Learning by walking in someone else’s shoes.

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Maybe at the very least, we learn a little more about the universe when we step outside our comfort zone, when we widen our circle. Better yet, to learn to give without expecting much in return, is a skill that all of us needs to cultivate. So any time one of my children is given an opportunity to work on empathy, I am happy to embrace it. Mr. M was given the opportunity to work at the Salvation Army. He thought he would try just one day – which turned into two, and then…well…he would honestly go everyday if he could!

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The New Way to Teach Virtues! Awesome!

I don’t know about your kids…but some days I think to myself “my boys need to be sent to BOOTCAMP!”
Other days I sit in bliss and smile as little pumpkin share with monkey, and I feel super blessed. But more often than not it feels like all the teaching and training up our children goes in one ear and out the other, especially when they are little.
I’ve used many different resources to help teach the boys good manners, and the fruits of the spirit. But it’s always nice to have some more tools in your toolbox, right?! Besides that glass of wine that you are reaching for….yes, I see it!! 😉

I’ve been eyeing the We Choose Virtues program for a while now. My next in line for our schoolroom is Monkey, who is in preschool and four years old presently. He’s the one I’ve been thinking about using it for, especially since we’re starting kindergarten next year. But like all things I’ve been wanting to touch and feel it. I usually do that at our local convention in the spring. So I literally jumped at the chance to review one of their products when they offered it up on their Facebook page!

We Choose Virtues sells tools for families to teach their children good characters. We were given the Virtue Flashcard Game to try out with the family. You can check them out further here:

http://wechoosevirtues.com/collections/all/products/virtue-flash-cards-for-families.

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Upon opening the package that was sent to me, I noticed:

  • 13 Double-sided cardstock flash cards
  • High quality printing and graphics
  • Colorful and engaging and humorous for children
  • One virtue on the front with a character to go with it and help the child remember the virtue
  • Handy catchphrases on the back to help children remember the virtue, with a description of what the virtue means
  • Great size for carrying with you

I put the cards to use right away! We personally found that they were best used as little tools during the day. It is hard for us at present to use them as game cards since we only have the one child of age to play the games – and he is still a little bit young to understand how the games might work. Playing charades, etc…with the cards might be better for a child who is a bit older, possibly ages 5+.
But our four year old was quite able to see the cute little character on the front of the card – for example, Patience, and listen to me identify what character I was helping to engage him in.

I used the cards for both positive and negative behavior. I left them on the kitchen counter where they were easily accessible, and when Monkey was showing patience, for example, I brought the card out and rewarded him with praise based upon the insight the card gave. It was handy to have, because sometimes I can’t pull insightful thoughts right off the top of my head (especially after a long night with the new little peanut!). It also engages your child’s sight – they are looking at the cute picture on the card and are drawn to listen to you more directly. I kept it short and simple.

I also used the card for reinforcing good behavior when they showed negative behavior. I have always done this in the past, but the flash cards were a nice way after time outs to sit down quickly with the card and discuss more pointedly what Virtue we needed to work on, and what Monkey could have done differently next time.

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They give you lots of other suggestions on their website and in the handy download that comes with it – this is just how we found that the cards worked best within our family. Have any of you used the whole We Choose Virtues system in your family? How did you incorporate the game? I found it was a handy little tool, and I was pleased with all the ideas and support they give with it!

We Choose Virtues was nice enough to give a promo if anyone is interested in trying out their products!

VIRTUE15 for 15% off anything in their store
AND a special Black Friday through Cyber Monday too! The promo code is HOLIDAY30 for 30% off anything in their store. Only one promo code per offer.

Disclaimer: We Choose Virtues gave me this set to review, but all the opinions related to it are my own, and are honest and true.

Cooking Classes: Cheesecake

Mr.M promised his support teacher that he would make cheesecake for her when she came for her home visit. I am pleased to report that we were true to our promise – a shock, really, considering how WILD it’s been around here! Thankfully, cheesecake really isn’t that onerous of a task. In fact, it’s quite easy! There are just a few things that you need to watch out for!

Here’s some pictures of us in action…and I’m sorry, but horribly, I forgot the final result photo! WHAT?! I know :*( Shame fills me!

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Greasing the pan and making the graham cracker base.

 

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Beating (but not overbeating!) the cream cheese.

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Preparing the berry sauce!

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Fresh, delicious berry sauce, so much better than from a can!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trashy Art

My son Marcus is working with a really cool Immersive Technologies program with his online school called Quest Atlantis Remixed. It’s going pretty good, all things considered! The program is suited to the grade level and the Provincial Learning Outcomes.
This past week Marcus was given an out of game assignment to create a 2D or 3D piece of artwork using TRASH!

How cool is that?! I love artwork, so of course I got all hands on in this one. We got out loads of glue guns, scoured the house for trash (not too hard, really), and threw everything in a big box. Then we took our treasures upstairs to transform them. The boys spent over two hours creating their masterpieces. It was loads of fun 😀

Marcus named his “The Dark Knight”

Micah named his “SpongeBob”

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Cooking Lessons 101: Sushi

We’ve been adding cooking to our homeschool repertoire in an attempt to engage and excite our recently diagnosed ASD son. It is a wonderful way to engage him and sneak in “school”. And it’s a great way for me to get him out of his quiet space and spending some time with me as during down times he gravitates to spending most of his time in his room reading…not that that is wrong, but it’s good to do other things and broaden your horizons. There are so many fantastic life skills and educational opportunities with cooking, from math, to direction following, food safety and even the important skill of following through on a project.

