Happy Halloween

Friday, October 31, 2008

We made it 'round the block and that was far enough. We've got three buckets of sugary sweets from trick or treating, and a half a bowlful left of our own. I think tomorrow I'll go buy some extra toothbrushes.

Here's hoping you get more treats than tricks!
Check out other bloggers Halloween photos at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Some Recent Activities on the Homefront

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We've been busy little bees, cooking, crafting and carving our way through fall. Can you believe it's practically November already?! I'm afraid to blink or I'll miss Christmas. Am I just getting old or are the days actually shorter than they were thirty years ago? Anyway, here's a peek at what we've been up to...

Some Daddy love

That's right Aunt Hez, you scoop the goop while I play

Story time

Mama's little helper

It's just not Fall without the gingerbread!

Caramel apple bites

Painting ghosties:

Put on your "spooty" faces

Are You Feeling Lucky?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Hooray! It's Bloggy Giveaways Carnival Time Again!
Get ready to win some great prizes! There are hundreds of participants and it's sure to be lots of fun. Who knows, you just might get an early Christmas gift!
This time around I've decided to give away two of my favorite things, which should be perfect for any mama: children's books and coffee (my personal motto: books+coffee=bliss). When all's said and done, one lucky winner will receive a copy of That's Not My Reindeer, by Fiona Watt and a $10 Starbucks Card, another winner will receive a copy of 100 Science Experiments by Georgina Andrews, as well as a $10 Starbucks card.

To be eligible to win, just leave a comment with your favorite Usborne title as well as which prize you'd like to win. Be sure to include a valid email address so that I may contact you. For an extra entry subscribe to my feed. And for three extra entries, host an eshow online and invite your friends. You can earn FREE books that way too ;P

The winners will be chosen after midnight October 31st by random number selection from all the entries received (I will number the comments for each prize in order of date and time received then choose a winner via random.org from each set of numbers). You do need to have a U.S. mailing address to win.
Note: Entries must be received between 12:01 AM October 27th and
11:59 PM October 31st. One entry per email address per day for each prize.

And in case you don't win, here's a coupon for a FREE Cappuccino from your local Barnes and Noble Starbucks. Good through 10/31/08. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out all the other great prizes up for grabs! Good luck!

Wordless Wednesday

Our post-pumpkin carving pic. Great grins.

Psst...don't miss my bloggy giveaway! Entries will be taken through 10/31/08.

Who's making that noise?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Got an old cell phone or ipod?

You may be able to swap it for an amazon gift card. Have you heard of flipswap? I hadn't until recently, but they will take your old cell phones and ipods and send you a gift certificate from amazon.com for the trade in value. Another option is cellforcash which offers a cash payout and free shipping. Some phones may not be worth a hill of beans, in which case you will get a "recycle" message or "plant a tree." Obviously newer model phones and those in good working order reap a greater reward. Some are worth $75 or even $90! Check it out, you might just be sitting on a hidden treasure.

Some Crafty Halloween Fun

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is a simple and easy holiday craft that we have enjoyed. It is fun for all ages and great for little ones who want to join in the fun. We generally make these for each holiday. They make a nice addition to a bag of homemade cookies or basket of candy.

What you'll need:
card stock, foamies sheets, or scrapbooking paper
craft glue
clothes pins (optional)
strips of magnetic tape or round magnets (available at craft stores)
markers, glitter glue, ribbon, buttons, wiggly eyes or whatever embellishments you choose
cookie cutters or stencils (or you could freehand your shapes if you are more artistically gifted than moi)

Trace your holiday cutters or stencils on the paper you want to use and cut them out. Add any embellishments you like with glue or permanent markers. Let dry.
Add magnet to back or to make a clip, glue clothespin first, let dry, then glue magnet to the back of the clothespin.
Enjoy your holiday decorations and share them with friends :D

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Isn't she gorgeous!
We went to Michael's last weekend and the kids made Jack-o-Lanterns. Love the pink hair, LOL.

More Election Lessons

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've recently come across even more election resources that I've found very useful. Since I've gotten a positive response to all the links I have previously posted on the subject, I thought it was worth while to add these to the list. If you are looking for lesson plans or educational resources regarding the Election (which is now only 15 days away!) then you've come to the right spot.

A fun way to get younger kids involved is through stories and videos. Reading Duck for President is a great way to start a discussion about the election process and what Presidents, Vice Presidents and Governor's do. This website has a free teaching guide for download via pdf.
Schoolhouse Rock is a fun way to introduce kids to lots of topics and a Special Election Edition DVD comes with a US map to track electoral votes and a couple activities. But, be warned, most reviews suggest just buying the 30th Anniversary Edition as it's a better value and includes nearly all of the Election Edition on it. If your kids like Schoolhouse Rock, why not get the entire set so they won't miss out on the catchy "Conjunction Junction" tune. (I could sing that one all day :D)

And check out these great coloring pages from ABC Teach, as well as election printables.

Cablevision's Power to Learn has some interesting resources including Campaign Ads from 1954-2004 with lesson plans for middle and high school.

