Sunday, June 7, 2009

Life According to Millie (Part 3)

This was the moon we enjoyed on our way home from the grocery store tonight:

Sure, in the picture it looks a green pea that somehow caught fire and was thrown into the sky, but in reality it was a big, beautiful, full moon.

Millie must have been studying it in the back seat because she said, "Mom, does the moon start off in a big circle like that and then pieces just fall off?"

Loving the 3-year-old thought process,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Welcome, Summer!

Greg and I spent all of yeserday evening and the better part of today at the table saw cutting the wood that will eventually be our kitchen cabinets. When I went to check on the girls at one point, they had moved their picnic table under the shade and were each enjoying a popsicle with Sheba at their side.

No doubt about it: Summer's here!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Everything in Moderation

Hannah asked if she could put on her own sunscreen today. And "put it on" she did! I guess if a little is good, then a lot must be great!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reading Reward Day

Today was Hannah's last Reading Reward Day for kindergarten. At first she wanted to take a friend to Bungee Zone in the mall, but she decided a couple of days ago to take Millie instead. (All together now: Awwww!) It worked out really well, too, because Greg is in the midst of finals week, so he was able to sneak away a little early and come join us for the fun! Here are a few pics:

Waiting patiently while the group before them finishes up.

Millie was content with tot-sized bounces . . .

. . . but Hannah wanted to fly!

Reaching for the stars—what a great way to wrap up a year of reading success!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vv Vegetables

Today we finished our Vv Vegetable unit. Well, according to my teacher's manual we finished it. But remember, we have a nice little garden growing in our back yard, so the fun's not over yet! (Yes, I can definitely feel a huge proud grin on my face right now!)

We read in one of our books that a tiny plant can be found in every seed. We all wanted to see what this tiny plant looked like, so we soaked several lima bean seeds and took them apart to see what we could find.

Here's Hannah with our soaked beans.

Millie helped peel the seed coat off of one of the beans.

The seed coat peeled right off, and the two cotyledons separated easily.

We found our tiny plant nestled safely between the two cotyledons!

We cooked some of the squash and zucchini from our garden one night. As I was slicing the veggies, I took one of the seeds and asked the girls if they remembered what was inside of it. Hannah said, "You mean there's even a baby plant inside of that little bitty seed?!" What a priceless moment! We talked about what a marvelous creator God is to be able to form a baby plant in even the smallest of seeds.

In one of our other books, we read that seeds only need water and sunlight to grow. I thought they had to have nutrients from the soil, as well; so we put some popcorn kernels in a plastic baggie with a moist paper towel to see what happened. Turns out that author knew exactly what he was talking about! Go figure!

Our special words to remember this week were "God gives me all that I need."

We looked at Psalm 104:14: "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth." We talked about different ways God gives us what we need physically. He has created healthy food for us to eat so our bodies can stay strong. He has created the land, the sun, and the rain so that when we put seeds in the ground, they grow and bear fruit for us. We also discussed that God gives us what we need spiritually, too; but just like a gardener has to spend time tending to his crops in order for them to bear fruit, we need to spend time with God in order to bear spiritual fruit in our lives.

This unit was almost effortless since we've already been focusing so much on our garden lately. Scripture has a lot to say about sowing and reaping, and I'm thankful the girls are having an opportunity to learn about it in the physical realm so they can transfer their knowledge to the spiritual realm as they get older. Maybe instead of fishers of men, they'll be pickers of people!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


So I guess this means the zucchinis weren't a fluke. I can actually grow things! Is this a dream? Will someone please pinch me? On second thought, don't. If it is a dream, I don't want to wake up!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Xx Fox

Today we finished our Xx Fox unit.

We learned that foxes are the smallest members of the dog family, but they are actually closer in size to a large cat. They are easily recognized by their bushy tails, which help keep them warm when they are laying down, and their large ears, which give them an excellent sense of hearing. We also learned that a female fox is called a vixen and a baby fox is called a kit. Vixens usually give birth to four or five kits in the spring, and the kits are deaf and blind when they are born. I was curious to know if foxes have really earned their reputation for being so sneaky, and I discovered that, indeed, they have. They actively seek out their prey, which are usually small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, or mice; and sometimes the only reason they hunt them is just to play with them for a while before letting them go. And the old story about a fox raiding a chicken coop? Yep, turns out that really does happen!

One of our projects this week was to compare foxes and dogs. Hannah told me characteristics that were unique about each animal, as well as some that they shared, and I charted them on a Venn diagram.

The best part of this unit was our Bible lesson. Our special words to remember this week were "God's Word makes me wiser than my enemies."

