Our Top Ten August & September 2013 Highlights (I’m back!)

by ChristinaPilkington on January 10, 2014 · 4 comments

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I’m back!!!!! 

I feel so bad for how long I’ve been away from my blog. I think it’s been almost 6 months! But one of my goals for this year is to post at least once a week on my blog; I really hope I keep to this goal because sharing what we’re learning and doing in my family is so important to me. I’m not going to set a schedule as to which day I will post- that was too confining to me in the past- but I am promising to post something during each week of the year- even if it’s something short.

I also really miss reading lots of your posts, too. There are so many amazing bloggers that I follow, and I’m so behind on reading a lot of your posts. I’m hoping to catch up on my favorite blogs very soon.


Some reasons why it’s been hard to keep up with this blog are:

-I’ve taken on a position at the adult workshop coordinator for a medium sized homeschooling conference in my area. It’s been fun, most of the time, but it has taken up much more of my time than I had anticipated


-We’ve been doing and learning so much! It’s definitely been a good thing; our lives have been very rich and full these past few months. But I regret not posting more, especially with not keeping up with our learning logs as it’s so important for me to have a record to look back on over the years and see what we have experienced and accomplished.


-We’ve been doing a bit of travelling in the past six months. Next week’s post will be a highlight of our travel experiences and what we did in October.

So, my plan is to write a series of post catching you all up on what we’ve been doing these past few months. The post today is ten highlights from August, September and October 2013. Then next week is my travel highlights post. The following week will catch you up on November and December highlights and then the last post of the month I’ll share our top ten goals for the year. The kids each came up with their own top ten goals by themselves, and I’m excited to share them with you.


There are so many more things that we did- this is only a small slice of our lives- but I at least wanted to share some highlights from the months I’ve been away.

                                                                       August 2013 Highlights


1. Read 10 books about Hawaii. In preparation for our trip to Hawaii in September, we read lots of books about Hawaii: its history, geography, myths and legends, cultural highlights and fiction stories.

Hawaii is a Rainbow

The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Shark

The Mystery in Hawaii (A Carole Marsh Mystery)

A Child’s History of Hawaii – a wonderful book filled with pictures children drew

Aloha Potter!

Riptide Pride

Stories from Hawaii

A is for Aloha: a Hawaii alphabet

Hawaii- A Welcome to the USA series book

Kazumura Cave:the world’s largest lava tube


2. Jared baked an entire chocolate cake by himself. He was so proud of himself! He:

-had to look up a chocolate cake and frosting recipe online

-read the directions, gather ingredients and measure utensils

-bake the cake, mix together the frosting and frost the cake layers


3. Watched most of the episodes from the DVD series Kid’s Animated History with Pippo. This is an excellent animated history series. It covers 16 different ancient cultures. Fun and informative!

4. Learned an incredible amount about volcanoes.  Most of our August was filled doing lots of volcano activities from the book Janice VanCleave’s Volcanoes: Mind-Boggling Experiments You Can Turn into Science Fair Projects.  Some highlights include:

-conducted experiments with oil and water to see how density affects the movement of magma

-made a tilt meter out of paper cups and a straw-learned how it can be used to show where a volcano is likely to occur

-showed how movement beneath the earth’s surface can change the shape of the earth’s crust using a tube of toothpaste squirted from a hole in the bottom of a paper cup of soil

-made the usual eruption out of a bottle with baking soda, vinegar, and flour. Repeated the experiment many times using various amounts of vinegar, baking soda, and no flour

-Our most fun experiment was placing mint and fruit Mentos candies inside full bottles of both diet and regular sodas and watching them explode. One exploded as high as I am tall! We talked about the chemicals in the soda and the candy that caused that reaction.

-Unsuccessfully tried to create lava bombs by combing baking soda and vinegar in a small plastic container with a lid. You’re supposed to combine the two ingredients, then close the lid quickly, put the container upside down on a flat surface, and the container’s lid is supposed to pop open from the pressure created. We tried it about 15 different times and it only partially exploded once.

-Created a model of Kilauea and caused it to erupt

5. The kids started to develop an interest in cooking.  We spent lots of time watching lots of cooking shows like Master Chef, Cupcake Wars and Chopped. They also made their own cheese quesadillas for lunch one afternoon, helped Steve flip pancakes most Saturday mornings, and helped me with many dinners.

6. Created a show for their grandparents.  One night while I was at a meeting, kids made up a “show” for grandparents including: cartwheels, singing, sword twirling, scooter and bike riding, and ended with a marshmallow roast.

7. Jared moved up another level in gymnastics. Both kids love their gymnastics class. Alexa can now do a back walkover and Jared is great at round offs and the rings.

8. Lots of swimming and bike riding. We had many great memories this month including:

-Swimming at Grammy’s outdoor pool twice

-Went to the Cermak Aquatic Center with Grandma one afternoon

- Biked along the I & M Canal Trail about 7 miles

- Lots of bike rides after dinner with Steve – I can’t even begin to remember how many times the kids would go bike riding after dinner with Steve this month- at least 2-3 times each week

9. Visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens.  My uncle volunteers at the train garden at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, so my mom and I have an annual tradition of visiting him there. This year we had a little picnic at a forest preserve before going to the gardens. We also took a tram ride around most of the gardens, too.

