Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Events Leading Up To Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!  We had a great week :)

We had to really cram at the beginning of the week so we I could fully enjoy the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Here's what we did:


An at home day!  Oh my goodness, I love at home days :)  The girls did their 3 R's in the morning.  We were supposed to do art, but we really had to finish up our geography unit.  Skipping art seems to have become a habit.  That needs to change when we start back up next week ;)  In the afternoon the girls did geography.


Clearly, this cat loves playing dress up.

The girls did a tiny bit of school in the morning (math for Millie and reading for Elise) before heading out to piano lessons.  We're meeting up early now so we don't have to leave playgroup in a hurry in the future.  Millie is working on a really cute Christmas song called "Santa in the Snow."  Afterwards, we went to playgroup, which just happened to be at a big, old Victorian house.  There were cats there.  My girls were in heaven.


Geography, geography, and more geography.  Blah.  We crammed the rest of our unit study in so we could enjoy the rest of the day.  We finally finished, with just enough time for regular lessons.  I'm so glad to be done with the study of US geography.  Seriously.  We took a brain break mid way through the day, by taking the train down to the farmers market to get some squash.  It was fun to see the Christmas trees arriving!

The Rest of the Week:

Thanksgiving, family, great food, a trip to the Mall of America on Black Friday (bad idea!!)...  We have so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Regions of the USA - A (Very Basic) Unit Study

The reason I put this unit study together, is because I failed miserably at our state study.  This is my way of introducing the entire United States in 5 days.

The states in each region vary depending on what site I look at.  I really don't think it matters much at this point, I just wanted to introduce the states on a basic level before we move on to world geography.

Northeast Region (Day 1):
  • First, I had the girls label the map with the state and capital names.  
  • Then, I read all about the region, here.
  • While I read, the girls clipped out pictures from their state travel guides, and made a little collage.
  • We watched this video about the Northeast, and this video about weird Northeast points of interest (the second video makes reference to a haunted bridge, and being "stoned" when walking through a stone tunnel). 
  • Then, for fun, we made Boston Baked Beans for dinner.  The recipe is at the bottom of the link above.

Southwest Region (Day 2):
  • The girls labeled the states and capitals on their region map (I like this site for maps, but this one includes the entire Western side of the US.  I had to put a line through the middle to break it up.  See?
  • After that, I read to them about the region while they made collages out of their state travel guides.
  • We watched a video about the region.  It's just music and pictures, so it was nice to have on in the background while the girls worked on their collages.
  • For dinner, the girls helped make Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad.  Mmmm!

Northwest Region (Day 3):

  • We started out by labeling the states and capitals on their region maps (This region is the top half of the map we printed and divided up when we did the Southwest region).
  • I read about the region here, while the girls made collages out of state travel guides.
  • We watched this super short video about the amazing forests of the Pacific Northwest. (Then we watched a really awesome video about some kids on spring break kayaking in one of the rivers out there. Cool!)
  • For our activity, the girls made Native American bracelets using an American Girl kit.

Southern Region (Day 4):
  • The girls labeled the states and capitals on their region map
  • I read about the Southern states while the girls made collages out of their travel guides.  This link not only has great text for kids, but also a video.  Check them both out here.
  • For dinner, the girls helped prepare red beans and rice with sausage, and biscuits

Midwest (Day 5):
  • The girls labeled the states and capitals on their region maps
  • I read about the Midwest as the girls made collages out of their travel guides.
  • They watched this video.  It's old, but REALLY good. 
  • For dinner, we made tater tot hotdish and crescent rolls.  A true Minnesota feast ;)

That's it.  Quick and simple.  Well, technically it could simpler by not cooking or crafting, and just doing coloring pages instead.  There's certainly no shortage of free coloring pages on the web! 

Minne-So-Da Tater Tot Hotdish - Only 4 Ingredients!

Ready for authentic, easy, Minne-so-da Tater Tot hotdish?
It doesn't get much easier than this!  Here we go:

Minne-So-Da Tater Tot Hotdish
1 lb hamburger
1 can cream of celery
1 can cut green beans
1/2 bag of tater tots
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  While it's preheating, brown the hamburger.  Put the hamburger into a 2 qt glass baking dish, mix in the cream of celery and beans.  Level it all out.  Arrange the tater tots into a single layer on top.  Put into the oven for 45 minutes (uncovered).  Sprinkle some salt on top, if you want.  
Voila!  Easy peasy, right???
4 ingredients - Hamburger, cut beans, cream of celery, and tater tots
(Salt too, if you want.  I don't count that as an ingredient ;))

Brown the hamburger

Mix everything except tots together in a 2 qt hot dish pan

Level the ingredients out

Cover with a single layer of tater tots
 I'm so sorry I don't have a picture of the finished product.  As soon as it came out of the oven, my family devoured it.  

