Thursday, December 30, 2010

Water Clock

As part of our study on Ancient Egypt, we made a water clock. There are several "how to's" on the web, but we decided to use a make-shift version of this one.

Items we used

2 yogurt containers
Clear Duck tape
thumb tack
permanent marker
food coloring (optional)

I taped two large yogurt containers together and then made tic marks at every inch inside the top cup with a black Sharpie marker. I used a thumb tack to punch a single hole in the bottom of the top cup as well.

We found that it was easier to watch the water level with a little food coloring in it as well.

I had Will make an estimate of how long it would take to get from the first mark to the second one (1 inch apart) and then compared it to the actual time. Then I placed a 1/2 inch mark in between and had him estimate how long he thought that would take. We then compared it to the actual time.

Then I punched a second hole in the bottom of the top cup and had him estimate the time between the inch marks based on his previous results. Then we did it again for the 1/2 inch mark with the two holes.

We calculated how long it would take to empty the top bucket with two holes in it, knowing that it is 5 inches deep. Lastly, we calculated how many times we would have to fill our container to reach one hour's worth of time.

This was a fun, easy experiment!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas from the boys that rule my life! :)

Two days before Christmas, we made our annual batch of cut-out cookies. (This year they weren't dairy-free though!)

Will is smiling funny because he has a loose tooth! :)

On Christmas Eve, we set out cookies for Santa along with some apples and carrots for the reindeer! (Yes, I realize the picture is sideways. lol!)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Below, Jeff is reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to the boys in the bunk beds that he built. :) Will is wiggling his tooth... what is up with him and loose teeth on Christmas? LOL!

Santa came!!!

We unload our stockings first on Christmas morning. Here I am helping Nathan put a Lego tracker together.

Oh, I forgot to mention... we had a white Christmas!! YAY!

All day long it was, "I want to play in the snow!" then "I want to play with my toys!" then "I want to play in the snow!" LOL! Jeff and the boys went out in the snow and built a snowman and attempted an igloo (or "egg-woo" as Witt says it!). I stayed inside and made some hot cocoa!

Merry (belated) Christmas!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Year Ago (PART I)

One year ago, our lives changed.

I want to say something dramatic to portray the relief of living without food allergies, but I just don't think it's possible - there are no satisfactory words. It's like those moments when you wish there were better words to describe "I love you" to someone. Sometimes those words just don't seem enough to express the emotions, ya know? Same idea with the removal of food allergies.

Weird comparison, I know, but it works. :)

I'd like to remember some of the differences between 2010 and the 2 1/2 years prior (where we lived as a dairy free, egg free, and almost peanut free family).

In no particular order, here are the first things that pop into my head:

  • no special ordered allergy-free chocolate for the holidays
  • no wondering about what the previous child ate in the grocery buggy
  • he's going to preschool this year (2 days a week) without a care in the world
  • no major prep-work for church gatherings (always with food)
  • ate his first Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (oh yeah! Imagine that day!)
  • we ate out more as I family and I personally gained 12 pounds this year! UGH!
  • Unfortunately, I did not keep up with my allergy recipe blog: Must Follow Recipes.

As this will most likely be my final series of posts on food allergies, I find it will be easiest to list by month the changes we experienced. This will be the first of three posts (each containing a quarter of the year.)


Each month we have a fellowship birthday meal with our church congregation. It was so hard to "not worry" because my brain was accustomed to watching every bit of food that everyone ate, making sure they didn't have dairy on their hands. We usually sat in a corner, keeping Witt away from everyone and I had to bring prepared food (including dessert) from home for him.

Imagine how free this little boy felt when he was allowed to run around the fellowship room with the other children. To run around the food table and grab a cookie when no one was looking and to dip under and hide below the food table (amongst scraps that had surely fallen) so he could eat that cookie (that someone else had made). Imagine how free his mama felt, too! :)

Jeff and I were also able to take a mini-getaway to his parents' lake house for a weekend. The boys stayed with my MIL. Although she, too, had gotten very proficient at reading labels and preparing food for Witt, there were some things she just didn't stock at her house because they'd go bad. For this trip to Gran's, I didn't have to do extra shopping or prepare special food. She didn't have to do any special cleaning in the kitchen or removal of food he couldn't be near.

To be able to just "drop him off" without preparation... wow... again, there are no words.

Of course my brain went through the usual checklist and I had to continually tell myself that I didn't have to worry about that anymore. It was a bit of mental drain, honestly.


In our house, Valentine's Day brings it's own fun little tradition of buying a huge box of chocolates and sharing it. This is the one time you are allowed to take a bite of something and put it back for someone else to eat if you don't like it. LOL!

With a dairy free child, this tradition is an expensive one. However, at least it is still a plausible one. There are some great allergy free chocolate makers out there. For Valentine's our favorite was Chocolate Emporium. They have traditional valentine's boxes (during February) and out-of-this-world chocolates! I highly recommend them!

This year, I think we bought 2 huge boxes of chocolates from a local store and bought each of the boys their own small box. The chocolates were, of course, not as good as the gourmet ones and we did go over board on the buying of (cheap) chocolates, but it was just the principal of it all.

The principal being that we could.

Oh, and Witt had his first dairy filled chocolate milkshake!


March is Jeff's birthday. Jeff likes a homemade cake, so really the amount of work isn't any different - it's just the ingredients. And sometimes, well let's face it, the texture. Although I have a favorite DFEF chocolate cake recipe, baked goods generally don't have the same texture and strength (non-sinking centers) when made without eggs.

