Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Off to Hogwarts

Tracy, Lynda and I are GIVING JOY TO THE WORLD when one blogger will receive a $30 Target gift card from our "No Ordinary Blog Hop" giveaway! Just click on the button below for more details on how you can join this fun blog hop throughout December and try to win a Target gift card at the same time. Hurry! The last day to enter the giveaway is on Dec. 10th, but you can continue to link your blog hop posts until the end of December!

We have been to King Cross station many times since we moved to the UK, but this is the first time we found the famous platform 9 and 3/4. After walking several times up and down platform 9 and not finding anything we went to the information desk. We were told to look at the very end of platform 8. (HUH) So off we marched thinking surely there would be a sign. We can't be the only ones wanting to take a picture of this site. But there is no sign anywhere! We finally stumbled upon the famous site by seeing a line of other Harry Potter fans waiting in line to have their pictures taken at this famous site. WHEW we are not the only ones standing in the cold waiting to have our picture taken!

My daughter has read every Harry Potter book at least 3 times and has watched 3 of the movies. I thought the other movies were too scary so we are going to wait a bit to watch those ones. Fortunately my daughter agrees that the movies might be getting a little scary and has agreed to wait a bit to watch them. Whew

My son has yet to enjoy the books or movies but has heard all about them from his big sister.

An empty cart just waiting for the next Harry Potter Fan to stop by!

I think we will have to go back during the warmer months for another photo opportunity:) Now that I know where it is located!:)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Winter Wonderland

It is funny how you can live somewhere and still not know what is going on around you. We have lived in England for 2 years and until last week did not know that London had a Winter Wonderland market in Hyde Park. This is its fourth year running and the first I ever heard of it. I had been looking for something like this for 2 years. So after visiting the Titanic exhibit we headed over to see what was there.

Plenty of photo opportunities to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Lots of very expensive carnival rides

And the highlight of the evening....Drum roll please.......!!!!!!

A visit with Father Christmas as he is known here in jolly ole England:)

It was a lovely market and one I hope to visit again next year. It has gotten the family in the mood for Christmas. Next up decorate the Christmas tree!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Titanic Exhibit

On Black Friday our family went to see the Titanic Exhibit in London. It was a awesome experience. The kids and I have been reading about the sinking of the Titanic for about a week prior to our field trip in preparation. As a family we also watched the film "A Night to Remember" about the sinking of the Titanic. It was a tough movie to watch and Princess was in tears at the end because people on the ship died.

We were not allowed to take pictures while touring the exhibit but I did buy a guide book so I could review the objects again and read the real stories behind the faces of some of the passengers of the Titanic. I never can seem to read everything while inside a museum couldn't be because of 2 young children by my side;)

Prior to entering the exhibition we were given a boarding pass with the name of a passenger on the ship. Throughout the exhibition we looked for information about whether or not our passenger survived the ship's sinking.

These passengers died

The lone survivor in our group!

We were able to see what a 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class cabin would have looked like. We saw shoes, clothes, musical instruments, money, spectacles that were brought up from the ocean floor. The children even got to touch a part of the hull brought up to the surface. There were videos of the Titanic on the ocean floor and lots of stories of the people on board. Those who survived and those who didn't. There were stories of bravery and stories of cowardice and it makes you wonder what you would have done if you were there. There was over 2000 passengers on board the Titanic and just over 700 survived. There was enough room on the life boats for about 1200.

After the exhibit my husband and I spoke to the children about an ethical question (first explaining what ethical means). Was it the right thing to bring up all the personal belongings of those who died to be shown to the world or should the site remained sacred as a grave site? The original discover of the Titanic chose not to remove any items from the sea floor saying he wanted the wreckage to remain an undisturbed grave site. However maritime laws and/or treasure seeking laws state that the first group to bring something to the surfaces lays claim to the wreckage. The exhibit we went too was the second group who founded the wreckage and brought everything to the surface to exhibit and make money. As a family we discussed what we thought of this and as there is no correct answer, it is a question we are still pondering.

We are going to continue our studies on the Titanic by reading a few new books I bought at the exhibit, watching a movie on the discovery of the Titanic on the ocean floor and completing a lap book from Hands of a Child.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

We had school on Monday Nov 22 but I have decided to take the rest of the week off. YAY!!!
We have been working hard to learn more about the 1st Thanksgiving by doing a lap book from Hands of a child. The kids had fun and we learned a lot. The lap book included a few recipes (they think) were made for the first Thanksgiving so we are going to include them in our Thanksgiving this year.

This is the cover of the Lap book.

We have also been doing a I'm thankful Turkey every day. Each day the children write down something they are thankful for on the feathers of the turkey.

