Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Day in Our Life . . .

The final week of the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop is "Day-in-the-Life" week!

I don't think we've ever had a day go completely according to schedule, and this week is no different . . . I started to take pictures on Monday and then realized it was going to be a no school kind of day . . . oops! So, we ended up going with Tuesday as our DAY . . . I'm not good about remembering to take pictures of EVERYTHING so there are some gaps, but you'll get the idea . . .

So come along and enjoy a glimpse of our days . . .

Most mornings, once everyone's up and dressed we do chores, but Tuesday is our "catch up day" and we're semi-caught up so we took a break from chores today. Ashlyn got breakfast in the oven, then sat down to work on history on the computer while breakfast baked.

Meanwhile, while Ashlyn was making breakfast, Lexie and Little Bit went out to get some scootering in.

Breakfast is served . . . "birds nests" yummy!
While Ashlyn cleaned up from breakfast, Lexie read to Little Bit (normally that happens during breakfast prep but since they were outside I let them get some wiggles out).
 After breakfast, and clean-up, we did Bible. Sometimes we go upstairs, today we stayed in the living room. The girls drew pictures for their notebooking page while I read to them.
The rest of the morning, in no particular order, included . . .

 There was a moth fluttering around inside our house. Ashlyn captured it in a jar and she and Little Bit were looking up on the iPad to figure out what kind it was, and stuff.

 One of Little Bit's current favorite independent activity is playing with Thinking Putty.

 Lexie's turn working on history.

My "outside time" each day is hanging laundry :)

After lunch we headed to the library and Target. I wanted to get that over with, so we left the kitchen looking like this *blush*
When we got home I tackled the dishes while the kids did independent stuff . . . the kitchen CAN look like this, at least for brief moments of time . . .
Couldn't resist snapping a picture of Lexie when she sat down on the sofa by my chair to ask me a question :)

Both girls practiced their music in the afternoon, I was in the middle of other stuff and didn't go upstairs to get a picture of Lexie and her violin.

Don't mind the window that desperately needs to be cleaned, but I had to include this picture. Joy has learned that if he jumps up on the kitchen window we can see him from the kitchen and living room and are more likely to actually let him in.

 After hitting Goodwill for clothes on Monday, and Target for the pieces that we couldn't find at Goodwill this afternoon, the big girls were inspired to clear out/arrange their closet and dresser. Since they were both busy with that, and not fighting about it, I let them keep working on that instead of doing the normal tidying and sweeping that we do late afternoon.

 Time for Lexie to start on supper
 After supper, Ashlyn went out to water her plants while Lexie and I cleaned up from supper.
 Then all 3 girls took advantage of the cooler evening temperatures to get some more scootering in:

 Storytime . . . Little Bit was watching videos on the iPad while the rest of us listened to an audiobook.

Then we headed upstairs to bed. Ashlyn finished up a little more of her knitting project while . . .

Lexie read Little Bit her bedtime story

And then it was lights out and bedtime . . .

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up for the Week of August 17

We had a good week last week!

Sunday evening a local church hosted a "pool party" at a community pool nearby. It was COOOOLLLLDDD!!! But the kids had fun! And I got to visit with friends I don't see often.

As I mentioned last time, the big girls got new scooters. When I realized that Little Bit's (hand-me-down, from a friend) scooter had lost a piece, making it really wobbly, I decided to go along with her pleas for a new one, especially since she still had birthday money to spend. So we ordered her one like her sisters, only with streamers and a BELL! The big girls were very generous about sharing their new scooters with Little Bit until hers got here, and thankfully shipping was pretty fast for hers, as it had been for theirs, so now all 3 girls have functional scooters and are having lots of fun with them (and I STILL haven't taken a picture).

This week we started our fall preschool curriculum for Little Bit. We're using Wee Folk Art's Harvest Time Curriculum this year, but I've mixed up the weeks abit because some library books didn't come in as soon as I wanted them to.

