Monday, February 28, 2011

Sticking With What Works

The more I become involved in homeschooling forums and conversations, the more options I see for homeschooling. And, I must confess, sometimes it leaves my mind reeling. I’ve mentioned before how all of the decision-making and planning can be overwhelming. It becomes even moreso when I allow myself to stop and wonder whether or not some other program would be better for my children. I mean, there are so many options out there, and other people are  so happy with what they use.

So, how do I determine whether I should stick with what we have or switch? By answering one question…

Does it work?

So, what do I mean by that question? Well, more than teaching a child information, a good curriculum should teach a child to love learning. When my children think of our curriculum, do they think of learning? And, when they think of learning, do they think of how much they love it? Maybe not every little detail of every school day, but the overall idea of learning?

Last week when a box arrived from Sonlight, that question was answered by the excitement on my girls’ faces.

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It doesn’t seem to matter that we are in the middle of the school year right now. Or that we never take more than a week or two off of school at a time. Or that we always roll right from one year to the next. If a Sonlight box shows up, they cannot wait to dig into it!

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I’ve talked to the girls about some other curriculum options and asked them whether or not they would like to try them. And, we have tried samples of other programs here and there. But, they are always chomping at the bits to get back to what they love.

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Not all of Sonlight works for us, I will admit. After fighting through the Language Arts program year after year, I finally gave up. It’s not us. We love some of the optional resources and still use them, but the girls’ responses to switching over to A Beka’s LA approach have been amazing. They almost immediately began to “get” it, and we are all much more relaxed about LA and learning to write – which is a pretty amazing feat considering how unrelaxed A Beka’s curriculum tends to be!

When my mom was teaching the five of us, she kept trying different programs until she found what worked. Once she found what worked, she stuck with it. Every time I begin to wonder if I should try something else, just to make sure, I stop to remember that Sonlight, for us, really works. So, although I am fully convinced that there are other great programs out there – and I am excited to be researching some of them so I can help other homeschoolers in their search for what works – we will be sticking with what works. That’s good enough for me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pictures from Judsonia

Here are some snapshots from Tuesday’s visit in Judsonia…

It’s been a while since we have taken a picture of Grandma and Olivia standing side by side. It excites Olivia to no end to think of being taller than Grandma Polly. She is rapidly making progress in that direction! (Aunt Alli, you’re next!)

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I mentioned the other day that we had a sweet surprise when we pulled into the driveway and saw Ashley’s car. She and Abigail made the stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s on their way to Ashley’s parents’ house. We were thrilled!

Abigail joined the big kids up in the closet over the attic this trip. I think Angie was about the same age the first time she got up there. I remember having to be very vigilant to make sure she didn’t fall. It was sweet to watch Olivia and Angela try to help watch over Abigail in the same way.

And yes, that is Angela in a wig. She wore it most of the time we were there!

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Steven enjoys the closet, but he prefers open space. So, he usually gets his toys out and plays with them in the living room. He was showing Abigail his favorite car.

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Grandpa has always taken great delight in the grandbabies. My first memory of his interaction with a baby grandchild goes back to my youngest brother Timothy. Grandma & Grandpa made a trip to Jordan right after Tim was born, and Grandpa spoiled that baby rotten by walking him and bouncing him continually! He’s done it with every great-grandchild, too – walking and bouncing. He would take my little ones and disappear, roaming the yard or the house, talking to them the whole time. I don’t think they minded one bit!  Sweet memories to pass on…

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Middle of the Week

I don’t really have much to say, but I thought I’d share a hello anyway.

It has been a productive week and it’s not even over! Yay! That makes me smile. I like it when things come together as planned. Monday and today have both been very productive, including getting all of the kids’ clothes sorted! It went so much more smoothly than usual, and once again the kids have all they need. God’s provision is just so amazing.

Tuesday was a great visit with my grandparents and included an unexpected surprise. Ashley and Abigail had stopped by for a visit on their way to visit Ashley’s parents. That’s a surprise I’ll take any day! I don’t have pictures downloaded yet, but that should come in the next day or so.

Tomorrow it will be time to clean out my closet. Doug did his several weeks ago, and the kids’ are all done. I must be diligent as well!

