Monday, July 27, 2015

Upcoming school year!

Wow! Summer is flying by! There is so much talk of "back to school" and I think most public and private schools will be back in session within a couple weeks! We plan on waiting until the very end of August to start up our school year. We are loving summer and I love taking advantage of those few weeks when everyone is back in school and we get to have the pools and parks to ourselves :)

I finally bit the bullet and ordered our homeschool curriculum for next year. I was really having a hard time deciding what to use next year. We have tried several different curriculums but most of them just were not a great fit. I decided to give my Father's World a try for next year. We will be doing Adventures in U.S. History for Max and Sophie. I am looking forward to it and after talking to lots of my girlfriends who use it I think it will be a good fit for our family.

This coming year Max will be in 3rd grade, Sophie in 2nd, and Jack will be in Pre-K. I am sure Sam will want to join in on some activities as well.

For Jack (and Sam) I am planning on sort of doing our own little preschool thing. I am thinking it might be fun to pick a "theme" for each week (like tractors, pets, boats, on the farm, etc.) and borrow a bunch of books from the library centered around the theme. And then using my good friend Pinterest to find a few crafts or activities that tie in. I am also planning to use our favorite Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD. And then when Jack is ready we will dig into our Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. But if he isn't ready for it until next year I am in no hurry.

So far this year I have not committed to any co-ops or extra-curricular activities. The kiddos will have piano lessons on Monday mornings and so far that is all I know. I have told them they can each chose one extra-curricular activity and at the moment Sophie is leaning towards gymnastics and Max towards basketball. But, we will see!

I think it is going to be a great year. I am going to use these last few weeks to get my house organized and ready for the school year and to work on getting a routine down for the school year. Right now I am loving the care-free days of summer but I know when the time comes I will be ready for the order and routine that fall brings!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer is here!

Well, school is out (sort of...) and summer is officially here! Now, where is the warm weather? I signed my kids up for swim lessons for this week and next thinking it would great to refresh their skills right off the bat. But, oh my goodness it is so cold this week! On Monday they cancelled lessons because of the cold but yesterday they just went with it. My kids were shaking so hard and were literally blue by the end!

But, no one complained the whole time and they said it was fun. Huh!

The funny thing for me is that I actually really don't love it when it is really hot, so NORMALLY I would be in love with the weather this week!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Social Media Ramblings

I can't believe it is already into April! I have such a love/hate relationship with blogging. I enjoy it so much but the perfectionist in me when it comes to this sort of thing rarely lets me type out a full post or hit send. I know I need to just get over it... I am a mess, what can I say?

But, since I do enjoy it I thought I would pop in today and post what was going on in this little brain of mine!

I have had to laugh at myself today as I was thinking about the internet at two different times today. Earlier this morning I was listening to an Ask Pastor John podcast about social media while folding laundry and I started thinking about how much there is to dislike about social media. I waste so much time and energy and get so sucked in... It is so easy to get upset and frustrated... So many people use it as a forum to whine and complain and it just drives me crazy!

Then not even an hour later as I was making lunch for my kiddos I was thinking about how blessed I have been by the internet. I didn't come into marriage and motherhood having any real homemaking or cooking skills. But, I have been able to learn so much from women on the blogosphere. If left to my own devices (and given a lot more money to throw around) I would totally be one of those women who goes out to lunch several times a week, makes multiple Target and mall trips on a regular basis and spends a large chunk of my free time consuming. But, I have been so blessed by blogs and articles that have given me a vision for stewarding our finances and time well. I have been able to be encouraged and uplifted to fulfill my role at home. And while I am still working on it (I'm a mess, remember?) I am just so thankful for my online mentors who have helped me on this journey.

