Saturday, December 26, 2015

Better Every Year

Each Christmas that passes gets better and better. The kids really get into the giving spirit now. They are remembering Christmas past. They still get sparkly eyes and are full of wonder at all the festivities. It really is a wonderful time of year!

At Nonna and Poppy's house on Christmas

We're all sugared out from all the goodies we've baked and we are enjoying playing games. We are still waiting for snow, though I'm not personally in any hurry. It sure feels cold outside! Perhaps we will ring in the new year with some flurries.

We hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Dump December

So not a whole lot has been going on over here. We are back to homeschooling, after Thanksgiving break. One more week until we are on Christmas break. My brain looks forward to these breaks. I'm one of those people who strive to be organized but sometimes it backfires real bad. These breaks allow me to get my act back together. School is one of those areas where I'm constantly fine-tuning. There are so many kids and personalities and needs... and only one me. I seriously think teachers are amazing souls. If you teach I applaud you. This gig isn't for the faint of heart. You have to be flexible to change but stern about making sure you meet the goals.

Homeschooling this year has been interesting. Things that I thought the girls would really enjoy were met with pouts and the grumps. I have to tell you that when you work overtime to make something special, it is really hard to not take it personal when they could care less. It stings. And makes me question my abilities. And then I tell myself to stop having a pity party and keep at it. They almost always come around! For instance, I wanted them to each pick a planet in our solar system to research in depth. Oh the moans and groans! You'd have thought I asked them to eat sardines. I let them have their fit and let them mull the idea over and then we got 'er done. They end up having fun and learning a lot. They love to share what they learned, which is the best part.

 Thea usually sleeps through school time. <3 p="">

This season I've had so much time to craft because I'm not creating hundreds of jewelry orders, as in the past. I don't sew but I took a stab at making my own hand-sewn ornament. It's definitely got that ''handmade charm'' look to it and is not perfect. I took an old shirt, put it in a embroidery hoop and sewed on some white felt for snow and then sewed on six little snow-people to represent my six kiddies. I stuffed it with cotton balls so it's like a little ornament pillow. The perfectionist in me is trying really hard to not take it all apart and try again, lol! I'm learning that art doesn't have to be perfect to be good. It definitely doesn't have to be perfect in order to be cherished.

And then I decided to make some trees for my mantle. I have a somewhat long fireplace mantle and always throw up random Christmas knick-knacks. I wanted to go for an actual theme. My mother-in-law made these big snow-people to represent each family member and so I made trees to be their Christmas forest.

The tree on the left was made with a cardboard cereal box, jute twine and hot glue. That's it! Both of the other two were made with styrofoam cones that I found at the dollar store. The center one I used lace ribbon, carefully wrapped around and pinned into the foam, and a votive candle for the tree base. The one on the far right was burlap ribbon and these old decorative pins that I removed from a chair long ago. I have added more trees since I took this picture: a raffia ribbon tree (handmade by me) and a tall, silver, glittered one I found at the dollar spot at Target, some bottle-brush trees found at Walmart, pinecones that my eldest and I painted.

I made a felt ball garland to go over the mirror. You can kind of see the snow-people here. I have since changed the trees up. This picture was taken long before I finished the forest but wanted to show the snow family! I'll try to remember to take an updated and better picture because all the trees look so cool together.

This week has been the Week of Perler Beads. I have been staying up watching TV and making fun things for the kids to play with. Mindless entertainment + crafts = fun! I made a Tardis and a ton of colorful Daleks (I've added 8 more to this lot). My kids are obsessed with Doctor Who. I'm going to make them Doctor Who ornaments, as I do make each kid a new ornament (or two or three) each year.

In baby news, Thea is reaching for toys now. Cue my cry face! I want her to grow but at the same time she needs to stay my little baby.

Caught her dimple! She has this big, precious dimple that flashes when she makes certain faces.

Thea and me just yesterday! Showing off her baby blues.

