Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus!

No, I am under no delusions Jesus was born on December 25th, nor am I unaware of the pagan traditions steeped in current Christmas traditions. However, tis the season we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. The celebration of a God who sent His one and only Son to live, die, and resurrect so that you and I may have forgiveness and eternal life. He was born to die, so we could be born to live.

It is this truth we celebrate. As we bake a birthday cake, make a birthday banner, give gifts to those in need, and serve as we can, we do our best to teach our children the true reason for this season.

May your homes be blessed this year as you celebrate, participate in family traditions, and create new ones. We celebrate with you.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas... Break!

It's finally here, the first day of Christmas break! Woohoo! I think I might be more excited than the kids! We did school all week, but only got the basics done. I told the kids sometime over break we might try to fit in that history and science, but only if we feel like it.

Today, our first day of Christmas break was celebrated by doing close to nothing. :) We NEEDED a break. Tonight, my awesome hubby and I are having a date night, compliments of our 25 day countdown to Christmas for my spouse, we are going fishing. Not a typical date night. ;)

I imagine E will spend most of her break like she did today: upside down!

Our plans for Christmas break? Tomorrow and Sunday we will have a marathon of all those Christmas bucket list activities we didn't get to! Then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family. After that? A lot of resting and playing, oh and cleaning! Time to take back my house! Homeschooling takes a toll on the cleanliness and organization of my home. I have a long To Do list, but who knows what all will get done...

Two weeks of break, however, I do try to get some "unschooling" activities in there: be sure they continue reading, and we break out the Right Start math games. The kids love them and they are great! Maybe catch up on some read alouds I planned but didn't get to. My kids are super crafty so I am extra stocked up on glue, tape, and random things for them to glue together.

I love Christmastime, and I love time to just "be" with my family. Very much looking forward to the next two weeks!

 

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Countdown to Christmas for your spouse

I saw this idea on Pinterest and loved it! It's true that Christmastime is often about our kids, serving others, and most importantly about Christ, but our spouses often get ignored other than the gifts under the tree. My husband is certainly under appreciated all year long. So, I took the challenge and did a Christmas countdown just for him. 25 days to Christmas, 25 cards with either an encouraging word, Christmas activity or act of service.
I brought this idea up to my ladies accountability group and we decided to do this together. We took a night and dragged out all that scrap booking stuff I no longer use and made 25 cards each. I listed what I wanted on mine on another paper. I think in the end I had 10 encouragement/affirmation cards, 12 acts of service, and 2 Christmas activities.
My husband as well as the others receiving cards this Christmas have really enjoyed it and look forward to their cards each day. It has been a great reminder to take time to appreciate those we love and lean on the most.
There is one week until Christmas, 7 days to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just a notecard or a post it note. You will not regret it! Will you take the spouse countdown to Christmas challenge?

A few examples of acts of service (I can't share them all... He hasn't gotten them all yet, and he does occasionally read my blog) ;)

 

  • Garbage free day (a chore he always does)
  • Breakfast (another chore he does, but I made it one day for him and the kids)
  • Dinner or dessert of his choice....anything.
  • Ironing for him for the week (this was a HUGE sacrifice, I hate ironing!)
  • 5 minute back rub
  • Coffee date after the kids are in bed and chat about your favorite Christmas memories
  • Special date night of his choice or something he likes to do
  • Movie night of his choice

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homeschooling through the holiday season...

The holiday season means different things to many people. A time of celebration and joy, or a time of grief and sorrow. This year is different for us.

For the last 10 or so years I have spent most Christmases in South America volunteering with my family in children's homes, orphanages, and prisons. This year, we are staying home. Being home this year has brought some blessings and some challenges.

A major challenge we have faced is holiday busyness (hence why this post is the first in two weeks!)

There is always much discussion in homeschool circles of how much to do during the holiday season. Some do school as usual, some take the entire month of December off, and then a plethora of options in between. I really debated this year. I was feeling a little worn out and really wanted to sit and watch Christmas movies all day...but knew that would not be the wisest use of our days. We did however designate several full afternoons to Christmas movies, crafts, baking, and holiday parties.

