Thursday, March 31, 2011

reading, reading and more reading...

This is what our yard looks like this morning. So far we've had about an 1 inch of snow and I'm sure that will be more by the end of the day. Someone needs to tell Mother Nature that it's almost April! Oh well, I've always wanted to go skiing for my birthday. So what's a mom of 4 suposed to do all winter long besides show endless numbers of videos and let kids play video games all day? Read books of course. So far I have one who can read really well on his own and another on the way, but sometimes they don't feel like reading so I've come up with some tricks to get them started.

  1. Have your kids pick out their own books from the library and have their own special bags to put them in. I'm glad our library doesn't have a limit on the number of books you can check out because we always have LOTS by the time the kids pick their books, I pick books for them and books for me too! (The individual bags also cut down on my chiropractor fees from hauling 50 pounds of books to and from the car each week.)

  2. I provide a specific time each day that is set aside for reading, whether they just look at pictures or actually read the books.

  3. My oldest 2 kids keep a list of books that they have read. We keep this notebook as a record of what they have read each year and they love looking back to see how many books they have on their list. I'm always amazed at how many books they can read!

  4. Read out loud to your kids. My kids love seeing pictures and hearing lovely stories each day. Being read too in school is one of my earliest school memories. I can still remember how my teacher made the characters of Beazus and Ramona come alive for me with her voice. I may even start keeping my own list of books that I read out loud to my kids next year to see how many stories we read together.

  5. Try series books. My son loves all the Little House on the Prairie books that we are reading for history this year and they have lots of short chapter books to go with them. Kids like reading about familiar characters and themes.

  6. Start books for your kids. My son isn't real interested in starting new books that he hasn't heard of before. He will stick with one series and read but looks at new books with distaste. If I read the first chapter or two of a book and then set it down to go do something else and he will pick it up and finish.

  7. Pick out books that follow a theme that your kid likes. Do they love horses, history or construction??? Pick out every book at the library that you can find.

  8. Check and see if your library has a interlibrary loan. I can get online at home and search for books from other libraries (or even my own) and then reserve them. It's the greatest thing to go to the library on my way to do other errands and have all my books at the counter waiting to be checked out.

  9. Find book lists that recommend good books. Honey for Your Child's Heart had a great list of many different books and also has them by age group. Check out award winning books. Some older books on these lists are great reads that your child (or you) may have not picked up by looking at the cover.

  10. Read in interesting places. My kids love to read in homemade forts, the swingset (when it's summer) or even the park.

  11. Have them read to smaller brothers or sisters. It's always fun to share a skill you have with someone who hasn't figured it out yet.

  12. Offer rewards (bribery) for reading. Have them keep track of books on a graph (sneaking in some math) and reward them when they read a certain number of books or minutes read.
***also see what the fees are for late returns. Our library doesn't have late fees on kid's cards so we always check out books on their cards. Not that we return any books late...We also have our email account in the library computer system so they email me when ever there are books getting ready to come due.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I just love this smiley face and seeing how she is absorbing things like a sponge.

working on folder games

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Takin' it easy

See we're just sleeping the day away! Maybe not all of us, but K-baby is enjoying her nap time in her sister's big girl bed.
And that would be the reason that the rest of us have been busily working away on a new project. We've put the bathroom on hold for this week and started working on a new bed for K-man's room. K-man has been sleeping on the white trundle bed that I had when I was a little girl, but we don't call it a girl bed and he doesn't know the difference, yet. Our money philosophy is that when you have something that works you don't spend money on something else. Sometimes this is really hard for me, especially since I would love to have all new bathroom towels. But, now that K-baby is in need of a new big girl bed we have some big plans in the works.

Our first step of the plan is to get K-man a new bed. After looking around at tons of stores and websites at all the low quality furniture for expensive prices we decided to make our own bed out of "real" wood. My good friend Tanya who makes wonderful kids boutique clothes had blogged about a wonderful site by Anna White. Anna's website is all about furniture from stores like Pottery Barn, but how to make it on your own for WAY less.

