Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Holidays and Baby Vacation

We made it through the holidays and are now in our baby vacation, although we are still waiting for the baby to arrive. We did regular school work through the second week of December and also managed to do some fun advent-y things like go to the Nutcracker and have a sleepover with friends. It also snowed and we got to play in it! I attempted to do the maple syrup candy activity from Little House, and it was an epic fail. I didn't use the right ingredients and we ended up with sugary snow. The kids still liked it though. We also did a (really cold) zoo day and explored the bug house and the aviary. Caley and Amelia wrote down their observations in their nature journals and earned points at the Nature Exchange and spent their points on prizes (shells, rocks, etc)!

Now that it's January we have moved into baby mode. We did school for two weeks and honestly I thought the baby would be here by now. I didn't plan school for this week. We've been taking it easy. Yesterday they played a lot of educational games (Monopoly Jr, Sight Word Bingo) and played very well with each other, creating elaborate games and make-believe. I also let them dig outside in the dirt, a project they've been working on for Bill.

I read an article recently about the value of play for a child. A lot of it was stuff I already thought but couldn't articulate why it was important. Read the article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/give-childhood-back-to-children-if-we-want-our-offspring-to-have-happy-productive-and-moral-lives-we-must-allow-more-time-for-play-not-less-are-you-listening-gove-9054433.html

It basically says that we must let our children play if we expect them to be decent adults some day. The rationale is that in play we learn how to interact with one another and problem-solve. Book-learning and worksheet-completing doesn't have the same effect on a child's long-term success. I have struggled with balancing "doing school" with letting kids be kids. I'm not an unschooler, in which there is no structure to which my children must adhere, but it feels wrong to make Caley and Amelia sit all day and complete worksheets in every subject.

This week so far has been an exercise in the value of play and character training. Both for myself and the kids. I can feel Jesus telling me to rest and I want to push through and make my body go into labor if I can, which is just going to be frustrating. Today the three younger kids were playing upstairs very nicely and Caley and I read books on the couch. It was lovely. Then later in the day we did quiet time and I actually rested again. Caley cleaned out the fridge top to bottom and earned 50 cents.

I don't know how many more days we have until baby arrives, but I am trying to treasure this time snuggling with each kiddo without having to juggle an infant. And when he arrives I hope I remember to let the kids rest with him and all of us together before I push them back into "school mode." Because really, they are learning loads more from being together as a family and adapting to a new sibling than I could ever try to teach with a worksheet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our first vacation week

We just finished our first vacation week in our new year-round schedule. It was a fun and welcome break from school work! But we definitely still did a whole lotta learnin'! On Sunday we had Della's birthday party and on Monday we went to the Pacific Science Center! It was so fun and educational. We hadn't been to PSC for about seven years and there were some new exhibits, but mostly it was how I remember it. Many of the exhibits and activities directly related to the concepts we learned the last few weeks, especially Newton's Laws. The kids had a lot of fun, and I think in a few years will appreciate it more in relation to what we are currently studying. Monday night we had community group costume party! So fun to dress up and spend time with friends!

On Tuesday we had a jammie day and it was also Della's birthday. Staying home, playing games and watching movies was a perfect follow-up to such a busy Monday. I wanted to get working on laundry and chores and Della just followed after me and screamed. I realized she just needed some Mommy time, so we cuddled on the couch. It was exactly what she (and I) needed, and I'm so glad I was able to look past my chores and spend time with her.

Wednesday was my birthday and we went to the zoo with Bill and my mother-in-law. It was a homeschool day with special events and homeschool groups. It was so fun, but Amelia was sick for most of the day. Thankfully Nana sat with her in the car while she rested and was able to join the rest of us for more exhibits. I really liked the Northern Trail with the bears, elk and wolves. It was so peaceful and quiet, and all the animals were out and able to be seen. We ended up getting a membership too and I am excited to go more this year.

Thursday was Halloween and another low-key day. The kids got to spend a lot of time with Nana, which was great. And of course trick-or-treating! The big kids and Bill walked around the neighborhood while Della and I passed out candy at our house. They got SO much candy! We sorted it together--math time!

Friday we went to the library and did "movie day" in the afternoon. Overall it was a fun week with many educational opportunities. I appreciated the break from regular lessons and hopefully it will help with the burnout I felt at the end of last school year. However, I am looking forward to a much more normal week next week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

School Year 2013-14

Hello blog land!

