Friday, December 28, 2012

Jonah's First Dramatic Performance

Jonah recently took an eight week acting class at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (NRACT). We weren't really sure what they have been doing during class, but Jonah has obviously enjoyed it. At his last class the week before Christmas, the kids demonstrated what they have been learning which mostly envolved facial expression, body language and stage presence. Jonah said afterward he was a little shy with all the people in the room, but it didn't seem to affect his performance that much.

I recorded most of the performance which was based on a children's book by James Stevenson called "It Could be Worse." The kids chose which book to perform and this was their favorite. You will see why it was Jonah's when you see what parts he plays.

(The following video is over 5 minutes long and Jonah has two parts in it.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New Christmas Song

We have been listening to Christmas songs in the car pretty much nonstop for the last week or two. Yesterday, while on our way home from dance class, Elisabeth asks me to turn it off. When I asked if she was tired of all the Christmas music she said, "Yeah..."  A bit later, seemingly in response to the silence, she starts singing her own song.  (Sorry for the poor videography, but I was driving and couldn't see where the camera was pointed. The sound is what matters anyway.)

The car seems to be a creative space for my kids when it comes to music.  Jonah has crafted a number of songs in the car also, including this one.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kid Carolers

May this help put a little more Jolly in your Holly and Happy in your Holiday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hair with Flair

.... given the color I could even say flare. When getting his hair cut
last week, he asked for it to be styled into a Mohawk. He wanted to
make a statement, I guess.

I do love this picture of him, maybe because I'm reminded of Popeye
the Sailor Man with a Mohawk.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

1st Nutcracker Performance

Elisabeth is attending her first ballet today. The Nutcracker is being performed by the dance company where she takes classes. Performers from the Carolina Ballet will have starring roles.

Note her hand and feet placement!

Friday, December 07, 2012

My Baby Lost Her Tooth

Literally, we can't find it anywhere! Elisabeth came over to us earlier and said, "My tooth is gone." She had an active evening with her brother and a friend and all the sudden noticed it was gone. I don't know what it is with us and the first baby tooth; we have a similar story regarding Jonah's first tooth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wii Karaoke

Here is Elisabeth trying her hand at singing a Taylor Swift song on a Wii Karaoke game while Jonah does his best to annoy her - what else are big brothers for!

I do need to find a version with more kid friendly songs. Let me know if you know of any.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Smithsonian Volcano Kit

My parents were visiting a few weeks ago and they bought Jonah a Smithsonian Volcano Kit. We were staying in a campground when we put it together. It makes for a great outdoors activity. I haven't used plaster of paris before (at least not that I can remember) and I really enjoyed it. We all got our hands wet, but Elisabeth particularly enjoyed that part.



Phase 1 complete, we waited a couple of hours before painting it.  Papaw got in on the painting too.




Getting ready to erupt.


I didn't have any measuring cups in the RV so I think our vinegar to baking soda ratio was off a bit.  But, overall it was a success.

After the trip, we took the volcano home, and, in the following weeks, it inspired some of our homeschool activities: we read books about volcanos, learned about the Pacific Ring of Fire and watched a documentary on Mount St. Helens. We also did an experiment to see whether baking powder or baking soda had the best reaction with vinegar - as I recall baking soda works best. We erupted the volcano yet again. 

We still have it for another eruption in the future when we can review what we learned.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

KinderBallet Dances to the Nutcracker

Elisabeth's KinderBallet class had an informal Fall performance for family last week.  

Earlier in the week was an in-class dress rehearsal for the mom's.

Then on Saturday, both classes came together for a combined performance.  As you can imagine, the larger number of little dancers and a full room of family members had an effect.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Finding Balance on a Bike

I was introduced to a balance bike (or at least the idea of one) for the first time two years ago. During a three week stay in Brooklyn, I saw this little 3-year old kid riding around the park on a very small bike. I was amazed and couldn't take my eyes off of him. I asked his mom how he learned to ride so young and she told me how they started him off on a balance bike. After a few months he was ready for one with pedals. I had never heard of a balance bike before, and I filed it away in my head for future reference.