There were lots of plans to choose from on the Anna White website (and I have more projects I want to do in the future!), but we decided to follow this simple twin bed plan. We got a good start on it this weekend. Shawn bought all the wood and got it cut on Sunday and then we have been working on it in the evenings. I'm thinking that we will have it done this weekend and then the real work will begin. K-man is our resident construction helper and can do just about anything you want him too. His future wife is going to love him.

My wonderful, multi-tasking hubby who took a break from the bathroom construction to build this bed for K-man. He is totally a start one task and finish it to the end type person (and I'm not) so I was very proud of his easy going ability to leave one project and start another. :) Love ya honey!

I even got in on the action and did much of the sanding as you can tell by how dirty my winter coat is. You'll have to excuse the mess in the garage, but it's too cold to spring clean outside still.
I can't wait to share the final pictures with you!! Hopefully we will be done in a few more days, but tonight we have bible study, tomorrow night AWANAS, and Thursday night Shawn has dog obedience training so it is going to be slow going.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is is Christmas again?

Nope, just birthdays, round 2. Thanks to both sets of grandparents and the Uncle Ken and Aunt Staci for all the gifts. (We traded gifts with the K-cousins at Christmas time since all their b-days are so close together.)

Look at all those presents! Happy 8th for K-man and 6th for K-girl.


K-girl and her doll Lily Anna. They got a new horse that has traveled from room to room with them since it was unpacked. Everything she opened was art or horse themed. She also loved the horse from Ken and Staci which she declared a baby foal horse.

K-girl's birthday snack, dirt and worms that she made with Nana K and K-sis.

K-sis even managed to find a gift in the pile for her. She loves her new clip-on earings and crown.

K-baby has been busy pushing around all her babies in her new double (or is that a quad) stroller. She is going to be a great mom of many. :)

This should burn off some energy! Thanks Nana and Papa Cook! I'm thinking this will be P.E. class for the littles while I'm doing school with the big kids.

K-girl's new quilt from Nana Kristi.

K-sis's new quilt from Nana Kristi. This girl loves anything PINK.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Double Surprise

Surprise!!! My parents decided to drive straight through on their trip up to see us. My kids didn't know they were coming so it was a big surprise when they woke up in the morning and saw them. :)

It also surprised Abby who barked at my mom when she saw her in the kitchen and woke everyone up at 7:00. At least I know she will bark at strangers in the house, but she backed up behind me so fast I don't think protecting me was on her mind.

Nana and Papa got to help us with lunch and recess duty at school.

We had a warm front this week and weather was in the 40s so we played outside a lot. Our snow melted LOTS this week, but it is still hard to tell in the front yard.

The kids built a marshmallow shooter with Nana.

Our second surprise for the weekend was surprising Shawn at the airport in Fargo after his week of training in Virginia this week. Of course we had to do a few fun things before we hit up the airport.
The kids were excited to stop and take their picture next to Thomas Jefferson since we are learning about him in US history this year. Our Scheels store has statues of presidents outside the front of the store. We can spend hours at Scheels without actually buying anything.

K-girl and Papa on the ferris wheel at Scheels.

Nana and K-man on the ferris wheel.
K-man talked Nana in to taking him on the NASCAR ride at Scheels. They got fifth place out of twenty in their race. Go NANA!
The Scheels also has an indoor play place, a place to eat, shooting gallery for kids, and a few other games so it is a great place to go especially in the winter.

Nana and the k-kids at the children's museum. Papa and K-baby took a nap and read a book while we wore the other kids out at the museum. This isn't the nicest museum we've been to, but the kids have fun.

The kids all made signs for daddy to see at the airport.

He FINALLY made it home and he was totally surprised! Boy did we miss him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working out in the MN winter

It's been cold for WAY to long this winter. Hopefully this next week with weather in the 30s and 40s will help melt some of our mountains of snow. The kids haven't been having any trouble finding a way to burn off their excess energy.