I have Lexie read the story to Little Bit while Ashlyn and I clean up from breakfast. On the day that she read the book about making butter she wanted to be the one to help Little Bit with "art" (making butter) too. But we needed something to put the butter on AND Lexie insisted we also needed to read a story about the bread. She couldn't find the book she wanted, but did find "Apple Cake" which was one of her favorites at this age and conveniently talks about making . . . apple cake. So Lexie and Little Bit spent the better part of one morning making butter and apple cake, which we then happily helped them eat for lunch!

Little Bit's obsession at the moment is painting. She's become self-sufficient at it, as long as the table is cleared off, and the drop-leaf is up. So that's just become our permanent table set-up for now. She leaves her watercolor paints and the paint brush holder (an old tooth-brush holder) out, along with a little bowl for water. She dumps the water and gets new as needed, and the pictures, once dry, get stacked up or hung on the fridge. She's having fun, and with everything out and easy to get to, the big girls have done some painting too. I have to admit, I'm happy to not have to do a planned art time with her most days :)

We're continuing to use Bible Road Trip for Bible, and it's working well to have Little Bit color "What's in the Bible" coloring pages and listen in while I read. The big girls have another couple weeks left on their self-paced online history, so they're continuing through that.

We started our science for this school year this week too. I borrowed Apologia's Astronomy book from a friend, so we're using that, but it's alot smaller than the Apologia Chemisty & Physics that we used last year, and I didn't bother to buy the Notebooking Journals (workbooks) to go with this one, so after looking through it, I decided we'll do Apologia's Astronomy once a week (even so, if we don't skip any weeks we'll be done by January, but I anticipate skipping some weeks LOL).  Little Bit was very excited to be able to do science with her big sisters. We went out and got new 3 ring binders for them each to keep their science papers in and Little bit immediately drew a picture of a satellite and an astronaut, based on our first day's reading. When I asked if she wanted me to label it, she said no, SHE wanted to label it. So I wrote the words and she copied them . . .I've decided she's going to teach herself to read by spelling, she loves writing things down and is always asking how to spell things, but hasn't shown any interest in "reading" per se, so I'm interesting to see how that plays out over the next couple years.

Lexie and Ashlyn have renewed their interest in flying through Life of Fred (math) as quickly as possible. Lexie has started the first "middle school" book (Fractions), which is a thicker book, and Ashlyn is bound and determined to catch up with her (I'm hoping she doesn't, it's much easier when they're in different books instead of fighting over the same one).

This week would have been "school picture week" for the not back to school blog hop, but I couldn't get the kids to all be cooperative at the same time, so I decided not to bother. At one point I did mention to Lexie, as we sat on the neighbor's porch, that we needed to do school pictures, to which she said "so take my picture. So that gave me this one:

So then I turned to Ashyn in the hammock (too far away to hear what we'd been saying. Our neighbor was on the phone so we were having to be quiet) and told her to smile, which she did, quite nicely, giving me this one:

 THEN she asked what it was for, and Lexie said "that's your school picture" at which I got this reaction:

Little Bit was off playing with the neighbor kids during all of that so I didn't get a picture of her during our impromptu photo shoot, but later she asked me to take her picture with her new hoola hoop, so we'll go with that one :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up for the week of August 10

It's been a pretty quiet week (I LIKE quiet weeks but they don't lend themselves to great blogging, hee hee).

The weather has been AMAZING, cool . . . and perfect! I'm trying not to think about how this cool of an August bodes very NOT well for how cold it will be this winter . . .

We've been enjoying lots of time outside:

Riding bikes and scooters - the big girls just got new scooters, all 3 girls have been enjoying them!

