I live in a house which seems to be crawling with small children. It's not that we have that many - we're closer to the Cosbys than the Duggars - but they all came so close together that just about the time someone moves out of one phase, someone else is there to jump into it! It can leave me feeling exhausted, frustrated, and at my wits-end at times. The older two are now at a stage where they can play constructively for the most part (except for that bed-as-a-slide incident that some of you heard about. Don't get me started...) They also are at a point where they need me to walk them through most of their school work. It's a fun time for all of us...except for Grace and Cullen - who don't handle it well when mommy needs to spend two hours doing school with Sawyer and Campbell. I frequently feel like I don't know what to do with them. In fact, I have pictures from the first day of school last year when Cullen decided to crawl into Sawyer's desk and sit there till we were done. They won't just "go play." They need direction, which is hard to do when I'm in the middle of a lesson on "how the French Revolution affected John Adams role as President." But fear not! Enter Preschool Activity Bags!
A friend called and asked me if I'd want to join her in making some activity bags to keep preschoolers busy during school, when you're trying to cook dinner, or any other time you need to have them occupied for a little while. She had purchased the Preschool Activity Bags Ebook from Activity Bags. com. This ebook plans all the bags out for you, and gives you directions for a swap. So we've rounded up about 12 moms of littles, and will be swapping bags on Thursday night! I'm so excited to have these on hand for the times when I need to give Gracie an activity she will enjoy, but that I don't have to hold her hand through. The ebook gives you over 30 ideas for bags, so we assigned two per mom. If you click on the link above, you can download a sample at their website. Each bag costs approximately $1 to make, and a lot of the supplies are things you will already have around the house. These would be great to have on hand whether you homeschool or not. What mom doesn't need to have a few tricks she can pull out while waiting at the doctor's office, making dinner, doing laundry, laying on the couch with a bad case of morning sickness, etc? I know Gracie and Cullen are going to love them, and it only took a couple hours to get everything assembled!
Tomorrow morning we will be hitting the books! We are all excited to continue our adventure in homeschooling. This year we are changing things up a little, adding quite a few new things, and adding in another student!
Gracie will be joining us now! She has been begging me for a while to "do school." So this year she will be doing a series of books by Rod and Staff that focus on fine motor development, identifying shapes, colors, opposites, letters, numbers etc. We are also using a wonderful book by Marilyn Boyer called Crossroads of Character that focuses on character training through stories. I really love the Boyer's products. Their website is www.thelearningparent.com. I heard Marilyn speak several times at the ICHE conference this year.I would highly recommend any of her downloads. Her words were a true blessing to me! Grace will also be joining us in our Biblestudy Guide For All Ages time.
Sawyer and Campbell will continue with Math-U-See, moving into the Alpha level. They really enjoy the videos, as well as working with the blocks! We'll also move on with our phonics/spelling program - Spell to Write and Read. I can't say enough good things about this program, so I won't even get started! The kids are both continuing to grow in their reading skills, as well as their spelling awareness. We are also using their Cursive First handwriting program, and it's been fun to watch the kids writing blossom!
The new things we added are:
First Language Lessons - this is a great introduction to grammar, proper language usage, poetry, etc. It's very gentle, and very simple - which I appreciate! Exploring Creation with Astronomy - we are so excited to start doing science, and one of the things I think is so neat about Jeannie Fulbright's books is that each one focuses on what was created on each off the days of creation. So we will be starting with astronomy, then move on to botany, etc. The books are written in a Charlotte Mason style, so the lessons are short, and there's a lot of opportunity for discussion and narration.We will also be doing a lapbook to go with this book - which is always fun, and really helps the kids retain what they've learned! Tapestry of Grace - this is a biggie! This is the curriculum we will be using for our history, fine arts, literature, geography, and church history studies. It's a four year cycle that the child goes through three times over the course of their education. It's like a giant humanities buffet - which can be overwhelming when first looking at it. You just have to tell yourself to save some activities for the next time you go through the cycle. It also helps to have a friend who has used it and will let you steal her lesson plans! We settled on this curriculum after lots of research and even more prayer. Ryan loved that they have a component for Dads that keeps him up to date on what we're learning. We also loved that throughout the entire story of history, the author points out how God's hand was working in that time period. That history is HIS story! The bonus is that it is also written by authors who are reformed, which means no awkward discussions about "yes, I know that's what the writer said, but we believe..." We are really excited to get started on this! We will begin in year 3of the four year cycle, (since we have friends that are on that year, and our kids are the same ages. We are going to be meeting about once a month for some fun group activities!) which covers the 1800's. We will be learning about the reign of Napoleon, the Presidency of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe, and the forming of the Supreme Court. We'll also read about William Carey - Father of the modern missionary movement, as well as Adonirum Judson, Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, and Mary Slessor. We'll explore with Lewis and Clark, pan for gold during the Goldrush in California, and watch as South America struggles for freedom from their European oppressors. We are in for an exciting year!