Miss Smiley! She is so joy-filled. She is a silent laugher but I've been able to get a few giggles out of her. It's funny because she giggles out loud like she's not quite sure what is going on and it sounds a little forced. Like when you subconsciously tap your foot to music and when you realize it you're like, 'Whoa, wth". Don't know if I make sense but it is hilarious!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thea is Two-Months

i love you mom from abbie zoe and elaina   [Kids snuck onto my computer and typed that and it's just too sweet to delete!]

My six babies

I feel our family has been in the pit the better part of the year and we seem to be coming to the other side of a lot of absolute junk that has been going on. Being pregnant for 9 months of it made small problems seem huge, too. I cried more this year than I have my entire married life (almost 11 years). And no, no marital problems. But dealing with life stresses can put a strain on even the strongest couple. Happy to say we're still best friends, lol.

Being pregnant is such a joy but it's also not an easy responsibility. It's very taxing on your body, on your mind, on your emotions. I'm absolutely and wholeheartedly grateful for my sweet Thea but being pregnant was difficult. I wish I could say I am at my best during pregnancy but pain, fatigue and hormones make me feel like an overstimulated, caged feline. Couple that feeling with being stuck at home (Daniel drove his pickup to work and that's the only car we've had for a year) and you get some mad cabin fever. I really struggled with some blues after she was born. I didn't miss being pregnant but I was weepy because I knew she'd grow so fast. She is my last baby so I didn't want her to lose all her newborn-ness so quickly. I'd kind of laugh-cry because I'm not a crier and I felt silly for feeling so weepy.

She's over two-months-old now and I've been feeling much better and more myself. It feels like she's always been with us. I keep forgetting she's still so little because she's growing so fast and she just belongs. She was meant for our family. She is cooing and super smiley. She is trying to reach for toys and staying awake for longer periods of time. She is a fan of mommy and Elaina holding her but may put up a fuss with others unless she has her binky. She doesn't really cry. She'll fuss but she hasn't really cried uncontrollably or anything (Silas, my sweet boy, cried a lot so maybe his babyhood being freshest in my mind is why I'm so shocked that she's almost always happy). She sleeps really well at night but I still wake up to check on her. She may go 6-8 hours without waking/nursing at night.

We have a family car now that fits all 8 of us comfortably. Yay for no more cabin fever! We got an Expedition XLT. It's like a circus act getting everyone in and out, though, ha! I'll be taking all six kids to the store by myself tomorrow and I'm super grateful that Elaina helps me out a lot.

Elaina and Thea, the biggest and the littlest

Thursday, November 5, 2015

One Month Old

It is still surreal to know I have four daughters and two sons. When Elaina was a month old I dolled her up in this pretty cream romper with soft pastel pink flowers and got a few pictures. When Abigail came along I pulled the same romper out and ended up with a similar photo/pose for her one-month photo. So I continued the tradition and have a picture of each of my girls sleeping in the romper at the same exact age. They all look so different and yet you can tell they're sisters. My first three girls had a little fuzz for hair but Thea had a lot of hair! She's lost quite a bit of it but still has more than her sisters did at their first birthdays.

Sweet sleepy girl. She has tiny storkbites on her eyelids. She sleeps so well for a new baby! One month at 10/13/15.

She's wondering what the big flashy thing is that I keep pointing at her (camera).

This is the end of her grin. She has these HUGE, silent grins. Seriously the most joyful baby.

Some cute shots. At first she wasn't sure about sitting propped up, then she saw me, smiled and about fell over with her full body grin. Swoon!

I waited a long, long time to bathe this beauty. I wiped her neck and underarms when necessary but otherwise she didn't get a bath until she was over a month old. I have only washed her hair with water and thus far no cradle cap (I swear even the eco-conscious stuff can cause that junk). I don't have an infant tub so we used the sink. She was unsure at first but was okay once she adjusted to the water. Just check out those delicious chunky rolls! She's got rolls on top of rolls. She's even more roly-poly since this pic was taken a few weeks ago.

Fixer Upper

We have been working on our house exterior since March of this year. Replaced wood rot, scraped and painted and replaced the roof. Our house was built in 1909. We've had a lot of things we've had to fix, upgrade and replace on this old house. The exterior was no exception! So let's go on a little journey... you get to see it all in one post but it took months (and a LOT of tears on my part) to get from this first pic to the last!

