Monday, January 31, 2011

Curriculum Week- Reading

   This week I'm going to share with you our curriculum choices for the upcoming year.  A lot of this is new to us so I can't really recommend it, just share our plans. But this first one we have used and will continue to.

   Our favorite privilege in homeschooling is the chance to sit for hours and read aloud to our children.  As I type right now my husband is reading to the boys.  We LOVE to read together.  In this post I share some of the things the kids do while reading- like pattern blocks etc.  Often they'll just sprawl out and get lost in the story.  So first on our list every year is what are we going to read together and individually.  I don't always plan this out down to the book, often just have a loose plan.

   This fall we will be using  Read for the Heart for most of our reading selections.  I love Sally Clarkson and this book is written by her daughter Sarah who grew up being educated through great "living books".  What are "living books"?  I'll get to that in a minute!  First I'll tell you this book is a book of books!!  It's alot like Honey For a Child's Heart.  It has lists of books with brief explanations or summaries.  It has everything from picture books to poetry, history and biographies.  I love this book.  We will use this book to find fun read alouds and books that will help us dig deeper into our history program.

   I'll try to keep this brief, but what is a "living book"?  Living book is a term used by Charlotte Mason.  It's the difference between a boring text book and a great story!  A living book usually has only one author who is passionate about their subject.  It is not a book written by a group trying to figure out what's most important to know about, say, a butterfly.  It would be a book written by one person who LOVES butterflies!  They would draw you into their passion and enthusiasm and while there you would learn and remember more about butterflies then you ever dreamed!  While trying to explain this to Paul when we first started homeschooling I picked up some books about George Washington and told him to join me and the boys and just watch.  I started off  reading some cute kids books about George Washington.  A lot of facts and pieces of different stories.  The usual.  I then would just stop at some odd point and say, "Ok, lets see what this other book tells us."  No big deal they just listened while they sat.  Then I pulled out George Washington's Breakfast. In this book a little boy who shares not only his name but his birthday with George Washington decides to find out what THE George Washington ate for breakfast.  In his quest you dive through all sorts of interesting facts about George Washington but they are not dry facts, they are fun and interesting to this little boy and to the reader.  About mid-way through this book I put it down and said, "Ok, lets move on."  I suddenly had a lot of protests and looked over to see two little boys on their knees leaning forward with eager faces dying to know what came next.  Then I laughed to see my husband joining their protest!  He wanted to know the end too!  That's a living book!  It will appeal to young and old.  It can be a biography, a history or even just a fun fictional story but whatever it is it will fill you. Once I discovered the difference between books and living books I became one of those mom's who would be willing to feed her family beans for a week so I could buy more books!!  I LOVE books!  I was not a huge reader as a kid but as an adult I can't get enough and neither can my kids!

   Where do you find living books?  Well, the book I mentioned above that we are using is a great resource.  Sonlight is known for having great living books which is why we used their curriculum this year.  You can check out their recommendations. Simply Charlotte Mason is a great resource as well as things by recommended  Karen Andreola and Sally Clarkson.  Karen Andreola has a great book of her own called Pocket Full of Pinecones which is a ficitional book about a mom's beginning journey homeschooling trying to implement Charlotte Mason's techniques and style.

   So that's our first big choice for the coming school year which for us will start the first week of August.  Later this week I'll share our history, language, literature, science and math choices.

You may also enjoy:
Our School Year
Daily Schedule
Curriculum Questions

Friday, January 28, 2011

Curriculum Questions

   Holly asked what we were using for Geography and Spelling and I meant to post on that sooner and forgot all about it!  Sorry Holly!

   This year for Geography we are using Geography Songs.  Yup, that's the name :0)  You can find out about it here and I'm sure you can find it cheaper on Amazon or something.  It's a small book with parts of the world broken down into small chunks to memorize (what a horrible explanation!!).  For example you don't learn Asia, you learn the Middle East, East Asia, Western Asia etc.  It's all broken down and each area has a song that goes with it.  The songs are sometimes cute, sometimes annoying, but ALWAYS stay in your head.  My kids can rattle off all of the Middle East along with telling you it's 15 countries of southwest Asia and it's main religions are Muslim, Christian and Jew all from the song!  I made copies of the maps and whatever area we are learning I put inside a laminated manila folder with a clear overhead page on it.  They then trace the areas they are learning while listening to the song with wet erase markers.  I'm amazed at how well they do.  I try to call them one by one to our big world map and initially help them find the area they are mapping and then over time they show it to me.  When I think they have it down pretty good we pull out a big blank world map from Sonlight and they fill in what they know.  I really like the way we are doing this this year.  Sometimes out Sonlight Core takes us through an area too quickly for them to really get.  This year we are just following the plan but next year we'll slow down and really dig deeper.  I love the idea of kids being able to map the world.  I'm ashamed of how often I'll watch the news and have no clue where something is happening.  So, once again I am learning right along with them!

   For spelling, we are NOT you're best people to follow!  We have failed miserably with finding a spelling program we (I) liked.  Charlotte Mason is all about letting kids learn to spell naturally while reading lots and lots of great literature.  I can say this is/has happened with my kids but at a much slower pace than I'd like!  They still misspell some of the simplest words.  So that being said, this year we are following the spelling given by Sonlight in their Language Arts.  It basically presents a group of words around a phonetic spelling rule (you know the ol' i comes before e except after c type rule) each week.  You can go about teaching it anyway you see fit.  For us I let them try their best on Monday (I guess like a pre-test), then each day as we go we talk about the rule and practice the list.  Usually by Friday they have it mastered.  We go word by word and make corrections right away on each word as opposed to checking them all at the end.  This has worked well for us this year.  It's perfect for Caleb, a bit of a challenge for E (so some times I'll change his words), and great review for Carter.  We have never been good at giving each kid a list and then trying to practice with each one every night for the week.  It just never happened, right or wrong.  We tried some online spelling programs and they were great but we only have one computer and it is often being used for typing or Spanish so trying to find more time for three kids to spell wasn't working so well either.  I have also tried to start Sequential Spelling several times and I always have a hard time figuring out how to keep going with one doing well and slow down for one struggling.  Maybe next year we'll try that again but for now the Sonlight list is working well.

