Friday, August 27, 2010

My Father's World and More Homeschool

Last year we started Adventures in My Father's World (2nd/3rd grade) for our history, part of science and some of our bible. I added in my own science with Sonlight Science K and my own bible stuff, too. Sid was an advanced 2nd grader last year and Princess Pea in K sat in all the read alouds and did much of the notebooking. I started school just 7 weeks before Myra was born in September, thus only getting through 7 weeks of MFW. Over the next year, with all of Myra's special needs, doctor appointments and lack of schedule and sleep, I only made it through weeks 8-10 in MFW, and I didn't do much extra with them besides the book basket. We focused on bible, character training, math and reading and did minimal spelling, science and language.

So, I am starting in full swing again this year and am tackling all the subject areas, starting this week. We did MFW history week 11 last week, mostly just the reading. I have jumbled up the science in MFW, bulking their weeks together to make open weeks to add in Sonlight Science K because I think MFW science is pretty minimal for my taste. So, the science we do rarely is on the correct corresponding week. So, please know that if you decide to follow my MFW posts.

So, I'll be back to posting each of my MFW weeks and sharing all my ideas with you. I won't be doing as many projects this year as I did those first 7 weeks last year, due to time restraints with a special needs baby, but I always try to spice things up as much as I can in school. I want them to enjoy and remember history, because I never did. But, in case you are just joining me, here are my old MFW posts for weeks 1-7.

MFW weeks 1&2, Ericsson & Columbus
MFW week 3, Columbus
MFW week 4, Native Americans
MFW week 5, Pilgrims
MFW week 6, New Netherlands
MFW week 7, Pioneers

Again, 8-10 wasn't really recorded and we did minimal work and just read through the suggested reading and some book basket books.

So, onto weeks 11 & 12!

Week 11: Last week we studied President Washington. I hadn't yet added in formal character training (but there is daily character training going on around here as kids learn to work together and get along), a Preshcool theme or science until week 12. So, there isn't much to share for this week. Our best book basket book was the Landmark book on George Washington. My kids love those Landmark books! I planned to do the bird studying on the correct weeks for MFW, but I currently can't find my Birds, Nests and Eggs book...

This week (MFW week 12) we are studying the first 4 ratified states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia), African Elephants in Preschool (her choice), Selfishness for character training and a quick overview of seasons and weather in science (still haven't found my bird book for MFW science).

Here are our book basket books for MFW history week 12. Since we are only covering a state each day, I didn't want to overwhelm the kids with books and facts. Two were short, informative books and the state alphabet series books had some great pictures and fun facts.

Sid the Science Kid had one chapter book to complete this week,
Cornstalks and Cannonballs
Princess Pea working on her state page for Delaware...
I was impressed with how well she did copying the pictures!
Sid did just as well on his, too!

The Liberty bells we made on Pennsylvania day with real bells!

I completely forgot to photograph Grandma K's peach pudding we made on Georgia day....ooops! It wasn't as good as Grandma's, but the kids enjoyed it!

These are our Preschool books for the week on African Elephants. I usually read one nonfiction and one fiction book each day for Preschool and then we have activities most days. This week I'm just easing back into full-time school, so we nixed much of the extra activity stuff for the sake of just making it through the week and getting it all done. She will have more activities as we move along.
Here are our science books for the week. I have the worksheets and books for all of Sonlight Science K, but never purchased the weekly plans. I figured I could wing it without paying the extra $50-$60. So far the kids are learning a ton and enjoying science. Again, we usually have lots of activities with science, but it's a little dry this week for our first full week back.
And some random photos from the week...

Myra assumes her normal position while I work on school at the table with the kids. Princess Pea finds it amusing to hold a baby the same way...silly girl.
If she is not sleeping or doing therapy, Myra is often a happy little girl sitting in her high chair with us at the table. She loves the crinkles on this banana toy, can you tell? Play therapy!
Sid the Science Kid practicing piano. Notice the little mini-me?
Myra zonked in her swing....she never does this!
(Her bear in her arms thanks to Angelica Pickles...)
I can never read a book to just one kid anymore...
Notice the finger in the nose? Lovely....
After nap time, Sid shares a book with Boo Boo one day.
Can we all say Awwwwe!
When Daddy gets home he is always bombarded
with books now that school has started.
But, my favorite project of the week was this...

