Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

This week's field trip to a nature center! The kids LOVED it and the "instructor" was FABULOUS. She really enjoyed the kids and they adored her!

Friday, August 26, 2011

2 Weeks Down!

We have now completed 2 weeks of 5th, 1st and K4. So far, our curriculum choices have been a success!

Our week in review:

We started the week with a "Well Overhaul" which made Monday and Tuesday a little crazy. The kids were too busy watching the work in the front yard to focus on school.

We also attended a funeral this week for a close friend's brother. He was killed in a motorcycle accident at only 36 years old. He has three beautiful daughters and one child on the way. It was a really sad week.

In between the funeral and watching the truck we did manage to get some work done. Molly and Zach worked diligently on their "Going On A Bear Hunt" lap books. This was our first lap book and they really enjoyed it.

Paul and Zach love the maps on the window. We have always had large maps in the schoolroom (when we had a dedicated schoolroom) and they never got looked at unless it was part of the lesson. For some, strange reason the boys love these maps. They pour over them without even being asked and have already learned so much geography. Here they are quizzing each other on the locations of places they have been studying. This is all AFTER school is "done"!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

If you would like to understand the significance of this picture see this post.

We are praising the Lord for running water after two days without any running water!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zachary Reading

I just had to share this video of Zach reading. Those of you who know Zach know how huge this is!

I am so pleased with how hard he has worked!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Well Overhaul!

So, as we are in here singing "I Have Been Blessed" there are people out working on our well. Last week we discovered we have a hole in the pipe in our well. The pipe is over 500 ft long! It wasn't a big enough hole to stop us from having water at all. Just big enough that we had no pressure and the pump was running constantly. So, we had to turn the water off in the house and only turn it back on when we really needed it...basically for showers. We filled our bathtub with water and there is a bucket beside it to dump water in the toilets for flushing.

So, here are the guys working on the well...

And my three kiddos looking on, with lots of questions for Dad...

(Please excuse Molly's short shorts--not something we let her wear out--but if she is allowed to pick she will pick the shortest, tightest clothing she has--but that's a subject for another post).

So, why am I posting about our well overhaul, because all in all it is a blessing...and yes, I am reminding myself of that as I type.

The Blessings...

-We weren't completely without water
-Even though it is costly, we do have an "emergency fund" just for occasions like this.
-The kids are getting an education on where our water comes from.
-My husband is so smart and can troubleshoot things. He pretty much knew the problem before the well people got out here. So, he was able to go ahead and turn the water off to the house. If he had not known to do this we could have burned up more parts costing us more money.
-My in-laws live next door so I was able to wash a couple loads of laundry over there to keep from getting too far behind with the laundry.
-The kids (as well as Steve and I) are learning what a true blessing running water is!

So, there are the blessings! We are truly so blessed! God is Good ALL THE TIME!

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Monday Morning Sentiments!

The kids and I have been listening to "I Have Been Blessed" over and over this morning. They love it and have even made up their own version. Their own version is quite funny and I will have to record it sometime soon to share. But, I wanted to share the original this morning to remind everyone how blessed we truly are!

Hope everyone has a truly blessed week!

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Friday, August 19, 2011

What we're READING

I have always loved to read, though I don't have enough time for it lately, and a big desire of mine is to instill a love of reading in to my children. So far it's working!

What we are reading this week...

Bible No other book should ever take the place of Bible reading. The other two books I am reading refer to a lot of scripture so I am using my Bible with those two books. I am also reading a Proverbs each day.

Mrs. Ministry by Cathy Corle. I have had this book on my shelves for a while and am just now reading it. What an encouraging read! It's wonderful to be reminded of what our ministry is to our Lord, and to our family!

The Power of Motherhood by Nancy Campbell. This is another very encouraging book. I have read it before but it's always great as a refresher on what the Bible says about our job as a mother.

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman. Paul is really enjoying this book. It is a great read for pre-teen boys. Its full of action and humor but teaches history too.

Simon Bolivar by Frank De Varona. This was not a favorite of Paul's but he did learn a lot about Simon Bolivar and about the liberation of many South American countries.

