Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happiness

I've been participating in the ABC's of Homeschooling weekly meme over at 5 Kids and a Dog, and this week the letter is H. Last night, I couldn't think of anything for this letter so I asked Robb for suggestions. His word was "housework". Hmm, as I look around the messy table where my laptop resides, I think it was more of a suggestion for what I needed to be doing and not actually a suggestion for what to write about.

At this point, the 3 kids who were well and downstairs decided to chime in. The Boy and Little Red both yelled out, "happy", and The Boy also followed that with "hectic". Sassy's response was "I'm hungry," said in a way that only a 3 year old can say. While our days are sometimes hectic, usually at least one person is hungry at any given moment, and housework is a part of my day, I'm going to go with happy because, well, it makes me happy, and - honestly - talking about housework doesn't.

H is for Happy
As I've mentioned before, this past school year was different for us. I completely switched curriculum for everyone. The kindergarten curriculum I had used with the 3 older children would not have been a good match for Little Red. (It really hadn't been for the twins, either.) So we went with My Father's World. She absolutely loved it! Her happiness whenever it was time to work on school work made me happy also. School time with her went so smoothly, most of the time, because of her eagerness to work on her My Father's World items. She was so very sad when we reached the end of the year for her.

I wish I could say that The Boy and the twins felt the same way Little Red did about school this past year, but alas, they did not. They did really like the subjects where we used My Father's World - geography and science. Realistically, though, there will always be subjects that are difficult to make fun ALL the time - grammar, math, etc. There was much more happiness this year during school time than in years past, so I still feel like changing curriculum was for the best.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. I want to take the time to thank our current soldiers who are willing to risk their lives for my freedom, our veterans who served our country faithfully, and the families of those who gave their lives in service to this country. I am thankful to live in a country where I can worship freely, can homeschool my children, and can speak my mind. I know that those freedoms were not free; they came at a price. So thank you!
Today, I will be staying home. Both Soccer Girl and Ballerina were up all night with a stomach virus so we won't be going anywhere. I have some cleaning and organizing I would like to do. I also plan to order my curriculum today. Robb's going to grill some hamburgers this afternoon, and I'll be fixing some corn on the cob and potato salad to go with them. I also am making a meal for a friend whose husband has been in ICU for a couple of weeks now following a terrible car accident.

How do you plan to spend your Memorial Day?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Games

School doesn't always have to be "school-ish" at our house. While I do think that reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, I don't think that the only way to learn is through textbooks. I love using board games to help the small people learn. I also love finding new games that encourage using critical thinking skills. I also love that we can incorporate learning games into special occasions like New Year's Eve.

Here is a list of some of our favorite games (in no particular order).
1. Ticket to Ride - Players claim railway routes across the United States, trying to gain the most points. We also have the 1910 Expansion pack. Soccer Girl and The Boy can get rather ruthless, trying to achieve the longest train or complete the most tickets while making their destinations and accumulating the most points. Ballerina's play is a little more laid-back, and Little Red just likes to join all of her routes together into one long train. The Ticket to Ride - Europe version is on my wish list. 


2. Word on the Street Junior - Teams try to collect letters by spelling words for specific categories. After one team spells a word and moves those letters to their side of the street, the other team chooses a category card and spells a word, trying to not only gain letters for themselves but to move letters away from their opponents. It becomes a tug-of-war of letters, and usually has us all laughing as we scheme against each other. Because spelling skills are a large part of this game, we usually pair up weaker spellers or non-spellers with stronger spellers when we play. The girls aren't quite ready for the older version of Word on the Street, but it also is on my wish list.
3. Monopoly - We own several versions of Monopoly - the Boy Scout version, the Star Wars version, and the classic version. We also own Monopoly Deal. The girls aren't always up for a long game of Monopoly, and Monopoly Deal helps us to still be able to play a strategic game in a shorter time frame. The Boy, on the other hand, loves to play the longer versions and takes delight in pushing his opponents into bankruptcy.
4. Last Word - Players try to be the person to give the last word in a category before the time runs out. While Word on the Street involves spelling skills, my non-spellers or weaker spellers are able to play this game. It's a great way to work on some vocabulary skills.

5.  Hi Ho, Cherry-O! - This is Sassy Pants's favorite game. Since she's so young, she can't play the other games that the older kids like, so she and I play this one a lot. It's a fun way to help her practice counting skills, and we even throw in some simple adding and subtraction skills.

I'm always looking for new board games to play with the small people who live here. What is your family's favorite game?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Family

F is for Family
By most of society's standards, having 5 children means that we have a large family. While the number of people living in this house might be higher than the average and some days it feels like I have all the family I can handle with just Robb and the small people, in my mind we don't have a large family at all.