   This year we used Sonlight and really enjoyed it.  I don't think we will use it next year simply because we would need two cores to teach the age range we have and it's just too expensive for us to do that.  I am excited though as we've found some new things we'd like to try.  Next week I'll post a bit on some of our plans for this coming year.  Maybe some of you have used what we are looking for and can tell us the good and the bad!  If not you can watch us sink or swim!  Hey, live and learn- that's the plan!

You may also enjoy:
Our School Schedule
A Day Homeschooling
Fridays at Our House

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creative Kids

   One thing I often get comments on is how creative my kids are.  They are always full of some strange BIG idea.  I'm not sure why they are this way, just how the good Lord made them I guess!  In the past I've struggled with ideas for them.  Being someone who loves Charlotte Mason style education, I have often felt a failure when coming up with "handicraft" ideas.  I still have a hard time with that for my boys but luckily they usually don't need my help!!

This is Caleb's latest creation using some new tools he got for Christmas.  He did not follow a plan or design, it was all him.  It's an awesome catapult and shoots from one end of our Family Room (or Kitchen) to the other!

This was all of the kids turning the girl's cottage into a roller coaster.  They would put someone in it, close the cottage up like it's suppose to be for storage and rock it side to side and back and forth.  It was pretty funny. The Monopoly money then came out because of course you have to pay for your ride!  Carter took the camcorder inside and recorded it like he was wearing a helmet cam!

Of course, Lego creations are always being made.

And last week we took the day off of school to build a... ah... I don't know what it is!  A giant snow tower.  Caleb is the one on the ground and he is 5 ft. tall!  They were out from 9am, came in for a 1/2 hour lunch and were back out until a late dinner at around 7!  When I came home from the store that late afternoon I could see the tower a block away!  I came in and asked my husband if the kids were now speaking different languages because it appeared they had built the Tower of Babel in my front yard!!

So is there a point to this post... NOPE!  Just thought I'd share some cool pictures of the crazy things my kids come up with! Hope you have time to be creative today too!

You can also check out:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review- Reshaping It All

   I wanted to share with you all a quick review of this book I am reading.  It's called Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure.  Remember little DJ Tanner from Full House??

   More likely you remember her heart throb brother Kirk!!

   Now that brought you back huh?!!  Anyways, this is Candace now...

    Not the same chubby teenager you remember huh?  In her book she shares how she learned having a healthy body and healthy habits was much more a spiritual issue than she ever imagined.  She shares great tips, stories and recipes.  It was very inspiring.  I flew through it quite quickly and tried her roasted broccoli recipe tonight and the whole family gave it a big thumbs up!  Healthy, yummy and quick...SOLD!  Candace is sold out for Christ and shares the story of her walk in faith and the things she's learned and is still learning about being a wife, mom, actress and most importantly a child of God.  If you need a little post new years motivation this might be the read for you!  It's at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and I found it on a great sale at a local Christian bookstore.  Definitely a good buy.  Check it out :0)

You may also enjoy this review:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Birthday Boy!!

   My baby is 13!!!  How is that possible??  I just spent my weekend with 6 preteen/teen boys!  They ate A LOT of sugar, stayed up ALL night long and were a blast!  They were in boy heaven as everyone brought their favorite video games and hand held devices.  At one point Paul went down and shot them all with the Nerf guns because they were all so entranced in their games and quiet.  We had four on the couch linked up and two playing Toy Story on the big TV!  They ate 1 giant chocolate chip cookie cake, 4 2 liters of pop, 2 3ft long gummy snakes (a Carter birthday tradition), some chocolate peanut butter concoction Asher came up with, 3 pizzas and after all that sugar chose Pop Tarts over homemade pancakes for breakfast!  They were outside in 10 degree weather at 8:30 in the morning!  Ahhhh, you gotta love it!!

   My first baby... he was so much fun.  Always happy and talked constantly, still does (no idea where he gets that from! Ha!!).  It's funny, being my first, I remember so many of his firsts!  More of his than even Addison who just did those firsts a year ago!  I remember him watching Hard Hat Harry so many times it ruined the VHS tape!  I remember him shooting his colicky baby brother in the car where the poor kid was strapped in next to him while Caleb screamed the whole ride!  I remember all 3 of his broken bones and what a trooper he was.  And now I look UP at him and marvel.  How is this 5'9 1/2" young man my little boy??  How did I get so lucky to have a son who will sit and talk with us as adults and then turn around and be on the same level as his two little sisters and have us all rolling in laughter as they join their biggest brother in another crazy imaginary world of play?

  Carter, I am so very proud of the young man you have become.  Your faith and kindness just shines out from every part of you.  I know you will accomplish anything you set your mind to (except maybe taking over the world- your latest goal). I pray you remain diligent in your work and are a man with integrity, using God's Word as your plumb line always.  May you hold on to Jesus and trust in Him always. I pray that you will continue to be a young man on your knees ;0)  Love you buddy!

Friday, January 21, 2011


versatile: embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills

 Hey I got my first award!  Yay!
Thanks Christy over at Raising Knights! You can check out her life with a handful too!  But all boys!

So I have to answer some questions it says and pass along this award to some other bloggers...  but I don't do a lot of blogs!  The ones I do are not so versatile, except Chirsty's!  And since she's already received this award several times, I'll just answer the questions and maybe pass the award along when I find one that fits the bill... I'm very new to this blogging world.

The 10 Questions...

1. Why did you create this blog?
I love to learn and then share what I've learned with others.  I love to write and I always thought it would be so fun to look back years down the road at where we were when.  I've got literally a big box full of journals gathering dust that nobody will probably ever read.  I figured blogging let me keep journaling and share with others all at the same time.  I'm a deep thinker too and it helps sometimes to write or "talk" out loud for me.  Last but not least, as I've shared my life and faith with others I've been told many times I should write a book.  That's too overwhelming of a thought for me at least right now so I figured this is a good place to start.

