Category Archives: Monthly Updates

January 2015 Wrap-Up

Kai 2015 glasses

Happy 2015!

Sometimes, aspirations trip us up. I wanted to do a big end of year round-up blog post, because 2014 was SUCH a big year for us. But, that’s the problem: 2014 was SUCH a big year for us that it seemed very overwhelming to do. But I didn’t want to post on my blog until I’d done it.

Thus, I didn’t post during all of January.

Then, it became a THING.

Then, I decided I’d do a huge January round-up. It’d be big and have ALL OF THE THINGS. And, it, too, became a THING.

Anyway, I’m letting all of that go.

I will tell a bit about January here, since I didn’t blog at all that month. But it’s not going to be a big, detailed round-up like I used to do monthly. Maybe I’ll get back to doing those one day. I don’t know. But this is what you get today.

Kai’s birthday is in January. He turned 7. He was very adamant that he wanted a party at home. So, the weekend before his birthday, he had a party that, last-minute, turned partly into a slumber party. They stayed up late, playing games and watching movies (the first Harry Potter movie and The City of Ember). Then, on his actual birthday, we went to Chuck E. Cheese as a family – using tokens from his last birthday party. He had such a good time.

One of the gifts he received (from his grandparents) was an iPad. He’s been enjoying that a lot and has downloaded several apps on it.

Early in the month, it snowed. Kai was still surprised at how cold it was the first few times. He made a snow angel – an activity I imagine he will never repeat because the cold really bothered him. We also made snow ice cream.

The NFL playoffs happened and it feels weird to say that we had a few of them on our TV. Kai had hoped it would be the Colts vs the Seahawks. But, alas, it was not to be. There was a fair amount of upsetness over DeflateGate. One team had balls that were underdeflated while they played the Colts. The Colts lost. It was felt, by pretty much everyone in our house, that it didn’t really matter whether the Colts would have lost anyway. Cheaters should be disqualified. Unfortunately, the Seahawks also lost the Superbowl. (It feels weird that we follow all of this. Family of geeks, here.)

We went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum – twice. Kai learned quite a bit about Ruby Bridges and Ryan White because of this, along with many other things.

We ended up joining a Story of the World (history) group. To be honest, we weren’t sure we’d like it. But some of the families that we really enjoy hanging out with were doing it and the kids were going to be hanging out and playing afterwards. Kai and I decided to try it for two weeks, to see how we felt about it. Kai had a really good time and wanted to keep with it. So, now, once a week, we get together with four other families and do a history activity. Usually, there’s a short discussion/activity relating to the chapter for the week, the kids do a craft or activity, and then they play. Different families stay for varying lengths of time each week, depending on what they’ve got going on. But it’s helped us really get to know a few families much better. As for us, we read the chapter each week, but it isn’t like I make Kai do worksheets or paperwork relating to it. January was about nomads/the Fertile Crescent and Egypt. (Kai has always LOVED Egypt.) In January, the kids did “cave paintings”, made “reed boats” out of straws, and wrote on clay tablets.

We’ve become good friends with two of the families from our SotW group and hang out with us quite a bit. Homeschoolers (at least in my experience and maybe this is true more for younger kids than older kids) tend to hang out as families. So, it’s really important that everyone in the family “click” well with each other. One of the things we missed dreadfully about Seattle was our “Hey, wanna hang out?” families. This has made us feel much more “at home” here. There are others we enjoy being around and hanging out with but these two are the ones we hang out with the most.

There’s an indoor park nearby and we went a few times this month.

During the snow, our car battery died. We ended up replacing it, but that led to a lot of discussions about car batteries with Kai.

We’ve continued playing a lot of games and even started playing Dungeons and Dragons together.

So, that was January, more or less. There was much more than that, there always is, but those were a few highlights.

May 2013 Monthly Learning Update

May felt REALLY long, until it didn’t (funny how time works). But we did a lot.

Social activities – It is funny how anything “social” is a big Bugaboo for a lot of people when it comes to thinking about homeschooling, no? We’re so very lucky that Seattle is FULL of homeschoolers and also has a HUGE unschooling community. We’re not really ever having to LOOK for things to do (though I still do anyway!) but we ARE having to pick and choose what we do, because there’s soooo much to do. There are park days AT LEAST four days a week and other social activities planned throughout the month, as well. I know that this is not the case in a lot of areas and I feel so very lucky that we have these opportunities. I never have to worry if Kai can get “enough socialization”, whatever that is. It also interests me that while a lot of people TALK about socializing and socialization, it’s actually not one of the legal requirements for our state (or any state I know of! I could be wrong, though). Maybe because it’s so hard to quantify?

One of the big things that happened in May was that Kai had a friend spend the night (Kidlet) – the first one ever (with the exception of my nephew – but that’s a bit different). We took her home with us from homeschool park day, had homemade pizza, went to Pajama Story Time at the library, and then, the next day, we all went to Woodland Park Zoo, where her mother met us (she’s in our Wednesday group).

May 21, 2013

We also went to the birthday party of one of the girls that is in our Wednesday group. Instead of presents, they did a puzzle swap, which was pretty neat. Her parents set up a bean bag toss activity and Kai got to take home two of the handmade bean bags, which was pretty cool.

May 19, 2013

We continued our Wednesday group, going back and forth between Woodland Park Zoo and Pacific Science Center.

Woodland Park Zoo w/Our Wednesday Homeschool Group

May 15, 2013

The day after Mother’s Day, my mother, my grandmother, my sisters, my nephew, Kai, and I all got together and went to the Woodland Park Zoo. One of my sisters, my nephew, my mother, and grandmother had some delays along the way, so those of us who were already there hung out at Zoomazium then checked out one of the Early Childhood backpacks for Kai and went on our way. Kai told my sisters all about some carnivorous plants – something he was really interested in, particularly the part where one of the plants “liquifies the insides of the bug, drinks it, and then drops the skeleton”! We did a conservation-based activity, where you pick things that are good for the environment or bad for the environment. At one point after everyone else got there, it rained. Hard. (Side note: Seattle, contrary to popular opinion, is not very rainy. It gets drizzly and gray, but “real” rain is fairly rare. Luckily, we were in the “African school” so we just hunkered down and had lunch while it rained. Another family was stuck there, too, and the boys all played together for a while.