But for now I must get us all ready for church.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 21, 2011

Outside my window...a less humid, but still rather warm, morning; birds singing beautifully. We have a wind advisory, but all is relatively still for now.

I am thinking...about the day and the week. Both will be full.

I am thankful for...the restoration of Doug’s computer after a sudden and seemingly permanent crash (as in, the computer seemed to have become a paperweight!).  The choice years ago to do year-round schooling. It really takes the pressure off of weeks like this one.

I am wearing...my pajamas – it’s still early.

I am creating...a better workspace for sewing.

I am remembering...last winter when I was able to greatly delay pulling out spring clothes because it stayed cool and dry longer than usual. Not this year!

I am hoping…long term for a less intense summer; more immediately for quick, smooth progress on this week’s task.

I am going...to be out of town tomorrow, so I’m trying to get some of my normal Tuesday tasks (like this post!) done today.

I am reading...still Girl Talk with God. I seem to be falling behind in my reading.  I need to get it finished, get the review posted, and move on.

I am hoping...that the brown lab from down the block will decide that he doesn’t like our house after all. I’ll have to tell you about him another day…

I am hearing...the aforementioned birds; the quiet peacefulness of the morning (no children up yet!).

On my mind...my friends the Choates as they are in the last week of preparations to return to the village of Marulaon in the Solomon Islands, but are having trouble working out some of the details of the trip.

From the learning rooms...minimal work this week (math, LA) so I can sort through seasonal clothes. Yes, I know it’s only February, but when it’s this warm, the kids have to have something cooler to wear! Don’t worry, I know better than to put the winter clothes away this early!

Noticing that...the kids were tired this morning. Thankful I didn’t wake them up at their normal time – they obviously needed the extra sleep!

Pondering these words... “[Solomon] warns about being undisciplined. Why? Undisciplined people follow their heart.” ~Iva May, from her blog discussion on Prov 2-4 about the necessity of guarding our hearts instead of following them.

From the kitchen...a menu plan in place. Chicken dishes such as quiche, pot pie, cordon bleu, and peachy chicken were the prominent requests for the coming month.

Around the house...some rearranging. We’ve hit that six-month mark where it’s time to take care of some of the efficiency issues we’ve noticed since the move. Nothing major yet – that will come in the next six months, I’m sure!

One of my favorite things...physical proof of God’s continual provision.

A few plans for the rest of the week...the clothing and household projects, a trip to see my grandparents Tuesday, probably a trip to Little Rock on Friday, a community fish fry Friday night, a bridal luncheon Saturday, and a make-up trip to the library Saturday since it was unexpectedly closed when we tried to go last weekend.

A picture worth sharing...the fruits of Saturday’s labor: a clean, organized garage for the first time since our move. Ahhhh…Mill Bayou-20110219-00039

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Cradle

When I was pregnant with Olivia, I really wanted a hand made cradle. So, Dad obliged my wishes and built us one – an absolutely gorgeous one!  All three of my children used it from birth until they were just too big. Then it became a favorite piece of storage furniture, primarily for stuffies or kid-sized blankets and quilts (of which we seem to have an abundance!), that was always kept in one of their bedrooms.

Apparently, however, I was incorrect in a foundational assumption. You see, I thought my children had outgrown the cradle. But, it seems that I have been proven wrong because lately I have found it being used as…
a school “desk”
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a hang out spot
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and a “we’re playing and I’m pretending to take a nap” spot
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And yes, it’s all done right on top of all of the blankets. I must say, it’s definitely a good thing Dad is such a wonderful carpenter, for the cradle is holding up nicely with no sign of strain through all of this.

Of course, I smile when I think that it has been made well enough that some day my own grandchildren will sleep and play in this same cradle.  But for now, I am happy that my “babies” are still little enough to fit!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Simple Celebration

I am just not that good at creating celebrations. I love to participate in them, but I just don’t put them together well. It stresses me out. Fortunately, my kids are easy to please.

Valentine’s Day rolled around, and I’d done nothing to prepare. We have a few things stored away in a tub to help celebrate, but I hadn’t gotten up into the attic to get them. And, Monday was not a good day for me to try to make up for that! So, I ad libbed.

Doug was going through the jury selection process (he was released on Tuesday – yay!), so it was just us for lunch. That’s where all of our fun came in.

I took whole grain tortillas and made little heart shaped pizzas.

