Friday, February 25, 2011

Show & Tell: Adventures Week 23

Ever have one of those weeks where finishing strong wasn't as important as just finishing?  Welcome to my week.  :)

In history this week, we filled out state sheets for the next four states:  Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, and Michigan. 

On Thursday, Hannah sighed a big sigh when I got out the state sheet for Michigan.  Four in one week is a lot, and I'm very thankful that most weeks aren't like that.  :)

When we looked at Missouri on Tuesday, we talked about the Gateway Arch.  We read that it was a tricky structure to build because of its shape.  We read that if you measure a piece of string 9 inches long and hold the ends three inches apart, you can see the shape for yourself.  We used Greg's chain instead of a piece of string because it was accessible right when I needed it, and any homeschool mom will tell you that sometimes that makes the difference between an activity that gets done and one that doesn't.  :)

So far we have added 26 states to our U.S. map.  Here's what it looks like now:

In science this week, we continued our study of anatomy, focusing on the senses.  It's so fascinating to learn about the way our bodies are created.  God has so lovingly thought of every last detail!  (And we just skimmed the surface this week!)  We learned that when we touch things, nerve endings send signals to our brains; when we hear sounds, they are simply vibrations; and when we see things, our eyes see them upside-down and our brain turns them right-side-up for us.  We did several hands-on activities to explore taste and smell.

First, while Millie was in the bath one morning, Hannah made her breakfast with a twist:  red eggs and purple milk.

Adding a drop or two to get the eggs just the right shade of red.
Breakfast is on the table.  All that's missing is a clueless sister!

I love this expression!  I can just hear her saying, "I don't know.  I'm not too sure about this!"

But in the end, it's all good!  Normal scrambled eggs and milk, just a different color! 
Next I had the girls try a small taste of four different foods to see if they could determine sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

They sampled lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and salt. 

Can't you read Hannah's mind here?  "Oh, Millie, you can go first!"  Because if it tastes really bad, I want to be prepared!

The lemon juice was really bad!!

But the honey made up for it!  :)
And finally, we did an activity that was supposed to show us that smell plays a large role in the way our food tastes.  I know this is true because my appetite goes way down when my nose is stuffy, but somehow our experiment failed miserably! 

First, I made a glass of chocolate milk and a glass of strawberry milk.

Then I blindfolded the girls and had them hold their noses while they took a sip from each cup. 

What was supposed to happen:
They were supposed to be able to tell that it was sweet, but they weren't supposed to be able to tell which was chocolate and which was strawberry. 

What did happen:
They both got both tastes right without even a moment's hesitation. 

What happened after that:
I figured they were either able to see or weren't holding their noses tightly enough, so I did it myself.  No doubt about it, the chocolate was definitely chocolatey, and the strawberry was definitely strawberry-y.  :)

Oh, and remember the science experiment that we didn't do last week?  Still not done.

And the quilt that looked like this last week?

Now it looks like this.

I'm pretty sure it's going to require a trip to Grandma's for me to muster up the motivation to help Hannah with it.  :)

I'm not sure why I felt like I was dragging this week.  Maybe because basketball season has been going on for three months now, maybe because of the extra preparation needed for co-op this week, maybe because I know Spring Break is just a few short weeks away.  Who knows?!  But whatever the reason, I'm glad the weekend is here and I intend to enjoy it fully!  :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even a ... Wait ... Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

All right, peeps, I'm putting myself out there in a big way by sharing this story with you!  But for the sake of my ugly pride, I do have to let you know that we really are clean people!  Granted, if you've ever been to my house and taken a peek in my bedroom, there is mountain of cleaned-and-dried-but-never-folded-or-put-away clothes at the foot of my bed, but other than that we really do keep it fairly straight around here.  So our adventures over the past few days have definitely taken us by surprise, to say the least!

It all started around 9:30 Saturday night when I was in bed editing a friend's book, just minding my own business.  (Fortunately, the girls were already asleep.)  Suddenly, I heard Greg say, "Oh my goodness!  Was that ... HONEY, come here!!!"

