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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: May 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Preschool Corner: "Nothing in Particular"

This was a very non-school kinda week. I planned nothing and we did nothing planned. And on that note, I thought it would be a great week to start joining Preschool Corner... right?

Let's just say, like my first Tot School post, it's more of an introduction for those of you who aren't already checking over at these couple of blogs. Preschool Corner is a place I can share what I'm doing specifically with Tornado my 3 year old preschooler... just like Tot School is a chance to share and do things deliberately with Sweet Pea.

There, I've introduced it!

Before I get to what we DID do this week, I do want to assure you that I have actual plans for next week! That's right... resources gathered, things printed, and a theme to work with! I mentioned that I would be thinking through and changing things a bit, and I have. I've made some changes and am going in some new directions. I am leaving much of the Hubbard's Cupboard curriculum behind for now, though I'm still using elements of it and have really enjoyed the time we used it through the winter/spring. It is a great resource, but as we move ahead in the direction the Lord has been leading us, I will be using it more as a resource and less as a curriculum. (Does that make sense???)

With next week welcoming June, I'm figuring that it's the start of actual summer and therefore have a slew of summer plans! Come back next week to hear all we've done!

And now for the part of the post that has pictures... what we HAVE been doing this week (eh, perhaps couple of weeks) while we weren't doing anything in particular!

We spent some time talking about place setting and setting the table. Tornado liked using the fancy glass and big plate. I did it with him the first time. Then he wanted to do it again and I let him try but guided him. He wanted to do it again, so I moved it all away and asked him where each thing went.

I decided we wouldn't be doing this Number Bingo game again for a while, but the next day Tornado was asking to play the "button game", so we brought it out and he really enjoyed it. We did it a couple times in the time before lunch.

After lunch that same day, I taught both of them how to wipe the table. They enjoyed that and I enjoyed that someday it can just be their job. :)
Tornado enjoys this memory game, but I don't bring it out very often (I should, I know).

We learned about shadows last week (part of the "light of the world" lesson from Hubbard's Cupboard). He also worked on memorizing Matthew 5:16. We're still working on that one, but he can do it with me and loves talking about light. He picked up the concept right away from reading What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Robert Bulla.

(We also talked about the wise man and foolish man and their houses... this worked well with a couple other books listed below!

We brought home some of nature's treasures as part of our walk too! Tornado usually sits in back of our stroller, but he wanted Sweet Pea's spot and she wanted his. So I went with it!

While Sweet Pea and I work working on "up" and "down" over the train track bridge, Tornado was working on some things of his own.

And this is the result. He did it over and over and thought it was great.

Before it went this far though, we had made a "1" and a "2" out of the tracks... then we combined them (which meant they didn't look like themselves anymore, but oh well). Then this started! :)

And after all was cleaned up, we stacked some blocks! This is always a good opportunity to work on sharing and selflessness and not knocking down your brother's/sister's tower.

While we were playing with play-do today (another thing I hate to bring out, but it really wasn't bad) we talked some about shapes. I introduced the concept of the "sphere" and "cube". It was in passing and while he was doing his own thing, but I mentioned it! :) Now he's at least heard the words once.

Also not planned in the least was this workbook. I don't usually do workbooks with him, but he does enjoy them from time to time. He loved that it was Elmo. He did 4 pages before I decided we were done. He probably would have done a couple more, but I'd rather quit while we're ahead and he's still interested than to quit because he's bored with it.

We moved into the living room after our table time was over and he wanted to play "wooden logs". I don't particularly enjoy this either (hmmm... I'm sensing a theme I should work on), but figured it was as good a time as any. Really, it wasn't bad. He can't build it himself, but enjoys the process. He always wants a window (or he might be able to do it himself soon), so we put one in. Once I helped him start the roof, though, he was able to do it mostly on his own. And thanks to his sister, he had ample opportunity to practice putting the roof together again and again and again. I'd say he's a pro at it now and was doing it all by himself by the end. While he was playing with it, I separated out the remainder of the pieces and put away a good number of them so it's not such a burden in the future. We may plan with this one more often now.

Well... that's not everything, but it's everything I have pics of. Head on over to Preschool Corner to see what real preschooling moms are up to!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Most frustrating part of motherhood!

