Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Night With Mother Goose Time: Dinosaur Dig 1

Hi Mommas! Happy Monday Night to you! 

You We made it! 

I have heard so much feedback from so many of you about Mother Goose Time! I am really excited these reviews and posts are spreading the word about just how wonderful MGT really is. 

When a new MGT box comes in, I usually get to peeping just as soon as the boys (and girl) lay down for naps. 

Each theme will come with lots of great ways to begin setting up your classroom area. Each month you will receive a new calendar, a poster for that month's theme and name tags as well. I love having the name tags on the table (as you have seen I am sure in many pictures). Kohen has already learned how to spell his name aloud, just from having his name tag on the table. Kruz has also began writing his last name, just because of seeing his name tag everyday. And there are no more problems with " ... (insert a brother's name here) is in my seat". Makes this Momma's life a little bit easier.

January's theme is Dinosaur Dig! I can remember when I first told Kruz about MGT. I read to him all of the different themes and Dinosaur Dig was the one he was most looking forward to. Now that it is here and we are right in the middle of it, I would say it is living up to all of his expectations. And mine too! So when Kruz saw his new Dino name tag, he was pretty revved up!

The Dinosaur Dig began with learning about Paleontologists, Excavation Sites, Fossils and Bones. Kruz is learning about what a paleontologist is, the tools he/she uses on a dig, what they do on an excavation site, what fossils are and all about dino bones. 

This was one of our projects when we first started Dinosaur Dig: Excavation Dig

Each art project comes with one of these, a project sheet with different ideas on discussion, exploration, a plan, ideas on creating and ways to play when you are done. 

For this particular project, all we needed to have were scissors and glue. Got it and got it!

So each of the boys cut out their own sets of bones. We were given a small pack of sand and once the pieces were cut out, they all went into the sand where the boys had to 'excavate' the bones. If you noticed in the top picture, MGT provided us with brushes - these were used to brush off the sand and 'clean' the bones once they were found. Once each bone was clean and free of sand, the boys glued their bones on their paper, ultimately figuring out how to piece together the dinosaur skeleton. 

And sorry for no more pictures after this. I'm pretty sure I was refereeing it between, " ... Mommy, (insert a brother's name here) got my bone" and oh, I could just see the wheels a-turning in Kruz' brain on throwing that sand in the air. Geesh! The end results were really cute! Especially since Kollin, Kolt and Kruz figured out they could make cool designs with glue and the sand would stick to it. Fun, fun!

And here is another set of pictures without an end result shot! Ha! Seriously though, Kohen was so stinkin' cute in those Jake undies painting his dino bone! I mean, way too cute not to share!

Everyone painted one of these bones and I had the privilege to paint the dinosaur's skull. Yea, I like to paint sometimes too! We had fun piecing them together to make the shape of our own dinosaur! 

P.S. Yes. Yes, that is my four year old in a Bumbo chair in one of those pictures. Yes, he still fits. Yes, he was stuck. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

When Your Life Looks So In Tune With the Zoo ...

Yesterday we brought back our 'Nichols Friday FunDay'. And the kids were pretty excited about it. These days became more and more infrequent as the holidays came through along with finals too. 

So this Friday we were determined to make it happen. 

We packed a lunch and headed to Zoo Atlanta

We sort of went backwards and landed at the kangaroos in the beginning instead of the end. And wouldn't you know, the first interaction I come to is a Momma Kangaroo nursing her Joey. Seriously y'all. It was the sweetest. The Momma just stopped all that she was doing to sit there oh so still and nurse her baby. I feel ya Momma, I feel ya. 

Kohen was so much fun to take! This is the first time we have gone when he actually wanted to interact with the animals and was interested and amazed at how ginormous an elephant actually is. 

I'm pretty sure we stopped and watched the gorillas for at least 30 minutes or so. We watched a few of the Gorilla Children (so proper right?) aggravate the snot out of each other and bang their fists on their chests in such a territorial way and knock each other out of the hammock and on and on and on. I don't think they ever sat still. Papa Gorilla got fed up at some point and rushed in (banging his chest of course) to get those kiddos under control. All the while, Momma Gorilla and Baby Gorilla cuddled on the hill. One Gorilla Child was obviously a teenager and went off to pout after getting in trouble and two of them started aggravating each other again just as soon as Daddy Gorilla turned around. 

Seriously. It was like watching my life in a Gorilla World.

Here are a few more from our day ...

P.S. I think I'll hang this sign up in our home while potty training Kohen -

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Our Favorites of December ...

Before you start seeing my brood explode into the Dinosaur Dig with Mother Goose Time this month, I wanted to share some of our most favorite activities from December.

Okay. So no. This has nothing to do with Mother Goose Time. But Good Lord, isn't she the cutest?

December's theme with MGT was Winter Wonderland, if I haven't mentioned that yet. And we had so much fun indulging in all of the fun activities that were specially planned by MGT! We learned about everything wintry and cold, from snowmen to snow leopards. 