Replace wood rot.

Unfortunately these guys didn't hang the gutters back up correctly after they replaced rotted wood. Wood that rotted due to poorly hung gutters. So if you recall this was a very wet year for the Midwest. It rained almost an entire month after we got the wood replaced. I bawled my eyes out every time because water would leak between the gutter and house and it would leak into the house. The new wood itself did look good and all ended up being well! Just wish they had hung the gutters up better.

STEP TWO: Scrape and paint!
Colors are Lagoon and Alabaster (Sherwin Williams)

The painters started in September when Thea was one-week-old, giving us only a few hours notice that they would begin work. Daniel started a new job where he was up all night. I was up all night with the baby. Painters started early, right as the sun came up, for 10 business days. Due to lead paint I actually took all six kids over to my in-laws' house for the first couple days while scraping was done. It was insane!

I was so nervous when I saw just the blue on the house with all the old brown trim. But the white trim started balancing it all out. This paint company was overpriced and underwhelming, very sloppy. We complained and got some money off but overall I would not recommend the company. I'm going to have to fix some things on the first level. I hate hiring people to do work, have I ever mentioned that? The end result is still beautiful overall...

Ta da!


Our roof was 100% free to us and they did a phenomenal I-can't-complain job. Funnily enough we had issues with the contractors who replaced the rotted wood and the painters, both of which were paid by us. Go figure! I assume their good job was due to the fact that the city inspector inspects the work when they're done. Can't beat free and can't beat a job that is done well.

So how was the roof free?! I saw that a grant was available for weatherization and roofing on our city website. I applied to have our roof replaced. We were approved!

The city sent out their professional inspector and he measured everything and wrote up the work order. The city hired the roofers and paid them from the grant money. We picked out our shingle color (dark charcoal) from a limited selection. Roofers came out the week after the painters left and got the old roof removed and the new one laid in just three days. They kicked butt and our roof looks amazing! They caulked, put in new flashing, and properly replaced rotted wood around the chimney stack where it would leak (the contractor we hired and paid to do that, back at Step One, didn't do it right and it still leaked).

I was so ecstatic for the first rain to fall after the roofers were done. I had to wait several days and finally it rained... and NO LEAKS. Roofs are so expensive. We would never have been able to afford it after all the other work we had done. I am so grateful for the grant. I am grateful that I don't have leaks inside anymore. If the roofers hadn't come and done the work, fixed the gutters... we'd be causing more damage and making more expensive fixes later on. THANK YOU ROOFERS!


If you've followed me for a long time then you know we've been waiting for this moment for several years. She's finally painted up and all pretty! The porch needs attention but at least the major, major work is done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Goodbye October

We just celebrated the last birthday of the year, for our little (er big) family with Zoe turning 6 at October's end. I'm so behind on recording all the funnies, all the difficult moments... our lives. I try so hard to not get on the computer all day so blogging often escapes my thoughts until I'm in bed. Then I'm too tired!

But enough of that! Check out these cheeks. Here's Thea at one-month-old! She was sitting up but fell over and was making silly faces.

One-month and tuckered out. She is so so so peaceful. When she does cry it is so cute it about breaks your heart and you want to drop everything and make it all better.

Oh hey, I have other kiddos! Look, I got all six of them in a picture. This is the first pic of all six of my babies together, on Halloween of all days. Coordinating them into clothes with brushed hair and good attitudes is next to impossible. There's always the ONE kid (or two) who has to rebel. But Halloween? They were more than cooperative, as I said I wanted a pic before we went out!

We've got Elsa, Iron Man, a Renaissance princess (her dress is amazing; reminds me of Merida's in Once Upon a Time), a unicorn and Batman! Thea didn't have a costume. She wore her skull booties and a crocheted pumpkin hat while I wore her in the Moby-style carrier.

