Homeschooling Preschool- The Bat Unit

We’ve been slowly getting started with our homeschooling journey as we settle into our new lives here in Virginia. Eli is still just preschool-aged and little Zoe is just along for the ride so we haven’t done any purchasing of curriculum or investing in any programs. I’m mostly taking a play-based approach and following the Eli’s lead as to what he is interested in exploring. After a steady diet of all things police and fire-fighter related with Eli giving no indication of moving on anytime soon though, I was in the mood to push for just a little more variety. It being October, it seemed to be a wonderful time to learn about BATS!

bat face painting

Eli had a lot of fun with a little face painting… (Zoe not so much!)

rice sensory bin with bats

Little plastic bats frolicked in the rice bin, until they escaped and are even now being found in odd places around the house. They worked well for counting and making up little addition and subtraction stories.

bat books from the library

We brought home a bunch of bat books from the library to read together. Eli found it interesting that bats come in many different colors and sizes.

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We made a Halloween bat garland out of a couple of empty egg cartons and he really enjoyed mixing colors to match some of the bats we had read about.IMG_1719

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Zoe also got in on the painting, but found it more fun to just paint her work tray.

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Here in Virginia we have encountered a horrible problem of mosquitoes. They especially love my boy and he reacts to the bites so each one swells up to a quarter or half-dollar size. The first couple of days we were here he got 51 bites even with bug spray on! (We have since found Avon’s Skin-So-Soft to be much more effective.)

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Because of this we are quite appreciative of the fact that a bat can consume up to 600 mosquitoes an hour. We purchased a bat house from Amazon.com and are hopeful it will be occupied come Spring.

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It has to be hung at least 15 feet up so as we were scratching our heads over if we were going to need to go out and buy a tall ladder just for this job a group of teenage boys came to our door looking for yard work. I think it was the first time anyone had ever asked them to hang a bat house but they were happy to do it.

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One theme that Eli really grabbed onto during our time studying bats was that of being orphaned. It was a theme of a few of the different storybooks that we read or watched being read on the iPad. We learned that up to one in ten baby bats are not the biological offspring of the mother raising them. Some of the mothers that go off to hunt in the evening never return, usually due to predation, and some babies die during the mother’s absence. Bereft mama bats will then adopt abandoned babies. Since then he has been playing through a lot of scenarios where my husband and I die and he and Zoe have to go live with  another family. (Usually it is Caillou’s Mom and Dad… so he builds rocket ships to take him into cartoon-land.) This isn’t what I envisioned being his take-away when I thought it would be fun to study bats, but it has opened up a great opportunity to discuss foster care and adoption with him. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. After two years of classes and jumping through the required hoops we were in the process of waiting to have a foster child placed with us as part of the foster care system’s adoption program when I became pregnant with Eli. In fact the day I called the social worker to tell her I was pregnant and needed our file to be placed on hold, she said she had been just about to call me because they finally had a little boy to place with us. I often wonder about and pray for that child… who he was and where he ended up.

There is a lot that we didn’t do in our bat study and I’m sure we will hit this topic again when Eli and Zoe are older. I was surprised that he didn’t show much interest in echo-location but he didn’t so we moved along. We’ve also done a lot that hasn’t been bat related. My biggest goal at this point is being accomplished… Eli is really enjoying learning at home.IMG_1742Thanks for reading!

Karen

 

 

Up, Up and… Right Back Down Again

 

 

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This past weekend we went to the Constitution Day celebration at the James Madison mansion.  Having an opportunity to take in so much of the United States’ early history is one of the things that I really look forward to living here in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is also just down the road from our new home.

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We took a tour of the house… here’s Dolly Madison’s cellar kitchen (no pies in sight.)

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Enjoyed the grounds…

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And best of all, Eli and I got to take a short ride in a tethered hot air balloon.

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He was so excited as he has long wanted to fly (as in with his own wings) and this is the closest he’s come yet to what that would feel like. I was impressed by the amount of patience he showed waiting our turn in the long line.

