Nov 22, 2013

Ahrens Academy does Thanksgivikah.

It's time again for the once a-neva-kah event of Thanksgivacrap.  I mean, who the heck realized that this was happening and then had enough time to shop for, bake for, and then, make a parody song for it?  I woke up bright and early, (just before 10: a.m.) and decided Ahrens Academy needed to capitalize on this once a-neva-kah event.  We would do our social studies, reading, and then, a combo social studies lesson of Thanksgiving and Chanukkah.  Naturally those two go together like oil and….

It is Shay's big 0-7 birthday, and so we had cake pops to make, salt dough to make and create with, and  all the regular Friday school work to do.  Oh, and breakfast.  Yeah, we did it all, and managed to get onto the trampoline for almost two hours!  Oiy vey!  It was a busy afternoon and then it was play rehearsal time, then it was rush home to shower and do some painting of the dried Chanukah salt dough ornaments and then on to the annual viewing of a 3-D movie, "Santa and the Snowman."   Weekends are extra special for the Ahrens Family, however, Friday is the most fun home school day we have.  Take a look-

Mixing the red velvet cake mix.
Need to mush and combine the frosting to start forming the cake pops and the salt dough is ready to be made into the tail feather menorah for the turkey we are bringing the Thanksgivikah at my folks' house. And lest we not forget that we annually celebrate the girl-child's birthday with my side of the family on Thanksgiving day since she was actually born on Thanksgiving.  As you can see, the migits were still working on school at this point.  

Salt dough was easy to make and easy to dry in the oven.  

This was the migits handprint to make the tail feather/menorah.  

finished product
Shay did about half the cake pop making.  

Oh yeah… forgot about this.  natural popcorn in a bag in the microwave.  Kids thought it was the coolest thing to make popcorn in a brown lunch bag.  I thought we would get to puppet making.  I thought wrong.  

Work it girl!  

finished product- I had a ton to make since we needed some to share with cast and crew of the play that lil' girl is in, and then, we are going to need some to share with our G-d family tomorrow night when we see them to celebrate the seven year old.  

Each year, Shay has an aunt and uncle that always send a generous gift to spend as she likes.  This year, she already had it picked out, and I was able to wrap them for her for her actual birthday.  A matching girl/doll outfit and a Melissa and Doug cheerleader puppet.   

The hubs and the pup ready for the movie tonight.  Happy Friday Family Fun Night everyone!

This is really a funny movie.  It isn't that long, but I must have gotten it about ten years ago, so good luck finding it.  

Painting the salt dough Chanukkah table decorations with some old water color brush/dispensers that I found in our art closet.  Pretty cool.  

AND… "Shout!," our elf, just showed up for the season.  He always comes to stay starting on Shay's birthday and leaves us for the year on Christmas Eve.  However, he has been a pain in the tail since he never really leaves us.  He and Shay have been pen pals for TWO years now.  It is exhausting.  She writes him notes a few times a week, and he ALWAYS has to answer her.  Shout! is really good about checking in and was an amazing support system this past summer and fall when one little girls' world seemed so out of control.  Sometimes, it takes a little magic to make everything right again. 

Each year, our elf brings a little token gift for each child on their birthday.  This year, he found a used book at Goodwill.  I love how thoughtful AND financially responsible he is with his gifting.  

Nov 16, 2013

I asked the migits to make a list and I checked it twice.

Each year, I work really hard to guide my children into thinking up the three gifts that their elf will prepare for them each Christmas.  Because we do not have television, and we don't have many play dates outside of our home, they have not been overly commercialized or exposed to the "latest and greatest" craze of the day.  I have succeeded in suggesting things I thought would be long lasting and creative play items, and so far, I have done fantastically well and within the $100 per child budget we have each year.  That is, until this year.  

I am stuck.  Which means, they are stuck.  This year, Shay said that she will leave it up to Shout, our elf, to surprise her.  Oy.  The elf isn't as good as she thinks.  Charlie has never known what he wants, and honestly, wants and needs for nothing.  So, I asked the children to make a list with about ten things that they might ask Shout to make them.  Shay helped Charlie with spelling, so she didn't have time to work on her own.  

This exercise was futile.  First, he only got three items on the list and then gave up.  Number one is already out.  He handed the list to me and said he knew that I would never have a puppy in the house, therefore, it was a wasted space.  Number two- a king bed.  Well, his room is the size of a closet, so I guess that is out as well.  Number three says "promise," however, he tells me it is a hippopotamus.  Well, I think we have been listening to the IHEARTRADIO too long, as I don't have enough mud to satisfy the needs of that particular animal.  Good thing his two front teeth have come in, or I bet we can all guess what he would have added as number four.  

My only thoughts were some private tutoring for a particular little boy that still writes his numbers backwards.  ;o/

Nov 14, 2013

I found a soap box and I'm on it! (Season's Greetings Y'all!")

