Friday, May 30, 2014

Birthday, Nail Polish, and Play

This week was YCJ's birthday! She is officially nine years old!!

Grandma and Papa stopped by on Sunday to visit and give her their gifts...

They were here for almost an hour and YCJ loved every minute of it! Of course, we all did but she reminded me after they left that they surprised us last year the same way and she really likes that they do that.

Monday we read, we prayed, and we discussed Memorial Day. We talked about our veterans, the ones who didn't make it and those that did. We talked about freedom. We talked about our service men and women who are out there every day trying to keep our country free. There were plenty of lessons this day, just none done out of a text book.

Tuesday was YCJ's actual birthday! But, she woke up feeling icky...
We kept everything low key all day long. She rested, ECJ entertained Peanut, we did some gifts (no wrapping this year, but that's not unusual for us when we're at home), baked and ate a cake, and began using some of YCJ's new nail polish!!

 She still wasn't feeling up to par on Wednesday, so we called a quiet day and everyone relaxed, read, or did something else quiet all day long pretty much. We did get outside some towards afternoon once she was feeling a bit better. Mainly her issue is allergies mixed with sinuses, she did have a small low grade fever that tried to hang around but by Wednesday evening it was completely gone.

Thursday was a horse of a different color all together! Daddy took the campers outside super early and they played for several hours. Mommy rested, I've been looking after our home and children along with the neighbor who just came home from surgery last week on almost a daily basis and it was beginning to wear me down a bit. When the campers came inside for lunch they spent a little while cooling off and ECJ got into the nail polish game and painted his sister's nails with designs; stripes, smiley faces, and dots abounded! After we went back outside The girls and I went to pick up some top soil with the wagon. Then we laid out, put together, and filled a small flower garden for part of the front yard. Then of course we had to toss in a frog statue that I love, a trellis (for a future climbing plant, and some solar lights in each corner!

We were outside for a little over ten hours!!! We did manage to review some sight words (Peanut and YCJ), read/work on phonics, and do some of our read aloud as well.

Today (Friday) we're planning on another day of rest. Perhaps some nature walks and perhaps not. All of the campers are sniffling due to allergies or sinuses, Daddy and I are still exhausted from everything else that's been going on, and I still have to finish some of my crochet work for YCJ's outfit. So, for now I'm going to get off of this computer and go relax. Perhaps after lunch we'll take a walk. Sometime today we'll do some sight word review and I'm sure all of us will be reading or crafting other than that. 

While we weren't planning this to be such a laid back week, lesson wise, I'm really glad that it was because it enabled us to take a step back and simply relax together (when we weren't called upon to do other things outside of the home).

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Linking up this week with:   
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Squishable Baby
Faithful Mom of 9

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Big Books" are Awesome!

OK, I've been known to recommend these books. I like them, they work, they're not complicated to work through, and they don't take very long each day even doing a page or two from each section. I do not use these as our main curriculum BUT we do use them throughout the entire calendar year! I know several people who use them over the summer to keep their children fresh on their math and language arts skills.

What books am I talking about?

Flash Kids Complete Curriculum series by Harcourt Family Learning. We use these for our spelling (though we may try something different next year) and usually purchase these at our local Barnes and Noble's or off of Amazon. Yes, you will find some Common Core related items inside of these books. No, they are not completely filled with Common Core concepts and work. 

These books work really well to give your children extra practice at a lot of concepts and are age/grade level appropriate. I have yet to find a misprint or objectionable material presented in any of these books.

Another book series we've recently been trying out is...
Brain Quest books (at least the Kindergarten one which is the one I'm most familiar with) aren't set up as neatly as the Flash Kids books. BUT, they're separated by subjects and really engaging for Peanut to work through. I know that we'll continue using these books for a while at the very least. These toss in a bit of science and social studies which the Flash Kids books do not do.

