Thursday, February 26, 2015

How we do Homeschool


Every once in awhile, I'll receive an email from one of you asking how our family does this "whole homeschooling thing." While I'm happy to answer these questions, I'll be the first to admit that this has all been a huge learning process for me, and that I'm always open to trying new ways of homeschooling. And obviously I've only been doing this for two years so I still have plenty to learn in this area. :) I have tried several different schedules and routines, but for now this seems to be what I default to.


6:30/7:30- Kids usually wake up, typically the girls are the first ones up, and everyone eats breakfast as they wake up. Jack, Anna, and Lily do their morning jobs(pick up rooms, make beds, brush teeth), and I help Luke and Max get dressed and ready for the day.

As soon as Jack finishes his morning list, he comes and sits down to do his math and copywork. I'll try and get Luke, Max, and Lily set up with some water color paints or play dough, then sit down with Anna to do her math and copywork. Whenever Jack finishes, he reads to Lily and Max(we try to let Luke be in that mix too, but it doesn't work out too well yet.) Luke usually ends up on my lap playing with the math-u-see blocks while I do Anna's reading lesson.


Once Anna and I finish up, we all gather in the living room for "circle time." We start off with our Bible reading-which I usually have Jack read to us, although sometimes Jack and I take turns, then we move on to talking about the calendar and what day of the week it is. We might also try and do our Classical Conversations memory work if everyone's not getting too restless by the end of calendar time.

Circle time moves into reading time. We usually read some picture books that the kids have picked out, and then we'll read some books that have to do with the history and science we're talking about at the time.

By this point everyone's tired and restless(including me, if I'm being honest) so we take a break and have a snack, and the kids play for awhile.


At some point I'll have Jack read to me from his chapter book we're working on, and then Anna will usually request me to read some American girl to her, which Lily is always more than happy to sit in on. The little boys are usually alternating between clinging to me and playing trains and dinosaurs by now. :)

Twice a week, I aim to do spelling with Jack and Anna, and do some copywork with Lily. While I do spelling with Anna, Jack does letter flashcards with Lily(having an older child is so helpful!) Luke and Max make huge messes do blanket time during this.



By the time we make it through all this, it's lunch time and everyone needs a break. After lunch, I try to clean up a bit, and then spend a little time playing with the little boys before I put them down for their nap. Before nap I try(although I'm not always great about it) to sing and read them one more book of their choosing.

Once Luke and Max are settled into their naps, I pull out the legos for the older three kids and I read to them from our chapter book. Once a week, they'll do written/drawing narrations from what we've read, and depending on the day we might do classical music study, a science experiment, or an art project.


I aim to be done around 2, and then the older three kids go have quiet time. They usually draw, play legos, or play with their dolls. When it's nice out they play outside, but since it's winter right now, they have to make do with more legos and drawing. :)

And...I usually squeal and giggle as I walk to the living room, and collapse on the couch for the remainder of nap time, thankful to have made it through another day of homeschool. :)


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lily Turns 5

Last week my spunky little Lily turned 5! Oh, my does this little girl keep us on our toes! :)

About a week before her birthday, I decided to throw a smallish princess birthday party for her during the week with a few of her friends. And then it worked out that both sets of grandparents were also going to be able to come in town on her party, and since her party wasn't even on her actual birthday, we had a lot of celebrating last weekend!

We started out the party by decorating cupcakes:


And, lest you think that there's a lot of kids in this picture...


We had the big boys decorate their cupcakes at a separate table. :)


Next we played the "Tangled" game, where the kids had to wrap each other up in Rapunzel's hair(also known as yellow crepe paper.) We tried to make it a race, but it got a little hectic, and then the kids decided it would be more fun to tangle up the moms.


Ha! Not a bad idea, I have to say. After the party my mom, mother in law, Anna and I took Lily to get her ears pierced..


But then she saw these Princess Elsa bears at Build a Bear, and changed her mind about getting her ears pierced. "I'll get my ears pierced next year!" She declared as soon as she saw the bears. Ha! I suppose if Disney doesn't come out with any new princess movies this year, that might be her birthday present next year. :)


On her actual birthday, we had a pretty relaxed day of church going and hanging out as a family. But we did eat nutella on everything for lunch, and had birthday strawberry cheesecake that night, so I think her birthday was a success.