May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013

At the end of the month, my nephew, my mother, my grandmother, and my stepfather all came over for a few hours. It was good for the boys to get more time to play together.

May 31, 2013

Kai is also becoming good friends with a few new kids, which is so fun to watch. He’s spent a lot of time playing with them at park days and on Wednesdays.

May 21, 2013

Places Visited: Wallingford Playfield, Golden Gardens, Miller Playfield, Ella Bailey Park, and Salmon Bay Park.

May 2013

May 2013

Seattle Gymnastics Academy

May 2013

We went to the movie theater, for the Iron Man 3 release. We got to see at 9 pm on what was technically the day before the day it came out, because it was midnight on the East Coast (or something).

May 2013

Pacific Science Center and Woodland Park Zoo – both with our Wednesday group and other times. At the end of the month, Pacific Science Center opened a new exhibit. We went with Kidlet and her mom. A lot of it is about Maker-type stuff. They even have an area where you can make stop-motion videos!

One of the stop-motion “movies” Kai made was called “The Cow Snuggles The Horse”. (I bet you can’t guess what happens! His description is actually pretty adorable.)

We went to the library a few times, including pajama story time.

We also visited my former husband (who Kai knows and we’re still good friends) at Virginia Mason Hospital (Kai asked tons of questions and I think making the hospital a “non-scary” place is REALLY important).

Art and Crafts: We started off the month by doing some gelatin prints, something Kai had not done before. He seemed to enjoy it and Kidlet and her mother stopped by and joined in as well.

May 2013

They also made ducks at pajama story time.

May 21, 2013

Math: We tried a few days of Math Mammoth. I don’t know if we’ll continue that BUT we’ve gotten a few good things from that. In particular, they introduced us to a game where you show a number of objects, then one person hides some, and the other person has to tell how many were hidden.

We also played several other math games, mostly dealing with addition, but one was rolling and moving depending on whether an odd or even number was rolled.

May 16, 2013

Science: Aside from the science center and the zoo, we did a science experiment or two at home. Kai’s favorite was making a bottle full of oil and water to explore density and talk about water and oil not mixing. We also added an Alkaseltzer to the bottle a few days later and watched the bubbles go and go and go.

Water and Oil Experiment

We’ve also watched some of the “North America” series that Discovery is doing. We learned a fair bit about animals that way.

Reading and Writing: Kai’s reading just keeps improving. He’s also enjoying reading to himself quite a bit and is happy to spend time in his room or on the couch, reading. We listened to a couple of audiobooks (one of them was a “Hank, The Cowdog” audiobook about “pteradogtail dinosaur birds” – sort of – and we’d just spent time discussing that pterodactyls were not actually dinosaurs so that was kind of nice timing) and, of course, we do bedtime stories. Joe’s books are usually picture books, some fiction, some nonfiction. Mine are typically chapter books.

One of the things we did this month was “Poetry Teatime”. I pulled out a pretty bedsheet to use as a tablecloth. We had cookies and herbal tea and read poetry and picture books out loud to each other. Kai LOVED it. We spent a couple of hours doing this. I hope to do it some more over the summer.

Poetry Tea Time

As for writing, he’s been using the whiteboard to write things, he labels things sometimes, the math worksheets helped him practice his numbers, and I’ve been working with him to improve some of his letter “shapes”.

Games: We all still continue to play lots of games, whether they’re board games, video games, computer games, or what have you. We got a new game this month, “Spot It!”, something he really enjoys that’s basically just matching pictures together. I have to admit, it’s quite fun.

As a family, we’ve done a fair bit of Minecraft this month. We explored a Stronghold. We got new skins – Kai’s looks like Iron Man. Joe and Kai worked together to make me a lava heart (I’d made one for them out of wool). Of course, we’ve done other things, but those are what strike me as the big things.

Lava Minecraft Heart

One of the board games we played that Kai really has enjoyed was “A La Carte”.

A La Carte

Upcoming in June: Continuing our Wednesday groups, park days, etc. I might not do a June summary – Kai will be at his other house for roughly half the month. I’ve been trying to find a better way to do these monthly summaries, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. This takes HOURS at the end of the month and it’s kind of overwhelming/exhausting. I’d like to find a way to streamline it and maybe enter something in weekly or daily so I only have to do a bit at the end of the month. I’m also trying to figure out how to generalize more.

This month, you might notice, I’ve not listed SO MANY details, for two reasons: it was bogging things down and, also, it was very time consuming.

I give these monthly updates to Kai’s mother, too, (when you don’t have a curriculum but you have two households to take into account, there’s not a REALLY good way to keep each other updated on learning activities) so I’d like there to be a way to be more detailed without being so darn bulky. Any thoughts or suggestions?

April 2013 Monthly Update

April seemed all at once long and short – I was pretty much out of commission for a week or two due to tooth pain and subsequent dental surgery (at least they knocked me out for it) and recovery. Kai went with me to the dentist’s office – both times – and even got to watch them put me to sleep. He asked lots of questions of the staff. Afterwards, he got to look at the broken tooth. We talked about various ways to remove a tooth and also fake teeth and implants and that process.

Easter 2013

Since it wasn’t our year to have Kai for Easter, we celebrated a week later. We dyed a TON of eggs, he got to go on egg hunts, and he’s STILL eating stuff from his basket (he doesn’t eat a lot of candy, really – we still have stuff from Halloween – so this could be around for a while!).

I finally, finally, FINALLY got my driver’s license (better late than never – even if it did take 15 years from the first time I learned to drive). Kai went with me to the Department of Licensing to pick it up (my actual test was elsewhere).