2. What kinds of blogs do you follow?
Like-minded moms.  I like watching how other big families run.  I do keep up with two running blogs because it inspires me.  I'm not much of a runner and their discipline amazes me.

3. Favorite make-up brand?
Physicians' Formula organics and Burts Bees lip color 

4. Favorite clothing brand?
Ahhh, does Goodwill count as a brand?  LOL!  I love thrifting and getting a good deal so whatever name brand I come upon!  I do like St. Johns Bay shirts at JC Penny and I will shop at Kohl's if I have to. 

5. Indispensable makeup product?
Mascara- I just bought the Physicians Formula Organic one and I really like it (except it's not waterproof)

6. Favorite color?
I love pink and purple (typical girl I guess).  Lately though when it comes to clothes or accessories I really like that bright but dark mustardy yellow.  It's so ugly it's pretty. 
7. Favorite perfume?
I don't wear perfume, it gives me headaches. Sometimes I'll use Tresor or on the opposite end of price Cover Girl's Navy.  I can do natural fragrances or a sweet smell but once you put flowers in it my nose is not happy.

8. Favorite film?
EASY!!  It's a Wonderful Life!  A close second is The Sound of Music.  Yes, I am that cheesy!  I like romantic comedies and a good musical too.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
 I would love to go to Rome or Greece to see some of the ancient architecture and just drink in the history.  The Holy Land would be amazing as well.

10. Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
Uh, strange question... can I forget both instead of just one side??  

So there ya go!  Have a good weekend :0)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Silly Girl

 Hannah (5)- "Mama!  Look at my beautiful butterfly I drew."

 Mom- "Hannie, that's beautiful.  You took a lot of time on that.  You like to draw don't you!"

 Hannah-  "Yes!"

 Mom- "Maybe when you grow up you will have a job where you get to draw all the time!"

 Hannah- "No Mom, not a draw-er, an ARTist!"

 Mom- "Oh, OK!  An artist you will be."

 Hannah- "Yeah, cuz I loooove arting!"

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finding Time to Exercise

   Here's Wednesday's health tip.  Exercise when you can!  

   As a busy mom I hear all these wonderful people telling me to "schedule your workout time and don't miss it... no matter what!".  Whatever!  Tell that to four of my five children who had the stomach flu this weekend!  "Sorry kids, I've gotta workout!  You know where the toilet is, and, oh yeah, if the baby's diaper leaks again just clean it up please." Right!

   In the summer this is pretty easy for me.  We are a bicycling family.  We are always out with or without the kids on trails.  If I'm not on a bike I'll be out walking and I even started jogging this past summer.  Then it gets dark so early come fall I can't sneak out when I normally do. So now I set a couple times during the day with the goal to hit one of them! This may seem like a no brainer to you all but I am really an all or nothing person in some areas and this was one. I always thought, "I'll exercise at 6:30 am."  Then I had kids up all night or Paul and I decided to embrace the night owls we are and stayed up late watching a movie (or two) and there was NO WAY I'd get up at 6:30 so I'd figure my day was shot.  And of course I'd add big heaps of guilt on top of myself  which didn't help me look forward to exercise much. Now I'm a bit more realistic (read smarter).  I have that 6:30 time slot but if I sleep in I also know I have from 2-3:00 to exercise instead of rest if I need it.  Now, I'd rather rest and relax which encourages the 6:30, but I know I have a back up.  This also helps if I know we are going to be gone in the afternoon- I better get my tush out of bed in the morning.  Come  summer I'll be back to my lovely evenings.  I guess there is actually something nice about having different routines for different seasons. Not much is predictable in life with a handful of kids, you just have to start to roll with it ya know!

I'm learning to embrace the craziness of life here lately. Join's so much nicer here!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heart Wrenching

    It was about a year ago, I guess February.  Addison was 9 months old.  We had just gotten new furniture and  painted several rooms.  The house had been a mess as it is when you paint and it was driving Paul crazy.  I, the eternal optimist was trying to be cheerful and assure him it wouldn't take that long.  I don't remember what day it was but Paul was working and our furniture had been delivered while he was gone.  I was determined to make the house look beautiful and normal so I had been working hard all day long.  He was on his way home and I was even lighting candles!  I went into our bedroom to grab an extension cord I needed with Addie in my arms.  I had been putting her needs aside all day to get my stuff done and she was NOT going to be ignored any longer.  I sat her on my bed and put my hand right in front of her and then turned my head to grab the cord.

   In a fraction of a second I heard the horrible noise.  She had fallen from our waist high bed face first onto the  hardwood floor.  The sound wasn't a hard clunk but a soft mush.  I turned to the bed and my brain skipped a second trying to figure out what had happened.  I turned and saw her face down several feet from the bed.  I scooped her up and saw blood everywhere.  In a flash my mind jumped to a mission trip I  had taken when Caleb was a baby.  We had visited a nursing home and I was surprised to see a young woman in her 30's there as a resident.  The nurses informed us she had fallen off her family's couch as a baby onto a hard floor and suffered brain damage.  She functioned at the level of an 8-10 year old.

   Paul had just pulled into the driveway and I met him at the door yelling, "help me" and handed him Addison.  He rushed to the bathroom and used the blue newborn syringe to suck blood out of her mouth over and over.  I called our doctor and the nurse told us to go right the ER.  After several minutes we got the blood  under control and because it had snowed and the car seat was in the van, Paul went to brush it off and warm it up. I took Addison and paced back and forth trying not to freak out as she laid her head quietly on my chest.  After a moment she seemed to go limp.  I thought she maybe lost consciousness and I lifted her up to find her awake but limp.  She wouldn't lift her head, she wouldn't look at me, she wouldn't make a noise... she wouldn't lift her head!  I screamed for Paul and called 911.

