January 11, 2017

Our Homeschool Routine

I wanted to talk about our homeschool routine. That's right, we're homeschooling. That may be a surprise to you because I don't mention it at all because I fear judgement. There's a whole tangle of things involved but they are not the reason for this post.

This morning I was in a discussion with some other moms who are all starting to homeschool this semester. Some from private school, public school and the university  model.

I am not an "all-in" homeschooling mom, as in, this is for a short period of time (we think). If I had to have a blog about it it would be "The Hesitant Homeschooler" or something like that.  Either way, here we are. I was telling a few of the moms how their struggles with finding a niche among others were things we struggled with at the start, and that it works differently (I think) for everyone.

Today I want to document what "works" for us. It has been a lot of trial and error! And it was a bumpy start for sure til we found our feet.

1. We don't have a school room. We use our dining room table and it works out very well. It's like the heart of our home so it makes sense for this important thing to take place there as well. I do have a "homeschool" space which is in my dining room cupboard. It's not pretty and it's not what I would like for it to look like- but it's functional.

2. I aim for one hour a day. I heard someone say that it's safe to limit Kindergartners to one hour of sit down academic work a school day. You can break it up as you see fit. Honestly we often go over. But if after that hour she shows signs up exhaustion or being done, I back off. They say to add an hour of sit down/academic time per day per year the child is in school per year capping off at the sixth grade (7 hours of sit down academic work in a day).

3. A typical week:
Monday (our free day)- All kids dot marker letters together. We may bake. They may do play-dough.
Tuesday and Thursday- strong curriculum days. We do the bulk of math and reading these days while Sophie is at Pre school.
Wednesday - Classical Conversations. This is a 4 hour commitment and we are all wiped when we get home.
Friday- I try to do Science and history/geography and any lesson we need to finish up on this day.

A Basic Day:
-Introduce new letter: 
-do Handwriting without Tears (HWOT), Evan Moore Reading book for that letter, Dot markers worksheets from The Measured Mom and Confessions of a Homeschooler
(Note: I LOVE the above printables because all of the kids do it! They gather around the table, we can listen to music or not and they all "do school". They are fun and I recommend them!)

- Writer's Workshop (Claire's FAVORITE activity)
(This gives you an idea of what this looks like. Sophie and Claire both do this and get big giggles from having me read their stories. They  each have a folder. For Sophie and the first semester for Claire I would write the story they told me. Now Claire is writing her own.)
-Sight Words (on index cards), Sight word book
-Saxon Phonics Kindergarten- two lessons on new letter, Read the reader for the week
-Calendar work (at the table). Months of the year, days of the week, seasons, weather etc.
-Math workbook (We did this one which she LOVED, and two others and now will start Singapore Math next week.)
-- Count to 100, Count to 20 and back again, count by 10's (just added this skill)

Other Variables:
We work through the Evan Moore Science Kindergarten book at a snail's pace.
We listen to youtube videos of basic Spanish (the girls love it!)
We listen to and "learn" the Classical Conversations songs and memory work loosely (Latin, math, history, geography and grammar)

4. My "homeschooling style" would be considered eclectic. I use random materials piece-mealed together using the state standards as a guide. I have a notebook with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Kindergarten printed off. I made a Scope and Sequence/curriculum map over the summer and use it as a loose guide. I also have "What  Your Kindergartner Needs To Know" which may be more accessible than the TEKS.

