Monday, November 11, 2013

Toddler Days

Since Ruby has been 1 day old....she's been pretty high maintenance.
Beginning with a sensitivity to milk, putting me completely dairy free for about eight months, and suffering with some severe reflux, she's always kept us on our toes.

Napping and sleeping are no different. 
Don't get me wrong, she slept well very early on, and hasn't ever really REFUSED to sleep, except that time I forgot to get my frappe DECAF when she was about 5-6 months old.
Her latest trend is to nap in the recliner.
I have sat  behind her, rocking and reading history or science out loud to Katie and Noah while she watches a show or lullabye Pandora.

And within about five minutes, she is OUT.


Even mid-cheerio. (yes, she loves these owl pajamas!)

So, this weekend, we put a recliner in her bedroom because even though she would nap for 1 1/2-2 hrs in the recliner, it was kind of a pain worrying that someone might ring the doorbell or not be able to unload the dishwasher, etc.

It took a little longer today, closer to twenty minutes of rocking, but eventually....
she was out....

She slept about an hour and a half. 

Her latest favorite sayings:
"Mommy, I WUB (fill in the blank, pretty much whatever you are talking about)"
"It's my favit (favorite)"
or many times "It's my favit dame" (favorite game)
"Mommy (or Tatie or Noah, or Daddy, or Nanna, etc) You my best fwen" (your're my best friend)
The other night she came up to me and swaying her hips back and forth said, 
"Mommy, say, Whatchou do----in?" 
(I think she got this from Isabella on Phineas and Ferb)
She loves to try to sing ABC's and the Diego and Dora songs.
Also, she will say "I don wike dat" randomly about stuff.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Institute for Excellence in Writing.  Wordy Title.
Okay, so I've raved about it before, but I want to say again that I absolutely LOVE this writing program. It is so academically rich with teaching how to write.  The DVD lessons at times can be a little long, but Katie and Noah seem to stay interested and entertained by them.  And they are acquiring great skills by following at outline for how to write certain methods.  We are doing Student Writing Intensive A at the rate of completing a full lesson every 1-2 weeks.  If you don't know anything about the program and have never been to one of the workshops, I HIGHLY recommend buying or borrowing (like I did) the Teaching Writing Seminar on DVD.  In all honesty, you COULD teach this method by just watching that seminar, quite easily in fact, but it would be difficult to use their writing intensives without having seen the DVD seminar.  That's how good it is.  I am a certified elementary school teacher, and what I learned from that seminar was crucial to our success with this program, it's not just a gimmick!  Now, I love the "set" of lessons with the DVD lessons for the kids, because honestly it does a much more thorough job than I would do of teaching the material in an interesting way, and the kids get to listen to someone besides me, and I know they are getting a HIGH quality level of instruction in writing.
Let's face it...being able to write (all genres, clearly, concisely, and with correct grammar) is the foundation for success in any higher education. In all subject areas, not just for English majors and professional writers. I am so thankful I found this program for 4/5th grade when they are really just beginning to be capable of understanding some higher level styles and information for writing and writing "about."

We use a separate curriculum for Language and Grammar.  Because as the teaching seminar points out, writing and grammar/spelling are two completely different things.  Do NOT try to teach spelling while you are trying to get a child to write a story.  Two totally different sides of the brain and slows down creativity and flow in an extreme way!  (same thing goes for HANDwriting and Writing!) I could go on and on about all the wonderful things I learned from that DVD but I will stop! ha ha.  Language/Grammar and Writing WILL all mesh together, but like learning to talk on a cell phone and drive, they can't be learned simultaneously.