  As I talked to 911 and asked a million times how long it takes to come the doctor called on the other line and told us yes we should have called 911 right away.  I hung up from him and called our pastor.  Poor guy had no idea who I was but somehow figured it out in the midst of sobbing- Addison, fall, not responding, blood, baby, pray.  I hung up and called a friend and poured out the same message and just kept saying, "She's not OK, she's not OK."  The first responder came and took Addison from Paul.  She still wasn't making a sound.  We told him what happened as he moved her limbs, tried to get a response of any kind or get her to track his fingers... nothing.  She just laid there.  I lost it.  I went to our front room amidst all our new furniture and fell to my knees sobbing.  I wish I had held her all day.  I wish I never tried to make the stupid house look pretty. I wish I hadn't tried to rush in one last thing to make it perfect.  I didn't know how I'd live with myself if she were brain damaged or blind or, God forbid died.  How would I live if every time someone looked at her in the future they looked at me and knew I robbed her of what she could have been?

   The paramedics showed up and took over.  The first responder filled them in and they started checking her out.  What we didn't know at that time was our pastor had started calling the congregation, my friend started calling friends and they called friends we didn't even know.  Prayers had started a snowball to Heaven we were unaware of.  Suddenly Addison cried.  Music to our ears.  As the paramedics secured her in the ambulance she began to respond more and more to them.  She let them know she was NOT happy they were  poking and prodding her!  They started to reassure me she looked good, babies are resilent and even asked if I was a first time mom! (Yes, I really had lost it that bad.)  When we arrived in the ER they told a two part story- She had fallen, lots of blood, was not responding to stimulus for the first responder. "For us she's been doing well and looks good besides the facial swelling."  Over the next two hours and a clean ct scan our Addison slowly came back to us.  It wasn't an instant healing or miraculous moment, more like the slow opening of a rose.  And boy was it beautiful.  When we later heard about the prayers it was as if we could look back and see her slowly coming out of her daze prayer by prayer.  Later at a follow up appointment we were told how blessed we were she fell on her face.  Apparently her face had worked almost as a shock absorber to protect her skull and brain.  She was going to be OK.

   Why am I sharing this?  I don't like to think of it often.  It was truly one of my scariest "mommy moments" ever.  I'm sharing because this week someone shared this blog with me.  Their story I understood only up to the ambulance arriving.  Their precious boy who was Addie's age now died just before Christmas.  He did not fall but had a dresser fall on him.  The story will make you sob, for me it flashed me back to that moment and reminded me what could have been. It is heart wrenching. If you need to be reminded how good your crazy kid filled life is, one reading of this woman's honest journey to find life again will touch you to the core.  If you have a moment check it out. If you do or don't please pray for peace and comfort for this family.  Their children were all together when it happened and it will be a long road for them.  Then, like I need to tell you this... go hug hug hug your children and thank the Lord for this very moment and day.

Monday, January 17, 2011


    Well, we survived!  Yay!  Today I'll share our chores that we do now.  As I've said these have changed often over the years but this is where we are now.  I'm trying to think of the best way to write this without being confusing!

Before Breakfast Chores (done EVERY morning at 8:00 except Sundays)
Mom- Disinfect counters and tables, fold laundry
Carter (13)- Switch and start one load of laundry- bring basket up to Mom, scoop cat litter
Caleb (10)- Empty and load dishwasher
Elijah (7)- Tidy the downstairs family room, sort clothes in laundry room
Hannah (5)- none, she's usually sleeping still

After Breakfast Chores (done every week day) if these have a / that means we do one one week and the other the next rotating back and forth
Mom- Straighten Laundry Room/Store Room
Carter- Sweep and Mop Kitchen
Caleb- CLEAN sinks and Tub/Shower
Elijah- Vacuum Family Room and clean TV
Mom- Clean under upstairs furniture (dusty hard wood floors)
Carter- Clean an entry way (dust, wipe finger prints, sweep or shovel porches)
Caleb- Vacuum Girl's Room, Front Room and School Room
Elijah- Dust School Room, Empty Recycle, Vacuum Laundry Room
Mom- Extras (cleaning microwave or trash cans, bedrooms or something that's been bugging me as I pass)
Carter- Glass cleaning (mirrors, slider door etc.) and Wipe Down Refrigerator Shelves (2-3 a week)
Caleb- Wipe Sinks and CLEAN toilets
Elijah- Vacuum Steps and Nook, Mop Nook/Wipe Down Steps
Mom- Do a follow up cleaning of the bathrooms
Carter- Check and Record Store Room Needs/Clean Out Van
Caleb- Dust Front Room and Take Trash to the Road
Elijah- Vacuum Front Room and Take Recycle to the Road
Mom- Vacuum Furniture
Carter- Wipe Fronts of Kitchen Cupboards and Appliances
Caleb- Wipe Down Bathrooms, Sweep and Mop Up/Down
Elijah- Dust Family Room, Vacuum Boy's Room

Hannah's Morning Jobs
(5 years old)
-get dressed
-brush teeth
-get hair done
-empty bathroom trashes
-feed Moses (cat)
-make bed
-tidy room
-vacuum hard floors (we have a mini stick vac she loves so I run with it!)

Table Chores
After lunch Carter is responsible for wiping down the counters and cleaning them up, Caleb the table and Elijah the floor.
After dinner there are 3 chore options: 1- Dishes (this is washing pots and pans and wiping down the stove top) 2- Table (help clear table and wipe counters and table) 3- Floors (sweep when everyone else is done)
They just call what they want to do or "shoot" for it (rock,paper, scissors or odds/evens) or sometimes I'll send them all down with Daddy and I'll clean it up, just depends on the day.

   I catch up with laundry on Saturdays (we would need to do a good 2 loads a day to keep up and I'm not into doing laundry that often!).  We switch sheets when needed on Fridays. On Saturdays I also try to plan and prep meals for Sunday and lay out clothes and things we need for Sunday mornings. The kids often have an activity on Wednesdays so I try to make that my errand day and spend Tuesday gathering up a list so hopefully I don't have to run out any other day.