Get this: I took all six out trick-or-treating BY MYSELF. They did really well. Just had a few touch-and-go moments with the 2-year-old but thankfully our neighborhood is blocked off from traffic during trick-or-treat. We stayed out for quite a bit and had fun. I made baked macaroni-and-cheese for dinner (I used Muenster in it, which all the kids pronounce as Monster Cheese) and we watched Halloween Wars. The kids ate so much candy when we got home and got busy trading their goodies.

Silas was SO cute trick-or-treating. He's a pretty ornery kid. But he just grinned and grinned at everyone. He refused to say "trick or treat". One woman bent down to his level and asked him to say it. He grinned at her for a solid 20 seconds before he sweetly said, "No" and then giggled. She busted up laughing and gave him the candy. He kept trying to look at everyone behind us so I was pretty much dragging him house-to-house. Every time he got a piece of candy he giggled and just had so much wonder and joy in his eyes. I love seeing things through the eyes of a toddler! All is so shiny and new and joyous.

Another Silas funny: he loves to tell a joke. But before I get to that I have to explain that we are Whovians (and by "WE" I do mean every single person under the roof of my house, kids included). We watch Dr. Who weekly. We obsess over all the toys and gadgets one can buy. My kids pretend-play Dr. Who all day, everyday. They LOVE it.

So Silas loves to tell his joke:
Silas: "Knock knock!"
Me: "Who's there?"
Silas: "Doctor."
Me: "Doctor Who?"

Cue insane giggling. Every time! It never gets old to him.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Baby Pics

Thea is almost 2-months old now but here are some pictures of her during her newborn stage. She was born with more hair than any of her other siblings. It's also the darkest haired baby I've had (Daddy has black hair). Her eyes are blue and getting lighter and brighter as time goes on.

Breastfeeding is going great now. But the first couple weeks were really hard. She has a tiny mouth, I was tender and I had the worst afterbirth pains than any other time. Then I got a milk blister (it feels like someone is grinding shards of glass into your flesh when baby latches on - it hurts SO bad!). After the blister healed and the afterbirth pains stopped and her latch improved... we're doing great. I haven't had to supplement and she's SO chubby even her rolls have rolls!

We are cosleeping but she likes her own space. She doesn't like to sleep in the crook of my arm. She prefers to be near but doesn't have to be ON me, like most of her siblings needed to be. It has meant decent sleep for me, for the most part. Sometimes she likes to wake up and party for a couple hours at night, from time-to-time.

As far as personality: she is super smiley and happy and sweet. She rarely gets upset and is easily consoled. She lets me put her down for decent amounts of time so I can get some things done real quick and get back to snuggling her. She's also pretty quiet, content to watch everyone and even doze off on her own (like she did just now when I set her in the bouncer so I could get some homeschool lessons done).

She's the perfect little addition to our family!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thea's Birth Story

Thea Sue
9-13-2015 at 10:12am
W: 7lbs 12oz  L: 20"

Saturday, September 12, was a gorgeous day. I was 41 weeks pregnant that day. We spent the evening in the backyard as a family (pic below) and little did we know that in the morning we'd have a baby! I had been having braxton hicks contractions like crazy for weeks, some were pretty intense. But I always knew it wasn't the real deal. But this particular Saturday evening I was having a few sporadic contractions and had an inkling that maybe it would be the start of something. I had zero symptoms or signs that anything would happen but I still wondered. I went to bed praying for rest, that if baby was going to come that it would not be the middle of the night like our last birth!

Last pic as a group of five siblings!

Thankfully sleep came readily and easily that night. I kept dreaming of contractions and labor. I slowly woke in the morning realizing these dream contractions were actually real contractions. And they were coming closer and stronger. At 5:30 I finally got up and timed them. They were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting for about 45 seconds. After about an hour of timing I woke Daniel up and told him it was baby time. The contractions were starting to make me really uncomfortable.

I helped Daniel make up our bed with a tarp, then clean sheets, then a huge chucks pad and another clean sheet. Daniel started getting the birth tub ready, at my request. Getting in too early can stall things but I didn't care. I just wanted in the water and wanted in the water ASAP. The air pump Daniel used was great but it was super loud, like an airplane engine! He went off to call his mom so she could come watch the boys, who were now stirring and waking.

