Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 10?!?!

For each week of school this year, we are memorizing a new Bible verse song.  When we got in the car today the kids were screaming with joy to listen to song 10.  I couldn't figure out what they were talking about until in dawned on me that we are already on week 10 of the school year, crazy!!

So, how has the school year been going?  Pretty smoothly actually.  We were in a great rhythm that while Ella took her morning nap we would get most of our school done for the day.  Well, we did take a week off for our family vacation to Florida and she didn't get one morning nap in since we were at the beach every day.  When we came back, I tried to lay her down and that was it, she was done with it.  I thought, no big deal, but man it's hard to get things done.  It took us about 2 weeks to adjust to the new schedule, but I am somehow still finding a way to get everything in.

This past week, we did hit 2 math milestones.  Laney finished 1A of her math and is starting the second half of her first grade math this week.  Addison has entered into multiplication.  I looked at her next math lesson and I couldn't believe it.  I had a quick fear that I was in over my head, but I am working through it day by day.  I keep thinking to myself, "If this is what we are doing now, what are we going to be doing a year from now?"  I guess we will see what is to come....

Friday, August 30, 2013

Our first day of school

I wanted to start of the school year with some fun family traditions.  Here is what we came up with.

1. Brent will always take the first day of school off!
2. We will start the day off with donuts!

3. The kids will "walk" to school.  For us, that means walking around the block and back to school.  I was a little sad it was raining this year, but the kids actually loved it.  They put on their raincoats and grabbed their umbrellas and they were happy as could be.
4. Next is school picture time!


5.  We will then go on a field trip!  This year we went to Union Station.  We visited the planetarium, then spent a couple of hours at Science City. 
Creating electricity

Seeing how fast Laney could go

Max and Ella in a helicopter
6.  Oh, yes, and we will find some time to fit some "school" in there.
All in all, we had a great day as a family and we have a lot of enthusiasm to start off the year!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Am Missing Most



This may sound a little crazy, but I have been missing our breakfast time together. 

Let me start by saying our mornings are filled with lots of screaming and crying and whining until they start to get some food in their little bellies.  The moments after they have starting eating are some of the best.  They are full of conversation and happy with each other, smiling, laughing and all around pleasant.

Right now, breakfast only lasts 15 minutes or so and then back to normal chaos.  During school, our breakfasts can take up to an hour.  Even when they have finished eating they will sit in their chairs to listen to stories or want to do flashcards, sing songs, read extra Bible stories, you name it.  They are totally engaged and ready to learn.

This morning I was talking about when we are going to start "school" again (August 12) and they asked to do math flashcards.  I got them out, we took turns, everyone tried to help one another, they would always let my 2 yr old do the +0's.  45 minutes later we finished breakfast, it was fabulous!  Best part is when they got down, Laney continued to flashcards and Addison picked up a book to read to Max.  So far it has been a great morning, granted it's not even 9:00, but I will take what I can get.  Amazing what a little structure and extra quality time together gets you.

I got a taste of our mornings to come and I am ready to go!

Monday, May 13, 2013

First day of summer!

Well, we did it.  We made it through our first year of homeschooling and oh what a year it has been!  I know I am still a newbie, but it sure does feel good to get that first year under my belt. 

Today is our first official day of summer and it is kind of weird feeling for me.  I keep thinking there is something else I should be doing.  Kind of like something is missing.  I must admit breakfast wasn't the same without our stories and talk about our day/week.  I have tried explaining to the kids what summer is, but they are still eager to learn.  During snack they wanted to do flashcards and have already asked to go to the library so they can pick out books for their summer reading.  I have decided I want them to continue reading and doing math in some fashion for the summer.  Not every day and not necessarily what I want them to work on, but maybe computer games for math and books of their choice from the library.  We will have to see how that all pans out. 

Since I have had a little extra time on my hands today, I was thinking about all the things I learned in my first year of homeschooling.  Here goes.

Take Time Off
  • One of the greatest perks of homeschooling.  If things aren't going right that day or the kids aren't into their school work, take some time off.  This could mean a couple of hours, a day or two, or even a week.  There is no need for me as a teacher or a child to get upset over school.  This should be a fun learning experience for everyone. 
  • We took our vacation while everyone else was in school.  We were able to save a lot of money and the beaches weren't packed!
  • We were able to take more time off around the holidays.  This was a great way for our family to spend extra time together and start family traditions.

Have Pajama Days

  • These were days we never left the house and the kids LOVED them.  We still did our school work and they were always excited to do it.  It was always amazing to me at how well the kids played together when they knew it was just going to be a quiet day at home.

If It's Nice Outside, Go Outside!

  • I have a whole new perspective on this with the crazy weather we have had this year.  If it is nice outside, we are taking advantage.  That can mean just playing out back, going on a nature walk, eating outside or just doing our schoolwork outside.  My kids love taking a book and just relax in the grass.

