Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

I know it's been a while, but we have been busy around here trying to get ready for the holidays.  Probably the most fun the kids have had this season is sharing everything with "Dell."  Dell is our Elf on the shelf.  Even though he has been around for a couple of years, this year has been my favorite so far.  With the kids being 4, 3, and 2 they are at such a fun age.  There is so much joy and excitement in their little bodies.  They hop out of bed every morning in search of Dell, they travel together and jump up and down screaming with delight when they find him.  He has been talked too, read too and even sang too on many occasions.  As much as the kids enjoy the search in the morning, sometimes my husband and I just liked to have a little bit of fun.  I wish I would have taken more pictures this year, but these are the ones I got.

Parachuting in on a balloon for my sons bday

Giving the dogs a treat

Hiding out in the popcorn popper

Drinking the syrup
Zip lining across the kitchen
Writing on the chalkboard before he left.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My second week off!

I hadn't thought much about how I was going to "schedule" my school year, there are just so many options.  Follow the public schools including their days off, go 9 months and take a month off around the holidays, 6 weeks on 1 week off, school year round, there are just so many to chose from.

Following my typical approach to homeschooling (and life,) I thought I would get started and see how things went.  I'm sure you remember I took my first "week off" when we went of vacation in September.  Then, after our Halloween Party I thought I would go ahead and take that week off as well.  It's looking like I might be leaning towards 6 weeks on, 1 week off, but still a work in progress.

So, my week off started great!  Come Wednesday, I was feeling nice and relaxed.  I guess I didn't realize how much stress/pressure I put on myself trying to get school done everyday.  It was just a freeing feeling knowing we didn't have to get our readings in or do our math lessons or work on writing our letters, we could just have fun!

Then, came Thursday!  Wow, what a difference a day makes.  Thursday was a crazy day!  You could just tell the kids were looking for that structure they are used to.  They kept asking about school and why we weren't doing it.  Asking if they could do math lessons, they wanted more than to just play and have fun.  This was a comforting feeling knowing I might be doing something right, but not very comforting on that day.  Friday we got out of the house to burn some energy and called it a week. 

Monday we were back in the swing of things and for the most part, happy to be doing school again!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Halloween Party

A couple of weeks ago my oldest daughter came up to me and said "Mommy, can we go back to preschool?"  My heart sank just about as low as it could go.  I then asked her why she thought she wanted to do that.  Her response was so she could have a Halloween party and get candy.  I asked if that was the only reason and she said "yep."  Whew, what a relief!  I then suggested we have our own Halloween party, she got all excited and went about her day. 

I'm sure you're thinking what I was thinking.  I better have 1 heck of a Halloween party for the kids.  Well, today was the day and I'm feeling pretty good about it!  

I decided to put all school work aside for the day and just have fun!  We started the day with a craft.  I got the idea from Family Fun Magazine October issue page 13. 

Granted, ours didn't turn out quite like the picture (they never do!) but the kids had fun.  We got to glue, tape, cut and color all in one project. 

Next we moved on to making ghost cookies.  Now, this was fun!  Simplest recipe.  We melted some white chocolate and spread it on Nutter Butter cookies, then topped them off with mini chocolate chips for the eyes.  I don't know about you, but my kids love to spread things.  Anytime they can "help" in the kitchen, they are all for it.  Making PB J's, butter on toast, peanut butter on crackers.  Whatever it is, if they can spread, they are happy!  I would like to say that I don't think Max actually finished making a whole cookie, but I do think his tummy is full of sugar =)


Once we finished the cookies, we decided it would be a good idea to share with some of our neighbor friends, so we wrapped them up to deliver them.

To keep the day rolling, I decided we should make mini pizza's for lunch.  Again, spreading the sauce was a hit.  Remember, this day is all about the kids having a good time.  Did I mention this was the worst day possible for our dogs to be at the groomers?!?  There was a lot of extra clean up involved on my part!


So after lunch, the kids got their goody bags.  Inside they had spider webs, Halloween stickers, pumpkin bubbles, expanding capsules, slap bracelets (these were new for them, so they were occupied for quite some time) and of course, candy!!  I couldn't believe I said yes when they asked to eat it, but hey, what's a Halloween party without candy?



Whew!  Nap time!  Yes, it is only 12:30.  The 3 big kids went to rest while I played with Ella a bit longer.  Got her down and got a quick shower in and it was 2 o'clock and the girls were up.  Time for another craft before Max wakes up.  Another owl it is.  Super easy and something they could do without much help, or clean up.

When Max woke up, we were able to soak our capsules and they turned into a ghost, a pumpkin, a bat and an owl. 

To end the afternoon on a high note, we got to go outside and blow bubbles, then play in the backyard for a while.  Plus, we got a video in there while I was making dinner. 

Once Daddy came home and we ate, we went right to work and started delivering cookies to our neighbors.  I just want to say what a wonderful experience this was for our entire family.  At first the kids were a little timid to walk up to strange houses, but by the end they were fighting to see who got to ring the doorbell.  We saw lots of friendly faces and even met a few new ones.  It was a great joy to see the smiles on every ones faces.

