Monday, March 30, 2015

{learning} What Homeschooling Looks Like Here: Weeks 25-30

We're on the home stretch of our school year!  To be honest, our homeschooling days look a lot different than when we started.  (You can find updates about the first twelve weeks here and here.)  We discovered that D had signs of dyslexia, so we trashed our curriculum and started again.  I've added new books and taken some away, incorporated more hands-on activities and omitted unnecessary busy work.  It could always change, but I think we're finally hitting our stride.

It's also important to note that during the past six weeks, I've found the excitement of teaching again.  Teacher burnout is real, both for homeschooling moms and public school educators.  I'm thankful to be back.    

What Books We're Using & our Typical Weekly Schedule

M (2nd Grade)
  • Math: Horizons 2
    • We have used Horizons from the beginning and I like it.  The pages are colorful and the work challenging, but not impossible.  We do a math lesson every day.  We did slow down for a bit when he wasn't grasping a concept and I supplemented with worksheets and games I found online.  Now he's playing catch-up because he is determined not to do math during the summer!
  • Reading
    • I am fortunate that M loves to read and his nose is frequently in a book.  Because of this, we don't have a specific "reading time" during school.  I do try to give him lots of options in many genres.  He loves to tell me about the latest twist or adventure he's read, so indirectly, he does oral narration as well. 
  • Writing
    • This is another area where he loves to work independently.  He chose a nice journal and writes entries almost everyday.  We occasionally do formal reports and will increase that in third grade.
  • History: Story of the World Volume One
    • We do history on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  This changes, but the general plan is:
      •  Mondays: We read the chapter and talk about it.  I ask a few questions to test comprehension.  We fill out the chapter's map activity.
      • Wednesdays: We review what we read on Monday.  I pull out any corresponding books or videos that go along with the topic and we look at/read those.  Sometimes we do a craft or activity.
      • Fridays: I try to make Fridays really fun and that is generally when we do the bigger projects or crafts.  This is usually the highlight of the week.
  • Spelling: All About Spelling 2
    • We started this program recently and really like it.  We usually only have lessons twice, maybe three times a week.  M really loves writing his words on the dry erase board.
  • Science
    • I am still following Sonlight's recommended plan and we are ending the year learning about space.  We are using this book, along with lots of activities I've found online.  We do science on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

D (Kindergarten)            
  • Reading: All about Reading Pre-Reading
    • When we first thought D was dyslexic, I did lots of research and this program came highly recommended for dyslexic learners.  We learn a new letter every day, repeating the process three times: uppercase letters, lowercase letters and then letter sounds.  The repetition has been good for D and he's really catching on.  We play the "games" included and I sometimes add a craft too.
    • We also read lots of picture books together.  We point out letters and talk about the words and sounds.  D is not reading yet, but he's close.
  • Math: ABeka K5
    • Math comes naturally to him and he looks forward to his lesson every day.  We tried a more open-ended math program at the beginning of the year, but he definitely prefers workbook style. 
  • Everything Else
    • He is included in M's science and history and enjoys both.  While I don't think it's necessary for him to complete all of the assigments M does (he is only in Kindergarten, after all), he often asks to participate or to listen to the stories.

I'm looking forward to finishing this year out strong.  Six more weeks to go!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

{around here} Week 12/52: Week of 3.23.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

in shock how fast this week went!  I blinked and we're already here at Friday.  The days are only going to get busier for us too - soccer starts next week!  

running outside when Mark gets home.  I love every minute of those four mile runs...I can be in my own head for a little bit, which I'm finding is necessary as an introvert with five loud kids.  Saturday is scheduled for seven miles, a distance I've never done before.  I'm excited and nervous.

decluttering like a crazy lady.  I've been trying to be very aware of the things entering our house, so how do I still have so much stuff?  It's a little overwhelming, but I'm taking it one closet and plastic bin at a time.  

finishing Where'd You Go, Bernadette (I liked it!) and still working through Overcoming Dyslexia

planning Easter: finishing up baskets, choosing outfits and making a menu for dinner.  Simple but special is my motto.

