Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 18-23, 2012 + Advent Approaches

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a pretty full house, as we hosted some of the guys from Matt's command who stayed in town for the holiday.  Their assistance has helped us not have two weeks worth of leftovers to plow through, thank goodness.  All of the turkey is actually used up already, as I turned it into one of the best gumbos ever, using this recipe.  It was seriously awesome, full credit going to the creator of the recipe since I pretty much added nothing extra except a little sprinkle of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning.

It feels like this has been said a lot lately: we didn't do too much this week.  Again, I'm thankful for the head start we got in the summer.  On the other hand, it seems that most school systems are now off for the whole week of Thanksgiving, so I shouldn't feel so bad.  Where was this philosophy when I was in school?

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 65-66 (writing the number 59, winter; writing the number 60, writing money amounts using the cent symbol, paying for items using dimes and pennies)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 116-117 (the vowel pair AW as /ô/; the vowel pair AU as /ô/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 1-20 (review, vertical lines, horizontal lines, backward circle lines)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 1-4 (sounds and letters A-N; sounds and letters O-Z; beginning sounds and letters)
 The tersa sphinx moth caterpillar is still eating and eating... and eating.  The monarch butterfly chrysalises are starting to show some of the adult coloration inside.  I think they should emerge this week.


Ollie had a good week in therapy.  Nothing really new to report, but he's doing well.


All of a sudden, Jane's vocabulary has exploded.  Crazy exploded.  She's picking up new words right and left, using complete sentences, etc.  Now, if only she could enunciate well.  If you're not listening carefully, it all sounds like gibberish.  Once you focus, though, it's fairly easy to understand what she's saying.  When we clarify her sentences, she's able to repeat them back with much better form, so we'll continue modeling for her and hope that her speech improves naturally.  Our pediatrician once said that Henry's speech issues had more to do with the complexity of what he was saying than anything else.  I think Jane is going to be the same way.


Peter is quite the happy baby, especially when he can play with his feet.  He's almost rolling all the way over now; it will probably be any day.

And now... ONE WEEK UNTIL ADVENT! Okay, pull up a chair.  Here's our plan for this year:


I ordered this advent calendar about a month or so ago.  It's pretty big.  They're not kidding when they say it's a jumbo calendar.  Our mail carrier did her very best to cram it into our mailbox, despite the fact that it was shipped with a stiff piece of cardboard in the package.  And despite the fact that the majority of it was hanging out of the mailbox because it's about twice as large as the mailbox.  And despite the fact that the mailer had "DO NOT FOLD" stamped all over it.


So, it's been pressed under canned goods for a couple of weeks to get the big fold out and is now hanging up in the storeroom until it takes its place of honor over our little Advent table.


Jesse Tree Ornaments - Rustic Wooden - Deep Blue
Last year, we printed out ornaments from the Diocese of Erie.  They were lovely, but I really wanted to get something more permanent, ones that we could use every year.  So, I turned to Etsy and I found a marvelous little Catholic shop called Jesse Tree Treasures.  (For the record, I will probably be buying everything she makes eventually.)  I snapped up a set of her Jesse Tree ornaments and I am so happy that I did because they are truly beautiful and will be enjoyed for years to come.

The set comes with ivory cord for stringing and cards that have the scripture reference and devotion for each day.  There are 28 ornaments in all.  Since we have such a short Advent season this year (only 23 days), I'll have to pick five ornaments to stay in the box.  Sniff, sniff.


O Antiphons - Golden OrnamentsFrom the same Etsy store, I also got a set of ornaments for the O Antiphons. Jesse Tree Treasures doesn't seem to have them in stock right now, but I'm hoping they continue making them.  They are beautiful and I love that they have the scripture reference and meaning right on the backs.  It certainly makes it easier for our little ceremony to have everything self-contained.


Or plaque.  I'm never sure what to call our little candle holder.  The important thing is that I already have the pink and purple candles, so we're ready to go.  We're really going to reinforce the purple and pink this year with some additional Advent "wreaths."  On the 1st, the day before Advent begins, we're going to make a countdown paper chain from purple and pink construction paper.  Our other big thing is that we're going to make our house an Advent wreath!  We have four upstairs windows that face the street, all in a row.  I got three strands of purple lights and one strand of pink.  Each Sunday, we'll light the appropriate windows.  We may get some funny looks over our "Christmas" decorations, but it's the New Evangelization, baby!


