Handwriting, Ladybugs, and Teeth

Yes, a weird title for a post. It is hard to capture a full day into a post title when our days seem to go all over the place!

This morning, after playing around and eating breakfast, we started with handwriting practice. I recently bought the Handwriting Without Tears booklet for M, as she wants further work on her lowercase letters, and could just use some more formal practice to ease her writing skills. This has been the best writing booklet we’ve purchased so far. I really love their technique, and I didn’t even need to purchase the accompanying parent/teacher handbook. C could really use this instruction, as she tends to still “draw” her letters instead of writing them, but I am going to wait until she is a little older before purchasing her own copy. Though M specifically wants to improve on her lowercase letters, we started at the beginning of the book (it starts with frog jumping uppercase letters, like F, E, P, etc.). I was worried she would get bored, but she did 4 pages easily without complaint. C got out one of her workbooks to do some letter writing practice as well.

(top, M; bottom, C)

(top, M; bottom, C)

Next the girls wanted to do a ladybug craft. We are raising ladybugs this year (we did butterflies last spring), and have had our larvae for over a week now.  Our larvae have grown so much! Even the toddler fights for a view whenever we’re checking them out. The girls have started journal books and have been learning about the four stages of their life cycle. I found a great free resource from the montessoriprintshop.com; it includes life cycle cards, blank life cycle cards and worksheets. We also got three great library books: Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons; A Ladybug’s Life by John Himmelman; and Are You A Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries.

ladybug activities

Anyways, back to the craft. The girls wanted a ladybug painting craft, but we didn’t have any black paint (and I didn’t feel like mixing all our colors to try to get black). So we made up our own craft. Using paper plates, red paint, black construction paper, a Sharpie, buttons, hot glue, and pipe cleaners we created our own ladybugs. We had first looked at some of the different ladybug species, but everyone ended up creating their own species. The toddler even did all her own painting and sticking on the dots! All three ladybugs are hanging in our kitchen, and they look mighty cute. I now wish that I had made one myself too.

TheLipperLoppyLIfe: Ladybug Craft

TheLipperLoppyLife: Ladybug Craft

While the ladybug craft was drying and I was making lunch, C drew a robot and M punched out more holes to create fingerprint-like drawings.

(left, C, "robot"; right, M, "dot art")

(left, C, “robot”; right, M, “dot art”)

Lunch was fantastical, as we left the Pandora station playing and danced in our chairs while eating (mostly the toddler and I danced). All of us continued the dancing into the living room and had a quick jam session (to Franti’s Say Hey) before it was time for the toddler’s nap. After I nursed the toddler down, I read books to M and C: two ladybug books, another library book, and two chapters from our current chapter book, Charlotte’s Web. Then M had speech class, and both M and C had dental appointments. M’s bottom teeth are just on the verge of starting to become loose, and she has 2.75 of her 6-year molars in! Milestones! Of course when we arrived back home, playing dentist was of high interest. M and C then played outside while I made dinner with the toddler on my back (who quickly fell asleep — late bedtime for her tonight, uh-oh!). Dinner was delish: roasted yam and spinach frittata, maple strawberry scones, and a grapefruit-strawberry smoothie. (Ok, the smoothie was a little too tart.) After dinner Dada played outside with the girls while the dog and I went for a neighborhood jog. Then M and C did a quick speech practice on the Ipad (using the Articulation Station app) before bed.

Wow! I am physically and mentally exhausted!


Building Play

M has really been inspired with our set of Magna-Tiles. For the first month or so, she would usually just build little houses or tunnels with them. Yesterday, while I was busy caring for the sick toddler (and before she got sick herself), she started experimenting some more, first making an igloo and a big cylinder, and then making a 6-point star and a butterfly. These tiles are so fun to play with!

The Magna-Tiles website has suggestions for extension activities, so I think we will be trying those out soon.

And I’ve just discovered another magnet-block building set, made with wood, not plastic! These Tegu blocks might end up on next years’ Solstice list.

A Creative Morning

creative play

creative play

…Puppet theater play, homemade play-dough monster creations, 3-D puppet creations, and animal play…all perfectly accompanied with cookies and coffee.



Our Natural Learning Day…Yesterday


I tried my best to get this post written yesterday, as it is about yesterday, but…we all know blogging is not high on the priority list!