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Unfortunately he was too short to see over the side of the basket, but there were toe-hold windows for climbing into the basket that he could use to look out. I didn’t feel it would be safe to pick him up during our ride. Amazingly he didn’t complain at all.

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Mid-flight selfie.

The fire that heats the air inside the balloon is surprisingly loud.

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It really freaked Zoe out and she stayed below and a good distance away with my husband.

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Completely enamored with the balloon by the end of the evening though she cried when they brought it down to pack it up.

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The evening brought fireworks… a first for both of the kids. Eli has always been so sensitive to sound we have avoided fireworks displays but he begged to see this one. We so enjoyed watching his amazement and delight… the boy is growing up! Zoe did pretty well too with a lot of cuddling and reassurance.

Perseverance

“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“No!”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Yeah…”
“Mom! Dad! Is you know what?!  Zoe’s a sweetie heart! She just said so!”

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A Day in the Park: with Bees

Yarn-Wrapped BeeI was recently inspired by this post from Housing a Forest to invite a group of Eli’s friends from preschool for a Saturday morning craft day in the park.

After an extended free play time on the play ground we all gathered around a picnic table. I was curious to see how Eli would take to doing a project with other children in an informal setting. We are on the cusp of beginning our Adventures in Homeschooling and when we do our lives will (hopefully) be full of learning activities such as this.

crafting in the park with friends!

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures!

We had a blast!

Materials and Bee Craft Sample

I prepared the materials ahead of time… it really wasn’t much. I only had to buy the yarn and the googley eyes as I had the rest of the materials on hand. The neat thing is that it costs the same to do an activity like this with ten kids as to do it with one as for one either way you have to buy the entire package of each supply item needed.

The boys wrapped yarn around the bee bodies…

Eli working on his bee

wrapping yarn around his bee

wrapping yarn around bee bodies

cut out and glued on the wings…

cutting out wings

cutting out wings

cutting out wings

added the eyes…

finished bee

sticks and stingers.

finished bee

I love how each bee has a distinct personality and how there is no wrong way to assemble this craft!

I hope we will enjoy more park days such as this in the near future.

Cabin on Palomar Mountain

mountain view

View from the deck. On a clear day the ocean is visible in the distance.

The other weekend we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days in a rented cabin on Palomar Mountain just outside of San Diego. We really didn’t do anything but hang out there until it was time to leave. Eli is the ultimate homebody and rather averse to transitions in general so even the suggestion of taking a walk to explore the neighborhood met with great disapproval. For us the path of least resistance was to take no path at all. (We did work in a short two block walk to the end of the road just before leaving.) It really was nice to have time to do nothing but sit, relax, make food, and watch the kids.

Mama and Eli

The desire to stay put was quite understandable when seen from his point of view.

After all there were birds to feed,

Scrub Jay eating peanuts.

a 1932 Ford driven by a goose parked out front,

1932 Ford

hollowed out trees to play in,

playing in the hollowed out tree

sisters to play with,

playing on the deck

books to read (about construction sites, of course),

Eli and Mama reading

much dirt in which to play out all sorts of construction site fantasies,

ELi and his construction equipment

and best of all his very own cat!

Eli and the cat

The cat was a stray whose owners had moved away and he had decided to find his way back to his old neighborhood. Not sure how long a journey that was for him but the owners of our rental were quite impressed and I guess it took the cat quite a while to complete the journey. For whatever reason I guess the original family is not interested in reclaiming him. Many were the discussions over the weekend about our adopting him. We are cat people through and through, Eli is asking often for a pet (or “rather 5 cats, and 5 dogs, and 5 cows…!”), and this particular cat was so friendly and gentle around small children. But in the end this is just not a good time for us to add a fur baby and the accompanying messes and expenses to the family. We were happy to hear at the end of our stay that the cabin owners had decided to officially adopting him.

Eli and the cat

“Rikana”, as Eli named the cat, was about as snuggly a cat as one could ever find. The appearance of a lap was an open invitation,

Rikana aka Rocky

and I don’t know how many times I fished him out of Zoe’s excersaucer. No photos of that as Zoe was always in it at the time and sweet cuddler status and all I still dove quickly to separate them with images of a cat-slashed baby face flashing before my eyes. Thankfully, Rikana wasn’t phased a bit by having handfuls of fur removed by a drooling, squealing baby and was still in full purr mode as I removed him from Zoe’s elated grasp. I can be such a killjoy. We did let him stay cuddled up with Eli on the couch at night until it was time for us to go to bed as well.

