Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Tuesday Luvin'

Hi all! How is everyone doing this fine Tuesday? We have had a great day of cleaning and gardening, plus some new fun developments in Miss Moira's growth. She has discovered the stairs, the toilet, and how to take off her diaper! I seriously can't take my eyes off of her... she is so fast and the poor thing bumps her head or falls down tons everyday in her quest to walk.

Anyhow, here are some cool things that I have found, tried, or heard about:

One of the coolest A-B-Sea posters I have ever seen!
Buy one here!

I love cool kids lunch ideas... here's a whole collection of cuteness!

If you noticed at the bottom of my blog there is a new widget which is our library... 
I am still adding to it but it is a really cool thing to have to keep track of what you have read, 
want to read, or are currently reading!
It is powered by Library Thing and super easy to use... 

if you are looking for something new to read!
                                                                                Source: lushusa.com via Connie on Pinterest

Finally, here is my new crush from LUSH- Toothy Tabs.
Did you know that over 1 billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills each year?
I thought that we were being eco-friendly using Tom's toothpaste,
but here is an even greener alternative.
There are a couple different flavors and I was left with clean teeth and no weirdo after taste.
(Plus at $4 for a box of 60, you can't go wrong with the price!)
Here are some other random links that you may enjoy:

and finally...
One of my favorite Pinterest finds so far...

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch."

Lately I have been reading a lot of really cool blogs and article about unschooling- mainly the radical kind.  Where unschooling means letting you child take the lead in their learning, radical unschooling extends that thinking to their whole life. A well known unschooler put it best:

Unschooling includes trusting your child in what they choose to learn.  Radical Unschooling, which expands unschooling philosophy to parenting, means you extend that same trust to other areas of your child’s life, like foods, media, television… (It) requires thinking outside the box and a huge dose of courage.
Parenting is supposed to be joyful, and it can be when we learn to connect with, rather than control, our children.  We were raised in a different era, where the majority of the parenting focused on obedience and doing what we were told…Once you understand that there is a more respectful, fulfilling way to live in  harmony with not only our children, but also with others, you are well on your way.  Just learning that a new parenting paradigm exists is often the first step in someone’s journey to a new awakening.    ~ Dayna Martin, Radical Unschooling: A Revolution has Begun

There are many aspects of my life that I want to improve upon but the way I parent is the top of the list. The bottom line is that I don't want to make the same mistakes my mother, and many parents in this country, made. I don't want my kids to have childhood memories that involve spankings, guilt, harsh criticisms, groundings, bribery, and feelings of not being "enough".

I want my girls to lead a life that they enjoy, be productive members of society but not feel like they are "supposed" to do anything that does not feel right for them. I don't want them to enter careers that they are not passionate about, that they will dread going to every day. I want them to take what they learn in their youth and let it grow into something beautiful and real.

But how does one go from the norm of chores, set bedtimes, basically a very controlled environment to a whole life unschooling approach?? Well, I am taking those first baby steps by following the mantra,
"Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch."

A good friend, Melissa, gave me that advice when I asked how to even begin changing how I approach my kids. Do I just let go of everything and let the chips fall where they may? No! Then they would take over the house and it would be an urban version of Lord of the Flies! =)

So this weekend I decided to take some steps and do away with a set bedtime and media monitoring. We will see what happens and watch our kids enjoy life in a stress free, full of joy way!

If you are interested in reading a bit more about unschooling, this is a great article to get your mind thinking of the possibilities! 

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Soul Pancake Bites: #2- Overreacting

When is the last time you overreacted? Was it worth it?

Me being me, I tend to get all up in arms first and think about it later, especially if it is a topic that I am passionate about. Things like birthing, breastfeeding, homeschooling, vaccinating, gentle parenting, arts education, animal welfare, Spanx... these are all things that I will get on a soap box about. 

Yesterday I was confronted about one of my personal beliefs and actually tried really to be diplomatic and informational instead of confrontational. I posted an article about Radical Unschooling on my facebook page about how there are some serious drawbacks to demanding blind obedience from our children. Right away 2 people who I was "friends" with said that you need to make kids be obedient or else they will run wild, etc.... I wrote back and explained that this is a completely different school of thought and is the exact opposite of being neglectful or not parenting. Well... it was like talking to a brick wall (or 2). Right away I was told that this was nonsense, it couldn't possibly work, and that basically you have to show kids you are the boss. 