working on Sophie's room and I'm almost done!  Her headboard arrived and it is just how I pictured it.  I still need to find a lamp and some throw pillows, plus a few other odds and ends, but I'd say her room is about 80% complete. 

homeschool notes:
+ In science, we started our space unit.  We did a general summary and then watched a few Magic School Bus episodes.   
+ Our Greek study started in history.  We made Grecian vases using a scratch technique, which was really fun for all of us. (I made one too!)  Yesterday was the highlight of the week,though: we made Mycenaean shields and helmets from cardboard!  
+ M has been flying through beginner chapter books, so we decided to let him try something a little harder.  He is now reading Detectives in Togas and loves it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{currently} Mamma's Journal // March

a letter to my children, every month in 2015

M // Daddy taught you how to cook eggs and you have become the official breakfast chef.  I love hearing you call from the kitchen, "Who wants eggs?  Scrambled or over easy?"  You also make your brothers and sister hot chocolate.  I am so thankful for your help!  This month, you have become a reading machine.  You even read two beginner chapter books in one day!  I hope you always have a love for learning.  

D // You, my friend, are a card shark.  We still have Crazy Eights on heavy rotation, but have also expanded to War and Go Fish.  You are competitive just like me, so we have many, many rematches.  If you ever make it big in poker some day, remember that it all started with your mama.  This month, you have also become so creative with Legos.  You played with Spinjitsu spinners at a friend's house, then came home and created something similar with the blocks we own.  You are amazing.

J // You are at such a fun age and I laugh at something you say almost everyday.  My favorite memory of you this month was the day we went to the park.  It seemed like all the mamas had similar ideas because there were a lot of kids there too.  You would run off to play, then come back around and tell me little stories.  My favorite was, "I said hi to that girl lady over there.  She waved...and then ran away." 

S // Your vocabulary is growing more and more everyday and we love listening to your sweet little voice.  Although it changes all the time, my favorite thing you say right now is "shanks" (thanks).  You play right along with the boys, playing everything from ninjas to sword fighting.  And yet you are the most caring, gentle mama to your baby too.  I think you are the coolest girl around.

TJ // Six months old and I just can't believe it.  You are rolling over, sitting tripod-style and have two little teeth.  You are such a happy little guy.  You are mama's joy and we all love you so much.       
Love you all to the moon and back again, Mamma

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

{12 months of kindness} February & March: Gifts for the Food Bank & a Classroom

Time for a double dose of 12 Months of Kindness!  

In February, we decided to help a teacher through Donor's Choose.  With so many worthy recipients, how could we ever pick just one?  As you know, my great-grandmother (the inspiration behind this blog) was a passionate school teacher and had a love for learning that spanned her entire life.  I like to think that she passed that love for reading on to me as well.  So when I read this description, I knew it was the perfect choice for our donation:   
We are a high poverty area and many of my students live in very challenging circumstances, with little or no access to educational materials at home. They develop an appreciation very quickly of their school library and all that it offers them, including excellent children's literature. They soon love to read because of this easy access to a wide variety of wonderful books! But sadly, some of our most loved stories are now worn, torn, and taped. They must be discarded because they are falling apart. Please help us replace them AND add newly released Caldecott winners to our collection! Our students deserve to read and enjoy these books in the sparkling way that their gifted authors and illustrators intended.
Strega Nona, Corduroy, Go Dog Go, The Very Hungry Caterpillar...these are all classic books that my children have read and love.  It breaks my heart that other children may not have the same opportunity.  We donated to Ms. Daugherty's cause and I hope you do too!  The last time I checked, she still needs $520 to reach her goal.

This month, we decided to support our food bank.  Do you follow Aimee on Instagram?  Months ago, she posted a photo of a handful of canned goods with this description: 

Y'all.  I am seeking to build better habits in a few areas.  I have a new goal to buy 10 canned goods and a 5lb bag of rice every week at Aldi and then drop it off at our local food bank...I don't want to simply live with good intentions but with real patterns of generosity and community care.  I desire for my children to build habits of service and care and that modeling begins right here with me.