   That's it.  It may sound or look like a lot but it takes about 15 minutes before Breakfast and 15-20 after with a little extra work on Friday or Saturday for Mom. Truly many hands make lighter work!  Addison will join us when she turns 2 starting with the bathroom trashes :0)  This keeps our house in working order and I don't need to ever have an all day cleaning marathon unless we neglect it all for a week or more which rarely happens.  I've got a lot of my ideas on handling our home from Fly Lady.  She's big on 15 minute jobs which has worked so well for us.  She also does Zones so she never has to do "Spring Cleaning".  That's kind of what I do on Wednesdays, do something that often gets put off.  Having a plan and writing it all down has helped me tremendously! Having so many hands helps get the cleaning done but it can get overwhelming if they're always asking what they're suppose to do and you're just thinking stuff up as you go. Remember if you're looking at our list and don't have 5 kids you probably have no need for cleaning your bathroom as often as we do!  We have a small home so it's quick to clean but quick to get dirty too! Hope that helps you some!

Would life be easier if you sat and planned out what YOUR home needed done each week?  What jobs can you break into smaller tasks to teach your kids as they grow?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stomach Flu

   Well I planned to share chores but instead we are all sharing the stomach flu. 5 down (including mom and dad), 2 holding out.  Lets you know your alive!  We'll try for the chores Monday...if we survive.  Just kidding!

Have a healthy weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Teaching Chores

    We have had many different chore lists and charts over the years.  They change often because as the children grow they can do more things.  Our goal here is not to make our children slaves but to realize our goal is to be raising them into healthy functioning adults.  Adults who can keep a house and their body in check.

    In our home chores start when you are very young.  Addison at 19 months has a few things that are her "job" already.  Hannah age 5 is a great help.  I think it's the Amish who say by age 7 a child should be a blessing not a burden upon their family in the area of chores and I agree.  Around 7 they can handle much more.

   Our little ones start with helping Mama and Daddy.  It's very positive, very cute and they are VERY proud.  Addison throws out her own diapers (wet ones) and puts her clothes in the clothes shoot (along with many other things!).  We walk beside her as she does this and praise her and clap.  To her it's not a chore, it's a game! But we know it's a stepping stone to becoming a helper, a team player in our home.

    When they start taking on real chores I walk beside them for the first week or so.  I'll show them how, let them help, let them show me and then go it alone and I will check when they are done.  Here's an example:  All of our children's first "real" chore is emptying the bathroom trashes into the kitchen trash can.  So the first time or two I do it and show them how to put it right back where it was and pick up anything that fell out.  Then I help them carry it.  When I think they got it I tell them to go ahead and I walk with them and watch and help.  When they show they got it I let them go.  When they are older it's basically the same process just much faster or broken down into steps to learn as they go. Carter recently learned to do laundry.  When younger he was taught how to empty the dryer, then how to take the wet clothes out and put them in the dryer and turn it on. Later he learned to  sort clothes for me.  From there the jump to doing laundry was pretty easy.  I taught him what temperature and how much soap and that was about all there was. I wash and sort very simply (I'll post on that maybe another day!).

    We have also learned over the years that it's easiest to put chores around meal times.  I don't know why that's true except for the fact that you always eat I guess so that time always happens.  We do some things before breakfast and some after.  Those two times hold most of our chores.  Bedrooms are straightened, bodies are taken care of and the house is clean and ready for school.  At lunch the boys have assigned chores in the kitchen of wiping counters and tables and sweeping the floor.  At dinner we have a list of chores and they choose what they want.  If two choose the same thing they "shoot for it" (rock paper scissors or odds and evens).  The chores we have in place now keep our home in order and decently clean.  If you are a clean freak you will not be comfortable looking too closely at my home. There are fingerprints on the windows and walls often and at times very dusty baseboards and ceilings, but, in general it is clean.

   The nice thing now is if it's a week off of school or a lazy day the chores may not get done until afternoon or evening but it's such a routine/habit it USUALLY gets done.  Thankfully my kids are morning people and even if I've overslept my 6:30am workout (which has been all this week!) and sleep in until 8:00 I am usually stirred awake by the noise of my dishwasher getting emptied!  Chores and the regularity of them getting done has changed a lot over the last three years.  The difference of a 13,10 and 7 year old and a 10,7 and 4 year old is HUGE!!  Years ago I would see these other families so on track and feel like a loser.  Now I realize it really does get better as they get older.  I know that doesn't help if you have all younger ones now!  I recently watched an update on the McCaughey septuplets (7) turning 13.  I love watching them because her due date was very close to mine with my first pregnancy.  She said something that I thought was so true, I'm not quoting exact here but something along the lines of, "When they're younger you can't see past the days like this.  You wake up feeling like everyday is going to be just like this day.  It feels that way but really everyday is changing and suddenly you look back and realize how quickly those days that seemed never ending are done!"  The most true mommy statement I've ever heard!

   Tomorrow I'll post our chore list we use but for now I'll leave you with a few ideas for little ones-

2 years old and up- (this is when we start "real" chores)
-empty bathroom trashes into the kitchen trash
-clear napkins and wipe chairs after meals
-help feed the cat or dog
-give a damp rag and have them wipe anything (if you're really daring give them a squirt bottle of water!)
3-4years old-
-empty "kids stuff" out of the dishwasher
-empty the dryer and the lint trap
-feed cat or dog on their own
-sweep up Mama's pile of dirt with the little broom and dustpan

-help carry dirty clothes to the laundry room and help Mama or brothers sort clothes
-put the clothes Mama hands them into the dryer
-help cook!  Learn to crack eggs and stir!

These ages are messy but fun.  Having them work with you keeps them out of loads of trouble, makes them feel important and gives you lots of time to talk and tie those heart strings!  Work together today!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday's Health Tip

    I'm assuming like me, many of you have goals for a healthier new year.  On Wednesdays I will try to post a quick healthy tip, a recipe I use or something I've heard of that sounds interesting to try.

   Today I'll share with you my new favorite breakfast!  I'm not a big breakfast eater and I really struggle to get something in me before lunch- but I know I "should" and it's good for me.  So I stumbled upon this idea while "surfing" one night and it is so simple an soooo yummy.  Simply cut up an apple into bite size pieces, add a tablespoon of walnuts broken into pieces and a tablespoon or so of raisins that you soak for a minute or so in hot water (don't add the water to your apple).  That's it.  It's got fiber, fat and a bit of sweet with the raisins and it really satisfies me. I'm not a big raisin fan but soaking them makes them not so chewy and I actually enjoy them. It's only about 150 calories for those of you counting and even the kids love it.  This will be on my breakfast list for a long time.  Especially on hot summer mornings or a simple thing to pack for camping.