So, all to say... I think I will always have a love/hate relationship with my time online. I am finding that for the most part reading several good encouraging blogs everyday is a pretty positive experience. I also really love Instagram as I feel like it is easier for me to enjoy pictures and see friends without getting so sucked in! So, I guess Facebook is probably the social media platform I struggle with the most. In the past I have tried cutting out Facebook but I do have people I like to stay connected with that way and I am a part of a few groups that do all of their planning via Facebook. So, I guess I need to figure out how all of this translates into living life well in the midst of social media... I guess I will keep you posted ;)

Do you struggle with social media? Are you one of those awesome people that doesn't get sucked in and can take it or leave it?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snowed-in Sunday!

Happy Sunday all! We are snowed in over here in the St. Louis area. Church was cancelled and I just read that the highway I live off is closed right near my house. Good thing we have no plans of leaving the house today. My only regret is that I didn't plan ahead and do a big grocery shopping trip so I think our meals will be a little bit random over the next few days. I had planned to do my big grocery trip for the next couple weeks today. Maybe I should become one of those people who actually looks at the forecast? Probably not.

We were able to get outside and play with the kiddos for a bit this morning! Sam didn't last very long so he and I went inside after about 10 minutes. But, Nick and the big kids got almost an hour in.

I have to admit, there is something pretty cozy about being snowed-in with my sweet little family. I hope everyone is having a great day of rest!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some new systems

I am always looking for new systems. Ways to tweak something to make our home or life run just a bit more efficiently. For this new year I have come up with two new systems to help things around our casa and I thought I would share them in case they are helpful to anyone or spark a new idea!

So, the hubs and I have gone back and fourth a lot on video games with our kiddos. We aren't totally against them but we have both seen first hand how quickly they can take over people's lives and ultimately hinder their quality of life. But, we are parents who love their kiddos and want them to be happy and have fun too! So, originally we decided to get our kiddos Nintendo DSs for Christmas along with a few games. We had even purchased one already. But, as Christmas got closer we both started feeling uneasy about it and the hubs finally decided we needed to go another direction. We decided that handheld devices are just not something we want to delve into while our kiddos are young. But, we do have some video game systems (including the Sega Genesis from when I was a kid!) that the hubs and the kiddos like to play together.

All this to say, in order to come up with a good balance for video game time and well, not video game time, we have come up with a new system. We decided we didn't want to have the kids playing video games on school days but we wanted to offer some incentive and make video games a privilege. So, I came up with a little chart and in order to play video games over the weekend (max 30 minutes at a time) they have to earn check marks. They can earn three check marks a day through doing their chores, doing school work with a good attitude, and completing their quiet reading time for the day. In order to play video games they have to have 15 checks (so a perfect record). But, if they have 13 or 14 they can "earn" back those checks on Saturday morning with extra chores or jobs from mom and dad. 12 checks or less and no dice... or controller? :)

Here is the very fancy and official looking chart I made up ;)

The other little system I came up with is for my kiddos quiet reading time. In order to be a good mom, wife, teacher, etc, it is pretty much essential that I get a little quiet time in the afternoon. As an introvert at heart after having 4 little people talking to me all morning I need to recharge my battery a bit. To make their quiet reading time a bit more fun and structured I decided that they have a choice as to where they do their quiet reading time. They can do it in their bed, on the couch, or they can make a "reading nest" out of all sorts of blankets and pillows. The only catch is they have to clean up their nest afterwards. They get all the books they need and then I set the timer for one hour. This little change has made my kids super excited about quiet reading time. And the use of  a timer really helps them to not ask if they can be done!

So that's it! Nothing earth shattering but hopefully some little changes that will help things run more smoothly at our house! Have you implemented any new systems to help things run more smoothly at your house?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hello homeschool.

Here we go. Yesterday was our first day back with our Classical Conversations community and today will be our first day back with me teaching since before Christmas. I am still totally bummed that Christmas break is over but I am feeling excited about our new semester.

Over our break I spent a lot of time thinking about why we homeschool, what we have been doing, what we could be doing better or just differently, etc. I also have been re-reading my favorite homeschooling book of all time, Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson (I can't recommend this simple gem of a book enough).