So powerful, right?  I recently remembered that photo and we are hoping to start something similar with our own family.  Even on a tight budget, it's still possible to add a few things to our cart and help others in the process. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

{around here} Week 11/52: Week of 3.16.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

trudging through a hard week...there has been a lot of bickering and tears among the older kids.  I know it has something to do with the long winter days stuck inside without sports or friends, but it's still so draining.  I've also got an adorable but clingy, teething baby.  Another reason I'm feeling like a burnt out mama.  Some weeks are like that.

surprising the kids on Monday with a trip to a new park.  We were all so excited to be outside in the spring-like weather and I even extended the celebration by getting ice cream cones on the way home.  D declared that it was "the bestest day ever".  Unfortunately, the warm weather didn't last long and we're even supposed to get a rain/snow mix today!  

reading Overcoming Dyslexia (this book is so fascinating, but I can only read small chunks at a time in order to digest it) and I just started Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

shaking my head at my slightly dramatic daughter.  She fell down in our yard and somehow scraped her thumb.  It was minor, so I put a Bandaid on and thought that was that.  Oh no.  She has been walking around all week with her hand clung to her chest saying, "Oh hand hurt."  Her pathetic little voice kills me, but the act is getting old.    

researching how to fit four boys in one bedroom.  We need two sets of bunk beds, but can't decide what to do.  Go for the more affordable option with a shorter lifespan or invest in better quality with the higher price tag?  

baking chocolate chip cookies and I even ate a few too.  It's been that kind of week.

trying something new with a cucumber facial mask.  I am an Influenster member and I received a handful of samples to try for free.  So when I found myself with a window of free time (Mark was at church and the kids were all asleep...can you hear the angels singing?), I figured I'd see what this was all about.  After I applied it on my face, it hardened and I was able to peel it right off.  It was the weirdest feeling, but my skin felt awesome afterward!      

running three miles three times a week and a long run on Saturday.  I'll be running six tomorrow and I always get the nerves and butterflies the day before.  Trying to remember that I am stronger than I think.

homeschool notes:
+ History was all about early Crete this week.  We learned about bull jumpers and even found a short video to visualize it.  The boys' favorite was listening to the story of King Minos and the Minotaur.  We worked through a few mazes and then pulled out a Lego game that fit in with the theme perfectly.  We'll be rounding out the week with a volcano eruption!
+ In order to expand M's reading, I've issued a challenge: read 100 books and he'll get a prize at the end.  We printed off this chart and he colors in a circle after he reads a book and can summarize it to me.  Beginner chapter books (which I am encouraging him to read) count for one circle, but if he wants to read picture books (also encouraged, especially when he reads aloud to Sophie), he needs to read four.  He loves it!
+ In Kindergarten, we ended our work on uppercase letters and are headed back around to look at the lowercase ones.  I have seen so much improvement in D's recall - so exciting!
+ We practiced our uppercase letters by "painting" them with water on our chalkboard wall.  Everyone got in on the fun. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

{book report} My Latest Reads // March

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
How do I describe this book without giving too much away?  It is about a teenage girl who witnesses a shocking event and then lives with the secret until adulthood.  Fast forward to present day and with her mother close to death, she is determined to figure out the reasons behind that day.  There were lots of twists and turns to keep the 480 page book moving.  And the ENDING!  I never saw it coming.  So good.

The Boxcar Children #1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner

I recently found my old set from childhood and thought M would enjoy them like I had.  I was right, he loves them!  He begged me to read them again too so obviously, I started with number one.  Let's just say, reading these as an adult is way different than reading as a kid.  Back then, I thought these books were  Meh.  

Everyday Sacrament by Laura Kelly Fanucci
I won this book in a giveaway.  It's filled with small stories that connect parenting to the seven sacraments.  Laura's message is that God is always present, even in the messiness of motherhood.  The book is a short read, but I found the content thought-provoking and wise.  It's a great choice if you're feeling burnt out as a mother and need a reminder that you are doing great work! 