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I also gave them a treat and let them have some Sprite for lunch – colored pink, nonetheless! And, to top off my improvised lunch party, I pulled heart-shaped cupcakes out of the freezer, leftover from another celebration.

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While they ate their cupcakes, I read St. Valentine: More Than Cards and Candied Hearts to them.

The awesome thing about my kids is that they didn’t care that it was pulled together at the last minute or that it was simple. They thought it was all awesome and had a great time! Ah, childhood bliss.

My intention was for them to all make cards for one another, but I think only Angela got around to it.

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Maybe next year I’ll task Olivia with planning a fun party for us. With a little guidance, I think things like that will be right up her alley!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homeschool Materials

Since I know that most of my homeschool friends read my blog, I figured this was the best way to ask around about this stuff…

A lady I’ve met on homeschool forums (don’t ya love internet communities?!) has some materials she is trying to find a new home for. Her statement to me was “pay postage and whatever else you want/can.” Here’s the list of what she has. Let me know if you’re interested in any of it, and I can get you in touch with her!

A Beka:
Not sure if current editions:
Adventures in other lands speed and comp. reader G4
birds of north america cards
science g2 reader
Geography maps G4

BJU current:
grammar TE for g6 and g9 with most of the workbooks for both
not sure if current:
science readers 3 and 4
consumer math te and student tex
apologia exploring creation with general science student text (I dont think they make a teachers) solutions and tests, and the companion CD
simply grammar by Karen Andreola
misc books on planets

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Outside my window...bright sunshine and temperatures near 70 degrees. Hard to believe we had snow and below freezing temperatures just a few days ago.

I am thinking...about my attitude and how it rubs off on the children. I need to work on it.

I am thankful for...sunshine, God’s protection, and God’s provision.

I am wearing...black lightweight knit pants, red top

I am creating...a list of the few things that need to be bought for school this year. I suppose that is another thing to put under “thankful for” – the list is small, which means we will hopefully be able to plan ahead and get a few things on next year’s list since it will be much bigger!

I am remembering...that God is never surprised, and that when our plans have to change, it’s often because we weren’t in line with His plans in the first place.

I am going...nowhere. I was going to Homeschool Day at the Capitol today, but plans changed!

I am reading...Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger

I am hoping...that Doug is able to find out soon once and for all whether or not he is going to be on this jury. I’d rather him not be, but I also want to be open to God’s plans instead of stubbornly stuck to my own.

I am hearing...much quiet. So very nice.

On my mind...many seemingly impossible situations. Fortunately, every person involved serves the God who seems to show His hand best in impossible situations.

From the learning rooms...Abraham Lincoln & the Civil War; more electricity; the books of the Bible and their organization; place value and addition reinforcement; Olivia – diagramming and direct objects; Angela – comma rules; Steven – more short vowel, three-letter words & writing numbers.

Noticing that... “When life slows down” is never a good statement to make about getting something accomplished. We never get to the point where the discipline of our lives is easy. We just have to dig in and get it done.

Pondering these words... “I can’t go on without a hug.” and “I’m always short on hugs.” ~precious words from my sweet Steven (whose love languages are so very obviously physical touch and quality time)

From the kitchen...lots of leftovers this week so far.

Around the house...lights turned off as the sunlight pours in through the windows. I’ve missed that.

One of my favorite things...the silliness of my children

A few plans for the rest of the week...as much “normalcy” and mundanity (did I just make up a word?) as possible.

A picture worth sharing...Steven likes his hair combed straight down. So, just to mess with him, I like to spike it up after his bath. It has become a game with us. He actually let me take a picture of it the last time I did it!!

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow Fun

As promised…snow fun pictures from Thursday.  Of course, everything’s more fun with lots of friends!

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The bucket seemed to be popular with the littlest kids.  They liked filling it with snow and carrying it around to dump in various places.

Angela helping Jada Hillman fill the bucket.

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Steven showing how big and strong he is to be able to carry the bucket around!

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Ian Hillman refilling the bucket after it’s been emptied once.

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Of course, there was snow tackling.

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And there were the essential snowball fights.

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And we all know that playing in the snow is no fun without a few snow angels!

Ian, who also later made a snow boy by lying still in the snow. I loved it!

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Angela.

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Jada.

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Olivia.