Ok, perhaps on another day, something else would win out... but I can't think of anything else today.

Is anyone else most frustrated by their children's lying? I don't know if it just gets worse or better with age, but I can vouch for age 3... and I just don't know what to do about it. The most frustrating part is that I don't know when to believe him. We have caught Tornado lying a good amount of times... he has a track record. So this morning when he got in trouble for tearing the cover off a magazine (something they both know not to do), he said that Sweet Pea did it. This is a rather feasible thing, as she is the one known for tearing everything she can get to at random... and she was sitting near him. Problem is that I didn't see her do it. I just missed the whole thing. As far as I could tell, she was sitting reading her own book.

This is only an example from today. And in the end it's over now. But the part that is so frustrating to me is that I know it's going to come up again and I never feel like I know what to do or how to handle it. It is very important to me that I not falsely accuse either of my children. I don't want to stir up or start a root of bitterness for being mistrusted "all the time" when they didn't do anything wrong. But I don't want to let my children get away with this sin either. I'm trying to remember to pray for wisdom as each situation comes up. We are trying to teach them (Tornado really as Sweet Pea doesn't get it yet) that lying is worse than whatever they are lying about.

Any wise counsel out there? Anyone figure out how to teach honesty and not lying to your preschoolers and toddlers??? Is this a faze I can expect to pass eventually (like Sweet Pea's blame shifting)?

Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Motivation???

Why does it seem that Mondays so often lack motivation??? Or is it just me? Sunday nights are a different story. Sunday nights I'm all ready for Monday morning to come. I just know all the things I want to accomplish, and though I'm ready for bed, in my mind I have all sorts of energy that *should* translate to Monday morning energy. So what happens to that Monday morning motivation???

The writers over at Offering Hospitality are going through a book by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock (two women I had the honor of working with during my time in Southern California). A quote from one of Lisa's chapters is as follows. I've been finding it very encouraging since finding it last week!
" . . . [T]he truth is that there is no secret to managing your home with excellence - it is simply hard work! Consistent effort is required to have an orderly and prepared home, whereas ideleness nullifies hard work. You must work diligently - every day. According to Scripture, the consequences of idleness are always disastrous:

  • want (Prov. 20:4)
  • poverty (Prov. 10:4, 20:13)
  • hunger (Prov. 19:15)
  • bondage (Prov. 12:24)
  • apathy, and ruin (Prov. 24:30-34).

(Practicing Hospitality, Chapter 4, page 105)

Amazing concept, it you ask me! I read this for the first time last week and a huge "a ha" went off in my head. I've spent more than 5 married years (and more before that) trying to find a "secret" or method of keeping house that would work for me. Turns out that just doing it is the secret. Buck up and prepare to work hard. I'm not sure why, but this is very motivating to me. I hope it is to some of you too.

I also noticed that Simple Mom has posted some motivation for keeping our homes this morning!

Now it's time to go get something done!!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Preschooling the 3 year old... academics or play?

I recently received this comment:

Your kids are so little--have you ever considered taking the emphasis off letters, numbers, etc and trying units that will give them a simple base of knowledge about the world? I have a year's worth of traditional preschool topics listed on my might enjoy checking it out.
Blessings, Susan (

I initially replied with this:

Hi Susan,

With Tornado, I really haven't considered it, because he enjoys it so much. He's always asking me to teach him the words and "let's do school". What we do is to let him decide if he wants to do it. If he'd rather play, we play.

With Sweet Pea, on the other hand, I haven't even considered thinking about starting letters and numbers. We play with colors and shapes sometimes, but only in a pointing them out and talking about them kinda way. She's just not in the same place Tornado was at the same age. I imaging her 3s preschool will look much different than his. I'm excited to check out your ideas, especially for her... thanks for the comment!!!

I'm not sure why, but I haven't been able to get her thoughts out of my mind. I do struggle with a bit of "fear of man", so that might be part of it, but it has made me think, and think, and think. And maybe she's making me rethink a few things. Here's what I know right off hand...

I do push academics more than some.
It's true... and I know it. Much of this comes from my previous misconceptions about schooling my children. It's hard to shake the idea that I'm schooling if I'm not using academics and I have a hard time waiting until they are older to start. Though I'm getting over that, I do find it easier to stick to doing something when it's at least involved.