Give it a try!  Tomorrow I'll get back on track sharing our chores.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

School Schedule

    Today I'll share our school day with you.  I'll give a little detail on what we use (maybe another day I'll do more) but this will give you the "insiders" look on our school day!

9:30 Table Time
School starts at the table together.  We do spelling words, mapping, copy work or journaling, handwriting books, and some kind of small writing work like learning how to put thoughts together, adding details etc. This is where we also work on our Memory Box which I talked about here. We have Scripture and lots of other things mixed in like personal info and even grammar rules and science facts.  My kids love to memorize and this helps me keep it all organized. The kids work in their handwriting books (learning cursive etc.) while waiting.  Elijah takes a bit longer on writing. Caleb is a little longer on spelling.  If you're done and waiting you can work on something quietly but you may not distract everyone at the table!
Next! Independent Work
Table Time ends at a different time everyday, but when it's done they move on to their own quiet work.  The older boys have typing, math and memory work(something for public speaking- right now it's a poem). Elijah has all the same minus the typing for now and Carter is working through a Grammar program that I tried doing with several kids at once and decided I might lose my mind- so he's the lucky one this year!
11:30 Core
This year we are using Sonlight Core 1+2 all together along with their science(this is waaayyy below Carter but he digs deeper in his reading and I like us learning together as much as possible).  Sonlight Core includes a Bible reading, memory work, history readings, prayer for different countries we are learning about, Geography Songs (whatever song we are working on is what we map at Table Time), a fun read-aloud, poetry and right now Aesop's Fables. Science right now is weather so yesterday we read and learned how to make a cloud in a bottle (pretty cool actually). This is done mostly as read alouds and we are all together with little ones running here and there and occasionally interrupting.  While I read they can draw or I have a few drawers of quiet play things they may get out to do including pattern blocks like these and butterflies like these.  They are allowed to do these things quietly while I read EXCEPT when reading the Bible which deserves proper respect- mouth closed and eyes on the reader.
After Core it's usually lunch time. If it's not and they have time they can finish any other assignments they have not finished.
Quiet Reading Time
After lunch they have a bit of a break until 2:00.  At 2 they read quietly all spread out throughout the house.  Today I have two in the front room and two downstairs.  My beginning readers are usually close with lots of questions in the beginning.  This year Caleb and Elijah are doing Sonlight readers.  Elijah is in Readers 1 (1st-3rd grade books) and Caleb is working on enjoying reading after quite a big of struggling. He is doing Intermediate 2 which is 2nd-6th grade reading.  Hannah is working on Reading Made Easy which is a lot like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons type book. Carter always has his nose in a book so he's not really an issue.  Right now he's reading the first book in The Lord of the Rings series and has 3 or 4 books on hold at the library on military history.  He loves to read which I hold tightly to because that was not the case AT ALL until mid to late 4th grade for him.  He, like Caleb really struggled.  One day something just clicked all on it's own.  Caleb's didn't click on his own, but backing him up and making reading easy (even though he "could" do more) has helped a ton.  Carter and Caleb also read a daily Bible reading.  The two boys and Paul and I are doing a read through your Bible in a year program. This year we are doing a chronological reading and next year we will choose something different.  We just started this in the fall and I really like it.  We can all discuss what we are reading and be on the same page.

    That's it!  That is our day.  I can't think of anything else major we do on a regular basis.  We have lots of ideas and goals for next year but right now we are just faithfully plugging away. What does your school day look like?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Daily Schedule

     This week I'm going to share some of our schedules and charts that keep our family running.  I figured the most logical place to start was our Daily Schedule.  We follow this pretty closely on school weeks.  If we're off of school we are looser with times but the same things generally get done everyday.

This is for me and the boys.  I'll share how the girls work in at the end.

6:30 (on good days) Mom exercises, showers and gets ready for the day
7:00- Carter (13 at the end of this month) up and in the shower
When he gets out he wakes up Caleb (10) and Elijah (7).  They get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, pick up their room and make their beds.
8:00 Mom and boys do B4 Breakfast Chores
8:30 Breakfast
If we are on task and time we sit down together and we'll read a devotion and sing a few hymns or work on learning a new one.  This doesn't always happen but we're working on making it more of our "norm".
9:00 After Breakfast Chores
9:30 School Starts (I'll share this tomorrow)
12:30 Lunch
After Lunch we finish up any school that needs to be done besides reading.  If all your work is done then you are free to go outside or do whatever.  In the winter I'll sometimes allow them on the Wii to get some energy out.
2-3:30 Quiet Reading Time
This is when the kids do their "school" reading, daily Bible reading and any other reading they'd like.  If they finish their required reading they are allowed to draw/color or go to the boy's room and quietly play Legos while listening to Adventures in Odyssey.  Sometimes I'll set out play dough or arts and crafts things at the table for them to do QUIETLY.  If they can't be quiet then they're done.  This is "suppose" to be Mom's quiet time to chill out and relax.  I'll watch TV, read, talk on the phone or hop on the computer on a good day.  Most days I'm picking up from the day and preparing for the evening all while answering 7,500 "mom? what does _ _ _ _ _ spell??" questions.
3:30-5:30 Free Time
For those who earned computer time they have a set hour they can play.  They earn 1 hour a day they can watch TV, play on the computer or video games.  They can do this anytime after Quiet Reading Time.  Lately however, they all like to play a strategy game on the computer so they have a set hour they can do that to avoid the argument of whose time it is. (Elijah 3:30-4:30, Carter 4:30-5:30, Caleb 6:30-7:30)
5:30-6:30 Dinner Hour
We eat (duh) and then usually read some of our family read aloud and since Christmas we do some Mind Traps.  We love these!  We'll also just talk about the day, sometimes do a devotion and often pull out a game.  We really feel meal times offer us great opportunities to have fellowship and disciple our children.  Something about good food and everyone in one spot opens hearts, mouths and minds.
After Dinner-
During this time we cycle through shower and bath times.  Caleb still has his computer hour if he wants it.  This is the time we will play board/card games, read aloud some more or watch a family movie or show. Because we only have so much hot water Mom, Dad and Carter shower in the morning.  The girls have baths usually on T/T/Sat. and the boys do M/W/F and then work in Saturday or Sunday morning.  We've never been a bath everyday family for our littles.
This varies.  Addison's bedtime is usually between 7 & 8:00.  Everyone else is 8:00 unless there is a family show on.  We like to watch Biggest Loser and Survivor together.  Both of those are often cut short because of language or attitudes we'd rather not repeat.  The kids know Mom and Dad have veto power at any moment.  They also know at commercials it will be muted and often we tell them to turn around or close their eyes. We'll say, "Don't look" and they'll all close their eyes or turn. Because it's muted sometimes we forget to tell them it's fine to look!  We'll be talking and finally someone will say, "Can we look now?!" This may sound silly but seriously some of those detective type shows have some of the worst commercials ever!  Not to mention the fact that Victoria Secret and Go Daddy commercials are practically pornographic! If you're amazed at how long our kids "sleep" don't be.  Remember all our children share a room.  3 boys in one 2 girls in the other and that equals lots of talking and giggling.  We learned a long time ago if we want them asleep by 10:00, 8:00 bedtime is our best bet of that happening!  If there's not a "family show" on they are allowed to listen to a story on tape or read for a bit.