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
I received this book from Blogging for Books to review, which was timely since I had recently come across Mitchell's TED talk in January.  She lost incredible amounts of weight and this book follows the process, as well as how she established a healthy relationship with food.  While I felt like some parts were a bit wordy and a few others totally off-topic, the message of the book still resonated with me.  I am six months postpartum, dealing with my own weight loss issues (albeit minor in comparison), and this book really made me look at my own relationship with food.  Do I see food as fuel for my body?  Do I use food as stress-relief or to self-soothe when I've had a hard day with the kids?  Thought provoking.        

What have you been reading lately?  Any good ones I should I to the list?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

{gift guide} Five Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

Easter is just around the corner, so I've started thinking about what to put in those five little baskets.  

Quick side note: I have been on a search for nice baskets for all five kids that we could use year after year, but didn't cost a small fortune.  Guys, I found them at World Market!  They are plenty big, come in fun colors (we got blue, green and pink) and were only $10 each with free shipping!  I love them.
Anyway, my motto with most gift giving is no junk.  I try to purchase things that will can be enjoyed for awhile, as well as fun things that also fill a need.  Of course a bit of chocolate too!  Linking up with Melody (who's taking over for Jenna!) today to share five of my favorite ideas:

Bunny Wooden Teether Toy // How adorable is this teether?  I'm trying to convince myself that TJ doesn't need it - poor 5th child!  I've ordered baby gifts from Little Sapling before and the quality is so great.  This is a nice choice for the under 1 crowd.      

Eco-Dough // Made in Maine, this molding dough is made from all natural ingredients and is dyed with fruit and vegetable extracts.  I also love that you can extend the life with a few drops of olive oil.  Kids left it out all night?  No problem!  One box contains five containers, making it really easy to separate into multiple Easter baskets.

Bathing Suits/Swim Trunks // This year, I'm trying something new and putting swimwear in the kids' baskets.  This is technically a "need" and something I'd get for them anyway, but I think it becomes extra special if they find it in their baskets on Easter morning.

Classic Card Games // My kids are really into card games.  We have this set, which comes with Crazy Eight, Go Fish, Old Maid and Alphabet Memory (along with two card holders - perfect for little hands) and we love them all.  This is also a great idea for splitting into multiple baskets. 

Color by Number Activity Book // Usborne makes lots of well made, really fun activity books.  We don't have this color by number one yet and it looks like something the boys would love...and maybe me too!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{BWF} Spring 2015 Product Update

 It's been awhile since I've talked about Big White Farmhouse, my little online boutique, here on the blog.  After the excitement of our first birthday festivities, we've been slowly adding new product and I'm excited to show you some of the new items.  So imagine you've entered into my little shop filled with treasures and let me show you around!  

Fun tea towels are a must-have at Big White Farmhouse because they are an easy way to spruce up your kitchen and they make a great gift too.  The set of four beer towels come in a gift box and scream BBQ to me.  We restocked the love towels and while they are the obvious choice for Valentine's Day, I think they also make a great bridal shower gift or maybe you could have it out for your anniversary month?  Finally, we just got in these bunny towels and they are precious - perfect for this spring weather!  

I've been slowly working on a new "room" for Big White Farmhouse: the bath.  We now carry five soap scents: Tea Tree Lime Almond, Rosemary Lemon Mint, Lavender Lemongrass, Pink Grapefruit, and Tangerine Basil (which I just realized I haven't added yet!  On my to-do list!).  We also have two types of bath salts, Grapefruit and Lavender, which come in the cutest little bottles.  The little gift bag is my current favorite and the perfect present for your girlfriends.  Each contains a muscle balm and a peppermint lip balm.

 I am so excited about these shave bags!  Simple enough for both men and women, they make great cosmetic bags too.  They are made out of canvas and colored denim, and lined in a great blue ticking fabric.  We have them in three colors: yellow, blue and red.  I think they'd make great bags for corralling miscellaneous items in your diaper bag too!