And then there was Easter... and more chocolate. We have used both Amanda's Own Confections and Chocolate Emporium for our dairy free Easter chocolates. We went with standard chocolate this year and no one noticed (I say this to let you know how good allergy free chocolates can be.)

The exciting part of this Easter though was that it was the first time we have colored eggs since Witt was born! His egg allergy warranted plastic eggs every year prior.


In the 5 years that we have been in Alabama, this was the first year we attended the Chicken & Egg Festival and we were able to eat the vendor food without worry! Granted we spent most of our time on the tractors, but just the name of the festival was enough to keep me away in the past.

We also spent some time at a science center in middle Alabama and had to take this picture when I saw this giant carton of milk! LOL!
April is also my birthday. And it is also proof that baking with eggs does not always bring about a perfect cake... as mine fell apart. LOL!

May - August (coming soon)
Sept - Dec (coming soon)

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Re-evaluting Our School Subject Focus

Re-evaluating History and Science

This year (2nd grade), we began using Sonlight's curriculum where there is a large focus on History. This year we are studying World History and so far most of our focus has been on early civilizations, Egypt, mummies, pyramids, and geography. While this has been a good study (that we are both enjoying), I am finding it hard to work in Science on a regular basis due to time constraints.

And then it dawned on me: When you have a child with a #1 Christmas wish being a kit that will let him build a steam powered engine,

it's time to minimize History


emphasize Science.

Now, we are NOT eliminating history, we just aren't going to do every story on every early civilization. That's one of the beautiful things of homeschooling: tailoring your child(ren)'s focus of study to fit their talents. (Which also happens to be one of the reasons homeschoolers are preferred by some colleges and universities. yay!)

I have finally grasped the big task of taking cues from and nurturing his God-given talents while also enhancing the wonderful world that is outside of them. To put it mathematically (lol!),

Focus = (Bible+Science+Math)

Focus + everything else = a good education for Will

Of course that is over simplifying it, but you get the idea. ;)

Re-evaluating Math

With all that I just said above, I have a confession to make. Although on paper, it looks like we're doing one lesson/day, we're actually doing (easily) 1 - 3 lessons each day and then taking 1 - 2 days of a math break.

Will just gets math and he loves it. I want to get back into the habit of math every day for him. Even if we do 3 lessons a day, we need to pick up on the next lesson(s) the following day. It's enjoyable for him (and me), plus it keeps us in routine, so why not?

Confession over. :)

Re-evaluating Reading

In following Sonlight's reading schedule, 100% of his reading assignments come from The Beginner's Bible for about the first half of the year. I LOVE that they take the Bible stories and use those to teach language arts as well. He reads the story first and then has a corresponding LA worksheet about every other day.

What I don't like is that although he loves to be read to, he is not finding a love for learning to read on his own. The Bible stories are short and his knows most them already. It's more like "school" instead of "school plus enjoyment".

So I'm also revamping his Bible studies to also include a lapbook. He just finished the Old Testament and this lapbook on "Who is Jesus?" is a perfect fit for starting the New Testament and gives him a creative outlet.

I'm also starting him on the next reader that is scheduled after The Beginner's Bible. So basically, I have doubled up on his "alone reading". I started this last week with Frog & Toad are Friends. Each chapter is 10 pages long. I scheduled him to read 1/2 a chapter a day just to get started, but he wanted to continue and finished the entire 10 pages of the first chapter and he ENJOYED it!

Mission accomplished! (Hope it stays that way!)

Once he finishes the book, I will introduce him Book Adventure where he can take a short online "test" for comprehension of the book. Also, since he only has LA worksheets every-other-day with the Bible, it is very possible that we can fit in the every-other-day LA sheets that correspond to Frog & Toad and make LA a daily activity...

But before we add more LA to our schedule though, we need to first make sure we have the time to fit in more science (and math).

If you are interested, here's a sample of our weekly schedule.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Will Turns Eight!

As is our tradition, he decorated the cake himself. It's not his fault that it was falling apart though... or that there wasn't enough frosting. The baker (me) had a few measuring mistakes, I think. :)

This boy never looks at the camera! LOL!

Listening to "Happy Birthday" and deciding what to wish for.

Take a DEEP breath...

and blow 'em out!

He saved all his birthday money, sold his wooden trains to Jeff & I (so now we have "control" over them and can keep them for as long as we want), and took what money was in his piggy bank and we went shopping for an electric train set. After about an hour of deliberating on which set to get, he decided on the Lionel Penn Flyer, complete with whistle and smoking funnel. He proudly pulled out that $250 in cash and plopped it on the cashier's counter. His first big purchase. :)post signature

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

There is a Wolf Among Us!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of Preschool

We have decided to send Nathan and Witt to preschool two days a week. They are there for 4 hours each day. Will attended the same preschool when he was 3 and 4 years old. Nathan went when he was 2 and then missed a year when he was 3 because we had moved away. Now that we're back, Nathan is in the 4-year-old class with a group of 8 boys and Witt is in the 3-year-old class with a mixture of boys and girls.

The first week of school, we drop them off in their classroom. Here we are in the parking lot taking those necessary first day of school pictures with their backpacks:

Nathan still loves John Deere and Witt really likes Diego. Such cuties! :)

There wasn't a single teary goodbye. Both boys were fine to say bye to mom and both were preoccupied with other things while they waved! LOL! :)

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