Going for walks - awhile back we discovered that if you tear pink clover into the little "petals" (or whatever you want to call them) and throw them in the creek, the minnows LOVE to eat them. This week we added to our discovery by realizing that this does NOT work on days when the wind is blowing downstream, the minnows only live (in any quantity) on the upstream side of the bridge, when we threw the clover in, the wind blew it under the bridge before it even hit the ground, so while the minnows still probably enjoyed it, we didn't get to enjoy watching them eat it. . . this led nicely into a discussion with Little Bit about wind direction and water currents and a suggestion to watch the wind directions and try again another day when there isn't wind or when it's blowing upstream :)

Meeting friends at the park - I've participated, off and on, at Gentle Christian Mothers, and recently discovered that another mom there lives about 45 min from us and has daughters close to Little Bit's age. So we met at a park halfway in between and enjoyed a lovely afternoon letting the girls play while we chatted. The big girls joined our conversation part of the time and helped the little kids part of the time, so it all worked well, we're definitely looking forward to getting together again sometime!

Grilling - dh got a new grill earlier this summer so we've been enjoying grilling out in the cool evenings lately, YUM!

Visiting Grandmom - on Friday dh took the girls to visit Grandmom. They tell me they spent most of their time playing outside.  I have to admit, for me it was a HUGE blessing to have a day to be completely ALONE!  I mostly just reveled in the silence and aloneness :)

Playing in the rain - Little Bit enjoyed stomping puddles and otherwise playing in the rain a few times this week. Unfortunately, opening and closing her umbrella a gazillion and one times led to the handle falling off, sigh . . . (it was a cheap "paint your own" umbrella from Oriental Trading that I actually got when the twins were preschoolers but it was an extra that I (amazingly) found while unpacking, and she painted it awhile back). I suggested that she take a picture of it to save her "artwork" (she also campaigned to keep the top part and I agreed, for now . . . ) so this is the picture she took of Ashlyn holding it (because it won't stay open on it's own now.

I'll wrap-up this wrap-up (ha ha) with an update on dh. He's working full time, and overall doing well. But he's been having a lot of trouble with leg pain, I assume it's some form of "restless leg syndrome" (the girls giggle every time I say that, and insist that it sounds like a Doc McStuffin' sickness LOL), probably a side affect of no longer taking the pain meds he was taking after surgery, but it's making it almost impossible for him to sleep, so that's hard!

The one positive, when his legs start really bothering him, the only thing that seems to help is for him to walk, so he and I have been taking lots of late night (when it's worst) walks, the exercise is good for both of us, and we've been especially thankful for the cooler-than-normal temps that make the walks pleasant instead of muggy and miserable :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Independently Learning Together

Today I'm blogging over at SDA Homeschool Families . . . When I first started researching homeschooling, one thing that struck me as important is the idea of teaching my children to be independent learners. . . read more

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Is Where We Do School

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This week's post for the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop is "Schoolrooms". . . We have a schoolroom, but we tend to do school all over our house too! So I thought I'd just generally show you where we do schoool . ..

But we'll start with the school room. Our school room serves LOTS of purposes. . . it stores all our school stuff, it's where we can sprawl around and do read alouds and other school,  it has some "secluded" areas for when one of the girls wants to be abit more "alone", it's also as close as we get to having a "guest room".

So come on in . . .

Standing in the doorway, this is kind of what you see. The beanbag conveniently stores (some of) our extra stuffed animals and is a favorite seat. The "milk crates" are "cubbies" for each of the girls to keep their school stuff in, and others hold things like musical instruments  and books. the green plastic drawers hold scrap paper, collage supplies, and specialty papers. Hooks on the wall hold the girls' backpacks so they can quickly grab them and fill them for on-the-go school (the pink one really is on a hook, it's not hanging from the lamp). The cedar chest and square "cat cube" serve as seating and also hold bedding, etc for when it's a guest room. The wooden shelf forms one "wall" of one of the "nooks" where there are pillows on the floor for them to be abit more alone (another "nook" is on the other side of the cubbies.