Eli sleeping with the cat

The one time the birds weren't mobbing the feeder.

The one time the birds weren’t mobbing the feeder.

For her part Zoe also very much enjoyed the weekend, but she seems to enjoy herself pretty much everywhere as long as she can get down and crawl about. She did take issue with the cabin’s soft carpeting for some reason, so most of her time out of arms or excersaucer consisted of us trying to keep her on the blanket on the deck.

Mam and Zoe

Zoe on the deck

No-Sew Child’s Apron

I think I’ve mentioned here before that Eli loves to cook. I have long planned to sew him his own adorable apron. There are all kinds of tutorials and free patterns online (such as here and here), and I will one day get around to doing it. I may even make my first Spoonflower purchase to get a fun fabric of Eli’s choosing for it. But enough daydreaming of future projects.

Eli helping me make play dough. He mixed for about 20 minutes using all utensils in his reach. Yep, he needed an apron... especially during this phase where everything becomes an instant "construction site".

Eli helping me make play dough. He mixed for about 20 minutes using all utensils in his reach. Yep, he needed an apron… especially during this phase where everything becomes an instant “construction site”.

Right at the moment not a lot of sewing is being done by me, and Eli really needed an apron, like 6 months ago, so I grabbed an old t-shirt from the recycling pile and a pair of scissors and within about 3 minutes an apron was born.

No-Sew T-Shirt Apron

Yea, it’s dirty. I didn’t think to take the picture before we made the play dough. Oops!

I can’t claim credit for this idea. I saw it on the cover of a magazine in Barnes and Noble while walking a fussy teething baby around the store in the Ergo. I’m sorry, but I now can’t remember which magazine it was. It’s a simple enough design. Basically this is cut out much like the No-Sew Bibs that I made a while back, except the entire length of the shirt front is used and a strip across the back is left attached to create the ties. Cut around the neck and down the front from the top, and up the sides from the bottom. Just below the the arms of the shirt leave a strip going straight across the back from one side to the other. This you will snip apart in the middle of the back to create your two ties. Since the knit fabric of a t-shirt won’t fray no sewing is needed.

T-shirt apron cutting diagram

An adult medium sized shirt is more than ample enough for a preschooler.

Zoe wants an apron

“Hey Mom, where’s my apron?”

Thanks for reading!

Karen

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (or Soon After)

Zoe’s hair is finally starting to come in. She now has a downy little five o’clock shadow over her adorable noggin. My neighbors are almost all hispanic and birth babies with heads full of gorgeous thick locks. One neighbor peered at Zoe this past weekend in passing and asked me why I had cut off her hair. I said I hadn’t. Oh, it fell out? Uh, no, it’s just starting to come in.

I told my husband about this amusing exchange this evening as I watched Eli play in the tub. After Jeff walked out of the bathroom, Eli said, “You know, Mom, everyone has to get their hair cut sometime.” I agreed that that was true and asked if he had noticed today that a neighbor child had gotten her hair cut. He had.

“You know, Mom, youneed to get your hair cut sometime.” Eyes averted, fiddling with his bath toy.

“Do you think I should get my hair cut short?”

“Yes.”

“Daddy likes my hair long.”

“Oh.” Eyes still averted.

“Do you think I should get my hair in front cut short, but leave the back long?”

“Uh, yeah!” He finally looks at me, his eyes happy, hopeful.

Sigh… It’s not the first time he has asked me to get my hair cut in recent months. But this time I could tell that it is pretty important to him that I do so.

You see, I have wanted to have hair that was all long and that I could just braid back for many years, but each time I tried to grow out my bangs I could never get past the interminable awkward stage and would cut them again in frustration. Then I got pregnant again. And sick. So sick. For the first four months I did well just to get out of bed and wasn’t much seen by the public at large. That’s a great time to get a head start through a painfully awkward stage of hair growth. Pregnancy got a bit better, but with a couple of periods of bed rest and just being big and tired I still wasn’t seen much by the public at large, so I continued to let it grow.