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The most amazing part of it all? We crammed all of that into about fifteen minutes. It was just SO COLD! It didn’t take us long to get chilled through in our jeans and sweat pants. And when Steven admitted that even in his warm snow suit he was feeling the cold, that was a sure sign that we needed to go in!

So, the Hillmans headed home and we went inside and warmed up with some apple cider and hot chocolate.

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Friday morning the kids were able to go out for much longer, but I stayed indoors so I didn’t get many pictures. I had to get this picture, though. Steven pulled out a couple of his outdoor trucks, and he was using the bulldozer to plow through the snow.  Too cute!

Snow 1

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Static

What do you do when snow has fallen the day before, it’s bright and sunshiny and the kids so desperately want to go out and play, but it’s so frigid that you can’t let them out yet?

SCHOOL!!!!

But, fun school! When we were sick a couple of weeks ago, we fell a little behind in science (and only science, amazingly, enough!). Which meant that this week we were still trying to catch up. We had done all of our reading on Wednesday while the snow was falling, so Thursday morning we decided to finish catching up by doing our science experiments and watching our Discover and Do DVD. Fun stuff!

We are still doing electric current experiments, but we also learned about static electricity this week.  After doing the experiments that required my help, I handed each child a balloon and told them to go play with static electricity. Oh the fun they had!

Naturally, they all preferred rubbing the balloons on their heads over rubbing on their shirts…

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SE 2…which naturally meant lots of hair sticking straight up!

Oh, and when you have long hair, that means you can run through the house with the balloon sticking to the back of your head, practically bouncing up and down on the hair hanging down your back. These are the things long hair was made for, right?!!!

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This, of course, excluded dear Mr. Steven who was rather disappointed that the balloon would not stick as well to his hair.  But, such disappointment evaporated quickly when his balloon was rubbed against Harvey puppy. Once Steven discovered that the balloon would stick to Harvey there was delight galore!

As he ran to show Daddy that the balloon was stuck to Harvey, it fell off and stuck instead to the wall. He was pretty excited about that, too.

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The “stick to the wall” discovery was actually Olivia’s favorite. She decided to try to find out just how long her little balloon would stick. I honestly don’t know what the final determination was, but I do know it stayed on the wall for quite some time while she helped Steven and Angie with their experiments!

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We also learned in our reading yesterday that like static charges repel each other. So, Angie tied a string to her balloon and Steven and Olivia held theirs up to it to see if they could push her balloon around. Sure enough, this is about as close as the balloons would get to each other as long as they had a charge. 

Who says school can’t be as fun as playing outside!

And yes, they got to play outside. The Hillmans (some of them at least!) joined us for lunch and then we all headed out for some fun in the snow. At under 20 degrees with a pretty stout wind, we didn’t last much longer than the 10-15 minutes Rachel and I had predicted, but we sure did have fun!  Then on Friday morning it quickly warmed up to the upper 20’s with very little  wind, so my kids went out and played for a good hour or so, knowing that the highs were supposed to get into the 40’s and most of it would melt this afternoon.

Snow play pictures to come…

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just for the Record…

…we live in the south.  Maybe not the deepest of the deep south, but pretty deep. Which typically means winter average temperatures of highs in the mid to upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. When the highs are in the 40’s and the lows near freezing, it’s a cold day. Once a year, we expect that we’ll have a cold snap where the highs will dip into the 30’s, but it’s usually only once a year and doesn’t stay like that more than a couple of days.

SOOOOOO…..

1) Our houses are built to keep out the 100+ degree heat, not the freezing temperatures.

2) We don’t buy clothes meant to keep us warm in freezing temperatures because they’re not worth the money for once a year (especially considering the fact that if we get snow, it’s probably not going to be enough to play in). Unless, of course, we’re hunters, and then we buy warm hunting clothes because it can get pretty chilly sitting out waiting for those deer, ducks, and geese.

3) Most of us southerners who like real winter are pretty disappointed every year.

I must say that #3 doesn’t hold up this year! It feels like a real winter, and we winter lovers are, well, loving it! Even so, we’re not really used to it, and that does have some negative effects on the full-fledged enjoyment.

