Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It has been awhile...

since I posted.  This past month has been CRAZY!!!  I never knew that it would be this hectic.

Boo is loving American Heritage Girls.  We now have a new leader, which is a God-send.  She's one of the other moms and she had plenty of activities planned for 5 year olds.  It was a fun time!

Big J is loving Cub Scouts.  He's even done enough to complete his Bobcat Trail! 

Both of them love 4-H.  It is alot of fun and I am learning new crafts to do.  It is nice to have new decorations in the house that we didn't have to pay for ourselves.  4-H is awesome!

KK is loving preschool.  I think she might be reading by the end of the year.  She is such a sponge.  She absorbs everything.

And my Little J...well, Little is a bit of a misnomer.  He's 99th% for his head circumference and height and 97th% for weight!  At 15 months he's almost 31 pounds.  I can't imagine that 3% of kids are bigger than this, but apparently they are.  He reminds me of Andre the Giant and has the disposition to boot.  He's a gentle giant, unaware of his own strength.  I guess he could be the smallest of the kids as an adult, but I would be amazed.

Alright, I need to get ready for my mom's group at church.  The breakfast casserole is in the oven, I have everything printed and ready...2 hours of mommy-time, here I come!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where is the time going?!?!

Seriously...is it really mid-September?

Anyhow - I just looked at a calendar and we are already 47 days into this beautiful journey.  We've learned quite a bit already.  I am amazed by these little cuties daily.  Sometimes I look at what they are learning and wonder how I ever learned this stuff with 30 other kids distracting me.  I'm still wondering, actually!

Big J's phonics is on full-speed-ahead right now.  We are through all the long vowel sounds and have moved into blends and unusual sounds.  Now, when he reviews, I have to remind him "sometimes a makes the short u sound" or "er, ir and ur all make the ir sound, like in girl", etc.  He's getting it tho, and Mommy couldn't be prouder.  He also wrote the Greek alphabet today!  It was awesome.  He did a nice job...especially since he hates handwriting.  It was cool since I knew alot of the letters.  My engineering degree actually helped with homeschooling my first grader.  Who knew?!?!

Boo is starting to learn the letter sounds we have covered.  When I say a sound she can show me the letter.  She is struggling more with "what sound does this word start with" exercises.  She'll get there.  Mommy just needs some patience.  She is LOVING all the activities that go along with her themes.  We made "bird's nests" today out of rice krispy cereal, coconut and some gooey stuff to hold it together and then ate them.  They tasted scrumptious...did they hold together and look like bird's nests?  Absolutely not!  Did she love making them?  Absolutely!  Did it matter if they held together?  Let's just say, they are gone and we made them around 10:30 this morning.

My sweet KK is now in preschool.  She is loving it, but Mommy is soooo sad.  I will survive tho...

All my munchkins (minus Little J) have started a music lesson of some form.  The girls are doing a Musikgarten class and Big J is taking piano.  These kids LOVE music!  It is amazing to watch them with this extracurricular.  Big J is also doing Cub Scouts and 4-H.  Boo is doing American Heritage Girls and 4-H.  KK is a little jealous at times.  I keep reminding her she can do these things next year...plus, she gets to go to preschool.  I think the other 2 might get a little jealous of that.  I don't think they want to go to school...they just want to go back to preschool!  lol

Well, I should go to bed.  We have an early morning tomorrow!  Good night...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Allergies - ugh!

We are all suffering this week!  Big J, Boo, Little J and myself have been on a constant supply of Zyrtec.  I almost wish we could buy it in bulk or something. 

We were told to give Little J his medicine right before bed...it can cause drowsiness, they told me.  So, I informed J Sr. of this (since he does the nighttime ritual) and I thought we were set.  Apparently, not!  He skipped the meds on Tuesday and I paid for it Wednesday.  Poor little guy had the cough back (had to do his inhaler) and his eyes were all pink and watery.  I was forced to do his Zyrtec at naptime.  Ugh!  I think we are finally back on schedule.  I also had to dose Big J and Boo with Zyrtec yesterday as they woke up coughing and miserable.  I think that basically set the tone for our day yesterday. 

Lesson learned...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We have our good days and our BAD days.

Today was a BAD day.  Boo was great...she did her work, did it well and went on her merry way.  Big J was another story.  I could tell in the first 2 minutes it was not going to go well.  He was not remembering anything I was saying, he was staring off into space, writing sloppily, not really putting much effort in at all.  After trying, unsucessfully, to get him to read his phonics words, I gave up.  No sense beating a dead horse.  He's been in a funk all day and even his piano teacher commented on it.  Most days it is me who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed...today, it was Big J!

