Monday, December 1, 2014

December first already?

  We were so excited that it was finally December first.  The boys happily dug into their advent calendar candies and asked about our crafts for the day.  I had warned them they still have to do math and reading every day and then we'll pick our daily craft or do some holiday baking or something else equally fun.  Today's craft was making birdseed wreaths.  Unfortunately, I realized early this morning I was missing a key ingredient and so we needed to head out to the store.  While we were heading out I made up a list and the next thing I knew we had three stores and a stop at the library planned.  Ian offered to make us all waffles from scratch again this morning.  They came out super yummy again (though I forgot he had asked me to take over the cooking of the last batch and so mine were a bit over cooked and crunchy).  While we all ate I read two books-- One called The Elf on The Shelf:  A Christmas Tradition.  Alec had been asking me about it since he was to young to remember the last time we read the story and Evan didn't even know our elf had come with a story.  Since our elf is back with us again this year I thought this was the best time to re-read it.  After we finished that we read The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett.  Evan immediately recognized this author and her books and commented that he loves the mini pictures on the sides of the story that show what's coming next.  It was an adorable story and since we read all of her other holiday books last year we just had to read this one this year. 

   Once breakfast was over and we were all ready to go we piled into the car.  Alec brought a few chapter books with him and read whenever we were in the car.  We stopped at the various stores and got our supplies.  We had a mini chat with our cashier at Target.  She remembered us from last week and asked "you homeschool right? I don't know how you do it.  I have three boys too and after 5 days home with the Thanksgiving holiday I was so happy to see that bus come and pick them up.  There was so much bickering and fighting. "  I had to laugh because as she commented my older two were bickering and fighting.  I admitted that some days I have no idea how I do it either and that I find winter particularly difficult.  Luckily it was nice out and we had parked our car in the middle of the lot so we did a lot of walking around from store to store soaking in the fresh air.  Had it not been so close to lunch by the time we finished our errands I would have taken them all on a nature hike today.  We all marveled at how nice the weather was for the end of November... and then remembered it was the first of December! 
   Once home I told the older boys I'd find them an add and color or similar type worksheet for math.  They love the add and color (or multiply and color or any kind of coloring/ math page really).  I thought it would be quick and easy to find something holiday themed and fun but boy was I wrong!  I must have spent (wasted?) another hour of our day looking on line for something fun and age appropriate.  If Evan had wanted an add and color page I would have been all set.  I found many for k-2 but none for the upper grades.  I was so bummed and finally told them they could have a read fun day and just work on one of the sheets I found reviewing basic addition facts.  I decided to break down and buy a book of Mystery Picture Math printables.  If they think that's fun why not use them more often?  With the older boys set I settled down to work with Evan.

   While I had been busy searching fruitlessly for some math coloring sheets Alec was busy reading his Warriors book and the other two boys were on YouTube watching a series of shows called Man At Arms.  My husband introduced the two younger boys to this show over the weekend.  The men are blacksmiths and they take swords shown in movies, comics, video games, etc. and make them in their forge.  They've watched the making of the Thor's Hammer, the Minecraft Diamond Sword, and a Pok√©mon sword as well as a few others.  They just love it and my husband assures me it's quite educational showing how the forge works and how they make their plans reality.  While they were on YouTube already I showed them Sadie Robertson's Mario dance from her time on Dancing With the Stars.  I figured between the younger boys love of Mario and Ian's love of the Duck Dynasty clan it was the perfect video for them to enjoy together.  Once they were done I told them it was well past time to get to work.  It was already 11:45!
   Evan wanted nothing to do with the holidays and asked if we could work in his Star Wars books and read another elephant and piggy book.  That all sounded great to me so we settled in to work.  He picked a page on addition in his star Wars book and we took turns writing the answers to the problems.  He did a great job adding them up quickly and accurately.  We then moved on to his phonics book and worked on rhyming word pairs.  He found this supremely frustrating as he kept trying to match up the initial consonant sounds and not the ending chunks.  We did finish two pages and he seemed to be getting the hang of it by the end.  We then read Today I will Fly! These books are the perfect fit for him.  Difficult enough he has to stop and sound out and really look at the words and yet easy enough that he can read at a sufficient pace to understand and really "get" the story.  He just loves them and I was dismayed to find that we checked the last three books out of our library today.  I'm already looking around to see what I can find that might be just as good as all the elephant and piggy books. 
    With Evan all done school and the older boys working independently I worked on making a wreath.  I went to a wreath making party over the weekend and made two wreaths out of greenery for our outside doors but I had one metal wreath form left over and really wanted a wreath for the inside of our door.  I found a few burlap wreaths that I really liked but style- wise that would never work in our house.  I found some deco mesh at the local craft store and whipped up a wreath while the boys were finishing up their schoolwork and making lunch.  They all watched me and complimented me on my work.  It was my third attempt at a wreath today and I think it was important for them to see me take it apart and try again over and over until I was happy with the results. 

   Ian offered to make macaroni and cheese for both himself and Evan and read through the instructions on the box making the whole lunch by himself.  I did help with draining the water out of the pan since the sink was filled with our breakfast dishes and I didn't want him to attempt to hold the strainer while draining the water out.  Alec was busy making himself pita chips and hummus and they were soon settled at the table with their food.  They asked me to start reading our last Heroes of Olympus book; The Blood of Olympus, but I asked them if they wouldn't mind finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix first.  As much as I can't wait to hear what happens to Percy and all of his friends I think one huge chapter book at a time is enough for us, but we'll see.  I might break down and start reading it to them anyway.  You can never have to many stories right? 
   After lunch Ian assured me he had read a chapter in his Roscoe Riley and so all three boys were done with school.  We worked together to make a few birdseed wreaths.  I had the boys take turns measuring, mixing, and reading the instructions.  Rather than double the recipe we had found we decided to mix them up in two separate batches.  We were making two wreaths for some of our bird enthusiast relatives and I think the boys really enjoyed this craft.  We set aside the pans to dry and firm up overnight and we'll add some hanging ribbons to them tomorrow and wrap 'em up. 
Preparing the pan

Mixing up the base

pressing in the birdseed mixture to fill in all the nooks and crannies

    Ian went to play outside and the younger two boys wandered around restless while I cleaned up the kitchen, did the dishes, and made up a turkey pot pie for tonight's dinner.  The younger boys had their video games taken away until Christmas when they really started acting up yesterday and causing lot so family friction.  Their behavior had been getting steadily worse over the past week and the immense attitude we were given when asking for their help (so we could finish up and take them to the movies) yesterday was my final straw.  Ordinarily I would have taken the movie away and did offer to stay home with them while my husband took Ian but my husband was determined to have a fun family day and since I could tell it was the games that were causing the strife and attitude anyway I took them away.  I might have gone a bit overboard taking them away for so long but they're already asking if they can earn them back and I'm sure I'll let them but I have warned them they can't keep asking and their behavior has to be amazingly good.  I guess we'll just wait and see.
   It started raining so Ian had to come in and all the boys talked me into playing ping pong ball with them.  We took turns playing in pairs or having single tournament games.  It was tons of fun and I had the boys laughing even when Evan was playing horribly bad and might have cried otherwise.  I am a pretty bad ping pong player so I'm great at cracking jokes over where the ball goes and stuff.  Ian beat us all repeatedly and eventually we decided to pack it in.  It was a lot of fun and I'm glad they talked me into playing.  It was the perfect way to end our day. 

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