Monday, November 26, 2012

In which, a girl gets minute…

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As much as I hate to say it, I think I may be in a season of blog neglect. 

I have been sucked into the beast that is a house remodel.  Nothing really huge.  But huge stuff for us.  Like new molding, new windows, new interior doors, and new paint on anything that will stand still.  All kinds of things that will update the space even more and perhaps bring up the value of the house a little bit as well.  I have moved on from the kitchen and into the living room which I painted, by myself, over the past two days.  It looks AMAZING!  Now I am a painting monster.   

I also have a crazy toddler!  At 21 months, Luke is a little nuts.  As we speak I am letting him rip up my mail so I can get this post finished.  Smile with tongue out  It is hard to keep up with him.  Plus, he doesn’t sleep anymore.  After he got so sick in October he has taken to this habit of waking 2 - 3 times per night… usually for about an hour.  Don and I have been taking shifts throughout the nights to try to get him to go back down.  We have even done some tough love type stuff (we are gentle/natural parents by habit) and nothing has worked so far. 

Basically, we are a very tired family right now. 

School is going great though!  That last post about my crazy school schedule has held up for another couple weeks.  We are into our unit study on the Polar Bear and I just love how much we are getting done!  Our last lesson on the fox has left is marks and the kids ‘play’ fox quite often, using words like "vixen” and “omnivore”.  When their play reinforces our lessons I feel it’s a sign I am doing something right. 

The weather has changed yet again and it’s COLD outside!  Frost is on the leaves most mornings, although it is gone by early afternoon.   I used my last tomato and onion from the garden last week.  It makes me a little sad that they didn’t even last until Christmas.  Must plant more next year!  We are on the last of the tomato sauce as well. 

Once again, I am trying to do a handcrafted holiday.  I am looking over crafts and pins to see what I can make my nearest and dearest to make them feel loved and not break the pocketbook.  I plan on sharing my finds here if I can.  Some of the kids now read my blog, so that isn’t as easy as it once was. 

There is so much more going on, and I am hoping to fill you all in soon.  But for now, I hope you all are doing well and want to send my very biggest blessings to each of you for the start of the holidays! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homeschool fever

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It seems that every year I start to freak out because the well laid plans I have had for the school year have all fallen to pieces by half way through October.  I spend a week revamping our homeschool plans and try - hard - to get back on track. 

Well for three weeks now we have been working on the new plan.  And so far, this is the best plan yet.  It’s also the most complicated I have ever done.  But that is life, right?  Complicated. 

I will lay it all out for you, just so you can read it and I hope it helps some others who struggle to balance a homeschool life with an alternative work schedule. 

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Schedule Issues:

So, here’s the skinny.  I’ll bullet point so I don’t lose people:

  1. My husband works the ‘swing’ shift.  He leaves the house around noon and gets back around midnight, 4 days per week, except on ‘changeover’ weeks.  Which we will get to later.
  2. I have “morning people” for children.  Especially the boys.  Which means the most ‘teach-able’ moments are all when my husband is home.  This can be complicated, because (and rightfully so) my husband wants to spend at least some of that time relaxing and perhaps even playing with his children.
  3. My husband works EVERY Friday.   
  4. Although he does have consistent work days.  However, those switch off month to month.  He works 4 day weeks and switches back and forth between Friday - Monday weeks and Tuesday - Friday weeks. 
  5. The schedule switches each first Monday of the month.  That week is ‘changeover’.  Bad changeover is when he works 8 out of 9 days in a row with only 1 day between the two ‘weeks’.  Good changeover is when he has a 2 day weekend, works 1 day, and then has a three day weekend in the same week. 

So with all of this in mind, I set out to find a way to get 4 days of school per week without completely loosing my mind.

Getting in 4 School Days:

We were having a heck of a time getting in school days early this fall.  I just can’t manage the emotional famine that I end up dealing with if I spend each morning doing school with the kids and then having my husband leave before that is even done, and being alone until midnight.  I realized that my solution was to take a day off in the middle of our school week.  This is where The Man and I have a breakfast date, go to church, and perhaps do a little grocery shopping. 

