Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Same old, same old.

I haven't had much blog material lately.  Mostly because I would be writing the same post every day.  The same things you've probably read here, oh, at least a dozen times before.

Life is soooo busy.  I'm stressed out of my mind.  The laundry isn't caught up.  My house is a wreck.  I haven't cleaned the bathroom in over a month.  Becks is still terrible-two-ish (and very sweet at times too!).  I can't believe how fast the year has gone by.  School is running me dry.  Grad school is a load of busy work.  I am tired, tired, tired.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes I wonder if being busy is a blessing or a curse.  Because I usually thrive when I'm most busy.  I budget my time more wisely, I think better on my feet, and feel most creative when it's crunch time. 

But this busy - the kind of busy where I do stupid things like forget to complete the application for a grad school class that is, gulp, due tomorrow - this busy is anxiety-inducing and not-so-much inspiring.  I am drained. 

I wish I could add about four additional weekends in the month of December just so I have time to enjoy the season and still find the time to create Christmas-themed units for my classroom and holiday shop and find the time to make a homemade pumpkin pie because I've never made one in my life. 

But, again, this busy-ness is nothing new.  It's a season in our lives.  And, admittedly, if I were speaking in terms of semesters, this one really has gone by quickly.  What was once August is now December. Crazy. 

Stop and smell the poinsettias, anyone?

Baby Signs!

For the past couple of months, we have been teaching Taitum some baby signs. Actually, it has been mostly Piper teaching her the signs. We have a DVD - Baby Einstein My First Signs - that Piper watched. She then started showing Tait and I what the signs were for different things. Its been so neat to see the older sibling teach the younger something new!  Taitum has caught right on and uses the signs she knows on a regular basis. Of course, if she can get away with whining for something instead of signing 'please', she will so we try and encourage her to use it.

When Piper was this age, I opted not to teach signs because I was concerned it would interfere with her learning to talk. I was proven wrong when she ended up being a late talker anyways! Taitum, on the other hand, is already saying many words regardless of the fact that she signs as well.

Overall, I am enjoying seeing my baby use signs and learn to communicate with us through them. We have only used ones so far that are very functional such as 'more', 'please' and 'milk'. She is in the process of learning 'baby' and 'thank you'. I really love the fact that I can teach her to use her manners even though she can't speak yet!

Here is a little sample of Taitum using her signs. Big sister Piper is helping to keep her on task! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Angel giving tree.

So I found out that The Salvation Army pairs up with JCPenney's to offer online Angel adoptions for Christmas called the Angel Giving Tree.  You can adopt children or senior citizens who are in need.  It doesn't cost to adopt but you get a list of the child's needs and wants.  You can adopt someone in your area, or someone across the country.  It doesn't say names... just age and location.  

I adopted my angel yesterday.  I'm not saying that I have everything I need.  But I feel SO very blessed and fortunate to have so many people who want to help our family.  And all our family needs this Christmas is a miracle of healing for Tripp, so all I can ask for is prayers.  But if I could have ONE Christmas wish it would be for everyone I know to adopt someone in need this year.  Either here at the Angel Giving Tree, or by going to your local church and asking for a family to adopt, or however you can help make Christmas a little more special for someone in need.  It breaks my heart to think that there are children who don't get anything at all for Christmas, when Tripp has 457 toys just lying around.  You don't have to get anything big... just maybe a doll, or some toy trucks.  Or even a t-shirt or a pair of shoes.  I know it will make you feel good this Christmas.  It made me feel good:)

But on a "Tripp" note, I'm starting to think he is nocturnal.  He likes to sleep all day so he can stay up all night.  And in the mornings when I "think" he's about to get up... I'll ask him, "Do you want to get up?" or "Do you want to rock-rock with Mommy?"  And he will most of the time get mad and turn to the other side, usually trying to slap me out of his face.  Poor man knows how bad it hurts to get up and start moving around so most of the time I have to drag him out of bed before it's nighttime again!  Then most days it will take him awhile after getting out of bed to actually want to try to sit up and play.  His eyes are hurting him so bad... he's still been pretty much hit or miss these days.  Sometimes you can tell he can't do a thing because his eyes bother him, and other times (especially after bath) he can play, dance, or throw a fit with the best of them.  

Gosh, I love him.  Some days (mostly morning or night when I'm laying next to him) I'll watch him with his poor squinchy eyebrows and his knees pulled up to his chest in pain.  Or worse, when he flops around like a fish because you can tell he's itching somewhere and can't scratch.  And don't even get me started on bath time.  That is just awful and we all (Tripp, mom and I) have to mentally prepare ourselves for it.  

