Monday, March 31, 2014

Down With Common Core

The US educational system is majorly messed up.  The latest Common Core agenda by the president doesn't seem any better.  Check these worksheets out.

View image on Twitter
I like how the answer is considered reasonable.

View image on Twitter
The problem on the left is simple, but what in the heck are you supposed to do on the right?  Especially considering the page came with no instructions.

Common Core Problem. Photo: Twitter courtesy of @Hollaatme_baby
What?  This doesn't help me skip count.  This helps me not skip count because I don't know what the heck I should be doing!

Common Core_6
This is the parent cheat sheet.  Telling you to subtract the tens in 67-43 and then the ones.  Because now you have created three math problems to solve one.  Two rounds of subtraction- the tens and the ones, and then the addition of those answers to get the answer to the main problem.

And we wonder why Americans keep coming up at the bottom of international smart lists.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frozen and the Best Lip Synching Ever

Have you seen this clip of parents perfectly lip-synching to frozen?

Chris and I totally do this when we drive with our kids.  Okay, maybe not, but they would be as equally bored as the little girl is.  Apparently, she is not impressed with her parents.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lauren Liess

I totally love this woman's style.  I want to move right in to her house and never, ever leave.  Her home was just featured in the latest Domino magazine.  Love.  Here for her blog.

 photo Norman_13033LL_085_web.jpg

Monday, March 24, 2014


I recently came across Barnes and Noble's leatherbound classics collections.  I have a small issue with books, as evidenced by Ava's friends who came over for a birthday sleepover and wondered what in the world my collection of books was.

Actually, they asked "what those were".  As in, they couldn't tell that they were books all lined up. I am only assuming this is a product of the kindle generation.  My girlfriend who has a couple of masters in education and is getting another one in technology said that textbooks will no longer exist for students in less than 10 years.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Cassette tape anyone?

Anyway, the books were quite beautiful and pretty well priced for nice looking additions.  Here is the link to a lot of them in case you are as big a nerd as I am.

And some pretties in the mean time.

Wicked/Son of a Witch (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)  The Iliad and The Odyssey (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)   Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)    Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I know, not your typical title.  But trust me you will laugh.

Owen and I have been working out of two books by Susan Wise Bauer.  She is well-known in the homeschooling community for her fantastic works Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.  We do both of these ever day in our schooling.

In Writing With Ease, you have a narration day where you read a passage to your child and ask them to answer back a list of questions.

This week we focused on passages from Alice in Wonderland.  And here is what Owen wrote when asked what he liked about the passage.

"I liked that he was smoking the hookah."

Awesome.  The lesson had us explain what a hookah was before the reading.  I think he mostly liked it because he said it looked neat in the picture.  So then we had a nice teachable moment about how even if something looks cool, or that kids will pressure you to do it to be cool, that you still shouldn't do things that are bad for you like smoking.  Even if it's out of a cool looking hookah!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Montessori Mat?

If you're like me, the first time you heard about Montessori mats- a mat that your child plays with a specific item on, you wondered why in the world you would need them.  I know I did.

At first thought, I didn't like them.  I like my kids to color outside of the lines if they want to, and the mat seemed like it would really restrict my kids' play, and therefore, their imagination.  But, my kids are slobs.  We have been working and working and working on cleaning up after themselves. And not very successfully, might I add.  I was desperate.  And the mat all of a sudden seemed like a good idea to try for this.

Colored pom poms.  Which the experts say are fantastic for sensory play.  And which I say are fantastic because I bought them at the dollar store and the kids love them!

Colored counting animals.  My kids love these although I do not understand why.  They love how "cute and little" the animals are, and their favorite thing to do with these and the pom poms is arrange them by color.

I decided to spring for $3 IKEA mats.  I presented them to the kidlets along with their new learning toys.  I explained that the toys could only be played with on the mat, and that each time they wanted to play with something they first had to clean up what they were playing with.

In their bedroom, the don't need a mat.  But if they are going to play with learning toys they must use a mat.  And the special (more expensive) learning toys are only allowed in the living and dining room.  I don't care where in the room they play with it, you can see that Moyz is basically in the hallway, but they must use a mat.  And it is working fabulously.  They are much better at cleaning up after themselves.  

Here are a few reasons stated for using Montessori mats.