I don't do flash cards!
On the flip side, I don't believe I push beyond my child's ability or desire (I don't think). I make it available... but we don't park on it. Some days we don't touch on letters or numbers at all... other days it takes maybe 5 minutes of our time. Some days we do more than others, but I'm not drilling flash cards (anymore... there was a small period of time when I was that crazy, but I believe I'm over it. We're all learning, right?)

Not our focus!
I don't know what things will look like in the fall, or when Tornado turns 4... but right now, the traditional "academics" aren't our focus. It may seem like it here because it's a more tangible thing to share with you on a blog, but we spend more time with the Bible stories and verses than anything else. A decent chunk of time is spent singing and dancing around... or talking and learning about the world around us... or doing chores with mommy (I'm trying to be better at doing this with them). By comparison, we kind of breeze by the letters and numbers stuff most of the time.

By request.
The exception to the "breeze by" it claim is when Tornado requests it. For example, last week while we were gluing, he asked if we could play the "cup dice game" (Yahtzee). I brought it out and we played for a while... counting the dots and having fun. Would he have played in the same way if he were left to himself? I don't know.

Learning and transitioning.
I must say, I've learned a lot just in this last 6 months since starting our current curriculum. Really, I've learned a lifetimes worth in the last 4 weeks through some of these other moms. I'm learning, making changes, adding on to our learning times, and letting other things fall away. Our "curriculum" (meaning my plans for educating my children) is in an ever fluctuating process. Will I ever decide on something and stick to it forever? Probably not... it's not how I work. There is so much out there, and I'm learning new things everyday!

What I'm thinking now?
Ugh. To be honest, the more I think and plan and do, the more fickle I feel about the whole process. And how thrilled I am that I have all of you as witnesses to my fickleness! I can only hope being present for my journey may help someone... even just one of you! I've been spending some time reading the basics of Susan's blog again (I do check in there regularly anyway). Her "4 Rs" are particularly interesting.

As I spend some time thinking and praying over where we've been and where we're going, I am working through some decisions. Do I quit where we are in this current curriculum? If I don't quit is it because I don't want to be a quitter? Or because I believe it's what God has for me to do with my littles? Do I stick with it and just do the modified schedule like I've been doing? Should I drop the letters part? Does Tornado really like it, or does he just do it because I ask him to? Would he choose it over something else? Should I be giving him that choice at this stage? Or should he be learning to follow my lead in that area? Would something else work better? Should I move back to "Tot School" stuff with him?

Like I said, I'm thinking and praying over these things. And My Beloved and I are talking through them too. I don't know when I'll land on a decision... maybe today... maybe next week... maybe later this summer. My mind is spinning though, and I think it's a good thing. I'll let you know how it is going though... no reason hiding from you to save face now... you've already seen the fickle side of me!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions, but in the end, My Beloved and I are the ones making decisions for our children. Please be respectful in your comments. Thanks!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Plan... my menu planner

3... a magic number. (Just ask my husband!) What is so important about the number 3, you may ask??? Well, it's the number of nights *in. a. row.* that I've planned, made, and served dinner.

You're laughing.

I'm serious. And not just about the fact that I've had dinner for my family three nights in a row... I'm serious about the fact that this is a huge thing!

Let's just say I've been struggling in a few areas. Let's just say I'm still struggling in most of those (read: all). I may look good on paper (er... computer screen?), but the reality is that none of the evidence looks it. The house? No. The laundry? No. Dinner time? No.

But I'm working on it... I am. And I'm hoping to chronicle some of that for you (yeah, sorry about that) here.

I sat down the other day to put together a menu for the week (so excited and proud of myself at the time) and then decided to take just a few minutes to create a place to write it (instead of a 3x5 card). Two and a half hours later, nap time was over and I was just putting the finishing touches on my new menu planner (and not my menu) . More form than function really... but oh so cute (and without any color ink needed!)

I may make some changes down the road (you know, after I've actually used it), but I wanted to share it with you... in case it will inspire you to make a plan and actually prepare dinner for your family (not that anyone else struggles with that.)