For a writing assignment each child worked on a Acrostic Poem using the word THANKSGIVING. Princess did her Independently while Little man needed a bit of help.

After school yesterday the kids helped with the baking and so far we have made banana bread, sugar cookies and candy corn! I don't have pictures of this as I was up to my elbows with flour:).

Today the kids decorated the sugar cookies.

Made chocolate chip cookies

Made Oatmeal raisin cookies

and helped make pumpkin bread.

Tomorrow is pumpkin pie and then I think we will be all done with the baking. Boy does our house smell good!!! I plan on freezing a portion of all the cookies so we will have some for Christmas and New year.


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

It has been a long but very productive week. Long because we have started a new schedule and things are taking a bit longer to complete. But also I seem to have caught a cold. So I am not functioning at 100% this week, but luckily the kids have not caught my bug.

Princess is working on learning her multiplication tables and has pretty much mastered 0 thru 5.
Little Man is learning about math fact families and adding, subtracting up to 12.

History- both kids
We are completing a lap book on Thanksgiving and learning all about the 1st Thanksgiving. I also discovered there will be an exhibit on the Titanic artifacts in London for the next couple of months so we have been reading a books on the sinking of the Titanic in preparation of our scheduled field trip next week (day after Thanksgiving).

Science- both kids
We are working on learning about the human body. We concentrated on the brain and heart this week. Did lots of fun and simple experiments.

English -
Princess is working on prefixes and suffixes of words, learning their meanings and identifying root words. Princess is also working on a Writing book by Spectrum and learning about what is a paragraph and how to write a paragraph.
Little man is working on nouns and verbs. He is also using a Spectrum Writing book and learning how to write sentences.
In addition both have been working on Thanksgiving copy work booklet.

Both children are continuing with their Piano lessons using the program Piananimals.

Continuing to use Power speak for our spanish lessons

I decided to use Draw. Write. Now. books to have the kids draw things we have talked about for Thanksgiving. Princess is taking off with these drawing lesson. Little man is still not crazy about drawing. But we are working on it.

Typing -
I am trying the BBC typing program which is free on the computer but neither child is thrilled with it. Will need to look into more typing programs.

We are continuing to work with the AAS program. we had to go back a few lessons since coming back from holiday but the kids are quickly remembering the lessons so I hope to be in book 2 very shortly.

Little man has been reading The magic tree house book "Thanksgiving on Thursday"
Princess has been reading "A Christmas Carol"
Together we have been reading Tonight on the Titanic (also a magic tree house book) as well as many Thanksgiving books...too many to list here.

The kids are participating in Horse riding lesson, swim lessons and I have now added the Wii for 30 minutes. Now that it is winter we need to burn some excess energy:)

For social activities -
Little Man is in boy scouts
Princess is in girl scouts

No pictures this week because I forgot:) But this is our week in a nutshell. We are slowly getting back on track with school after our wonderful 6 week holiday.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A New Schedule

We have been back home for over a week after being away for 6 weeks, and still getting back into the groove of school. I suddenly feel like we are very behind in well everything:(. We probably aren't really behind since we home school all year but for some reason the feeling we are behind is firmly in my head. So what did I do...I decided to schedule our day.

This is new to me as up to now we haven't really had much of a schedule. I had always just gone with the flow. If we wanted to spend most of our day working on just history that is what we did. I would say most days we did at least 3 or 4 activities but it was very flexible. In my defense last year my youngest was only in Kindergarten and I really only "taught" to my oldest who is in "3rd grade". I put that in quotes as I am really trying to get past grades but old habits are hard to break:) Any way I taught or engage activities more towards my oldest and what ever my youngest got out of it was just great.

This year however I need to consider my son and add more to his individual learning plan. So my old schedule just wasn't working. Some things like history and science can still be done together, but I need to separate other things like Math, English etc.

So here is new schedule...and so far the kids like it.
(Picture will enlarge with a click)
Basically M W F we do one set of courses and T TH we do a different set of courses. Which gives us 7 school topics to accomplish each day. Some things only take a few minutes and others take up to an hour to complete. Some things we do together but other things the kids need to be separated in order to met their own set of needs. As you can see I have already made a few adjustments and we only started this week:). Are we missing anything?

We are tackling more topics every week which is a great thing. I am also able to do more individual work with each child so their needs are being met. My only concern is school is lasting at least 1 to 2 hours longer each day and honestly I am exhausted trying to do it. So I have to wonder if this is going to last. So we will see...

Of course field trips will throw a wrench into the schedule but we are giving it a try.

Please join Tracy, Lynda and I on the "No ordinary Blog hop--Thankful Hearts" for the month of November. Any time you post something you are grateful for link up and spread the word.
Next month we are doing a giving away don't miss out:) Hope to see you there.

