Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Days 2014

We didn't have a huge chance of snow.  It was 30%, I think.  I told the kids that it might snow.  Maybe.  We finished our school day by 12:30, and then, it started.  The flakes were few and far between, but they quickly changed and increased in volume.  It was beautiful.  The poor kids wanted to play immediately.  They bundled up...we all bundled up and let the snow land on our tongues.

The snow covered the ground in no time.  It fell steadily for hours, and the kids enjoyed almost every minute of it...

In and out.  Freeze and thaw.  Make snow angels...before there's enough snow to make snow angels.  Throw snowballs...well, half snow-half pine straw and clay.  I convinced them to come inside for a little while and let the snow accumulate.  It took convincing, but I lured them inside with hot chocolate and mom ever.  We warmed up, dried all our wet clothes, bundled back up, and headed back out.

They built snowmen, got under trees, shook them, and pretended they were in a blizzard.  I took pictures and helped with the teeny, tiny snowman Hannah wanted to keep in the freezer.  We made colonial "maple cream" and Hannah used sticks to hold her snowman together.  She said the sticks were just like bones for the snowman.  The homeschool mom in me was so proud that she made the connection.

I tried to be a fun mom.  I helped push the girls down the snow in a plastic box.  I let them throw snowballs at me, and I screamed on cue when the boys touched my neck with frozen fingers.  They were thrilled and I offered more hot chocolate. Snow days are awesome!  The last couple of days have changed our pace.  We've enjoyed our time together and I have been very thankful for our nice warm house.  There has been a multitude of craziness only an hour away from us.  People stranded and traffic completely halted.  It has been a mess and I am so thankful for being home, safe, and warm.

However, I'm not terribly up for frigid weather and have been thinking and planning and dreaming about which beach we hope to visit this summer...  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

New Year Reevaluation

I love to plan, and I love to redo our goals on a regular basis.  What's working?  What's not going well?  How do we need to tweak and change what we're doing to meet our goals?

I question our homeschooling efforts periodically as the children change and respond differently to our curriculum.  How are they learning?  Are we meeting tangible objectives?

So, I have switched up our curriculum a tad and have decided to try out Tapestry of Grace for our literature and history.  We've switched back to Apologia for science.  Both curriculum choices are more in depth, and I'm able to smoothly meet each child on their own level without changing our content.  Keeping consistent content is a goal of mine.  Until they are all learning more independently, I'm able to go through areas of study, collectively, and give assignments based on each child's ability and learning style.

So along with our math and developmental language arts per individual ability levels, we're studying Unit 4 of Year 2 (Age of Revolutions-Time spanning from Colonial times through the Adams Administration) in Tapestry of Grace and Human Anatomy and Physiology from Apologia for science.

Another area I have had a difficult time with has been journal writing.  My girls seem like they will be natural little journalers, but the boys...not so much.  I want them to learn how to think reflectively, so as a family, we'll be creating a Project Life album.  The journaling cards are small and not very intimidating, so I think it'll be a good way to preserve some memories and get the kids involved fairly painlessly.

Those are the changes.  So far, so good.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Co-op: A New Adventure

This year, we decided to do something a little new in our homeschool.  We've played with the idea for a couple of years, and since Grace was old enough, we started participating in a nontraditional co-op.  It's nontraditional in that I am not a full time participant. I volunteer on a regular basis, but I can drop them off with trusted instructors and take a little break, drink a cup of coffee, whatever...

The kids take four classes each and are gone for four hours.  The first time I left them was a weird feeling.  I've never left them with anyone in that type of setting. I am really enjoying being able to gather them up and ask about their day.  It pulls the pressure off a little bit.  And for a few hours each week (if I'm not volunteering), I am able to come back to myself since the constant demands of being at home full time and homeschooling can be overwhelming.

Ethan and Daniel are participating in a boys' book club and taking PE together.  Ethan also takes Spanish and sign language.  Daniel is enjoying chemistry/physics and drums.  The girls are taking art, geography, ballet, and sign language.  At the end of each semester, the instructors put on a fantastic family night where all artwork and projects are on display.  Ballet and music recitals are held. Drama and musical theater students perform. It's been a true blessing for our family.  There are several other classes I'd like for them to take, and if we do this again next year, we'll add in the rest of the day.  Co-op has contributed to this being our best year of homeschooling, yet.

Friday, January 10, 2014


So I've been a little sentimental over the last few weeks.  I guess finding all those old pictures made me wake up and realize how quickly time flies.  My boys have grown so much.  Ethan is going to pass me in height within the next year to year and a half.  His feet are bigger than mine and Daniel's feet aren't far behind.  How did this happen?  How did they get so big and grown so fast?

How are my girls five and seven years old?  My babies came quickly.  Ethan turned five April of 2008 ... mere weeks before our fourth baby, Grace, was born.  It was a very stressful time.  Deron underwent two surgeries while I was pregnant with Grace.  We knew we were moving, but we didn't know quite when or where.  After she was born, I went through some health issues that were scary for me since I was the primary caregiver to four children five years old and younger.  When I hit my most difficult days, I called on our moms for help.  But I had conditioned myself to only call when I was at rock bottom and absolutely beyond desperate.