Here it is... my Meal Planner, in regular and binder editions. (The first is intended to be used on a clipboard or on the fridge... then I thought I might like to put older ones in a binder for reference, so I adjusted it for the holes.)

Ok... so I know they don't look any different now... but trust me, the second one is for the binder! :)

I hope it's a blessing!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Number Bingo: Number Recognition for #s 1-10

Have I mentioned that I've been inspired recently by a few homeschooling bloggers? No? Oh, then allow me to share.

After perusing Carisa's blog and sites for a good long while, I found my way over to Homeschool Creations and Confessions of a Homeschooler. Both of these ladies have a ton of wonderful ideas and printables for you... and they too use the widget idea I'm totally copying as soon as I have some widget-able things to share with you! I just love how I can see at a glance what tools they use!

After spending hours (most of which, I'll happily admit, were one evening when My Beloved was out late and not while dinner was burning and the children were destroying the house behind me) drooling over and planning a "someday" when I will return to used each and every resource they have shared, I started getting the "make it yourself" bug. You see... all of these ladies have been seen blogging that they couldn't find exactly what they wanted... so they made it themselves. (And I'm glad they did... because now I don't have to.) There are those few things though, that I want to make myself, either because I want to add a twist to it, or because I haven't found it anyplace else.

This Number Bingo is one such thing that I just had to make myself. And... thanks to Confessions of a Homeschooler (she has no idea... who I am or that she helped me), I've found a way to share things with you that you can download yourselves! If you want too. Or not. (Let me know if you do though... it'll make me smile!)

You'll want to cut the 4 game cards apart and maybe even laminate them for durability (someday when I get my wishlist laminater, I'll be doing this. Until then, I'm expecting rolled corners and even ruined games.)

Once you've done that, pick something to use as markers (we used buttons from my button box... he liked the shiny and shimmery ones best). What made this fun for Tornado was the dice. He got to roll 2 dice (I plan on having him re-roll if 11 or 12 pop up, but that never happened today). Then he counted the dots and searched his game card for the right number. Happily, he won both games we played (enjoying the part where he got to yell "BINGO"). Once we finished the first game he wanted to play again. He was done after the second game though.

It went well I think, but I think he enjoyed rolling the dice more than anything else. I may not try this one again until later in the year when he's a bit older. But I'd love to hear about it if any of you try it!!!


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Plans... 11 weeks and counting

When I really think about the fact that there are 11 weeks (give or take) left of this pregnancy, it sounds like a lot. But when I think about the fact that there are less than 12 weeks left, it sounds like I'm running out of time. Still... it's almost 3 months, and when I think about it like that, it can get a little depressing. :)

In reality though... I know it's not going to be all that long. Especially if he decides to come early. Add in there our (hopefully) busy senior portrait season and two busy little ones already and time is sure to fly right by. If I hope to do anything to make my transition to a mother of three any easier, I need to start those preparations now!

Over the next few months, I hope to share with you a bit of what I've done each week to prepare for baby... and my plans for the next week. I'm hoping that by doing it like this... a little at a time... I can be an encouragement to any of you trying to do the same thing.

Since I haven't really done anything yet, I thought I'd start by giving you a baseline. What do I have and have done?

As far as what I've done...

  • I attended our hospital's "Bear Essentials" class this past week. I've attended this class with both prior pregnancies and already know how to fit a car seat and not to shake my baby (though the video they show touches me every time... I always cry!) The reason I go each time (despite the inconvenience) is to get preregistered... and all the paperwork for the hospital! I love this opportunity. I love that when I arrive at the hospital to have my baby, there is minimal paperwork and we can just get down to having that baby!
  • That night, I filled out all the paperwork and looked over the information they included about postpartum and newborn care (just as a refresher). It's so great to have this done and off my to do list. And I was able to do it sitting next to my sweet husband while he cleaned his guns (in a well ventilated area!) while listening to a dramatized version of the Chronicles of Narnia audio book (my Christmas present!)
  • I've read a book on the Bradley Method for Husband Coached Childbirth. I really liked it and am hoping to buy it soon so I can read it again (it was a library book). I'm excited to have a plan for labor and delivery this time. I've never taken any classes in the past and I always end up feeling very out of control when the pain gets intense. I'm hoping to avoid that this time.
  • When I updated the kids dresser for summery things, I rearranged the whole thing, leaving the bottom two drawers for baby things (not that there was much to put in them at the time!)
Now, what do we have already for baby?
Some of you may already know that last summer we got rid of just about all our baby stuff at a garage sale. And whatever didn't sell there, we donated to the local Christian run crisis pregnancy center. We were not *planning* to have any more, you see, and it seemed silly to horde all that stuff in our tiny home just in case. And... we knew that if that "just in case" happened, the Lord would provide the way He did the first time. I still support our decision.