I ran into the living room and saw Greg strategically standing in a place where he could see both openings that lead out of the kitchen.  "I think I just saw a" —well, he finished the sentence, but I still can't quite bring myself to say the word in a connection with a story that took place in my house.  So we'll just call it "Ralph S."  Or "Stuart Little."  Or "one of those three blind guys."  You get the idea.

He told me to go by the door in the living room, and he went by the door in the breakfast area.  Between the two of us, we were gonna catch that little dude by surprise and throw a plastic shoebox over it to trap it.  (Yeah, not really what great stories are made of, but it's all we had handy.)

So we each manned our stations and prepared to attack.  Our eyes were scanning furiously with each baby step we took, but the next thing we knew, we were face-to-face with each other with no ... you know ... "Ralph" ... to be found anywhere.

Let me just tell you how much it'll make your skin crawl to know that a critter is somewhere in your kitchen, but you don't have any idea where.  Our new fridge only has about 1/8 of an inch on either side of it.  There was no way he could have squeezed through that opening.  Even so, we pulled it out just to see if he had somehow gone underneath it to hide.  No luck.

Now we were really puzzled.  Greg just built our kitchen cabinets about a year and a half ago, and because we did the construction ourselves and knew how they were built, we knew there was no way ol' Ralphie could have made his way into the cabinets. But we didn't know where else to look, so we searched every last one of them.  Nothin'.  Grrrr!

The only other place we could even imagine was on the side of the dishwasher.  That opening is around 1/4 of an inch.  Rather than messing with the plumbing, Greg said, "That's it.  I'm going to Wal-Mart to get some traps.  You stay here and watch the kitchen and see if he comes out again."
I set up a work area on the kitchen counter so I could still edit but my peripheral vision would allow me to see any sudden movement.  About 10 minutes later, I saw a gray blob come out from next to the refrigerator.  (Don't even ask.  I have no idea.  Honestly, the gap is 1/8 of an inch.)  I went from "calm, collected, quiet, adult" mode to "panic-stricken, jumping-up-and-down, squealing-like-a-second-grade-girl" mode in about .0005 seconds.  But I saw it.  It ran between the dishwasher and the kitchen sink cabinet, and I knew where it was.  Things were not gonna end up well for ol' Ralph.  He had picked the wrong house to try to move into.
I called Greg to tell him the latest news and ask him to please rush home and save me from the savage beast! 
He showed up about 3 hours 10 minutes later with every kind of trap Wal-Mart sold and proceeded to put two sticky traps out, one on each side of the dishwasher.  "Ha!" I thought.  "We gotcha now!"  It was really just a matter of waiting, so we tried to sit and relax and watch TV.  ("Relax."  Yeah, right.)  I eventually ended up going into the school room to do some work on the computer, and Greg stayed in the living room.
About 20 minutes later, he said, "Oh my goodness!  It just ran under the ottoman!"  We spent the next 30 minutes chasing that little devil all around the living room and into the school room, moving every piece of furntire we own in the process, and we finally—finally—caught it!
As a homeschool mom, I felt it was my responsibility to take pictures of the mouse for nature study.  And as a blogging homeschool mom, I felt it was my responsibility to take pictures of the chaos so you could share the experience with me.  (You're welcome.)

Right after Greg trapped him with the plastic shoebox.

Then he slid him onto the sticky trap. (If you're tempted to leave me a comment letting me know how inhumane these traps are, please don't.  Really.  I used to think they were inhumane, too.  Then I got a visit from an unwelcomed guest.)  :)
The chase started on this side of the living room ....

... then went to this side of the living room.

Next, he headed into the school room.  I was pretty sure I saw him go behind the bookshelf ...

... but he had actually gone under my desk instead.  When he tried to come out, Greg trapped him.  My hero!!!