We are finally into a routine for our school year, and it's going pretty well. The biggest change this year is we are doing a year-round schedule. I spent a lot of time researching year-round school and there are many schedules that are used. We settled on a modified three weeks on, one week off schedule. Our first break is the last week of October, which works nicely because my and Della's birthdays are that week (plus Halloween). It's kind of working out that our birthday weeks we don't have school. We are taking several weeks off in January/February though because we are expecting another baby! Hooray! This baby boy is due January 25. I'm thinking he will arrive around January 20th based on previous deliveries.

I am noticing that Amelia is very mathematically inclined, much in the same way Caley is reading-inclined. It's so neat to see their preferences and talents come out, and how God has made them so uniquely.

We are studying "Inquisitiveness" this year. It's a lot of science and history. So far we have studied the scientific method (very basic) and some of the big scientists and philosophers such as Galileo and Copernicus. Later this fall we will get into astronomy and geology and will be studying things like earthquakes and volcanoes. Today we did a little learning about Isaac Newton!

This year has been more difficult so far than others. One reason is because the kids are older and demanding more difficult projects, and also because Della and Wes are not reliably napping like last year. Della will nap in the early afternoon, but sometimes she just screams. Wes doesn't really nap but will do quiet time. There are just a lot of bumps in starting out this year. It has crossed my mind more than once--why are we doing this? The local school is great and a 10 minute walk away. And if I sent Amelia and Caley to the public elementary school they'd both be gone the majority of the day and it'd be "easier." Also it feels like Caley being in 3rd grade is "real." Not that it wasn't real before, but it just feels like we have both feet in the pool and the pool is just getting deeper.

It's days, or seasons, such as these that I have to remind myself we are homeschooling because Jesus told us to, not because it makes the most (or any) sense. And, I like it, despite the hard days. It's the right choice for our family right now.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

As promised...some pictures from this Spring!

 They set up a tea party during quiet time.
 End of March snowstorm and Della's first time playing in the snow! I wrapped her feet in plastic bags and I think she had about 12 layers of clothes on under her Mariner's suit.
 Caley stayed out the longest and built a snowman!

 Della was much happier when she came inside and had some milk.

 We had a Lego birthday party for Bill's 40th and got these Lego molds. We had Lego ice cubes and then made Lego crayons! A fun project.
 We went to Grama and Papa's after Easter and of course they took a bath! A Grama pasttime!
 We visited the UW Planetarium with our friends Rachael, Lenora, Noelle and Holden. We saw the fountain and the herb garden.

 We also walked through Red Square in the pouring rain. Maybe someday these kids will be students at the U like their moms. :)

 Also in playgroup we learned about family crests and did jousting.

Caley and Emma at a birthday party.
 Caley and Yuuka at Yuuka's birthday party. They met at VBS last summer and really hit it off! I love seeing Caley's friendships.
 Caley went to work with Daddy, so the rest of us got ice cream!
 We practiced fairness and ran races in the yard.

 Secret Beach
 Biking day

 This is how Wesley and Della entertain themselves during school time.
 Della's first time with playdough, she did great! Since this picture (May) they have played playdough for hours. I love how their creativity and imagination comes out in playdough.

We made it through ANOTHER year! Praise Jesus!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another year down

Our 2012-13 school year has ended! We survived! 4 kids, first year with two being homeschooled (officially) and we had a great year. A few highlights for me, with pictures to come:

  • Doing kindergarten with Amelia was far easier than when we did kindergarten with Caley, both because Amelia's a different kid than Caley and because I'm a little more confident in teaching kindergarten. 
  • We learned about the Revolutionary war in conjunction with the election in November, I plan on doing this during each election cycle and look forward to their deepened understanding each time we hit these topics.
  • Taking all of December off seems to work very well for us. It's a busy season and I love being able to focus on Jesus instead of feeling like a failure for not doing the math lesson for the day. 
  • I am the teacher. I do not have to obey every instruction in every curriculum. Amelia finished her math book two months early because we didn't do every lesson because she already knew the material. 
  • I am not owed a break every day. If I don't get up early to exercise or read my bible, I shouldn't get mad if I can't find the time later in the day. 
  • This was the first year Caley had to take a standardized test. She is right on for her age, in most areas. Her strengths are language arts and social studies. Her weaknesses are math and science. It was redeeming for her and me to get an unbiased view of her learning. Still, the test did not test exactly what we focused on this year so I shouldn't be discouraged that her math was lower than I wanted.
  • It's okay to take a day off here and there. Both the kids and I need it. I am not a failure. 
  • Life happens. Caley got a headgear in April, we thought Wesley was going deaf, somedays school is just learning to slog through the daily crap together.