Monday, July 30, 2012

Brain mush and Droopy eyes (Oh My!)

There's so much I'd love to be blogging about.

Like Johanna's 15th birthday, complete with party pictures.....

Or the 5th post in my Finding Joy in Motherhood Series.....

Like my feelings on adopting out of birth order......

And my thoughts lately about war or team parenting....

But alas. Between homeschooling and two birthday parties this past weekend, I haven't found enough time to do blogging justice.

I sat down tonight to try to post, but my eyes are droopy and my brain is complete mush. I've stared and typed, deleted and restarted, but it's just not working for me tonight. :)

So, I'm just saying a quick "hello" to my lovely bloggy friends and leaving a promise to be back soon.

Goodnight all! :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homeschooling 2012 (With Three Toddlers in Tow)

Our 2012 homeschool year started this week so I wanted to take this opportunity to answer the many questions I get asked about curriculum, keeping toddlers occupied, and our homeschool schedule.

As I've mentioned before, our home is under 1500 sq feet, so I'm not blessed with a schoolroom. Our kitchen works well instead. The bookshelf in the kitchen holds our curriculum for the year and a few puzzles and manipulatives for the toddlers.

I made the switch to My Father's World curriculum this year, based on the great reviews I've been hearing from friends who've tried it, the strong Christian missions emphasis, and the appealing unit study approach--which allows me to teach the oldest three children geography, Bible, science, art, and music together .

Later in the year, I'll give a more thorough review of MFW, since we've just begun using it, but so far, I LOVE it.
The older three children are using MFW Exploring Countries and Cultures, Horizons' Math, Language Lessons (E and N), Spelling by Sound and Structure (N), Explode the Code (J), and Writing Strands (E).

Nathaniel and Eliana take private violin lessons. All three older children will be starting back to piano (I teach them) in a couple of weeks.

Confession time: I fear schedules. I truly do. While I crave routine, peace, and predictability, I still cringe at the thought of a strict schedule. Perhaps it's my perfectionist personality, ie if I'm using a schedule, I have a hard time being even one minute off schedule, lol! :) Regardless, after last year's survival year, and the chaos that three toddlers brings, I knew I needed to go back to a schedule this school year.

Can I just say that it's like a sweet breath of fresh air? Ahhh...the peace of everyone knowing what to do and when to do it. :)

I'm still tweaking a few things here and there, but for the most part, the schedule is working beautifully.

In case you can't read the picture above, here's our 2012 school schedule (with Mommy notes added, for more information!)

6:30 Mommy up, dressed, make bed (I shower at night)

7:00 Wake children, give them morning jobs (they are printed on cards they wear around their neck), Mommy dress Ethan and start breakfast. Once each child finishes their jobs, they go to the kitchen table with a book or small toy to wait for breakfast.

8:00 Devotions (older three read in their rooms, Mommy and little ones are at the table)

8:30 Math for older 4, toddlers in gated boys' room with toys (in the picture below, they were waiting to go in to play!)

9:30 School with Mommy, toddlers watch video in Mommy's room

10:00 Snack time! Everyone at the table, Mommy reads aloud/teaches

10:30 Johanna and Nathaniel take toddlers outside, Mommy does school with Noah, Ellie practices violin (she does 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening)

11:00 Mommy reads/plays with Noah and toddlers, older three Reading on their beds

11:30 Toddlers on Blanket Time in kitchen with Mommy, older ones doing Handwriting, etc, and doing their lunch jobs, Mommy makes lunch

12:00 LUNCH! :) and cleanup

12:30 Noah and Ethan playtime/Gabbey and Lyssie playtime, Nathaniel practices violin, Johanna works on laundry, Ellie has school with Mommy (language, spelling, writing)

1:00 Toddlers and Johanna play in girls' room (they LOVE this time, lol, because they don't normally get to go into the girls' room), Ellie plays the tablet, Nathaniel does school with Mommy (language, spelling, writing)

1:30 Younger four take naps, Nathaniel plays the tablet, Ellie works on laundry, Johanna has school with Mommy

I don't schedule after 2 o'clock right now although I've contemplated it. The afternoons are for reading, crafts, art, etc. I try to take a nap a couple of days a week for 45 minutes to an hour. It recharges me and I look forward to the "down time". :)

I do wake the little ones by 4 if they're not already up, and they are all in bed around 8:30.