Most of the time it really gets to me that I can actually be strong enough to watch my baby in so much pain.  I know that I have to be and that I don't have any other choice, but sometimes I just feel "cold."  This whole disease plays games with your emotions, you guys have probably figured that out by now.  But it's just weird to me that I can actually do all the things that I have to do to Tripp, and cause him SO much pain.  I WANT to break down and cry, don't get me wrong.  But it's like I'm just numb- going through the motions.  I don't know, it's hard to explain.  But I do know that I would literally give my life for him to never hurt again.  

But on a brighter note, I get to spend all day with...

 "Dr. Tripp."  

These pictures are WITH numbing drops in his eyes 
(shhh... don't tell his eye doctor)- "quality of life" is my motto:)

OH, and I almost forgot!!  Tripp learned how to say "book" today.  And it's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.  I will try to get it on video soon.  It makes us so proud when he learns a new sign.  It's so cute to see him watching us so closely and then trying to mimic us.  
I don't know how you can love one kid SO much. 


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Omiword.  I haven't blogged in four days!  Stop. The. World.

I have plenty of excuses, though.  All valid.

Here's why I haven't had a spare second to even so much as get on a computer {no, really, I haven't been online since Monday!}...

We left Wednesday morning for Meeeeechigan, and Becks made it his first car trip without a pacifier since the mice carried away the jee-bahs about three weeks ago .  We listened to "his music" (Taylor Swift) and only had to turn on the Wiggles for the last hour of the trip  He was extremely well-behaved in the car, much to our surprise. 
Don't you love when you tell them to "say cheese!" and this is what you get...

Obvs, we were up north for Thanksgiving.  We delighted in spending time with my extended family, and Becks had a ball with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  As always, the turkey was yummy, the pumpkin pies were whipped-creamy, and the Detroit Lions lost.  Some things never change.  {And if I have to hear the Ohio State fight song one more time today, I'm going to throw the remote at the TV.  Booooo on OU.} 

I went Black Friday shopping for the first time in my life.  Now, I've shopped the day after Thanksgiving before.  But not at 4:15am.  Now that's shopping on Black Friday.  My aunt and my sister somehow persuaded me into rising waaaay too early yesterday to accompany them to Meijer's so my sister could get an iPod touch.  And if you're up that early, you might as well grab and Eggnog Latte and continue on your merry way to every other store marketing doorbusters on November 26th.  So, I did.  And besides checking off Go Black Friday shopping at 4:15am off of my bucket list, I also scored some deal-icious Christmas loot.

Aubbers and Aunt Ann celebrating her buy...
We visited The Cider Mill in Franklin and Becks had a time throwing crackers to the ducks.  It was a balmy 22 degrees, so the hot donuts were a welcomed treat.  My sister suggested we alternate taking turns sticking out heads inside the donut bag to warm up.  It really was a good thought.

In one of the more exciting events of the past four days, Becks' dream came true and he acquired a set of hand-me-down wooden trains and tracks from my aunt.  Seriously, he loooooooves it.  I had a hard time dragging him away from it so he could take a nap today.  Thanks, Aunt Ann and Uncle Chris!  It was like Christmas come early :)

Well, our holiday weekend isn't over yet.  We have more family to visit with tonight back in our home state.  Happy Saturday, y'all!

Friday, November 26, 2010

"The Mitten" Lapbook

Recently, Piper brought home a book from her Mookie and Papa's - "The Mitten" by Jan Brett. She loved it and had me read it to her several nights in a row before bed. It is an adorable little story about a little Ukranian boy named Nicki who loses one of his mittens. Several different forest animals find it and squeeze in to keep warm until the mouse cozies up on the bear's nose causing him to sneeze! As always with Brett's books, the illustrations are beautiful and the story is fun and engaging!

Anyhow, around the same time, I had just discovered  lapbooks while cruising around a few of my favorite, newly found homeschool blogs: Homeschool Creations and 1+1+1=1. So I decided to give it a whirl myself by creating a lapbook of our own for Piper's homeschool preschool!

This is what her and I have been working on for the past couple of weeks...

The title page for our lapbook. The mitten is attached with velcro so that Piper can take it off to use during the story.

Here she is following along as I read the story, putting each animal in to the mitten as the story progresses.

She colored the animals in, we talked about what letter each started with, which one was biggest/smallest and about the animals that were not so common to her (such as hedgehog, mole and badger).

