Monday, January 31, 2011

Goal Progress - January

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals. To help hold myself accountable, I'm going to update how I'm doing at the end of each month.

1. Read through the Bible. I plan to do this by starting every day with Bible reading and prayer. I'm doing well with this. I've read all of Genesis and half of Exodus, plus most of Matthew.

2. Spend more time with Robb without the kids. Our lives get so wrapped up in everything the children are involved in that so often our relationship takes a backseat. I don't want that to be the case this year. We are planning to have a date night once a month. Last week we went out to dinner just the two of us, which is very rare for us.

3. Set aside at least one hour for each child individually during each week, outside of school time, to do something with that child. I have to admit that I haven't been as purposeful with this as I should be. I have done some things with the kids individually, but it hasn't been time set aside for each child. I'm planning to be more purposeful about setting a specific time aside for each one.

4. Be slower to anger with my family. Although I have been improving in this, I still have a long way to go. There are still way too many times I lose my patience.

5. Finish Ballerina's stocking by the end of February and begin Little Red's stocking. I have just a little bit of detail work to finish on Ballerina's stocking and then it will be finished. It is definitely on track to be finished by the end of February. I need to order the pattern for Little Red's stocking so that I can start it as soon as I finish Ballerina's.

6. Finish painting and decorating the 2 girls' rooms. I haven't even put any thought into this. I painted one room at the end of last year, but I still need to hang pictures on the walls. The other room I need to pick out paint for this month.

7. Lose 15 pounds. This has been a roller coaster of loss and gain this month. In total, I lost 1.4 lbs in January. I'm hoping to lose at least 2 in February.

8. Read at least one book a month, outside of books we read during school time. I have read 2 books by Beverly Lewis this month, and am almost finished with a 3rd.

9. Organize the printed pictures so that I can begin to scrapbook again. Didn't even think about this during January. This will definitely be on my priority list to work on in February.

So my priorities for February are:
1. Continue reading through the Bible by starting every day in Bible reading and prayer.
2. Go on a date with Robb.
3. Plan for one hour per week with each child doing something non-school related.
4. Get through each day without snapping at my children because I have lost my patience.
5. Finish Ballerina's stocking. Order Little Red's stocking pattern.
6. Hang pictures in the one girls' room. Pick out paint colors for the other girls' room.
7. Lose 2 lbs.
8. Read a non-school book.
9. Organize the pictures that have already been printed. Pre-plan 5 layouts.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saudi Arabia and Rocks

This week we left Africa and traveled to Asia, specifically Saudi Arabia. We discussed how most of the people living in the Middle East are Muslims and talked about Islam. When I was telling the kids how some of the Muslim women have to dress completely covered except for their eyes, The Boy said "oh, so they're ninjas," and then started laughing. Silly boy!

While looking through the Saudi Arabia books during book basket time, Ballerina was surprised to discover that the cars there aren't much different than cars in America. I'm not sure what exactly she was expecting.

They also copied some interesting facts about Saudi Arabia into their notebooks.




In kindergarten this week, Little Red learned Rr - Rocks. We sang "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" and talked about how we need to make Jesus our rock. We ended the week reading Stone Soup and discussed how God would have wanted the villagers to share their food from the beginning.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I Homeschool

First of all, I want to start by saying this is not an indictment of anyone else's choice in how to school their children. The title of my post is Why I Homeschool, not Why Everyone Should Homeschool.

When we first started on this homeschool journey, The Boy was a toddler. Before having him, I had been a teacher for 6 years. Then I taught one more year, while he was in a home daycare. I hated leaving him every day. I hated that I spent more waking hours with other people's children than I did with my own. I hated missing out on what he was doing every day. Robb and I decided that I would quit teaching at the end of that year to stay home and be a full-time mom. We also decided that, rather than sending him to the Christian school at our church for preschool, I would do preschool with him at home. My bachelor's degree is in early childhood education, and Robb reasoned that it made more sense for me to teach him at home since I have a degree in early childhood and teaching experience rather than pay for preschool. Our plan at the time was preschool at home, then we'd send him to Christian school.

I don't remember exactly when that plan changed. I do remember talking with Robb about not wanting to send The Boy (or any of the others who have joined us since) to school. I enjoyed teaching them too much to want to give that joy to someone else. I also felt strongly convicted by God that we were doing the right thing.

Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Reading this, I thought I can't do this if they aren't with me during the day. (Again, I'm not saying that this verse is telling everyone to homeschool. I'm just letting you know why I was convicted to homeschool.) My strongest desire for homeschooling is not to create future rocket scientists, but to have my children grow up with a love for the Lord and a desire to live for Him and serve Him.

I mentioned earlier that I taught school for 7 years before coming home to be a full-time mom. My experiences teaching in public school have also contributed to my decision to homeschool my children. During those years I taught with teachers who enjoyed making life as difficult as possible for the students in their care. One, in particular, took pleasure in the fact that over half of his students failed math for the year because his tests were so hard. To me, that is actually more of an indication of substandard teaching than it is of creating a challenging test; had he taught the students adequately, his students would have been more successful. The possibility of my children encountering teachers like this, who could potentially squash their desire to learn, makes me shudder.

Not all of my public school co-workers were like this, however. A great majority of them had a passion for teaching, and I pray that any of you who send your children to school are fortunate enough to have teachers like these teaching your children.

This is why I choose to homeschool my children. It saddens me when I mention to someone that I homeschool and they begin to give me their reasons why they do not. It is not my place or my desire to judge anyone's choice in how best to educate their children, and I never want anyone to feel they need to justify their decision to me. I do want to say, though, that if one feels the Lord is calling him or her to homeschool, then He will also give them the ability to do so. I am more than happy to sit down with anyone considering this educational path and answer any questions (or attempt to anyway - I do not claim to have all the answers).