So, yesterday was full of natural learning exploration. The day had a lazy start; the toddler has had nights recently with an hour of nursing, tossing, kicking and hitting me, and nursing, so I’ve been waking up extra tired, and yesterday was no exception. I almost feel like she’s a newborn with my recent lack of sleep! We needed to go to the grocery store that day, so I asked the girls if they wanted to go in the morning or after speech class, and they chose to go after speech, because they wanted to keep playing that morning. Fine by me, as I got to stay in my pj’s longer and take my time.

We made waffles and spinach-fruit smoothies for breakfast. I love when we can start the day with a filling yummy breakfast! The girls spent most of the morning in free play, some of what I saw was: making a “collection” of animals (according to M, a collection is something that you look at and keep), cushion jumping in the living room,  and doll house play.

The "Animal Collection"

The “Animal Collection”

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

M initiated reading practice. She picked out one of her reading books (I will write a post about these reading books another time) and read some of the book with me. She is getting so excited about her reading ability! C requested that we finish the last country in their culture sticker book (Nigeria) so we did that next.

We ate a yummy lunch of sandwiches, veggies, and fruit, and then had quiet time (toddler nap time). M and C chose to watch a Jeff Corwin animal show. The girls wanted an episode on Western Africa (since we just talked about Nigeria), but instead we found an episode on Nepal. I was only able to watch the end of the show (as I had been nursing the toddler to sleep) so I only caught a bit about elephant midwives (birth and babies is a popular topic in this household, both for the girls and me).

Then we brought a little springtime inside with flower paper roll painting. M discovered that you need to press down on the petal flaps to get a good print. M also decided to add stems and leaves with her fingers, and eventually we got out a few brushes to paint the centers of the flowers. C quickly turned the activity into a tactile one and just spread the paint all over with her hands. How great that must have felt!

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Then we cleaned up quickly and went to speech. We have both a new graduate student clinician (we get a new one every semester) and a new faculty supervisor, who is the school’s expert on Apraxia. She is trained in Prompt Therapy (only SLP in Utah with Prompt training) and I’m just so excited to finally have her in charge of M’s therapy (previously she had been consulting our supervisor). The classes just started this week, and they are still just collecting language samples and figuring out what they want to target.

After speech we all went to the grocery store, scoring the only 3-child-cart. I had a huge list to get through, so I bribed the kids with a cookie from the bakery. But it was a successful trip (seriously, its the little things, right?)

When we got home, the girls had more free play, including: looking at a Native American book (M noticed that they carried baskets on their heads); art; more reading practice for M (she found CVC words in a chapter book that she could read); looking at more books; and of course, dance time in the living room.

A winter storm was beginning, so I cooked up leftover chili from the freezer and cheddar biscuits for dinner. Dad left work too late and got stuck in the storm (his front-wheel drive work truck can not make it up into our neighborhood on the bench of the mountain in snowy weather). He parked his truck pretty far away (about 20 minute walk in the snow), so we drove out to pick him up. He did not want us to get him, worrying about a car sliding into us, but it was a short drive and it meant we would all be home sooner to eat our yummy dinner.
After dinner we played board games, card games, and puzzles before bedtime. I was able to keep up with laundry and dishes, and we all went to bed with every room in the home clean (well except the office which is a disaster right now with moving boxes). The girls have been very helpful lately with keeping things picked up…I think we are finally running a smooth household routine!

Today in Pictures

7 am: made their bed before going to watch television…what??

8 am: french toast breakfast

9 am: M decides to write math equations while I style her hair; C draws a picture of M in a tall birthday hat while I do her hair

10 am

11 am: I got to sneak in a catnap with the toddler while the big girls played together
12 pm: lunch, reading Pippi Longstocking
1 pm: quiet book time

2 pm: speech class
3 pm: purchase Thanksgiving turkey from local farm

4 pm: magnet dolls, drawing

5 pm: follow the sister, M and C going on a treasure hunt

6 pm: chicken kale enchilada dinner
7 pm: pajama movie time

Enjoying Our Freedoms

When I look back at our busy day, the theme that comes to mind is “enjoying our freedoms”. We are blessed to have a voting right in this country, to be able to live our lives as we choose to, seeking the sun and exploring our world together in our homeschooling journey. And it was a very joyful, sunshiny day.

