This and That

This is my new Summer tea towel that I picked up online on sale from Anthropologie (it’s the cutest):

This is our redwood that we planted in the ground this fall and it is flourishing!

This is J playing catcher in his last game of the season:

He has grown so much in his playing ability this year! By the end of the season he was hitting at every at bat, and got multiple runs! Most importantly he loved playing and is excited about next season.

This is the boys with their fresh haircuts that they got at our local barbershop. They look handsome and are ready for summer vacation now!

After their haircuts we headed over to the food trucks that are set-up in our downtown during the weekends for May-August, A most enjoyed the milkshake for dessert:

Then on Saturday I ran to Costco with my sister and got one of my favorite stress free dinners:

Chicken alfredo pasta, French bread, and frozen corn. Sooooo simple, and the boys eat it up!

This is the adorable eagle J made at school:

And finally, this is J entering into the toothless club! He lost his first tooth this weekend:

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Summer learning routine

Every summer since the boys started in school, I have a plan to avoid the “summer slump”. The boys are so used to this that they have even started setting their own goals for the summer! A’s major goal is to read, read, read. J wants to learn to tie his shoes (we’ve attempted this several times without success), write correctly with his pencil (more on that in a minute), and learn his math facts fast! Here are a few more of our summer learning plans.

First, back to J’s writing. I noticed about a year ago that J tended to hold his pencil oddly. We tried several things to help him, and figured as he continued to write it would begin to work itself out. However, it hasn’t, and so we really need to get him back on track so he doesn’t get behind in the classroom. My Mom gave me a pencil grip corrector and a writing tablet and we are slowly beginning the process of helping him re-learn how to hold his pencil to write. I’m very thankful that he is super pumped about this because it is not an easy process.

Second, is finally nailing down shoe tying for BOTH kids. I really feel like I knew how to do this in kindergarten, but good gracious it’s been difficult to teach them. J really wants to learn, and A could really care less, but they are both going to learn because their shoes for fall will be lace-ups. In part because they stay on their feet better (if they are tied). J desperately wants shoes like these:

So that’s one of our end goals for the summer.

Third, J has the goal of nailing down his math facts (addition and subtraction), and I want him to be able to do it without using his fingers to count. We already have addition and subtraction cards like these:

But I also have plans to get this fun little math matching game:

While I’m working on math facts with J, A will be working through some Khan Academy math programs.

Now that we’ve covered J (and some A) goals, here are a few of my learning goals for the summer! First up, I’m planning to sign up for a free two months of Skillshare and take this class with the boys:

The boys love drawing, and so I thought it would be fun to test our hand at some drawings and watercolors.

Second, A is all about math and storytelling write now so we have plans for this Pixar in a Box series on just that idea.

And third, a brand new Magic Treehouse Book on Benjamin Franklin comes out in July. So I’ve got a book club lesson plan for the boys:

And that’s it! The boys have two weeks of swim lessons, a week of FCA camp, and we’ve got a beach vacation as well, so in between all of that we are going to sleep in, go to the pool, catch up on all the reading, and eat all the popsicles! If you want to check out last year’s learning plan it’s here.

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This and That

This is my Target order haul from the past week:

Since it’s been a pain-ish to get to Target right now, I’ve been adding things to my cart throughout the week and then I order it all at the beginning of the next week. I also may need to stop following so many blogs that I keep discovering new things to try.

J is reading Sarah, Plain, and Tall out loud with his reading group at school and at home to me:

This was one of my favorite books when I was his age, so I love that he’s reading it and that I get to hear it all over again!

My Mom had baby chicks hatch in her classroom this past week, and J really loved them so:

This kiddo has a heart for animals!

On Friday we braved the rain to pick up new baseball equipment for J, and for the boys to spend their Christmas and birthday money at Target:

These are the newest Elite Trainer Pokémon boxes. They were excited about them, I was excited there were two boxes!

This is the salmon sheet pan supper that is so, so easy:

Salmon, asparagus, lemon. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook at 400 degrees until done (about 12-15 minutes).

And finally, this podcast got me intrigued by A Color Story App, which I promptly downloaded and have had fun trying out!

My first in-app purchase was At Home and I love it! It creates amazing filters that look natural, but just a tad brighter, truer, better. I definitely recommend it! Have a great Monday!

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Camp-out cooking and leaf crafting

At A’s den meeting this week, he learned about first aid, safety, and how to grill a hamburger/hot dog, which are three important things!

 

 

He was very excited to eat the hamburger he made all by himself, and he even tried it with an onion on it!

While he and B were hiking and cooking, J and I worked on a leaf craft project at home. This is a super easy project that requires minimal items, all you need is a hammer, watercolor (or other heavy weight) paper, paper towels, and freshly fallen leaves.

You want leaves that have some pigment left in them because it will transfer color better to the paper. All you do is arrange your leaves on the paper…

And then cover them with paper towels, and hammer (carefully, with adult supervision) all over the leaves…

And the imprint of the leaves will transfer onto the paper!

Super simple, and a great weekend afternoon craft!

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Operation Christmas Child

I always feel like this day is the start of holiday season, as crazy of a day as it typically is. For the past several years my Mom, sister, and I load up all five kids and head to Target on Saturday to go shopping for Operation Christmas Child. It is usually slightly chaotic and the kids may have been trying to load almost life-sized stuffed animals into the shopping cart at one point, but it is a great way to teach them about helping others.

Here is an idea of what we typically pick out (go here for a full list of what you can and cannot pack):

 

We typically get:

– A stuffed animal

– Socks

– A bar of soap and holder

– Colored pencils and pencil sharpener

– Toothbrush

– Fun bandaids

– Uno Card Game

– Fidget spinner

– Small plastic animals

– Notepad

National collection week is this week! You can go here to find a collection spot in your area.

