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Monday, September 1, 2014

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Geography Tips and Tricks Weeks 8-10

Here are weeks 8-10 of my geography tips and tricks sheets. This finishes up the states. I was pretty rusty on my states and capitals, not having studied them since 5th grade. Thinking up the tricks has gotten me back to mastery - I hope they help you too (and your student(s), of course!) The easiest way to use these is to right click and save the image. Each page will print as an 8.5x11.  Please do not remove my website from the pages, or submit them as your own work.  They might not beautiful, but they took a while to make! Otherwise, feel free to share them / print them / use them in class - giving credit where appropriate.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Geography tips and trick Weeks 1-7

I waxed so eloquently and tried to layout this page beautifully, only to do something wrong and delete my hard work. So here are my tips and tricks sheets for the first 7 weeks of Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Geography. 
I will add that the students should be familiar with the states and capitals (song or drilling) before using these to avoid confusion. For instance, "Miss" won't jog a young mind to think "Mississippi" if they don't have Mississippi in their grammar in the first place!  
Maybe I'll dress this page up someday - but if not - you're really here for the pages, not my ramblings anyway, right?
Good luck and God bless you in your learning journey.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Don't blog it, do it.

Well, when I last I typed on Blogger it was March.  Since then our family welcomed the Handsome Sailor home, celebrated Beshie's first birthday, broke our fancy camera, drove cross country hitting Yellowstone, Little Big Horn, the Badlands, the Quad Cities, and Ohio with the cousins.  We celebrated the wedding of my sister-in-law at hub's parents' gorgeous home in Northern VA and spent two months with family and friends bouncing from house to house and even crashing beach vacations in Nags Head and Avon.  RoRo basically learned to swim from all the trips to the pool with Papa Wayne and Uncle Baba.  The big girls passed their swim tests (swim two laps without no touching the bottom!) and got to go off the diving board! And they were doing back dives in minutes!!

We did Busch Gardens, beaches, aquariums, the Smithsonian and lots of fro-yo.  We have tan lines for the first time in years (first time ever for RoRo.)

And then we moved into a great home in a great neighborhood in housing in Connecticut.  We are settled in now heading into week three of HOMESCHOOLING and SHORE DUTY.   RoRo started PRESCHOOL! The blessings truly uncountable.  So much worth blogging and so little time to blog. 

That's how this family rolls - the less you hear - the more we're doing.  Blogging is awesome - but life is better.  Instagram collage pending!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Prince of Thieves turns 3

If you have observed the new fine art of "amateur" party planning all over the internet, you may have been left feeling inadequate and sloppy.  I know I have.  I always thought I was the supreme kids' birthday party planner until Pinterest opened my eyes to all the perfection of which I was falling short. Nevertheless, I have and always will love throwing parties for my kids.  And while the internet can be full of unrealistic (and expensive) expectations, it is a great resource too.  You don't have to be a fondant artisan to throw a fantastic party.

There is no rhyme or reason to whose birthdays Dad can make it to and whose he will be deployed for.  Typically we (I) go crazy and big when my husband is home and skimp when he is away.  I got blindsided when hubs didn't return home as expected - I had already begun making purchases and planning for a big party, talked up the details and Robin Hood theme to my little guy - so I was committed to more than dinner at Red Robin and a cake.

 To pull off a fun, detail-rich party without my beloved cake-maker and husband of nearly ten years, I needed to keep things realistic. I have four kids. My 3 year-old thinks his big sisters are the two coolest people in the world. So I did NOT have to invite every awesome toddler of every awesome Mom I know from the neighborhood, Bible study, church, boat etc. That was an image I had to let slip away. Instead, RoRo picked one buddy, who also had a little sister, and I invited a friend and her toddler to join us. By keeping the guest list small, I could spend less on and make less food and favors. I also had and I mean HAD to lower my expectations. Making it through a regular day with 4 kids and a deployed husband is a feat in itself - making it through the day with a tidy house and kids with brushed teeth is rare - so how could I expect to find time to make a medieval chandelier to hang over the dining table or teach myself to sew so I could make quaint money pouches and hats? When was I going to have time to fashion bows and arrows from cedar branches? Foolishness.

I compromised. I picked up KFC, bought some grapes and brown bread and made a few deviled eggs - thieves' feast complete. I used brown package paper from the dollar store and a random giagantic cedar branch that was already sitting in our back porch c/o crazy children to make Sherwood Forest. I picked up green t-shirts at Walmart for $3 apiece. I splurged on bow and arrow sets for the kids, also from Walmart.

I cheated on the pouches by cutting fleece into a circle then snipping holes around the outer edge of the circle. I wove a piece of yarn in and out of the holes and created a little drawstring bag. I saved time by not measuring any of this. Sloppy just looks more old-timey, right? But the cheat that saved the day was discovering I could use my glue gun to construct hats for my Merry Men. I followed the directions in this video, using hot glue instead of a sewing machine - and cranked out some adorable felt hats (she calls for fleece, but I had already bought the felt).

Each big kid got their own bow and arrow, pouch and hat. The baby girls got Maid Marian hats leftover from Lulu's 4th birthday - just classic point party hats with a stream of tulle knotted and pulled through the top.