Both Robb and I have lost our parents - my dad passed away in 1999 and my mom in 2005. Robb's dad passed away in 2003 and he just lost his mom this past December. We each have one brother. While we are relationally close to our siblings, they both live a few hours away and we don't get to see them or our nieces as often as we would like. Because of this, I'm glad that my children have a lot of siblings so they can have a lot of family support when they're all grown up.

One of the reasons we began homeschooling was because I couldn't stand leaving The Boy every day at the sitter's house while I was teaching. Yes, it was entirely selfish on my part; I'm okay with that. I love being with my children all day, every day. I'm not saying there aren't days when I need to get away for a little bit (even if it's just in the shower by myself), but the thought of sending them away to let someone else indoctrinate teach them for 6-8 hours a day makes me sad.

One of the benefits I'm hoping to see from choosing to homeschool my children is for them to have a close relationship with their siblings, as well as with Robb and me. I wish I could say that they always get along and never bicker or fuss with each other, but that just isn't true. They have their moments when they drive each other crazy. But they also really seem to enjoy spending time with each other. I love listening in to their conversations. They seem to always have some inside joke that can send them into fits of giggles. The Boy might not always appreciate having 4 little sisters (and he lets us know this on a regular basis), but he won't let anybody else bother them. There have been a few times when another child has tried to bully one of the girls at the park or playground, and The Boy will make sure that child knows not to bully HIS sisters.

Would my children be this close if I sent them to school every day? Possibly, but I really don't know. I think that learning together every day provides them an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

E is for End

E is for End - End of the School Year, that is.

We have officially reached the end of our school year. For our family, though, this doesn't mean much since we function on a modified year-round schedule.

We will be using this week to clean the house. Doesn't that sound exciting? Then next week, we will begin our summer schedule - math and reading/phonics for the girls each day; math and Spanish for The Boy each day. This helps keep them from needing a major review in August when we start our full days of school again. Beginning in June, when the pool opens for the summer, we do our schoolwork first thing in the morning; by the time we're done, the pool is open for the day.

The most important thing for me about the "end" of our school year is that now I can really begin to focus on choosing curriculum for next year. I LOVE this part of homeschooling - poring over curriculum catalogs and websites! If I let myself, I could spend all day just looking at curriculum, neglecting my poor children and my house. Thankfully, most of my decisions about WHAT to use, I've already made. Now I'm mostly trying to determine the best way to make my purchases while being a good steward of the income that Robb provides our family.

Other than spending this week trying to reclaim my messy house, I'm not doing anything to celebrate the End of our school year. Do you do something special at the end of the year?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all my friends in Bloggy Land!

My children and Robb have done a wonderful job of spoiling me today, including a new camera bag, Francesca Battistelli CD, a pink stuffed dog, a Beth Moore devotional CD, seeds for the garden I want to start, and a gift certificate at a salon to get my hair and nails done. I also got to take a nap this afternoon - Oh did that feel nice!

I miss my mom, and I'm sure that Robb misses his as well. It is our first Mother's Day since his mom passed away.

I pray that you all have a very blessed day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chaos

I am behind on the ABC's of homeschooling weekly meme. The craziness that has been my life has gotten in the way. Therefore, it is only fitting that C is for chaos.

The chaos comes in many forms.
  1. Trying to juggle the needs of 5 children - educationally, physically, and emotionally - can lend itself to chaos. One way I try to make things easier for all of us is to have a schedule for our day. This helps me to make sure that I get to everything I want to get to each day and no subjects get neglected, and it helps the small people know to expect throughout the day. 
  2. Teaching the small people who live here is a full time job. So is taking care of the house in which we live. So is being a mom of 5 children who have activities outside of schooling. Sadly, I am not always able to balance all of these, and most often, it is housekeeping that gets put on the back burner. I am the first to admit that I have never been really good at maintaining a perfectly clean house. Trying to keep up with everything else on my plate hasn't really helped me improve in that area. 
  3. The past couple of weeks have been nothing but chaos. First, we had the original incident where Sassy injured her eye. Then on Tuesday of last week, I had to take her back to the medical university ophthalmologist for a follow up appointment. During that trip, they decided to go ahead and do the outpatient surgery to put a tube in her tear duct. She also had a mass in her eye that they wanted to look at more closely during the surgery. Turned out that she had another laceration to her eyelid that hadn't been caught on Friday. We had to back to Charleston 2 days later for yet another follow up appointment. This week from Monday through Wednesday, we had standardized testing with our homeschool group.
Although choosing to homeschool brings a certain level of chaos to our home, I can't imagine doing things differently. 


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