Friday, November 4, 2011

Wrapping Up Our First 9 Weeks

Wow! What a ride!

Our first 9 weeks is coming to an end, and it has been such a learning experience for me. Adjusting to a new curriculum and homeschool two kids full-time while caring for a baby has taken more out of me than I ever expected, but it has also blessed me beyond what I expected.

Princess has been so absorbed in learning everything she can about creation and the Egyptian and Jewish cultures. In our study of these cultures, she's read Genesis through Dueteronomy in her children's Bible. Plus, I've been able to feed into her creative side with crafts and various projects (salt maps, paddle dolls, cereal box structures, pottery, etc.) without breaking the bank or pulling my hair out. In math, she's blown through 50+ lessons and still going strong. She's grasping concepts and a crazy rate and acing all of her tests. I'm so proud of her! Science is by far one of her favorite subjects. So far this year, we've studied what botany is, seeds and the process of germination, and flowers both "regular" and carvivorous. We've been able to fit in so many experiments this year to really solidify the concepts she's learned!

Warrior has been eating school up as well. So far, he's learned letters A-O with very basic writing practice on them and numbers 0-9 also with writing practice. I'm having to work on some speech issues with him - nothing major, just normal things for his age like saying L sounds as a W (i.e. yellow is pronounced "yewwoh"). Arts and crafts abound in preschool as with most, but I really struggle with getting him to color. He does not like it at all but is getting better at trying. Somedays it just doesn't happen.

Sign language is something both kids are learning, and as important as I think it is for my children to be bilingual, it often gets put to the back burner. So far this year only two chapters plus fingerspelling have been learning, which as been about 40 signs. I had hoped we'd be a little closer to 5 chapters completed but somedays I have to cut something out to "get it all done".

In the last week, I was notified to one big change in our homeschool set up. Our wonderful piano teacher Miss S will no longer be teaching. She just had her second baby and feels very overwhelmed adjusting to it all and still maintaining a teaching schedule. Fortunately, I know a bit of piano; the kids' grandma knows piano; and their uncle is a music teacher. This helps with my stress of losing such a wonderful element to our school!

Friday, October 7, 2011

God's Work of Art

Homeschooling is stressful! We mom's have frustrating days, impatient days, tired days, don't-wanna-work days all intertwined with our wonderful, good, amazing days. It can be so, so hard to push through these days with our negative mental states rubbing off on our children.

So, what helps me when I get in this funk? Prayer is the obvious choice, but the following story shared by Carol Barnier helps me remember how God views my kids.


An artist was once asked what the hardest part of his job is. He replied, "Hearing criticism of my work before it is completed".

One day a young mom was so frustrated with her child. The child was disobedient and argumentative. The child was taking extra long completing every task, leading to more frustration and impatience for mom. After many hours of stress building, the young mom lost her cool and lashed out at her little one.

That's when she heard the voice God whisper sadly in her ear, "Mom, please don't criticize. I'm not finished with her yet."


The first time I heard this story, I was left with tears in my eyes. How many times had I lost my cool with my own little ones? How many times have I forgotten to look at them through our Heavenly Father's eyes?

Remember, Mom, no matter how trying this journey of homeschooling or even motherhood is, your child is a wonderful work of art. One that God is still molding and perfecting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why! Hello, Mr. Firefighter!

Field trips are always great fun for my kids. It gets them out of the house when they are supposed to be in school, and they love the temporary change in routine. (Of course I believe routine is important, so field trips are a rare treat in our house.)

Our tour began with none other than the fire engines! The kids loved getting to go through the big engine and sitting in the same seats the guys did. One of the smaller engines held extra hoses for use on larger calls. We also were able to go through the HazMat truck.

One of the most interesting aspects of the tour for the kids was getting to see one of the firemen put on all of their gear. He explained that they are expected to get on 30+ pounds of gear on in less than 60 seconds! I think I could give them a run for their money some mornings with that time! Once onsite, they pile on another 40 or so pounds of gear for a total of 70+ pounds of gear! Wow!

As a mom, the most important element to the whole presentation occured after he got into his gear. He crawled toward each child, so they could see that a firefighter in gear is not a scary monster but a real person under all that stuff. Princess and Warrior were both a little apprehensive at first, but I think it was so beneficial for them to see a fully geared person down on their level.

One special aspect to our tour was that we were able to see the crew's bunks. Since they are an all-male unit (only one female has ever applied and ended up turning down a job), females are not usually allowed in this area.

Last but certainly not least, we were all reminded of how important it is to have functioning smoke/fire detectors in your home and to have a plan in place in the event of a home fire. If you have yet to do this with your family, I urge you to put together a plan and PRACTICE it immediately! Nothing is worth putting off that could safe the life of one of your precious babies!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Geography...the fun way!

Step away from the worksheets! Put the pencils down! Stop labeling maps!

Geography doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to be all pencil pushing. When it comes to making geography fun, get hands on! Even your most determined book and worksheet learners will have fun with salt dough maps!

First step is to make salt dough. You can find a multitude of recipes through a simple Google search. I love using salt dough for crafts because it is safe if ingested. We used the recipe found in the Tapestry of Grace curriculum. *Note: You can use wheat flour if that is all you have in the cabinet. I did, and it worked great!

Next, have your child build a country of their liking on a paintable surface. We used one side of a broken down cardboard box. Push toothpicks into the landforms you want your child to identify. Allow map to dry at least 24 hours.

Third, have your student paint the map. This was by far Princess's favorite step! We even used some blue glitter glue on the smaller water bodies to make it pretty!

Last but certainly not least, make labels for each landform and attach to the toothpicks. I used basic Avery address labels and folded them in half around the toothpicks.