But teaching the kids to ride a bike hasn't been a big priority. And now Jonah is too big for a dedicated balance bike. Back in June though, we did acquire a Classic Balance Bike by Smart Gear for Elisabeth.

Again, not much time was was spent encouraging her to ride it until we got back from our vacation. Perhaps motivated by all his bike riding on the trip, Kelly worked with Elisabeth almost every evening. The key was she was enjoying herself and she started to really get the hang of going downhill.

After a couple of weeks, we thought she was ready to upgrade to a big girl bike and we found a great girly, pink one on Craigslist. Well, turned out she was not quite ready. She wasn't comfortable on the bigger bike and those pesky pedals were in the way. So, we regrouped, took the pedals off and made a balance bike for Jonah.

He was not very uninterested at first and after falling was even more hesitant even resistent. But, Daddy adjusted the seat and convinced him to give it another go.  Well, it was a turning point.  Again, the fun factor won him over. Now they both ask to go for a bike ride almost daily.

Thankfully, Jonah is not offended by the pink Barbie themed bike with frillies on the handlebars.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Day 2012

Our Halloween fun began with lunch at Chick-fil-a (free kid's meal with purchase) for any dressed-up kids. Then Elisabeth had a party at dance class. After a trip to the grocery store, we came home for dinner with the Carr Family (sans Papa Carr) and then went trick or treating on our street. The kids had a great day as you can see. Samuel was a hoot during the trick or treating. Jonah had to show him the ropes since it was his first time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Fun Fall Festival

Last year, we attended the Fall Festival at a Providence Baptist Church. Because we had such a good time last year, we decided to go again this year.

Jonah went as Ironman and Elisabeth as a princess (of course).


Elisabeth rode a pony again this year, and, once again, Jonah didn't care to.

They both enjoyed the giant slide....

Kudos to Providence for putting on such a great event for the community.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wildlife in Custer State Park

After our big day trip to Devil's Tower, we got up before dawn the next morning and headed into Custer State Park. We knew that the early morning was our best chance to see the most wildlife and we wanted to get to the more remote areas of the park around sunrise. I am so glad we did! This was the closest thing to being on Safari that I have ever experienced. We saw lots of bison, a big herd of elk, coyote, wild burros, huge prairie dog towns, dozens of pronghorn, deer, and wild birds of every sort.

(note: Wind Cave National Park is adjacent to Custer State Park)

Here are some related articles that I enjoyed:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Playdate at the Museum

The kids met their buddy Wilson at the Durham Museum of Life and Sciences on Friday. We had a great time. Hopefully, the next time we go, the Alpacas will have arrived.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Touristlink Kudos

A picture we took on our trip out West got the attention of a new online "social travel platform." A representative from contacted us requesting permission to use a photo we took of our campsite at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area (which I included in a recent post.) They want "really good pictures" of featured destinations, and, apparently, our photo fit the bill. Honestly, it's not all that, but it does capture the essence of the campground which was my original intent in taking the photo in the first place. Regardless, I thought it was kind of cool!

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Homeschooling from the Heart with Help from Lewis and Clark

Cover of "Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog ...
Cover via Amazon
Where history and geography are concerned, I'm finding that both Jonah and myself learn better when we have some context. While on our RV trip to South Dakota last month, we ended up visiting many of the places along the route of Lewis and Clark on their journey up the Missouri River with the Corps of Discovery. The more I saw of the area where they traveled and the more interpretive signs I read, the more interested I became in their story and the more I realized how amazing their journey really was. Of course, when I learned something new I would relate it to the kids.

We like to purchase kids books as souvenirs on our trips. It's educational and helps to remind the kids of their experiences. Well, on this trip we purchased Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President while at the visitor center in the Badlands National Park. This book was very appropriate, since we had just stayed at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, seen many other places of significance for Lewis and Clark, and observed several prairie dog towns while in the Badlands National Park.

The book is factual, well written, and, I, for one, found it most interesting and yes, informative. While I had a vague notion of who Lewis and Clark were, I really knew little about the details of their journey or how truly significant it was. I did not realize the scientific endeavors of their journey other than they were the first non-Native Americans to see huge herds of Bison. So this adorable little book, which is based on actual events, describes how Lewis and Clark were instructed by Thomas Jefferson to collect plant and animal specimens along their journey. They discovered prairie dogs on their trip and decided to send a live specimen back to the President. They had nearly all their companions try to flush out or dig up a prairie dog. Finally they succeeded by flooded on out of it's burrow with buckets of water. What a great story and it's true!

