Saturday, March 31, 2012

Did you clean your room?

Isn’t it funny how our kids really pick up on some of our characteristics? I’m not a super clean person. My mother, sisters, husband, college roommate, and Cohen can all attest to this. I would love a clean house, and there was a time when I had one. Now days, I’m just happy if I’m not tripping over toys all day.

Earlier today, I decided I wanted to vacuum the bedrooms. Cohen asked if he could help…and of course I let him. In reality, there should be an order to things prior to vacuuming…such as, clean room, then vacuum. So I told Cohen to go clean his room so that he could vacuum. What does he do?

Just put it on top of the bed and the rocking chair and under the bed.

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Today, I’m cool with that. I wasn’t planning on doing serious spring cleaning, I was just trying to vacuum. And I’m super happy he wanted to help, so I’m not going to criticize his cleaning style.

Way to go Cohen!

Friday, March 30, 2012

What starts with the letter R?

Ok, so the other day I posted all about the letter S, but R comes first! Way to go Em. Oh well, I’ll catch up today.

Now for the letter R!

We started by learning about rainbows. Cohen did his first color by number and it was a great big success!

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Cohen put together a puzzle. If you are wondering, I got these things from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Great blog.

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Later we did rice measuring, or making a big mess with some rice. It was a lot of fun!

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We also learned about Russia!

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If you are looking to learn a little something about Russia, go to your local library and check out books by Patricia Polacco. She writes wonderful stories about Russia and some Russian folk tales. Cohen and I LOVE her books!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What starts with the letter S?

This may have been the most fun letter we’ve learned yet.

We started Swim lessons. Maybe I’ll post a video or something later…but for now, a cute picture of Cohen in his new swimsuit.

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We also learned about our senses.

Taste…
We tasted all sorts of yummy foods and decided if they were sweet, salty or sour. Cohen’s favorite was the chocolate.

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Smell…
I let Cohen smell lotion, vanilla, mint extract, vinegar and oil. He loved he lotion!


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Next, we painted with scented paint. I mixed some mint extract with the red paint and some vanilla with the yellow.

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His is on the left, mine on the right.

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On Friday, my good friend, Missy, asked Jace and I to come read to her second grade class for Read Across America (or Dr. Suess’ Birthday). It was a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad Missy invited us!

Missy (Pinkalicious), me (Fancy Nancy), Cohen (a dragon), and Jace.


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We went home and learned lots more about Dr. Seuss.

We read a book, then did a fun craft or activity. We got most of our ideas from Oopsey Daisy. I love her blog!




We started with Horton Hears a Who, and made some fun elephant ears. Then played drums on pots and pans using wooden spoons (we were pretending to be who’s).
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We played the drums so hard, we broke one of my wooden spoons.

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We read The Cat in the Hat and completed a puzzle.

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You all know about my love of handprint crafts, right? Well, check out Thing 1 and Thing 2!

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We read The Foot Book, then traced and measured Cohen’s foot.

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Overall, it was a really fun week!

I listed a few of the Seuss books we read earlier in the blog, and for now that’s all you’re getting. Get to reading some Seuss!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What starts with the letter Q?

This is a tough letter to teach, because we don’t use it much in our everyday language. Cohen and I usually go through the house looking for things that start with the particular letter we are on that day, but Q was tough. Poor Cohen couldn’t come up with anything, and I found a quilt, that’s it.

So we learned about quilts!

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Cohen and I have never really done a lacing craft, this one might be our first. I printed this cute quilt printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler and punched holes in it and put Cohen to work. He got frustrated a few times, but I think he liked it.



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We put together small shape puzzles.

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We decorated a crown for a queen or maybe a king. This was the week before Mardi Gras so we decided to decorate it with Mardi Gras colors. I let Cohen use his scissors to cut out the crown. Look closely and you can see it was done by a 3 year old, but he was so proud and he really did a great job!

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Sorry for the fuzzy picture, it’s the only one I can find of the finished crown. Turned out pretty good.

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Book List:
This week, because Q is kind of an odd letter, we decided to catch up on our Fairy Tales. We read LOTS of fairy tales, so our Q book list is rather short.

The Elephant Quilt: Stitch by Stitch to California! by Susan Lowell
Luka's Quilt by Georgia Guback
Oma's Quilt by Paulette Bourgeois and Stephane Jorisch
Be Quiet, Mike! by Leslie Patricelli

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What starts with the letter P?

