Camp NaNo in April!

I am going to participate in Camp NaNo in April and hopefully I will finish the first draft of my second book. My word goal for the month of April is 30,000 words. I’ve got a little over 20,000 words already, and I figure 30,000 more should get me to the end, or at least close to it. And if I end up going over my word goal, awesome! My goal from the beginning of the year has been to finish the first drafts of the four books I have (very loosely) outlined by the end of the year so that I can start polishing them up and getting them ready for publication. 

If there is anyone in Jefferson City, MO (or nearby) who is participating, I would love for you to join my Meetup Group: Jefferson City Novelist Group. I will be organizing some meetups just for those participating in NaNo this year, in April, July and of course, November. I think it would be awesome to see some local authors reach their word goals and celebrate together and encourage each other as we try to accomplish the not easy task of writing a book in one month. 

Good luck to all of you NaNo campers out there! 

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DIY Garden Fairy Party

My daughter turned five years old last weekend, and she wanted a fairy party, so that’s what we did! It was so much fun. Unfortunately I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures of the process, but I can share links to the stuff I made. 

First, I made tulle wands for all the girls. I found the tutorial here, but I changed a few things. I used a thicker dowel rod, gold ribbon for the handle, light pink tool and light pink tool ribbon. I had to kind of mess around with the first one to get it right, so I would recommend buying enough for one extra in order to practice. I found that using thick wired ribbon for the handle worked best. Also, I didn’t tie the tulle to the handle. I also hot glued the ribbon, which I cut the full length of the dowel rod. 

My mom and I also made tissue paper flowers. I found the tutorial here. I used one color for the outer two layers and yellow for the inner two layers to create the flowers. My Mom is way better at arranging stuff, so she helped me make a photo wall with the flowers. I did get a picture of that:

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We also did a matching game with Lost Things. Each girl received a fairy that I found at Hobby Lobby (also on amazon.com), and I found several very cheap things online or at flea markets or antique shops. I found small corks, little green fabric ornaments, blue opaque stones, little white fabric buttons, etc. Originally, if the weather was nice, I was going to hide the Lost Things all over the yard and let the kids find them, but I had to go with plan B because it was too cold. Plan B was that I created a matching game with the Lost Things. I used little buckets I found at the Dollar Tree, put the buckets in two rows of five, and hid Lost Things under them. Then, the kids had to find the matching Lost Things (ex: there were two buckets with corks, two with ornaments, etc.). It was fun, and the girls seemed to enjoy it.

I also made little fairy dust necklaces with tiny glass jars and pink cord. I found the jars here. In the treat bags were the fairy dust necklaces, fairy necklaces, a small bag of Lost Things to play with at home, the fairies, and candy. We had cake and pizza, too. We had so much fun. Here are a few links to other fun things to do and garden fairy party ideas:

http://www.karaspartyideas.com/2010/09/real-party-woodland-fairy-birthday.html

http://www.thoughtfullysimple.com/garden-fairy-party/

http://amandaparkerandfamily.blogspot.com/2011/03/spring-party-week-enchanted-fairy-party.html

http://www.mummyslittledreams.com/2012/08/fairy-party-theme.html

http://www.howdoesshe.com/one-fairy-cute-party/

http://www.skiptomylou.org/2011/03/04/how-to-make-treasure-stones/

Fairy Wands, Freud and Dirty Laundry

What do fairy wands, freud and dirty laundry have to do with each other? They were all part of my day today. 

I am taking a class at Liberty Universtiy Online right now called Theories of Personality, and I’m reading about Freud. Always a little disturbing, I might add. However, for once I think I understand a little more where the guy was coming from. Kudos to the textbook.

I am also making fairy wands for my daughter’s 5th birthday party coming up this Saturday. I’m pretty excited about it; I think it will be a blast. Grandma and Grandpa (I think) will be driving in, and it’s going to be a fun day filled with little girls dressed like fairies, ice cream cake, and denial that my baby girl is turning five. FIVE!

And the dirty laundry…there is always SO much! However, I felt victorious when I discovered half of my son’s missing hot wheels buried in the laundry hampers. They’ve been missing for a few days. Sometimes, when it comes to dirty laundry (or dishes) I just feel like throwing in the towel (hehe…that was an unintended pun). That’s what happened to me several days ago. I was so fed up with laundry that I was just like, “Nope. Not gonna do it.” And then, no one had any clothes. It happened so fast. So, I’ve made up with my washer and dryer and racked up XP for folding laundry over the last day or two.

All in all it’s been a busy week, but a good one. I’ll be putting up a post including all the how-tos for throwing a Fairy Garden Party sometime next week. I’m going to bed now. I’ve got more fairy wands to make in the morning!

Why I decided to go with an official curriculum for homeschool

When I started homeschooling my kiddos in pre-k, I thought I could save some money and put together my own curriculum. I posted here about my Language Arts Curriculum and here about the Science Curriculum I used. It took a LOT of time to put it together. It took a LOT of time to try to plan it out. I was able to teach my daughter to read and we had a lot of fun with the curriculum I kind of pieced together from different websites and books I found. I did save money, and I will be using the same hodge podge for my son’s pre-k year of homeschool.