When we returned home from vacation as I attempted to get us into a homeschool routine, I started using our experiences as a guide and got a couple of Lewis and Clark books from the library. I also looked online for crafts and ideas for how to reinforce and add to what we learned on our trip. Here are a couple of resources I found on-line (there are many more): 
As I was reading a couple of these, I realized we could go on our own journey and re-create, if you will, Lewis and Clark's journey. So we packed up a couple of backpacks and set off to the greenway near our house (which happens to go along a river!).

As you can see, we have a gun to fight off the grizzly bears; the expedition encounter several once they reached present day Wyoming. The pink, poodle purse is the stand in for the big, black Newfoundland dog that Meriwether Lewis brought along on the journey - he threatened to burn down an indian village because they stole his dog - he got it back! (The natives considered cooked dog a delicacy). We brought cameras to take pictures of wildlife (because modern exploration requires it), but we also brought along pencil and paper to draw pictures of the plants and animals we saw along the way.  These included a dead vole, a dead frog, several birds, and a 5 foot long black snake that was very much alive (I had the heeby geebies the whole rest of the walk after that.)  At one point we saw a big black beetle and we stopped so Jonah could draw a picture of it.

We finally found a good spot to make camp.....

....and have a snack before continue on the the playground.

When we got home, we watched a 41-minute National Geographic documentary called Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West (2002) while we ate lunch. It was the perfect documentary for my kids, because it wasn't too long and was a reenactment of their journey (and not just images with a narrator). Not only that, but Jonah recognized the boats they were using in the documentary as the very boats we saw at the Lewis and Clark State Park in Iowa.



As we were watching the documentary Jonah says, "That's what those benches were for!  Not for sitting but to stand on and push the boat with poles." While the members of the Corps of Discovery probably did sit there, Jonah learned one of the ways their boats were propelled forward against the fierce current of the Missouri River.

Since that documentary, we have also been watching the Ken Burn's documentary, Lewis and Clark: The Journey (1997) but, in piecemeal, as it is 120 minutes long. (Both documentaries are currently available to watch on-line via Netflix). While this film is more for my benefit, the kids stick around and watch it with me for the most part. It has many more details in it, of course. The funny thing is I tried to watch this a year ago and couldn't get through the first 15 minutes - I just didn't find it interesting. Now I'm thoroughly enjoying it. This is quite a lesson for me as a "teacher" and exemplifies the fact that we learn better and more easily when something has triggered our interest and captured our imaginations and travel can be a catalyst in this process. As a result, these last couple of weeks of homeschooling have been great! Fun for me and for my kids. This, I can do!
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Chick-fil-a and Mimi the Clown

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I must confess we frequent Chick-fil-a establishments: wifi, free refills, playground and good, reasonably priced food - how can a mother resist - seriously! Oh and pretty awesome employees for the most part too. Anyhoo - we don't go in the evenings much, but, yesterday, it just worked out for us to make it to the Kids Night at one of the Chick-fil-a's near our home. Mimi the Clown was the highlight of this particular Kid's Night (the Chick-fil-a Cow also made an appearance.)

Here is Mimi the Clown working her magic. She asks the kids what they want to be. One boy wanted to be Iron Man, another a zombie, a girl asked to be a rainbow princess, another for Hello Kitty. Elisabeth simply asked for a Princess face.

Jonah didn't want his face painted but got balloons - a pirate sword, with belt and parrot.

To find out when Mimi will be at a Chick-fil-a near you go here.

For information about getting Mimi for one of your events, check out the Melody Maker website.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Delight of a Child (and her Mother)

On our return home from our recent trip out west, we were driving down the Great River Road along the Mississippi when we opened the windows to enjoy the early evening air. Through my side mirror, I was able to witness the delight of my baby girl as she was fully intent on enjoying the feel of the wind on her face. And her joy was made mine.....


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. The kingdom of heaven belongs to people like them.”  - Matthew 19:14
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