Friday, August 31, 2012

It is coming

Click here and you will understand what I am talking about. For those you who didn't at the start of this post I only have 115 days 2 hours and 39 minutes till Christmas. For normal people that is plenty of time but for people like me who walk the fine line of insanity and handcraft Christmas I am sooooooo behind. Not really that I am usually starting to make things per se just that I have spent the last few months creating this master vision of my handcrafting and right now I kind of have nothing.

I think after 4 years of doing this I am plum out of ideas. It is also that the older two are well older and finding ideas for them that I can make is hard. One of them is also a boy which takes that hard to a whole different level. My kids don't go to public school, so they don't have the overwhelming influence from peers to have the latest this, that or the other thing and we don't watch TV so they don't see commercials. So when it comes to getting ideas it has gotten really hard because without those specific outside influences they don't know what they want, and when they do I know it is because it is something they really want and not just a fad. But my oldest has been asking for the same American Girl doll all year, which I am considering and the other wants Lego's (and unfortunately I have not figured out how to DIY those ; ) but there is not much handcrafting I can do in these areas. I want to craft stuff but I don't know maybe I should just throw up my hands this year.

And then the Little's, I have also found that some of my designs cannot hold up to the daily wear they put things through (seriously my kids never destroyed toys or at least they didn't till my two littles came along, grrr!). So I worry that I can't make stuff durable enough for such rough kids.

Then I really want to stick to the 3 gifts thing this year, but every year, 3 gifts turns into big sets of things wrapped in the illusion of 3 gifts. I am just stuck wondering what is a crazy lady to do!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A day in our life!

I have participating in the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop this month. This weeks topic is a day in the life. While it may not be as much eye candy as say the week with homeschool rooms, but it is definitely my favorite week to surf other blogs for ideas. I think my biggest problem comes with my lack of routine and consistency and I love to see how other people do it so I can glean a few tidbits of wisdom from those more organized and/or seasoned than I. But I will share a little about a day in our life first:

I have actually gotten in to a pretty good (for me) routine in the morning, the problem I am having is continuing to build the routine past that point.

5:45 I get up and get myself ready (which includes a few minutes of computer time if I am not super lazy)
6:30 my Littles get woken up, they get dressed and breakfast and Izzy is learning to use her Accountable Kid cards which includes making the bed, brushing teeth and hair and that sort of thing.
7:00 - The Bigs get up rudely and abruptly because they are tired from staying up and reading all night (good problem to have but still). They start to work on their cards, they are left to finish their cards till school starts @ 8:00.
7:30 - I start the Littles circle time and then Izzy gets started on her workboxes.
I admit hers are kind of ghetto right now with their post-it notes and packing tape but I have a slim printing budget and really it works for now because her and her little sister destroy everything.
We have gotten into a regular schedule with her workboxes which helps with keeping her in a nice routine. 
  • Box 1: Calendar Folder
  • Box 2: Game or Activity (I usually pick one that will last a while so I can start with her siblings)
  • Box 3: Language Arts Activities (this is alot of her curriculum work we are using MFW Kindergarten) it includes a worksheet, flash cards, tactile letter activities.
  • Box 4: Sunday School worksheets (this one was her idea, so she can get her prize on Sunday for completing it)
  • Box 5: Book of the Week (from our curriculum)
  • Box 6: Math-U-See Primer
  • Box 7: Art Activity/Lapbook
  • Box 8: Science/Sensory Table
  • Box 9: Handwriting
8:00 - The Bigs get started, we try to knock out a majority of our group time first off, because it becomes a pain to bring everyone back together later. We work on Bible & History and then the start with their workboxes which I modified to a  file folder system. They have numbers that correspond to each folder and then the items that don't involve the file folders like Spanish (on the computer) or our writing and science centers.

Their boxes look something like this:
  • Box 1: Vocabulary
  • Box 2: English
  • Box 3:File Folder Game
  • Box 4: Spanish
  • Box 5: Math-U-See
  • Box 6: Art
  • Box 7: Writing
  • Box 8: Computer (Reading Eggs)
  • Box 9: Baseball/Softball/Dance Conditioning
  • Box 10: Science
  • Box 11: Lapbook/History Pocket Activities
  • Box 12: Reading

This is our science center it has the scientific method, days of creation, periodic table and center rules. I have included these cute lab sheets which the Bigs fill out together when they work on their science experiments. The little plastic box has all the supplies for their experiment. I use these great shelves I got from my Grandpa, they fold up which is nice on the days when we don't have science although they are heavy.