Today started out with going to the polls to vote, all three kids in tow. There was no line, and empty voting machines too. C (the middle child who is constantly searching for stimulation) still managed to walk away from me, without my notice, while I was voting. But in her defense, she had walked over to the big gymnasium windows to view the city in the valley below. We had had our choice of voting machine, and I should have picked the one closest to the windows so the girls could hang out at the windows. Oh well, since it wasn’t crowded, it didn’t really matter that she had escaped me for a few minutes. When we got back out to the parking lot, it was a zoo! Our polling place was an elementary school, and it was the start of kid-dropoff time. I heard a mom tell the “traffic person” that one kid had already been almost hit with the car chaos. I’m glad it didn’t take too long to get out of the parking lot (and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with kid drop-offs/pick-ups like that!).

When we got back home, the girls spent some time in the playroom working on their secret anniversary gifts for my husband and I. It has been all M’s idea to make these gifts, and I gave them a box to store everything in. This is the first year that the girls have paid any attention to our anniversary, but it’s probably mostly due to their increased interest in weddings in general. After all, M married Princess Jasmine a few weeks ago (the service was lovely). (M hasn’t even seen the movie Aladdin yet, but recognizes the princess on their princess band-aids and stickers they get from the doctor’s office.)

Then C helped me make meatballs, with the toddler at our side, while M played outside. M didn’t want to make meatballs because she didn’t want her hands to get messy. C loves tactile stimulation like this, and was an excellent helper. She did a great job cracking the eggs, mixing all the ingredients together, and rolling the balls.

Then we all went outside with M. M had been doing some “farm work” and I finally got to see what it was. She had carefully dug a hole and lined it with rocks. It was a feeding trough to put grass in for her horses. I was surprised that she had chosen to dig the hole in the lawn, and not in the designated digging area (which was two feet away from her chosen spot). When I asked her about it, she replied, “But Mama, there was no grass in this spot in the yard, only dirt.” Can’t argue with that! The yard is very crappy, and our landlords have really let both yards go.

M and C also picked out a spot in the backyard for their “outdoor playhouse.” It is a small area of bushes and other plants tucked behind the garage, up on a ledge, in a back corner of the yard. You can’t even see them back there when they are all the way in – a perfect hiding place. I totally prefer outside play in a natural setting over playgrounds any day. I think they get so much more out of it, which is why we would rather do  a hike than go to a playground. We do visit playgrounds every so often, usually to meet friends or for biking (our neighborhood is too hilly for biking). I’m glad that our small yard provides enough interesting landscapes for them to explore!

Then the toddler went down for her nap and the rest of us ate lunch. Then dollhouse play, a visit to the library and speech class. Oh gosh, and the day wasn’t over yet!

Since we will be moving soon, I have let most of our local memberships expire. One that expired was the lovely Red Butte Garden. But luckily, the city library has this great program for exploring some of the local venues. Once a year, your family can check out the Community Exploration Card and get free access for that month to Red Butte, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, The Leonardo, and Natural History Museum of Utah. Today was a beautiful, balmy autumn day, and Red Butte is just up the street from speech class, so we headed there.

“Mama, when moose die, do they become statues?” – C, 3 and 10/12 years old

Yes, we had more discussion about mortality and moose today! The girls are pretty familiar with the garden, and it was fun to see it in a different season (last time we had visited was late spring/early summer). C shook the hydrangea branches to see the dying flower petals fall. M found the fish in the small reflecting pool. The Children’s Garden is always a hit. We walked down to the pond area, that was new-to-us and first heard, then saw the waterfall. And we noticed the fuzzy buds on a magnolia bush. C pointed out that we have a friend named Magnolia. When we got home we looked on the computer to see what the fuzzy buds became in the springtime — flowers, just has M had guessed. It was a beautiful time in the garden with the sun warming our hearts.

When we got back home, for good this time, we had a delicious snack that a friend had pinned on Pinterest. Soooo delicious! These chewy, peanut butter-chocolaty oat bars might be my go-to snack now! I added coconut flakes to it too, yummers. It was hard to stop at one, or two, and was a hit with the girls as well.

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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