Both of these sets of books work really well for us. Another set of books we are currently looking into for simply over the summer is the Summer Bridge Activities Books these are Common Core aligned, so if you're dead set against using Common Core completely aligned materials these may not be for you. These are broken down into monthly goals and activities for math, reading, science, and social studies. They're meant to be fun to work through and give you something new to check out. I've heard that some schools throughout the country actually recommend their use over the summer. These books are normally around $15 dollars but can be bought for less if they're having a sale, bought directly from the website I linked to, or if you catch a sale at your local book store concerning educational books. (Also, please be aware that if you have an ID stating that you are a homeschool educator or a teacher in a different type of school most book stores will give you a discount for classroom materials.) These books also have physical fitness and more! Right now at their online book shop you can purchase these summer books for just shy of $10 each! (I am NOT affiliated with this product, or any other listed on this page.) Transitions from Pre-K through 7/8 are available and they only sell the most recent editions.

So, these are a few of the workbook series that work for us now and probably will in the future, along with a series that "may" work for us but I've yet to check out.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer School?

Well, if you've been a reader of mine for very long then you'll already know that we school year round. Not out of some need to check every box (though I do like that) or to "torture" our kids (we've heard that remark), but because it's truly the best fit for our family.

We don't do the six weeks on and one off schedule. We don't do this so that we can take the month of December off (though in the future that may be an idea!). We do this because if we slack on our math then we forget it, if we don't take advantage of summer nature studies then we're pouty when it snows and we cannot get outside (OK, so we pout then anyhow), we do it so that things get remembered and we don't have to review.

We begin our "new" school year at the beginning of each September. We stagger our text learning so that it doesn't all begin right away. By early to mid spring we've completed all of our health studies, done 90% of our other texts, and we haven't "done" school five days a week all school year long. Most weeks we do have five days of school but some weeks we don't. If we need a day off we take it, if we aren't feeling well it's not an issue, and we don't burn out. 

So, just what does our summer schedule consist of?

Math, reading, and writing. That's pretty much it. I don't demand x amount to be read in y amount of time because for us that just wouldn't work. But they all must read (or work on some form of phonics/sight words/etc) a minimum of half an hour a day. Math is the same, you have to do something with math each day. Writing comes a few times a week during the summer time. Nature study simply happens. Physical education dominates our time in the form of swimming, playing, and nature walks. I don't sit down and write out lesson plans or say that we're schooling from 9 AM until noon each day. We simply set the guidelines and make sure each item gets checked off.

Summer is the time we finish our religious education books that they receive in late spring from their catechism classes (meaning that they finally get to bring them home). We do at least one vacation Bible school during the summer, this summer they may attend two but it's the same program only two different churches, two different weeks, and one is during the day time while the other is in the evening. 

We don't have any math or writing during vacation Bible school time. Reading is a constant no matter what is going on. We do tend to do our lessons in the afternoon rather than the morning as the afternoon's are often the hottest time of day and the campers and I are pretty fair skinned. 
Summer 2013

We set a date each fall to begin, usually within the first week of September. We assess where we're at in the spring and set an "official" end date. And then we spend our summers having fun and learning. 

Special areas of interest this summer include Colonial times and medieval times (reading, no formal lessons). ECJ has a few weeks worth of work to finish up in his Apologia even after the "official" end of our school year. The children want to spend some time working on their swimming skills this summer. Musical instruments will twang and bleat I am sure. If something sparks our interest we may investigate it for an hour, a day, or a month. But, those main skills of  reading, writing, and math continue each day so that when we begin our new grade levels we aren't spending several weeks reviewing what we've forgotten over the summer. Those first few chapters of those types of texts fly by and we're into the "meat" of the subject often by October when we begin adding our other texts. 

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Nine and Counting

The 27th was YCJ's ninth birthday. My, they are growing like weeds! Nine years ago when I found out I was pregnant with her we counted her as a blessing and we've never been wrong. Tested, yes. But never wrong.