This is the writing center for my oldest I got the idea for here it is helping to get her through a particularly frustrating subject (and please don't mention the error in my board, I know, I know my husband snickers every time he sees it)

We are usually done by 12:00 (except my oldest who seems to be quite skilled at wasting exceptional amounts of time!) And after lunch is when I start trying to pull everything together schedule/routine wise and fail miserably but every new day offers hope right!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our First Week

Our first week went well, better than years past. We are using our modified file folder version of workboxes with the oldest two. This time I have involved the kids each night to help fill and organize their files. It is really helping keep me in line, I am hoping they keep up the enthusiasm to do it each night. Isabelle is using the regular version of workboxes and really does well with them, I actually look forward to filling hers each day and I hope to soon start including Piper her own little tot boxes.

Here are our week one hightlights:

Trenton playing one of my math pouch games I made.
 Here is my 5th grader (she did her hair for the 1st day of school) after day one I have been fighting to even get them dressed.
Our Moon sensory table with homemade moon sand (we are studying the Moon for Kindergarten week 1).
Piper playing with her color game that I made ain't it cute.

 We put up our rocket-ship tent to take a trip to the moon Isabelle was very disappointed it didn't have controls!
No worries when your mama is a crafting ninja ; ) shoebox, few pegs, dowels, drill & buttons and we were ready for lift off!
 And basically my children swung around like monkeys in a tree!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yearbook pictures?

One of the things that I just fail to do since my kids came home to school is get those yearly portraits of them, not that I miss them, really, they were always borderline terrible, but still it marked the changes from year to year. This year I was so so blessed that my beautiful and talented should-be-sister Morgan of Robert Morgan Photography took the time to do a photo shoot of my children this summer while she was home from Tennessee! They turned out beautiful and I am so grateful, who needs yearbook pictures!

My little people are 10, 7, 5, & 2 1/2!
 Sometimes I can't help but be amazed that these little people are a part of me!
 My Girls!
My wild child!
My Handsome Boy!

Me and my baby girl!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our Schoolroom

Our schoolroom hasn't changed a whole lot in the past year and half, that was when we threw our house in to upheaval and shifted 4 rooms around. This is where our schoolroom/dining room ended up, it used to be the living room. And when I get frustrated with not having enough space I remind myself of the string of tiny apartments our family has occupied over the last 10 years and can't help but thank God for this little house that we have called home for longer than any place since high school and where we have more than enough room to call a room our schoolroom!

Off of the schoolroom we changed our small dining room into the playroom, it is nice having a place for the little's to play during school and still be able to keep an eye on them.

Next to the playroom are desks for my Kindergartener & 2nd grader (I got these laptop desks at IKEA). They each have a whiteboard the little supply cups from IKEA, clocks & picture frames I bought that allows them to change out their artwork.

These bookshelves hold all our books and curriculum, I group all my current TM's & workbooks on the top shelf, current curriculum reading books under that (in no particular order), the middles shelf holds the inbox drawers and under that part of our regular library and toys for the littles.

Moving around the room my other bookshelf it holds paper supplies and more books, workbooks & TM's I am not currently using. Next to that is my little dresser of supplies & stuff with my Lazy Susan Art Caddy on top. Another super awesome addition was this sensory table that was headed to the trash because of a broken wheel and a small crack. But she is all fixed up now and has been an awesome addition for my little Kindergartener!

Next to that is my changing table turned teacher station, it is where I keep current week files, all my supplies and lots of little things hidden behind the curtain ; ) I found the shoe organizer on the curtain rod idea on Pinterest.
This past year I gave up my desk to my 5th grader with a new student joining our school time officially this year I knew I needed to shift them.
This is our busy wall if you look back the photos I posted from a 1 1/2 ago it went from this pretty decorative wall to all function with the map and the white board. The bookshelf was given to me just recently it is huge and really nice addition although I kind of miss my dresser when the kids start rummaging through shelves for things but I too use things more when they are out rather than stuffed in a drawer. I used the plastic drawers for storing all of the littles workbox activities.

You can't find out more about our tablecloth timeline here.

I also got two folding shelves from my grandpa, they are great I have been using them to hold my Kindergarteners workboxes and the other is going to be our science center. They are a little heavy but fold flat and can move out of the way when we don't need them.

This is a view of the room from the front door it is really a great space and I feel so blessed to have it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our History Timeline

I am very blessed to have a space in our house to call a schoolroom it is our former living room turned dining room/schoolroom! And in case you are confused our dining room became the playroom while the playroom become the family/living room/home office. Everyone clear now, good!
But wall space is at a premium even in such a great room and this year we needed to add a timeline to our room. Now I could just have them keep a timeline in a notebook and call it a day, but my kids love to show off and I like for them to be reminded often to show Daddy what they are learning or have a nice visual to help them remember.

So with wall space scarce I got all creative on that timeline and made one crafty style (when it comes to crafts I am ninja like, I kid you not!) Thus was born the tabletop timeline!

Ain't she perfect! Just a big piece of cotton cloth and some ribbon for the timeline itself. I am hoping (fingers crossed) that I can fit each year of our 4 year history study on each line of the timeline, if not I will make one for each year. So to make this a spectacular heirloom that will be passed down for generations ; ) I am printing the timeline pieces on to printable fabric and then ironing them to the tablecloth.

