physical fitness & Health

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Were you freezing throughout the entire month of January like I was? I just looked at the weather for the next few days and almost cried. Finally next week there will be a day with a high in the 40’s! I never thought I would actually be glad to see temperatures in the 40’s.

Despite the cold, we did manage to get around quite a bit in January. We went to some fun workshops at the Museum of Science and Industry and The Chicago Architecture Foundation. On one not-quite-as-cold day, we went ice skating with friends. And I got to read aloud one of my favorite childhood books to the kids this month, too.

But the definite highlight of the month for my family was the birth of my twin nephews. My sister now has 4 boys! We had her older two boys sleep over by us for several nights when my sister was in the hospital. It was good to spend time a lot of time with them and get to know them better, even when the 2 year old woke me up about 4 times each night!

Well, I’ve finally caught you up on what we’ve been up to. Next week look forward to a very belated My Top 50 Unschooling Posts of 2013.


Books – Together

Treasures of the Snow – I listened to an audio version of this story on a radio program when I was about 7 or 8. It was so amazing to read this aloud to the kids and rediscover my love for this beautiful story. It wonderfully captures the importance of forgiveness and God’s love.

Catherine, called Birdy – I first read this aloud to my 7th grade class when I taught about 13 years ago. It always captured the kids’ attention, and it captured my kids’ attention too. It’s written in the style of a diary from the perspective of a 14 old girl living in 11th century England. It’s all about her misadventures and plots of foil her father’s attempts to marry her off.

The Mystery of the Queen’s Jewels – A Boxcar Mystery

Windsor Castle: England’s Royal Fortress

B is for Big Ben: England’s Royal Alphabet

This is London

Alexa’s Reading List

Artemis Fowl – reading this out loud with me

Venezuela by Marion Morrison – read a few chapters from this book


Jared’s Reading List

The Magician’s Ring – reading this out loud with me



Physical Science in Action: Volume 5: Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures – This is a great physics science DVD collection. There are 16 titles in this series

Windsor Castle: A Royal Year– This is amazing! Alexa especially enjoyed this 5 hour documentary that we watched over the course of two weeks. The documentary shows the highlights of Windsor Castle over the course of a year. Our favorite part was watching the six month process of preparing for a dinner hosted by the Queen with the King of France as the guest of honor.

Episodes of Monk

Episodes of Winks

Episodes of GI Joe

Space Buddies

Spooky Buddies

Super Buddies

Air Buddies

Snow Buddies

The Snow Queen

Charlie Brown New Years and Charlie Brown Adventures

The Ghost and the Darkness – We’ve seen the actual lions from this film at the Field Museum where they are on display, so it made this film even more meaningful for us.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Episodes of the Ultimate Spiderman

Go, Snoopy, Go!

Snoopy’s Reunion


Marvelous Math

Life of Fred: Honey Lessons 1-15

                Games/Puzzles/Kits/Activity Books

Sleeping Queens

Magic Science– This month we had quite a few failed tricks like candle burning and balloon skewer

Lego Architecture Big Ben Set –Needless to say, both kids loved putting this together. I really enjoyed how they had little bits about how Big Ben was built scattered throughout the directions. I’d read this aloud as we built the set. It helped us get excited about seeing it in person in 2 months!



Sequential Spelling Lessons # 50-62

Writing list of 10 goals for 2014- Jared, Alexa and I wrote our list of goals for this coming year. I plan to write a longer post about this soon.

Worked on learning cursive by finishing their Kumon My Book of Cursive Writing: Letters books and starting on the second book called My Book of Cursive Writing: Words.

At Home Fun

Inside: The kids are still into making up lots of pretend games. In the afternoon they will usually spend at least two hours upstairs in the playroom. Now they like bringing the puppy up there, too.

Lego building, I Spy 100 piece puzzle, family balloon volleyball games in the living room

Outside: The kids spent several hours with Steve building a snow fort during a 10 degree day,

Jumping off the back deck railing into the snow, playing with the puppy in the snow, taking the puppy for a quick walk.

Building Jared’s over 3,000 piece Death Star Lego set.