Lily is so spunky, outgoing, and full of energy. Anna is her best friend, and she dotes on Luke. She has a big heart that loves babies, and she's always looking for ways to make us laugh.

Happy birthday, Lily, we pray every day that you will grow in your love for the Lord, and that you'll follow Jesus with your whole heart!


Saturday, January 31, 2015

My favorite books of 2014(plus a giveaway of some of my favorites!)

One of my favorite things to do when I was a child was cuddle up in my moms lap and read books with her. When I got a little older, and entered elementary school, my mom took a part time job at our local library, and I literally spent hours after school and during the summer surrounded by good books. Eventually, it got to a point where I would spend most of my free time reading, even to the point of keeping a flashlight in our car so that I could read on long car rides in the dark.

I have always loved to read, and while I might not have quite as much free time to spend reading as I used to, I still managed to read some good books this year.


First up is a book I read over the summer, called Atlas Girl. It's basically a memoir of the author, Emily Wierenga's life. The story takes you back to her childhood as a missionary/pastors child in Africa, through her battle with anorexia, to caring for her sick mother who has a brain tumor. It's a raw story, and I was completely hooked within the first couple of pages. In fact I finished it within two days.


Another favorite from this past year was Treasuring Christ when your hands are full by Gloria Furman. Every page of this book is full of gospel truth, and how it applies to us as mamas.Gloria's heart for the Lord shines through this book, and it encouraged my heart tremendously to keep seeking him and pointing my children to him. It was a needed reminded to not focus so much on the here and now, and to "stamp eternity on my eyeballs." If you are a mama in the trenches, do yourself a favor and get this book. 


This was more of a fun read for me. I grew up watching full house, and always loved Candace Cameron's character DJ. It was interesting to read about her childhood and getting a more "behind the scenes" look at what was going on while she was on the show. She also shares what life was like after Full House ended, and how she became a Christian. It's basically her life story so far, and it was a really fun and enjoyable read!


With 5 young kids and homeschooling, I think it's safe to say I have been in "survival mode" off and on for a few years, so I was excited to get to read this book by Crystal Paine earlier this year. Not only does she give you practical ways you can simplify your life, she also shares some of her own story of how she got out of her own survival mode.

Some other books I read this year were Trim Healthy Mama(loved it!), Educating the Wholehearted Child(also loved it:), and Large Family Logistics(this one was just ok.)

Would you like to win a copy of Atlas Girl, Treasuring Christ When Your hands are full, or Say Goodbye to Survival Mode?!

Just enter below and I'll pick a random winner by the end of the week. :)

Linked to the Modest Mom & So Much At Home.

(amazon links are affiliates.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 5, 2015

Losing my Sanity for Downton Abby


Sometimes I fear that those of you who read this blog, but that don't know me or my family personally, might be under the impression that I lead a perfect life with perfect kids who do cute and hilarious things all day long.

Obviously, that's not true, but it does seem to be a common pitfall of the internet.

So, in an effort to dispel these myths, allow me to tell you about today's grocery shopping adventure.

Typically I don't take all the kids with me to the store anymore. Usually I take one child with me after Erik gets home from work, we all go, or Erik does bedtime and I go alone.

But these last few days have been filled with kids who are under the weather, and a husband with the stomach flu, and honestly leaving the house after everyone had gone to bed sounded pretty dreadful.

But last night I realized I couldn't prolong a trip any longer. We were out of milk. We were out of bread. And we were almost out of coffee.

I figured that I could go today or tonight, but tonight was going to be pretty busy, so I thought today would be better. And when I say that tonight was going to be busy, I mean that I wanted to stay home and watch the new Downton Abby after the kids were in bed.

So clearly, I had no choice, but to drag my five youngsters to Aldi on a cold Monday morning and stock up on some food.

The morning started off rough. These last two weeks we have been on Christmas break, and I've been pretty laid back about what the kids have been eating and the amount of television we have been watching, so today I was determined to get back into a normal routine.

Today instead of doughnuts for breakfast there would be cheerios. We would be eating at the table, not in front of the tv. There would also be math, spelling, and a new chapter book, and everyone was going to love it.