Piper LOVED this aspect of the lapbook!

This is the inside of the lapbook.

I made pattern cards of the fox, owl and rabbit and pattern boxes for her. We started out with simple AB patterns. She found this activity a little frustrating because sometimes she wanted to throw fox into a 'rabbit/owl' pattern but eventually she did get the hang of it!

These are the number mittens where she had to match the number on one mitten to the number of dots on another. She was a whiz at this! Pipe is crazy about numbers!

Next, color mittens. For this activity, I would tell her what color word was printed on the mitten and she would find the corresponding marker and color it in. She did really well with this too and rather enjoyed the chance to use her markers!

Piper lined up the different sized Nicki's from biggest to smallest. This one was a no brainer for her. I think I'll have to make it a bit more difficult next time around! (Notice Taitum goofing for the camera in the background! hehe!)

This one was thrown in for good measure! She had to line the letters up correctly to spell her name. She still doesn't know 'E' or 'R' very well so that part was a bit trickier!

But in the end she got it with a little help from Mama and was very proud of herself!

This is the back of the lapbook.

This was the shadow matching game I made of the animals from the book. Piper did this one easily too but enjoyed doing it over and over.

Overall, I would say our first lapbook has been a success! It was a wonderful way to work on all the new things Piper is learning in a way that really got her interested! We're looking forward to our next lapbook - a Christmas one! We're using the printables found here, in case you'd like to try it too!

Also, all of the images I used to make the prints for 'The Mitten' lapbook were found at Jan Brett's site. Its really worth taking a peek at since she offers tons of great resources for many of her books!

*Edit: I came across this awesome resource from Totally Tots: Once Upon a Book ~The Mitten. Fanatastic ideas related to the book! I wish I would have discovered it sooner!

COMING SOON: What we've been doing with the letter 'A' and the color green!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Day one year ago!

Turkey Day today!  

I have so much to be thankful for.  
I am so thankful for my little angel and the months that I've gotten to spend with him.  
I hope I have many, many more to come.  

I am thankful for my amazing mother... nothing I could ever do would repay her for what she's done for Tripp and I.  Her life has been put on hold for us.
I have such a great family and such great friends.  
I love you all so much.  
Thank you for loving my son like you do.  

God Bless,

My Biggest Fan

I have a couple really delicious recipes to share with you again but this time they were not my doing - they were my sweet hubby's! You see, this past week I have been 'lucky' enough to have caught my daughters cold. Instead of getting progressively better, it has gotten worse so that by the end of each day, I am wiped! So home comes Matt, ready, willing and able to cook our supper!

Here he is cooking up a storm! And the final product?....

They were so good! We've made them once before and they are a million times better then the box taco kits you buy! The shells are so much tastier too and don't fall apart in your hands. Also, we use Alymers Accents Spicy Red Pepper Diced Tomatoes instead of the ones the recipe for the taco meat calls for. I couldn't find that brand around here and Alymers worked perfectly well! As well, I recommend that you pierce the flatbread that you use for making the tacos with a fork! The first time we made them they puffed up like little taco balloons!

The next night he made a wonderful spaghetti dinner, too!

Finally, here's a tasty treat he made me last week when I wasn't feeling too great after a visit to the dentist:
Apple crumble! This is my most favorite comfort food! Its my Mom's recipe and it is so warm and satisfying - it definitely made me feel better!

Mom's Apple Crumble
Slice apples into a 9" square dish. Pour 1/2 cup water over apples and sprinkle with 3Tbsp. sugar.
Mix together 1c. flour, 1/4c. brown sugar, dash of nutmeg, 1tsp. cinnamon and 1/3c. margarine.
Pour over apples and bake at 350 for 1/2 an hour.

Anyhow, the past week really got me thinking about how important it is to have strong support when you're a stay-at-home mom. Matt is my biggest fan, always encouraging me in all the adventures and challenges I take on and fully supporting me in my roles as housewife and mama. I am just so thankful for a husband that enables me to do all that I want to do, has nothing but praise and adoration for me and my efforts and realizes that even mamas need sick days too!

~One of the best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"God, I Sad."

"The process of shaping the child shapes also the mother herself." ~Elizabeth Elliot

I was reminded today about how true this is. But first, some background....