P.S.  Easter is just a few weeks away and if you're like me, you've started thinking about what to put in those Easter baskets!  From now until Sunday, March 29, our Eco-Dough and Eco-Crayons are 25% off!  My kids have tried both and are big fans.

Monday, March 16, 2015

{a year of challenges} March is for Health & Fitness: The Halfway Point

We are halfway through the March Health & Fitness Challenge!  For those of you who are participating, how are you doing?  What small changes have you been incorporating into your day?  And if you're new here, welcome!  There is still time to jump in!

This challenge has been really motivating for me so far and I'm learning a lot about myself.    

As a reminder, this was my challenge:

Walk 10,000+ steps daily
+ Continue to work on drinking at least 5 glasses of water everyday
+ Eat at least one salad/green vegetable a day
+ Try one new type of exercise 

I'm following a 
half marathon training plan, so most of my workouts have been runs.  I do try to fit in one cross-training or weight session a week.  Still need to decide what new exercise I want to try too.

I've been doing most of my runs on the treadmill, mid-morning during a school break.  With warmer weather coming, though, I'm dying to get outside.  Last Saturday was raining, but I still couldn't wait to get out there.  To be alone (no kids who just have to tell me something!) and in my own head for five miles was awesome.

As for my diet, it's a work in progress, but I'm taking steps in the right direction.  I've given up almost all sugar and after the initial detox, I don't even really miss it.  I treated myself to a cookie (made for for Sunday dinner) yesterday and felt sick afterward.  I think I'll be sticking to my dried fruit "dessert" for now.  

A salad has become my lunchtime staple.  I make it with lots of romaine lettuce, whatever veggies we have on hand, ham, a bit of cheese and a little yogurt-based dressing.  Sometimes a handful of croutons too.  It is delicious and keeps me full for awhile.   

One thing that I love about health and fitness is the wealth of information.  While it can be overwhelming, I like to see what's out there, experiment a little, and see what works for me.  I'll post a record of the workouts I've tried and the books/articles I've read at the end of the month.  There is so much to learn!  

Let's finish out the month strong, friends!

Friday, March 13, 2015

{around here} Week 10/52: Week of 3.9.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

trying on and keeping a few pieces from my first Stitch Fix box in about 18 months.  It's been awhile and my postpartum body is still far from normal, but I thought it might be fun to give myself a little extra motivation.  It did the trick; I kept a dress and an embroidered top.   

laughing about J's latest observation during our first spring-like day: "Look, we're twins!  We both don't have socks, we just have toes."

reading The Secret Keeper (almost done!) and Overcoming Dyslexia.

running Week Five in my half marathon training and feeling strong.  I even got a chance to run outside - 55 degrees!  Pumping myself up for a five mile long run tomorrow.

drinking a really delicious post-workout smoothie: frozen fruit, milk and half a scoop of vanilla protein powder.    

working a little everyday on Sophie's room.  We moved the guest bed into her room and the duvet I ordered on ebay arrived.  Now we're waiting for the headboard to be first time ordering big furniture online!   

taking care of Mark.  He pulled a muscle in his back while working out and could barely walk.  After a trip to the doctor, they think he may have a muscle spasm?  He is in a lot of pain, but they gave him prescriptions to try to keep him comfortable.  Hopefully, he'll be back to normal soon.

homeschool notes:
+ We have been so pleased with D's reading program that I purchased a spelling program from the same company for M.  He's flying through it!  We use a dry erase board with our lessons and he loves writing on that instead of on paper.  Whatever works!
+ M is also working on his multiplication facts and having a bit of trouble remembering.  I found a few skip counting songs on YouTube and even an old Schoolhouse Rock one.  We'll see if it helps him.
+ In Kindergarten, we played a game about syllables.  I put paper on the floor with the numbers 1-3 and when I called out a word, the kids had to clap out the syllables and then jump to the correct number.  Big hit.    

Thursday, March 12, 2015

{cookie project} No.005: Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Since I'm not eating sugar as part of March's health and fitness challenge, choosing a cookie this month was tricky.  I suppose that I could have made something sweet and delicious and just given them to the kids...but we all know I'm too weak to have that temptation in the house!