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Current favorite art supplies

The boys go through cycles of art interest. Sometimes they are doing many projects, writing books, drawing pictures, etc. and then other times things are in a bit of a holding pattern. I keep quite a few supplies on hand, so the boys have items whenever they decide they need to draw, color, or write a story. I thought I’d share some of our current favorite supplies:

My on going struggle is where to store everything so they can easily get to it, but it’s not sitting out all the time. I typically store it all in our kitchen hutch, but my dream is to have an area of the house where all of this can be out and they can leave projects out while they work on them.

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Ladybug craft

I have to share this cute craft and story idea that J came up with for my niece. He decided to make ladybug paper plates and worked very hard on an example. My personal favorite part was the hidden smiley face on the underside of the paper plate! I really think J is going to end up being an imagineer at Disney or Pixar. He starts about every other sentence with “hey mommy, what do you think if….” and then he’ll end it with something like “if butterflies had wheels so they could both drive and fly.” And that will follow with a ten minute discussion of how he could actually make that happen. To support or paper plate ladybugs we watched The Grouchy Ladybug:

And a quick video on how ladybugs fold their wings:

And a lengthier one that they started getting bored about why ladybugs are called ladybugs:

And then we made our paper plate ladybugs:

 

 

 

All you need is two paper plates per kid, some construction paper, glue, scissors, and crayons. You just put the wings in between the plates and glue the plates together. Then color one side like the ladybug, and the inside is the ladybugs hidden face! So fun! If you want even more craft ideas for ladybugs, the boys and I did a ladybug activity day three years ago. You can find it here! Happy ladybug learning!

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If you have two days in San Antonio…part 1

We arrived in San Antonio right at dinner time. We stayed at the Marriott Riverwalk (with a river walk view room) and I would highly recommend it. Although there are lots of other quality hotels in the area, you get a great view of the riverwalk, there’s a Starbuck’s in the hotel, and it is walkable to lots of the main San Antonio attractions (like The Alamo). We checked in and then headed to Casa Rio for dinner…

I got the green chile chicken enchiladas (which I forgot to take a picture of), and they were excellent. The boys got nachos and tacos. The margaritas were also excellent!

One of my favorite things about our hotel besides the view:

Was the fold out couch. We usually have a room with two doubles or queens, but it saves us many an argument for the boys to be in separate beds…

 

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee on the balcony:

Then headed to the Alamo!

I have to say we lucked out with our weather. Texas is hot (boardering on insufferable) in July, and we managed to get overcast days with slightly cooler than average temperatures. The boys loved the Alamo, and we did pretty much everything you could do, from watching the movie on Alamo history to listening to a speech on Alamo artillery.

These two were the best listeners of the whole bunch:

And you’ve got to find the House cat:

We thought it was just a stray cat, but they have stuffed animals that match it in the gift shop, so apparently it is a house cat. After we left the Alamo we went to the river walk mall to escape an incoming rain shower, had lunch at the food court, then headed back to the hotel’s activity room:

We kept it pretty low key, which was great for the kids. Some sightseeing mixed with downtime is essential for avoiding meltdowns! We headed to County Line on the Riverwalk for dinner:

Their brisket and black eyed peas and bread were delish:

Afterward we headed out on the riverboat tour of the Riverwalk, which was fun:

A enjoyed it, despite contrary tween facial expressions. The boat tour is a great way to see and hear about the history of the city. And to see buildings like this:

It looks like there is no side! A cool optical illusion, with an interesting back story (I won’t spoil it). After the boat tour we headed off to bed with a cavern and zoo in our sights!

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This and that

This is the haul of shirts I bought for the boys at Old Navy and The Gap for $14.15 (total):

No, this is not a paid advertisement. Yes, this is why I have a Gap card. And actually I got a free gift with purchase, so if you deduct that, the total is actually $2.

This is my favorite lunch at Connor’s…

Crab cakes with sweet potato fries.

This is the beach set B asked me to pick up from Costco…

Hopefully now we have enough sand castle building items!

These are the books J is loving right now, and are on his summer reading list…

I hope that he’s always this excited about summer reading!

This is the way the boys are chilling in the shade outback right now:

These are the baby birds hanging out by our baby maple tree:

And that was the happiest way to tell me I’m done grading in my Canvas app…

 

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Summer learning routine

I felt like a champion when I realized I scheduled my online discussions on my summer work days (also known as “things only teachers get excited about”):

And with my summer work schedule I’m also planning for the boys’ “avoid the summer slump” routine…outside of going to the pool:

Playing all the board games, puzzles, and domino mazes:

And summer road trips:

We’ll be doing…

Summer reading through the library

Kahn Academy courses in math and Pixar in a Box:

Xtramath for A (a program he can access through his school) & addition/subtraction flash cards for J

 

Mario Teaches Typing (super old, we found it and downloaded on our desktop for the kids)

Super Solvers (also super old, same deal as Mario Teaches Typing):

My plan is to have them switch off spending about a half-hour to hour a day on one of these four choices (reading will be everyday). They can pick one on one day, then pick a different one on another. By the end of the week we’ll have gotten to all five in some shape or form. I’m also planning to pick up a few new Smithsonian & Eyewitness books (either through Amazon or the library) like these:

 

J’s school also does an awesome summer learning packet:

And I’ve got a cursive writing learning packet for A:

We’re also going to take some craft days, pull out all the art supplies and just create and craft with abandon:

No artist, no story, just paint, create, and imagine. That’s the best of summer! Downtime, being bored, and learning on free flowing time. Oh and I’llalso be answering lots of this:

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