The houses get a little chilly (see #1), and it’s hard to get out and enjoy it (see #2). True, there’s been snow. Lots of it. Well, compared to normal for us anyway! The fact that we’ve now had two good “get out and play” snows and an inch-deep dusting in between is pretty remarkable. But, this last “get out and play” snow almost didn’t get gotten out and played in. When it’s 17 degrees with a wind chill in the single digits or lower, it’s just too cold to get out and play (again, see #2!). We did make it, though (more on that to come in the next couple of days!).

Meanwhile, here are pictures of it falling on Wednesday.  Back yard…

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Front yard…

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It started accumulating very quickly because the ground was so cold (also abnormal for us – the ground usually isn’t cold enough because typically the temps from the day before would have been in the 50’s at least. Not this week!) We loved this nice little pile on top of one of our kindling buckets that got overturned before the storm hit.

Storm 2

And, you know it’s cold when you look into the garage at the van that has been parked there for four hours (after only being parked outside for about three hours of the storm) and there is still this much snow on it!

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The beautiful part about all this snow? It’s not southern snow. It’s “Yankee snow,” as I’ve heard it referred to several times. The nice fluffy stuff. Just for the record, I really like Yankee snow a lot better than the wet southern snow I’ve known all my life (even in Jordan).

Yep, I’m enjoying this winter. But, I’m still glad to live in the south because we can enjoy it for a couple of days and then say goodbye to it. It’s already up to the mid-40’s today, and by tomorrow we’ll be up to our normal 50’s (a rarity for this winter, it seems!) – maybe even up to the 60’s. And, I’ll enjoy those days a whole lot more thanks to the nice, cold winter so far!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, January 9, 2011

Outside my window...snow, snow, and more snow. No idea how much – probably somewhere between four and six inches at this point. It’s been coming down since right around 9:00 this morning (it’s 1:45 now).

I am thinking...about how much I have loved having something closer to a “real” winter this year.

I am thankful for...the fact that our lifestyle allows us to continue on without interruption even when the weather is bad.

I am wearing...jeans, olive green knit top, fuzzy green house slippers (yes, they clash with the top)

I am creating...nothing. How can I be creating nothing? I think I need to get busy!

I am remembering...the winter of 1992, the huge snow we had in Jordan that year, and the lasting effects of it.

I am going...nowhere. Doug had problems sliding on the road the three blocks between here and church. I think that’s reason enough to stay home!

I am reading...Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger, The Trumpet-Major by Thomas Hardy

I am hoping...we can enjoy this snowstorm without losing power. It’s the “lovely” wet snow Arkansas is accustomed to instead of that wonderful dry snow we’ve been getting more of lately. Wet snow is just not as nice to trees and power lines.

I am hearing...the hum of my computer amid the quiet of the rest of the house. Birds in the distance – probably geese.

On my mind...trust – and how hard it can be.

From the learning rooms...the beginning of the Civil War; Abraham Lincoln; static electricity and magnetism.

Noticing that...it’s getting chillier in the house. Might need to check the thermostat.

From the kitchen...beef stew and cornbread. Perfect for a snowy day!

Around the house...falling behind on a bit of housework. Need to get back on top of it.

One of my favorite things...winter, and especially snowy winters.

A few plans for the rest of the week...stay warm & enjoy the snow.

A picture worth sharing...the versatility of the wagon – at least until this spring when it goes outside!

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Things that make me smile:

Steven’s response when I asked if he wanted to snuggle with me: “No, I want to go play with Daddy. But, I’ll give you a hug and kiss first!” (He came back to snuggle later. Smile)

Watching Doug and Steven play together. Friday it was putting together a toy Doug found for 75% off  while we were out and about. Some days it’s a wrestling match or football tackling “practice.” Today it’s a pirate game on the computer.

Angela  thoroughly enjoying the Love Comes Softly series that I devoured when I was about her age. (The librarian was not too sure about our seven year old checking books like that out of the adult section. She made sure we knew about the little kid books!)

Olivia curling up on her bean bag in a little pop-up tent currently set up in her room.

Doug’s enjoyment of his new seminary classes. He so loves to learn, but taking only Hebrew last semester was discouraging for him (even though he did well) because he just couldn’t enjoy it. He still is dealing with that frustration, but the other two classes are helping.

Steven perched so adorably on a bench outside the restaurant where we had lunch today.