The feast days we're planning on celebrating this year are:

December 5th/6th - St. Nicholas Eve and Day: The kids will write/draw their Christmas lists, tuck them in their shoes at the foot of their beds, and get their chocolate gold coins in the morning.

December 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Coloring sheets and a family rosary

December 12th - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: We're going to have a fiesta! Mexican food and sweets and a pinata for the kiddos.  I'm definitely getting this book to read.  It's a pop up!


I'm happy to say that I beat my First Sunday of Advent deadline for Christmas shopping again this year. Other than a few things that need to be ordered and shipped directly to out-of-town family, our Angel Tree child, and sending out cards, all of our gifts are already in St. Nicholas's safekeeping.

I dread the day when "beans" is no longer an acceptable answer to the question of, "Mommy, what's in that box?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 11-17, 2012

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 61-64 (writing the number 56, comparing length, measuring length using nonstandard units; writing the number 56, subtracting zero, subtracting a number from itself; writing the number 57, writing the numbers 0-10 using words; writing the number 58, identifying pairs)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 112-115 (Review of words with the long /oo/ sound; the vowel pair OO as short /oo/; U alone as short /oo/ and sight words could, would, should; review of words with the short and long OO vowel sound )
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 140-142 (writing a weather report, drawing pictures and writing words about the picture)
We have come to the end of Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten.  That was quick.  I was going to wait a while to start Henry on the next level, but lately he's been seeing how small he can form his letters.  He calls it doing "grown-up writing."  And the smaller he makes them, the better his penmanship is.  So, we're going to go ahead and start Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1 next week.

We've also come to the point in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading where it's recommended we begin a spelling program.  So, next week we'll have our first lesson from Spelling Workout A.  Henry's been sneaking peeks at the workbook for the last month and he's pretty excited to finally start.

In caterpillar news, the tersa sphinx moth caterpillar is still a caterpillar.  It's still happily eating away, so that's fine.  However, the monarch butterfly caterpillars have both entered the chrysalis phase!  Check out this crazy video of one of them spinning off its caterpillar skin (and don't mind the sounds of Godzilla the cartoon and Peter in the background):

Henry was really excited to see it happen in real life.  The other caterpillar did its thing while we were sleeping.  We should have butterflies emerging in the next week or two.  I hope it's during the day so we can see the whole thing.


Oliver had a pretty good week at therapy.  When I picked him up today, we were discussing some tantrums he was having at table time and his therapist mentioned they were happening while he was doing sorting.  What?  Sorting?  Oh, yes.  Apparently, Oliver is sorting all kinds of things by color and shape at the table!  I guess all that time on colors at accomplished something.  Needless to say, I was really happy to hear that little tidbit.  The next time that Matt has a day off on a therapy day, I'm going to stay at the center for an hour or so to see Oliver and this therapist in action.  I want to get a better idea of how they work with him so I can make sure we're being consistent at home.

We saw a couple new independent behaviors this week, too, mainly around Oliver's bedtime routine.  He's started "helping" us brush his teeth.  He also is moving our hands to make the Sign of the Cross instead of us moving his hand when we say his prayers.  Little things, but it's still progress.


We did lots of letter work on Starfall this week.  She's definitely interested in learning all of the names of the letters.  She continues to (repeatedly) tell us the color of anything and everything that catches her eye.  She also is really big on naming everyone right now.  Dinnertime is interesting, to say the least, as she will send a good portion of the meal pointing at everyone and saying our names.  "Daddy!  Mommy! Heh-ree! Awlie! See-tah!"  Then, she points at herself.  At the beginning of the week, she was exclaiming, "MEEEE," but now she's saying her name instead. "DAAAAANE."  Close enough.


Dear sweetie is no longer eating at night, but he's still waking up once or twice to say hello.  I'm hoping he realizes it's much more interesting and awesome to just sleep.  He's very happy, though, and does plenty of babbling.  He gives five minute speeches to his hands and feet throughout the day, all with a very stern and serious look on his face.