I am not the perfect homeschooling mom. I have faults just like everyone else, but every day, as I look around at my children learning and growing, I realize that this is the best decision for our family.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lost Tooth

Little Red lost her first tooth today!! She discovered her wiggly tooth right before her 6th birthday last week. This morning she was wiggling it with her tongue and it fell right out.

Please ignore her dry, chapped lips. (But feel free to notice how sparkling white her teeth are!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Paper Mama - Friends

When my brother re-married last summer, my children immediately gained a new cousin, and Robb and I now have another adorable niece. L is absolutely precious, and we all fell in love with her after meeting her. Only 6 months older than Sassy Pants, she became one of Sassy's favorite people. Right after the wedding ceremony, I snapped this shot of the two of them.

The Paper Mama

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hide and Seek

Life with our 3 year old is never boring. Her favorite activity is to hide things. She likes to fill bags, backpacks, and boxes with various items from around the house. This time, the object in question was one of Soccer Girl's basketball shoes. Unfortunately, Soccer Girl has a basketball game this afternoon, so an all-out hunt to find the missing shoe ensued. One lonely basketball shoe just wasn't going to do.

Over an hour was spent taking everything out of every box in the room that the two of them share. We also cleaned everything out from under both of the beds in there. (Did I mention that both of them like to stash stuff under their beds when they're supposed to clean their room?) Needless to say, there was a lot of stuff piled in the middle of the bedroom, but no basketball shoe.

While Sassy Pants and I (along with The Boy who is always so very helpful) continued to search that bedroom, Soccer Girl and Little Red went into the other girls' room to hunt. First up was to locate any and all backpacks and bags that were in the closet in that room. Finally, a shout of joy came from Soccer Girl as she found her shoe - in a bag stashed in that closet. At last the two shoes were reunited!

Will Sassy Pants continue to hide things? Probably. She is definitely a work in progress, but aren't we all? I'm just thankful that Soccer Girl won't have to play basketball wearing only one shoe.
Sweet Shot Day

Friday, January 21, 2011

Leaving Africa

We finished up our study of Africa this week. Because of the Geography Game, The Boy and the twins can name most of the countries in Africa. Sadly, they are much better at that than I am; today I confused Namibia and Botswana, and they all laughed because they knew the difference. This year, I am living proof that you do not have to know everything in order to homeschool your children successfully. They are obviously learning geography in spite of me, not because of me.

Our craft project this week was to make cave paintings similar to ones found in Africa. Since we don't have access to a cave, we made our drawings on sandpaper with crayons. They turned out very nice.



The Boy chose to make a list of professional soccer teams instead of drawing animals and other typical symbols.
 


In kindergarten, Little Red and I worked on the letter Z for Zebra. She learned how zebra's stripes are similar to people's fingerprints - no two are exactly alike. She got to design her own zebra's stripe pattern.


Very proud of her final product!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Absolutely pitiful

There is nothing worse than a sick little one. Today Sassy Pants woke up with a stomach bug. She spent most of the day sleeping on the pallet on the floor or laying on the pallet watching Playhouse Disney. I am so thankful for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse today!
I guess Sassy has gotten used to me taking a lot of pictures because she smiled for the camera even though she felt awful.
 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ballerina Birthday

Little Red wanted a ballerina birthday party this year, so I asked one of the older girls from the dance theater to do a little ballet lesson during the party. The girls all came dressed in leotards and tu-tus. We started the party with the dance lesson; then we had cupcakes decorated with ballerinas. After cupcakes, Little Red opened her gifts and then we did some more dancing, including playing Freeze Dance. It was a wonderfully fun time!
Chelsea leading the girls during the lesson.
Even Sassy Pants followed Chelsea's lead.
 

Doing splits - Soccer Girl is the one in the black with her nose on the floor.
 







I love this shot of L!
 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More Africa

This week we continued our study of Africa. In science, we studied the animals of the grassland and the physical characteristics that help them to survive there.

In geography, we played Mancala, a two-player African stone game that is played in almost every African country. We have a Mancala game board, but the game could easily be played with an empty egg carton and a small bowl at each end of the carton. You will also need a bag of dried beans.
1. Place the egg carton between you and your partner so that the 6 holes face each of you. Place a small bowl at either end of the board for "home" for each player.
2. Before beginning, place 4 beans in each of the twelve egg carton holes. Each player has the 6 holes in front of him as well as the "home" bowl on his right. The goal of the game is to gather the most beans in your home.
3. The youngest player goes first. He picks up all the beans out of one of his holes and "sows" them by placing one bean in the next hole to the right and continuing counter-clockwise, dropping one bean in each hole. (He is not allowed to move the beans in a hole to count them before beginning.) If he reaches his home, he drops a bean in there and continues, but skips his opponent's home.
4. When the last bean you sow falls in your home, you earn another turn and play again.
5. When the last bean you sow falls in an empty hole on YOUR side of the board, you win all of your opponent's beans from the hole opposite yours. Place these beans in your home. Then your opponent takes his turn, picking up and sowing beans from one of his holes.
6. The game ends when one player has no beans left in his 6 holes. The winner is the person with the most beans in his home.


We also made African bead necklaces out of clay. Day 1, we shaped the clay.


The Boy etched his name into one of his beads.
 
After shaping the beads and poking holes through them, we let them dry and harden overnight. Day 2, we painted the beads.



Day 3, we strung the beads onto wire and proudly wore our necklaces.








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