The weather was getting warmer, so more time was spent outside. On one of the first “brighter” days, we went out and did some sidewalk chalking.

This was Kai's idea. Sidewalk chalking.

Unfortunately, warmer weather also means BEES. At the beginning of the month, we were having a bee problem. Carlos, the maintenance man, came over and measured and replaced our screen. He’s always very kind to Kai and talked to him about what he was doing. This also lead to a big discussion about bees and wasps.

We spent a lot of time at the zoo, with our homeschool group, with Kai’s bonus-sister, Epona, and, for the opening of the new otter exhibit, we met up with his good friend and her mother and aunt. While we were there, we ran into other homeschoolers we knew. They had a bouncy house and a person in an otter suit. Kai got to the ride the carousel a few times this month and he fed the penguins. He got to touch a hedgehog and pet a corn snake. We talked in-depth about both. He joined the nature exchange program and we used one of the Early Childhood backpacks they have (one of the staff members at the zoo told me they were getting more… we’ll have to do that again). He also spent QUITE a lot of time near the meerkats, which is kind of funny, since they don’t have a big habitat at all. He read everything they had there about meerkats to me and spends time pretending to be a meerkat.

April 2013

We also went to the Pacific Science Center with our homeschooler group and were able to catch a couple of laser shows – they had them going since April is a spring break month. We saw a planetarium show. He even got to go up on the “Live Science” stage once – his first time! He was so excited. He also did one of those “pendulum drawings”. At the Professor Wellbody exhibit, he planned a day’s worth of food, keeping within their nutrition guidelines – he talked about how it seemed like you needed to eat a lot of vegetables or fruit.

We did homeschool park day a few times – Wallingford Playfield, Madison Park, and Meridian Park. He’s making friends that he looks for every time we go, which is nice to see. He’s fallen in love with a piece of equipment made by Kompan called a “Supernova”.

Park Day (April 9, 2013)

Joe, Kai, and I all went to the library for pajama story time one Tuesday. Joe helped Kai make a rainbow out of a paper plate and streamers – it looked pretty cute.

He really loves going to the Indoor Playground at Seattle Gymnastics Academy, so we went. The warmer it gets, the less the option will be available, and then when the cooler weather is back, he’ll only be able to do it a few more months before aging out.

At the Indoor Playground (at SGA)

Kai has been helping out around the house more. Most mornings, he puts away the silverware (minus the super sharp knives, of course). He often helps me make his bed and sometimes the big bed, too. He puts his clothing in the hamper and will sometimes help with the laundry.

We also went to Cascade Parent Partnership one Wednesday for a tour.

We listened to the audiobooks of “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” and “The Secret Garden”. After listening to “The Secret Garden”, we talked about Mary’s journey and talked a bit about England, India, and found both on the map and discussed them.

We talked about volcanoes and mountains, particularly Mt. St. Helens. We watched a few documentaries about Mt. St. Helens, looked at it on Google Earth, and watched YouTube videos about it.

We read The Great Glass Elevator. Talked about Wonka as a company (read a Wikipedia entry about the history of the company), pointed out candies from his Easter basket that are “Wonka”. Talked about “minus numbers” – that they’re actually called “negative numbers”, that you can go below zero, and tried to explain the concept of “owing” to make a minus number.

He listened to podcasts about what would happen if the earth stopped spinning, “How Pizza Works”, frogs, and the duckbill platypus.

Easter 2013

Speaking of reading… Kai has been reading a LOT on his own this month. He’s reading silently or, as he calls it, “in his head”, but frequently comes over to talk about what he’s reading. It’s made it somewhat harder to track the books he reads, but that’s okay. I’m still getting most of them and I wouldn’t want to slow him down just for tracking purposes, but you can find a lot of what he read or we read together here.

It’s funny how little things can lead to so much learning… silly things like talking into the fan and seeing how it changes his voice or a link that sends up looking at pictures of a previously-unknown ancient Egyptian city that has been underwater for a long time.

March 2013 Monthly Learning Summary

I’ve found that the more we do, the quicker the month flies by. Weird how that works. (And how is the first quarter of the year completely GONE already?!?) Every month I say the same thing: I don’t realize how much we actually do until I’m writing up my monthly summary. I’ve had this conversation with a few other homeschool parents who do weekly or monthly learning summaries and most of them tend to feel the same way, from what I can tell. It all really adds up to a lot of living, a lot of learning.

March 2013 Collage

Here’s a sampling of what we did in March 2013:

Out of the house

A huge part of what we did in March involved socializing –  getting out of the house and hanging out with other homeschooling families. The weather’s been quite a bit nicer and that seems to be getting more families out of the house.

In middle/the end of February, I sent out some inquiries to some of my homeschool groups, “Hey, we wanna do this… want to do it with us?” So we formed a small group that meets once a week, on Wednesdays, and alternates between the Woodland Park Zoo and the Pacific Science Center. It’s been nice seeing the same group of people once a week and the kids have gotten to know each other. This has worked out SO well that we’re going to do it again in April.

We’ve also started regularly doing the “big” homeschool park day on Tuesdays. Kai has LOVED this. It’s also encouraged him to stretch himself a bit – he tends to play with the older kids, but that means he needs to keep up.  So, I’ve watched him go onto pieces of playground equipment he otherwise would not have and play rough, something he rarely does at home. It’s good to see him take risks, as he can be quite hesitant about that.

We also visited Twirl Café, where Kai was able to play with a few kids.

Grocery shopping still lends itself to another opportunity for play with other kids – Kai still goes to Playland at Fred Meyer. I’m watching him grow taller, though, and eventually, he’ll “age out” of Playland. I remember when that happened to me – it was pretty heartbreaking. We’re letting him enjoy it while he can.

Kai also got to play at Seattle Gymnastics Academy’s Indoor Playground – we met up with good friends there.  He LOVES going across the long trampoline and swimming in the foam block pit.