I remember Daddy and I finding out. I remember the bed rest I was put on within the first two months of the pregnancy that lasted for the rest of it along with physical therapy (I pulled a groin muscle at work within 7 weeks of getting pregnant, and pregnancy will simply compound that problem). I remember Daddy catching me "cheating" at my bed rest because I simply couldn't sit still any longer. I remember the day she was born and how full she made my heart. I can remember her first steps, first words, and so many other firsts.

This birthday we had another first for her...

It was the first time, on her birthday, she was ill...

We called all lessons off (not unheard of for us on a birthday to begin with). She rested, for the first time when she's not felt good, with a new penguin instead of Blue Eye. And we attempted to keep things low key. ECJ entertained Peanut while Daddy and I ran a few errands that simply had to be done. Tylenol was given for her low grade fever which hung around for most of the day. Allergy medicine was given for her allergies. We smiled, we hugged, and we reminded her that we love her.

Sometime in the early afternoon I bagged up her gifts (sometimes we don't bother wrapping things in this house) and brought them out to her on the couch. Daddy sat next to her as she discovered what she'd gotten for her birthday from Mom and Dad.

I made her this top, finishing it sometime a few nights ago. Although blue is not her favorite color it's in the top three and it brings out her beautiful blue eyes wonderfully. There's a lighter blue and white bohemian style skirt I'm working on for her but it's simply not finished yet. She was told about it though.

I made her a small bag for her new Hello Kitty compact, children's nail polish, and clear flavored lip glosses. She's trying so hard to grow up so fast. No adult nail polish of her own until she's able to show she not only knows how to apply nail polish but that she can store it safely. No tinted lip glosses until well into her teens and Daddy says no other make up until after she's 17. She's been told all of this and she's ecstatic with her 9 new nail polishes and 5 new lip glosses. It makes her happy that we're listening to her wants, but that we're also setting limits.

I mixed the batter for her cake and then she painted my nails...
She and Peanut enjoyed some of the leftover cake batter and then she painted Peanut's nails too...

Once the cake was out and cooled I frosted it. In a little while, now that supper of hot dogs has been consumed (YCJ's choice for supper), we'll be slicing into it. It's a chocolate and vanilla striped cake with key lime frosting and chocolate sprinkles. None of us have ever had key lime frosting before so we're in anticipation...

Her fever is gone, hopefully for good. The allergy symptoms are slipping back but it'll soon be bedtime after we have cake and she can have another dose right beforehand. She's entirely happy with her low key birthday. She's anticipating a trip to the thrift store to look for a "hippy outfit" (girl after her mother's own heart) on the third of next month. And she's so happy that she saw not only Noni last Wednesday , but also that Grandma and Papa surprised us and stopped by on Sunday to give her a few early birthday gifts!!

Grandma has some of the best taste around. That yellow shirt (with knee length jean shorts) has cute tennis shoes and says "Let's kick it", the pink shirt sparkles (what she's so fascinated by in the picture) and has a set of matching knee length shorts, and she got a replacement for her "popping" game since she'd lost pieces to her old one.

She told me just a few minutes ago that even though she wasn't feeling well today it was one of her best birthday's ever. And for that I am so glad. I often want to mold my children into some shape or form, but with this one I can see God's plan so clearly. She's modest, sweet, attempts to be friends with everyone, loves God, and is thankful for everything she gets. She wasn't always this way, we had a hard lesson about not being grateful a few years ago when her attitude slipped for a few months. But, she's blossoming. She's growing up. And though I know she is in a rush (weren't we all) I'm ever so glad that God has seen fit to have them grow as slowly (though it may not always appear so to our parenting eyes).

Happy birthday sweet girl. We love you!!

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Zoo, Play, OH! and Lessons

This week marked our first visit to the zoo in a couple of years. We used to go yearly but with a ton of moves and Daddy being ill or hurting we just hadn't gone. YCJ asked for one gift for her birthday this year (wow, she'll be 9 next week!) and that was a members pass to the zoo so that we can go more often.

So, we went to the zoo! But, that didn't happen until Wednesday and you can read the full post about it here.