However, geez was that a lot of work. And at times, throughout the year, I found myself confused as to what to do. I found myself unsure of the route I was taking, and I made mistakes. I didn’t have accountability or hard and fast lesson plans. I felt a lot of pressure. Now, not everyone would feel the way I did, but the experience of putting together my own unofficial curriculum was a little crazy and not super pleasant. So, I decided to go ahead and buy official curriculum for our kindergarten year. 

It’s awesome. I know for sure my kiddos are getting what they need. I know what to teach them. All the research is done. All the lesson planning is mostly done. All the gathering of projects and worksheets is done. It’s all done. I can teach with confidence and we can have a lot more fun learning together. So, just for kicks, here is what I decided to buy for our curriculum for Kindergarten:

Tapestry of Grace covers History, Writing, Literature, Geography, Fine Arts, Church History, Philosophy and Government. The idea is that you buy 4 “years” of curriculum, and each year has all the information to teach years K-12. You go through Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, and Year 4 and then you go back through them in more depth four times (throughout K-12).

For the other subjects I chose Abeka’s K5 Science Curriculum, All About Reading, All About Spelling, and Horizons K Math

I’m excited about Kindergarten. I know I’m starting a little early, but I think we will be taking time off for vacations and holidays. Plus I think we will be taking some lessons and spreading them out a little. In the end it will all add up. 

What have you done/will you be doing for Kindergarten homeschool curriculum?

Churro and Baklava: Our New Pets

I love pets. I grew up with dogs, and I feel that pets are just something every kid should be able to have. They teach responsibility. They’re fun. They are lovable and loving. But here’s the problem in our family. I love dogs; my husband loves cats. I can’t stand cats; my husband is not a big fan of dogs. 

So, we did a ton of research on what other options there were. What other kinds of pets are good for kids? Over and over again, we read that besides dogs and cats, fancy rats (yes, rats) are excellent first pets for kids. So, we did some more research about what it would look like to own rats. We found that they are inexpensive, friendly, playful, very smart, trainable, social and pretty easy to care for.

We also found that it was NOT a good idea to buy a pet rat from a pet store. They are often bred from lab rats. They are often mass produced with little care to their health or blood lines. They live shorter life spans. They aren’t fed well, socialized well, or cared for well. They are sold when they are older, which inhibits their ability to bond with their owners. Now, I’m not saying that every single rat bought in a pet store won’t make a good pet, but it is more likely that they will have some problems.

It was highly recommended that we buy our pet rats from a rattery. It’s okay, I giggled too. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But we found one. Ratteries sell their rats young. They breed their rats for health and good blood lines. They care for and love on them so that they are used to being handled and being around people. They start them out with the right kind of food. (Did you know that most pet stores don’t even sell food made for rats? They feed rats ferret food or some other “small animal” food, which often times does not provide good nutrition for rats.) 

So, we’ve had our rats, Churro and Baklava, cute little siamese black-eyed males, for about a week, and the kids and us adults too absolutely love them. They like to sit on our shoulder and cuddle up to our neck. They play with us and with each other. They cuddle up in their hammock together and sleep. They’re quiet and easy to care for.

I just wanted to share our experience with pet rats for those of you looking around for a first pet or even just a family pet. Recently there was a boy who died from “rat bite fever,” and I know that pet rats are getting a little bit of a bad rap. I’m very sorry that the little boy died, but we did some research when we learned about the situation, and we still feel that rats are a good choice for a few reasons:

1) We did not buy our rats from a pet store. Our rats were bred for health from good blood lines. (The rat sold to this poor family was from a pet store, and was sick when they bought it.)

2) There are about 200 cases of “rat bite fever” a year in the U.S. and most of them are from undomesticated rats, not pets. And those that are from pets are not usually deadly. It can be taken care of with anti-biotics. 

3) A vet can check out and test your pet rat for any diseases so that you can protect your family, and many ratteries do so before they sell their rats.

We are lovin’ Churro and Baklava; they are awesome pets for our kiddos!

The Terrible Twos?

I don’t know why people are always talking about the “terrible twos.” Two has been easy peasy for both of my kids. I don’t know. Maybe for other kids two really is hard. But for us, three years old has been the challenge. My daughter was whiney and stubborn; my son just turned three, and he is stubborn and aggressive. It’s hard when the kiddos are going through some stage that drives Mom and Dad up the wall. When there are tantrums all the time, everywhere. 

A while ago someone pointed out something- a new perspective to me. How many times is my child whining, complaining, and yelling, and I say out of pure frustration, most often with not one ounce of patience in my body, “Just be PATIENT!” So, as my son is going through this very challenging stage of life, I am trying to keep in mind that he will never learn patience if I react to him with impatience. He will never learn to be grateful if I never show him what it looks like to be grateful. He will never stop whining about getting his way if I do the same in my own adult, more socially acceptable way. 

So, for you Mommas and Dads out there with a little tantrum thrower on their heels, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. You will make mistakes. You will yell at your kid(s). You will be impatient. I’m not saying you can be perfect, or that you should pretend to be. But when you do make those mistakes, those bad reactions can be turned around. You can respond with grace next time, and this time, the time you yelled, the time you broke down, the time you responded with anger, you can repent to your child. You can show your child what it looks like to truly be sorry for something, to recognize your own faults and deal with them in a healthy way. 

This parenting thing is tough sometimes. But it’s awesome, too. Just remember, twenty years from now, you’ll be looking at your baby all grown up and wishing that they had stayed two or three years old just a little bit longer.