I needed to go to my mother’s house to get something, so Joe and I took Kai with us and he got to visit with my mother and my stepfather.

Parks visited – some on our own, some for homeschool park day: Wallingford Playfield, Discovery Park, Ravenna Park, Big Howe, David Rogers Park, and Golden Gardens.

We visited the library several times, including doing a pajama story time with Joe. Kai got to make a construction paper crown – he ended up wearing it several times.

I let Kai pick out a toy at the dollar store. He thought it was neat that we could get “so many things” but then we talked about quality and how a lot of those things are “cheap”.

Kai got a new bed. He’d still been in his toddler bed and was growing taller, so it was time. Joe and I took him to IKEA and let him help pick out his bed.  On the way home, we let him pick out some bedding. Then he and Joe went to pick out a second set of bedding while I waited for the bed to be delivered. He helped Joe put the bed together and seems pretty happy with the whole thing.

At the beginning of the month, we took Kai to Blue Highway Games where he used some of his money to buy a couple of things.



At the beginning of the month, we set a tea bag on fire and talked about why it rises in the air.

We had several days where we worked with the calendar.  Kai would write out the date, underline the day of the week, circle the month, circle the weather, and we’d work with the number of the day each day, using tally marks, showing it as coins, writing it in the proper place value columns, number sentences, we’d talk about what day was the day before and the day after, etc.

We played a place value game that he seemed to really enjoy.

We worked quite a bit with addition. We used five frames, ten frames, file folder games, and did more traditional math activities as well.

We did cardboard weaving.

He did some activities in his LEGO city stickerbook.

We did an experiment with celery where you put it in water that has food coloring.

He helped cook and bake several times.

When we go to the Woodland Park Zoo, we do the creature feature, which means Kai gets to touch an animal.


Kai used some of his money to buy expansions for Rory’s Story Cubes and we did things with them several times.


Various phone games

File folder games

Hey, That’s My Fish!



Legend of Dungeon

Magician’s Kitchen

Play-Doh Toy Time Race Game


Get Bit!

He spends a lot of time pretending to be superheroes.

He plays with his cars, trains, and planes. He and Joe set up his Polar Express train and he puts on his conductor hat to play with it.


Websites visited


Google Maps/Google Street View – He enjoyed playing around on here, “walking” to a lake, “visiting” various places on the globe

Joe found a post with pictures taken of the pyramids in Egypt. Kai LOVES things about Egypt, so he very much enjoyed looking at this.


Rock N Learn Physical Science

Wild Kratts

Ready for Science and Geography

Various YouTube videos, including several Minecraft ones

A few Thomas DVDs – He’s starting to move past these but every now and then, he’ll get on a Thomas kick.

Human Life Cycle DVD

Curious George

Tron: Legacy

Wizard of Oz

We did the “Preschool Trip to the Moon” a couple of times in the planetarium.


Bette Middler – one of her greatest hits albums, I believe

Podcast about Egypt

Four Magic TreeHouse audiobooks – all of them were “Merlin Missions”. He LOVES these audiobooks and has asked for me to check out more from the library.

Lion King (The Musical) Soundtrack

Cipher Prime

Minecraft Soundtrack

Tron: Legacy Soundtrack

Brian John Appleby

Head and the Heart

The Not-Its

Stuff You Should Know Podcast:  “What would happen if the world stopped spinning?”, ” How Garbage-powered Cars Could Work”, and “How Bees Work.”


We talked quite a bit about cats, large and small, particularly housecats and lions (one of the lions at our zoo recently had cubs and we got to see them – we talked quite a bit about them before and after our visit).

Since we do not religiously observe Easter, but do so culturally/secularly, we talked about some of the stories behind Easter and read some books relating to Easter. This led to conversations about respecting other peoples’ beliefs and how we can disagree without being rude. It also lead to talks of fantasy creatures and how a lot of kids believe in things like the Easter Bunny. We discussed how to respect that and say things like, “Well, I don’t believe that, but it’s okay if you do. I don’t know everything and I could be wrong.”  (For the record, he doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny because the Easter Bunny, he says, is a “fake animal that nobody has seen”. But he DOES believe in Santa because, “Santa is a person. You can see him. And somebody told me he was real. And lots of people think so.”

We’ve talked a bit about our address. I was able to put our address to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” He sang that probably a hundred times, trying to memorize it.

We talked about fortune telling during/after watching Wizard of Oz. We talked about how people can make educated guesses or general guesses that make it SEEM like they’re fortune telling, pointing out how the fortune-teller looked through Dorothy’s purse.

At the park, Joe and Kai talked about sand and how it looks when it is wet or dry. Later in the month, this came up when he and I were at Golden Gardens. We were walking on the beach, collecting seashells and rocks, and Kai pointed out wet sand and dry sand and told me all about the differing colors.

Kai and I had a very difficult conversation after our time at Golden Gardens because there was a little girl there who was quite mean to him but still wanted to use his stuff. Kai cried most of the way home because, “I just wanted to be her friend and she was mean.” I encouraged him to stand up for himself, gently, by telling her that what she was doing was mean (and it really was), that it hurt his feelings, and that he wasn’t going to play with her because she was mean. We discussed how some people just aren’t nice – she acknowledged that she was being mean but didn’t change what she was doing. I suggested that maybe she was struggling with something or had other reasons for acting that way, but that sometimes, people don’t care about being nice. Kai pretty much never is trying to be mean and he doesn’t understand the impulse. Sometimes, he’s a bit blunt, but he’s never MEANING to be mean. The idea that someone would PURPOSEFULLY be mean was quite a foreign concept to him. Very hard lesson there.

We talked a fair bit about bees, their jobs, how they help the environment, etc.

We talked about parts of a flower.

Kai wanted to know how tattoos “happen”. We talked about them and he watched a video about tattoo guns.

Kai asked me about breastfeeding. He wanted to know why all women didn’t just leak milk all over the place all the time.


Lego Club Jr. magazines

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I read this to him and every time I’d stop, he’d ask for more. We talked about the differences between the book and the movie.