As soon as there was a bit of water in the tub I got in. During my last days of pregnancy I had been reading Ina May Gaskin's book "Spiritual Midwifery" and was trying to be very conscientious about my attitude and about being positive. I was trying to "keep my humor" so there were some laughs here and there. Daniel or I texted my midwife at some point to come on over. Daniel put on some worship music by Kim Walker-Smith and I melted into labor.

I was taking a potty break in the bathroom when the midwives arrived. They got all set up and then helped me back in the tub. They listened to Thea's heart and were really good about being present but also giving me my space. My body kept shaking this birth, a lot. I don't know if I was cold, if it was hormones, if it was transition... maybe all of the above. But my body was super shaky almost the entire time.

Our daughters wandered into our room. At one point I held the hands of Abigail and Zoe between contractions. Elaina left a couple times to grab things for Daniel like a snack and water. Zoe left a couple times to go play because she got bored. Abigail stayed the entire time; she didn't want to miss a thing! I was so careful to watch my speech and actually avoided saying a single curse word. Go me!

It got painful. Fast. And was very reminiscent of my last birth (of Silas) where I was in the worst pain I'd ever been in. Obviously it was worth it because here I was, willing to do it all over again with Thea. I threw up twice but because we had just woken up for the day my stomach was empty. I don't know if it is worse to have a ton to puke up or absolutely nothing but it was the latter.

I really kicked myself later for not drinking red raspberry leaf tea. I feel that maybe if I had it would have helped tone and prepare my uterus more. The old gal just had such a hard time, being baby number six. She wasn't a happy camper about it and I felt the fury. Despite that I was still trying to remain positive and present. In between contractions I noticed one of the student midwives had made some coffee and was using my Dr. Who mug so I piped up that she had the best mug in the house! I liked her even more knowing she was a Dr. Who fangirl.

The pain got worse. I was asked where the pain was, like back or pubic bone, and I couldn't articulate where it was. I finally realized it was my cervix and told her. My midwife told me I should get out of the water and have a few contractions on the toilet. I inwardly panicked. I felt SO close and knew I didn't want to get out so I decided to close my eyes and ignore everyone. I finally had my midwife check me a few minutes later, around 10am or so (hadn't been checked once my entire pregnancy or up to this point in labor). She said I was 9cm but had a lip of cervix. Oh and when she touched that bit that wasn't budging I about jumped out of my skin. Yup, that's where all the pain was coming from! She told me to let baby's head work through it, slowly. But a few contractions later I was pushing! I warned the student midwife that I push fast and this birth was no exception.

I was still in the birth tub, leaning over the edge and facing Daniel. I had my right knee down on the bottom of the pool but I lifted my left leg up in a squat position. I had my hand there and pushed out the tiniest little baby head. I gasped and said, "Her head! Her head is out!" I felt cord around her neck but the student midwife was already on it and slipped the cord over Thea's head and out of the way. I was still on that same contraction, it all happened so fast, and the rest of Thea came sliding out and into the water. The student midwife said, "Take your baby!" and I pulled up our petite princess, silently thanking God that the hard part was finally over!

It was then I reminded Daniel to take some pictures! So all these birth tub pictures are from Daniel's iPhone. So glad I have these first pictures of Thea because her face changed so quickly.

My first thought when I pulled her up was, "Oh I know you! You're here!" Next thing I noticed was all her dark hair. It was black and it was long, for a newborn. She was really quiet and didn't seem to be taking any breaths so we worked her up and that's why she appears to be crying in almost every picture (she actually only cried for a few seconds). And this baby had so much vernix it was crazy. It was just layered on her like frosting on a cake.

The big sisters were present when Thea was born! They were so so so excited. The brothers stayed downstairs with Nonna. The kids had to wait quite awhile to hold Thea, though. When she was born we did skin-to-skin while all the siblings went off to Nonna's house. After a few hours away they came back home, climbed into my bed next to me and finally got to take turns fighting over the baby.

