Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Plans

I've been dreading this Summer.  Not in the "what am I going to do with the kids all day," way that some moms do.  I'm just not really cut out for this whole joint custody thing.  When I got divorced, my kids were 4 and 6.  Other than the 3 times I left Savannah to be at the hospital with Lincoln, I had left my kids overnight exactly twice.  Once their dad and I left the kids with my parents and spent a night at a local B&B.  We were gone from them for approximately 12 hours.  The second time, I left the kids at my mom's house to go to a concert, and there was a huge blizzard and I couldn't make it back to her house that night.  Again, I was gone for approximately 12 hours.  So sending my kids somewhere, even to their dad's house for an extended period of time is not in my nature.  When they first started going, they never went for more than one night.  The week we (the kids and I) moved to Utah, they spent 5 days with their dad while I prepared for the move, then came home 3 times during those 5 days.  Up to this point, the longest they have spent with him, away from me, is a week.  They are going to spend two months with him this Summer!  I'm scared.

Generally when they go to California, it's a nice break for about a day.  I spend that first day being productive.  Then I start to get moody (or mean as my husband puts it).  I spend a lot of time watching tv or messing around on my computer.  I get very little done.  I'm not good at missing them.  This Summer, that won't be an option because my Bonus Kids are coming to spend the same two months with us.  I carefully planned it so that I drop my kids off and pick up the bonus kids on the same day.  Both exchanges happen in Utah, about 400 miles from where we live, so I thought this would be convenient.  I thought I was being smart.  Then I thought about it and realized that with this arrangement I don't get that day to be productive.  I don't get time to be alone with my husband.  I don't get time to switch over closets or do anything to prepare.  I'm 'even more scared!  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to have that time with my bonus kids.  We don't get to see them nearly often enough, its just going to be different.

So, I decided that I need to be prepared.  In general, my outlook on kids is that they are easier to manage when they have something to do.  If you are on Pinterest, you have probably seen a Summer schedule similar to this.  I loved the idea, but wanted to change the Friday to our usual.  So I made my own, and put it in an 8x10 frame so we can use a dry erase marker to write our weekly plan on Sunday night.  Then I sat down and make a spreadsheet of activities for each day.  I figured since I have my kids for 3 weeks at the beginning of the Summer, and the bonus kids for 9 weeks, I really only need 9 weeks worth of activities and I can repeat the same ones with both sets of kids.

Next, I made each kid a daily to-do list and taped it to their bedroom doors.  The older 4 have the same list:

  • clean your room
  • make your bed
  • shower
  • brush your teeth
  • say your prayers
  • read your scriptures
  • read for 20 minutes
  • do a red chore stick
  • do a blue chore stick
Connor and Katelyn have the same list, but neither of them have read for 20 minutes or read your scriptures, and Connor only has to do a red chore stick. Red chore sticks are popsicle sticks painted red that each have a chore listed that has to be done daily (load dishwasher, feed the dog, etc.).  Blue chore sticks are the weekly chores (mop the living room, clean the tub in the kids bathroom etc.). The deal is, that they have to complete everything on their list before they can participate in the activity for the day.

My #1 goal for the Summer, other than not losing my sanity, is to help each of the kids become better readers.  So I knew that I needed a plan.  Thinking Thursday will include trips to the library, and reading workbooks, but I didn't feel like that was enough.  Then I found this Summer reading program on Pinterest.  With a couple of changes, it was perfect!  I printed off the banner pieces and hung the main one in our reading nook.  I gave each of the kids a bookmark (the printables includes 4, which is the number of readers I have).  I made a reading chart that has the kids names and a grid for stickers under each name.  They get a star sticker each day that they read 20 minutes.  Once they have 10 stickers they get to pick a prize out of a basket which I filled with prizes from the dollar store.

I'm feeling much more prepared and ready for the Summer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Harriet the Spy

Planning a movie night around Harriet the Spy was hard for me, because I haven't seen the movie since I was a kid.  Luckily, Wikipedia is my friend and one of my (human) friends reminded me that Harriet eats tomato sandwiches every day in the movie.

We started out by making spy journals.  I gave the kids each a stack of about 5 sheets of plain white paper.  They folded them in half, making a book, and we stapled it.  Then they decorated them however they wanted.  I wish I had taken a picture, because they were really cute!  Then we played I Spy, you know the game where someone says "I spy with my little eye, something that is__________" and everyone has to guess what it is.  We actually played I Spy while we ate dinner.

For dinner, we did tomato sandwiches.  Savannah was thrilled since tomatoes are her favorite food.  The rest of us were not so thrilled, so I cheated and did BLTs for Michael and I and just a bacon sandwich for Lincoln, who hates tomatoes and lettuce.  We had grapes on the side, because that was the only fruit or veggie I could come up with to put with a character's name.  For our drink we had Sport's Sprite, which was really just regular Sprite.  I wanted to do spiral cookies for desert, but I didn't like any of the recipes I found online, so I improvised.  I started out with a sugar cookie mix, and mixed it according to directions.  I took half out, and added a jello pack to the other half, making it green and lime flavored.  Then I rolled them both out, stacked them, rolled them together and sliced the cookies.  Some of them I rolled the edges in sprinkles, but I ended up not liking them that way and left the rest non-sprinkled.

Fun With Shadows

Way back on Groundhog Day, we did a shadow experiment for our Science Saturday.   As always, we started out by making hypothesis.  As always, my kids were smarter than I expected.  On this one, they both knew that their shadows would move as the day went on.  I asked Lincoln why first and he said because the Sun is moving across the sky.  I said he was correct, and Savannah was quick to point out that technically he was not correct, that the Earth was moving around the Sun.  Sometimes we get to do the experiment just for the fun on the hands on experience, not for learning.