Anytime I get the treadmill out the kids all get to take turns after I'm done. This gives me a chance to stretch and the kids love running on it.

K-girl ( ya gotta love it when your kids start insisting on dressing themselves)

K-baby with not just one, but two leotards!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Work, work and more work

Not only has Shawn been busy at work, he has been working at home! I am so thankful that he is such a hard worker and is willing to put in lots of his time to build our new bathroom downstairs. I'm sure all of our overnight visitors will be happy too!

The kids digging out the sand from the hole for the shower. You can't do anything around here without lots of help!

K-baby stick pretty close to daddy when he's working and likes to hand him tools.

YEAH! The shower base and stud walls are up. This is something that Shawn hadn't done before so we are very thankful to the helpful people who know him by name at Home Depot.
The shower is in and it was initiated that night! The kids were pretty wound about having a new if they would just get excited about cleaning it. :)

Thanks Hubby for all your hard work...hunting season will be here soon!

Gymnastics Mania!

My two oldest girls love gymnastics and we are very lucky to have a great gymnastics group here in town. Both girls are in their second year of class and they have really improved this year. K-girl is so excited to be moving up the the intermediates class next time.

Leotards and tumbling are a common site at our house! Usually I have to get everyone dressed in "day clothes" if we plan on leaving the house because leotards are the clothing of choice.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Birthday K-man

My little man is getting older. 8 years old and growing bigger and more mature every day. He loves reading, NASCAR, anything school (especially history and science) and his sisters.

We had a busy birthday day and it always seems a challenge to fit in our b-day parties in with all our other everyday stuff. We started out day off at church and then ate out at the Chinese restaurant (K-man's choice). After that the girl's had their gymnastics show which is a whole separate post. When we got home, K-man had to finish watching the NASCAR race and then we did cake and presents.

After I decided to use my bundt cake pan for K-man's cake he said he wanted it to be a NASCAR cake. So being the frugal mom I am, I used up the extra vanilla and chocolate frosting to make a checkered flag cake and K-man added the cars on top. We may not have the prettiest cakes, but I think my kids will cherish the memories of getting to make and decorate them together.

Rush Hour- One of K-man's favorite games!
We all know whose fault this is! (Nana Yvette) He LOVES it! Now we just need the 4 feet of snow to melt in the backyard.

Sneaky mom that I am I wrapped more school stuff for b-day gifts. Shhhhh! Don't tell K-man these Snap Circuts are for science class next year. He already put together his own solar powered clock. Hopefully he will leave a few experiments for us to do next school year.

Just one last picture that I couldn't resist. He always races in to get K-baby when she wakes up in the morning. She sure loves her buddy!

Happy Birthday Cowgirl!

We've had a wild week! Along with having some kiddos that weren't feeling well, we celebrated K-girl's 6th Birthday. I don't think we could have squeezed in one more activitiy. I can't believe my first little baby girl is already 6. Time flies by!

Anything horse related was on the list for her birthday this year. I think this could be Nana Yvette's fault. :)

Excited about opening presents! She got a few toys and I also bought some school stuff for next year and wrapped it up.

We had a great time going to the "Let Freedom Ring" play with the older K's school group. It was neat to watch the kids recognize all the things that we have been studying in history this year. K-girl's favorite part was when the announcer talking about the play on stage announced her birthday to all the people present. She was grinning from ear to ear.

After the play we walked across the street and toured a wonderful history museum. They had great displays and they ladies that gave our tours were informative and worked great with the kids.

school of choice class

K-kids at the museum, k-baby didn't want to stop for a picture.

When we got back to town most of the homeschooling families went ice skating at the indoor ice arena. K-girl was our only kid healthy enough to do this and she had a blast.

Our final birthday activity for K-girl was a sleep-over with our neighbor's girl. The girls had a fun time running around and doing crafts together. I'm so glad that our kids get along so well, now if we can just get spring to come so we can play outside we would be MUCH happier.

K-sis, another K, and K-girl