Kai is reading some chapter books to himself and occasionally to me or me and Joe.

Kai sees signs and asks about them. If we don’t know, we look them up. He saw a sign that said, “Domestic Hot Water”. I had an idea what that could mean, but wasn’t completely sure. We talked to Joe about it and we looked it up online.

Because Kai IS able to read more, he’s developed this sense of “There are things I didn’t know before.” It’s kind of tricky to convey what I mean here, but the best example I have is when he suddenly got very upset at me at the zoo. “You never told me they have smoothies. Why have I never had a smoothie here? Why didn’t you tell me they have them?!?”  He’s realizing that reading enables him to do more things and know more about the world around him.

There’s a book list for this month at the end of this.



He wrote in a lined book a couple of times.

Every now and then, he’ll pull out the whiteboard and we’ll do stuff on there.

He did a few fun worksheets this month and the calendar stuff.

Kai’s writing is coming along – he still flips letters and numbers sometimes, but he usually gets the basic shapes down well. And the flipping generally happens with similar letters/numbers, which is fairly age appropriate.

Book List

Aardema, Verna, and Lisa Desimini. Anansi Does the Impossible!: An Ashanti Tale. New York: Atheneum  for Young Readers, 1997. Print.

Ashburn, Boni, and Giorgi Sergio De. Builder Goose: It’s Construction Rhyme Time! New York: Sterling, 2012. Print.

Auch, Mary Jane. The Easter Egg Farm. New York: Holiday House, 1992. Print.

Averbeck, Jim. The Market Bowl. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2013. Print.

Base, Graeme. Little Elephants. New York: Abrams  for Young Readers, 2012. Print.

Bunting, Eve, and Greg Shed. Dandelions. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Print.

Chick & Friends: Handy, Off The Hook! N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Cottin, Menena, Rosana Faría, and Elisa Amado. The Black Book of Colors. Toronto: Groundwood, 2008. Print.

Dahl, Roald, and Quentin Blake. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. New York: Puffin, 2004. Print.

Dahl, Roald, and Quentin Blake. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. New York: Puffin, 2005. Print.

Davis, Jim. Garfield Takes the Cake. New York: Ballantine, 2003. Print.

Fleming, Denise. Underground. New York: Beach Lane, 2012. Print.

Goodman, Susan E., and Timothy Bush. All in Just One Cookie. New York: Greenwillow, 2006. Print.

Goodwin-Sturges, Judy Sue., and Shari Halpern. Construction Kitties. New York: Henry Holt, 2013. Print.

Jenkins, Martin, and Jane Chapman. The Emperor’s Egg. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1999. Print.

Jenkins, Steve. Living Color. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Print.

Kalman, Maira. Looking at Lincoln. New York: Nancy Paulsen, 2012. Print.

Ketteman, Helen, and Will Terry. Armadilly Chili. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman &, 2004. Print.

Kirk, David. Oh So Tiny Bunny. New York, NY: Feiwel and Friends, 2013. Print.

Kirk, David. Oh So Tiny Bunny. New York, NY: Feiwel and Friends, 2013. Print.

Landau, Elaine. Big Cats: Hunters of the Night. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Elementary, 2008. Print.

Larsen, Kirsten, and Steven Savitsky. Dora’s Rainbow Egg Hunt. New York: Simon Spotlight/Nick Jr., 2006. Print.

Larsen, Kirsten, and Steven Savitsky. Dora’s Rainbow Egg Hunt. New York: Simon Spotlight/Nick Jr., 2006. Print.

Lester, Alison. Noni the Pony. New York: Beach Lane, 2012. Print.

London, Jonathan, and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy Goes to Bed. New York: Viking, 2000. Print.

MacAulay, David, and Sheila Keenan. Castle. ; How It Works. N.p.: Roaring Brook, 2012. Print.

Meng, Cece, and Aurélie Neyret. Bedtime Is Canceled. Boston: Clarion, 2012. Print.

Messner, Kate, and Christopher Silas. Neal. Over and under the Snow. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2011. Print.

Milhous, Katherine, and Katherine Milhous. The Egg Tree. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950. Print.

Munro, Roxie. Busy Builders. New York: Marshall Cavendish Children, 2012. Print.

Olson, Nathan. Spheres. Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2008. Print.

Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Tree House Collection, Books 29-32 [sound Recording]. N.p.: Listening Library, 2001. Print.

Polacco, Patricia, and Nanette Stevenson. Rechenka’s Eggs. New York: Philomel, 1988. Print.

Rader, Mark. Woody’s Big Dance. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Redeker, Kent, and Bob Staake. Don’t Squish the Sasquatch! New York: Disney/Hyperion, 2012. Print.

Riggs, Kate. Lions. New York: Creative Education, 2012. Print.

Riggs, Kate. Lions. New York: Creative Education, 2012. Print.

Ross, Tony. I Want Two Birthdays! Minneapolis: Andersen USA, 2010. Print.

Salley, Coleen, and Janet Stevens. Epossumondas. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002. Print.

Salley, Coleen, and Janet Stevens. Epossumondas. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002. Print.

Sayre, April Pulley., and Steve Jenkins. Vulture View. New York: Henry Holt, 2007. Print.

Scanlon, Elizabeth Garton., and Vanessa Newton. Think Big. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012. Print.

Shannon, David. Jangles: A Big Fish Story. New York: Blue Sky, 2012. Print.

Shulman, Lisa, and Rosanne Litzinger. The Matzo Ball Boy. New York: Dutton Children’s, 2005. Print.

Sidman, Joyce, and Michelle Berg. Meow Ruff. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Smith, Danna, and Valeria Petrone. Pirate Nap: A Book of Colors. Boston: Clarion, 2011. Print.

Steer, Dugald. Knight: A Noble Guide for Young Squires. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2006. Print.

Stone, Jon, and Michael Smollin. Please Do Not Open This Book! New York: Random House, 2006. Print.