Take Your Kids 2 Vote offers a great list of resource links and a pledge you can sign to take your kids with you when you vote. Experience is the best teacher, right?

For grades 6-8 and 9-12 the New York Times site has an extensive list of lesson plans and unit studies. And On The Issues has plenty of background info on the candidates and key issues.

Other sites of interest:
Montessori Lessons
Oklahoma Homeschool 12
week Lesson Plan with loads of resources
Hot Chalk's Lessons
Vote Smart
And a nice lesson plan index...an easy one stop shop.
10/30...adding this from PBS, in depth bios of candidates and interviews.

Whew...I think I'm done now. Can we move on to Thanksgiving already?!

Halloween Fun

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Here's a fun Halloween Craft to make...Wiggly Spider Bracelets!
You will need:
Black Construction Paper
Wiggly Eyes
White paper
Paper Fastener
White Crayon
1. Fold black construction paper in half
2. Along folded edge, lay child's hand palm down (midway through palm) and trace fingers with white crayon
3. Cut out the outline of the fingers
4. Unfold for a spider with eight legs. Now turn the spider over and with the pencil, roll the legs around the pencil to curl under
5. Cut a 1" strip of black paper from the remaining scraps, and form it into a circle for the bracelet. At the appropriate length, tape the ends together.
6. Attach the bracelet to the underside center of the spider using the paper fastener.
7. Glue on the wiggly eyes and the "fangs" that you design and cut from the white paper to the topside of the spider's head
8. The child puts his/her fingers/wrist through the bracelet. The spider will wiggle as you move your wrist.
Of course, if you want you could choose a species of spider and do a mini unit on that. We are making black widows by adding a red hourglass shape to our spider's belly.

And a recipe to put some yum in your fun:
Yield: Makes 18 cupcakes
1 package (19.8 ounces) brownie mix plus ingredients to prepare mix
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 standard (2-1/2-inch) muffin pan cups with paper muffin cup liners. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for cakelike brownies. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, dividing evenly.

2.Combine cream cheese and egg in small bowl; beat until well combined. Add sugar, flour and vanilla; beat until well combined.

3.Place cream cheese mixture in resealable food storage bag; seal bag. With scissors, snip off small corner from one side of bag. Pipe cream cheese mixture in concentric circle design on each cupcake; draw toothpick through cream cheese mixture, out from center, 6 to 8 times.

4.Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove to racks; cool completely.
moon cat-2
Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "Cobweb Cups." 31 August 2006. HowStuffWorks.com. 19 October 2008.

Earth Science Week

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I recently received a comment from a blog visitor who was looking for some great online science resources for her kids. This got me digging through all my bookmarks (which I've been meaning to organize but never seem to get to) and I found some webstops I had forgotten about. Since it is Earth Science Week (hear the crowd go wild), I thought I'd post some of my favorites here. After all, a kid can never have too much fun exploring, concocting, exploding and excavating stuff, right? All in the name of learning, of course :P

Power to Learn
Kids Online Resources
Walking With Prehistoric Beasts
Lawrence Hall of Science
Bill Nye the Science Guy
Cool Science
Your Weight on Other Worlds
Skateboard Science
Science Monster
Science Made Simple
Robot Constructor
Human Anatomy Online
Sid the Science Kids by PBS

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My most favorite photo of Maxwell Marmaduke Rich, taken about one year ago.

Twin Muses

Thanks to my little sis' for encouraging me to open a Facebook account, I recently reconnected with my best friends from my school days. By this I mean elementary through high school and beyond. They had moved away a few years back and we lost touch. Turns out they both (they are twins) live nearby again. Hooray for me!

Anyway, on to the good part. They have started a company called Twin Muses to create "100% eco-friendly greeting cards crafted with simple elegance, profound words, and inspiring colors". Since I love supporting mom-owned businesses, and these are two of my most favorite moms, I thought I'd take a moment to introduce them here.

A meaningful quote is more than just a sentence or blurb, it can stick with you and become a mantra for motivation, strength, hope, courage and change. That's the idea behind these beautifully crafted cards. And since these little mamas, like most of us, care about the legacy they are leaving behind for their own kind, they have created all of their products from 100% recycled paper, processed chlorine free and printed with only vegetable and soy-based inks.

With inspiring quotes for all occasions, including the everyday, you are sure to find something to stir you. In addition to being available online, they are sold in most Whole Foods Stores and several eco-friendly retailers throughout the country. So go ahead and check them out. Who knows, maybe you'll find your new voice.

P.S. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. Leave a comment with your favorite quote here. And a link if you feel so inspired to post about it. Thanks!

Columbus Day Activities

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sorry I didn't get my act together and post this sooner. I've been scaling mountains of laundry and coddling a teething toddler (first year molars, yea!) Just wanted to post a few resources for Columbus Day. We're going to try our hands at another lapbook.