Saturday our day looked like:

Sunday our day looked like:

Which happened after we cleaned out the shed and organized it. Daddy kept taking breaks while BBQing to play hoops with ECJ.

Monday looked a lot like this:

Only in between the dressing of the cat, snuggling with the dogs, pretending to nap on the floor, and playing outside we actually got our lessons finished! History got read after Peanut's night time medicine for her migraines and the girls were in bed by 8:30 PM. ECJ spent some more time with Daddy and then I got a bunch of crochet work done!

On Tuesday it was rainy and a bit chilly, the skies were gray and everyone was back in pout mode. We had some interesting lesson moments...

YCJ did just fine when it came to her English lesson today (which is a relief) but for her math lesson of one page of review she was everywhere! It took her over an hour and a half to do that one page! Floor by window, floor by living room table, couch sitting up, couch laying down, and finally I put my foot down and she was back at her desk. We did enjoy watching the neighbor begin work on his fields though!!

If you clicked over to Wednesday's post you know already just how our day went. If not... we'll wait...check it out :-)

OK, so now that we've covered Wednesday, just what happened on Thursday? Well, they say a picture says 1000 words. That makes Thursday's pictures about 3000 words worth!
Singing part of the Frozen soundtrack
"I've started talking to the pictures on the wall!!!"

So, now it's Friday and instead of getting into everything we'll be doing today let me just go ahead and tell you it will involve lessons, outside, and fun.

I promised online on our Facebook Page that I would be including some simple crochet instructions for covering headbands. Before I put the instructions (and pictures) in I thought I'd give you a few links to videos on YouTube that will help all of you who don't know the stitches figure them out. :-)
Chain Stitch
Single Crochet Stitch
Joining with Slip Stitch

Those are the three stitches you need to make these. And here is your list of supplies:
I buy this pack of 4 at Dollar Tree for $1

  • leftover yarn or simply yarn in color and textures you like
  • size F crochet hook
  • scissors
  • yarn needle (for putting ends in)
  • a plastic headband
  • and needle and thread (if you're sewing on an embellishment)
And here's the easy instructions!

Chain (ch) 9 
Single Crochet (sc) in second chain from hook and single crochet in each chain until the end - 8 stitches.
Chain 1, turn your work (so that your working the opposite direction) and single crochet 8 all the way across.
Continue the same way until you have 66 more rows ... 8 stitches in each row

I measure after I get to this point. You want to make sure that you have a row or two on each side of the headband extra to work with.

If you're adding a flower (as I have) or a bow you'll need to do so now. The flower pattern I use is not my own, I got it from a book called Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet The Happy Hooker (the good kind of hooking with a needle and yarn, and the b word in the title means they stitch and talk). BUT if you'd like a couple of flower examples here are some I found on YouTube...

So, I attach my flower like this:

I use the yarn needle (I prefer metal but they make plastic too) to thread the loose yarn to the back of the main piece of crochet. I take two ends and tie a knot in them. Then I use a regular needle and thread to stitch around the center of the flower to give it more stability. I match the thread color as close as I can to the color in the center of the flower...

Next you fold your main piece of work in half (in my case the purple bit) and stitch together using the slip (sl) stitch. The most important part here is to keep your stitches evenly spaced as much as possible.

Leave about 1" not stitched together so you can thread the plastic headband through like this:
And then finish the long side and your short side with the slip stitch. This is kind of tricky at first since now you're working with a hunk of plastic in your material...

When you finish with that and you fasten off (tie a slip type knot in the end of your work) you need to fish as much of that "tail" into the inside of your headband. When you can get anymore in (don't leave the needle inside) just snip off the end.

Work the material around until it's not all wrinkly and you've completed your very first covered head band (or your very first crochet project!)!

If you made it this far thank you so very much! 

Random good/goofy photos:
They now have use of YCJ's old air mattress

These are some new additions to her penguin collection!!
If you've read this whole entire thing then I owe you a cup of coffee or at the very least a glass of lemonade! :-)
Posts you may have missed this week:    

Linking up with:  
Great Peace Academy (Saturday)

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