Thursday, July 18, 2013

Notes from the Trenches, Vol. 4

School cancelled this week on account of heat wave and early labor stages (which in my case have been known to last for weeks, so we'll see).

I plan.  God laughs.

When Blessing #5 arrives, I will post pics.

And that's all from the trenches this week.

Friday, July 12, 2013

In This Moment

Friday we don't usually "do" school.  I plan on getting the other stuff done on the first four days of the week.

Today, I was planning on a big meal prep session.  You can read more about that here.

Anyhow, my mom brought over my sisters who played with my kids while mom and I did meal prep (I come from a family of saints... did you know?  Not me, but everyone else).  After  a morning of hard work, I put on a cartoon for my kids and figured I'd veg out on the couch catching up on my social networks.  my back was spasming and I was *tired*.

So I went to sit next down to my 16 month old, Little K.  She threw herself across the couch, right where I was planning on sitting. Then she giggled hysterically.  "Okay," I thought.

I sat down next to her anyway.  This time, she threw herself into my arms, before I even had a chance to glance at my email.

Now, little K is my miracle baby.  She had to be induced, at six weeks she was sick in the hospital, and only in the last few months has she blossomed into an independent, sassy almost-toddler.

Usually she wants down, she wants to get into things, she wants to be trashing her clothes and doing her own thing, which is great.

On the day that I wanted a quiet moment, however, she wanted to play.

I didn't want to play.  I wanted to check Facebook.

And then it occurred to me.  She isn't going to be the "baby" for much longer.  A few weeks at most, and then she'll be the big sister.  And right now, in this moment, she wants to be my baby.  She wants to kiss and cuddle.  She wants to be tickled and hugged.  And, because we wouldn't have too many more of these moments, I gave her what she wanted.

So, here she is, today, in this moment.  My baby.

Because babies grow too fast.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Notes from the Trenches, Vol. 3

In the interest of full disclosure, this week was a low point for us, school-wise.

We did school on Monday.  Everything on the lesson plan.  The kids even got all their chores done afterwards.

On Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment that ate our school time.

On Wednesday I was exhausted, uncomfortable and hot. The little ones all felt hot and Marty threw up, so we had a sick day.  I let it slide.

Today I spent the morning shopping for a major meal prep event tomorrow, so school time was spent at Grandma's house.

While this week was weak on school, the amount of artwork and imaginative play generated has been stellar, not to mention the socialization time spent with their relatives.  So, it wasn't a complete loss.  It never really is.

Next week is a new week.

And that's all from the trenches.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

5 Favorites: Babiez mayk u dum edition

Thanks to the lovely Hallie for hosting!

5 Favorites: Babiez Mayk U Dum Edition

I'm 36 weeks pregnant and counting the days.  I know not everyone gets this fun pregnancy symptom, but I get major brain drain, especially during the third trimester.  So, my memory goes, my grasp of English is greatly reduced and I have trouble concentrating on anything (including books written for kids.  Yeah, it's bad).

1. Roku box

My kids have a mild flu, so we're having a sick day.  They're tired and cranky and still getting over a super eventful week last week.  So, they're being allowed a bit more screen time than usual.  My roku box lets me stream Dinosaur Train from Netflix online to my vintage TV.  There are other shows, too, but Dinosaur Train is the current favorite with the four different ages. The peace is priceless and the kids "buy" another episode with a chore, so it's not like they're vegging out for uninterrupted hours.

2. Pinterest, again.

This time I'm crowdsourcing my meal planning to all the smart blogging ladies who do freezer meals that go into the crock pot.  I'm going to be spending the next couple days putting up some freezer meals for those hazy post-baby days.  I'm starting with this smart lady who introduced me to the method and branching out to browse all the other possibilities out there.  I have a round up of these recipes on my pinterest board "survival recipes" along with my other school year, mom of many, super quick and easy recipes.

