Monday, November 18, 2013

Towels and Shirts

So by homeschool mom standards I may be behind the times, but maybe in general mom terms I'm on target or ahead of the game.  Or maybe it really isn't worth comparing.  We use KONOS Character curriculum as a supplement.  Some people use it as core and up kudos to them, because I don't spend that much effort in planning.  We are at the end of our unit on responsibility and there are checklists for to help evaluate what you can teach your kids.  Wow!  I've spent so much time focusing on the info about early colonists that I almost missed this amazing part!
We've been going over the checklists for the past few days and I'm not grading the kids, but I'm mostly just keeping these things in mind.  Today we had "laundry," on the checklist.  I never thought about it.  I have the kids put their dirty clothes in a basket or hamper in their rooms and the bathroom and they haul the laundry downstairs once a week and then deliver clean clothes to rooms when it is their chore.  Why did it never dawn on me to teach them proper folding techniques?
I can give you a hint... CONTROL.  There are certain things I like done just so, and laundry happens to be one of them.  Now I know people who have their young kids do all of the household laundry and act like they should win a merit badge for doing so, but that isn't my ultimate goal.  Over the past 2 years, I have never upped the ante for my kids on chores, though and maybe after today's lesson, it may just be time.  My husband knows that I'm, well a little particular on the way things are folded and my closet is organized by item and color.  O.K. I'm OCD!  This shouldn't prohibit me from teaching my children my OCD ways, should it?  
I brought a whole load of clean towels into the classroom and showed my kids how to fold them.  They had some nice ideas of how we can fold, but I told them to hold on to those ideas and use them in their own homes.  For now, we do it my way because they fit into the cupboards and drawers best this way.  After a few attempts, they actually did pretty well.  I admit, I was tempted to fix a few, but the stacks were neat enough that they didn't fall over, so I let them be.
The next load was done as well (yes, I let unfolded towels sit over the weekend, and the washer and dryer sat unemptied too), so I gave instruction on shirts, pants and undergarments.  They already know socks because they are hard to get wrong. They did a great job with each article of clothing and were actually excited for the next load!!  Wahoo!  Unfortunately, we had to do a little math, spelling and you know other school stuff or I might have them be my laundry slaves today.
Well, I'm glad to know that my kids can do laundry all the way through.  I need to do a few things now. First, I need to let go of some of my OCD or teach it to my kids.  I also need to learn a balance between giving the kids responsibility and letting them be kids.  I need to learn to be sensitive about time and place for just plain old fun!  They are not my slaves, but they are mine to teach.  Balance!  They one day will leave my home and need to survive in this world without me and the training began even before we home schooled.  My goal is to release my kids into the world and watch them thrive and not just survive.
Really I think I'm learning as much or more than my kids.  I thank God for the opportunity to train up my children.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ha Ha! It's official, I have fallen behind!

Well it's not really funny, but what can I do?  This is the first weekend this school year that I haven't graded all of last week's assignments.  The classroom is a mess.  The lesson plans are drafted through Thanksgiving, but they're not in the grade book yet.  The Homeschool Helper app has been fantastic and worth every penny.  It does work better, though when you're caught up.  Last week's buttons are still showing up as red instead of green, and it's not because the kids aren't done, it's all me.  
So last Friday was a scheduled homeschool group bowling trip.  I made it so we would do character, math and spelling, then hit the road for a nice 45 minute drive to the activity.  The kids were excited to see and play with their friends.  I scheduled to help a friend at 5 and bowling was until 5 so I would have to leave around 4 to get back in time.  I didn't look at a map because I had the directions in my head.  My husband is laughing at this point if he's reading this.  I drove East and after about 30 minutes of driving and daydreaming, I realized that I should be going North by now, so I turn on the GPS.  It says to continue East for 7 more miles.  I keep going and after a few miles begin to realize that I would be going East to find another paved road to take me North so I can go back West.  No!  At this point, I look at the time I'm supposed to arrive at my destination and it tells me I have another 50+ minutes.  It is already about 2:40.  I don't have anyone's phone numbers in my phone, but I have extra directories in my trunk.  Why?  Because I'm the group's leader.  Now that's funny!  I finally get ahold of someone and tell them I just won't be making it to bowling.  Over 2 hours of driving for 30 minutes of bowling wasn't going to work.  So now I'm going home and I could catch up on grading and lesson plan entry, but no, I let the kids do wii bowling because they were disappointed.  I have continuing ed for my nursing license to do, so I start reading and start to doze off.  I set my iPad alarm to remind me when to help my friend because I can be there by 4:30 now and I won't be late.... If I turn on the volume for my alarm.  So I wake up in a start and wipe the drool off my face.  "Get your socks and shoes on!  We're late!"  I make it to my next destination just before 5.  Done by 9.  
So now the weekend is gone, I never caught up our homeschool stuff, but I've completed 15 of 30 CEU's for nursing and am well on my way to the next 5 being done.  I had a great time at church and fellowship group, bought groceries, babysat the carpenter who still didn't have the right parts to finish a door install started in July, and baked a dessert and bread.  I even got a Sunday afternoon nap which is why I'm still awake and blogging at 2 a.m..
If you've ever read someone's blog and felt inadequate, I bet you will feel empowered by reading this one.  School for us is still successful even though I told my husband last week that I felt like a failure.  My bathroom hasn't been mopped since... I don't know for sure.  My kids have been fed, there's clean and folded clothes in various places in the house and the bills are paid!  I'm just feeling blessed that we made it 1/4 of the way through the school year this time before I got behind.
Have an excellent week!  I intend to.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mixing it up

