Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year's End

It's nearly January and these pictures have been sitting on the laptop, waiting quietly for their chance on the blog since mid-November. It's the kind of thing I often want to apologize for. But then I remember that there are no blog police ready to jump out and arrest me for failure to write and hit publish...so be what it may, here is a bit of the end of 2014 just in time for 2015!

 This year our troop tick-or-treated for the first time! A sweet neighbor organized a hay ride to take all of the kids in our development door to door to all the houses who desired to participate. It was AMAZING and an even better way to meet a lot of our neighbors, or if you're me, take a tour of their house and check out what kind of flooring they have! Ha! There were nearly forty children, two trailers rigged with lights, boom boxes, and coolers of soda. It was so much fun, Abe even asked if we could "move here." "Here" being just about 8 houses down the the street.
Halloween for us this year included two red Power Rangers, Captain America (Abe) and Doc McStuffins. I am STILL finding glitter in the house from Gracie's costume. It's the costume that just keeps on giving! The kids and I also took our yearly pumpkin patch jaunt out to McCall's but this time with our homeschool group. We had such a great time, although, I let the kids choose their pumpkins on their own since I was tied up with Grace and we made it home with some wonky ones. Thankfully, they carved up okay. Two were original designs and Judah went with a stencil. I love how Ben's pumpkin has huge eyes and a small mouth and Abe's is the opposite. Twins.
In true Abe fashion, we had to sort our candy. Which made it very hard to steal candy from them when they were in bed, by the way.
In other Sloansburg news, here's Grace in her unders and doing a puzzle. Did I mention that's all she wears now? Every person in this house, including the dog, is  *OFFICIALLY* potty trained. Overnight, naps, church. All of it. We are diaper bag FREE. Praise Jesus.
And now some pictures of the day to day. Here's Ben and Grace getting their paint on.
School dog.
The boys love to practice spelling words on the windows and on this particular day, Abe left me a little note too :) Man do I love seeing them bloom in reading and writing!
Gracie and Judah washing dishes while I work with the big kids.
Mess. Every day. End of story.
And now, just a few pictures from December. Girl's day out with breakfast, coffee, and a craft show was celebrated with Gracie's first Starbucks. Auntie bought her a vanilla steamer and she called it her latte all morning. She also drank it down to the last drop.
Ju Baby and the Nativity. He can't stop, won't stop, rearranging.
A new Christmas wreath.
A certain boy on the eve of turning FIVE! Man did it feel like a big deal! We celebrated by taking the day off of school, as is our traditon, and going to a jumping place and lunch at Dion's. We had such a lovely day, despite the snow! But how can a day that includes pizza and chocolate cake go wrong, really?
We also had a cousin day at our Mimi's to celebrate these back to back birthdays! Evie turned 8 and Ju turned 5 and all the momma's sighed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

An {Early} October Walk

You may have noticed our family walk having grown...by four feet. Meet Birdie, our Border Collie/German Shepherd rescue mutt. We adopted her October 11th from the local shelter and are over the moon with her! She has fit in around here almost seamlessly, the kids have handled her needs willingly and with much care, and I have yet to complain {even once!} about dog hair. I did gripe about the cat skull she dropped on the living room floor, however. After all, one has to draw the line somewhere :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

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
 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