Thursday, November 27, 2008

Butter not do that!

Sure, you and I know it's butter. But to a 5-year-old it looks like a big bowl full of vanilla ice cream!

That's what you get when you sample the food before dinner is served!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ww Water

Today we finished our Ww Water unit. Actually, it would be more accurate to say today God finished carrying us through our Ww Water unit. I don't know why school felt like a struggle toward the end of this week, but it did. Fortunately, we serve a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us, and He showed me quite clearly that He was right alongside me this week!

We started off pretty strong on Day 1 by reading some books about the water cycle, which Hannah and I both found informative and interesting. (I hate to admit that I'm learning just as much in kindergarten as Hannah is, but it's true! How can I be this old and know so little about the way our world works?!) We also got a hilarious lesson in evaluating the content of the books we check out from the library. When we were reading about the heat of the sun causing water to evaporate, one book mentioned that sometimes small fish and frogs can even disappear with the water. Are you kidding me?! It's evaporation, not vacuuming! Anyway, I got a pretty good laugh out of it, but it did make me go back and clarify that with Hannah so she would understand that the water is actually changing from one state to another and not being sucked away into oblivion.

We spent three days studying the different states of matter (liquid, solid, gas) by devoting one day to each state. When we looked at liquids on Day 2 of our unit, we spent several minutes in the kitchen pouring water from one container to another so I could show Hannah that it always takes the shape of whatever container it is being poured into. After we did this, she was able to identify milk, orange juice, apple juice, and water as liquids.

On Day 3 we studied solids. Actually, we doubled up on our science and did solids and dissolution on the same day. Our curriculum suggested that we freeze water so the student can see it change states from liquid to solid. Well, Hannah has seen water turn into ice before, so I didn't think that would really leave much of an impression. So instead, I got out a container of sugar-free powdered drink mix and we stirred it into a pitcher of water. After we had finished stirring it, I asked Hannah what happened to the powder. She looked at me, wide-eyed, and said, "It disappeared! Is it magic?" We talked about how some things dissolve when they are mixed with water, and we can't see them anymore. Then we poured a little bit of oil into some water and I asked her what she thought would happen when we stirred those together. She guessed that the oil would dissolve just like the powdered drink mix, but soon found out that not everything will dissolve in water. I explained to her that the oil is lighter than the water so it floats instead of dissolving.

Then we took the drink we had made with our powdered drink mix and poured it into some cute little animal-shaped popsicle molds my mom gave me a couple of years ago. (Finally got to use 'em, Mom!) We put them in the freezer and kept them there for several hours so they could harden. It was fun to open the freezer door and check on them every couple of hours to see the freezing process in action. Hannah had never seen us freeze any liquid other than water before, plus she was overjoyed to learn that "we can just make popsicles any time we want one," so she enjoyed this activity. And both the kids loved eating the fully-frozen popsicles after dinner!

Day 4 was the day we studied gases, and it was also the day I was just feeling pooped! (Sorry . . . I really, really tried not to do it, but my fingers insisted on typing it.) Anyway, we made a trip to the washateria to catch up on way-backed-up laundry and the grocery store to fill our bare cupboards, and by the time we got back, I was exhausted! As I was heating up the water to boil macaroni, I was feeling irritated because I hadn't made it around to science yet and I knew I wouldn't have either the time or the inclination to do it after dinner, which meant we'd have to do it over the weekend. I picked up my teacher's manual to see what the activity was for gases and saw that I was supposed to boil water and have Hannah observe the steam to see how the water changed from a liquid to a gas. "Wait a minute!" I thought. "I have water boiling on the stove right now! Thank you, God!" So I called Hannah in and we spent a few minutes talking about how water turns into steam when it gets very, very hot. I asked her where the steam was going, and she said it was going up into the sky, and when it got cold enough it would mix with other drops of water and come down as rain. BAM! She nailed it! (I attribute that answer to the water cycle books we read on Day 1.)

Our special words for this unit were "Jesus gives my spirit living water to drink."

I love the way her curriculum integrates her Bible lessons into her science lessons, and this week was no exception. On the first day of our unit, I had Hannah go outside and play for a few minutes. When she came inside, I asked her if she wanted a snack. She said yes, so I made her some peanut butter crackers. By this time, she was quite thirsty and asked if she could have something to drink. I gave her a glass of water, and we talked about how every living thing has to have water to stay alive. If it doesn't get water, it will die. I reminded Hannah of the leaf from our Ll Leaf unit and how it died because it chose not to stay connected to the rest of the plant. Then we talked about how our spirit, the real part of us that is inside, is thirsty, too, but it's thirsty for Jesus. What it wants—what it needs—is Jesus. It needs Jesus to live, and without Him it will die. We read several Bible verses about drinking the living water Jesus offers and looked at the incident where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well.