So I had 2 choices: Write yet another response and hope that maybe there would be a crack in the wall or just let it go because some people don't want to learn, they want to prove that they are RIGHT. Well.... I not only didn't respond to the posts but I also deleted them as friends. And then I took it a step even further and posted this on my page: 
ok friends, here is where some of us have to part ways. This is my space and I don't really feel like I should have to censor my beliefs on parenting, religion, etc. You are more than welcome to read my posts or ignore them, be curious, ask questions. But if you obviously don't agree with something, that is fine, don't read it. I am not going to try to convince you otherwise but I am not going to have a debate to defend my beliefs. I will gladly share my research and answer questions though!
Yes, it was my temper coming out because I then went on a mass deletion spree and took off all the people who cause me to censor my articles, thoughts, etc. Surely, I overreacted to 2 people arguing with me about an article- I could have just said nothing and gone about my merry way. But, what about the next article that I found about gentle parenting? Or the one connecting the Hep B vaccine to SIDS? Why should I have to hide the research I am doing because there are some who are too close minded to consider, even for a moment, that there is another way to do things than how we were brought up?

I fully realize that sometimes I would be better served to think first and then act accordingly, after I think things through. But at least in this instance I feel a little lighter in that I don't have to carry false friendships where people are just bringing me down. Definitely overreacted but well worth it!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crayon Canvas

So remember this craft?
It is flying all over Pinterest and the web and I HAD to try it.
Here is what I used:
  • 18x 24 canvas ($7)
  • Box of 120 Crayola Crayons ($5)
  • Glue Gun
  • Blow Dryer

Here's how I did it:
1. Draw a straight line (lightly) across the top of the canvas
2. Figure out how many crayons you need to go across the top of the canvas
3. Arrange your crayons in whatever order you want
4. Use a hot clue gun to attach the crayons, I used a dot toward the top of the crayon and the middle. 
5. Now the fun.... Use your blow dryer on its hottest setting and on high to begin to melt the crayons
BUT here is my best advice: point it straight down or else wax will fly everywhere! 
Also, it is best to switch to low once the melting gets going, you have more control. 
6. Once it looks how you like it, admire your new artwork for only $12!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How We Roll

Don't mind the messy playroom in the background!
Klint brought out his old video game system and introduced the girls to old school gaming, lol.
The played Donkey Kong, Ninja Turtles, and so much more...
Even Moira got a controller of her own and would glance at the TV
to see what was keeping her sisters so entertained. 
Both Gabby and AJ loooooove games, they ask for our phones all the time,
and have a DS to play on as well as the Play Station....
we are all novice gamers!
Just another day at Casa de Krebs!
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homeschooling the Free Way

So I have been gearing up for another fun year in homeschooling. Last year was sort of a blur, with a new baby and getting Gabby to simply enjoy learning again... it was fun, but sort of challenging to find our groove. We are still going to have an eclectic type of schooling going on, but with a little more structure from all over since I have discovered that left to her own devices, Gabby really doesn't put forth any real effort. (AJ on the other hand is downright pissed that she can't read yet, so she is jumping on the school wagon!)

This year I want to get Gabby in the habit of not only putting forth her best effort, but also taking the time and patience to look for answers herself instead of waiting for me to feed them to her. We are also going to add in an into to a foreign language- Italian, as well as violin lessons and swimming. But, I wanted some more resources and some sort of list for myself to keep track of the topics we are covering so I went in search of some free curriculums and resources... man, oh man, did I find some!!! Here are my favorites so far:

Scott Foresman Math and Science Curriculums: First off, these are absolutely FREE work books and sooooo nicely done! While I may not do these page for page, at least I can have some order in the topics that I introduce and a starting point for our explorations.

Lesson Pathways Guided History Lessons: Again, we may not follow this exactly, but I like having a weekly focus so that I can get out the appropriate books to spin off of, for instance, we can read The Little House series while studying early American history. (We didn't focus a lot on specific history themes too much last year so I am going to cover the year 1 lessons this year...)

Spelling City: One aspect that Gabby really enjoys is writing so this year I am trying to expand her written vocabulary and spelling. She is great at spelling words phonetically, but likes to have a word bank to work off of if she is writing something important.

The Learning Page: I am a sucker for wacky holidays like Hug Your Cat Day and National Clown Week! This site has the traditional and wacky holidays plus lessons to go with them!