All in all, a successful day.  Did I mention I am EXHAUSTED?!?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

1 down, 3 to go!

Today was a big day for me.  Today, we finished our first quarter of school!  For those of you who don't know, a school year in the state of Kansas is considered 180 days or by my curriculum 36 weeks.  Today, we finished week 9 and I cannot express the joy it has brought.  I probably would not have noticed, however, some of the books we have been using, we finished today.  My first reaction was a little sad.  We are done with these books already??  Then I got totally pumped because I realized we are a quarter of the way through the year and I am still feeling energized and have no complaints on the homeschooling front. 

Laney finished her first book cover to cover and she has been telling everyone that has come through the door.  She is so excited to move onto her next book.  I have kept it put up in hopes to still have the same enthusiasm come Monday morning.

I truly can't believe how fast the time has gone.  In my mind, the best part is that it doesn't even seem like we have been doing official school.  To me, we have basically just been living life, having fun, and doing a little learning along the way.

Wish me luck for the next 3!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Little did I know!

For those of you who know me well, know that I like to be in control.  I am sure some of you think that is an understatement when it comes to my kids.  It is actually something I have been working on for a while now, but I am not sure how much progress I am making.  I guess I will have to ask my husband to chime in on that one.  A very general example would be when my husband is making a snack and I would say something like "maybe (he hates when I phrase things like this by the way) they would like such and such to eat."  I am sure whatever he was going to give them would be just fine, it's just not what I would have done and that's what I am trying to work on. 

Back to the point.  When I first started teaching the girls I thought for sure I had their learning styles down to a tee.  Addison really likes structure and would rather sit down and do her work at the same time every day.  She likes to know what's coming.  Laney on the other hand would rather jump around while doing flashcards than sit at a desk.  Little did I know!

So, me and my controlling ways thought I knew what I was doing.  Then one day, everything I thought I knew, changed.  I asked Addison a couple of times to work on writing her letters and she wasn't really into it.  I randomly handed her her paper and asked her to go sit down and write her letters.  Then and there she dropped to the floor and started writing.  I know it isn't the best way to learn to write, but she sure did her best and loved every second of it with no complaints.

At this point I knew I needed to let her lead the way.  While doing math flash cards, she likes to lay on the coffee table and just listen to what I am asking, and yes, that is her counting her fingers.  I was certain she liked to look at the numbers and digest the information that way, little did I know!

As far as her reading, she will read anywhere and everywhere.  So, it wasn't a big surprise to me she was standing up reading a couple of days ago.  We went to the bookstore today and she even tried to read while walking through the mall, but I had to put a stop to that one =)

As for Laney, she is still my ball of energy.  I thought for sure she would be the one who didn't sit still for school, little did I know!  When she is reading, she loves to sit nice and close on the couch and cuddle up while she reads.  Very structured.  She sits down, reads her story, answers comprehension questions and moves on with her day.

I am also amazed at how long Laney will sit still while doing crafts, coloring, play dough, anything like that.  She will sit up at the counter all day if I let her.  Look at her focus while doing a collage.

And just because I don't get to talk about Max very much, I am going to predict that he will like having his own space.  I am sure there will be a future blog in about a year letting you know how wrong I am, but I thought I would go ahead and give it a shot.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pajama Day!

On the last day of week 7, we had pajama day!  I must admit, I am actually proud of myself for making it through 7 full weeks before spending the entire day in our pajamas.  This wasn't a planned "event" but what is around here?!?

It was around 9:00 Friday morning and we had a little catching up to do for the week, because we had 3 sick, including me.  I thought I would try and motivate the kids to get all their "school" done in the morning and have a fun and relaxing afternoon by letting them choose what they wanted to do.  Boy, was that a success.  They were so excited and thought it was the coolest thing ever to stay in their PJ's all day!  It definitely helped when someone new walked in the door and said, "You're still in your PJ's!"  They got a huge kick out of that and then they got to tell them what we were up to for the day.

Now when someone asks me if there are days homeschoolers don't get out of their PJ's, I can officially say YES!!

I would like to mention that my little Laney took "relaxing afternoon" to a whole new level.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My "Week Off"

Well, we made it through our first 5 weeks of school and then we took a week off.  I know this isn't a traditional schedule, but that's one of the best parts about homeschooling!

We took a family vacation to Florida and in my mind that meant taking a mental break.  My kids asked if we could bring "school" with us and I reluctantly told them no because I didn't want to haul a bunch of books down with us.  We did pack a few books to read and their Leap Pads for the plane and that was about it. 

A few days went by of pure fun in the sun, but you could tell the girls were looking for something more.  We had talked about all sorts of shells, birds and fish, but they were ready to see them.  This is where our morning "ritual" started.  At 7:00 (before the sun came up) we would grab a breakfast bar and walk down to the beach.  This was the best time to look for shells and it was also the best time to look for live shells which was a hit with the kids.  They would turn over many shells and the excitement on their faces when they found a live one was priceless!

To continue our morning, we would stop by Starbucks on the way home so the adults could get some caffeine and head home for breakfast.  We would eat and then go straight back to the beach to see what we could find. 