Matt and I have been attending a parenting series at our church recently. They have been showing DVDs based on the book Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Although we have read the book before, we are still learning SO much! The emphasis is put on the need to deal with what's going on in your child's heart rather then just trying to correct their outward behaviour. Too often we try to manipulate our kids to get them to do what we want and to act how we want without caring about whether their actions are truly coming from their heart. In essence, we are creating little hypocrites by attempting to 'clean' the outside without first considering what is happening inside!

Although we haven't gotten through the whole series yet, we are trying already to implement some of what we are learning. The last video we saw emphasized the need for communication and talking with them about what is going on, why they are acting the way they are, guiding them through it and pointing them to the God who transforms hearts. We have been teaching Piper lately about having the right attitudes about things. Often she gets angry or sad about different situations and we have discussed with her about how such attitudes and actions are not loving towards God or those around her. We are teaching her to pray about how she is feeling and ask God to help her and to change her heart, since only He can. I must say it is pretty adorable to see her do this and then go on with what she was doing before with a better attitude. But it is encouraging too to see this habit being formed in her life already. Truthfully, I'm learning to apply this in my own life as well!

So this brings me back to the quote about how shaping the child shapes the parent as well. Today Piper needed my help in the bathroom. While I was in there with her, she noticed her bath toys sitting in the closet and asked for the rubber ducky. I said no, that he was only for bath time and that (I thought) was the end of it. I went back to the kitchen to continue making some cookie dough. From the kitchen, I could see Pipe sitting on her bed looking forlorn. I wasn't really sure why (I'd completely forgot about the ducky incident) but I continued to keep an eye on her to see what was happening. Soon I heard her talking, "God, I sad. Please help me. Amen." I stopped what I was doing and went in. I asked her what she was talking to God about. She explained that she was sad because she couldn't have the rubber duck so she told God! Needless to say my heart was filled with joy to see that my little girl was truly learning that God is the one to go to when there is something going on in your heart. But it was also so humbling for me. How often to I go through my day annoyed, anxious, angry or just plain sad and not take it to God? What my girl is learning is something I need to remember and cultivate in my own life - "Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you."

Monday, November 22, 2010

EB Blog Award

I'm so happy to say that my blog has been chosen for an award for being a resource to nurses at registerednurse.org.  This is awesome news to me, as spreading awareness is so important to me.  Now people across the country who are nurses, or seeking a nursing career- can read about EB, be aware, be prepared, and pass this information on to other nurses as well.  I think it is so important (no matter how rare EB is) for healthcare professionals to know what goes on in the lives of these children and their families.  I'm honored to have been chosen.  I received the following e-mail:

Dear Courtney,

Congratulations! Sarah here, and your blog, "EB"ing a Mommy, is an essential part of our resources!

As a website dedicated to help those consider a career as a registered nurse, we only provide the best information available.  Whether it's a resource that helps you understand a particular disease, or how to best interact with an Angelman's Syndrome patient, we provide them for those seeking to obtain this information.  This is why we've featured your blog, as it is one of the best to teach our readers.

You can see your blog and others at: 

Please check it out if you have a chance.  There are also a number of other blogs featured to educate future/current nurses about EB.  Thanks and have a great week!


Day 1: Christmas Traditions

{Christmas Traditions}
Some of my most memorable Christmas traditions originate with my family, and will likely carry over to my new little family this year.  This will be the first year we celebrate Christmas morning at our own home, just the three of us.  We decided last year we wanted to start some of our traditions, so that Becks would have memories like we did when we were young. So, I'll tell you about some of my {goofy} family traditions from growing up...
Christmas Eve service at church with my family, followed by a viewing of Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation.
Writing notes to Santa and leaving cookies for him, along with carrots for Rudolph.  I did this with my sisters even after I was married :)
My dad reading us T'was the Night Before Christmas as my sisters and I read in unison with him.  He found this very annoying and would threaten to stop reading every time we broke away in a fit of giggles as we mocked him.  He then read the story of the first Christmas from the Bible.  Again, this continued well into my marriage. 
My sisters and I all slept in the same bedroom, telling stories way after our parents forbade us to be up.  As long as we promised no to go downstairs this was acceptable.  (Family inside joke: an almost ruined down comforter after a midnight spill.  Bleh!!!)
Before getting married, my sisters and I awoke to "Santa's sleighbells" around 5am as he exited our rooftop.  Our Santa was a very excited kind of Santa who couldn't wait to wake us up on Christmas morning.  I kid you not, at 22-years-old, my heart woke with a flutter when I heard the bells chime, even knowing their source wasn't from the pawing and prancing of Rudolph above.  After Chels and I got married, and as the brood of grandkiddos increased to 3, we still continued this tradition. 
Whoever wakes up first has to alert the other two and then we "wake my parents up."  My dad goes downstairs first and always exlaims Holy Toledo! when he sees the presents under the tree.  We all sit on the stairs while my dad starts the fire and my mom makes coffee, waiting for the okay. 
Here is the customary picture my mom snaps every Christmas morning.  We all look pretty awesome at 5am.