Hah! I typed this all up on my phone and went to load pics.  I had to change my privacy settings and didn't get it saved.  Two full rambling paragraphs and som more fluff gone.  Oh my!  So I don't know everything I was saying, but wanted to make a few points.  First of all, I feel like my home school mom confidence level increased this year.  I don't feel trapped in the subjects.  I put the history project grade in the "art" tab in my grade book today.  I have felt like we weren't getting any art in last year, but we did these projects.  Why not score them in art with a "excellent, satisfactory, needs improvement, unsatisfactory," grade rather than try to put a percentage score on it.
By the way, the wire above his head is not connected to anything.  That's another long story.

We went the extra mile on this and covered the brooch with foil, then colored it with Sharpie markers.
Another thing resulting from my confidence that gave my OCD a run for its money is I'm letting my kids do worksheets orally and skip problems in math.  We are doing discussions rather than quizzes every time in history.  Spelling isn't graded, though it is a separate subject for us.  If they've already learned something and can explain it to me effectively, it's ok to skip the lesson.  When I did a few placement tests and found my kids slightly above grade level, I relaxed a bit.  I can do this!
Well I'm sure whatever I typed before was just as random as this with more words, so that's all for now.  I hope to post more regularly this year.
Our new classroom should be ready by next week, so I hope to be able to post about it soon!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It is that time of year again!

I am super excited to begin another year in our school, Life Song Academy.  Shaping the life songs of to very unique, very lovable children is not an easy task.  I am challenged daily as I spend time with them.  I am learning that if I expect them to work hard, which I do, then I must work even harder.  Parenting is not very effective when it is done passively.  Neither is home schooling for me.  Sure, they can breeze through their subjects like math and science and language with little assistance from me, but I need to be their coach, mentor, teacher, mother all the time.  Keeping them on task can be frustrating, but it is important!  They need boundaries and deadlines!  I don't remember the exact Proverb, but there is one that starts, "Consider the ant, you sluggard..."  It is from the Bible, but I don't really remember which translation either.  I don't want my kids to be defined as sluggards.
Now, I may sound like I'm overbearing and maybe I really am, but one of my goals this year is to teach them with firm gentleness.  Now that's an oxymoron!  Or is it?  My speech can be quite harsh and I get a little crazy when the kids misbehave... Yes I've stomped my feet a few times, but I don't like when I behave that way.  I hope  that my children's life songs will not be resentful or resistance songs, but will be of strength and Godly character.  Discipline is necessary as is love.  We will find this balance, I know it!
We start full days on Thursday, so breathe in, breathe out.  Never mind that the house is still torn up and we don't have our classroom yet.  We have our supplies and our family!  Let's go!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Story of the World - my take