Now, I joke with people that it was a pretty blur for a while, but I'm serious.  It was blurry (and not always pretty) as I was so continuously busy with their constant needs.  They needed my physical presence all the time.  All the time.

Now, we've had quite the switch.  I tease that we're in the golden age of parenting...between potty training and puberty, but realistically, they need me to be there emotionally.  They still need me, but they can dress themselves and take care of their own spaces and physical needs...for the most part.  When they were little, I had to intuitively know what they needed.  They couldn't always communicate properly with me.  I had to read them.  Now, they will tell me if they're not feeling well, hungry, tired, etc.  Now, they want to talk to me, all the time.  They want me to listen, all the time.  Not only do they want me to listen, they want me to understand their points of view.  It's hard. I'm not sure which needs more difficult to sort through.

Yes, I get to sleep better, and I've delegated chores so the load of running a household doesn't rest solely on me and so that they will know how to do things when they leave home.  But now, I worry about them.  I worry about doing enough, being enough of what they need.  I worry more than I should.  Maybe worry is the wrong word.  It's just a different feeling than when they're little.  Their needs used to be so simple.  My boys are only 9 and 10, but I can feel the change in their needs in a profound way.

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that coming of age is hard on parents, and I'm a little nervous about the years to come.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

My dear, sweet Hannah,
I simply cannot believe you have turned seven years old.  It feels like just yesterday when we were in a rush to get to the hospital...when I held your precious baby-self for the very first time.  It feels like I just heard you cry, just watched you smile, just felt those tiny fingers wrap around mine.

You have grown into one of the most tenderhearted and lovely little girls I've ever met.  You have a kind demeanor and a very intuitive personality.  You absolutely do not want anyone hurt in any way whatsoever.  You're my girl who cries at movies and still loves to sit in my lap for your reading lesson.

You started first grade this year, and you're bopping right along doing great!  I'm not surprised a bit, and I'm pretty sure math is your strongest subject.  You just "get it." We are participating in a co-op this year, and it has been such a blessing to our family.  You've made several friends, and you've stepped up in your role as a big sister.  You have continuously taken Grace under your wing in all of your classes to help her adapt to something new, even as you're adapting to the same new thing.  Words cannot express how proud I am of you and all you've accomplished.

This year was a big year for you.  You asked for a home in the church back in April and got to enjoy your first communion and foot washing service.  You told us that you felt like God told you in your heart and mind to join the church.  It was a very special time, and I hope that you will mark it in your memory and always remember how you felt that day.

I know you will continue to grow up.  It won't be long until you're hitting double digits and life gets a little more confusing.  I know that these days of young girlhood will come to an end in the very near future just as your babyhood slipped away like a vapor.  But until then, I'm going to let you enjoy your make-believe games, play with dolls, dance around the living room in your ballet clothes, create tea parties, and be a fabulous little girl.  I want you to look back and have enjoyed your childhood.  I want you to remember with a smile on your face, little one.

I love you very much.  My love for you is indescribable, but always remember that God loves you even more.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Reading list

With the kids a little older, I have a little more time to do things since I'm not changing diapers and constantly having to be physically present in order to care for all the needs that come with the littler years.  That being said, their emotional needs have increased ten-fold, and I cannot imagine the needs they will have when they go into their teen and young adult years.

This month--and next probably--maybe even March...we'll see...My book list goes a little something like this:

1. My moms' group is reading Desperate:Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae.  I'm quickly rereading the first nine chapters since we're reading/discussing chapter ten this month.  I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing this book with friends and encouraging one another in our mothering journey.

2. I'm finishing up The UnWired Mom: Choosing to Live Free in an Internet Addicted World also by Sarah Mae.  I'm doing the challenges and journal activities.  I'm not quite finished but I'm trying to go slowly and to be brutally, painfully honest with myself.  It is certainly eye-opening.

3. In continuing this theme, I'm planning to read Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters by Rachel Macy Stafford.  As a type-A, recovering perfectionist, I have placed too high of value on the things I do and what I accomplish when what I really need to do is be available for the ones I hold most dear.  I need to remember to put my precious people ahead of all the stuff that seems to call my name and all the things that need doing.

4. and 5. We've made some adjustments to our financial goals for this year, and I'm rereading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Revisited  and More than Enough to get inspired again.  I'm playing on the investment calculators and praying our house in FL will sell this year.  

6. I'm planning to read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine.  It's all about stressing less and being more intentional, I think.  It doesn't come out until the 21st of January.

7. I'm beginning The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell.  I just like these types of how-to books.  It's nice to get new ideas and a different perspective on the way we do things in our homeschool.  It seems like the kids' needs are changing and I need ideas for a new way to light a spark under them.

8. For a fictional quick read, I'm reading The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks. I'm a sucker for his stories.