We still have a few service projects in the works and will take some time off for those, but otherwise we are continuing (in a flexible manner) until the 20th. Oh my, that is only four days away! woohoo!

Schooling during the holidays is a very individual choice. In years past we have taken off much of December. We were planning mission trips and international travel, and those items on the agenda took priority. I do tend to be academic in nature and all too often task oriented, so I try to balance myself at this time of year to avoid burnout and really embrace the season of Christ's birth and allow my kids to enjoy this wonderful time of year. I am feeling content with our approach this year, but know every family, every year will vary. I encourage families to be flexible, know your strengths and weaknesses, and your kids' and plan accordingly. My little guy had a hard time settling back to school after 3 days off at Thanksgiving. That has given me pause to rethink our Christmas break plans. A break is certainly needed. But perhaps 2 weeks of playing the Wii will not be the best investment for him. ;)

Flexibility is key. We tried to get as much schoolwork done in the first 2 weeks of December as possible without making it stressful. We have kept up with math and language arts, and while we have progressed with history and science they have been a little lighter than usual. I could have taken off of those, but my type A personality wants me to finish our curriculum before homeschool convention in May. A silly arbitrary date, but hey, I admit it.

In the midst of the chaos of the holidays and finishing the semester, we took time to go camping this weekend. This picture tells the story. A time away to simply be. A little quiet and reflective time away from the hustle and bustle of the world. A time to praise God for who He is and for the family He has given us.

             

The Semester is coming to a close . . . 

As the semester is almost over, I am amazed at the progress the kids have made. C is super close to finishing Right Start A (will need a week or two in January) and is progressing well in AAR 1 and HWOT.

E finished MM 2B and is working on 3A, is plugging along in WWE 2, ZB, and FLL 2. She is almost finished with AAS 3, probably the end of January, and just started ETC 8.

Elemental Science ESA is barely getting done (here is a glimpse into my personality...not doing experiments = barely getting done), but we are doing the readings and notebooking. I am bummed at the lack of projects completed. However, a friend told me recently she does science in the summers. I think this might be a great suggestion for all those experiments we didn't get to this year. This summer we can review our notebooks and do experiments. The kids will love it and I can stop feeling guilty for what we are NOT getting done.

Biblioplan Medieval continues to be a great fit this year. We have continued our study of the Middle Ages enjoying stories like Robin Hood, the Apple and the Arrow, and the Door in the Wall. My gracious husband bought the kids a play bow and arrow and they have enjoyed taking on their favorite roles such as medieval knights, Robin Hood, Little John, and Joan of Arc.

A quick recap of the last 2 weeks highlights:

We have had regular schoolwork to deal with...



E's first gymnastics show/in house meet as a level 4...


Along with trying to be intentional about focusing on The true meaning of Christmas. We have not been as consistent as I would like on our Christmas bucket list, but we have had a lot of fun with what we have done...





I took a day this week to clean and organize E's room in preparation for a Christmas present ...it took 7 hours! 7 entire hours! It looks great but I was exhausted and my back was out after the endeavor.

On Friday our homeschool group had a Christmas party in which we made blankets for Project Linus. I put aside my perfectionist nature (partially to help my kids enjoy the experience and partially because I know I cannot cut a straight line if my life depended on it!) I love opportunities like this to help keep our focus on serving.





In the midst of the chaos we went camping this weekend. Yes, maybe a crazy time to do it, but we skipped last camping season because of the heat so we were eager to inaugurate the season. Camping is also a great way to keep focus on family during a time that it is easy to get distracted. We enjoyed singing Christmas songs and worshiping around the campfire. The lods had a blast hiking, kayaking, and fishing. My back being out made it quite a lot of work for my poor husband, I had to bring home J on Sat night because she got sick, but we had fun anyway!






I am going to admit I am enjoying the kids getting old enough to leave Candy Land behind to play UNO, Spot It, and Dutch Blitz. :) 


Ready to kayak!






J started running a fever and needed a break after kayaking. A little air conditioning and Dora on the iPad made her feel better!


Fishing at sunset...