I have heard, rather read, several negative reviews about Story of The World by Susan Wise Bauer saying that this is not a Christian curriculum and other things.  While I have only used the first year and purchased the second year and skimmed it briefly, I really feel it has been given some unfair press.
I researched the author and she is a Christian.  She claims to be a Christian and her writings outside of this curriculum suggest that she is a believer in the resurrected Son of God.  It is not mine to debate her faith, nor is at for anyone else to debate.  Her publishing company is called Peace Hill Press, feel free to explore it on your own.
The curriculum in question is not out and out Christian as some homeschool curricula.  What I mean by that is that each chapter does not contain a Bible reference, lesson or story.  Instead, each chapter is written about a different civilization or time from the perspective of someone who could have lived in that time period or culture.  The author is a story teller.  The facts are included in these stories to give a timeline and culturally significant details within a folk-tale-like lesson.
The very thing that many are opposed to is that Bible stories are treated in the same manner as other stories.  My argument against that is if we are learning the Chinese emperors and are expected to believe this is, in fact, history, we should also believe that the Bible stories are, in fact, history.  When she she shares about things like the Cyclops or other mythological beings, she clarifies the difference.  Not many world history books include Bible history as fact.  In my opinion, this alone clearly makes this series Christian.
Now, I questioned a few things in her timeline, but even Bauer acknowledges this when you look at the appendix.  "In order to keep the narrative coherent, I have occasionally told the story of one culture or country before going back in time to begin the story of another." (Page 389 SOTW Volume 2:The Middle Ages)  even the Bible itself is not in Chronological order.  There are so many philosophies about how a history book should be written so there are certainly going to be people that disagree with her approach.  She has a definite targeted audience and that audience is reached with this style.
The next argument is that she skips the flood and several key Bible teachings in this book.  Now as Christian home educators, are we really going to solely rely on anyone's history writings to teach our children the Bible?  There is an interspersing of Bible in all we do.  Not a day goes by that we do not talk about the Bible, so even if I only have 2 pieces of curriculum that mention the Bible in daily work, we are still giving them more Word than they would get at a public school.  Peace Hill Press even offers a Bible Curriculum, which I will not entertain as I have no first-hand knowledge of it and have only read reviews.  I personally do not use a Bible curriculum at all because we read our Bibles and pray and discuss things using our Bibles all the time.  My kids' Sunday School teachers tell me that my kids have the answers to most of the questions and can tell the stories along side the teachers, so I am confident that we are in the Word enough.
Now if someone wants to argue that their children don't care for it or they don't care for her style, I get that.  Not every student and not every teacher are the same.  That is why it is such a joy to homeschool and teach what works for our families.  My kids are excited about history and I can hardly keep them from reading ahead.  To me, this makes a good curriculum.  I have researched some of the things mentioned in the book and found the book to agree with other Christian and non-Christian writers.  There have been a few discrepancies, BUT in those cases, there were several theories floating about regarding that piece of history.  For instance, she describes the process of mummification.  The recipe and amount of days for each stage was different in this book than my niece's history book from a Christian school and different in a few different web sites.  Those details are not important for memorization or testing and it is not enough for me to want to throw out the book.  Especially if historians can't agree on them.
What we love is the stories.  My kids retain the information well and after reading it to themselves, they usually get most of the review questions correct.  Sometimes I do review orally and sometimes written. My son loves the map work and my daughter loves the coloring.  My son was in 4th grade last year and didn't care for the coloring pages.  They both loved the games and extra activities that are optional in the activity guide.  The tests are well formatted and give a great review of each chapter.  My second grader passed them all.
The whole curriculum is not necessary, but we did purchase it.  I opted for the hard cover text this year since we are not nice to paperbacks.  I ordered one activity book which has the activity pages at the end and review questions, additional reading, and projects, games and recipes at the beginning.  I then ordered a set of activity pages for each child.  For the cost of my ink and paper, this was a less expensive option for me.  I also chose to order a test book for each child as well.
I would say that is my 2 cents, but I think I put more in there than that. 
A picture of one of our game days.  The instructions told us to use beans and a penny.  We chose glam.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

iPad app
I am super excited that I can use fun gadgets to teach my kids. I made a lesson using the educreations app on my iPad and projected it on my television using appleTV. My son said that he was able to learn the new concept with my help. Happy day!
Here is my first creation!

Enjoy your week!