Or else.

Oh, and we were going to Aldi. Sometimes, I'm a bit of an overachiever.

We finally left the house about 45 minutes after I was planning, but I was hopeful that everything would be all right since all the kids were eating a snack on the way there.

I even let Max take his little baggie of cheerios into the store, because I just wanted to do something nice for my little boy.

Almost as soon as we walked in, I realized what a mistake I had made.

"Why can't I have my cheerios?" Someone would whine.

"Can I ride in the cart too? My legs are sooo tired."

Reminders for being grateful for what we have and contentment were given, but I was a little bit distracted because my one year old was deciding that he wanted to stand up in the cart and not remain seated. And every time I'd sit him back down I'd be met with indignant sobs.

Meanwhile, Max was throwing his bag of cheerios on the floor of Aldi, and Lily was picking them up.... and eating them off the floor.

I took a deep breath, took the bag of cheerios back from Max, and put them in my purse, but unfortunately Luke saw them, so now he was crying not only because his mother was making him stay in his chair, but because he had seen food.

I tried feeding him some, but he kept screaming "No!"

Lovely.

He just likes to have food on his own terms, I suppose.

At this point I'm just ready to get what we need and get out of there as fast as I can. But it's crowded, and I'm lugging a screaming baby, a cart full of groceries, and herding my three older kids though the store, so it's not quite so simple.

And of course there's all the comments from strangers asking if all these kids are mine, whether or not my husband and I own a television, how I have my hands full, etc. etc.

I tried really hard to smile and just say,"Full of good things!" But I'm pretty sure my teeth were clenched, so I'm not sure how believable I was.

Then I hear Jack say, "Max! Stop!"

Sure enough Max is now throwing food out of the cart, and had just chucked a bottle of honey halfway across the aisle.

Thankfully he didn't throw the honey at anyone, but I was definitely at the end of my rope by this point, and we still had to make it through the checkout line and bag up the food.

With two crying boys.

Somehow we made it through, although the two little boys were not happy about the whole process.

But we made it. The house is now full of food and coffee, and we won't have to worry about grocery shopping for another week. I just hope Downton is worth it.


Linked to Modest Mom & A Wise Woman Builds her Home

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas 2014



I can't believe Christmas is over, and that it's already 2015! Since we don't live near family, we did Christmas with Erik's family the weekend before Christmas and with my family the weekend after, so for Christmas Eve and Christmas day we were home. It's really nice to be able to extend Christmas for an entire week, I have to say. :)

I really wanted to try and teach the kids about giving joyfully to others this holiday season, so earlier in the month of December we helped the three older kids come up with some gifts they could make for each other. They all made Luke and Max some homemade bouncy balls(which in all honesty ended up not bouncing, and looking more like pancakes, but hey, it's the thought that counts right?!) 

Then we sent Anna back to Erik and I's room, and Lily and Jack(with my help) made Anna some lip gloss and a snow globe. Then later Anna and Jack made Lily the same snow globe and one of these yarn dolls. Erik took on the job of helping Lily and Anna make Jack something, and they ended making him this really cool foosball table.


And, yes, in case you were wondering, I did wonder why I did this to myself. But the kids had so much fun, and were excited to give something to their brothers and sisters, so it was worth it(I think, anyways.) ;)


We also started a new tradition of passing out cookies to the neighbors, librarians, and bank workers. The kids also suggested giving them out to the grocery store clerks at Aldi, but we had already made everything, so hopefully next year we can do that too.

Christmas Eve night we read the Christmas story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible, looked at Christmas lights, and finished off the night by watching a Christmas movie. 


We had a pretty relaxing Christmas morning, opening presents, snacking on cinnamon rolls, and face timing my mom and dad who had sent the kids an xbox infinity to open up on Christmas morning.


So the kids got to enjoy playing that most of Christmas day, and in between turns the girls played with their "new" doll house that a friend had given us, and playing their new princess dresses.

Poor Luke had a fever on Christmas day, so he spent most of the day being held. But he did have a few moments of enjoying his and Max's trains and track set they both got.


How was everyone else's Christmas?! 

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