November 21, 2016

Children Interviews November 2016

Interview with Claire 5 1/2 years old

1. What is your favorite color? Orange.
2. What is your favorite food? Ice cream.
3. What is your favorite treat? Ice cream...
4. What is your favorite subject? What is a subject?... Math! And art!
5. What is your favorite sport? What is a sport? ... Riding scooter!!
6. What is your favorite hobby? What is a hobby?... Go to Papa and Lolo's house...
7. What is your favorite movie? Finding Dory.
8. What is your favorite tv show? Wild Krattz!!
9. What is your favorite book? This one! (Holds up "Lily's Plastic Purple Purse" and an Ariel activity book).
10. What is your favorite animal? Fuzzy and Daisy.
11.  What is your favorite song? "Glory! Glory!" No wait... The one we used to listen to in the car, "Do not be anxious!!" and "Put your jammies on!"
12.  What is your favorite vegetable? Carrots! (bites into a huge pretend carrot)
13. What is your favorite fruit? "Boo-shoo's!" (Her baby word for blueberries- I was telling stories about how they used to talk and they thought this was hilarious so they both use it again).
14. What is your favorite place to visit? Papa and Lolo's.
15.  Who is your best friend? The Ava I used to play with at school and Sophie.
16.  What is your favorite thing to do with Sophie? Play dollhouse.
17. What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Go to the farm.
18. What is your favorite thing to do with Isaac? Go backwards with the tractors.
19.  What is your favorite thing to do with mom? Exercise.
20. What is your favorite thing to do with Fuzzy and Daisy? Bark. (?)
21. What do you want to be when you grow up? An artist.
22. What is your greatest talent? What is talent?... Writing stuff.
23.  What is your greatest strength? Coloring.
24. What makes your nervous? The Gruffalow... the Gruffalow makes me nervous...
25.  What makes you happy? Everyday when we go to Papa and Lolo's for Thanksgiving and my birthday and when we build a snowman.  (note: we leave for the grandparents' house in two days so she is focused on this!)
26. What age are you excited to be and why? 100!! We learn about it and count to it on the calendar.

Interview with Sophie age 3 1/2 yo.

1. What does mommy always say? "You get in bed.." (very sweetly) and I say, "Yes, Ma'am!!!!" (???)
2. What makes you happy? Um... you and I are riding a TRACTOR OUTSIDE!
3. What makes you sad? Anybody not with me in my room.
4. What makes you laugh? We go upside down on the trampoline.. Well.... Yes.
5. How old are you? Free!
6. What do you want to be when you grow up? Poo-poo Kuwana!! ummm... free.
7. How old is mommy? 5!
8. How old is daddy? 4!
9. What is your favorite thing to do? Um.... ride a ducky. (laughs like crazy) YES!!!! (mimics riding a huge duck as Claire laughs hard at her).
10. Who is your best friend? (points to Claire).
11. What are you really good at? Jumping real high.
12. What are you not good at? Jumping high on bricks.
13. What did we do today? (I asked this just after breakfast). Jumping on the trampoline to see the baby birds. And their momma was without her chickens... (Note: We have been doing puzzles at the table all morning.)
14. What is your favorite food? "Boo-shoo's!" (their baby word for blueberries)
15. What is your favorite song? Um... Bow Bow Bow!
16. What is your favorite animal? Jack Rabbit!!!
17. What does daddy do for work? Works on his 'pooter'.
18.Where do you live? At home.
19. What is your favorite place to go? At McDonalds.
20. What is love? Wove. Wove. Wove. I WOVE my family!!!!!!!

October 5, 2016

Babies Grown Up- On Nursing No More

We have been wanting to wean Isaac for some time. We had our ten year anniversary this summer and were unable to get away due to it. I've been torn. I want to be "free" but nursing is such a precious thing and this is my last baby... Then Isaac began to bite (again) this last week. Two nights before last he bit a little, presumably from discomfort in his ears or new molars coming in, and I yelped "no" and he took a huge breath and wailed and wailed.

After this he sat up and cuddled his lion and averted his eyes. I comforted him and welcomed him back to no avail, which is quite unusual since he's typically an avid nurser. The next day he did the same. And again today. I tried one last time and he wouldn't even look at me and only cuddled his lion and looked away.

 Part of me is weeping over it (how sad!). And part of me knows I should take this opportunity. Weaning can be so difficult. Claire was rather easy but Sophie lingered and would cry miserably for weeks and even months after and I would have to refuse her again and again breaking my (and her heart) each time. So... A little boy happily going without and cuddling his lion, even though it's out of fear of getting in trouble, is something I have to "latch" on to.

So for the first time in six years I am neither pregnant or breastfeeding...

(dramatic pause).

It's the dawn of a new era!

I'm both excited and terrifyingly sad. Motherhood has been such melancholic sweetness of painfully blissful proportions.

August 5, 2016

Little Boy

Little boy. Good grief you're so sweet. I just want to freeze this day in time and cuddle you and love on you. You are so sweet!

I want to remember how your personality is coming through.

You are obssessed with climbing into chairs and sitting so big and proud like your sisters. You like to color like your sisters. And you smile so big!! When I point the camera at you, you give a big cheesy smile!!

The other day you were playing in the little cozy coupe in the backyard. I was reading a text above you and when I looked down you were giving me this cheesy smile thinking I was taking a picture!! So I did.

And tonight you climbed up in this chair and call, "Mama!!!  Mama!!!" and when I look you leaned over and focused so hard and colored so hard.

Here's you..