3. my laptop
What other device lets me stay in touch with my buddies, helps me make meal plans and recipes, runs my homeschooling lesson plans, and lets me bid on getting my mom the perfect "thank you" gift?  I love my twenty-first century tech.

4. my list app on my phone
Since I have no memory left, I have to write down *everything*.  I have so many lists and checklists I would never be able to keep them in the same place without the kids finding and destroying my stack... so I have them all on my phone.  Grocery lists, chore lists, reminders, they're all in the same place.

5. smart kids
Not just my smart kids, who are great helpers when I'm in the "ooohhh, that's a Braxton Hicks contraction and I'm going to be on the couch for a bit now" stage of the third tri.  My smart, college-kid sister comes over for a couple hours every day and brings my smart youngest sister.  Between the two of them, my house stays clean and my kids are entertained.  Surrounding myself with smart people when I'm feeling intellectually vulnerable has been so comforting.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Memorable Moments

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting. :-)

This week there was nothing earth shaking happening at our house, but sometimes it's all about the little moments.

1. Marty was being carried somewhere by one of his aunties. Apropo of nothing, he popped his head up and said "HEY!  Imma love you!"

2. Upon being given a donut, Kittybean (15mo) made happy smacking sounds with her mouth, punctuated by waving her arms in the air.  This is her rendition of the "happy dance."

3. At a coffee shop, I was putting cream and sugar in my coffee.  My curious Robbie was watching and started commenting. "Don't put in too much sugar." "Why do you need that much cream?"  "I think that's enough cream now, Mom.  You should stop now." Because a six year old who has never tasted coffee is of course an expert.

4. Girls' night at the cafe with dessert and coffee was awesome.  My girlfriends are wise, geeky, and the perfect group for me. Not to mention funny and supportive.  Love 'em to pieces.

5. While I was watching my son do his work sheet, he looked up and smiled ear to ear.  He loves his homeschooling.

6. Bri actually asked for more school work after she finished her quota. Her sister grabbed her crayon  and, instead of coloring on her sister's worksheet, made coloring motions over where Bri had already colored.  She's getting it!

7. Every day there are little moments where my kids interact with each other that warm my heart.  Yes, four is a lot and five will be more.  Yes, they keep me busy and a little tired.  But they fit together like puzzle pieces.  They love and help each other.  They belong together.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Notes from the Trenches, Vol. 2

Since today is a national holiday, I'm giving the kids the day off of school.  I haven't decided yet if we're going to catch up tomorrow or if I'll just re-boot my lesson plan making up for the missed day.

I tried out my new religion plan this week.  The first day we focused on learning a prayer, the second day we read a story from the old Testament and the third day we read from the new Testament.  I like the rhythm and it keeps the kids thinking about  what we're studying and why.  I'm keeping it. :-)

We also did math this week, using Saxon K.  Because I actually did all my lesson prep in advance it was much easier than winging it, which was what I was doing before.  It worked seamlessly into our work week.

This week we didn't have any "weak" points per se, unlike last week.  While I feel good about that, we did run into a couple of other snags.

Yesterday, the 6 year old Robbie and 4 year old Bri both started having trouble focussing about 2/3 of the way into our school time.  I'm not sure if it was the fact that we have out of town company or the couple added subjects this week.  Either way, they ran out of steam, so I backed off.  We did all the essentials, but some of the optionals fell by the wayside.  Which is fine.  That's why they're "optionals".

Also, 15 month old Kitty has developed an aversion to school time.  I think she feels left out when she's not the center of attention.  It's okay, though.  She will get used to it.

3 year old Marty still loves read aloud time and poetry time.  And I found out yesterday that he will do coloring sheets if, and only if, I hand him the crayon at the same time as I hand him the page.

Have a great week, everyone.  Happy lesson planning!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Five Favorites: Homeschool Newbie Edition II

Thank you to Hallie at Moxie Wife for hosting this week!