I’m so amazed at what my son is learning! I have to admit, homeschooling never was even an option until I met this amazing kid. Now I just want to spend everyday with him.

The letter “P” was lots of fun to learn about. Below are a few pictures of all our fun.

We started off learning about police, and pretty much stayed on that all week because it was so much fun.

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Cohen and I have really started using these Bingo markers. I purchased 4 from the dollar store last year, and they have really worked out well. It’s great for working on motor skills and is a change up from the usual markers or crayons. Cohen loves them!

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We worked on fingerprinting.

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After all that police fun, we learned about roasted peanuts, ate some peanut butter (as we do just about everyday), and roasted some peanuts in the oven. YUM!


For more info on these fun pintables, please visit the link below.


Book List:
Curious George Visits a Police Station (Curious George) by Alan J. Shalleck
Police Cat (Albert Whitman Prairie Books) by Enid Hinkes
Tracks of a Panda by Nick Dowson
Panda and Polar Bear (Junior Library Guild Selection) by Matthew J. Baek
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin
Zen Shorts (Collector's Edition) (Zen) by Jon J. Muth
Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan
In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Would you like some green with that?

Cohen and I had lots of fun making our St. Patrick’s Day cards for the grandparents. Check out those cute little leprechauns!

 

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Cohen kept calling these little guys “hexagons.” Am I focusing too much on shapes in our homeschool time, or maybe not enough.

 

Hope you had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What are some of your favorite running products?

 
I’m hoping a post like this will jump start my running, since I’ve been off for 6 weeks because of a knee injury and I have a race in about 5 weeks!! EEK. 
 
When I started seriously running a few years ago, I got a pair of shoes, running shorts and running shirt. I figured that was all a runner would ever need. It’s true, you can run with just those things, but when you start running distance, with a kid, you need more than just shoes and a cute outfit.
 
I’ve had lots of people ask me about my shoes or my stroller, and I thought I’d go ahead and do a blog post on my favorite running products.
 
To start…my shoes. This is a picture of all my running shoes. I replace them every 6-8 months (or about every 300-400 miles). I have purchased about 6 pair of the exact same shoes (different colors because they are from different seasons). I donated 2 pair, so all I have left is the most recent 4.
 
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Why do I have 4 pair still in my possession? Because, my most recently purchased running shoes are used only for running, and only on the road. I need an older pair for mowing the grass, running on the trails, running in the rain, spare pair in the gym bag…you get the picture. I do not use my newest pair for anything other than running (on the dry road)!!
 
How did you select this particular pair of running shoes? Well, that is because of some really friendly folks at Varsity Sports in Baton Rouge, LA. (They have recently opened a location at my gym in Harahan, so this will be where I go from now on, but I purchased all my other shoes at the same store in Baton Rouge). It is very important to be fitted for your running shoes. I love my Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ running shoes, you may hate them. Find a local running store and get fitted!
 
My shoes are amazing, but they can’t work alone. You need socks. You will have stinky shoes and blistered feet if you run with no socks (I have unfortunately had to do this before when I went to the gym with no socks). You can run in your white Haynes cotton socks if you wish, but you will regret that decision. A rule for running….COTTON IS THE ENEMY! If you put cotton on your body for a run, you will later regret that decision. You will be blistered, chaffed, and hot. Don’t do it!
 
I own about 10 pair of Nike running socks. Of course, I can’t find the exact type online! They have kept me from many a blister. The thing to look for in great running socks is they are not cotton, they are tight, they are some sort of dri-fit technology, and they differentiate left from right (this may not seem too important now, but let’s face it, your left foot is different from your right, and your sock should know that).
 
Personally I have not found a pair of running shorts that I love. I love the look of running shorts, but they just don’t work for me. I guess I just have fat legs or I’m misshapen or something. My running shorts do what I call the “fat boy crawl” and that’s not attractive, and a good way to get some serious chaffing. I prefer running tights such as these. Ok, these are certainly not the most attractive pair of pants that have ever stretched across my rear, but they work. They stay in place, they work for Louisiana summers and winters, and they don’t cause chaffing.
 
For running shirts, I go cheap. So long as it is not cotton, it’s good. I’ve recently become a huge fan of the Target C9 brand of running tops. They fit well, they wash well, and they wear well. Best part is that they are not as expensive as the Nike or Under Armor shirts, but I find that they work about the same. The only exception I could see is if you are looking for something specific (such as a top that can be used for swimming, running and biking….like in a triathlon…you may need to go for something a little more expensive so that it will not break down in the chlorine in the pool and it will keep its shape).
 