The Beginner's Bible Zach is truly enjoying the new found adventures that independent reading can bring. He is currently working through this book one Bible story each day. It is amazing to see his reading skills increase each day. He not only reads words that I would not think he could figure out he reads them with ease and with inflection in his voice. I am amazed daily at how much his reading has improved. In January he could barely read the word "cat" now he is reading words like "squiggly creatures", "special", "beautiful", and "mountains". Honestly, 9 months ago I was almost ready to give up and say "this child will never learn to read". So glad I didn't give up! I will say, I don't think he would be reading if he were in a classroom. Not that what "I" did was anything great. But he needed daily and individual instruction, constant praise, and practice, practice, practice. Those things just don't happen on a regular basis in a regular classroom. Praise the Lord that He showed us homeschooling was for our family.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Well, Molly isn't actually reading yet, but she does love being read to. This was our very first book to "row" using "Before Five in A Row" (review to come in September). We loved this book and have the "pop-up" version which was SO much fun. The kids couldn't get enough of the book and the activities! Here's a great video of Michael Rosen reciting the book with tremendous expression

Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. This book is so well-written and draws the reader (and listeners) into the story. It's a bit lengthy and over the heads of Zach and Molly but Paul has enjoyed it and so have I. It is a great jump start to conversations about what life was like in the early 1800's.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. What a great story for the kids to start the year with. They don't want me to put it down and are begging for it daily.

So, that's what we are reading this week--and most of them will continue in to next week. It has been a terrific first week of school and the kids have appreciated the benefits of being in a daily routine. Everyone really is happier when they know what's coming next.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Joys of Summer

Zach has many food sensitivities, but thankfully dairy is not on that list! So, ice cream is very special to him! He can't have the cone, but he always wants it in a cone and enjoys eating the ice cream on top and letting it get all over him!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

And the year begins...

Today was our first day of the 2011-2012 school year! I can't believe I have a 5th grader, 1st grader, and a "K-4er". This is our 5th year in this homeschooling journey so you would think by now I would have it all figured out! The problem is that each year the kids get a year older and enter a whole new grade--imagine that. So, each year is all new! Of course, I have taught Paul the grades that Zach and Molly are now in--BUT, my kids definitely prove that every child learns differently! This means that nothing that I used with Paul works with Zach or Molly and nothing that I used with Zach works with Molly. With all that said, this was a great first day of school! Everything went smoothly and the kids were so excited about the new year and their new books! There's nothing like a brand new book to get some excitement going around here!

A few pics of our first day..
Zach decorating his notebook. He is my "symmetrical child". Every thing he creates is perfectly symmetric. And if it's not he just about loses it!

Molly decorating her notebook. Symmetry definitely doesn't appeal to her. Her philosophy is "the more the better".

And Paul...he is not as "into" decorating his notebooks as the other too. He goes for simple and "cool"

The kiddos were so excited about this new book I just bought to go along with our review of "Before Five in a Row". They love the song but never knew there was a book. With all the excitement I knew this would make a great book to start off the year.

And look, it's a cool pop-up book. Even Paul loved this book!

The little guys made grass to go along with the book. We are going to do mud tomorrow (that should be really fun!)

Paul was really excited about his new Math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks. It is all on the computer!

Molly worked diligently on number recognition and counting.

Zachary continues to amaze me with how smart he is and how well he does. He is working on Abeka math here and didn't want to stop. He has matured so much in the last 6-8 months and adores school. He had a hard time going to sleep last night he was so excited about school starting and then he wanted to get started before breakfast this morning.

Outside time turned in to a science lesson. The kids found a very unique caterpillar in the yard and we tried to figure out what kind it is but haven't been able to find it online yet.

It's black and "spiky" with red dots. Very interesting! We currently have it in a cup with some leaves and dirt so we can figure out what it is. We will release it tomorrow.

Molly worked really hard on her fine motor skills and sorting using these cool kids chopsticks I found this weekend at The School Box. Her little hands get tired very easily and her "little thumb" is a little out of place and very short so it's a challeng for her, but she is ALWAYS up for a challenge. She used her other hand some too, which I wish I had gotten a picture of because her hand specialist would have been extremely impressed.

Zach loved this activity but it did try his patience. I have seen this activity in several places online and knew he would love it. It's so simple. You push golf tees in to styrofoam and put the marbles on top. It's wonderful for fine motor skills as well as patience to get all the marbles to stay on.