Our reading selections made our Bible lesson so much richer this week! During the course of our unit, we read four fiction books about foxes. In two of these books (Aesop's The Fox and the Crow and Paul Galdone's The Gingerbread Boy), an unsuspecting victim is outsmarted by a fox. However, in the other two books (Pat Hutchins' Rosie's Walk and Patricia McKissack's Flossie and the Fox), the fox's best efforts to outsmart the unsuspecting party fall short.

Our Bible passages were Proverbs 26:24-25 ("Those who hate you may try to fool you with their words, but in their minds they are planning evil. People's words may be kind, but don't believe them, because their minds are full of evil thoughts.") and Psalm 119:98 ("Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me."). Because of the books we had read, Hannah was able to understand that some people can come up with very sneaky plans to trick us—even trying to trick us into believing something about God that isn't true. On the flip side, however, she also saw that you can be victorious over a sneaky plan—and for a believer, that means knowing God's Word so well that we don't easily believe a lie.

I especially love the Psalm passage from this week's Bible lesson. I love that wisdom doesn't come from our ability to figure things out, but rather from the commands God has given us. All it takes is our willingness to fill our mind with His Word and do what it says. This is what I desire most for my girls: that they will walk in wisdom—the true wisdom that comes from the Lord, not the false wisdom of the world—all the days of their life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rock & Roll Tot Style

Today was Millie's End of the Year Program at Mother's Day Out. Her teachers did a great job with the Fifties theme. The kids even sang a Fifties version of The Wheels on the Bus!

Here are a few pictures:

It seems like so much of the time life is all about Hannah. It was good for Millie to have a chance to shine today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

True Princess: Daughter of a King!

Tonight was Hannah's first dance recital. The name of the program was "All This for a King," and her class danced to a song called "True Princess."

Here are a few memories of our evening:

Backstage: No princess ever misses a photo op!

A royal beauty

Proud Mom and Pop!

First "real" dance pictures

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ff Frog

Today we wrapped up the second part of our life cycle study by completing our Ff Frog unit.

We both learned several new things about frogs this week. Probably the most basic thing we learned is how to tell the difference between a frog and a toad. Frogs lay their eggs in masses and have smooth, slimy skin; toads lay their eggs in chains and have dry, bumpy skin. We looked through a Ranger Rick magazine and found some pictures of frogs that were almost too beautiful to be true! (I can't believe I just said that about frogs!) The colors on these frogs were amazing: yellows, reds, blues—and they had gorgeous patterns on their skin, to boot! When we read the article, however, we discovered that they are poisonous. Who knew there were poisonous frogs out there?! Hannah also learned that frogs are amphibians because they live part of their life in the water and part of their life on land, that they are cold-blooded, that they drink water through their skin rather than with their mouths, and that they hibernate underground during the winter.

We looked at the life cycle of frogs, but Hannah already had some experience with this. When we went to North Carolina two years ago, we accidentally turned off our swimming pool pump before we left. When we arrived home two and a half weeks later, we found a swimming pool full of greenish-blackish water and tons of tadpoles! Hannah wanted to keep the tadpoles and let them turn into frogs; Mom and Dad wanted to shock the heck out of the pool and make it swimmable again. Mom and Dad won. (Even a homeschool family has its limits.)

Here is a picture Hannah drew of a frog's life cycle.

It starts at the bottom with the egg mass, then moves clockwise to a single egg whose yolk has begun to divide, then to a tadpole, then to a tadpole with legs and a shortened tail, and finally to a frog. Then the whole cycle repeats itself.

One of Hannah's projects this week was to make a frog out of Play-Doh. I gave her the assignment, then I left her alone to sculpt while I tried to tackle some chores. Her finished creation was completely different from what I had envisioned in my mind, and I loved it! I had expected to see a frog—you know, his body, his feet, his head—but what I found instead was a frog face with his tongue sticking out catching a bug. Cute!

Another project was to write a Frog Facts book. As usual, I wrote while Hannah dictated. Then she went back and gave a half-hearted effort to add illustrations. I think next time I'll at least encourage her to use a little color!

(Just in case that last sentence threw you for a loop, a frog actually uses its eyes to push food down into its stomach.)

We had a neat little experience on Tuesday. Hannah and Camille were outside playing with a friend, and they all came running inside to tell me they wanted to show me something. When I went outside to see what it was, I saw a hole in our flower bed with a frog down at the bottom of it. Sounds like a God wink to me!

Our special words to remember this week were "I use my tongue wisely."