Princess had so much fun doing this activity and it made learning geographic terms so much easier for her because she saw the formations come to life on her map! She was so excited to share her schoolwork with Daddy when he got home. Always a plus for me since he doesn't have to ask "so, what did you do in school today?" 

Another fun variation on this activity is to use cookie dough and "paint" your map with icing after baking it -- geography and a snack all rolled into one! I look forward to testing out this variation as soon as possible!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Duggar Blog Giveaway

Duggar Family Blog is giving away two copies of "17 Kids and Counting" on DVD!

To enter, click here!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Summer Vacation

I never really like this back to school writing assignment as a kid, and here I am as an adult happily writing about our summer! LOL!

Most homeschoolers I know don't really have a summer vacation. We are fortunate enough to have vacations all year round whenever we want to take them! This year, though, I took a summer vacation from school. Between a new baby, our usual summer activities, major changes in my husband's work schedule and life in general, things were just too chaotic to add formal schooling into the mix.

Of course, that didn't mean the learning stopped! Really, does it ever?

My eldest two (we'll call them Princess and Warrior since that's basically what their names mean) participated in the public library's annual summer reading program. At nearly 40 hours of combined reading time between the two, Princess took top reader award, and Warrior place 5th overall! Not bad for a little guy competing against the "big" kindergarten aged kids! In addition to doing so well with their reading, they each won perfect attendance prizes, and all participants received a prize just for signing up!

Princess also spent two weeks at Vacation Bible School. In June, she participated in our home church's program using the theme "Hometown Nazereth". What an awesome time she had learning about life for Jesus when he was a kid! The end of July brought our community wide VBS program put on by 3 different churches working together. Warrior joined her for this week and was so excited to be doing "big kid" things with his sister! They made a splash with a beach theme for the week as the two of them learned that no matter what they have a friend in Jesus, and they can always rely on Him.

Last but not least both Princess and Warrior took swim lessons at the public pool. This was such a great experience for each of them! Princess started out the summer fearful of having her face in the water. It was a real struggle for her to go under the water, but under the guidance of her wonderful teacher she made it into the big pool and started jumping off the diving board and fully submersed (even if for a second) in the deep end! I cannot tell you how proud I was of her immense bravery in conquering her fear!

Warrior was a little bit different story. He is my water bug and had no problem jumping off the edge of the big pool and putting his face under the water from the very beginning. A couple of times he had Mama scared with his lack of fear of the water! It only took two days for him to be asking to go off the diving board, and he looked so tiny up there waiting to jump!

So it is with excitement that I say "hello" to a new school year and with many memories leave summer 2011 behind us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts for 2011-2012 School Year

I feel like I need to get all my ideas, thoughts, gameplan, etc down in one spot.

2nd grade
We are dropping phonics this year! I know a lot of schools and homeschooling parents continue phonics through this year, but with as well as DD is reading, I just don't see it as a neccessity for this year. I never really used the Saxon literature supplements that went along with the program. The spelling in the Saxon program I loved, but I think I may have found something to replace it!

Math: Saxon 2
Science: Apologia Botany
All other academics/Bible: Tapestry of Grace
P.E.: YMCA combo dance class
Music: Piano lessons

Preschool (Year 2)
I looked over what we accomplished this year and took into consideration DS's age and desire for school before deciding that putting off Kindergarten another year was our best option. Many preschool curriculums, though, are LESS advanced than what we did this year. :-( I did find something that looks like a good bridge between what I've done with him this year and what Saxon K (phonics and math) will cover.

Preschool: Horizons by Alpha Omega Publishers

General Thoughts
Now, I just need to get a game plan going on how to purchase these items and from where. I usually pick up things from eBay, Craigslist, or Christian Book Distributors. I know that I cannot get the Tapestry of Grace curriculum from anywhere except the publisher, so that means a much higher price for those items and much more work on my part on raising money to purchase needed items.

I need to sit down and figure out some sort of schedule for fitting in two full school schedules. I feel like I failed miserably at this last school year. I do know I want to do a 4 day school week with Fridays as "catch up" days in the even we need to take some extra time on a subject or have something come up earlier in the week.

Also a change from last year is that I won't fill out the entire plan book for the year. I'll go back to doing it weekly. I still plan on pulling all worksheets and sorting then into daily folders like I did this year, which I think greatly helped with preparations for daily tasks. It was so easy just to grab a single folder and be ready with all of DDs schoolwork for that day. I'll definitely use this method for DS's schooling. I'm torn about it for DD's, though. On a homeschooling blog I follow, she uses a workbox system. Each night she puts all her kids' (4 or 5 of them) work in an organizer with multiple drawers, arranging them one subject per drawer. When the child sits down, they merely start at the top drawer and work their way down. DD is a very independent little girl, but I don't know if she's ready for something quite like this yet. Obviously I'd be right there able to provide assistance should she need any help with her work, but this way she wouldn't have to wait on me to finish something up with her brother. She could just move on at her own pace.

Then to figure in to any scheduling and planning is the baby. Come end of Aug/beginning of Sept, he'll be 3 months old. During the school year, he'll still be nursing and hitting all those phases of wanting to play more, learning to crawl, possibly working on walking, etc. There's always the question of what to do to keep him busy but not leaving him feeling ignored while I'm focused on the two older kids.

*Sigh* I'm thinking a call to Michelle Duggar is needed -- STAT! LOL!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where in the World Have I Been?

I looked back and realized I had pretty much fallen off the face of the Blogging World. :-(

Well, I have an explanation! That month I got pregnant with baby #3, and the morning sickness kicked in almost immediately continuing through the birth of our second son in June. (Yep, if you do the math, he was late.)

Now that we are into summer and looking ahead to the next school year, I hope to be blogging more. Plus, hopefully over the summer, I can get all my school stuff, pictures, and whatnot transfered over to my new computer!