This week's study of water coupled with my complete exhaustion has made Isaiah 43:2 really come to life: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. In my weakness, His strength was so evident. When I felt like I was drowning, He was there to carry me.

Thankful God is omnipotent so I don't have to be,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Drifted Off to Dreamland

They cuddled up to watch a movie in our bed and ended up asleep. Yep, I still think they're at their cutest when they're sleeping!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cultural awareness

When our friends Carrie and Scott went to China recently to adopt their beautiful daughter, they brought our girls back some chopsticks. We were eating dinner tonight after ballet, when Hannah suddenly remembered about them. She asked if they could use them, which sounded like a fun idea to me, so Hannah went and retrieved them from the drawer. The rest is better expressed in pictures as opposed to words.

They gave it an honest effort . . .

. . . but eventually decided this was the best use for them!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mom of the Year (Part 1)

Just so we're clear, the "Part 1" is not because this post is so long that I have to divide it into Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc. The Part 1 is because this is my first Mom of the Year moment to post on this blog. Rest assured, however, there will be many more; and as I share those with you, they will become Part 2, Part 3, etc.

Hannah finished the next level in her reading curriculum last week, and our deal is that when she completes a level, she gets to go on a special outing of her choice. Last time, she chose Chuck E. Cheese's; and this time, she chose The Children's Museum in Houston. (The timing was perfect because my car is in the shop getting repaired from the wreck, so I have an almost new Camry in the driveway for a couple of days!) This morning, everyone loaded up and we headed to Houston to celebrate.

Our first stop was MeeMaw and Kimpaw's house for lunch. They had all kinds of delicious treats waiting for us! (Thanks MeeMaw and Kimpaw!) Then we loaded up once again. Destination: Children's Museum. Thanks to the GPS (remember, we were in a rental!) we chose a route that didn't involve Houston freeways, and we easily found the museum. "This is such a perfect day!" I thought as we turned to enter the parking garage.

I noticed right away that the gate was down, so I pulled up to the booth to pay. Then I saw it . . . the empty booth with a note taped to the glass. "Children's museum closed on Mondays except during the holiday season." I don't know what hit the floor first: my jaw or my stomach.

Needless to say, Hannah was devastated when I broke the news to her. When the tears finally stopped flowing, she said, "Can I at least go back to MeeMaw and Kimpaw's house for my special day?" One quick call to MeeMaw and Kimpaw, and our new plan was in place. We headed back to MeeMaw and Kimpaw's, where MeeMaw had powdered donuts and milk waiting for us.

By the time we left, Hannah was smiling again and even climbed the magnolia tree outside the window of Greg's old room, but I still felt like such a loser mom! So stay tuned to read about our "make-up trip" to the Children's Museum!

Thanking God for His grace (and Hannah for hers, too!),

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oo Octopus

Today we finished our Oo Octopus unit. Obviously we studied octopi, but we also studied several other ocean creatures as well as the ocean itself.

I found a neat book at the library called Cut and Paste Sea Creatures that, not surprisingly, gave step-by-step instructions for making a variety of incredibly cute ocean creatures. I let Hannah look through the book to decide which creatures she wanted to study during the week. She chose an octopus (not negotiable), a seahorse, a jellyfish, and a stingray. She wanted to study sea turtles, but I told her that was double-dipping because we just talked about them in our Tt Turtle unit. Each day we studied a different type of animal.

Here's a summary of what we covered this week:

Octopus. First and foremost, Hannah learned that an octopus has eight tentacles. I'm not exactly sure why we've never talked about that before, but apparently we haven't. Once she mastered that essential octopus fact, she also learned that each tentacle has little suction cups on it that help the octopus to climb rocks or hold things, and that octopi can move rocks around to build caves for themselves. We were both surprised to learn that they don't have any bones in their bodies so they can stretch themselves out like rubber and squeeze between small cracks, then go back to their original shape; and that they can change color to blend in with their surroundings. Hannah's favorite part was learning that an octopus can squirt ink out of its body when it needs to hide for a quick escape!

Seahorse. I knew nothing about sea horses, so this was all new information for both Hannah and me. Typically, seahorses are around 3 to 6 inches long, so they're pretty small. Their snout is like a straw that is used to suck in food, and their tail is used to grasp seaweed so they don't float away. (They're not very strong swimmers.) The most shocking thing we learned is that male seahorses are the ones who get pregnant! The males have a pouch that the female deposits eggs into, and the eggs grow inside the daddy's pouch. The best part is that the males have to go through labor. (YES!!! A whole 72 hours' worth!!!)

Jellyfish. Hannah already knew that jellyfish can sting, which I guess she learned from her trip to the beach with MeeMaw and Kimpaw. What she didn't know (and neither did I!) is that certain kinds of jellyfish can actually kill people! We were also both surprised to learn that jellyfish don't have a brain, but I guess that explains how they can go around killing people without feeling guilty about it. We talked about jet propulsion since that's how jellyfish move through the water. This was a totally new concept for Hannah and, understandably, only somewhat grasped.