For Princess Pea's A Reason for Handwriting, she writes out a bible verse on special paper at the end of each week in her best handwriting. This was her first week to make one and I have posted a picture of her practice page and her final page below. I think she is doing well for the first formal handwriting book she's used and only being a few weeks into the program. I let her decide who she wants to gift her verse page to and this week she decided on our new neighbor! He moved in a few weeks ago, but we haven't formally met him yet. We decided to make an extra pan of peach pudding for him on Friday and bring him a welcoming dessert and this verse page. It was an awesome experience for the kids! I forgot to take pictures of them with their peach pudding, verse page and the picture Sid the Science Kid drew of our houses side by side. The two guys seems amused, and one had a daughter, so they didn't think we were completely insane bringing over our 5 kids and giving them a bunch of stuff. I think we will have a better relationship with this neighbor than any others so far. And, we also shared Christ together as a family for the first time. Awesome.

See ya next week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Helping Habits

Yes, this is my goofy title for 'chores' because I feel there is too much negativity related to that word, for myself included. I never did chores much growing up, but I still prefer to call my own work 'housework'. Even one definition I found was "an unpleasant but necessary task". So, we don't want that to be the attitude in our home! Helping Habits are fun, respectable, expected, helpful and appreciated 'round here! My kids actually argue over helping me do things around the house that are in addition to their regular Helping Habits (HH). Helping and work is FUN because then we are big like Mom and Dad.

I don't have the greatest system, so there won't be any eyes popping open today, but I've had a few people ask about my system and a few others already trying it. I saw the notecard and ring idea used for ordering homeschool subjects once on another blog over a year ago, but I can't credit them because I don't remember who it was, sorry! I adapted the idea for our chores and made up a silly name for them. So, here we go...

Our Helping Habits are centered around meal times. They are done before and after all three meals (B1&B2-before and after breakfast, L1&L2-before and after lunch, D1&D2-before and after dinner). I use ring clasps to hold the colored notecards in order, and hang them near my homeschool shelf in the dining room where we eat and do most of our school work. My 7, 5 & 4 year-olds all have HH. My 2 year-old often times will ask, "My hepin hadit?" and I will give him a specific task cleaning up some toys. Get them started early, right?

In these photographs, my 7 year-old's HH are on the top and my 5 & 4 year-old's are on the bottom in that order. I am not and artist, so no laughing!

My 7 year-old cannot clean his room before breakfast because my 2 year-old is almost always still sleeping still, but it is cleaned before bedtime and no one plays in there from 8pm to 8am. I have trained all my children in their HH and inspect their work often, continuing to train them. (In case you were wondering, those are bookshelves. Yeah, I know you couldn't tell.)

There is some kind of tier system going on, though that wasn't my original plan. Last year the 7 year-old vacuumed (it's a dust buster in the picture, come on!) and the 5 year-old cleaned the table, but this year we have all moved up and learned new skills. It's so nice to get our breakfast dishes done right away. Oatmeal and cereal are so hard to clean after a few hours...

Before lunch and dinner we do a quick clean up of the house so it doesn't get atrocious. And, it would. If someone's allotted room is worse than the others, they will help each other out to get it done. Lunch isn't put on the table until HH are completed. Of course, there are always days I don't remind them to do them and the house doesn't run as smoothly on those days. Such is life. (Notice the 'sandwich' I drew for tidying the kitchen...lack of ideas and skills, sorry.)

Similar HH to after breakfast, but we also brush our teeth with water after lunch. The 4 year-old can't turn on the spout, hense the 7 year-old's extra HH. Otherwise, she would stand in the bathroom and scream, hense the name Angelica Pickles. *smile*

Notice the upgraded kitchen drawing? Apple.and.banana. Seriously, it's not that bad!

Tidying shoes is referring to our shoe shelf on the front porch. My 2 year-old loves to play with shoes, so it's always a mess at the end of the day, whether we went anywhere or not.