 Week 18 and 19 are complete. We are officially halfway through the school year! 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Week 17: A week in our homeschool

The first week back from a few days off is always a little rough! I don't think I realized how much ground we had made with C and his attention span. When we started in August he could only handle about 5-10 minutes, and the week before Thanksgiving he was handling about an hour or so getting all of his seat work done at once. Monday of this week? About 10 minutes in and his eyes glazed over. I did the absolute worst thing at first and tried to push him. Not smart. I had to face facts and slowly build back up. The end of the week brought remarkable improvement.

I thought for this week's "Week in Review" post, I would chronicle details of what we did for school this week. I don't usually list it all out, but I thought this might be helpful to see what we did in our little homeschool world for kindergarten and second grade.

This week in 2nd grade:

Math: yeah! E finished Math Mammoth 2B which we started last spring. I had decided it was getting too challenging too quickly so we slowed down drastically and played more Right Start games. It was a good call, and she is doing great. She was so proud of herself when she got a perfect score on her last chapter test on multiplication. (We use tests as an evaluation tool for me, but don't do grades). She likes stickers and smiley faces for a job well done though! Finishing a book always brings a sense of accomplishment (well, for me at least!) ;) We started 3A on Thursday and so far so good.

Language arts:

Spelling: All About Spelling steps 15-16

Writing with Ease: week 16 I am actually seeing some improvement here. WWE has always been a struggle, the comprehension aspect as well as the dictation.

FLL: lessons 40-42

Handwriting: Zaner Bloser pages 91-95

ETC: 3 pages a day of ETC 7. the vocabulary is getting more challenging, so I am having to help some, but really at this point I feel as though vocabulary is the primary purpose of ETC for her.

Reading: E read Tornado, and started Imagination Station: Showdown with the Shepherd

Bible: we took a break from Bible Study Guide for all Ages to catch up on TRUTH 66 Bible Drill. We worked on the books of the Bible through Obadiah, learned Matthew 5:44, and reviewed our previous verses and key passages. We worked on increasing visual memory to match verses with references using pictures.

Science and history: I decided to take a week and "catch up" in our content areas. The week before Thanksgiving was hectic and our week of history was not as thorough as I would have liked. I got behind on a few read alouds and while I could have skipped ahead, I really thought they would have more fun camping out with these books. So for history we finished Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest and started The Apple and the Arrow. We read The Squire and the Scroll as well. We had a ton of fun with our read aloud week! We also did a Castle and knight sticker book. They loved that.


We also had a first around here. C found a template for a paper Viking ship we never got to, and he asked to do it himself. Love it!



For science, I have been "behind" most of the year. Honestly that is starting to stress me out (although I know it is no big deal!) so, I bumped this weeks lesson and decided to "catch up." We did week 12 and 13 of ES ESA this week. We read and notebooked only. Next week it is week 14 of our content subjects, and I am hoping to fit a science experiment back into the schedule.

This week in Kindergarten:

Math: Right Start A lessons 49-53. C is doing really well in math. He is still using the abacus quite a bit, but I am ok with that. This week he worked on adding tens to tens, counting by 2s, +2 to ten, and graphing.



Phonics: All About Reading-- We finished the fluency practice sheets for lesson 10, and completed lessons 11-13. C is plugging along slowly and steadily in reading. He got hung up on the "e" sound in CVC words this week, and discovered he did better when he growled his blending. Lovely. That was frustrating fun! ;)

Handwriting: Monday's Handwriting without Tears lesson brought tears and that was my signal he had had enough for the day. (So yes, while I should have stopped at the more subtle signals, at least I got a clue at the tears!) We are really loving the new Handwriting without Tears iPad app "Wet Dry Try." It has been fun using it to mix up letter practice. This week we practiced the letters C, O, Q, G, and 10. Handwriting continues to be C's biggest struggle. I tend to be fairly pushy in academics, but I try not to be here. I am aware he is 5 and am confident he will develop into this skill. Until then we plug slowly along...


Bible, science and history: tagging along with E.

And the toddler?

Well, while we were schooling, she was tearing up the house, playing with special school time only toys, drawing (on appropriate and inappropriate canvases), watching Netflix, and getting better on the iPad. The Disney and Starfall apps are favorites! She begs for me to "teach her school" and I am trying to do more directed activity with her as she wishes. Oh, and yes, much of her activity happens on the kitchen table. (At least she uses headphones now!)