There is so much art in MGT, which is such a hit with my kiddos. I've learned over the past couple years with homeschooling that I am a pretty cut and dry kinda Momma Teacher. I am all about the basics. With Mother Goose Time, all of the artsy ideas are done for me - which has made me the Fun Momma Teacher. During our first week, we made Snowflake Stamps. I wrote up an entire post about this great activity

Another massively wonderful quality of MGT is the foundation it lays for me to dig deeper. Sure, making these adorably wonderful Polar Bear Masks was fun. As we made these masks, we talked about the characteristics of these amazing animals and how they really keep warm in the Artic. 

Who knew a small paper cup would be the most perfect snout for a polar bear?

Oh and the penguins. These were so fun! And so cute! I had fun telling the boys how penguins mate for life. And even more fun telling them it was Daddy Penguin's job to lay on the Baby Penguin Egg until it hatches. Ha! 

And our last, but certainly not least favorite was making our ice skates. This activity came with an ice skate cutout, a sheet of foil and red yarn. Having the boys wrap the foil around the "blade" was a wonderful activity for practicing patience. This part of the activity took some time and thought processing about just how they would accomplish this task. Lets just say, I slipped into the kitchen for a quick clean up while Kollin, Kolt and Kruz meticulously made their own ice skates. They were concentrating so hard, I don't even thing they noticed I went to load the dishes from breakfast. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop (please send more activities like this).

Here are 2 of 3 finished projects. 

A big 
thank you
 to MGT for making December such a fun month for us! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Make That Three Nichols Ninjas ...

It is official. 
We have three boys in karate, three Nichols Ninjas.

Kruz has been patiently waiting to get in there with his two big brothers. Just about as eager as Kolt was when he started karate. So we said what better time to start something than the New Year? So Kruz started karate this past Monday. 

Did you notice that his name was spelled wrong on his belt? Just as soon as his Mr. Rodriguez noticed the "C", he made him a new belt. Geesh, you think he'd know by now - we're a "K" family! 

Kruz and Kolt will be in the same class for a little bit, just until Kolt moves up when he turns seven. But until then, they'll be the two cutest ninjas in the bunch.

He's fierce. And cute.

Such a good combo.

P.S. If you're wondering where the boys attend karate, they go to Championship Martial Arts in McDonough. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Preschool Math ...

When Kollin and Kolt were preschool age, we were not a technical homeschooling family. We pretty much just had fun doing whatever our little hearts desired throughout the day. I know they learned here and there along the way, but there was no formal schooling.

When it was time for Kollin to begin kindergarten (and Kolt was preschool age) the Hubs and I opted to keep him at home. At the time I just couldn't imagine being away from my baby for that much of the day. So we homeschooled, kinda sorta. It was really me dipping my toes in, questioning the heck out of myself and then realizing that he knows his shapes, colors, can count pretty darn high and can write his name - so I quit stressing. And for another year, we just had more fun. Sure, there was more learning than the years before but I didn't order expensive curriculum and make him do worksheets all morning. Kollin was okay with that and so was I. And so was Kolt.

When First Grade came around, we dove right in with learning. And Kolt jumped right in with us. 

But Kruz? Well, Kruz is different. He is four and the kid doesn't care what it is, if it has anything to do with school, he wants to be a part of it. The kid loves the idea of school. He loves the idea of the dining room becoming our classroom and of Mommy singing silly songs with him and of having a bulletin board and of having his very own box with scissors and crayons and glue. He just loves it. So when Kollin and Kolt have a task, he wants one too. And he knows the difference between Mommy-is-trying-to-shoo-him-away-work and actual school work. 

The kid is done with being given the "this-isn't-real-school-work" work. Recently he has become very in tune to everything Kollin and Kolt do. And he wants to do just the same. So when it came to math, I gave him the job of counting his bears/blocks, making his own patterns, etc. The easy stuff. 

Well, that worked for a couple days. In the words of Kruz Amon, he wanted to "add and take away too", like his big brothers. 

Enter ... (drumroll please) ... Mother Goose Time!
I mean, did you really think it was going to be anything other? 

Mother Goose Time comes with Math Story Cards every month. They are cards with simple word problems like, "There were 4 polar bears on an iceberg. 2 of them got really hungry and jumped into the water to find some food. How many polar bears are left?"

Some of the cards have easier word problems and there are a few with more advanced word problems. And he loves them. He loves when he figures out a problem, Mommy gets thrilled and says, "You just did addition!" or "You just did subtraction!" 

Sometimes he just has to use race cars. Fine by me, kiddo. Fine by me.

If you would like to see more of the Mathematical and Reasoning tools that are used, click here.

What started out as simply giving him Counting Bears and Pattern Blocks has turned into addition, subtraction and even some simple multiplication. It is a whole new level of learning for him and I love that his brain is already working on these levels of math! 

"I received curriculum from Mother Goose Time for honest and authentic stories resulting from my daily experiences in using the curriculum. I applied to be an official Mother Goose Time blogger and will continue to share my experiences throughout the 2014/15 school year."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Transform ...

