Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our New School Year

So we're off and running with our school year, nearly two months tucked under our belts, and I'd be lying if I didn't say things started off a little bumpy this year. For a variety of reasons, most of which had to do with scheduling and our workload, our days came a bit off the rails. But thankfully after some very teary talks with Jer about just what we're trying to accomplish here by schooling our children at home, I think we've mostly ironed out the kinks. Mostly. As in, I am no longer considering flagging down the local school bus and enrolling the kids at the elementary school down the road. And for the most part, we are all back to smiling at the end of days. At least more days than not, anyway ; ) 
 {Our afternoon tradition continues!}
For the majority, our year looks the same in terms of curriculum. This year, we've decided to revisit Sonlight and so I reordered the 1st grade Language Arts program and Core B {which covers our Geography, History, Bible and chapter book read alouds}. After loving Math-U-See's Primer last year, we moved on to Alpha this year and have been just as pleased. We also continued on with our handy Explode the Code workbooks {3 & 4} and Handwriting Without Tears. Last, for science we are still relying on our old faithful, Wild Kratts. We also purchased an Explora membership, as well as signed up for a class on the human body through our co-op group.

(spelling words are most fun when practiced on a window with a dry erase marker)

While most things have remained the same, we do have a few new things added to our docket. First things, first.
New to us: Spelling City. Spelling City is a free website where the kids can practice their own spelling words for the week by playing a variety of games. I use it as an incentive for when the boys get their independent work done. They just think they're getting to play a computer game! It's great for the boy who finishes ahead of his brother or just to occupy someone when you need a hot second to catch your breath. While I still think the best way to retain spelling words is in the context of practicing reading and writing, I've seen enough fruit to keep it around. Best part is, when it's run it's course, we ditch it because it was FREE. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

 {Abe's rendition of a knock-knock joke. "Knock, knock. Who's there? I love you. You are a great momma."}
New to us: Circle time. Seriously, CIRCLE TIME! This has helped our home school along tremendously. You can read about Circle Time on a variety of blogs but suffice it to say that it's a easy way to include all the kiddos while still accomplishing a portion of our planned school day. We use it to practice the pledge, work on our scripture memory, our poetry memorization, counting, picture book read alouds, poetry read-alouds, days of the week, months of the year, hymn study, art study, and prayer. We make it fun {like counting in a monster voice}. We make it interactive {think playing instruments along with our songs}. Everyday we end with a joke and I try to smile. A lot. In fact, I remind myself quite a bit to SMILE! And laugh! And not to make it so serious and dire that they remember every jot and tittle of every sentence spoken. Sounds silly, but for me, the struggle is real. Four star addition for us this year. 
 {Our first day of Co-op}
New to us: Co-op. This year, we decided to join a local homeschool co-op. We only meet every other week but the intent is to forge some relationships outside of our usual circle and just change up the scenery a bit. This semester, the twins are learning about the human body, Judah's exploring his ABC's through a Wheels on the Bus theme, and Gracie is making frequent potty breaks and enjoying some playground time and snack. As for me, I'm camped out in a women's Bible study. Have I mentioned that it's bliss to know your kids are being cared for and taught, all while you sip down a Starbucks?!  There's also a park day tacked on to the end for all your outside play needs :) While we've only been twice, co-op has been a breath of fresh air for our year.

New to us: Lego Club. Local library. Friday afternoon once a month. Need I say more?!

Not everything has been a fabulous addition, however.

What's not working: Song School Latin. I ordered it. I loved it.  I thought about how I could possibly add it in. And I came to the conclusion that there is just not enough time in the day. So I shelved it. Maybe it will make it's way out during summer...or never. But either way, it has been moved to the back burner. The best laid plans, right?!

What's not working: Charlotte Mason's ideology of structured mornings and free and easy afternoons. While I LOVE the idea of it and behind it, practically, it just did not work for us. At this stage in the game, I just cannot afford to get everything done before lunch...at least in a sane manner, anyway. By continuing with our plan from last year to break up school into two portions of the day, one of which is during Grace's nap time, we are back to successfully accomplishing our day together and our mornings don't feel so...well...grueling. 

(Laundry, laundry, laundry and a nerf bullet in the crockpot. A day in the life...)
 

{Gracie was here.}

What's not working: Trying to do it all. Seriously, why do I keep doing this to myself? You'd think this girl would get it through her brain by now that checking all the boxes is just absolutely  unattainable, at least at the same time anyway! But I still wrestle with it! Some days more than others. But man is it hard for me to remember that this gig is a marathon and not a sprint and that the goals don't always line up with the things that are pretty or that you can see. And can I just get an amen on the mess?! Oh.the.mess.
What's not working: Art. Do kids need art? Yes? No? Maybe? This is such a frustrating area for me. I don't have many thoughts about it, other than I can't help but think our time is better spent in a book or outside at this point in the game. So for the time being, art is benched.  I am looking in to an "help yourself" art nook for the future. But for the time being there are no paper mache trees or Tempera family portraits for this house. Play-doh and good ol' Crayola's are as serious as we get around here. And maybe, just maybe, some watercolors if it's a Friday and daddy's on his way home. ; )


So that's the jist of what our days are made up of, around here! Just normal life with a bunch of reading crammed in to every nook and cranny that we can fit it in to. Are there days where I just want to scrap the whole thing and put the lot of them in school? Yes! Are their days when my head hurts and the boys can't remember if it's a "d" or a "b" and the tears fall far too many? Yes. But there are also days when a boy reads his own menu at a restaurant, or days when you practice spelling words over pizza or the baby recites Psalm 1 along with her brothers? Yes. And you laugh, incredulous, because you see catch a glimpse of how the Lord is feeding the multitudes with your meager offering of a few fish and a few loaves of bread. And so we continue on, trusting His promises and not being anxious for tomorrow.  He will provide. He has provided. 
 #3 helping with dinner
 Haircuts
 One boy's version of taking the clothes "out" of the washer.
 Panties and bikeriding
My helper boy.
No cavities, ma!



 Gracie cooking for me while I get ready for church
 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sometimes...

Sometimes on a Tuesday morning, you can be on your way to the laundry room when a boy can catch your eye and remind you that though the days are long, the years are short. Nearly six and a half and one of his favorite things right now is to tuck away and read about knights. Weren't we just cheering on those first steps yesterday?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

An August Morning








Lately, we've been having the most wonderfully cool mornings. It's the kind of cool where you find the back door open, fully welcoming in every flying insect this side of the mountain, all for the sake of feeling the breeze while you clean up breakfast. I can't imagine I'm the only one but it does wonders for the soul and the oatmeal crusted bowls I'm scrubbing, know what I'm sayin'? Just last week, the kids wandered out, full of breakfast and a sense of adventure. The light was splendid and I could do nothing more than dry my hands and pick up the camera and snap a few pictures of their exploring. It seems this summer has found us with an abundance of tiny sand colored grasshoppers and they are right bent on finding every single one. Their pursuits are admirable and I've been impressed at the tender care that is given to even littlest one that they find. Although, if we're being honest, sometimes even careful brings an amputated leg or a cup left in the sun. Such is the things of boyhood, though. And girlhood, too. Because don't think for a second that baby sis is left behind. These babies of mine are growing and changing so fast. Sometimes when they're together and quiet, it terrifies me to think that we're past the noise and bustle of babies and toddlers and moving on to the "bigger kids" stage of life. But then the noise picks right back up again and all is right again in the world. At least for this summer, anyway.