That said, when we found out we were expecting this time, we didn't have anymore than the crib Sweet Pea still sleeps in and a small handful of outfits I just couldn't get rid of.

But God has already begun providing for us!! Last September, one of the families in our Bible study group had a baby boy! And just last week, she brought me all his 0-6 month clothes. I sorted through them and weeded out all the stained stuff (she has 3 boys... so some of the clothes were *well* worn.) Now they are living happily in those two drawers I set aside for baby.

On top of the dresser (for now) are piles of receiving blankets, blankets, and diaper/puddle pad type things just waiting for a new home. I think we're set on those.

So already, we have a few things covered...
  • onsies for 0-3 months
  • jammies (zip up front with legs kind) for 0-3 months
  • some gowns
  • some outfits
  • receiving blankets!
  • burp cloths
What a blessing that we already have some of those "need them right away" things!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

An introduction to Tot School

~Sweet Pea is 26 months old~
Tot School

Ok... so I mentioned you'd be hearing more about Carisa. First of all, she doesn't know me at all. It just makes me feel good to talk about her like we're real life friends. She, among a few others, has a blog that I've been just eating up over the last few weeks (like I have time for that!) I stumbled on her a year or two ago, but really I wasn't ready for her then. Somehow, I've re-stumbled on her in the last month and I am oh. so. ready! I hope you'll like her as much as I do, because, as I've mentioned, I'm going to be talking about her a bunch in the days, weeks and months to come. And first to come... is Tot School.

Oh how I love Tot School. I've been slowly working in some things with Sweet Pea over the last week or two, but really I'm just getting my feet wet. I keep wanting to officially start, and I know me. If I don't "officially" start sharing it here, I won't ever officially start.

The basic premise is to be intentionally playing with our Tots! I know some of you are thinking, "well, duh... I do that anyway." That's great! You're already "doing" Tot School. You're just not calling it anything special. Me??? I am very good at letting my kids play while I do things... just to look back on the day and be disappointed that I missed a chance to just "be" with my babies. So for me, this Tot School thing is magic. Some days it's 5 minutes finding animals in a book together on the couch and making noises (like today), or putting our hands together in a bucket of beans for a few minutes (also today). Other days it's working through all the puzzles together or playing with pom poms. We've done a number of things over the last week or so, and I've been enjoying every minute! I'm looking forward to being even more intentional (and dare I say it, even planning the intentionality) in the coming weeks. What a great way, especially after baby comes, to have some one on one time with my baby girl... even if it's only 5-10-20 minutes some days.

What about Tornado? Oh, he's usually right there too. For some of the things we all take turns (like stirring the beans in the bucket). For other things he is practicing waiting patiently and letting Sweet Pea be center stage of mommies life (this is very good for him!) I imagine he'll be a regular part of Tot School... but the activities I choose and guide will be tailored for Sweet Pea. Don't you worry about him though... when we were done with Tot School time today, he was already making his way to the kitchen table, asking if it was time for "big boy school". And of course, it was!

Head over to Tot School to see what others are doing with there tots at various ages and stages. And let me know if you decided to join in... either on your blog or just at home. I'd love to know what you're doing with your littles!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

So much for super smart parenting

Tornado: I don't think they are calling for "T-showers" today.

I heard this come out of Tornado's mouth yesterday morning as he played on the floor in the kitchen. "T-showers" (and other things starting with "T") is the code Daddy and I use to refer to thunder storms so that Tornado doesn't know what we're talking about (he's afraid of them). Um... apparently it doesn't work. I asked him point blank what T-showers are and he answered... "thunder storms".

