Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How We Pass the Time

Tomorrow will be Snow Day #7, making for an 11-day weekend. We’ve been out on the icy roads once in the last eight days. There’s been a little bit of outdoor play/work every day, but mostly, we’ve been holed up in the part of our homestead that’s NOT -20 degrees--the house. Here’s what we’ve been up do within these four walls:

  • sleeping in
  • facebook stalking people catching up with family and friends
  • Pinning every remotely creative idea known to man
  • blogging a little
  • blog reading a lot
  • prepping vocab cards and unit intro slide shows for the rest of the school year so I survive track season without having a nervous breakdown and/or killing someone
  • playing board games with the boys (and, before he knew better, Ryan)
  • cleaning parts of the house and growling when I realize it’s futile
  • organized the pantry
  • marveling at how many dishes and articles of clothing we dirty in a day
  • writing menu plans and finding new recipes to try; then forgetting to feed my family until 1:00 (lunch) and 7:00 (supper)

  • sleeping in
  • researching ways to spend all our money on trucks
  • writing track workout schedules (we start practice in less than a week!)
  • playing Spades on his phone
  • yelling at his imaginary Spades partners (or opponents--not really sure), Julie, who always “goes set” and Bob, who’s an idiot
  • wrestling so hard with the boys that they have whelps and beard rash
  • reading
  • finishing the entire series of Friday Night Lights

  • waking up in the wee hours of the morning to watch TV, burn up their technology minutes, and eat 17 breakfasts before they ask mom to make them three more
  • talking in weird voices and/or screaming bloody murder all day long
  • building a Lego city
  • begging Mom to play Heroica with them (the official game, not their made-up version, which I've learned actually wasn't that far from the real game)
  • being poor sports when they lose to the ultimate Heroine
  • taking “victory laps” around the house, each with a different theme (crab walk, tiger, skip, backwards) after they beat the timer to pick up toys
  • simultaneously making similar sound effects (I’m not fluent enough in onomatopoeia to spell these sounds) even while they're all in their own little separate toy worlds
  • turning our pillows into potato sacks for a hop race around the house
  • begging for more chapters of their latest Wings of Fire books
  • having a spank-your-butt-more-times-than-you-spank-mine contest with Mom
  • asking to eat all the food, all the time
  • pestering each other
  • fighting like cats and dogs
  • spending a fair amount of time in the time-out chair
  • Limbo-ing under a battle axe wedged between hall walls
  • inventing new games to destroy the house entertain themselves
  • getting whooped up on by Daddy

We may be going a bit stir crazy, and we may be beating the tar out of each other with battle axes, but there’s still time for a few sweet moments. Tonight, Reed and Calvin had were playing some kind of roll-y ball soccer game they’d invented. Max was perched on a stool checking out the situation.

M: Reed, you look awesome! (goes over to awesome-looking brother and hugs him)
R: (to Mom, with a knowing look) Ee’s-hay ying-tray o-tay ind-fay any-hay eason-ray o-tay ive-gay e-may a-hay ug-hay. (translation for those nonfluent in Pig Latin: “He’s trying to find any reason to give me a hug.”)
M: (with a big, sweet smile) Mom, I gave Reed a hug-hay!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Math Facts Fun

In an effort to ease my guilt over spending a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest engage my children in fun and educational activities, I made a few math games. These will become new math facts centers for my classroom, but I had to run them by my favorite third grade guinea pig first. Of course the first grade mathematician and Tag-along Terry wanted to play, too.

Math Fact Jenga:

For this building game, I just wrote math facts on dot stickers and stuck them on our Jenga blocks. To keep the focus on the math facts, I let them touch any blocks to help stabilize the pile while they removed a block. Max got to take blocks off the top of the stack, but the rest of us had to take from any layer but the top. Max read his math problems (he’s learned to identify his numbers just from “helping” Reed study math facts this year). The other two boys solved Max’s equations. This game was more Calvin’s speed than a lot of the games we've played so far, because it wasn’t a race. He had time to calculate the answers and I could help him, if necessary. Almost every game ended in a tie, which is a whole lot less drama than I'm used to!

Use Your Head:

Two people drew a card and held it on their forehead without looking. The third person was the “caller,” who said the product (actually, we went with sums to be fair to Calvin, who knows his addition facts). The first person to look at the visible card and calculate what must be on their forehead won the round. I made a rule that if your first answer was incorrect, the other person got to answer before you had a chance to correct yourself. This kept certain shouty guessers from having an advantage. The winner of the round stayed in for the next round, when the loser and the caller traded places. Max held cards to his head for grins and giggles and got to be the caller when I would whisper sums in his ear.

Multiple Hop:
The first game was inspired by this. I cut an old sheet into four large squares of fabric with pinking sheers. I used crayon to divide each piece into three 1 ft x 1 ft sections (I used our kitchen floor tiles as a rough guide--nothing fancy). Then I labeled each section with a multiples of a certain number. I chose to make a mat for 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, since these are the math facts most of my students have the hardest time learning. 

Multiples of 6

On the back, I used hot glue to “label” which factor the mat was made for. The hot glue will provide a non-stick surface to keep the mat from sliding. 