I know for me, the final decision to homescool had little to do with education really. I really started considering it after finding out how large the class sizes were in our public school kindergarten classes locally, But, ultimately, I feel like I have fairly smart kids who would probably thrive in most any educational environment. And while I do believe that homeschooling has a huge benefit academically (extremely small class sizes and curriculum tailored specifically for each child!) for me my reasons had more to do with our family relationships, teaching my children from a Biblical stand point, and character training.

So, this semester I really want to get back to our "homeschooling roots" so to speak and focus on what is important. Because of that, some of my homeschool goals moving forward include:

  1. A morning meet-up time with mom and all the kiddos after chores where we all sit together to pray, work through a devotional, and connect before we hit the books. I think it will be beneficial to start our day off together, putting God first. And I also think it will be a good routine for us (as routine and structure are two things I want to improve on in our home).
  2. Right after this time I plan to read to the kids. Sally Clarkson said she always started off her day doing a devotional with the children and reading to them... that way if nothing else got done that day, it was still a successful day! I love that!
  3. In that vein, one of my goals is to focus a lot more in reading and good books in our homeschool. We will do this through lots of mom reading aloud both picture and chapter books, daily quiet reading time, and listening to audio books. 
  4. For the rest of our schooling I want to really just focus on the basics. Math, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and daily memory work review. 
  5. I want to give my kids lots of blank space to play. Room and time to play together, get bored and be forced into creativity. Give them a lot of time to play with each other. 
  6. And lastly, not worry about what other people are doing in their homeschools! It is great what everyone has the opportunity to do and we all have different priorities. For right now I want to put my blinders on and focus on what God has set before me, right now, with these 4 people.
So, we will see how it goes! I believe with God's grace and maybe a little coffee as well that this mama can have a good homeschooling semester!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Years Resolutions for 2015

I am writing this blog post from my bed. I think I pinched a nerve or something this morning because I am having terrible neck and back pain. So, I have been trying to sit or lay in whatever position is comfortable and my heating pad is my new bff. Also, my husband is amazing and has been bringing me tea. And my parents are also amazing and brought us lunch. Praying to feel better soon. Real life starts tomorrow.

I think I have always enjoyed making New Years resolutions. While I don't think there is anything "magical" about January 1st, I do think that making resolutions of the 1st helps to mark the start of the changes you want to make and helps you look back at the year in December and see what you have accomplished. I am always looking for ways to grow as a person. And I love looking back over the previous year and talking with my husband about what we have achieved or been through over the past year and how we can use what we have learned to move forward in the new year.

As I started thinking about 2015 I wasn't sure what sort of changes I wanted to make. 2013 and 2014 I found myself mostly in survival mode. Adding our sweet 4th child who came with a host of sleeping problems and what we discovered was a pretty severe gluten intolerance,.. add that to homeschooling and caring for 3 other kiddos, plus a husband who was working a lot of hours kept me just trying to make it through the day.

I definitely knew that this was the year I wanted to break out of survival mode and get back to living an intentional life. I began to think over my goals for the coming year... wake up and get ready for the day before the kiddos wake up, spend time in the Word everyday, go to bed earlier, read to my kids more, have people over to our home for dinner more often, keep up with the housework, drink more water, stay within our budget, have a weekly date night-in with the hubs... with all of my goals the word that kept popping into my mind was...

None, of the goals I made were new ones to me. They are all things I have tried to implement in my life off and on again for years. But, I have not been consistent. So, my word for this year is CONSISTENCY. I am writing down my goals and planning to focus on being consistent. Not perfect. I am not attempting to overhaul my whole life, but to set some goals that I believe will help with my daily quality of life and to strive to be consistent in those areas.

I might do more posts about individual goals and hopefully I can update more throughout the year. Maybe one of those goals should be to blog more consistently... ;) How about you? Do you pick a word? Make resolutions? Think the whole thing is just silliness (I am talking to you husband!)? ;) I would love to hear!