You LOVE affirmation. You just glow and beam.
You LOVE music and bopping around.
You like your people. You don't like to be alone. You want your momma and your sisters around.
You aren't crazy about new people... we feel like right now you're an introvert (who knows how long that will last).
You are cautious. You still won't walk. You stand and play (and slap your belly!) and you cruise around but you will NOT take more than one or two steps. You are not one for taking risks or chances. It's actually pretty fascinating!

We love you sweet thing!

August 4, 2016

Meal Planning- One crock pot at a time

I'm back on the meal planning train. I've literally dusted off my crock pot and am back to the races.

Here's what on tap for the days ahead:

Thai Beef
Spinach Lasagna
Pork Carnitas
Salsa or Ranch Chicken
Pork Tenderloin
Breakfast Casserole (hash browns, eggs, cheese and sausage)
Breakfast oatmeal

July 18, 2016

Number One Turns Five

Five years. How long I've had the honor of struggling, shrugging, and settling into this role.

Five years. The numbers of years I have woken up and said good morning to this little face.

Five years that I have gotten to know this sweet, silly, intense and wonderful person.

 Three years of her being a wonderful big sister. Smiling at little sister's antics, hugging her and wanting to play with her every minute.

One year of having a little brother to coddle, kiss and say, "I'm so glad God gave him to us!" "He's the cutest baby ever!" She somehow even magically knows the right thing to say, when looking at a precious new baby she whispers, "He's cute- but not as cute as our baby."

Claire, you have an emotional barometer and can feel the tension, joy, excitement and pause in a room.

You want to please, succeed at school, and have affirmation from those around her.

Her fifth birthday she asked for a Paw Patrol party. We invited a small group of friends and met at a new splash pad north of town. Nan came by with a gift, and Papa and Lolo met us there. The storm clouds shut down the splash pad but the kids loved it anyway! They played, ran, slid, played on the playground and the clouds kept us all cool.
We love you Claire! I'm excited for what this Claire has to offer!

July 4, 2016

What I Want- Processing

I want to bake and cook confidently and with no stress before my children.

I want to keep a well run and peaceful home.

I want to conduct my own in depth studies rather than always reading other people's.

I want to read all of the books I have lined up and stacked up around me.

I want to find peace, calm and creativity in our home.

I want to introduce my children to music and creativity.

I want to learn new languages and new words.

I want to learn to play an instrument.

I want to camp as a family.

I want to weekend trip.

I want to enjoy every last drop out of this season of life.

I want to homeschool effectively and enjoyably.

I want to cut out excess distraction.

I want to know in calmness and certainty who I am and not who I think people want me to be.

I want to quit surviving.

Number Two Turns Three

Dearest Soph,
At this time three years ago I was laboring calmly in bed not knowing that within a few hours we would screech up to the hospital almost too late.

You came into the world so smoothly, with barely a cry and a double rainbow outside our window early on the fourth of July.

Tonight you lay exhausted, never napping, always waking early and living with a zest for life. We just came back from a quick weekend trip to the hill country for a wedding. We did splash pads, visited your grandpa and moved slowly as a family of five.

And today you turn three!!

This is the first year you are embracing birthdays. Every time we mention it you say, "My birthday party!!!" and jump up and down with glee.

You want a birthday cake and your "frenz" and most especially your "teacha" to be here. I'm afraid we will feel the first pains of a holiday birthday tomorrow as most people are still traveling.

Oh girl.. you are a joy!! You live life with such exuberance it's impossible to contain.

You say, "Why?!" about every. single. little. thing. You copy Claire even in (especially in?) her disobedience.

You always get undressed outside.

You can't talk quietly.

You don't pronounce "S" and say "fitting"(spitting), "faking" (spanking). When you are frustrated with Claire you call her sternly by her full name. The other day she hit you after I was certain you were provoking her. You came to me crying and I said, "Why do you think she did that?" And without missing a beat you said, "Because she's MEAN!"

( I'd like to clarify here how much you both adore one another and how amazingly you get along.. which is what made this even funnier.)

You love doll houses and big expressions. You don't like being out of control, or being overly wet or new situations.

You say, "Why you say, '________'?" and repeat a phrase that was just said, complete with tone and facial expression.

You love nothing more than your sister.

We love you so so much. You are a bright light in our family!!!

Happy birthday Sophie!

(Your second birthday).