    The girls are allowed to sleep until they wake on their own.  This is usually sometime between 8 and 9:00.  Hannah has her own Morning Chores and I get them dressed and do hair as I'm doing other things (between spelling words etc.).  Hannah joins us for some school and usually at some point wanders off to play with her stuffed animals.  Addison's job is to get in the way and cause trouble and most days she's FANTASTIC at it! I was really frustrated with this about a month ago but I was reminded how quickly it will pass and I know it's true.  So for now we just enjoy the chaos.

   Does this sound complicated??  I hope not.  After years of trying different schedules I found certain things we always did no matter what.  For example hours for quiet almost always seemed to hit around 2.  Dinner always happened around 5:30/6 even when I wasn't going by the clock.  We preferred to have the kids in bed around 8 to have some time for "us" and give them time to talk.  After filling those things in it was pretty simple to plug in the best time for chores, school, baths etc.

So there ya go.  A day in our life :0)

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Friday, January 7, 2011


    Next week I plan on sharing with you some of our schedules, routines and chore/school charts that keep our days straight.  If you know me well you know I LOVE talking schedules and routines.  I love organizing things like that and I really like to ask others how they do things.  I'm always looking for ways to make life easier for all of us.

    As I was looking through what we use and what I would be sharing next week I had to laugh.  On my charts and routines of course I am on there too with all sorts of well thought out ideas and plans but... MINE rarely get done!!  I am usually too busy watching over everyone else and directing people that I never get to my stuff!  That  even included not getting my shower yesterday!

   So for all you SAHM's out there, I am so with you!  Whether you homeschool or not.  Whether you have 5 children or 2 (for we know that children expand to fill the space they are given- so 1 can feel like 5 some days!). It is so great to plan but realize it often doesn't get done!  For many years I have thought I just needed more discipline but I've come to realize what I needed was to either get real or trade my kids in for adults!  Kids challenge and complain and need direction and distract you and frustrate you and crack you up and and and!  A schedule or a routine or a chore chart are there to give your brain a rest from thinking through all these things over and over again.  Unfortunately what they don't do is make your house or your kids perfect (darn it!).  I should add or you!  It won't make you perfect either.  I know, what a bummer huh.

   Next week I will share things that make our life easier WHEN we do them.  There's your confession.  We don't always do them and they don't make our home life look like we could drop into The Sound of Music unnoticed.  We could be there when the kids are hanging from trees or tipping over in the boat, but that's about it :0)

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011


    I went to the mall with a friend a week or so ago and it was kind of a strange experience for me.  She was looking at clothes for her children... doesn't sound so strange to most but we have almost never bought clothes for our children!  Honest!  A quick reminder, my children are almost 13,10,7,5 and 1 and yes you heard right... I don't buy them clothes!

    If you think they are running around naked, I assure you they are not :0)  This is an area in our lives the Lord has provided abundantly.  When our oldest was born my mom did childcare for a family with only one little boy.  They were very well off and decided to just give me all of their sons clothes he outgrew.  I remember holding my 3 month old son sorting through 3T clothes thinking he'd NEVER be that big!  That was the beginning and really since then people we know and sometimes people we don't know will give us clothes!  It has been amazing to see how God provides.

    I have bought clothes for my boys twice that I remember.  Once Carter needed all new fall clothes and once he and Caleb needed some summer things.  I have bought a suit for a wedding for one boy, we've picked up a cute dress for Hannah once and I bought a special birthday onsie and dress for my youngest.  That is all I have ever bought new besides socks and unders and occasional sleep pants for the boys.  I do love "thrifting" and going to area mission thrift stores or Goodwill and finding a deal.  I found an adorable Christmas dress for Addison this year for 99 cents!  But really everything we've ever needed has been provided.  Grandma will pick up deals, Nana will go to garage sales or clothes just show up from someone!

   Last fall was amazing.  I had told Paul we needed quite a bit for baby Addison as she was not the same size/season as Hannah was and within three days my cousin offered me up more clothes than any one girl ever needed without our ever mentioning the need!  This year I was starting to stress over Carter growing so much/fast (he's grown 7 1/2 inches this year!) and we visited our friends Pam and Mark who have two older boys.  When I mentioned how fast he was growing and that I needed to go find super skinny but long jeans she started grinning and brought me to the closet of her youngest son who happened to recently outgrow that exact size.  I left with a huge bag of pants and shirts for him!  God has even provided when we don't need it!!  This winter Hannah decided she "needed" "new" clothes.  She really had no NEED just a girly desire!  Then a new friend from the boys Lego class asked if we'd like her daughter's hand me downs!  Another big bag full of great clothes and Hannah was in heaven!