And now, four months into my young daughter’s life, it is finally almost long enough to be caught back as I always wanted to do. I like having long hair, but I hate having to spend any time on it. I especially want to pull it out of the way of Zoe’s fingers or I may soon be almost as bald as she is.

But my son wants me to get it cut. I have to agree that I do think it looks better shorter. I’m just now a bit invested in the past year’s worth of growth, of finally getting beyond the stage where mirror experiences felt similar to those I had back in junior high, waiting for growth to bring things into proper proportions.

I told Jeff about my conversation with Eli. He said that perhaps Eli is prophetic, perhaps it is really the voice of God. So I guess I really do look better with bangs. In the eyes of my family at the very least.

The Experiment is over. The bangs shall return very shortly.

I never knew when I decided to have children that within 3 years my son’s opinion would be influencing my personal style.

Eli’s Ode to Garbage Trucks

Most of our family and friends have already seen this, but I thought it would be fun to share here this recent video recorded by Eli’s Aunt Misa while I was in the hospital having Zoe.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before Eli’s obsession with garbage trucks. He vascilates between being concerned that a garbage truck is going to eat him and his plans to be a garbage truck driver when he grows up. Time spent in the car is utilized to continually scan his surroundings for these lumbering behemouths of refuse. At home he delights in being asked to throw things away (” for the garbage truck to eat it!”) He loves to watch YouTube videos of garbage trucks making their rounds and of Lego garbage trucks being assembled. While, thankfully, his play is begining to diversify into non-garbage truck related activities, his love for all things garbage remains strong. So without further ado, here is a glimpse into Eli’s passionate yet sometimes tumultuous love affair with garbage trucks.

(A big thank you to Rachel of http://www.graspingforobjectivity.com for helping me get the video posted on YouTube. If you have never visited her blog drop everything and do so now. Unless you are averse to laughter. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone recovering from recent abdominal surgery.)

Meet Zoe!

Zoe Anneliese was born on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.

Zoe after her first bath

We are so happy to have her out where we can now all enjoy her. Eli is thrilled with his little sister and has been a big help to his mama. He was initially a bit confused though when he came to the hospital to see her for the first time. He said, “Mama, have a new baby. Have another Zoe, this time orange.” I guess all this time he was thinking I was going to give birth to the Sesame Street muppet but somehow hadn’t gotten it quite right on my first try! Thankfully, after a little explanation he’s been able to accept our current Zoe just as she is.

Eli meets Zoe

I have so many things in mind to post about these days but so little time to actually do so. I’ll get you all caught up as time and energy permit, but right now around here it all about baby snuggles, carving out time for Eli and whatever elusive rest comes my way!

Eli’s Pocoyo Hat

When I began this blog over a year ago one of the first sewing projects I posted about was this Up-Cycled Boy Hat I had sewn for Eli. I followed the tutorial I found on I Am Momma Hear Me Roar. (The link can be found in my original post.) It is constructed from fabric from old t-shirts and pajama pants.

Unfortunately Eli was decidedly less thrilled with it than I was. It wasn’t personal. He firmly held the belief that all headcoverings were evil instruments of torture. There passed many a winter day when I reflected upon the fact that our decision to move to Southern California from the Chicago area before he joined our family might prove to be a key factor in his reaching adulthood with ears still attached to his head in a form not grotesquely mishapen by frostbite.

He doesn't look so happy, but he really does like his hat (I promise!)

He doesn’t look so happy, but he really does like his hat (I promise!)

A couple of weeks ago I found the hat languishing in the back of a closet and pulled it out. Eli saw it and declared “my Pocoyo hat!” (The Pocoyo connection had never even occured to me… in fact when I made it I had never even heard of Pocoyo.) In that instant I found that I too loved Pocoyo. The next day he wore it to preschool and refused to take it off all day long.

Eli's Pocoyo hat

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