A few "extracurricular highlights!":

Lego class has been a highlight of their week for the last 8 weeks and they were both sad to say goodbye at their class this week. I hope we are able to do it again soon!



After some convincing on my part, C decided to expand his basketball playing from the Wii into real life. We had his Upward basketball evaluation this week. He may have had to be forced convinced initially, but now he is so excited!


Wednesday was our annual "Christmas with the Pastor" at church. After the service the kids enjoyed a treat of cookies and chocolate milk. It was a great kick off to the Christmas season. 


The weather was beautiful in our part of the world and E took advantage by doing school in the playground fort. One of our favorite things about homeschooling!

Friday was our TRUTH 66 Pit Stop where the kids say their verses and practice Bible Drills. After the pit stop, we had a homeschool group game day. So much fun! I really love opportunities that force me to do things I should do anyway...like play games with my kids! ;)



Saturday! The first of December and day one of our Christmas bucket list. Day One: pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. Finishing off our week with the kids cuddled up ready for movie night!


Week 17 complete! Phew!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Update on TRUTH 66

We have been faithfully (ok, most of the time!) plugging away at memorizing our TRUTH 66 Bible drill verses this semester.

The kids are doing amazingly well, and we are working on our second set of verses which are do tomorrow at our 2nd pit stop with our homeschool group.

I did get a bit behind and realized we had not memorized last weeks verse very well and actually had a new verse this week. I usually try to have the week of a pit stop just review.

They have worked hard this week and know their verses. However, we are still struggling with matching the verses to the reference. We came up with a few ways to work on it.

I used a large piece of construction paper with the references written on it and drew pictures to help with visual memory. The idea is to associate pictures to the words or in this case references so that they can picture the reference and see the pictures that will help them see which verse it goes with.

Here are a few of them . . .


Psalm 54:2: God cloud and an ear for "hear:"
"God hear my prayer . . . "

Proverbs 8:33: An ear for "Listen" and a Bible for "instruction:"
"Listen to instruction and be wise . . . "

Micah 6:8: See all  the "men for mankind?" :) 
"Mankind, He has told you . . . "

Matthew 5:44: "But I" written on top; "TELL" written within the 44 all in a heart for "love"
"But I tell you, love . . . "

Here are the Key Passages:

Psalm 51: praying hands inside 2 4's 
"A Prayer for forgiveness"
Matthew 3:13-17: waves with Jesus and the Holy Spirit as a dove
"The Baptism of Jesus"
Matthew 6:5-15: praying hands
"The Model Prayer"


Next, I just made up game cards  we can play to help the kids match the "buzz words" from the verse with the reference. Hopefully these will help!

C started basketball this week and is rather obsessed. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and let him practice his dribbling and passing while practicing the books of the Bible. It was a big hit with all of the kids!

Here is a video of them practicing Genesis to Obadiah.


Having a set plan for memorizing Scripture this year has been great, knowing it is all planned out. We are also very much enjoying doing it alongside other homeschoolers. I am simply amazed at how much the two year old has learned right along with them. Love getting the Word deep in all of their hearts!



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Week 2012

I hope and pray everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great week spending time as a family, resting, cooking, baking, and a lot of playing! We did very little school, only doing math and reading on Monday and Tuesday. We needed the break!

We cooked and baked a ton! The girls were much more willing helpers. C was much more interested in the Wii.

I am not sure what made me so adventurous in the kitchen this holiday season, turkey cupcakes last week and this week we made turkey chocolate dipped Oreo lollipops. I think after these I am ready to go back to store bought treats! ;)


R helped C ride a 2 wheeler for the first time!

Did a good bit of Black Friday shopping that may have involved preteens and cheerleading stunts at Toys R us to get hidden items on the top shelf!

Bought and decorated a new Christmas tree. We finally upgraded from our seminary apartment tree we have had forever! 

It was so great to be a regular family without school for a few days. I enjoyed my kids, and am so grateful for the blessing they are!

Now we are ready to gear up for Christmas with our Christmas bucket list! Love being intentional about spending time enjoying these precious treasures!


There was an error in this gadget
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...