and Jesus watching from heaven (at the top of the shield). Very sweet!
Of course, Little TD had to get in on the action too. Here he is with his shield.

Little TD is loving his school as well. We started his "school" last spring, and he wasn't quite ready to be sitting for the 20 minutes that it takes us to do his lessons. So, we put it back on the shelf until this school year. Now he can't wait to do school and is catching on so quickly. We have spent the first few weeks reviewing what we had done in the spring. I didn't want to re-do everything, but I didn't want to not refresh his memory either. I think it is paying off for him with the little review we did! One of the activities for him is to tape a giant sized letter on the floor for him to interact with. Sometimes, he's not interested in the specific activity, so I just improvise. Here he is walking the capital B to learn the proper way to form the letter.
Of course, when school is over, they have a great time playing "chase" on the letter. We have only had one major collision, but no bruises!

Here is Princess TD practicing her spelling words. I will do a separate post on the program she is using. It is really pretty neat and a great program for spelling practice.

We are reading the genre of biography for Princess TD right now. I couldn't decide between the girl interest selections and the general interest selections, so I bought them both. Since I wasn't sure how she would take to the new books, I began with the biography of Helen Keller. She loves learning about true things, people and stories. (I think she is taking after her mommy there!) She wanted to know what it would be like to be blind, so I tied a scarf around her eyes, and had her clean up her school stuff.

Then afterward, I had her walk around the living room. This was a little bit harder, because we had just moved the furniture around a couple of days before. She did pretty well, but when it was all said and done, she was very thankful that she could see.

We have had school at the park a couple of times. That is so much fun. I think we will be doing that more often as the weather cools. It is nice to be able to take a break and watch the squirrels, or spot a butterfly, or a group of ants carrying a goldfish cracker! School takes a little bit longer on those days, but it is so worth it! Next time, I'll try to remember to take my camera!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A New System

Earlier in the year I posted this about creating a rewards system for Princess TD. That system worked very well for it's intended purpose. She was able to redeem a few "fish" for a playdate with her best friend, computer time and some special time with either mom or dad. But there was something missing.

Both Princess TD and Little TD, just like every other typical child out there, didn't want to help with chores around the house.

A couple of years ago, we started giving Princess TD a quarter every day that she completed her chores. On Saturday night, we would sit down and separate those quarters into 3 piles, church, piggy bank (savings) and spending money. (Periodically I would exchange the quarters for dollars in her spending money; with a lesson in identifying money as well!) Although this was/is working well, we see that there is still a need for something more.

In June, I attended a homeschool conference and saw the booth there for Accountable Kids. I found the system very intriguing and the lady there gave me a CD that described the system. I watched it. I liked the system. I did some research. Signed up for the newsletter and contemplated purchasing the system vs. creating one of my own. I decided that my time was valuable, and that I didn't need to recreate something that has already been done. In August, I attended another homeschool conference and they had a booth there as well! I purchased the system on Friday, decorated the boards the next week, and jumped right in!

Let me just say...I LOVE this system! We are just getting started with it all, but so far it's great!

Here's how it works:

Both Princess TD and Little TD have their responsibilities that they are required to complete each day. They have morning, afternoon and evening chores. These chores are just their way of helping out in making the household run. No allowance or money is earned for these chores. For each chore group that they complete, (morning, afternoon or evening) they earn a ticket. Those tickets can be traded for privileges that they want to have. We use mainly computer time or choosing a show for TV time. The next step (we are still working on consistently remembering to do our chores, so we haven't done anything from here on) is to earn a sticker on the "Date Night" for each day that all three tickets are earned. Once the card is filled up, they earn a special one-on-one "date" with either mom or dad. There are extra chores that can be added to each board. The extra chores are ones that the child can choose to help with and that will earn them money. At the end of the week, you hold a family meeting which is where the extra chore cards are redeemed for money.

So far I really like what I see with this system. It encourages the children to take responsibility for being part of the family. Just within the few weeks we have been using the system, I see both Princess TD and Little TD volunteering to do extra things around the house. They are both offering to help each other with their chores. Just last night, I found Princess TD taking a sponge and wiping toothpaste from the counter in the bathroom that Little TD had spilled!

If you are looking for a chore chart system, or something to replace an old chore chart that's not quite working anymore, I encourage you to take a look at this! I think you will be surprised how easy it is, even for young kids.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For the Parents of Truck Crazy Little Boys

Little boys are so different from little girls.

The most amazing difference to me is how they were born making truck sounds!

Little TD loves trucks and cars, 4-wheelers and motorcycles, trains and planes; really anything with wheels or wings! Having grown tired of the typical morning fare for our TV time, I decided to search through our channel selection for something new and different for us to watch. Much to my surprise, I "discovered" something new on Discovery Kids (ok, not new; but new to me) Bigfoot Presents: Meteor the Monster Truck!

Being from the same hometown as the real Bigfoot, I set the episode to record for later previewing by me. I was truly impressed with the content of the show. We have learned about teamwork, responsibility, patience and friendship. We have 20 episodes recorded and it has become the favorite program choice for our TV time. (Princess TD even asks to watch it!)

As an added bonus, Little TD has taken to creating his own monster truck courses for his cars to travel. He has become very creative in coming up with items he finds to pretend to "crush" (his favorite being my cap). Old "baby" board books make great ramps. Paper makes a great "gunk" sound when you land there after a jump. His cars have taken on personalities and now interact with each other. It is so fun to watch him play cars!