The door into the room is right next to the green fabric drawers. This is where I sit when we "do school" so the bottom wood shelf has my pens, etc. In the fall and winter we usually have a seasonally relevant playsilk covering the green fabric drawers and use that surface as a small nature table. We haven't done any "nature tabling" this summer. The drawers hold things we use on the nature table (sticks, small wooden animals, etc) the bookcase is mostly just . . . books . . . a couple of the lower shelves are Little Bit's picture books. Also I have a few art supplies stored on a couple of the higher shelves. The wooden shelf has my current "file cabinet" (the black milk crate) on top and most of that shelf is things I am currently using or planning to use soon. . . books I want to remember to incorporate, etc. The white bins have some art supplies and such in them. On top of the white bins is my laminator LOVE IT, and our color printer.  The short little door goes into attic storage space. Right now it's just piled full of boxes, my long-term goal is to organize that space with shelves to store things so that I can have less "storage" in the room itself . . . someday . . . The pink crate is the beginning of the wall of cubbies, it's currently empty, waiting for next time I need to store something LOL. The basket on top is musical instruments.

The "nook" behind the cubbies. The easel serves as one "wall" of this nook. Little Bit loves to draw on the chalkboard, and we use the white board for various schoolish things as well as a place to stick things with magnets. The file box under the backpacks is Ashlyn's WriteShop box. The basket sticking out of one cubby is books for them to choose from for independent reading if they tell me they have "nothing to read".

The bookcases along the wall hold books, and more art supplies on top. The space beside the bookcases in the corner holds things like wall maps that we're not currently using. The black cubby is Lexie's (it faces into the "nook". T he purple cubby AND the fabric bin on top of the blue cubby are Ashlyn's (actually one of her projects over the last few days was consolidating those together, the fabric bin is now gone). The blue cubby has our Learning Palettes. Under the empty pink cubby is one with our Bilibos and other "get the wiggles out" type toys. Under the Learning Palettes cubby is one that holds our Wedgits. Under Ashlyn's purple cubby is Little Bit's cubby and, as mentioned above, under Lexie's is a cubby (facing the other direction) with independent reading books.

 The other side of the room. More shelves of books with art and school supplies on top (the black plastic drawers are more of the same). The couch folds out into a queen size mattress and becomes our guest bed! We had a generic equivalent to an aerobed (that we stored in the cedar chest) but when it sprung a leak and I needed to replace it, I decided to go this route, so leaks wouldn't be an issue. The girls love sitting on it, doing gymnastics on it, etc! And our guests tell us it's quite comfortable to sleep on. If I had it to do over again I think I'd get 2 twin size ones instead, but we have this one now. It's lightweight enough to pull out to get to the books and games on the shelf behind it. On the slanted ceiling is our ancient history timeline.

On the other side of the door is our photocopier and another bookshelf.

While we love our school room and use it daily (for school and play), we also use the rest of our house.

The kitchen is where messy projects happen. The white dropleaf table (right side of the picture) can open up to a square  table or rectangular table, depending how much work we need. Messy art happens there. The tin pails on the shelf above the table hold paint, chalk, etc. for those projects.

Of course the living room is a great place for read alouds, just curling up on the sofa to work on homework, and watching videos.

 The other side of the living room . . . Ashlyn practices piano, and Lexie stores her violin here. (Lexie generally practices in her room or the school room). Between the piano and the TV is our hard-working printer. Under the TV are DVDs and games. One thing this house lacked, when we bought it, was places to store my huge book collection, so to help with that problem (in addition to squeezing shelves into every available inch in the schoolroom, my dad built bookshelves instead of a banister along the staircase, as you can see, I have it jammed full! The white canvas drawers under the windows hold art supplies and play dough stuff. The bottom cube has library books and current read alouds that we usually end up reading downstairs.
 Finally, the back door leads us out into our OTHER classroom, the whole wide world! While you can't actually see it in this picture, on the shelf under the counter, closest to the door is a basket full of field guides for when the children discover something interesting in the yard. Outside you'll find a driveway for bike riding , sidewalk chalk, and basketball, a swingset, container gardening on the back porch, and some in the flower beds, a creek for wading . . . all kinds of fun, without even leaving home! :)

Homeschool Classrooms

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up for the Week of August 3

This week started with us travelling, and ends with us safely back home :)  Sunday Rodney was working in a smallish town without much close by. Additionally, Lexie and Little Bit had both had some sort of stomach bug over the weekend so I didn't want to push them too much. I found a Panera Bread not too far from where Rodney was working and we hung out taking advantage of their wi-fi, as well as eating lunch there. I was just starting to check for nearby Geocaches, as something not too strenuous to occupy us, when Rodney texted that he was almost done, so we just hung out at Panera abit longer and then went and picked him up.