Stingray. This was fun to talk about because I got to get out some old cruise pictures and show Hannah pictures of my Mommy and Daddy swimming with stingrays. We talked about the odd shape of their bodies, and I explained to Hannah that they might look really weird, but their bodies are perfectly designed for the way they live. We talked about how they graze along the bottom of the ocean floor, and the eyes on top of their bodies help them see any enemies sneaking up on them, while the mouth on the bottom of their bodies allows them to eat small creatures off the bottom of the ocean floor. I told Hannah how strange it feels to feed a stingray because their mouths are like vacuums that just suck the food right out of your hand! We talked about the long tail at the end of their bodies and the barb at the end of it that is used for protection. Hannah and Millie have been watching Wiggly Safari a lot lately, which guest stars The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. I chose to go ahead and tell her about how he died when a stingray that felt threatened used its tail to protect itself and ended up sticking its barb into The Crocodile Hunter's heart. I had a tough time deciding whether or not to share that with her; it kind of felt like running into a room full of kindergarteners and telling them there's no such thing as Santa Claus. But I think she's old enough to understand that death is a part of life, and it also gave us an opportunity to talk about how important it is to pray both that his family would know God personally and intimately if they don't already and that they would experience His peace and comfort when they feel sad because he's gone.

As we were studying the animals each day, we would end our lesson by making the animal from the Cut and Paste Sea Creatures book we got from the library. The only one we didn't make was a stingray. At the end of our unit, we glued all of our creatures onto blue paper, sprinkled glue and sand along the bottom, added some seaweed, and made a really fun ocean mural! (If you think you see clutter on my kitchen counter, it must be a figment of your imagination!)

In addition to studying ocean animals, we took a quick look at the oceans themselves. We talked about how most of our planet is covered with water and how all of the oceans are connected. Then I gave Hannah a black and white map and together we colored in the oceans and the land.

When I was thinking through our lessons back in June, I thought it would be fun to take the kids to Galveston this week. That plan, however, fell through for obvious reasons. My next best option was the aquarium in New Orleans, but then I remembered that I've been to New Orleans before and that's the last place I want to go by myself with two small children. So we ended up settling for the fish tanks at Wal-Mart. (Ahh, I'm nothing if not adventurous!)

We read several books this week, but our favorite was Swimmy by Leo Lionni. In this book, a school of black fish is eaten by a tuna. The lone survivor found a school of red fish to hang out with. Fearing that the tuna would come eat those fish, as well, he came up with a way they could arrange themselves to scare off the bully fish! After we read it, Hannah and I drew a picture of their clever solution.

I helped her draw the fish because she was really struggling with it and getting frustrated, which was completely NOT the idea! I have noticed lately that she doesn't like coloring or drawing very much, and I am thinking about incorporating a rule I recently read about on another blog where the parents did not allow the children to have idle hands while watching TV. In other words, Hannah would always need to be doing something while watching TV. This could be coloring, drawing, sculpting with Play-Doh, building with blocks, etc. Maybe if I do this, she'll practice a little more and feel more confident. I'd love to hear any feedback on that idea!

Our special words to remember this week were "Even the octopus praises the Lord." The picture is really supposed to show you her badge, but you can also see a snack I made her one day. It was an octopus sitting on a bed of seaweed. I wish I had taken another picture about two minutes after this one was taken because, although she liked the look of it, she really hated the taste!

Anyway, back to the special words . . . I have to admit I had a hard time liking these words at first. They seemed a little forced. But after we read Marie Hazell's explanation (that's the author) and the accompanying Bible verses, I loved it! Her explanation was that the octopus is so unique in its appearance and in the things it can do that it points people to a Master Creator simply by being itself. The Bible verses we read that I really loved were Psalm 69:34 (Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them) and Psalm 148:7 (Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures). As you can see, we spent some time in the Psalms this week and talked about what it means to praise God.

We added a lot to our unit this week by studying a variety of ocean creatures instead of just octopi and making all of the arts and crafts. True, that is more tiring, but it's the kind of tired that feels good. It's an "I-did-something-extra-with-my-kids" kind of tired, not an "I-shouldn't-have-stayed-up-so-late-watching-Everybody-Loves-Raymond" kind of tired. And it's so, so worth it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This is my pay!

Last night, Millie woke up in the middle of the night and came into our room. I scooped her up and laid her in the bed next to me, not because I wanted to cuddle but because I was tired and that was easier than getting up and putting her back in her own bed.

I had just drifted off when Millie rolled over, gave me a big kiss, and said, "Mama, you're my beeeest friend!"

True, this job has awful pay, and yes, the hours are lousy; but man, the fringe benefits are out of this world!