That's it! I plan to possibly make a before-dinner notecard some time soon. I'm a little tired of reminding them to get their PJs on, brush their teeth and clean up. With this system, I don't have to remind them hardly ever!

Also, duties such as filling or emptying the dishwasher, folding towels in the laundry, switching the garbage bags, etc. do not get done on a regular schedule. But, the kids are asked to help and I never hear any complaining.

This is where they hang in the dining room.

How do you organize your chores with little ones that can't read yet and have minimal ways of helping?

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day in the Life

Well, I am joining the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop this year for the first time! I didn't quite make the first three weeks, but my last post on homeschool covered my curriculum choices and my school room anyway!

I recorded every hour of a simple Tuesday, just 4 weeks into homeschooling. And, this was the first day we incorporated history, science, spelling and character training so far this year. A gutsy move for 'a-day-in-the-life', huh? Well, you will see how it really goes in our house then, right? With five kids, a high-maintenance infant and lots of to-dos around the house, just getting through a full day of school is amazing right now. If you must compare, my ideal block schedule is written out HERE.

Warning! If you don't want to hear about the rambling musings of a homeschool mom with precise detail, click away right now!

Background: Baby Myra (11 months) is weaning from a steroid for Infantile Spasms and is changing dosages every 10 days; therefore, she is one unhappy baby much of the day and isn't sleeping much. This is day 7 of the rotation. Also, my homeschool day begins the night before. My plans need to be written out, the house together and books out and ready to go or my day never goes well. On this day prep work is all done and, since Myra was up so late, the dishes and kitchen are all clean, too! Unfortunately, I start my day with less than 4 hours of sleep, and less than 2 hours the previous night...sigh.

6:45 Mr. Prince wakes me for my shower but I forfeit it for another hour of sleep. This also means I forfeit my quiet bible time. But, it often times ends up being an evening activity anyway. I'm much more of a night person.

8:13 I awake with no alarm, and surprisingly, not from children either. Myra is still sleeping, but I know the girls(4&5) are downstairs (they are allowed to go down after their room is clean and after 8am with or without me). Sid the Science Kid(7) is up also, though often times he sleeps in with Boo Boo(2). I rush downstairs, make some bagels and cream cheese and head back up for a shower.

8:17 Upstairs I hear Boo Boo... stink! Will I still get a shower? I take him downstairs, change his diaper, make his breakfast and I secretly tell Sid he can turn on a video after breakfast if I'm still upstairs (mostly to keep Boo Boo quiet and occupied so he doesn't wake Myra or come find me in the shower).

8:20 Upstairs again and I'm suddenly irritated by the suitcase left unpacked by my husband from our vacation 3 weeks ago and the two baskets of clean clothes that were never put away. Unfortunately, they will all have to be folded again because of the digging through them the last 3 weeks looking for clothes. Wasted work, ugh! I get in the shower and I think about, what else? A blog post I read the night before about how to save on costs in the shower. Only wash your 'under' areas with soap (under feet, under arms and under pants) Really? Gross!

8:30 Out of the shower and dressing interrupted by Sid the Science Kid telling me the t.v. is not working. I tell him to give me 2 minutes and I'd be down to help. I get dressed in comfy clothes (not going anywhere today) and head downstairs and save the day fix the t.v. They watch, non other than.. Sid the Science Kid!

8:36 Brush my teeth. I realize I left Myra's monitor in the shower and in the bathroom upstairs I see... Myra's bumbo seat? Who put that in there? Back down to the kitchen it goes, and on my way I fume about the suitcase and clothes again.

8:37 Down to the laundry room to dry some clothes I washed last night and....they are dry! Thank you, husband! Unfortunately, I will not be able to fold them before they wrinkle. Grr! Washer loaded, but I still need to collect clothes from upstairs before I start it. On my way out I step over an overfilled basket of towels, boxes and boxes of jarred baby food from WIC, and who knows what else. My mudroom is so full of Salvation Army stuff and resale items, it's hard to maneuver. Ugh, more things on my to-do list that seem will never get done.