Lunch with a group of friends from church. Not to mention being blessed with precious friends among our church family.

Brownies and ice cream for an after rest time treat.

Olivia’s smiles at me while she sat alone in the pew during the song service while I was in choir. She’s seeming so grown up these days.

The way Doug perks up when he’s preaching, no matter what he’s dealt with emotionally or physically the whole week before. He loves to teach. He likes to preach. And I like to watch and listen.

Beautiful sunshine.

A cold winter. Yes, I like the cold. I like that my nice, long, wool coat has gotten a good bit of wear this year. And that Steven’s flight jacket has not been too warm. And that I can truly enjoy a day in the 50’s as a “warm” rarity instead of a normal winter day as is typical in south Arkansas.

A sense of accomplishment.

Getting to share precious moments in the lives of friends, even those thousands of miles away. Technology is so amazing.

Intentionally thinking about all the things that make me smile.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Plan

I’ve mentioned that I am doing school planning for Steven. Yes, he’s four. Yes, it’s insane that I have to, but I do!

When Olivia was four, she had no concept of “official” school. We had Mother’s Day Out, and she had learned so much there. We loved it! A couple of months before she turned six, I started teaching her to read (MS does not mandate KG). That was it. That was kindergarten. We started first grade in the fall of that year, and everything flowed beautifully.

Then came Angela.  At four, she enjoyed listening in to our read-alouds and participating in history and science. But when I had to teach Olivia reading and math, Angela played happily by herself while Steven napped. No need for a preschool curriculum for her!  We moved to AR about the time she was ready to start KG (her birthday fell such that state law of the time had her starting KG just before she turned five). Since she was already in the habit of listening in to the “core” classes, we added in reading and a little math, and she was good to go.

Now there’s Steven. Steven is not self-entertained like Angela. He needs interaction. He needs attention.  When he took two naps a day, I was able to teach during those times and it worked well. But, as he grew older, it got harder. And harder. And harder. Some days it seemed like he was literally interrupting every two minutes such that it was impossible to really teach the girls! He wanted two things: to learn (he does, after all, take after his sisters in that!) and to be given attention. By the time he was three, I knew I had to start at least making him think he was included. So, I set aside some toys and activities to be specifically for school. That worked for a little while, but by last summer we needed something new again. So, I determined to redo our schedule such that I was spending about twenty minutes a day specifically teaching him, and then the girls were each spending fifteen minutes a day with him while I went over independent work with the other girl.

It was working! Except for one thing. I was no good at planning his activities. It has been a HUGE challenge for me to pull it together every week. I’ve spent two to three hours each weekend on his stuff alone, feeling completely drained and exhausted afterward. And that’s not counting getting each week’s stuff together for the girls! I have dreaded planning each week, and therefore dreaded school. I’ve been crying out to the Lord for a solution and asking others for help and advice.

Finally, this past Saturday evening a plan started to come together. I just needed to be able to set aside the time to work on it. I was intimidated. This is not my thing. I take other people’s plans and organize them to fit my life. I don’t make my own plans! But, with the Lord’s help, I was determined to do this.

It seems crazy to be planning history, science, math, and reading for a four year old. Especially now that AR state law has changed such that he’s not even eligible for kindergarten until after he turns six! But, we have the blessing of flexibility and can work to meet our children’s and family’s needs first and foremost. And, I’m looking at the plan and seeing how it can be a guide and a help, not a chain. He doesn’t have to do any of this because of his age. And, what he doesn’t use now, I’ll have on hand for later. But, we have a plan. And that plan is freeing me up to once again look forward to school each week.

All of the what ifs and fears of homeschooling are frequently terrifying to me. Decisions that Doug and I make today can and will affect our young children for the rest of their lives. That’s overwhelming!  But, I have to rest on truth. This is what God has laid before us. Every time we think about doing something different, He confirms this decision and this path. The what ifs are irrelevant. This is where we are. I pray for wisdom and faithfulness to rise to the task before me today, and I choose to trust that God will make today’s decisions work out for tomorrow.

And for today, I have a plan!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Great Week

After spending two hours on school planning Saturday afternoon/evening and only getting things lined up for Steven (I hadn’t touched the girls’ stuff!), I decided that this just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I knew I had to just take a week and figure his stuff all out. Doug suggested I go ahead and take this week.