I love this BBC short bio on Columbus. Perfect for early elementary ages.
The Holiday Zone has lots of FREE printables. Love that! And much more, including these songs and fingerplays. Enchanted Learning has some nice activity pages, but you have to purchase a membership for full access. And check out apples4theteacher for coloring pages, reading lists, poems and more.
If you still want more, kidskonnect has a great list of links to investigate.
Find lots more coloring pages here, and cool crafts here.
So go on, set sail on a Columbus Day expedition that's sure to please your little explorers!

Preparing for Tricks and Treats

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I have always loved Halloween. What great fun it is to dress up and be someone else for a day! Fabulous memories from my youth remind me what life was like when kids could roam the neighborhood trick or treating and the biggest worry on anyone's mind was getting spooked by pranksters. Were we lucky in that my grandmother was a drama teacher and we had this great trunk of old suits, hats, dresses and such from which we created our costumes. What a creative contest it was to come up with the best idea.
In my single days, I loved getting "in character" and playing it up at Halloween Parties. And, though I rarely don a costume anymore, Halloween remains one of my favorite holidays.
As we decorate and pick out costumes with the kids, the anticipation and excitement grow. I looked back at some of my favorite pictures from Halloweens past and decided to post them here.

If you have written a post on Halloween, please leave a comment with a link so we can all share ideas. I'd love to see how you all celebrate!

From Seed to Sprout

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So I've mentioned a few times that I'm a terrible horticulturalist. I kill nearly everything I try to grow. It's a gift. So imagine my surprise when I went to refill our homemade bird feeder and the seeds had sprouted! All that rain we had must have softened them up and they started to grow. This was hilarious to me (and my husband) since I have the hardest time growing anything in soil. Guess these little buggers were just dying to sprout.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This was spilled milk. No kidding, it sloshed outta the bowl of cereal and landed just like that. It made me think perhaps someone was smiling down on me and it was going to be a good day :D ...though not a wordless one (sorry!).
For more Wordless Wednesday visit 5 Minutes for Mom and check here for Wordful Wednesday.

Things I love about Fall

Crisp, cool breezes
The aroma of Pumpkin Bread baking in the oven
Richly colored leaves
All things sweet, spicy and scrumptious...gingerbread lattes, homemade apple pie, cinnamon coffee cake, hot apple cider, chai tea, Williamsburg ginger cakes...
Pumpkins and gourds and apples
A warm bath followed by a snuggly blanket
The sun dappling through the leaves on a cool autumn morning
Watching the kids giggling, and chasing through the crunchy leaves and remembering the kid in me.

Some of our favorite fall books:
Why Do Leaves Change Color, by Betsy Maestro
Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
Apples, by Gail Gibbons
Now It's Fall, by Jeannie Lee
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman
Apples to Oregon, by Doborah Hopkinson
It's Pumpkin Time, by Hall

Our weekend was a busy one

Monday, October 6, 2008

It was filled with soccer, parks, lawn care, football games and finding long lost friends. Saturdays are always soccer days for us. We've come to look forward to the excitement, the cheers, and dolling out the ever-important game day snacks.

Here are this week's highlights:
Aiden made some major defensive blocks and had one goal assist.

Brynie scored 2 goals and was so proud of herself. Here's the second goal and the celebratory *kiss* with Coach Dad.

I have to agree with Carmen, kid soccer rocks!

A Failed Experiment

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What started out as a science experiment ended up as just another plant I've killed. A few days ago we set out to learn about how plants absorb water and nutrients and then create the food they need through photosynthesis. We found a nifty little experiment in our book, 501 Science Experiments, where you take 4 white flowers, put three in water colored with food coloring and one in plain water.

Then, over several hours you begin to see the coloring travel through the stems and eventually color the petals. Sounded cool and my kids surely would have been impressed with our green, blue and red flowers...except that NOTHING happened. We checked after several hours, overnight, even one, two, three days later. Nothing changed, except that the flowers wilted, lost their petals and eventually died. Hmmmm. Not quite the result we had anticipated. (Well, truth be told, I do have quite a knack for killing any living thing that grows in soil.)

Still, all was not a loss. Aiden came running in through the front door this evening with a leaf he'd found from a Magnolia tree and exclaimed, "Mom, look what I found!" He then peeled back the top of the leaf and said, "See Mom, that green stuff, that's called Chlorophyll. that's where the plant gets it's energy."
Guess he learned something after all!
Here's an experiment from the same book that did go well. We made a compass by magnetizing a needle and using thread, a card, a pencil and a glass. It really pointed due North (we checked) and this was Aiden's face when he first saw it work...

Our First Attempt at Lapbooking

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We've heard a lot about lapbooking and have been wanting to try it for a while, but hadn't gotten organized to do it. Since Aiden and Bryn have taken quite an interest in cougars lately, often pretending to be cougars and building a cougar habitat in our living room, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to introduce lapbooking with a cougar book. While the design is simple, it was just about perfect for his attention span at the time. We both agreed that the experience was fun and informative, and we are very pleased with our finished book. Aiden really enjoyed this project, as did I, and we learned quite a bit about cougars along the way. I think we will be exploring the lapbooking thing further and I hope to have our own little library of lapbooks before long.


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