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Visiting the Conservatory

We have a great conservatory quite close to us that we love to visit. It has several glass houses and some outdoor courtyard areas. They have seasonal exhibitions throughout the year. One of my favorites is coming up: poinsettas EVERYWHERE. The coloring is fantastic and, well, Christmas is my favorite season.


Kaelyn and I recently took a trip there with my mom. Just us which doesn’t happen very often. Typically we go with my nieces. I find it interesting that when we are with other people, Kaeyn is concerned with other people. She is particularly attached to her 7 year old cousin and wants to copy everything, sit right next to her, follow in her footsteps. When we are by ourselves, Kaelyn is highly interested in where we are and what we’re doing. She wants to discover, to look, to explore. I’m hoping to meld the two together but it’s a slow process.


We arrived ahead of my mom and waited outside. It was a beautiful day and we knew there wouldn’t be many of them left. Kaelyn would run away only to return a few moments later with rocks, acorns, and huge leaves that she found. “More nature! More nature!” was the call that accompanied her joyous expression.


The exhibit was Scary Plants which I hadn’t seen before. We attended a demonstration on some different scary plants. Kaelyn’s favorite was the Sensitive Plant where touching the leaves begins a chemical reaction that causes the leaves to close up. Moving leaves scare animals that would eat it so they tend to leave Sensitive Plants alone. We spent a lot of time talking about the different types of trapping plants. The Venus Fly Trap is the most popular but we were able to talk about many of the other types as well.



This light board is another favorite spot. There are different colored pegs that you stick in the holes. Push a button and it lights up. She organized them by color before sticking them up. She wanted me to draw something while she was busy. I don’t have a picture of my drawing (you’re welcome) but it did satisfy her request!


Being the beautiful day that it was, we spent significant time in two of the outdoor areas. Here she is looking at a rock she wanted to climb trying to decide if a bug was dead or alive. I’m not sure what happened to the other pictures I took while we were outside but she put on a whole play in the bonsai garden.


“Take a picture of me right here, Mom!” The glass houses go through different climates so you see different types plants. We talked about how the air felt different, played several rounds of “I Spy”, and wandered up and down the stairs.


As always, the always-there Chihuly sculptures are just magnificent. The colorful blown glass is beautiful and are exhibited in many different ways, some are very large!


Another photo request from Kaelyn. Large glittery swirly colored marbles. What’s not to love?

Learning Things:
  • Storytelling
  • Geography
  • Horticulture
  • Observation
  • Categorizing
  • Climates
  • Carnivorous Plants

Monthly Photos: August 2014

Something that I’d like to work on is my photography. I haven’t taken any classes yet and have barely begun to understand my camera. I do love my camera though so I’d like to develop a better photographer’s eye and understand lighting and all of the things that can help me take better photos.

One of the best things I can do is to look at the photos that I take and see why I like them. Since I wasn’t taking photos for the purpose of being better, these are mostly just ones I liked from last month.


We went to a tour of homes where we saw this lovely bowl of flowers and rocks. Kaelyn loves flowers and rocks so she asked for a picture with them.


This was actually taken with my phone. But I do love these two people in my life! We love when we can have snuggly mornings.


Also taken with my phone. I love natural lighting. I love all the green in this picture with the adorable girly girl in pink and purple.


Although I moved the little counter out of these photos, I should have picked up those papers! They bug me now but after a hot afternoon at the zoo (and about to head out to a movie with some friends), I really didn’t care. Kaelyn was so excited to try on her newly arrived dance clothes.


Augh! Stuff on the floor! And boy in the background but, you know, you do what you can. Focus on the cute girl.


I’m thinking I should have taken the picture straight on but there were probably people also trying to look at the cheetahs. We were waiting for a show to begin at the zoo so I pulled out the paper and supplies and the girls just went for it. They began with cheetahs but soon their papers had anything from tree frogs to flowers.


Exploring sock poi balls! I love her face.


I’ve seriously got to get better so I can capitalize on this girl! She is so adorable. Pictures turn out better when her hair isn’t in her face.


Working on a special project. She did so much of it!


Playing dress up. :-)

kid kitchen with k

She’s a natural model! (Why didn’t I turn the microwave light off?)

used paint water

I really really love this photo. I love the colors. I love the reminder of the activity. I think the composition is good.

Writing on a whiteboard

I like blurry backgrounds to help my eye skip over the mess that I know the entire background to be.

I know I have such a long ways to go!


Now you get to see some of Kaelyn’s photos. I love seeing what she was important to her.


At a friend’s house, she noticed the “twin” cars and begged to take a picture.


A toilet during the tour of homes we went through. Maybe she likes how clean it is? Haha. Just kidding… (maybe?)


I adore her reflection.


She is a girl! She loved this simple chandelier light and would enjoy one in her own bedroom.


She took several pictures to get one she liked.


What kid doesn’t like anything like this?