 Abbie (age 8) and Thea

 Elaina (age 10) and Thea

 Silas (age 2) and Thea (she's a few days old here and in the rest of the pics)

 Judah (turned 4 twelve days after Thea was born) and Thea

Zoe (age 5) and Thea

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015-2016 Curriculum

I think one of the most fun parts about homeschooling is picking out the curriculum. It can be overwhelming! But once those books that you've carefully selected begin to pour in, you just get a little giddy inside. Even the kids can't wait to dive in!

So here's a breakdown of what each of my school-aged kids will be doing and what grade they'll be going into. Judah won't be 4 until the end of September but he may do some "work" to keep busy and to be like his big sisters.

Some are websites and are hyperlinked if you want to check them out (they are not affiliate links).
BEWARE: This is super, super, super long!!!

Elaina - Grade 5
  • English/Grammar = 'English 5' by Bob Jones University (BJU)
                  We used BJU English in the past and I really, really like it. It's done very well and I don't feel like it is "dumbed down" like some other books I've seen where they won't even refer to the grammatical rules by their proper name.
  • Spelling =
                   I don't necessarily want to do all of our subjects online but I haven't really found a spelling program that was fun, interactive and independent. When I found this website I decided we should give it a try! You can make your own spelling lists or use theirs. When I find a website like this I always test it out myself. Also, look into getting AdBlocker Plus on your browser! A lot of these sites have tons of distracting ads for other learning sites and games.

  • Cursive
                   I have some workbooks for cursive. I really like how the Kumon books look. This is one of those things that comes with just practice, practice, practice. Most of the workbooks are pretty boring and just copying. The brunt of it will be to just use it in daily work (Elaina has already learned cursive lettering, now it's just refining it and focusing on neatness).
  • Reading/Literature = Understood Betsy, Little Princess, etc.
                 We have a huge list of age appropriate literature for Elaina to work through. This child is a bookworm. We will be doing literature the "Charlotte Mason way" by reading it s-l-o-w-l-y and soaking it in. One chapter a week, most likely, depending on the book. Elaina will also have free reads that she can read faster. She usually spends the weekend absorbed in books.
  • Science = 'Exploring Creation with Astronomy' by Apologia and Nature Study
                 I have five Apologia textbooks. We used the Zoology 2 books (sea creatures) our first year of homeschooling and it was such a huge hit. We learned a lot. One thing I wished I had gotten was the accompanying journal. So this year we'll have the journal as we learn about Astronomy.