Friday, April 5, 2013


Ah, I thought I would have written more this school year than I did, but we're making it through the year without any lasting hitches.  Even though my dreamy picture of what our homeschool should look like is just that, a dreamy picture, we still have accomplished a lot.  We now have 185 hours left of school this year and I only have one true regret.  I forgot to get good pictures taken of the kids last fall.  I do have plenty of snap shots and I will grab a few good ones this weekend I think so we're not in a total loss.  We got our annual family pics on Father's Day and got some individuals then too, so we're not picture-less.
Watching my kids grow and learn has been very rewarding even in their worst behavior moments.  My baby boy has gained almost 15 pounds this year and I know he has grown at least 3 inches too.  I'm just amazed when I look at him in bed and he takes almost the whole twin bed.  Good bye 5# 5oz baby boy!  At least he still has a tender heart and gentle spirit.  My teeny girl is still teeny, her most of her kindergarten friends are bigger than she is as a 2nd grader.  Its okay and she actually has grown too.  Her shoe size seems to stay the same for a long time and then BOOM!  They're all too small.  I bought cowboy boots intentionally too big at the beginning of the year and now she cant squeeze into them.  Growing, growing, growing!
This school year I picked out our dream curriculum from various publishers.  I am discovering that not all of it is their dream curriculum but mine.  I have started to let them review things with me and we have chosen a new science curriculum for next year from Apologia (I think).  The kids don't like sharing a text book and fight over it, so we're going to split up and learn different things this year.  Now Answers in Genesis has been fantastic for me.  I love reading the book, but the kids didn't care for the presentation for their reading.  Both are above average readers and they still didn't care for the text.  Some families read the lessons out loud and I don't do that with all subjects because the kids retain more when they read the chapters.  Science is one of my favorite subjects so I would rather change up curriculum to find what will instill a love for science to my kids.  The rest of the subjects I think we're sticking with the same thing we used this year.
I knew that splitting up the curriculum was coming anyway because I'm getting close to having a middle-schooler.  Agghhhhhhh!  I know I've told them that my job as a parent is to equip my children to leave my home and be successful adults ... I don't know if I like that now.  No, we're really not that close to graduation, but as fast as these few years have flown by, I bet the rest goes faster.  I will keep them close to my heart while I can.
So I'm very random in thought just like I'm random in our school day.  We have some things that are regular and we are doing well with academics, but as no person is perfect, no school is perfect.  We are going to be done by mid-May and my kids will go on to the next grade with flying colors.  3rd and 5th grade.  That seems impossible.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stewardship Follow Up

Our Stewardship session was a great success!  There was a week in the midst of it where each of us were sick with a head cold and so we were a bit lazy ... I was more lazy than anyone.  Man colds drag me down.
Enough of that, here's what happened.  Both kids earned a little over $200 and were excited.  It was about 1/2 of what was possible to earn because they left things out or had to be reminded a lot to do their work.  I didn't get the store items set out in advance because of my cold and I thought I was going to buy more things to put in the store.  Well it turns out that was unnecessary.  As much as I want to do things over the top for school, it can be effective to do them "just right."
I had bought some Bibles to give as prizes for Sunday School and it turned out that the kids already had good Bibles, so there were new Bibles on the shelf.  My kids had been eyeing them and begging for them... They went into the store at the highest price of anything.  I had some candy that I'd bought on holiday clearance for special occasions and that went into the store.  I had a couple of pencils a couple of hygiene items that were bought on sale and a couple of notebooks.  I used a TV tray to set up this small collection of items.  I priced the Bibles at $150 each and the other items between $2 and $15.  I didn't think the kids would get everything off the table and didn't compare my numbers to the dollars, it was completely random in that aspect.
Store morning and the kids woke up earlier than they had all week.  Go figure!  They had already divided out their wares and decided how much money they had and were ready to just go crazy.  I told them that they had to wait.  I casually got my coffee and my breakfast and finally said, "OK its time for school!"  The kids begged to do the store first and I obliged.  My rules had never been shared, so they started toward the table and I stopped them.  What is the first thing we do with the money we earn?  We give tithes!  They showed me a disappointed understanding, but did not complain.  We calculated each of their tithe and the first to get the answer right was the first to shop.  They took turns shopping for each item and the first shopping turn was given to the child who could answer a tithing or Bible question first.  It turned out that after tithing, the kids had nearly cleared the table and each got almost everything they had hoped to get.  My daughter had only $.50 left and there was a $5 item on the table at the end of the session.  It was great to be able to tell her that I had noticed her faithfulness in tithing and was holding a sale.  The last item was reduced to the price of $.50.  In the end every penny of their fake money was spent and they got everything they wanted.  I really didn't plan it that way and was going to put the extra stuff in the prize box that I keep for good behavior.
All in all I would rate this as a good experience.  KONOS Character curriculum didn't detail the lesson, but gave the suggestion of how to get it going.  It has so many suggestions for each subject that we cover and tells which subject(s) for school that each suggestion will relate to.  We can make it fit our family.  The neat thing too is that another family can do the exact same curriculum and never do any of the same activities taht we choose.  I was blessed to find book 1 and 2 at a second hand store.  I do believe that in 2 years when we are ready for book 3 I will spend the $100 to get it.  It helps round out our school day to cover a multitude of topics.  With it, I feel comfortable only having a regular Math, Language, Science and History/Geography curricula.  We integrate art and music and social studies and health and Bible and life skills with the Character curriculum.  Our, "Story of the World," History/Geography has activities that include the elective type subjects as well.  I am pleased with what we are doing and the progress my children are making this school year.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Money money money