That isn't to say that I haven't had some days lately when I have been in a funk.  Yesterday was my funky day and it is semi-carrying over into today.  Boo commented on my discipline style yesterday, Big J said he'd rather have Daddy home all day and I just started to feel low.  I know they are just kids and I shouldn't let their words affect me so...I know, but my heart directs me otherwise.  I have strived to be in a better mood today and I have accomplished that, to some degree.  Right now the kids are in their "resting time" and Mommy is enjoying a few quiet moments to herself.  They are refreshing!  I think I just need a good, old-fashioned night out.  No kids.  No husband.  Just me and maybe a friend I might allow to come.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 36 of homeschooling...

I can't believe we have made it this far!  The kids have been so good and trying so hard.  Admittedly, we have good days and bad days, but who doesn't? 

We have had many fun activities planned this year.  We have visited the Creation Museum, the Zoo, parks, an apple orchard, etc.  The kids really love getting to visit other places and I love getting out of the house!  Almost every trip we plan is for after we do school that day and usually relates to the topic.  For instance, we went to an apple orchard on Monday after Boo started her unit on apples.  It is really alot of fun to tie real life into school.  I don't remember learning being linked to real life when I was growing up.  If nothing else, my kids will know that what they study has real life applications.

On a side note, KK started preschool today.  Yes, I am homeschooling the other 2 but was not prepared to homeschool them and a preschooler!  She also needs to learn about listening, self-control, following directions, etc.  I can teach her these things but I didn't want to overwhelm myself the first year!  She loves it, so I do too!  Maybe when Little J is ready to start preschool I will be better prepared to teach it...maybe.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exploration Day

Today was Big J's "Exploration Day" in his curriculum.  Once each week he has a day to go outside and enjoy God's creation.

I believe this part of the curriculum is the most needed and the most misunderstood.  Alot of people look at me like I have 5 heads and they are all purple when I tell them about exploration day.  After all, their beautiful children are stuck in a school for 6-7 hours every day and barely get a 20-minute recess.  Why on earth does my child deserve an exploration day?

This beautiful day is all about enjoying being a kid, enjoying what God has created and learning a thing or two about science in our everyday lives.  Before we headed out, Big J made a Lake Model, we made clouds and rain and we made a rain gauge.  Boo also got in touch with her nature side since her task for today was to do leaf rubbings (which were great fun...not to brag or anything, but mine were pretty good!) and we took a peak at her pressed leaves as well.  So fun!

Since they have been outside they have played in both of our sandboxes (my kids are spoiled), played in the kiddie pool, chased butterflies, kept track of Little J (a daunting task), are torturing some ants right now and have just enjoyed this beautiful day.  Peppered throughout the day Mommy reminds them that God made all this wonderful stuff and about His Creation...they might pay attention, they might not.  The wondrous thing about it is just that they are able to enjoy it and that our beautiful world is good.  Thank you, God, for your creation and thank you for my beautiful, healthy, smart children!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Gotta admit...I'm feeling stressed.  The funny/sad part is I am not stressed about school.  Everything on that front is going pretty well right now.  I am stressed about the fun stuff!

I started evaluating all the things we have planned for the coming school year and I am wondering how I am going to get everything done.  Boo is taking a music class with KK on Thursday afternoons, the same time that Big J is taking piano lessons.  Boo is also joining American Heritage Girls at church on Thursdays.  Big J has Cub Scouts starting this weekend.  Both Big J and Boo are joining 4-H.  KK has preschool 3 days of the week.  I have my church's mommy group and my Bible study group.  Luckily some of these activities are only 1 or 2 times per month...but still!  Feeling overwhelmed and anxious!

Anyone have a suggestion for a good planner?!?!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

one room in the house...

Deciding where to do "school" was monumental.  We have a spare bedroom in the basement that would be excellent for school...but did we want to be stuck in the basement half the day?  Hanging out with the cobwebs and dreariness?  We also have a large playroom upstairs that used to be a family room.  But where would the other 2 play while we did school?  Was I ready to give up a playroom on the main floor of the house while the kids were still so young?