Anyhow, first we went outside and they traced around each other's feet, then shadows.  Lincoln struggled with this, and it was freezing, so I helped to make it go faster.

Then we went inside for a few hours.  When we went back out, they had to put their feet back exactly where they were before (that's why we traced around the feet first) and we traced the new shadow.  (please ignore my messy yard, it was February.)

Mom Fail

Yesterday I had an IEP meeting at the school for Lincoln.  I'm not even going to talk about what a colossal waste of time that was.  As I was walking out of the school I noticed that Savannah's class had made adorable collage Earth's and poems for Earth Day.  I looked around for hers and took a picture with my phone, because she has never brought home the art they hang in the school.  At dinner I was showing Michael, and had the following conversation.

Savannah: That's not mine.
Me: Yes it is, it has your name on it.
Savannah: No, that isn't mine.
Me: It says "Savannah S." right there!
Savannah: Its not mine, I'm Savannah C.

I know that.  I know that my daughter's last name starts with C, and that her best friend is Savannah S.  I just wish I would have realized before I sent the picture to her dad.

I should also point out that even though I no longer have the same last name as my kids, my last name doesn't start with S either.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Married The Rock

We had to go to the big city of Boise to run some errands tonight and decided while we were there we might as well go out to eat since there aren't many restaurants in the two-bit town where we live.  During dinner, Savannah kept turning around to look at the TV behind us.  Once, she was told to turn around and she said, "But the guy from Journey 2 who looks like Michael is on."

I give you Michael:

and the "Guy from Journey 2 who looks like Michael"

Honestly, I can kinda see it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Amazing Naked Egg

Hey look, I'm actually blogging about something in the same week that we did it!  I've been dying to do this experiment that I found on Pinterest for a while. We really had fun with it and spent 5 days doing it!

We started by putting the egg in a cup and filling it with vinegar.  The kids made hypothesis of what they thought would happen.  Lincoln thought the egg would get rotten.  Savannah said she had read about this experiment in a book and that the egg shell would disappear. Sometimes having a smart kid is not so fun.  She has been able to guess the correct hypothesis on almost every experiment that we have done.

After about 24 hours of sitting the egg was mostly naked, but there was one spot that still had a bit of shell on it, so I moved the egg to a new cup and refilled it with clean vinegar.  I'm not sure if that was necessary or not, but the old one had a pretty good layer of white foam on the top from the shell, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

We let that sit for about another 12 hours, and we had a perfect rubbery naked egg.  We discussed that the vinegar is an acid and that it had eaten away at the calcium carbonate in the shell (similar to our bones!) and that's why it disappeared. The egg had also gotten a bit bigger, so we talked about what osmosis is.  Again, Savannah was able to deduct that the vinegar had gotten into the membrane of the egg, so there must be tiny holes in it that we can't see.  She really does amaze me!  This is what the naked egg looked like next to a regular egg the same size as this one started out.

I asked the kids if they wanted to try anything else with it, and without even being given possibilities, Lincoln wanted to see if we could make it even bigger.  We decided that in addition to that, we wanted to see if we could make it change colors too.  Kinda killing to birds with one stone, so to speak.  So we mixed up some blue water and put the egg in. 

I'm not entirely convinced that the egg got any bigger, but it did turn blue.  Much deeper blue than I had anticipated. 

Next, we decided to see if we could shrink the egg, so we put it in a cup and filled it with Karo syrup. 

I loved that with the blue coloring in the egg, you could totally see the separation of the water that came out of the egg and the Karo syrup. 

The egg totally SHRUNK!

Lincoln thought the half-full membrane sack was the coolest thing ever!

Savannah wanted to see if we could make the egg big again, so we put it back in the water.  We decided to use colored water again since it turned out so cool before.  This is what the egg looked like when we first put it in the water.

This is what it looked like 3 hours later!  I lifted it up to check on it, and it was too swollen to fit back to the bottom!

And the final product.

We were going to take it outside and try bouncing it on a cookie sheet starting from about an inch high and going higher and higher to see when it would break.  But, Lincoln accidentally knocked it off the counter and it exploded all over my kitchen.  I didn't take a picture, but I wish I had because the mess was bright green!  It was a perfect combination of the blue and yellow from the different experiments. 

This was by far the favorite science experiment that we have done.  It was so much fun, and easy too.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog is a movie that I wanted to do for Friday Fun right from the start, but it took us a while to get to it.  Our first activity was Jazz Band.  We started by making shakers out of tin cans.  The kids decorated them with paper and markers, then we filled them with dry beans and rice and hot glued them shut. When they were done we looked up Jazz music on YouTube and the kids shook their cans and drummed on them with silverware.  Somehow, I didn't take any pictures of that.

Next we had frog races.  The kids hopped like frogs across the living room and the first to touch the opposite wall one.  I think they did it like 10 times in a row.

Food on this one pretty much planned itself.  How could we not do gumbo?  I had planned to make it from scratch, but I decided to get lazy and we had Zatarans with smoked sausage and shrimp.   We did green beans for our vegetable since there weren't any in the gumbo.  Fizzy Frog Soda was sparkling water with lime juice and green food coloring.  The beignets were my favorite part of the meal.  They are a fancy French pastry, but we made them quick and easy by cutting Pillsbury biscuits into fourths, frying them and dipping them still hot into powdered sugar or a cinnamon sugar mixture.  Everyone LOVED them.