Oops. Oh well. I guess we're not all that bright after all.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

My Wishlist

Many of you have already noticed the new Widget on my sidebar, but I thought I'd take a minute to give it a proper introduction. First of all, I'd like to say that the idea did not originate with me, but I modified one I saw over at 1+1+1=1 (I told you I liked Carisa's site.) She uses the widgets to share what tools she's used with her kids over the course of a week... for now, I'm using it to show you which tools I wish I had!

For most of you, it's a way to share what I've found that's "out there". Maybe you already have them, or have seen them... but some of you (like me) are new to these great items and may want them for yourself. In some cases, I will probably buy them for us when the time is right (or the money is there), but in other cases, it's a way to show one of my faithful readers (my mom) what would be a great gift idea if ever she wanted to send one. (She already knows this... for the record.)

If you are one who sees something you like, and are planning to purchase them... and you like me and want to support my blog... feel free to click on my widget and purchase through me. I'll get a kickback (however small) and it'll make me smile. If you like what you see and want to buy it yourself... on your own terms... and don't really care to click through here... that's okay too. My main reason for sharing them is simply that... to share them! Over time I'll probably adapt my list (hopefully as I no longer need to "wish" for them)... so keep a look out.

Are there any great tools you've found for your children??? I'd love to add to my list!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Homeschooling Preschool: Weeks 5-16 or... the way we do it now

Ok, so it's been a while since I've shared our homeschooling preschool adventures... and a big part of that is because I've simplified significantly. Some of those "weeks" turned into two, and others were condensed to fit 2 units. I slacked off so much that I thought I was giving up on my goal to be done before baby came. Then I redoubled my efforts to finish in time and have slacked off simplified my plans to make it work for us. In short, though we are still following Hubbard's Cupboard's curriculum, I've axed a bunch of it and am sticking with the easy stuff basics. Please take a look at the lesson plans and resources available for each unit, but what I'm going to share with you is how I've simplified each and made it fit our lives, condensed schedule and energy levels (mine, not Tornado's... he probably could have done it all and then some, and learned even more in the process.)

I have exactly 12 units left after the one we're in... and exactly 12 weeks left to "D-day" (assuming this baby can read a calendar... since neither of my other children could in utero, not to mention now, I'm not holding my breath!) To go a step further, there was a time that I was 5 or six weeks behind (meaning I wasn't going to finish.) In order to get us "caught up", I had some condensing to do. Needless to say, we've doubled up some weeks. And really, when I dropped the labor intensive stuff, it didn't take a whole week anyway.


One of the things I've kept in my lesson plans is reading. I go through the quick reference sheet each week and request all the books I can find from our local library. For many of the stories, I am finding that the library doesn't cooperate with this list, so in those instances, I search by topic and pick my own books out. If I were staying on track with updating you, I could let you know which books we've liked... but I don't remember them now. Sorry. Suffice it to say that we have not read all the books we've brought home... but there have been some we've liked a lot!

The basic regime is to read the books to the kids. If Sweet Pea is interested, she sits and listens too. Usually with a book of her own in her lap. Otherwise, it's just Tornado and I. At the very least we read through 1 book (of our own or from the library) several times, but often there are several to go through, about our Bible story. We generally spend 2-3 days on a unit, whether that is spaced out to fill the week or back to back. As far as the stories are concerned, he does a great job with remembering them. He seems to understand them at the time anyway, and often brings up aspects of the stories over the next few days. I also try to refer to them in our daily life as character training moments arise (remember what happened when Jonah disobeyed, doing everything "just as God commanded him" like Noah, etc.)

Memory Verses
This is my greatest focus as we travel through the curriculum... and the thing that stays with us the most. I'm not saying we work on this everyday, and there are days that Tornado just doesn't want to work on memorizing his verses (so I have to sneak it in there somewhere), but we have been continuing to learn our verses. Though the author made some changes in the number of verses she would work on with her own kids, I had planned on trying to do all of the verses. There are a number of verses we've done that she only intended for us to learn about... and I'm glad. But some of the longer ones that were more specific to the story, I've decided to drop. I've found that for Tornado, one verse a week (give or take) is enough, and am not crowding more in when we condense two weeks into one. As of now, he's learned 9 verses out of the 16 units. For many of them I give him a cue or the first word... but others I can just ask him to "say Genesis 1:1", and he can do it. For all of them though, we are constantly reviewing. When he hits a rough spot, we work on it. And, as in all things, rough spots come and go.