We decided to use our dining room for dual purpose.  Is this a royal pain in the rear?  Absolutely.  Would I do it any other way, right now?  Not on your life.  We have a pretty good system down now, and it works for us.  We get up, eat breakfast and "get ready" for the day and for school.  Everyone clears their bowls/plates from the table and we get down to it.  The night before, I usually pack their backpacks with the essentials so they just have to grab their backpacks off the bookshelf and we dive in. 

I have found that I need more "stuff" than should be necessary.  I like for my "stuff" to be fairly organized. 

I know this will evolve and change over time, but here are a few pics of our workspace.

My whiteboard and bulletin board...the bulletin board now has fun projects posted on it.

Our wall of work...there is now a bookshelf next to all of this...if I can figure out how to turn the pic and have it upload correctly I will post it also!
I know that eventually they will be able to take their schoolwork to their rooms and be more independent.  Until then, this works just fine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where do we go from here?

After we finally decided that we were going to homeschool, we had the daunting task of picking a curriculum that would be right for our family.  We have 4 young children (Big J is 6, Boo is 5, KK is 4 and Little J is 1) and we did not want a curriculum that would take the entire day to finish.  We wanted it to be active learning.  We wanted our kids to read great books.  We wanted them to learn about God and grow closer to Him and his Word. 

Would we ever find this curriculum?  We went to the Midwest Homeschool Convention with the sole intention of finding a curriculum that would fit our family.  I went to every seminar on choosing the right curriculum and J Sr. went to every one about everything.  I learned about Cathy Duffy and her book on how to pick a curriculum.  I learned about learning styles (my own and the kids') and personality styles.  I was overwhelmed!

That is when Joe and I decided to head to the Vendor Hall.  This place was insane.  Vendors everywhere trying to sell you their wares.  Wow...that is about all I can say.  The vendors would come out of their spaces just to pursue you because they "know" their product is the best and the best for your family.  Once again, I was overwhelmed!

Joe and I kept pushing on...not making eye contact and certainly not stopping.  I kept thinking "why are we even in here?  we are like lambs led to the slaughter".  That is when I saw it...unassuming, clean, no one coming out to attack me.  The name was a name I had read about previously.  Could this be it?  We tentatively walked up and a nice lady (I at first thought she was another shopper) was standing there and we started chatting.  We soon found out she was with the curriculum...as a mom who uses it!  She told us about all the wonderful things...we were able to view the entire package and I fell in love.  Is it possible to fall in love with a Teacher's Manual...yes!  Is it possible to fall in love with a fun curriculum that you know your kids will love...yes!

So, what was this curriculum that I fell in love with, you ask?  My Father's World for K and 1st Grade.  I really feel that God led me straight to that table.  J Sr. and I even looked around more.  We went to the typical homeschooler's curriculums, where no one approached us.  It was like we had been branded that our minds were made up and no pressure was necessary.  There are other great curriculums out there...but none of them would have fit our family so well.  My Father's World follows the Charlotte Mason philosophy pretty closely (short lessons, alot of time for nature, reading living books to your children, etc) with some unit studies and classical education thrown into the mix.

So far, so good!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Decisions, decisions

Last winter, I embarked on a journey like no other.  I had decided to "research" homeschooling my daughter who was set to start kindergarten this fall.  I had no idea where this research would take me.

A little background into my Boo...she is a young K-er.  She turned 5 this past April and is stubborn, hard-headed, manipulative, sweet, snuggly, and extremely cute.  After considering her in a traditional school I realized she might be graduating without knowing how to read, write or add simple numbers simply because she has a way of getting others to do everything for her.  She was also already behind many of her same-age peers since she never felt the need to learn her letters/sounds or how to count.  The K teachers would not be pleased!

After contemplating sending Big J to 1st grade and keeping Boo home I realized another important thing about my children.  Big J did not enjoy school.  We would drop him off at school and he'd be a happy, fun 6-year-old.  When he would get off the bus after K, he would cry often, be grumpy and just be in a sour mood.  That's when I made the big decision...if I was going to HS Boo, I was going to HS Big J also.  Wow...what was I getting myself into?!?!

Luckily, with our proximity to Cincinnati, there was a HUGE homeschooling convention this past April which really reinforced my need to homeschool my kids.  It is a great fit for us...J Sr. even went and is now a big proponent of homeschooling in general but especially for our family.  If I knew last September what I know now, I would have kept Big J home last year and started him off at home too.

Gotta go...Big J is done writing his Proverb for the day and we have to start on phonics!