To get that 4th day of school and still keep my ‘sanity day’, I needed to cut into our weekends.  I took the last day of each of his three day weekends and set it up as a Field Trip/Family Day.  I got a list of good inexpensive field trips and checked dates and times for availability.  I purchased a Boonshoft membership (seriously, check out the reciprocal benefits for your area.  In ours, they are AMAZING!  And for less than one family membership to the zoo.)  Then I plugged all of the available field trips into our family day for the next three months.  Sometimes this is a Monday, sometimes this is a Thursday… but since it is always during the week it makes for inexpensive museum fares and good times to do actual field trips like the Kennedy Creek Salmon Run with other school groups.

Teaching 3 different grades:

My toddler aside, I have three different grades to teach at once.  My oldest is now a Sophomore in highschool.  My daughter is 11 and now in 6th grade.  And Logan is 5 and now in Kindergarten.  There is very little we can do together that would cover all of these levels and still be challenging and/or fun for all.  This is another reason that Waldorf and Charlotte Mason schooling methods appeal to me so much.  A literary and nature study based curriculum is best for having my kids all on the same page and yet doing all of their individual work at their own level.  So currently I am teaching a lot of nature study. 

Resources for combined Nature Study:

Shirley Woods:  An amazing naturalist turned author who creates each animal’s story like a season of Meerkat Manor.  You are following an individual animal, be it fox or polar bear through the first year of their life.  Generally from birth to finding their first mate.  Even though the story is fictional, each of their actions is explained as someone would on a good nature show.  Each book I go through has been well written, easily accessible to Logan (age 5) and still entertaining and educational for Cyan (age 11).  I highly recommend them!

      

Trickle Creek - Ecojournals:  Yet another amazing resource.  There is a Ecojournal for each season and Toni Albert, the author, shares her adventures with the wildlife around her home, Trickle Creek, with the reader in a comprehensive way for all ages.  Each chapter has a journal entry, a craft or activity, and a story of life on Trickle Creek.  I have used these for years. Each time we go through them we build more of an understanding of nature and get a little bit deeper in our study of our beautiful planet!

One thing both of these have in common is the AMAZING pencil sketches that fill the pages.  Around each page in the ecojournals are loads of seasonally appropriate drawings from the nature around Trickle Creek. 

Math:

I recognize that there are MANY things that can be put off in homeschooling until the child is begging to learn them.  I also understand that math is not one of them.  It has a sequential scope that needs to be built on and kept up, and if you are not doing math in an order, then the children may become very confused (especially if they are learning from me!).  So I have handed the older children’s math over to a purchased curriculum.  They are currently using Teaching Textbooks.  We LOVE it.  Love it.  Seriously.  If math is a struggle for you (as it was for me at first) then you may love it too. 

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For Logan (age 5), math is just getting started.  Learning to draw his numbers without flipping them backwards was my main goal at the start of the year.  I also wanted to do some introduction to the basic functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  For this, I looked to Waldorf Education and brought in a story telling aspect to help his memory. 

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More info on that process here.

Now, you know where I have disappeared to.  But I can tell you that we have had three weeks of schooling that runs smoothly and easily.  And the icing on the cake is that I am not completely burnt out at the end of the day so I am actually crafting again!  Whooohooo!  (Can’t wait to share some of that with you, too!)  Perhaps, by the time this schedule really sets in I may even (*gasp*) blog!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Halloween 2012

This year, Halloween was a scrapped together event.  Luke had been sick for weeks.  He kept getting one thing after another and had had everything from a cold, to pinkeye, to the stomach flu, to a high fever that we could not pinpoint the cause.  His immune system was shot and I was not about to bring a bunch of candy into our house to tempt him with.

I asked another family if they would mind taking Cyan and Logan to a Harvest Party that our church was putting on so I wouldn’t have to drag the sick baby out Trick-or-Treating.  They threw together some costumes from our dress up and headed out.

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They had a wonderful time!!

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I hung out with my sweet baby in the Ergo handing out candy to all the folks who came by and watching the Twilight movies one after the other while standing and rocking back and forth so my sweet babe could get some relief. 

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Today he is better.  Today he ate food and he is smiling.  His runny nose is almost gone and his temperature is normal.  October is over and now we get to celebrate Thankfulness, grace, and the people we love. 

I am ready. <3

Friday, November 02, 2012

{this moment} - Sick days, rain, and things to do

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}