At the beginning of the year they were creating a "key-word outline" by taking apart informational or other texts sentence by sentence.  They would then test this outline by retelling the information or story by only using their outline.  This helped them be sure they were choosing quality terms and words from the original text for their outline.  They would then re-write the paragraph, using their keyword outline.  What wonderful practice for essay, research papers, and public speaking!  Along the way they were introduced to stylistic techniques (with mini lessons to show how to use and brainstorm lists to draw from) to include in their rewriting.  Things like "use a "who or which" clause, or include a quality adverb.  They also started a banned words list, so they are no longer allowed to use the word "said" but must choose a better and more interesting word to use instead.  By making all of these things a requirement, although they are searching and putting them in that way, these techniques will become more of a habit and they will easily find ways to do it more independently.  They both mostly are able to fit all the requirements in on their own, but sometimes I do give them some hints or help in suggesting where might be a good place to include them in their rough draft.

So the past couple of weeks they have been working on a re-write of the well-known story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"  Another strategy that IEW uses, is allowing students to use other material to draw from for inspiration.  I agreed when watching their teacher training sessions that it's really unfair to expect an elementary student to be able to completely come up with an idea to write about from absolutely nothing. In the grand scheme of life, they've only been reading less than five years (generally speaking) and don't have very much life experience to draw from.  So teaching ways to enhance a story that is given to them, summarize, learn stylistic techniques and practice them on material that is given to them, will prepare them to be really good story-tellers, and THEN they can start making even mundane every day things into good stories.  It's hard for a kid to make a trip to the store into anything more than a few sentences without tools in their possession to inspire them to make it good.

This story also included several paragraphs, stepping up from the shorter one paragraphs they've been doing.  They had to do an outline, complete their checklist, and rough draft each part separately before being done.  This is teaching them to not retell the story or tell any story for that manner, in just two sentences.  ha ha.

So back to why I'm posting.  I am SO happy with their stories they've written this week! I want to blog them here for you.  I let them (for the first time) type up their final drafts so that I could just copy and paste them here.  I am going to do a direct copy and paste, no editing!

Their checklist for this assignment:

"-ly" adverb
who/which clause
strong verb
quality adjective
because clause

banned words: said, see/saw, go/went, thought
And they are required to come up with an interesting title based around the ending of the story (again I know this isn't a MUST for creative writing, but it makes them think harder at this point in time and see the story as a whole)

And for the grammar police out there, he had a whole entire segment on the teacher training about "who/which" clauses and how it helps them become better writers, addressing the nitty gritty of fitting them/not using them in professional writing later is another issue to address later!


Noah Thompson

November 8, 2013

How the Chicken Nugget Lost His Cap

Once upon a time,there was a very foolish chicken nugget who was wearing a big red cap and playing on the swing. Then he got really bored because he had nobody to play with. 
Then he remembered one day his dad exclaimed “If you ever see a mouth be sure to quickly call to the other chicken nuggets because they will scare it away.” So he eagerly called “Mouth Mouth!” The other chicken nuggets rushed over but they they discovered there was no mouth,which made them mad. They blabbered “Don't ever do that again!”
Later, he got bored again so, overwhelmed with boredom the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!”
 The other chicken nuggets rushed over, but they got furious because there was no mouth! Then they violently screamed “Don't EVER do that again!”
 After they left the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!” because he noticed a real mouth with razor sharp teeth! But the other chicken nuggets ignored him! The chicken nugget loudly screamed “Mouth Mou......." But then the other chicken nuggets got worried and rushed over, but only found his cap.