Here is the start of our timeline
 All that leaves is the matter of keeping it kind of, hopefully clean. Easy that only cost me $2.50 at Wal-mart, a large piece of vinyl!

This project actually only cost me $2.50 (+ tax) because I had the cotton fabric red satin ribbon, printable fabric and fusible web taking up useless space in my house, I love when my hoarding becomes useful although it only reinforces the whole hoarding thing, but I digress! I will post pictures of it in a few weeks when we get some stuff on the timeline.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Back to Homeschool Feast!

This year I really wanted to start some traditions, we stink at traditions! So what better way to start some than to try a ton of things and hope a few stick right! Anyway we started with a Back to Homeschool Feast! Tonight before our first day of school we had a fancy meal together. We used the nice dishes, wine glasses for our sparkling grape juice, & cloth napkins! The kids picked the menu: steak, mac & cheese, corn on the cob and garlic bread. I was also tickled to get to use my Grandma's retro serving oven for bread!

I wrote their name and grade on a sentence strip and on the back I wrote my prayer for them this year.

Piper looking at hers like "what grade am I in?"

We also introduced our goals for the year:

Then we went over tomorrow's routine and expectations. And then I made them happy again with ice cream cones!

It was fun and I hope to do it again next year!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Year 3

We are getting ready to embark on year three of our homeschool journey. The last two years have been hard for me, I struggle with confidence, balance, patients and my sloth like nature. We take too many breaks and I tend to not push as hard as I should in the right places. But this year I am feeling confident to move forward. A huge help being the same similar curriculum that we used last year. I feel like for me as a teacher I am past the learning curve for a curriculum layout and format. And I just really love the product, we plan to continue to invest in for the years to come. The other thing that is really helping is the fact that there are no more babies, while I have a distant ache for a baby I feel like we are moving into a new season in our lives and it is really refreshing. The time from about pregnancy to two years old feels like all we do is survive, and there is always the possibility of more which adds to that feeling of survival, but without the possibility of more we have moved into a stage were we can figure out how to thrive as a family of 6. It really feels so good, so when I am surrounded by a ton of cute little newborns at church I remind myself we are in a different season and there are things to be enjoyed that we haven't allowed ourselves to enjoy when in "survival mode". That or I tell Troy I need a little puppy!

For our main curriculum we chose My Father's World Creation to Greeks. I think it is going to be so fun and I have committed to following the curriculum with a little extra stuff, last year I tried to add lots of extra but there was no balance and I think this year balance is key. We are using portions of an Ancient Times lapbook and a few extra notebooking pages but other than that I feel like the curriculum is satisfying and we don't have to stuff ourselves on extras! One thing I love about the curriculum is the science, a lot of reviewers called it light on science. The science involves lots of experiments, from simple to complicated that revolve around the days of creation and ancient Egyptian innovation. After looking through it I wanted to make it an activity that the kids can explore in as much depth as they would like, so I am setting up a "Science Center" where my little scientists can do their "own" experiments. They will have the safety gear, the tools, the materials to complete the weekly experiments, using the scientific method they work from beginning to end documenting their work on lab sheets. If they like the topic they can try the experiments other ways, try more or research topics they find interesting, science is only scheduled twice a week but the "lab" will be open everyday to my budding scientists. I am hoping to add a microscope and lab coats and other fun lab stuff throughout the year. We are also very excited to start celebrating biblical feasts this year, it is something I have wanted to do the past few years for Passover but now with it on the schedule we no excuses and are very excited (even Troy)!

Here is the breakdown of the rest of our curriculum:
5th Grade:
- Intermediate Language Lessons
- Spelling Power
- Writing Strands 3 & 4
- Math-U-See

2nd Grade:
- Primary Language Lessons
- Spelling By Sound and Structure
- Math-U-See

And our newest student
- My Father's World Kindergarten
- Math-U-See Primier
- Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading

We will also be using Reading Eggs (kids love this) across the board, and Rosetta Stones Latin American Spanish! We are also going to try to incorporate badge & achievement work from American Heritage Girls & Cub Scouts into our weekly lessons, as well as some sports conditioning a few times a week. I am also trying to work on some physical activity each day I was thinking of trying to have each child set a few personal fitness goals that we work together to achieve.

I am also really excited because I got on my game this summer and made all my copies, printed everything that needs printing and filed everything by week, so I feel like I can finally start our year on the right foot and early to boot!

I also had this fantastically awesome idea to help my very reluctant writers want to write! I mean it is so awesome, it will need it own post and introduction in about a week!

That is about how our year is looking and in case you didn't catch it in my post our family "theme" if you will for the year is Thriving & Balance! But more about that later ; )