I kept imagining a target that the kids would shoot open like a pinata with candy coins and treasure spilling out. But, as ALWAYS happens to a procrastinating, disorganized party planner, I ran out of time. Instead I flipped a brown grocery bag inside out, wrote TAXES on it and tied it up - voila! Pinata. The candy and treasure came from the party store.

And what about the cake? A fondant forest? A target? Or perhaps a golden arrow? Nope. A chocolate on chocolate Betty Crocker box cake with three candles. Like I said, my cake artist was deployed and some things just aren't the same without him. Plus it looked more feastish anyway!

I had planned for a two-hour party. Between the feast, cake and presents there wasn't a lot of time that needed to be filled. My oldest swore the littles in as Merry Men, promising to steal fromt he rich and give to the poor. We kicked things off with a crown jewel heist - the kids had to watch and wait for me to put down the crown jewels so they could sneak them off to the forest and divvy them up into their pouches. We did an archery contest (the prize was a kiss from a drooly Maid Marian!). Our neighbors came by and wound the kids up, especially C, who provided that all-important human punching bag. The "pinata" was the last activity.

The kids, ages 3 to 8, had so much fun letting their imaginations run wild. The grown-ups liked the chicken. The babies liked the balloons. It wasn't a party that will be pinned 1000 times, but it was a party my children are still talking about a week later, and one I think RoRo will remember for a very long time. And that is infinitely more important.  Happy Birthday big guy!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Babies and Blackberries

I couldn't pass up photographing this face during (second) breakfast.  I mean, the blog is called Bunnies and Blackberries, after all.  First breakfast was oatmeal and apples, which Beshie ate while watching me do my workout video.  So, of course, she was a sticky oatmeal mess by the time Jillian Michaels told me "great job." Into the bath - then the 3 big kids were ready for breakfast and Annabeth wanted in on the blackberry action - so . . . two breakfasts = two baths.  Thank goodness it's a Saturday. Have a great one!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finish the picture

The Navy has given us orders for a move to Connecticut this summer. That in itself is worth a little blogging but for now is only important because it has me beginning the moving purge.

Today I bought each of the kids a plastic bin for their keepsakes and school art treasures.  (I also bought a sweet personal label maker - an indulgence I've had my eye on for about a year now.)  I had been keeping the kids' classwork in magazine holders.  So of course I found myself with four empty magazine holders - prompting me to finally properly contain my collection of Domino Magazines. As I completed this project I had a stack of unwanted random magazines that were clearly not going to be joining us in Connecticut.

I have been seeing this throwback elementary school art project getting pinned and remembered how much I used to like this kind of activity to keep me busy and get my creativity going.

You probably remember the "complete this picture" activity.  If not, it couldn't be easier.  Grab some paper (I used white computer paper).  Cut some partial images out of your unwanted magazines. My kids are animal lovers, so I focused mostly on critters.  Just cut around the image randomly, leaving room for your artists to creatively fill-in what you leave out.  Use a gluestick to glue the magazine image to the paper.  Give your Picassos some pencils and Voila!  Rainy-day activity that is fun, cheap (or free), and encourages creativity.

My kids had a blast and I love what they came up with!  I bought them little sketch pads and plan to cut out some smaller images and glue them in the pads for my big girls.  They will be a perfect boredom-buster for that cross-country road trip this June!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yummies for my gummies

Owie - all puffy gums and no teeth
Poor, poor Beshie.  8.5 months old and not a single tooth has popped through her bubbly, swollen gums.  Not one of my first three children was particularly bothered by the arrival of teeth.  I was starting to wonder if people were just exaggerating when they talked about teething woes.  But babyBesh has had a rotten month+ waiting for those buggers to cut.  I have learned my lesson, and am definitely counting myself lucky that we did not have this experience with her siblings!

I nursed Beshie exclusively for her first 6+ months.  Just before I started her on solids I was feeling particularly ambitious and picked up some babyfood popsicle molds.  Two months later the molds were still untouched.  But the sad baby snacking in her highchair inspired me to give pop-making a try. 
So easy a brother can make it -
in his shirt and undies

Because I never plan these adventures in advance, I had to make Beshie's first babyfood popsicles with on-hand ingredients. I liked the looks of this recipe as it contained two of baby's favorite things - pear and avocado. I had a large avocado and some jarred pear babyfood.  I went a bit off script (the gourmet baby pop-chef recipe called for fresh, organic ingredients) but came up with my own easy homemade babyfood frozen treat:

1/2 large avocado (or 1 small would work)
1 small jar pear baby food (1 mashably ripe pear would be better)

Smash and squish to a consistency that works for your baby.  I allowed small chunks since Beshie likes to eat avocado chunks. Supermom pureed hers, which is probably safer.  Either way, use your discretion and stay with baby while she is eating!

Spoon the mixture into pop molds and freeze.  Super easy and . . . baby LOVES her pops. They meet several needs: the cold seems to help her sore gums, they add some variety to her diet and she loves feeding herself.   (pro-tip: If you aren't photographing your child for the internet you might want to take his/her clothes off before handing over the pop.)
Her "big" (2.5 year-old)  brother loved making them and eating them too. 

Ahh - that feels better (and tastes good too!)
 I am looking forward to making my next batch of baby pops. I have also been cutting partially defrosted frozen blueberries (still very cold but not ice-hard) in half for a finger-staining, gum-soothing treat.  So perhaps the next pop will feature this berry... good thing I buy stain-remover in bulk!