Instead, I found this recipe for healthy oatmeal cookies.  They are banana based and don't have butter, sugar, flour and eggs!  I was a little skeptical about the taste, but they are strangely delicious.  

The recipe I used is from the sisters at Favorite Family Recipes.  They also suggest using chocolate chips instead of raisins...I'll be trying them that way soon!  

P.S. The giveaway for the 24oz. Mason Jar Tumbler ends tomorrow tonight!  Have you entered yet?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{a year of challenges} A Health & Fitness Link List

The Dehydrated Girl's Guide to Water

I liked the thoughts behind weight loss in this post.

This blueberry and avocado smoothie sounds delicious.

Feel Great in 8: an 8 week challenge that encourages you to make healthy choices along with a motivating support system

The 100 Best Running Songs of all Time: I'm checking this out for new material.

I love the free printables Mique made to create a fitness binder.

How to Kill Your Sugar Addiction Before It Kills You

I plan on making these cinnamon molasses muffins soon.

That's Not Sweat, I'm Just Leaking Awesome.

Monday, March 9, 2015

{life list} Support 100 Small Business Mammas: Number Four (and a Giveaway!)

We're nine days into March and guys, I am rocking my goals for more water and a salad everyday!  I've been having my salad at lunch and it actually has been really filling.  And the water?  I think my success is all due to this new mason jar tumbler I bought from Hustle Mama Handmade.

I don't really know what it is...maybe the straw?  Maybe the fact that it's huge (but also thin-it can fit in a cup holder), so I can carry it around the house without constantly having to fill it up?  It may be that's it's just pretty to look at!  Whatever the reason, I am in love.    

Some of my long-time readers will remember when I started working on my life list goal of supporting 100 small business mammas and I'm excited to resurrect that again this year!  As a reminder: these posts are not sponsored, I've purchased everything with my own money and the mamas don't even know I'm writing about them.  My hope is that I can introduce you to some great businesses and bring these mamas a bit of traffic and sales.  

Okay, onto the fun part!  Half of the fun of finding new small businesses is picking a product to give away to one of you!  I am giving away a tumbler just like mine, only with a polka dot fabric sleeve.  You'll also get two BPA free straws in coordinating blue and orange.  The giveaway will be open until Friday, March 13 at 12:00 AM, so enter through the Rafflecopter below!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Supporting Small Business Mammas Archives: #001, #002, #003}

Friday, March 6, 2015

{around here} Week 09/52: Week of 3.2.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

watching MORE snow outside.  I'm starting to wonder how many more weeks I'll have to say that.  This time, we got almost eight inches.  

laughing at D's description about winning Crazy Eight: "I knew M was going to do a move that was pretty sophisticated, so I pulled out a crazy eight and boom!  I won."

working on Sophie's big girl room.  I have been making to-do lists, measuring walls and ordering the first furniture pieces.  She loves to browse on Pinterest with me and everything she sees is "ooh cuuute!"  

reading Overcoming Dyslexia (still!) and The Secret Keeper.  

planning our Greek unit coming up.  I found some go-along picture books as well as a few easy chapter books that M can read on his own.  I've got a family Olympics and a big Greek feast in the works as well.

deciding when to cut my hair.  I've been growing it out to donate again, but it is driving me crazy.  I'm thinking around Easter...definitely before May.  I need a new look for spring! 

ordering lots of new product for Big White Farmhouse!  Purchasing inventory for the store is exhilarating and nerve-wracking, but I think I picked some good pieces.  I also did a lot of re-ordering sold out favorites, like the "You are my Sunshine" garden marker, vintage silverware napkin rings and "Love" dish towel.  Can't wait to share more soon.

homeschool notes:
+ Wednesday was "S" day in kindergarten.  D made a skunk using a tutorial from Art for Kids and it turned out so cute.
+ We started a new read aloud and M can't get enough.  The book is called Evertaster.
+ In history, we learned all about Ashurbanipal and the Assyrians.  M made a siege tower complete with battering ram out of Legos.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...