Thomas, Jan. A Birthday for Cow! Orlando [Fla.: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Tingle, Tim, and Stacey Schuett. When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Folktale from the Choctaw Nation. Atlanta, GA: August House LittleFolk, 2007. Print.

Tingle, Tim, and Stacey Schuett. When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Folktale from the Choctaw Nation. Atlanta, GA: August House LittleFolk, 2007. Print.

Torres, Melissa. Dora’s Potty Book. New York: Simon Spotlight/Nick Jr., 2005. Print.

Willems, Mo. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! London: Walker, 2005. Print.

Woods, Geraldine. Science in Ancient Egypt. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998. Print.

Woody’s Big Dance. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Peeking Prairie Dogs. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1999. Print.


February 2013 Monthly Learning Summary (For Kai)

This month, we stayed at home quite a bit. At least, that’s what it FELT like. But that’s only partially true. I’d say we did more atypical things for us, which made it feel… different. Not bad, just different.

One thing that WAS bad was when the boiler system for our building broke… and it took them two and a half days to fix it. But we all appreciated hot water a lot more after that!

One of the things we’ve been working on is a morning routine. On weekdays, we’re having Kai go to the bathroom, get dressed, and brush his teeth. Right away. On weekends, he can wait a bit. For Kai, anytime you make a change in his routine, it can be a tough transition. We’ve (mostly) got it down without arguments now.

We read SO MANY BOOKS this month. Next month, we’ll be out of the house more, so I know we’ll read less. But he seems to be absorbing a good deal of it.

I’m also going to attempt to get out – and get outside – more often. Kai has been running in the house lots and I think he probably needs more space to get his energy out.

For tracking, I’d like to change this up, but I’m not sure how. We’ll see what happens next month.

Heart Shaped Pancakes For Valentine's Day

Holidays and such:

  • Kai got belated birthday gifts from Joe’s sister. He LOVED that, especially a book she sent him that was about Egypt – its pages formed a pyramid.
  • On Valentine’s Day, he got a couple of little gifts, we had heart shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, and we talked about the holiday, its history, that it can be for ANYONE you love.

February 7, 2013


  • We’ve been reading “Little House on the Prairie” this month. Joe and I showed Kai the areas the Ingals travelled in. We talked about why people would want to move west. We had a lot of conversations about the government “relocating” the Native Americans. We’ve had some hard conversations about racism, as well. We haven’t finished the book yet, but at the end of the month, we finished the Christmas chapter, which is my favorite “Little House” chapter ever. We talked about how the girls were so excited with so little.
  • We talked about the changing seasons and light. We’re working on the “Mystery Class/Journey North” project and have done a lot of talking in regards to that: What makes the seasons? Why are there different amounts of light? How are seasons and light levels different, depending on where you live?
  • We talked about Julius Caesar, because one of Kai’s Valentine’s Day gift was a LEGO mini-fig “blind blister” and he got one that looked like Julius Caesar. I was able to tie that into our continuing talks about calendars.
  • We talked about the meteors that hit in Russia. Kai watched some video footage from that. Later, in play, he reenacted the meteor attacks and used the “breaking glass” elements in his play.
  • We talked about the differences between carnivores/omnivores/herbivores.
  • We talked about mammals, what makes a mammal, and what kinds of mammals there are.
  • We talked about solids, liquids, and gases.
  • Joe and Kai had a very in-depth conversation about scruffing cats. Our cats all react very differently to scruffing. Scruffing Parker is a VERY bad idea – he left his mother too soon to remember it and will try to fight you off (and possibly get himself hurt). The other two: one doesn’t care, the other goes limp. I don’t like scruffing, but it’s something Joe does, so he talked about it with Kai and why he feels it is effective with some cats.
  • The three of us talked about how different families operate differently when it comes to parents’ roles. We pointed out how, in the Little House books, the girls were expected to listen, no questions asked. But, here, we’re okay with him asking questions (usually) and we (usually) tell him why we would like him to do something. We discussed how different parents have different priorities and how that isn’t even necessarily a good or bad thing –  for example, one family might prioritize eating at the table together while another family might not ever do it. This is something that’s really important for him because even between his parents’ homes, rules are different (which can sometimes be frustrating for him).
  • We talked about Buckingham Palace guards (after watching Cars 2).
  • While we were watching Mary Poppins, we talked about nannies, women’s voting rights, accents (particularly British), and one man bands.

February 28, 2013

Games played:

Kai, on the drums.

“Educational games” websites visited:

Playing with Play-Doh.


  • Electric Company (the old one)
  • Videos from Mystery Class
  • Minecraft videos
  • Wild Kratts: wolf, bees, geckos, rhinos, elephants, giraffes
  • Rock N Learn “Read Aloud Stories” DVD
  • Cars 2
  • How juiceboxes are made video
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Misty Mountain (Thomas DVD)
  • Caldecott Books on DVD
  • Transformers
  • Rock N Learn’s Life Science
  • Bill Nye – earth’s seasons, energy
  • Mary Poppins
  • Lots and Lots of Jets and Planes
  • Solid, Liquids, Gas DVD
  • Rock N Learn Earth Science
  • Rock N Learn Human Body

Kai and Joe, playing the SimCity closed beta.

Listened to:

  • “Titanic, Voices From The Disaster” – audiobook
  • “How Things Work” podcast: LEGOs
  • Beatles music
  • Music from video games, including Minecraft and Journey
  • They Might Be Giants, “Here Comes Science” album
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • Head and the Heart

Playing with Zelda.