I am thankful for my family, I would be lost without them:)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Nativity Gifts

Have you ever read the nativity story and had you kids ask "what is myrrh and frankincense"? Well I have. Almost every year. I will be honest I have never seen myrrh or frankincense and could only look them up on the computer and give the technical answer. You know the Wikipedia answer that says basically "myrrh and frankincense is actually the resin found on certain trees in the middle east". At which point my kids give me a blank stare and we move on.

Well, this weekend while cruising a market I found and bought some myrrh and frankincense. I was so excited even if I bought the poorest quality according to the vendor. But I don't care because this year I will be ready to whip out my examples and show the kid what myrrh and frankincense are. The kids will be able to see it, feel it and even smell them. I will be attempting to try to burn them on an incense tray as suggested by the vendor. I was told by the vendor that myrrh smells like burnt rubber, so we see how it goes.



side by side so you can see the color difference.

Once home I started to research more on the computer so that I am really prepared to give the kids a good answer when we read the nativity story this year, which we always do at Christmas. Why did the wise men bring Jesus these 3 things? Well the meaning of Gold represents royalty, Frankincense represents divinity, and Myrrh represents his future death. Myrrh was used during the Roman times during funerals as incense. I found out so much more and am excited to share with my children.

I am ready this year and the kids are at an age that they should really get it and I am excited to be making it part of our Christmas.

I am thankful to be able to educate my children at home, with my husband's support and love.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A favorite recipe

I am thankful for the food on our table and the knowledge we will not go hungry. I wish more people in the world were able to be thankful for this simple basic human need!

This recipe can be either a side dish or a main meal and is super easy to make

You will need if making it for a main meal serving a family of 4:

1- 2 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
2 cups of fresh green beans
10 to 12 small potatoes cut in half (like red miniatures can also use miniature white potatoes)
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 chopped fresh tomato
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in a baking dish. Mix lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a bowl, mix and pour over chicken. Bake at 350 degree until done. While chicken is cooking. Steam green beans until done. Steam or boil potatoes until done (do not remove skin). If timed right everything will be done about the same time:)
Chopped up tomato into medium size cubes

Once chicken is done quickly cut up into cube size peices. Add chicken to a large bowl. Next add cooked green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and Feta cheese. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over everything and mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with French Bread

IT taste better than it looks in this picture, I promise. I should have taken a picture on the plate with the bread and made it all fancy looking like they do in the cookbook but well my family were standing over me at the time because they were starving!!! and I got distracted which is typical for me:(.

Slight variation will make this meal into a side dish which is great with Bar-b-que chicken, steak or pork chops or any other meat you wish

Small white or red potatoes (cut in half)
fresh green beans
scallions cut up
olive oil
salt and pepper

Steam or boil potatoes. Steam green beans. Once done add to bowl. Then add scallions. Add 1 - 2 teaspoons of Olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with your choice of meat.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Have you ever had one of those days? Well I am having one of those weeks. Let me explained. We just returned from the states (This past Sunday) after having a low stress, wonderful holiday. We visited friends and family. The kids did a little bit of school but for the most part we relaxed and went on lots and lots of fieldtrips, most were educational:) Now we are home and things are not really settling into place yet. I know it has only been 3 days.

The kids and I are suffering from jet lag so everyone is up in the middle of the night and then sleeping in way too late in the morning which is turning into a vicious cycle. So today I woke up when my husband did at 6:30 this morning and stayed awake (when I really wanted to go back to sleep) Then I cheerfully woke up my 2 children at 8 am, and coaxed them down stairs for breakfast. So far I haven't raised my voice but let's just say the children are not morning people!

I look around me this morning and realize the house is a complete mess! It is the coming home after a long trip type of mess. Suitcases half unpacked, souveniors not yet taken up to the childrens room. Pictures that need to be filed away and school books that need to be organized and put away. That will be tricky as really I have no room for them on my school bookcase:(.

Believe or not I have a sink full of unwashed dishes. I find this surprising because I still haven't gone grocery shopping and literally I am scraping the barrel to feed my children. The last several meals have been very interesting but so far no one has complained. I am definitely going to the store today! So how I wonder do I have a full sink of dishes!

The other mystery to me is I have laundry to do (a lot). I did all the laundry at my Mom's house before we left and the suitcases were packed with only clean clothes. The only dirty clothes we brought home were the ones we had on us as we exited the plane. But now I am stumbling over dirty clothes:(.

Lastly, and the thing that is really getting on my nerves this morning is the house alarm is mysteriously beeping and has been since 7am. Every ten seconds BEEP...BEEP...BEEP. I have tried to reset it, unplugged it and even tried calling my husband to see if he knows what to do but all to no avail. It is driving me insane and I am getting a headache!