Three Reasons to Use a Mat
  1. It delineates a child’s workspace. Once the work is placed on the mat the child knows that this is the area where they are working and it is to be respected by others.
  2. If a child must leave their work at any time then when they return their work is in the same place they left it. If the child has to go to the restroom, go to lunch, or is working on an activity that cannot be finished in one sitting (ie, the 100 board) having a work mat allows the child to leave and return without having to restart the activity.
  3. It teaches order. The children begin and end each activity with a work mat. It’s the first material they gather and the last one they put away.
I guess it's the whole concept of freedom within reason.  Which lets face it, in a family our size you need a little reason with your freedom to make it work!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hodge Podge

So for any who are wondering, the meal planning is going great.  Last week Chris was winter camping in the Boundary Waters, and usually, without him, we eat cereal, and cereal, and maybe I'll get a pizza.  But since I already had the recipes and the food, nice healthy meals we ate.  I kind of felt like super mom because I didn't fall apart mentally being on my own with the 5 for so long, and they ate good, and I taught Owen his school and the littles learned the letter O.  Someone give me a medal!

On to other miscellaneous items for the day.

Currently reading The Space Trilogy, by CS Lewis.

I'm not very far into it, but I really like it already.  Also, I love the name Ransom, who is the main character.  I tried to convince Truitt that I was going to call him Armondo one day.  He kind of freaked out and kept repeating that his name was Truitt Rex Nelson.  But maybe I will see if he will let me call him Ransom...

After traveling to NYC last April and rediscovering Dunkin Donuts and how amazingly awesome it is and then being utterly sad when coming home and realizing there isn't anymore in my state, I have been missing their awesome coffee (so much better and cheaper than any other store, I promise!).  Then we traveled to Florida in January, where much to my delight there was a Dunkin Donuts on every corner.  I was in heaven.  Where am I going with this?  Two weeks ago in the grocery store I discovered they had a creamer.  I immediately bought the Extra Creamy Extra Sweet on the spot.  And now I have gone through 3 bottles of it.  Run and get your self some to match the coffee you can buy in stores.

And finally, frantically trying to finish Ava's room in time for her birthday this weekend.  This involves painting a dresser pink, in the kitchen no less.  Don't try it.  Stick to painting outside when the weather is warm enough if you can.

Did you know that if you pinterest something along the lines of "free art" you will get tons of amazing stuff that you can print at home?  Totally loving it for art for Ava's room.
I hopefully should have something posted on Friday when it is looking mostly put together.  We finally ordered the gold dots for the walls off amazon.  Crossing my fingers they will get here in time.

Actually, Ava doesn't even know she's getting the whole room done.  She does know about the dresser because it's kind of hard to hide the fact that I took it out of her room and dumped all the clothes onto her bed, not to mention that it is now sitting in the kitchen after 3 days of various things to finish it.  But I am going to pull it all together on Friday so when she comes home with a couple of friends she will freak out!  In a good way.  Or at least I hope so!

And the grand finale is that we will be above freezing every day this week!  Finally!

Friday, March 14, 2014

And That's The Truth Of It

Needs no explanation.  Although why I continue to live somewhere with bad weather for over half of the year, does.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Owen's Last Day

For various reasons, Owen's last day of public school was this past Friday.  Along with all of his school stuff that he brought home, he also brought home a 103.5 degree fever and strep throat.  :(

Going through all his things this weekend I came across the cutest school supplies you will ever see.

Yes, those are his crayons, sharpened to within an inch of their life.  Next to a regular unused crayon.  They made me laugh so hard that I was crying.  That is crayon devotion.  To keep them sharp when they are only 2 cm tall!  Talk about not being wasteful.

Monday, March 10, 2014


IKEA and Lonny magazine teamed up to do a spring style quiz.  And you all know I never met a quiz I didn't like.  Click here to take it.

I ended up being "the hippie", which is exactly dead on.  How come these quizzes always work?

And here is what IKEA and Lonny say about "the hippie":

Philosophically you lean minimal, because, you know, mo’ stuff mo’ problems, but you just can’t help collecting things: dreamcatchers, hand-knit afghans, kitschy artwork, and succulents by the cartload. Your taste in textiles runs organic in shape and texture: yes to seagrass and jute area rugs, warm wood tones, and nature-inspired floral prints. You call it “rustic West Coast garage sale.” We call it inspired

In the clique: You don’t believe in cliques. 
Your new best friend: Woven wall hangings.