10. Annual summer River Walk day with my mom and sister. I also have an annual tradition with my mom and sister of going on a walk from my sister’s house down to the Naperville Riverwalk. Along the way we had a picnic lunch, the kids played in the playground, and we stopped for ice cream and caramel corn


                                                                                          September 2013 Highlights

1. Read 12 more books about Hawaii, volcanoes, Hawaiian marine life and the life of Captain Cook. Some books we read:

The Great Lei Race: A Story About Hawaii

Welcome to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Musubi Man: A Hawaiian Gingerbread Story

The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii

Stories on Stone: Rock art, images from the ancient one

Sailing the Unknown: Around the World with Captain Cook

Pua Polu, the pretty blue flower

Lydia and the Island Kingdom

Froggy Goes to Hawaii

The Explosive World of Volcanoes with Max Axion, Super Scientist

Sand to Sea: Marine Life in Hawaii

The Legend of Fire

2. Started watching the series Monk.  It was kind of an accident how we first started watching this series with the kids. While flipping the channels, we saw an episode of Monk playing and the kids wanted to keep watching it. They liked it so much that I set our TiVo to record all the upcoming episodes on several different channels. It’s our guilty pleasure watching now. We’ve been watching it regularly together for about 4 months now. I’m still amazed at how many different topics we’ve discussed together just from watching this murder mystery show.

3. Put together lots of puzzles. There was lots of puzzle solving this month. Steve took them to buy a 3-D Star Wars puzzle pack – They spent about 2-3 hours one morning just putting together puzzles.

4. Quarterly Cleaning Project: decided that instead of trying to do extra cleaning projects a little each week that I’d dedicate one week each quarter to do deep cleaning.  We would devote at least 3 hours each day to clean. The kids were so great with helping me with this. They usually worked a good 2 hours each day before they’d had enough. They helped washed windows and doors, dusted fans, swept, scrubbed floors.

5. Wright 3 Mystery Tour of Frank Lloyd’s Robie House & Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.  This month at bedtime we read The Wright 3 – a children’s mystery book about Frank Lloyd’s Robie House in Chicago. I researched touring the house and was so excited to learn they offered a unique tour that was connected to the Wright 3 book we read.

Throughout the tour, the tour guide would point out scenes from the book whenever we entered a part of the house where those scenes took place. It was really fun! Afterwards we went on a spontaneous exploration of the church across the street which turned out to be Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. It was exquisitely beautiful.

6. Grandma’s Birthday- We had a special birthday with Steve’s mom this year. We spent the entire day together. First we met at Steve’s sister’s house and then all went to eat lunch. Afterwards we drove to a special playground that has unique playground equipment and spent some time there. Then we drove by the Forest Park Rib Fest and then coming back to Steve’s sister’s house to play Catch Phrase.

7.  They have spent many, many hours this month in made-up games – too numerous for me to keep up with!

8. Had a fun afternoon with Grandparents while I finished getting ready for our trip to Hawaii.  They played hockey in the church gym, watched Prince of Egypt, had shakes and ice cream and played spy.

9.  There were several play dates with friends this month, too.

-One homeschool park day the older teenage kids played a made-up game they called Kingdom with the little kids- which the little kids adored!

- One afternoon while I had a committee meeting for the homeschool conference the kids watched some of Toy Story and played several Wii games with friends

-They also met at their friends’ house one afternoon: made up a play, jumped on the trampoline, made up songs, played Chutes and Ladders, Memory,& Bomb the Balloon and watched TV

10. Practiced snorkeling in the bathtub. We all picked out snorkeling equipment from Sports Authority one afternoon, and then the kids wanted to try out the equipment as soon as we got home so they would feel prepared before snorkeling for the first time later that month in the ocean.


What were your highlights from August and September 2013? (if you can remember any that is!)


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  • http://www.teachablemoments-jessica.blogspot.com Jessica

    I’m glad to see you’re back. I look forward to reading more of what you have been up to!

    • Christina Pilkington

      Thanks so much! I really look forward to catching up on your blog too. I love to read what your girls are up too. You’re such an inspiration to me and a big encouragement.

  • Misa

    You’re back! I’m so glad to see your posts. August and September were a whirlwind of sadness and adventure: Kai’s mother passed away, quite unexpectedly, so now he’s with his dad and I full-time. We also ended up flying out to North Carolina to go to Kai’s aunt’s wedding, which was the first vacation we’ve taken as a family. We also drove out to see some of the NASCAR stuff (which the guys are really into) AND drove to the Atlantic Ocean (which is in the opposite direction).

    Kai also spent a lot of time working on a “knight’s armor”, made out of paper bags and such, finishing up his salmon project, and learning about spiders. We also did a few “poetry teatimes”.

    • Christina Pilkington

      I’m sorry to hear about Kai’s mother. That must have been a rough time :( I’m glad to see you have been able to do some travelling, though! The Atlantic ocean must have been fun. We loved going to the ocean when we visited Maine a few years ago. Jared would defininitely get along well with Kai- he loves spiders,too! Spiders and snakes. And the poetry teatimes sound very intriguing.

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