Jared and I had block fight wars one evening and played catch

Cousins spent three days at our house – lots of jumping off the top of the bunk beds, watching TV episodes, playing outside in the snow

Out of the House Activities

Weekly: Library Visits, Grocery Shopping, Church, Gymnastics

Started a session of swimming lessons again. This turned out not to be such a great idea. Two of the 6 sessions were cancelled due to cold weather. And the kids weren’t that excited about the lessons. But towards the end they were excited to learn that, if they wanted to, they are very close to qualifying to be on a swim team. We are considering this over the next six months and will come back to it in the fall.

Sledding with cousins– Steve took Jared, Alexa and my sister’s oldest son sledding at a hill close to home. I went too, but it was cold! The two year old didn’t want to be out long, so we cuddled together in the car and read stories while the big kids had fun in the snow.

Sleepover at our house with cousins – We went to pick them up one snowy morning at the hospital.  We spent one morning at a bounce house and the afternoon playing outside in the snow, falling down the slide onto each other, eating the snow, and throwing snow at each other.

The next day I drove the kids to the hospital to see their little brothers and mom and dad before driving back in the afternoon. They played for hours upstairs, making up pretend games, then finished the night watching Charlie Brown movies and the Snow Queen.

The last day there were here we took the kids to McDonald’s Playplace to play and get sundaes.

Simple Machines Class at Museum of Science and Industry – I had heard great things about the homeschool workshops held at MSI for a few years now, but they are usually for kids ages 8 and up. This year they held one class for kids 7 & up, so we decided to check it out. It was so good! It was a great hands-on demonstration of the 6 types of simple machines. I learned so much, too! We will definitely be coming back for more workshops next year.

We also watched a gorgeous IMAX movie called The Last Reef. It was a really sobering look at how most of the coral reefs in the world are being destroyed. This really touched us since we were just swimming in a Hawaiian coral reef just 3 months ago.

Design Studio session at the Chicago Architecture Foundation – This was also an impressive workshop. The woman started the workshop by giving a brief Power Point presentation on the history of art. Then she showed about 7 or 8 slides with paintings or photographs of skyscrapers created by famous artists. The kids were asked to write down three words that described each picture. Then she asked the kids to look over their lists and circle their favorite three words they had listed. Then the kids were asked to build a Lego creation based on the three words they listed. After a half hour, each child stood up and shared how their three words were exemplified in his/her building.

The Architecture Foundation also has amazing opportunities for teens to work with engineers and architectures to design and build real building that are being constructed in the city.

Parkour class at LivFit gym – This was our first experience with parkour- a type of free running developed from military obstacle courses that focuses on acrobatic skills to move over stationary objects.

Jared and Alexa were in heaven with the ladder ropes, rings, balance beams and mats. They learned ways to tuck and roll, and leap over hurdles. We will definitely be coming back here again.

Eye Appointment for Jared

Several vet visits with Jessy – We learned a lot about heartworm and how it not only effects dogs but can cause blindness in humans, too. Alexa also had firsthand experience watching the dog have her blood drawn and shots given.

Renewing passports– An interesting process for the kids. Lots of questions asked and answered.

Friends came over to play in afternoon – Lots of play in the snow fort outside and watching TV. Afterwards they went to Awanan with the kids. We decided to do this once every month.

Ice Skating with friends– My friend invited us to an outdoor rink her son’s school had rented out for a fundraiser. It was a lot of fun!

Dave and Buster – meeting up with old friends. An old high school friend invited me, along with Steve and the kids, to meet up with him, his wife and kids, and several other friends for a birthday party while he was in town. I really enjoyed catching up with him, and the kids loved the free “credit cards” that allowed them to play tons of video games all night! Just wish they lived a little closer L

Hospital visit to see my sister after giving birth to twin boys- This was amazing for me. Those little tubes going into their hands and noses brought back so many memories. I’m just glad for my sister’s sake that her twins were about to go home about a week and a half after being born and not the five weeks it took for me. She has her hands full!  Alexa and Jared were not allowed to go to the NICU and were very anxious to see their new little cousins in February.

A morning at Grammys’ house – Kids played video games with my dad, ping pong, and enjoyed looking at some of my old comic books from when I was their age.


On the Computer, Kindle, or Wii

Kindle: Temple Run

PC Games: Websites: Sims 2, Pet Hospital,

Wii: Pirates of the Caribbean, Skylander Giants

Photo Credit: gordsam

What were some of your favorite activities from January?


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