The only thing I question is my new best friend.  Woven wall hangings?  I am definitely not that hippie!

If you take it, and especially if I personally know you, let me know!  I love hearing what other people are and if it fits my image of them!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I was at IKEA last week, for one item which online said they would have, and their system at the store said they had 14, but in fact, they had none.  How do you lose 14 items?  Anyway.

They had all this adorable nautical theme stuff.  And for a full 5 minutes, I debated decorating Owen and Moyz's room in it.  But then I couldn't do it because I can't commit to a theme.  I don't do themes.  At least not full on themes that scream in your face.  I'm more subliminal.  But you can't really do that with Nautical.

1.LISEL Duvet cover and pillowcase(s) IKEA The polyester/cotton blend is easy to care for since the fabric is less liable to shrink and crease. LISEL Duvet cover and pillowcase(s) IKEA The polyester/cotton blend is easy to care for since the fabric is less liable to shrink and crease.
2.MÖRKT Lantern for tealight IKEA Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

1.  Their new knot duvet, in blue and red.  Adorable, but their room is already white and I figured they needed something with a little more pop.  I even went so far as to say that I could get them a red or blue throw blanket to put at the foot of their bed to bring more color in.

2. I thought I could hang  a couple of these from the ceiling after I spray-painted them a different color.

And the whole reason I was leaning this way is because I found the following free printable online and already planned to do it for their bedroom, minus the nautical theme.

Here is the link to the google doc to get it from.

And maybe some themed bedrooms, just for kicks.  Who knows, maybe I will convince myself to go with it!
Totally LOVE everything about this bedding!!! Blue, white, yellow, anchors....    Before & After: Rustic Nautical Master Bedroom Makeover!  via

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Preschool Curriculum For The Littles

I finally got serious with the kids and we have been doing a formal preschool curriculum for the last three weeks.  I heard about a program called Letter of the Week by Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She's a Christian mama who homeschools her 4 kiddos.  I paid $15 dollars for it.

It's totally adorable, but very ink consuming, and thus more costly then what I would like, even though I buy a lot of my ink from abcink and it's super cheap.  I pick and choose items that aren't so ink intensive and we do those.  And I laminate anything spectacularly awesome and the kids can reuse it.

I then also found a website called 1+1+1+1, and they have a ton of free printables that I supplement with.  They have a lesson for every letter, plus tons and tons of free printable packs by theme.  You will spend lots of time just looking at them and barely believing that a mom put them together for free for others to use.

Here is an example for Ballerina and the letter B.  Kembia is going to die when we get to this.  (We are doing vowels first).

Ballet Preschool Pack

The only issue we are running into is that Kembia already knows all her letters and sounds and all of her numbers through 20.  I find this fascinating because I haven't taught her any of it and I need to step it up and give her some harder stuff.  It's almost a little scary how fast she is moving.  And then Truitt and Moyz are still struggling to hold their crayons correct!

Actually, Truitt mostly just colors whatever page I give him.  At 2 years it's maybe asking a lot for him to do some of the things we are doing, but he likes to feel included and will sit for a half an hour of teaching time.  Moyz can hang in there a little longer, but he definitely isn't as excited about it all as Kembia.

If you have a preschooler, there are tons of stuff between Confessions of a Homeschooler and 1+1+1+1, not to mention a gazillion ideas on pinterest.

Monday, March 3, 2014

East of the Sun and Ship That Sailed to Mars

Randomly one day, I googled "the most beautiful books", just to see what popped up.  And somehow I came across these two.  


Both pretty obscure looking from the outside.  But you know, you can't judge a book by the cover... because check out the insides.

Ship that sailed to mars:



East of The Sun And West of The Moon



Both are about $25, so not cheap.  If you can only pick one I would go with East of the Sun and West of the Moon.  I think the images are quite a bit more beautiful the Ship that Sailed to Mars, and the East of the Sun is a compilation of Northern fairy tales, where Ship that Sailed is one story.

The second images from East of the Sun were done in 1914.  I amazed at that because they seem so different from that time period.  I plan to use both of these books with the kids' homeschool curriculum next year.