We all sit in the same spot in the living room every year, and request that our presents be scattered underneath the tree instead of grouped in piles.  My dad plays Santa and hands out presents v-e-r-y slowly to make the morning last as long as possible.

It makes me a little sad that these traditions will start to fade for us this year.  However, I do look forward to starting new ones with my boys :)

A Little Discovery That Makes Me Happy! (And Supports My OCD...)

Ok, so only some of you will appreciate this. You see, I make notes about everything and I bookmark stuff like there is no tomorrow! I need visual cues to remember things and I have so much on the go, I need reminders otherwise it all goes down the drain.

Exhibit A:
Yes, this is the side of my fridge and there are 6 lists and a calendar...

Exhibit B:

There is generally always a list like this sitting in front of my computer of things I need to do next time I get a chance to be online for any length of time. This way as I think of things throughout the day, I just jot them down so I won't forget in between times.

Exhibit C:

I just cleaned these up this afternoon so they're not so exciting right now but usually they are a mess of 'this and that' ideas and thoughts that hit me on the average day. I write them down, then try to pursue them further when time permits.

...I won't even show you all the folders under my 'Favorites'...

In case, you're wondering, I have been made fun of. At least I'm organized, right? But without boring you further with my obsessive, compulsive ways, I think I've proven my point. Which is why my new discovery is so exciting...EVERNOTE! I'd never heard of it until I was reading 1+1+1=1 the other day and it was discussed as being a very helpful tool! Rather then me trying to explain it, just watch this adorable little video:

Pretty cool, huh? Obviously, I installed it right away and have been going a little Evernote crazy since!

TinyPrints cards for EB Research

Hey guys... If you're looking for a Christmas card this year, check out these cards.  Courteney Cox, along with several other celebrities, have created these cards and they benefit the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.  What a great way to do donate to EB Research and also get some cute, fun Christmas cards made!!  


Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Pray without ceasing" -1 Thess 5:17

Hey guys.  Tripp actually had an okay day yesterday and and a pretty decent day today.  Today he actually sat on the floor for awhile and let us play with him, without fussing for us to pick him up.  That's a pretty big deal for him becuase he hasn't been doing that at all.  He still had his moments where he would feel bad and just want to rock... but you can at least tell that he WANTS to play, but just sometimes can't because his eyes hurt him too bad.  

Tripp is SO much fun when he actually "feels" like playing.  He has the best personality ever.  He's so funny and definitely keeps us on our toes.  He's to the point where he can tell us "no" and really know what it means.  And I have to say it's pretty darn cute when he's so rotten.  Like if he has your phone and you want it back- he says "no," or if he takes my mom's glasses and she needs them back- he says "no," And my favorite, when you ask him for a kiss- he says "no." 
Look how rotten...

I love this walker because it's older (we got it from a family member) and it's got 6 wheels instead of 4, so it helps him to turn easier without dragging his feet.  Some of you had asked questions about the walkers/bouncers awhile back... wondering how we used them without getting blisters.  I usually just leave a blanket in it so the blanket keeps the edges of the seat from touching him... and usually as long as he's bandaged up and no skin sneaks out, he's okay.  But that could change soon with all of this bouncing around he's doing now- like in this next video.  

He learned a new sign yesterday- Quiet or Shhhh.  It's so cute. We taught it to him after we realized that he gets a little attitude when we ask him to sign something and he doesn't want to.  So we taught him how to tell us "shhh.. or quiet"  Yes, I know... we're creating a monster.  He doesn't really know how to use it, though.  But he DOES know how to "slow" dance and "fast" dance (and the little fuss he gives the first time I ask him to do it, is what we get A LOT :) See?