Oh, and don't you dare call it a casserole!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lil' Biologist Class, Christmas Shopping, and a Very Exhausted Mommy

Before I recap the week, I have to mention that Millie learned how to knit over the weekend!  We went to the farm to put the winter tires on the car, and Grandma Rira taught Millie how to knit.  She knitted on the way home, all weekend, and in her free time throughout the week.  If she gets stuck, she watches her knitting video.  She even taught herself how to make stripes.  I'm so excited for her!  Perhaps she can teach me to knit when I grow up ;)

This week was exhausting.  It caused me to crash hard by Friday.  Here are the events that led up to my Friday in bed:


We stayed home today.  The girls did their regular school work in the morning, and studied the Southwest region of the USA in the afternoon.  The girls made collages, watched a video about the region, and Elise and I made a super delicious Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad.  Mmmmm!


The girls did their 3 R's in the morning.  Millie is learning about and preparing to write a compare/contrast essay, learning about least common denominators and multiples, working on a spelling list, etc.  Elise is working on her addition facts and reading.  After lunch we had playgroup.  The big kids went sledding, while Elise sat on my lap until her friend showed up.  Then, they played outside in the snow.  We had to leave promptly at 3 to get to piano, much to the girls' dismay.   In the future, we're going to have piano lessons BEFORE playgroup.  It should make lunch time interesting on Tuesdays.


We had to get up bright and early to get Millie to Lil' Biologist class.  It was her first one (because we got lost on the way last time), and she absolutely loved it.  She made a couple new friends, learned all about deer, elk, and moose, and built a blind in the woods.  While she was at class, Elise and I had a mall date at the Mall of America.  It was so fun!  I let her lead the way, so we went to stores I normally don't go to, like the Alpaca store, Peep store, and the dollar store.  The girls did their regular school work in the afternoon.  I only got 4.5 hours of sleep, so I was sooooo tired by the afternoon. :(


Another night of 4.5 hours of sleep!  Oh boy, I could sure tell that I was about to crash.  No can do, though!  I had Christmas shopping to do!  Bud took the girls to Grandma Suzies house for the day, and I met up for our annual girls Christmas shopping adventure.  It was so fun!  We went to Target, the Mall of America, Hallmark, Petsmart, and Barnes and Noble.  I didn't even make a dent in my Christmas shopping.  We had so much fun.  After we picked up the girls, I took a nap on the couch.  Zzzzzzzz.  No school today, at all!  Lucky kids ;)


Day 3 of 4.5 hours of sleep!  Oh my goodness.  I woke up early to meet a friend for breakfast.  It was worth the lack of sleep :)  When I got home, I taught the girls their lessons, did some work that I had to do for our business, SciGirls, and personal finance, and then proceeded to sleep the afternoon away. Seriously.  I spent most of the day in bed.  It was sooooo necessary.  Tomorrow I'm not crawling out of bed until at LEAST 10 AM.

It was a great (albeit exhausting) week!  Next week is Thanksgiving!

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to this week, here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two Outings This Week? Perfect!

In a perfect homeschool week, here at Two Cowgirls Homeschool Academy, we'd have two outings.

It's very rare that we actually stick with our "two outing per week" rule.  The last time it happened was the last week of September.  Ha!

Here's what we did this week:


 It was a "hot cocoa in the morning" kind of day!  We had our first big snow fall of the year, so the girls got to celebrate with hot chocolate in the morning :)  They did their regular school (reading, math, English, piano, etc) in the morning.  After lunch we got started on day 1 of 5 of my new US geography plan.  They started with the Northeast region.  It was fun!  The girls really enjoyed making collages out of travel brochures.


School in the morning.  In the afternoon, plan A was thwarted by potentially bad roads from yesterdays snow storm.  We were going to go to our "once per month, super far away" play group, but ended up meeting with our regular Tuesday playgroup.  We went to Silverwood.  The moms sat inside, chit chatted, and drank coffee.  The kids went sledding and played in the snow.  It was great!!  Elise saw her old Doodle Buds teacher, who recognized her and remembered her name!  She was pretty excited.


SciGirls today!  Millie counts down the days until the next SciGirls meeting, she loves them so much! Today's class was a special non-science, etiquette event.  It was fabulous.  The group of 18 girls worked on their handshake, properly greeting a host(ess), table manners, etc.  Millie is ready to take another class with Ms. Miller! Elise had swimming lessons in the morning.  Grandma Suzie picked her up, and they spent the rest of the afternoon together, baking apple crisp.  Grandma sent us home with one.  It was so delicious!  Elise peeled and cut the apples herself :)


We stayed home today.  It was nice, since I've been so, so tired.  I slept until 10:30 AND took a nap.  Oy.  It must be the weather.  Millie had English and math tests, and did great on both.  Elise read and did her math.  She loves math, and requested that I let her do more math fact practice.  He he.  How could I say no to that??  The girls spent a LOT of time playing Legos, and Millie completed a couple challenges for DIY.


We were supposed to stay in all day, but ended up quickly finishing school, skipping geography, and going shopping at Target.  I guess we needed a day out after spending Thursday in ;)

This weekend bill find us going to Sunday school, a baby shower, and a farm visit!