Remember:  My house, typically pretty orderly.  After chasing Ralphie all over the place, not so much!  :)
Huge adrenaline rush!!!  We got it!!!  As we were putting everything back in its place, we were talking about the whole event.  How in the world did it jump over the trap by the dishwasher?  That was the strangest thing!  But, boy, were we glad that was over!  

About an hour later (around 12:30 because the adrenaline was flowing like crazy after the ... pardon the pun ... rat race), we were watching TV, when Greg saw a gray blur scurry across the kitchen floor!
I heard him say, "You gotta be kiddin' me!"  At first I thought he was kidding, but then I saw the stress all over his face and realized he was dead serious.  So it hadn't jumped over the trap by the dishwasher!  It was a completely different one!  This put a whole new spin on things.  It's one thing for Ralph to somehow take a wrong turn and get into your house.  It's another thing altogether to think that maybe a small family has decided to take up residence in your home.  And why had we never seen any signs of them until now?!
We pulled out the dishwasher, but there was nothing to be found.  We were exhausted at this point—not to mention discouraged—so we jut put out every single trap he had purchased at Wal-Mart and went to bed.
Fast forward to Sunday night.  We were going through the bedtime routine with the girls, and before Hannah got in bed, she ran into the kitchen to check the traps.  "We got one!  We got one!" she yelled.  And sure enough, we had.
So here we are, five days after all the fun began.  The world has one less Ralph S. and one less Stuart Little than it did five days ago, but we haven't had anymore signs of little visitors.  We still don't have any idea how they got into the house to begin with, but we sure are glad they appear to be gone.  And on the bright side, I think Greg is gonna give the garage a massive clean-out this weekend!  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Show & Tell: Adventures Week 22

Today we wrapped up Week 22 of Adventures.

We added two states to our map and notebook this week:  Illinois and Alabama.

We also took a peek at life in a covered wagon and learned what it was like to travel west by wagon train.  We always enjoy the stories from American Pioneers and Patriots; without a doubt, it has been one of the highlights of our history studies this year.  But there was an especially touching story this week about a baby that was found in an overturned wagon.  The parents were nowhere to be found, so the pioneers who found the baby took her to raise as their own because they didn't know if the parents would—or could—come back for her.

One of our activities was to make a quilt pattern out of construction paper.  Hannah has been wanting me to teach her to sew soooo badly, so I decided to get enough fabric for her to make a lap quilt.  Hopefully we can begin to work on it next week.

In Bible, we took a look at a new name for Jesus:  Head of the Body.  We talked about how the Body of Christ is made up of believers everywhere—not just people in our family or our church family, but people all over the world who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and are trusting Him alone to get to Heaven.  Then we talked about the way your head helps control your body, which is exactly what Jesus does for the Body of believers known as the Church.  We also read the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones that came to life and compared them to people whose souls are dried up and dead until they come to Jesus and He gives them life.

Science and Bible typically tie in together, and this week was no exception.  Because we are looking at Jesus as the Head of the Body, we began a unit on anatomy in science.  On Tuesday we read about several of the main organs (brain, lungs, heart, liver, stomach, and intestines) and got a close-up look at blood cells and the layers of the skin.  Then on Wednesday we read about the skeletal and muscular systems, and on Thursday we read about the digestive system.

In light of the Ezekiel passage we read during Bible, we decided to do some "bone" activities from a Magic School Bus kit we had at the house.

First we learned that if you take a healthy, solid bone and soak it in vinegar for a day or two, it will become pliable.  So we made sure to eat chicken one night so we would have some bones to experiment with!

We soaked them in vinegar for two days.
I made a video of Hannah taking the bones out of the jar, but I never in a million years expected her last line to crack me up like it did!  :D

Apparently we've mentioned a time or two that drinking milk gives your bones the calcium they need to be strong and healthy, so she didn't understand how a chicken could have strong bones if it didn't drink milk.  :D

We also used our Magic School Bus activity kit to examine how joints work.  First we looked at a ball and socket joint.