    I totally don't mind having this provided because I'm not a big shopper.  Honestly I'd probably faint if I had to buy a whole new wardrobe for my kids!  My kids don't even think about going to a store for clothes.  Shopping for them is sorting through bags of clothes given.  Hannah went shopping this fall at the age of 5 for the first time ever.  It was the first time anyone had taken her to a store to look at or buy clothes.  My mom blessed her with the opportunity to pick out one special outfit.  She was so excited and I don't think my mom believed me that she had really NEVER done that!

    When I see a need I pray and it is provided.  Isn't that crazy?  I mean it's not but it is... I just ask and receive!  I don't always think of that in life.  If we need a new car I'll stress and we start looking at vehicles.  If we need something I often look to myself to figure it out.  I'm learning slowly but surely.  Sometimes, as a single income family with 5 children the only choice is to pray!  I am always amazed and then ashamed that I'm amazed- God always provides!

Some days I just want to shout from the roof tops "I LOVE MY LORD!!! HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT HE DOES? HAVE YOU HEARD WHAT HE DID?  HE LOVES ME!  OH, HOW HE LOVES ME!"  How do we possibly put into words how awesome God the Creator and Christ our Savior is?  Impossible!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Great Book!

   I don't know what to call it when I share a book... I'll be sharing a lot because reading is one of my favorite things to do!  So maybe there will be a million posts titled "Great Book"!  Let me know if you have any better ideas for me!

    For Christmas my mom got us a couple new books.  Our family is big on read alouds and big on games.  You'll find us doing both of these almost everyday and often for hours on end. Well, this book we cannot get enough of!  It's called Heaven is for Real: A Little Boys Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.  The little boy is around 4 years old when his appendix ruptures and it is not caught for almost five days.  The father writes the book, telling the whole story but using the little boy's words whenever he is speaking.  It is hard to put down!  Last night we read for well over an hour and every time we'd finish a chapter we all just sat and looked at each other and then dove in for more!  We are at the point now where he will start to talk about what happened on his "trip" today.  So far we just know about his family and how sick he really was.

   There were a few times I had to take a deep breath to keep reading without crying.  As a parent, imagining the helplessness they felt was heart breaking.  Everyone keeps laughing as we read because as the story starts to unfold the father keeps saying, "Wow!  Those Sunday School teachers are fantastic!" because some of the things the little boy is sharing he knows he never taught him.  We are loving this book!

    We read to learn. We read for information.  We read to draw us closer to God.  AND we read for FUN! I'm interested to see when we finish what we'll think this "read" was.  I think it may be all the above!

If you have a chance to grab a new book this year, check this one out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Great Help

    My birthday present from my mother-in-law this year I LOVE!  It was a subscription to Homeschooling Today magazine.  I've been finding time to sneak off to the local library lately to read it and it was so nice when it showed up in my mailbox!

    I like this magazine for many reasons.  First it is a "Journal of Home Discipleship" and it talks about so much more than homeschooling.  It talks about relationships and that's what we are all about.  It also has a calendar every month that gives you suggestions on how to use things in the magazine and take advantage of the season.  For example, at Christmas it gave several books to read and a few activities to do as a family.  It also has an artist every issue with samples of their famous works.  I decided to remove this part from the magazine and put it in plastic page protectors and put those in a three ring binder.  It will become our artist/picture study notebook.  I plan on putting it out on the table while we are doing group work.  Sometimes my oldest finishes fast or the youngest isn't required to do what we are doing for a minute and I plan on taking advantage of those moments.  They can quietly look through the notebook as they wait.  At other times we'll sit together and look and talk through some of the questions that pop up or are provided.

    It also features articles from R.C. Sproul Jr. who wrote When You Rise Up.  I just read this over the holiday and really enjoyed it.  I'm not sure I agree with everything he shares but it really gets you thinking about your choices and beliefs on homeschooling.  In the last issue of the magazine his wife wrote a great article on "Quiet Time".  You know the thing that hangs over every Christian woman that we "should do" everyday.  Her article was freeing along with really making me stop and think.  Nowhere is a "Quiet Time" commanded in the Bible.  NOT that reading your Bible everyday is bad or should not be done, but the pressure of how to do it "right" has made the Bible more of a stumbling block than a refuge for many women.

    I will say it's hard to get hold of anyone from the magazine if you have trouble or questions.  I wanted to place their button on my blog for people and I never heard back.  Also my first issue was slow in coming and when I went to inquire as to when I should expect it, again no response.  That being said, it came and I loved it!  So I'm truly getting nothing out of this if you check it out but I think you will get a lot out of it if you do!  There are several other homeschooling magazines but this is my favorite.

Encouraging, inspiring and not too pricey...perfect in my book!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

   So, it's too boring with ONLY 5 kids to ring in the New Year "alone"!  We usually have two families over with a total of 19 children between the 3 of us.  But sad to say one family moved and couldn't make it this year :0(  We invited a friend with his two boys and brought our total up to 14 kids and 5 adults.  We sat around and chatted and the kids played Nerf and Wii and all that fun stuff.  Every year at midnight I try to come up with something to throw at the kids- silly string, poppers etc.  This year the kids were so sure we'd have silly string so... we did!

Right before the ball dropped.  (Some kids were sleeping or gone from this pic.)

The attack!! (Only grown-ups are armed with silly string.)

    Fun!!  It has been a lazy but busy 3 weeks off and I'm not sure I'm ready to jump back in but here we go.
 I am thankful to be healthy and able to take care of my own children this year after 3 months last year of depending on the kindness of others to make it through our days.  God was faithful and I learned a lot.  I hope this year to take the time to put into practice what He taught me and share it with others like you.  In upcoming posts I hope to share some of our/my goals for the new year, some of the curriculum we've used this year along with plans of what we're trying different in the coming year.  I'll also share some books, CD's and DVDs that have been a great help to me.  I'll talk a little about our family's rules, parenting strategies and plans for hospitality and volunteering opportunities WITH our children. I'm excited to see what the year holds as we all grow in faith and love.

Blessings on your new year :0)
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