  • Fresh air can do a mind and body good.  You never know what you might come across when you spend the day outdoors.  Here, the kids have spotted a woodpecker.

  • Besides, what kid doesn't want to be outside?1?

There is Always Tomorrow

  • In the beginning, I would stress out if we didn't get our work done for that day, but by the end, it was no biggie.  I knew I could catch up that night or tomorrow or the next day.  If we had to do some work over the weekend when daddy was home to help, all the better.
  • There were times I would explain something to my kids and they just didn't get it.  It could be a little frustrating for me from time to time.  However, I learned just to try again the next day.  They would always shock me when all of a sudden randomly in the car they would tell their daddy what I had been working so hard to teach them.  It is a great feeling!

Include Littles as Much as Possible

  • They catch on quickly!
  • I strongly believe they know when they are being left out, even at a young age.  My baby grunts when I don't give her a flashcard.  She has no idea what is going on, but loves to be part of it.
  • The best part is you never really know what's going to come out of their mouth.  Sometimes they get it right and you are totally surprised or sometimes it is just so funny, the entire family gets a good laugh.

Let Your Kids Help
  • It is amazing how much they can actually do it you let them.
  • Cleaning the house, laundry, helping make meals etc.  Give them the chance, they might surprise you!

I feel like I have learned a lot this past year.  They may be super simple things, but things that need to be remembered.

As for today, we spent the first of hopefully many days out in the sun.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An End of an Era!

As most of you know, I have been pregnant and/or nursing since May 2007.  That is six years of having a baby on me or in me at all times!!  Well, I am happy and sad to say that part of my life is coming to a close. 

My baby is turning 1 this month so I have been working on switching her to whole milk.  I have been down to her morning feeding for a couple of weeks, but haven't been ready to let it go.  We are talking the 6 am morning feeding, so you would think I would be ready.  I would look down at her every morning and ask myself if I would be OK if this was the last one and surprisingly, the answer would always be no.  Well, Sunday morning, the answer turned to yes and for me, that is the end of a very big part of my life.  Am I sad?  Oh yes!  Am I happy?  Not quite yet, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead.
  • Today I slept until 7 without any interruption.  Just a reminder, I have not done that in 6 years!!
  • My husband and I are going on vacation at the end of the month without kids, I'm not pregnant and I don't have to bring a pump.  This is a first seeing as how we got pregnant on our honeymoon.
  • Once my body adjusts, I am going to go shopping!
  • I have had my last Flintstones vitamin (I have been taking 2 a day as a prenatal vitamin)
Just a few examples of the simple things that will change without a nursing baby.  I know there are many more things that will change as we enter our next phase in life and I am looking forward to enjoying every single one of them!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Small insight into Addison's mind

Ever since Addison started reading at 18 months, I have been wondering how her mind works.  I can always see her wheels a turning, but have never been able to figure out how she thinks.  Well, I got a very small insight this week and I found it fascinating.

We were doing our math flashcards and we came upon 3+6.  I was watching her, waiting for her to be counting in her head and this is what comes out.  If you take 1 away from 6 and add it to the 3, you have 5+4.  4+4 is 8+1=9.

I can't imagine a more difficult way to get the right answer, but she got there!  I know I will never understand how her mind truly works, but I was happy to get a glimpse into her world.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day in the life of a 5, 3 1/2, 2, and 8 month old

I am starting to put my thoughts together for this blog and I really don't have a "typical" day.  Bible study, gymnastics, MOPS, play dates, doctors appointments, sick kids, who knows what we will get.  However, I do have what needs to be done on a daily basis and around what time that is, so here goes.  Keep in mind this is how things flow if we are home all day.  If we have to be somewhere in the morning, we crunch our morning activities together.

6:00-6:30 Ella wakes up and I feed her and we head downstairs (If she is up earlier than this, my loving husband takes her and I catch a few more minutes of shut eye.)

Max also wakes around this time and he has his morning time with daddy.

7:00-Addison and Laney come downstairs.  They are up before 7, but I ask them to stay in their room until 7.  I try and lay out their clothes the night before so if they are up and looking for something to do, they can get dressed and make their beds while they wait.

No time is wasted once everyone is awake.  Once the girls walk downstairs, everyone is up at the counter for breakfast.  This is when we do their memory Bible verse for the week, a Bible story, nursery rhyme and maybe another story.  We also talk about what we are going to do that day and what order things need to be done. 

7:30-The 3 big kids go in the basement for free play while I get the kitchen cleaned and eat breakfast while my diner of an 8 month old is finishing up hers

8:00-I put Ella down for her morning nap.

8:00-8:15 BREATHE

8:15 -9:00 I call each kid up individually for reading time.  Addison and Laney do their daily readings to me and I read a couple of books to Max.  While I have them one at a time, we will finish getting dressed, do hair, etc.

9:00-9:30 Craft time.  We will try and do a craft, play dough, painting, or just coloring and cutting.  Something creative and usually a little messy while Ella is still asleep.