8:40 Throw hair up. Myra's monitor dies and I have to plug it in. Darn monitor! I get the kids' yogurt in bowls to finish off their breakfast. Oh no! Promised yogurt and an expired container! This has never happened in our house. Yogurt is equal to icecream or a candy bar 'round here. Thankfully, I find another container and I am saved from many tears. Clean yogurt tubs for recycling. Collect clothes for the laundry.

8:56 Sid the Science Kid episode over. Diffuse 2yr old tantrum with yogurt...success! Start washer. Preschool bible read over yogurt devouring. We talk about John the Baptist and the older two say they want to get baptized "to please God" like the book said. I said we would look into studying baptism and we would talk to Daddy. Pledge of Allegiance. Go over family rules and bible verses.

9:10 Helping Habits (chores) after breakfast. Classic storybook (Gingerbread Man) with Boo Boo.

9:17 Preschool with Angelica Pickles about African Elephants (her choice of theme this week). Princess Pea listens in while Sid the Science Kid does dishes. Sid seems quietly irritated he can't listen in also, but I'm trying to help the older two do their own thing so I can work with the littles during this time. Princess Pea reads the quotation boxes for the story, her idea. I only read one of the two books cause the baby wakes. Kids break up to play.

9:28 Get Myra up. Nurse.

9:33 Myra's medications and injection. Princess Pea helps change her diaper and Angelica Pickles helps calm Myra after her injection and collects all the trash from it and throws it away for me. Girls singing to Myra.

9:44 Nurse again and put Myra in the swing.

9:49 Two character building books/stories about being selfish (Help Me Be Good Books). Discussion.

10:10 Change Boo Boo's diaper. Character Builders DVD on Sharing (12min) while I fold the laundry basket from this morning.

10:28 Myra's fussing in the swing so I start to rock her to sleep. Boo Boo insists that I read him some books, even though my hands are quite occupied. After two books, Princess Pea offers to read to him and they read 3-4 more books together. After Boo Boo finds something else to do, Princess Pea gets out her Language Smarts book and she works on the coffee table as I help her and still rock Myra.

10:50 Myra put down to nap upstairs. Language Smarts with Sid. Angelica Pickles is taking Boo Boo's toys and I get up to redirect her to the puzzles.

11:09 Myra's up after 19 minutes! It takes me almost 10 minutes to calm her. Kids are all playing house together in living room. I put Myra in her swing after she's calm and quickly check my email and Facebook.

11:18 Quick clean up with kids.

11:23 Make lunch while kids do Helping Habits. Myra's fussing in swing. Kids eating. Lunch often times is me redirecting their discussion, which often times is upsetting someone. The 7 yr old wants to lead everything, while the 4 yr old is craving the attention from her siblings. The 2 yr old shouts out little blurps and always gets a belly laugh out of everyone.

*First School Block ended, All About Spelling and History not completed thus far.*

11:40 Get Myra out of the swing. Try to feed her solid food but she was too fussy. Discipline Boo Boo for getting out of his seat. Finish lunch. Helping Habits.

12:00 Read aloud 2 chapters of novel. Myra fussing and falls asleep on my shoulder eventually.

12:12 Sonlight Science read aloud, 2 books.

12:23 Interruption...friend calls. Myra down for nap upstairs. Clean up lunch...ooops! Forgot after-lunch Helping Habits! Do chores for the kids. Each lunch myself. Two kids upstairs and two downstairs playing.

12:46 Myra up after 23 minutes...sigh. Poor girl can't sleep! Discipline Sid and Angelica Pickles for arguing and Princess Pea for not being nice. Rocking Myra. Still on phone.

12:58 Lay Myra back down for nap. Clean up kitchen while on phone. Switch laundry. Sid doing lunch dishes.

1:05 Myra up again! Off the phone. Rocking, calming...

1:12 Myra down again....getting frustrated. She usually isn't like this. Kids playing better together.

1:14 Friend calls back. Checking on homeschool stuff for her on the computer. Kids coloring. Discuss curriculum and homeschool schedules.

1:34 Off phone. Finish science reading with three oldest kids.

1:40 Boo Boo is very distracting while I'm trying to read, so I take him up for a nap. Read second preschool book with Angelica Pickles.