Katie Thompson

November 8, 2013

Don't Lie
Once, there was a bug,he was a ladybug and a school bug who was very foolish. He lived on a leafy
treetop in the woods. One day he was impatiently learning math, then he got very bored because math is not very fun! Then he remembered Mrs. Webber's warning when he first started going to Redwood Elementary, ''Beware of the bird, if you see one, call for help!'' He became very curious.
He wanted to make some excitement in his classroom so he screamed loudly, ''BIRD!'' 
Mrs Webber, the principal, the janitor, and even Marsha, who is the most tough class bully, ducked and screamed! But there was no bird. He had the whole building fooled! He laughed uncontrollably!
The whole building was pretty upset with him! Marsha said ''don't ever, ever, EVER do that again you little pest!''
For a long time he did not, but one day he got SO bored, he knew he shouldn't , but it just ''happened''
to slip from his lips. ''Oh no... b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” There was panic all in Redwood Elementary. Then there was ANGER!!!!! Bugs knew he was gonna be punished. He got some severe talking-to. 
Then, a couple hours later Bugs spotted a real, beak-licking, sharp beaked, eyes gleaming
''B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!'' screamed Bugs. he was ignored. ''BIRD!'' BIRD!!!'' he was still ignored. ''BIR-------------gulp!'' At this the students and Mrs. Webber became startled! Before they could duck, the bird swooped in and greedily ate them all up!

The moral: Don't lie or other people might not believe you when you are telling the truth.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Farewell to October

October is always a fun month for us!
Katie turned ELEVEN! 
She got a pet for her birthday, neon tetra and some tetra that glow in this special tank that is really neat!
She has loved having a pet finally!

Katie requested coconut cake, so I had to post a picture of this delicious cake.  I am quite proud of my first attempt at making coconut cake. Very yum!

Here she is all dressed up for her birthday dinner.  She chose Provino's.

Our kids absolutely crack me up.  After pointing out that it didn't really matter what she named the fish because it's not like they would ever come if she called them, Katie (after Noah coming up with this idea sort of), decided that a "wheel of fish names" was in order.  So she spins it every day and gets to use all the names she came up with for her fish. One name means they all that same name for the day.

Katie and me before going out for her birthday dinner.

And of course, Halloween! Ruby's first time trick-or-treating! (last year we stayed in with friends)

I did NOT choose to buy or go all out for this child's costume.  With her personality, going through any trouble for a costume would certainly guarantee her refusal to wear it.  So we just raided the dress up box before going out.  I DID buy her some $1 wings at the dollar tree since we didn't have any surviving wings at the moment.

Katie chose to be a "roman princess."  Meme whipped up this toga/robe a couple of weeks ago and we used some silky fabric for the scarf thing.  Some gold binding finished up the details.

Fancy hair and makeup were the finishing touches.  She looked beautiful!

Noah was the first to really decide on his costume.  After seeing this idea posted on Pinterest, all it took was some printer ink, gluestick, a box, and time.  It was just printed out from a tutorial online and pasted on the box.  Pretty easy!

Here they all are together before going out to Trick or Treat on Broad Street in Rome.

Ruby got used to the idea very quickly!  She loved it, and even more I think loved seeing all the other kids in costumes.

Grandpa walked a block with us then cut out! When we were done (a WHILE later) she noticed he wasn't with us anymore and asked where "Papa" went.

Meme dressed up as a pumpkin, ha ha!

After we finished we went back to Meme's office (a block away) and Noah immediately sorted his candy to see what he got.

Our of order pic! A store had this set up in front.

Ruby was SO EXCITED about eating candy! She had a piece in each hand going back and forth licking and taking bites.

And to finish off the day of junk, we had "spooky face pancakes" for dinner.  IHOP was supposedly giving out free spooky face pancakes for kids all day, but we decided to just pick up a couple of things and make our own. The one above is Noah's creation.

This one is Ruby's.  I did the hair with apples to encourage her to eat SOMETHING good, ha ha.

Mine! That's some Orville Reddenbacher prepopped kettle corn.  good stuff.

And Katie's pretty design.

It was threatening rain all afternoon but turned into a nice cool evening.
We finished up the night with handing out candy to trick or treaters.  We actually ran out of two HUGE bags of candy and gave out some of Ruby's candy (oops! not like she was going to actually eat it all!).  They LOVED LOVED handing out candy! Ruby squealed and could not have more enjoyed putting candy in the kids buckets, and loved seeing all the costumes.

It was a fun night!
26 days till Thanksgiving!