Finally, have you ever heard of the Daily 5? Basically it is a way to get kids to become better readers by approaching the process from different angles, something that is important because not every kid learns the same way. Everyday you have the kids:
1. Read to themselves
2. Read out loud
3. Listen to reading
4. Practice writing and
5. Do word work.

Now, we were already doing everything on the list, just not every thing every day. I am going to try to not only have Gabby do these, but myself as well since it is good to model the process and let's face it- I love books!

If you are a teacher and prefer a more formal classroom setting, be sure to check out my sorority sister Katy's Pinterest board for the Classroom. She is a teacher and is finding some really cool posters, organization techniques, and neat ideas to implement!

                                                    Source: shadytreediary.blogspot.com via Katy on Pinterest

(I have updated my homeschool resources, so be sure to check them out! Lots of free fun stuff to be had!)
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Week...

We played, we cleaned, we cried, we laughed...
we watched our newest member of the house play with his fellow felines,
we worried over Miss Moira's mysterious allergy,
we slept in and stayed up late.

It was an interesting week!
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Medical Mystery

So I am calling out today to all you mamas with kids with allergies, mamas who have some experience with mysterious skin issues, namely-hives:
This is what it looks like at first, then they get bigger and redder, then they fade out...

 Poor Miss Moira has been getting hives very randomly for the last 5 days. We can't figure out a common trigger and there is no rhyme or reason to the time or severity. It is driving me NUTS!
They don't seem to bother her at all and most of the time disappear as fast as they come. What is crazy is that nothing in our daily life or diet has changed. No new foods, no new household products... nada. And it has happened when we were out at a museum, at the park, 10 mins after nursing, after playing on the floor, etc.... I thought at first that she got bit my something but there are no bites, just lots of hives. They usually start on her legs, then the arms, and face- never any on her stomach or back or under her hair.

I thought that maybe it was a reaction to me eating a ton of cherries and her eating cherry puffs, but I stopped that days ago to see if the hives would stop and they keep on coming strong.... AHHHHH!!!!
Poor kiddo looks like she has the plague when they are full force!

So..... any thoughts on how to figure out what is the root cause? I have been writing down every episode and there is no pattern to the hives, no linking factor. Help!!

Sorry for the bad pics, it was late and photo composition was definitely NOT on my mind!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Lovings

Hello all! Just popping by to share some quick links and such that I am loving these days, enjoy!!

Did you know that you can borrow free dissection alternative kits? Yay for exploring animals without having to kill any in the name of science!

Here is a great article on how to talk to little girls. (Hint: ask them what is their favorite book!)

There are a still a few days of summer left... here are 10 things you must do before it is over!

And when it is over, here is an easy science experiment to get you started if formal learning is on your agenda.

I gave my reasons why we homeschool a couple of days ago, but this article says it even better!

Here is my crafty fix that even serves as an awesome new mom present: make a portable beautiful growth chart... lovely!

Well, that's all for now... I am off to enjoy a wonderful day with my girls. Have a wonderful day yourself!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday My Gabba!

 Happy Birthday my Gabba Raba Ding Dong!
(Yes, that is her nickname!)
Today you turn 7 years old,
my oldest daughter. 

7 years ago you came into this world and made me a mommy,
and since then you have shared all these firsts with me,
paving the way for your sisters to follow.

You are a joy, a challenge, a mystery, and an adventure for me.
You make me try hard to be a better mom,
and make me smile with your creativity and spunk.
But there is such a sensitivity to you...
all of our friends comment on your sweetness.
I love your drawings, your passion for the animal world, and your deep thoughts.

My Gabriella Rae, you are a wonderful daughter whom we love so very much.
Thank you for all you do and all you are. 
I can't wait to journey into 2nd grade homeschooling with you,
watch you discover all that there is out in this world for you,
and be there for you, no matter what. 

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Why We Homeschool

School is all the buzz right now in Northeast Ohio. In our district, classes start in a little over a week and if you set foot in any store, mall, or even restaurant that is all everyone is talking about.

When I was younger I lived for the start of school... my book bag was packed the start of August even though in Western NY it didn't start until after Labor Day. I planned my locker decorations, re-read my summer reading books in anticipation of first day pop quizzes (yes, they did happen at my school!), and held my breath for that morning when I would go see all my friends again to catch up. It seems forever ago and yet only yesterday. And even though I loved school, my kids are not me and schools are not what they used to be.