All this and I am trying to get back into the drift of school. We are taken it slow. On Monday the the kids played while I sort of unpacked. Tuesday we did a little school work but nothing too taxing. So now it is Wednesday and I am sitting here wondering where to begin. I think I will go have another cup of tea and see if that brings any inspiration to the day! I just might take a hammer to the alarm!!!

So What am I thankful for: My house, the dishes, the laundry, the alarm (well maybe not the alarm;))

Monday, 8 November 2010

Stylish Blog Award

I am thankful for my good blog friend Tracy from "A Slice of Smith Life" for giving me a blog award:) and I get to pass on this award to 15 other bloggers which I am also thankful for:) If you haven't seen Tracy's blog please stop by she is a great source of support for other bloggers and a wonderful person:)

Rules for accepting this award are:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass this on to 15 other great bloggers you recently discovered.
  4. Contact the selected bloggers and tell them about their awards.
7 Things about myself:

1. I love to travel, learn about other cultures, traditions and hear stories from other countries. With my husband's job we as a family are very fortunate to be able to travel regularly. My goal is to visit every inhabitant continent. I need to get to Australia and South America to make this goal.

2. My favorite country is Germany. Every time we have visited it has been a lovely adventure and the people and places we have seen are remarkable.

3. I love to read and hoard books. I would rather buy a book then just about anything else. My husband is starting to complain:) My current favorite type of book to read is historical fiction. I just finished reading a series of books on King Alfred the Great and Genghis Khan. They were terrific.

4. My children are my greatest joy. I wish I had more patience with them.

5. I am computer challenged, just ask my husband and my friends:)

6. I love to make this with my hands but never seem to have the time. Right now I have taken up knitting again but can only knit a scarf or a hat. Need to work on learning to knit gloves.

7. I graduated from college with a BS degree in Occupational Therapy and worked for ten years before quitting to stay home with my kids. While I miss helping people (I worked with head injuries and neuro patients) I don't miss my career. Time to focus on my family right now.

I am passing the award on to and in no particular order to these fellow bloggers:

1. home school tweet

2. the Davis Daily Dose

3. Welcome to my kitchen

4. Our Crazy little life

5. Patriot Family

6. Krazy Kuehner Days

7. Suertemom

8. The Blessings Pour Out

9. My life isn't for this earth

10. Raising Three Thinkers

11. Karmamatopoeia

12. Light, liberty and learning

13. Ramblings

14. Katherines Corner

15. Princess Mom of 3

Please click a vote for me on Picket Fences before you go!!!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Indian Echo Caverns

I am thankful for my wonderful parents for they are wonderful grandparents, my kids adore them!!! What are you thankful for. Link up to Thankful Hearts blog hop and share:) Click on the button to the right

My kids love going into Caves. They are fascinated with Stalagmites and stalactites and cave creatures and all the other stuff associated with Caves. My parents being the fantastic grandparents that they are found a cave the kids could explore.

First up looking for Gems in the water mill

Next exploring the caverns and listening to all the tales the guide had to tell. We even found a small cave salamander which made the kids day:)

Next playing at the park!

We had a great time and it was a beautiful day. I just love the fall weather!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Valley Forge, PA and I am thankful for....

I am thankful for all the traveling my family and I are able to do. See the world, visit new people and learn about history. Join Linda, Tracey and I at No ordinary hop and post what you are thankful for the entire month of November! Just click on the button it will take you straight there:) We hope to see you there:)

Continuing our studies on the Revolutionary War, my parents and I took the children to see Valley Forge. It was a beautiful park and we learned so much. We found out that it was a relatively mild winter for the soldiers but it was so harsh because many of them did not have clothes or shoes. The soldiers arrived early Dec and constructed simple huts to keep them warm. There were 12 men to a hut and between one to two thousand huts were built. After the army left there wasn't a tree in sight for nearly five miles!

A reconstructed hut. There were several located throughout the park that you could explore.

enlisted cabin very sparse, 12 men to a cabin. Little Man checking out how comfortable the bed is.

Officer cabin had a lot more comforts and only 1 to 3 officers to a cabin

We also were able to tour General Washington's headquarters. One thing that I learned was that General Washington was not paid for his service during the Revolutionary War. He kept detail inventory of his expenditures and submitted them to congress but was not always reimbursed for his expenses.

This is general Washington personal flag and if you can tell it has stars with 6 points. This was the type of star he wanted on the US flag according to the park ranger.

Inside the house almost everything inside is a replicate

George and Martha bedroom. We were told Martha visited and stayed with George every winter during the war.

The park has a great visitor center with lots of exhibits, there is also a train station that has been converted into an additional information center. We had a great visit and feel like we have a better understanding what George Washington and his soliders experienced that winter.