Sushi was an interest of Mr.M’s…and it really worked on his ability to stay on task and yes…to finish what he starts. Because as anyone who has made sushi knows, it’s a bit time consuming!

Even scripture has a few things to say on finishing what we start…take this one for example!

“Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.” 2 Cor. 8:11 NLT

I purchased this fantastic “learning to make sushi” kit from Chapters. It had a really excellent DVD with it. We watched all the way up to the California Rolls section (which was what he wanted to make). It totally broadened our horizons on different kinds of sushi though, and actually made us consider trying some different types!

We needed some help improving our sushi rice, and this video REALLY fixed things. Both Marcus and I realized what we had been doing wrong, and were able to correct it:

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We got our mixture of sushi rice vinegar from the book that was included, and the taste was perfect. Our rice turned out amazing and was super easy to work with!

Here are some pictures of our final results: All in all, we thought it was a complete success!

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Firehall Fun!

I feel like this is not my first “kick at the can” with the Firehall tour. It seems that it will not be the last, either.

Fire hall tours are always so much fun for pre-schooler’s! So we did it, again.

This time was pretty darn good, I might add. They even suited up for the kiddo’s…they didn’t do that last time. And daddy got to join us, because it just so happens that he was working on computers at Fire Hall No.1 that day. And of course that was really exciting. And even more exciting was when they got called out for a call two minutes into the presentation. We got a tour of the retro fire trucks instead while we waited for the crew to come back.

Here’s some highlights from the event:
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Date night with mom…complete with homemade pizza…

While daddy took Monkey out to the Monster X Tour for the evening, mommy and Mr.M and Muffin stayed home and rocked the house with an epic pizza party.
Mr.M has a strong desire to learn to cook – so I try to find time to encourage him. He says I never do, but I think we get to do it quite a bit…it’s just that he forgets that part 😉

Tonight we learned how to make pizza dough. And then of course baked it with our favourite toppings. It was SO much fun to share this experience with him, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

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Setting up our ingredients in preparation!

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Learning about the properties of yeast – it’s alive! – and what things it likes and doesn’t like.

Learning some terms like “proofing”

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Kneading the dough – he really enjoyed this. I asked him if it felt nice and he said “it feels relaxing”. Yup. Love it 🙂

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Mr.M’s pizza ready for the oven

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Mom and Muffin’s pizza ready for the oven…can you tell we like olives?! 🙂

 

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Mr.M’s masterpiece out of the oven all crispy and brown. Yum!

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Moments such as this…

A moment between two brothers ages and differences and worlds apart in their interests. Enjoying each other’s company. I do not get these very often with them, but they come in bursts. And your heart grows, because you hope and pray that one day, they will cherish each other’s company and be the VERY best of friends.

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And this moment…a time to cherish and remember, time with nana to learn and grow. And make apple sauce with a seasoned cook 🙂

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Apples, fall, and all things smelling of cinnamon…

Oh how I love the transition from summer to fall! Crisp, sunny mornings, trees turning from garden green to golden tinted yellows and rusty reds…the smell of smoke in the air and the promise of apple pies and cinnamon.

Monkey and I have this in common. He is purely enthralled with the prospect of fall. It brings his favorite fruit…apples. The leaves are turning colors…”amazing, mommy!” and it brings the promise of his most anticipated season…Winter. How can you not love this kid?!

He really enjoyed his little pre-school unit that we did on Apples. We read some books, and we colored some neat worksheets, but MOSTLY we ate apples, we dissected apples, and we baked with apples! I neglected to take photos of everything, but here is a snippet from some our fun times.

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The highlight of the unit was that big brother joined in for the apple tasting event! We tried one of each kinds of the apples shown in the picture. We talked about differences in shape, texture, size, color, core, etc…and how they are all useful for different things such as eating, pie making, and so on. Mr.M was keen to participate since he LOVES cooking and this was very applicable. They worked so well together which is a rare joy to see 🙂

Monkey and I also dissected an apple. His favourite part was the amazing discovery of the seeds!! “There they are mom!!! I’m going to get them and count them!!!” He collected every one. His world is growing 🙂

Monkey took great pride in serving his very own apple crisp with everyone that HE had made on the last day with mommy. Mr.M thanked him for dessert and his little face beamed. Another rare moment. Another gift from God…these things to me are so special, they come in the middle of chaos…”Thanks buddy for the delicious dessert!” “You’re welcome!”. Love them.

We are highly anticipating our pumpkin unit…the smell of pumpkin pie is like nothing else! Enjoy the fall everyone, it is God’s gift of bounty and blessing in abundance, don’t you think?

Camping with daddy!

Daddy took the older two boys camping this month with some friends of ours.  There was lots of wildlife to see and a beautiful lake with a bounty of frogs and birds. No fish though :O Usually this lake is full of fish, but after the boys fished for a while and caught nothing they were told that the ice had gone so deep this year that it killed all the fish and they had to re-stock it. Oh well 😉 Fishing is fun even if you don’t catch anything! Here is some highlights from the trip:

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