If you haven't seen the show, I encourage you to take some time to check it out...especially if you have a truck crazy little boy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Little TD has a Big Boy Room

Yes, Little TD has finally rid his room of the crib. He officially has a big boy room (with the exception of the Pull-ups which we sometimes have to use still....) . He is so proud of his new room, and he is doing a great job keeping it clean. Here are a couple of pics for you to see what it looks like!

First Day of School

With our travels this summer, Mr. TD coming home and taking a week off, we were a little late in starting school. Well, we never really stop schooling. Just like most every other school kid in the area, we began our "new" school year today.

Here is Princess TD all dressed and ready to go for her 6 year old school.

As you can see, the look on her face is less than enthusiastic. She was not at all excited to begin 6 year old school, because Daddy was still home from work. She wanted to be with him and not doing school. She fought me for the first little bit, but then she ended up loving the new guide! We are using Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory for her 6 year old school. This is the same publisher we used last year, Heart of Dakota.

Little TD was much more excited to begin his pre-kindergarten year! Here he is just before we began our lessons.
We just picked up where we left off with our guide prior to all of our travels. He is continuing in his guide, Little Hands to Heaven, also by Heart of Dakota. He had a blast cutting, pasting, coloring and listening to his Bible story. We even read a couple of books while Princess TD was completing her copywork. He is much more ready to sit still for the 30 minutes or so it takes us to do his school, than he was last spring.

All in all, today was a good day and we are all looking forward to another great year homeschooling!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Princess TD Turns 6

Since we were out of town pretty much immediately after her birthday party, I haven't posted anything about Princess TD turning 6! I can't believe it has been 6 years since she was born, she is growing up so fast and becoming a big girl in front of my eyes.

This year for her party, she wanted an American Girl theme. Since she didn't tell me until the week of her party, she decided to go with a July 4th theme, which, by the way, is much easier to do considering that IS her birthday! We decided this year to rent an inflatable and since it was a holiday weekend (and they are closed on Sunday) we got a great deal and had the inflatable from Friday to Monday! All of the kids loved playing on it!

Here are a few pictures.

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We love you Princess TD!

A Bit Envious

I am feeling envious this year of all of the moms and kids out shopping for school supplies. I always loved picking out new folders, pencils and such for the start of the school year. I just look as I walk past all of the new folders, lunchboxes, crayons (I just LOVE new crayons) and all of the other stuff that goes along with it.

As a homeschooler, I don't NEED much of that kind of stuff. The pack of pencils I bought 2 or so years ago when we were doing preschool, still has more than enough to cover us probably through the elementary years! We don't lose pencils, we don't share them, so a pack of 10 will last quite a while! We do need paper and other consumables, but not much.

We do get to "shop" for curriculum, but again, I am set in that area too. We have found something that works, and we're not "shopping" for anything new. We just have to pick a date and start.

In past years, we have purchased school supplies to donate to needy children. We did that again this year, so I got my school supply fix by purchasing supplies for our pantry for the needy at our church.

I feel so much better having bought new pencils, erasers and crayons. Now we can start school!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Something new...

We have been in St. Louis visiting family for most of July, so I have a lot to post about. First, Princess TD has something new she wants to share!

Yes, that's right! She got her ears pierced. She has been asking for a while, and I have been trying to put her off, hoping she would wait until she was old enough to take care of them herself, but she wore me down! Mr. TD gave his approval over the phone, and when she found out he said yes, she couldn't wait to go get it done.

Here she is as the first side is being done.

Here she is for the other side...not so thrilled about the second time!

After it was all over, she was more than happy to model her new earrings!

Now she is walking around saying, "I can't believe I got my ears pierced! I can't feel it anymore. Can you Mom?" She is so excited and is ready to count down the 6 weeks until she can change them!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Sew" That's What's Happening!

Yes, we have been sewing!!! Princess TD had decided that she wants to learn to sew. When we went to the homeschool convention at the beginning of June, Princess TD saw a vendor that had a book on how to sew doll clothes. I bought the book, and the pillowcase kit for her to do. Well, she has been bugging me every day since then to do her "sewing school." I finally gave in, and have recruited reinforcements (aka Grammie) for future lessons.

Here she is making her pillowcase:

And the finished product!

We got a kid sized table from one of our neighbors after their daughter outgrew it. We have had it on our back porch, but at the request of Princess TD, we cleaned it up and put it in her room for a tea party table. She wanted a table cloth to use that had so many specific requests, no mortal mom could accommodate them. So, after our first VBS, we visited Interior Fabrics and found some fabric that she LOVED for her room. So, mom went into design mode to make a table cloth that resembled a flower when lain out on the floor. I think it needs some girly bling, but here it is:

Oh, and did I mention it's reversible?

And here it is all set up with tea for the bears!

Even though she looks so grown up, she's still a little girl at heart!

And for the final project of the week, a window seat! Mr. TD has wanted a covered cushion for the box window in our kitchen. I finally found a zipper foot that would fit my machine, so I was able to make the coordinating cording that he wanted. (He's really not that into decorating, he just wanted a cushion to match the valances.) I had bought fabric to make the valances, but ended up finding them much cheaper in a store. I ended up just making the one for our door. I didn't have enough fabric to make the cushion and match the plaid, so I was on the search for something that would coordinate. My good friend JSue was looking for fabric too, so we took the opportunity to shop the fabric stores sans kids (except Carter) while the kids were at VBS. She's still looking, but I found what I wanted. Here's the finished product!

Now, if I could only find fabric for the living and dining room curtains.