We discussed how the tongue is used to help us talk and even tried to say a few words while holding our tongues. (Very tough, by the way!) Then we read several passages that describe how to be wise when we speak. My favorite was James 3:9-10: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

It's so easy for me to think about how our special words each week can be used to train them. ("Hannah, did you just speak rudely to your sister? Remember, 'I will use my tongue wisely.'") But I am seeing how God is using these lessons just as much for me. ("Jennifer, did you really just ...stoop to arguing with a 5-year-old? ...complain about something at church? ...answer back with a sarcastic remark? ...say something that was less than edifying to a fellow believer? Remember, 'I will use my tongue wisely.'")

So thankful God trains children of all ages,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mom of the Year (Part 3)

Ahhh, yet another Mom of the Year moment!

After co-op today, Mrs. Bonnie and Kailian rode with us to Chick-Fil-A for our group lunch/playdate. While we were in the car, Millie was trying her best to tell Mrs. Bonnie about the day Bailey died. Mrs. Bonnie wasn't understanding Camille very well, so I finished the story for her. I mentioned that Greg dug a hole and we buried Bailey before we left for MeeMaw and Kimpaw's, but apparently this confused Camille because she is now telling everybody, "Daddy dug a hole and put Bailey in it, and he couldn't breathe and he died."

Mom of the Year and now Wife of the Year, too?!! It's just too much for one girl to handle!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Green Thumbs!

Somewhere along the way I must have traded in my black thumbs of death for some that are a little greener! We tried a container garden this year, and . . . well, take a look for yourself!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bb Butterfly

Today we finished our Bb Butterfly unit.

This week we focused on the butterfly life cycle, but we also picked up some other interesting facts along the way! We learned that a Monarch butterfly lays its eggs on milkweed plants because that's the only thing its larvae will eat. We also learned that butterflies have tiny scales all over their wings. If you've ever picked up a moth or a butterfly and noticed a powdery residue on your hands, it's because you've rubbed off some of its scales. Finally, we learned that there are several ways to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth: Butterflies are typically diurnal, but moths are typically nocturnal; butterflies typically rest with their wings up above their bodies, but moths typically rest with their wings spread out flat; and butterfly antennae usually have little knobs at the ends, but moth antennae are usually feathery in appearance.

We made a model of each phase of a butterfly's life cycle.

Stage 1—Egg

Stage 2—Caterpillar

Stage 3—Pupa

Stage 4—Butterfly

We read several fun books this week. Our favorites were Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones, and Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly! We also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and played The Very Hungry Caterpillar card game Hannah got for Christmas to help reinforce learning the days of the week.

Our special words for the week were "God can make me new."

We looked at several verses about being a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and putting off our old self (Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:9-12). Boy, did that take some explaining! For those of you who don't know her, Hannah is my bug-loving child. She could not understand how a butterfly could possibly be better than a caterpillar, so the whole comparison didn't make much sense to her at all. We ended up ditching the butterfly analogy and just looking at the verses by themselves, and it finally made sense to her.

We are anxious to get our hands on our caterpillars so we can see the life cycle take place right before our eyes!

*****UPDATED ON 5/27/2009*****

Simply amazing! We just completed the butterfly habitat phase of the Bb Butterfly unit. We loved the unit before, but this took it to a whole new level! Here's a photographic timeline of our journey to Painted Lady butterflies!

Saturday, May 9—Opened our mailbox and found our caterpillars!

Thursday, May 14—It's amazing how much these little guys have grown! Four of them have now crawled up to the top of the container and curled their bodies into a "J" shape. The other one is still eating, eating, eating.

Sunday, May 17—We now have five chrysalides! All five have safely been moved into the butterfly habitat. Their skin looks very hard and has an almost iridescent quality to it. I always thought they were wrapped in silk, which would be a cocoon; however, their skin actually hardens to form their protective coating, which is why they are chrysalides.

Tuesday, May 19—So strange! You'll just be sitting there watching, and all of the sudden you'll see a chrysalis start to shake!

Thursday, May 21—Our first butterfly emerged! I missed this one, but I am determined to see one of these little guys come out!

Look at his beautiful bright orange wings!

Sunday, May 24—We now have four butterflies, and I have yet to see one of them emerge from its chrysalis. I have a camera and a video camera next to the habitat so I'll be ready to record it when I see movement!

Monday, May 25—Butterfly #5 emerged, and it looks like I just missed it! The red stuff on the paper towel is not blood; it's waste from the butterfly's time in its chrysalis. This little guy's wings aren't very strong yet. It takes a while for the body fluid to work its way into all the veins in the wings, then he'll have to wait for his wings to dry before he can fly.

Wednesday, May 25—It's been incredible to watch this whole process so closely, but it's time to say "goodbye." Daddy helps Hannah and Millie release our butterflies.

Such a great reminder of the freedom we have in Christ when we are made new!