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Friday, May 24, 2013

Today its been a Month!

Its hard to believe its been a month on one hand because I cant imagine life without him and then on the other, phew, what a month it has been! The first week was just a blur of pain pills, pain, and baby snuggles and feedings. Then the second week I lost the pain meds and slowly began getting back to normal with 4 little ones. Normal life things like laundry, reading books together, walks, and cooking meals again were all day-to-day activities resumed that week and it felt so good to sloooooooowly begin making progress towards our new normal. The third week was even better-- the baby and I were able to attend church again and re-enter the land of the living for short little jaunts. This week we actually took a trial run down to see my parents before the wedding and it wasn't easy, but we made it through the long car ride. I know people say time flies, but I feel like I have been savoring every minute and loving just being alive and healthier and home with my kids. We also couldn't have asked for a better fourth baby to be the caboose so to speak-- he is such a joy, so cuddly and sweet, and really-- just a huge blessing! Here he is-- actually finally fitting into his newborn clothes at one month old (although if he is anything like his brothers, he'll grow like a weed these next 3 months) and every day seems to be more alert and have longer waking times. Now just to give you a zoomed out perspective so you can see how small he is in regards to the entire sofa: Last night we went out for our anniversary and ran into a couple with a little boy born the same day as our little guy only full term and it was amazing to see the size difference, but neat to hear that even though Declan isn't full term yet, he seems to be doing the same things the other baby is-- what an encouragement to hear how God has blessed him with health despite all my body put us through! And now, my little man is just waking up and I don't want to miss a minute, so night all :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

School Year 2013-2014---- It's Coming!!!

Weve been on "summer" break for a little over a month now; however, our books for the new school year which begins for us on July 8th (maybe sooner if we really just can't wait) are here, organized, and just ready and waiting. I get asked often what we use and since many people shared with me, I'm going to share here our current school year picks. There are some newbies thrown in, but most are a continuation of curriculums we've already used. BIBLE: We akways begin our morning with Bible. While the kids eat breakfast I read from Egermeier's Bible Storybook and Aesops Fables. This is something from a sonlight core but I like them so much we still incorporate them into our morning. I love this children's Bible-- it takes us over a year to get through it once and we aren't quite done our second read through. It covers way more than the average sunday school lesson and childrens picture Bible while telling the stories in a child-friendly format. This year we are branching out and trying apologia's Bible curriculum Who is God? Im excited because my 6 and almost 4 year old have a coloring book that corresponds to my older sons notebook. I went back and forth about getting the notebook journal for my 6 year old but since this is her first year with more writing and reading, I decided to keep it simple for her and just have her do the coloring book. My little guy is excited to have his own book that matches the older twos. I am really hoping one day the add coloring books for their science curriculums as well. Math: We are sticking with Singapore math because I love, love, love Singapore. I love math and the way they present it makes so much sense and isn't overwhelming to the student. Each day there is 1-3 workbook pages to do and if I ever feel that we're tackling a tougher concept, I spend some extra days doing that lesson. I think that's the beauty of homeschooling and Singapore. Its a very visual and mental math focused textbook, but I do have some manipulatives that I keep on my hand for my daughter as she is a kinesthetic learner and needs to touch and see. Spelling: We used spellwell for the first time last year and really liked it. My almost 8 year old will be using the 4th grade book and my daughter is starting her first book with them. I think its a pretty straightforward spelling book but my son liked the games and amount of words they gave him each week. It wasn't too overwhelming and actually for the most part something he could work on by himself while I helped someone else. Logical Thinking: This is new for my son this year, but he is a very logical thinker like his mother and I found it appealing when I saw it online so I am hoping he enjoys these as well. Im hoping it will build on his math and thinking skills. http://www.amazon.com/Logic-Safari-Book-Bonnie-Risby/dp/1593630891/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369328278&sr=1-1&keywords=logic+safari History: This year we are venturing into the second book of Mystery of History. We have really enjoyed this curriculum as it offers an activity for each lesson for three different age groups-- younger, middle, and older. Its all from a Christian perspective as well and Im looking forward to continuing on with it and our discovery of the mystery of history. Science: Last year we did apologias astronomy based on a friends recommendation and we loved it and so this year we are continuing with botany. I like that we're going in order of things God created-- space and then plants. Both of my kids have the junior notebooks, but there are older notebooks available so again, you can do multiple age groups with the same subject. I also like that this too is from a Christian perspective which makes a huge difference. Art: My little guy saw me taking pictures so you have a model for showing off the art category ;) For his age this again a book from sonlight that we are using with him-- the come look with me series is really nice for his age group. It shows them a famous piece of art work and asks some great questions to get them to really appreciate the piece so much more. My older two are trying something new this year-- the draw write now series. I got my daughter one about animals in different forests which I thought would go well with our botany lessons in science. I got my son one that has more of a history focus and I tried to match it up to where we are in history or more accurately, where we will be. But what boy doesn't want to learn to draw knights and the like? I do like that these are reusable books and they'll do their art work on a separate drawing pad. I love art and having it a part of our school day as its something not very stressful and something they can work on independently a bit while I do math with someone else. Reading: I did find a reading list of literature that corresponds to the Mystery of History we are doing this year and will be having my oldest son read through those. My daughter will be reading through some books that I have from an old sonlight core and we still have those books sitting on the shelf and I know my son enjoyed them, so I am hoping she'll be ready for those and enjoy them as much as he did. So that's what our gang will soon be working on and we are looking forward to another wonderful school year..... coming soon!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Movie & Concession Night