One day I could tell the kids were getting a little bored of the beach so I asked if they wanted to do some school and they were all for it.  I took a shovel and made a smooth, flat space and called it a sand board.  This is where they could work on writing their letters.  I starting by giving them letters and words to write, then they just enjoyed writing by themselves.

This continued for a while, then I heard the dreaded question, "What are we doing next for school?"  I was hoping we had moved past it, but I was wrong.  In a desperate attempt to keep everyone happy, I reminded them of the story The Crow and the Pitcher. which we have read many times.  I had the girls fill up their buckets with water and we talked about water displacement.  We saw how much sand, shells and even body parts it took to make the water overflow.  It may not have been planned, but it worked.

In the house we were staying, they had posters of all the fish, birds, and shells of Captiva Island.  I don't think a day went by when we weren't looking at those posters talking about what we saw.  It is amazing the things kids can remember when they want.  It would always be a great conversation starter because they were always so curious.  These moments make me feel truly blessed that homeschooling is an option for our family.

For as much as I thought were weren't going to "do school" this week, teachable moments kept popping up, so I had to take advantage.  It reminds me how fun it is to teach when they are so interested in what you have to say.  It also reminds me to keep things fresh.  Even though we can't go on vacation every couple of months, there are a thousand different things we can do at home to keep learning fun for them.

Oh, and I don't want to forget to mention, we had our normal reading time every day =)

So, did I take the week off? No! Would I change my week?  Absolutely not!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Words that made me smile =)

Over the weekend there were a few things said that touched my heart.  I wanted to write them down so I will never forget.

Saturday morning at breakfast Laney said "Mommy, when are we starting school?"  I usually start reading to them while they are eating breakfast and she was ready for some stories.  Who knew she was so into it!

Later that morning, we were talking about our upcoming trip to Florida and Addison said, "Mommy, can we bring school with us?"  I asked her exactly what she wanted to bring.  She mentioned some books and her Bible and even her math workbook.  I was planning on taking the week off, but I guess that's what I get for planning =)

At church on Sunday a mom I had never met came up to me and told me how excited Addison was that I was her teacher.  Apparently, she was telling everyone in her class she was homeschooled!

Later that afternoon my mom and I took the girls to get their first pedicures before our trip and Addison had a long conversation with the person doing her nails about how she was homeschooled and everything she loved about it.  I am sure I was just beaming as I sat there listening to what she had to say.  When she was finished, the nail technician came up to me and told me how articulate and smart she was for 4.  Big smiles!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It Takes a Village Part 2

There are 3 very key people in our village.  My dad (Tom) my mom (Mimi) her husband (Papa Gerry.)  Without these 3 people, I don't know how I would survive some days.  There are countless other friends and family members that are always willing to lend a helping hand, and we thank God for them every day. 

In my last post (which got posted 5 days after I started writing it,) it ended with a new project for us to start.  My goal was to paint the bird house Thursday afternoon.  My son ended up breaking his leg (an entire other blog!!) so the painting got put on hold, so I pushed it to Friday and then to Saturday.  The house has been a little crazy with all the chaos involving Max's broken leg.  People coming and going, kids being shuffled around while we took Max to numerous doctors appointments and not really any sort of normalcy going on.  Any of you that know my kids, know we need some sort of routine or things get a little crazy!

In comes the village.  Instead of trying to find just the right time to paint the bird house which can be a little tricky when it is 1 on 4, I asked my mom if she was up for it.  She took the 3 older kids Saturday afternoon and were able to successfully get that bird house painted.  2 on 3 is way better odds when paint is involved =) 

Not only did the kids have a great time, a huge mess was not made.  Well, there is always Max and he, of course, tried to eat the paint.

Addison and Laney decided they wanted to have a pink bird house.

And Max wanted a green roof.

And the finished product...

Monday, August 20, 2012

It takes a village...

So, we've all heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."  Well, I am truly blessed to have a village and what a wonderful village it is!  It is my hopes and dreams to use that village to help with our homeschooling. 
  • It will give the kids a change of pace and keep things fresh.
  • I certainly don't know everything!
  • It will give family members and friends the opportunity to share their knowledge with our children.
  • It will teach the kids they can learn anywhere, any time and from any person.
Well, I thought I would put the village to work and it was a success!!  This week we read about Noah's ark and one of the fun projects to go along with is was to use a hammer and nails.  I asked Papa Gerry (a general contractor) if that would be a fun project for him to do with the kids and he was all for it!

During the day I decided it would be a good idea to practice before we got out real hammers.  I got some styrofoam and golf tees and let the kids hammer away with their toy hammer.

Addison was very precise and hammered those nails all the way down.

Laney would hammer for a bit and then move on to the next one before she was finished.

And Max would hammer as hard as he could.  Not much aim, but when he hit a golf tee, it went all the way through with one hit! Notice Laney backing away on the side of the picture.

Now, for the real deal.  Over to Papa Gerry's house we went and he had everything covered.  First he got out a work bench just the right height for the kids and showed them how to nail.

Then, he helped them each individually to make sure they got the hang of it.

After a bit of practice they were able to build a bird house together.

The best part about building the bird house is it gave us another project to do.  We got to paint it! 

To be continued...