Kaelyn’s favorite. The pond. She walked very carefully to get the picture she wanted.

Kid in the Kitchen

Kaelyn has long been interested in helping out in the kitchen. From the time she was 2, she been helping knead dough and mixing dough. She’s taken on more and more kitchen duties (as desired–no requirements yet!) and bought her some kitchen tools of her very own.

And who can leave well enough alone? I saw a picture (source) and thought “how easy would that be?” Let me tell you, it was much easier than I thought.

Our ever changing house recently left me placing a nightstand in our guest room. Which is hardly ever used and I don’t really care about it looking the best right now. So while the nightstand gave that room a nice “oooo” factor, I didn’t think twice of snatching that nightstand when Kaelyn also saw the picture and had the appropriate “let’s do it right away!” response.

kid kitchen

5 minutes brought the nightstand from upstairs to the kitchen.

5 more minutes for wiping it down.

10 last minutes for loading it up. Items chosen by Kaelyn.

kid kitchen 2


Whenever I envisioned an island for my kitchen, it wasn’t exactly miniature in size. But this is so fantastic for us right now.

back of kid kitchen

Completely movable so I can still sweep underneath.  Kitty Jaeden really doesn’t get that she shouldn’t be clawing the back and since it isn’t all that pretty anyway, it may be getting some form of a makeover in a year from now when I get to it.

kid kitchen drawer

I do wish the drawer opened just a tiny bit further but it does work perfectly fine as is. We’ve got Kaelyn’s plates, bowls, and cups in there. Her silverware got a little dish so it’s easy to keep track of where it is.

kid kitchen with k

Underneath we have her snack box, napkins, cleaning wipes (she insisted!), and her kitchen tools.

This counter sees daily use! Kaelyn has taken it very seriously over the last month we’ve had it. It’s not a table, it’s a counter. It’s taken a bit to train everyone where her dishes go (“Grandpa must have done it”) but I think it’s all sorted out now.

This counter sees a lot of different uses. Not only is it for preparing foods, she crafts, draws, cleans rocks, AND MORE!

Preschool: Week 1

maze page

Completing the last page of a maze book. She can’t wait to begin the other maze book we have which is for ages 5-7. She feels so proud she can do work that says ages above her own.

cleaning up

Kaelyn asked to make pretzels after seeing a photo on Pinterest. We choose this recipe on This Week for Dinner because I happened to have self-rising flour that needed to be used.

flour on floor

We learned to check our measuring cup before moving it away from the mixing bowl.

shaping pretzels

We settled into shaping the pretzels. Kaelyn began to roll them, I finished making the long rope, and then Kaelyn took over again to make the pretzel shape.

buttering pretzels

“My favorite part is when I put the butter on.”

finished pretzels


Weird lighting…. (because seriously? My tablecloth is green, not gray.)

yummy pretzels

The recipe made 12 pretzels and we shared 5 of them, saved 1 for Daddy, and ate the remaining 6 between me, Kaelyn, and Uncle Jonathan.

reading at the library

We took a trip to the library and she spent 1 1/2 hours looking at superhero books by herself. ONE AND A HALF HOURS, people. MIND BOGGLING! She kept going back to the shelves for more and more.

sequencing letters

Then she spend another 30 minutes “making words” and wanting to know what they said. It amazes me that even though “nfspoqeho” sounds nothing like a word, she is still thrilled that she was writing. Who am I to argue?

learning how to cut

She learned how to cut on my straight cutter.

math clips

“Mooommm, I don’t want to do it.”

“Then don’t do it. You can choose to put it away and do something different.”



kneading dough

“Can we make blueberry pie?” She asks pointing to a picture in a book.

“Sure. Let’s look up some different recipes.”

Ultimately, she choose blueberry sweet rolls with lemon glaze found at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

I need to get her interested in other types of food! Hopefully our friends don’t mind sharing our extra treats.

blueberry sweet rolls

“My favorite part was mixing the blueberries very softly and gently.”


We read a book about zebras.

“Do you remember what a grassland is?”

“Yes! It is lots of grass that turns into hay but this one turns into flowers when it grows tall.

“What if it was called waterland?”

“There would be a big pond!”

“Hey! I saw a guy with hair like a zebra’s!” (I think she is talking about a mohawk rather than black and white stripes.)

art invitation

Painting is one of Kaelyn’s loves. She is always asking to paint and I’m terrible at allowing it very often! I needed to meal plan so I set up a table and chairs outside with an art invitation for Kaelyn and cookbooks for me. It is a hassle to do this because of where the shade is in our backyard and the location of the door into the house. Nevertheless, I can put on my big girl pants and do this every once in a while. It was ever so lovely!

painting flower

I had grabbed some nature items laying around that I thought maybe she’d be inspired to try and paint the flowers or use the sticks at paint brushes. Kaelyn immediately picked a flower to paint on which wasn’t at all something that had crossed my mind but I’m so very glad I was able to just sit back and watch how she choose to interpret my invitation.

painting a stick

She sat deep in thought mixing paints, choosing which brush to use, and how to use each item on the table.