There are several verses, too, that have been more difficult for him to learn... for those, I've made up songs and he's learned them nicely! Joshua 1:9 was one of those... and it has come in handy on more than one occasion. We often sing it when he's scared of something! I'm working on a way to share these songs and others with you in the future so that you can use them with your kids if you want to.

Each of the units includes a letter that somehow corresponds to the story. This week we've been working on "N" for news... as in spread the news of Jesus, or the angels gave the news of Jesus birth. Tornado really enjoys this part.

I always print out the "Letter Art", but rarely follow her suggestions as to how we use them. Instead I've been having Tornado do a modified "tracing" activity with them (as you see above). He does pretty well (better than tracing on a line since this gives him a little freedom for his untrained hand), but he still struggled with where to start. So you'll notice on the pic of "M", that I borrowed an idea from Carisa, and added "stop" and "go" markings after printing them out. (I adore Carisa's website... you will be hearing more about her soon!) This has worked great and is very exciting for Tornado who loves "stop-go" in everything. They play it around the house, he signs it, sings it, and tells us when the light turns to "go" in the car. It's an all encompassing part of his life right now, so when I added it to his worksheet, he was all over it!

The other "letter" aspects we've retained from the curriculum is the song. Each letter has a little song that brings the letter and the Bible story together... "Listen to the Word of God" for L, for instance. Both kids like this part, even our extra preschooler on the days she's here.

Science and Math
Often times these get dropped. Math fell off my checklist when we were in the midst of colors and shapes (something he's know for a while). I'm hoping that I'll be able to jump back in soon as there are some things I do want him to learn as we go through them.

Science is hit and miss. Usually there is a book or two recommended on the topic covered (mirrors or music or weather, for instance). We get those books (plus some sometimes) and read them all week long. If it inspires more conversation or exploration, we do that. When "weather" was our focus, we did all sorts of things. In fact, we're still talking about it every day. Tornado gets very concerned about thunder storms, so we are often talking about what type of clouds are in the sky and whether or not they bring thunder. (I will probably get a bunch more books on weather from the library after the baby comes [or when we finish this curriculum, whichever comes first] and do a special unit focused on it, as this is a real interest for him.)

Other stuff
Other than that, we pretty much skip it (other than the occasional nursery rhyme). If something looks especially fun to me, I'll print it out, but 9 times out of 10 we don't do it after all.

Outside of the curriculum, though, I've been adding things here and there. But that's for another post on another day!

So there you have it... more than you wanted to know about our homeschooling these days. Now don't you wish I'd broken this down over the last 10 weeks, instead of unleashing it on you all at once. Come on now... don't be bashful. I'm sure you do! :)


Monday, May 10, 2010

A kitchen floor pondering

I found myself on the kitchen floor Friday evening. I'm not even sure how I got there, but there I was... sitting... on the floor mat... by the sink. I don't remember what took me down there in the first place, but I was still there because I just didn't have the energy to get back up again. My Beloved was sitting at the computer not far away and the kids were playing. And there I was... sitting... on the floor... thinking.

It was time for dinner, but I had no plans... no idea... no energy. I thought back to my mom. Appropriate, I thought, being the beginning of Mother's Day weekend. Maybe she found herself sitting on the kitchen floor the same as I did years ago, but really I have no memory of anything of the sort. What I do remember is that we ate dinner every night... and there's no other way that would have happened unless she fixed it and fed it to us. Then I started thinking further... to the dishes. She always did them. The cleaning... she did it. The laundry... she did it.

I was challenged by these memories... challenged to buck up and do it, the way she did. It didn't give me energy, but it made me want to do a better job being a wife and homemaker and mother.

But these thoughts did something else... they grew in me a renewed appreciation for my mom. She worked hard taking care of us when we were growing up... and most of the time she had another job to do too... either in or outside the home. Funny how you can't truly appreciate who your mom is and what she did all those years until you're sitting on the kitchen floor without the energy, or even desire, to get back up and do what needs to be done... like she did.