At home:

  • We’ve been weaning Kai off of naps and have instead been doing “one hour of quiet room time”. Sometimes, though, Kai would put himself to sleep! Mostly, he’d play or, quite often, read. I put some podcasts and audiostories on his mp3 player specifically for these times.
  • Joe and Kai worked on putting together LEGOs and Kai played with his LEGOs. Extensively.
  • Kai pretended to be in “SimCity”. He added in Minecraft elements and talked about how nobody died (from attacks) but how they did have to go to the hospital because they were hurt by the glass from windows breaking.
  • He played with the recorder (instrument) for quite some time one day and requested lessons (that may be a whim – we’ll see).
  • He plays “Superheroes” a LOT, especially Iron Mon.
  • Joe and Kai put together Super Skeleton, which was a gift from Joe’s sister. It has a bunch of named parts. Very cool.
  • Kai helped Joe “fix” (tighten) some of our dining room chairs.
  • I set up a “secret code” for him to unscramble. He had to do some addition problems to do so.
  • Played lots with his cars and trains.
  • Kai has been helping prepare food more.
  • Kai has been unloading the silverware regularly.
  • Did a few worksheets.
  • Worked on “Mystery Class/Journey North” project.
  • Played with Play-Doh.

Video of the month: Addition using a five frame.


Out of the house activities:

  • We’ve been doing storytime at the Ballard libraries on Wednesdays. Kai really enjoys these and they’ve the following topics this month: Chinese New Year, African stories, frogs, and, I think, the one right before Valentine’s Day was about love and friendship. We have something else planned for Wednesdays next month and I’m trying to figure out whether we want to do a different story time or not.
  • Kai’s been going to the Fred Meyer Playland about once a week, while shopping gets done. He really enjoys it and, apparently, often mentions that he is homeschooled if asked about preschool or kindergarten.
  • We went to the Pacific Science center. He looked at DNA activities, did “face matching” – match the younger face to the older one, played at the play area, watched a Beatles laser show, looked at a few things about the body, and watched their “Illusions” live science show.
  • We went to MOHAI with Kai’s friend, “Kidlet”, and her mother. It was a mini-MOHAI day and he and I both enjoyed it greatly.
  • Joe, Kai, and I all went to Coe Play Park for a while one day.


Social activities:

  • Toward the beginning of the month, Kai and I went to a Pokemon game day, hosted by one of the homeschool moms in the area. Kai enjoyed it, but found it frustrating at times. He was younger and newer to the game. It was also a group of boys and they kept talking over each other, which is typical, but not what Kai is used to. However, he really enjoyed playing and it was so sweet of the mom to host the game day and let us come.
  • My dad and stepmother were in town (they live in Arizona), so Kai and I went out to their hotel to spend time, mainly with my dad (as my stepmother was taking care of things to do with her mother’s estate – she passed away last year and they’ve been working on the place). Kai read to him, played, talked, etc.
  • Kai’s friend, “Kidlet”, came over to play. They played a fair bit, including doing cotton ball races (both with a straw and a spoon), tossing balled socks into a laundry basket (which they both REALLY enjoyed), played hospital (involving tools such as pliers!), did a game called “kindergarten yahtzee” where they roll two dice, add them together, and cross off the numbers on their sheet (the first one out of numbers wins), and just generally enjoyed each other’s presence. I’m always amused – these two are SO different but they’re such good friends.
  • Towards the end of the month, my nephew, Jeremy, had his birthday party. He turned 4. Jeremy and Kai are really good friends. Before my sister’s schedule changed, we used to have my nephew every week for a few hours. The boys miss seeing each other regularly. We drove down to their place, about an hour away. They have chickens and horses, which Kai got to see (and we took home fresh eggs). It was also Kai’s first time playing with a pinata – he was frustrated by not being able to see (didn’t see the point of making it harder), but scored a fair bit of candy and had a good time). He met some of my stepfather’s family – my aunt, uncle, and her kids. This was also the first time he’d been in the same room as my mother, my stepfather, my stepmother, and my father all at once! (As well as my mother’s mother.) Actually, it was a bit weird for me – as a kid, my parents fought a lot. The last time all four of them were in the same room was when I was getting married for the first time, in 2002. (And they stayed as far apart as possible!) Seeing them all talk and laugh together was… weird. But good.


Reading to me while I cook.

Books read:

  • Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. NY: Dial  for Young Readers, 1976. Print.
  • Adler, David A., and Edward Miller. Time Zones. New York: Holiday House, 2010. Print.
  • Anderson, Catherine. Apple Orchard. Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2005. Print.
  • Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno’s Counting Book. New York: Crowell, 1977. Print.
  • Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno’s Magic Seeds. New York: Philomel, 1995. Print.
  • Asher, Sandy, and Keith Graves. Too Many Frogs! New York: Philomel, 2005. Print.
  • Badescu, Ramona, Benjamin Chaud, and Claudia Zoe. Bedrick. Pomelo Explores Color. New York: Enchanted Lion, 2012. Print.
  • Bailey, Jacqui, and Matthew Lilly. Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window, 2004. Print.
  • Batten, Mary, and Higgins Bond. Who Has a Belly Button? Atlanta, GA: Peachtree, 2004. Print.
  • Branley, Franklyn Mansfield, and Michael Rex. Sunshine Makes the Seasons. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2005. Print.
  • Brooks, Erik. Polar Opposites. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010. Print.
  • Bryan, Ashley. Beautiful Blackbird. New York: Atheneum  for Young Readers, 2003. Print.
  • Carter, David A. If You’re Happy and You Know It: A Pop-up Book. New York: Scholastic, 1997. Print.
  • Chabon, Michael, and Jake Parker. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2011. Print.
  • Cleary, Brian P., and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. The Punctuation Station. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook, 2010. Print.
  • Cleary, Brian P., and Martin Goneau. Dolphin, Fox, Hippo and Ox: What Is a Mammal? Minneapolis: Millbrook, 2013. Print.
  • Compestine, Ying Chang., and Tungwai Chau. The Runaway Rice Cake. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2001. Print.
  • Davis, Jim. Garfield Tips the Scales: His 8th Book. New York: Ballantine, 2004. Print.
  • Dodd, Emma. Meow Said the Cow. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2011. Print.
  • Dormer, Frank W. The Obstinate Pen. New York: Henry Holt, 2012. Print.
  • Ehlert, Lois. Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count on. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. Print.
  • Emberley, Rebecca, and Ed Emberley. Chicken Little. New York: Roaring Brook, 2009. Print.
  • Eversole, Robyn, and Scott Campbell. East Dragon, West Dragon. New York: Atheneum  for Young Readers, 2012. Print. Another favorite. Has been checked out a few times.
  • Gibbons, Gail. The Reasons for Seasons. New York: Holiday House, 1995. Print.
  • Graham, Ian, and David Antram. You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the First Submarine!: An Undersea Expedition You’d Rather Avoid. New York: Franklin Watts, 2009. Print.
  • Gravett, Emily. Spells. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2009. Print. Fiction.
  • Hamilton, Martha, Mitch Weiss, and Baird Hoffmire. The Big Wide-mouth Frog. Atlanta: August House Story Cove, 2009. Print.
  • Harris, Robie H., and Nadine Bernard Westcott. Who Has What?: All about Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2011. Print.
  • Hong, Lily Toy. Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale. Morton Grove, IL: A. Whitman, 1993. Print.
  • Intriago, Patricia. Dot. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. Print.
  • Jacobs, Paul DuBois., Jennifer Swender, and Selina Alko. My Subway Ride. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2004. Print.
  • Jeffers, Oliver. Up and down. New York: Philomel, 2010. Print.
  • Kimmel, Eric A., and Janet Stevens. Anansi and the Talking Melon. New York: Holiday House, 1994. Print.
  • LaMarche, Jim, Wilhelm Grimm, and Jacob Grimm. The Elves and the Shoemaker. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2003. Print. This one has the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen for this story.
  • Lichtenheld, Tom, and Ezra Fields-Meyer. E-mergency! San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2011. Print.
  • Lin, Grace. Dim Sum for Everyone! New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. Print.
  • Lionni, Leo. An Extraordinary Egg. New York: Dragonfly, 1998. Print.
  • Lobel, Arnold, and Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad Are Friends. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. Print. Started in February. Not yet finished.
  • London, Jonathan, and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy Goes to Hawaii. New York: Viking, 2011. Print.
  • London, Jonathan, and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy’s First Kiss. New York: Puffin, 2000. Print.
  • Long, Ethan. The Croaky Pokey! New York: Holiday House, 2011. Print.
  • Mosel, Arlene, and Blair Lent. Tikki Tikki Tembo. New York: Square Fish, 2007. Print.
  • Muth, Jon J. Zen Ghosts. New York: Scholastic, 2010. Print.
  • Newman, Jeff. Hand Book. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2011. Print.
  • Orona-Ramirez, Kristy, and Jonathan Warmday. Kiki’s Journey. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book, 2006. Print.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope., and Sal Murdocca. Carnival at Candlelight Magic Tree House #33. New York: Random House, 2005. Print. Audiobook.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope., and Sal Murdocca. Season of the Sandstorms / a Merlin Mission. N.Y.: Handom House, 2005. Print. Audiobook.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Tree House #36: Blizzard of the Blue Moon. Imagination Studio; Unabridged Edition (September 26, 2006): n.p., n.d. Print. Audiobook.
  • Parr, Todd. The I’m Not Scared Book. New York: Little, Brown, 2011. Print.
  • Paye, Won-Ldy, Margaret H. Lippert, and Julie Paschkis. The Talking Vegetables. New York: Henry Holt, 2006. Print.
  • Peters, Andrew, Polly Peters, and James Coplestone. The No-no Bird. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2009. Print.
  • Pinkney, Jerry. Three Little Kittens. New York: Dial  for Young Readers, 2010. Print.
  • Portis, Antoinette. A Penguin Story. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
  • Posada, Mia. Guess What Is Growing inside This Egg. Minneapolis: Millbrook, 2007. Print.
  • Rey, Margret, and H. A. Rey. Curious George Goes to the Hospital,. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966. Print.
  • Rinker, Sherri Duskey., and Tom Lichtenheld. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2011. Print.
  • Růžička, Oldřich, and Tomáš Tůma. Mysteries of Egypt. Richmond Hill, Ont.: Firefly, 2011. Print.
  • Santat, Dan. The Guild of Geniuses. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2004. Print.
  • Schaefer, Carole Lexa., and Pierr Morgan. Dragon Dancing. New York: Viking, 2007. Print.
  • Schaefer, Lola M., and Geoff Waring. Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size! San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2010. Print.
  • Schwartz, Corey Rosen., and Dan Santat. The Three Ninja Pigs. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. Print.
  • Scotton, Rob. Splat Says Thank You. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012. Print.
  • Serafini, Frank. Looking Closely along the Shore. Toronto: Kids Can, 2008. Print.
  • Stampler, Ann Redisch., and Carol Liddiment. The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman &, 2012. Print.
  • Thomas, Shelley Moore., and Jennifer Plecas. A Cold Winter’s Good Knight. New York: Dutton Children’s, 2008. Print.
  • Van, Lieshout Maria. Hopper and Wilson. New York: Philomel, 2011. Print.
  • Wahman, Wendy. A Cat like That. New York: Henry Holt, 2011. Print. This one is ALWAYS a favorite. We’ve checked it out several times across two library systems.
  • Walsh, Joanna, and Judi Abbot. The Biggest Kiss. London: Simon & Schuster Children’s, 2010. Print.
  • Wells, Robert E. How Do You Know What Time It Is? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2002. Print.
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls, and Garth Williams. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Harper & Bros., 1953. Print.
  • Willems, Mo. My Friend Is Sad. New York: Hyperion  for Children, 2007. Print.
  • Wilson, Karma, and Jane Chapman. What’s in the Egg, Little Pip? New York: Margaret K. McElderry, 2010. Print.
  • Wood, Douglas, and Wendy Popp. Where the Sunrise Begins. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2010. Print.
  • Yu, Li-Qiong, and Cheng-Liang Zhu. A New Year’s Reunion. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2011. Print.