As for my support, or my bra, I go the expensive route. Get fitted! Give the girls the support that they deserve! I’m still working on supplementing this section of my wardrobe, but little by little I’m finding what works and what doesn’t.
 
Ok, enough about the clothes, now for more fun running products. I mentioned chaffing earlier. It’s an evil side effect of running. I never really had a problem with this until I started doing long runs (more than 8 miles) and bike rides (a long bike ride for me is anything more than 45 minutes). I recommend you get a stick of Body Glide, well, make that two sticks: one for the house, and one for the gym bag. It’s great, and because it is dispensed much like deodorant, you don’t have a sticky mess on your hands. Vaseline will also work if you don’t have any Body Glide. Remember to put this stuff everywhere! I put it between my toes, along any seams of my clothes, on my arms, legs, anywhere to keep them from rubbing blisters or chaffing…it’s great stuff!
 
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As for the fuel, I recommend Strawberry Banana Gu. The first time I ever took this stuff, I hated it. It was a weird consistency, it made my mouth feel funny and I burped a lot, so don’t let the first time you try it be on race day. Now, I can’t go anywhere without it. I’ve learned how to get past the burping (drink water shortly after taking the gu) and the consistency is not a problem at all anymore. Strawberry Banana is my favorite, but they have lots of flavors to choose from…take your pick!
 
Garmin Forerunner 405 Water Resistant Running GPS With Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT Stick (Black)
 
 
My newest toy is my Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS Watch. I got this watch for Mother’s Day 2011 (good to be a mom, hu?). I’m a numbers nerd, so I love that I can see my stats on the watch during my run, then get more detailed information when I download the info on my computer at home. It is a bit of a luxury item to have for running, but I LOVE it! Cohen does too…he loves that it beeps on the miles, and that means he gets a sip of water, or another pop tart, or a short conversation with his mom.
 
 
 
A race day must have is the SPI Belt. I got one of these for my first half-marathon to hold my gu, and I’ve used it in every race (and some of my long runs) since that day. It is the perfect size to hold your cell phone, keys, money, gu, etc. It also holds your race number! This means that you no longer have to PIN that number on one of your favorite running shirts. HUGE PLUS!
 
On to another fun tech toy…my ipod shuffle. Unless you’ve been living in a bubble for the last decade or so, you know exactly what this is, so I’m not going to post links or pictures to the Apple website. I will give you some fun music suggestions…
 
Flyleaf
Firelight
Skillet
The Letter Black
Needtobreathe
Paramore
Barlow Girl
December Radio
 
These are just a few of the bands on my “Running” playlist. I’d love for you to leave a comment if you have a favorite band that you think I’m might enjoy.
 
Last, but certainly not least, my jogging stroller. Jace’s parents gave this to me as a baby shower gift, and what a great gift it has been for us. I have a Baby Jogger Performance stroller and I love it! I love the size of it, the weight of it, and the huge wheels that can run over anything. It has a five point harness for Cohen and shocks, so he rides safe and comfortable. I love that the front wheel is locked in place and I never have to worry about Cohen going the wrong way. I love that it will hold up to 100 lbs, guaranteeing that I will have a few more marathons in my future. I love that Cohen loves it too! It’s comfy for him…he’s taken lots of naps in this stroller. Yes, it is big and sometimes I find it difficult to take down and fold up, but this is not a stroller for shopping at the mall or going for leisure walks around the park. This stroller is for jogging, or running. Cohen and I have put it to good use. There are leftover pop tarts, crackers and gummy snacks permanently caked into the back of the seat.
I’d love to give you a link to this amazing stroller so you can get one for yourself, but it appears that Baby Jogger has stopped production on this particular model. Sad day! If you are in the market for a new jogging stroller, I would highly recommend you take a look at a Baby Jogger. They have lots of single and double strollers to choose from. I love mine and plan to use it for a long time (or until Cohen reaches 100 lbs, I guess).

I’m hoping this post has lit a fire under you. The weather is perfect, lets go running!

Monday, March 5, 2012

What do your clothes feel like?

Mine feel just heavenly! As mentioned in an earlier post found here, I’m trying to make our own cleaners at the Raney home (and saving a ton of money while I’m at it). I guess you could say I’m taking this whole stay-at-home mom thing to the extremes.

This past week, I made my own laundry softener. As many of you know, I do not love for my clothes to have a super strong smell. When you workout in clothes that are drenched in heavy perfumes, the sweat begins to magnify the perfume smell. Your body is already being pushed to the limits with your workout, you don’t need a strong smell to upset your stomach.

