Wednesday, April 23, 2014

School Year Recap and looking forward to next year!

I thought I would post a little recap of homeschool Ramsey life and share our plans for next year!

I think I mentioned on here that we started off our year in September using Sonlight curriculum. But, with all of the craziness of adding a never sleeping baby to the mix, in January we decided to join a co-op where the kids would go three days a week and do their core subjects and then do homework at home two days a week.

The co-op situation has not been a great fit for our family. There are things that have been good about it but overall it has been a lot more hassle than help. I am so thankful we tried it out because now on those hard homeschool days when I am tempted to want to send my kiddos off I can remember that I did not like it at all! I have realized for me doing a co-op or university model school kind of takes away the things I love most about homeschooling and leaves me as a "homework helper" instead of my child's teacher.

But, the beauty of homeschooling is the chance to try out new things and see what works best for your individual family. This year I have realized that two of my biggest desires in my own homeschooling is the ability to teach my child as an individual (at their own pace and using materials best suited for their learning style) and to learn as a family (having my kiddos be reading a lot of the same books and studying the same things so that our home is a learning atmosphere). The co-op made those two things basically impossible.

So, next year we are going to go back to homeschooling full time and I am really excited. I have most of our curriculum bought already! We are also going to be a part of a Classical Conversations Community one morning a week. I am hopeful that this will be a good fit for our family because it allows us to be all together and all learning the same things while getting to have some fellowship and learning time with other homeschooling families. My good friend Jenn wrote a good recap post of their Classical Conversations experience this past year that you can read here (she explains things better than I do!).

So, my take away this year... don't stop trying to find what works best for my family! I know that there is no "perfect" system but sometimes a little trial and error helps! I have been able to get a better understanding of my own heart and philosophies through trying some different methods!

*And without being too mushy or annoying I just have to give a big shout out to my husband and my mom! They have both been my biggest supporters in homeschooling and finding what works best for me and my kiddos! I am so blessed to have such an amazing support system and my own personal cheerleaders.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

Our family had a great time celebrating Easter this year. My sister and brother-in-law were in town so it was great to spend some time with them. We went to church in the morning and then headed out to my mom and dad's for an amazing Easter lunch.

 Of course the biggest challenge is getting a picture with everyone smiling. I didn't get any decent ones with my big camera but here are two that I got with my phone that were okay.

I thought the kiddos looked pretty sweet all dressed up! We were so thankful to be able to spend the weekend with our family and are eager for another weekend to recover from all of the fun!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Think about these things...

I would love to say this is my last post relating to Sonya Shafer at the homeschool expo but I don't want to start off my day lying to you all ;)

But, in her talk Laying Down the Rails, Mrs. Shafer emphasized the importance of building good habits in your children. She mentioned in the early years this often means simply, redirecting your child from doing something wrong so that at least they aren't forming a bad habit... even if they aren't forming a good one. Because, as we know, bad habits are hard to break.

I think this is great advice for dealing with young kiddos. But, I also realized it is something I have sort of been implementing in my own life.

I can't speak for the entire female population in general... but for me at least, I can very easily let my mind dwell on things that are upsetting or worrying me. If someone does something that hurts my feelings or frustrates me I can find myself just sitting and dwelling on it, replaying the situation again and again and again. I can keep myself so sad and upset just by letting myself continue to be sad or worried.

I read awhile back that if someone has hurt you the best thing to do whenever that person comes to mind is to pray for good in that person's life. That is wonderful advice and is the first thing I try to do. But, sometimes I am just not going to do that in the moment... so I would keep.on.dwelling. But, in the past few months, I have simply forced myself to think of something else. Anything else. When possible I try to meditate on a scripture passage. If I am really struggling with something I love to sit down and make a "what is true" list where I list everything that is good and true in my life right now (I have 4 beautiful children, my husband loves me and makes me laugh, a friend texted just to check in on me today, etc.), basically counting my blessings.

But, bare minimum, I don't let my mind dwell on being upset. So, sometimes that means I have to search Pinterest for a fun new recipe to make for dinner. Or I might text a funny quote from a tv show to a friend. Anything to not dwell and reinforce that habit.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -Philipians 4:8

Monday, March 31, 2014

What we are up to lately...

I am home with two little sickies today (and the two well children!). It has been a coughing-fest here at our house the past several days. Not my favorite but at least everyone seems to "feel" okay!

Sammy is napping right now, Sophie is cutting out pictures from her coloring book, and the "big boys" are playing Legos (their very favorite activity!) so I thought I would do a quick bullet point post on what has been going on these days in the Ramsey house.

  • Sam has started walking a little bit. He really hasn't showed much interest but is starting to take a few steps at a time. The other day Nick had him walking towards me and he took about 5 steps. I got so excited I screamed and poor Sam got so startled he started crying! Mother of the year right here. At least he can't fault me for lack of enthusiasm!
  • Nick and I finished season 2 of Downton Abbey and are starting Season 3. It is so good! My favorite way to watch TV shows is on DVD or Netflix where I can watch episodes whenever I want and also not have commercials!
  • We are headed to Kansas City this weekend as a family so that Sophie and I can go to my sister Emily's baby shower. My kids love going to stay at Aunt Emily and Uncle Simon's so we are all pretty excited.
  • I am a little on the dorky side and I love dressing our family in coordinating outfits for Christmas Eve and Easter. I don't stress too much about what my kids wear and for the most part they pick out their own clothes. But for Christmas Eve and Easter I love to dress up and have everyone all matchy! This year our "theme" for Easter is mostly pink, gray, and khaki with a few other colors mixed in. I got the kiddos outfits at Children's Place and was able to find outfits for Nick and I at Target and Kohls. I can't wait to see how it looks all together.
  • Tonight Nick is taking Max to Lego Club at our local library. They have been going once a month and I think it has been really fun for them. It has worked really well for our family because it is only once a month and it is free!
Oh, and since I am on a big Sonya Shafer kick right now after hearing her speak this weekend I thought I would share this wonderful article she wrote on early education. I love it and it definitely is making me re-think a few things!

