Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pinewood Derby

Our first pinewood derby experience is behind us!  This is William's first year doing any type of scouting program and I had heard what a big deal the pinewood derby was, but had never expected anything like we encounted!  William designed his car himself and with the help of a kind gentleman at the "build" he got help cutting it out and was told how to sand the vehicle. William painted the car (the first coat) completely by himself, although I did help him by adding another couple of coats of red paint once he did the first coat! An employee at Home Depot helped us pick out washers to add weight to the car.  Although he had "help" from adults, it was truely William's car.  What disappointed him was to hear and see how many cars weren't the cubscouts work (I honestly wondered in some cases if the cubscout worked on the car at all)....I think I probably even ticked a few dads off that I overheard saying things like "MY car" and could correct them and say "you mean your SON'S car" yes, I really don't care if people think I am a complete bitch....good thing that William was so absorbed in watching the cars race that he couldn't hear the whispers from adults in the group about ways they "cheated" by changing out axels or buying similiar looking wheels that "no one could tell didn't come with the kit"....

OK enough of a rant....each car raced on each lane of the track one time, so each car went down the track 6 times!  Williams car finished 6th 4 times, 5th 1 time, and 4th 1 time.  Its top speed (we believe, I missed the speed of one race) was 204.3 MPH! One of the boys raced his car, still shaped like the BLOCK OF WOOD and it even beat William's car!   For those interested the top car overall went 214 MPH and was supposedly designed by a child in 1st grade!  The entire derby took just under 2 hours, as there were 80 heats run!  William had a good time, although he got a bit antsy that they "forgot" about his car when it didn't race for over 20 races (a computer program randomly assigned the cars to heats).

William said he is looking forward to designing another car next year.....and hasn't decided what his goal will be...to design a FASTER car or one that comes in DEAD LAST every race!

William with his car and certificate.  He was a bit upset that they put "Will" on his certificate instead of William!

We did find a really cool pinewood derby site, but the directions were way over William's head, so we didn't use they to build our car since it was my belief that it was supposed to be William's project!  Maybe next year will used some of the ideas from the website....William will be a year old, and I am a year smarter!http://www.goaskgrandpa.com/Sample01.htm

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Window

These aren't the best pictures, but I wanted to share our winter window.  We decided since we have a large front window and I have been a bit negligent in doing crafts with the younger kids over the past few years, that it was time to step up to the plate, and they are LOVING it!

For January, we did SNOWFLAKES.  We used some patterns that we found in a book, some we found online and some we cut freehand!  We were happy with the results!

A few snowflake pattern sites:




We learned that it was easier for the littles to save the file to the computer and then print it full page!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A few FREE educational links

Alicia posted this at the Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/homeschooling-in-mankato/25-free-math-sites-for-games-challenges-worksheets-and-more great article with 25 free math sites!

Shawna posted this link on her facebook page: http://www.marcandangel.com/2010/11/15/12-dozen-places-to-self-educate-yourself-online/ a great idea in this day and age with the skyrocketing cost of education and diplomas that don't seem to be worth the paper they are printed on, just ask all the recent grads out there serving coffee at Starbucks or delivering pizzas (not knocking either job, 2 great dads that I know happen to be doing those jobs to support their families!), more just saying that I don't know if I would want to go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in this economy, especially when you can learn for FREE!

A completely free online curriculum for grades K-5 for those of you who are inclined to use such things!  http://www.lessonpathways.com/Splash  I like the way that each subject is broken down into weekly lesson plans and that you have the ability to mix grade levels depending on your child's skill level and interest, something you typically can't do with a boxed curriculum.

And at this site http://www.freelyeducate.com/ the name FREELY EDUCATE says it all!

Hope that you find some inspiration!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple (and super yummy) coleslaw recipe

My friend Melodie shared this YUMMY and SUPER SIMPLE recipe for coleslaw with me and I think it is definitely the best coleslaw I have ever made.  It tastes surprisingly like a certain fast food restaurant that serves FRIED CHICKEN and has a white haired colonel as their spokesperson!


