Ora et labora
~St. Benedict

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Big T's Book Picks

Year II of Tis the Season

TnT did venture to the Hancock Center again before Christmas to take part in remembering those who are often forgotten.  Each year, one of our homeschooling groups meets up to put together care bags and create Christmas cards for the homeless.

Last year 75 bags were donated and this time around, we were able to collectively put together 100 bags for donation through Mary House. The children really put their hearts into decorating beautiful Christmas cards, for they knew these were to be amongst the most treasured of gifts given out to people who truly have nothing. 

I often speak to my boys about compassion, but it was nice to have Director Lynn Goodman-Strauss of Mary House speak to all the children about the faces we frequently see on street corners in our community. She graciously answered very real questions and concerns posed by our young group, driving home the keen understanding that we are all children of God.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Teacher, My Brother

One of the greatest benefits homeschooling affords us is the choice of how we learn. Be it at a desk, on the floor, outside, on our heads, or hanging from a tree....TnT certainly seize and create their own learning opportunities.

Big T has gotten into the rigors of his studies a little more this year, and it's quite normal that he include Little T in daily assignments, experiments, and skills. He even goes a step further and breaks down lessons for his younger brother to understand.

In turn, Little T models this behavior and makes up his own lessons to teach various family members. I really have to be up on my trivia (on anything and everything), because I never quite know when I might be a guest on a random TnT game show.

Impromptu Early Morning Geography
Learning for the joy of it

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bow Wow Reading Program

Today was a day gone to the dogs!  TnT happlily volunteered their services at the Austin Dog Alliance to help train Bow Wow Reading canines. 

These wonderful therapy dogs and their handlers volunteer to help children that struggle with reading. They go into various settings, like schools and libraries to provide companionship and fun reading opportunities.

The kids' job was to get these brilliant dogs ready for future service. The dogs need to be used to children making noises and trying to get their attention. They were all involved in several mock scenarios to see how the dogs would react. They pet them, acted anxious, waved people food around, and pretended to get angry near the therapy dogs and their handlers.

TnT with Bella

Each animal did a wonderful job, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They also got some unique story-time in and were able to read to the dogs.

Big T in Bella's reading group.
Little T reading to Dakota.

Friday, November 18, 2011

When in Drought

Texas has been hit with one of the worst droughts in history. The summer was a red hot scortcher, so creative play that also kept the kids cool was a major plus.  Although, ice play could be enjoyed in the snow too and last a lot longer than in the 100+ weather.

All ages can get in on the fun!
Let it melt, clean-up is easy.
Freeze in variety of shapes & add food coloring to liven things up.

We Realize the World is Round!

Ha, we did not fall off the edge of the Earth.  Family happenings and a move caused blogging to go on hold for a while...errr, a long while.  Well, now I am back & will be updating and adding soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ready to Operate

Seton Family of Hospitals presented their 20th annual Mock Surgery & More event for visitors to learn about various surgical procedures.  It was such a great experience for children of all ages, even adults. 

The tour was self guided, so we were able to take our time, plus pick and choose the activities based on our interests.  They had a lot to offer, even a therapy cat that the boys thought hung the moon.

TnT scrubbed in & went on their rounds, meeting emergency personnel, doctors, technicians, nurses, fire fighters, Star Flight crew, and many other health care professionals and first responders.

Their first medical procedure involved stapling a wound together with a surgical gun.  Afterwards, they removed or rather ripped out the staples...ouch.  Thankfully they did not practice on real people.


Next, they tried their skill at retrieving candy with a tool used for laparoscopic gall bladder surgery.  The nurse held a light and camera in the cavity, which transmitted a picture to a video monitor.  It was interesting watching the boys do this because their sense of direction was challenged, left was really right and vice versa.  They were confused for a couple of seconds, then figured out the challenge of using the monitor for guidance.  The candy was a great motivator!


The sugar buzz lent us time to visit an assortment of patients in the vicinity.  Some patients were having trouble breathing or had fevers, and one was even vomiting.  Yup, perfect entertainment for the boys, definitely held their attention.  

Another activity that we happened across was especially suited for younger children.  It was a fine motor activity that could easily be replicated at home or school.  Little T performed cataract surgery like he had been doing it all his life.  He was very focused and determined to make the felt eye cataract free.

Now everyone has their off days, and celebrities are no exception.  We actually saw two famous characters at the hospital.  Luckily Elmo was in recovery, but Shrek was not so lucky and made the unfortunate choice to eat several small sponges. Contrary to popular belief ogres are not built like tanks, so the boys had to stick a tube down his throat to help pull out the obstructions.

TnT's favorite part of the whole tour was getting to volunteer as emergency patients themselves.  The RN in charge created very inventive accident stories for the boys, complete with bumpy rides to the hospital. 

We were at the hospital for over two hours, but did not quite manage to visit all the stations.  It is a field trip that we will definitely have to take again next year.  The hospital and staff did a phenomenal job hosting this free event. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feed the Birds

We decided to make bird cakes for our feathered friends that still grace our backyard.  A memory of the old woman feeding the birds in Mary Poppins came to mind, and the lyrics were quickly printed so we could sing while we prepared our special treats.

Naturally, the boys sang their own renditions of the song to make it quite silly and entertaining.  Little B found TnT's theatrics to be very amusing and joined in with some dancing and singing of his own.

The recipe we semi followed came from Family Fun, called Birdseed Biscuit.  I found that the original recipe was too dry and the birdseed did not adhere properly, so corn startch was added to the water and flour and drizzled onto each cake.  We also used silicone cupcake liners, because that is what we had on hand.

TnT really enjoyed this project, as well as Little B and is suitable for ages 2-10 years old.



Friday, February 4, 2011

Tie It Up

Little T practices on a wood
slat chair.
After playing in the snow (yes, in Texas) we decided it would be fun to practice our tying skills once again.  Our nifty Tie Buddy was used to practice on for a while, and then it became a telescope of sorts and flying projectile thanks to my creative TnT. 

Since we were in such a silly mood, we decided it appropriate to use my scarf belt to tie onto various objects around the house.  Little T was also delighted to get us in the action too.

Big T was reading & didn't know what his
little brother was doing to him.

I was next!

He got a kick out of this!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tie Buddy

Recently we found out that although Little T learned how to tie his shoes at the beginning of the school year, he became weak at this skill because not enough practice was given.  Okay, his Converse got too small and velcro shoes were bought in a pinch...there you have the confession.

Right now we are in a tying frenzy and it has been fun experimenting with different things around the house.  We always have plenty of paper towel rolls, so the Tie Buddy was born.

Yarn from our craft closet was used as the laces.  Once punching holes in the tube with the back of a paint brush, the yarn was threaded through and then knotted (nearest to the holes) and set with white craft glue so it would not pull out when tying commenced.

Tying laces helps a child improve upon fine motor skills, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, confidence, and independence.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unleash the Jello!

Today 3 sheets of jello (red, purple, & blue) were unmolded and given to TnT.  They asked if it was for eating, all the while their eyes were as big as silver dollars.  One could sense that these little boys wanted to touch the gelatin more than anything.

Nothing was said to them, except "do what you will with it."  Big T immediately ran into the pantry and grabbed a large container housing oodles of cookie cutters.  They cut out various animal shapes and marveled at their creations (for about 8 minutes) and then the creatures met their squishy demise. 

Artist at work!

Let the happy deconstruction begin!

Texture & color one can taste.

Jello survivors: snake, fish, & gator.

Even out of destruction, a jello puppet can be born.