I asked Gabby if she wanted to go to school this year, because I didn't want anyone to accuse me of not giving her the option. She didn't even hesitate before saying no! We talked for awhile about what we wanted to learn this year and then went off on another of our adventures. But it made me think about how our reasons have changed for homeschooling since we took her out of public schools last November and this is what I came up with:

1. I prefer my girls to actually experience real life learning instead of just reading about it. For example, to actually go to the zoo to see the polar bear instead of doing a worksheet on polar habitats, and use real money to pay for things instead of playing with fake plastic coins that don't resemble the real thing.

2. I want them to have a choice in what they learn and to make each learning experience matter to their daily lives, instead of stressing out about a test about something that will be forgotten as soon as it is done.

3. We enjoy being able to take a long weekend without having to ask permission or worry that something will be missed.

4. I like that I can follow the rhythm of our family rather than a forced schedule that doesn't fit us. Waking up at 7am is definitely not a Gabby thing! Sometimes we don't "school" until after dinner, sometimes we skip a weekday and then learn on a Saturday... it all depends on the kids.

5. The girls get to hang out and be with people of all ages throughout the day, just like in real life. They talk to everyone they meet, are constantly learning from their surroundings, and look for new experiences.

6. With budget cuts everywhere, teachers are hard pressed as it is to teach all that the states demand. There is little room for creative teaching, going off roading with lessons, or teaching to all the different learning styles in a class of 30. I know my daughter and how to help her succeed.

But, forget all the details and what it boils down to is that right now, this is right for us. I am pretty sure that if I can homeschool after just having a baby and having a husband who is gone 2/3 of an entire day, I can teach all the subjects that is required! I homeschool so that we can read Little House on the Prairie while eating on the beach in September, so we can sit and watch baby grizzly bears and talk about the animal world, and so that if my daughter has to go to the bathroom she doesn't have to worry about someone saying no to her.

So we will go get some new pencils, a notebook or two, and maybe even some new clothes. We will wish all of our friends well as they start the school year, and then go about our routine of learning and life. =)
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's New?

Well this little guy for one!
This is Cole and he is the new addition to our family.
Gabby really wanted a lizard for her birthday... buuuuutt... the kinda geek me out.
And this baby needed a new home since his mama was hit by a car. 
Cole is only about 6 weeks old, really tiny.
But he is a really smart, silly little thing- litter training was a breeze, 
and he even plays with the older two cats.
(I think everyone too was missing Tuck a lot so Cole helps heal the sadness)

I am sure there will be more photos to come,
he moves so fast that they are all blurry for now!
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Friday, August 12, 2011

8 Months!

(this is a few days late, Moira wasn't in a photo mood lately!)

Oh my goodness!
This little girl is such a sparkler...
she has a temper like none other and can go from happy to PISSED in a blink.
But she is sooooo happy and lively most of the time. 
Moira is not only crawling, but she pulls herself to standing a lot.
She is eating everything in sight and demands tastes, no matter what it is. 
She giggles at her sisters a lot, especially Gabby.
I have taken to calling her "Meep Meep" (think Roadrunner's voice)
because she moves so quick and is sorta goofy. =P
She is still nursing like a champ and has learned how to lift up my shirt when we are sleeping.
There is so much to this little one of mine...
Happy 8 months baby doll!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Luvin'

Hello dear friends, how is everyone today? Here in Cleveland we finally got a break from the unrelenting heat and humidity and enjoyed some cooler breezes. It was absolutely lovely! I am working on a some parenting posts, a little bit of homeschooling stuff, and trying to deal with the everyday stresses of life. Anyhow, here are some lovelies I have seen on my addiction, also known as Pinterest!

I am LOVING these earrings!!! So whimsical and fun!
Get a pair here!

                                               Source: theburghbaby.com via Connie on Pinterest

This fairy garden is beautiful,
I love the detail work and I think that the girls would enjoy making this.

Speaking of crafting with the girls...

                     Source: unsimpleliving.wordpress.com via Connie on Pinterest

Wouldn't this be fun art for a playroom?

                                              Source: smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com via Connie on Pinterest

I really would love to learn how to knit so I can make some of these...
I know the basic knit and purl stitch but that's about it.

                                               Source: flickr.com via Connie on Pinterest

Next week starts my favorite time of year,
Gabby's birthday is the 16th,
Aj's birthday is in September... then there is the yumminess of fall and holidays.
I can't wait to start all the celebrating!

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