We got to that night's hotel and much to Little Bit's disappointment, after being able to swim without floaties in the 3ft section of the last hotel, this hotel only had 4 & 5 ft sections, so she was back to using floaties, but liked that I said she could go anywhere in the pool :) The girls swam for 2 or 3 hours until a group of teenagers came in and made it unbearably loud and . . . chaotic. I realized that it was also suppertime, so we headed back to the room and the girls started through the shower and such while Rodney went out and picked up pizza for supper :)

Monday, we were heading home, but first, one more client. It was near Gettysburg and originally I'd thought we might actually go to Gettysburg National Park, but I wasn't feeling great, and Little Bit still seemed not quite back to normal, so I decided not to spend the money to go there this time. I was figuring we'd visit some of the other touristy stuff in the area or find a park or something. When we got to the church where Rodney was meeting the treasurer, there was a school, with a nice playground on the same grounds, so, with it a cool day, I turned the girls loose on their own personal playground-for-the-day instead. Thankfully, that worked out ok, I started to feel worse as the day progressed, and spent a good part catnapping in the car (with the windows and doors open to catch the breeze while they played on the playground and did schoolwork at a picnic table on the school's porch. When Rodney was done, we headed home. By the time I got home I was feeling nauseous enough that I said "please make sure the food in the cooler gets in the fridge." and headed straight to bed. Never threw up, but came pretty close. The kids and Rodney managed to survive the evening without me, and even DID put the food in the fridge, and bring everything else in from the car. By Tuesday, while I wasn't feeling great, and didn't have much appetite, I was functioning again, whew!

I'm assuming it was a milder version of what Lexie and Little Bit had over the weekend (Ashlyn had it a day or 2 later, also just an evening of no appetite or energy and feeling "icky").

The rest of our week was pretty laid back. Getting caught up on laundry and such after being gone, I was moving slow from not feeling good. Rodney's having some issues with leg pain, probably a side-effect of no longer taking the pain killers he was on post-surgery, so that's been affecting his sleep. And he asks me to massage his legs and/or rub an essential oil mixture into his legs several times a day.

The weather has been AMAZING for August! Not unbearably hot during the day and downright cool at night! So that's been nice, though I saw an article predicting a colder/snowier winter than usual this winter, even more than last year and I'm not looking foward to that, even if it does mean cooler August! But since it is, what it is, we're enjoying the nice weather while it's here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Schoolhouse Review: Roman Roads Media

Ashlyn is currently obsessed with learning about grammar and writing. So when Roman Roads Media gave us the opportunity to review The Grammar of Poetry, she was all over it! In fact, she happened to walk in as I was watching one of the video clips on the website, and before it was even over she was begging me to let her do this one.  When I told her we were getting it, she squealed loud enough to be heard around the world LOL. And proceeded to stalk the mailman until it got here.

The Grammar of Poetry is a 30 lesson video course that teaches the mechanics of poetry. It is intended for grades 6 and up. We received a student texbook (I would call it a workbook, there's very little "instruction" it's mostly the assignment worksheets), teacher's edition (answer key for the workbook, and contains the final exam), and DVDs. The teacher's edition recommends doing one lesson per day, 3 days a week, which would make this a 10 week course. When I suggested this to Ashlyn, she said, "But I want to do it every day!!! So I threw the "schedule" out the window and told her to go to it. She found that some lessons took her longer, so I think in the end she did average about 3 lessons per week, but she worked on it some each day.