Thanks for getting up off the floor every day mom!

(Important note: If you are my mom, don't post a comment similar to any of the following... I won't publish it. I don't want you to say I'm doing a good job, or that you weren't as great as I remember, or that I'm in a season! I'm not feeling badly about myself or despairing. I'm just appreciating all you did for all those years! Thanks!)


Friday, May 7, 2010

Time for new

... but obviously not much else. :)

I decided, being the beginning of May and all, that my blog header needed refreshing. Snowflakes are so last month! We were outside today running around and I thought this header was appropriate... considering I'm supposed to be chasing babies and all. Though this one is getting bigger, he'll always be one of my babies!

My Beloved's brother has been here the last few days... thus my absence. I didn't get everything clean and done like I wanted, but we welcomed him anyway... dirt on the bathroom floor and all. And really, what does it matter... the men traipsed mud through the house more than the kids ever do anyway. They were "cultivating the hill" out back. It's a fancy term for using axes and shovels and for moving heavy rocks. It looked like they had a great time... my bathroom floor (and hallway and living room carpet too for that matter) has more dirt on it than ever. But I did sweep the kitchen floor a couple times... it looks pretty! One of these days I'll get to the other ones. :)

My Beloved was wonderful at encouraging me to get a picture once I had an area looking nice... especially since it never took long before it didn't look nice anymore. At least I know it was done once! (This is especially true of the sink area... who knew we could go through so many dishes!?!)

Isn't my table pretty... I mean the clean-ness of it anyway. I even got some cookies made for our guest!

And though it's not dry, my sink is clean too! Of course there are a bunch of dishes in it now... but this is proof that I had it empty at least once... and it's been close several time since! :)

Now if I can get it clean before bedtime tonight, maybe we can start the weekend on the right foot!

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So, how'd I do???

After I started this focus yesterday, I saw that Monica is trying to get her house in shape this week too. She shares a some what regular series on making her house a haven... that's definitely what this is about... we need to feel that way in our home, and we don't these days! So who knew I'd be participating... but I am now!

Well, I like to think I made some progress. Just when this table started looking respectable, more came in.

To my list from yesterday I must add shortness of breath. Baby must have been positioned in such a way as to affect my diaphragm, because I struggled with it all day and had to take frequent breaks. I made a point of getting back up every time and doing something more though... I just didn't get as much done as I hoped.

Other comparisons...

I got most of these done by last night... just a handful of big things left in the sink.

Hopefully I can tackle this after our walk this morning.

I didn't get this "before" pic up yesterday, but I feel like I made some progress... even if you can't tell. Many of the clothes you see piled up on the left pic are now in the bags on the floor in the right pic... not to mention a lot of clothes out of the drawers. I'll be donating them or passing them on soon!

So my list today???

  • finish dishes in sink
  • clear kitchen table
  • fold laundry (I did get the laundry done yesterday too... just not folded)
  • straighten kids room and stow clothes not needed now
  • work on bathroom and master bedroom if there is time and energy
  • spend some time focused on kids... even if it means not everything on my list gets done!

Head over to Monica's blog to see what she'd doing this week to make her house a haven!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Anyone else overwhelmed this morning?

A Before Picture

It might not look like much, but the state of our house it a bit out of control. There were still people sleeping this morning as I was taking pictures, so I didn't get any of the bedrooms (I'll try to get those before I get to them). I decided that it might help me to have some accountability today. Here are the other before pics I took this morning.

Other things not pictured are the empty underwear drawers (meaning I desperately need to do laundry today), the lack of ironed work pants for My Beloved (meaning I MUST iron today), the bread to bake and other prep cooking things that have needed to be done for a while, the lack of a meal plan for the week (it's hard to take pictures of something that isn't there at all), my sore feet (from wearing cute but not good shoes all weekend, my tired body (late night), and the extra preschooler we have with us for the day.

As I lay in bed last night, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by my to do list. This morning I am determined to take it one thing at a time... how about you??? Anyone else have some before pics to share with us??? Anyone else overwhelmed on this rainy (ok, maybe its not raining where you are) Monday morning???

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