June 15, 2016

First dentist visit and so much joy

This past Monday was Claire's first dentist visit. I always assumed certain things would be momentous parenting moments: Kindergarten graduation, riding a bike, driving  car, prom.. but I never expected the full blown, heart tugging moments that have jumped up and grabbed me.

Take for instance Claire's first ballet class. It took me completely by surprise how my heart was filled with joy over-brimming and I couldn't have been more proud- with her little bun, and her chin ducked down in concentration, tongue in her cheek, trying to focus so hard and to do every little thing the teacher told her.

I about passed out from glee!

And again this week another experience rivaled it both in joy and in the surprise of the depth of pride it brought me.

We've had Claire's first dentist appointment on the books for a while. I've been talking to her about it and what she might expect.

A month ago I gave Claire her first hair "cut" (trim) and as I was cutting Claire said, "Save some for the dentist!"...

So clearly she was thinking about the visit a lot but was also confused as to what would really happen there.

For the record, I had told her some day she would sit in a chair and a woman would wash her hair and cut it. And perhaps the big special chair of dentistry just melded with hair cutting.

Fast forward to Monday. I got a sitter, and Sophie howled with sorrow that she couldn't come. I saw a little glimpse into Claire's heart as she got down by Sophie and said, "Sophie, the dentist isn't all fun... it's actually a little scary."  Which sobered Sophie up quite nicely and she was then quite content to wish us well as we left without her and little brother.

As we pulled up at the dentist I told Claire she would need to walk in to the office and the big desk and say her full name and that she had an appointment.

She straightened her little back, and as solemnly as she could walked up to the front desk and almost inaudibly said her full name.

The receptionists all "ahhed" in unison and commented on her serious face.

I took the clipboard and sat to fill in her information and Claire asked me no less than 5 times if she could do it. Finally, at the end, I handed her the clip board with the pen dangling by a light chain, and she said and oh so carefully wrote her name in scrawling, big overlooping letters and then straight as an arrow walked the clipboard back up to the receptionists, turned on a dime and went and sat in a chair to peruse a magazine.

The receptionists all commented on how cute and passed the clipboard around to look at how she wrote her own name.

At last our hygenist came out to call Claire. Claire asked if she could go alone. The answer was no, I would be going with her (such a big girl now!). I could see her eyeing Jill's (the hygensist's) neon pink smock with glee and wonder. It was neon pink and almost seemed to be glowing.

Maybe what brought me such joy was seeing her interact with the world for the first time on her own. Her joy, reserve, courage and brazen curiosity. And in it all seeing myself at the core.

She climbed up into the large dentist chair at first timidly but as soon as she felt the soft leather the sheer joy of adventure overrode any fear (again, like mom). She let Miss Jill show her the tools (Mr. Squirt and Mr. Thirsty) and let her count her teeth then clean them.

She even opened as widely as she could so the dentist could "count" her teeth too (check them).

I was simultaneously overflowing with pride and joy while also so shocked at the depth of emotion in such a mundane moment.

Parenting.. full of surprises!

June 5, 2016

From Sun Up...

From sun up til sun down in this season of life I'm worn out.

Unlike my working years I'm not stressed. I enjoy my life. I don't go to bed with the insomnia a weighty tomorrow threw at me.

But my hours and days are chaotic. A beautiful chaos of "sliddering" snakes on the living room floor, tu-tus, chocolate smeared hands and warm hugs. But chaos just the same.

I'm not stressed but I'm overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the prospect of how quickly life is moving and of how deeply I could be messing it all up.

All while underneath I feel a quiet peace that we're doing it the best we can which must be right.

This week my sister and brother in law found out he has cancer.. horrible, insidious, unforgiving and merciless. And like a dainty little top their entire worlds have been thrown upside down.

My two year old didn't stop ignoring me, my four year old didn't stop her chatter, and the baby didn't stop screaming. But I sat in stunned silence and thought that it could be me tomorrow, my baby today, my husband next week.... Gone. Chained up to chemicals and a future no one can read. The light airiness that today is a gift filled my mind and made it swim.

One by one I caught my little people and held their warm little bodies in a hug as long as they would allow.

Today is a gift. From sun up til sundown. With all of the chaos and overwhelming imperfection in between. It's a gift and it won't always be here.

I sat there watching my children and I felt my exhaustion and my overwhelmed spinning mind and thought what a gift... to be worried about such simple, trite things. What a gift to have no pain so I can feel my exhaustion as though it's something big.

What a gift...

* Please pray for my sister, brother in law and their children... There are no sufficient words when worlds begin to unravel.

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