Unfortunately, our digital camera has died, so it may be a while before I can post pictures, but hopefully we can post some of our adventure this year!
okay, so we haven't been hiding. We've just been without internet service. So, we've had a lot of changes since my last post, and I'll try to do a VERY brief overview:
Had a great time staying with friends and family while the new house was finished. My parents had to put up with us for over a month. If we were catholic, I'd elect them for sainthood! Let's just say that at least one thing was broken, and we discovered that magic erasers WILL remove black Sharpie!
Moved into the house in October. That was interesting to say the least. 1 year olds and moving should not be mixed.
Grace turned 3 in December. Proudly declared "i'm still two. I don't want to wear big girl panties!" I'll just let that speak for itself.
Christmas was nice. Busy. Post pics on that later. Maybe.
Sawyer turned 6 in February. (sniff...)How did that happen?!
Went to Orange Beach, AL for a week to see Ryan's mom and dad. It was wonderful! First family vacation we've taken, and we're looking forward to going back next year!
Not sure why this picture won't post the right way. You'll just have to tip your head. sorry!
So, that's basically a really quick overview of the last 6 months.
I can hardly believe that the day has come to pack up and move on. We moved into this house two and a half years ago - the weekend Grace was born! Those years have flown by, and we leave the house with four kids, not three. We also leave with a lot more STUFF! The amount of boxes we've gone through is astounding. I'm sorting and tossing as we pack. Hopefully unpacking will be easier - that's the fun part, get everything set up and making things feel homey!
We are building a new house, and will hopefully be in the end of August! Ryan will be doing a tremendous amount of the work himself. He does a wonderful job, and really enjoys it, but he's doing more in this house than he has before. He'll be tackling the painting, trim, tile, wood flooring, building the front porch and deck, putting stone on the front pillars, and possibly a few other things. Please pray for energy for him, and for enough time to get everything done!
We are so thankful for the generosity of our family and friends, who are letting us invade their homes for various amounts of time. Please pray for the Wehrmans, Havens, Gordillos, Moes, and our parents as we visit them - that we would have wonderful times of fellowship and that the kids would "play nice." : ) We are looking forward to bouncing from home to home. These are all local friends, and this would be one of the few times we would actually have a reason to stay with them (except of course for the occaisional game night/scrapbooking overnight!)
I will do my best to keep things updated, something I haven't done so well lately! I'll try to post some pictures of the new house soon. But - my next post will be on all the sewing I've been doing lately!
I mentioned in a previous post that I bought Ryan the Backyard Ballistics book at convention. Well, take a look at what he and Sawyer have been up to lately! This is their first creation - The Potato Canon! I heard rumblings about a Cincinatti fire kite next...and no, I have no clue what that is!
They shot the potatoes into the cornfield behind our neighborhood - we had previous premission from the owner, who also happens to be our builder. I couldn't believe how far they shot! We attracted the attention of several neighbors, and the guys were joking about trying to shoot down the seagulls that fly over - they never did hit one though.
Sawyer showing the chunk of missing potato, that was loaded into the barrel at that moment.
Ryan is spraying in the propellent - otherwise known as Aquanet harispray!
We ditched the ear muffs/whatever they're called, after the first shot, since it was surprisingly quiet. We had expected quite a boom, but there really wasn't one. The boys had a lot of fun, and Ryan has talked about making some to sell at the HSB Craft show this winter.
We were having friends over for a game night this past Friday, so I decided I'd make chinese for dinner, since I'd been craving it for a while. I was looking through the recipes I've used in the past, and decided to start completely over, and find some new ones. A few people asked for the recipes on Facebook, and I decided it would be easier to put them all here, and whoever wants them can come get them! So here is the menu and recipes I used(I would encourage you to read through the comments left by other people of each recipe on the all recipes website to see what changes other people made):
Egg rolls - These were soooo good! We loved them! Gracie kept asking for more "tootsie roll"! I used pork loin chopped fine instead of ground pork.
Sweet and Sour Chicken - The only changes I made were to season the chicken before putting it in the batter, and I stir fried the peppers and pineapple with a chopped onion before serving it. The kids all ate this like little piggies! It really did taste like what you get at a chinese restaurant, even the sauce!
MooShu Pork - This was the best Moo shu recipe I've found, hands down. It was wonderful! We ate it without the pancakes because I ran out of time to make them. They say you can use flour tortillas, but they really are too thick, and it just isn't the same.