Next week is Thanksgiving and then we're only one week away from Advent!  I've been making lists and checking them twice and all of that.  We're all really looking forward to moving out of green and into purple.  We've got plenty of activities planned and I'll be posting all about it, of course.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 4-10, 2012

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 57-60 (writing the number 52, adding two to an even number; writing the number 53, adding two to an odd number; writing the number 54, covering a design with pattern blocks, sorting/counting/recording the pattern blocks used to cover a design; written assessment #11, oral assessment #6)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 108-111 (U plus a silent E as /oo/, single O as /oo/; the vowel pair UE as /oo/; the vowel pair EW as /oo/; the vowel pair UI as /oo/ )
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 136-139 (writing sentences, writing a note, writing an invitation)
The caterpillars are all still alive, thank goodness.  The monarch butterfly ones molted again and moved into the fifth (and final) instar phase.  The tersa sphinx moth just keeps eating and growing. Maybe next week?


That blue line really says it all.  Those are his independent mands and you can see that the trend is up.  The red line for the full prompts (when his therapist is moving Oliver's hands for him) is jumpy because he started "scrolling," or rapidly cycling through all of the mands he knows when requesting something.  Each time he does that, we hold his hands still for 10 seconds, then fully prompt the correct mand.  It's pretty common for this to start happening when they figure out that manding gets them things.  We'll just keep working on it at the center and at home. 


Still lots of shapes and colors beanbags and

I think he may be getting close to dropping his 0200 feeding.  Maybe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

October 28 - November 3, 2012

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 54-56 (writing the number 49, identifying one half and one fourth; writing the number 50, identifying odd and even numbers; writing the number 51, numbering a clock face, drawing time to the hour on a clock)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 105-107 (review of the long-u vowel pairs and patterns; the vowel pair OO as /oo/; the vowel pair OU as /oo/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 131-135 (writing numerals, writing number words, writing words)
  • Henry's doing at least one lesson per day.  At this rate, I think he'll finish the whole thing before our free trial runs out!
We're continuing our daily reading from The Illustrated Lives of the Saints.  I haven't been pushing our Who Am I? lessons because there aren't many in the book.  We'll probably do at least two this month before Advent begins.

In science news, our tersa sphinx moth caterpillar still lives!

It's kind of hard to make it out in the picture, but it's there.  Caterpillars go through phases called "instars" as they approach their metamorphosis.  This one has molted once already and gotten much bigger with darker markings.  We're adding fresh food each day.  Fortunately, its host plant is an abundant weed in our yard.

We added another couple of caterpillars to the collection today.  Last week, Henry picked some pretty red flowers for me.  I stuck them in a cup on the countertop to keep.  Today, Matt noticed there were two little caterpillars clinging to the bare stalks.  Apparently, there were some eggs on the scarlet milkweed flowers and they hatched.  We now have two monarch butterfly caterpillars in the fourth instar phase!

At this point, these guys can eat one leaf an hour, so Matt and Henry went to the garden center to pick up a milkweed plant.  We've got them set up in our butterfly habitat and we'll keep any eye on them there.  I noticed about seven more eggs on the leaves of the plant, so we'll watch those too and see if we can spot them earlier in the life cycle.

What I would like to do is have Henry compare the metamorphoses of the moth caterpillar and butterfly caterpillars.  If we can get to it this week, I'd like him to draw a picture of the leaves of each caterpillar's host plant, along with a picture of the caterpillars themselves.  I'm hoping that both species will move into their pupa/chrysalis phases around the same time, but we'll just wait and see.  Either way, it will be fun to watch them both.


Oliver did well this week in therapy.  The center arranged a trick-or-treat expedition to the surrounding businesses on Halloween day, so he got to wear his costume there and get a practice run.  His therapist said he did really well.  We certainly saw that he knew what to do later that evening when we took the kids out for candy.  His only issues were that he didn't want to skip any houses and he kept wanting to go inside of the ones we went to!


Jane is starting to pick out letters.  She confuses a lot of them (she'll say "w" when she sees a "u" and "u" when she sees a "q," for instance), but she's figured out that each one has a name.  Time to ramp up the letter section on


Peter has been finicky and fussy this week, which leads me to believe he's about to hit another growth spurt.  Thank goodness for hand-me-downs.