Two years ago I sat behind this blog and chose just one word to follow for the New Year. No crazy resolution list, just one word. Two years ago that word was Positive and you can see that post here. I'd like to think my thinking has changed quite a bit since then in the positivity department. Last year I was trudging through a miserable first trimester with this doll. So there was no word. Or maybe the word was survival and I just didn't post about it. And if it was survival, well I think I did a pretty darn good job following that one because I made it through last year!

This year my word is transform

As I look at my life right now, I feel like I am looking at a pivotal point. A point where I can either choose to go one way, or choose to go another. One path I am looking at looks dark, lonely, confusing and sad. And the other looks more difficult to tackle, looks like there is much more work to do on my end, looks like a lot of changing. And it looks bright and it looks promising. 

I don't want to live a life of mediocracy. I want to be transformed into something amazing, something only God can do. My heart, my character, my voice, my thoughts, my servanthood, my actions, my diet, my parenting, my family relationships, my expectations, my body, my marriage, my words, my schedule, my home, my finances, my friendships - all of it, every single bit of it. It all needs to be transformed. If you are thinking that all of that sounds like so much more to do than just one word, well you are probably right. But here's the thing. This transformation, this grand transformation, can come from Him. I want to be transformed in Him, through Him, by Him.

I am choosing the bright path, the promising path. I am choosing to change. I am choosing to believe Him for what is best for me. I am choosing to lessen my expectations of those around me who disappoint me day in and day out and rest in Him. I am choosing to lean on Him and not desserts and Dr. Phil. I am choosing to start my day in His Word and in prayer. I am choosing to take a long look at my marriage and to make it better than it has ever been. I am choosing to tackle this parenting thing from a new angle and give it my all to have that infamous "Michelle Duggar voice". I am choosing to stop caring what others around me think and to give God the control over my family. I am choosing to let my friends know just how much they really mean to me. I am choosing to take better care of my body. I am choosing to change. I am choosing to be transformed

Social media and life in general can be so deceiving. Don't ya think? Most people who look into my life see nothing but rainbows and I guess that is why I try to be so real on here. I have actually had someone ask me before if the Hubs and I have ever fought before? Really. I'm not kidding. And I think I laughed at her. And it's not because we have knock down drag outs every day, but it is because nothing in life is perfect. Not a family, not a marriage, not friendships, not diets. Nothing. When looking into someone else's life, you don't always see the imperfect stuff. So let me share a little bit of my imperfect-ness. It's in my heart. My heart has been so hard lately. And in the past few months a lot in my life has come to surface. I am starting to recognize areas of my life that for so long I chose to sweep under the rug. I've been carrying a lot of hurt, a lot of feeling less than, a lot of burdens. I am seeing things from my childhood and from my marriage that I wish would have been different, things that I wish I would've stood up for a long time ago. And through this, God is jumping up and down screaming, "Over here! I'm over here! Come to Me for the healing you need! Come to Me and I will transform you into what I created you to be!" I hear His voice so sweetly and clearly and I am ready. I am ready to hang up the hurt, to hang up the feeling less than, to hang up the burdens. 

I am ready to be transformed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Nichols Brood Christmas ...

Last Christmas, I swore this Christmas would be different. 

I swore I would be all chipper and elfish, whatever the heck that means, and jolly and giddy. I swore the house would be decorated, inside and out. And speaking of outside decorations, well they would auh-ma-zing. I would shop early and wrap in that fancy, shiny wrapping paper with bows galore. Our Christmas cards would be on time this year. And we would deliver cookies and baked goods to our neighbors and local fire department. 

And so it goes that December got here in the blink of an eye and I finally put out a few decorations last week and sent out our Christmas cards on Christmas Eve. There was no baking or crafting up until today. And not a single light hung up outside. I even gave in to my "I will never, ever, never, never have an artificial tree" charade and let Travis buy one at Home Depot. The Hubs and I shopped just a few days before Christmas and kept presents pretty slim this year. And for the first time ever, we vowed not to buy for each other knowing the money really wasn't there this year.   

It just didn't feel like Christmas this season. 

And so it goes on. We got up Christmas morning and like all the years before, we read the Christmas story first and then watched the babes rip into their presents. And of course no one noticed it was slimmer this year than the years before. I mean Kohen was so stoked about his simple new Jake sippy cups. Ha! I am thankful I know that it's not about what is under the tree, but instead what is gathered around it. 

Travis played with Kruz' new Nerf gun more than he did and we heard cars going down the tracks all morning. And after a few attempts and some help from the Hubs, Kollin got one of his Lego Technix built. 

We made our Mother Goose Time ornaments and rice crispy treats. The ornaments were super easy and fun! I mean, if glitter is involved, then it's fun. 

And baked cookies to take to the local fire department. 

Even though I didn't get decorations up outside and our Christmas cards were a day late, Christmas was still Christmas. I guess I'm learning it doesn't have to be perfect for it to be, well, perfect

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with their families this year!