Each lesson consists of a video to watch, of Matt Whitling teaching the course. As he teaches he goes over how to do the worksheets that go with that lesson. Sometimes she would pause the video and do the worksheet when it was explained, other times she'd wait and do all the worksheets after watching the whole video. Each video ends with a couple riddles, that she's been enjoying sharing with her sisters.

After she finishes the worksheets, she takes the answer key and checks her own work, and asks me if she has any questions.

Because she's self-motivated and wants to check her own work, this has been a completely independent course for her. She is LOVING it! Noticing the various aspects of poetry in other things around us, and yesterday I heard her trying to explain meter to her 5 yr old sister LOL. Surprisingly, Little Bit seemed to enjoy the "lesson".

The videos are very basic, Matt stands by a screen that has slides of what he's teaching about, and lectures about the topic. Honestly, it's extremely "school-at-home" like and not at all like our normal way of doing school. However, it's a perfect fit for Ashlyn. For one thing, it's a video, perfect for her, as an auditory learner. She can comprehend things more easily when someone explains it to her than if she read it herself. Also she really, really WANTS to learn about grammar AND poetry, so she's self-motivated to pay attention and do her best. The worksheets seem to comprehensively review the information presented in the video. The riddles often have to be explained . . . one was about sleeping under the bed and having a tongue . . .when she saw that the answer was a shoe, she was confused. Her crocs , flip-flops and slip-on flats don't have tongues LOL. Once I explained that the part on Daddy's sneakers was called a tongue, it made more sense to her. But she thinks they're fun, and they're a great way to build critical thinking skills.

One complaint I had, was that there was no list in the front of the teachers guide of needed supplies. As she was watching one of the videos, it expected her to have a rhyming dictionary. I really wish I'd known she would need that, it bothered her, a LOT, to not be able to go straight into her homework because she didn't have it. In the end I suggested that she use an online rhyming dictionary and that seemed to work, but she would have been happier to be able to "follow the rules".

Despite that minor frustration she is LOVING this course.  I think this would be a great fit for . . . Ashlyn LOL. If a child was resistant to learning, I don't think this would convince them to love grammar or poetry, there aren't lots of bells and whistles to make it "fun". And obviously, since it's a video course, it's best suited for auditory learners (it wouldn't be a good fit for me, because watching videos is my least favorite way to learn anything, I'd much rather just read a book about it). But since it's a subject that many of us moms aren't overly qualified to teach . . . I'm sure I learned about poetry in school but, ummm . . . yeah . . . no real recollection of it! For children who are interested in language arts, this is a great option! Ashyn is at the young end of the recommended age range. We don't really "do" grade-levels, but she's roughly at a 6th grade level, which is the youngest grade recommended for this curriculum. I wasn't sure how that would work since, prior to her current interest, bordering on obsession, with grammar, we haven't focused too much on it, so I would have guessed she was more of a 4th or early 5th grade level for grammar. However, while this may be part of why she's moved more slowly through the worksheets, she hasn't complained about it being too hard. Matt explains things completely in the videos and makes them easy to understand.

This seems to truly be a stand-alone course, there isn't any assumption of prior knowledge about the topics covered, so it appears that the grade-level recommendation probably refers more to the maturity of the student than their prior learning on the topic, which made it a good fit for Ashlyn.

The bundle that we received, text, teacher's edition and DVDs, is regularly $131, currently on sale for $100. If you will be using the course with more than one student, additional student texts are available for $22 each.

You can visit Roman Roads Media on social media:

In addition to The Grammar of Poetry, Roman Roads Media has a variety of other amazing looking products that crew members had the opportunity to review. I'm especially interested to learn more about the Old Western Culture courses (Greeks, and Romans), I have to admit I was pretty bummed to realize my kids were still too young for those courses, they look amazing!  To see what other crew members thought about Roman Roads Media, click the banner below:

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All prices and information are accurate at time of posting.

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