Here's what I use to keep my toddlers busy while letting them have fun. I keep alot of wooden puzzles, stacking toys, learning toys, pegboards, foam letters and numbers, etc, etc, on this big shelf in the hallway. The todder items stay up high........for obvious reasons! :)

And the chapter books, easy readers, Bible story books, and coloring books go on the bottom of the shelf.

I found these pink and blue buckets (they hang on a metal rod on the wall) at Ikea and use them for all the crayons, markers, scissors and pencils.

The babies, enjoying coloring and playing with stickers......

The babies again, showing off their playdoh creations! :)

One of the best tips I'm using this year (I stole it from this blog!) is to wake the little ones up, get them ready for the day, and immediately buckle them into their highchairs with a book or toy to play with. This has eliminated the huge messes they would make in the morning while I was trying to get breakfast on the table! I can turn on a CD, talk to them, and make breakfast, knowing the house is staying clean and we'll be ready for school when breakfast is over. A simple tip (and may only be necessary for those with many small children?) but oh, how it's made my mornings run more smoothly! :)

I hope I've answered all your questions in this a bit too lengthy post, but if not, feel free to ask in the comments below. I'm still learning and growing in many of these areas, but I'm more than happy to share whatever I have learned!

We are praising the Lord for an awesome start to our 2012 school year, and praying for wisdom from HIM as we seek to raise these precious little ones for His glory.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Home Tour, Part 5, Revisited

I know I already shared about our girls' room here, but since I rearranged it (twice!) since that post, I wanted to show you the updated version.

As it turns out, there are only so many ways one can rearrange a room this small. Especially since we decided to move Alyssia (2) and Gabriella (2) in with the big girls. :)

So I won't tell you how many times I've taken the bunk beds apart, put them back together, and moved them into different spots.

No, I won't tell. :)

I'll just show you the final results. Which we all know won't stay final since I rearrange way too often. LOL.

The view from the hallway:

Johanna (14) and Eliana (10) decided to switch beds, so Johanna is now on the bottom and Eliana has the top bunk.

I made the curtain for their dresser out of an old set of curtains from Target.

I found the throw rug several years ago at a consignment shop. It's Pottery Barn Kids. You can also see a glimpse of the gorgeous rag quilts that my mother-in-law made for each of our children. :)

Okay, I LOVE this pink mirror! I almost stole it for my room. :) It was 75% off at Garden Ridge, making it only $12.00. The girls love it, too!

Someday in the near future, we will need another set of bunk beds for our little girls. But for now, this arrangement is working for us! :)

Oh, how I love these big and little girls of mine. I pray they will grow to be lovely daughters of our King, joyfully serving Him and others.

In the meantime, I'm loving watching them learn, live, and grow. :)

Blueberry Day

The children and I went blueberry picking a couple of weeks ago. Having never seen a blueberry bush before, I must say, for some reason I pictured blueberries growing on little bushes like blackberries or even strawberries..... :)


It was more like an apple or peach orchard, with rows and rows of gorgeous, delicious blueberries!

Needless to say, the children had a blast picking, er eating, blueberries!

Johanna especially loved the taste of the blueberries. Fruit is one of her favorite foods!

We spent about an hour, filling our buckets---and our tummies---with delicious blueberries.

I was slightly worried that some of our 7 and 1/2 pounds of blueberries might go to waste before we had a chance to eat them and even contemplated freezing some of them.

Ahem. No need for freezing.

They were ALL gone in three short days. :)

As soon as the temperatures drop out of the 100's, we'll be heading back for some more blueberries.

More than we got last time, apparently. :)