1. Work Sheet Works

This nifty little website lets you make your own handwriting sheets (if you click on the one that says "Handwriting Practice").  You get to customize how many lines appear, what the worksheet will say, how big the text is, the works.  The best part?  It's FREE.  Easiest part of my lesson planning week is to plug in what I want the kids to work on writing this week.  There's all kinds of other good stuff, but I go there for the customized work sheets.

2. The Dollar Tree

For manipulatives for my 15 month old, this place is hard to beat.  They have basic craft supplies and right now they're starting to gear up for the school year, which means flash cards, handwriting pads, work books and school room accessories that stay in my budget.  While I still don't buy sketchy tooth whitening or grooming supplies, this is my go-to to keep my busy baby busy.


This I borrowed from a friend and dusted off this week to help with my weak math lessons.
The content is varied enough that it keeps it interesting for my six year old student, but scripted enough that I can teach a math lesson even with every things else going on in the background.  It's heavily focused on manipulatives and playing with numbers, so it's a fun introduction and won't induced later groans and "Math? Do I have to?"'s from reluctant math students.


One of the joys of having very young students is being able to match them with things that they love and things that they are good at.  To see that lightbulb moment when they know they are learning and they feel happy and strong because they are learning.  This poetry compilation was put together by Laura Berquist, foundress of Mother of Divine Grace homeschool program (and my boss).  She walked the homeschool walk with her kids and this book is a collection of poems that she taught her kids over the years and has something for each grade level.  For example, did you know Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote poetry for small children?  He did, and they're part of this collection.  My littles are learning his sweet little poems and being able to recite poetry is one of the best parts of their day.

5. Dessert: Door County Renaissance Faire

At the end of the school week, our reward is going to be going to the Door County Renaissance Faire for a "field trip".  It's important to remember that part of learning is having fun and experiencing new things.  Plus, we've been working on costumes all week.  The kids have a say in the creative direction of their costumes and they love watching the outfits come together.  We talk about things like planning for the weather, what kind of colors they are hoping for, etc.  It's a bonding experience for me and for them, plus they get to exercise their creativity in a new way.  The six year old actually drew pictures of a coat he was hoping for (and that boy has swagger!  It was a very stylish coat.).  Plus, the theme this year is pirates. Yargh!

I did not receive a promotional consideration for any of these products.  I did not get paid in freebies or otherwise for these product reviews.  The content here is solely the result of wanting to share with other homeschooling parents things that I have found helpful.  But if you click on my Amazon links I might get a couple pennies if you buy stuff.

Monday, July 1, 2013

You might be a homeschool mom of many if...

You might be a homeschooling mom of many if you find yourself saying things like:

"No, no.  Please don't sit on the math book."

"No, you can't color on the lesson plan."

"See?  She's just trying to show that she knows what the crayon is for!"

And that was just today.

Rock on, homeschool mommies.

Hello, Monday!

After a wild and crazy weekend, I'm so, so glad I did my lesson planning last week.

Believe it or not, *not* flying by the seat of your pants increases the probability of getting things done by 1000%. I'm sure wiser heads than mine have pointed that out, but sometimes being a beginner means making your own mistakes.

Also, we have a full docket this week: out of town guests, Fourth of July festivities and rounding up the week  with a weekend at the Door County Renaissance Faire.  I'm making everyone pirate costumes this week (Except for B, who wants to be a blue pirate fairy princess.).  I'm running errands and meeting friends and getting our garden in shape (as much as a 35 week pregnancy will let me) and I am still confident that we are going to get our school work done this week.

Also, the kids keep asking to make sure that we're going to get our schoolwork in.

I always promised myself I would be a "summer off" kind of homeschool mom.  However, our little curriculum only takes about an hour, so they get the majority of the day off.  Plus, they will be ready to start the school year with a bang, since their mental hinges will all be oiled and in top working shape when A. the new baby comes in a month B. my teaching from home job kicks back in and C. harvest season rolls around.

And that's the thing about homeschooling. If you find something that works, roll with it.  If you find something doesn't work, change it.  There's a real beauty to flexibility.