                Another important part of science is 'nature study'. You may have noticed this trend recently. Get into nature, observe and explore, then journal it. It might be a watercolor, it might just be field notes with a picture, etc. This is NOT just for children. We do it together. We have wonderful books like "Nature Anatomy" and "Handbook of Nature Study" as well as a ton of science books I've found at thrift stores on various topics to help us learn more about our observations.
  • Math = Khan Academy
               If you like free and you aren't a proficient mathematician then look no further than Khan Academy. It's calculates how well your student is doing, teachers new concepts through video, lots of practice. Check it out! It is free. I have all three girls on my account so you can add as many students as you need.  
  • History/Geography = 'America the Beautiful' by Notgrass
                This is one subject that I was adamant on needing to be thorough and done really well. I happened to stumble upon this curriculum by Notgrass and became obsessed with getting it. I found it gently used on homeschoolclassifieds from someone so we're all set for learning our American History and Geography!
  • Computer/Keyboarding - Fun to Type and
                  Elaina has been practicing keyboarding (typing) for the last couple of years. Obviously that has to be done online and there are plenty of free games and lessons online. These are just two that we use.
  • Guitar = online guitar course
                   My husband plays guitar but that doesn't mean he can teach it. He has showed Elaina a few things but we decided finding an online course might be best, from someone who knows how to teach it to children. I haven't found what I'm looking for yet.
  • Ballet = ?
    We took Elaina out of her ballet school due to some negligence on her teacher's part, the resulting dishonesty of the teacher about her negligence and the overall disorganization of the school.  It was a tough, yet easy, decision to make but we're left trying to figure out what we will do this upcoming season. I found another school that I think she'd really like that is modest and teaches classical ballet and also costs less. We shall see! Nothing is set in stone on that yet as we have to also fit it in our budget with me not working. Eek!
Abigail - Grade 3
  • English/Grammar = 'English 3' by BJU
                   Same as Elaina, but for grade 3.
  • Spelling =
                   Same as Elaina but grade 3.
  • Cursive = Skill Builders and Kumon
                   Miss Abbie hasn't learned cursive yet. So she will be using Skill Builders first, just a regular old cursive workbook, to learn the lettering. And then I found this really cool book by Kumon about writing cursive words. So once she's gotten the lettering down we'll focus on the Kumon book.
  • Reading/Literature = Reading Eggs; Charlotte's Web, Little House on the Prairie                              
                    Abbie is my struggling reader. She refuses to read chapter books. I am not entirely sure how this is going to work this year. During summer we're still focusing heavily on reading. She has a subscription to Reading Eggs that helps but I need her to actually READ BOOKS as well. So our summer focus is getting her ready for these age-appropriate chapter books.
  • Science = Astronomy by Apologia and Nature Study               
                   We combine our science. The great thing about this subject is that we can learn the same material. Apologia even has each chapter end with questions and projects for younger students and then something different for older students, making it very easy to use their curriculum over a multitude of ages.
  • Math = Khan Academy                
                  Abbie will also use the free math course online. We've already begun actually. The kids beg to play it. The kids earn points when they complete videos, practice and master skills. If they don't know something they can watch a video to learn the concept or click the button "I haven't learned this yet" so the program can adjust itself to fit each student's needs. No two kids will have the exact same course. It is all customized based on how your child works and progresses. You also receive emails or can login to view their progress.
  • History = 'Our American History Grade 3' by A Beka                  
                    Abigail is still finishing up this history textbook because we started it the last quarter of this past year. She may end up just doing the Notgrass books (same as Elaina) if we find it'll work for her age/grade. I really like A Beka's science and history books in grade 3 so I do recommend them. But for ease with schooling three different grades with a newborn, toddler and preschooler in tow... we may combine as many subjects as possible lol!
  • Computer/Keyboarding = Fun to Type and Typing Web                
                  Third grade is when I start teaching keyboarding (typing) so this will be Abigail's first time learning how to type. I am actually curious to see if learning to type will actually boost her ability to read because this child can read sheet music better than the written word! I wonder if it will all line up and be that missing piece to the puzzle. We may have to start this now to find out!
  • Piano = private lessons
    Eight months ago Abigail started taking private piano lessons from a woman in the area. In fact we just had her end-of-year recital. Abigail has blown through all of the beginner piano books and has even made her own songs. She has played Ode to Joy by Beethoven in church. She has a natural ear and talent for piano. I'm convinced her teacher has an amazing gift because it seems all of her students do really, really well. Proud of them all!
Zoe - Grade K
  • Poetry = A Child's Book of Poetry                
                    Oh poetry! We are actually doing poetry with ALL the girls. This is the most precious poetry book. We have a lot of others, including Shel Silverstein and more classics. Kids love poetry. If you don't have it included in your course definitely do it! We do ours after Bible.
  • Phonics/Reading = Reading Eggs, '100 Words Book' and Modern Curriculum Press Phonics
    Zoe is already reading and even writing several words. I get 50% off for the second child on Reading Eggs but she isn't subscribed yet. She did amazing on her free two-week trial so I'm definitely considering signing her up. For now she is definitely using Modern Curriculum Press and this great book I found on Amazon called '100 Words Book' that teaches sight words.
  • Science = Nature Study
    My main focus in Kindergarten isn't necessarily teaching science vocab. It is exploration, discovery and from there we go through our nature books and learn more about what interests her. She will also listen in and do the astronomy work with us because she's just one smart cookie and enjoys being included. So even if she doesn't "get it" she'll be with us and absorbing some things with regard to astronomy.
  • Math = Khan Academy               
                     Yes, there is even Kindergarten on Khan Academy (at least in math; not in other subjects as of this date). Zoe has already begun. My only beef with it is that I wish the area on the screen with her math problems was bigger and easier for her to answer (in other words, more age appropriate visually). As it is I have to sit with her and help her a LOT because the buttons where she selects her answer are SO tiny. She can move a mouse and play kid games but she has a tough time with the really fine motor skills needed for such small buttons. I still have her try but help her before she gets too frustrated and gives up entirely.
  • Art = a compilation of free lessons I've found online
    This is another one for ALL the kids, including the boys if they want to participate. Art is very important to me. There is so so so much you can do in art. But a lot of it is technique that I do not know how to teach. I took art and drawing and clay and all sorts of creative classes in school. I can teach some but not all. So my quest to find online lessons began just a few weeks ago and I'm compiling them into my own handmade book (see my last post). From watercolors to shading to stills to clay and everything in between, at several grade levels. We are going to focus a lot of creativity this next year because it has gotten pushed to the backburner way too much the last two years.