When I made my own laundry detergent a few weeks ago, I started adding vinegar to each load just to see what would happen. I could tell the clothes were softer, and they didn’t smell like vinegar. They really didn’t smell at all.  Last week, I washed two loads of towels (I was REALLY behind with laundry, because this is my least favorite chore). With these loads of towels, to test to see if the vinegar actually makes a difference, I just used the laundry detergent in one, and put detergent and vinegar in the other. (The vinegar goes in the “fabric softener” cup in the washing machine. This is built into my 8.5 year old washing machine that likes to walk around the laundry room. if you don’t have a specific spot for fabric softener, I understand a downy ball works as well.) I could totally tell a difference! The towels washed with the vinegar were so much softer. The others were a bit stiff. As for the smell, they smelled about the same. I couldn’t tell a difference there.

After this little experiment, I decided that the vinegar actually works! And I wanted to have the opportunity to make some of my clothes (sheets, towels, jeans, etc.) smell a little better, by adding something to the vinegar. This is where pinterest come in handy.

I found a pin on pinterest (surprised I’m sure), and they gave directions on how to make your own fabric softener using vinegar and conditioner.


In the pin above, she made a lot of fabric softener. Since I wasn’t sure I’d like it, and I didn’t want to waste all my vinegar, I halved her recipe.

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Fabric Softener
(Makes about 1.5 qts)
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup hair conditioner (I used white rain ocean breeze, because it was on sale for $1).
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Pour into container, and enjoy.
I use about 1/4 cup per load of laundry.

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So far, I love it! My clothes/sheets/towels are soft, because of the vinegar, I guess. And they have a nice fresh ocean smell too.

I’d strongly suggest you try this for yourself.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Would you like a tart?

Cohen loves to read! Sometimes I wonder why he loves it so much, and I think it’s because he can learn about different foods that exists that without books he would never know about.

A few weeks ago, Cohen and I were reading Jack and the Beanstalk. Well at the end of this book, Jack enjoys a Strawberry Tart with his mom. Cohen immediately informed me that he needed a Strawberry Tart. We all know that I’m not the baker in the family, that title belongs to my wonderful husband. I told Cohen that he had to ask his dad. As soon as Jace made it home that afternoon, Cohen informed Jace that he needed to make a Strawberry Tart. Jace was all for it.

Disclaimer: I was out of the house during the making of these tarts. I’m basically writing off of the stories Jace and Cohen have told me. Jace did a wonderful job documenting the baking process, and Cohen did a great job making the tarts.

This is Cohen with the Jack and the Beanstalk book, notice in the picture Jack is eating a Strawberry Tart.

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Ingredients
  • 12 (4 inch) prepared tart shells, baked
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries
Directions
  1. To Make Glaze: Blend the sugar, cornstarch, and salt; stir into apple juice. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Spread a small quantity of the glaze over the bottoms of the shells. Arrange washed and hulled fresh berries over the glaze, slicing if necessary to fit into the tarts. Spoon remaining glaze carefully over the berries, covering them well. Chill for 2 to 4 hours. Serve garnished with whipped cream if desired.

Even though this is not in the directions listed above, I’m guessing the first step is to cook the pie crusts. Cohen is using the fork to make small holes in the crust. Not sure exactly what this will accomplish, but I’m sure these boys know what they are doing, right?

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Look at that adorable little apron and oven mitt. Thanks Nan and Pops for that cute outfit! There is a hat that goes along with it….not sure what happened to it.

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I’m sure you can see why this picture makes me VERY nervous, but I guess it’s never to early to teach them about oven safety.

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While the pie crusts were baking, Cohen cut up the strawberries with his little knife. He cut up EVERY strawberry used in the tarts.

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Notice, the pie shells are done and they are moving on to the sauce.

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That sauce is HOT! Oh my, again, it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t there. Jace is so good with things like this and he’s so relaxed. Cohen filled every pie shell with sauce, then he put all the strawberries on top.

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All that hard work really pays off in the end!

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Yum! We did get whipped cream, I’m not sure why Cohen decided not to eat it on his tart. He probably asked Jace to just squirt it directly into his mouth…he loves that!

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I’m so proud of my boys! Cohen did a wonderful job helping and I’m sure he learned many valuable lessons along the way.

Note: I assure you this was all done in the same day. I realize that Cohen went through 3 shirts in the process...but it is all the same day. You can see why I can't keep up with our laundry!