Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring is Around the Corner

We have been keeping ourselves busy lately.

- Pumpkin's class had achievement testing last week, so as a result an entire week of NO homework.  Yay!!!!!
- We have spent quality time with family and friends.
- I received an amazing and uplifting letter this week.
- We splurged and went out to eat at a nearby restaurant and were surprised that it was a kids eat free night. 
- The days are getting warmer!

- Hubby put the kids' birthday presents from grandpa together this past week.
- I cleaned the homework table off this week and have been trying to keep it clear.
- I would like to try to tackle and organize the great room during the month of April.

- We have seen sholvers, mallard ducks, great blue heron, kingfisher, grey fox, white tailed deer, cardinals, dark eyed juncos, Canada geese, raccoon, and green sunfish in the yard this week.
- Pumpkin and Princess encountered a crawdad (crayfish) in the creek today.  Unfortunately it gave them quite a fright and they had to be rescued by Daddy.
-  Out and about, I have seen green winged teal, turkeys, red bellied woodpecker, cooper's hawk, red eared slider, turkey vulture, sea gulls, and so much more.

- Pumpkin has been enjoying listening to Roscoe Riley Rules: Don't Swap Your Sweater for a Dog by Katherine Applegate.
- Hubby just finished reading Watchers at the Pond by Franklin Russell.
- I have been reading Unmending The Veil by Lisa Heaton on the Kindle.  I just started reading The Get Yourself Organized Project by Kathi Lipp yesterday. 
- Princess has been listening to a variety of books too.

- The brussel sprouts were yummy!  

Garlic Parmesan Brussel Sprouts

fresh brussel sprouts
sea salt
cracked pepper
garlic salt
2 tablespoons light olive oil
fresh parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and quarter brussel sprouts.  Toss with olive oil and spread on baking sheet.  Season with sea salt, cracked pepper, and garlic salt to taste.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Add parmesan and bake for additional 2 minutes.

- Tonight we tried garlic butter asparagus.  Yum again!  Can you tell that we like garlic?!?

Garlic Butter Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus
4 garlic cloves
1/2 stick butter

Dice garlic cloves and cube butter add to a skillet on medium high heat.  Add cleaned asparagus spears (I removed the bottom 1/2 inch of the stalk) to the skillet once the butter is melted.  Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Think We Can! I Think We Can!

We have been experimenting with Pumpkin and how to motivate him in regards to education. 

Poker Chip Incentive
The grounding concept of this idea came from our childhood development pediatrician.  She had used a similar idea on her ADHD son when he was in junior high and high school.  We modified it for our first grader. 

Idea:  Use poker chips as an incentive to award appropriate behavior. 

Our Goal: To teach Pumpkin to concentrate and focus while working on school work.  A subgoal is to teach Pumpkin the value of money.

What we did:  I got a bag of old poker chips from my grandma's house and gave them a bath in the sink.  I used a permanent marker and wrote "A" on 10 blue chips, "B" on 10 red chips, and "V" on 10 white chips and placed them into a baggie.  Then I made an awards chart listing how many chips are required to earn each incentive.  We told Pumpkin that every time he brings a paper home with the grade of A, B, or V (very good) he will earn a chip.  Once he earns enough chips he can trade the chips in (like money) to collect incentives.  We found a plastic jar with a lid to deposit his chips into like a bank.

Results:  He has brought home papers with higher grades.  He has finished more in-class assignments in whole instead of leaving blank answers when he forgot or got distracted.  The purpose of this is to not make him feel like he needs to get only A's or B's.  It is to make him realize that he knows the answers and can do well on his assignments if he takes the time to focus and concentrate at the task at hand.  It is perfectly fine with me if he brings a C home, I just do not want to see the D's or F's when I know that he has the answers floating around inside his head.  So far he earn his way to see the Lego Movie and trade 7 chips to earn dinner out at the restaurant that Auntie works.  I think that he wants to work on earning the Hot Wheel Mega Loop Mayhem Track next. 

Reading Rescue 1-2-3
Pumpkin continues to have issues with reading.  We have yet to fully recover from a non-family adult telling him that she would use reading as a punishment for inappropriate behavior this past summer.  I have consulted with our friendly children department librarians for help.  The head children's librarian suggested Reading Rescue 1-2-3 by Peggy Wilber.  I have found the book useful.  I have used the test to assess Pumpkin's reading level.  He is on level 1c according to their book.  The areas that we need to work on currently are reading short passages with accuracy and rhyming.  When testing him he would say an associated word instead of rhyming word.  For example when I say "bear", he would say "polar bear" instead of something like "hair". Or "red" would end up with a made up word such as "smed".  This book gives a lot of easy to use ideas and is not hard to understand for phonic challenged parents.  