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to this week, here!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Girl Scouts, DIY Club, and Nature Seekers Club

It was club week, it seems!  We had a lot going on.  By the time Friday came around, it was so nice so stay home and get some serious work done.

Here's the fun we had this week:


We started off the week at home.  The girls did their 3 R's in the morning, and played in the afternoon.  We were supposed to do geography, but I totally fell off the geography bandwagon.  In fact, we're so behind, that I had to rework our schedule.  Stay tuned.  I'm putting together a very basic state study that can be completed in 5 days or less. ;)


We started out the day doing Girl Scouts!  It was so much fun :)  It's crazy how much we can get done in 1 hour!  Playgroup was cancelled in the afternoon, so the kids worked on their DIY projects until it was time to go to piano.  It was a super fun, relaxed day.

Yarn art at Girl Scouts


Today was our second DIY club meet up!  We met at the Mall of America for a scavenger hunt.  Most of the group was sick, so it ended up being just my girls and one other friend.  They had a blast, and ended up completing the scavenger hunt with only 1 minute to spare.  We wrapped up the meeting with lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.  When we got home, I took a loooooong nap, and the kids worked on DIY projects.


In the morning, Elise did her school work, while Millie worked on NaNoWriMo. I am pretty sure she's really behind in her word count (so am I!!).  This year might be an incomplete NaNoWriMo year.  Sad!  Elise is doing a drawing challenge instead of NaNoWriMo, since she's too young.  She loves it! In the afternoon we met up with friends at Fort Snelling park for our Nature Seekers Club.  The kids learned about and looked for decomposers and other bugs.  The class ended when one of the friends fell and broke her arm :(

Slugs 'n bugs
Nothin' could be finer than swingin' from a viner! ;)


At home day!  Phew!  The girls both got all their school work done, and did some serious work on their DIY projects.  It was so nice to stay home, and get so much accomplished.  In the evening, we went to the 4-H annual banquet.  It was fun!  After the meeting portion of banquet, Millie and her friend did a project talk about a rocket they made in Rockets To The Rescue class.  Good times.

This weekend brings Sunday School, a STEM workshop through 4-H, and GIRLS NIGHT for me!!  Woo hoo!!

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to his week, here!

Friday, November 7, 2014

"The 3 R's" What Does It Mean?

I mention our 3 R's a lot in my weekly updates.  It's an easy, short way for saying "typing, piano, math, spelling, and reading."

Here's a look at what we do most days before lunch:

Millie - 5th Grade:

Typing - www.TypingWeb.com.  It's a great program, and it's free.

Math Drills - She uses www.Xtramath.org.  She's still working on her subtraction facts.  Once she gets 90% accuracy, she'll move on to her multiplication facts.  She's currently at 85%.

Piano - a variety of books, and meeting with a teacher once per week.

Math - Life of Fred

Spelling - She gets a list each week, based on words she USED that she spelled incorrectly.  We don't do tests.  She just has to print and write each word, and do a project using her spelling words each week.  It can be as simple as spelling out the words using stickers, to making a commercial using all the words in a script, and video taping it.

Reading - She has a list of books that she's reading throughout the year.  Right now she's focusing on NaNoWriMo, so I haven't assigned a book to her.  She's reading The Call Of The Wild because she wants to.  It's the "Classic Starts" version, which I wouldn't have assigned to her.  I purchased it before I read A Thomas Jefferson Education (a game changer, for sure!).

English - She's using Bob Jones English.  I love it!  Right now she's learning about plays, and writing her own "play" version of an Aesop Fable (The Horse and the Stag).

Elise - 1st Grade:

Math - Saxon 1.  Right now she's working on her "doubles facts," graphing, writing her numbers, and using a scale.  She loooooooves it.

Reading - She's plugging away at All About Reading.  She's averaging a lesson per week.

Literature - We read a story each week (unless I fall off the bandwagon, as I have the past two weeks), and do dictation or copy work, and a project based on the book.  Right now we're reading The Giving Tree and doing work based on that book (my favorite children's book off all time!).

So, those are our 3 R's.  We do these subjects in the morning, before lunch.  After lunch we dig into the "fun" subjects, like history, science, DIY, and personal exploration.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DIY.org Club Meeting - An Adventure

 Today (a very small) part of our DIY club met up for a scavenger hunt adventure at the Mall of America.  The original plan was to meet at our house, have the kids navigate the train system to get us all to the mall, do *something* there, and then come back.  The plan was thwarted by a major construction project on our parking ramp, rendering us without parking spaces for all the cars.

So, a scavenger hunt, it is!  The kids received a list of items to find and photograph throughout the mall.  They managed to complete the entire list with only one minute to spare!  It was awesome!

Way to go DIY club!

Here are the pictures they took:

A plant
Something $100-200

Group Photo
Posing like a mannequin 
A sculpture

A thousand of something
Something a 1 year old would buy

Something an 85 year old would like
Something Christmas-y
Dress up in an outfit


With a security guard
In front of a ride
A picture of a picture

And of course, close ups of a D, I, and Y.