I put out three colors only. I read somewhere that having colors that always make other beautiful colors (rather than a murky grey brown) is inspiring. As Kaelyn gains more knowledge about which colors combinations create the colors she’s after, I’ll probably allow more colors out at a time. Besides, I only had three small jars with lids to use. :-)

painted flower

“Mom, can we put this flower in an envelope and send it to Molly? She would really like it.”

Which sparked a little conversation on how flowers don’t hold up very well in the mail. Her next idea was a photograph that we can print and send.

finding a fresh flower

She ran out of nature items on the table and searched around for more. She found a flower on the ground that was closed up and examined how it was different from one that had bloomed already.

used paint water

Just a simple pleasure to look at.


The large stick didn’t make it into this picture. We brought it inside to be our dinner table art for a few nights. Now it is on display in her play area.

puppet show

A bit of dramatic play happened when Grandma T brought a shark puppet over. I love how creative Kaelyn was with the chairs to create her puppet show.


Today we began our first official day of preschool. We started this early for a few reasons.

1) We want to get the feel of what a full school year looks like so that if we continue to homeschool in the future, we won’t be majorly surprised by required school time. I say this kind of loosely because… well, I’m not counting hours. School hours include lunch and recess and going to the bathroom and learning how to wash your hands. I’m pretty sure we’ll have plenty of hours. But I am loosely counting days.

2) We want to take breaks throughout the year and starting now gives us time to do that.

3) My sister comes home from an 18-month mission for our church in June and we want to be “done” by then!

We’re taking a new approach to schooling this year and have all been pretty excited about it. We discussed, we shopped, we waited… until today! I’m still learning child-led/parent-guided so my approach right now is to go by her interests and see where it takes us.


“I want it to stay up like this.”


Discovering that the front cover isn't strong enough, she leans the pad of paper against the couch so she can write her name.

Discovering that the front cover isn’t strong enough, she leans the pad of paper against the couch so she can write her name.

We actually sat down to read when I remembered that an important part of a successful child-led environment is to document. So we quickly grabbed this pad of paper and a pen so I could take notes.


We began by reading a book about giraffes that we picked up at the library. We already learned what giraffes eat from our visit to The Wilds last week.

Reading the book asked a question of “how big is 12 inches for a giraffe’s hoof?” I wrote that down so we could visit it later. I loved how Kaelyn noticed subtle things like how the different breeds of giraffes have different coloring. She also wanted to point out any sighting of the word “the” that she could find.


Spelling words

Next I set up this space. While I’d love some actual alphabet letters (so she can handle the actual shape of the alphabet instead of squares), I don’t have them and I do have scrabble tiles. “This word spells giraffes,” I said, pointing to the book cover. Kaelyn piped up immediately with “Okay, I’ll try to find the word!”

Using alphabet cards

Using alphabet cards

She found several letters pretty quickly and turned over the letters that she didn’t need immediately but would need to finish her word. I gave her key ring with alphabet cards so she could find the lowercase r and remember what an uppercase R looked like.

Writing on a whiteboard

Writing on a whiteboard

When she proudly finished her work, I asked if she’d like to write it. She said yes and we got out a whiteboard.



“How many letters are in ‘graffes’?”



taping both papers

We revisited our hoof question and got some paper and taped it together, measured out 12 inches, and cut out a giraffe’s hoof.

"If I was a giraffe, my feet would be SO BIG!"

“If I was a giraffe, my feet would be SO BIG!”

We also looked up online what a giraffe hoofprint would look like and Kaelyn drew it on the paper.

more writing

more writing

At this point, the giraffe book was still open and Kaelyn wanted to do more copying.



With an interest in giraffes waning, Kaelyn asked if she could prepare her lesson for Family Home Evening. “I want to teach about Jesus having nails in his hands.” She asked for pipe cleaners, a gingerbread man cutout, glitter glue, and googly eyes.

Kara kitty also asked for pipe cleaners.

First Day Evaluation

Kaelyn: I think it was fantastic! It was great. I had fun. I liked it. I liked it all. We should do it again! Can we do my zebra book next time?

Me: I’m so glad I prepared for this! I was able to easily access things I needed. I had lost the alphabet key ring until last week so I’m happy to have found that. We spent about 1 1/2 hours on the above things.

On a separate note, our reorganized play area is working really really really well! It is super easy for her to put things away because we aren’t fitting too much on the shelves. We’ve even had some little friends over and they could also put things away.

As I’m typing this, Kaelyn is playing with wood shapes and animals and some fabric animals in an open space. “Is there anyone here that can watch my animals?” “Yes.” “Ow! The chair is very sharp.” “Oh no!”