9:30 Ella wakes up and I start a morning video (They get 2 a day.  One in the morning, but their readings must be done first and one in the afternoon after their math lessons are done) for the older kids while I feed Ella and spend a few minutes alone with her.  Time permitting, I will get ready for the day, whatever that means.

10:00 Snack time

I usually read another story here, do flash cards, or some sort of verbal learning game. 

10:30-11:30 We all go in the basement and play as a family.  We will sing songs, read books, do tricks, hide and seek, whatever they are in the mood for really.

11:30 Lunch (I am very blessed to have a proud Papa, who loves to spend time with his grand kids.  He tries to give me a break in the day and will bring over lunch and help get the kids down for their naps.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

12:30 NAP TIME!!!!!

All 4 kids will go to their separate rooms and have rest/nap time.

1:30 Ella's awake.  Nurse her while everyone else is still quiet

2:00 Addison wakes up from her rest.  We sit and read or do puzzles for about 30 minutes while Ella crawls around us

2:30 Addison does her math lesson

3:00 Laney and Max wake up. Laney does her math lesson.

3:30 Afternoon video

4:00 We will sit down and do worksheets or work on handwriting while the younger ones do their thing

5:00 Hubby comes home and I feed Ella and finish up dinner

5:30 Dinner time

6:30 Ella goes to bed and the other 3 hop in the bath.

7:00 Play a game or cuddle up and read books before bed.

7:30 Take the kids upstairs for bed

8:00-9:00 My husband and I get cleaned up, reorganized for the next day.

9:00  Time for me to have a glass of wine and plop on the couch and relax with my husband =)

There you have it, my day in a nut shell.  And, yes, I do most things in 30 minute increments!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"What do you do with the younger kids while trying to homeschool?!?"

This is a question I have been asked many, many times.  I know I don't have THE answer, but I do have the answer for what works for our family. 

Although none of my kids are technically "school-aged", I do have them split off into 3 groups.  My 4 and 3 year old I teach our core together. Then they both do different levels in reading and math.  My 2 year old is usually around listening to some of the stories, but I don't do any formal teaching with him.  And there is my baby who hangs out or is sleeping while I teach.  That all being said, the person who I have to keep most occupied while teaching is my 2 year old son, and that is a task in itself. 

1. Give them your attention first.

Max is always the first to wake up and the only thing he wants to do when he wakes up is read books with his daddy.  He gets about an hour of one on one time before everyone else wakes up. This works out great for me because he gets his attention first thing in the morning, plus he gets some educational time with all his books.

As for Ella, she requires the most attention after her afternoon nap.  If I am able to just spend 10 minutes holding, laughing and playing with her, she is usually good to go!

2. Include them in your teaching

-During breakfast and snacks is when I try and do our core readings.  Max loves to be a part of everything and this is an easy way for him to be included.

-When we do crafts, I either have Max do the same craft or something similar.  I know it's not going to turn out like it is supposed to, but again, he gets to do what his sisters are doing.

-During worksheets, Max always has the option to get up in his chair and color in a workbook or he can just have free play.

-Just last week we were working on measurements so  I gave Max his own measuring cups in the bathtub.


3. Have planned activities

Even when Max doesn't want to sit in his chair, I still try to incorporate some sort of "teaching" activities while I am working with the girls.

-I have given him a baggie full of crayons and ask him to pick out the color we need.
-I put out our number mat and ask him for find the right number and then jump that many times.

-I give him a pair of scissors and a bunch of paper and let him have at it to work on his fine motor skills.

- Use educational toys.  These stacking cups are a family favorite.  In between working with the the older kids, I ask him to stack, count, and name colors. 

4.  Let them explore 

The fun in being a kid is being able to explore, right?  My house is very baby proof, so chances of him getting hurt or getting into something I don't want him in are pretty slim.  The odds they are going to make a mess, probably!!

Max pulled out all of the craft supplies

Ella got into all the puzzles

 Plus, you never know what he will find to do. I love when I look over and he is sitting quietly reading a book, or playing nicely by himself.  Max is really pretty good at just toddling around while the rest of us are busy.


5. Have the older kids "entertain" the little ones

While this may work better when you have bigger kids, my kids do pretty good at it.  It can usually get me by for 5 or 10 minutes if I am trying to wrap things up.  They actually feel pretty special when it is their turn to "take care" of Max or Ella.  They do anything from finding a game to play, read stories, or just make funny faces at Ella.  These are actually some of my favorite memories when I look over and see them playing so sweetly together.
Addison reading a book to Max
Laney took both Max and Ella downstairs to play legos

Max keeping Ella entertained while I finish math lessons with the older girls
Addison Reading to Ella

6. Don't forget the sling

My sling is a lifesaver!  Late afternoon while I am trying to finish thing up and try to get dinner started, Ella will just snuggle up and I have both hands free!
She fell asleep on one of our afternoon walks.