Like all great ideas these days, the seed for this one was planted in my mind by a similar idea I happened upon on pinterest. I took the original idea and tweaked it a bit and made it work for our family. Tonight will actually be our third movie and concession night so after doing this for almost a month straight, I can honestly say this works and it works well. The premise is simple-- the kids earn tickets by practicing first time obedience and doing some extra jobs around the house. The tickets can be cashed in once a week for a movie and snacks. Here are some simple guidelines for our movie night: 1. All tickets earned that week are only good for that week-- there are no carry overs till the next week. We did this so that they wouldn't work really hard one week and then slack off the next-- we want them to learn the value of consistentcy and diligence each week. 2. The person with the most tickets picks the movie-- a little extra incentive even if you have enough tickets to afford everything 3. Your tickets can't be taken away. You can loose the right to earn a ticket for a job if your attitude is less than desirable, but once you have earned the ticket, its yours for good. 4. We announce which night will be movie night a few days in advance so the kids know when they need to have all their tickets by. How the kids can earn tickets: This varies by age. For our 3 year old it might be wiping off the table, emptying the small drying rack, wiping off the bathroom sink, and other small tasks that are a big deal for our little one. For our 6 and 7 year olds they do things like vacuum a room, sweep steps, dust, windex the front door, water plants, and other helpful things. We had a plumbing emergency one week and our 7 year old was a big help to my husband and so we rewarded him with a few tickets in appreciation. On certain days if mommy, baby, and 3 year old desperately need a nap, they can earn a ticket for resting and reading quietly in their rooms. This is going to vary by family, but these are just a few ideas. They do not get a ticket for their regular morning jobs (making beds, getting dressed, and one household job each morning) or if they earned a job for misbehaving. What Tickets are good for: 10 tickets earn you the right to watch a movie. 3 tickets earn you snacks and 3 more tickets earn you a smoothie. Even though its a very special night, I still try and keep the treats healthy. On the first night my husband got a little carried away with some candy, but since Mommy and our oldest son cant have it, we have left it out the following weeks. This has worked really, really well for us. Especially after having a baby and having mommy doing feedings-- they aren't constantly begging to watch a movie, but rather asking how they can earn some tickets. The house is being kept tidier by everyone-- again a huge help after the baby. We also are currently on break from school, so this has made sure we aren't plopping in front of the boob tube all break long either. I did make one extra movie exception one day when daddy was working a longer week-- but they had all earned a good amount of tickets that day so it was a bonus and mommys pick (Annie get your gun). Hope this becomes a family tradition for years to come-- the best part is seeing the proud ticket bearers counting their tickets on movie night and then "buying" their snacks on their own! And check out a post from long ago on caught being good tickets--