So, Monday morning I waited until the kids were done with their chores and school time had rolled around (because I’m mean like that). Then I called all three kids to me and announced a week off school. I don’t think they believed me at first! Of course, further proving my meanness, I then laid down the ground rules.

  1. No whining or fighting. Period. At the first sound of either one there would be an immediate 30 minute separation period. No explanations allowed. Mean, mean, mean. If whining returned after that separation, there would be a longer separation – an entire morning or afternoon. And, if there was still whining after that, Steven’s favorite toys would be taken away and the girls would be assigned three hours of math and creative writing. Yep, I’m cruel!
  2. All toys would be cleaned up twice a day – before lunch and before supper. No leaving things out. No leaving creations together. No build-up of insanity through this whole week to cause major work to be done over the weekend. Nope. Twice a day. Period.

That was it. Two simple ground rules. And it has worked! I have been amazed! But, maybe simply giving them my expectations – and the consequences of not meeting them – in advance was what they needed. It’s been a great week!

lake HibbardWe had a rather wet start to the week (can you tell?) followed by extreme cold (no snow), so the kids have had to entertain themselves indoors. Which has, apparently, not been at all a problem!

Olivia started the week by coming in and saying she was feeling Oliviaagitated and tired. It has been a consistent theme this particular week of the month for the past four months, I think. Ah, the joys of parenting girls! But, I have nailed down when to expect it (although I haven’t clued her into that secret yet), and I have shared with her tricks for dealing with it. So, when she shared how she was feeling, I reminded her that she just might need to walk away from her siblings when the agitation started to build up. She’s done that quite well, spending most of Monday and Tuesday by herself reading – and doing it quite contentedly, I might add! By yesterday she was ready to happily join in with her siblings and play beautifully.

Angela and Steven have had a blast this week! They have played Legos, Legos, and more Legos. I love those things! There’s just noAngie reading limit to the creativity that can be employed with them, and they can fit easily into whatever the theme of the week happens to be. This week it has been Star Wars. The kids have never seen the movies, but they are familiar with the characters and the storyline. They found a Star Wars book in the library last weekend, so they have been reading it together. Here Angela is reading it to Steven while he builds star ships with Duplos (they have alternated between Duplos and “little Legos”).

Steven's starships

Oh, and Angela has spent the entire week in that dress-up skirt. It’s her long ballerina skirt that twirls beautifully when she spins. A long-sleeve top and a pair of slippers have completed the outfit. She has only come out of it when we’ve left the house.

This morning as I get my work started (blogging is work, right?), I hear all three of them playing quite happily in the back. They sure do love playing together – especially if I threaten them with dire consequences for not playing well together!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Outside my window...wet leaves blowing wildly in the powerful wind. I’m amazed we don’t have limbs down everywhere!

I am thinking...about some writing I need to do when I finish this post.

I am thankful for...a solid, warm house; that the expected strong thunderstorms forecasted for this morning ended up being just heavy rain with a few rumbles of thunder.

I am wearing...a heavy burgundy button-down top, jeans, socks.

I am creating...a curriculum guide. (Not a strong suit for me!)

I am remembering...Mom on her birthday.

I am going...to stay home on this cold, windy day.

I am reading...between books right now – I’m not sure what’s next. I think another review book.

I am hoping...my hubby feels better soon.

I am hearing...the wind chimes, the wind howling and whistling, Road Runner, kids cackling and chattering about Road Runner.

On my mind...the aforementioned curriculum planning.

From the learning rooms...a week off school so I can do the curriculum planning. I was spending so much time every week trying to come up with stuff to keep Steven occupied that I dreaded planning – and therefore school – each week. Hopefully taking this whole week to focus on the planning will help!

Noticing that...my kids are so much more positively responsive when they 1) know what to expect from me (both in what my expectations of them are and in consistent discipline) and 2) know what to expect from our days.

Pondering these words... Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Ps 20:6

From the kitchen...leftovers. Exciting, huh?

Around the house...books, books, books. There are books in every room of our house. I love that!

One of my favorite things...must be expressed in the words of John “Hannibal” Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish curriculum planning, menu planning, a family outing (destination as of yet unknown), Gideon’s Pastor Appreciation dinner.

A picture worth sharing...Olivia and her multiple fluffy companions.

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