1 (16 oz bag) shredded coleslaw blend
1 cup light Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
In a large bowl, stir together the coleslaw mix with Miracle Whip, sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper until blended.

Make it early as possible so it has time to set.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Co-op Art Class

I volunteered to lead the art class for the younger kids at our Monday Co-op for this winter.  I am having so much fun with it and I love seeing the kids creations each week.  The class is small, 4 girls all around the age of 8-9 and then 2 younger students (age 4) who sometimes chose to participate.  Both Sophia and Luke are in the class.  Sometimes Tori and Jackson cooperate and actually let me LEAD the class!  What was I thinking teaching with 2 babies in tow?

The idea for the class was to introduce the masters to the students and we came up with a basic syllabus for who we would introduce and how many projects we would do for that artist.  I have had great luck using the website ART PROJECTS FOR KIDS http://www.artprojectsforkids.org/ to find projects to work on with the class.

The plan is to study the following artists and do the related project:
For Van Gogh--Sunflowers and Starry Night
For Monet--water lilies and Irises
For Picasso -- "how to draw a cubist portrait" and also a cubist paper bag costume
For Mondrian-- geometric watercolor paintings
For Escher--tessellations (very cool, I had no idea what these were!)
I also found a great project to do for Pollock, can't decide if I consider him to be a master or not, but since his painting is #1 on the list of the most expensive painting ever sold, I am leaning that direction!  http://www.unitednow.com/product/10656/watercolor-magic-jackson-pollock-action-painting-project-31.aspx

So far we have done:
Sophia's Sunflowers


Sophia's Starry Night

My water lilies with a little "extra" watercolor seeping through from the back side!

Sophia's interpretation of Water Lilies, love her FROG!

Can't wait to continue with the rest of the projects and see what the kids (and some of the adults) end up producing!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tori Riesenberg--our miracle girl

This is Emily's English class project for this week!   Tori is our little miracle!  Hard to believe that she is 15 months old now and WALKING!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cool Blog: My Simpler Life

I found this blog on the suggestion of a friend: http://www.mysimplerlife.com/blog/
There is a great "decluttering" calendar for those of you who wish to get "on top" of your clutter this year:
I had to chuckle a bit....if I follow the calendar to the letter, I will be decluttering the same 2 kitchen drawers all the time, but heck, maybe that is just what I need to do at this point in my life!  I will say I feel so much "lighter" after declutter and prioritizing during the chaos that turned into our recent move.  My manta became "don't leave the house without a box of items to donate" and for over 3 weeks, I never did!  I have the donation receipts to prove it!  Even since the move, we have started what I call the "donation box" that sits in the trunk of the van and we put things in it as we find we no longer need them and I plan to stop weekly (or sooner if the box gets too full) and drop the items off.
I also really like her idea of a "check in jar", although I am thinking I might compile my list of questions and just post them on the wall by the computer or in the bathroom or on my closet door:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We didn't let the fact that we were ringing out the old year with snotty noses and hacking coughs put a damper on our celebration!  Wishing all of you the most blessed of 2012 and sweet memories of 2011!  Even given how exhausting and draining 2011 was, there are good memories that I will hold onto forever!

snotty nose and all she is just ADORABLE, her smile melts my heart!

New Year's Wreath I made with items found on clearance!

the clock strikes MIDNIGHT!

welcome 2012!

the target of most of the silly string!

A New Year Thought --I have no idea who to give credit to, but I love the sentiment! 

"A new year is unfolding—like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within. Lord, let this year be filled with the things that are truly good—with the comfort of warmth in our relationships, with the strength to help those who need our help and the humility and openness to accept help from others. As we make our resolutions for the year ahead, let us go forward with great hope that all things can be possible—with Your help and guidance."