1:52 Angelica Pickles to bed. Adventures in My Father's World history with two oldest.

2:00 Myra up. Hey, that was a 48 minute nap! Hold her while finishing history lesson.

2:22 I help Sid the Science Kid with All About Spelling while Princess Pea does Horizons Math 1. Myra sits in her high chair and does play therapy.

2:40 Princess Pea begins A Reason for Handwriting Manuscript. Sid still doing AAS.

2:55 Princess Pea does AAS and Sid does A Reason for Handwriting Transition and Horizons Math 3.

3:12 AAS done. Princess Pea does Explode the Code and finishes the first book! Sid still working on math. Myra fussing. Nurse and do physical therapy with her.

3:22 Sid moving too slowly and too distracted, so he moves into the office to finish his math. I work on Junior Bible Quiz questions orally with Princess Pea while I do Myra's therapy.

3:50 JBQ and therapy finished. Bob Books with Princess Pea. She is doing some amazing expression while reading! But, she has a mini-tantrum about not getting a sticker for reading the book perfectly (a reward system we've used for all the Bob Books). I encourage her in how well she is doing and she recovers, just short of tears. Sid finally finishes math after 45 minutes or so.

4:00 JBQ with Sid.

*Second School Block ended 40 minutes late.*

4:10 Sid does JBQ studying alone with some defiance. I told him to memorize at least one new question in the next 10 minutes and he gains some motivation. Rocking Myra. Princess Pea gets Boo Boo up from his nap.

4:20 Myra down upstairs for a nap. Angelica Pickles up from nap. Change Boo Boo's diaper. Library Signing Time video on (learning American Sign Language).

4:22 Start dinner (lasagna). Change laundry, but can't fold the load yet.

4:45 Sid down and chat with Mr. Prince when he arrives home from his second day back at school while meat thaws in the microwave because, of course, I didn't thaw it the night before...

4:55 Blog, Email while noodles cook and Mr. Prince cooks meat. Alter size of pan and recipe when I realize I don't have enough noodles for the large pan. Better than some days when Mr. Prince has to make a quick grocery run because I've started cooking something and realize halfway through I don't have something... Happens to me all the time.

5:10 Lasagna in oven.

5:14 Myra up from nap. Yeah, almost an hour nap! Blog. Mr. Prince takes Myra and does lots of training and discipline for the kids as they wait for dinner. They are having a hard time getting along to play a game together. Myra falls asleep on Daddy. Helping Habits before dinner.

6:00 Dinner. Daddy holds sleeping baby and eats when everyone else is done, a common occurrence 'round here.

6:30 Dinner done. Helping Habits. Nurse Myra, feed solids. Dishes and talking to Mr. Prince.

6:55 Clean up house with kids. PJs, brush teeth. Kids run pretty wild this time of day. Should go outside, but we don't. Fold laundry instead.

7:35 Mr. Prince put kids to bed (every night). I hold Myra and do therapy stuff.

8:00 Adult evening begins, ensuing baby passing back and forth, blogging, t.v., chatting on the phone with some friends, nursing, bible study, minimum prep for tomorrow's homeschool, etc. Laundry not put away, will have to do that tomorrow when the kids are up.

Bedtime: 2:30a.m. with a total of 2 hours of sleep for the night...sigh.

And it all starts again! I think we had a pretty successful day, really. Looking forward to reading about other homeschool moms' days at Heart of the Matter!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I just received my first Blog Award!

Well, I logged onto my page this afternoon to find out Shanna at Learning At His Feet has given me my very first blog award - The Sunshine Award! Very sweet Shanna, thank you so much. I am happy to hear some of the stories of my life have been an inspiration to you. We just talked about the fruit of our lives at church this morning, and it's definitely something I want mass produced in my life to Glory our Father. I now have one very small twig growing! =)~

Well, here are the rules to the Sunshine Award:

1. Thank the one who gave it to you and link to their blog.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Choose seven others to bless with the award and let them know they've won an award.

So, seven random things about me....Hmmm....

1. I love to research. I'm known by my friends as the Research Queen. Often time I am talking to someone and will be researching what they are talking about at the same time. It's an addiction, ha!