And a random bullet post point just would not be complete without a few pictures. Here are some after bath pics from a few days ago. Nothing like squeaky clean kiddos in their p.j.s!

and yes... some of us are still rockin' the Christmas p.j.s at the end of March...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Homeschool Encouragement

I just spend the past 2 1/2 days at the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo! This was my third year going on Thursday night and checking out the vendors but my first year to actually attend the conference. I am so glad that I went!

The highlight of the conference was without a doubt Sonya Shafer of She is a wonderful speaker and was such an encouragement. I went to all four of her workshops;

  • Laying Down the Rails- The Power of Good Habits in Your Homeschool
  • Charlotte Mason and Her Methods
  • Why More is Less- A Call to Simplicity in Your Schedule
  • Looking Past the Fear
Now is the place where I tell you which session was my favorite, but I just can't choose. They were all so good. Mrs. Shafer has such a heart for home educating and it is hard to not get excited listening to her share.

I also attended a session on nature studies which was a huge blessing to me. I have always loved the concept of nature studies but for some reason I just still couldn't get a grasp on how to do it. Sue Pruett did an excellent job explaining how to implement nature studies into a home school setting and I am so excited to give it a try.

I loved getting to check out all of the different vendors. I bought some things that I am very excited to use next year. There were also several things I saw that I couldn't buy this weekend but would love to get my hands on in the future (Lamplighter books, anyone?)

The downer of the weekend was that I have a really nasty cold and have been coughing my head off. I am hoping I can actually get a little sleep tonight. I am thinking after I sign off here I will get some tea with honey going and see if I can convince the hubs to watch an episode or two of Downton Abbey with me (we watched the first season when it was on and then got way behind, so a sweet friend just lent me season 2 and 3 on DVD so there is much catching up to do!).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Love My Home: Switching Rooms

I get a lot of grief for how often I rearrange furniture and switch things from room to room in my house. But, I am a firm believer in making your house work for you. As a growing family our needs are constantly changing and it just makes sense to change things up to fit our current needs.

Our most recent dilemma was with our kids bedrooms. Our set up was Sam in the front bedroom, Jack down the hall, and Max and Sophie together in the big bedroom in bunk beds. Well, since Nick started working from home we made his office in Sam's walk-in closet. It was a great place for him to work since it has a window and gives him the privacy he needs to actually get some work done.

But, as Sam was getting older it wasn't working for him to nap while Nick was working. Jack was also eager to move in with Max and have a "brothers room". And we also had Sophie wanting a little more space for her girly toys. So, in an effort to solve our problems we did a big room swap Sunday evening.

We moved Jack in with Max, Sam into the back bedroom (where it is nice and dark and less noisy), and Sophie into the front bedroom (which was her original room when we moved into this house!). It really has solved all of our current bedroom issues which is a huge blessing!
Sophie and Jack on Sophie's new bed
So, we still need to finish moving toys and organizing the rooms and probably down the line (maybe this summer) some re-decorating will take place. But, for now, this is a great change that helps me to love my home even more.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Special" days

Oh my goodness... I love to link to other good blog posts here on my blog. The one I am linking to today is one I have wanted to write myself for months but just couldn't put quite into the right words. Kristen over at We Are That Family totally hit it out of the park with this post, "Maybe We Should Stop Entertaining Our Kids So Much". Stop whatever you are doing and go read it now :)

If I could hug a blog post I would be in an all day snuggle fest with this one. As summer is coming closer (and come on, it has only been Spring for a couple of days) I have started seeing all of the links to "101 awesome things to do with your kid this summer" posts and I am groaning inside. Not because I don't love doing fun things in the summer, I do! Bring on the snow cones, days spent at the swimming pool, and mid-week trips to the zoo! But, summer has become a 3 month long party these days. Everyday is supposed to be exciting and fun and "special". And weekends are kind of the same way, every Saturday is something "big"; birthday parties, Science Center, theme parks...

I am just as guilty as anyone. Last year I even caved and made the "summer bucket list" and we checked off fun things throughout the summer. And, this isn't bad in and of itself. But, I am just starting to find that "special" isn't very "special" when it happens all the time. I kind of think the majority of days need to be regular old days in order for the special ones to truly be... special. I am not saying boring or devoid of any joy and fun. But, doing normal things like chores, reading books, building with Legos, running to the grocery store (for food for the family, not a "special treat"), playing in the backyard....

Lately, I find myself often being asked the question by my kids, "what is special about today?" And I get a little frustrated because they are now equating a good day with something "special". So, at least in this house, we are getting back to the basics. Finding joy in the everyday, allowing boredom (because out of it blooms imagination and creativity) and redeeming "special".