To play, a caller will flip a flash card or call out a multiplication problem. The jumper will jump to the correct answer. Being super-competitive, the boys turned it into a race. Calvin had a cheat sheet made by Mom to level the playing field. Max just played freestyle, jumping wherever he felt like. I called out “7x9” and the boys raced to be the first to jump to 63. 

Apparently, if I decide to let the students do it competition style like we did, I'll need to cover a few simple rules:

  • You may not play hopscotch all over the board.
  • You may not push your opponent down to the ground if you think they are going to reach the product before you are.
  • You may not throw yourself down on the mat, forming your body in the shape of a large “X” so that you cover five of the nine answer choices.
  • You may not deliberately jump on top of an opponent’s feet.
  • You may not shriek in a high-pitched voice, “That’s not fair! He’s trying to beat me ON PURPOSE!”
  • You must not show up in your pajamas, shirtless.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Family Game Night

It’s been getting a little hairy up in here lately. As much as I’m loving the break these snow days bring that allow our family to slow down and spend some quality time together, there’s been a little TOO much family togetherness lately. Today was Ash wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Ryan gave up caffeine and spent the day in withdrawal mode. I gave up sweets and felt like the huge tub of Valentine candy on the counter was taunting me all day. The boys have been out to play in the snow daily, but never long enough to burn all of their pent up energy. And there’s still a good foot of snow on the ground, so we won’t be going anywhere soon. So rather than listen to the boys wrestle and break things for another night, I decided we should play a family game instead. 

We pulled out Scooby Doo Mystery Mine and got ready for an evening of family fun. The game has the members of Mystery Inc. climbing precariously up a mine shaft in search of clues. The goal is to get to the top of the mine and name the guilty suspect.  Every once in a while a mine car is released and you risk getting knocked off of certain danger spots on the track. Or, you might get lucky when the mine car gets stuck and you’re safe. 

Unless an overzealous Scooby shoves the mine car down the rest of the track just for grins and giggles. Then we all had to reset all the game pieces again. And again every time a super-coordinated Shaggy would try to squeeze himself past Velma and send the whole mine teetering. And again every. single. time. someone would bump into the coffee table and knock all the members off the track. Velma was getting a bit perturbed only halfway through solving the case. “She” even had to walk away to calm down at one point. Daphne started out frustrated, but eventually had to give up and just laugh and try to take pictures of the craziness for her blog. 

Even after passing a strict “DO NOT TOUCH THE COFFEE TABLE!” rule, the gang plummeted from the mine shaft at least a half a dozen more times. Fred, Scooby, and Shaggy thought the game was awesome and wanted to try to solve a new mystery. But both of the Mystery Inc. “girls” agreed that they will probably never be playing that game again. Zoinks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


The Squiggy Squiggs officially turned four. We were home for snow day #2 on his big day, so we celebrated with sleeping in (ok, Mommy and Daddy slept in. The Squiggs and his brothers watched a movie), opening presents, playing in the snow,

drinking hot chocolate, and sneaking a take-to-daycare cookie out of the freezer for each person to eat. His party won't be for several days, so we ended the night with birthday sundaes instead of cake.

Not a bad way to celebrate four years of awesomeness.

At this age, the birthday boy:
  • Wants to do whatever his brothers are doing
  • Is into Lego Ninjago (see above) and race cars
  • Is starting to notice letter sounds. Ball starts with “b, ”dog starts with “d,” frog starts with “fee,” Squiggy starts with “Squee”
  • Equates “hungry” with “desire to eat” - ie. I’m full. Oh wait, we’re having dessert? I’m hungry!
  • Is shaping up to be quite a little athlete
  • Still has that scratchy voice we adore
  • Has mostly given up his nightly request for a "regular, bonus, and tada moose" kiss, but is still spontaneously affectionate - “I love you...so...can I give you a hug?  Two hugs? Two kisses?” and "I'll trade you a hug for a kiss!"

Tonight, he told us he wished that, instead of four, he was “Ninety...seven, so I can go to heaven!” But I’m sure enjoying four so far. Let’s not rush to 97--or heaven--too quickly!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Romance Is...

Romance Is…

...An early gift--made by two high school chemistry students on behalf of your husband (but with a sweet note inside written just by him)

...Spending Valentine’s Day playing dodgeball for a high school fundraiser.
...Going out to a quiet lunch at a Hibachi grill. In your sweats. With five other adults. And all of your/their children.
...Watching basketball, playing air hockey, shooting hoops, and testing out an elliptical.
...Getting home after dark and going for a moonlit stroll together. To load a wheelbarrow with firewood for the night and wrestle it back to the house.
...Falling asleep watching a movie together.
...Waking up early before church for another jaunt to the clearing to load the truck up with wood for the upcoming storm. Then making yet another trip after church when the forecast sounds like it’s about to get real.
...Not doing lesson plans, instead staying up super late to wait for the snow to start.
...Sleeping with the outside light on and waking up every hour or so to watch the flakes fall.
...Waking up to a foot of snow and the sweet promise of a week at home together!