2. I love to read. I usually have a parenting book, devotional book, novel and homeschool book I am working through at the same time. I've gotten away from that this past year, but have already started choosing my next book victims for this fall.

3. I used to hate pink and girly things growing up. Now I wear skirts, dresses, makeup and jewelry often!

4. I'm totally a Gleek for Glee!

5. There have only been 2 weeks that I haven't been pregnant or nursing in the 8 years Mr. Prince and I have been married. And I can count on two hands how many cycles I've had since our honeymoon!

6. If things in my life are out of order, I'm a wreck. I'm a total perfectionist!

7. I am living my dreams....the greatest husband and 5 beautiful children. The only other things I ever dreamed about were teaching (which I do while I homeschool) and doing missions work. I believe my mission right now is my children and other moms and families that I'm in contact with. Someday He may have me do different missions work, but I'm content where I'm at right now.

Now, to award seven other bloggers... I know some of you won't want to carry on the Sunshine Award tradition, but I want you to know I secretly watch you from the window of your blog and you have all touched my life in some way or another.

1. Janna from A Steadfast Life... Janna, homeschool mama of five little ones, has a fun sense of humor and tells life as it really is, messes, struggles and all. I love her realness.

2. Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things... Kelle write about her life raising two little girls and enjoying every moment of it. She is an amazing photographer and I love her humor and wit.

3. Greg at Wrestling with an Angel... Grey is a fabulous writer and shares his life of adopting children and raising a disabled son. His insights are magnificent and I find myself in tears often as I read his posts.

4. Ashley at Making It and Loving It... Ashley is "sew" very creative and her examples and illustrations are super clear for even the beginner sewer. And, someday I will be able to make one of her suggestions! Someday... =)

5. Jill at The Real Life of a Readhead... Jill just had baby #3 after a long pregnancy with bleeding and a diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Baby Joshua is recovering from surgery as I type. I love Jill's raw emotion and faith as she journeys God's plan for her life.

6. A.A.W. at Resolved2Worship... She is an amazing photographer and does a beautiful job sharing her faith and beautiful family.

7. Ellen at Love That Max... I love Ellen's perspective on being a mom of a child with special needs. As my own journey begins, her insights have been helpful and inspiring.

Thank you again, Shanna, for your award. And thank you blog world for your 24hr life support!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Fun

Here are some fun summer photos of our family and our vacations!

These are photos from our trip to Bender Park Zoo in Battlecreek, MI. We met up with my good friend, Andrea, and her husband and three kiddos.

I wish I had copies of Andrea's family photo...

Sid the Science Kid and Princess Pea with their friend, Makia

Princess Pea and Makia, best friends!

Angelica Pickles and Graham - these two are so cute together!

Mama and Myra sporting our new summer sling!

The whole group hiding concealing eating lunch in the park...

Here are some photos from our annual trip to IL to see my parents....

Aunt Linz with Myra

A fun water day in Grandmama's backyard with some friends, Joey and Becca!
This was the first time Great Grandma Liz met Myra in person,
and Myra loved her!

Silly Myra while eating her sweet potatoes!

Can you tell she Loves them?

Myra got to meet her new friend, Mason.
They are 7 months apart but really close in size!

I think she is telling him of her plans for revenge on her doctors some day,
or something like that! He looks so surprised!

Grammy and PaPaw took the kids to the IL museum...

Sid the Science Kid loved the human anatomy toys and puzzles.
Here I have all my organs in place, kidneys in back and all!

Boo Boo had to try it, too!

Sid and Angelica Pickles did the bone puzzle together while Boo Boo watched

I found a matching dress for Myra that matched the girls' dresses
I bought earlier in the summer!

Boo Boo wanted to be included in a photo!

Grandmama had a good friend who took the kids out on a speed boat!

Ready for boating!
(Yes, Boo Boo is in PINK! All life jackets were borrowed!)
Ready for take off!

Daddy and Boo Boo

Myra got to explore grass for the first time in IL....

Loving the lashes here...and the relaxed attitude...
Well, those are the highlights of July!