So there you have it! It is eclectic. I love the idea of an all-in-one curriculum. But I also love piecing ours together. You can't go wrong. I'd love to hear what everyone is doing or thinking about doing! If you're not homeschooling but interested in starting CLICK HERE and use the tabs at the top of that page to explore getting started.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Make Your Own Books

I feel so premature posting about NEXT school year but just had to share what I've been working on. We are going into year 3 of homeschooling, each year different from the last. I feel each year gets better and better.

Our first year we had way too much and not enough structure to hold it all. It was "fly by the seat of our pants" which does work for some. I found out it doesn't work for us.

So this past year, year 2, we used AmblesideOnline, a free Charlotte Mason curriculum. We like Charlotte Mason and really enjoyed AO. However it is very, very literary heavy which wasn't so great for my struggling reader. Unlike our first year we had a strict schedule. I found we stayed on track much better when I knew what was on the itinerary for each day, so that was a plus!

As we embark on year 3 we will combine the aspects we liked from each of our first two years of school: a  solid but flexible schedule and an eclectic mix of curriculum rather than one exclusive philosophy.

And so I have made my own schedule/outline for each of my girls in book form! Yes, I made our own books. I can already tell you that I'm obsessed and plan on making many more books. It's so so so easy and fun.

What started as just a stack of printed paper was then spiral-bound with a clear cover and clear backside at OfficeMax for about $4 a book.. Everyone asked if I drew the cover page but I didn't. It's a cool font called Fredericka the Great.

The clear cover and clear backside offer the book some stability so it's firmer and not so floppy. I specifically wanted clear and thus requested it but they may have other colors.

Each girl has her own schedule (Abbie's schedule is on the left; click to enlarge) and each girl has their own All About Me page to start off the year. At the end of each book is an End of Year page about what they learned, liked, didn't like, etc. I printed the cover, the All About Me, and End of Year pages on cardstock; the rest on regular printer paper.

The meat of each book is this: checklist for credits earned on a day (left) and the actual schedule/chores (right). There are 36 weeks worth of these pages, one for each week of school. I poured over so many other blogs and printables but in the end I made my own template on GoogleDocs because no one is going to be exactly like me and I won't be like them. I put exactly what I wanted on each. The only thing I didn't make were the All About Me and End of Year pages; I found those as free printables.

The reason I chose to make spiral-bound books was because binders weren't working. Binders were taking up a lot of space when stored on the shelf and when in use. With a spiral we can open up to the desired page and fold the rest back under it. So while I do own a three-hole punch and could have easily just used binders it wasn't preferable.

NEXT POST: I'll breakdown the grades that the girls are in with what curriculum books and websites we will be using.

1). Make/print all your pages and put them in the order desired.
2). Take to your local office store and ask them to spiral bind them ($2.99 each book, at OfficeMax, as of this date). Adding plastic covers and backsides will cost at least a couple quarters or more each, if you want them.
3). Pickup and pay for your finished books!

You could also buy your own machine if you plan on making a ton.

Happy book making!