Every year, same story.  Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, "Yea it's Kwanza," Happy Thanksgivikah, blah, blah, blah.  Until you get to the dreaded "Happy Holidays," or worse, "Season's Greetings!"  Really?  Why?  What makes Christians so upset about the later greetings?

This time of year is celebrated by many different faiths.  I believe that even those without a religious belief system seem to enjoy the generous spirit, the gatherings, etc.  I mean, who doesn't like egg nog and decorated homes?  I have an atheist friend that literally called the day before Christmas and asked if she could come the day after Christmas with her new husband.  Both are atheist, and the best we could do was open gifts on Christmas day and then run through the house putting our tree and decorations away as we were throwing away wrapping paper from the morning.  I thought it was the considerate thing to do.  She laughed after I told her what we did.  She might be atheist, but being in a home with Christmas decorations or music would not have caused her to feel violated.

Sensitivity is something that Christians are missing the point of here.  If you need to see the words "Merry Christmas" to feel like you are being respected, then you have missed the mark.  I am a Catholic Christian.  I was raised Jewish and believe that my take on this comes from the Christian side of my brain.  I am not going out of my way to assume that a card that comes with "season's greetings" or "happy holidays" is wrong.  If someone wants to extend well wishes for this more general time of year that celebrates what we are thankful for, the birth of my savior AND the oil lasting in the temple for eight nights, I will say thank you, shop a store if it has what I am shopping for, and smile as the employee hands me my bag and receipt with a smile on their face as they wish me a very thankful,  merry, happy, season's best wishes.

Please consider that when you boycott a company, you are affecting every employees job security with your choice to not shop their place of employment.  While you might want to stand up for the church when you say you refuse to have someone address you with "Happy Holidays," what you are saying is, "If I don't stand up for the church in this manner, you will not respect me."  No, what you are failing to do is allow Jesus, who technically is your church, to work through you and your actions.  Your actions are saying that you believe that your choice to boycott until change happens means that your personal needs are bigger than HIM.  He wants you to turn the other cheek.  (That does not mean show your tail, for my smart a$$ friends out there.)

This is not what the birth of our savior is all about.  It is so sad when you realize what it does when it's the latest craze to email out the the list of stores to shop or not shop, or to post on your Facebook wall what stores are open or not open on Thanksgiving day.  There might be a family that needs those extra working hours to pay for the upcoming season of gifting.  Please consider that our actions speak louder than our words.  The words happy holidays are not offensive.  The choice to not accept them are.

*For the record- I am SO against the Thanksgiving story.  I have told my children that we celebrate what we are thankful for this time of year, and love nothing more than to celebrate our family and friends, however, look deep into this dreamy Indian/pilgrim story.  I'm fairly certain that the Indian's were not so thrilled to have the pilgrims come and take over their land.  There is always another side to the story.

Nov 11, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens addresses homosexuality.

I was commenting on a Facebook mommy page that I was invited into this past week.  It was about sleep training your babies.  The majority of this group seem like young or first time mothers trying to figure out the world of babies.  While my children are still young, they are long past the baby stages.  We have a child that will be seven in less than two weeks, and one that just turned eight a month and half ago.  I felt so far removed from those issues, yet, I can remember, clear as yesterday, maybe clearer, the nights I would sit outside the room of my infant, crying for an hour, maybe longer, as I did the "cry it out" method.  I called my girlfriends, my mom, some nights- both, as I struggled through the first of many difficult choices I made on behalf of my family.

Today, I had a new challenge.  I wish I knew how it came up.  It just naturally appeared in the breakfast conversation, and for some reason, I felt badly about trying to sweep it under the rug and put it off for when they got older.  How much older do they have to be?  I remember reading our parenting "bible" ("Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp) and learning that the day your child fights you in a diaper change is the day you begin discipline and teaching obedience. Well, no time like the present.  It came up, so they must be ready.

Homosexuality.  Woof.  That was a toughie.  I feel so liberated now that I have explained it.  I think I was more nervous that I would not be able to explain it properly.  Well, what I thought would be a tough conversation turned out to be way more simple than I thought.  "Two men or two women love each other as Mommy and Daddy do."  Done.  That was too easy!

While I am not prepared to write a book on it, and I am certain that there will be more questions and talk about it as they are emotionally/developmentally prepared for it, for now, I feel like I just made it through one of those  tough parenting trials we face.  Teaching love is hard.  Teaching the action of love, acceptance of differences, and judgement, are all incredibly challenging things to properly teach my children.  My actions should speak for my lack of words.  My prayer for my children is that they will live a life that is pleasing to their Maker, and that they will serve Him, and love.  Everyone.  Love everyone.

As for the "cry it out" method… it worked for me.  But what works for one, might not work for another.  The lesbian thing.. not really my vibe.  But I have decided that if I were ever single, I would like to have a "Golden Girls" arrangement with my closest girlfriends and my mom.  She and I would be Dorothy and her mother.  I am taking applications for Rose and Blanche's parts.  I love a good St. Olaf story ;o)

Ahrens Academy Does Art.