First we rolled up a thin piece of cardboard and attached a ping pong ball to the end of it. This served as a model of the end of the bone that slips into the socket.

Then we slid the ball end of the bone into the socket and moved it around to see the circular motion this type of joint allows.

Finally, we spread some oil in the socket and then replaced the bone to see how much more smoothly it moved with the lubricant versus without.  There was a slight change, but nothing like the difference our body would feel if we didn't have any synovial fluid in our joints!
 We also looked at a hinge joint and saw how the muscles contract to allow the joint to move.  It's kind of hard to tell from watching the video, but in the model there are two pieces of tubing, and one slides into the other as the knee bends.  This is to illustrate the muscle shortening, or contracting, as the knee bends.  And a little humor at the end of this one, too—this time from Camille.  :)

The kit came with a ginormous poster of the human body and stickers to add to it.  Here's Hannah adding stickers for the parts of the body we talked about this week.

We also enjoyed a few DVDs this week.  I purchased a set of the Moody Science DVDs last year, which was very much a splurge for us.  I'm so glad I did, though, because they not only have fantastic science but also a very God-honoring message!

The Red River of Life is about the vascular system.

The Wonder of You is about the skeletal system.

And this is one of my kids' all-time favorites!  They love The Magic School Bus!  :)
We were supposed to do an experiment to measure our lung capacity, but we didn't get around to that one this week.  Hopefully we'll knock it out next week and you can read about it then!  :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Time I Mean It!

Dear Cto5K,

Last year I attempted to complete you and quit midstream. 

But now I'm back.

And I'm older.

And wiser.

(And maybe a little fatter, too, but we're just gonna ignore that part.)

So be prepared, Cto5K, because you won't get the best of me this time.  I will dominate.  You're going down, baby ... you're going down!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Show & Tell: Adventures Week 21

Today we finished up Week 21 of Adventures in My Father's World.

In history we learned about Robert Fulton and the invention of the steamboat.  I think Hannah's favorite part of this week's study was just learning about another inventor.  As we read about his paddle wheel boat, his diving boat (similar to a submarine, from what I can gather), and his steamboat, she was all ears.  Inspiration, I suppose!  ;) 

My favorite part, however, was seeing Robert Fulton's loyalty to the United States.  The English were so impressed with his diving boat that they gave him $75,000 just for showing it to them and offered to make him a very wealthy man if he wouldn't teach any other country how to make one.  But Fulton turned down the offer because his loyalty was to America, and if she should ever need to use such a boat, he wanted her to be able to do so.

Here is Hannah's notebook page for Robert Fulton and the steamboat.

We also learned that Indiana and Mississippi were the next two states to acquire their statehood.  Hannah enjoyed learning that the teddy bear got its name because President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub while on a hunting trip in Mississippi.  :)  We also took a look at the Mississippi River on a map and traced its path from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Even though we're working our way into the southern states, we haven't really touched too much on slavery or anything related to the Civil War yet.  (We'll cover those topics beginning in Week 28.)  However, this week we read Freedom School, Yes!, which definitely left Hannah understanding that black people in our country haven't always been treated fairly.

In Bible, we continued to look at Jesus as the Vine.  We spent most of our time looking at the blessing that comes from obedience as we stay connected to our vine.  We read about Elijah and God's provision for him during a famine and about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and God's protection of them when they were put into the furnace.  We also read Galatians 5:22-23 and discussed the fruits of the Spirit.

Science was packed full of messy activities as we looked at water this week.  ;)

On Monday, we took a look at floating and sinking.  It amazes me how much science is in this one concept alone!  We talked about density and upthrust, then the girls made educated guesses as to whether or not various items would float and tested their hypotheses.

Here Hannah is testing the T-Rex.
And Millie is testing a foam bullet for their Nerf gun.

Here is the complete list of their hypotheses and results.  (An X means it won't float, and a check means it will.)  And now that I'm looking at it, maybe their guesses weren't so educated after all!  ;)
On Tuesday we looked at various kinds of fruits and determined that they all held water.