This child LOVES music.  My favorite is when he's rocking in the rocking chair with his eyes closed, you start singing to him... and you can feel his back start to "bounce" to the rhythm that you're singing.  He's got the cutest little dance that he does to ANY music with that quick, jerking, head-nod.  It's just plain adorable.  Right now he loves The Itsy Bitsy Spider and I love when he does the "sun" part:)

And he also "wanted" to get in his swing yesterday... it probably messed up his eyes more, but hey- he gets what he wants.  Even if it's Grammy's glasses.  Watch how happy he gets when he knows he got what he wanted:)

Yes, today was the last day of his 10-day antibiotic cycle.  Could it be possible that they did their job and that his eyes are just bothering him now- yes.  Is it possible that in 1-2 or 3 days he will start feeling terrible again- yes.  But all I can do is be thankful for the good days that he does have and make sure I witness every second of his happiness and every second of his misery.  Because in all reality- I don't want to miss out on ANY SECOND of his life, no matter what. 

I'm on cloud nine when he's feeling just a little bit better- enough to actually make me believe that he has SOME quality of life.  Though when we bathed him yesterday... it was SO bad that I told my mom that my heart just sinks to my feet and I honestly would rather ANY alternative than for him to be in the pain that he's in (and the itching that he has).  But then about 30 minutes to an hour later- half way through bath- he's like a new boy.  It's like he feels 110% better.  And it's two totally different types of emotion for me.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster...  The good times are good and the bad times are BAD.  

But I'm learning.  I am learning SO much.  From Tripp...from others....and from God.  I'm realizing more and more each day why God chose me for this journey.  I was starving for Faith and missing SO much in my life.  For those of you who don't know by now... I am Catholic.  And up until last week, I was the Catholic who went to church every Sunday, and instead of flipping through the scriptures to see what mass was going to be about... I would flip through them to see how long they were going to be.  Or instead of giving my undivided attention during the Liturgy of the Eucharist... I would be looking around to see who all made it to church that day.  But for the past 2 weeks, a very close family friend, who is an amazing man of faith and who knows the Catholic religion inside and out, has been coming to study the Bible with me... and teaching me.  And I am BLOWN away.  I don't know if it's because us as Catholics receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation too early, or if it's just that we aren't taught IN DEPTH about our religion and faith at an early age.  But let me tell you... I am learning things that I never knew, getting questions answered that I've had for years, and growing in my faith each new day.  And I'm loving every minute.  

I know maybe that it's sad that it took something horrible like my son having EB for me to actually be READY to learn (because you have to be ready)... but maybe this is all part of the big plan.  Maybe He has big plans for me.  I already know that He has big plans for Tripp.  

We rejoice in the hope of God's glory.  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.  -Romans 5:2-4


Thanksgiving Activities for First Grade

I finally had the opportunity to do some themed planning, and after frequenting The First Grade Parade {my new FAVORITE blog!} I was inspired to incorporate lots of her Thanksgiving literacy activities into my own curriculum.  I owe her heaps of credit and am thankful that she posts so many easily doable activities on her site.  If you teach primary, you must check her out.  Enough italicizing, on with the projects!

It just so happened that we were studying long a words this week, and this darling printable was available at TFGP.  The kids could choose real words or "silly" {nonsense} words to write on the feathers, which is why this student wrote thave.  They're totally adorable. 
We read The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern, and then used a graphic organizer of the Mayflower to sort statements about what life was like aboard it.

 Afterwards, they created these adorable "suitcases" that they would pack if they were able to travel on the Mayflower in modern times. 
 We read so many Thanksgiving-themed books this week, that I forget the one we read before we created this Venn diagram about pilgrims and Indians.  I think it was about Squanto, though. 

 We created another graphic organizer that discussed things the pilgrims did in the 1600s compared to what we do in the 2000s.  Then, as a follow-up, the kids created a pilgrim child and were given the sentence starter "I can_____, but the pilgrims could not."

For morning work one day, I gave each child a copy of a Thanksgiving poem that they were to write for the Thanksgiving placemats we created.  The turkey feather spread were marker-tye-died coffee filters and turned out adorable.   

 We also made scrapook paper turkeys with button eyes.  Love them!  First grade artwork is the best!

This idea was my own and incorporates graphing, making predictions, along with connections.  After reading so much about the pilgrims plight on the Mayflower, I decided to give my kids a taste {literally} of what life may have been like.  They had to predict whether or not they thought they would like Mayflower fare - "salted beef" and "dry biscuits."  The "salted beef" was regular beef jerky and the "dry biscuits" were drop biscuits made from Jiffy mix.  The kids loved the taste test. 

Our focus in reading was predictions, so we created a prediction chart for T'was the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.  The kids loved this story!  We followed this activity with the scrapbook turkeys pictured above. 

 And, if you want to read the poem above clearer, here is the sample I showed the kids. 
Again, please remember that I borrowed many of these ideas for TFGP!