I just realized I don't have near as many pictures of Paul as I do the other two. He worked so hard today. We are really stepping it up a notch for him this year so he was busy reading and doing what he calls "real" school. It really was a great day. I am totally and completely exhausted but it's all worth it.

I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to teach my own kids! I am amazed at how God has provided and how He has lead us down this path. I could NOT do it without Him. I am also truly thankful for a husband that totally and completely supports and believes in home educating. He doesn't care that we have baskets of school material all over our home and the kids workboxes have taken over our breakfast nook. He doesn't even care that we have maps taped to the bay window. He whole-heartedly believes that this is how God intended for us to raise our kids. It truly is a blessing!

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Media Free Days...What do they look like

Unfortunately many parents are scared to take media away from their kids. They have several reasons why media is good for them but many times the truth is just that they don't know what to do with their kids. They think that if the kids aren't watching tv or playing a video game they will be complaining about being bored or they will get too rowdy. Well, the too rowdy part does occasionally happen in our home. But, more often than not, our media free days are peaceful and full of creativity. On pretty days the kids are outside playing in the woods or playing the sport of the season in the front yard. But, on days where it's raining or just plain too hot to be outside without a swimming pool nearby my kids tend to turn to their creative side.

We have lots of Lego building and playing going on.

And some tent building

Which leads to playing together

We have cookie baking and decorating

And tasting

We even found a gluten free cookie recipe that Zach likes

And oh so much more...reading without being asked, painting, coloring, building, creating, and in general just being kids exploring the world around them. They get along better and have less attitude when there is no media influencing them. It has become such a wonderful experience we are considering cutting it down even more. Try it, you'll probably like it, and your kids will thank you for day!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

A Learning Lifestyle

Many schools in our area started back to school last week. We didn't actually start back but we did do a great deal of learning. As mentioned in my previous post we traveled to California last week. Not only did we attend a wedding, we also threw some site-seeing and education in there! There are so many wonderful things to do in the area. Thanks to Carole Marsh and her mystery book the kids had definite ideas as to what they wanted to see. This was such a great and fun way to prepare the kids for our trip. I read it aloud to them and they couldn't get enough. We even read some while waiting for Steve to get the rental car. Travel is such a memorable way to teach our kids. They often talk about the different things we see and learn bout on various trips we have taken.

We started out with a trip down to the redwoods. These aren't the biggest of the redwoods, those are further north in California. These were definitely impressive though.

Later that day we headed to the Boardwalk and Pier in Santa Cruz. We learned about Sea Lions. It was wonderful to see these amazing creatures. We watched them "play" for a long time and actually went back the next day to watch them some more.

After that it was time for the boardwalk. No learning here, just fun!

Well, I guess we learned that chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles are great (or at least Zach really liked it)

And then the kids put their feet in the Pacific Ocean and learned that it was VERY cold.

The kids also loved hanging out with their cousins on the pier. As you can see from the pictures we all learned that when you are in northern California you should always carry a sweatshirt!

And they learned, or i should say we are always learning how to get along with each other.

Later in the week we saw a much anticipated landmark...Lombard Street.

We stopped in and saw a beautiful garden in the middle of the bustling city of San Francisco.

We learned about Alcatraz and that sailing on the Bay is frigid but a lot of fun.

We learned that Zachary will do anything for a laugh...wait, we knew that already!

We learned that Molly takes awesome pictures, oh yea, we knew that already too.

Zach and Paul take great pics too!

We learned about the Golden Gate Bridge and got to sail under it.

We learned all about Ghiradelli Chocolate!

And all about Ice cream with Ghiradelli chocolate---YUMMMM!

We learned about street vendors.

And then we took a tour of an old cargo sailing ship, the Balclutha.

We had a great time and it really was very educational.

The trip home was a completely different educational experience about maneuvering through multiple airports, and subways with 3 very tired kids and 10 bags as well as a stroller and 2 exhausted parents. But that's a story for a completely different post. Suffice it to say we are so glad to be home and so incredibly blessed to have had such a wonderful trip. We often talk about how God has spoiled us in so many ways!