Art?  Meh.  It's not my forte'.  But, I saw it on Pinterest, and figured, "We will do this, call it art, and call it a day." And so, here is our lesson on perspective.  And to take up some time on a day when they did half their work the day before so that they could have some extra free time today.  So, we added an art lesson, and a short "Magic Schoolbus" video on planets to round off the science portion of the day.

The kidlets' projects look so much more realistic than mine.  

Charlie's 3-D Hand

Shay's 3-D Hand

Mine.  Not so 3-D.  Hmmmm…  Wonder why????  Oh well.  At least theirs' looks good.  

Basically, trace their hands, then, draw a horizontal line across until you get to the hand, then draw an arc over the hand part, then straight across to finish that line.  Repeat. Color and "ta-da!"  

Nov 8, 2013

Ahrens Academy does the solar system. (And we EAT- again!)

Science day.  I purchased this with the intent that we would make the world for our ongoing continents and oceans social studies theme I had this week, however, since today was actually dedicated to the solar system (Science Friday's), why not make that instead?

I am not a fan of the mess of sugar cookies, and generally, we only make them once a year, Christmas time.  (If you don't know, Christmas time runs from the first week of October through January.  Clearly, this does not prohibit cookie making for too long.)  

For this child's project, I placed the cookies in orbit.  Freakin' genius if you ask me.  Almost as genius as using an acronym to remember the order of the planets from the sun.  

My- Mercury (First and last letters also match.)
Very- Venus
Energetic- Earth
Mother- Mars
Just- Jupiter
Served- Saturn
Us- Uranus (the word us at the end)
Noodles- Neptune

Next week, we will delve deeper into learning more about each planet, individually, as well as other parts of space.
We worked off these pages that I had the migits color first, so that we would have a color representation  for each cookie when it came time to frosting them.  

I make my own frosting.  I use powdered sugar and water, and then, add food dye. At the end, I literally used every bit of frosting and had no waste.  That was super exciting for me.  

Colored!  Ready to frost.  

Ready to frost!



We put them on paper, and I helped them label them .

In the tin- waiting on dessert!

Nov 6, 2013

Ahrens Academy Does Continents, Oceans, and a Thanksgiving Craft

It's a Turkey!  Shocking, right?  I know, but I saw it on another blog and had to try.  (Thanks to for the quick and easy idea!)  This morning was a killer on us.  First, we had to review some work that was not passed yesterday.  Apparently, horizontal and vertical is a challenging concept.  Well, after reviewing that, we once again were stumped by the next step- parallel and perpendicular.  Ugh.  We just about lost our ever loving minds.  Here is how we finally left it- the two "L's" in parallel actually run parallel, and the two "R's" in perpendicular run perpendicular.  I don't know if it stuck, but at some point I think I also discovered that this second grader might have a touch of color blindness.  (Don't ask- it was a wonky sort of morning for him and me.  Poor kid.  Some days I feel better equipped.  Today, was not that day.)  I often think that a specific concept might not be the be all and end all if he doesn't actually get it now.  "We tried" was how I really left it.  One day, he will be given directions and someone will tell him that the street runs parallel to the other and he will curse the day that I didn't impart that knowledge with him properly.  Until that day, we keep calm and craft on!

After cutting a paper plate in half, have to to trace a smaller circle for the face head and cut it out.

Chaz made a funny face as he cut.  He didn't care for the first circle he cut out, so he asked to make a second turkey!  WHAT?  This from a kid who can't stand arts and crafts?  

Had to cut and twist and bed (correction- BEND.  NOT "bed" the pipe cleaner.  Eww.)  the pipe cleaners, then I hot glued those in place.  Kids did the rest.  

Top left is mine.  However, the one below it was my favorite.  The funky circle he cut gave it character.  It made me smile. Wiggly eyes are the best, right?  I think I would wiggly eye the heck out of the mundane objects in the house if I wasn't in fear that a psychologist would have me committed. Imagine wiggly eyed toilet paper when you sat down…  a remote control… a tennis ball… a fridge- those would have to be rather large to have the same effect ;o) 

Oh, right.  About that.  I had this piece of wood that I tried to wood glue in place after it started to pull out from the cabinet.  Didn't work.  Started to grab nails and hammer it in.  She asked to do it.  Sure!  And she did a FANTASTIC job!  (I had to start them, as there were no pre-drilled holes like she has had her Lowe's and Home Depot free project kits ;o) 

First time cracking nuts.  That was snack today.  Both kids loved the almonds.  

PS  On certain, okay, MOST days, we stay in pajamas ALL DAY!  Santa hat optional.  (The past two days he left the Santa hat for the Mario Bros. costume hat.)  Glad to see he is keeping with the season again.  

Yesterday was a study of the continents and oceans.  

Cover the names with Post-its and there you have an easy way for the kidlets to study on their own.  

On to countries and states today!