We looked closely at an orange segment and saw the individual cells that hold water.  Then the girls squeezed the segments into a cup and enjoyed some freshly squeezed orange juice.

Yesterday we had two activities that reminded me of a household chemistry class I took in college. First we used the juice from some cherries and blackberries to make a design on a handkerchief.

By the time she was done with this, the center of it was completely red and purple.
We ran it through the washer and dryer earlier today to show how easily some fruits can stain fabrics, but would you believe the stinkin' thing came out looking like this?!

You might not be able to tell since it's not ironed (I don't even iron our clothes, let alone our science experiments!), but every. single. stain. came out of this thing.  Yet I can't even begin to tell you how many countless clothes we've ruined around here with stains from fruit juice.  What is up with that?!

Our second experiment yesterday was to use the juice from a lemon to draw a picture on a sheet of paper.  After it dried, we were to iron it, and the heat from the iron was supposed to brown the lemon juice and make the picture suddenly appear.  Supposed to.

The heat from the iron did brown the lemon juice a little bit, not nearly as much as we were expecting.  You can barely make out Hannah's stick figure (right), but Millie's blob abstract art (left) is a little easier to see.
In math this week, Hannah was learning to add triple-digit numbers with regrouping, so we pulled out the base 10 blocks for some hands-on math.

The problem was 248 + 75.

She changed 10 of her 1's out for a 10, then changed 10 of her 10's out for a 100.

When all was said and done, she arrived at her answer of 323.
Math manipulative days are so much fun!

With the exception of science, I'd say this was a really good week.  (It's always a little of a let-down when an experiment doesn't go exactly like it's "supposed to.")  But on the bright side, since science this week was about fabric stains, I'm hoping that next week they learn how to sort, wash, dry, and fold 'cause I need all the laundry help I can get around this place!  ;)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Second Thought ...

My poor Millie has been shortchanged soooo many times in her life—not the least of which is when it comes to birthday parties!  I don't know if it's the case with every family or if it's just something unique to us, but our firstborn has a way of demanding—and getting—all of the attention, while our youngest seems to get overlooked all the stinkin' time.  In fact, we never even got around to having a birthday party for Millie last year.  So when July rolled around and it was time to plan Hannah's, we said, "How are we supposed to have a party for Hannah when we haven't even had Millie's yet?!"  The solution?  We just tacked Millie onto Hannah's and did a "two sisters" birthday bash.  And Millie never complained.

So this year, we made it a point to give Millie her very own birthday party.  A real birthday party.  A birthday party that took place within a week of her actual birthday.  (Gasp!)  Greg listed a few options (Chuck E. Cheese's, the bowling alley, the skating rink), and Millie immediately chose the skating rink.  Sounded like a good plan to us.  She went to a skating party over the summer and did fine.  No problem, right? 


The party we went to over the summer was a private party where the parents had rented out the rink.  When we showed up for Millie's party today, there were kids all over the place.  And some of them were really big ... like 9-year-olds!  (Well, c'mon, if you had just turned 5, they would look big to you, too!)

We got everyone's skates on and were ready to get them onto the rink, when Millie burst into tears.  She said, "Mom, instead of skating, I want a Chuck E. Cheese party.  Can we please go to Chuck E. Cheese?"  Of course, I told her we couldn't because we had already paid for her party, but I felt terrible for her!  The poor kid finally gets her own party, but she's too afraid to participate in it!

Fortunately, a guy who works at the skating rink saw the birthday girl crying and came to her rescue.  He took her onto the rink and gave her private skating lessons pretty much the entire time she was on the rink.  By the time we left, she was skating all over the place—even with all the "big kids" flying past her.

I know that gem of a man was the highlight of the day from our perspective, but here's a peek at a few other memories.  (Savor them, people ... she might not have another party of her own until she's 10!)

Doing the hokey pokey in the middle of the skating rink.

Sooo cute ... Eli is explaining the nursery to her.  A sign of things to come???  ;)