The librarians also suggested that we read books to Pumpkin that he likes.  Since he likes listening to the Junie B. Jones series, they recommended the Roscoe Riley Rules series.  Pumpkin is really enjoying listening this particular series since it has a boy for the main character.  They also suggested non-fiction books about things that Pumpkin enjoys.  Today we checked out books about sharks, snakes, butterflies, and camouflage.

Educational Games
We have been trying a variety of games to help entice Pumpkin to practice and learn words.  

POP for Rhyming

Oh my!  Such an amazing and fun game, both Pumpkin and Princess enjoy playing this.  It has picture bubbles and a spinner.  You spin to see how many bubbles to pull out of the container.  For each bubble you say the name of the image then say a word that rhymes.  If you rhyme correctly you keep the bubble, if the word does not rhyme the bubble goes into a discard pile.  If you get a POP bubble all of your bubbles goes back into the container.  The player with 10 bubbles wins. 

POP for Sight Words

We also enjoy this game.  Pumpkin gets about 80% of the words correct.  This will be a great game to continue helping him to become more fluent with reading.  It is similar to the POP for Rhyming except the cards look like popcorn and you play until the container is empty.  Pumpkin was enjoying it so much that he had his Hot Wheels playing too, so he would say their cards for them.  I looked up the company's website and there is a POP for Sight Words 2.  I will have to look into purchasing that version in the future. 

Spelling Word Matching Game

Pumpkin's teacher suggested that we turn Pumpkin's spelling words into a matching game to make the learning process fun.  Every Sunday I make up a batch of matching cards for Pumpkin to practice at great grandma's house before and after school.  I make the cards out of index cards that have been cut in half.  Pumpkin plays traditional matching with them, but has came up with a new game on his own.  He has great grandma hide one set of the cards in a different room.  He takes his matching set and looks for the cards.  When he find a matching pair, he says the word and then spells the word.  Each evening at home we work on write each spelling word twice and our spelling sentence twice.

So we are trudging along and exploring what works to help Pumpkin.  Princess should be a wiz at reading before we know it since she gets roped into playing our games to help Pumpkin.  If anyone has any ideas to try on Pumpkin, we are all ears!

The last few posts have mentioned sickness.  After about two months we are almost sickness free.  Pumpkin got his pneumonia shot earlier this week.  Princess has a bit of a runny nose.  My voice has returned and I am not coughing too much now.  Of course after all this time it would be silly to believe that I would reach 100% so soon, so as fate would have it, I sprained my ankle on Thursday.  Go figure!  At least I got a nifty new ankle brace through my workplace.

One of these days I will get back to attempting to loose a few pounds.  Maybe I can tempt hubby to join in too.  I need to get myself to my quirky normal before I can attempt to even go on a leisurely walk, take a hike, or play with the kids in the yard.  I guess that I could at least start with eating more fruits and vegetables (wink, wink).  Oh and you will never guess what happened!  My sister roasted brussel sprouts the other evening, yuck!  But I tried them anyway and liked them.  So I bought fresh brussel sprouts at the store today and will try my hand at creating my sister's recipe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vroom! Vroom!

Pumpkin had a big project at school and today was the presentation day. Their assignment was to write a story about a robot with juicy words, sounds, and a problem to solve. They also had to build the robot in their story with their family. The whole project has been a month in the making. Pumpkin did a wonderful job today and we are so proud of him.

Vroom! Vroom! 
By Pumpkin

In Hot Wheel Land, six cars were lined on the track. In the morning giant robot racers came. The robot racers did not know how to get into the cars. They were too big! 

Fire Robot had an idea. “I must tell the robots to shrink.” He told them to push their shrink buttons. They went cafluwee! They did not have enough power to shrink. “The race is today. 

We don’t have time to charge our batteries so our shrink buttons won’t work.” Next a storm came. The lightening was attacking the cars because they are metal. A wild snake robot 


slithered up a tree. Boom! The lightening destroyed the snake robot. And it broke a big piece off the tree that is big enough for them to build six giant robot sized cars. The storm is done now 

we have our cars. Fire Robot got into a good fast white car. The racers were on the start line. “On your marks! Get set! GO!” They started theirs cars. The white car was at the 

end of the line. Vroom vroom! They raced near a volcano. A blue car jumps up high towards the volcano. It landed in the water because the wind pushed it away. The white car jumps ahead to the finish line. 

Fire Robot wins the race. He gets a trophy. The End.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By Land and By Sky

I was hoping to be well by now, but I am on week three of being sick. Ugh!  If I am not better by the middle of the week, I will go back to the doctor for a fourth appointment to see if I have walking pneumonia.  Anyway when I have felt up to it, I have snapped some nature pictures.  Enjoy!

The kids made a "Frozen" castle with ice from the pond

Snow plastered tree

Finally a sign of spring- iris leaves

Morning mist

 Colorful sunrise

Painted turtle out of hibernation; spring is on its way

Almost full moon; how enchanting