Kids love earnings and had done pretty well until the sniffly junk hit our home. Maybe we can put in a lesson about ambition and pushing through even if you don't feel like it. Store opens Friday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


We are doing a stewardship unit in our Character curriculum by KONOS.  We are going to have a way of earning play money for a shopping day on March 1.  Kids are excited to shop away.  We've done stewardship of our bodies and will do stewardship of time, but right now it is stewardship of time and resources.
Our pay scale and expense sheet.  Feel free to copy or adapt if you plan to do a store of your own.
We are excited to start this in the morning.  Today is practice.  So far the kids are on fire.  Chores are getting done without warning.  We'll see how long that lasts.
We just got off of a vacation that lasted 11 days.  The kids did math at Grandmas and went on a field trip to a train museum and played in the Rocky Mountains.  Mom and Dad enjoyed some R&R in the Caribbean.  We still have jet lag, but hopefully with this incentive it will help us to get back into the swing of things.  Silly me... we should have put the gifts from vacation in the store and let the kids buy them from us.  LIVE and LEARN.  We might do this once a year because it is so fun!   Valentines Day is tomorrow, so I gotta get something together for that.  Fun times!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why haven't I heard of this before?

First of all, we went to an AMAZING presentation with our local Christian Family Educators group.  The kids learned about Antarctica from a woman who traveled there, and then they (we) learned interesting things about the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field from another woman whose father was in the Army Air Corps at the time of the attack.  I love it when my kids can learn from others' experiences.  Due to our crazy family issues and schedule, we haven't been able to attend many group meetings and it is such a pity because we learned a lot this time.
It is good to have a community to learn things from and to bounce things off of.  I have done a couple of things on Facebook where I would post thoughts, I've found educational videos and websites by search engines and I've talked with a few homeschool families, but I really like the idea of this group.  I found that the kids are more social than I am.  DUH!  I have a hard time meeting people face to face and don't know who I should talk with or how to strike up a conversation sometimes.  Thankfully there are a few more outgoing types at the places I visit.  I look forward to more meetings with our group.  As the faces become more familiar, I think I will anticipate each meeting more too.
Now for the great resource that I never knew was out there...  (drumroll please!) .......................  can you hear it????  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine  I can get it free on my iPad and phone.  I liked it on facebook.  I can order paper copies (for a cost)!  I'm pretty sure this will be a new favorite for me.  I admit, not all of the articles are appealing to me, but most of them are.  I may get tired of ads at some point, but I really like the fact that curriculum companies advertise here.  I am looking for a new math program for next year and my daughter is finished with her 2nd grade language, so I'm debating on moving on to 3rd grade or supplementing with another curriculum for the rest of the year.  I would not have found it if I were antisocial and stuff.  A member of the homeschool group was kind enough to share the info with us all.  Thank YOU Mrs. C!
A fun thing the ladies are looking at is a mom's night out and they want to call it a teacher's in-service or something like that to make it sound too important to miss.  Isn't that great!  Well that's my fun inspiration for now.... for parent's week out ... coming soon to an ocean near someone.  ... to be continued...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Where did my motivation go?

I really enjoy teaching my kids and I enjoy it more when the day goes smoothly.  The main factor in the day is actually not the kids... it's me.  If I am ready and show them outwardly that I'm ready to take the day seriously, they fall in step more easily.  I've been sluggish since the holidays, but have determined to make this an enjoyable experience for us all too.
I've been assured that homeschooling is great and you can just do it any time and be laid back.  Well, you can, but I find the days that are more organized are the best days and the laid back days are really pitiful.  We take for ever to get through our content and then end the day grumpy.  NOT GOOD!  Starting my day in the Word of God is the best for us and then we spend time together doing devotions and the days really go well.
Once the kids have proven they are ready to work, I am more apt to give them fun breaks.  This morning we did mirroring exercises and it was not only good for us, but it is always hilarious to see the way they mirror and comments during the fact.
We are doing 4 day weeks through the first week of February due to family vacations and weekend plans and birthdays and that is really seeming to be great.  I might consider doing a longer school year and 4 day weeks because it is just more freeing.  We'll see.
Tomorrow is the big guy's 10th birthday and he and sis are taking to calling him a "preteen."  Not sure I was ready to hear that.  Happy weekend to all!